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How do you choose your first Camino route?

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Since there seems to be an uptick in optimistic potential pilgrims on the forum, I thought I would raise this issue for broader discussion. It has been discussed before, but fresh eyes and thoughts might be energizing.

If you are a newbie, and if you are like me, when you started planning your first camino, you had no idea that there were more than 45 caminos criss-crossing all over Spain. So by default most first time pilgrims go to the Camino Francés, St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, made famous in The Way and undoubtedly the most popular camino. I’m not challenging that or suggesting it’s the wrong decision, but I thought I would ask the broader forum — which camino do you recommend for first-timers, and why? Are there newbies out there who are thinking about this? If so, please join the discussion!

Happy New Year to my forum friends, Laurie
 
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P Rat

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino VDLP/Sanábres April 2019
Camino Mozárabe when we can again...(2021?)
Interesting topic and no doubt as many different opinions as responses.
So here is mine for what it is worth (to no-one else but me, really). I had wanted to walk a Camino for a long time, though I had only a vague notion of what it actually really was. My hubby had no interest in walking for that amount of time. Until he spotted a map in a hiking store with all the different Caminos in Spain and Portugal. He indicated it probably would be fun...and I didn't hesitate to do the research, we picked the VDLP and booked flights for March 2019. We picked the VDLP because according to many reports and this forum it is a more quiet one (we don't 'do' crowds very well) and because of the wild flowers. We were not disappointed! (though we didn't factor in the busy Easter period, that was an eye opener but very special too) And now we're hooked. Our next two Caminos will hopefully be The Mozarabe (maybe this year but I won't hold my breath) and then the Francigena. Then we'll see....
Whichever one you pick, I think they all will have similarities and their individual charmes.
Buen camino amigos
 

Dave2525

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2014
A friend suggested it and at the time I had no idea there were any let alone the vast numbers that currently exist. Nor had I heard of the movie.

I just focused in on the Frances since that is what came up in my initial searches.

For people just beginning the journey, I would take into account which route had the best infrastructure to mare whatever your goal was a bit easier to attain
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
@Dave2525, I agree.
I think for newbies who were intrigued by "The Way", but had not heard of the camino prior nor done much hiking, that their best choice is the Frances...especially for a woman going it alone.
The infrastructure can't be beat.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
I had wanted to walk an ancient route for a long time, my first pick was the Apian Way, but this is mostly motorway these days. Scotts first pick was over alps down the steps carved by Hannibal but he couldn't guarantee me an elephant to carry my essentials. So we settled on the French Route.

For newbies, I'd recommend reading plenty of histroy rather then guide books, and then pick the route that calls to you, you will discover others once you have the bug. But be warned, once bitten there is no cure. Even when he was sick, Scott was still sticking pins in maps and working out the logistics of getting from once place to another. During my down time, I've been reading through his library and its full of notes and links which prove you don't have to be physically moving, sometimes travelling through time and space is just a book away.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
more than 45 caminos criss-crossing all over Spain
To see many of these routes on a map, go to the Mundicamino website. You can link to information about suggested daily stages.

An excellent tool for planning a day-to-day itinerary for some routes is the Camino Planner at https://godesalco.com/plan. Another tool that provides route information and accommodation options is gronze.com.

It is useful to think of the Camino as a network of walking paths leading to Santiago de Compostela, based on the routes that pilgrims have used over more than 1000 years as a pilgrimage to the tomb of Santiago (St. James). In olden times, people would start at their home or parish church wherever it was (in Europe), walk to Santiago and home again.

A common misunderstanding is that there is a single governing body that manages the Camino. There isn't. There are many local governments along the routes, and local associations that maintain paths and promote the Camino in their region, but each operates according to their own laws and objectives. Many of those associations are members of the Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago, but there are other organizations and websites to help pilgrims.

Is the Compostela important?
People can start at any point they choose. However, if they want to receive a Compostela from the Cathedral in Santiago, they must have walked the last 100 km or cycled 200 km of one of the approved routes. That's why many people who don't have much time will start walking at Sarria on the Camino Frances, or at Tui on the Camino Portuguese, or they walk the Camino Ingles. Those are shortest routes that qualify for the Compostela. For official information about the Cathedral and compostela, and statistics about pilgrim arrivals, see the website of the Cathedral Pilgrim Office.

Is it important to have many companions and reliable infrastructure?
By far the most popular route with the best developed infrastructure is the Camino Frances. The route by this name starts in St. Jean Pied de Port in France, crosses the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles in Spain, and continues over 800 km across Spain to Santiago. It's important to understand that it is not the be-all and end-all of Caminos, the "official" route, the "whole Camino" or anything of the sort. See this thread if you still need convincing about that.

Do you speak Spanish?
You can get away with speaking almost no Spanish on the Camino Frances. In fact, if you WANT to practice your Spanish, you might be disappointed! On less popular routes, you will have more challenges to communicate, but here's where your personal comfort level matters.

Are you comfortable with day-to-day coping challenges?
These are generally not major issues, and most people do fine, but on less popular routes, you need to be a little more flexible and self reliant. On the Camino Frances, everybody around you knows exactly what you are looking forward and there is usually someone nearby who speaks English. On less popular routes, people are still extremely helpful but it can be more of a challenge. Distances between lodgings may be longer and you need to be able to develop a plan B from time to time. You might be walking alone most of the time.

Have fun! Some people just like to show up, but others really enjoy detailed planning.
 

davran

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2028
To see many of these routes on a map, go to the Mundicamino website. You can link to information about suggested daily stages.

An excellent tool for planning a day-to-day itinerary for some routes is the Camino Planner at https://godesalco.com/plan. Another tool that provides route information and accommodation options is gronze.com.

It is useful to think of the Camino as a network of walking paths leading to Santiago de Compostela, based on the routes that pilgrims have used over more than 1000 years as a pilgrimage to the tomb of Santiago (St. James). In olden times, people would start at their home or parish church wherever it was (in Europe), walk to Santiago and home again.

A common misunderstanding is that there is a single governing body that manages the Camino. There isn't. There are many local governments along the routes, and local associations that maintain paths and promote the Camino in their region, but each operates according to their own laws and objectives. Many of those associations are members of the Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago, but there are other organizations and websites to help pilgrims.

Is the Compostela important?
People can start at any point they choose. However, if they want to receive a Compostela from the Cathedral in Santiago, they must have walked the last 100 km or cycled 200 km of one of the approved routes. That's why many people who don't have much time will start walking at Sarria on the Camino Frances, or at Tui on the Camino Portuguese, or they walk the Camino Ingles. Those are shortest routes that qualify for the Compostela. For official information about the Cathedral and compostela, and statistics about pilgrim arrivals, see the website of the Cathedral Pilgrim Office.

Is it important to have many companions and reliable infrastructure?
By far the most popular route with the best developed infrastructure is the Camino Frances. The route by this name starts in St. Jean Pied de Port in France, crosses the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles in Spain, and continues over 800 km across Spain to Santiago. It's important to understand that it is not the be-all and end-all of Caminos, the "official" route, the "whole Camino" or anything of the sort. See this thread if you still need convincing about that.

Do you speak Spanish?
You can get away with speaking almost no Spanish on the Camino Frances. In fact, if you WANT to practice your Spanish, you might be disappointed! On less popular routes, you will have more challenges to communicate, but here's where your personal comfort level matters.

Are you comfortable with day-to-day coping challenges?
These are generally not major issues, and most people do fine, but on less popular routes, you need to be a little more flexible and self reliant. On the Camino Frances, everybody around you knows exactly what you are looking forward and there is usually someone nearby who speaks English. On less popular routes, people are still extremely helpful but it can be more of a challenge. Distances between lodgings may be longer and you need to be able to develop a plan B from time to time. You might be walking alone most of the time.

Have fun! Some people just like to show up, but others really enjoy detailed planning.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

As stated in a different forum I've been studying Spanish alone for 2 3/4 years so far, and I expect to be at least close to advanced by the time I can do a Caminio.

Which Camino -- with the most Spanish spoken -- has the the most dirt trails? I ask because walking on pavement is hard on my old work injuries, so the less of it can have to walk, the better.

