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First Camino, please help!

minnahn

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk my first camino (Camino de Portugues) June
Hi All,

I am going on my first camino in June and am both overwhelmed by all the information and also still have unanswered questions and do not know where to look for the answers. If anyone could help me or guide me to resources, that would be amazing!

1. Are hostels the cheapest option for sleeping and do I need to make reservations? I am a poor student and would like to save as much money as I can!
2. Do hostels come with food? Or do we buy food on the way (should I be looking into restaurants on the trip?)
3. Where would I use the bathroom (sorry if this is a dumb question...I have a small bladder and am not sure if I need to walk up to random houses/stores and ask for the bathroom).
4. I was recommended the Brierly book for maps, but it seems to be focused on the Camino de Santiago. Is the book useful for Camino de Portugues? Or is there a different map I should be looking at?
5. Any backpack suggestions?
6. Is buying wifi necessary? And if so, is it cheaper to get it in Portugal vs the US?

Thank you so much in advance for all your help!
 

stratophile

Active Member
Hi there. Welcome to the forums!

To answer (some of) your questions:
1. Albergues are definitely the cheapest option. The municipal / Xunta ones are usually cheapest. Private albergues are a bit pricier but usually have better amenities. Then you have guesthouses and/or private rooms available at some albergues. Then, of course, are standard hotels.

2. Food: Every hostel is different. Some have meals available, either included in the rate or as an option. Others have self-service kitchens available (though not always suitably equipped). Others have little more than bunks where you are expected to dine out. You'll have to do some research on what different albergues have available.

3. There are many public toilets along the way. Often, though, you'll need to hide behind some bushes. There is a massive litter problem along some stretches of the Camino including people leaving their, um, droppings, toilet paper, and sanitary products behind.

4. Brierley has a Portugués guidebook (I think Ivar sells it here). Wise Pilgrim is also good (sold by Ivar). My app, TrailSmart, has maps in it. Wise Pilgrim also has an app with maps. If you speak Spanish, there are a handful of good Spanish-language apps available.

5. Backpack suggestions: The only reliable way to select a backpack is to go out and try some on. My recommendation is that you create a separate post in the packing forum specifying your gender and general frame and ask for suggestions. Then, once you have a shortlist of options head to a suitable outdoors store and try some on. If you are new to backpacks, do a bit of research first on how they should fit you, what to look for in a good pack, and so on.

6. WiFi is available in most albergues these days, though often the signal strength isn't great. However, there are many public hotspots. You won't normally need to pay for WiFi in your albergues or hotels. For your phone, you can get data if you wish, but that really depends on your needs.

Hope the above helps!

Good luck with your planning.
 

Jo Jo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, July 2014 & Sept-Oct 2016
Via di Francesco (Italy), July 2015
CP Oct. 2017 & Sept. 2019
Stratophile types faster and his answers are generally right, except he must have better luck finding public restrooms than I do (I remember two public restrooms the entire CF, and none on the CP--I almost want to buy his guide just to find them).

Anyway, These were mine
1. Yes, they are cheapest. Reservations depends on time of year you walk (and how late into the afternoon/evening you walk). We usually don't, but we walk late into the afternoon and sometimes have gotten caught in towns where everything was already full.
2. Not usuall, except sometimes at some of the donative alburgues where there is a communal meal). Buy food at restaurants/bars, or the budget option is to buy at grocery stores (sometimes just small tiendas) and cook in the alburgue (if it has a kitchen in working order--not in Galicia).
3. In alburgues, or, while walking, buy a water from a bar and ask to use the restroom. Many people also pee (and poop--that's another thread) behind bushes. Try to avoid if you can (the Camino is not wilderness--you are usually walking through someone's field).
4. Brierly and others have guides specific to the Camino Portugese. Get those (look at the Wisely + app associated with this Forum).
5. The lightest one you can find with a good suspension and a good hipbelt. On a budget, probably look for a used Osprey Stratos (or Sirrus if you are female), or maybe Talon if you are really good at keeping your load small. Personally I think 25L is too much, but many people seem to take bigger packs (I am constantly amazed by the weight people are carrying).

