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Getting Small and the In-Between Places

Bob Howard

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2016 2018 2022
In the Spring of 2021, I posted “Getting Small”, about pack size and “The In-Between Places” about maybe taking a slower pace and staying in some of the villages and towns between the typically recognized overnights. This past summer I walked the Francis again starting in late June and finishing in early August. After several nights in Santiago, I spent a few weeks visiting other parts of Spain, and then returned to Leon to meet two long time friends for a Leon-Santiago Camino. Some observations and comments relating to the two earlier posts:

Regarding "Getting Small" (original post here: www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/getting-small.69729/). I wrote then that after using a 40L pack in 2016 and a 35L in 2018, I intended to to use a 20L, specifically the Osprey Pro 20 (photo in original post), and which I expected to weigh in at about 11 lbs. As I was preparing, I had a slight change of plans that would necessitate taking a few items of non-Camino attire, weighing about two lbs. I decided to go with the Osprey Stratos 24, which was more than enough—a very comfortable pack, but not quite the streamlining and I had originally planned.

I also saw plenty of very big packs, but overall it seemed to me that this year pack sizes were smaller compared to my 2016 and 2018 recollections. Particularly with respect to Spanish pilgrims. Almost every Spaniard I saw had a 30L or less pack. I also noticed that Spanish Pilgrims tended to look less “expeditionary” than say North Americans. It’s almost as if a Spaniard is watching TV on a Saturday morning in a tee shirt and shorts, thinks about the Camino and just gets up and starts walking. Ok, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but I imagine that for a Spaniard, walking the Camino is not as much of an “adventure" inasmuch as the experience is within their metaphorical backyard.

Regarding “The In-between Places" (original post here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/the-in-between-places.69961/). In 2016 I took about 30 days, pretty much the Brierley stages. In 2018, I intended to slow down a bit, but I wound up exactly matching the 2016 pace, and staying in most of the same villages/towns. So, for 2022, I decided to stretch out the walking days to 42, a far more leisurely pace which enabled me to stay in some of the charming towns/villages I only passed through previously. So, the in-between places for me this past summer were: Navarette, Villafranca de Montes de Oca, Rabe de La Calzada, Castrojeriz, Ledigos, Villares de Orbigo, Rabanal, El Acebo, Molinaseca, Cacabelos, Las Herrerias, and Eirexe.

From SJPDP I initially followed the intinerary of my previous Caminos—SJPdP, Orisson, Roncevalles, Zubiri, Pamplona. Although I had not crossed the bridge into Larrasoana on the previous Caminos, I walked in this time, and immediately realized I should have stayed there instead of Zubiri. I also followed my previous Camino Itineraries from Pamplona to Puente de La Reina, Estella, and Sansol, before my first in-between place which was Navarette. I think if I were to do the Francis again (which I probably will) I would walk Viana to Navarette, skipping the usual overnight in Logrono.

So, the result of a slow camino and staying at some of the in-between places was that I saw wonderful appeal in virtually all of the in-between places but also occasionally had very short days, as little as 8 km/5 miles one day. I could have avoided many of those short days by not staying in my favorite towns which happened to be close to in-between places. But for me, right now at least, certain towns I have so much affection for, I don’t want to miss staying in them—that would be the case with Pamplona, Puenta La Reine, Estella, Najera, Santo Domingo de Las Calzadas, Burgos, Hontanas, Carrion de Las Condes, Sahugun, Leon, Astorga, Villafranca del Bierzo, Triacastela, and Portomarin. So, as doctrinaire as it may seem, overnights in those places are mandatory for me.

A few other observations.

July and August are not crowded. At all. I had days I only saw five or six people walking. Got the impression that there were plenty of beds/rooms. In Las Herrerias at the very pleasant Albergue Casa Lixa, only five of the 30 dormitory beds were occupied. Of course, it’s a different story after Sarria.

I stayed in three of the in-between places—Villares de Orbigo, Melide, and Fonfria—solely because of albergue/accommodations reviews I had read on the forum. I would stay in Villares de Orbigo again.

