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Lessons learned after 900 km on the Camino

Geodoc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2018 (across Pyrenees, then Sarria to SdC), CF 2019 (SJPdP to Finisterra & Muxia), CI 2019
I just wrapped up 900 km on the Camino from SJPdP to SdC, then on to Finisterra and Muxia, and here are a few things I learned along the way and thought I would pass on to others.

  1. The quality of the service of the albergue/bar/cafe is usually best when it's run by those who were Peregrinos themselves. This doesn't mean a purely for-profit place is bad, but it just seems to be friendly/more service oriented toward Perergrinos when run by a former Peregrino.
  2. Newer albergues are usually better than older albergues, especially for the digital Peregrino. Showers are usually roomier and have space for you and your valuables (preferably in a dry-sack of some sort), and aren't covered with mold. Newer albergues also usually have lockers - a very useful commodity (and if they have them, use them).
  3. Before arriving at O Cebriero (sp?), book a bed either before it or after it. Don't be one of the many peregrinos scrambling back to Laguna de Castilla hoping for a bed.
  4. Seriously considering booking places after Sarria, but two days out. I had to scramble for a room one time in Palas de Rei - the town was packed!
  5. The Wise Pilgrim app is great (but could be improved by adding the location of picnic areas). If you carry a phone, it reduces the weight of carrying a guide.
  6. Put your name and contact info (e.g., email) on your credencial AND on your phone (thank you Rachel from Switzerland and anonymous Spanish dude on bike who found my phone and returned it to me - long before I even knew it was missing).
  7. Europeans use WhatsApp - get it.
  8. Pilgrims menus are WAY too much food. A half-menu usually works well (and aids in getting rid of the excess pounds/kilos around the waist).
  9. Gadis (the supermarket) usually has small bottles of red wine (vino tinto) - usually 350ml, which is better for drinking alone.
  10. If you buy a large bottle of wine, loudly announce that there's free wine - you'll make friends (lots of friends!).
  11. The Tilly Air-Flow hat is a awesome. Even on the Meseta, when temperatures exceeded 40C, and the only shade you'll find is what you're carrying, it worked well. The vents under the top allowed heat to escape and air to flow over the noggin. I think I consider this the American Express of hats - don't leave home without it.
  12. Pacer Poles are amazing. Lightweight, sturdy, and ergonomic. Saves ankles on those treacherous stretches, and saves legs/knees on those steep stretches. Also, you don't wind up with the walking stick tan on your hand (i.e., there's no pale line where any straps were wrapped around your hand).
  13. The only cure for heat rash is less heat.
  14. Check EVERY bed you plan on sleeping in for bed-bugs. EVERY bed, every time before even putting your sleep sack down.
  15. Carry traveler's health insurance for those unexpected visits to the medical clinic on Sunday morning at 6:30 for the antihistamine shots for those bed-bug bites.
  16. Paper sheets are okay, but real sheets are sooooo much better (usually found in newer albergues).
  17. Plastic water bottles are okay, as long as you use them for as long as they'll last. Be sure to get a sturdier bottle (not the cheapo ones usually found in vending machines).
  18. Cerveza sin alcohol is a lifesaver at the end of a long, hot day. No alcohol to dehydrate you further, just that nice crisp, refreshing cold taste of beer (and it didn't matter the brand - they all taste good but I'm partial to San Miguel).
  19. Johnny Walker Red is only 13 Euros at Gadis. Holy smokeroonie Batman!
  20. Stop several times a day and take off your boots/shoes and socks. Dry those feet out, especially on hot days. Blisters are no fun.
  21. Use an anti-friction cream on your feet to prevent blisters. I used "Glide" but Compeed also has one out and can be found in most Farmacias.
  22. Merino wool t-shirts are amazing. No or little odor, even after a long day of hiking. Decathalon sells some for less than 20 Euros (discovered after someone stole my good Merino wool t-shirt off the drying rack in an albergue in SdC).
  23. If you wear Merino wool clothes, the Alluret wash bag works great - it's for delicates, but also serves as a dry bag when packing valuables into the shower.
  24. Laundry sheets are okay, but concentrated laundry soap (a la Sea-to-Summit) works better.
  25. Rain gear is important - a good rain coat/poncho system (ideally, one that vents the armpits - my bad on that one) and a rain kilt work well. Be sure to keep it accessible (note to self, do NOT bury rain kilt at the bottom of the pack where it can't be easily extracted, or even found, during a rainstorm).
  26. Croc sandals are lightweight and worked well after a day of hiking.
  27. If you suffer allergies/are chemical sensitive to fragrance laden soaps, bring your own blanket (a lightweight down one works well).
  28. Layer - lightweight layers work better than thick, bulky clothing. I only needed all four layers once, but it was REALLY needed then, and was damned glad I had them (t-shirt, Merino wool hoodie, lightweight travel shirt, and lightweight rain jacket).
  29. Hide your valuables, particularly your money. A combo of a money belt, hidden wallet, and money clip works well.
  30. If you want something, and it doesn't exist, DIY. I refuse to put water inside my pack (e.g., water bladder) but I'm not flexible enough to reach around and pull a water bottle out of the pack side pocket, so I jury-rigged a contraption consisting of a rigid tube, a flexible tube, and a couple of rubber o-rings to allow me to sip water on the go (rigid tube through hole poked in bottle cap, held in place by o-rings, and flexible tube from rigid tube, through pack straps, within easy reach of mouth).
  31. Talk with people. Walk with people. Spend time alone.
  32. Don't miss the Meseta. It's beauty is worth the time spent on it.
  33. Sunscreen - minimum SPF of 50. Apply before 10 AM to both arms and the back of the legs. Reapply as needed.
  34. Sunglasses - keep them handy (and don't lose your clip-ons - immediately put them in their case any time you go inside - do NOT set them on the counter, anywhere, ever).
  35. Training - do hills. Lots of hills. I was fortunate, in that I had a small mountain close to home (2 miles up and 1000' of elevation gain - I climbed it twice a day for several weeks - well worth it).
  36. If you can't do hills, do stairs.
  37. Train with all your gear.
I'm sure there's more, but these are just a few things I learned along the way.
 
