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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

mobile phones

#1
¡Hola amigos!
Soon, very soon, I'll be on the camino again. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
I'm pondering whether or not to bring my bivi, my sleeping bag etc. But that's not what I wanted to ask about.
I always bring my mobile phone, as a solo traveller it's a safety measure.
This time I'll be spending more than a few weeks in Spain and am considering to get a Spanish number, as it is rather expensive to use a foreign number, especially for people in Spain who'd like to reach me.

Which companies are best for mountain walks?
(I've just spent a week in the Swedish mountains where my Swedish phone company had absolutely no coverage - no meaning bringing the phone at all...)

Thanks! :mrgreen:
 
#2
You want to get a number where you can buy credit for it all over spain. I bought a 'Happy' sim card in Burgos, and found that it was the only place I could buy that credit along the camino... so I ended up not being able to make any calls after about a week when my credit expired. MovieStar, if I remember correctly, has shops where you can buy sim cards in ever city/sizable town you will pass through. You should also ask when buying a sim card if there are places to buy credit along the way... and for the 'major' companies you can buy it in any tobacco shop. It is definitely worthwhile to get a spanish sim card; they are only a couple of euros so you end up saving a lot. Hope that help! Buen camino.
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
#3
In many grocery stores (mostly the bigger chains) you can re-charge the balance at the cash register. Look for Movistar or Vodafone logos and ask. Also at several ATM's you can also add to your balance (at least this is available for us using local cards, not sure if this option comes up with a foreign card).

Also, have a look at earlier posts on this by doing a search in the forum:
search.php?keywords=mobile+phone

I went to Carrefour today and saw a Spanish phone number (sim card) with 20 free sms messages for 10 euros. Carrefour is a grocery store, but also a cellphone carrier. Probably more places to charge your card if you choose Movistar or Vodafone.

Coverage is generally very good in Spain.

Un saludo,
Ivar
 

Dale

Active Member
#4
I'm not very mobile phone savvy. Don't use one at home at all, but I spent 10 weeks in Italy and France last winter and early spring and I bought a mobile through Rail Europe which had a British Sim card I could receive calls for free but it was expensive to use. I just looked on Ebay Canada and found the following Spanish Vodafone Sim cards :

http://search.ebay.ca/vodafone-spain_W0 ... lZ4QQfnuZ1

The price sure is reasonable and you can recharge it on the Internet. I could recharge UK card the same way and it was really easy to do. My stupid question is if I buy this card and put it in the phone that I bought from Rail Europe is that all I need to do other than keep it charged with cash? :?:
 
#5
I had a Vodafone handset and had coverage virtually everywhere, even in some of the mountains. Great coverage in every town we stayed in. As mentioned above, you see MoviStar options in lots of towns as well.

Steve S
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
#6
if I buy this card and put it in the phone that I bought from Rail Europe is that all I need to do other than keep it charged with cash?
That should be all. The only thing that might make it not doable is if your phone is locked to a particular carrier. But it does not sound like yours is.

This is actually a good idea. Your family at home will then know your number before you leave home... just remember that receiving calls in Spain will be free... but receiving calls in for example France with this phone will be expensive.

Un saludo,
Ivar
 
#7
Dale said:
The price sure is reasonable and you can recharge it on the Internet. I could recharge UK card the same way and it was really easy to do. My stupid question is if I buy this card and put it in the phone that I bought from Rail Europe is that all I need to do other than keep it charged with cash? :?:
You shouldn't have any problems with this. However, you will end up spending the same amount of money getting it off ebay than you would just going into a shop. I believe it costs something like 5 euros to get a sim card in Spain, you don't have to deal with the hassle of shipping, and you will know for a fact it will work on your phone, because the people at the shop can tell you.
 

Dale

Active Member
#8
Thanks Ivar

I don't think the phone is locked to one provider either so I think I will order the Sim Card. :D
 
#9
Thanks, I think I'll use Vodaphone or Movistar! Carrefour's offer sounds great, butI wouldn't want to be without credits in some wee village. But they do have stores in most cities, I think?
When I bought my new phone early this year I made sure it wasn't locked to a certain carrier, with this wee walk in mind.
But for you who have a locked phone, it's usually cheaper to unlock it than to use a foreign number. (Depends on how much and how long it's for, of course.)

