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Guide books - and the sour taste they leave

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (June, 2012) (Dec/Jan, 2013/14) Camino Portuguese (Summer, 2014)
#1
We all start out like this…

We buy a guide book, read excitedly about the Camino and its stages and often follow the recommendations about albergues and routes outlined in them because after all the author must know!

During my last Camino I decided to ditch the recommendations of the famous Brierley guide when I discovered that the little villages in between stages are often more beautiful, peaceful and welcoming then the ‘recommended’ stage destinations.

However, one day I got confronted with the reality of what these recommendations mean to locals and I was both shocked and saddened by it.

Walking out of Leon I decided to take the ‘grey’ route planning to stay in San Martin del Camino. It was a pleasant walk despite walking along the road. One of the locals, now in his 90s, had left out snacks and drinks in his front yard for pilgrims to enjoy as he used to walk the Camino many times when he was younger …. It was the nicest thing ever … except there were no pilgrims to enjoy it and this was in June!

Upon arrival in San Martin I stayed in Santa Ana … it was spacious, clean … and very empty! There were 4 pilgrims (including myself) and the other 2 albergues didn’t look any busier. When I talked to hospitaleira I discovered that since the route via Mazarife was recommended hardly any pilgrims came this way and a 4th Albuerge in town had to close down already. During the joined evening meal I discovered that 2 of the other pilgrims only had ended up there because they had ‘taken a wrong turn’ and they wanted to take the recommended route too. I felt very sorry for the owner of the Albergue as she was so welcoming, an amazing cook and we even got free cherries from a tree growing in the yard.

Make of this little story what you want but it really brought home to that the decisions we make, the guide books we follow (often without thinking too much about it) can have a profound impact on the locals. Perhaps we should start using our own head more, choose our routes and places to stay based on what feels right to us rather than following the trail like sheep.


Despite all this I had an amazing time and wish everybody all the joy and love there is to discover out there!


Andrea
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#2
I write trail guides. And just today I spoke to a woman who had a wonderful Camino Vadiniense. She almost apologized for NOT following the guide to the letter, and instead of staying in the hostal or casa rural I´d found and listed, she instead slept in the family home of a shepherd she met along the way!
So you are right.
A guide is only a guideline, it´s not a rule book. It´s only there to give you an idea of how far you can go and what it might cost when you get there. The camino is what you experience in real time, in the real world, where the guidebook writer can never go with you. The adventure part is up to you!
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes please!
#4
I saw a woman on the CF who had laminated the Brierley stage maps. To make sure she could read them even in the rain, supposedly, but it did seem a bit ... final. I walked with a friend who had the Brierley, I had the Rother, left it, got separated from my friend, bought a Pili Pala spiral bound map book, then got rid of that and went with the flow. Luckily different books have different info and suggest slightly different stages so everybody doesn't end up in the same places. Use your guide book to get info on facilities along the way and stop when you like without following the stages set out by someone whose idea of a good Camino will probably be different to yours. I looked forward to the cities before I went, but then found I enjoyed stopping in the small villages a lot more!
 
#5
I always look at guide books (Camino and otherwise) as a source of suggestions and information, but not an instruction manual. Everybody is different though. I have been places and seen other visitors checking things off in a guide book like it is a shopping list. Not the way I want to go, but if it works for them, it works. On trips, I routinely take wrong turns and find the coolest stuff, so I am anticipating that the Camino will be the same.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#6
I have never had a guide book. I check out on the Web the various options and simply follow the yellow arrows. Anne
 

mralisn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SdC (2005), Camino Norte-Fisterra (2010), SJPdP-Muxia-Fisterra (2012), Camino Norte w/Primitivo-Muxia-Fisterra (2014), Camino Portuguese (2016)
#7
When I first started traveling by backpack years ago, I would thumb through magazines and write to tour companies asking for their information to be mailed to me. Once in hand, I would piece together my own "plan" as to what I wanted to do. I didn't have any intention of ever paying for a tour nor a guide. I didn't have internet for a long time then.

Now I kind of do the same. I find information from all kinds of sources, and still create something I might like. I do this on all my travels. Sometimes it "works" and sometimes it "WORKS"! My adventures are unreal, and like another above, some really cool things are experienced. At other times, total "failure" whatever that means. Heck, I'm traveling!

When it comes to the Camino, I like the little pamphlet-like book I get from the CSJ. It's simple enough for me to understand. I look for information at various refugios, and talk to hospitaleros/other walkers for more updated personal recommendations too. Easy for me.

I get asked often to lead a group. I always think the same thing, "What good would I do?" My only "guiding" would include landing, sleeping, supplying, walk west for a month, stop when you get to the sea.

In all of this, I understand how blessed I am to have traveled so much. I can see how such an undertaking can be a bit scary for someone without such "mileage" no matter on the Camino or someplace else. It really can be unnerving whether 18 or 68. Sometimes these types of people become my best travel partners.

Agreed, a guidebook doesn't mean a rulebook. I'm an Aries. I don't do well with rules anyway unless their mine. ;)

Keep a smile,
Simeon
 
Camino(s) past & future
Arles Route (2013/2014 onwards)
#9
The clue is in the name, it is a guide book not an instruction manual. I took the CSJ Guide simply for the route description and the Miam Miam Dodo Guide for accommodation information and contacts. Left me flexible each day to go as far as I wanted and not where I was told to go. Worked well for me. Also took the GR Guide for the maps only; used once and it was inaccurate! Be flexible and live a little.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
#11
We all start out like this…

We buy a guide book, read excitedly about the Camino and its stages and often follow the recommendations about albergues and routes outlined in them because after all the author must know!

During my last Camino I decided to ditch the recommendations of the famous Brierley guide when I discovered that the little villages in between stages are often more beautiful, peaceful and welcoming then the ‘recommended’ stage destinations.

However, one day I got confronted with the reality of what these recommendations mean to locals and I was both shocked and saddened by it.

Walking out of Leon I decided to take the ‘grey’ route planning to stay in San Martin del Camino. It was a pleasant walk despite walking along the road. One of the locals, now in his 90s, had left out snacks and drinks in his front yard for pilgrims to enjoy as he used to walk the Camino many times when he was younger …. It was the nicest thing ever … except there were no pilgrims to enjoy it and this was in June!

Upon arrival in San Martin I stayed in Santa Ana … it was spacious, clean … and very empty! There were 4 pilgrims (including myself) and the other 2 albergues didn’t look any busier. When I talked to hospitaleira I discovered that since the route via Mazarife was recommended hardly any pilgrims came this way and a 4th Albuerge in town had to close down already. During the joined evening meal I discovered that 2 of the other pilgrims only had ended up there because they had ‘taken a wrong turn’ and they wanted to take the recommended route too. I felt very sorry for the owner of the Albergue as she was so welcoming, an amazing cook and we even got free cherries from a tree growing in the yard.