Bon Caminho.
Jo Jo
 
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stratophile

Active Member
@Jo Jo - poor choice of wording on my part regarding toilets. I was referring to toilets accessible without invading people's homes, such as in bars, churches, and so on. You're right that there aren't many toilets that aren't on private property of one type or another. I think there are only something like three or four that I track in my app currently (though you don't need to buy my app to check: TrailSmart and all Camino content are completely free; only the optional offline maps have a price, with Google maps built in if you have WiFi).
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
4. I was recommended the Brierly book for maps, but it seems to be focused on the Camino de Santiago. Is the book useful for Camino de Portugues? Or is there a different map I should be looking at?
All of the routes ending in Santiago are the Camino de Santiago, including the Portuguese route, but Brierely's maps only book is for the Camino Frances, which starts in France. You need a book specific to the Portuguese route, which you can purchase from the forum store.

https://www.santiagodecompostela.me/collections/2019-edition-camino-guidebooks/products/a-pilgrims-guide-to-the-camino-portugues-lisbon-porto-santiago-camino-guides

Or you can skip the guidebook and use an app. I like the Buen Camino app.

https://www.editorialbuencamino.com/app-del-camino-de-santiago/

There are also websites that have the maps, towns and stages, like Gronze.com

https://www.gronze.com/camino-portugues
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
“It is so funny you say that, because I did the exact opposite of that speed walker who gave the slide lecture you saw,” I said. “I took more than twice his time to walk the eight hundred kilometers of the Camino on the Route Francés across northern Spain. In fact, I have written a book, Slow Camino, in which I suggest that for me, it was not a race; it was not about what you get in the end. I purposely did not get the Compostela because I wanted to develop mindfulness and appreciate the journey.”
“What about those hostels—what are they called, “albergues”?—where the pilgrims stay?” asked Sandy. “I can’t imagine sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed every night with all those people, men and women in the same room, sleeping and snoring together!”
“Usually it is the big municipal albergues that have the creaking metal bunks all jammed together with a dozen or more people in a room, and they generally get the worst reviews from pilgrims—particularly when they are packed to capacity in the busy summer months,” I explained. “It’s best to go in the winter and not in the summer when all the students are on summer break and the Camino is ten times more crowded. I now try to finish walking by Easter, since Holy Week, or “Semana Santa,” is the official start of the pilgrim season. I have stayed in some basic albergues with lots of bunk beds in the room, but in the winter with perhaps just one or two people sharing the room it was not so bad. The next step up in accommodations is the private albergues, which tend to have fewer people per room and also offer some private rooms at about twenty-
five to thirty euros. Most of the private places have a pride of ownership, and those owners are sometimes good cooks as well as good hosts. For shared dorm accommodations, you can figure eight euros at the municipal albergue and ten to fifteen euros for the private albergues. If you do go on your Camino, make a concerted effort to stay at one of the monasteries, which can be very basic accommodations but are always clean and welcoming. The monasteries retain such a strong sense of place and history and spirituality. In the cities there are pensions, or rooming houses, that will often have shared bathrooms, and both these and the casa rurals in the country, what we might call bed and breakfasts, will be well worth the twenty-five to thirty-five euros per night. If you ask for the “special pilgrim rate” when you arrive at three- or four-star hotels on the Camino, it will be just forty or fifty euros, but complimentary breakfast and free laundry are included. In Portugal there will be the quintas, or “country estates,” and there are several of these I plan to stop at on this trip. I’ll also stay at the Parador de Tui. The paradores and the quintas are the tops for accommodations.”

From "Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment"
 

Robi Diaz De Vivar

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
Hi All,

I am going on my first camino in June and am both overwhelmed by all the information and also still have unanswered questions and do not know where to look for the answers. If anyone could help me or guide me to resources, that would be amazing!

1. Are hostels the cheapest option for sleeping and do I need to make reservations? I am a poor student and would like to save as much money as I can!
2. Do hostels come with food? Or do we buy food on the way (should I be looking into restaurants on the trip?)
3. Where would I use the bathroom (sorry if this is a dumb question...I have a small bladder and am not sure if I need to walk up to random houses/stores and ask for the bathroom).
4. I was recommended the Brierly book for maps, but it seems to be focused on the Camino de Santiago. Is the book useful for Camino de Portugues? Or is there a different map I should be looking at?
5. Any backpack suggestions?
6. Is buying wifi necessary? And if so, is it cheaper to get it in Portugal vs the US?

Thank you so much in advance for all your help!
1. Albergues, municipal and Church are always cheaper and on this Camino I found them all to be very good. This camino is more popular every year so I would recommend booking ahead where you can.
2. No. All the albergues on this Camino had kitchens where you could prepare your own food, although most of the bars on the route have Menus Peregrinos where you can eat prodigious amounts of food and have a good drink of wine for very little money - especially bar castro in Caldos Do Re.
3. This Camino has bars dotted along it every 4 or 5 km at the most so access to toilets is not a problem.
4. Any Michelin map would do or you can pick up area and town maps in the Albergues as you go. To be fair this is the best signposted Camino that I have done - except for the last 2 km in Santiago it is impossible to lose the way.
5. As small as possible - 5 kg max. If you can afford one with the back lift option - i.e. where there is a gap between the backpack and your back - then buy one - no sweaty back and no damp clothes within. If not pack all your clothing in plastic bags to avoid the damp transfer.
6. No. All albergues and hostales that I passed through had WIFI.
7. Do it. You are going to have so much fun.
 

