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First-timer looking for Advice

2020 Camino Guides

Caro1964

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newbie!
Hello, I will be walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in spring 2020 (mid-May’ish). This will be my first Camino and my first « walking » trip. I am fairly fit, but have never undertaken anything like this before. I’m 55 years old. After doing some research - including on this amazing site - I have decided to walk the coastal camino from Porto to Santiago, and then to Finisterre.

I have lived my whole life as an over-achiever, and I want this trip to be about the journey rather than making sure I walk X number of km each day, to get to my destination by X date. Therefore, I am looking to build as much flexibility into this trip as possible.

Ideally, I would like to decide each morning how much I feel like walking on that day, if I feel like walking it with my backpack or not (I have temperamental knees), where I would like to stay that night (albergues vs hostels vs hotels), and then set off on that day’s journey, without rushing to get to the destination before 2 pm each day, which I have read and heard is the time to get to where you are going in order to get a bed.

Is this type of flexibility possible? I read about the companies who can shuttle your bag to the next stop, but can I decide each morning where my next stop will be, or do I have to decide in advance? Is it possible to make reservations at any of the accommodations the morning of (assuming vacancy)? For accommodations, is there a real risk that I won’t find any accommodations if I don’t arrive before 5 pm? What is the worse case scenario in that regard? And are there companies that can work out all those things for me, each day as go (« one-stop service »); or if I want this type of « one-stop service », I have to make those arrangements well in advance?


Many thanks in advance!
Caroline
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Congratulations on deciding to walk; the Camino can really be a wonderful time in one’s life.

Your steadfast desire to adhere to “non-planning” is itself a type of over-achiever planning, no? So first, relax, take a deep breath, and start perusing all the past posts and blogs that Ivar has to offer. Most of your questions have been answered, repeatedly and extensively. And the answers truly depend on when and where you plan to walk.

In general, you can daily walk as long or as short as you’d like, deciding even as you walk into a village if you want to stay there or not. Bed availability truly depends on time of year, day of the week, route choice, and so on. In non-busy times, beds are available up until lights out. Private albuergues and hotels take reservations while municipals and parochials generally don’t, but every place is different. Luggage transfers can also be arranged each morning (on the Frances) with no need to commit to it daily, though you DO have to select where they will leave your bag (city and lodging) which will hamper your free-spiritedness a bit.

Hopefully this helps allay some of your worries. You can PM me if you’d like to see my wife’s blogs from our trips.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
I suspect your biggest challenge will be letting go! The worst that can happen is you arrive somewhere late and cannot find a bed so you have to take a taxi to the nearest place with an expensive hotel room free.
This has never happened to me!
You will have greatest flexibility by NOT booking with a company.
When my husband and I walked the Portuguese we wanted to specifically take our time and stop to smell the roses. Almost every day we ended up walking further than we had intended - often we would be sitting in a bar at 1pm and say, “Let’s keep going”
May I encourage you to allow yourself as much time as you can afford so that every day can be short if that’s what you want.....then ditch your plans and see what unfolds day by day. If you end up with a week to fill in, well that’s a bonus!
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Hello, I will be walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in spring 2020 (mid-May’ish). This will be my first Camino and my first « walking » trip. I am fairly fit, but have never undertaken anything like this before. I’m 55 years old. After doing some research - including on this amazing site - I have decided to walk the coastal camino from Porto to Santiago, and then to Finisterre.

I have lived my whole life as an over-achiever, and I want this trip to be about the journey rather than making sure I walk X number of km each day, to get to my destination by X date. Therefore, I am looking to build as much flexibility into this trip as possible.

Ideally, I would like to decide each morning how much I feel like walking on that day, if I feel like walking it with my backpack or not (I have temperamental knees), where I would like to stay that night (albergues vs hostels vs hotels), and then set off on that day’s journey, without rushing to get to the destination before 2 pm each day, which I have read and heard is the time to get to where you are going in order to get a bed.

Is this type of flexibility possible? I read about the companies who can shuttle your bag to the next stop, but can I decide each morning where my next stop will be, or do I have to decide in advance? Is it possible to make reservations at any of the accommodations the morning of (assuming vacancy)? For accommodations, is there a real risk that I won’t find any accommodations if I don’t arrive before 5 pm? What is the worse case scenario in that regard? And are there companies that can work out all those things for me, each day as go (« one-stop service »); or if I want this type of « one-stop service », I have to make those arrangements well in advance?


Many thanks in advance!
Caroline
Hello, Caroline, and a warm welcome to the Forum :)

Here are two links which also may be of help as you begin:
https://www.santiago.ca/
American Pilgrims on Camino's FAQs about a camino pilgrimage

The good news is, you are in a forum with a wonderful group of people. Most are here to help people like you to achieve their pilgrimage goals. We can offer you encouragement, knowledge, and point you in the direction that will help you help yourself.

