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LIVE from the Camino My October Camino Frances

Antnix1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
Hi. Greetings from Santiago!

I got a lot of advice from this forum so figured I'd contribute my experiences before I continue my journey to Finnesterre.

I'm from Ireland and just completed my first camino - the Camino Frances solo from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago.

Covid restrictions are all but gone in Spain since July and vary across regions. No QR codes but masks are still obligatory indoors and there can be occupancy restrictions plus the awful requirement to leave the door or window open. The main impact of covid on the camino this year was some albergues did not open at all, and ones that did increased their prices slightly. It caused a few bottlenecks and I can give 3 examples where people who didn't book ended up sleeping outdoors or getting taxis.. mainly due to domestic tourism on public holidays.

I had a very early start on 2nd October 2021. I flew Dublin to Biarritz with Ryanair for €36. My backpack was acceptable as my 10kg carry-on. In advance, I had booked the Express Bourricot shuttle bus for €19. I highly recommend this service as an alternative to public transport.

I also had booked a private room in St Jean for my first night.

I had lunch upon arriving in St Jean but soon afterwards the weather turned dull and then wet and the town was quiet. I got my first stamp in the pilgrim office. Otherwise, the info provided there wasn't useful and the staff only spoke French...an app like Camino Ninja gives advice in a much better way. The office did recommend the alternative route over the mountain route as very bad weather was forecast. But I wasn't having that!

I had booked the albergue in Roncesvalles for the following day and had to re-evaluate my plans as I didn't want to do a long walk in such conditions. I called Roncesvalles to move my reservation to the following night, and called the Orisson albergue to book the night there instead. (The albergue after the orisson wasn't open for some reason)

Turns out the Orisson was an excellent experience and a highlight. And the walk to it was pretty tough, especially in the rain. It had a communal dinner and everyone introduced themselves and their reason for making the journey. I recommend you book it as when i was there a large group took most beds.

Personally I could have done without a day in st jean, and if i did it again I'd arrive in St Jean, get my stamp, buy stuff i may lack.. for me that was a knife for bread and meat, Poles or a stick (i bought a stick sometime later), toiletries, and some snacks to carry. Have a bite to eat in St Jean, explore a little... Then take the plunge and hike to the Orisson for a short but productive first day.

Well, here are my "learnings" and experiences.

1. people you meet on the first day or two will be your camino family.. friends the whole way through. Even when you think you've lost them and they'll pop up again and again.

2. With that in mind, don't be afraid to set off earlier, walk further, walk slower, take rest days. If you're doing the camino there's a chance you weren't happy with your daily routines before, so observe if your new routines are also best for you. Eg the first week for me was to walk with a loose gang of people. We'd keep an eye on the distance to the next town for a coffee break. Then run up a hill and take another break. Then after 20km all decide to stay in the same albergue, checkin, sheets on bed, shower, beer, food, curfew, sleep. Wk 2 i walked alone more but still did the stages in the guidebook. It wasn't til week 3 (maybe the meseta) that i realised it was time to shift gear, lose the crowd, pack my lunches, eat breakfast on top of a hill at sunrise instead of bread and bad coffee in the albergue, and actually slow down and relax without the stimulation of conversations. Late October was great for peace and quiet

3. Do take time to buy food for breakfast, lunch and snacks Remember the siesta too. Either shop before it or after it so you're not without food or supplies.

4. Bring earplugs. If they don't work, i like to pop in an earplug on the pillow side and some white noise through headphones in my other ear. as noisy as albergues can be, pensions and hotels with thin walls can have people chatting til all hours, so albergues with 10pm curfews are sometimes the best option. But other times private rooms in albergues are terrible value, esp when shared bathroom and the room adjoins the dorm room

5. Individual rooms can be a nice treat, but they're pricey. Keep an eye on booking.com for places that offer reduced rates for single occupancy.

6. If you overthink, overdrink, are addicted to your phone, drown out your thoughts with music, check blue ticks on sent messages or views on your insta story... Try to become aware and take steps to address these things. 4 weeks is not a lot of time and it will take some effort.

7. All good things come to an end. I looked forward to Sarria and arrived on 1st November. First thing i noticed is outdoor facilites like picnic benches and water fountains were few and far between.. the Galician weather was fairly kind overall but could be cold, wet and overcast. The larger crowds, often friends walking together, talking loudly, on phones, blocking the path with their poles oblivious to other walkers... To me it had a different vibe to the beginning of my camino, and passing 50 pilgrims only to take a 15 min break and passing them again... i guess it's part of it, and i did chat with some. For the most part though it was the home straight, longer distances, more listening to podcasts, and less "buen caminos". I'm not criticising the individuals doing the last 100km.. it's physical, it's an achievement, but honestly i felt the most special part of my camino was when i could actually not be part of the crowd. So Sarria to santiago, after 650km i sailed up the hills and enjoyed a faster pace. But it wasn't my favourite part of the camino. I am hoping to recapture some of the more loner, i mean solitary experience, and one on ones with other pilgrims, on the way to Finnesterre.

8. Equipment-wise there's an expression: buy cheap, buy twice. I had a cheap backpack and didn't want to buy a new one. I also bought some generic gear from Amazon. You can do it on the cheap if it's a one-off hike, but you'll end up cursing your gear.

Also because of all the facilities on the camino frances you only really need a daypack. During October there's probably little need to even carry 500ml of water at once with an exception of 17km of the meseta.

You'll never be more than a few hours from civilisation and there's no need to carry around dirty clothes, and for the most part no need to pay €8 to use the washer and drier in albergues (most ppl share loads)

So here's my equipment and recommendations.

1. Two pairs of footwear.
I'd recommend waterproof, breathable hiking shoes (not higher boots). i paid €110 and broke them in by wearing them for 3 weeks before setting off. They were a bit heavy and after 400km, during a day of flat, hard terrain i got blisters on my little toes, and later one little toe swole. I walked barefoot on the footpath for 3km the next day til I got better socks and sandals to give my feet a break!
Fact is, runners/trainers are probably better than hiking shoes most of the time, while sandals aren't good in rain or when there's debris that will get trapped in the sandals. Many people I met carried 2 pairs of footwear. Others had very light hiking shoes and just complained when it rained, either due to poor waterproofing or water getting in holes.
So personally i recommend hiking shoes, plus light runners or walking sandals that don't take up much space

2. A backpack. Mine cost €60 and is 35+5 litre. It was fine for a shorter journey but some design issues, requires constant pulling at straps, and weighs 1.5kg.
Doing it again, I'd probably budget €120+. I'd probably go for something smaller and strap the sleeping bag to the bottom, or perhaps go for a backpack where the sleeping bag could be loaded from the bottom - it will help you get packed quickly in the morning.
A raincover is essential. I took a bladder pack for water as my backpack had a compartment. It leaked once as the cap wasn't on correctly. Bar that i found it convenient.

3. Socks. 2 pair. You'll pay around €25 each. I brought cheap socks from amazon and ended up replacing them. I wash my socks every day and find ways to dry them (usually the line, a radiator, once a lamp with an incandescent bulb, other times pinning them to my backpack). As with your shoes, train with your socks too ahead of your journey to avoid blisters.

4. Undies. I brought 4 pairs of cotton boxers that took up space and couldn't be dried. Binned, and replaced with 2 pair of lighter, um less baggy underwear. Again, washing every day.

5. Thermal baselayers - top and bottoms. again, i bought these from amazon and ended up binning them. Too bulky. 2 or 3 consecutive cold night in the albergues prompted me to buy more thermals.... But since then most albergues had blankets or left the heat on overnight.
During the day, being Irish I didnt need them..most days i wore shorts even in zero degrees.

6. A pair of long trousers for the evening..zips in pockets..the ones i had zipped-off into shorts but i never used this feature

7. A pair of shorts with zip pockets. Wore these most of the time when walking.

8. I also had a light, comfy pair of shorts for walking around albergues when weather permitted. A bit more dignified than walking around in underwear

9. 2 or 3 tactical/light T-shirts - not cotton! Make sure at least one is longsleeve which will protect against both the cold and sun.. and one that is a bit more substantial with a collar and is not olive/slate colour that will look good to wear in the evening.

