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Is 16 Too Young?

whatever77

New Member
Hello,

I am a 16 year old boy planning to walk the Camino Frances alone this June. Many have told me that they don't think its a good idea to walk it at my age but I really want, and need, to do this for myself. Just physically/mentally speaking, do you think I should not do it? Legally, are there any restrictions that may come about travelling to Europe by myself (I am from Canada)?

Thank You!
 
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Deirdre

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
Well, 77,
If I were your mother, I would not allow you to go alone. I travel to Spain every summer (this one included) with students, and many of them are your age. You are "in between", certainly competent and responsible, but still young enough to be naive and vulnerable. As a teacher, I would not let any of my students consider heading out to the Camino alone.
If it is something you are determined to do at this time, then I would say be very careful. Try to find some walking companions so you are not alone, and don't be too quick to tell anyone your actual age. I would hope that you speak some Spanish, carry a cell phone and check in regularly with home. If there is any way you can wait a couple of years, I would suggest that you do so. There is a huge difference between 16 and 18. Or get a walking companion. But then, I'm a mom.
Buen Camino,
 

whatever77

New Member
Hi Deirdre,

Interestingly my mother is not also completely fine with the idea. However, I must say I really want to do this now, I have lost in touch with God and myself and have many things to think about. On top of that I do need a physical challenge.

I do speak conversational Spanish, I would like to think I am responsible, mature and cautious, and I would have a cellphone.

I was mainly wondering If there would be any problems at customs when arriving in France or If I wouldn't be allowed to stay in any of the albergues or hotels because of my age?

Thanks again
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Hmmm. Well, I had a few 16-year olds with me in France and Spain and I don't think I would let them walk the camino alone either, just because at 16 you have had little life experience on which to make good judgements, and of course you're so vulnerable to all kinds of dangerous eventualities as well.

Other than that, if you do go, the following to consider, along with the good advice that Deirdre and others will give you:
- some hotels won't let you check in if you're under 18 (in Paris they didn't let my daughters at 16)
- you should have a credit card in your own name for the above reason, and just for security

You are considered a minor in Canada of course, but also in France and Spain. 18 is age of majority in all three.

That's all I can think of, but I'm worried. If you do go, really try to find walking companions so you won't be alone. A lot of young people of all ages do that anyway in my experience.

Be safe and keep in touch.

lynne
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
If I were your mother, I'd say "Go for it!"

At 16, if you don't have the sense to take care of yourself, you'll not get it. You sound like a very bright young man with a good head on your shoulders.

It should not be difficult to find a good walking partner once you get on the Camino.

The biggest thing I'd say you should watch out for is thieves. You cannot (unfortunately) trust everyone, like you would hope you could.

Read all the posts on this forum regarding security, pack light, carry your cell phone, be in before dark, and you will be fine. If you don't want to walk alone, hook up with some older couple.

Have fun!

When I was "just" 17 I ran away to Puerto Rico and I was fine.

I'm a 58 year old grandmother now and I say, "Go follow your Bliss!"
 
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cecelia

Wandering for the love and growth of it
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances from SJPP - 2003, 2005, 2009, 2013. 500 km on Le Puy 2013. Future - Vezelay-Santiago
Hi Whatever77,
Lots of advice coming your way from all the parents out here. As a mother I have to say my heart speeds up a bit thinking of all the possibilities but if you use your best common sense you will likely be just fine. As to your question about whether or not you'll get any hassle at French customs: is there a French embassy in your city or anywhere near you? You could check with them if there is. Otherwise the travel agent you get your ticket from will probably have some pretty good information about that. You may need a letter of permission from your parents but I'm not sure about what happens at arrivals. I know that airlines are very fussy about to not take anyone who may not be accepted at the border(since they may have to provide a free trip back) so it may be a good idea to start with them.
As well as a credit card in your name it would be best (in my opinion) if you could use a debit card as your major source of cash. You'll need a credit card if you stay at a hotel but there are quite a few youth hostels that you could check out online.
You might also try finding out if there is anyone else from your area planning to go when you do. It's always a bit easier when there are two people to figure out how to get from A to B. Once you're on the camino you'll be fine although you may be 'mothered' crazy by all of us well-meaning old folks who'll want to look out for you. You'll be glad to know though that there are lots of younger people on the camino as well. Maybe not as young as you- but lots of bright, enthusiastic, high-spirited, thoughtful young people, many of whom who are also searching for more meaning in life than day-to-day seems to bring.
Don't hesitate to ask questions about the nitty-gritty but as you've probably noticed there is a ton of information on this forum if you look back at other questions. The fact that you speak some Spanish will be a benefit for sure.
Buen camino
Cecelia
 