My suggestion to start is this:
  1. Take a deep breath. Write down in large letters the reasons why you want to go on Camino. Place that piece of paper where you can see it every day. That way, if anxieties and fears threaten to overwhelm you as you plan, you can just breath, read what you have written, and focus on those reasons until the negative stuff fades.
  2. Make a list of questions and concerns that you have.
  3. Go to the Search Engine at the top of the Forum pages.
  4. Enter the words or phrase that you want more information about. You will get a huge amount of information to explore.
  5. If you find that you need help with anything, post a new thread so that your question or concern can be readily seen. If you post a question within someone else's thread, you won't receive as big of a response.
  6. Remember that perfect timing as it relates to how you feel, scheduling, and day to day life issues, seldom align themselves perfectly. If one waits for such to occur, doing something like a pilgrimage will always be in danger of taking a back seat while you wait for that perfect alignment to happen.

To answer your question about accommodations, as long as you are flexible in the TYPE of lodging (hotels, alburgues, casa rurals, hostals, etc) you will not likely face being homeless for the night. But, should a small town or village be completo for ALL lodgings, you can always take a taxi to the next town or village to spend the night, and then take the taxi back to where you left off the next morning.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I spent much of my working life over-attempting.

Thousands of people Camino every month. They range from hyper-intellectual over-achievers through fitness fanatics who might as well have gone to the gym, innocents abroad and several who seem to have absconded from 1-2-1 supervision whilst their carer wasn’t looking.

Of course there are also the 95% just normal decent people having a great experience however they choose to define it.

Very few of them come to grief, miss a meal or spend the night involuntarily in the open air.

Don’t over think it.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Thank you @henrythedog for your sage advice. I do over-thinking very well, along with over-achieve and over-plan! I can already tell that the camino is just what I need to explore the « under » parts of me! ☺

If you find you’re over-achieving too much, you could always set the bar higher?

I’ve met people who with impairments most of us could barely comprehend who would see the ability to walk ten yards as a massive achievement.

No reply necessary. I think you’ve already got the message.

Just turn up and start, chances are you’ll have a great time and - with an open mind - possibly one which might put overachievement in context.
 

KariC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho portugûes (2016)
Hi, Caroline,
I think you're approaching it just right. Going with the flow was a complete change from my normal self and normal life, and it was entirely do-able on the Camino. I also decided to walk the coastal route, but changed my mind to switch to the Central route, and then on a spur-of-the-moment whim, switched to the Variante Espiritual. There was one very long day when I sent my bag ahead, so I knew I had to get to that albergue that day, but that wasn't a problem - we're talking one day in advance, not planning all before you leave.
Should your knees give you problems (says the person with a brace on her left knee and a replaced right knee) you could catch a ride ahead to where you end up staying that night, then taxi back to the spot you stopped walking - people do that for a variety of reasons (pain, fatigue, no lodging available in that town). That way you don't end up not walking a certain stretch.
I don't believe you can decide in the morning to send a bag ahead - they need the reservations for their planning purposes the night before. Sometimes it's possible to send a pack ahead to a cafe. So if you weren't sure how far you'd make it on a given day but wanted a break from the full weight, there may be a cafe 10-12 miles ahead where you could pick it up, then decide whether you were done for the day or if you wanted to walk farther that day, and just do the last few miles with the full pack. If you send it farther than you end up being able to walk that day, then you need to either taxi ahead to where your pack is (and go back the next morning) or push yourself beyond what your body is telling you is healthy to reach your pack.
Bom caminho!
 

Caro1964

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newbie!
Thank you so much @KariC! The idea of a taxi is something I had not thought of, and which appeases many of my worries about « what if’s ». Many thanks.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Thank you so much @KariC! The idea of a taxi is something I had not thought of, and which appeases many of my worries about « what if’s ». Many thanks.
Just be aware that if you are wanting to qualify for a Compostela, that in addition to the religious/spiritual aspect of pursuing the Camino, that (if walking) the last 100 km before Santiago must be walked in a continuous progress into Santiago. Of course, you can take a taxi, as long as you return the next morning to where the taxi picked you up, and you then continue the walk. :)
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
@Caro1964 I can’t think of a better place to practise relinquishing your plans and seeing what happens each day. It is a truly safe environment and there is very little that could actually go wrong. I don’t like telling people what or how to do things but I sense you would love to try this different (for you) way of being, so could I encourage you to give it a go.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Welcome, Caroline.
In addition to the good advice above:
Even letting go can become a project! The art is to let things be and not strive for perfection. The spontenaiety of walking out the door and finishing when you feel ready to stop for the day is precious, and that takes minimal planning. Maybe casting your eye over the map or guide the night before to see what appeals - but then just going with what you feel, and when you feel 'done' for the day. It's really a wonderful experience of freedom.
Happy planning and buen camino!
 

musicman

Ensuitepilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
The Coastal is a good choice for a “ first” Camino.
Good advice above.
I have walked it “ solo” and with a group.
In May there should not be problems with accommodation.
I can’t verify that for albergues as I avoid them.
In my case,I always book ahead, mainly through Booking.com
This gives peace of mind and no anxieties about accommodation.
If tired - take a cab!
Private companies, however competent are very expensive, too.