10. A light bum-bag (fanny pack for americans). Don't bother with a large additional day pack.

11. Lightweight, quick-drying towel that fits around your waist.

12. Knife.. i went with a non-locking blade but it's probably too big to take in handluggage. I saw a guy with a rambo knife and question the need for it. I also bought a teaspoon for yoghurts and a 2-step bottle opener. A swiss army knife would also be good instead though harder to open wine bottles
13. A Stick. I went half way without one but found myself hunching so bought a €5 stick and now I'm a convert.
14. Toiletries... For me that's a bar of soap, razor, mid-sized plasters to stick over blisters, moisturizer for my feet, talc for my socks and boots, nail scissors, toothpaste and toothbrush, factor 50 suncream and roll-on deodorant. I also carried hand-wash liquid for laundry but you could make-do with soap.
15. Kleenex, useful when albergue is out of toilet paper.
16. Sunglasses
17. Sleeping bag. I brought a summer one as i only sleep indoors. If you think you like the idea of sleeping outdoors you'll need something heavier.
18. Wallet: Passport card (as passport needs to be shown in every accomodation it's much easier than using the passport book). Credit card. European health insurance card.
19. Phone. Sometimes i wish i hadn't it. Anyway, dual sim so i could buy a local sim for decent 4G. If possible - bring a really good phone. You'll have a decent battery-life,.it can charge your other devices and the photo quality will be much better. I made-do with my budget phone.
20. wireless headphones - also useful when earplugs just can't block snoring
21. Earplugs.
22. Kindle. Ended up barely reading it.
23. Rosary beads
24. Pen and paper.
25. European charger that supports 2 charging cables (don't bother with bulky adaptors). I use a 1m usb-c cable, a 30cm usb-c cable, and a 30cm usb micro cable for my kindle and headphones.
26. A controversial one but a power bank..sure, it's bulky but it can charge your devices without worrying about leaving expensive devices unattended or when you're caught with a low battery.
27. Light raincoat that folds into a small bag .. make sure it's 100% waterproof.
28. A fleece/jacket, light and warm. Between the baselayer, tshirt, jacket and raincoat you'll have enough layers without needing to bring a bulky waterproof/windproof coat.
29. Some people brought waterproof trousers but i did without.
30. Some people brought gloves and honestly, there were days i could have done with gloves! Bring gloves
31. A buff. I had two. A light one i had with me that was great against the sun and cool evenings. And a 2nd warmer one i bought that acted as a scarf or beanie when the weather got cooler. These also double as facemasks although a few places insisted on an actual face mask
32. A cap.
33. A little aluminium cup or small flask that's nicer to drink cold water out of when you stop for a break.. just my preference.. plastic will always be lighter.
34. Safety pins. Double as pegs for laundry
35. A plug. Ideal for 3-star hotels who provide a bathtub but don't want you to use it, or albergues who don't want you doing washing in the sink

The dumbest things i brought: inflatable pillow. It was prominent on packing lists but a waste. First aid kit- binned everything but the plasters. 2m usb charger (cable was very thick).- once i used it as a washing line but ultimately replaced it with a 1m cable that was much tidier. A light jacket that was neither warm nor waterproof.

I realise the above is nothing new. I could even say to just bring 2 tees, 1 shorts, 1 trousers, and have everything made of merino wool. but overall, i think it's an ok packing list for an October camino and i hope it helps somebody.
 
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Peacemaker

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Future - planned for late March and April 2022
Good ideas, thanks much. I'm planning for the CF in April, and I imagine the weather will be somewhat similar. May I ask...does Spain require a certain kind of face mask indoors, or will any cloth mask be accepted?
 

Antnix1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
It needs to be a mask with loops round your ears .. material isn't important.

Buffs aren't always accepted, especially if private security is involved . some supermarkets too

Galicia is most strict. In nightclubs you need to wear a mask under your chin
 

mtcab

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2011) Via Podensis (2013) Camino Ingles (2013) Northern Route (Gijon to Ribadeo) 2015
Hi. Greetings from Santiago!

I got a lot of advice from this forum so figured I'd contribute my experiences before I continue my journey to Finnesterre.

I'm from Ireland and just completed my first camino - the Camino Frances solo from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago.

Covid restrictions are all but gone in Spain since July and vary across regions. No QR codes but masks are still obligatory indoors and there can be occupancy restrictions plus the awful requirement to leave the door or window open. The main impact of covid on the camino this year was some albergues did not open at all, and ones that did increased their prices slightly. It caused a few bottlenecks and I can give 3 examples where people who didn't book ended up sleeping outdoors or getting taxis.. mainly due to domestic tourism on public holidays.

I had a very early start on 2nd October 2021. I flew Dublin to Biarritz with Ryanair for €36. My backpack was acceptable as my 10kg carry-on. In advance, I had booked the Express Bourricot shuttle bus for €19. I highly recommend this service as an alternative to public transport.

I also had booked a private room in St Jean for my first night.

I had lunch upon arriving in St Jean but soon afterwards the weather turned dull and then wet and the town was quiet. I got my first stamp in the pilgrim office. Otherwise, the info provided there wasn't useful and the staff only spoke French...an app like Camino Ninja gives advice in a much better way. The office did recommend the alternative route over the mountain route as very bad weather was forecast. But I wasn't having that!

I had booked the albergue in Roncesvalles for the following day and had to re-evaluate my plans as I didn't want to do a long walk in such conditions. I called Roncesvalles to move my reservation to the following night, and called the Orisson albergue to book the night there instead. (The albergue after the orisson wasn't open for some reason)

Turns out the Orisson was an excellent experience and a highlight. And the walk to it was pretty tough, especially in the rain. It had a communal dinner and everyone introduced themselves and their reason for making the journey. I recommend you book it as when i was there a large group took most beds.

Personally I could have done without a day in st jean, and if i did it again I'd arrive in St Jean, get my stamp, buy stuff i may lack.. for me that was a knife for bread and meat, Poles or a stick (i bought a stick sometime later), toiletries, and some snacks to carry. Have a bite to eat in St Jean, explore a little... Then take the plunge and hike to the Orisson for a short but productive first day.

Well, here are my "learnings" and experiences.

1. people you meet on the first day or two will be your camino family.. friends the whole way through. Even when you think you've lost them and they'll pop up again and again.

2. With that in mind, don't be afraid to set off earlier, walk further, walk slower, take rest days. If you're doing the camino there's a chance you weren't happy with your daily routines before, so observe if your new routines are also best for you. Eg the first week for me was to walk with a loose gang of people. We'd keep an eye on the distance to the next town for a coffee break. Then run up a hill and take another break. Then after 20km all decide to stay in the same albergue, checkin, sheets on bed, shower, beer, food, curfew, sleep. Wk 2 i walked alone more but still did the stages in the guidebook. It wasn't til week 3 (maybe the meseta) that i realised it was time to shift gear, lose the crowd, pack my lunches, eat breakfast on top of a hill at sunrise instead of bread and bad coffee in the albergue, and actually slow down and relax without the stimulation of conversations. Late October was great for peace and quiet

3. Do take time to buy food for breakfast, lunch and snacks Remember the siesta too. Either shop before it or after it so you're not without food or supplies.

4. Bring earplugs. If they don't work, i like to pop in an earplug on the pillow side and some white noise through headphones in my other ear. as noisy as albergues can be, pensions and hotels with thin walls can have people chatting til all hours, so albergues with 10pm curfews are sometimes the best option. But other times private rooms in albergues are terrible value, esp when shared bathroom and the room adjoins the dorm room

5. Individual rooms can be a nice treat, but they're pricey. Keep an eye on booking.com for places that offer reduced rates for single occupancy.

6. If you overthink, overdrink, are addicted to your phone, drown out your thoughts with music, check blue ticks on sent messages or views on your insta story... Try to become aware and take steps to address these things. 4 weeks is not a lot of time and it will take some effort.

7. All good things come to an end. I looked forward to Sarria and arrived on 1st November. First thing i noticed is outdoor facilites like picnic benches and water fountains were few and far between.. the Galician weather was fairly kind overall but could be cold, wet and overcast. The larger crowds, often friends walking together, talking loudly, on phones, blocking the path with their poles oblivious to other walkers... To me it had a different vibe to the beginning of my camino, and passing 50 pilgrims only to take a 15 min break and passing them again... i guess it's part of it, and i did chat with some. For the most part though it was the home straight, longer distances, more listening to podcasts, and less "buen caminos". I'm not criticising the individuals doing the last 100km.. it's physical, it's an achievement, but honestly i felt the most special part of my camino was when i could actually not be part of the crowd. So Sarria to santiago, after 650km i sailed up the hills and enjoyed a faster pace. But it wasn't my favourite part of the camino. I am hoping to recapture some of the more loner, i mean solitary experience, and one on ones with other pilgrims, on the way to Finnesterre.

8. Equipment-wise there's an expression: buy cheap, buy twice. I had a cheap backpack and didn't want to buy a new one. I also bought some generic gear from Amazon. You can do it on the cheap if it's a one-off hike, but you'll end up cursing your gear.