Make of this little story what you want but it really brought home to that the decisions we make, the guide books we follow (often without thinking too much about it) can have a profound impact on the locals. Perhaps we should start using our own head more, choose our routes and places to stay based on what feels right to us rather than following the trail like sheep.


Despite all this I had an amazing time and wish everybody all the joy and love there is to discover out there!


Andrea
I took that route as I wanted to stay in San Martin del camino, all busy road, murder,ended up needing medical treatment as I got server pain in my ears from traffic noice. Agree lovely albergue , other route very good and excellent albergue as well, we can't stop everywhere. Go n'eiri an bothar leat, nollaig Shona .
 
#12
And many a time over the years I have cursed Tony Wheeler and wished I could get my hands around his throat.
But Sixwheeler is correct. The clue is in the name.
Regds
Gerard
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (February/March 2014)
#13
Brierley's book is not the reason why so many people do not walk a certain path as the book is only for english speaking pilgrims.
Well, let me disagree. The majority of pilgrims might not be from an english speaking country, but english has certainly become the recognized "international language", and as such most people come to learn it at some point. And when it came the time for me to buy a guide book, I went for the Brierley's guide, as it seemed the most popular and it was easier for me to order it online that it would be to find a portuguese written one at a bookstore. And I'm sure I'm not the only one to follow these criteria.

However, I bought it as research. And I think it will be very useful to have it around and to seek which route we want to follow on each particular day, on the spot, despite the fact that we aren't even remotely inclinated to follow the designated stages. Every day we plan to walk as much as our bodies demand, and we will also carry a detailed albergue list, so we have plenty of choice of where to stay, regardless of what the guide states or recommends.
 
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#14
I walked the Frances using the Brierley but after Roncesvalles was "off plan" most of the time. I found the map orientation weird and some albergue information incorrect, but any accommodation list is going to inaccurate due to the changing nature of the beast. I noticed last year that the different guides gave different routing and information at times. I think that one could easily go without one at all but it does give a little comfort factor to have one. The Brierley is quite heavy compared to some. As I like a map to orientate myself and allow a little "off piste" exploring I have now got the Michelin guide which gives me maps and elevation profiles and is much lighter and thinner and will fit in my leg pocket without being cumbersome. For accommodation information I will use the updated list that can be found on this forum. Each to their own, I am just sharing my take on it for anyone interested.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (June, 2012) (Dec/Jan, 2013/14) Camino Portuguese (Summer, 2014)
#15
Andrea I appreciate what you are saying but our decisions are our own not the author of a guidebook. Brierley's book is not the reason why so many people do not walk a certain path as the book is only for english speaking pilgrims. Which, if the stats are correct, are not the majority of pilgrims. I don't like seeing hard working people struggle either but I just can't see how Brierley is responsible by writing a guide.

Mark
I'm not suggesting that it is the guide book authors fault (Brierley or any of the others). Guide books are valuable resources and definitely help in the decision making process.

I just wanted to illustrate how decisions we as pilgrims and guests in a foreign country make have often severe impacts on the local community. While many people on this forum are aware of this and make their own decisions regarding route and rest stops many new pilgrims don’t. I have met many who feel they have to ‘stick to the rules’ or are simply overwhelmed by the experience so it is easier to just follow the plan ... which is of course fine if that works for them!

This is just one example on how we impact on local communities but there are many more …. just think of the ‘pilgrim toilets’ behind bushes, pilgrim graffiti on monuments and way markers, rubbish discarded without thought … the list goes on! The difference here is that every pilgrim that follows sees the consequences too, the effects of ‘recommendations’ in guide books are less obvious.

Andrea
 
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Dieppe, FR Bici CF.
2014 Ruta Vasco/CF/Primativo
#16
I love all these comments. And of course I do have my own opinions... I found Brierly heavy and cumbersome but some good info on accommodation. I used the maps in the small Michelin guide. It was enough for me and I like getting off the beaten track. To each their own.
But I do think and make up stories in my mind about what it might have been like for pilgrims in, say the year 899. Just a random date. Most were probably illiterate peasants looking for relief from the pain of their illness and poverty. Shoe-less, they followed a rumor, a legend, a dream of redemption. They were grateful if someone gave them a scrap of bread. Their were nobles also, with money and means and henchmen and guides. But, there was and is a common denominator. And that is one's personal in intimate inner world. Any pilgrimage will bring one face to face with it no matter what. As small as the world has gotten some people find stepping out their own front door very intimidating. Others take it as a call to adventure. Me? I see it somewhere in between.
Buen Camino to all!
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#17
Camino routing is very contentious at the local government level. Any change creates winners and losers. Rebekkah Scott has shared some stories with us over the years, and may be able to illuminate the continuing controversies. Alternative routing out of Ponferrada is having a hard time getting official support, I think.Guidebooks generally follow the "official" route, but they are not obligated to do so. Even if Brierley invented his unique route, I doubt it would have much impact on any community or facility. He is not that powerful! There are guides in Spanish that have the potential for impact, but I honestly have not seen a lot of Spaniards using a guidebook. They seem to know the way like a horse returning to the barn.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#18
Only after we returned home after completing our first Camino, did it strike me that we had walked the whole way across Spain without a map! Anne
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#19
For a simple guide that you can download and print, try www.caminoguide.net , available in two versions: the complete guide, or, what I use is simply the up to date list of all Albergues, with brief description and price, with km distances between each village. Have a look! Anne
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2014)
#20
Anna, I also hope to walk without a guide. I have the Brierley and the Kompass Jakobsweg Spanien but I am hoping to manage simply with a few handwritten notes and a list of Albergues, plus Kindle downloads and iPhone mapping apps to bail me out if necessary.

I just don't want to carry a guidebook.
Did you miss having one? Was a map still necessary?
I'm going to walk the Francès in July 2014; I figure that there will be plenty of people to follow along the way.

Am I off-base or too cavalier about it? I'm a pretty confident, experienced, lightweight traveler, but I've never done anything of this sort.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles (2012) Camino Del Norte (2013) Camino Primitivo (2013) Via Podensis (2013)
#21
Here this,

I bought the Ciecrone Le Puy to St Jean guide last crimbo to read over. Like the first comment, I read excitedly. After a couple of days after departing from Le Puy I did not like my guide. The maps (I love to know exactly where I am) were just lines on page with no other reference points, if I was to get lost how could I find the Camino with no points to get back onto it? Madness. The next thing was the descriptions...utterly pointless. Covering a distance of 15-20kms and it would say things like 'Turn L at field'. This was pointed out to me on day 1 by an Australian girl, then now and again I would see other pilgrims and have a not so positive conversation about this particular guide.