I have wriiten up these Caminos and more - if of any interest you csn scroll through the archives on “ Ensuitepilgrimblog.wordpress.com”
Bom Caminho
 

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Hello, I will be walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in spring 2020 (mid-May’ish). This will be my first Camino and my first « walking » trip. I am fairly fit, but have never undertaken anything like this before. I’m 55 years old. After doing some research - including on this amazing site - I have decided to walk the coastal camino from Porto to Santiago, and then to Finisterre.

I have lived my whole life as an over-achiever, and I want this trip to be about the journey rather than making sure I walk X number of km each day, to get to my destination by X date. Therefore, I am looking to build as much flexibility into this trip as possible.

Ideally, I would like to decide each morning how much I feel like walking on that day, if I feel like walking it with my backpack or not (I have temperamental knees), where I would like to stay that night (albergues vs hostels vs hotels), and then set off on that day’s journey, without rushing to get to the destination before 2 pm each day, which I have read and heard is the time to get to where you are going in order to get a bed.

Is this type of flexibility possible? I read about the companies who can shuttle your bag to the next stop, but can I decide each morning where my next stop will be, or do I have to decide in advance? Is it possible to make reservations at any of the accommodations the morning of (assuming vacancy)? For accommodations, is there a real risk that I won’t find any accommodations if I don’t arrive before 5 pm? What is the worse case scenario in that regard? And are there companies that can work out all those things for me, each day as go (« one-stop service »); or if I want this type of « one-stop service », I have to make those arrangements well in advance?


Many thanks in advance!
Caroline
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Camino(s) past & future
April-May 2019
I think your plan is reasonable. Without a blueprint flexibility is necessary. I've walked twice and it seems that everybody needs to make peace with their style of approaching each day. Its possible that you might find yourself amidst a surge of pilgrims and you'll alter your style. I've encountered times that making reservations was necessary but usually not. I found that arriving at your destination by 2-3 pm will guarantee you a bed if you don't have a reservation. Walking to the next town, staying in a hotel or airbnb, skipping a segment are usually options in worst case scenarios. You acknowledged this and I think such moments are all part of the Camino experience. No matter how you plan for everything, there will be moments of improvisation--which is part of the fun!
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I loved winging my first two caminos on the Frances and the Norte/Primitivo in 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately things are changing with their growing popularity and so for the last two years I have been preplanning by reserving the majority of rooms before I leave home. Winging the Way and prebooking both have their own type of stress. I'm bringing two newbies along this year and feel I can not wing it day by day. It's one thing for me to hope and wander around looking end of day for a place to spend the night, but I do not want them to experience the anxiety of being unsure of getting a bed...just saying.
 

AndreaCT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2016 Camino Frances to Leon
Fall 2017 Camino Frances to Finisterre
May 2019 Portuguese
Hi Caroline,
I walked the Portuguese Central route last May and my original plan was to walk the Coastal. I changed my mind about two weeks before I left. If you also end up doing that, the only place that I would consider booking as soon as you know, is Casa Fernanda. Her place is popular and she's on the Central route. I phoned her from home (Canada) to ensure I had a bed. There are many conversations on this forum about Fernanda's place. You can google her contact info. I mostly stayed in small hotels on this trip and when I had a vague idea of where I would be going the next day, I sometimes used booking.com. You get to know your own rhythm and what works for you. I found that things always worked out. Have a great trip!
 

Bill Krueger

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Portugues (June-2018)
Caroline...lots of great advice...you can do this! the Coastal route is magnificent. Consider spending a couple of days in Porto to see that great city. It is wonderful. You can then start from the Cathedral, and can get a credential there as well if needed. You can walk or take the tram to Matosinhos on the coast and begin your walk there. Check the guide books so that you know your options. We found the 'Village to village' guide more helpful than the Brierley, but check others as well before you go. Walking the coast on the boardwalks in just stunning...you will have a great time!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Is this type of flexibility possible? I read about the companies who can shuttle your bag to the next stop, but can I decide each morning where my next stop will be, or do I have to decide in advance? Is it possible to make reservations at any of the accommodations the morning of (assuming vacancy)? For accommodations, is there a real risk that I won’t find any accommodations if I don’t arrive before 5 pm? What is the worse case scenario in that regard? And are there companies that can work out all those things for me, each day as go (« one-stop service »); or if I want this type of « one-stop service », I have to make those arrangements well in advance?
Others have given excellent advice about how to approach the Camino and find information in past discussions on these forums. To answer your specific questions (somewhat based on experience and somewhat based on what I've read here, as I did the Camino Portugues in October rather than May and only partly on the coast):
- This type of flexibility is possible
- In general, with baggage transfer companies you can decide in the morning where your bag is going to. There is usually a little envelope/tag upon which you write the destination and in which you leave the payment. You attach this to your bag and then leave the bag behind. They pick up the bags after everyone has left and drop them off before people arrive. You thus don't have to decide your destination until you leave your bag behind.
- Assuming vacancy, you can make reservations in some types of accommodations but not others. Municipal or Xunta albergues will often not take reservations. The same is sometimes the case for parochial or religious albergues. Private albergues generally take reservations as, of course, do hotels, hostales, casa rurales, etc.
- Regarding after-5:00 arrivals, this is harder to speak to from my personal experience. In general, I would say that for a specific place, there is a real risk there will be not beds available if you arrive after 5 pm. If you are doing baggage transfer and think that you won't arrive until after 5 pm, I would certainly advise a reservation where you are sending the bag. If you have a reservation and think you won't be arriving until after 5, I would call early in the afternoon and confirm the reservation again. Many albergues will release reservations if people don't arrive by 3 pm or a similar time. If you get to a place after 5 pm and the whole town or village is full, you can always take a taxi somewhere there is a bed and then back again in the morning. Often the townspeople (or the proprietors of the full places) will help you find a place to go to.
- There are companies that will help you arrange all of these things, but they generally work by planning and booking everything well in advance, not "on the day of". It seems to me from the rest of your post that this isn't the kind of camino you are looking for.
 

