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First-Timer Seeking Reservation Advice

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linguafranca90

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to do Camino Frances (2019)
Hi everyone! I'm planning to do a good portion of the Camino Frances this August/September (likely start on August 30 and finish on September 12). Specifically, my plan is to start in SJPP and walk to Pamplona, then take the train from Pamplona to Leon/Astorga and walk the rest of the way from there to Santiago de Compostela. I know there's a lot of things I need to get in order, but right now I just wanna focus on reserving the things that need reserving, such as travel arrangements and any accommodations that might need pre-booking. I also know it's still going to be fairly busy that time of year, so I want to be super careful with the accommodations. Do you have any recommendations for which stops I need to pre-book accommodations, and if pre-booking is required, how far in advance it needs to be done?

Any other camino-related advice would be greatly appreciated!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I know why you want to do SJPdP to Pamplona but give a little bit of consideration to a Leon-SdC-Finisterre. As many days walking and simpler logistics. Next trip do SJPdP to Burgos.
 

Bala

Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
Welcome to the forum @linguafranca90 !

Prebooking is not required anywhere, in fact most municipal albergues don't allow it. And many pilgrims never reserve at all. However, there are a few places where it's highly recommended.

Definitely reserve in Santiago. If you are planning to stay at Orisson, definitely reserve there. Do both of these as soon as possible. It's a good idea to reserve in St. Jean, simply because you'll just be arriving and it's nice to have a definite place to head to. And probably not a bad idea to book Roncesvilles.

Everywhere else, it's up to you. I walked in the spring and the fall, and only occasionally reserved ahead. Generally the evening before, or even the morning of, was sufficient. Summer may be different. But you'll begin to get a feel for that, and how crowded places may be or not be, once you start walking.

Enjoy your planning and buen camino!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I'd suggest you reserve at the beginning (SJPP, Orisson), and definitely at the end. In the other parts consider just walking til you're done, and finding a place to stay. And if there's anxiety...well, that's the work of the camino.
It's very simple and freeing, but (especially at first) not easy. But it does get easier, the more you do it.
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
If you have a phone you can use on the way, having the apps from www.booking.com and www.hotels.com is really nice - when the cheap albergue is full or you just desperately want a single room, it's lovely to be able to sit down to search for what is available nearby.

No, the cheapest places aren't included - but plenty of places are.
 

Beeks

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2019) only 2 weeks available! St. Jean PDP - Pamplona, then Sarria - SDC with the family,
We did the same thing in April: our family of 6 (11 year old daughter, 16 and 18 year old sons, Mrs. Beeks and I, and her mom) walked from SJPdP to Pamplona, then took the train to Sarria and finished the walk. It was our first time.

Great experience for everyone! St.Jean start, Pyrenees beauty and challenge, and we found the section from St. Jean to Pamplona very different from the final section.

We flew into Madrid in the late afternoon and spent the night. We took the train to Pamplona, then a taxi to St Jean. Went to the Pilgrim's office, then found a place to stay.

We had reserved our Madrid hotel, bought our train tickets to Pamplona, and had reserved our taxi before we left home. Also, we were going to arrive in Sarria after 9pm, so we did reserve our alburgue there. We had 4 different train segments on our trip, and we had purchased tickets for all segments before we left home. Our trip had so many moving parts (such as a post-Camino overnight in Ponferrada before heading back to Madrid) we didn't want to take any chances.

We also had reservations at Orisson but the route was closed. Bummer. We had made reservations at the municipal alburgue in Valcarlos, just in case, and we ended up there.

Orisson reservations take patience. I emailed them super early, and a few days later they replied, said to email them after November 15 for our April stay. I emailed them at the appointed time and waited for a reply. Didn't hear from them. Super anxious and wondering if I got the email address wrong, I emailed them again 5 days later. They did reply back...17 days later.

Renfe let's you purchase train tickets, but something like 62 days in advance. We attempted to purchase our tickets about a month in advance, but it was very frustrating. We would get a good price, input all the information, then find out that all those tickets at that price were sold out. Back to square one, with a higher price. Same routine... input starting point, destination, number of people, names, passport numbers, ages, etc... to be told again that all tickets at that price were sold out and start over. Prices were increasing so much it was like watching the prices at a Southern California gas pump!

