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Introverts: Invierno Detour or Continue on Frances at Ponferrada?

Camino(s) past & future
Frances/Invierno May/June 2018
#1
Flying into Paris on May1st and starting the Frances May 2nd. Can't wait!

I'm a fairly solitary walker and really value alone time for introspection/meditation, but am also looking forward to meeting fellow pilgrims, particularly at the conclusion of the day's walk. That said, the more I read about how busy the way gets after Sarria, I'm favouring a detour onto the Camino Invierno after Ponferrada.

Question for those who have walked the Invierno: What will I gain by taking this detour besides blessed solitude? I've heard it's a couple extra days which is fine. Is it equally beautiful?

Question for those who continued on the Frances through Sarria: What will I miss if I detour off of the Frances? i.e. what are your most cherished highlights between Ponferrada and Santiago on the CF?

Thanks!
Peter
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#2
Don't be thinking about what you will "miss" either way! Of course you will miss something, and that can't be avoided. But you will gain something else! This is a pilgrimage, not a calculated sightseeing exercise. You will almost certainly be glad you took whichever path you do.

If you are starting from SJPP (assuming you are, since you said you are flying into Paris), you will have plenty of time to get used to the atmosphere and make a calculated or spontaneous decision based on what you feel like in Ponferrada!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances/Invierno May/June 2018
#3
Don't be thinking about what you will "miss" either way! Of course you will miss something, and that can't be avoided. But you will gain something else! This is a pilgrimage, not a calculated sightseeing exercise. You will almost certainly be glad you took whichever path you do.

If you are starting from SJPP (assuming you are, since you said you are flying into Paris), you will have plenty of time to get used to the atmosphere and make a calculated or spontaneous decision based on what you feel like in Ponferrada!
Point taken. Yes starting in SJPP. Not my intention to turn my pilgrimage into a sightseeing tour (although certainly not averse to beautiful and inspiring scenery ;) ). I'm not worried in the slightest about making a wrong choice, just anticipating this fork in the road and wanting to hear of other's experience on either path.

Anyhow, I wholeheartedly agree that my decision will be made much clearer as I enter Ponferrada and either way will be just right. Thanks!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Invierno, June 2017
Portuguese Coastal Way x6
French Way Sarria x 5
Silver Way Ourense
#4
From start to finish the Winter Way is a beautiful route, the most Galician of all caminos. Yes you won't see many pilgrims but you will see plenty of local people and you pass through breathtaking scenery and very different towns and villages to the French Way. Yes both routes are fantastic but this route is quieter but has just as much history/heritage. The gastronomy is something special too. It's tough in places so expect a challenge too after Cebreiro the French Way is a little bit easier.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#5
You already got some good suggestions, especially about deciding once in Ponferrada.

I assume you're first-timer? If you see yourself as a one-time pilgrim then I would suggest to detour on Invierno because this way you'll get both camaraderie (and some things on the negative side also) on Frances and solitude on Invierno. But if you plan to walk more Caminos after this one then I'd stay on Frances and left Invierno for another time in some other combinations like Madrid/Frances/Invierno.
Also Frances will get busier each year and Invierno won't see huge crowds for years and years to come.

Each way you'll decide I wish you Buen Camino!
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September/October (2017)
Camino Finisterre October 2017
Chemin St Jacques (2018)
#6
Peter:

Having heard that the Sarria - Santiago leg of the Camino Frances was heavily used by pilgrims and pilgrim groups eager for a Compostella, as we approached Ponferrada I conferred with my online pilgrim advisors about taking the Invierno route. Ultimately we continued on the Camino Frances and I was glad we did for the following reasons:

1. O'Cebreiro -- beautiful views from the top and a sense of accomplishment

2. Samos -- a monastery worth the diversion

3. Pulperrias in Melide -- a culinary experience

And in the end, the final leg from Sarria on was not as busy as I had anticipated (we were walking this stretch in early October).

So for my wife and I, the decision to stay on the Camino Frances turned out to be a good one for us.