Also because of all the facilities on the camino frances you only really need a daypack. During October there's probably little need to even carry 500ml of water at once with an exception of 17km of the meseta.

You'll never be more than a few hours from civilisation and there's no need to carry around dirty clothes, and for the most part no need to pay €8 to use the washer and drier in albergues (most ppl share loads)

So here's my equipment and recommendations.

1. Two pairs of footwear.
I'd recommend waterproof, breathable hiking shoes (not higher boots). i paid €110 and broke them in by wearing them for 3 weeks before setting off. They were a bit heavy and after 400km, during a day of flat, hard terrain i got blisters on my little toes, and later one little toe swole. I walked barefoot on the footpath for 3km the next day til I got better socks and sandals to give my feet a break!
Fact is, runners/trainers are probably better than hiking shoes most of the time, while sandals aren't good in rain or when there's debris that will get trapped in the sandals. Many people I met carried 2 pairs of footwear. Others had very light hiking shoes and just complained when it rained, either due to poor waterproofing or water getting in holes.
So personally i recommend hiking shoes, plus light runners or walking sandals that don't take up much space

2. A backpack. Mine cost €60 and is 35+5 litre. It was fine for a shorter journey but some design issues, requires constant pulling at straps, and weighs 1.5kg.
Doing it again, I'd probably budget €120+. I'd probably go for something smaller and strap the sleeping bag to the bottom, or perhaps go for a backpack where the sleeping bag could be loaded from the bottom - it will help you get packed quickly in the morning.
A raincover is essential. I took a bladder pack for water as my backpack had a compartment. It leaked once as the cap wasn't on correctly. Bar that i found it convenient.

3. Socks. 2 pair. You'll pay around €25 each. I brought cheap socks from amazon and ended up replacing them. I wash my socks every day and find ways to dry them (usually the line, a radiator, once a lamp with an incandescent bulb, other times pinning them to my backpack). As with your shoes, train with your socks too ahead of your journey to avoid blisters.

4. Undies. I brought 4 pairs of cotton boxers that took up space and couldn't be dried. Binned, and replaced with 2 pair of lighter, um less baggy underwear. Again, washing every day.

5. Thermal baselayers - top and bottoms. again, i bought these from amazon and ended up binning them. Too bulky. 2 or 3 consecutive cold night in the albergues prompted me to buy more thermals.... But since then most albergues had blankets or left the heat on overnight.
During the day, being Irish I didnt need them..most days i wore shorts even in zero degrees.

6. A pair of long trousers for the evening..zips in pockets..the ones i had zipped-off into shorts but i never used this feature

7. A pair of shorts with zip pockets. Wore these most of the time when walking.

8. I also had a light, comfy pair of shorts for walking around albergues when weather permitted. A bit more dignified than walking around in underwear

9. 2 or 3 tactical/light T-shirts - not cotton! Make sure at least one is longsleeve which will protect against both the cold and sun.. and one that is a bit more substantial with a collar and is not olive/slate colour that will look good to wear in the evening.

10. A light bum-bag (fanny pack for americans). Don't bother with a large additional day pack.

11. Lightweight, quick-drying towel that fits around your waist.

12. Knife.. i went with a non-locking blade but it's probably too big to take in handluggage. I saw a guy with a rambo knife and question the need for it. I also bought a teaspoon for yoghurts and a 2-step bottle opener. A swiss army knife would also be good instead though harder to open wine bottles
13. A Stick. I went half way without one but found myself hunching so bought a €5 stick and now I'm a convert.
14. Toiletries... For me that's a bar of soap, razor, mid-sized plasters to stick over blisters, moisturizer for my feet, talc for my socks and boots, nail scissors, toothpaste and toothbrush, factor 50 suncream and roll-on deodorant. I also carried hand-wash liquid for laundry but you could make-do with soap.
15. Kleenex, useful when albergue is out of toilet paper.
16. Sunglasses
17. Sleeping bag. I brought a summer one as i only sleep indoors. If you think you like the idea of sleeping outdoors you'll need something heavier.
18. Wallet: Passport card (as passport needs to be shown in every accomodation it's much easier than using the passport book). Credit card. European health insurance card.
19. Phone. Sometimes i wish i hadn't it. Anyway, dual sim so i could buy a local sim for decent 4G. If possible - bring a really good phone. You'll have a decent battery-life,.it can charge your other devices and the photo quality will be much better. I made-do with my budget phone.
20. wireless headphones - also useful when earplugs just can't block snoring
21. Earplugs.
22. Kindle. Ended up barely reading it.
23. Rosary beads
24. Pen and paper.
25. European charger that supports 2 charging cables (don't bother with bulky adaptors). I use a 1m usb-c cable, a 30cm usb-c cable, and a 30cm usb micro cable for my kindle and headphones.
26. A controversial one but a power bank..sure, it's bulky but it can charge your devices without worrying about leaving expensive devices unattended or when you're caught with a low battery.
27. Light raincoat that folds into a small bag .. make sure it's 100% waterproof.
28. A fleece/jacket, light and warm. Between the baselayer, tshirt, jacket and raincoat you'll have enough layers without needing to bring a bulky waterproof/windproof coat.
29. Some people brought waterproof trousers but i did without.
30. Some people brought gloves and honestly, there were days i could have done with gloves! Bring gloves
31. A buff. I had two. A light one i had with me that was great against the sun and cool evenings. And a 2nd warmer one i bought that acted as a scarf or beanie when the weather got cooler. These also double as facemasks although a few places insisted on an actual face mask
32. A cap.
33. A little aluminium cup or small flask that's nicer to drink cold water out of when you stop for a break.. just my preference.. plastic will always be lighter.
34. Safety pins. Double as pegs for laundry
35. A plug. Ideal for 3-star hotels who provide a bathtub but don't want you to use it, or albergues who don't want you doing washing in the sink

The dumbest things i brought: inflatable pillow. It was prominent on packing lists but a waste. First aid kit- binned everything but the plasters. 2m usb charger (cable was very thick).- once i used it as a washing line but ultimately replaced it with a 1m cable that was much tidier. A light jacket that was neither warm nor waterproof.

I realise the above is nothing new. I could even say to just bring 2 tees, 1 shorts, 1 trousers, and have everything made of merino wool. but overall, i think it's an ok packing list for an October camino and i hope it helps somebody.
Excellent list. Great description of your walk. It makes me want to get back out there again!
 

walkingstu

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino SJPP to SDC 2007 Frances
Camino Aragon Pau Fr. to Pamplona 2010
Camino Burgos to SDC 2012
Camino Porto to SDC 2015
Camino VDLP Seville to SDC March 2016
Thank you for sharing, well written.
I would recommend the Via de La Plata/Sanabres routes. If your looking for more solitude and less tourism.
 
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Create your own ad
€1,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Past OR future Camino
Baiona - Santiago - '22; Pamplona - Burgos ('22?)
Great report! Curious, as I'm contemplating Pamplona to Burgos next October - what was that section like for you? Weather/temps/people/accomodations?
 

Gloria Van Natter

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2017
Hi. Greetings from Santiago!

I got a lot of advice from this forum so figured I'd contribute my experiences before I continue my journey to Finnesterre.

I'm from Ireland and just completed my first camino - the Camino Frances solo from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago.

Covid restrictions are all but gone in Spain since July and vary across regions. No QR codes but masks are still obligatory indoors and there can be occupancy restrictions plus the awful requirement to leave the door or window open. The main impact of covid on the camino this year was some albergues did not open at all, and ones that did increased their prices slightly. It caused a few bottlenecks and I can give 3 examples where people who didn't book ended up sleeping outdoors or getting taxis.. mainly due to domestic tourism on public holidays.

I had a very early start on 2nd October 2021. I flew Dublin to Biarritz with Ryanair for €36. My backpack was acceptable as my 10kg carry-on. In advance, I had booked the Express Bourricot shuttle bus for €19. I highly recommend this service as an alternative to public transport.

I also had booked a private room in St Jean for my first night.

I had lunch upon arriving in St Jean but soon afterwards the weather turned dull and then wet and the town was quiet. I got my first stamp in the pilgrim office. Otherwise, the info provided there wasn't useful and the staff only spoke French...an app like Camino Ninja gives advice in a much better way. The office did recommend the alternative route over the mountain route as very bad weather was forecast. But I wasn't having that!

I had booked the albergue in Roncesvalles for the following day and had to re-evaluate my plans as I didn't want to do a long walk in such conditions. I called Roncesvalles to move my reservation to the following night, and called the Orisson albergue to book the night there instead. (The albergue after the orisson wasn't open for some reason)

Turns out the Orisson was an excellent experience and a highlight. And the walk to it was pretty tough, especially in the rain. It had a communal dinner and everyone introduced themselves and their reason for making the journey. I recommend you book it as when i was there a large group took most beds.