The only positive thing I found was the distances between the towns.

I ended up not using it in the long run and 'trusted the Camino'. This way was much better for me. I was free to pick my own route without a know-all voice making these decisions for me and felt I was making the most of it.

After Oviedo on the Primitivo I bumped into a top Scotch geezer who said that this publisher refused to update another of their Camino guides with up-to-date information from our own JonnieWalker.

Saying this, on my 1st Camino - the Ingles, I used the JonnieWalker guide and it proved invaluable.


Stedds :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - July 2013, July 2014
#22
I completely agree, we walked in July/August and some of the best Albergues and warmest welcomes were away from the stops of the Brierly guide, particular highlights for us was a night in Maneru Albergue and taking the route via Calzadilla de los hermanillos, rather than the Burgo Ranero route. The book is good for route guidance, but when we broke away from the prescribed overnight stops, Camino became even better! (and quieter!)
 

KentuckyJay

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hiked Leon to Santiago in May, 2014.
Hiked Porto to Santiago in May, 2016.
#23
Thank you both for wonderful thoughtful posts. I will be mindful when I am on my Camino in May and June of 2014. This seems to be, from what I have read in other threads, what pilgrims are seeking/looking for.

Buen Caminio to all!
Ditto when I do my Camino in late April and May.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#24
Anna, I also hope to walk without a guide. I have the Brierley and the Kompass Jakobsweg Spanien but I am hoping to manage simply with a few handwritten notes and a list of Albergues, plus Kindle downloads and iPhone mapping apps to bail me out if necessary.

I just don't want to carry a guidebook.
Did you miss having one? Was a map still necessary?
I'm going to walk the Francès in July 2014; I figure that there will be plenty of people to follow along the way.

Am I off-base or too cavalier about it? I'm a pretty confident, experienced, lightweight traveler, but I've never done anything of this sort.
No, at no one moment did I miss having a guide.
I must explain that we live in Costa Rica and, obviously for the low population here that might be interested in the Camino ( this year 2013 there were about 50 something Costa Ricans who collected their Compostela - we also walked but didn't go for a Compostela, as we bussed from Lugo to Santiago - we were on the Primitivo, so are not included in the count), so there is obviously no commercial interest to stock guide books about the Camino.
We surf the Internet! We find out the most incredible information! We read the sites in English, Spanish and Italian. After that, I make up my own information which are never amount to more than 3 or 4. It's a lot of fun preparing our next Camino and I think that by the time my information sheets are ready, I'm sure that I really don't need a guide book! I've made my own! Anne
By the way, we have never taken any kind of map!
 

nreyn12

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked (2005) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010) (2011) (2012) (2013) (2014) (2015); Guide leading groups 2013-present
#25
I'd also like to add that there are many reasons why a particular route is recommended. Albergues along the stretch are just one reason. I would definitely recommend the path through Mazarife over the one along the road, but not because of the albergues; it is simply the prettier path and it keeps you away from motor traffic.

I agree that many of the best albergues are NOT at the end of Brierley's stages. That's why I carry a list of albergues instead of the guidebook. But to each her own! Your pilgrimage, your Way.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Tunnel Le Puy Via De Plata Ingles Primitivo Norte Frances Portuguese Fisterra Muxia hospitalero
#26
I use guides as just that--"guides". There is much useful information but they don't determine where my day will end or the next will begin. For me, there has to be some sense of spontaneity and discovery.
 

jstorybook

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
October-November 2013
#28
We all start out like this…

We buy a guide book, read excitedly about the Camino and its stages and often follow the recommendations about albergues and routes outlined in them because after all the author must know!

During my last Camino I decided to ditch the recommendations of the famous Brierley guide when I discovered that the little villages in between stages are often more beautiful, peaceful and welcoming then the ‘recommended’ stage destinations.

However, one day I got confronted with the reality of what these recommendations mean to locals and I was both shocked and saddened by it.

Walking out of Leon I decided to take the ‘grey’ route planning to stay in San Martin del Camino. It was a pleasant walk despite walking along the road. One of the locals, now in his 90s, had left out snacks and drinks in his front yard for pilgrims to enjoy as he used to walk the Camino many times when he was younger …. It was the nicest thing ever … except there were no pilgrims to enjoy it and this was in June!

Upon arrival in San Martin I stayed in Santa Ana … it was spacious, clean … and very empty! There were 4 pilgrims (including myself) and the other 2 albergues didn’t look any busier. When I talked to hospitaleira I discovered that since the route via Mazarife was recommended hardly any pilgrims came this way and a 4th Albuerge in town had to close down already. During the joined evening meal I discovered that 2 of the other pilgrims only had ended up there because they had ‘taken a wrong turn’ and they wanted to take the recommended route too. I felt very sorry for the owner of the Albergue as she was so welcoming, an amazing cook and we even got free cherries from a tree growing in the yard.

Make of this little story what you want but it really brought home to that the decisions we make, the guide books we follow (often without thinking too much about it) can have a profound impact on the locals. Perhaps we should start using our own head more, choose our routes and places to stay based on what feels right to us rather than following the trail like sheep.


Despite all this I had an amazing time and wish everybody all the joy and love there is to discover out there!


Andrea

I would have gone the grey route but couldn't find the turn off--believe me it would have been much nicer than the "regular" route--it was long and a miserable walk around the airport.
 

Thengel1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF April-May 2013; mid-Sept. 2017
#30
I would have gone the grey route but couldn't find the turn off--believe me it would have been much nicer than the "regular" route--it was long and a miserable walk around the airport.

I don't remember the regular route from Leon to Hospital de Orbigo going anywhere near an airport after it split from the "grey" route.
 

Thengel1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF April-May 2013; mid-Sept. 2017
#31
I'm a bit confused. Are there more than one set of yellow arrows?
Yes, in some places there is one than one marked route. I had the Brierley guide with me, and found it helpful to determine which route to pick. Sometimes I wanted the more scenic route, in other cases I just wanted the shortest and/or flattest route.

Pieros to Villafranca del Bierzo is one stretch where I picked the road route. While the main path was probably more scenic, going the other way did allow to come across this sculpture garden, which I thought was mildly neat. Also, just after that while walking along the path/road, a car came towards me. I stepped off the road to let him pass and this older gentleman (in his 60's I would guess) stopped and got out to sell me some fruit. I had eaten the last of snacks a couple of hours earlier, so the banana's arrival was well timed.