:mrgreen:

Buen Camino!
 

Dale

Active Member
#10
I see this topic is being discussed again so i thought I had better update my comments about the SIM Card deal on Ebay. They turned out to be dishonest and the card would never have worked, lucky for me I paid with PayPal and was able to get me money back. :oops:
 
#11
I did use movistar, for calling and texting (sms) domestic.
Supposedly I was going to be able to load the card with more € via internet, but it didn't work, so I used my regular (vodafone) for international messages (EU) so I wouldn't run out of money on the movistar. It turned out my vodaphone contract was a bit cheaper, a sms to a EU phone cost me 70 cent. Depending on the type of contract i got with movistar, my spanish wasn't good enough for reading the small print to decide if another type of contract was cheaper - which it must be. But it worked fine, very few places without coverage.
So if you bring a phone for safety reasons, movistar was OK. I bought the card in Madrid, in a movistar shop. :mrgreen:
 
#12
I know less than nothing about mobile phones. In the USA I have a Verizon phone and know that it will not accommodate a "SIM card". I want to have an emergency phone to walk with. Could some one please clear the smoke so that I can understand the best route to go? Do I rent a phone or buy a cheap one there that can be recharged along the way? I will be flying into Madrid or Pamplona. Is there something at the airport? Thanks from a non-technical walker.
 

Dale

Active Member
#13
Let me say to start I'm not a phone expert but I do have a cheap phone that I use in Europe and I have just purchased a Spanish SIM card to use in it. All mobile phones have SIM cards so I assume you mean that yours is locked meaning you can't change the card. Even if you could there is a chance the phone would not work in Europe because of the different frequency used there.

From my research on the topic I find renting to be a very expensive option which is why I've bought a cheap rechargeable phone.

This is one of the sites that offers European Cell phones no frills but cheap and efficient or I'm sure you could buy one at any phone store after you arrive.

http://www.telestial.com/?gclid=CPeT66Dbm5ECFQQjPAodKCyKPA

Hope this was some help to you.
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
#14
You can find some earlier posts related to this here:
el-camino-frances/topic3569.html

You can get GSM phone in the USA that would work in europe, just make sure you get a GSM phone that is not locked to one provider. Once in Spain, go to a cellphone provider here (the are "everywhere") and ask for a pay-as-you-go sim card (in Spanish this is called "tarjeta") that you put in your phone. You then have a Spanish phone number.

The alternative is to buy everything in Spain, I found that the grocery chain Carrefour has some good deals on a "pack" (phone + sim card/ spanish phone number)... for 39 euro you are all set. Have a look here for more details:
http://www.carrefour.es/movil/servicios ... epago.html

As you see, this can be done in many different ways. You have to choose the way that is most comfortable for you...

Greetings from Spain,
Ivar
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#15
It´s also worthwhile to contact Jeremy at http://www.multimadrid.com. He´s an English-speaking expat who´s been in the mobile phone biz for ages and has never done me wrong. He can have your phone number to you before you leave home, and have the actual phone waiting for you when you get here, ready to roll, at a reasonable price.

Watch out for Vodafone, though. Their coverage throughout Castilla-Leon can be rather spotty. Movistar or Orange are best, out here on the perimeter.

Rebekah
 
#17
In my opinion, and with my experience, the best company is Vodafone, after that Movistar.

Better Vodafone because the same coverage but better quality of sound everywhere.

And, to travel by Europe after or before (Germany, England, Holland, Portugal, Italy) better roaming costs.

Just an opinion.

Buen Camino, with the best communications

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 
Camino(s) past & future
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
#18
Found this information related to mobile phones and thought it may help those planning to call US.
If you get a Vodaphone SIM card, calls to the US will cost you US$1.536/minute. I think Monistar is a little cheaper.

Pingo is a company that allows you to make calls at a reduced rate using calling card (not a SIM card in the phone).
http://www.pingo.com
Card is US$7, but calls to US from a spanish mobile are US$.486/minute and calls from US to a Spanish mobile are US$.208. The same card can be used for both, so you can copy and leave the information in the US and have your loved ones call you.

You can have people in the US call your Spanish cell from their computer with Skype http://www.skype.com for US$.312/minute.

For SIM cards (tarjetas), there is GoSim http://www.gosim.com that mails you the SIM card to work in your phone. All incoming calls to the number are free. Calls to US from a Spanish mobile are US$.60 and calls from US to a Spanish mobile are US$.35.

