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frankieolson

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
n/a
Hello all!
Looking forward for my first Camino this April.. I'm sure I'll have many questions, but first I would love to know any advice for beginning my trip. I am thinking I will start at SJPdP, but the more I have read the more I have found that it is quite difficult finding open beds during this "stage" and the next few. I don't plan on booking in advance any more than a few days, but would love some advice whether or not that is something I should look into? Sorry for this broad/rookie question, it feels like a whole lot of information and I would love some advice.
Thank you!
 
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Hello all!
Looking forward for my first Camino this April.. I'm sure I'll have many questions, but first I would love to know any advice for beginning my trip. I am thinking I will start at SJPdP, but the more I have read the more I have found that it is quite difficult finding open beds during this "stage" and the next few. I don't plan on booking in advance any more than a few days, but would love some advice whether or not that is something I should look into? Sorry for this broad/rookie question, it feels like a whole lot of information and I would love some advice.
Thank you!

Hello, frankieolson, and a warm welcome to the Forum. :) I have a son who also live in Denver.

Here is a link which also may be of help as you begin: 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.
 
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wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Welcome Frankie, if you start in early to mid April and things should be quieter. Book ahead for St. Jean but you should be able to wing it after that and you can always book a day ahead if you like. If you are nervous about the whole thing don't worry, we all were, as soon as you start walking it will disappear. If you do decide to walk in April my advise is to have good rain gear, warm layers and good walking boots or shoes as it can be muddy and wet.
Happy planning and Buen Camino.
 

Ianinam

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2013 / CP 2018
Hospitalera at Roncesvalles:
2015/2016/2017/2018/2019/2020
If you start in the first week of April you will have no problem at all finding a bed. But keep in mind that the weekend of 12/13 April will be the Easter weekend and then it can be a problem to find a bed, you'd better make reservations for that weekend.
And by the end of April the high season starts, so also for that period it is better to make reservations fot the 'bottleneck' between Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Pamplona.
 

RRat

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2017
Hello all!
Looking forward for my first Camino this April.. I'm sure I'll have many questions, but first I would love to know any advice for beginning my trip. I am thinking I will start at SJPdP, but the more I have read the more I have found that it is quite difficult finding open beds during this "stage" and the next few. I don't plan on booking in advance any more than a few days, but would love some advice whether or not that is something I should look into? Sorry for this broad/rookie question, it feels like a whole lot of information and I would love some advice.
Thank you!
No need to book. As locations fill others will open. I arrived late to find out no beds available in a small town. There was about 20 of us dragging in late. Lo and behold taxi arrived loaded us up, called ahead to a small hotel in the next village that had a alburgue level. One of the best nights stays. Hotel even had an elevator in addition to stairs. You will learn to appreciate that amenity.
 

c0484

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
Hello all!
Looking forward for my first Camino this April.. I'm sure I'll have many questions, but first I would love to know any advice for beginning my trip. I am thinking I will start at SJPdP, but the more I have read the more I have found that it is quite difficult finding open beds during this "stage" and the next few. I don't plan on booking in advance any more than a few days, but would love some advice whether or not that is something I should look into? Sorry for this broad/rookie question, it feels like a whole lot of information and I would love some advice.
Thank you!
I suggest that 90 days before you go you make a reservation in one of the SJPDP albergues. Look them up on line or refer to the attached list.
 

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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
If you start in the first week of April you will have no problem at all finding a bed. But keep in mind that the weekend of 12/13 April will be the Easter weekend and then it can be a problem to find a bed, you'd better make reservations for that weekend.
And by the end of April the high season starts, so also for that period it is better to make reservations fot the 'bottleneck' between Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Pamplona.

I wouldn't think one would need reservations for Easter Everywhere. Aren't there places that people leave to go somewhere else on Easter? Stay in those places.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
In 2019 I started walking the Frances on April 11 from SJPP. Easter was April 21, and Semana Santa was the week before that. I needed pre-booking from the beginning until a couple of days after Easter.

I was not a slow walker and I wasn't the only one affected. Just reporting my experience last spring.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Hello all!
Looking forward for my first Camino this April.. I'm sure I'll have many questions, but first I would love to know any advice for beginning my trip. I am thinking I will start at SJPdP, but the more I have read the more I have found that it is quite difficult finding open beds during this "stage" and the next few. I don't plan on booking in advance any more than a few days, but would love some advice whether or not that is something I should look into? Sorry for this broad/rookie question, it feels like a whole lot of information and I would love some advice.
Thank you!
There are so many factors that go into where you start your Camino that it is hard to give definitive advice. It depends on how long you have to travel, what is important to you, your level of fitness, etc. So I'm going to make some assumptions, state them explicitly, and if I have any of them wrong, you know where to adjust my advice (although, of course, you can always ignore it entirely).

I'm assuming that you want to walk as much of the "traditional" Camino Frances, famed in books and movies, as possible and have plenty of time to do so. That's why you are thinking of starting in SJPdP. The "plenty of time" is a crucial part of my assumptions. My general recommendation is always give yourself more time then you think you will possibly need. That reduces the possibility that you find yourself racing towards Santiago to catch a plane, never a situation you want to be in. If you don't have plenty of time, you might want to start a bit closer to Santiago. If you find you have extra time at the end, you can walk to Finisterre/Muxia, or there is plenty to see in Santiago and Iberia. Since this is your first Camino, you don't really know how far you can walk day after day before the wear and tear on your body becomes excessive. With my teenage son, we found that 20-25 km a day worked fine but 25-30+ km a day, day after day, inevitably produced terrible blisters. Who knows what it will be for you?