Pinzi

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugués, Tui to Santiago (Sept 2019)
My brother and I just walked the Portugues from Tui to Santiago in late Sept. On the first day of our Camino we waited till we got into town (Porrino) to find a place to stay and it worked. Stayed at an Alberque. The other days we figured out where we wanted to wind up the next day while we were having dinner, and used Booking.com to search and book.
A friend we made on the Camino would usually wait till she got into town, and it usually worked. Occasionally she would call ahead for a room while she was walking. Worst case for her was having to walk/ride back/ahead to another town, which happened on occasion.
We had our bag shipped on the last day to a hotel we had booked in Santiago, and we had to arrange for pick up the night before using our phone/internet. We used Correios to ship. Correios required us to arrange for pick up the night before. There are others who will transport bags. I don't know if the others will schedule same day, but suspect they will not.
We had a great trip. We didn't rush. Stopped when the Spirit moved us to stop. Usually got to the next town by 3-4 PM. Gave us plenty of time to clean up, eat, explore ect... Having a phone which we could use to search and book was VERY VERY useful. Hope your Camino is all you are wishing it will be.
 
Camino(s) past & future
walk or bike in spring of 2018
Hi Caroline. PACK LIGHT!! You can do it. Keep it light enough, and you won't even want to use the backpack transfer services, which really liberates your daily options. Lay all your stuff out on your bed and start weeding stuff out. You really don't need it. Plus, they have stores in Portugal and Spain!. PACK LIGHT.
 

aidan macdhorcaidh

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances (2017)
Mornign Caroline
No idea why you or anyone asks advice about doing the Camino. Just do it and then you will know the answers. It's easy. I did it at 70. The only concern is your knees and all the replies in the world cannot answer that - only you can - but I agree with Mike - do travel light - even lighter than that!.
Having said that May is a busy month so accomodation might be a problem - why not go in a quieter month. Good luck.
amcg
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Mornign Caroline
No idea why you or anyone asks advice about doing the Camino. Just do it and then you will know the answers. It's easy. I did it at 70. The only concern is your knees and all the replies in the world cannot answer that - only you can - but I agree with Mike - do travel light - even lighter than that!.
Having said that May is a busy month so accomodation might be a problem - why not go in a quieter month. Good luck.
amcg
Hi, Aidan; Welcome with your first post :)

You are correct that it is in our natures to sometimes over-complicate the simple things in life. I would gently argue that while this may happen when planning a Camino, asking and seeking advice and information is also needed for newbies.

People ask advice because there is a learning curve for those who are inexperienced with long distance walking and the problems and needs that accompany such a venture. Gear choices, how to physically prepare, potential issues with injuries like blistering, what the Caminos are actually like with infrastructure support, shopping, general costs, etc. . . . the issues go on and on for the inexperienced, especially if one has never traveled overseas or to Europe.

As one who has a lot of backpacking experience and who was stationed in Europe with the military, I had inquiries as to how things actually worked (obtaining a Credencial, alburgues, lodging options in SJPdP, etc). :)
 

Yellowfriend

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Porto- Santiago / Fisterra- Muxia sept 2016
SJPP- Santiago may 2017planninh
Hello, I will be walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in spring 2020 (mid-May’ish). This will be my first Camino and my first « walking » trip. I am fairly fit, but have never undertaken anything like this before. I’m 55 years old. After doing some research - including on this amazing site - I have decided to walk the coastal camino from Porto to Santiago, and then to Finisterre.

I have lived my whole life as an over-achiever, and I want this trip to be about the journey rather than making sure I walk X number of km each day, to get to my destination by X date. Therefore, I am looking to build as much flexibility into this trip as possible.

Ideally, I would like to decide each morning how much I feel like walking on that day, if I feel like walking it with my backpack or not (I have temperamental knees), where I would like to stay that night (albergues vs hostels vs hotels), and then set off on that day’s journey, without rushing to get to the destination before 2 pm each day, which I have read and heard is the time to get to where you are going in order to get a bed.

Is this type of flexibility possible? I read about the companies who can shuttle your bag to the next stop, but can I decide each morning where my next stop will be, or do I have to decide in advance? Is it possible to make reservations at any of the accommodations the morning of (assuming vacancy)? For accommodations, is there a real risk that I won’t find any accommodations if I don’t arrive before 5 pm? What is the worse case scenario in that regard? And are there companies that can work out all those things for me, each day as go (« one-stop service »); or if I want this type of « one-stop service », I have to make those arrangements well in advance?