For the record, I carried the Bierley guide and found it useful, but I did a quick count and figure I stopped at the guidebook end points only 16 of 34 nights, and 7 of those were in the last 9 days.
 

Attachments

FooteK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, SJPdP to SdC, mid May-late June (2013);
CF, Spring/Summer (2015)
#33
I like following a map. Several times I got . . . ummm . . . misoriented. Perhaps the Brierly should have all routes in yellow, instead of a "recommended" and one or two "optional" routes in gray? I am sure he would agree that all routes have pros and cons. the road less traveled is often the more intriguing.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#34
For us a guide is just that, a guide and we create our own stages. We follow the given routes (Inglés, Norte, Primitivo) in the CSJ guides and we follow the signing, particularly where there are new diversions - often due to construction work or similar.
We used the Cicerone guide before we left to add notes into the CSJ guide as we didn't want to cut the book for our given route. Like Anna we also check out the route on-line. We also photocopy the relevent map sections for the more remote Caminos.

Any guide is only as good as the day it was walked, plus updates given to the author. CSJ post updates on-line for many guides until the fully updated version is published. Dave has also asked for updates to his guide, I believe, as well as checking out variations on the route for himself.

Buen Camino to you all
 
#35
I would have gone the grey route but couldn't find the turn off--believe me it would have been much nicer than the "regular" route--it was long and a miserable walk around the airport.
If that was the one around Burgos airport, then I totally agree. It was a miserable muddu waterlogged bit of hell followed by endless road through horrible suburbs.
 
#36
@DurhamParish and @karenfromcali there are at times rutas alternativas along the Francés which are well marked with yellow arrows. Those that come to my mind right now are the following:

1) The "river route" into Burgos. Watch for the signs before the airport. This route is lovely as it will take you along the river directly into the city. I took this route and was so pleased as everyone else was complaining about walking through the industrial area.
2) Between Frómista and Carrión de los Condes: right after Población de Campos you take a right turn which takes you away from the main drag for a short deviation to avoid the road. You can't go wrong here and it leads you back to the main road.
3) Before Bercianos del Camino Real there is an alternative route which leads you to Calzada de Coto and then to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos (joining the main route in Mansilla de las Mulas). Instead of walking straight to Bercianos, you make a right turn. All well marked. Fewer pilgrims go that route along the Calzada Romana but there is a municipal albergue in Calzadilla and a very small store. I visited a fellow hospitalero there this summer when I was working in the albergue in El Burgo Ranero (town after Bercianos). He commented that most of the pilgrims were Americans. Apparently a guide book recommended this route. This was in July and I can tell you that it was very quiet on that side of the Camino whereas we were full almost everyday.
4) The alternative mentioned above through Villar de Mazarife.
5) Between Tricastela and Sarria: the well marked route via Samos which is lovely.

If I have missed something please add.

I took a guidebook the first time but rarely followed the advised stages. I still don't. It is too much fun not knowing where I will end up at the end of the day. But this does not hold for many of the other Caminos where there are fewer albergues and a bit of planning is necessary. Personally I am most happy just following the arrows, they rarely take you off course.
 

mralisn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SdC (2005), Camino Norte-Fisterra (2010), SJPdP-Muxia-Fisterra (2012), Camino Norte w/Primitivo-Muxia-Fisterra (2014), Camino Portuguese (2016)
#37
It seems this thread is turning into a very useful guide in itself. A great amount of advice from one to another.

I like that about all of you.
 

DurhamParish

Un Cerveza, Por Favor
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Portuguese 2012 & 2018
Camino Frances 2014, 2015, 2015, 2017, 2018
#38
Thanks to all for the replies and to all for the great information. I have bookmarked this thread and will refer to it while preparing for my next Camino in April.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (June, 2012) (Dec/Jan, 2013/14) Camino Portuguese (Summer, 2014)
#39
If that was the one around Burgos airport, then I totally agree. It was a miserable muddu waterlogged bit of hell followed by endless road through horrible suburbs.
Going into Burgos seems to be a hell regardles of the route o_O ... i took the grey route and it covered nearly 3 hours of industrial / suburbs but I guess at least it wasn't waterlogged!
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#40
If that was the one around Burgos airport, then I totally agree. It was a miserable muddu waterlogged bit of hell followed by endless road through horrible suburbs.
Going into Burgos seems to be a hell regardles of the route o_O ... i took the grey route and it covered nearly 3 hours of industrial / suburbs but I guess at least it wasn't waterlogged!
I'm not sure which route you mean as the grey route! The river route, usually known as the alternate route is delightful, however first you have to skirt around the perimeter fencing of the airport. The first time we did that, in the month of May, it was very muddy, but once you cross the main road, you are soon entering the park and walk long side the river all the way to the centre of Burgos. It's a nice, relaxing couple of hours walk. It believe that this alternate route is now becoming more popular, and rightly too! Anne
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
#41
I'm not sure which route you mean as the grey route! The river route, usually known as the alternate route is delightful, however first you have to skirt around the perimeter fencing of the airport. The first time we did that, in the month of May, it was very muddy, but once you cross the main road, you are soon entering the park and walk long side the river all the way to the centre of Burgos. It's a nice, relaxing couple of hours walk. It believe that this alternate route is now becoming more popular, and rightly too! Anne
We took this route in 2012, the bit to the Airport was a bit muddy but then so were most places that week. We stopped at the junction at the main road and a few locals told us not to turn right but to cross the road then the river and follow the path all the way into Burgos. It was indeed beautiful.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2013 - Astorga-Santiago-Finisterre
Camino Portuguese 2014 - Porto-Santiago
#42
I used no guides (except the list with the albergues)! :) And in fact, I would do it again exactly this way. When we reached Santiago, passing through the tourist's office, we were given a map of the stages to Finisterre, showing the relief with all the rapid climbs we were about to have. I have to say NOT knowing I have 5 km of rapid ascent is such a blissful ignorance. :D I prefer it this way
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#43
It might seem like a "no brainer," but I´d like to make clear we are talking about the Camino Frances here, the "main camino" that is fully waymarked and well-served throughout. Pilgrims who want to follow more other camino routes really should carry a guidebook or map or app, because minor routes are not so heavily waymarked!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
#45
My two-penn'orth for what it's worth ..... I absolutely LOVE the Brierly guides: for me they double the enjoyment of my camino! BUT - that doesn't mean I stick rigidly to stages or even routes. I love the guides for their historical notes etc., which bring alive the countryside I'm wallking through. And sometimes the maps may get me back on track. I wish he'd done one for the Camino Ingles which I plan to walk in May/June this year. I also enjoy Johnnie Walker's guide but that tends to be a step-by-step detail of the route.
With regard to supporting the local traders/hostals I heard more than once that the use by pilgrims of local fire-stations were ruining trade for the smaller hotels/hostals. In my diary of Pilgrimage III [on my web] you can see I stayed in several albergues, and one lovely 40 room hotel where I was the only pilgrim [Lisbon to Porto].
Buen camino!
 
