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Notes to self after my Camino

2020 Camino Guides

Jakke

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2016), Via de la Plata / Sanabrés, Barcelona - Santiago, la Lana - 2019
Background: I walked the Camino Portugues in September/October of 2016. It was dry all the way.
In Pedron the doctor stopped me ("Please, do come back next year -- with better shoes!"). So I bought new shoes and broke them in by going by train to Coimbra and seeing that city. No success. So next I bought new sandals and went by train to Porto and I broke in the sandals there. That worked. I then walked the 260 km to Santiago on the sandals only. The old shoes were perfect in Lapland, but not under the hot Portuguese sun. I threw them away. The new shoes I carried in my pack back to Finland.

Practical notes: These are my notes in preparation for next year. I hope they are useful for somebody else as well:

Sandals were best: very hard/thick sole and adjustable in every way. Never mind the trade mark (Teva is good, though). Problems only on the first day, when the front strap chafed my toe. No problems with pebbles: I stopped only 10 times during 260 km. Shoes and sandals were not cheap in Portugal compared to Finland. Neither was second skin if you buy Compeed. Urgo is the cheaper alternative in Portugal. The Urgo spray is handy, but the protection provided is minimal. Too often a new blister developed right besides the Compeed second skin. Maybe the spray is a solution to that.

Next time stop immediately when you notice problems with the shoes/sandals/feet. Four big blisters on the first day were a guarantee for problems later on.

The new albergue in Alpriate was the best. Reason: the person of the hospitaliero, a nice dinner together in the nearby café, good advice from the hospitaliero. Also Barcelos was good. Nice showers, not too many people. I prefer smaller places with good social contact. So calling ahead to make sure I had a place in a smaller albergue was good.

The new path along the railroad (forcing your way past big gates) to Azambuja is long, boring and the big pebbles kill your feet. It is probably better not to take that path and go for the old one. Nice: enormous flocks of birds will fly from the trees along the path when you clap your hands.

My rain gear was superfluous, but good “insurance”. I 'forgot' my trousers somewhere.

Also superfluous: the thin reserve poncho, the aluminum sheet, much of the medicine, the plug, most of the plastic spoons and knives.

The extra waterproof bags in case of rain I did not need and they caused problems (noise) in the mornings. Next time get some only when there actually is rain in the offing.

The guide: I could have done it without, but it is nice to have along. Next time just the maps and prepare an abbreviation of the Camino at home.

Start using the mobile phone’s apps. Walk.me would have been nice to get a record of the paths taken. I was too lazy this time.

Three sets of clothes that can be layered was a working solution. The technical shirts were great.

Trekking poles are great on hills, otherwise it is nice to have your hands free.

Unsolved problem: water bottle and other stuff necessary during the walk, especially when big bottles were necessary. I tied a plastic bag to the strap across my chest. Not a perfect solution! However, some space in front of you is needed. Look for a better solution and at least change the plastic to textile. Maybe one bag for the bottle and another for Brierley, papers, snacks, etc.

No problems with my stomach at all. Portuguese and Spanish food agrees with Finnish stomachs.

Needed medicine:
– pain killers, personal medicine, second skin, cleaning pads, needle, small scissors, antihistamine. Medical care along the Camino is good. Also dental care – cheap!

Needed additives:
– bananas in the morning, magnesium pills.

No problems sleeping. Next time I can leave the ear plugs etc.

Pack: the Portuguese pack was very good. Right size (65 l, 8 kg total). The poles do not fit into the pack, but I had no problems with the flight when I strapped everything down.

Walking: leaving 30 min before sunrise was a good idea. Go 2 hrs, then breakfast. Then slower pace with someone/group.

Next time visit the Dutch Huiskamer in Santiago.

Next time make sure the diabetes tester stays in the pack. I lost it because it was in a plastic bag with some food. I did not really need it, but it might be a bad idea to leave it home.

The most difficult part: immediately after Mos. Not because of the steep hill, but because you absolutely need a very good lamp if you start early. Lots of crossings and possibilities to go wrong. I can imagine that the gravel path up the hill can be slippery and difficult if the path is wet. I had no problems.

This worked: I walked to near the Porto airport without my pack and returned to the albergue on bus 602. The day after that I took the same bus to the airport with my pack and continued from there.

I liked my solution of preferring to take paths through the fields where the Camino takes you onto asphalt. However: the farmer slowing right down and looking strangely at me probably means not all farmers will like this (even though I did not go off the path).

Bom caminho!
 
Last edited:

Lolaisqueen

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances "2016"
Background: I walked the Camino Portugues in September/October of 1916. It was dry all the way.
In Padron the doctor stopped me ("Please, do come back next year -- with better shoes!"). So I bought new shoes and broke them in by going by train to Coimbra and seeing that city. No success. So next I bought new sandals and went by train to Porto and I broke in the sandals there. That worked. I then walked the 260 km to Santiago on the sandals only. The old shoes were perfect in Lapland, but not under the hot Portuguese sun. I threw them away. The new shoes I carried in my pack back to Finland.

