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My Camino options are open - Looking for advice

Marlys

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk the Santiago in June - July of 2015.
I asked work if I could take off 6 weeks this Summer (May - August 2015) to walk the Camino and they have granted my request. Now I have the options of choosing when I want to leave and what I want to do before/after the Camino should it take me approx. 30 days to walk the entire trail.

There are so many blogs out there which is a bit overwhelming for me, so I am seeking guidance/recommendations from members of this forum regarding some questions I have.

I am a solo traveler and want to be on the trail when there are a lot of people. I also want to walk in warm weather with hopefully no to little rain. June and July appear to be the best months for me, but I do not want to be on the Camino when it is over-crowded when there are limited options to find a place to sleep at night. I would appreciate input on when it would be best to sart/complete the Camino.

I was thinking about starting from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on June 22, but there is a good chance that I would be in Santiago on July 25th (Feast of St. James). When doing research on the best time to do the Camino, I found on a site that one should avoid starting from St. Jean or Roncesvalles on July 25. I found on another site that the Spanish people celebrate the Feast of St. James for a week. I couldn't find anything that said avoid being in Santiago on July 25, but I assume that it would not be wise for pilgrims to be in Santiago on the 25th because they may not even get into the Cathedral because of the celebrations and crowds. I would appreciate advice... Should I try to complete the walk a week before July 25?

My other question is about adding a trip to Rome after the Camino. I am looking at spending a day or two at Lourdes the weekend prior to starting the Camino and then start the Camino on a Monday. If all goes well during the walk and finish in approx. 30 days, I was thinking of adding on a one week trip to Rome. Any thoughts on this. - Good idea? Bad idea?

Thanks,

Marlys
 
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You don't say where you are from which would be helpful to people giving suggestions. But from what I can see above perhaps start at the Frances from SJPDP at end of May after Lourdes? That would get you into SDC late June? At that time it would still be OK regarding crowds.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
30 days might cutting it a bit narrow / making it a bit stressful in case of injuries, need for rest days etc depending on your fitness. What about 40 days and starting to walk in Lourdes? You would then be able to enjoy the quieter Camino Aragones and join the main route at Puente la Reina.

A lot of travelers versus but not overcrowded is relative. Main pilgrim season is between Lent/Easter and September, very roughly, July/August are, due to holidays (universities!) the busiest months.

It can always rain in Galicia, that is the reason it is so green ;-) I personally would suggest May/June or September from what you wrote. Santiago on the 25th July might be very special, but also a bit overwhelming because of all the extra visitors.

There 'should' be flights from Santiago to Rome, check skyscanner.net for that one.

Buen Camino, SY
 

Marlys

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk the Santiago in June - July of 2015.
You don't say where you are from which would be helpful to people giving suggestions. But from what I can see above perhaps start at the Frances from SJPDP at end of May after Lourdes? That would get you into SDC late June? At that time it would still be OK regarding crowds.
Hi Allan. I am from Minnesota. Leaving late May is another option I considered as then one of my days gone traveling could be Memorial Day which would allow me one more day of travel time. Thanks for suggesting that. What appeals to me most about July is warm weather and the more likelihood that I will be able to walk with others. I do not ever want to be on the trail alone as a solo woman. Can I expect that there will always be others on the trail should I leave in late May?

Buen - Thanks for your advice. Good idea to build in extra days for the walk just in case. If I were to start at Lourdes, how much of the full Camino trek would I be missing? I was thinking of taking the train from Lourdes and then start at St. Jean even though that would be a little back tracking.

I did see flights from Santiago to Rome. It will be hard to determine in advance when to book the flight to Rome as it will depend on when I finish the Camino.

Thanks,

Marlys
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
... What appeals to me most about July is warm weather and the more likelihood that I will be able to walk with others. I do not ever want to be on the trail alone as a solo woman. Can I expect that there will always be others on the trail should I leave in late May?