#46
Yogi Berra said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." I think that sums up how one should approach the Camino. On the Frances, we started out in SJPDP and didn't have a map until someone gave us one in Logroño. We didn't follow it too closely and several times, when we got lost, it proved being very interesting being lost. Since the route is mostly a westerly walk, we just kept heading in that general direction. Inevitably, we would pick up the yellow arrows again.

The Camino(s) are unlike hiking primitive trails, such as the Appalachian Trail. Those trails are well defined and often forced to be so because of terrain. The Camino roams through a region and those bypasses and alternative routes can have much to offer.

Had we strictly adhered to the maps, we would have never have arrived at Bercianos, by far our favorite albergue. Sometimes, others would suggest we go somewhere, and on a whim, we would, and it often proved to be great. Don't follow the trail, follow your heart.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#47
It might seem like a "no brainer," but I´d like to make clear we are talking about the Camino Frances here, the "main camino" that is fully waymarked and well-served throughout. Pilgrims who want to follow more other camino routes really should carry a guidebook or map or app, because minor routes are not so heavily waymarked!
That is why we like the CSJ guides which give clear directions and accomodation suggestions, as well as the albergues, but not preconceived stages. We also carry the strips we need cut from the Mapas Militar, in case we want to deviate or a badly signed diversion means we have strayed and need to get back to the marked route. This year we will be more dependent on the maps on the Camino del Mar as the route may not be so well signed until we join the Camino Inglés at Xubia (Neda/Narón), and anyway Terry loves maps.
 
A

AJ

Guest
#48
It might seem like a "no brainer," but I´d like to make clear we are talking about the Camino Frances here, the "main camino" that is fully waymarked and well-served throughout. Pilgrims who want to follow more other camino routes really should carry a guidebook or map or app, because minor routes are not so heavily waymarked!
They may not be waymarked at all!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#49
that is why we have people like you and Gunnar and Kaminka and Susanna from Sweden (even me, sometimes!), people who love maps and compasses and "the old ways..." People who go in first and prove it can be done. You are still a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela, but you get all the fun and frisson of bushwacking and pioneering. It is scary sometimes, and frustrating. But it is also a blast!
 
Camino(s) past & future
June - August (2013)
#50
Hey,

We (my friend, Jordan, and I) walked the Camino Frances in June/July 2013..

We are very contrasting characters despite being best friends! Before our Camino I found myself meticulously planning every step, learning in so much thorough detail every tiny step our journey. I read the books, studied my Brierley guide cover to cover more than once, consulted other walkers on every aspect of my kit, downloaded applications, spent many many hours on this forum researching for every and any Camino eventuality...

Jordan sort of floated along behind me in his chilled out, "it'll be fine" way.

Looking back on my pre-camino self, I really see how my Camino changed me (for the better).

We live in Wales, UK and were flying out from Cardiff airport, a two hour drive from our home county of Pembrokeshire on the west coast.
I was ready, everything sorted, I had been packed for weeks.

As we were approaching the outskirts of Cardiff I had a moment of sheer panic realising that I had left the guide book on my kitchen table. I felt like an idiot.

I personally feel that the Camino possesses a VERY powerful universal energy and it had found me before we'd even arrived in France! It was telling me to let go. To relax and let it be.

We arrived in St Jean and I was presented with the opportunity of buying another copy of my Brierley guide and listening to my Camino prompt, I denied myself the control! Fast forward a few weeks into our walk, everything going well (bookless still). We ended up falling out of the mainstream Brierley pace of the Camino and found ourselves in a lovely private Albergue having a communal dinner with people from all around the world... as we were about to leave in the morning an Aussie lady said to me "I found this guide book yesterday, I felt that you should have it." Was the Camino rewarding me?

This book was pretty obscure and I hadn't seen anybody else with one, and it felt like it was meant to be. It proved to be THE BEST tool on my Camino. It had massive historical detail and alternate routes and stop off points to the Brierley book and I am now SO glad that I forgot mine as it resulted in a totally different experience to the majority of walkers. :)

On the Camino i realised that when you really require something for the right reasons it will be provided. Even if what you require is learning a harsh lesson the hard way! For me it all started with the guide book and continued in a variety of way throughout my whole walk!

In summary, my advice would be to let go a little bit. Be prepared, but not over prepared. The Brierley guide is NOT the be all and end all and I am so glad that I didn't use one. You will be fine. The Camino will care for you if you are willing to learn from its great energy.

Buen Camino!
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#52
that is why we have people like you and Gunnar and Kaminka and Susanna from Sweden (even me, sometimes!), people who love maps and compasses and "the old ways..." People who go in first and prove it can be done. You are still a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela, but you get all the fun and frisson of bushwacking and pioneering. It is scary sometimes, and frustrating. But it is also a blast!
Roll on our time on the Camino del Mar :) the only guide we have found so far is on the Lugo Amigos website. Outline maps of the route. Some say it is marked, others not and it seems to have variations according to who has put up the posts! On with the mapwork etc, and that is before we leave home.
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
#53
I only know the Spanish Anaya guide (brilliant, by the way), and it makes it very clear that the stages have been picked so that pilgrims stay in towns where they will find most services (for sheer convenience), and that it may be worth it to stop in other places instead. I, for one, prefer smaller places, but that is a personal choice, I avoid big places in as much as I can (except Pamplona, León and Burgos, which are a must in my opinion).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Finish the other half.......as soon as I think my iffy knee will be able.....I hope :)
#54
Had I let it, the Brierley(is that spelt right ?) would of ruined my Camino.
It is such a shame that so many books are creating 'stages'; there are so many places worth staying in between, that one can find not only welcoming, but peaceful. I did a few 'stages', it just wasn't for me, and I did not want to be part of what I termed the Stage Wave of pilgrims, rushing to the next bed.
I return in May, to start over again; it will be different again.
However you all walk your Camino, may it be blessed with good health, peace, and smiles.
Paul.
 
P

PANO

Guest
#55
It was said in this tread: "To each their own". There are those who by nature try to plan everything and others preferring the opposite.
I belong to the latter and wanted my Camino to be an experience of the unexpected. My only "planing" was the packing of my rucksack, the booking of my flight to Pamplona (my starting point) and a note of the name/location of the first Albergue (Paderborn).