Que tenga una buena noche, David.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Which Camino -- with the most Spanish spoken -- has the the most dirt trails?
I know who will answer this question, but it might be tomorrow. Maybe you could give some more information to help - for example,
  • How fit are you - for hills, and for longer stages of 30 km and more?
  • Do you have budget limitations and need low-cost albergues (as opposed to more expensive hostales and casas rurales)?
  • What season would you walk?
  • Do you need luggage transport?
  • How much time do you have, and do you want to arrive in Santiago?
 

calmeg

Member
We knew about the Camino, but had too many commitments at home, so we had time to research the various routes. Six years ago we flew to Barcelona and took the train to Pamplona, then the bus to Irun. As long as it was not going to be rainy on the first few days, we opted for the Camino del Norte. We moved off to Oviedo and finished with el Primitivo, the green variant to Sobrado dsa Monxes, and a back route to Santiago. We were surprised by the parade on the one day we spent with traffic from the Frances. We were fairly fit and love the ocean, and the mountains, similar to what we have in Vancouver, We wanted to enjoy both of these actors without the crowds, bed races, etc. We have the advantage of speaking fluent Spanish- which came in handy several times when we got lost. We thoroughly enjoyed the ups and downs, followed by more ups and downs! The views of the ocean from afar or as we walked along the beaches were perfect. Having done 4 other routes, the norte is still our favourite!
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
There's a frequently repeated maxim that first-timers are best advised to walk the Camino Frances. I have mixed feelings about that, because while it may be the right advice for many people it isn't for everyone. When I see this advice from people who have only walked the CF, I wonder if there's a choice-supportive bias at play - People who have made one choice tend to downplay the demerits of the choice they made while under-estimating the merits of other options.

The Camino Frances does seem to be a good choice for many first timers, but I'd like more people to be aware that other routes exist, that they are supported by local associations, that they have way-marking and accommodation facilities, and that they can be enjoyed by quite ordinary people.

I was aware of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela from a young age, but I had the impression that there was only one route (the Camino Frances). Many years later, a friend who had walked The Camino Frances told me that he was thinking of walking the Via de la Plata. That was the first time I heard of an alternative route. I agreed to join him for the first week or so of that adventure, but he got cold feet and it never happened. Nonetheless, the idea of walking a Camino, and the knowledge that there was more than one route, was planted in my head.

In 2017, at a time when I was dealing with some personal difficulties, I chose to walk the Camino Mozarabe from Almeria. In some ways, I was not "ideally" suited for that challenge, but it worked out very well for me:
- I wanted solitude (at least for the early part of my Camino)
- I had no time constraint but I was aware that the onset of autumn would mean shorter, colder, days
- My fitness level was typical for a middle aged, physically inactive, office worker
- I wanted to be frugal but I had cash to spend on hotels if necessary
- I wanted to reach Santiago or Finisterre if possible but I was not sure if I would last even a week
- "Starting at the start" was important to me (but I can't really explain what that meant)
- I was interested in the history and culture of Spain and the camino
- My Spanish language ability was very limited

If I had asked for advice on this forum, I think many people would have steered me toward The Camino Frances, but thanks to the incredible support from the local camino associations (especially at the start of my walk in Almeria), and from some strangers who helped me out, I had a wonderful experience. I managed to walk to Santiago and then to Finisterre. The Camino exceeded my expectations.
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I read 2 books which started me thinking about the Camino, then some years later I saw The Way, and then the other movie - 6 ways to Santiago. My mind was made up after the first 2 books. All of the stories I read or saw were based on the Frances - so that's what I did and I was hooked.
I didn't find the Frances too crowded on my first two Caminos, even the last 100 kms weren't too bad.
But last year after Sarria it was so crowded I didnt enjoy that part as much. But now I feel confident to mix and match, and cut that part out by detouring onto the Invierno. And changing up the start by walking the Baztan. I heard about some of these other Caminos from other pilgrims whilst walking the Frances.
Last year when we got into Santiago I found the Invierno - Winter Camino guide book (in English) in a market stall, and I took that as an omen.
But I'm glad I walked the Frances. I have wonderful memories, and friends a a result.
 
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wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
For first timers who are not experienced hikers or walkers the Frances is a good first choice IMO as it has the infrastructure as others have pointed out, you will also have plenty company.
When I first walked in 2012 I didn't know of other Caminos in Spain, I thought the Frances started in Le Puy but didn't have the time to walk it all so started in St. Jean. I was very lucky as it was a quiet Camino back then, especially in April and May, you could walk a whole day and only see a few pilgrims away in the distance ahead or behind. It was not the conga line I have seen in recent years as I drove the route in the camper.
I would love to walk it again but alas heart disease may have put paid to that, I still hike a bit at home and also in the Pyranees and in Spain before our present circumstances prevented travel to Europe.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Scotts first pick was over alps down the steps carved by Hadrian but he couldn't guarantee me an elephant to carry my essentials.
That's Hannibal, although Hadrian did more than his fair share of travelling! ;)

Back on thread, the Francés is the obvious choice, of course. The more difficult question might be which route to walk as a first-timer if you have less time than required to walk all the way from SJPdP. Should you walk the CF starting in León or Burgos or wherever will allow you to finish in Santiago? Or start in SJPdP and walk as far as you can with the aim of picking up where you left off another time? Or pick a different route altogether that will allow you to complete a 'full' camino within the time you have available? I would go for the last option personally, but I'm a bit of a 'completionist'.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Very good points made about the CF and a degree of bias.
I have only walked the CF to date and I love it.
But I recognise I need to try others now.

Certainly for those new Pilgrims who are confident travellers and happy to be alone for long periods, many of the other more remote caminos should have a lot to offer.

I had a good mix on my first CF in 2015. lots of alone time. but company if I wanted it.
The 2018 CF by contrast was getting a bit busy......

But who knows what the future will bring?
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
In graduate school 50+ years ago I attended courses by the great medieval art/architecture historian Meyer Schapiro. Several erudite lectures focused on the architecture along the Camino Frances, not only famous monuments but also simple vernacular buildings.

Schapiro stressed the importance of carved shells as the major iconic motif for identifying all related to Saint James as well as the immense social impact of the camino path across northern Spain; the path became the 'main street' with ‘burgos de francos’ or independent neighborhoods settled by former pilgrims nearby and, thus, the towns developed. ...

Bingo I was hooked and decided that someday I would walk that path myself. Forty+ years later I did in 2004 for the first of many times thinking that it would be "easy" to reach the start of the CF by train from our Paris apartment.

PS. See these earlier threads re other readers ' camino;
inspirations
consciousness
planning
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I always recommend the CF to those walking a first camino, even though I have walked others. Lots of them are nice and interesting hikes, but the CF is unique. It was the main route walked by the medieval pilgrims, in their hundreds of thousands, and for that reason alone it is something special. No other route has the history, the scholarship, the prominence, the stories and legends, and the religious significance. For me it is "The Pilgrim Road". I was lucky enough to walk it first in 2001, when it was relatively quiet, but recently I went back and walked it again, and I still found it special, something undefinable. The other routes I have walked, the Norte, the Vdlp, the Portuguese, the Primitivo, the Madrid, and several of the routes in France, also have great qualities and sometimes more beautiful countryside, better paths, unique cities, but the Francés will aways remain my favourite. And it is interesting that when I took a bunch of new walkers on the VdlP and then transferred to the Sarria section for the last 100km - they too much preferred the Francés (even though I love the Via, and its the one I am inching to walk again).
 
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Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
Just a couple of thoughts:

For myself, i got hooked on the famous german book from Hape Kerkeling. He walked the CF and i wanted to do the same. Even if my experience turned out to be different, it turned out to be the perfect choice. Loved it.

For people with less time on their hands, the CP is likely more attractive. At least thats the feeling i get in the german communities. It fits neatly in a 2 weeks holiday and is not to hard. Maybe it's not as popular here cause people tend to be from further away?

So thats the two i would recommend a first timer. That not to say, there won't be reasons to do another camino as a first, but maybe 80% should/would chose the first to.

Bringing me to another point:
By far the most popular route with the best developed infrastructure is the Camino Frances

This is no longer 100% true. If you count only the pilgrims on the stretch between SJPDP and Sarria, the CP ist more busy. The CF only becomes the most populated after Sarria, and theres ways around that section (e.g. C.Invierno) even if i personally really enjoyed the way between Sarria and Santiago.
 

woody66

This is my boy Yankee!
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi everyone!
As this is my first attempt at Camino and with the limitations i have; i am already trying to cover all the base's that will enable me to achieve something that for others is hard but that for me is daunting in the extreme,and i doubt myself everyday!
I keep telling myself it's only a walk;but for me it's a freedom i can grasp if i try hard enough.
Since i listened to the post by justpassingthrough a few weeks ago i relentlessly tell myself
"i am the storm" that's a mantra i will hold onto forever.