... If I were to start at Lourdes, how much of the full Camino trek would I be missing? I was thinking of taking the train from Lourdes and then start at St. Jean even though that would be a little back tracking. ...
July isn't warm, it is blistering hot! You will need to set out with first light to avoid the worst of the heat.
Able to walk with others - Cough, there will be hundreds with you on the same daily stage, if not more!
Alone on the trail, not likely from Easter to September, 230,000+ pilgrims walked it in 2014, nearly all of them in main pilgrim season (Easter to September/October), do the maths. Late May will give you more than plenty of company.
The full, traditional Camino, you be starting at the door step of your own home and walking back to it, everything else is a compromise. If Lourdes is close to your heart it is as good as a starting point as anywhere else, plus you can also join the main Camino in SJPDP if your heart tells you so.

Buen Camino and sorry, I am still giggling about "Can I expect that there will always be others on the trail should I leave in late May?" as you actually might struggle to find solitude if you want it during that time of the year. SY
 

Marlys

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning to walk the Santiago in June - July of 2015.
July isn't warm, it is blistering hot! You will need to set out with first light to avoid the worst of the heat.
Able to walk with others - Cough, there will be hundreds with you on the same daily stage, if not more!
Alone on the trail, not likely from Easter to September, 230,000+ pilgrims walked it in 2014, nearly all of them in main pilgrim season (Easter to September/October), do the maths. Late May will give you more than plenty of company.
The full, traditional Camino, you be starting at the door step of your own home and walking back to it, everything else is a compromise. If Lourdes is close to your heart it is as good as a starting point as anywhere else, plus you can also join the main Camino in SJPDP if your heart tells you so.

Buen Camino and sorry, I am still giggling about "Can I expect that there will always be others on the trail should I leave in late May?" as you actually might struggle to find solitude if you want it during that time of the year. SY

Hi Buen,

The reason why I stress that I want to be with other people and am a bit worrisome that I might be alone is because of a recent experience. In early Sept. I walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The max. # of people allowed on the trek is 500. The time that I went the permits were sold out, yet during the 4 day hike, I saw at most 10 other hikers! I kept asking my guide where are all the other 498 people. He said that they were either ahead or behind us. I was grateful to as least see other porters on the trek to confirm that I was really on the Inca trail and not on some other path. It was just so crazy not to see any other hikers though.

Yeah, from what I read July is super hot, but I can handle hot if it means that I would not have to deal with heavy rains! I encountered heavy rain and then snow on the 3rd day of Inca Trail which is the most difficult day of walking. The rain made the walk miserable and certainly day 3 even more challenging as we walked on the boulders going up/down near the end of the cliff. I will consider May - June for the Camino. Thanks for your input!

Marlys
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
There isn't a warranty whatsoever that you will not encounter rain no matter the time of the year you chose, but some seasons have a lower/higher risk. You will see, when walking, the pilgrims 30 minutes before/behind you, but just stop for an hour and you will see how many are really with you on the road. Believe me, in May, you will never walk alone for more than a few minutes! SY
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
If you remain connected to this forum, you will quickly discover that you are not dissimilar to thousands of other pilgrims, and it is just not possible to have all the things that you are seeking here. It will always be a compromise:
  • arrive around St James' feast day, it will be spectacular, but hot and crowded.
  • avoid the rain - and you won't find any time that achieves this, and won't do it at all
  • etc etc
If you are prepared to accept some compromises, May might be the best time to start. There will be plenty of other pilgrims, but fewer than around St James' feast day. The weather will be getting warmer, but you will need to be prepared for rain. Albergues that close over winter will all be open by this time, noting this is to meet the increased demand for beds, but it should be relatively easy to find a bed. I could go on.

What you will also learn is that it is possible whenever you start. There are just different challenges. I hope you enjoy your pilgrimage whenever you decide to start.
 
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M

Mark Lee

Guest
Hi Buen,

The reason why I stress that I want to be with other people and am a bit worrisome that I might be alone is because of a recent experience. In early Sept. I walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The max. # of people allowed on the trek is 500. The time that I went the permits were sold out, yet during the 4 day hike, I saw at most 10 other hikers! I kept asking my guide where are all the other 498 people. He said that they were either ahead or behind us. I was grateful to as least see other porters on the trek to confirm that I was really on the Inca trail and not on some other path. It was just so crazy not to see any other hikers though.

