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Live - Introduction and Q&A on the Caminho da Geira e dos Arrieiros

Hola all,

Tomorrow (July 14th at 22.00 CET, I think this is 4pm eastern and 1pm pacific) @jungleboy, @Wendy Werneth and I will be online "en directo" (Live) and Nick and Wendy will be talking about the Caminho da Geira e dos Arrieiros that they just walked.

We will be taking questions live, but if you have some ahead of time, please ask them in this thread (below).

You can see us here:

YouTube:

or here:

facebook:

Feel free to ask questions in te comment during the talk and we will try to get to them at the end. Also (as I mentioned) feel free to ask here in this thread.

See you tomorrow!
Ivar
 

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have already given Nick and Wendy some questions in the earlier thread announcing this session, but I just wanted to say I am really looking forward to it. Thanks to all three of you for doing this, it will be a great resource.

And once Michael gets the crowdsourced app up and going, we will be all set!

Buen camino, Laurie
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Past OR future Camino
A few in the past; more in the future!
Questions already asked that we'll address in the talk:
  • How much asphalt is there?
  • What's a good cell/mobile phone solution given that the camino goes back and forth between Portugal and Spain?
  • Could the multiple border crossings become complicated in light of COVID?
  • How was the last day's walk into Santiago?
  • Can you give us a sense of cost of lodging on the Geira?
  • Can the stages be split up into shorter stages of about 15km?
If anyone has any more questions, fire away!
 

MyDestinationGalicia

Mark Auchincloss
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi Nick and Wendy and all those interested in this Camino.

Thanks for disseminating so much useful information and sharing your experiences.

I recently moved to the village of Esposende (Cenlle) near Ribadavia and live close to the Iglesia de Santiago. I've started promoting this route too and will promote the other one, the Miñoto. I'm sorry I can't make it tomorrow.

The Camino often overlaps or crosses the Miñoto which is te one that Mayors are promoting they call Camino do Miñoto do Ribeiro. We can't really ignore it because the Portuguese and Galician Council's from Braga to Santiago are/will be investing in it and have started installing the signage.

I'm not into the politics of it but whether the camino is official, historic, well signed, well used or whatever and is good for walking then I'll promote it which means what do pilgrims do when they see the signage for the other camino? Should we continue to separate the Caminos, although the authorities will be investing alot in the Miñoto, or treat them as similar with their variations?

The Miñoto seems to have up to 3 alternative routes. Some of these may appeal more to cyclists or people that struggle with long stages/hills etc. So it would be really useful if someone had a map of all the various routes so they can make calculated decisions on the options open to them?

I note someone has raised a question about asphalt. Yes many walkers want to know the % off road vs asphalt for each stage to plan what footwear to take. More importantly is the degree of difficulty of each stage. If there are alot of off road and mountain climbing in Portugal this is not for everyone but they can still start say in Ribeiro. Ribadavia is 109 km from Santiago so would make a great place to start for those who can't climb up or down mountains (although there are still some challenging stages from there right?) and if you are pushed for time.

There's mention of use of GPS /Apps to help stay on route. But how was the signage and does anyone have any updates? From what I gather there will be distinct signage for the both Caminos. Some Council's have already installed the signage for the Miñoto route like Ribadavia although from what I've seen it's far from perfect and confusing as sometimes they have marked more than one route between stages e.g.Arnoia to Ribadavia stage. One route logically follows straight along the River Miño, the other much longer goes over the hills towards Castrelo do Miño before backtracking to Ribadavia. So I fear what we have for now is confusing maps and signage!

Now I'm quite happy to walk from A to B without the yellow arrows with or without a Smartphone /GPS but I'm thinking of the many humble pilgrims that like the comfort of the signage and maps/guidebooks and are not that tech savvy. The only published guidebook of the route to date in English is pretty brief and simple and the maps real basic. I know the authors well so they get all my respect for being the founders of the Camíno and for producing it with no budget whatsoever to get the Camino off the ground. Do you know if WisePilgrim will be producing a guidebook, if they have got an App?

I would really appreciate your views on the degree of maintenance of the paths? On the Invierno I used to walk with Asun who runs the Association there in A Rua and she was taking notes of all the stretches that were in poor state ready to complain to the Council's concerned. I fear we may need more volunteers to collaborate with to highlight potential accessibility issues etc on this largely off road camino.

On the list of services and facilities it would be great to have a list. I have started making one which includes of heritage interest but only for Google Maps sharing. I'm not sure if this is of wider interest. What is the Gastronomy like? What did you think of food and wine from Braga? Did you try Ribeiro Wine? I'm helping various wineries in the Ribadavia area with sales so I'm converted!

