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May 2010 - will the Holy Year affect via de la Plata??

joellen77

New Member
Hello,

I walked the Camino Frances in 2003 and in 2007 and am now ready for a different route. I have tentatively been planning on walking from Sevilla starting May 2010. . .but then I realized that will be a Holy Year. I know the Camino Frances is CRAZY during the Holy Years. . .will the alternative routes be affected?

I know that the southern route is typically very empty. . .and this is why it is beckoning me. I just am worried that spillover from the French route will cause it to be more crowded and perhaps no room at the albergues?

Any advice on this would be most welcome. Thank you so much!

Buen Camino!

JoEllen :)
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi JoEllen,

I started the Vdlp around April 15 this year, but had to stop in Caceres when my heel was injured. I was surprised at the large number of people, there were albergues filled to overflowing sometimes, but there was always some kind of solution. People along the route confirmed that the numbers are sharply increasing. The Vdlp has a short, but increasingly popular, walking season -- April and May are probably the most crowded.

I'm planning to start in Sevilla again next May and am assuming that there will be a lot more peregrinos than this year, but you never know. I think you will have to be prepared for a lot of non-albergue accommodation, which increases cost but also increases opportunities for a good night's sleep.

When are you planning to leave Sevilla? Remember that May 1 is a big holiday in Spain, so there is a big surge in weekend walkers around then. Laurie
 

joellen77

New Member
Hi Laurie, thanks for your reply. That surprises me about how crowded it was! ACK!! I wasn't thinking about the temperature of southern Spain and about how people would likely start earlier. I am wondering if perhaps I should do the Northern route?

In any case, my plans were to start the first week of May. I know it will be hot come June, but I walked the Camino Frances in the great heat wave of 2003 - temps up to 40 nearly every day!! It was soooo hot. And I survived. Sort of. Hahaha. I love the Camino.

I won't have a lot of $$ so it does worry me, though. And I'm not one of those fast walkers who just plows thru the day at gets to the alburgue at noon. I like to stop and relax and explore and stop for a beer. . .I like to finish each day around 2 or 3.

What to do. . .what to do. . .I'll probably just show up and figure it out as I go. The Camino is always full of surprises. I'll just bring my sleeping bag - worst comes to worst I will sleep outdoors :)

Cheers,
JoEllen
 

eli

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from St JPdP 2004
Camino Frances from Burgos 2010
Camino Via de la Plata from Merida 2011
Camino Portuguese from Lisbon (2014)
European Peace Walk (2016)
Way of St Francis - Florence to Rome (2016)
Hi guys,
I'm also planning a walk along the La Plata this year, having done the camino along the french route in 2004 and again 2009. After 2004 I swore i would never do it again in a holy year but last years walk has me wanting to return. Soon. And so like you Jo Ellen, the southern route beckons. I was thinking to do it in April May but your comments Laurie have me thinking about September/ October. Does this route have the same draeded problem with the chinchas.? I managed to avoid them last year but I was lucky.
Cheers, Eli
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Eli,

I think it still might be very hot in September -- there are some good "live from the Camino" posts here from Anniesantiago and Isabelle, both of whom walked in the fall, though Isabelle walked later. You should take a look at what they say. I would think the difference in vegetation between spring and fall will also be significant -- last April there were just bazillions of wild flowers and it was gorgeous. Late summer/early fall in Andalucia and Extremadura will probably be brown stubble.

I was bitten by bed bugs in the albergue in Zafra. I remember thinking when I pulled the big fluffy comforter over my sleeping bag that it didn't seem like a good idea, but having heard nothing about bed bugs the whole way I went ahead and used it. Bad idea. Luckily I was walking with a Spanish guy who had been in the army and knew how to take care of them. We washed all my clothes in a washing machine with bleach (luckily the very nice pension we stayed in at the next town had a machine and bleach!), and he sprayed something in my bag and pack after doing a careful inspection. And that was the end of them, except for the incredible itching, which lasted for days.