I happened to hit the Meseta during the heat wave. I carried a liter of water from Carrion de Las Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza. Otherwise I don’t think i ever carried more than a small 12 oz bottle. I drink a lot during the day as I tend to stop at every interesting looking bar. Most pilgrims during the heat wave were leaving very early. I typically left at 6:00 and was done by 11:00, or even earlier. So the heat wave was really not a factor if you weren’t walking in the afternoon.

On my two previous Caminos, I took the Samos alternate route from Triacastela. This time I took the San Xil route and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful sections I have walked.

Finally, a bit of a personal revelation. I carried my pack every day on three full caminos. On the shorter Camino this year (Leon to Santiago) with my two friends, one of the guys had a recent lower back issue and planned to have his pack forwarded daily. After the first day, all three of us started sending our packs ahead. Wow. The walk became distinctively more enjoyable—even though my pack at 6 kilos/13 lbs was not that heavy.

One final comment. After Santiago, I started a train tour going first to Lugo. I still cannot stop thinking about Lugo’s picturesque charm. Saw barely a handful of Primitivo pilgrims in Lugo. I stayed for three nights. I think I would like to live there.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
Very good account and advice. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the label of "in between places" although I appreciate your meaning and the convenience of a term. However, I never thought of them as any different from the end points that happened to be shown on each page of a guide book. A long map of the route across Spain would not fit on one page! :)
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
In the Spring of 2021, I posted “Getting Small”, about pack size and “The In-Between Places” about maybe taking a slower pace and staying in some of the villages and towns between the typically recognized overnights. This past summer I walked the Francis again starting in late June and finishing in early August. After several nights in Santiago, I spent a few weeks visiting other parts of Spain, and then returned to Leon to meet two long time friends for a Leon-Santiago Camino. Some observations and comments relating to the two earlier posts:

Regarding "Getting Small" (original post here: www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/getting-small.69729/). I wrote then that after using a 40L pack in 2016 and a 35L in 2018, I intended to to use a 20L, specifically the Osprey Pro 20 (photo in original post), and which I expected to weigh in at about 11 lbs. As I was preparing, I had a slight change of plans that would necessitate taking a few items of non-Camino attire, weighing about two lbs. I decided to go with the Osprey Stratos 24, which was more than enough—a very comfortable pack, but not quite the streamlining and I had originally planned.

I also saw plenty of very big packs, but overall it seemed to me that this year pack sizes were smaller compared to my 2016 and 2018 recollections. Particularly with respect to Spanish pilgrims. Almost every Spaniard I saw had a 30L or less pack. I also noticed that Spanish Pilgrims tended to look less “expeditionary” than say North Americans. It’s almost as if a Spaniard is watching TV on a Saturday morning in a tee shirt and shorts, thinks about the Camino and just gets up and starts walking. Ok, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but I imagine that for a Spaniard, walking the Camino is not as much of an “adventure" inasmuch as the experience is within their metaphorical backyard.

Regarding “The In-between Places" (original post here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/the-in-between-places.69961/). In 2016 I took about 30 days, pretty much the Brierley stages. In 2018, I intended to slow down a bit, but I wound up exactly matching the 2016 pace, and staying in most of the same villages/towns. So, for 2022, I decided to stretch out the walking days to 42, a far more leisurely pace which enabled me to stay in some of the charming towns/villages I only passed through previously. So, the in-between places for me this past summer were: Navarette, Villafranca de Montes de Oca, Rabe de La Calzada, Castrojeriz, Ledigos, Villares de Orbigo, Rabanal, El Acebo, Molinaseca, Cacabelos, Las Herrerias, and Eirexe.

From SJPDP I initially followed the intinerary of my previous Caminos—SJPdP, Orisson, Roncevalles, Zubiri, Pamplona. Although I had not crossed the bridge into Larrasoana on the previous Caminos, I walked in this time, and immediately realized I should have stayed there instead of Zubiri. I also followed my previous Camino Itineraries from Pamplona to Puente de La Reina, Estella, and Sansol, before my first in-between place which was Navarette. I think if I were to do the Francis again (which I probably will) I would walk Viana to Navarette, skipping the usual overnight in Logrono.