I chose the Portuguese coastal/Senda Litoral from Porto cos it follows the sea and is mainly flat and uses the boardwalks,road,and trail; hopefully less chance of me getting lost.
If i know the sea is there i should be fine!
But knowing me getting lost is more than likely i do it all the time ;i use GPS indoors ha!ha!
Woody
 
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Lirsy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
To plan your Camino, I think you must first answer yourself a few questions:

Is it important for you to start at the beginning of the Camino (assuming that any Camino has a beginning) and go to the end of the Camino (which is probably Santiago or Fisterra) or you don´t care about the starting and ending point?​

If you intend to go a "entire Camino", you should check how many days you have and how long each possible Camino takes. Camino Frances 30/35 days, Primitivo 11/14 days, Salvador 4/6 days, etc.​

In what season do you plan to walk?

La Ruta de la Plata can be very hot during the summer, during the winter walking through "El Salvador" can be very difficult, you probably will not be able to use the Hospitales variant in winter, the French Way is very crowded during the summer, etc.​
Do you want a Camino where you will meet many other pilgrims or do you prefer a more solitary Camino?

If you are looking for a lonely Camino, never choose the Camino Frances in summer. If you want to meet many pilgrims, you better not choose the Camino Olvidado.​
Are you very interested in visiting some important cities (like Burgos, León, ..) or do you feel more attracted by the landscape (sea, mountains, ...)?

.......

In short, to take the correct alternative you need to know a little about your interests and requirements. I would say that, probably, your best alternative is to ask here, in the forum, but always giving as much information as possible about yourself.

E.g.:

Hi all!!​
I am planning my first Camino and I would appreciate your help.​

I have 20 days, this included two days to travel from Madrid to the Camino and back to Madrid. I plan to go in May, I don't care much about the starting point, but I would like to arrive in Santiago, spend a day in Santiago and then go to Fisterra. I would like to spend a day or two in some cities where I can visit important ancient monuments. Also, as I do not speak any Spanish, I would prefer a Camino in which I find as many people speaking English as possible ... Can you suggest a Camino that fits these preferences?​
If you post something like this here, I am sure that many people will propose many alternatives, then you can choose the one that seems most convenient for you.

Please do not ask which Camino is safer. They are all safe !!! ...... just kidding !! 🤣
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Since there seems to be an uptick in optimistic potential pilgrims on the forum, I thought I would raise this issue for broader discussion. It has been discussed before, but fresh eyes and thoughts might be energizing.

If you are a newbie, and if you are like me, when you started planning your first camino, you had no idea that there were more than 45 caminos criss-crossing all over Spain. So by default most first time pilgrims go to the Camino Francés, St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, made famous in The Way and undoubtedly the most popular camino. I’m not challenging that or suggesting it’s the wrong decision, but I thought I would ask the broader forum — which camino do you recommend for first-timers, and why? Are there newbies out there who are thinking about this? If so, please join the discussion!

Happy New Year to my forum friends, Laurie
I have glanced through some of the replies, and now have this to say: if you want to walk in the footsteps of countless others, and leave the same trace for those who may follow - yes, the Frances is the one I recommend. I followed my companion, and for logistical reasons we walked the Camino from Roncesvalles - the starting point for many Spaniards at that time (2006). The issue of where it actually begins, I will not contest! Subsequently we walked the Portugues - time allowed it. Next, the beautiful but - for me - knee challenging Salvador, and latterly the Ingles - once again time was the determining factor.
I have also spent a fair bit of time in Zabaldika, about 34km from Roncesvalles. The patch of grass outside the church there is so eloquent for me: it bears the marks of footprints... if you truly want to pay attention to the power of pilgrimage, find a spot that has not been much altered by time and 'progress' and stay awhile, soak it up. Then, it matters little which camino you choose.
Buen camino, and may it happen in this 2021!
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
(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
I always recommend the CF to those walking a first camino, even though I have walked others. Lots of them are nice and interesting hikes, but the CF is unique. It was the main route walked by the medieval pilgrims, in their hundreds of thousands, and for that reason alone it is something special. No other route has the history, the scholarship, the prominence, the stories and legends, and the religious significance. For me it is "The Pilgrim Road". I was lucky enough to walk it first in 2001, when it was relatively quiet, but recently I went back and walked it again, and I still found it special, something undefinable. The other routes I have walked, the Norte, the Vdlp, the Portuguese, the Primitivo, the Madrid, and several of the routes in France, also have great qualities and sometimes more beautiful countryside, better paths, unique cities, but the Francés will aways remain my favourite. And it is interesting that when I took a bunch of new walkers on the VdlP and then transferred to the Sarria section for the last 100km - they too much preferred the Francés (even though I love the Via, and its the one I am inching to walk again).
I could have written that!
 

Roland49

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
As a newbie in 2018 I had chosen the CF for it's best infrastructure, well known hospitality and for the good camaraderie on this camino. It is well documented and you (most likely) will not get lost on the way.

Despite the fact that it is long and it takes all my off-days in 2019 I would recommend the CF for beginners.
This year, as long as the "bug" allows, I plan to walk the CP from Porto.

BC
Roland
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Oct 2020
@Dave2525, I agree.
I think for newbies who were intrigued by "The Way", but had not heard of the camino prior nor done much hiking, that their best choice is the Frances...especially for a woman going it alone.
The infrastructure can't be beat.
Certainly agree with great infrastructure for solo women (and men). Only had one time in 32 days where I was a little uneasy but the total experience was fabulous
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
So good to see some new members jumping in — after all, the generation to generation transfer of camino love and knowledge is what we’re all about here! And I can see from the responses that there are lots of us old-timers eager to discuss something other than the virus. ;)

Which Camino -- with the most Spanish spoken -- has the the most dirt trails? I ask because walking on pavement is hard on my old work injuries, so the less of it can have to walk, the better.
My answer to this question is impressionistic and based on my similar dislike of pavement.

One thing to keep in mind is that since this is a village to village hike (with occasional cities thrown in), there is bound to be pavement. Those looking for a wilderness thru-hike on dirt trails like the Appalachian Trail will be disappointed, unless they change their expectations and embrace the differences. The Francés has a lot of pavement, and is gaining more and more of it as the numbers of pilgrims grow and the authorities pave over what used to be dirt/mud trails. In the region of Galicia (northwest corner), which is where all caminos converge, virtually all of what used to be dirt trails has been covered with crushed rock. This is less damaging to the feet and tendons than pavement but it is nowhere near as nice as walking on well maintained dirt trails. I have found though, that those who are determined to avoid asphalt can frequently find a dirt shoulder alongside the road, and I always take that option when possible. Hiking sticks are a great help even on flat terrain, because they will help avoid face-planting when the dirt shoulder has an unexpected covered hole or a surprise piece of garbage hidden under the grass.

So, with that as a backdrop, I would hazard the guess that the Camino de Madrid (Madrid to Sahagún, where it joins the Camino Francés) has the least amount of pavement. This is in large part because this was a recently ”manufactured” camino, put together by the association to give their members a way to walk from home. But it is extremely untraveled, you are likely to meet at most a handful in those few weeks. The pilgrim infrastructure is excellent, the villagers are helpful, kind, and delighted to have someone ”unusual” to talk to, and there is a lot of walking through wide open agricultural fields. In spring, those fields are oceans of waving green grasses with huge splotches of red poppies, it is all quite a good backdrop for reflection and getting into the satisfying groove of rhythmic walking. Lots of information if you scroll through the Camino de Madrid sub-forum, which is linked here. @jungleboy’s recent ”live from the Camino” thread is a great one to start with. Most of us who have walked this Camino find that the interaction with village residents is very special on this route. And very little English is spoken!

The Camino del Norte, which goes along the northern coast of Spain but frequently along the side of a national road, also has a lot of pavement. Compounding the frustration is the fact that the road is only a few short kms from the ocean and its many dirt trails. You can avoid much of the pavement by taking coastal alternatives, but a GPS would be necessary. The rewards are that you get to walk across some of Spain‘s most gorgeous scenery.

The Mozárabe from Almería also has a lot of dirt trails, but you have to be a very adventurous first-timer to take that as your first camino, I think.

Lots to think about, but there is no wrong answer! Buen camino, Laurie
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I’ve sometimes chosen camino routes based on air transport options.

My first camino, I intended to start at St Jean Pied de Port, but I spent a couple days in Paris first, found a book store (Le Vieux Campeur) and found the Miam Miam Dodo guide to the Le Puy. So I caught the train to there instead and started walking.

I walked the Aragonese after finding a good flight to Toulouse. I considered starting to walk from the airport, but time was an issue so I spent a lovely half day hop scotching along various buses and trains to Somport.

I walked part of the Portuguese in reverse as I had a flight out of Porto and had time on my hands.

