Hi I have 22 days to walk the Camino in early May. I have for years wanted to do the full France pilgrimage but I know this is out of the question this year due to time constraints. So I have been looking into doing the Portuguese route. I’ve been reading it takes about 3.5-4 weeks to do. Has anyone done this in 3 weeks? I would like to have a day off in Porto leaving me just 21 days for walking.
I am 35 and fitness isn’t an issue for me, although I realise injuries/aches and pains may still occur after spending so much time on the feet.
I’ve also read the services and accommodation are sparse between Lisbon and Porto. Is there sufficient accommodation to walk a bit further each day than the suggested breakdown so I can squeeze it into a smaller number of days? If anyone has done it in 3 weeks and has a breakdown of where they stayed I’d be glad to hear.
I was also a little concerned about how quiet it may be between Lisbon and Porto. I’d like to meet people along the way. Can anyone comment on this?
Mia, I notice you haven't answered the couple of people who have asked you why. You don't need to answer here, of course, but it is a very good question to ask yourself.
If you're looking foe a long distance hike with infrastructure along the way and interesting places to see then you're on the right track. But there are a whole load of other options too. Many of them non-Camino routes.
(And you don't need to read the rest)
If you're looking for a deep immersive experience in a beautiful part of the world, a chance to soak up nature, eat different food, drink local wine, appreciate some culture, then a race is probably going to compromise that.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for something that the Camino is known for, something of a more meaningful, perhaps spiritual or even religious experience then I'd encourage you to ask yourself if that goal is compatible with a large ticking clock.
One of the great advantages, certainly of the more developed Camino routes, is the freedom to just "be". Speaking only for myself, I find it hard to "be" when watching a clock.
A couple of things to ponder;
If the "usual" time is 3.5 - 4 weeks and you plan to do it in 3 then you'll be 20-25% faster than the "usual". That's a lot!
The idea of a start point is an interesting one to me. Back in the day, the Camino started at home. The usual jumping on places are, to a certain extent, "manufactured" and probably used because most people have a time limit to follow. Perhaps thinking on that may help you to think more flexibly about where you start, which, will in turn, affect your pace.
In that vein, I'm curious as to why you are not attempting the Frances, which you say is your first choice. SJPP is but a notional startpoint (Or Pamplona, or Burgos or wherever). There are Camino arrows all over Europe pointing south. Starting north of St Jean is no more or no less than starting south of it.
To stick specifically to your question, don't forget that public transport is also an option to make up time - although that can have the drawback of losing contact with any fellow travellers (something you might need to consider anyway with your planned pace).
Another consideration is heat. Last May saw record temperatures in Spain and Portugal. When the local media is full of warnings us visitors need to take notice and make adjustments!
My own experience was to cycle from my home in the Netherlands through Belgium and France, and beginning my "Camino" in St. Jean. It took me 15/16 days to get to Santiago from St. Jean- very slow for a bike - and if I was to do it again I'd go even slower.
Since then, I've travelled in many places on my bike and my preferred circumstances are definitely the ones where I am not under pressure to make progress. The freedom to stop, to slow down, to explore, to seek out what speaks to me, to pass time with interesting people (and animals!) or even just to soak up a view is a remarkable gift to give ourselves. The advantage of taking a day off for inhospitable weather or to tend to body or soul is not to be underestimated.
We all travel our own Caminos. Good luck to you on yours.