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Novice walker leaving very soon


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I was made redundant very recently and have decided to use the unexpected free time to walk El Camino Frances. I have booked my flights and leave on 8 May planning to start at St Jean Pied de Port. I have left plenty of time and hope to meet up with my wife and son in Santiago de Compostela on 14 June. The problem with such a hasty start is that I have little time to lean Spanish (I have bought a CD course) or to get fit. I am out buying what I think I need (all ultalite where possible). I used to be quite fit (I was a regular runner until a year ago) but have never hiked. I must admit to some nervousness about the trip. Lack of Spanish language, what food to carry, how big a bag to bring, finding the way etc. I plan to go to the Confraternity of St James bookshop in London this Thursday to see if there are people there I can talk with. Also to join if I am able to do so while there. Any advice for a novice will be most welcome (and appreciated).
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Make sure you explore this web site as there are many posts about how to get different things,what to take etc.
Everyone would say-DON'T TAKE MUCH!
I took 6kg, which excluding what I wore was:
rain jacket-didn;t need it
fleece top, 2prs socks,2prs undies,1 pr shorts,2 t shirts, guide book,water bottle,sleeping bag,camera,hat,sunblock,razor,soap,poncho,spare glasses,micro towel.


Hi Lismany.

"...have little time to lean Spanish...Lack of Spanish language..."

Though it certainly helps, I do not believe it is indispensable to be able to speak Spanish to fully experience this spiritual adventure. I'm walking, in a few weeks, in La France, and my knowledge of French is next to nihl. Even more radical, I spent a summer in China a few years ago and not only was I ignorant of the languages, but of the cultures, as well. I got out of "my box" and allowed myself to live it all and have fun. I did. I find that people must everywhere r knowledgeable and understanding of travelers who do not speak their language, and, in many cases, r helpful. (Though in others...well, u don't wanna know). Take it as fun. Have a buen Camino, peregrino, xm 8)


Active Member
My Spanish is very ropey... I have tried and I still try to learn a bit more everyday, although I have a habit of forgetting bits... Must be getting old.

The first time I did it, I was Spanishless. Barely spoke a word, but I did try and I think the trying element is important, rather than just expecting people to understand you. If you get it wrong or don't understand what people are saying to you, make it obvious. But as I say - Try. Locals will almost certainly appreciate the gesture and be considerably more accommodating. :)


I spent a couple of weeks driving through Northern Spain during the Summer of 2005 when I had minimal Spanish (could say 'hello', 'goodbye', 'thank you' and count to 10!)

By the time I left I felt reasonably confident that I could stagger through most everyday situations with the help of a guidebook/phrase book. Everyone was prepared to help out as long as I showed that I was willing to try, and I spent a very happy time being coached in lots of useful phrases. I hope that they'll all come flooding back when I start my own camino.

Good luck!
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Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:

In 2001 I did two, 6 week courses in conversational Spanish at the Adult Ed Unit at our local University. It seemed as though I hadn't absobed more than 'Hola' "Hasta luega" and 'Gracias" but I muddled along in Spain and imporved as the weeks went by.
By 2004 I thought I had lost it all but when we reached Spain and the shopkeeper said: "Diga-me" - I understood!
By 2006, It was all gone - or so I thought.
I enrolled to do a course in Italian and, Hey Presto! all the Spanish came back! My poor senior citizen brain was really befuddled and every time I needed a foreign word - out popped the Spanish!
So, when I walk the camino I'll just have to pretend I'm in Tuscany so that I can communicate with the locals!


Active Member
Most importantly, if you do find yourself in a potentially difficult situation (as I did when I nearly paid a 35€ bill for a load of Dutch cyclists!) never, ever underestimate the power of the index finger!



[wiggle index finger]


[thumbs up]


Works everytime ;)


Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Try to fit in a long walk or two with a loaded pack

Running is not necessarily suitable preparation for long hikes carrying a load. Muscle and tendon loads are different and more variable, and have to be sustained for hours per day. Try to do two long walks on successive days, if possible, to judge your recovery rate.

Hiking down hill under load may show up knee problems that running unoladed on flat terrain will not.

Equally (more?) importantly, a long walk under load will allow you to judge your footwear. This is very important for anyone with no hiking experience. The feet flex and swell quite a bit when hot and under load, so boots need to be large enough to allow for that. It is far from intuitive to novice hikers. I know I took a lot of convincing to buy boots a size too big when I first took up trekking. Even now, with well-worn hiking boots, I found a couple of tender spots on my first long walk (22km) under load for my camino starting on May 18.
Hope this helps
Bob M


I just started walking, at diff rhythms, daily, for approx an hour, am leaving in a month or so for the Caminos. Mix in swimming laps. It has worked for me, before. Granted, it is important and recommended, but do we have to get so technical re: training :?: :lol: Best, xm 8)
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