Personally I could have done without a day in st jean, and if i did it again I'd arrive in St Jean, get my stamp, buy stuff i may lack.. for me that was a knife for bread and meat, Poles or a stick (i bought a stick sometime later), toiletries, and some snacks to carry. Have a bite to eat in St Jean, explore a little... Then take the plunge and hike to the Orisson for a short but productive first day.

Well, here are my "learnings" and experiences.

1. people you meet on the first day or two will be your camino family.. friends the whole way through. Even when you think you've lost them and they'll pop up again and again.

2. With that in mind, don't be afraid to set off earlier, walk further, walk slower, take rest days. If you're doing the camino there's a chance you weren't happy with your daily routines before, so observe if your new routines are also best for you. Eg the first week for me was to walk with a loose gang of people. We'd keep an eye on the distance to the next town for a coffee break. Then run up a hill and take another break. Then after 20km all decide to stay in the same albergue, checkin, sheets on bed, shower, beer, food, curfew, sleep. Wk 2 i walked alone more but still did the stages in the guidebook. It wasn't til week 3 (maybe the meseta) that i realised it was time to shift gear, lose the crowd, pack my lunches, eat breakfast on top of a hill at sunrise instead of bread and bad coffee in the albergue, and actually slow down and relax without the stimulation of conversations. Late October was great for peace and quiet

3. Do take time to buy food for breakfast, lunch and snacks Remember the siesta too. Either shop before it or after it so you're not without food or supplies.

4. Bring earplugs. If they don't work, i like to pop in an earplug on the pillow side and some white noise through headphones in my other ear. as noisy as albergues can be, pensions and hotels with thin walls can have people chatting til all hours, so albergues with 10pm curfews are sometimes the best option. But other times private rooms in albergues are terrible value, esp when shared bathroom and the room adjoins the dorm room

5. Individual rooms can be a nice treat, but they're pricey. Keep an eye on booking.com for places that offer reduced rates for single occupancy.

6. If you overthink, overdrink, are addicted to your phone, drown out your thoughts with music, check blue ticks on sent messages or views on your insta story... Try to become aware and take steps to address these things. 4 weeks is not a lot of time and it will take some effort.

7. All good things come to an end. I looked forward to Sarria and arrived on 1st November. First thing i noticed is outdoor facilites like picnic benches and water fountains were few and far between.. the Galician weather was fairly kind overall but could be cold, wet and overcast. The larger crowds, often friends walking together, talking loudly, on phones, blocking the path with their poles oblivious to other walkers... To me it had a different vibe to the beginning of my camino, and passing 50 pilgrims only to take a 15 min break and passing them again... i guess it's part of it, and i did chat with some. For the most part though it was the home straight, longer distances, more listening to podcasts, and less "buen caminos". I'm not criticising the individuals doing the last 100km.. it's physical, it's an achievement, but honestly i felt the most special part of my camino was when i could actually not be part of the crowd. So Sarria to santiago, after 650km i sailed up the hills and enjoyed a faster pace. But it wasn't my favourite part of the camino. I am hoping to recapture some of the more loner, i mean solitary experience, and one on ones with other pilgrims, on the way to Finnesterre.

8. Equipment-wise there's an expression: buy cheap, buy twice. I had a cheap backpack and didn't want to buy a new one. I also bought some generic gear from Amazon. You can do it on the cheap if it's a one-off hike, but you'll end up cursing your gear.

Also because of all the facilities on the camino frances you only really need a daypack. During October there's probably little need to even carry 500ml of water at once with an exception of 17km of the meseta.

You'll never be more than a few hours from civilisation and there's no need to carry around dirty clothes, and for the most part no need to pay €8 to use the washer and drier in albergues (most ppl share loads)

So here's my equipment and recommendations.

1. Two pairs of footwear.
I'd recommend waterproof, breathable hiking shoes (not higher boots). i paid €110 and broke them in by wearing them for 3 weeks before setting off. They were a bit heavy and after 400km, during a day of flat, hard terrain i got blisters on my little toes, and later one little toe swole. I walked barefoot on the footpath for 3km the next day til I got better socks and sandals to give my feet a break!
Fact is, runners/trainers are probably better than hiking shoes most of the time, while sandals aren't good in rain or when there's debris that will get trapped in the sandals. Many people I met carried 2 pairs of footwear. Others had very light hiking shoes and just complained when it rained, either due to poor waterproofing or water getting in holes.
So personally i recommend hiking shoes, plus light runners or walking sandals that don't take up much space

2. A backpack. Mine cost €60 and is 35+5 litre. It was fine for a shorter journey but some design issues, requires constant pulling at straps, and weighs 1.5kg.
Doing it again, I'd probably budget €120+. I'd probably go for something smaller and strap the sleeping bag to the bottom, or perhaps go for a backpack where the sleeping bag could be loaded from the bottom - it will help you get packed quickly in the morning.
A raincover is essential. I took a bladder pack for water as my backpack had a compartment. It leaked once as the cap wasn't on correctly. Bar that i found it convenient.

3. Socks. 2 pair. You'll pay around €25 each. I brought cheap socks from amazon and ended up replacing them. I wash my socks every day and find ways to dry them (usually the line, a radiator, once a lamp with an incandescent bulb, other times pinning them to my backpack). As with your shoes, train with your socks too ahead of your journey to avoid blisters.

4. Undies. I brought 4 pairs of cotton boxers that took up space and couldn't be dried. Binned, and replaced with 2 pair of lighter, um less baggy underwear. Again, washing every day.

5. Thermal baselayers - top and bottoms. again, i bought these from amazon and ended up binning them. Too bulky. 2 or 3 consecutive cold night in the albergues prompted me to buy more thermals.... But since then most albergues had blankets or left the heat on overnight.
During the day, being Irish I didnt need them..most days i wore shorts even in zero degrees.

6. A pair of long trousers for the evening..zips in pockets..the ones i had zipped-off into shorts but i never used this feature

7. A pair of shorts with zip pockets. Wore these most of the time when walking.

8. I also had a light, comfy pair of shorts for walking around albergues when weather permitted. A bit more dignified than walking around in underwear

9. 2 or 3 tactical/light T-shirts - not cotton! Make sure at least one is longsleeve which will protect against both the cold and sun.. and one that is a bit more substantial with a collar and is not olive/slate colour that will look good to wear in the evening.

10. A light bum-bag (fanny pack for americans). Don't bother with a large additional day pack.

11. Lightweight, quick-drying towel that fits around your waist.

12. Knife.. i went with a non-locking blade but it's probably too big to take in handluggage. I saw a guy with a rambo knife and question the need for it. I also bought a teaspoon for yoghurts and a 2-step bottle opener. A swiss army knife would also be good instead though harder to open wine bottles
13. A Stick. I went half way without one but found myself hunching so bought a €5 stick and now I'm a convert.
14. Toiletries... For me that's a bar of soap, razor, mid-sized plasters to stick over blisters, moisturizer for my feet, talc for my socks and boots, nail scissors, toothpaste and toothbrush, factor 50 suncream and roll-on deodorant. I also carried hand-wash liquid for laundry but you could make-do with soap.
15. Kleenex, useful when albergue is out of toilet paper.
16. Sunglasses
17. Sleeping bag. I brought a summer one as i only sleep indoors. If you think you like the idea of sleeping outdoors you'll need something heavier.
18. Wallet: Passport card (as passport needs to be shown in every accomodation it's much easier than using the passport book). Credit card. European health insurance card.
19. Phone. Sometimes i wish i hadn't it. Anyway, dual sim so i could buy a local sim for decent 4G. If possible - bring a really good phone. You'll have a decent battery-life,.it can charge your other devices and the photo quality will be much better. I made-do with my budget phone.
20. wireless headphones - also useful when earplugs just can't block snoring
21. Earplugs.
22. Kindle. Ended up barely reading it.
23. Rosary beads
24. Pen and paper.
25. European charger that supports 2 charging cables (don't bother with bulky adaptors). I use a 1m usb-c cable, a 30cm usb-c cable, and a 30cm usb micro cable for my kindle and headphones.
26. A controversial one but a power bank..sure, it's bulky but it can charge your devices without worrying about leaving expensive devices unattended or when you're caught with a low battery.
27. Light raincoat that folds into a small bag .. make sure it's 100% waterproof.
28. A fleece/jacket, light and warm. Between the baselayer, tshirt, jacket and raincoat you'll have enough layers without needing to bring a bulky waterproof/windproof coat.
29. Some people brought waterproof trousers but i did without.
30. Some people brought gloves and honestly, there were days i could have done with gloves! Bring gloves
31. A buff. I had two. A light one i had with me that was great against the sun and cool evenings. And a 2nd warmer one i bought that acted as a scarf or beanie when the weather got cooler. These also double as facemasks although a few places insisted on an actual face mask
32. A cap.
33. A little aluminium cup or small flask that's nicer to drink cold water out of when you stop for a break.. just my preference.. plastic will always be lighter.
34. Safety pins. Double as pegs for laundry
35. A plug. Ideal for 3-star hotels who provide a bathtub but don't want you to use it, or albergues who don't want you doing washing in the sink

The dumbest things i brought: inflatable pillow. It was prominent on packing lists but a waste. First aid kit- binned everything but the plasters. 2m usb charger (cable was very thick).- once i used it as a washing line but ultimately replaced it with a 1m cable that was much tidier. A light jacket that was neither warm nor waterproof.