Last edited:

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
Quite a list, can't support your taste in whiskey - JWRed is not rot-gut but close to it. You only forgot that all-important item Emergency Rations!1564737764248.pngI always have a can nestling on top in my backpack because you never know when an emergency will pop up!
 

Maxcheese

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances autumn 2019 or spring 2020
Thank's for your wonderful input! I'm leaving in a month for the same trip you just completed and i'm starting too feel the stress... You surely contributed in easing it ;)
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I just wrapped up 900 km on the Camino from SJPdP to SdC, then on to Finisterra and Muxia, and here are a few things I learned along the way and thought I would pass on to others.

  1. The quality of the service of the albergue/bar/cafe is usually best when it's run by those who were Peregrinos themselves. This doesn't mean a purely for-profit place is bad, but it just seems to be friendly/more service oriented toward Perergrinos when run by a former Peregrino.
  2. Newer albergues are usually better than older albergues, especially for the digital Peregrino. Showers are usually roomier and have space for you and your valuables (preferably in a dry-sack of some sort), and aren't covered with mold. Newer albergues also usually have lockers - a very useful commodity (and if they have them, use them).
  3. The Wise Pilgrim app is great (but could be improved by adding the location of picnic areas). If you carry a phone, it reduces the weight of carrying a guide.
  4. Put your name and contact info (e.g., email) on your credencial AND on your phone (thank you Rachel from Switzerland and anonymous Spanish dude on bike who found my phone and returned it to me - long before I even knew it was missing).
  5. Europeans use WhatsApp - get it.
  6. Pilgrims menus are WAY too much food. A half-menu usually works well (and aids in getting rid of the excess pounds/kilos around the waist).
  7. Gadis (the supermarket) usually has small bottles of red wine (vino tinto) - usually 350ml, which is better for drinking alone.
  8. If you buy a large bottle of wine, loudly announce that there's free wine - you'll make friends (lots of friends!).
  9. The Tilly Air-Flow hat is a awesome. Even on the Meseta, when temperatures exceeded 40C, and the only shade you'll find is what you're carrying, it worked well. The vents under the top allowed heat to escape and air to flow over the noggin. I think I consider this the American Express of hats - don't leave home without it.
  10. Pacer Poles are amazing. Lightweight, sturdy, and ergonomic. Saves ankles on those treacherous stretches, and saves legs/knees on those steep stretches. Also, you don't wind up with the walking stick tan on your hand (i.e., there's no pale line where any straps were wrapped around your hand).
  11. The only cure for heat rash is less heat.
  12. Check EVERY bed you plan on sleeping in for bed-bugs. EVERY bed, every time before even putting your sleep sack down.
  13. Carry traveler's health insurance for those unexpected visits to the medical clinic on Sunday morning at 6:30 for the antihistamine shots for those bed-bug bites.
  14. Paper sheets are okay, but real sheets are sooooo much better (usually found in newer albergues).
  15. Plastic water bottles are okay, as long as you use them for as long as they'll last. Be sure to get a sturdier bottle (not the cheapo ones usually found in vending machines).
  16. Cerveza sin alcohol is a lifesaver at the end of a long, hot day. No alcohol to dehydrate you further, just that nice crisp, refreshing cold taste of beer (and it didn't matter the brand - they all taste good but I'm partial to San Miguel).
  17. Johnny Walker Red is only 13 Euros at Gadis. Holy smokeroonie Batman!
  18. Stop several times a day and take off your boots/shoes and socks. Dry those feet out, especially on hot days. Blisters are no fun.
  19. Use an anti-friction cream on your feet to prevent blisters. I used "Glide" but Compeed also has one out and can be found in most Farmacias.
  20. Merino wool t-shirts are amazing. No or little odor, even after a long day of hiking. Decathalon sells some for less than 20 Euros (discovered after someone stole my good Merino wool t-shirt off the drying rack in an albergue in SdC).
  21. If you wear Merino wool clothes, the Alluret wash bag works great - it's for delicates, but also serves as a dry bag when packing valuables into the shower.
  22. Laundry sheets are okay, but concentrated laundry soap (a la Sea-to-Summit) works better.
  23. Rain gear is important - a good rain coat/poncho system (ideally, one that vents the armpits - my bad on that one) and a rain kilt work well. Be sure to keep it accessible (note to self, do NOT bury rain kilt at the bottom of the pack where it can't be easily extracted, or even found, during a rainstorm).
  24. Croc sandals are lightweight and worked well after a day of hiking.
  25. If you suffer allergies/are chemical sensitive to fragrance laden soaps, bring your own blanket (a lightweight down one works well).
  26. Layer - lightweight layers work better than thick, bulky clothing. I only needed all four layers once, but it was REALLY needed then, and was damned glad I had them (t-shirt, Merino wool hoodie, lightweight travel shirt, and lightweight rain jacket).
  27. Hide your valuables, particularly your money. A combo of a money belt, hidden wallet, and money clip works well.
  28. If you want something, and it doesn't exist, DIY. I refuse to put water inside my pack (e.g., water bladder) but I'm not flexible enough to reach around and pull a water bottle out of the pack side pocket, so I jury-rigged a contraption consisting of a rigid tube, a flexible tube, and a couple of rubber o-rings to allow me to sip water on the go (rigid tube through hole poked in bottle cap, held in place by o-rings, and flexible tube from rigid tube, through pack straps, within easy reach of mouth).
  29. Talk with people. Walk with people. Spend time alone.
  30. Don't miss the Meseta. It's beauty is worth the time spent on it.
  31. Training - do hills. Lots of hills. I was fortunate, in that I had a small mountain close to home (2 miles up and 1000' of elevation gain - I climbed it twice a day for several weeks - well worth it).
  32. If you can't do hills, do stairs.
  33. Train with all your gear.
I'm sure there's more, but these are just a few things I learned along the way.
These are just a few things you learned? ☺
A very comprehensive list! I follow many of them myself and will add a couple more on my next Camino. Thanks for taking the time to share your many good observations and tips!
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
Great list, thanks for sharing ... interesting to read.