I think my plan is to get a SIM card when I arrive in Spain and take a Pingo card with me. I will then have a local number to call in Spain and that people on the Camino can use to call me. When I want to call the States, I will place a short call, and have them call me back.

Hope this helps.

Rambler
 

Janeh

Active Member
#19
Rambler, thanks for passing on that informion - certainly something I will look into. The go-sim looks very good value - I've emailed them to see what the charges would be using my Australian unlocked mobile and calling home. Thanks again, Jane :)
 
#20
apologies if this post covers stuff already talked about but i thought i´d just send an update from the camino on mobiles.

i realised that i really wanted contact with home so bought a cheap prepaid phone here in burgos - 39 euros from Orange. included is 12 euros credit - no problems getting it but there seems to be a problem with Australian Optus users being able to text to it, and my partner is with Optus!!!!

will keep you posted with any progress on sorting that out.

i´m laid up in burgos with a cold and sore feet... :( off to Astorga by train tomorrow, am going to walk small distances till i fly out from Santiago, seems the only way to keep myself healthy and cope with the Camino super-highway and rush for beds.

cheers and hope everyone´s camino is a bit more favourable than mine seems to be turning out to be! (I´m not too worried, this is obviously my journey to have :) )

Megan
 

crhutch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2010) March/April SJPP to Santiago and hence to Finisterre
(2016) Hospitalero Grañón 15-31 March
(2016) April Logroño to Santiago
(2017) Hospitalero Zamora 15-31 March
(2017) Hospilatero Emaus, Burgos 1-14 April
#22
If starting in SJPP where is the first opportunity to buy a SIM card in Spain....Pamplona?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#24
The Pamplona Vodafone store is at (approximately) 68 Calle de la Estafeta, one block from the Plaza del Castillo. Be prepared to speak Spanish!

Google does not show any movil stores between St. Jean Pied de Port and Pamplona. You can add time to an existing account at many tobacco or grocery stores, which you may find before Pamplona, but you need to go to a movil store to get the SIM chip. Mine was under 15 Euro including 10-15 Euro in minutes.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#25
Hi-

I've been reviewing mobile phone posts for this information, and it's all helpful, but I wonder if someone with more recent experience can help me. I know much advice has been offered, and this is a frequently repeated question, so apologies for that.

Where (Movistar, Vodafone, Orange) in Madrid should I get a Spanish SIM card, and which plan have you found most convenient? ( Around 60 days along Huelva, VDLP, Sanabrese, Muxia and Finisterre.) Alternatively, have you rented a phone in Spain?

I've been avoiding taking a phone, but issues at home won't bother me as much if I have one.

Thanks for your help.

lynne
 
#26
Hi, Lynne,

I've been wondering how your Vdlp planning was going. I can give you information from last year, but remember I am a VERY low tech person.

Last May, I brought my old spanish movistar phone back to Spain and when I arrived in Madrid, I went to the first Movistar store I saw. There I was told that I could not get a new card for it, but that I had to buy a new phone. I was not exactly sure why, but the person at the counter told me it had to do with new regulations requiring the phone companies to gather information on who owns phones (maybe something to do with security issues????). Anyway, it may have been wasteful, but it wasn't expensive. I got a new phone with 10 or 15 euros time on it for about 20-25 euros. I put about 20 extra euros time on it and it lasted me all the way from Sevilla to Muxia.

I don't know if I'm going to have to buy a new phone again this year, or whether I'll be able to just buy a new card, but in any event, it's not a major expense. I would think renting is much more of a hassle. As far as service provider, I think movistar is the most popular, except maybe in Asturias, where I think vodaphone wins out. I never had any coverage problems.

Laurie
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#27
peregrina2000 said:
.............
Last May, I brought my old spanish movistar phone back to Spain and when I arrived in Madrid, I went to the first Movistar store I saw. There I was told that I could not get a new card for it, but that I had to buy a new phone. I was not exactly sure why,............