Sagalouts

RIP 2015
Hi Whatever 77 (love the name by the way)
it seems like all the den mothers are replying to your post,this in itself should let you know there would be no shortage of mums on your Camino.
as a dad to 5 grandfather to 4 I say go for it-I walked last year and met lots of people 18 and under including two 16 year old girls from Poland who had matured so much by Santiago, There is no age problems booking into the aubergue's and in my opinion safe-but who wants things too safe anyway!!-as long as you have an open heart and mind you will meet so many people and make lots of new friends-it can be a life changing thing.
now if you can just take my youngest lie in bed till 1pm son with you :D
Ian
 
If I were your mother, I'd prefer that you walked with someone, but I'd absolutely let you go alone. Just make sure you have travel insurance that covers transportation home in the unlikely event that you'll need it - and watch out for thieves, that's the most tiresome thing about walking alone.
 

Mountainman

El Croco loco
Year of past OR future Camino
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 77,

I just want to say: RESPECT, whether you go or not... When I was 16, I would not have been ready, let me tell you... You sound very stable and like you know what you are getting ready for, so why not? And if you discussed it with your parents, do they have any good reasons for you not to go? (other then that they would worry about you, which is a sign that they love you)

I concur with most posts, Go For It, and include as many (already described) safety measures to keep your parents happy... I know, I did the same, and I walked the Camino when I was 33 :mrgreen:

And 2 years ago I met lots of yougsters (though 18+), who grouped together into "The young bunch" that everyone had met or heared about, which was fun. So I have no doubt that you will find any support you might need along the way...

Just remember that you might not find the answers you are looking for, the Camino gives you what you need, which might not be what you are looking for... But it will change you life only for the better!
 
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Javier Martin

Veteran Member
whatever77 said:
Hello,

I am a 16 year old boy planning to walk the Camino Frances alone this June. Many have told me that they don't think its a good idea to walk it at my age but I really want, and need, to do this for myself. Just physically/mentally speaking, do you think I should not do it? Legally, are there any restrictions that may come about travelling to Europe by myself (I am from Canada)?

Thank You!

Hi,

May be you are able to walk everyday the enough distance. But, when problems appear, may be you are too young to resolve it by yourself. Of course, always you will find someone who will help you. But you can not go for a long period to another country, so different from the yours, waiting for some help from others.

Here in Spain parents are responsible of you until you are 18 years old. And, during the plane, ¿do you know if you can take a plane alone to another country?

And, the Camino during this summer will be absolutely overcrowded. May be you will have problems to find a place to sleep, or enough hot water to take a shower, or ... who knows?

In my opinion, may be you are a bit young to do that alone.

But, it's just an opinion. It's up to you and to your parents.

Buen Camino, if you decide to walk it!

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 
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
Go for it. You sound sensible, and you speak Spanish. More than many no-sayers do and are :wink:

You will find help on the Camino if needed. You will make many new friends, old and young, and you will change for the better, as said earlier.

Once-in-a-life experience.

Read these forums carefully.

Start planning.

Then walk. And take care.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Whatever 77:

Sixteen year olds are considered minors because as a society we believe most people that age do not have the experience/education to make certain types of decisions. Therefore, we have parents, family members, religious leaders etc. to provide feedback and guidance regarding growth decisions.

While many of us are Parents and Grandparents with many life experiences we do not know you personally. Therefore it makes it difficult to provide the type of feedback your are seeking other than by drawing on our personal experiences.

Reaching out to get feedback is a reasonable approach to getting additional information. That being said, the people who know you best are all around you. I think your questions regarding whether you are ready for such an adventure at this time in your life would be best answered and supported by those closest to you.