I realise the above is nothing new. I could even say to just bring 2 tees, 1 shorts, 1 trousers, and have everything made of merino wool. but overall, i think it's an ok packing list for an October camino and i hope it helps somebody.
Wonderful info, everything I need to know, thank you, safe travels
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
Thanks for repaying the pre-walk good advice from this community with a post-walk update! So many folks forget to pay it back. Your report is thorough and very relevant for spring walkers as well as fall.
 
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Antnix1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
Great report! Curious, as I'm contemplating Pamplona to Burgos next October - what was that section like for you? Weather/temps/people/accomodations?
Until Galicia the weather was excellent. It didn't rain and it was sunny most of the day, although could be cloudy or cold in the morning - even zero degrees Celsius.
Many people from warmer climates found it quite cold though.

Accommodation - had no problems until Estella where some albergues were closed and a bike race took up much of the accomodation .. Capuchin albergue was nice and i booked it in advance.

Also a public holiday meant hotel prices were higher than usual in Logroño.
 
Past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
I am not clear about the comment about needing to wear a mask under your chin in nightclubs. As another poster has noted, a mask is useless unless worn properly. So, what was the purpose of wearing one under your chin? it will not affect me. Nightclubs are part of my long gone past! I am just curious.
I echo comments about your extremely well written out account of your camino, and what was useful and what was less so. Thank you for that.
 

Antnix1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
I am not clear about the comment about needing to wear a mask under your chin in nightclubs. As another poster has noted, a mask is useless unless worn properly. So, what was the purpose of wearing one under your chin? it will not affect me. Nightclubs are part of my long gone past! I am just curious.
I echo comments about your extremely well written out account of your camino, and what was useful and what was less so. Thank you for that.
Simply, it was mandatory to wear a mask - and staff enforced it - but it didn't have to be worn correctly. When you're on your feet and sipping a drink, wearing a mask isn't practical.

In most other places such as supermarkets and churches mask rules are taken seriously.
 

Richard Smith

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2016
Kumano Kodo 2014
>> and one that is a bit more substantial with a collar and is not olive/slate colour that will look good to wear in the evening >>
I agree!
Everything I took turned out to be dark green or dark blue or grey or black. While good to hide trail stains and no combination clashes .... after about 4 weeks I really wished I had packed something colourful.
 

emsteele108

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Hi. Greetings from Santiago!

I got a lot of advice from this forum so figured I'd contribute my experiences before I continue my journey to Finnesterre.

I'm from Ireland and just completed my first camino - the Camino Frances solo from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago.

Covid restrictions are all but gone in Spain since July and vary across regions. No QR codes but masks are still obligatory indoors and there can be occupancy restrictions plus the awful requirement to leave the door or window open. The main impact of covid on the camino this year was some albergues did not open at all, and ones that did increased their prices slightly. It caused a few bottlenecks and I can give 3 examples where people who didn't book ended up sleeping outdoors or getting taxis.. mainly due to domestic tourism on public holidays.

I had a very early start on 2nd October 2021. I flew Dublin to Biarritz with Ryanair for €36. My backpack was acceptable as my 10kg carry-on. In advance, I had booked the Express Bourricot shuttle bus for €19. I highly recommend this service as an alternative to public transport.

I also had booked a private room in St Jean for my first night.

I had lunch upon arriving in St Jean but soon afterwards the weather turned dull and then wet and the town was quiet. I got my first stamp in the pilgrim office. Otherwise, the info provided there wasn't useful and the staff only spoke French...an app like Camino Ninja gives advice in a much better way. The office did recommend the alternative route over the mountain route as very bad weather was forecast. But I wasn't having that!

I had booked the albergue in Roncesvalles for the following day and had to re-evaluate my plans as I didn't want to do a long walk in such conditions. I called Roncesvalles to move my reservation to the following night, and called the Orisson albergue to book the night there instead. (The albergue after the orisson wasn't open for some reason)

Turns out the Orisson was an excellent experience and a highlight. And the walk to it was pretty tough, especially in the rain. It had a communal dinner and everyone introduced themselves and their reason for making the journey. I recommend you book it as when i was there a large group took most beds.

Personally I could have done without a day in st jean, and if i did it again I'd arrive in St Jean, get my stamp, buy stuff i may lack.. for me that was a knife for bread and meat, Poles or a stick (i bought a stick sometime later), toiletries, and some snacks to carry. Have a bite to eat in St Jean, explore a little... Then take the plunge and hike to the Orisson for a short but productive first day.

Well, here are my "learnings" and experiences.

1. people you meet on the first day or two will be your camino family.. friends the whole way through. Even when you think you've lost them and they'll pop up again and again.

2. With that in mind, don't be afraid to set off earlier, walk further, walk slower, take rest days. If you're doing the camino there's a chance you weren't happy with your daily routines before, so observe if your new routines are also best for you. Eg the first week for me was to walk with a loose gang of people. We'd keep an eye on the distance to the next town for a coffee break. Then run up a hill and take another break. Then after 20km all decide to stay in the same albergue, checkin, sheets on bed, shower, beer, food, curfew, sleep. Wk 2 i walked alone more but still did the stages in the guidebook. It wasn't til week 3 (maybe the meseta) that i realised it was time to shift gear, lose the crowd, pack my lunches, eat breakfast on top of a hill at sunrise instead of bread and bad coffee in the albergue, and actually slow down and relax without the stimulation of conversations. Late October was great for peace and quiet

3. Do take time to buy food for breakfast, lunch and snacks Remember the siesta too. Either shop before it or after it so you're not without food or supplies.

4. Bring earplugs. If they don't work, i like to pop in an earplug on the pillow side and some white noise through headphones in my other ear. as noisy as albergues can be, pensions and hotels with thin walls can have people chatting til all hours, so albergues with 10pm curfews are sometimes the best option. But other times private rooms in albergues are terrible value, esp when shared bathroom and the room adjoins the dorm room

5. Individual rooms can be a nice treat, but they're pricey. Keep an eye on booking.com for places that offer reduced rates for single occupancy.

6. If you overthink, overdrink, are addicted to your phone, drown out your thoughts with music, check blue ticks on sent messages or views on your insta story... Try to become aware and take steps to address these things. 4 weeks is not a lot of time and it will take some effort.

7. All good things come to an end. I looked forward to Sarria and arrived on 1st November. First thing i noticed is outdoor facilites like picnic benches and water fountains were few and far between.. the Galician weather was fairly kind overall but could be cold, wet and overcast. The larger crowds, often friends walking together, talking loudly, on phones, blocking the path with their poles oblivious to other walkers... To me it had a different vibe to the beginning of my camino, and passing 50 pilgrims only to take a 15 min break and passing them again... i guess it's part of it, and i did chat with some. For the most part though it was the home straight, longer distances, more listening to podcasts, and less "buen caminos". I'm not criticising the individuals doing the last 100km.. it's physical, it's an achievement, but honestly i felt the most special part of my camino was when i could actually not be part of the crowd. So Sarria to santiago, after 650km i sailed up the hills and enjoyed a faster pace. But it wasn't my favourite part of the camino. I am hoping to recapture some of the more loner, i mean solitary experience, and one on ones with other pilgrims, on the way to Finnesterre.

8. Equipment-wise there's an expression: buy cheap, buy twice. I had a cheap backpack and didn't want to buy a new one. I also bought some generic gear from Amazon. You can do it on the cheap if it's a one-off hike, but you'll end up cursing your gear.

Also because of all the facilities on the camino frances you only really need a daypack. During October there's probably little need to even carry 500ml of water at once with an exception of 17km of the meseta.

You'll never be more than a few hours from civilisation and there's no need to carry around dirty clothes, and for the most part no need to pay €8 to use the washer and drier in albergues (most ppl share loads)

So here's my equipment and recommendations.