I don't know if I'm going to have to buy a new phone again this year, or whether I'll be able to just buy a new card, but in any event, it's not a major expense. .........
Laurie
I am wondering why you had to buy a new card. Wasn't it possible to just ask to add credit if the phone was Pay-as-you-go? It will be interesting to see what happens for you this year.
We are fortunate that our UK phones work in Spain, but if we had to buy a new one we'd like to know how they work out.
Buen Camino
Tia Valeria
 
#28
The card expires after six months, I think, along with the phone number, so I would have needed a totally new card. In the past, this was no problem -- I just brought the phone to the store, they issued me a new phone number and put in a new card, and it was good to go. The movistar employee told me that government regulations required them to keep track of the name, address, passport number of all phone owners. I could have totally misunderstood this, but maybe some of the Spaniards on the forum can help me out. Since my Spanish phone was purchased in 2002, and at the time I didn't have to give my name and identify information, maybe it had to be retired, I just don't know.

I am hoping that this year, since I have been properly registered, I will be able to just buy a new card, but maybe I'll have to buy a new phone all over again. Can any of the Spanish forum members make sense of my confusion about Spanish cell phones?

Laurie
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#29
Yes Laurie, I would like to know the answer to this as well - and if it's a new law for Spain, I would assume it applies to all carriers and not just movistar. The cost of buying a phone and card are not huge, however. Two caminos ago I rented a phone and paid over $200 for the two months I had it. It seems (looking at the vodafone site) that you can get the phone and card for under 40 euro and the plans are reasonable.

Anyone have more info? Thanks.

lynne
 

daesdaemar

Camino-holic
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles - twice
#31
I took my unlocked GSM phone with me and bought a Vodafone Mi Pais SIM card for 15 euros, of which 12 euros was for usage credit. I was able to call home in USA for 30 cents per minute. Service was flawless.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#32
Laurie, Vodafone was recommended by another veteran forum member. I think I did read as well somewhere that reception quality was not as good with Movistar. On the other hand, Reb posted a few years ago " Watch out for Vodafone, though. Their coverage throughout Castilla-Leon can be rather spotty. Movistar or Orange are best, out here on the perimeter." Not sure whether that is still the case.
So I guess my follow-up question is: "Does one or the other carrier do a better job in particular regions or camino routes?" (i.e. CF/Madrid/VDLP/Galicia).
Would love to hear from folks who live in Spain and have up-to-date experience/information with both....

lynne
 

andy.d

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
#33
I took my British pay as you go vodafone (it cost £20 a couple of years ago, but came with £20 of calls). They did a good deal for use in Europe, with texts costing only 1p more than at home, and calls were not overly expensive. The advantage of bringing the phone from Britain was that it switched to whichever signal was available. I recall a mixture of vodafone, orange and movistar.

I felt the phone was essential as I was walking the Levante which was - literally - solitary and went through some remote areas. I had an arrangement with my family that they would go into emergency mode if they did not hear from me for 48 hours. I found there was usually mobile reception while I was walking, and there was reception each night when I was in accommodation.

The thing about needing to register your name and address when you buy a phone is the same here in the UK. I assume it's to do with anti-terrorism measures.

Andy
 

Canuck

Veteran Member
#34
Hi! all,

I have been using a MobilityPass.com Global Roaming SIM card (UK and US numbers) for the past three or four years. http://www.mobilitypass.com/global-roam ... e-sim-card

I have an ''international card'' that picks up whatever signal is available, wherever I am in 60 different countries ( I haven't tested more than four).

Incoming calls are free and outgoings are at a very reasonable rate and not more expensive than other cards. For exemple, a call to North America from Spain is charged at 26 cents per minute.

The card is free and there's no contract; pay-as-you-go. No requirement to reload. Charges are made directly to your account.

The SIM card is always active as long as you make at least one call per nine month period, which is easy and cheap to do.

I wouldn't change it for any other.

In Spain for example, it piggy-backs on Movistar, Vodafone, Amena or Euskatel, depending on best signal. You always have coverage as long as there is at least one service available.

Worthy of consideration,
Jean-Marc
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
#35
andy.d said:
The thing about needing to register your name and address when you buy a phone is the same here in the UK. I assume it's to do with anti-terrorism measures.

Andy
Hi Andy,
Yes they claim it's anti terrorist but of course it's nothing of the sort. No terrorist with an IQ above room temperature would give a true name and address when buying a phone.

