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Hooray! Leaving for Madrid April 27; First Timer Has Questions!!!

Debbye Jean

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1, 2017
Hello Everyone,

I am so excited to be leaving for Madrid on April 27, 2017. I plan to spend the night in Madrid and am still not sure if I'll start in St. Jean or just avoid the mountains all together and start in Pamplona. I feel surprisingly calm about my planning even though I am out of shape and a little round around the edges. I have been loading up my backpack and hiking almost on a daily basis and yesterday walked for hours uphill with about 18 lbs on my back. I plan to do more and more miles with about the same weight as I really don't want to carry more than that. Right now, that's about 10% of my body weight. I feel amazingly strong and can't believe I'm actually doing it as it's something I've been thinking of for a long time. My questions are as follows and please forgive me if some of them sound kinda dorkish and uninformed.

1. I read some old posts about how to get from Madrid to St. Jean but were so old that I'm wanting to make sure I've got it covered. Can someone please advise me of this. Also, if I decide against St. Jean, how I would get to Pamplona from Madrid.

2. I have an android phone with a really cheap phone service. I was planning to have my family and friends download What's App so that I can keep in touch with them by text and phone as I have a friend in Spain and that's how she and I communicate back and forth with each other. Will this be sufficient? I read about booking.com to book places to stay so am down with that, but will my phone suffice as far as having an internet connection over there if it works here in the United States?

3. Will an adapter be all I need to charge my cell phone? What about a portable battery???

4. Do I exchange all the money I plan to bring in advance here is the States or bring some American dollars with me and do it in Spain?

I have most of my gear together, just fine tuning my packing list a bit here and there. I bought the most amazing shoes and on my long training hikes I have zero complaints about them so happy about that.

Lastly, is there anyone planning to be on the trail the same time as I? If so, would love to hear from you and maybe meet up for some wine and cheese along the way. I'm a slow walker though and think I prefer walking on my own. We shall see, right?

Thanks in advance for your help,

Sincerely,

Debbye Jean
 
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A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
You sound so excited it is making me looking forward to my journey even more.

To answer your questions...

Madrid to Pamplona by bus at the airport, in Terminal 4, on level 0. The sooner you book your seat the leass expensive it will be. If the Alsa bus schedule does not work well with your landing time ypu can take a train. Take the Cercanias (suburban train) at the airport (departures every 20 minutes) to Atocha train station. Once is Pamplona you can take the bus to SJPP, although it may leave too early in the day, forcing you to spend a night in Pamplona. Worse things have happened. ;)

Using bookingdotcom means less revenue for the people running the places where you want to stay, and many albegues do not use it. Good old phone is best. For that you can get an international plan from your supplier or buy a sim card in Madrid or Pamplona. Lots of free wifi available in bars and albergues, so unles you want to book by phone and have a phone in case of emergency you could do without a sim. On the Frances, with the number of people on the road, you should always have a person in sight, so not great need for an emergency.

Lots of places to charge phones. Get a dual USB Eurpean chargers so you can share the plug with someone else. I don't carry another battery, I am just diligent about charging when I see an outlet.

Bring some € with you and then use your ATM to get more money. A debot card that works with Cirrus and uses a four-digit pin number is all you need. Get money from ATMs in larger towns so you have enough cash until the next largish town, and use the ATM while the bank is open in case it swallows your card.

Voila!
 

DowtyCamino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May-July (2014),
May-July (2017)
We found cheap flights from Madrid to Biaritz and will take a taxi from there to SJPdP (there are 4 of us so the difference in Taxi and 4 train tickets wasn't much). It's not the cheapest way to go, but it gets us to SJPdP the earliest - and that was our goal this year. There are many ways from here to there.

Get a debit card that has no "Foreign Transaction Fees" or you'll get hit with a big set of fees when you get home.
 

jozero

Been there, going again...
Camino(s) past & future
CF x 3
Exciting times!