1. Two pairs of footwear.
I'd recommend waterproof, breathable hiking shoes (not higher boots). i paid €110 and broke them in by wearing them for 3 weeks before setting off. They were a bit heavy and after 400km, during a day of flat, hard terrain i got blisters on my little toes, and later one little toe swole. I walked barefoot on the footpath for 3km the next day til I got better socks and sandals to give my feet a break!
Fact is, runners/trainers are probably better than hiking shoes most of the time, while sandals aren't good in rain or when there's debris that will get trapped in the sandals. Many people I met carried 2 pairs of footwear. Others had very light hiking shoes and just complained when it rained, either due to poor waterproofing or water getting in holes.
So personally i recommend hiking shoes, plus light runners or walking sandals that don't take up much space

2. A backpack. Mine cost €60 and is 35+5 litre. It was fine for a shorter journey but some design issues, requires constant pulling at straps, and weighs 1.5kg.
Doing it again, I'd probably budget €120+. I'd probably go for something smaller and strap the sleeping bag to the bottom, or perhaps go for a backpack where the sleeping bag could be loaded from the bottom - it will help you get packed quickly in the morning.
A raincover is essential. I took a bladder pack for water as my backpack had a compartment. It leaked once as the cap wasn't on correctly. Bar that i found it convenient.

3. Socks. 2 pair. You'll pay around €25 each. I brought cheap socks from amazon and ended up replacing them. I wash my socks every day and find ways to dry them (usually the line, a radiator, once a lamp with an incandescent bulb, other times pinning them to my backpack). As with your shoes, train with your socks too ahead of your journey to avoid blisters.

4. Undies. I brought 4 pairs of cotton boxers that took up space and couldn't be dried. Binned, and replaced with 2 pair of lighter, um less baggy underwear. Again, washing every day.

5. Thermal baselayers - top and bottoms. again, i bought these from amazon and ended up binning them. Too bulky. 2 or 3 consecutive cold night in the albergues prompted me to buy more thermals.... But since then most albergues had blankets or left the heat on overnight.
During the day, being Irish I didnt need them..most days i wore shorts even in zero degrees.

6. A pair of long trousers for the evening..zips in pockets..the ones i had zipped-off into shorts but i never used this feature

7. A pair of shorts with zip pockets. Wore these most of the time when walking.

8. I also had a light, comfy pair of shorts for walking around albergues when weather permitted. A bit more dignified than walking around in underwear

9. 2 or 3 tactical/light T-shirts - not cotton! Make sure at least one is longsleeve which will protect against both the cold and sun.. and one that is a bit more substantial with a collar and is not olive/slate colour that will look good to wear in the evening.

10. A light bum-bag (fanny pack for americans). Don't bother with a large additional day pack.

11. Lightweight, quick-drying towel that fits around your waist.

12. Knife.. i went with a non-locking blade but it's probably too big to take in handluggage. I saw a guy with a rambo knife and question the need for it. I also bought a teaspoon for yoghurts and a 2-step bottle opener. A swiss army knife would also be good instead though harder to open wine bottles
13. A Stick. I went half way without one but found myself hunching so bought a €5 stick and now I'm a convert.
14. Toiletries... For me that's a bar of soap, razor, mid-sized plasters to stick over blisters, moisturizer for my feet, talc for my socks and boots, nail scissors, toothpaste and toothbrush, factor 50 suncream and roll-on deodorant. I also carried hand-wash liquid for laundry but you could make-do with soap.
15. Kleenex, useful when albergue is out of toilet paper.
16. Sunglasses
17. Sleeping bag. I brought a summer one as i only sleep indoors. If you think you like the idea of sleeping outdoors you'll need something heavier.
18. Wallet: Passport card (as passport needs to be shown in every accomodation it's much easier than using the passport book). Credit card. European health insurance card.
19. Phone. Sometimes i wish i hadn't it. Anyway, dual sim so i could buy a local sim for decent 4G. If possible - bring a really good phone. You'll have a decent battery-life,.it can charge your other devices and the photo quality will be much better. I made-do with my budget phone.
20. wireless headphones - also useful when earplugs just can't block snoring
21. Earplugs.
22. Kindle. Ended up barely reading it.
23. Rosary beads
24. Pen and paper.
25. European charger that supports 2 charging cables (don't bother with bulky adaptors). I use a 1m usb-c cable, a 30cm usb-c cable, and a 30cm usb micro cable for my kindle and headphones.
26. A controversial one but a power bank..sure, it's bulky but it can charge your devices without worrying about leaving expensive devices unattended or when you're caught with a low battery.
27. Light raincoat that folds into a small bag .. make sure it's 100% waterproof.
28. A fleece/jacket, light and warm. Between the baselayer, tshirt, jacket and raincoat you'll have enough layers without needing to bring a bulky waterproof/windproof coat.
29. Some people brought waterproof trousers but i did without.
30. Some people brought gloves and honestly, there were days i could have done with gloves! Bring gloves
31. A buff. I had two. A light one i had with me that was great against the sun and cool evenings. And a 2nd warmer one i bought that acted as a scarf or beanie when the weather got cooler. These also double as facemasks although a few places insisted on an actual face mask
32. A cap.
33. A little aluminium cup or small flask that's nicer to drink cold water out of when you stop for a break.. just my preference.. plastic will always be lighter.
34. Safety pins. Double as pegs for laundry
35. A plug. Ideal for 3-star hotels who provide a bathtub but don't want you to use it, or albergues who don't want you doing washing in the sink

The dumbest things i brought: inflatable pillow. It was prominent on packing lists but a waste. First aid kit- binned everything but the plasters. 2m usb charger (cable was very thick).- once i used it as a washing line but ultimately replaced it with a 1m cable that was much tidier. A light jacket that was neither warm nor waterproof.

I realise the above is nothing new. I could even say to just bring 2 tees, 1 shorts, 1 trousers, and have everything made of merino wool. but overall, i think it's an ok packing list for an October camino and i hope it helps somebody.
Very helpful. Thank you so much!!
 
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Antananarivo

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
Personally I could have done without a day in st jean, and if i did it again I'd arrive in St Jean, get my stamp, buy stuff i may lack.. for me that was a knife for bread and meat, Poles or a stick (i bought a stick sometime later), toiletries, and some snacks to carry. Have a bite to eat in St Jean, explore a little... Then take the plunge and hike to the Orisson for a short but productive first day.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I am currently doing my planning for First Camino in September 2022. My flight to Biarritz arrives at 1:40 pm. It's good what you are saying about taking advantage of that first day without sleeping in St Jean. How long did it it take you in the rain from St Jean to Orisson?
and also, where did you get your first stamp?
Thanks.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Past OR future Camino
2019
You can get stamps at dozens of places in SJPdP, at the albergue/bar in Orisson, or at the two restaurants, two hotels, or one albergue in Roncesvalles. Or even get sellos at ALL of them! 😎
 

Antnix1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I am currently doing my planning for First Camino in September 2022. My flight to Biarritz arrives at 1:40 pm. It's good what you are saying about taking advantage of that first day without sleeping in St Jean. How long did it it take you in the rain from St Jean to Orisson?
and also, where did you get your first stamp?
Thanks.
I forgot how long it took but it felt longer as I didn't have a raincoat at the time It's about 7.5km, and a very steep hill. If you're fit 2 hours, if not maybe 3.

First stamp in the pilgrim office in st jean.
Next in the Orisson. Beyond that i mainly got them in places i stayed but you can get a stamp in churches, bars, etc.. anywhere really. Even McDonald's in Santiago has a stamp.
 
Past OR future Camino
2012
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I am currently doing my planning for First Camino in September 2022. My flight to Biarritz arrives at 1:40 pm. It's good what you are saying about taking advantage of that first day without sleeping in St Jean. How long did it it take you in the rain from St Jean to Orisson?
and also, where did you get your first stamp?
Thanks.
@Antananarivo201, welcome to the forum.

You may wish to question an ambition to reach Orisson on your day of arrival. 1:40pm into Biarritz will probably mean 3:40pm into StJpdP though a Taxi or Express Bourricot might get you there faster. A visit to the Bureau des Pèlerins and a little orientation and then sprint up that hill to make the 6:30 dinner service?

St Jean is worth a visit. You'll maybe wonder what you missed as you slither down the hill into Roncesvalles but it will be to late to turn around and find out
 

JimG59

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago de Compostela (2022)
May I also thank you for a great post. It was very informative as I also plan my first Camino Frances in mid-September 22, the year of my retirement. It will certainly be a point of reference as I consider, what to pack, how to travel to STJPP, from Glasgow, when to actually start hiking, booking accommodation or chancing it on arrival etc

May I ask how you can intend to depart Santiago on you return journey home.