Many thanks in advance!
Caroline
Hi Caroline,
I walked from Porto to Santigo in 2016. Because it was my first trip solo I booked the hotels via a Dutch organisation, also for standby help. It was my most beautiful trip ever.
In 2017 I walked from SJPP the Camino Frances to Burgos part with my husband and part alone. This time I booked along the way but that gave me too much stress. Walking was easier for me than book sleeping. Maybe because I couldn’t let it wing.
So this time I start may to walk the Camino from Porto again the coastal and do it the same as first time with booked hotels.For me that gives me the freedom to just walk and know where I go and how much I walk every day.
Booked till Redondela and than I organise it myself and plan to walk from Pontevedra the Camino Esperitual to Santiago (part by boat).
You can pm me if you want to know more about my stages every day.
Go for it and it will be a beautiful journey and maybe you get the ‘camino fever’ also.
Remember everyone does his own Camino, with or without booking or luggage transfer. There is no ‘right ‘ or ‘wrong’ way. Do what fits you 🌷
Sita
 

Owen Duguay

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Le Puy to SJPP to Santiago de Compostelle to Finisterre. Environ 1700 km.
I walked the Coastal Route last June. If I may offer advice to you it would be calm down (relax) it will be an amazing peaceful beautiful and enjoyable Camino. There are plenty of auberges and you can pretty much walk any distance that you choose to do each day. Don't worry. The view is really really beautiful and it is well marked out. Bye for now.
 

Paintboy2

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CP-Coastal Route(2016), CdN (2017) CP-Senda Litoral (2018), Way of St. Francis (2019)
When you get done you will be amazed at how many things you didnt have to worry about, how much fun you had, how you want to share this with someone else, and on and on.
I had your same trepidation 4 Caminos ago. Now I just watch the forum to help people like you.
Here is a great YouTube series that is in progress right now for the route you are taking. He posts a new episode each Thursday and lucky you, he's nearly to SdC.
Have a great trip. If you wait till July you can walk with my wife and I. This will be my third CP. By the way, we're 9 years older than you. You'll have to problems.
 

Adelina

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - s'2018- Astorga to Santiago
Camino Frances - s' 2019- St Jean to Carrion
I did the Frances - one summer from Astorga to Santiago - though I was flexible and had no accommodations set up, I had an idea of where I wanted to stay (usually before or after Brierly stages). This past summer, I gave myself 14 days of walking from St. Jean to wherever I ended up in 14 days. I loved the flexibility of having an idea of where I was heading, getting there and continuing on because I felt like it, or staying because I felt like it. I did not feel pressure to arrive anywhere and was quite shocked to get all the way to Carrion de los Condes in the 14 days I had given myself. It was truly a wonderful experience!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
When you get done you will be amazed at how many things you didnt have to worry about, how much fun you had, how you want to share this with someone else, and on and on.
I had your same trepidation 4 Caminos ago. Now I just watch the forum to help people like you.
Here is a great YouTube series that is in progress right now for the route you are taking. He posts a new episode each Thursday and lucky you, he's nearly to SdC.
Have a great trip. If you wait till July you can walk with my wife and I. This will be my third CP. By the way, we're 9 years older than you. You'll have to problems.
What a lovely post! I think your wife is a lucky lady. 😊
 

John Ferguson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
The French Way May/June (2015) Complete.
Completed Porto Way from Lisbon May(2017).
Hello, I will be walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in spring 2020 (mid-May’ish). This will be my first Camino and my first « walking » trip. I am fairly fit, but have never undertaken anything like this before. I’m 55 years old. After doing some research - including on this amazing site - I have decided to walk the coastal camino from Porto to Santiago, and then to Finisterre.

I have lived my whole life as an over-achiever, and I want this trip to be about the journey rather than making sure I walk X number of km each day, to get to my destination by X date. Therefore, I am looking to build as much flexibility into this trip as possible.

Ideally, I would like to decide each morning how much I feel like walking on that day, if I feel like walking it with my backpack or not (I have temperamental knees), where I would like to stay that night (albergues vs hostels vs hotels), and then set off on that day’s journey, without rushing to get to the destination before 2 pm each day, which I have read and heard is the time to get to where you are going in order to get a bed.

Is this type of flexibility possible? I read about the companies who can shuttle your bag to the next stop, but can I decide each morning where my next stop will be, or do I have to decide in advance? Is it possible to make reservations at any of the accommodations the morning of (assuming vacancy)? For accommodations, is there a real risk that I won’t find any accommodations if I don’t arrive before 5 pm? What is the worse case scenario in that regard? And are there companies that can work out all those things for me, each day as go (« one-stop service »); or if I want this type of « one-stop service », I have to make those arrangements well in advance?


Many thanks in advance!
Caroline
I was 67 when I walked from Lisbon to Santiago, Coastal Route in May. I flew by the seat of my pants. Not having a days end destination. I never had any problems finding a bed, either in a Hostel, BandB or Hotel. The food and people were amazing. This was my second Camino - French way in 2015, So I was prepared with a very light pack, about 12 pound. Remember 80% of the Coastal route is on boardwalk, sounds nice, but , no so easy day after day.
Ultreia.
 