Whatever your decision,I wish you well.

Joe Flavin
 
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
jpflavin1 said:
While many of us are Parents and Grandparents with many life experiences we do not know you personally. Therefore it makes it difficult to provide the type of feedback your are seeking other than by drawing on our personal experiences.
I think Joe has given the best answer in his post.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
Go for it.

You sound like a responsible guy. I think it is would be a super trip for a young person. The biggest threat at your age is peers who are not as mature as you, and you won't find many of them out there.

When I was 17, biked across Sweden and Norway alone, It remains one of my best trips ever, something that showed me I could take care of myself, that I could deal with the physical challenge, and a trip that would not have the same impact as I got older.
 
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renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Year of past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
Do it. I just turned 36 and my mother is not happy I am doing the camino "alone"....technically, I will not be alone, and as a matter of fact, have made friends online with two women from Toronto who I will be starting the camino with....

Figure out the details as far as you being a minor traveling solo and DO IT!!! You only live once. Make the best of it.
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
Joe Flavin said: I think your questions regarding whether you are ready for such an adventure at this time in your life would be best answered and supported by those closest to you.

I have to agree. You sound mature and responsible in your email to the forum, but we really don't know you.

I'd suggest developing your skills closer to home for a couple years, and if you still feel the call, do the Camino then.

Why not try a bike trip somewhere close by? After you've achieved that, add miles and do another one. Then try some camping with buddies, and graduate from a weekend in a tent to a backpacking trip a couple days in duration with the same friends. My parents were happy to see me take off on foot or by bicycle for the weekend with friends at age 16. You will develop skills and attributes that will really help you on the camino.

I hope you live in a region of Canada which presents these opportunities are close by. I grew up on Vancouver Island and spent highschool hiking, biking and camping with friends. It was excellent.

Best of luck to you.
David, Victoria, Canada
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
whatever77 said:
Hello,

I am a 16 year old boy planning to walk the Camino Frances alone this June. Many have told me that they don't think its a good idea to walk it at my age but I really want, and need, to do this for myself. Just physically/mentally speaking, do you think I should not do it? Legally, are there any restrictions that may come about travelling to Europe by myself (I am from Canada)?

Thank You!

Hi Whatever 77,
Your parents appear to have done a horribly good job raising an intelligent, responsible and questioning young man so I'd like to offer them my congratulations..... and commiserations!

Though I'm a little curious are you looking for evidence/opinions to support/defend a decision you've already made or for data to help make an informed decision? It's good to be clear about that as sometimes there can be a tendency to 'avoid' any data which goes against the flow of ones argument. Oddly enough it's such 'scratchy' information/knowledge that often saves ones derriere :?

I remember seeing a poster with a picture of a young Czech(?) lad who had gone missing (this was last Spring ) on his Camino-I think he had started in Prague-and we were saddened by that, and thought of the anxiety and grief felt by his family... but we also both agreed that we'd love our own youngsters to experience the Camino.
The young people we met en route in the 15 to 20 age group were courteous, engaging and interesting. The youngest lad we met was 15, he was traveling with a small international pack of slightly older boys (don't know if this was informal or formal group) and they seemed to be having a grand adventure.
I live in an urban environment and know that our youngsters face more physical threats and 'ethical decisions' just going into town on a weekend that I faced in 5 weeks on the Camino.

Working out the difference between the things you can do and the things you should do is a tricky one isn't it?

Bonne route
Nell
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
I was thinking about this some more:

--The trail is probably the best maked hiking trail in the world. It takes a real moronic lapse to get lost.

--The sites along the way are old churches.

--There are many other people along the way, most with a phone and a first aid kit.

--There are tourist offices and medical facilities at regular intervals.

--You stay in places full of tired folks, who are in bed with the doors locked up really early, often run by NUNS!

--There may be some drugs and alcohol, but far less than say, an average high school graduation party.

I can't think of a safer, more sheltered trip for a young person. Geeze, go hitch hike to a rock concert if you want to upset the parents on this board!
 
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 was thinking in exactly the same way as newfydog.