I'll add something: It didnt matter to me where I slept, it was more about who I shared with. The most beautiful albergue was terrible if I had someone snoring loudly next to me.

Wine? 1lt cartons / Tetrapaks for around 1 Euro! Anything in a bottle gave me a hangover. Cartons of wine are looked down upon, but try them for hangover-free mornings.

You can't outwalk a bad diet. All that wine and those pilgrim menus add up. I put on 8kg on my 50 day Camino!
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Re: note #25, if you suffer allergies and decide to bring a lightweight down blanket, presumably to avoid breathing in the fumes from the soap used on the albergue blankets, don't take a down blanket without trying it out numerous times before leaving home. Down is a common allergen. I know that only too well. And reactions to it (breathing problems) worsen the longer you use it. This could also be a general warning. Try out all your camino specific gear and clothing for a significant length of time before leaving home, not just your boots. You may find that merino wool t-shirt just too itchy to bear (some people do). Most items can be replaced in Spain, but you don't want to have to replace some of your shiny new gear when you would rather be walking.
 
Last edited:

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I just wrapped up 900 km on the Camino from SJPdP to SdC, then on to Finisterra and Muxia, and here are a few things I learned along the way and thought I would pass on to others.

  1. The quality of the service of the albergue/bar/cafe is usually best when it's run by those who were Peregrinos themselves. This doesn't mean a purely for-profit place is bad, but it just seems to be friendly/more service oriented toward Perergrinos when run by a former Peregrino.
  2. Newer albergues are usually better than older albergues, especially for the digital Peregrino. Showers are usually roomier and have space for you and your valuables (preferably in a dry-sack of some sort), and aren't covered with mold. Newer albergues also usually have lockers - a very useful commodity (and if they have them, use them).
  3. The Wise Pilgrim app is great (but could be improved by adding the location of picnic areas). If you carry a phone, it reduces the weight of carrying a guide.
  4. Put your name and contact info (e.g., email) on your credencial AND on your phone (thank you Rachel from Switzerland and anonymous Spanish dude on bike who found my phone and returned it to me - long before I even knew it was missing).
  5. Europeans use WhatsApp - get it.
  6. Pilgrims menus are WAY too much food. A half-menu usually works well (and aids in getting rid of the excess pounds/kilos around the waist).
  7. Gadis (the supermarket) usually has small bottles of red wine (vino tinto) - usually 350ml, which is better for drinking alone.
  8. If you buy a large bottle of wine, loudly announce that there's free wine - you'll make friends (lots of friends!).
  9. The Tilly Air-Flow hat is a awesome. Even on the Meseta, when temperatures exceeded 40C, and the only shade you'll find is what you're carrying, it worked well. The vents under the top allowed heat to escape and air to flow over the noggin. I think I consider this the American Express of hats - don't leave home without it.
  10. Pacer Poles are amazing. Lightweight, sturdy, and ergonomic. Saves ankles on those treacherous stretches, and saves legs/knees on those steep stretches. Also, you don't wind up with the walking stick tan on your hand (i.e., there's no pale line where any straps were wrapped around your hand).
  11. The only cure for heat rash is less heat.
  12. Check EVERY bed you plan on sleeping in for bed-bugs. EVERY bed, every time before even putting your sleep sack down.
  13. Carry traveler's health insurance for those unexpected visits to the medical clinic on Sunday morning at 6:30 for the antihistamine shots for those bed-bug bites.
  14. Paper sheets are okay, but real sheets are sooooo much better (usually found in newer albergues).
  15. Plastic water bottles are okay, as long as you use them for as long as they'll last. Be sure to get a sturdier bottle (not the cheapo ones usually found in vending machines).
  16. Cerveza sin alcohol is a lifesaver at the end of a long, hot day. No alcohol to dehydrate you further, just that nice crisp, refreshing cold taste of beer (and it didn't matter the brand - they all taste good but I'm partial to San Miguel).
  17. Johnny Walker Red is only 13 Euros at Gadis. Holy smokeroonie Batman!
  18. Stop several times a day and take off your boots/shoes and socks. Dry those feet out, especially on hot days. Blisters are no fun.
  19. Use an anti-friction cream on your feet to prevent blisters. I used "Glide" but Compeed also has one out and can be found in most Farmacias.