I suspect many choose the Frances as it is the easiest route to obtain a guidebook for. Trusting that you can get the info you need at the tourist info office on arrival is a leap of faith.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Know thyself! @C clearly and others posted some excellent resources, and questions to consider when planning your first camino. My advice is to reflect on who you are. Most of these were questions I tried to answer before my first camino. Knowing the anwers to most of them will help you in deciding which route to pick! Here is my list:

What kind of support do you need? Can you carry your own bag? Do you have limitations that prevent you from sleeping on a top bunk? Can you handle sharing a room with others who snore all night, especially after walking a long distance? How far can you walk in a day, and day after day for a week or longer? Can you walk all day in the rain? In heat? In very cold weather? Can you walk on mountains? Are steep downhills an issue for you? Do you have any special dietery or medical issues? Can you handle waiting in lines and crowds? Do you prefer more isolated walking. Are your legs prepared for a lot of pavement walking? What kind of a budget is needed to make the camino doable, including insurance? How long do you have to walk? What special interests do you have that might be consistent with the route you pick?
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Know thyself!

That is such great advice. Now that the newbies (I hope no one thinks that is condescending, because actually I would give a lot to be able to experience my own first camino again!) know that there are many different camino options, it is well worth giving those questions some thought. Of course for many of us, who have never done anything at all like this in our lives, the answers to a lot of the questions will only be made apparent after the first camino.

And to those great questions I would add — do you want to be enveloped in human relationships, forming a proverbial camino family, or do you see your camino as a time to hash through personal issues, for solitary reflection and maybe contemplation of some of the universe’s larger questions?

I don’t think @Marbe2 and I are suggesting that the answers to these questions will give you a definitive answer about which camino to walk, but they are all relevant and will also help give you realistic expectations about what you are likely to find once you start.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
This thread reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who grew up in rural Africa. He couldn't understand our love of walking or tramping. Growing up he'd had to walk everywhere, there wasn't any option, going to school was a 20km walk, the market was several days cross country. He wasn't scared of snakes and wild animals, but the thought of tramping in our New Zealand bush scared him as he was convinced we'd die of exposure. And why would we want to walk when we could drive. He longed to drive a Mercedes on the autobahn as that to him meant freedom and couldn't understand why we would fly to Spain to walk between villages, he'd laugh at the though of selecting routes based on the amount of dirt tracks, surely pavement is progress.
 
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Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
Since there seems to be an uptick in optimistic potential pilgrims on the forum, I thought I would raise this issue for broader discussion. It has been discussed before, but fresh eyes and thoughts might be energizing.

If you are a newbie, and if you are like me, when you started planning your first camino, you had no idea that there were more than 45 caminos criss-crossing all over Spain. So by default most first time pilgrims go to the Camino Francés, St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, made famous in The Way and undoubtedly the most popular camino. I’m not challenging that or suggesting it’s the wrong decision, but I thought I would ask the broader forum — which camino do you recommend for first-timers, and why? Are there newbies out there who are thinking about this? If so, please join the discussion!

Happy New Year to my forum friends, Laurie
My first Camino was chosen for me. A friend of mine was planning to do the Frances from St Jean to Santiago alone. My wife was so outraged at this idea that I was sent to walk 10 days with him from Pamplona to Burgos. It was a life-changing decision - you all know the rest - I met some amazing people with whom I am still close - I saw some historical sites (and sights) that took my breath away.

As to which I would recommend to a first-timer then the winner would be the Camino Portugues - Tui to Santiago. It is really well signposted, the people are all really friendly and the albergues are good. Although not as resonantly spiritual as the Frances but there are a large number of little Camino-side chapels manned by volunteers where you can get your credencial stamped and your spirits lifted. As everyone Pacharan is the fuel that gets us to Santiago. This can be tricky on this Camino but Licor de Cafe does the job almost as well.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
That is such great advice. Now that the newbies (I hope no one thinks that is condescending, because actually I would give a lot to be able to experience my own first camino again!) know that there are many different camino options, it is well worth giving those questions some thought. Of course for many of us, who have never done anything at all like this in our lives, the answers to a lot of the questions will only be made apparent after the first camino.

And to those great questions I would add — do you want to be enveloped in human relationships, forming a proverbial camino family, or do you see your camino as a time to hash through personal issues, for solitary reflection and maybe contemplation of some of the universe’s larger questions?

I don’t think @Marbe2 and I are suggesting that the answers to these questions will give you a definitive answer about which camino to walk, but they are all relevant and will also help give you realistic expectations about what you are likely to find once you start.

Buen camino, Laurie

You are so right, Laurie! Although, I did not know the answers to all of my questions, I had read enough to formulate and definitively answer some of them. For example, my body does not function well without 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. So staying regularly in a common room was o-u-t, only when absolutely necessary..like at Orisson.

On the other hand, though we had prepared well to do 10 miles a day in the heat, we were not prepared for some of those walks to be on such hot, shadeless almost melting pavement most of the way. When we neared Pamplona, on my first, the heat coming through my shoes, forced me to stop ...probably stop every quarter of a mile, and find some place to get my feet off the ground because the pavement was unbearable. Luckily, by then, there were some benches. After that, we skipped breakfasts at our accommodations and were done by midday to avoid such conditions.

Pilgrims need to reevaluate their circumstances and their current conditions and adjust and be flexible. So that camino taught me to walk at a cooler time of year...better snow and rain than sweltering heat...or be prepared in hot weather to leave by 5am!
 
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davran

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2028
So good to see some new members jumping in — after all, the generation to generation transfer of camino love and knowledge is what we’re all about here! And I can see from the responses that there are lots of us old-timers eager to discuss something other than the virus. ;)


My answer to this question is impressionistic and based on my similar dislike of pavement.

One thing to keep in mind is that since this is a village to village hike (with occasional cities thrown in), there is bound to be pavement. Those looking for a wilderness thru-hike on dirt trails like the Appalachian Trail will be disappointed, unless they change their expectations and embrace the differences. The Francés has a lot of pavement, and is gaining more and more of it as the numbers of pilgrims grow and the authorities pave over what used to be dirt/mud trails. In the region of Galicia (northwest corner), which is where all caminos converge, virtually all of what used to be dirt trails has been covered with crushed rock. This is less damaging to the feet and tendons than pavement but it is nowhere near as nice as walking on well maintained dirt trails. I have found though, that those who are determined to avoid asphalt can frequently find a dirt shoulder alongside the road, and I always take that option when possible. Hiking sticks are a great help even on flat terrain, because they will help avoid face-planting when the dirt shoulder has an unexpected covered hole or a surprise piece of garbage hidden under the grass.

So, with that as a backdrop, I would hazard the guess that the Camino de Madrid (Madrid to Sahagún, where it joins the Camino Francés) has the least amount of pavement. This is in large part because this was a recently ”manufactured” camino, put together by the association to give their members a way to walk from home. But it is extremely untraveled, you are likely to meet at most a handful in those few weeks. The pilgrim infrastructure is excellent, the villagers are helpful, kind, and delighted to have someone ”unusual” to talk to, and there is a lot of walking through wide open agricultural fields. In spring, those fields are oceans of waving green grasses with huge splotches of red poppies, it is all quite a good backdrop for reflection and getting into the satisfying groove of rhythmic walking. Lots of information if you scroll through the Camino de Madrid sub-forum, which is linked here. @jungleboy’s recent ”live from the Camino” thread is a great one to start with. Most of us who have walked this Camino find that the interaction with village residents is very special on this route. And very little English is spoken!

The Camino del Norte, which goes along the northern coast of Spain but frequently along the side of a national road, also has a lot of pavement. Compounding the frustration is the fact that the road is only a few short kms from the ocean and its many dirt trails. You can avoid much of the pavement by taking coastal alternatives, but a GPS would be necessary. The rewards are that you get to walk across some of Spain‘s most gorgeous scenery.

The Mozárabe from Almería also has a lot of dirt trails, but you have to be a very adventurous first-timer to take that as your first camino, I think.

Lots to think about, but there is no wrong answer! Buen camino, Laurie
Gracias por esto.

Your comment is another nudge for me towards Camino Madrid, as I also want to speak as much Spanish as possible.
 

Paul J W

Paul J
Year of past OR future Camino
Miscellaneous camino routes since 2000.
IF circumstances allow, would suggest “dipping into CdS” by taking on, say, 3 or 4 days of CF from Roncesvalles. See how it goes for you in terms of terrain, gear, crowds. It’s what my wife and I did some 20 years ago and found it far more useful than any (then) guidebook. And certainly then not crowded when we later completed it.

Picking up with CF more recently (having walked the Tunnel Route) I found the crowds not to my liking at all - competing for accommodation and witnessing the seemingly over commercialisation of the way, with numerous tour operators. The RdlP and RdelN similarly, nearly 20 years ago, were almost devoid of fellow pilgrims although have now gained popularity and numbers. While it’s encouraging to see more pilgrims “getting out there”, for me the “spirit” of the experience has been sadly diluted.