Sorry for taking up so much space but I speak not only for pilgrims and my love of the Camino but as a local resident that the Camino passes.
 

cecelia

Wandering for the love and growth of it
Past OR future Camino
2013
Camino walkers love this gripping, intriguing, mystery with history novel.
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Past OR future Camino
A few in the past; more in the future!
Hi Nick and Wendy and all those interested in this Camino.
Hi Mark, thanks for your response and you should know that your reputation precedes you as Abdón told us about you when we met him in Berán!

Regarding the Geira/Miñoto Ribeiro:
Should we continue to separate the Caminos, although the authorities will be investing alot in the Miñoto, or treat them as similar with their variations?
Although the two caminos follow a similar path, my overwhelming impression is that the respective 'authorities' of each camino are not in sync with each other and are actually 'enemies', as this article in the Voz de Galicia indicates:

El Camino va viento en popa, pero tiene un enemigo. En los concellos de Cortegada y Padrenda se boicotea la señalización del Camiño da Geira y solo se permite la del Camiño Miñoto-Ribeiro, que también atraviesa la zona. Esta circunstancia complica mucho el paso de los caminantes por la zona y pone en riesgo el futuro de la ruta.
(Brief summary: certain districts are only allowing signage from the Miñoto-Ribeiro and not the Geira.)

What I know comes from the Geira side so I admit I don't know the other side of the story. The Miñoto Ribeiro has Xunta backing (edit: possibly government backing at a more local level instead, it's not completely clear) and funding whereas the Geira does not. This means that signage is better for the CMR (and yes, there is distinct signage for each but the fact that there are two caminos following similar routes can still make it a bit confusing for the pilgrim).

More importantly is the degree of difficulty of each stage. If there are alot of off road and mountain climbing in Portugal this is not for everyone but they can still start say in Ribeiro.
Some people told us how difficult the Geira would be in terms of ascents and descents. So those do exist but to be honest we didn't find them very difficult. Maybe after 50+ days on camino we were in good shape by then. The Torres, for example, has more difficult climbs than the Geira in my opinion.

There's mention of use of GPS /Apps to help stay on route. But how was the signage and does anyone have any updates?
Signage is inconsistent and GPS is needed to supplement it. For certain sections the signage is adequate but for other sections it isn't. In particular, GPS is an absolute must for the parts leading into and out of Castro Laboreiro (i.e. around the second and third border crossing).

Do you know if WisePilgrim will be producing a guidebook, if they have got an App?
@wisepilgrim can chime in here, but the app is coming (I have submitted content for it) but as a 'community' app for a less-travelled route it won't be turned into a physical guidebook. The great thing about Wise Pilgrim apps (among other things!) is that the GPS tracks are built into the app, so non-tech savvy pilgrims don't have to worry about downloading tracks and importing them into their maps app - it's all right there in the Wise Pilgrim app.

I would really appreciate your views on the degree of maintenance of the paths? On the Invierno I used to walk with Asun who runs the Association there in A Rua and she was taking notes of all the stretches that were in poor state ready to complain to the Council's concerned.
I didn't take detailed notes on this but, yes, there are some sections where the path is not well maintained. We had to 'hack' through the overgrowth sometimes, and if it rains, the path can literally turn into a stream. There were a couple of occasions (notably one before a quarry after Berán) where the official trail was so poorly maintained that arrows divert the camino a different way from the tracks.

On the list of services and facilities it would be great to have a list. I have started making one which includes of heritage interest but only for Google Maps sharing. I'm not sure if this is of wider interest.
You could start with Henrique's Google Maps 'super track' which has some bars etc marked.

What is the Gastronomy like? What did you think of food and wine from Braga? Did you try Ribeiro Wine?
We are not the best people to speak generally about food because we don't eat animal products. But I can offer a couple of random points. There are certainly some days where all pilgrims will need to bring food with them (and plan the purchase of that food) as there won't be anywhere to stop for lunch. The Miradouro restaurant at Castro Laboreiro has great views and is very nice. The restaurant at Os Baños didn't have any vegetables (!) and as such it was perhaps the first time we have ever gone to a restaurant in Spain where they couldn't do a parrillada de verduras.

We're also not great wine connoisseurs (just drinkers!) so can't speak about the finer points of it but I am told that Ribeiro wine is quite well regarded.

Sorry for taking up so much space but I speak not only for pilgrims and my love of the Camino but as a local resident that the Camino passes.
Not at all, you raise a lot of interesting points and as a humble pilgrim I don't have all the answers but hopefully I have helped a bit.
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Wow, what a fascinating bit of intrigue, which provides a good explanation of a lot of things. @jungleboy, it’s up to you whether to bring this into the discussion. If you think it has a potentially real impact on a pilgrim’s choice of camino, that would be good to know. But of course since you haven’t walked the Miñoto, I guess there would be a lot of speculation on your part.