  20. Merino wool t-shirts are amazing. No or little odor, even after a long day of hiking. Decathalon sells some for less than 20 Euros (discovered after someone stole my good Merino wool t-shirt off the drying rack in an albergue in SdC).
  21. If you wear Merino wool clothes, the Alluret wash bag works great - it's for delicates, but also serves as a dry bag when packing valuables into the shower.
  22. Laundry sheets are okay, but concentrated laundry soap (a la Sea-to-Summit) works better.
  23. Rain gear is important - a good rain coat/poncho system (ideally, one that vents the armpits - my bad on that one) and a rain kilt work well. Be sure to keep it accessible (note to self, do NOT bury rain kilt at the bottom of the pack where it can't be easily extracted, or even found, during a rainstorm).
  24. Croc sandals are lightweight and worked well after a day of hiking.
  25. If you suffer allergies/are chemical sensitive to fragrance laden soaps, bring your own blanket (a lightweight down one works well).
  26. Layer - lightweight layers work better than thick, bulky clothing. I only needed all four layers once, but it was REALLY needed then, and was damned glad I had them (t-shirt, Merino wool hoodie, lightweight travel shirt, and lightweight rain jacket).
  27. Hide your valuables, particularly your money. A combo of a money belt, hidden wallet, and money clip works well.
  28. If you want something, and it doesn't exist, DIY. I refuse to put water inside my pack (e.g., water bladder) but I'm not flexible enough to reach around and pull a water bottle out of the pack side pocket, so I jury-rigged a contraption consisting of a rigid tube, a flexible tube, and a couple of rubber o-rings to allow me to sip water on the go (rigid tube through hole poked in bottle cap, held in place by o-rings, and flexible tube from rigid tube, through pack straps, within easy reach of mouth).
  29. Talk with people. Walk with people. Spend time alone.
  30. Don't miss the Meseta. It's beauty is worth the time spent on it.
  31. Training - do hills. Lots of hills. I was fortunate, in that I had a small mountain close to home (2 miles up and 1000' of elevation gain - I climbed it twice a day for several weeks - well worth it).
  32. If you can't do hills, do stairs.
  33. Train with all your gear.
I'm sure there's more, but these are just a few things I learned along the way.
You have some great advice but I have to disagree on a few things but it is not that you are wrong just a matter of preference or opinion.
I have walked 4 caminos and have found absolutely great people working who were not pilgrims themselves. The list is endless (well almost)
My personal preference regarding newer albergues to be different than your own. I really like walking and living as simply as possible when I am am on my pilgrimages. For me I have loved many of the older (as long as they are clean) albergues, donatives and Refugios. There is often different spirit for me in these kinds of albergues. Sharing in a communal meal and not having the distractions of good wifi almost forces us to befriend pilgrims who are sharing the room. I need towant to unplug from technology. Tech is one of the things that got me to walk. I use wifi or my internet to call home on whatsapp (definitely download it for sure, your right about that. I live in Mexico and everyone in Latin America uses it too) and to check how far a town or albergue is when I am walking. I am sure you know less traveled caminos have alot less infrastructure.
As my wife says, when I eat I am an animal and I have never had a pilgrim dinner that was too much for me!
I agree about using something on your feet. I used Glide on my first camino I switched to Vaseline and it works just as well for me (always a personal choice) and is alot cheaper and if you run out you can get it anywhere.
Crocs are great evening wear and see lots of people who love them. Before my second camino my daughter bought me some Tom's loafers. Just as light and take up alot less room. When I had a blister once I walked in them tow days for about 10k each day. The surfaces were good though, gravel, grass or road. Don't think they would be good on some of those wildly cobblestone or rock paths.
The rest of your advice (in fact ALL of it) is excellent. Thanks.
Not a criticism at all just a matter of taste I guess.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C Inglés June 2019
To do: C Primitivo June 202x :(
There are different qualities in Merino.
Icebreaker is for me the best.
I have a Jack Wolfskin longsleave t-shirt and that is itchy (laying in the closet now).
Try before you buy 😉
 

Lin Howie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
I just wrapped up 900 km on the Camino from SJPdP to SdC, then on to Finisterra and Muxia, and here are a few things I learned along the way and thought I would pass on to others.