The Frances is a very well marked path through a rural but very civilised and lively area with a number of larger cities relatively short distances apart; there are plenty of other peregrinos and you're rarely alone. Your smartphone provides more information about albergues and hostals, restaurants, maps, distances, etc. than your actually want. In my opinion, Guides take away much of the excitement and reduce the Camino to a "second-hand" déjà-vu experience. The essence for me was to start walking every morning without knowing what was ahead of me, where I would be staying the night and what I would be eating. At the end of a day, I occasionally browsed the POI but mostly, talking to people (whenever possible with locals) was far more interesting.

In hindsight I regret of not having studied the rich and colourful history more deeply; it adds a fascinating background and connects the mere names of towns and places along the Camino. And I would definitely work hard on my Spanish, a second time around.

Besides of usually being superficial, guidebooks tend to be outdated already before they are printed, because the Camino LIVES and changes constantly, it PROVIDES all you'll need and it GUIDES you to Santiago and beyond, just trust and keep your mind open for a living experience. Get rid of dead weight and DARE to walk your own, personal Camino, SAVOUR the real thing.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#56
Hey,

This book was pretty obscure and I hadn't seen anybody else with one, and it felt like it was meant to be. It proved to be THE BEST tool on my Camino. It had massive historical detail and alternate routes and stop off points to the Brierley book and I am now SO glad that I forgot mine as it resulted in a totally different experience to the majority of walkers. :)
So which book was it? :)

I like to do lots of research and make lots of plans and then hold no attachments to them whatsoever, being ready to change them at a moment's notice without regret if opportunity comes knocking. But at least I am making choices informed with as much knowledge of as many options as I can get.
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
#58
The balancing act of planning and spontaneity is tricky and this is nowhere more true than walking an 800Kms ancient trail in another country. If having a structured "how-to" gives people the courage to do it, I am all for it. The "cookie-cutter" Camino that Brierley's book promotes is not my style, but I did see people who, back home, would not take a shortcut to the deli, and here they are... To each its own.

The only guidebook that I have read page by page is The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson. Not a single map, not one albergue listed, just detailed descriptions of the architecture, history, and stories you find along the French Way. I saw so many on a mad dash to get to the next albergue while cluelessly walking by some of the most interesting and unique building and objects they would ever had the chance to see. To each its own.
 

MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2014: Cam. Frances
2015: Chimayo, USA.
2016, 2017: VdlP
2018: Madrid and Ourense
#59
Has anyone mentioned the alternate routes just after Villafrance del Bierzo?

To the north of the main highway is the Pradela route. We took this path in 2012, over a mountain of about 400 meters, stopping by the village of Pradela, and then a steep descent into Trabadelo, to a nice albergue. We enjoyed wonderful views throughout the day, walking in the midst of chestnut orchards, and mountain top gardens. We thought this was well worth the extra effort.

There is also the Dragonte route to the south of the highway, but this is only for the most hardy souls, as it is not well marked and has very few chances for re-supplies of food or water. We know a young woman who did a big chunk of the Dragonte route in the spring of 2013, and it was very difficult, and she actually got lost for a good bit of the day.

Both of these routes avoid walking along the busy, noisy highway.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2011), Part of the Camino Interior and Frances (2013) Pamplona to Burgos (2014) - Hospitalera (2013, and 2014, 2016) - returning as hopitalera 2017, and walking Burgos-Santiago
#60
The only reason I want an guidebook, is to determine the distance to the next albergue - this allows me to either stop for the day, or walk ahead a distance I can manage... no other reasons - therefore, the list of albergues and distances between them is all I will need this fall for the Camino Frances part, however, for the Cuenca to Burgos (a lesser walked Camino) I will rely on the suggestions of the Cuenca group - again, I will focus on the distance component.
I do my research at home before leaving, so points of interest will already be noted and included in my PDF document for that particular Camino journey.
I appreciate flexibility and spur-of-the-moment decisions!
Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May/June 2014
#61
Hey,

We (my friend, Jordan, and I) walked the Camino Frances in June/July 2013..

We are very contrasting characters despite being best friends! Before our Camino I found myself meticulously planning every step, learning in so much thorough detail every tiny step our journey. I read the books, studied my Brierley guide cover to cover more than once, consulted other walkers on every aspect of my kit, downloaded applications, spent many many hours on this forum researching for every and any Camino eventuality...

Jordan sort of floated along behind me in his chilled out, "it'll be fine" way.

Looking back on my pre-camino self, I really see how my Camino changed me (for the better).

We live in Wales, UK and were flying out from Cardiff airport, a two hour drive from our home county of Pembrokeshire on the west coast.
I was ready, everything sorted, I had been packed for weeks.

As we were approaching the outskirts of Cardiff I had a moment of sheer panic realising that I had left the guide book on my kitchen table. I felt like an idiot.

I personally feel that the Camino possesses a VERY powerful universal energy and it had found me before we'd even arrived in France! It was telling me to let go. To relax and let it be.

We arrived in St Jean and I was presented with the opportunity of buying another copy of my Brierley guide and listening to my Camino prompt, I denied myself the control! Fast forward a few weeks into our walk, everything going well (bookless still). We ended up falling out of the mainstream Brierley pace of the Camino and found ourselves in a lovely private Albergue having a communal dinner with people from all around the world... as we were about to leave in the morning an Aussie lady said to me "I found this guide book yesterday, I felt that you should have it." Was the Camino rewarding me?

This book was pretty obscure and I hadn't seen anybody else with one, and it felt like it was meant to be. It proved to be THE BEST tool on my Camino. It had massive historical detail and alternate routes and stop off points to the Brierley book and I am now SO glad that I forgot mine as it resulted in a totally different experience to the majority of walkers. :)

On the Camino i realised that when you really require something for the right reasons it will be provided. Even if what you require is learning a harsh lesson the hard way! For me it all started with the guide book and continued in a variety of way throughout my whole walk!

In summary, my advice would be to let go a little bit. Be prepared, but not over prepared. The Brierley guide is NOT the be all and end all and I am so glad that I didn't use one. You will be fine. The Camino will care for you if you are willing to learn from its great energy.

Buen Camino!
Love it! :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (April 2014)
#62
@DurhamParish and @karenfromcali there are at times rutas alternativas along the Francés which are well marked with yellow arrows. Those that come to my mind right now are the following:

1) The "river route" into Burgos. Watch for the signs before the airport. This route is lovely as it will take you along the river directly into the city. I took this route and was so pleased as everyone else was complaining about walking through the industrial area.
2) Between Frómista and Carrión de los Condes: right after Población de Campos you take a right turn which takes you away from the main drag for a short deviation to avoid the road. You can't go wrong here and it leads you back to the main road.
3) Before Bercianos del Camino Real there is an alternative route which leads you to Calzada de Coto and then to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos (joining the main route in Mansilla de las Mulas). Instead of walking straight to Bercianos, you make a right turn. All well marked. Fewer pilgrims go that route along the Calzada Romana but there is a municipal albergue in Calzadilla and a very small store. I visited a fellow hospitalero there this summer when I was working in the albergue in El Burgo Ranero (town after Bercianos). He commented that most of the pilgrims were Americans. Apparently a guide book recommended this route. This was in July and I can tell you that it was very quiet on that side of the Camino whereas we were full almost everyday.
4) The alternative mentioned above through Villar de Mazarife.
5) Between Tricastela and Sarria: the well marked route via Samos which is lovely.