Buen Camino.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances/Invierno May/June 2018
#7
Thanks, everyone! Very helpful. Another question about the two routes: what percentage of road vs trail could I expect on either route? Do both go through the Galician forests?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2018)
#8
I'm starting the same day as you! May 2nd! I'm probably going to start early but walk more slowly, so you may pass me on the way to Roncescalles! If you see a redheaded American with a green Osprey pack and Black Diamond trekking poles, say hello!

Thanks for bringing this up. I didn't even know it was an option, and I'll be traveling, as you will, during one of the busier seasions.

Katherine
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#9
Thanks, everyone! Very helpful. Another question about the two routes: what percentage of road vs trail could I expect on either route? Do both go through the Galician forests?
Try to find my thread from 2014 with photos and GPS tracks included in the Invierno subforum. You'll get the picture.
Frankly I only remember parts of Frances after Sarria due to number of pilgrims and that was in 2011...
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#10
The build up of pilgrims is sort of steady, if you start at SJPDP you'll notice that some join at Pamploma, then Logrono, Burgos and Leon, so you will have felt the build up a bit as you go. (Except the Meseta, it was lovely and quiet there) So you'll probably know by the time you get there if you want to take the quieter detour.
The weird thing for me, is that I started to get so used to the quiet countryside and just walking, walking and staying in villages and small towns: then when I reached a city, it was almost overwhelming, and I couldn't wait to get back out in the countryside to the quiet again. It was such an assault on the senses.
When we finished our Camino and took a taxi to Santiago airport, it seemed sooo fast, we were used to walking speed.
Especially weird because I live in a city.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many
#11
The Invierno is certainly the road less traveled and I don't think you would be disappointed. As for the Pulpo mentioned above, you'll have plenty of time and place for that just about anywhere in Galicia.

The last 100km are much more pleasant, and the Invierno joins the Sanabrés two days out from Santiago so there is a nice crowd to walk in with. I would also say that the entrance to Santiago, past the Colexiata de Sar and through the last remaining gate of the city, is nicer.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances/Invierno May/June 2018
#12
Thanks again everyone, great to hear from your experience.

Thanks @KinkyOne, I'll try to track down your pictures. Yes, I can imagine it's only gotten busier, much busier since 2011.

Thanks for your recollection @Anamiri. I'm actually really looking forward to the Meseta for the reasons you indicated. Ahh, the quiet and the wide open spaces!

@wisepilgrim - As a vegetarian/vegan preferably, I'm not worried about missing the Pulpo ;) but I am worried about having enough vegan/vegetarian options. I hear this can be a challenge but not insurmountable. Not sure if Frances or Invierno offer more options in this regard.

Hope to say hi @Katherine Radeka! I'm starting my Camino in the afternoon on May 2nd probably around 2pm after I arrive on the train from Bayonne and then check in at the Pilgrim's Office. Because of that late start, I'll stop at Orisson before continuing to Roncesvalles on the 3rd. Anyhow, you'll spot me as the tall Vegetarian Canadian with an orange Osprey backpack and likely walking barefoot--that's the plan anyhow ;) I didn't know about the Invierno either before hearing about it on this forum. It looks like a very nice option, particularly for the solitude it affords.

Be well,
Peter
 
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Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#13
Flying into Paris on May1st and starting the Frances May 2nd. Can't wait!

I'm a fairly solitary walker and really value alone time for introspection/meditation, but am also looking forward to meeting fellow pilgrims, particularly at the conclusion of the day's walk. That said, the more I read about how busy the way gets after Sarria, I'm favouring a detour onto the Camino Invierno after Ponferrada.

Question for those who have walked the Invierno: What will I gain by taking this detour besides blessed solitude? I've heard it's a couple extra days which is fine. Is it equally beautiful?

Question for those who continued on the Frances through Sarria: What will I miss if I detour off of the Frances? i.e. what are your most cherished highlights between Ponferrada and Santiago on the CF?

Thanks!
Peter
I forgot to add the places I liked. Villafranca, the Galecian mountains , Samos (we took the detour it was worth it). I liked all of it really, these were the ones I especially liked.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances/Invierno May/June 2018
#15
Thanks for the link and beautiful pictures, @Ribeirasacra !