Richard DeMerchant

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
My wife and I completed the Porto to Santiago route this summer in July. It was pretty awesome. We booked a lot of nights and wish we would not have done so. The first day we hiked to Matosinhos and then took public transit back to Porto where we had a couple of nights booked. That seemed to work well. Ideally we would have booked a place there and gone light on our first day to get over jet lag, etc. It was a good way to ease into the trip.

As we walked there were lots of places to stay. Many not listed in the books. A Portuguese Pilgrim showed us the app "Camino Tool" which had more places on it than we had as well as places to eat which was good. We booked the first 8 nights which did not leave us a lot of flexibility. This was more because we wanted to make sure we had a place to stay. In the end it was not necessary. There were a few places we wanted to stay longer and could not with the bookings.

One recommendation would be to do the Variante Espiritual as we really enjoyed that part of the trip the most. There are a couple of hills if you go that way but they were nice as the coastal route is pretty flat.

Buen Camino
 

Caro1964

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newbie!
Thank you! Bill, can you tell me more about the village to village book you are referring to? Sounds like a good find.

Caroline...lots of great advice...you can do this! the Coastal route is magnificent. Consider spending a couple of days in Porto to see that great city. It is wonderful. You can then start from the Cathedral, and can get a credential there as well if needed. You can walk or take the tram to Matosinhos on the coast and begin your walk there. Check the guide books so that you know your options. We found the 'Village to village' guide more helpful than the Brierley, but check others as well before you go. Walking the coast on the boardwalks in just stunning...you will have a great time!
 

Caro1964

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newbie!
My brother and I just walked the Portugues from Tui to Santiago in late Sept. On the first day of our Camino we waited till we got into town (Porrino) to find a place to stay and it worked. Stayed at an Alberque. The other days we figured out where we wanted to wind up the next day while we were having dinner, and used Booking.com to search and book.
A friend we made on the Camino would usually wait till she got into town, and it usually worked. Occasionally she would call ahead for a room while she was walking. Worst case for her was having to walk/ride back/ahead to another town, which happened on occasion.
We had our bag shipped on the last day to a hotel we had booked in Santiago, and we had to arrange for pick up the night before using our phone/internet. We used Correios to ship. Correios required us to arrange for pick up the night before. There are others who will transport bags. I don't know if the others will schedule same day, but suspect they will not.
We had a great trip. We didn't rush. Stopped when the Spirit moved us to stop. Usually got to the next town by 3-4 PM. Gave us plenty of time to clean up, eat, explore ect... Having a phone which we could use to search and book was VERY VERY useful. Hope your Camino is all you are wishing it will be.
Thank you so much Pinzi! I am definitely planning on having a phone. Your sentence about ‘when the spirit moved us’ capture perfectly how I want to walk the camino, thank you!
 

Caro1964

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newbie!
My wife and I completed the Porto to Santiago route this summer in July. It was pretty awesome. We booked a lot of nights and wish we would not have done so. The first day we hiked to Matosinhos and then took public transit back to Porto where we had a couple of nights booked. That seemed to work well. Ideally we would have booked a place there and gone light on our first day to get over jet lag, etc. It was a good way to ease into the trip.

As we walked there were lots of places to stay. Many not listed in the books. A Portuguese Pilgrim showed us the app "Camino Tool" which had more places on it than we had as well as places to eat which was good. We booked the first 8 nights which did not leave us a lot of flexibility. This was more because we wanted to make sure we had a place to stay. In the end it was not necessary. There were a few places we wanted to stay longer and could not with the bookings.

One recommendation would be to do the Variante Espiritual as we really enjoyed that part of the trip the most. There are a couple of hills if you go that way but they were nice as the coastal route is pretty flat.

Buen Camino
Thank you! This really helps me see the down side of over planning, and I really appreciate your candour about your experience. I have read a lot about the Variante Espiritual and will definitely make sure not to miss it. Thanks again!
 

Caro1964

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newbie!
Thank you to EVERYONE who so generously shared their advice and experience with me. If the Camino is anything like this forum is - filled with kind people with big hearts - I suspect my first Camino will not be my last! You may not realize the inspiration and courage reading all your replies have generated for me. Thank you!!
 

Mycroft

Member
Hello, I will be walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in spring 2020 (mid-May’ish). This will be my first Camino and my first « walking » trip. I am fairly fit, but have never undertaken anything like this before. I’m 55 years old. After doing some research - including on this amazing site - I have decided to walk the coastal camino from Porto to Santiago, and then to Finisterre.

I have lived my whole life as an over-achiever, and I want this trip to be about the journey rather than making sure I walk X number of km each day, to get to my destination by X date. Therefore, I am looking to build as much flexibility into this trip as possible.

Ideally, I would like to decide each morning how much I feel like walking on that day, if I feel like walking it with my backpack or not (I have temperamental knees), where I would like to stay that night (albergues vs hostels vs hotels), and then set off on that day’s journey, without rushing to get to the destination before 2 pm each day, which I have read and heard is the time to get to where you are going in order to get a bed.