1. Nothing significantly has changed in getting to SJPDP from Madrid. Buses are cheapest and can be taken right from airport to Pamplona to SJPDP. Bus drops you off about 15-20 mins from Jesus y Maria Albergue in which you can get a passport if you decide to start from there. Roncesvalles is also a very nice starting location and is often favoured by the Spaniards. There are also trains leaving the airport to Atocha station where you can transfer to a train to Pamplona. It's not expensive really and quite a bit quicker.

2. If your phone is unlocked it's very easy to get a local SIM card and have good and cheap voice/data service. Whatsapp will work however you would need to let your friends know your new phone number. Alternatively, there is wifi everywhere in Spain and if you had something like Skype you could call to make hotel bookings and use Whatsapp from your existing phone and service when you're at an Albergue, Bar, etc.

3. Without knowing which specific phone you have all I can say is that it most likely you'll just need your normal charger with a 220 adapter plug. You can just look on the charger and be sure it say something like 110-240 and then you're good to go. One tip I got from someone was to take several adapter plugs as you are sure to leave some in the wall when you leave in the morning. I left one in Spain so it was a great tip!

4. No need to change money in the US, easy to do in Spain. My suggestion however is to not bring much cash. There are ATMs readily available in many places and carrying a lot of cash can be an unnecessary risk. When walking I rarely carried more than 100 euros with me, 20-30 in my pocket for normal daily purchases and the rest safely stored with my passport, credit card, etc.

Hope you have a great experience!
Buen Camino,
Jordon
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Exciting times!

1. Nothing significantly has changed in getting to SJPDP from Madrid.

Hope you have a great experience!
Buen Camino,
Jordon
I beg to differ. It is quite likely that in ild posts people were refommending using Corazon Puro to get from Pamplona to SJPP which is no longer an option.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
The bus service between Pamplona to St. Jean Pied de Port is provided by CONDA, a bus company serving Navarra. CONDA is partially owned by ALSA, a larger Spanish bus company. The CONDA schedules are incorporated on the ALSA website and CONDA tickets can be bought online ahead of time from the ALSA website as well. When using the ALSA website to find transportation to St. Jean Pied de Port you must spell out St. in full as Saint or the town will not be found. The ALSA website in English is at URL https://www.alsa.es/en/

The CONDA bus does not stop in Roncevalles. To get from Pamplona to Roncevalles you use buses owned by Autocares Artieda. You have to buy the tickets at the bus station. http://www.autocaresartieda.com/?scc=roncesvalles
Google's translation

Both of the companies operate from Pamplona's bus station. http://www.estaciondeautobusesdepamplona.com/Inicio.aspx.html
Google's translation
Interactive map
 
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jozero

Been there, going again...
Camino(s) past & future
CF x 3
I beg to differ. It is quite likely that in ild posts people were refommending using Corazon Puro to get from Pamplona to SJPP which is no longer an option.
Hi - the OP is asking if there are any changes in getting to Pamplona not where to stay in Pamplona. I'm sure that not only has that Corazon Puro closed but likely others have closed and opened too which is why I recommended the largest Albergue as a safe recommendation of where to stay in Pamplona if she chooses to.
Have a great day.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Hi - the OP is asking if there are any changes in getting to Pamplona not where to stay in Pamplona. I'm sure that not only has that Corazon Puro closed but likely others have closed and opened too which is why I recommended the largest Albergue as a safe recommendation of where to stay in Pamplona if she chooses to.
Have a great day.
No, she is asking how to get to SJPP. Corazon Puro shuttled people to SJPP, which is why so many stayed there. You will have noticed I was not making albergue suggestions anywhere in my post, but mentioned using CP's services to get to SJPP.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Debbye Jean

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1, 2017
Thank you all so much for your replies. It's all a bit daunting if I think about it too much. I will consider each reply carefully and just go for it!
 