  1. The quality of the service of the albergue/bar/cafe is usually best when it's run by those who were Peregrinos themselves. This doesn't mean a purely for-profit place is bad, but it just seems to be friendly/more service oriented toward Perergrinos when run by a former Peregrino.
  2. Newer albergues are usually better than older albergues, especially for the digital Peregrino. Showers are usually roomier and have space for you and your valuables (preferably in a dry-sack of some sort), and aren't covered with mold. Newer albergues also usually have lockers - a very useful commodity (and if they have them, use them).
  3. Before arriving at O Cebriero (sp?), book a bed either before it or after it. Don't be one of the many peregrinos scrambling back to Laguna de Castilla hoping for a bed.
  4. Seriously considering booking places after Sarria, but two days out. I had to scramble for a room one time in Palas de Rei - the town was packed!
  5. The Wise Pilgrim app is great (but could be improved by adding the location of picnic areas). If you carry a phone, it reduces the weight of carrying a guide.
  6. Put your name and contact info (e.g., email) on your credencial AND on your phone (thank you Rachel from Switzerland and anonymous Spanish dude on bike who found my phone and returned it to me - long before I even knew it was missing).
  7. Europeans use WhatsApp - get it.
  8. Pilgrims menus are WAY too much food. A half-menu usually works well (and aids in getting rid of the excess pounds/kilos around the waist).
  9. Gadis (the supermarket) usually has small bottles of red wine (vino tinto) - usually 350ml, which is better for drinking alone.
  10. If you buy a large bottle of wine, loudly announce that there's free wine - you'll make friends (lots of friends!).
  11. The Tilly Air-Flow hat is a awesome. Even on the Meseta, when temperatures exceeded 40C, and the only shade you'll find is what you're carrying, it worked well. The vents under the top allowed heat to escape and air to flow over the noggin. I think I consider this the American Express of hats - don't leave home without it.
  12. Pacer Poles are amazing. Lightweight, sturdy, and ergonomic. Saves ankles on those treacherous stretches, and saves legs/knees on those steep stretches. Also, you don't wind up with the walking stick tan on your hand (i.e., there's no pale line where any straps were wrapped around your hand).
  13. The only cure for heat rash is less heat.
  14. Check EVERY bed you plan on sleeping in for bed-bugs. EVERY bed, every time before even putting your sleep sack down.
  15. Carry traveler's health insurance for those unexpected visits to the medical clinic on Sunday morning at 6:30 for the antihistamine shots for those bed-bug bites.
  16. Paper sheets are okay, but real sheets are sooooo much better (usually found in newer albergues).
  17. Plastic water bottles are okay, as long as you use them for as long as they'll last. Be sure to get a sturdier bottle (not the cheapo ones usually found in vending machines).
  18. Cerveza sin alcohol is a lifesaver at the end of a long, hot day. No alcohol to dehydrate you further, just that nice crisp, refreshing cold taste of beer (and it didn't matter the brand - they all taste good but I'm partial to San Miguel).
  19. Johnny Walker Red is only 13 Euros at Gadis. Holy smokeroonie Batman!
  20. Stop several times a day and take off your boots/shoes and socks. Dry those feet out, especially on hot days. Blisters are no fun.
  21. Use an anti-friction cream on your feet to prevent blisters. I used "Glide" but Compeed also has one out and can be found in most Farmacias.
  22. Merino wool t-shirts are amazing. No or little odor, even after a long day of hiking. Decathalon sells some for less than 20 Euros (discovered after someone stole my good Merino wool t-shirt off the drying rack in an albergue in SdC).
  23. If you wear Merino wool clothes, the Alluret wash bag works great - it's for delicates, but also serves as a dry bag when packing valuables into the shower.
  24. Laundry sheets are okay, but concentrated laundry soap (a la Sea-to-Summit) works better.
  25. Rain gear is important - a good rain coat/poncho system (ideally, one that vents the armpits - my bad on that one) and a rain kilt work well. Be sure to keep it accessible (note to self, do NOT bury rain kilt at the bottom of the pack where it can't be easily extracted, or even found, during a rainstorm).
  26. Croc sandals are lightweight and worked well after a day of hiking.
  27. If you suffer allergies/are chemical sensitive to fragrance laden soaps, bring your own blanket (a lightweight down one works well).
  28. Layer - lightweight layers work better than thick, bulky clothing. I only needed all four layers once, but it was REALLY needed then, and was damned glad I had them (t-shirt, Merino wool hoodie, lightweight travel shirt, and lightweight rain jacket).
  29. Hide your valuables, particularly your money. A combo of a money belt, hidden wallet, and money clip works well.
  30. If you want something, and it doesn't exist, DIY. I refuse to put water inside my pack (e.g., water bladder) but I'm not flexible enough to reach around and pull a water bottle out of the pack side pocket, so I jury-rigged a contraption consisting of a rigid tube, a flexible tube, and a couple of rubber o-rings to allow me to sip water on the go (rigid tube through hole poked in bottle cap, held in place by o-rings, and flexible tube from rigid tube, through pack straps, within easy reach of mouth).
  31. Talk with people. Walk with people. Spend time alone.
  32. Don't miss the Meseta. It's beauty is worth the time spent on it.
  33. Sunscreen - minimum SPF of 50. Apply before 10 AM to both arms and the back of the legs. Reapply as needed.
  34. Sunglasses - keep them handy (and don't lose your clip-ons - immediately put them in their case any time you go inside - do NOT set them on the counter, anywhere, ever).
  35. Training - do hills. Lots of hills. I was fortunate, in that I had a small mountain close to home (2 miles up and 1000' of elevation gain - I climbed it twice a day for several weeks - well worth it).
  36. If you can't do hills, do stairs.
  37. Train with all your gear.
I'm sure there's more, but these are just a few things I learned along the way.
Thanks for this list of Wisdom. I set off for the Camino Francés in two weeks and this is a great summary
 

rowdygirl

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2019)
I just wrapped up 900 km on the Camino from SJPdP to SdC, then on to Finisterra and Muxia, and here are a few things I learned along the way and thought I would pass on to others.