So, the result of a slow camino and staying at some of the in-between places was that I saw wonderful appeal in virtually all of the in-between places but also occasionally had very short days, as little as 8 km/5 miles one day. I could have avoided many of those short days by not staying in my favorite towns which happened to be close to in-between places. But for me, right now at least, certain towns I have so much affection for, I don’t want to miss staying in them—that would be the case with Pamplona, Puenta La Reine, Estella, Najera, Santo Domingo de Las Calzadas, Burgos, Hontanas, Carrion de Las Condes, Sahugun, Leon, Astorga, Villafranca del Bierzo, Triacastela, and Portomarin. So, as doctrinaire as it may seem, overnights in those places are mandatory for me.

A few other observations.

July and August are not crowded. At all. I had days I only saw five or six people walking. Got the impression that there were plenty of beds/rooms. In Las Herrerias at the very pleasant Albergue Casa Lixa, only five of the 30 dormitory beds were occupied. Of course, it’s a different story after Sarria.

I stayed in three of the in-between places—Villares de Orbigo, Melide, and Fonfria—solely because of albergue/accommodations reviews I had read on the forum. I would stay in Villares de Orbigo again.

I happened to hit the Meseta during the heat wave. I carried a liter of water from Carrion de Las Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza. Otherwise I don’t think i ever carried more than a small 12 oz bottle. I drink a lot during the day as I tend to stop at every interesting looking bar. Most pilgrims during the heat wave were leaving very early. I typically left at 6:00 and was done by 11:00, or even earlier. So the heat wave was really not a factor if you weren’t walking in the afternoon.

On my two previous Caminos, I took the Samos alternate route from Triacastela. This time I took the San Xil route and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful sections I have walked.

Finally, a bit of a personal revelation. I carried my pack every day on three full caminos. On the shorter Camino this year (Leon to Santiago) with my two friends, one of the guys had a recent lower back issue and planned to have his pack forwarded daily. After the first day, all three of us started sending our packs ahead. Wow. The walk became distinctively more enjoyable—even though my pack at 6 kilos/13 lbs was not that heavy.

One final comment. After Santiago, I started a train tour going first to Lugo. I still cannot stop thinking about Lugo’s picturesque charm. Saw barely a handful of Primitivo pilgrims in Lugo. I stayed for three nights. I think I would like to live there.
I liked Lugo as well. We took a detour 'rest day' from Sarria and really enjoyed it.
Ive stayed in the non-Brierley places too, its just worked out that way, so every Camino has different places to stay - (and some the same).
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Full disclosure, the owners of Albergue Maralotx in Cirauqui are friends of mine. They moved from the Primitivo (having transferred Albergue Ponte Ferreira to @Thomas1962) and bought the Maralotx. It is definitely a “between stage” place, and for people like @Bob Howard, who love staying in Puente la Reina, it’s not likely to work. Puente la Reina to Cirauqui is only 7.5 km.

But it is a gorgeous and impeccably maintained albergue, serves communal dinner, has private rooms, and has a self-serve breakfast. They have preserved many of the old features of the home.


Highly recommended no matter what kind of stages you like to walk! Currently closed for winter, will reopen next spring.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Full disclosure, the owners of Albergue Maralotx in Cirauqui are friends of mine. They moved from the Primitivo (having transferred Albergue Ponte Ferreira to @Thomas1962) and bought the Maralotx. It is definitely a “between stage” place, and for people like @Bob Howard, who love staying in Puente la Reina, it’s not likely to work. Puente la Reina to Cirauqui is only 7.5 km.

But it is a gorgeous and impeccably maintained albergue, serves communal dinner, has private rooms, and has a self-serve breakfast. They have preserved many of the old features of the home.