Yeah, from what I read July is super hot, but I can handle hot if it means that I would not have to deal with heavy rains! I encountered heavy rain and then snow on the 3rd day of Inca Trail which is the most difficult day of walking. The rain made the walk miserable and certainly day 3 even more challenging as we walked on the boulders going up/down near the end of the cliff. I will consider May - June for the Camino. Thanks for your input!

Marlys
I walked my first Camino from mid-July to mid-August. Lot's of fellow pilgrims on the Camino and I was pretty much never alone it seemed. If that's what you are looking for, then July-August is the time frame for you.
Yeah, it get's a little warm in the mid-afternoon that time of year, but really not that bad at all. It's not the middle-east. Hydrate, and wear a hat. Besides, you will be doing most of your walking before the heat of the day.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
I kept asking my guide where are all the other 498 people. He said that they were either ahead or behind us.
It will be similar on any of the Camino routes. It was rare when I walked the CF to see more than a handful of other pilgrims on the road itself. You find more as you catch up with people at bars and cafes, and in albergues in the evening. If you are travelling solo, you could expect to walk alone unless you ask someone to walk with you each day. This poses its own problems. You will need to find someone who either walks at your pace, or adjust your speed to theirs, which implies going slower, as you will not be able to sustain going faster than your natural pace for long.

Someone asked me to walk with them last year on the Camino Finisterre, and we were a pretty good match. Never too far apart, but together often enough to chat and keep each other company. We stayed in the same albergues and left with each other each day. This is a complete contrast to my CF, where the person I started walking with in SJPP suddenly set a much faster pace, and I was finding it too difficult to keep up. We eventually gave up on walking together.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
I am a solo traveler and want to be on the trail when there are a lot of people. I also want to walk in warm weather with hopefully no to little rain. but I do not want to be on the Camino when it is over-crowded when there are limited options to find a place to sleep at night. ... I would be in Santiago on July 25th ...
...I am looking at spending a day or two at Lourdes the weekend prior to starting the Camino and then start the Camino on a Monday. If all goes well during the walk and finish in approx. 30 days, I was thinking of adding on a one week trip to Rome. Any thoughts on this. - Good idea? Bad idea?


Hello Marlys,

How I envy you having the courage to ask for some many days off from work. Clealry your employer values you and understands it is important. Good for you.

First thing that jumps at me in your post is that you have been granted 6 weeks off but want to walk (I assume) the Camino Frances. Unless you are one of these people who can walk 30-50km a day (and I know they exist) this in my opinion is not wise: plan in a day or two (if not more) of rest because you get a horrible blister, tendonitis etc. What about a rest/cultural day in Leon, Burgos, Astorga? Or a stay with the monks in Rabanal? I would factor in closer to 40 than 30, if you are not a terrific hiker.

You want people, but not too many, and good weather. Early May to Mid June. This being said, you may hit the next May with record cold temps, as I did in 2013, but statistically, it's in my opinion you best bet. I also wonder wether I want people or not, if being alone but now lonely is better, or haviing a "camino family" (sure makes it go faster, but what do you get from it? Still working on it...)

Add that to July 25th anywhere along the Camino: I don't think it's doable. Having seeing pictures of festivities I can understand wanting to be there, for the cultural experience, plus the religious one if that is important to you, but the weather will make this walk a true pilgrimage (read painful) all the way through ;0)

As for Lourdes ... I am looking at this from two perspectives: if you just go to 'been there done that on my "pilgrimage"' " - don't. If the religious aspect of having been there is not important to you, don't go. When I went if just felt like a horrible tourist trap. If it does have true meaning to you, GO and start walking from there. It will make your pilgrimage even more meaningful.

If you need to be in specific dates in a particular place, enjoy Europe's discount airlines and look at fares to waltz in for the occasion. As for Santiago's Catherdral being busy on the 25th of July, will it comfort you that every Sunday at noon is a nightmare, with many Spaniards finishing a weekend away there before heading home? There is not an inch to spare, even when it's not the 25th of July.

Would you consider splitting your "hopes-wants and needs" in two trips? One being walking the Camino in conditions that appeal to you, the other perhaps joining more people in a next trip to be in Santiago on Jubilee year?

My advice is to determine the top priority for this walk, then 2-3, and then... and figure out what makes sense to you, and you will never forget this journey.
 

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