If I have missed something please add.

I took a guidebook the first time but rarely followed the advised stages. I still don't. It is too much fun not knowing where I will end up at the end of the day. But this does not hold for many of the other Caminos where there are fewer albergues and a bit of planning is necessary. Personally I am most happy just following the arrows, they rarely take you off course.
Thank you for this!

Has anyone else got an alternate route they would like to share? There seem to be a number of first time walkers setting off in the next few months, and I am sure we would all like to take full advantage of your accumulated knowledge of this magical route.
 

CK007

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: May 2014
Finisterre: May 2014
Madrid: May 2016
Del Salvador: May 2016
Primitivo: May 2016
#63
I intend walking without a guidebook. Yes, I have downloaded a basic list of the towns, the distances in between and what amenities they possess, but other than this and questioning the hospitaleros/fellow pilgrims about recommended sights etc. I fully intend my journey to be as unscripted as possible. Amongst other things the Camino, for me at least, symbolizes letting go and that includes any detailed planning.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#64
I fully intend my journey to be as unscripted as possible.
While a guidebook can be a script, it also can provide interesting historical information. I found Alison Raju's guide better than John Brierley's in this respect. She has segments that are not daily recommendations, so you might find it less of a script. And it is lighter and fits in a cargo pants pocket.
 

StuartM

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
#65
While a guidebook can be a script, it also can provide interesting historical information. I found Alison Raju's guide better than John Brierley's in this respect. She has segments that are not daily recommendations, so you might find it less of a script. And it is lighter and fits in a cargo pants pocket.
I went "unscripted" too and missing some sights/sites and historical background is my only regret about it.

There is a fantastic Camino guide on www.galiciaguide.com which gives background, history, local legends but is less prescriptive on stages. The written route directions & notes are excellent too. And completely free.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF July/August (2014) SJPdP to Leon; Leon to Santiago (2015)
#66
@DurhamParish and @karenfromcali there are at times rutas alternativas along the Francés which are well marked with yellow arrows. Those that come to my mind right now are the following:

1) The "river route" into Burgos. Watch for the signs before the airport. This route is lovely as it will take you along the river directly into the city. I took this route and was so pleased as everyone else was complaining about walking through the industrial area.
2) Between Frómista and Carrión de los Condes: right after Población de Campos you take a right turn which takes you away from the main drag for a short deviation to avoid the road. You can't go wrong here and it leads you back to the main road.
3) Before Bercianos del Camino Real there is an alternative route which leads you to Calzada de Coto and then to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos (joining the main route in Mansilla de las Mulas). Instead of walking straight to Bercianos, you make a right turn. All well marked. Fewer pilgrims go that route along the Calzada Romana but there is a municipal albergue in Calzadilla and a very small store. I visited a fellow hospitalero there this summer when I was working in the albergue in El Burgo Ranero (town after Bercianos). He commented that most of the pilgrims were Americans. Apparently a guide book recommended this route. This was in July and I can tell you that it was very quiet on that side of the Camino whereas we were full almost everyday.
4) The alternative mentioned above through Villar de Mazarife.
5) Between Tricastela and Sarria: the well marked route via Samos which is lovely.

If I have missed something please add.

I took a guidebook the first time but rarely followed the advised stages. I still don't. It is too much fun not knowing where I will end up at the end of the day. But this does not hold for many of the other Caminos where there are fewer albergues and a bit of planning is necessary. Personally I am most happy just following the arrows, they rarely take you off course.
A humorous story regarding #3: I had been walking with an interesting young man from Cairo but I liked to leave earlier in the morning than he so we usually set out separately. That day, heading for Mansilla, he took the alternative route and ended up in a village where they were having a fiesta and was immediately surrounded and celebrated because it was the first time in years that a Real Pilgrim had arrived in their village at fiesta time. They blessed him and kept insisting that he try the local specialty, which he politely did, only to find out when an English speaker showed up that it was pig's ears. In Mansilla we had a good laugh that their sole pilgrim was a Muslim!
 

Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
#67
I would love to happen upon a small village having a fiesta! Great story too.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#68
They blessed him and kept insisting that he try the local specialty, which he politely did, only to find out when an English speaker showed up that it was pig's ears.
They are standard fare in a cocido maragato available in Astorga.

COCIDO MARGATO INGREDIENTES (para 4 personas):
400 gr. de garbanzos.
1 kg. de repollo.
½ kg. de morcillo de novilla.
½ kg. de lacón.
½ kg. de gallina.
4 chorizos para cocer.
150 gr. de ticino.
150 gr. de panceta.
4 manitas de cerdo.
½ kg. de oreja, careta y morro de cerdo.
½ kg. de costilla de cerdo.
Natillas al caramelo con manteada de Astorga.
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
#69
I went late in the season so a lot of albergues were closed. So good information was needed about where to find albergues. I used Brierley's guide along with a sheet from the SJPdP Pilgrim Office that had dates of operation for association albergues.

I had no time constraints so the stages were mostly ignored, particularly so after I wore myself out going from SJPdP to Pamplona in three days trying to keep up with 'the group'. Even so I found myself staying at the end of the stages in larger towns because most of the intermediary albergues were closed. I wonder if people who have limited time find the stages information useful in order to plan the 'schedule'.

btw I went via San Martin as I could not find information to determine if Mazarife albergues were open. Else I could have done without the walk beside the highway ... even if some of it was a 'yellow brick road'.

and, the river route into Burgos was one of the nicest city sections on the camino. It was well worth taking the mud track around the airport.
 