By contrast, on the Mozarabe route from Almeria to Granada (March 2019) I saw no other pilgrims in 9 days of walking - sole pilgrim in very refuge - loved every minute with glorious blossoms, through charming Moorish villages, against backdrop of snow capped Sierras! Not, I should add, ideal for a newbie (certainly not alone with some remote country) although very well waymarked and an excellent group of “amigos” on the end of a phone, if needed.

Not necessarily very helpful advice here for a potential first timer BUT do not be deterred! You’ll regret it if you don’t give it a go! AND in all probability you’ll have bitten by the bug!!
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
And to those great questions I would add — do you want to be enveloped in human relationships, forming a proverbial camino family, or do you see your camino as a time to hash through personal issues, for solitary reflection and maybe contemplation of some of the universe’s larger questions?
That is a great question and I suppose some of the answers to that can be found in an older thread about introverts and extroverts, if I could only find it. 😁
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
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some and then more. see my signature.
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First 2016
Latest Camino Frances Jul-Aug 2020
I think a lot will depend on how you come to the idea of walking the Camino. I can't remember precisely why I decided on the Camino specifically but it was related to a life milestone (turning 50) and the recognition that I needed to get more active.

A number of things fed into the choice of route. I had limited time (25 days) and wasn't sure how fast I could walk, so I knew I couldn't walk the Frances from St Jean or the VDLP from Seville. I didn't know anyone who had walked the camino and felt that a more solitary Camino would suit me better (definite introvert) if only to make any humiliation less public!

I personally think that any first camino should ideally involve reaching Santiago.

I settled on Salamanca as a starting point as it was somewhere I really wanted to see and the distance seemed doable. In the end I walked to Santiago in 17 days and took another 3 days to get to Finisterre.

Of the routes I have walked since the one I would recommend for an active first timer would be the Primitivo which is a perfect short Camino.

One way to decide if you really think you are making the right choice is to flip a coin. Your reaction to the outcome will tell you a lot.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Or pick a different route altogether that will allow you to complete a 'full' camino within the time you have available? I would go for the last option personally, but I'm a bit of a 'completionist'.
Be careful about encouraging that idea and the terminology of "full" or "whole" Camino. :cool: It is certainly arguable that a "full" Camino de Santiago should get to Santiago. But other than than, it exists only because (a) you walked from home, or (b) the name on the maps changes, or (c) it is the full Camino that you walked.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Be careful about encouraging that idea and the terminology of "full" or "whole" Camino. :cool: It is certainly arguable that a "full" Camino de Santiago should get to Santiago. But other than than, it exists only because (a) you walked from home, or (b) the name on the maps changes, or (c) it is the full Camino that you walked.
My brain agrees. My heart protests.
I don't know why but I felt it necessary to "start at the start" of my first Camino, even though the "start" that I chose was Almeria, a city that I'd never visited and knew little to nothing about (apart from a song by The Pogues). It was patently a nonsense to choose it as a starting point. Somehow, though, I convinced myself that I'd feel cheated if I reached Santiago after starting at some other arbitrary point. I think this is similar to the many people who want to start the Camino Frances at St. Jean Pied de Port - an arbitrary point on the map.
One of my current projects is walking the VF from home to Rome. So far I've done two legs of this journey - from home to Canterbury and from Canterbury to almost as far as Arras. The point that I identified as "home" is the village that I grew up in. Somehow I convinced myself that it has self-evident significance as a starting point. In fact, though, several decades have passed since I lived there, so it's actually a bit of a nonsense.
 

BookGirl305

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Ingles (after Covid)
Hello- I have not yet walked, first post on the forum.
I am not physically fit, 53, and building up my ability to come walk the camino. I have the energy and the cardio ability, but my feet and legs are not yet strong enough to go a long distance in a day. I am currently at 7 miles a day (11km), working toward 12 (20km). I really want to walk the Ingles, but there is very little information since Covid. It was already an isolated route, but now it has gone radio silence. I am ok with walking as far as I can go and then taking a taxi to a hotel and restarting in the morning where I stopped. I don't have a need to have a group with me, but sharing dinner would be nice. I want my own room rather than a room of bunk beds. I'll have 7 days and want to finish at the cathedral. The Frances seems to be a circus. I am open to any information or suggestions on any part of this- route, tactics, ways to increase my distance in a day. I am shooting for either May or September, dependent on my ability and letting the US back into Europe. Thank you for your knowledge.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
My brain agrees. My heart protests.
I don't know why but I felt it necessary to "start at the start" of my first Camino... Somehow, though, I convinced myself that I'd feel cheated if I reached Santiago after starting at some other arbitrary point.
I do understand this. My first Camino was just Astorga to Santiago, due to time constraints. I was pretty certain that I would be going back, but wanted to get a mini-but-full Camino. So I picked a starting point that had good presence on a map (i.e. name in bold font) and was the right distance. It was a good "full" but short Camino.

My second was meant to be a long full one from SJPP but was cut short due to more important family events. For #3, I still sought that five-weeks-walking experience so I went back to SJPP and walked to Santiago. Circumstances turned #3 into Leon-Santiago followed by 2-little-old-ladies backpacking around Spain for 3 weeks. For #4 I did VDLP Seville-Astorga, as it had always been the one that called to me.

By then I realized that I enjoyed the first 3 or 4 weeks walking much more than the last 1 or 2, and I had young grandchildren at home, so I decided to limit future Caminos to a month away from home.

Now I am happy to pick milestone cities on a map, and create a Camino between them. But I think I needed a couple of long walks to Santiago before I could get to that acceptance.

I am currently at 7 miles a day (11km), working toward 12 (20km).ways to increase my distance in a day. tactics, ways to increase my distance in a day.
Are you really walking 77 km/week (7 days x 11 km/day)? If so, you are putting in plenty of mileage for training! Maybe you are demanding too much to sustain. Marathon runners don't train at marathon distances.

I have started a new thread about training for the Camino, so we don't derail this one on choosing a route. Look there for my suggestions related to increasing your distance in a day.
 

OZAJ

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Mozarabe/VdlP/Sanabres (2008) Norte (2009) Vezelay/Frances/Salvador/Primitivo (2010) etc.
My first Camino was the Mozarabe/VdlP/Sanabres. In a way it was chosen for me, by reading Tony Kevin's book. I read a review of the book in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Which route to choose for your first Camino I guess depends on what you want, why you want it and how you want it to be. Horses for courses.
 
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We were very much restricted in terms of time. I was very grateful when I learned of the other options for walking the last 100km besides Sarria. It was nice to say we walked a complete Camino even if it is the shortest that ends in Santiago.
Gaining the Compostela was nice but, the Pilgrims mass significantly more meaningful.
 

trecile

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We were very much restricted in terms of time. I was very grateful when I learned of the other options for walking the last 100km besides Sarria. It was nice to say we walked a complete Camino even if it is the shortest that ends in Santiago.
It's surprising that more people don't walk the Inglés, since it is a "complete" Camino that can be done in less than a week.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
It's surprising that more people don't walk the Inglés, since it is a "complete" Camino that can be done in less than a week.
Big fan of the Ingles also! Ferrol, Pontedeume and Betanzos are such wonderful towns.
A bit of everything. And I did not find the rerouting recently a bad thing.
Enough albergues and hostals to cater for the pilgrims. And superfriendly locals.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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It's surprising that more people don't walk the Inglés, since it is a "complete" Camino that can be done in less than a week.
Well, if you live in the United States and pay for costly airfare in addition to sitting on a plane for 8-10 hours, the Ingles by itself at just one week long, just isn't long enough unless combined with an additional route...imo.
It's a better choice for those who already live on the east side of the Atlantic.
 

Marbe2

Active member
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2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Well, if you live in the United States and pay for costly airfare in addition to sitting on a plane for 8-10 hours, the Ingles by itself at just one week long, just isn't long enough unless combined with an additional route...imo.
It's a better choice for those who already live on the east side of the Atlantic.
Agree. it probably would be a welcome addition to another european destination.
 
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trecile

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Well, if you live in the United States and pay for costly airfare in addition to sitting on a plane for 8-10 hours, the Ingles by itself at just one week long, just isn't long enough unless combined with an additional route...imo.
It's a better choice for those who already live on the east side of the Atlantic.
But many North Americans fly to Spain and only walk from Sarria or Tui.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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But many North Americans fly to Spain and only walk from Sarria or Tui.
That's probably true, especially if they are still working and have limited vacation time. Being retired, I normally never think of time restrictions others may have.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
@BookGirl305, welcome. Here are two links that might help fill your information gap.