Highly recommended no matter what kind of stages you like to walk! Currently closed for winter, will reopen next spring.
We stayed in Cirauqui and not Puente la Reina. Lovely, but no ATM here folks...at least not in 2016.
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
Regarding “The In-between Places"
Nice update. For me - I can't stand the idea of walking shorter days - so my remedy to get to some "in between places" is simply to walk a little further to get to in between places. It works better for me, as I don't enjoy sitting around for too many hours of the day and I love walking the longer distances.
I happened to hit the Meseta during the heat wave. I carried a liter of water from Carrion de Las Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza. Otherwise I don’t think i ever carried more than a small 12 oz bottle. I drink a lot during the day as I tend to stop at every interesting looking bar. Most pilgrims during the heat wave were leaving very early. I typically left at 6:00 and was done by 11:00, or even earlier. So the heat wave was really not a factor if you weren’t walking in the afternoon.
I finished just before the heat wave, thank goodness. My daughter on the other hand had the fires AND the heat wave to deal with. Many pilgrims she knew decided to leave the Camino due to the heat. My daughter - well - she did NOT get up earlier. In fact, she was getting up later. And walking in the hottest part of the day. But she took long breaks during her walk to help deal. She did have one day where I could tell she had heat exhaustion and I convinced her to take a rest day. She did and felt so much better after the rest.


I did transport my bag - once - over the Pyrenees due to ankle injuries sustained BEFORE I even started hiking. Yes - I felt lighter. But not enough that I wanted to keep transporting my bag ahead.

As for bag size - I have gone with a 28 and a 30L and had a TON of room after my last Camino (until my post-Camino shopping). I will probably use a 24L bag. I can fit everything into a 20L - but I do NOT want to use it because I want to keep extra space for carrying food INSIDE my bag. I see lots of people attach extra food bags and such outside their pack, but dangling bags and shoes alike drive me crazy haha.

Thanks for sharing your updates!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I thought Viana was an adorable, but smallish town to walk through, but I did not spend time there.

I really enjoyed the walk into Logrono with the very interesting huge cemetery with magnificent old trees on the way in; walking across the attractive bridge into the town; the main street with the bars and restaurants with outdoor seating; the lovely cathedral on the square, etc.
We enjoyed staying in the private albergue "la Pata & Oca". (Can't resist sharing a few pics )
Screenshot_20221206-163849~2.png Screenshot_20221206-163956~2.png
Screenshot_20221206-163936~2.png Screenshot_20221206-163917~2.png
 

AnneO

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Full disclosure, the owners of Albergue Maralotx in Cirauqui are friends of mine. They moved from the Primitivo (having transferred Albergue Ponte Ferreira to @Thomas1962) and bought the Maralotx. It is definitely a “between stage” place, and for people like @Bob Howard, who love staying in Puente la Reina, it’s not likely to work. Puente la Reina to Cirauqui is only 7.5 km.

But it is a gorgeous and impeccably maintained albergue, serves communal dinner, has private rooms, and has a self-serve breakfast. They have preserved many of the old features of the home.


Highly recommended no matter what kind of stages you like to walk! Currently closed for winter, will reopen next spring.
Already have a reservation there for next Spring! Looking forward to it.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
April 28, 2022 Camino Frances
Full disclosure, the owners of Albergue Maralotx in Cirauqui are friends of mine. They moved from the Primitivo (having transferred Albergue Ponte Ferreira to @Thomas1962) and bought the Maralotx. It is definitely a “between stage” place, and for people like @Bob Howard, who love staying in Puente la Reina, it’s not likely to work. Puente la Reina to Cirauqui is only 7.5 km.

But it is a gorgeous and impeccably maintained albergue, serves communal dinner, has private rooms, and has a self-serve breakfast. They have preserved many of the old features of the home.


Highly recommended no matter what kind of stages you like to walk! Currently closed for winter, will reopen next spring.
We loved staying there this year, Juan was wonderful although we did not have the opportunity to meet his wife. The town had a great party and there was singing at the church at midnight. We also had the meal at Maralotx, wonderful experience.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2021; CSS/CP 2022
Maralotx in Cirauqui was one of my favorite places on the Camino Frances. Paloma embodies the Camino spirit in every possible way. I will never forget her kindness, and her incredible energy. (I will also never forget the church bells chiming every quarter hour throughout the night, but I have heard that is no longer the case? 😉). I found myself staying “off-stage” many nights when I walked in 2021, and loved the often more intimate experiences. Albergues Bideluze in Castildelgado (Isabel), Casa Las Almas in Espinosa (Ulrich), and El Serba y La Luna in Pieros (Mar) also really stand out in my memory. Real lessons in hospitality!
 