minnahn

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk my first camino (Camino de Portugues) June
Thank you all for your answers! I instantly feel a lot more relieved and can't wait to go! Some follow up questions since this community is so supportive and well informed :)

1. Does anyone have recommendations for resources to find different albuergues/hostels?

2. I'm also not a Spanish speaker - will this limit me in any way?

3. Any must-go-to places/monastaries along the way?

Thank you!
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Start by buying the Brierley or The Wise Pilgrim guide. That will answer lots of questions for you. They are not exactly like a "Dummies" books but they are loaded with basic information.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
These are all my worldly possessions for five weeks on the Portuguese Camino.

1). LLBean 100% nylon rain pants - Black Polar Fleece Pants - Railriders rip-stop dress pants nylon fast dry
2) Poly Polar Fleece Top - Eddie Bauer Black Fleece Top - Deluth Trading Polyester Heavy Duty outer vest
3) 2 pair polypropylene long johns pants - 2 pair poly fast dry underpants
4) 3 polypropylene t shirts
5) 3 pair alpaca socks - one pair smart wool socks
6) Osprey 33 pack-- Talon Model
7) One cotton button-down dress shirt = Do not look like a jogger when eating at a good restaurant!
8) Frogg Toggs ultra light-weight breathable rain jacket
9) Toilet Kit with tooth brush, razors, tweezer, scissors, extra eye glasses, floss, aspirin
10) iPad with European Charge cord
11) Cannon One Shot Camera with Battery charger
12) Black Diamond head lamp
13) Two different guide books and a note pad with planned stops.
14) Money belt with credit card, debit card, drivers license and 15 x 100 Euro bills cash
15) Passport and Pilgrim Credentials
16) Fingerless Army Surplus wool groves
17) Thick alpaca hat - thin poly cap
18) Pack rain cover
19) Ziplock bags for map torn out of book and placed in pocket
20) Two 12 ounce plastic juice bottles for water. One each side of pack
21) One pair AISICS high arches sneaker --Good to switch sneakers to avoid blisters
22) One pair Columbia water-proof jogging sneaker
In the pack when wearing trail gear 18-19 pounds including pack.
 

Robi Diaz De Vivar

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
Thank you all for your answers! I instantly feel a lot more relieved and can't wait to go! Some follow up questions since this community is so supportive and well informed :)

1. Does anyone have recommendations for resources to find different albuergues/hostels?

2. I'm also not a Spanish speaker - will this limit me in any way?

3. Any must-go-to places/monastaries along the way?

Thank you!
1. This is a link to a Spanish site which lists all of the albergues/hostales on the Camino Portuges with helpful reviews for each. It also has route notes and recommended places to see. With regard to point 2, it is in Spanish but Google translate will get you close enough.

2. This will definitely make it a little trickier but the albergues/hostales are experienced in dealing with people with minimal Spanish. It will be more difficult in shops, bars and restaurants, especially in the smaller towns like O Porrino, Caldo do Re and Padron (and all points in between). It is well worth practising and retaining a few stock phrases and learning some basic food and drink vocabulary.

3. The Camino pretty much takes you past all of the "must see" places on route. None of the stage towns are particularly big and can easily be toured in the late afternoon and evening after arriving, showering, laundry, lunch and siesta. Bars along the route were very generous with their tapas, i.e. one pays a little more for your beer or wine but you get a rather large plate of food to go along with it as recompense. The local beer is Estrella Galicia generally accepted to be the best in Spain, the local white wine, the Albarino of the Rias Baixas is excellenyt and the local red wine (Mencia grape variety) is fruity but dry.
 

Lydia Gillen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007/8/9 2011 (C.F 2015)
Hebron which, which was a big monastery is just before Padron on the Camino Portugues. It is well worth a stay. However there are only 22 bunks. 2 in each little monk's cell. It does not open until 4.pm and there is usually a queue to get in. There is a wonderful shared meal, and you give a donation to cover the cost and the long term maintenance of this wonderful place.
Hebron is actually a little detour from the actual Camino.
Brierly's guide is a very good reference.
Buen Camino.
 

Sunny Fitgirl

Fast Little Canadian
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (May/June 2017)
Camino Norte (May/June 2018)
Thank you all for your answers! I instantly feel a lot more relieved and can't wait to go! Some follow up questions since this community is so supportive and well informed :)

1. Does anyone have recommendations for resources to find different albuergues/hostels?

2. I'm also not a Spanish speaker - will this limit me in any way?

3. Any must-go-to places/monastaries along the way?

Thank you!

Hi,

I am walking from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostella in June this year as well. It's going to be fabulous. Maybe see you along the way.

Carla
 

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