CdnDreamer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (12, 15 & 18) San Salvador (18), Portuguese (19)
I used Whatsapp to keep in touch with my family while in Spain. I sent pictures, and updates of where I was each night. I unlocked my phone before leaving for Spain and then bought a SIM card and a 1 month cheap plan from Vodafone in Pamplona. Whatsapp worked fine even with the change of phone number. If you don't want to buy a SIM card, you can use Whatsapp on wifi, and you will find wifi in most towns along the camino. Buen Camino!
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
Hello Everyone,

I am so excited to be leaving for Madrid on April 27, 2017. I plan to spend the night in Madrid and am still not sure if I'll start in St. Jean or just avoid the mountains all together and start in Pamplona.

(sic)

1. I read some old posts about how to get from Madrid to St. Jean but were so old that I'm wanting to make sure I've got it covered. Can someone please advise me of this. Also, if I decide against St. Jean, how I would get to Pamplona from Madrid.

3. Will an adapter be all I need to charge my cell phone? What about a portable battery???

4. Do I exchange all the money I plan to bring in advance here is the States or bring some American dollars with me and do it in Spain?

(sic)

Bayonne to SJPdP

SJPdP is accessed by SNCF TER train from Bayonne. It runs 3 or 4 x daily all year. If you miss last train, the first runs 0745 the next day leaving enough time to walk to Roncesvalle if that is your plan.

Pamplona to SJPdP

SJPdP is accessed by CONDA (ALSA) bus from Pamplona. It runs seasonally. On your dates of travel 27 April 2017 there are 2 buses 1430 and 1730. If you go via Pamplona and miss the 1730 bus you're stuck till 1430 next day (or go to San Sebastian by bus and onward via Bayonne by which point you're just as well off staying in Pamplona).

Madrid to Bayonne

-Renfe train from either Madrid Puerta de Atocha or Chamartin (depending on the train's route) to Irun/Hendaye

-Metro Donostialdea train from Irun Colon 3 km to Hendaia (if your Renfe train does not terminate in Hendaye)

-SNCF train from Gare d'Hendaye to Gare Bayonne

OR

ALSA bus from Madrid Avenida de America (some with stops at airport T4) to San Sebastian.

Then Renfe Cercanias from San Sebastian to Irun. or;

ALSA or PESA bus from San Sebastian to Bayonne. PESA goes via Gare d'Hendaye and terminates Place de Basques. ALSA goes via Irun Renfe station and calls at TGV Bayonne (Gare Bayonne)

OR

Fly from Madrid to either San Sebastian EAS located 5 km from Gare d'Hendaye or Biarritz BIQ and take Chronoplus #14 from Anglet/Biarritz Airport to Gare Bayonne.

Madrid to Pamplona

-Renfe train from Madrid Puerta de Atocha to Pamplona; or,

-PLM Autocares bus direct from Madrid Avenida de America to Pamplona (with a bus daily calling at Airport T4); or

-ALSA bus from Madrid Avendida de America (with some buses calling at Airport T4) to Pamplona via Soria or Zaragosa; or,

-Fly from Madrid to Pamplona PNA

3. I traveled the camino late in season. I carried a Kindle which didn't need frequent charging. It was difficult to compete for an outlet at times even with the lower off-season numbers of pilgrims. There was one albergue that required coins to operate the outlet. Electricity is expensive in Spain and albergues operate on a shoestring so its not fair on them to have high expectations for providing access. Have you considered bring a portable solar panel?

4. Currency in Spain is Euro (for the time being at least). I would suggest obtaining at least 100 Euro in USA. Then use a bank card with 4 number PIN and make sure your bank knows you're travelling. ATMs are everywhere. Banks will not exchange money; the only places that still do are money exchange business, often located in airports. Cost wise, you're better off using the ATM.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
use a bank card with 4 number PIN and make sure your bank knows you're travelling.
Good point, but to clarify a bit, @whariwharangi does not mean at least 4 digits, the ATMs in Spain will not work with pins greater than 4 digits. This is a case where more security will hurt you.

