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How much do you really need to know?

oomschluking

New Member
Just wondering - could I hit SJPDP with nothing but my back pack and willingness - no guide book ( need space/weight for journal) - and still make it to Santiago? That is can you do the journey on a whim and a wish? I suspect you can. Anyone out there who followed their nose?
 

Arn

Veteran Member
As with most things in life:

If you say to yourself, "As long as I don't get caught...I'll be O.K." You shouldn't do it in the first place.

On the Camino, it might be: "As long as what I do can not cause me harm...I'll make it to Santiago. You should make it just fine.

Buen "on a wing and a prayer" Camino,

Arn
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
The Camino Frances is so well marked with yellow arrows and conches that anyone can make it to Santiago without a guide book. Basic guide books really only tell you the name of the next village and where the accommodation is. There will be so many pilgrims this year that it will be almost impossible to get lost!
 

vinotinto

Active Member
oomschluking said:
That is can you do the journey on a whim and a wish?

Sure it's possible, just like you can play Russian roulette and not blow your brains out. But personally, I'd take a guidebook, and the one I used (Brierley's) was quite helpful and informative.

Indeed, it saved me from a lot of trouble - just as removing that last round from the chamber will eliminate the potential for the migrane to end all migranes... :mrgreen:

Buen Camino,

VT
 

ramble-on

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2010; LePuy 2011; VdlP 2013/14; CdN (to Oviedo) & Primitivo 2016
It seems it can be done by simply following the flechas amarillos, but the walk would, I think, be a much richer experience with information about the things you're seeing. Perhaps that's a thought more worthy of a tourist than a pilgrim?? Regardless, when I walk, I like to learn about the history and culture. A guidebook only adds a few ounces to one's pack, but immensely to one's experiences.
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
You won't have any problems walking without a guide... if that works for you just follow those arrows or the pilgrims ahead of you. I am a guidebook person but knowing I could 'trust the arrows' was one of the first lessons I learned ...having wasted lots of time the first day or so double/triple checking the route on our maps!
You'll be meeting other pilgrims with guides so, if you want to beef up on info about a town or accommodation, ask to have a look at their books (we shared our copy of Brierley around)
Our guide was great for alternative routes but we also found out about an alternative option into Carrion de los Condes (shown in the Miam Miam Dodo guide) by just having a chat with a group of French pilgrims over a coffee and then decided to take that route by following them. So by asking around each evening about the next days route you'll get information on alternative ways.
If you get to Legrono and decide you'd like a guide you can get definitely get the Brierley in one of the book shops there.
I never saw any guidebooks amongst the 'left behinds' in any Albergue or hostal so it seems even if some were discarded by their owners they must have been picked up pretty quickly by other pilgrims :?
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Since you are planning to start from SJPP, you could pick up a couple of A4 sheets from the Pilgrim Office when you get there. One has 'stages' that show altitude changes, and the other lists most of the cheaper pilgrim accommodation options along the route. A third describes the alternative routes you can take to get to Roncesvalles from SJPP.
Margaret
 

Sagalouts

RIP 2015
already been said,but yes you can do it and leave lots of room for your journal.
day 1-had to ask people for advice-day 2 passed a nice building not sure what it is-day 3 did not have time to write,too busy asking people where I am-day 4 just found out I payed too much for accommodation missed out on a great place just a 100mts further on.
the Confraternity of Saint James Pilgrim guides to Spain no1 Camino Frances price £6 weight-small paperback-weight off your mind invaluable and so self reliant you become that new friends flock to seek your advice.
so squeeze out half your toothpaste cut your toothbrush in half ( how big is this journal anyway)
why start out on a long walk in strange countryside blindfolded and reliant on other people???
have a great and informed Camino
Ian
 

vinotinto

Active Member
oomschluking said:
Ok I get it!

Ah, grasshopper - now that you have snatched the guidebook from my hands, you are ready to step off from SJPP and embark on a great adventure! Burning Asian martial arts symbols into your forearms is optional, though... :wink:

VT
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
vinotinto said:
Sure it's possible, just like you can play Russian roulette and not blow your brains out.
VT


Give me a break! The trail is really well marked, and it is full of helpful locals and perigrinos. A guidebook can be a detriment to spontinaity, as well as a chunk of dead weight. I carry a little folding map, and a book on the history of the towns. I would not hesitate to send someone off with neither.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Vinotinto is BACK! When do we see you on the Camino, pal?