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rector

ONE HALF
Camino(s) past & future
SJ-Sdc MAY (2011)
SJ-Sdc MAY (2014)
Sar-Sdc Oct (2015)
Pon-Sdc Ju (2016)
SJ-Log (2018)
#70
It might seem like a "no brainer," but I´d like to make clear we are talking about the Camino Frances here, the "main camino" that is fully waymarked and well-served throughout. Pilgrims who want to follow more other camino routes really should carry a guidebook or map or app, because minor routes are not so heavily waymarked!
Earlierthis year we walked the Frances for the second time with confidence and met a few people who wanted to shoot John Brierly because they were pushed too far by his timetable that they were unable to maintain. We watched in Cacabelos as dangerously exhusted pilgrims pushed on in temps of 35+c to reach thier daily goal. perhaps if the guides were written in a more linear form with no daily targets people would be compelled to look more carefully at each day's journey. All that having been said we have only two weeks this year and so we are doing Porto to Santiago hopefully by the coast as far as possible there do not seem to be guides on this after 20km and we would love one. guides are needed but must be constantly updated
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#71
we walked the Frances for the second time with confidence and met a few people who wanted to shoot John Brierly because they were pushed too far by his timetable that they were unable to maintain
I think I missed the rule that said his stages were mandatory. They do match the information sheets from SJPdP fairly closely. Maybe it is the fault of the French...;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
#72
dAll that having been said we have only two weeks this year and so we are doing Porto to Santiago hopefully by the coast as far as possible there do not seem to be guides on this after 20km and we would love one. guides are needed but must be constantly updated
Johnnie walker of this forum has written a guide for Porto-Sdc. You can find it here:

http://www.csj.org.uk/acatalog/The_CSJ_Bookshop_Pilgrim_Guides_to_Spain_23.html

I have used their (no other) guides both for CF and VdlP. They are very light and contain all info I need on albergues, prices, etc. I make my own stages based on that info.
 

DurhamParish

Un Cerveza, Por Favor
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Portuguese 2012 & 2018
Camino Frances 2014, 2015, 2015, 2017, 2018
#73
Earlierthis year we walked the Frances for the second time with confidence and met a few people who wanted to shoot John Brierly because they were pushed too far by his timetable that they were unable to maintain.
And I found his stages too short. But then I didn't feel it was necessary to follow them so I just walked a bit farther each day.
 

jefferyonthecamino

http://www.barrerabooks.com/ - Guidebooks
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (1994)
Camino Francés (2013 - 2017)
Camino Portugués (2015 - 2017)
#74
Really no need for a guidebook on the Camino now that we have internet, smartphones and wifi, especially if you speak Spanish. That said, it is nice to have something that offers you an overall idea of where you are going and what there is to see and visit.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 2015; Camino Portugues October 2017
#75
Thank you for this! I'd actually considered getting the Brierly guide to know what's in the area, but also avoid the stages it recommends so I can enjoy less crowded albergues. Though I might just let the Camino lead me and end up wherever I end up.
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
#76
Really no need for a guidebook on the Camino now that we have internet, smartphones and wifi, especially if you speak Spanish. That said, it is nice to have something that offers you an overall idea of where you are going and what there is to see and visit.
Those are just different types of guidebooks.

You see it in any city with a large tourist volume. People line up to see the recommended "sight" and totally ignore what isn't on the list.

Some people are just afraid of getting lost. But getting lost isn't always a bad thing.
 

rector

ONE HALF
Camino(s) past & future
SJ-Sdc MAY (2011)
SJ-Sdc MAY (2014)
Sar-Sdc Oct (2015)
Pon-Sdc Ju (2016)
SJ-Log (2018)
#77
I think I missed the rule that said his stages were mandatory. They do match the information sheets from SJPdP fairly closely. Maybe it is the fault of the French...;)
I agree with you and I dont stick to the book in any way. The point is that people who do not have experience, read the books and the way they are set out leads them to think this is what you do yes for many they are too short but I just seen sooooo many people in real pain and exhusted this year that it made me look again at the books. It could be said that pushing yourself is good for you, and it is but sometimes sadly it is not as the headstones tell us.
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#78
One of my saddest sights was coming into Burgos along what must have been the old camino route (I was taking the road bike route). There was the path, the concrete posts, the European development fund signs about the camino but no pilgrims. The roadside pilgrim cafes that must once have been popular businesses were closed and overgrown. Surreal experience!

Walking out of Leon I decided to take the ‘grey’ route planning to stay in San Martin del Camino. It was a pleasant walk despite walking along the road. One of the locals, now in his 90s, had left out snacks and drinks in his front yard for pilgrims to enjoy as he used to walk the Camino many times when he was younger …. It was the nicest thing ever … except there were no pilgrims to enjoy it and this was in June!
I also took the grey route out of La Virgen del Camino and stayed at Villadangos del Paramo. It was one of the most memorable parts of my camino. I kept being given fruit from people’s gardens and people knocked on their windows to wish me a good journey. Up until that point my pilgrimage had felt anonymous, I was just one of the many 1000s walking, the people in those villages made my camino more feel personal and it gave it more meaning.

I genuinely don’t mind walking along the side of the road, I can’t get lost and there is something about the monotony that gives me time to reflect. Some of the Brierley ‘detours’ like the one before Villafranca are now marked with yellow arrows as the main route. Unless you have a particular aversion to walking along the side of quiet roads I don’t see the point of some of these detours - if I had wanted to go on a really scenic walk I wouldn’t have chosen the Camino Frances.

Helen
 

clearskies

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Here and there
#79
Thank you for this! I'd actually considered getting the Brierly guide to know what's in the area, but also avoid the stages it recommends so I can enjoy less crowded albergues. Though I might just let the Camino lead me and end up wherever I end up.
An ideal way of doing it
I wish more people followed you
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
#80
When my son walked his camino in 2012, he met a hospitalero who told him he had paid €500 to be included in a popular guide book even though no-one from the author to researchers had ever set foot in the place. Makes you wonder who is deciding which route is the recommended one
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012) Camino Portuguese (2013) & the Norte to come (2019)
#81
We all start out like this…

We buy a guide book, read excitedly about the Camino and its stages and often follow the recommendations about albergues and routes outlined in them because after all the author must know!

During my last Camino I decided to ditch the recommendations of the famous Brierley guide when I discovered that the little villages in between stages are often more beautiful, peaceful and welcoming then the ‘recommended’ stage destinations...........

Andrea
I have commented to people about this also. Having completed the Frances once, I am planning to return, but this time stay in the out of the way Albergue's rather than the page by page Brierley option I tended to stick to, initially in the first couple of weeks.
(This is only natural though, because the distances are about right for a day's walk and the bigger locations and the towns allow for sightseeing in the afternoon/evening - Especially for us Aussie's who might get to see this area once in our lifetime!:)

I started to walk longer and "off page" in the last couple of week's of the last Camino when the weather became cooler in late Sept early Oct and found some amazing places and smaller intimate locations where interaction with other pilgrims over an evening meal was fantastic.
My goal this time is to not stay in the same town and where possible take the different route - if available - to the last Camino. It should seem like a different Camino alltogether:)

I bet it still rains as I walk into Santiago though:)
 

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