Is this type of flexibility possible? I read about the companies who can shuttle your bag to the next stop, but can I decide each morning where my next stop will be, or do I have to decide in advance? Is it possible to make reservations at any of the accommodations the morning of (assuming vacancy)? For accommodations, is there a real risk that I won’t find any accommodations if I don’t arrive before 5 pm? What is the worse case scenario in that regard? And are there companies that can work out all those things for me, each day as go (« one-stop service »); or if I want this type of « one-stop service », I have to make those arrangements well in advance?


Many thanks in advance!
Caroline
Hi, Caroline,
I just did the Camino Portugues Costal in September. While I am not able to refer to what it is like in May, I can give you my two cents based on my recent experiences.
It was fairly crowded, but I am told not as crowded as the Central. The locals said for the last 5 years, it has been hotter in September than in August. The sections of the Costal that neared the ocean provided welcomed breezes.
I started in Porto, and spent three night there so as to rest up and get rid of jet lag. Porto is an interesting place and I hope to return there simply to see more of this historic city.
Unless it is a village or very small town, there should be enough lodging available. In September there were a number of local feast-day celebrations that mildly complicated finding places to stay, especially on those holiday weekends and where the town was near a popular river or beach.
As to sending your pack on ahead, my understanding is arrangements are made the day before so the driver can plan which albergues to go to and in which order before heading north. It is best to check with the folks running the accommodation to see if they have a special relationship with the various services that perhaps will allow a last minute call.
If I may mention my personal reason for pilgrimaging, it is to reinforce my belief that "I am not in charge." Hence I walk each day with as much openness as I can muster, and as little worry as possible. I am a devotee of the saying "The Camino will provide." If my intention to stay at a certain place or arrive at a certain time does not work out, I remain open to learning what the Camino has in store for me. I have never been let down, even when I was in a circumstance that made me gulp.
I will add that the only thing that dismayed me during this last pilgrimage was to see that almost everyone else was on their cell phones a large part of the time. I don't mean they were always chatting to someone. It seems they all were using their cells to find out where they were and where to turn and where to head. I got by without a cell phone, and relied on the Camino arrows in their various forms, and occasionally the kindness of strangers who pointed me in the correct direction. The other pilgrims seemed eager to call ahead each evening or morning to make reservations or go through booking.com well in advance, in order to be sure they had a place to stay. It made me sad that people were not comfortable relying on the Camino "to provide." My happiest memories of my pilgrimages stem from mishaps and oddities that led me to human beings who went out of their way to assist me. Two-way blessings!
In any case, I hope you are blessed many times over during your pilgrimage, and that you eagerly pass on those blessings to others.
 

Caro1964

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newbie!
Thank you @Mycroft, your message exudes a space of zen, and is soothing to read. I really want to embrace what you describe and trust that the Camino will provide. Messages such as yours inspire me to do so, thank you!
 

Rod Murray

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Portuguese Coastal (Sept 2019)
Hello, I will be walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in spring 2020 (mid-May’ish). This will be my first Camino and my first « walking » trip. I am fairly fit, but have never undertaken anything like this before. I’m 55 years old. After doing some research - including on this amazing site - I have decided to walk the coastal camino from Porto to Santiago, and then to Finisterre.


Many thanks in advance!
Caroline
The coastal route is wonderful as there are few hills and the vistas and villages are wonderful. My wife and I (we are 62) just completed the Porto to Santiago route in October, and it was wonderful (our second Camino, 1st was Frances). We did book our accommodation ahead and knew where we needed to be at the end of each day. That works for us. I applaud you on your plans to take it a day at a time. You will enjoy this freedom and gain a whole new perspective from walking the Camino that way. We carried our packs, both well under our 10% body weight, and and no issues with them. There are so many ways to do this. You will have to decide what works for you. That changes as you walk too, eg we had a day, entering Vigo, the largest city on the Coastal route, where city fatigue required the last few km be via taxi! There are so many beautiful villages to explore each day that having the freedom to stop and enjoy them will be wonderful. One section I highly suggest slowing down and enjoying is between A Guarda and Baiona, where many people walk straight through to Baiona. We stopped in Oia, only a 15km walk from A Guarda, and then it was about the same to Baiona. We met people who were exhausted from doing the 30km without the stop and therefore had little energy to explore Baiona, one of the more enchanting towns along the Coastal way. Staying at the Parador there might be a special stop if you so choose (we did not) but walked around it as our evening stroll.

Just my 2 cents!

Enjoy the (non) planning that will come about as you explore these forums. This is a wonderful community.