Also, you may not need a battery but if you have one you can charge it at the end of your day without the worry of great loss in case it disappears when you aren't looking like you would have with your phone. Then you can use the battery to charge the phone at night in your sleeping bag.
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
Since nobody else mentioned it, do not hesitate about starting in Pamplona if you want to avoid the mountains. Pamplona is a nice startingplace. You will get some mountainfeeling over the Alto de Perdon with nice view in good weather.
In my opinion the walking from St. Jean Pied de Port or Roncesvalles (having walked it several times) is not as great as often described. If you are happy and get some nice weather it might be nice, but else not. You get better mountain looks later on on your camino.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Pamplona is a nice startingplace. You will get some mountainfeeling over the Alto de Perdon with nice view in good weather.
First time I climbed up the Alto del Perdon I kept telling myself that this hill had "no perdon". Second time I walked it, it was so easy I was convienced it had been reconfigured, made shorter, not as steep. I could not make sense of it. And then I remembered that the first time I had just caught a terrible cold which explained the huffing and puffing. No huffing and puffing when lungs are clear. No mountaineering feel, though super impressive winds the second you reach the top. It's no wondwr why there are windmills up there.
 

Redjen

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May(2017)
I loved your post because it answered some of my questions :) but I see your final question didn't get answered. I'm walking around the same time. Starting in Leon May 4. So if you see a slow walking, fluffy redhead in red boots let's have wine!
 

Debbye Jean

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1, 2017
I loved your post because it answered some of my questions :) but I see your final question didn't get answered. I'm walking around the same time. Starting in Leon May 4. So if you see a slow walking, fluffy redhead in red boots let's have wine!
Sounds awsome!
 

Chuck Cunningham

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Starting April, 15, 2017
Hello Everyone,

I am so excited to be leaving for Madrid on April 27, 2017. I plan to spend the night in Madrid and am still not sure if I'll start in St. Jean or just avoid the mountains all together and start in Pamplona. I feel surprisingly calm about my planning even though I am out of shape and a little round around the edges. I have been loading up my backpack and hiking almost on a daily basis and yesterday walked for hours uphill with about 18 lbs on my back. I plan to do more and more miles with about the same weight as I really don't want to carry more than that. Right now, that's about 10% of my body weight. I feel amazingly strong and can't believe I'm actually doing it as it's something I've been thinking of for a long time. My questions are as follows and please forgive me if some of them sound kinda dorkish and uninformed.

1. I read some old posts about how to get from Madrid to St. Jean but were so old that I'm wanting to make sure I've got it covered. Can someone please advise me of this. Also, if I decide against St. Jean, how I would get to Pamplona from Madrid.

2. I have an android phone with a really cheap phone service. I was planning to have my family and friends download What's App so that I can keep in touch with them by text and phone as I have a friend in Spain and that's how she and I communicate back and forth with each other. Will this be sufficient? I read about booking.com to book places to stay so am down with that, but will my phone suffice as far as having an internet connection over there if it works here in the United States?

3. Will an adapter be all I need to charge my cell phone? What about a portable battery???

4. Do I exchange all the money I plan to bring in advance here is the States or bring some American dollars with me and do it in Spain?

I have most of my gear together, just fine tuning my packing list a bit here and there. I bought the most amazing shoes and on my long training hikes I have zero complaints about them so happy about that.

Lastly, is there anyone planning to be on the trail the same time as I? If so, would love to hear from you and maybe meet up for some wine and cheese along the way. I'm a slow walker though and think I prefer walking on my own. We shall see, right?

Thanks in advance for your help,

Sincerely,

Debbye Jean
So tell us. what type of shoes did you finally pick? happy for, you sound excited.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
I beg to differ. It is quite likely that in ild posts people were refommending using Corazon Puro to get from Pamplona to SJPP which is no longer an option.

They aren't doing that anymore? Is Corazon Puro still there?
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
The worse the politics get in the USA, the more time I spend on this forum, living vicariously through those who are about to head out on the Camino! And looking at the photos here from past trips. I walked May-June 2016 and will be back this fall. In the meantime, I have been working on creating the best soap to car
The building is there but closed.
Istvan and Barbara are in Hungary helping their family.

Will they be coming back? I really enjoyed staying there last year.
 

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