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Time of past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
Very informative thread. I’m trying hard each Camino to ignore distance and go for interest but it’s hard. This thread is very helpful, I pray it sticks with me on the ground,
 

MargiSchmidt

CF: SJPP to Santiago Sept-Oct 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, Sept 9, 2022...First One
If you had to choose between Logrono and Viana, which would you choose?
Wow. Tough call. Loved both and wished I'd had more time to spend in each. They both had great restaurants and a lot of action. I think it depends on what you are looking for. Logrono is bigger and has more going on- it seemed to have a festival almost every weekend and the river setting is lovely. The cathedral in Viana was spectacular. Both places had lovely public spaces. I could hang in Viana for a day. I could hang in Logrono for several. I'd probably decide based on how far you want to walk.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
If you had to choose between Logrono and Viana, which would you choose?
If I had to choose, I'd pick Logroño - primarily because the tapas bars of Calle del Laurel are so much fun!
But if you have the time, there's no need to choose. Stay in both. I know that it's a short walk between Viana and Logroño, but this is exactly what I like to do instead of full rest days. Book a private room in Logroño where you can drop off your backpack upon arrival and explore the town, then maybe take a nap. In the evening meet other pilgrims for a tapas crawl. Next day, sleep in and do another short day to Navarette or Ventosa.
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
Very good account and advice. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the label of "in between places" although I appreciate your meaning and the convenience of a term. However, I never thought of them as any different from the end points that happened to be shown on each page of a guide book. A long map of the route across Spain would not fit on one page! :)

All those 'in between' places are my regular stops :oops:

But there again, I'm a 40 day not 30 day kinda pilgrim......... ;)
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2006 to date: Over 21 Caminos. See signature line
If you had to choose between Logrono and Viana, which would you choose?
I prefer Viana if you've already SEEN Logroño. But Joe and I spent a few days in Logroño last Spring and I was surprised at all there was to see there besides tapas. Though I love Viana, I think Logroño would be a great rest day stopover.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
1989
I think next time I do a Camino Frances, I'm likely to do both. Rather than a rest day in Logroño, just a short day into it. I'd like to stay in Logroño and experience Calle Laurel but Viana is a better distance for the previous day's walk. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Viana because that is where I picked up the hiking poles that saved my 2016 Camino.
 

Juanma

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Primitivo (2015 and 2016)
We stayed in Cirauqui and not Puente la Reina. Lovely, but no ATM here folks...at least not in 2016.
I¡m not 100% sure but I think in 2016 there was already an ATM in Cirauqui; there has been one now for at least the last 4-5 years: it's in the Town Hall square on the very Camino path, some 150m from the albergue: it's a La Caixa office with an ATM that's open 24h.

Maralotx in Cirauqui was one of my favorite places on the Camino Frances. Paloma embodies the Camino spirit in every possible way. I will never forget her kindness, and her incredible energy. (I will also never forget the church bells chiming every quarter hour throughout the night, but I have heard that is no longer the case? 😉). I found myself staying “off-stage” many nights when I walked in 2021, and loved the often more intimate experiences. Albergues Bideluze in Castildelgado (Isabel), Casa Las Almas in Espinosa (Ulrich), and El Serba y La Luna in Pieros (Mar) also really stand out in my memory. Real lessons in hospitality!
That's right, we are so happy to let everyone now know that the church bells don't ring anymore during the night, since early this year 2022! :)

Thanks to everyone who mentioned having stayed/enjoyed it with us at Maralotx in this thread, and to Laurie for mentioning us! If anyone need any help with organizing their stages through this area, or with any kind of logistics, feel free to drop me a line through private message. All the best to all,
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I¡m not 100% sure but I think in 2016 there was already an ATM in Cirauqui; there has been one now for at least the last 4-5 years: it's in the Town Hall square on the very Camino path, some 150m from the albergue: it's a La Caixa office with an ATM that's open 24h.
As yes, it might have been Maneru where we were told there was not a machine. A young pilgrim couple with a small boy from America were searching for one and spoke no Spanish so we were able to help with our poor translation skills at a local shop. We offered to loan them some euros, but they declined...
 
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