Hey; let your parents visit this forum and read up a little: I am quite sure that when they see what kind of people you will most likely meet (people like us :) ) they will feel much better. Also let them read many of the bloggers that have written their Camino diaries.

The camino is safe: I felt much more unsecure in downtown LA and a backstreet in SF :shock:
 
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William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Whatever 77

I have to agree with what the last two posters have written.

Are you parents reading this. I would think it would reassure them. A solid set of answers for and against your going.

There is always danger whenever you get out of bed, leave the house and drive off anywhere. It is a matter of finding out what the risks are on the Camino.
Bad weather in the mountains - follow the locals advice and do not stray off the tracks.
Robbery - probably the same or maybe less than at home.
Traffic accident - much of the path is off the road and the risks in town are as at home.
Plane crash - negligible risk
If you are well prepared and well insured and have enough money available somewhere to cover those unforeseen problems I too would say "Go for it".

I did the Camino with my 16 year old son and I think he would have been capable of doing it on his own. As a parent I am glad I did not have to make the decision then but two years later he was travelling through India and China and other Far Eastern countries on his own anyway.

Buen Camino
William
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Hello Whatever77. When I read your initial posting, I immediately thought "No way would I let my 16 year old go off by himself for 4/6 weeks walking accross Spain" Then I thought - this kid has had the maturity and sense to post his request, so he obviously is relying for some in-put here. You have had all sorts of opinions and I think that the "Yes, go for it" wins. I have an almost 16 yr old grandson and frankly, I think that he would be mature enough to make this Journey. As far as arriving in Europe being under age, I don't think that there is a problem. My 3 grandchildren all travelled over from Italy to visit us here in Costa Rica, by themselves (no unaccompanied minor stuff) and they were 12, 14 and 15 at the time. Yes, they do have a European passport and I don't know if this made any difference when returning home. I guess that you intend to walk the Francés and this is very well structured. Plenty of places to stay, plenty of places to eat, good way markers making it difficult to get lost (you have to be a bit more on the alert though when you go through big towns) and you will certainly find walking companions, plus a crowd to hang out with at the end of the day. Remember that you will always find kindly help, expecially from the hospitaleros. I do hope your parents read the Forum, plus do a bit of researching, so as to pacify their fears. (a parent is nearly always worried about their kids- that's the way of life).I wish you success. Anne
 

Chip

New Member
g'Day Whatever77

Mate you have already started your pilgrimage!

Answers to your questions are yours to find along the way, life's journeys always seem to start when we have a need to ask questions.

opinions are like grains of salt, but advice is a torch in the dark; but they are not your answers :roll: OK?

Oh, there is a 16yo Australian lass sailing around the world; as I write her voyage is almost over; Google her voyage if you need.

Congratulations to your folks, they will be your lifeline if you need.

Let us know what you decide mate
Best wishes
john (departing SJPP April 28, 2010)
 

flamidwyfe

New Member
I say GO FOR IT! I'm a mom to 3 kids in their 20's and think you'll do just fine!

The summer I was 16, my friend and I drove all the way from Florida to Massachusettes in my Oldsmobile... stopping off in all the big cities along the way, D.C., N.Y., Boston... I then spent the summer traveling around New England, and my dad flew 6 weeks later to Providence, RI to drive back with me... it was the BEST summer of my life!

Keep us posted!
 

whatever77

New Member
Hello All,

Thank You So So much for all your feedback. It has really encouraged me and might I add my parents as well. I was especially worried that the task might be too great for me, but seeing your support and advice, I've become much more optimistic about my journey. Hopefully I'll See you There!