:arrow:
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#36
Hi Canuck -

The piggybacking global concept sounds good. I'll investigate their website. Thanks for the tip.

lynne
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#37
Thanks Laurie for explaining card expiry.
Re network availability:- Terry used our Orange phone on his Camino (Norte/Primitivo) and had no problems. It picked up Movistar when there was no Orange signal. Hope it works as well for us this year on the Inglés
Buen Camino all,
Tia Valeria
 

Canuck

Veteran Member
#38
Laurie,

I don't see why you had or would have to buy a new phone.

Anybody can walk up to any phone shop in Spain, buy a sim card with a plan, shove it in any unlocked phone using Spain Bandwidth and bable away.

A sim card is not married to a phone but to a company. You can switch and use them any which way you want.

Cheers,
Jean-Marc
P-S. Here is a good source of info on just about anything concerning SIM cards and phone services:
http://www.planetomni.com/FAQ_sim.shtml#13
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#40
Hi -

Thanks to all of you who provided information and advice - it has all been so very helpful. I feel much better prepared now to choose a card and plan.

Gracias!

lynne
 
#41
Hi, Canuck and others,

I wish I knew the answer to your question, but one of the links in a previous message suggests that I wasn't dreaming when the Movistar employee told me I needed to give my passport, etc. in order to be able to have a functioning phone. Since I am fluent in Spanish and totally ignorant in technology (I don't have a cell phone in the US), I was certain I understood what she was saying but couldn't really engage in the conversation.

So, sorry to piggy-back onto Lynne's questions, what I wonder is if I should change the way I deal with phones on the camino, based on what Andy and Jean-Marc, etc have described.

All I want is to have a cell phone that I can use that will allow me to call ahead to make reservations when it seems prudent, and to have a number where family can reach me in case of emergency. For routine calls home, I have always just bought one of those phone cards in tabacaleras and entered pin numbers into any land line phone -- either a pay phone or a hotel/pension phone. I was concerned last year that I would have problems finding phones to use for that purpose, but all the way from Sevilla to Santiago and Muxia I was fine, found way more pay phones than in the US. This year I expect to walk in France, and was just planning to buy a cheap phone in France and pre-pay for service and re-charge as needed, just as I do in Spain.

So, please indulge me here with instructions targeted at the idiot level -- should I continue with this "two part" phone service (cell phone plus calling card), or should I do something like what others describe, and that is buy one phone that I can use for both purposes? I'm looking for something that will be reliable and that won't require me to sink a lot of money into a device I'll never use back in the US. Many thanks, Laurie
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#42
You need a passport now to purchase a SIM card or a cell phone. For a while, France was requiring an address in France, but now they just put in the address of the store! I had permission to use the address of a friend in France, but did not need it. I purchased an Orange SIM card in Vezelay in September. Text and local calls were not expensive. For overseas calls, you will get the best rate with a phone card, available in the post offices. I did not make many overseas calls, so I just ate up the time that came on the SIM card. I also bought a 10 Euro card for use in the pay phones. If memory serves, the phone number expires in six months if it is not used, or if additional time is not purchased.

The French service terminates as you cross the Pyrenees, so I purchased a Vodafone SIM card in Pamplona in October. Again, a passport was necessary, but my address was given as the store address by the clerk. Orange has service in Spain, but at roaming charges for a French phone number. So the new SIM chip was less expensive than roaming charges for local calls. The phone number expires in nine months if additional time is not purchased.
 

ffp13

Addicted pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Completed Caminos: 2009 SJPP, 2011 Roncessvalle , 2012 Pamploma, 2013 Roncessvalle, 2013 Porto, 2014 Burgos, 2014 Porto

Future: Roncessvalle
#44
:?:
There appears to be some good information on phone access using varios providers, what I am finding dificulty with is mobile internet providers for my Iphone ? data can be as high as 1 euro for 100Kb , there must be cheaper options ? i get 150Mb per month on my $19 australian phone plan and facebook access is free! is there something like that in spain? on a pre paid plan?
:!:
 

ffp13

Addicted pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Completed Caminos: 2009 SJPP, 2011 Roncessvalle , 2012 Pamploma, 2013 Roncessvalle, 2013 Porto, 2014 Burgos, 2014 Porto

Future: Roncessvalle
#46
Thanks, I will check it out the next time I am on my desk top PC
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
#49
Yes, Orange is French Telecomm Inc, so to speak. (As I understand it.)
 

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