I'm not going to sleep in the Zafra albergue this next time through -- just an abundance of caution, I guess. Laurie
 

isabelle304

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPP-Santiago) (Oct-Nov 08)
Santiago to Finisterre (Nov 08)
Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (Sevilla-Santiago via Ourense) (Oct-Nov 09)
Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Santiago) (Sep-Oct 14)
eli said:
I was thinking to do it in April May but your comments Laurie have me thinking about September/ October. Does this route have the same draeded problem with the chinchas.? I managed to avoid them last year but I was lucky.
Cheers, Eli

Hi Eli
As Laurie mentioned, I walked the route in October/November 2009. I got bitten by bedbugs in the Montamarta albergue on 2 November. A Japanese pilgrim I met a few days later told me she'd be bitten in the albergue of Fuenterroble de Salvatierra at the end of October. So basically I would say that even on the VdlP, you have to be vigilant. The mistake both I and the Japanese pilgrim made was that we got complacent and overconfident. I'd been fairly good at applying some smelly anti-bug lotion on myself every night before going to bed but for some reason in Tabara I got lazy and could not be bothered. Likewise, the Japanese girl had been using a tea-tree oil concoction on herself before going to bed but the night she got bitten she'd forgotten to do so.

Luckily, 3 nights after I got bitten, I stayed at the albergue in Rionegro del Puente, which has a washing machine and a tumble dryer (very rare occurrence on the VdlP!). I was the only person staying there that night so was able to put absolutely every piece of clothing I owned into a hot machine wash, and my down sleeping bag into a black rubbish bag and into the freezer compartment for the evening, while I sat for a couple of hours in the dormitory totally naked but wrapped up in a clean blanket while waiting for my clothes to wash and dry!!! :lol:

After that night, I resumed my evening routine with the anti-bug lotion, and had no more problems.

I am not keen on crowded Camino so I would very happily walk the route again in the autumn - of course you miss out on the explosion of spring flowers but the scenery is still quite beautiful. September/October WILL be hot. I started on 1 October and it was hot hot hot (37 degrees that day). Weather continued hot and extremely sunny till Zamora - t-shirt, sun hat and sunscreen required. After Zamora (which I reached on 1 November), still sunny but windy and cold - fleece and windbreaker and wooly hat and gloves required. From A Gudina, it rained nearly every day. Galicia of course was extremely green and I saw some beautiful mushrooms along the way. Over the whole trip from Sevilla to Santiago, I had albergues all to myself for 18 nights in total, and often there would only be a handful of people in the albergue. Exceptions to this were Guillena on 1 October (we only had one spare bed in the 10-bed refugio), Fuente de Cantos on 6 October (only 2 spare beds) and Merida on 12 October (albergue filled up totally - the whole town was extremely busy because of the National Holiday).

This was very different to my previous autumn, on the Camino Frances, where albergues were nearly full 70% of the time.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best. I am staying away from the Camino this year as I am just too anti-social and won't even risk walking a less-walked route on a Holy Year :D :D but am hoping to walk either the Camino del Norte, or the Camino del Salvador + Camino Primitivo, in 2011.
 

eli

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from St JPdP 2004
Camino Frances from Burgos 2010
Camino Via de la Plata from Merida 2011
Camino Portuguese from Lisbon (2014)
European Peace Walk (2016)
Way of St Francis - Florence to Rome (2016)
Thanks for that advise. I live in the centre of australia so heat doesn't put me off, much, but seeing something other than a brown parched land would be good. The wild flowers sound amazing. So. I've gone back to the travel agent and re-opened flights to Madrid for just before Easter. Which is not too far away now. :!: Is it possible to buy the guide for this route in Madrid / Seville or should I organise one with the Contraternity directly?
 

eli

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from St JPdP 2004
Camino Frances from Burgos 2010
Camino Via de la Plata from Merida 2011
Camino Portuguese from Lisbon (2014)
European Peace Walk (2016)
Way of St Francis - Florence to Rome (2016)
Thanks - that's a great site! But I'm still hesitating about not taking a guide book. I guess if there's a few people on this Camino this holy year and I have a list of towns along the route it shouldn't be too hard. Good chance to grow my extremely limited spanish language skills!

I did enjoy the Confarernity guide to CF, with it's snippets of advise and recommendations (watch out for Victorino girls :) !! ) but I think that their current La Plata guide is now 5 years old!!
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
Eli,
The CSJ guide to the VdlP is 5 years old, but they have a an appendix of updated information available for free on their website.

All the best
David, Victoria, Canada
 

JamesII

New Member
Hi folks,

Like Eli, I walked the Camino Frances in ’04. In ’06, I walked Le Puy-en-Velay to St.Jean. ’08 was a failed re-attempt at the Frances (stopped in Burgos with knee problems), but managed St.Jean - Santiago again last year.