My own totally uneducated reaction is that if the Xunta and the mayors are behind one to the exclusion of the other, at least when it comes to the part in Spain, it’s a very unbalanced “fight”. Is there room for both?
 

MyDestinationGalicia

Mark Auchincloss
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi Mark, thanks for your response and you should know that your reputation precedes you as Abdón told us about you when we met him in Berán!

Regarding the Geira/Miñoto Ribeiro:

Although the two caminos follow a similar path, my overwhelming impression is that the respective 'authorities' of each camino are not in sync with each other and are actually 'enemies', as this article in the Voz de Galicia indicates:


(Brief summary: certain districts are only allowing signage from the Miñoto-Ribeiro and not the Geira.)

What I know comes from the Geira side so I admit I don't know the other side of the story. The Miñoto Ribeiro has Xunta backing and funding whereas the Geira does not. This means that signage is better for the CMR (and yes, there is distinct signage for each but the fact that there are two caminos following similar routes can still make it a bit confusing for the pilgrim).


Some people told us how difficult the Geira would be in terms of ascents and descents. So those do exist but to be honest we didn't find them very difficult. Maybe after 50+ days on camino we were in good shape by then. The Torres, for example, has more difficult climbs than the Geira in my opinion.


Signage is inconsistent and GPS is needed to supplement it. For certain sections the signage is adequate but for other sections it isn't. In particular, GPS is an absolute must for the parts leading into and out of Castro Laboreiro (i.e. around the second and third border crossing).


@wisepilgrim can chime in here, but the app is coming (I have submitted content for it) but as a 'community' app for a less-travelled route it won't be turned into a physical guidebook. The great thing about Wise Pilgrim apps (among other things!) is that the GPS tracks are built into the app, so non-tech savvy pilgrims don't have to worry about downloading tracks and importing them into their maps app - it's all right there in the Wise Pilgrim app.


I didn't take detailed notes on this but, yes, there are some sections where the path is not well maintained. We had to 'hack' through the overgrowth sometimes, and if it rains, the path can literally turn into a stream. There were a couple of occasions (notably one before a quarry after Berán) where the official trail was so poorly maintained that arrows divert the camino a different way from the tracks.


You could start with Henrique's Google Maps 'super track' which has some bars etc marked.


We are not the best people to speak generally about food because we don't eat animal products. But I can offer a couple of random points. There are certainly some days where all pilgrims will need to bring food with them (and plan the purchase of that food) as there won't be anywhere to stop for lunch. The Miradouro restaurant at Castro Laboreiro has great views and is very nice. The restaurant at Os Baños didn't have any vegetables (!) and as such it was perhaps the first time we have ever gone to a restaurant in Spain where they couldn't do a parrillada de verduras.

We're also not great wine connoisseurs (just drinkers!) so can't speak about the finer points of it but I am told that Ribeiro wine is quite well regarded.


Not at all, you raise a lot of interesting points and as a humble pilgrim I don't have all the answers but hopefully I have helped a bit.
Thanks for the comprehensive reply. It's much appreciated.
Yes Abdon is a good buddy and as you know is a great ambassador for the Geira.
Yes there's "bronca" between some of the parties involved. I've already told them that I'm not taking any sides. I just want to help pilgrims and avoid any confusion and help with route options.
Yes it's not easy on the Caminos if your vegan, vegetarian, gluten free etc. So if you know any good places we should give them special mention.
I do think you guys are super fit. Many of my English friends would struggle with more than than 15 kms a day if it's flat doing only the last 100 not from the Algarve !! Cheers again
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
2020
My own totally uneducated reaction is that if the Xunta and the mayors are behind one to the exclusion of the other, at least when it comes to the part in Spain, it’s a very unbalanced “fight”. Is there room for both?
If anything, my impression is that the Geira side is winning the fight. I haven't been able to find statistics on the number of pilgrims walking these two caminos, but the Facebook group for the Geira has 4,600 members and is full of posts from pilgrims who have walked it or are planning to walk it, while the FB group for the Miñoto Ribeiro has half that number and is mostly filled with links to articles shared by the same handful of people.

The explanation for the Geira's relative success is, I think, that it's being promoted at the grassroots level by passionate individuals, and not by a consortium of mayors.

It's unfortunate, though, that both caminos are being tainted by this bickering, which really goes against the spirit of the camino.
 
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Well, tomorrow is August so less than 4 weeks until I depart for the ‘triple’ (Nascente/Torres/Geira)
Thanks for the shoutout in your Geira video, Nick and Wendy. 👍
I’m certainly doing a heap of planning in expectation of completing all 3 caminos but, as usual, will remain flexible to whatever conditions present.
I will record any amendments to your ‘guiding notes’ and post these at some point. (not sure if I’ll post much while walking - you never know :D)
Thanks again to everyone who has/is providing helpful information to get this route out there.
Cheers, Grace
 
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