Still curious about trail composition. I'm planning to walk the Camino mostly barefoot (my preferred "footwear" when hiking) and wondering which way (CI vs CF) has more natural surfaces vs. asphalt. Anyone know how the two ways compare in this regard?

Edit: just watched the video on this thread: ://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/camino-invierno-video.37002/

The surfaces look varied and lovely! A great video; Invierno is calling! :)

Thanks!
 
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#16
Hi, A Good Wander, Whether you are an introvert or not, I think you will love the Camino de Invierno. The Galician countryside it goes through is beautiful, you cross the Minho River and walk along the Sil River for many kms. The towns are untouristed, the countryside is serene. The As Médulas World Heritage site is very interesting, as you can see how the Romans used water power to explode the insides of mountains to get out the gold.

Take a look at our forum guide in the Resources Section https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/resources/camino-de-invierno-2017-edition.535/

How many other caminos have a passionate bunch of veterans who get together once a year to work on revisions and updates for a little free guide? (The 2018 guide is almost ready, but I have not had the time to add a bunch of corrections my eagle-eyes proofreaders sent me!). That says something about how special this camino is, I think.

If anyone needs the 2018 guide in the next few weeks, let me know and I can send you what I've got so far. There are not huge changes, but some good new info on accommodations, etc.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
#17
It is true that one can feel a bit squashed and boxed in as you are closing in on Santiago, due to the stretch you have covered and the rhythm you have made in your progress.
I myself felt a bit annoyed by the large groups of singing pilgrims. But it is because you are yourself stretched and dead tired.
Next time around, I will take the Invierno route as an entry to SdC, as well as not starting from SJPdP...
But maybe that is exactly why you should just take the regular route first, because it is emotional to do it alongside some good walking buddies, even if you are not close to them.
Entering is like Graduation day, you will meet everyone you´ve talked to on even a nodding basis, and slowly the pressure is lifting...
May be that you are meant to come back again (and again) to do it in another way !!
I know a lot of us are !!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances/Invierno May/June 2018
#18
Hi, A Good Wander, Whether you are an introvert or not, I think you will love the Camino de Invierno. The Galician countryside it goes through is beautiful, you cross the Minho River and walk along the Sil River for many kms. The towns are untouristed, the countryside is serene. The As Médulas World Heritage site is very interesting, as you can see how the Romans used water power to explode the insides of mountains to get out the gold.

Take a look at our forum guide in the Resources Section https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/resources/camino-de-invierno-2017-edition.535/

How many other caminos have a passionate bunch of veterans who get together once a year to work on revisions and updates for a little free guide? (The 2018 guide is almost ready, but I have not had the time to add a bunch of corrections my eagle-eyes proofreaders sent me!). That says something about how special this camino is, I think.

If anyone needs the 2018 guide in the next few weeks, let me know and I can send you what I've got so far. There are not huge changes, but some good new info on accommodations, etc.

Buen camino, Laurie
It sounds wonderful, @peregrina2000

Thanks for the forum guide. I look forward to the 2018 update as well. This is quite comprehensive and I'm sure it'll be a huge help in planning my walk.

Best wishes,
Peter
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances/Invierno May/June 2018
#19
It is true that one can feel a bit squashed and boxed in as you are closing in on Santiago, due to the stretch you have covered and the rhythm you have made in your progress.
I myself felt a bit annoyed by the large groups of singing pilgrims. But it is because you are yourself stretched and dead tired.
Next time around, I will take the Invierno route as an entry to SdC, as well as not starting from SJPdP...
But maybe that is exactly why you should just take the regular route first, because it is emotional to do it alongside some good walking buddies, even if you are not close to them.
Entering is like Graduation day, you will meet everyone you´ve talked to on even a nodding basis, and slowly the pressure is lifting...
May you are meant to come back again (and again) to do it in another way !!
I know a lot of us are !!
Thanks for your thoughts @Stivandrer.

I think I will detour onto the Invierno and leave the last stretch of the CF for another time--perhaps when walking with my son (who would love the social side of the Camino) or with my wife who would enjoy having a short camino from Sarria.
 
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