We ended up at a third party website, where we found good prices and an easy purchase system with a very minimal fee. Sure, we could have waited and bought tickets at the train station the day before? We limped into Pamplona, due to a slow walker in our group, after 7pm. Plus, there was only 1 train to Sarria. Was very glad we had tickets in hand.

Plan, but don't over do it. Research, but don't overthink it. You're just walking... right?

Buen Camino!
 

mdelag

Member
Camino(s) past & future
**CAMINO FRANCES: LEON-SANTIAGO sept. (2015)
**CAMINO FRANCES SJPP-SANTIAGO 2017
Hi everyone! I'm planning to do a good portion of the Camino Frances this August/September (likely start on August 30 and finish on September 12). Specifically, my plan is to start in SJPP and walk to Pamplona, then take the train from Pamplona to Leon/Astorga and walk the rest of the way from there to Santiago de Compostela. I know there's a lot of things I need to get in order, but right now I just wanna focus on reserving the things that need reserving, such as travel arrangements and any accommodations that might need pre-booking. I also know it's still going to be fairly busy that time of year, so I want to be super careful with the accommodations. Do you have any recommendations for which stops I need to pre-book accommodations, and if pre-booking is required, how far in advance it needs to be done?

Any other camino-related advice would be greatly appreciated!
Hi !!! I just finished my 2nd Camino, from SJPDP to Santiago. I would advice you to book in Roncesvalles albergue. I did, and saw lots of pilgrims that couldn’t stay there because it was full. The rest of places just book one or two days in advance if you feel like you should. There are lots of albergues and hostels in the big towns. But in Roncesvalles there is only ONE albergue and 2 small hotels. I booked 2 months in advance. BUEN CAMINO 🎉👣🎉👣🎉 @linguafranca90
 

Kelly Ann

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
N/A
As a person who hasn't done this Camino before, I was wondering why you'll be getting off trail and taking the train from Pamplona to Leon/Astorga before you get back on trail again. Is that because there's too much roadway walking there or is that just something that a lot of people do in that area.......?
 

Beeks

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2019) only 2 weeks available! St. Jean PDP - Pamplona, then Sarria - SDC with the family,
The OP has only 2 weeks. We had 11 days and took the train from Pamplona to Sarria.
 

Beeks

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2019) only 2 weeks available! St. Jean PDP - Pamplona, then Sarria - SDC with the family,
Kelly Ann... we had limited time in Spain, just 3 weeks. Left on April 7th, arrived Madrid the 8th, St. Jean the 9th, started walking on the 10th. Walked into Pamplona on the 13th. Took a rest day / train day to Sarria on the 14th. Walked into Santiago de Compestela on Saturday the 20th. Rest day / Easter Sunday in SdC.

Took the train to Ponferrada on the 22nd, checked out the Templar castle on the 23rd, then off to Madrid that day until our flight home on the 28th.

I plan on walking the entire Camino solo in 2021 or 2022. Walking 6 days, rest day the 7th day. About a 35 day endeavor once I get walking.
 

mbmc

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles plan to walk in 2019
We did the same thing in April: our family of 6 (11 year old daughter, 16 and 18 year old sons, Mrs. Beeks and I, and her mom) walked from SJPdP to Pamplona, then took the train to Sarria and finished the walk. It was our first time.

Great experience for everyone! St.Jean start, Pyrenees beauty and challenge, and we found the section from St. Jean to Pamplona very different from the final section.

We flew into Madrid in the late afternoon and spent the night. We took the train to Pamplona, then a taxi to St Jean. Went to the Pilgrim's office, then found a place to stay.

We had reserved our Madrid hotel, bought our train tickets to Pamplona, and had reserved our taxi before we left home. Also, we were going to arrive in Sarria after 9pm, so we did reserve our alburgue there. We had 4 different train segments on our trip, and we had purchased tickets for all segments before we left home. Our trip had so many moving parts (such as a post-Camino overnight in Ponferrada before heading back to Madrid) we didn't want to take any chances.

We also had reservations at Orisson but the route was closed. Bummer. We had made reservations at the municipal alburgue in Valcarlos, just in case, and we ended up there.

Orisson reservations take patience. I emailed them super early, and a few days later they replied, said to email them after November 15 for our April stay. I emailed them at the appointed time and waited for a reply. Didn't hear from them. Super anxious and wondering if I got the email address wrong, I emailed them again 5 days later. They did reply back...17 days later.