As you all seem very aware, this summer is going to be ridiculously overpopulated on the main route. As such, I wouldn’t even begin to contemplate the idea of trying it. I’ve given some thought to the Camino del Norte, but have settled on the ‘Plata’ as a more interesting alternative. As I’ll be walking in July/August, I realise that it’d probably be quicker to wrap myself in tinfoil and squeeze into the nearest oven, but, unfortunately, the dates govern me, rather than vice-versa.

I was quite surprised by one aspect of what I read on this forum’s posts; that regarding pilgrim numbers on the ‘Plata’. For me, a large part of the pleasure of the camino is the peace and quite that it affords (not that a social element isn’t also essential). I’d assumed that, by opting for the ‘Plata’, I’d be able to skirt the crowds. Judging by the posts, it appears that this may not be so.

I’d be very interested to hear (and appreciative of hearing) of recent ‘Plata’ caminos, with regard to the numbers of ‘boots on the ground’, and whether it’s either rare or commonplace to find oneself walking for hours at a stretch, without seeing another soul.

Related to this issue, the Camino Frances, typically, has its busiest period during July/August. Scanning the posts, I’m curious as to whether this may not be the case for the ‘Plata’.

As a final (but very important) point, I’d appreciate any advice regarding a suitable guidebook. On my first Frances camino, I used the Bethan Davies & Ben Cole volume, which I found very useful. I’ve seen that they’ve written one for the ‘Plata’ also, but it seems that this hasn’t been updated for six years. Another option comes from Alison Raju, but this was published in 2005. As a (fairly) regular peregrino, I’m aware of the frequency of changes, regarding all manner of factors along the route, and the resultant need for up-to-date info. Therefore, if anybody has any advice, regarding an up-to-date guide, or any opinion as to the best available at present, it’d be greatly appreciated.

My thanks, in advance, for your assistance,
J
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
?
Hi!

I walked the Plata last September with the Davies & Cole guide book, updated with a lot of new info available on their web site. It was reliable and better than some of the others I've seen.

As for the crowd, I went for stretches of up to 6 days without seeing another pilgrim on the trail. When I did see some, often it was the same one or two for days on or the odd cyclists at night. But of course it wasn't a Holy Year.

Cheers,
Jean-Marc
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, JamesII,

I'm also headed for the Vdlp, in a few weeks (assuming volcano clouds dissipate). I walked part of it last year, till I got to Caceres and my heel fell apart. Anyway, I remember speaking with people along that part of the route who said that pilgrim traffic almost disappears in July and August. I don't think you'll have any problem with crowding in the hot summer months.

As far as guides go, if you read Spanish, the online Eroski site(I think the webiste has something like consumer revista in its name) has a very detailed printable stage-by-stage guide. I had the CSJ guide last year, and it wasn't helpful with walking at all. Some Spanish women I walked with carried only the Eroski pages and they were very good. I specifically remember leaving Alcuescar, there's a hard to see turn-off at the gas station -- the guide took care of us quite well. This year I've just printed out the pages back to back and annotated them with info from this forum and elsewhere and that's all I'm taking.

From what others told me, the two most popular English guides are out of date, and some Irish guys were continually complaining about bad walking instructions (but I can't remember if it was Raju's or Davies & Cole's guide). Truth be told, though, the marking is pretty darn good in most parts, at least what I've seen.
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
?
peregrina2000 said:
I specifically remember leaving Alcuescar, there's a hard to see turn-off at the gas station

I remember clearly this particular turn-off. It is difficult to see and situated shortly after leaving Aljucen (not Alcuescar as mentionned above). If you have left early to avoid the heat, you aren't in full daylight yet making it even harder to negociate.

I remember a German lady walking 10 minutes ahead of me leaving Alcuescar and catching up with me an hour later, at a stop for lunch, having gone astray at the ''infamous'' turn-off.

Souvenirs...
Jean-Marc
 

anita

New Member
Hi JamesII, also heading for the VdlP in four weeks' time and fully agree with Laurie. I scanned through a number of guidebooks including Raju's (including updates on website) Cole&Davies, etc. and eventually decided to use the Eroski guide augmented with my own notes, as Laurie indicated she is doing. The Eroski guide website has an automatic translation service to English which is quite understandable and actually makes for amusing reading here and there. The website address: http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/los ... e-la-plata. If you plan to go Ourense - Santiago, there is also a guide for the Camino Sanabres. Buen Camino - also for you Laurie!
 

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