Bom Caminho
Buen Camino
 

Caro1964

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newbie!
The coastal route is wonderful as there are few hills and the vistas and villages are wonderful. My wife and I (we are 62) just completed the Porto to Santiago route in October, and it was wonderful (our second Camino, 1st was Frances). We did book our accommodation ahead and knew where we needed to be at the end of each day. That works for us. I applaud you on your plans to take it a day at a time. You will enjoy this freedom and gain a whole new perspective from walking the Camino that way. We carried our packs, both well under our 10% body weight, and and no issues with them. There are so many ways to do this. You will have to decide what works for you. That changes as you walk too, eg we had a day, entering Vigo, the largest city on the Coastal route, where city fatigue required the last few km be via taxi! There are so many beautiful villages to explore each day that having the freedom to stop and enjoy them will be wonderful. One section I highly suggest slowing down and enjoying is between A Guarda and Baiona, where many people walk straight through to Baiona. We stopped in Oia, only a 15km walk from A Guarda, and then it was about the same to Baiona. We met people who were exhausted from doing the 30km without the stop and therefore had little energy to explore Baiona, one of the more enchanting towns along the Coastal way. Staying at the Parador there might be a special stop if you so choose (we did not) but walked around it as our evening stroll.

Just my 2 cents!

Enjoy the (non) planning that will come about as you explore these forums. This is a wonderful community.

Bom Caminho
Buen Camino
Thank you @Rod Murray. I will make sure to make the journey to Baiona one that enables me to fully enjoy the sights! And thank you for the mention of the 10% of body weight as a rule of thumb... I had not heard it before, and it makes me realize I can probably do that and just carry my pack. I am naturally a very light packer, so I should be able to take up that challenge (more easily than the non-planning challenge in fact!). Thanks again!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Thank you @Rod Murray. I will make sure to make the journey to Baiona one that enables me to fully enjoy the sights! And thank you for the mention of the 10% of body weight as a rule of thumb... I had not heard it before, and it makes me realize I can probably do that and just carry my pack. I am naturally a very light packer, so I should be able to take up that challenge (more easily than the non-planning challenge in fact!). Thanks again!
Just remember that gaining weight in your body isn't the best way to be able to carry more weight on your back! ;-)
 

kenwilltravel

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)
Hi Caroline,
Looks like you've received tons of great advice from this Forum. I'll just add that my wife and I walked the Coastal Portuguese twice, in 2018 and earlier this year (including the Spiritual Variant), and enjoyed it tremendously. You're welcome to view the detailed experience in her blog: https://twoclinestraveling.wordpress.com.
By the way, we did these trips despite some health issues (diabetes and asthma for my wife) and an age bracket that's a bit older than yours.
So, it's absolutely doable if you take your time and don't try to be overly heroic in racking up the mileage each day.
 

Rod Murray

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016) Portuguese Coastal (Sept 2019)
A couple more suggestions, as I think I overlooked some of your questions. You asked about booking with a company. We used Caminoways.com for both our Caminos. A very reputable company. Check them out, as their website is full of information about the route as well as other useful resources.
You mentioned your knees. I've been known to have knee problems and did not have any on either walk, even on the longest days. I almost always use hiking poles, especially on hilly or uneven terrain. The benefits cannot be understated when walking distances and on hills. On the end of Day 1 on the Camino Frances, entering Villafranca del Bierzo after 26km, they saved me from tumbling down a steep stairway into the town square.
 

SATomlin

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vigo to Baiona May( 2020)
Hello, I will be walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in spring 2020 (mid-May’ish). This will be my first Camino and my first « walking » trip. I am fairly fit, but have never undertaken anything like this before. I’m 55 years old. After doing some research - including on this amazing site - I have decided to walk the coastal camino from Porto to Santiago, and then to Finisterre.

I have lived my whole life as an over-achiever, and I want this trip to be about the journey rather than making sure I walk X number of km each day, to get to my destination by X date. Therefore, I am looking to build as much flexibility into this trip as possible.

Ideally, I would like to decide each morning how much I feel like walking on that day, if I feel like walking it with my backpack or not (I have temperamental knees), where I would like to stay that night (albergues vs hostels vs hotels), and then set off on that day’s journey, without rushing to get to the destination before 2 pm each day, which I have read and heard is the time to get to where you are going in order to get a bed.

Is this type of flexibility possible? I read about the companies who can shuttle your bag to the next stop, but can I decide each morning where my next stop will be, or do I have to decide in advance? Is it possible to make reservations at any of the accommodations the morning of (assuming vacancy)? For accommodations, is there a real risk that I won’t find any accommodations if I don’t arrive before 5 pm? What is the worse case scenario in that regard? And are there companies that can work out all those things for me, each day as go (« one-stop service »); or if I want this type of « one-stop service », I have to make those arrangements well in advance?


Many thanks in advance!
Caroline
I'm new too and not travelling as far as you for my first adventure but I have been very happy with the service, advice, prices and alternatives offered by Lorinda at Raw travel. But I am in Australia so that may not suit you. Their website is worth a look though
 

SATomlin

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vigo to Baiona May( 2020)
I'm new too and not travelling as far as you for my first adventure but I have been very happy with the service, advice, prices and alternatives offered by Lorinda at Raw travel. But I am in Australia so that may not suit you. Their website is worth a look though
 

SATomlin

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vigo to Baiona May( 2020)
So, I am only going from Porto to Baiona this time but could have continued through to Santiago in 16 to 18 days. I am going solo in mid May and also in my 50's. maybe see you along the way
 

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