Renfe let's you purchase train tickets, but something like 62 days in advance. We attempted to purchase our tickets about a month in advance, but it was very frustrating. We would get a good price, input all the information, then find out that all those tickets at that price were sold out. Back to square one, with a higher price. Same routine... input starting point, destination, number of people, names, passport numbers, ages, etc... to be told again that all tickets at that price were sold out and start over. Prices were increasing so much it was like watching the prices at a Southern California gas pump!

We ended up at a third party website, where we found good prices and an easy purchase system with a very minimal fee. Sure, we could have waited and bought tickets at the train station the day before? We limped into Pamplona, due to a slow walker in our group, after 7pm. Plus, there was only 1 train to Sarria. Was very glad we had tickets in hand.

Plan, but don't over do it. Research, but don't overthink it. You're just walking... right?

Buen Camino!
 

mbmc

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles plan to walk in 2019
hi beeks,
what was the 3rd party website you used to purchase your train tickets?
Thank you!
 

Beeks

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2019) only 2 weeks available! St. Jean PDP - Pamplona, then Sarria - SDC with the family,
I couldn't remember at the time, but looking on my computer i found it...

Omio.com

Formerly go euro...

Had tickets purchased and printed in hand before we left home...

Madrid - Pamplona
Pamplona - Sarria
Santiago de Compestela- Ponferrada
Ponferrada - Madrid
 

SusanH

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked 2014
If you feel the need to make a reservation, find a way to do so. Don’t let other people colour your need to because they are okay leaving it until the end of the day when they are tired. I get that that is a part of the magic - but so too is getting a bed after a long day.
The idea of a “right way” and a “wrong way” to walk the Camino is absurd. It just doesn’t fit with our modern day pilgrimages. Let me give you an example: When I walked into Santiago, it was cool and raining. Everything was wet. By the time I got to the cathedral, I was pretty darn cold and shivering. I was also exhausted and very emotional. This was back in the autumn of 2014. Before mass started, there were a couple of announcements saying “please don’t video tape the mass” - or something along those lines. I wanted to be as respectful as I possibly could so I didn’t bring out my phone to take pics during the mass including when they swing the botafumerio like so many other people did. I was miffed at the crowds and inadvertently watched it swing through the laptop screen of the man in front of me. But - my attitude changed from respectfull to downright disappointment when several of the “guest monks” who were helping swing the botafumerio brought out their CELL PHONES and started videotaping it. My mouth just simply fell open. So, take care of yourself and don’t worry too much about what you should and shouldn’t do!


Other people walking can help you if you don’t speak Spanish.
 

linguafranca90

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to do Camino Frances (2019)
As a person who hasn't done this Camino before, I was wondering why you'll be getting off trail and taking the train from Pamplona to Leon/Astorga before you get back on trail again. Is that because there's too much roadway walking there or is that just something that a lot of people do in that area.......?
It's exactly what the poster below you said! I'd love to do the entire Camino, but I'm leaving my wife behind for this trip and I don't want to be away from her for over a month, so this is the route I decided would let me see/do the most the Camino Frances has to offer.
 

linguafranca90

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to do Camino Frances (2019)
Thank you so much for the thoughts, everyone, and apologies for not acknowledging all your helpful suggestions sooner! As some of you recommended, I decided to book accommodations in advance for SJPP and Roncesvalles, and otherwise I've left everything else to when I actually get there. The good news is that I do speak a decent amount of Spanish so I should be able to get myself by each day. I haven't booked my train from Pamplona to Leon yet, mostly because I'm still not sure exactly what time I'll manage to arrive into Pamplona on September 1st. I guess I should book that soon, though.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
We also had reservations at Orisson but the route was closed. Bummer. We had made reservations at the municipal alburgue in Valcarlos, just in case, and we ended up there.
I don't understand. What happens to people who need a bed when you have booked reservations in two different places, knowing that you can only use one set?
 

Beeks

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2019) only 2 weeks available! St. Jean PDP - Pamplona, then Sarria - SDC with the family,
The Napoleon route was closed the day we walked. Not sure OrrIson was going to turn away pilgrims that day.

However, the proper thing to do is to call and cancel, of course.
 

Beeks

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2019) only 2 weeks available! St. Jean PDP - Pamplona, then Sarria - SDC with the family,
Conversely, had the Napoleon route been open, we would have stayed at Orrison and called and cancelled our Valcarlos reservations. :D
 

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