Have a great journey out to the coast.
Cheers
 
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Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.
Past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Welcome, Jim. Emdae frae Glesca, welcome! You will receive many hints, and once you find your way around the sections, you will find many more for yourself. Buen camino!
 

Antnix1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
May I also thank you for a great post. It was very informative as I also plan my first Camino Frances in mid-September 22, the year of my retirement. It will certainly be a point of reference as I consider, what to pack, how to travel to STJPP, from Glasgow, when to actually start hiking, booking accommodation or chancing it on arrival etc

May I ask how you can intend to depart Santiago on you return journey home.

Have a great journey out to the coast.
Cheers

I have departed and just arrived back in ireland.

The smooth journey to sjpdp wasnt the same in reverse.

First, I didn't find a direct flight from Santiago to dublin but it may be just the time of the year.

Finnesterre is not optional. I would say it was the true ending. What a beautiful sunset and views.

I walked alone but kept in touch with others and many agreed, our enjoyment went down between sarria and Santiago .. mainly due to crowds/groups. By comparison, ppl who only did Sarria to santiago arrived feeling elated. This was my experience and that of a few others, fair or not.

Today I got the first bus from finnesterre to Santiago at 8.20. in summer i believe there is a direct bus also at this time but this one went the coast and took over 2 hours.

I arrived to the bus terminal and paid €21.(fixed fee) for a taxi. Had i been more social maybe I'd have found someone to split the fare with. I just didnt have time to root with buses or trains and there was only one taxi at the stand by the time i got out and no one else waiting.

Flight to dublin via madrid, followed by a bus... I'll have been travelling 12 hours door-to-door.
All good though! Had a great trip overall.
 

wabana

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
This was a good post... I agree with most of it....so I won't give a lengthy 2c worth. I arrived in SJPP on thursday the 9th around 2:30 on at the bus from Pamplona.... i found SJ touristy and i was alone with a reservation just past Orisson at Borda (fabulous host) I am in good shape but it WAS a wake up call to get all the way to my 1st nite lodging starting out at 4:30 after I got my credential. While i made it before sunset it was a real slog and I pushed it ! So, simply put unless you can start hiking around lunch time to get there... don't. My other points to echo the above.... don't fixate on 'the stages' you have to figure out what distances work for you and your body WILL respond differently during the ensuing weeks forcing you to be flexible to avoid 'injury'. Those that pushed the 30km limits pretty much all told me they were hurting units thereafter... if they told me 'no problema' I perceived that they missed out of a lot of what i experienced by walking 'in a more relaxed manner' (I averaged a little over 20 each day). I agree with 'buy it cheap, you'll buy it twice'. I did buy a poncho as my rain jacket was toooo warm and sweaty. I was blessed with insanely good weather and never used my 60E poncho (good luck charm ?!) that i bought in Leon along with a wool long sleeve top (this was a necessary investment). My rain jacket (Sierra Design) was really handy as a windbreaker AND evening wear on really cool nights! I only wore shorts every day and my legs warmed up within 45' on cool mornings. I only used my Kuhl zip off long pants (never removed the bottoms) once i got to lodging for the evening. 2nd pair of shoes, I brought flip-flops for shower and evening.. because they weighed ounces... I bought good sandals that weight 0.5 kg.... and didn't bring them because of the extra pound - wrong choice... i should have brought them for evening comfort and fashion :) -flip flops - bad idea. Weight... well.. eventually around week 3 my body no longer reminded me i brought too much - I no longer thought about the backpack on my back... so in the end it didn't matter for me how much I brought. Last (obvious) advice... if you don't dial in your shoes and socks BEFORE you go to spain... you WILL regret it big time. I saw a LOT of folks that paid the piper by not doing this along with ample 'walking / training' before flying to Spain. I wore Oboz (not waterproof- don't buy waterproof) shoes that i bought 1/2 size too large - yes, my feet swelled into them within the first 2 hours each day. Darn Tough wool socks (2 pair) - no blisters, nada. Smart Wool socks gave me issues so I didn't walk in them. I never got a chance to try the 2 layer socks that some swore by. I documented my experience at livealagom.life (optimized for phone viewing/ mobile) to inspire others to go....enjoy....for me, like most of you who've completed a Camino, it was a once in a lifetime event that will forever live in my heart ! For those of you on the fence about a Camino.... go ! Plan, (I'm an eagle scout) but don't vapor lock on endless details.... the Camino will provide.... and Buen Camino !
 
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Momwiz

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Portuguese 2019
Hi. Greetings from Santiago!

I got a lot of advice from this forum so figured I'd contribute my experiences before I continue my journey to Finnesterre.

I'm from Ireland and just completed my first camino - the Camino Frances solo from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago.

Covid restrictions are all but gone in Spain since July and vary across regions. No QR codes but masks are still obligatory indoors and there can be occupancy restrictions plus the awful requirement to leave the door or window open. The main impact of covid on the camino this year was some albergues did not open at all, and ones that did increased their prices slightly. It caused a few bottlenecks and I can give 3 examples where people who didn't book ended up sleeping outdoors or getting taxis.. mainly due to domestic tourism on public holidays.

I had a very early start on 2nd October 2021. I flew Dublin to Biarritz with Ryanair for €36. My backpack was acceptable as my 10kg carry-on. In advance, I had booked the Express Bourricot shuttle bus for €19. I highly recommend this service as an alternative to public transport.

I also had booked a private room in St Jean for my first night.

I had lunch upon arriving in St Jean but soon afterwards the weather turned dull and then wet and the town was quiet. I got my first stamp in the pilgrim office. Otherwise, the info provided there wasn't useful and the staff only spoke French...an app like Camino Ninja gives advice in a much better way. The office did recommend the alternative route over the mountain route as very bad weather was forecast. But I wasn't having that!

I had booked the albergue in Roncesvalles for the following day and had to re-evaluate my plans as I didn't want to do a long walk in such conditions. I called Roncesvalles to move my reservation to the following night, and called the Orisson albergue to book the night there instead. (The albergue after the orisson wasn't open for some reason)

Turns out the Orisson was an excellent experience and a highlight. And the walk to it was pretty tough, especially in the rain. It had a communal dinner and everyone introduced themselves and their reason for making the journey. I recommend you book it as when i was there a large group took most beds.

Personally I could have done without a day in st jean, and if i did it again I'd arrive in St Jean, get my stamp, buy stuff i may lack.. for me that was a knife for bread and meat, Poles or a stick (i bought a stick sometime later), toiletries, and some snacks to carry. Have a bite to eat in St Jean, explore a little... Then take the plunge and hike to the Orisson for a short but productive first day.

Well, here are my "learnings" and experiences.

1. people you meet on the first day or two will be your camino family.. friends the whole way through. Even when you think you've lost them and they'll pop up again and again.

2. With that in mind, don't be afraid to set off earlier, walk further, walk slower, take rest days. If you're doing the camino there's a chance you weren't happy with your daily routines before, so observe if your new routines are also best for you. Eg the first week for me was to walk with a loose gang of people. We'd keep an eye on the distance to the next town for a coffee break. Then run up a hill and take another break. Then after 20km all decide to stay in the same albergue, checkin, sheets on bed, shower, beer, food, curfew, sleep. Wk 2 i walked alone more but still did the stages in the guidebook. It wasn't til week 3 (maybe the meseta) that i realised it was time to shift gear, lose the crowd, pack my lunches, eat breakfast on top of a hill at sunrise instead of bread and bad coffee in the albergue, and actually slow down and relax without the stimulation of conversations. Late October was great for peace and quiet

3. Do take time to buy food for breakfast, lunch and snacks Remember the siesta too. Either shop before it or after it so you're not without food or supplies.

4. Bring earplugs. If they don't work, i like to pop in an earplug on the pillow side and some white noise through headphones in my other ear. as noisy as albergues can be, pensions and hotels with thin walls can have people chatting til all hours, so albergues with 10pm curfews are sometimes the best option. But other times private rooms in albergues are terrible value, esp when shared bathroom and the room adjoins the dorm room

5. Individual rooms can be a nice treat, but they're pricey. Keep an eye on booking.com for places that offer reduced rates for single occupancy.

6. If you overthink, overdrink, are addicted to your phone, drown out your thoughts with music, check blue ticks on sent messages or views on your insta story... Try to become aware and take steps to address these things. 4 weeks is not a lot of time and it will take some effort.

