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I'm leaving for madrid next week ... a couple of questions .

grunt123

New Member
I've never done this kind of hiking before, (and haven't travelled abroad much, i'm canadian) ... i'm leaving for madrid next tuesday and planning to take train to Leon. From Leon, i'm planning to walk to Santiago. Since i don't speak spanish (i'm english speaker), i'm a bit concerned about how i could get to my destination. I arrive at madrid airport around 8am, and probably take a taxi to get to train station. Is it necessary to book a train ticket in advance?

Also, is there some sort of official starting point (or passing point) for pilgrimage in Leon? I'm not exactly sure where i should start to take a pilgrimage.

Another thing is the recent swine flu outbreak ... anyone think this is going to be any problem?
 

elzi

Active Member
Hi,

As far as I am aware you can book tickets in advance on the renfe website (and print your tickets)
http://www.renfe.es/horarios/english/index.html

I suggest you start at the Cathedral in Leon. Surely a good starting point for any pilgrimage on the camino whether you're religious or not? I can't actually remember if the yellow arrows go past there (I'd imagine so!) but if not another good place to pick up the route (and lots of new pilgrim friends) would be the big municipal albergue in Leon. A lot of people stay there for their first night then set out walking.

As for the Spanish thing, mine is appalling, I've survived travelling around Spain a few times now without any spanish but I wouldn't reccomend it. Try to learn a few useful phrases and maybe write down what you'd like to say to the taxi driver (so you can just show him?) if it makes you less nervous.

Good luck & Buen Camino!
 

ioannisluca

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2007 -Camino Francès (bicycle)
2008+2009 -C.Francès
2010 -C.Portugues
2011 -Via Podiensis
2012 -C.del Norte+Primitivo
2013 -Via Lemovicensis
2014 -C.de Baztan+Francès+de Madrid
2015 - C. del Norte + San Salvador + Francés
I think a good starting point in Leon is the Benedectines' albergue (you MUST sleep there if you arrive in Leon the day before you begin your Camino... :D ), not far from the Cathedral.

Last year I arrived to Leon from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, this year I will walk from Leon to Santiago... but I will go only by the beginning of July (anyone else is coming...?)

Take care
Buen Camino
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
Hello Grunt123,
Welcome to the forum!
There are some mixed reports about booking Renfe tickets online. I have never been able to do it - they require a PIN and I was told that the PIN is only issued if you are a resident of the EU. Now I'm not certain how accurate that information is, but I can tell you that I speak and read Spanish pretty well and have tried over and over to book tickets with no success. I've traveled many times by train in Spain and I've always had to go to a train station and book in person.

In terms of getting to the train station from Barrajas, you can take the Metro (subway) if you choose. Depending on how much time you have and from which station your train departs... I believe a train to León would depart from Chamartin.

I suggest you contact Ivar... he may be able to help you and possibly get a booking for you. The website link is at the bottom of the page.

As for starting in León, the Cathedral is not to be missed and the Camino picks up just outside the main door directly across the plaza. Just follow the markers through the old section of the city, past the ancient murallas (city walls) and out past the Parador San Marcos. As you cross over the Roman Bridge, the markers are on the ground in front of you - hard to miss! Many people stay an extra night in León. there is a great market there and definitely have a coffee in the Parador if you have the time - they have a beautiful sello!

Buen Camino,
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
I booked on Renfe, printed my ticket and traveled from Barcelona to Bilbao 3 days ago. No problems with it. Although I was in Barcelona when I booked it. So not sure if being here in Spain booking it makes a difference. No PIN was needed. And I used a US credit card.
Lillian
 

elzi

Active Member
I have booked online (using the english version of) the renfe site. I did it from England the first time and don't remember needing any particular pin (if I have a pin for being in the EU it's the first I've heard about it! :S). I was a bit nervous turning up with this flimsy printout and not a real ticket but it all went fine and I had no problems.
 
Here's what I scored, looking at the Renfe website & working with my camino maps:

I used a random day for next week (Monday). From Madrid Chamartin (can be reached from the airport by the metro), there are several trains per day. http://horarios.renfe.es/hir/index.jsp? ... &SF=2&ID=s

Once you get to Leon, walk straight out of the station & over the river (follow the crowd). You should be on Avenida Ordono after the river (Ave. Palencia before). By walking straight ahead, you will eventually get to the cathedral (10 minute walk or so). You'll pass the Gaudi building (will be on your left), then pass by the Hotel Paris (also on the left). There is a Tourism Information office near the cathedral, where you can get a map & directions to the convent albergue. Or ask people who look like pilgrims (trust me, you'll know). :)

As for not knowing Spanish, you won't have too much of a problem in the larger cities. You'll pick up the pilgrim lingo pretty quickly, though.

Buen Camino!

Kelly
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
Ok, you guys!
WHY have I never been able to do this??? :? So many times sitting on a computer in Madrid (or somewhere along the Camino), I tried and tried - and it simply would NOT let me book it. I ended up going to Atocha or Chamartin and standing in line to buy the ticket! Do you suppose Renfe has (gasp!) upgraded their system to make it more user friendly???? :)

Sorry for the misinformation - it has just never worked for me! :(
I'll try again!
Buen Camino,
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
I've looked at the Renfe site mentioned above but once you put in your info the next screen shows available trains but I can't see how you actually book- "como reservar" takes you to an entirely spanish page that still doesn;t seem to have the option to book. I used Rail europe site-much easier.
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
The RENFE website is known for being "complicated" and not easy... but as it was said in an earlier post, most of the times you can stop by the ticket office in the station and get a ticket before the train leaves. (Just don't be "last-minute", get there an hour early and get the ticket.)

If you need help with a bus/plane reservation I can help over here.

Greetings from Santiago,
Ivar
 

grunt123

New Member
wow, thanks for all the replies. I'll try that train reservation site.

How's weather along the pilgrimage route during May? Should i bring warm clothes?
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
grunt123 said:
How's weather along the pilgrimage route during May? Should i bring warm clothes?
So far (5 days) May has brought us sun sun and sun... nice walking weather, about 26c as a max and about 6-7c as a minimum (nights) would be my guess for Santiago today. I was in northern Lugo province this Sunday. We drover from 26c and sunny Santiago to 12c and foggy weather (northern Lugo, close to Asturias).

In short, it is still not summer... but it is getting there...

Saludos,
Ivar
 

grunt123

New Member
it seems that i have more questions as the day approaches :eek:

I'm wondering how crowded pilgrimage route will be during May. (from Leon to Santiago, especially) Should i make a reservation for alberge room in advance?
 

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