Hiking.WayMarkedTrails.org with an emphasis of the Ingles. Click on "routes" to select details. Scroll in for more details. Scroll back for more options, including across Europe and the rest of the world.

One of the websites mentioned in Way Marked Trails for the Ingles.

And so I say kia ora, kia haha (be healthy, take care and be strong) and get going when it is safe for you and all you will encounter.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Since there seems to be an uptick in optimistic potential pilgrims on the forum, I thought I would raise this issue for broader discussion. It has been discussed before, but fresh eyes and thoughts might be energizing.

If you are a newbie, and if you are like me, when you started planning your first camino, you had no idea that there were more than 45 caminos criss-crossing all over Spain. So by default most first time pilgrims go to the Camino Francés, St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, made famous in The Way and undoubtedly the most popular camino. I’m not challenging that or suggesting it’s the wrong decision, but I thought I would ask the broader forum — which camino do you recommend for first-timers, and why? Are there newbies out there who are thinking about this? If so, please join the discussion!

Happy New Year to my forum friends, Laurie

This question can be answered, imo, with a persons response to this question. Are you already an experienced hiker/backpacker?

If no, I suggest the Frances. It has the most infrastructure and traffic to support even the least experienced hiker.

If yes, I would ask a second question. Do you speak Spanish?

If the answer is yes, you can walk any Spanish Camino easily. I am not saying if you do not speak Spanish you can not walk any Camino. Just suggesting the less trafficked Camino's might be more challenging to a non Spanish speaker.

If not, Camino's like Norte, Primitivo, VdlP and maybe Portuguese are well trafficked Camino's.

That opinion and $5 will buy you an airport coffee.

Stay healthy and keep moving forward
Joe
 
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jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
That is a great question and I suppose some of the answers to that can be found in an older thread about introverts and extroverts, if I could only find it. 😁
The level of socialization can be well managed on even the heavily trafficked Camino's ie: Frances, Primitivo and Norte. You can walk solitarily and socialize communally in evening.

Less trafficked routes and lightly trafficked routes are more in line with solitary walking and evenings though you can find opportunities to socialize especially if you are a Spanish speaker.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
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That's probably true, especially if they are still working and have limited vacation time. Being retired, I normally never think of time restrictions others may have.
So many different scenarios and circumstances with the Camino. As an expat Brit living on the coast of western Canada we naturally visit family in London when returning to Europe therefore less time to walk.
Only 15 years approx until I retire and seriously walk......?
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances April / May 19
I chose the Frances for my first ( and only, so far) Camino because it was the only one I had heard of. I first heard of it many years ago and thought it might be nice 'one day'. 'One day' finally arrived and as I began my research I leaned about the other Caminos, found out about that movie 'The Way' and discovered this forum!

After one Camino I am hooked and will be walking one of the others as soon as I can.
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
@BookGirl305, welcome. Here are two links that might help fill your information gap.

Hiking.WayMarkedTrails.org with an emphasis of the Ingles. Click on "routes" to select details. Scroll in for more details. Scroll back for more options, including across Europe and the rest of the world.

One of the websites mentioned in Way Marked Trails for the Ingles.

And so I say kia ora, kia haha (be healthy, take care and be strong) and get going when it is safe for you and all you will encounter.
I love doing trail research and had never seen this site. Fantastic! https://hiking.waymarkedtrails.org/#route?id=1102966&map=10!43.1253!-8.3584
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Like many I watched “The Way” and had never heard of the Camino but was interested, googled it and became more interested then I found the forum and got hooked. So I’ve been planning the Frances for about the last 4 years preparing for when I knew I would have time to walk. Then I bought some guide books for a few different routes followed by a wall map from the forum store and looked at even more routes then in 2019 I got the opportunity to do Valenca to SdC on the Portuguese and took it, now I’m just waiting for my retirement in May to start feeding my addiction and ticking off a few routes before possibly having a go at the Via Francigena so you could say I’ve planned a lot but it was chance that picked my first route and I would definitely recommend the Portuguese but looking forward to the Frances and the Norte to come
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
When I did my first Camino in 1989 there was little awareness of routes other than the Frances. I have two maps of the "Camino de Santiago" produced by Spain'sInstituto Geografico Nacional, a current one and one dated 1989. The current one (at 1:1,250,000) shows at least 49 routes just in Spain, as well as some in Portugal and France. The 1989 map (at 1:600,000) just shows the Camino Frances*. Choice wasn't involved.

We know better now. And when I advise people about what route to walk first, it depends on a number of things: how much time they have, what brings them to the Camino, what their level of fitness is.

For most people, I'm inclined to suggest the Camino Frances as a first Camino. It has lots of good infrastructure. It has lots of history and "Camino culture" is ever-present. They will benefit from a community of fellow pilgrims. When they read about Caminos or see movies, it is most likely the route that will be presented and they will recognize it. It is the archetypical Camino experience.

That said, for people who have less time and/or are really daunted by the mountains, I think the Camino Portugues from Porto can be a good first Camino. It can give them a taste of the experience and the desire and confidence to tackle something longer and more challenging. It also has the infrastructure and community to well support a first-time pilgrim.

I know the Norte also receives a share of first time pilgrims, but since I haven't walked it myself (yet) I'm less likely to recommend it to a first-time pilgrim.

*The map could easily show the Norte, Primitivo, etc., since it includes all of that territory, but it doesn't. It was interesting to notice what was included in the thick green line that denotes the "Camino de Santiago". On the one hand, it includes the Camino Aragones (from Oloron-Ste. Marie in France, with an indication "A Arles"). On the other hand, the line for the Camino Frances doesn't start at SJPP but goes farther back, branching out to: Beguios ("A Paris"), Salies-de-Bearn ("A Vezelay"), and to l'Hopital-d'Orion ("A Puy"). On the gripping hand, at the western end the thick green line proceeds past Santiago de Compostela - but not to Finisterre or even Muxia but to Padron. So that was how the Spanish saw the Camino some 30 years ago.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I know the Norte also receives a share of first time pilgrims, but since I haven't walked it myself (yet) I'm less likely to recommend it to a first-time pilgrim.
From my unscientific study of the Norte, I'd say that those who choose it for a first Camino are more experienced hikers/backpackers and younger people.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
...
And to those great questions I would add — do you want to be enveloped in human relationships, forming a proverbial camino family, or do you see your camino as a time to hash through personal issues, for solitary reflection and maybe contemplation of some of the universe’s larger questions?
...
Just a quick note that sometimes the human relationships we form on the Camino help us to hash though personal issues and consider some of the universe's larger questions. Sometimes the answers come from conversation rather than contemplation - especially when those conversations are deep and with people far from home, as is often the case on the Camino.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Just a quick note that sometimes the human relationships we form on the Camino help us to hash though personal issues and consider some of the universe's larger questions. Sometimes the answers come from conversation rather than contemplation - especially when those conversations are deep and with people far from home, as is often the case on the Camino.
I agree with David here.

The Camino seems to get people to drop some of their normal defenses and talk to strangers about personal subject matter. I believe this occurs because many on "The Way" are in transitional period and the special environment of the Camino.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola Pilgrims one and all.
I started my first Camino back in May 2013 in pouring rain from Merida (on the Via de la Plata). I chose this route as I had read two books that described it as a real adventure. I was not really aware of the Frances or other Caminos until after I had made all my travel arrangements. That my camino finished in under a week is beside the point. I came back in 2015 and 2017 to cycle and walk the Frances (with much joy on both occasions). Whether I will get to walk another Camino is out of my control (at least until I get my vaccination). From my experiences I would say that the Frances is the best "camino starter" unless there are strong reasons to pick another route.. Cheers
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2023
which camino do you recommend for first-timers, and why

I've started and deleted a response so many times this morning. And then I realized: I can't even decide myself where to walk on my second camino; how can I give coherent advice to someone choosing their first? And even when choosing my first, I turned out to be completely wrong about what I thought would be important to me, or about what I would like most or least about the route.

For the vast majority of people who have the time, I agree with the other posts that the Camino Francés is the default choice. It's the iconic modern camino, and it has the most structure, and it's the common reference point that most of us have on the forum. And independent travelers can go off-stage and avoid the crowds easily enough, at least in the fall.

But for those looking for alternatives, or who have less time, here are some strong contenders to the most popular choices:

1. Le Puy en Velay to Conques. Chemin de Puy, France. Nine to ten days.

Why
: A lot of French and Germans walk to Santiago in stages, doing a few weeks each summer. This is the most popular first stage. You'll see the same folks each day and night. And while there isn't as much physical infrastructure as on the CF, in some ways there is more spiritual infrastructure. The churches in France aren't locked, even the ones in remote locations. There's a pilgrim welcome in Le Puy each evening, you start your pilgrimage with a very early pilgrims' mass at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-du-Puy, and you end the pilgrimage with a communal meal at the abbey, followed by an evening organ recital at the Abbey Church de Sainte-Foy.