But I'm assuming you have the time and want to walk the "whole" Camino Frances (and don't get me started how there really is no "whole" Camino Frances!) . My advice for a first timer would be:
- Take two days to get from SJPdP to Roncesvalles. If the Napoleon route is open and you are taking it, stop at Orisson. If you are taking the Valcarlos route, stop at Valcarlos.
- Book the first few nights in advance: SJPdP, Orisson/Valcarlos, Roncesvalles, perhaps Zubiri if you plan on staying there after Roncesvalles. After that don't worry about booking ahead. Maybe towards the end in Galicia you will want to book a day or two in advance again. By then you will know how far you tend to walk in a day.

Personally, when I have walked, I walked from Roncesvalles and last time (July 2016) I booked Roncesvalles and Zubiri. Next time, I am likely to start at Ostabat (a day before SJPdP where the routes from Paris, Vezelay and Le Puy join). In that case, I would reserve at Ostabat, SJPdP, Orisson, Roncesvalles and Zubiri but not beyond. If I were walking from Le Puy or Vezelay or Paris, I wouldn't stop at Orisson. By that point in my walk, I think I would be conditioned so it would be a lot less challenging to walk from SJPdP to Roncesvalles than it will be on the first or second days.
 
Last edited:

frankieolson

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
n/a
Hello, frankieolson, and a warm welcome to the Forum. :) I have a son who also live in Denver.

Here is a link which also may be of help as you begin: 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.
thank you so much, this is so helpful!
 

frankieolson

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
n/a
There are so many factors that go into where you start your Camino that it is hard to give definitive advice. It depends on how long you have to travel, what is important to you, your level of fitness, etc. So I'm going to make some assumptions, state them explicitly, and if I have any of them wrong, you know where to adjust my advice (although, of course, you can always ignore it entirely).

I'm assuming that you want to walk as much of the "traditional" Camino Frances, famed in books and movies, as possible and have plenty of time to do so. That's why you are thinking of starting in SJPdP. The "plenty of time" is a crucial part of my assumptions. My general recommendation is always give yourself more time then you think you will possibly need. That reduces the possibility that you find yourself racing towards Santiago to catch a plane, never a situation you want to be in. If you don't have plenty of time, you might want to start a bit closer to Santiago. If you find you have extra time at the end, you can walk to Finisterre/Muxia, or there is plenty to see in Santiago and Iberia. Since this is your first Camino, you don't really know how far you can walk day after day before the wear and tear on your body becomes excessive. With my teenage son, we found that 20-25 km a day worked fine but 25-30+ km a day, day after day, inevitably produced terrible blisters. Who knows what it will be for you?

But I'm assuming you have the time and want to walk the "whole" Camino Frances (and don't get me started how there really is no "whole" Camino Frances!) . My advice for a first timer would be:
- Take two days to get from SJPdP to Roncesvalles. If the Napoleon route is open and you are taking it, stop at Orisson. If you are taking the Valcarlos route, stop at Valcarlos.
- Book the first few nights in advance: SJPdP, Orisson/Valcarlos, Roncesvalles, perhaps Zubiri if you plan on staying there after Roncesvalles. After that don't worry about booking ahead. Maybe towards the end in Galicia you will want to book a day or two in advance again. By then you will know how far you tend to walk in a day.

Personally, when I have walked, I walked from Roncesvalles and last time (July 2016) I booked Roncesvalles and Zubiri. Next time, I am likely to start at Ostabat (a day before SJPdP where the routes from Paris, Vexelay and Le Puy join). In that case, I would reserve at Ostabat, SJPdP, Orisson, Roncesvalles and Zubiri but not beyond. If I were walking from Le Puy or Vezelay or Paris, I wouldn't stop at Orisson. By that point in my walk, I think I would be conditioned so it would be a lot less challenging to walk from SJPdP to Roncesvalles than it will be on the first or second days.
thank you!
 

Robert B.

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Madrid - May (2017)
Frankie - Do spend as much time as you can researching lots of Camino Routes. I did that, and I was so happy to have discovered the 'route for me' and I am sure you will find the same. Don't get stuck on the idea that you have to walk the most popular route. Find the one that suits you best. Buen Camino!
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
Hello all!
Looking forward for my first Camino this April.. I'm sure I'll have many questions, but first I would love to know any advice for beginning my trip. I am thinking I will start at SJPdP, but the more I have read the more I have found that it is quite difficult finding open beds during this "stage" and the next few. I don't plan on booking in advance any more than a few days, but would love some advice whether or not that is something I should look into? Sorry for this broad/rookie question, it feels like a whole lot of information and I would love some advice.
Thank you!
Hi there. Best of luck on your Camino - you do realise that it is addictive, don't you?

An alternative to SJPdP would be to start in Pamplona - big city, lots of accommodation and easy to get to. Buen Camino.
 

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