Thank You Again,

whatever77
 
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crissy311

New Member
I am hoping that your last post means that your parents are coming around. I am a 27 year old female and my parents are worried about me walking alone as well. I have tried to explain to them that no one is ever truly alone on the Camino, and they know this. Have a great time!
Buen Camino
 

Luther

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2016
Hey What! I'll throw in on this, just for some thought. It sounds like you're wanting to do it for the right reasons, which is a great start. Maturity is the wild card. If you're a "mature and responsible" 16 year old, it's a huge difference from an immature one. Things like not leaving your passport laying around, handling the roadblocks that will happen, (like a connecting flight being cancelled), getting through customs, leaving SJPP for Roncesvalles at 2PM, getting lost, having enough cash always, not trying to carry too much weight, or not drinking too much wine! The Way is a challenge to everyone. How you handle the adversity is huge.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
@Luther, FYI, the original thread is eight years old and the original poster therefore is now 24 and can definitely do the camino on his own! :)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
yes, and as I began reading the thread, I saw Sagalouts, RIP. I did not know him, but from the forum know that he is now up or wherever with the stars... maybe the original poster will reappear and tell us all if and how it went.
 

rorerich

CaminoLifer
Year of past OR future Camino
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, (2019)
Whatever 77

I have to agree with what the last two posters have written.

Are you parents reading this. I would think it would reassure them. A solid set of answers for and against your going.

There is always danger whenever you get out of bed, leave the house and drive off anywhere. It is a matter of finding out what the risks are on the Camino.
Bad weather in the mountains - follow the locals advice and do not stray off the tracks.
Robbery - probably the same or maybe less than at home.
Traffic accident - much of the path is off the road and the risks in town are as at home.
Plane crash - negligible risk
If you are well prepared and well insured and have enough money available somewhere to cover those unforeseen problems I too would say "Go for it".

I did the Camino with my 16 year old son and I think he would have been capable of doing it on his own. As a parent I am glad I did not have to make the decision then but two years later he was travelling through India and China and other Far Eastern countries on his own anyway.

Buen Camino
William
I'm glad to hear you and your son traveled the Camino - my 15 year old grandson and I will be walking from St. Jean for 2 weeks this June...we're both very excited!!! But I haven't searched out a lot of stories from other people's experiences like our little duo. This will be my 4th Camino experience, but I'm hoping to keep a low profile and let him own this trip as much as possible. I know that he would not be ready to go it alone, but whatever77 might be!
 
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D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Hello,

I am a 16 year old boy planning to walk the Camino Frances alone this June. Many have told me that they don't think its a good idea to walk it at my age but I really want, and need, to do this for myself. Just physically/mentally speaking, do you think I should not do it? Legally, are there any restrictions that may come about travelling to Europe by myself (I am from Canada)?

Thank You!

When I was 15, two friends the same age as me accompanied me on a 26 day backpacking trip on the Washington state portion of the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Oregon. Back then the Washington state section was called the Cascade Crest Trail.

At age 16, the same friends and I spent most of the summer backpacking 14 days at a time through the Cascades and the Olympics. We even did a three day trip along the Olympic National Park coastal beach trail. That was the year we all joined the Mount Rainier Mountain Rescue teams. Between ages 15 and 17, we had climbed Rainier 6 times, Mount Adams and Mount Hood.

At 17, those same two friends and I rode our bikes to the San Francisco Bay Area (Concord). We were gone for a month. When we got back home, we spent 22 days backpacking the Oregon Skyline Trail (now named the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail).

I know what I was like as a middle teen. I know what my decision making skills were like back then, what my level of common sense was, and my level of self preservation, caution, and reliability.

I don't know what you are like, even with your posted descriptions. The specific legal questions can be answered, but not really knowing you and having observed how you behave, I could not, in good conscience, provide an answer as to your suitability to do a solo Camino.

I can sympathise with your spiritual needs and desires. I understand the longings that you feel. But those are beside the point in answering the question about the suitability of your going on a solo Camino. My sincere best wishes and prayers go with you. :)
 
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evanlow

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
I met a 15 year old girl from the UK during my first Camino, I believe in the albergue at Azofra. I couldn't get much for information from her (maybe good that she don't talk too much to strangers). :)

My only take is that I hope she gets to interact with more people perhaps closer to her age (rare) while she walks her Camino.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
yes, and as I began reading the thread, I saw Sagalouts, RIP. I did not know him, but from the forum know that he is now up or wherever with the stars... maybe the original poster will reappear and tell us all if and how it went.


It was lovely to see that post from Sagalouts ! Heartwarming.
 

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A selection of favorite albergues on the Camino Francés Ton van Tilburg
Favorite Albergues along the Camino Frances
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Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances ivar
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances
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