To me it meets any definition of a "full" camino. In addition: it's very beautiful; there's a good balance between quiet time and social time; there are no suburbs or industrial areas or even highways to contend with; you stay on farms, with families, and in abbeys rather than in large pilgrim dorms; and the pilgrim meals are multi-course home-cooked regional French dishes, and you often sit at the table with your host family to enjoy them.

Why not: It's much easier if you speak French, though I met some non-French speakers. You will need to carry your lunch and extra water each day, and not count on finding stores along the route. There are no budget options; expect to spend around 50 euro a day for food and lodging. It's still a bargain - the meals were all excellent.

2. Astorga to Santiago, via Samos. Camino Francés. Ten to twelve days.

Why:
Astorga is a popular rest day for pilgrims doing longer walks, and you'll have a chance to bond before the biggest crowds join the trail in Sarrià. Going through Samos & spending the night there takes you through beautiful countryside, and also takes you "off-stage" (i.e., off the stages recommended in the guidebooks). I'd see hundreds and hundreds of people in the main towns, but there'd only be a dozen of us in the in-between towns. I found it easier to connect with Galicia, with the natural world, and with my fellow-pilgrims in these quieter places.

For me, it's actually harder to meet people in a crowd. I did love the party atmosphere at times, but my fondest memories are from the times I was away from it.

Why not: I met a few people who were really bothered to find themselves "off stage" and felt more secure in the larger crowds. For instance, I thought the albergue at Reboleira was wonderful, and we had one of the better communal meals I had in Spain. There were about 24 of us the night I was there, so I thought it was a good crowd, but one poor woman was outside chain smoking and fretting about the isolation. And in Samos I met one American who was genuinely angry that "everyone else" took the more direct route; he felt that he had been led astray by his guidebook and was now somehow off the camino.

3. Three weeks

I would recommend variations on the above, but in France walking Le Puy to Moissac, and in Spain starting in Burgos (don't skip the meseta!).

Of course, I can only recommend what I've already walked. There are so many other routes that I'm sure would be equally fulfilling.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Since there seems to be an uptick in optimistic potential pilgrims on the forum, I thought I would raise this issue for broader discussion. It has been discussed before, but fresh eyes and thoughts might be energizing.

If you are a newbie, and if you are like me, when you started planning your first camino, you had no idea that there were more than 45 caminos criss-crossing all over Spain. So by default most first time pilgrims go to the Camino Francés, St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, made famous in The Way and undoubtedly the most popular camino. I’m not challenging that or suggesting it’s the wrong decision, but I thought I would ask the broader forum — which camino do you recommend for first-timers, and why? Are there newbies out there who are thinking about this? If so, please join the discussion!

Happy New Year to my forum friends, Laurie
Nothing wrong with starting with the Francés, it has infrastructure, information and a lot of kindred souls to meet. The Norte can be over-run with beachigrinos in summer, but otherwise is a good alternative. If you don't have time to do the whole journey (or live in Europe so you can come back and do the rest another year), I'd suggest the Aragonés from Canfranc (or start over the border in France and cross the Pyrenees via Somport). It has other pilgrims, good waymarking, plenty of albergues and cafes en route, significant cultural sites and stunning scenery. It connects with the Francés just before Puente La Reina so you could carry on to Santiago from there and get the best of both worlds.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
1. Le Puy en Velay to Conques. Chemin de Puy, France. Nine to ten days.
...
To me it meets any definition of a "full" camino. ...
I certainly agree that this is a lovely walk, and a good first stage for a first taste of the camino. But to say that it meets any definition of a "full" camino is pushing it a bit, methinks. Surely you recognize the possibility of a definition of a "full" camino that includes ending in Santiago de Compostela where the relics of St. James are said to be?

There are many pilgrim routes in Europe and around the world. What distinguishes the "Camino" pilgrim routes is that they wend towards Santiago de Compostela.
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2023
I certainly agree that this is a lovely walk, and a good first stage for a first taste of the camino. But to say that it meets any definition of a "full" camino is pushing it a bit, methinks. Surely you recognize the possibility of a definition of a "full" camino that includes ending in Santiago de Compostela where the relics of St. James are said to be?

There are many pilgrim routes in Europe and around the world. What distinguishes the "Camino" pilgrim routes is that they wend towards Santiago de Compostela.
By "full" I was thinking more in an emotional or spiritual sense, along the lines of what the elements of a camino are. This section has a distinct beginning and end point with historical and religious significance, and at least when I walked it a definite sense of shared purpose. There was a feeling of being part of something bigger on trail, even though very few of us were walking jusqu'àu bout in one season. I realize that not everyone felt this way on this section, but I suspect that has a lot to do with it being a French-language dominant rather than an English-dominant environment.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
By "full" I was thinking more in an emotional or spiritual sense, along the lines of what the elements of a camino are. This section has a distinct beginning and end point with historical and religious significance, and at least when I walked it a definite sense of shared purpose. There was a feeling of being part of something bigger on trail, even though very few of us were walking jusqu'àu bout in one season. I realize that not everyone felt this way on this section, but I suspect that has a lot to do with it being a French-language dominant rather than an English-dominant environment.
To be clear, I wasn't meaning to suggest that one couldn't come up with a reasonable definition of a "full" Camino that included this section. I recognize that different people look for different things in a full Camino and this certainly ticks all of the boxes for some. I was just arguing against the expressed idea that this section ticks all of the boxes for everyone and that no reasonable definition of a "full" Camino includes Santiago de Compostela as a destination. That seemed to be going a little too far to pass without a gentle challenge. :)

Had you said "it meets my definition of a full camino" I would have been silent. Had you said "it meets most definitions of a full camino" I probably would have been silent, too. (Not for sure; I'm a pretty talkative guy.) But when you wrote "it meets any definition of a full camino" I felt I had to respond.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I don't think it qualifies as a full Camino Inglés without bacon, eggs, sausages or black pudding, baked beans, fried bread and a pot of tea.
This sounds like an Irish or English breakfast to me...yum.
 

annangulo

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Since there seems to be an uptick in optimistic potential pilgrims on the forum, I thought I would raise this issue for broader discussion. It has been discussed before, but fresh eyes and thoughts might be energizing.

If you are a newbie, and if you are like me, when you started planning your first camino, you had no idea that there were more than 45 caminos criss-crossing all over Spain. So by default most first time pilgrims go to the Camino Francés, St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, made famous in The Way and undoubtedly the most popular camino. I’m not challenging that or suggesting it’s the wrong decision, but I thought I would ask the broader forum — which camino do you recommend for first-timers, and why? Are there newbies out there who are thinking about this? If so, please join the discussion!

Happy New Year to my forum friends, Laurie
I will be doing my first camino when Spain opens up. I am open to and have studied various routes. I've decided to choose which camino based on the season/time of year when it is opened to Americans and how many government albuergues are open. I plan to go every year until I die so there is time to be able to do many routes, so it doesn't matter which one I start with.
 
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CalgaryLynn

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
My first Camino is coming up this fall (toes and fingers crossed) I have known about the Camino Frances since Shirley MacLean but was working and couldn't get that necessary month off. Now I am retired so the world is my oyster (as they say). I have been to both Spain and Portugal on my travels and really enjoyed both countries. I decided on the CP because it is a little shorter and will allow me time to go to Fatima as well during my three weeks. My sense is if I really enjoy this, I will be back in the spring or fall of 2022 to do the CF.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I certainly agree that this is a lovely walk, and a good first stage for a first taste of the camino. But to say that it meets any definition of a "full" camino is pushing it a bit, methinks. Surely you recognize the possibility of a definition of a "full" camino that includes ending in Santiago de Compostela where the relics of St. James are said to be?

There are many pilgrim routes in Europe and around the world. What distinguishes the "Camino" pilgrim routes is that they wend towards Santiago de Compostela.
Does a camino have to go to Santiago? There were a number of holy shrines in mediaeval times to which pilgrims could make a pilgrimage: in England, Canterbury and Walsingham were two of them. But the two other major pilgrimage destinations were, of course, Rome and Jerusalem: though not being in Spain, perhaps they shouldn't be termed "caminos", but if the Via Francigena is not a camino, what is it?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Does a camino have to go to Santiago? There were a number of holy shrines in mediaeval times to which pilgrims could make a pilgrimage: in England, Canterbury and Walsingham were two of them. But the two other major pilgrimage destinations were, of course, Rome and Jerusalem: though not being in Spain, perhaps they shouldn't be termed "caminos", but if the Via Francigena is not a camino, what is it?
Since Camino is the Spanish word for way or road, I would say that routes in non Spanish speaking countries wouldn't be Caminos. Call them Vias or Ways, or simply pilgrimage routes. The routes in Portugal are Caminhos - the Portuguese word for road.