7. All good things come to an end. I looked forward to Sarria and arrived on 1st November. First thing i noticed is outdoor facilites like picnic benches and water fountains were few and far between.. the Galician weather was fairly kind overall but could be cold, wet and overcast. The larger crowds, often friends walking together, talking loudly, on phones, blocking the path with their poles oblivious to other walkers... To me it had a different vibe to the beginning of my camino, and passing 50 pilgrims only to take a 15 min break and passing them again... i guess it's part of it, and i did chat with some. For the most part though it was the home straight, longer distances, more listening to podcasts, and less "buen caminos". I'm not criticising the individuals doing the last 100km.. it's physical, it's an achievement, but honestly i felt the most special part of my camino was when i could actually not be part of the crowd. So Sarria to santiago, after 650km i sailed up the hills and enjoyed a faster pace. But it wasn't my favourite part of the camino. I am hoping to recapture some of the more loner, i mean solitary experience, and one on ones with other pilgrims, on the way to Finnesterre.

8. Equipment-wise there's an expression: buy cheap, buy twice. I had a cheap backpack and didn't want to buy a new one. I also bought some generic gear from Amazon. You can do it on the cheap if it's a one-off hike, but you'll end up cursing your gear.

Also because of all the facilities on the camino frances you only really need a daypack. During October there's probably little need to even carry 500ml of water at once with an exception of 17km of the meseta.

You'll never be more than a few hours from civilisation and there's no need to carry around dirty clothes, and for the most part no need to pay €8 to use the washer and drier in albergues (most ppl share loads)

So here's my equipment and recommendations.

1. Two pairs of footwear.
I'd recommend waterproof, breathable hiking shoes (not higher boots). i paid €110 and broke them in by wearing them for 3 weeks before setting off. They were a bit heavy and after 400km, during a day of flat, hard terrain i got blisters on my little toes, and later one little toe swole. I walked barefoot on the footpath for 3km the next day til I got better socks and sandals to give my feet a break!
Fact is, runners/trainers are probably better than hiking shoes most of the time, while sandals aren't good in rain or when there's debris that will get trapped in the sandals. Many people I met carried 2 pairs of footwear. Others had very light hiking shoes and just complained when it rained, either due to poor waterproofing or water getting in holes.
So personally i recommend hiking shoes, plus light runners or walking sandals that don't take up much space

2. A backpack. Mine cost €60 and is 35+5 litre. It was fine for a shorter journey but some design issues, requires constant pulling at straps, and weighs 1.5kg.
Doing it again, I'd probably budget €120+. I'd probably go for something smaller and strap the sleeping bag to the bottom, or perhaps go for a backpack where the sleeping bag could be loaded from the bottom - it will help you get packed quickly in the morning.
A raincover is essential. I took a bladder pack for water as my backpack had a compartment. It leaked once as the cap wasn't on correctly. Bar that i found it convenient.

3. Socks. 2 pair. You'll pay around €25 each. I brought cheap socks from amazon and ended up replacing them. I wash my socks every day and find ways to dry them (usually the line, a radiator, once a lamp with an incandescent bulb, other times pinning them to my backpack). As with your shoes, train with your socks too ahead of your journey to avoid blisters.

4. Undies. I brought 4 pairs of cotton boxers that took up space and couldn't be dried. Binned, and replaced with 2 pair of lighter, um less baggy underwear. Again, washing every day.

5. Thermal baselayers - top and bottoms. again, i bought these from amazon and ended up binning them. Too bulky. 2 or 3 consecutive cold night in the albergues prompted me to buy more thermals.... But since then most albergues had blankets or left the heat on overnight.
During the day, being Irish I didnt need them..most days i wore shorts even in zero degrees.

6. A pair of long trousers for the evening..zips in pockets..the ones i had zipped-off into shorts but i never used this feature

7. A pair of shorts with zip pockets. Wore these most of the time when walking.

8. I also had a light, comfy pair of shorts for walking around albergues when weather permitted. A bit more dignified than walking around in underwear

9. 2 or 3 tactical/light T-shirts - not cotton! Make sure at least one is longsleeve which will protect against both the cold and sun.. and one that is a bit more substantial with a collar and is not olive/slate colour that will look good to wear in the evening.

10. A light bum-bag (fanny pack for americans). Don't bother with a large additional day pack.

11. Lightweight, quick-drying towel that fits around your waist.

12. Knife.. i went with a non-locking blade but it's probably too big to take in handluggage. I saw a guy with a rambo knife and question the need for it. I also bought a teaspoon for yoghurts and a 2-step bottle opener. A swiss army knife would also be good instead though harder to open wine bottles
13. A Stick. I went half way without one but found myself hunching so bought a €5 stick and now I'm a convert.
14. Toiletries... For me that's a bar of soap, razor, mid-sized plasters to stick over blisters, moisturizer for my feet, talc for my socks and boots, nail scissors, toothpaste and toothbrush, factor 50 suncream and roll-on deodorant. I also carried hand-wash liquid for laundry but you could make-do with soap.
15. Kleenex, useful when albergue is out of toilet paper.
16. Sunglasses
17. Sleeping bag. I brought a summer one as i only sleep indoors. If you think you like the idea of sleeping outdoors you'll need something heavier.
18. Wallet: Passport card (as passport needs to be shown in every accomodation it's much easier than using the passport book). Credit card. European health insurance card.
19. Phone. Sometimes i wish i hadn't it. Anyway, dual sim so i could buy a local sim for decent 4G. If possible - bring a really good phone. You'll have a decent battery-life,.it can charge your other devices and the photo quality will be much better. I made-do with my budget phone.
20. wireless headphones - also useful when earplugs just can't block snoring
21. Earplugs.
22. Kindle. Ended up barely reading it.
23. Rosary beads
24. Pen and paper.
25. European charger that supports 2 charging cables (don't bother with bulky adaptors). I use a 1m usb-c cable, a 30cm usb-c cable, and a 30cm usb micro cable for my kindle and headphones.
26. A controversial one but a power bank..sure, it's bulky but it can charge your devices without worrying about leaving expensive devices unattended or when you're caught with a low battery.
27. Light raincoat that folds into a small bag .. make sure it's 100% waterproof.
28. A fleece/jacket, light and warm. Between the baselayer, tshirt, jacket and raincoat you'll have enough layers without needing to bring a bulky waterproof/windproof coat.
29. Some people brought waterproof trousers but i did without.
30. Some people brought gloves and honestly, there were days i could have done with gloves! Bring gloves
31. A buff. I had two. A light one i had with me that was great against the sun and cool evenings. And a 2nd warmer one i bought that acted as a scarf or beanie when the weather got cooler. These also double as facemasks although a few places insisted on an actual face mask
32. A cap.
33. A little aluminium cup or small flask that's nicer to drink cold water out of when you stop for a break.. just my preference.. plastic will always be lighter.
34. Safety pins. Double as pegs for laundry
35. A plug. Ideal for 3-star hotels who provide a bathtub but don't want you to use it, or albergues who don't want you doing washing in the sink

The dumbest things i brought: inflatable pillow. It was prominent on packing lists but a waste. First aid kit- binned everything but the plasters. 2m usb charger (cable was very thick).- once i used it as a washing line but ultimately replaced it with a 1m cable that was much tidier. A light jacket that was neither warm nor waterproof.

I realise the above is nothing new. I could even say to just bring 2 tees, 1 shorts, 1 trousers, and have everything made of merino wool. but overall, i think it's an ok packing list for an October camino and i hope it helps somebody.
I’m beginning to think I’ve walked very different Caminos than others! In 2019 I walked the last 150 K of the Portuguese and in late October of this yearI walked about 120 of the Français from Sarria to Santiago. There were no significant crowds to speak of and everyone was extremely friendly in both cases even though in 2019 we walked in July and August. Maybe I’m just comparing much fewer people throughout the entire Camino that you much more able-bodied people walked but for those out there who can just do the last hundred K or so, please don’t be discouraged. You will meet wonderful people, have a leisurely stroll, you can avoid large groups by ducking into a smaller café or bar along your way, and have an amazing experience! I will be going on 77 next fall when I plan to do another section of the Camino again, probably the last hundred K, of the Via de la Plata or the Ingles and I think that experience will be just as enriching.
 

Antananarivo

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
@Antananarivo201, welcome to the forum.

You may wish to question an ambition to reach Orisson on your day of arrival. 1:40pm into Biarritz will probably mean 3:40pm into StJpdP though a Taxi or Express Bourricot might get you there faster. A visit to the Bureau des Pèlerins and a little orientation and then sprint up that hill to make the 6:30 dinner service?

St Jean is worth a visit. You'll maybe wonder what you missed as you slither down the hill into Roncesvalles but it will be to late to turn around and find out
Muchas gracias!!
 
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