Practical notes: These are my notes in preparation for next year. I hope they are useful for somebody else as well:

Sandals were best: very hard/thick sole and adjustable in every way. Never mind the trade mark (Teva is good, though). Problems only on the first day, when the front strap chafed my toe. No problems with pebbles: I stopped only 10 times during 260 km. Shoes and sandals were not cheap in Portugal compared to Finland. Neither was second skin if you buy Compeed. Urgo is the cheaper alternative in Portugal. The Urgo spray is handy, but the protection provided is minimal. Too often a new blister developed right besides the Compeed second skin. Maybe the spray is a solution to that.

Next time stop immediately when you notice problems with the shoes/sandals/feet. Four big blisters on the first day were a guarantee for problems later on.

The new albergue in Alpriate was the best. Reason: the person of the hospitaliero, a nice dinner together in the nearby café, good advice from the hospitaliero. Also Barcelos was good. Nice showers, not too many people. I prefer smaller places with good social contact. So calling ahead to make sure I had a place in a smaller albergue was good.

The new path along the railroad (forcing your way past big gates) to Azambuja is long, boring and the big pebbles kill your feet. It is probably better not to take that path and go for the old one. Nice: enormous flocks of birds will fly from the trees along the path when you clap your hands.

My rain gear was superfluous, but good “insurance”. I 'forgot' my trousers somewhere.

Also superfluous: the thin reserve poncho, the aluminum sheet, much of the medicine, the plug, most of the plastic spoons and knives.

The extra waterproof bags in case of rain I did not need and they caused problems (noise) in the mornings. Next time get some only when there actually is rain in the offing.

The guide: I could have done it without, but it is nice to have along. Next time just the maps and prepare an abbreviation of the Camino at home.

Start using the mobile phone’s apps. Walk.me would have been nice to get a record of the paths taken. I was too lazy this time.

Three sets of clothes that can be layered was a working solution. The technical shirts were great.

Trekking poles are great on hills, otherwise it is nice to have your hands free.

Unsolved problem: water bottle and other stuff necessary during the walk, especially when big bottles were necessary. I tied a plastic bag to the strap across my chest. Not a perfect solution! However, some space in front of you is needed. Look for a better solution and at least change the plastic to textile. Maybe one bag for the bottle and another for Brierley, papers, snacks, etc.

No problems with my stomach at all. Portuguese and Spanish food agrees with Finnish stomachs.

Needed medicine:
– pain killers, personal medicine, second skin, cleaning pads, needle, small scissors, antihistamine. Medical care along the Camino is good. Also dental care – cheap!

Needed additives:
– bananas in the morning, magnesium pills.

No problems sleeping. Next time I can leave the ear plugs etc.

Pack: the Portuguese pack was very good. Right size (65 l, 8 kg total). The poles do not fit into the pack, but I had no problems with the flight when I strapped everything down.

Walking: leaving 30 min before sunrise was a good idea. Go 2 hrs, then breakfast. Then slower pace with someone/group.

Next time visit the Dutch Huiskamer in Santiago.

Next time make sure the diabetes tester stays in the pack. I lost it because it was in a plastic bag with some food. I did not really need it, but it might be a bad idea to leave it home.

The most difficult part: immediately after Mos. Not because of the steep hill, but because you absolutely need a very good lamp if you start early. Lots of crossings and possibilities to go wrong. I can imagine that the gravel path up the hill can be slippery and difficult if the path is wet. I had no problems.

This worked: I walked to near the Porto airport without my pack and returned to the albergue on bus 602. The day after that I took the same bus to the airport with my pack and continued from there.

I liked my solution of preferring to take paths through the fields where the Camino takes you onto asphalt. However: the farmer slowing right down and looking strangely at me probably means not all farmers will like this (even though I did not go off the path).

Bom caminho!
You look lovely and fresh for a man that walked Camino 100 years ago ;-) lol
 

Jakke

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2016), Via de la Plata / Sanabrés, Barcelona - Santiago, la Lana - 2019
Another correction: the doctor stopped me in Tomar, not Padron. In Padron I had two portions of the Padron Peppers without finding a single hot one.... Spanish roulette with peppers ;)
 

Michael Caleigh

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo September 2016
Thanks for sharing this as this is very helpful.

Buen camino in life.

Michael
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
Re your water bottle problem: Do you knit? Do you know someone who would knit for you? This water bottle holder is absolutely wonderful.
 

Jakke

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2016), Via de la Plata / Sanabrés, Barcelona - Santiago, la Lana - 2019
Re your water bottle problem: Do you knit? Do you know someone who would knit for you? This water bottle holder is absolutely wonderful.
Knitting is not a skil I have ever attempted at mastering :(. Looks nice. Thanks! I got a net-bag that looks a bit like that (only green/white). Good for the bottle. Then I got a textile bag for papers etc.
 

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