  1. The quality of the service of the albergue/bar/cafe is usually best when it's run by those who were Peregrinos themselves. This doesn't mean a purely for-profit place is bad, but it just seems to be friendly/more service oriented toward Perergrinos when run by a former Peregrino.
  2. Newer albergues are usually better than older albergues, especially for the digital Peregrino. Showers are usually roomier and have space for you and your valuables (preferably in a dry-sack of some sort), and aren't covered with mold. Newer albergues also usually have lockers - a very useful commodity (and if they have them, use them).
  3. Before arriving at O Cebriero (sp?), book a bed either before it or after it. Don't be one of the many peregrinos scrambling back to Laguna de Castilla hoping for a bed.
  4. Seriously considering booking places after Sarria, but two days out. I had to scramble for a room one time in Palas de Rei - the town was packed!
  5. The Wise Pilgrim app is great (but could be improved by adding the location of picnic areas). If you carry a phone, it reduces the weight of carrying a guide.
  6. Put your name and contact info (e.g., email) on your credencial AND on your phone (thank you Rachel from Switzerland and anonymous Spanish dude on bike who found my phone and returned it to me - long before I even knew it was missing).
  7. Europeans use WhatsApp - get it.
  8. Pilgrims menus are WAY too much food. A half-menu usually works well (and aids in getting rid of the excess pounds/kilos around the waist).
  9. Gadis (the supermarket) usually has small bottles of red wine (vino tinto) - usually 350ml, which is better for drinking alone.
  10. If you buy a large bottle of wine, loudly announce that there's free wine - you'll make friends (lots of friends!).
  11. The Tilly Air-Flow hat is a awesome. Even on the Meseta, when temperatures exceeded 40C, and the only shade you'll find is what you're carrying, it worked well. The vents under the top allowed heat to escape and air to flow over the noggin. I think I consider this the American Express of hats - don't leave home without it.
  12. Pacer Poles are amazing. Lightweight, sturdy, and ergonomic. Saves ankles on those treacherous stretches, and saves legs/knees on those steep stretches. Also, you don't wind up with the walking stick tan on your hand (i.e., there's no pale line where any straps were wrapped around your hand).
  13. The only cure for heat rash is less heat.
  14. Check EVERY bed you plan on sleeping in for bed-bugs. EVERY bed, every time before even putting your sleep sack down.
  15. Carry traveler's health insurance for those unexpected visits to the medical clinic on Sunday morning at 6:30 for the antihistamine shots for those bed-bug bites.
  16. Paper sheets are okay, but real sheets are sooooo much better (usually found in newer albergues).
  17. Plastic water bottles are okay, as long as you use them for as long as they'll last. Be sure to get a sturdier bottle (not the cheapo ones usually found in vending machines).
  18. Cerveza sin alcohol is a lifesaver at the end of a long, hot day. No alcohol to dehydrate you further, just that nice crisp, refreshing cold taste of beer (and it didn't matter the brand - they all taste good but I'm partial to San Miguel).
  19. Johnny Walker Red is only 13 Euros at Gadis. Holy smokeroonie Batman!
  20. Stop several times a day and take off your boots/shoes and socks. Dry those feet out, especially on hot days. Blisters are no fun.
  21. Use an anti-friction cream on your feet to prevent blisters. I used "Glide" but Compeed also has one out and can be found in most Farmacias.
  22. Merino wool t-shirts are amazing. No or little odor, even after a long day of hiking. Decathalon sells some for less than 20 Euros (discovered after someone stole my good Merino wool t-shirt off the drying rack in an albergue in SdC).
  23. If you wear Merino wool clothes, the Alluret wash bag works great - it's for delicates, but also serves as a dry bag when packing valuables into the shower.
  24. Laundry sheets are okay, but concentrated laundry soap (a la Sea-to-Summit) works better.
  25. Rain gear is important - a good rain coat/poncho system (ideally, one that vents the armpits - my bad on that one) and a rain kilt work well. Be sure to keep it accessible (note to self, do NOT bury rain kilt at the bottom of the pack where it can't be easily extracted, or even found, during a rainstorm).
  26. Croc sandals are lightweight and worked well after a day of hiking.
  27. If you suffer allergies/are chemical sensitive to fragrance laden soaps, bring your own blanket (a lightweight down one works well).
  28. Layer - lightweight layers work better than thick, bulky clothing. I only needed all four layers once, but it was REALLY needed then, and was damned glad I had them (t-shirt, Merino wool hoodie, lightweight travel shirt, and lightweight rain jacket).
  29. Hide your valuables, particularly your money. A combo of a money belt, hidden wallet, and money clip works well.
  30. If you want something, and it doesn't exist, DIY. I refuse to put water inside my pack (e.g., water bladder) but I'm not flexible enough to reach around and pull a water bottle out of the pack side pocket, so I jury-rigged a contraption consisting of a rigid tube, a flexible tube, and a couple of rubber o-rings to allow me to sip water on the go (rigid tube through hole poked in bottle cap, held in place by o-rings, and flexible tube from rigid tube, through pack straps, within easy reach of mouth).
  31. Talk with people. Walk with people. Spend time alone.
  32. Don't miss the Meseta. It's beauty is worth the time spent on it.
  33. Sunscreen - minimum SPF of 50. Apply before 10 AM to both arms and the back of the legs. Reapply as needed.
  34. Sunglasses - keep them handy (and don't lose your clip-ons - immediately put them in their case any time you go inside - do NOT set them on the counter, anywhere, ever).
  35. Training - do hills. Lots of hills. I was fortunate, in that I had a small mountain close to home (2 miles up and 1000' of elevation gain - I climbed it twice a day for several weeks - well worth it).
  36. If you can't do hills, do stairs.
  37. Train with all your gear.
I'm sure there's more, but these are just a few things I learned along the way.
Excellent list! I finished in May. Would only add 2 others. 1. Pack ultra light. You don't need much.
2. Bring athletic tape. I used it for wrapping a blister on the end of my big toe after a day of downhill walking and to wrap my wrist when I tripped on a cobblestone and wrenched it.
 

Caligal

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF April 4- May 12, 2018
CF Sept 10-27 2019
CP Sept 28- Oct12 2019
C Finisterre Oct 16-Oct 20
I just wrapped up 900 km on the Camino from SJPdP to SdC, then on to Finisterra and Muxia, and here are a few things I learned along the way and thought I would pass on to others.