I am starting the camino March 15 in Roncesvalles. I kinda know the camino, seeing as I am part of the scene. But that "kinda" is HUGE... the Camino just gives and gives. I am taking a guide, because the Camino is constantly changing. Avail yourself of every bit of info you can, but be completely flexible. You might miss the great place 100 meters further on, but it´s the wild and woolly stuff that makes the great story later on!

Reb.
 

vinotinto

Active Member
newfydog said:
I would not hesitate to send someone off with neither.

So said the leaders of the Donner party, and we all know what happened to them... :roll:

newfydog said:
A guidebook can be a detriment to spontinaity,

The only detriment to spontaneity is within the heart and mind, and a couple shots of orujo can overcome even the most stringent of tomes. A guidebook is light, easy to carry, and can be ignored at will - or act a lifesaver when needed. But like a life preserver, it's no good if you don't have it.

But as you say, it is certainly possible to do the Way without a book using the means you recommend. All I'm saying is that luck tends to favor the prepared... :arrow:

Rebekah Scott said:
Vinotinto is BACK! When do we see you on the Camino, pal?

Good to see you! I'm hoping to go from Porto to Santiago in June, gliding all the way on Port vino and hopefully avoiding the crowds...and yes, I'll be taking a guidebook! :mrgreen:

VT
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Your understanding of what you'll see will be based on what you know.
If you dont know too much, you won't understand too much either. (There is a lot of history on the camino).
That doesn't mean you won't enjoy what you see - you just won't know the significance of what you are seeing, or of the road you are walking on.
But, that's OK too. You'll enjoy the camino on a physical level and you'll enjoy meeting people, you'll enjoy the food and the wine.
If you write a journal you might decide to research some of the places you passed through to make sense of the things you saw.
Many guide books (CSJ, Cicerone etc) don't recommend stages, they just give you the info on each town or village and you decide how far to walk each day. You can be as spontaneous as you like.
Who knows, you might decide to go back one day and take another look at places that really interested you.
Buen Camino.
 

cecelia

Wandering for the love and growth of it
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from SJPP - 2003, 2005, 2009, 2013. 500 km on Le Puy 2013. Future - Vezelay-Santiago
Hola,
I'm definitely on the side of yes you can head out without a guidebook. My only caution would be winter. If you don't know where you're going and the yellow arrows are buried in snow obviously you could have a bit of difficulty. Why is this starting to sound like Alice in Wonderland? How does it go?..... "Well if you don't know where you are going then it doesn't matter which way you go..." or something like that<grin>
Buen Camino
Cecelia
 

Mountainman

El Croco loco
Camino(s) past & future
Past: Camino Frances
(StJ-Santiago) 2007, 2009
(StJ-Fisterra) 2011, 2012
Future:
Camino del Salvador 8/2014
Camino Primitivo 8/2014?
Camino del Norte 9/2014,
and hopefully many more yet unplanned
Hi There,

I have done 2 Camino's from SJPdP, and took a guide book both times, as to me it is worth the weight. However, I believe it is totally possible to do without. At the pelgrims office in St Jean, you are offered 3 A4 papers that basically contains all the info you need. 1 contains height/distance charts of each etappa, and another contains info on where all necessities can be found on the route (like albergues, doctor, restaurants, shops, and so forth). And I forgot the 3rd one, but with these 2, you are set!

Ultimately, all we can do is give you advice, and it is up to you what to choose. Truth is in the eyes of the beholder...
 

crhutch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2010) March/April SJPP to Santiago and hence to Finisterre
(2016) Hospitalero Grañón 15-31 March
(2016) April Logroño to Santiago
(2017) Hospitalero Zamora 15-31 March
(2017) Hospilatero Emaus, Burgos 1-14 April
Rebekah,
We were hoping to stop and share some vino with you, but I see you will be walking.. We leave SJPP 20 March so you'll be a bit ahead of us. But as I also see Patrick will be staying back so hopefully we'll get a chance to stop and say hello. Have a great Camino.

Cullen
 

alipilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Listed in my signature
I agree, it can totally be done without a guidebook but it is convenient to learn about alternate routes (such as Brierley suggests), which towns might have bars/shops/pharmacies, and knowing what lies ahead so you can plan your day accordingly.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
vinotinto said:
So said the leaders of the Donner party, and we all know what happened to them... :roll:

Actually, the Donner party tried to follow a new route across the Great Salt Lake salt flats, based on a a guidebook, and were thus delayed, and ended up in the mountains for the winter. Had they thrown out the book and just followed the parties ahead of them, they would have been fine.
 