I'm taking online Spanish classes with a tutor in Colombia, and she always says the complete name Camino de Santiago when we are discussing the Camino, because to her camino is simply road or way, or as a verb - I walk.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
These posts have largely focused on the prospective pilgrim answering two questions: What can you do? That is, in terms of time, money, health, etc. and: What do you want to do? in terms of what route you have heard of and would like to try (mostly the Frances, for first timers.) For those who experience a calling to pilgrimage, I suggest that they ask themselves: To what do I feel called? This may mean the opposite of picking a situation where you are comfortable. The introvert may walk the Frances, stay in albergues and maybe even be invited to join a camino family (I feel that this last is really going too far). What I am saying is that there may be something in most "callings" which has an aspect of "going beyond" what is comfortable or what one could have imagined for oneself. Whatever you can do, whatever you think you would like to do, if you feel "called to pilgrimage" or even if you are sure that I am talking nonsense, perhaps there might be a possibility on a pilgrim walk of receiving something quite different from what you planned for.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Does a camino have to go to Santiago? There were a number of holy shrines in mediaeval times to which pilgrims could make a pilgrimage: in England, Canterbury and Walsingham were two of them. But the two other major pilgrimage destinations were, of course, Rome and Jerusalem: though not being in Spain, perhaps they shouldn't be termed "caminos", but if the Via Francigena is not a camino, what is it?
For me, the simple answer to your final question is "a pilgrimage". There are many pilgrimage destinations and pilgrim routes around the world, some Christian, many not. My own understanding of the English language usage of the word "Camino" is that it doesn't encompass them all. I wouldn't call the Hajj a Camino, nor would I call a Camino the Hajj. "Pilgrimage" is, for me, the broader term. In my usage, and as I've most often seen the word, the word "Camino" is used as a narrower term, specifically for those routes which eventually end up in Santiago de Compostela and the journeys people undertake on those routes.

To get back to your first question: "Does a camino have to go to Santiago?". As I've indicated above, for me the route as a whole has to go to Santiago. But the individual journey that one undertakes on such a route doesn't necessarily have to go to Santiago. So, for example, if one were to walk from Le Puy to Saint Jean Pied de Port on the route which eventually extends through the Camino Frances to Santiago, I would say that one has been walking along a Camino (or "doing a Camino"), even if one stopped at SJPdP. However, I acknowledge that, by not walking all the way to Santiago, for some people's understanding of the term, one would not have walked a "full" Camino but rather a partial one.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
If you're doing things properly, your first Camino route and first starting place choose you ; not the other way 'round.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
To get back to your first question: "Does a camino have to go to Santiago?". As I've indicated above, for me the route as a whole has to go to Santiago. But the individual journey that one undertakes on such a route doesn't necessarily have to go to Santiago.
As you know, I very much disagree with this position.

The excellent mademoiselle Warcollier (who edited the first modern edition of the Codex Callixtinus, and was a Founder of the modern Camino) wrote --

La seule chose qui importe c'est d'arriver à Compostelle ;
Only one thing matters ; to get to Compostela.

I read that in 1994 ; to this date, it remains the single best piece of Camino advice I have ever come across.

The Camino as such really is that simple ; that raw ; that brutal.

Once you have started ; well, you jolly well finish.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
A small correction: Jeanne Veillard edited and translated book V of the CC and dubbed it "Pilgrim's Guide". Jeannine Warcollier was indeed a founding member of the first French association. Neither of them walked to Santiago de Compostela on foot.

I would recommend a section of the Camino Frances to a newbie, or the whole length from SJPP to Santiago, and there are plenty of reasons why in previous comments in this thread.

"Camino" is slowly becoming a word that is used in English to describe a certain way of spending time walking and a certain trail with a certain infrastructure and a certain range of philosophies associated with it. It is no longer restricted to Spain and to the Ways of Saint James in Spain, either the traditional ones or all the other ones that have sprung up in recent times.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
As you know, I very much disagree with this position.

The excellent mademoiselle Warcollier (who edited the first modern edition of the Codex Callixtinus, and was a Founder of the modern Camino) wrote --

La seule chose qui importe c'est d'arriver à Compostelle ;
Only one thing matters ; to get to Compostela.

I read that in 1994 ; to this date, it remains the single best piece of Camino advice I have ever come across.

The Camino as such really is that simple ; that raw ; that brutal.

Once you have started ; well, you jolly well finish.
If you go back to post #63, where I entered this discussion, you will see that I did so precisely to hold space for the view that you espouse so eloquently. I haven't changed my views from that posting.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
"Camino" is slowly becoming a word that is used in English to describe a certain way of spending time walking and a certain trail with a certain infrastructure and a certain range of philosophies associated with it. It is no longer restricted to Spain and to the Ways of Saint James in Spain, either the traditional ones or all the other ones that have sprung up in recent times.
Not to me, and it never will be -- except by extension to the traditional Via Romea routes between Compostela and Rome, and the late Mediaeval and Renaissance grand and petit tours, leading in any case to Rome and Jerusalem, and in the longer one also to Compostela.

You're right about madame Vielliard -- but I think mademoiselle Warcollier is associated with it nevertheless, and it has had several editions since first publication. I may have come across her name on one of those in Paris, erm, 25 years ago or something ? Oh well.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
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If you go back to post #63, where I entered this discussion, you will see that I did so precisely to hold space for the view that you espouse so eloquently. I haven't changed my views from that posting.
I typically join discussions from the first posts, then carry on from there, but it's a broad principle, and there may be exceptions. :p
 

alhartman

2005-2017 Delightful 346 days in Spain and France.
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
Reading this thread made me realize that the camino experience has morphed into another shopping choice experience not unlike buying an auto. My grandfather’s model T was black; he was an early adopter and glad to have a car in addition to horses and wagons. There are now 43 models of cars offered in the US. I need a replacement for my 1991 Volvo, but cannot bring myself to the choices.

This expansion of choice is not necessarily a bad thing, but I am grateful that for my first camino the choice was the black Model T—SJPdP to SdC in 34 stages. And my Camino was in lieu of a canceled but long planned Pacific Crest Trail. I was stressed and near burnout at work and I needed a long walk, so choice was really a forced one and the question was not ‘how do you choose your first Camino route?”, but rather HOW do I go from SJPdP to SdC? A coworker, also a PCT fan, was walking the Camino with her sister in 2004 so Diane became my mentor (no forum then unfortunately;; so her pictures and journals were my source). I read MacLaine and Coelho (neither my cup of tea, but gave me a bit of flavor for the journey) then Hoinaki, which clicked more with me. And then Brierley 2005 Guide and the Confraternity bookstore (Alison Raju wrote great guides for the time) were real breakthroughs --and I had all my answers to “how”.

At the SJPdP Pilgrims office, I picked up the Amis 8.5x11 handout with all the towns and Albergues (in hindsight the only guide that was needed—it is a well marked always Westward journey) and set out amongst my share of 9851 other 2005 leavers on what was the most rewarding of adventures. Behind me in the Pilgrim Office line was a Ukrainian lady who walked from LePuy (25 days in raingear she said), and that set the choice for my 2006 Camino.

There are now so many choices and variables—as I am struggling with a plan for another with aging and declining health in mind. But I can say that my favorite ever Camino was 2013 LePuy to SdC. Which is the route/experience that I would recommend for anyone who has 70 days to devote and wants a little of everything.

The Camino is an everchanging experience; and it is fully ‘discovered’; 2028 EstadosUnidos camposteled in 2005, growing to nearly 21,000 in 2019. There was a ‘bed race’ in 2005, I got last bunk 3 times and floor 3 times and shut out once; but in 2016 Leon-SdC walk with adult daughter we needed to reserve nearly every night. All experiences have been ‘good’, but always a battle to suppress expectations.

My main recommendation for newbies is develop your desired constraints /specifications, research it, decide, then ‘just do it’; there is no wrong decision—just good, better, best. You wont regret it.



PS: My Grandfather eventually settled on Cadillac in the 50s—still black though.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Reading this thread made me realize that the camino experience has morphed into another shopping choice experience not unlike buying an auto. My grandfather’s model T was black; he was an early adopter and glad to have a car in addition to horses and wagons.
One of Henry Ford's famous quotes about the Model T was, "Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black."
 

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