  1. The quality of the service of the albergue/bar/cafe is usually best when it's run by those who were Peregrinos themselves. This doesn't mean a purely for-profit place is bad, but it just seems to be friendly/more service oriented toward Perergrinos when run by a former Peregrino.
  2. Newer albergues are usually better than older albergues, especially for the digital Peregrino. Showers are usually roomier and have space for you and your valuables (preferably in a dry-sack of some sort), and aren't covered with mold. Newer albergues also usually have lockers - a very useful commodity (and if they have them, use them).
  3. Before arriving at O Cebriero (sp?), book a bed either before it or after it. Don't be one of the many peregrinos scrambling back to Laguna de Castilla hoping for a bed.
  4. Seriously considering booking places after Sarria, but two days out. I had to scramble for a room one time in Palas de Rei - the town was packed!
  5. The Wise Pilgrim app is great (but could be improved by adding the location of picnic areas). If you carry a phone, it reduces the weight of carrying a guide.
  6. Put your name and contact info (e.g., email) on your credencial AND on your phone (thank you Rachel from Switzerland and anonymous Spanish dude on bike who found my phone and returned it to me - long before I even knew it was missing).
  7. Europeans use WhatsApp - get it.
  8. Pilgrims menus are WAY too much food. A half-menu usually works well (and aids in getting rid of the excess pounds/kilos around the waist).
  9. Gadis (the supermarket) usually has small bottles of red wine (vino tinto) - usually 350ml, which is better for drinking alone.
  10. If you buy a large bottle of wine, loudly announce that there's free wine - you'll make friends (lots of friends!).
  11. The Tilly Air-Flow hat is a awesome. Even on the Meseta, when temperatures exceeded 40C, and the only shade you'll find is what you're carrying, it worked well. The vents under the top allowed heat to escape and air to flow over the noggin. I think I consider this the American Express of hats - don't leave home without it.
  12. Pacer Poles are amazing. Lightweight, sturdy, and ergonomic. Saves ankles on those treacherous stretches, and saves legs/knees on those steep stretches. Also, you don't wind up with the walking stick tan on your hand (i.e., there's no pale line where any straps were wrapped around your hand).
  13. The only cure for heat rash is less heat.
  14. Check EVERY bed you plan on sleeping in for bed-bugs. EVERY bed, every time before even putting your sleep sack down.
  15. Carry traveler's health insurance for those unexpected visits to the medical clinic on Sunday morning at 6:30 for the antihistamine shots for those bed-bug bites.
  16. Paper sheets are okay, but real sheets are sooooo much better (usually found in newer albergues).
  17. Plastic water bottles are okay, as long as you use them for as long as they'll last. Be sure to get a sturdier bottle (not the cheapo ones usually found in vending machines).
  18. Cerveza sin alcohol is a lifesaver at the end of a long, hot day. No alcohol to dehydrate you further, just that nice crisp, refreshing cold taste of beer (and it didn't matter the brand - they all taste good but I'm partial to San Miguel).
  19. Johnny Walker Red is only 13 Euros at Gadis. Holy smokeroonie Batman!
  20. Stop several times a day and take off your boots/shoes and socks. Dry those feet out, especially on hot days. Blisters are no fun.
  21. Use an anti-friction cream on your feet to prevent blisters. I used "Glide" but Compeed also has one out and can be found in most Farmacias.
  22. Merino wool t-shirts are amazing. No or little odor, even after a long day of hiking. Decathalon sells some for less than 20 Euros (discovered after someone stole my good Merino wool t-shirt off the drying rack in an albergue in SdC).
  23. If you wear Merino wool clothes, the Alluret wash bag works great - it's for delicates, but also serves as a dry bag when packing valuables into the shower.
  24. Laundry sheets are okay, but concentrated laundry soap (a la Sea-to-Summit) works better.
  25. Rain gear is important - a good rain coat/poncho system (ideally, one that vents the armpits - my bad on that one) and a rain kilt work well. Be sure to keep it accessible (note to self, do NOT bury rain kilt at the bottom of the pack where it can't be easily extracted, or even found, during a rainstorm).
  26. Croc sandals are lightweight and worked well after a day of hiking.
  27. If you suffer allergies/are chemical sensitive to fragrance laden soaps, bring your own blanket (a lightweight down one works well).
  28. Layer - lightweight layers work better than thick, bulky clothing. I only needed all four layers once, but it was REALLY needed then, and was damned glad I had them (t-shirt, Merino wool hoodie, lightweight travel shirt, and lightweight rain jacket).
  29. Hide your valuables, particularly your money. A combo of a money belt, hidden wallet, and money clip works well.
  30. If you want something, and it doesn't exist, DIY. I refuse to put water inside my pack (e.g., water bladder) but I'm not flexible enough to reach around and pull a water bottle out of the pack side pocket, so I jury-rigged a contraption consisting of a rigid tube, a flexible tube, and a couple of rubber o-rings to allow me to sip water on the go (rigid tube through hole poked in bottle cap, held in place by o-rings, and flexible tube from rigid tube, through pack straps, within easy reach of mouth).
  31. Talk with people. Walk with people. Spend time alone.
  32. Don't miss the Meseta. It's beauty is worth the time spent on it.
  33. Sunscreen - minimum SPF of 50. Apply before 10 AM to both arms and the back of the legs. Reapply as needed.
  34. Sunglasses - keep them handy (and don't lose your clip-ons - immediately put them in their case any time you go inside - do NOT set them on the counter, anywhere, ever).
  35. Training - do hills. Lots of hills. I was fortunate, in that I had a small mountain close to home (2 miles up and 1000' of elevation gain - I climbed it twice a day for several weeks - well worth it).
  36. If you can't do hills, do stairs.
  37. Train with all your gear.
I'm sure there's more, but these are just a few things I learned along the way.
Thanks for great tips amazing how much the 1st Camino prepares you for the 2nd. I have 2 ?s for you. Tip#8 did you ask for 1/2 menu or did you just order 1item a la carte? #30 do you have a photo of your diy bottle set up I’ve been trying to think up something like that. Thanks Dee
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
Take a battery pack so you can leave it plugged in, then charge your phone using the battery pack. This means you don't need to leave your phone plugged in and charging. It's an invitation for someone to take it.
Also - buy a three metre charging cable because the plug is often a long way away from your bed and you might need power while you're laying on your bed. Those cables with braided coatings tend to become tangled in themselves less often than the ones with a simple plastic coating.
Finally, an EU plug with three USB sockets is useful so three of you can use one plug at the same time. But be aware that some of those things emit a very bright light which is really annoying.
 