Portia1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2009, Portuguese 2012
Frances 2016, (Frances 2019)
I think you could do it without a guidebook except in the event of bad weather crossing over to Roncesvalles. The weather was so bad I couldn't see the big cross and missed a critical left turn. The map I had gotten at the Pilgrim Office disintegrated in the driving rain and sleet.

I was also mystified leaving Samos (well several miles out of Samos) as there were arrows pointing in several directions at once and no other pilgrims. For me a guidebook was handy because it helped me know what things were, encouraged me to take sidetrips I would never have known about, and it became my alternative journal because I made many, many notes in it.

Buen Camino!
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Why not just get the John Brierley foldout map. It has accommodation lists on it and map of the Camino and would weigh next to nothing. It is the most economical and minimalist yet useful info. Gitti
 

vinotinto

Active Member
newfydog said:
Had they thrown out the book and just followed the parties ahead of them, they would have been fine.

True, especially since the guidebook was by a profit-seeking promoter whose route was untested. However, the guidebooks we promulgate here have been tried, tested and approved by many pilgrims.

Of course, folks on each side of this debate can post things that support their views. But to me, it seems logical to have access to multiple sources of information, and to poo-poo a good source that's inexpensive and easy to carry is kind of, well, silly. :arrow:

For example, let me refer to the ill-fated Winker party, a long-ago group of American pilgrims with dreams of reaching Santiago. Adverse to research, they assumed that Spain's climate was much like the Holy Land, so they sailed over here during the winter months hoping to beat the desert heat. Undaunted by the cold weather at SJPP, in a fit of spontaneity they ignored the pilgrim office's warnings and forged ahead over the route Napoleon.

Lacking a guidebook, they assumed Orisson was French for "bordello" and refused to stop. Once atop the Pyrenees, they were caught in a massive blizzard, believed to have been generated by the beating wings of Swedish butterflies earlier that year (they had a big population boom). It is said that their screams for help echoed from SJPP to Santiago, which is why all the pigeons along the way sound like they are pleading, "don't eat me!"

Anyway, brave rescuers from Roncesvalles finally reached them during the spring thaw, but by then it was too late. In their terrible hunger, they had turned on each other for food. All that was left of the doughty band were little scraps of flesh and bone. They had even chewed their pilgrim staffs to splinters. Ever resourceful, the Spanish put two and two together, and thus tapas were created.

Today, American pilgrims leave small memorials in the woods along the way to commemorate this doomed band of pilgrim brethren. Called "aswipe" in Spanish, or "Camino Snowmen" in English, these mounds symbolize the tissue-thin fragility of life and the tragedy of human waste. But it's OK to take one home as a souvenir - they look great mounted on a scallop shell, or if you dry them out and put then in a gourd you'll have a "Camino Shaker."

In the end, if one wants to walk the Way like a Winker, then that's OK. Indeed, one naughty member of the party decided to stop at Orisson, and ended up marrying a comely German peregrino he met there. They eventually returned to Germany, where their descendant wrote a highly-regarded book about the Camino.

I must say that I got this info off of the Internet, so I can't vouch for it's authenticity. But we can all learn from the Winkers' failure even while admiring their can-do spirit... :arrow:

VT
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Of course, folks on each side of this debate can post things that support their views. But to me, it seems logical to have access to multiple sources of information, and to poo-poo a good source that's inexpensive and easy to carry is kind of, well, silly.

As you say both sides can present cogent arguments to support their views. It is up to the walker or cyclist to choose what guidance he cares to use.

By the way I changed the name of the walking party you mentioned to protect the innocent.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
It always is useful to know a bit about the local lore.

It is little known, but centuries ago the snails had
their own camino. They only traveled to Santiago from
about 1 km out, but it still took them several months.
The tale is told of a group of snails that was set
upon by a group of turtle bandits. The turtles beat
the snails and stole their equipment.

The snails moved as quickly as they could to report
the assault to the Guardia Civil. When the policeman
asked the snails for a description of the bandits,
they replied, "We really cannot say. It all happened
so fast."
 

dutchpilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, 2005, 2008, 2012

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