Geodoc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2018 (across Pyrenees, then Sarria to SdC), CF 2019 (SJPdP to Finisterra & Muxia), CI 2019
Thanks for great tips amazing how much the 1st Camino prepares you for the 2nd. I have 2 ?s for you. Tip#8 did you ask for 1/2 menu or did you just order 1item a la carte? #30 do you have a photo of your diy bottle set up I’ve been trying to think up something like that. Thanks Dee
I would usually either ask for racciones (rations - single plates), half a pilgrim's meal (e.g., a pasta dish), or the two lightest choices of plates (usually, a primera salad and a primera other food, usually a soup).

Sorry, but I checked my photos, and nothing with my set-up. It's actually quite simple - get a flexible tube (one that stretches from your water bottle pocket, up through your pack strap, to in front of your mouth) that snugly fits over a short rigid tube (about 10"). Drill a hole in the bottle cap (I used the awl on my Swiss Army Knife), and push the rigid tube through it to the bottom of the bottle. You'll want two small rubber o-rings to hold the rigid tube in the bottle (without them, the tube comes out).

I usually push the rigid tube (already connected to the flexible tube) through the top of the bottle cap, then attach the two o-rings to the rigid tube under the bottle cap. I push the o-rings up to the bottom of the bottle cap. I then screw the cap onto the full water bottle (ensuring the rigid tube reaches the bottom of the inside of the bottle - easily adjustable). It's sort of like having a water bladder, but it doesn't take up any room in your pack (and little to no possibility of water leaking inside your pack) and easy to use.

One note of caution - just remember that your sucking on the tube creates a siphon effect, so you'll need to ensure the water stops flowing before you let the mouthpiece hand down (otherwise you'll get a wet front - ask me how I know this).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués Porto'17,Lisbon'18
Inglés A Coruña y Ferrol '18
Invierno'19
Hello,
Decathlon sells something like you describe, but you need one of their water bottles, they come in many sizes.
Buen Camino
MaryEllen 931929C4-CC48-4A7B-B192-7CB9C47962AC.jpeg
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
A useful trick is to acquire something similar to the old canisters used for old fashioned 35mm film. Drill or cut a hole in the base. Remove the mouthpiece from the pipe and poke it through the bottom, upwards towards the top, as it were. Replace mouthpiece on the tube. You'll find the canister tends to fall down towards the mouthpiece and protect the mouthpiece from picking up bits of grime, muck, mud, etc. When you want to stick the tube in the mouth the canister will just move away easily and not get in your way. These film canisters are hard to get now but there is a plethora of small plastic containers available to do the job.
 

Caligal

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF April 4- May 12, 2018
CF Sept 10-27 2019
CP Sept 28- Oct12 2019
C Finisterre Oct 16-Oct 20
I would usually either ask for racciones (rations - single plates), half a pilgrim's meal (e.g., a pasta dish), or the two lightest choices of plates (usually, a primera salad and a primera other food, usually a soup).

Sorry, but I checked my photos, and nothing with my set-up. It's actually quite simple - get a flexible tube (one that stretches from your water bottle pocket, up through your pack strap, to in front of your mouth) that snugly fits over a short rigid tube (about 10"). Drill a hole in the bottle cap (I used the awl on my Swiss Army Knife), and push the rigid tube through it to the bottom of the bottle. You'll want two small rubber o-rings to hold the rigid tube in the bottle (without them, the tube comes out).

I usually push the rigid tube (already connected to the flexible tube) through the top of the bottle cap, then attach the two o-rings to the rigid tube under the bottle cap. I push the o-rings up to the bottom of the bottle cap. I then screw the cap onto the full water bottle (ensuring the rigid tube reaches the bottom of the inside of the bottle - easily adjustable). It's sort of like having a water bladder, but it doesn't take up any room in your pack (and little to no possibility of water leaking inside your pack) and easy to use.

One note of caution - just remember that your sucking on the tube creates a siphon effect, so you'll need to ensure the water stops flowing before you let the mouthpiece hand down (otherwise you'll get a wet front - ask me how I know this).
Thanks for your reply. Why use a rigid tube? Couldn't i use the flex tube thru the cap? Anyway the experimenting to DIY is kinda fun!
 

Geodoc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2018 (across Pyrenees, then Sarria to SdC), CF 2019 (SJPdP to Finisterra & Muxia), CI 2019
Thanks for your reply. Why use a rigid tube? Couldn't i use the flex tube thru the cap? Anyway the experimenting to DIY is kinda fun!
It's what I had, and it won't bend in the bottle
 

NYSE

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & Camino Finisterre/Muxia April 2019
Quite a list, can't support your taste in whiskey - JWRed is not rot-gut but close to it. You only forgot that all-important item Emergency Rations!View attachment 61966I always have a can nestling on top in my backpack because you never know when an emergency will pop up!
I was never much of a beer drinker, preferring wine and spirits. But, along the later stages of the Camino, I learned to LOVE Estrella Galicia🤗
 

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