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Observations after Completing the Camino Frances

GoBosco

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Sept - Oct 2017
Our Camino Experience for Future Pilgrims

My wife and I recently completed the Camino Frances so we wanted to share some general thoughts while they are still fresh for future pilgrims.

Some background, I’m 63 and retired a year ago so we had time to walk the whole thing from St. Jean (left Sept. 7) to Santiago (arrived Oct. 8). We walked for 30 days, averaging about 16 miles a day which was our plan. We took a rest day in both Burgos (day 12) and Leon (day 20) to break things up. That schedule worked perfectly for us.

Preparation: I bought a 32L backpack, my wife a 28L. Both weighed about 13 lbs fully loaded. They were perfect in both size and weight. Most of the time we didn’t even realize we had one on.

We’re city people so we walk a lot and that was good training for the Camino. We did three “practice” walks: 14 miles without a pack, 16 miles with a day pack and 17 miles with our real pack to get a feel for the daily distance and determine our eventual plan of walking 16-17 miles a day. That’s all we did in terms of any training but I did lose some weight in advance which had to help (and we both lost 10+ lbs on the Camino which was an added benefit).

We did map out a schedule of daily distances and pretty much stuck to it on the Camino. In just a few cases, we extended our walks based on albergue preferences. We did book a few of the early albergues in advance and many of the others as we walked. We knew where we were going every day so it just made sense for us to do that. Having said that, many people we met did find an albergue without any reservations.

Hiking Shoes: It’s more of a walk then a hike so my wife had basic Columbia hiking shoes and I had a pair of lightweight hiking/trail runner shoes. I swear my wife was the only person on the Camino with no foot issues, not even a blister. I ended up with two blisters, one a painful one on the heel for a day but other than that, no issues or injuries unlike many of the others, especially early on. Interestingly, it seemed people wearing heavy, waterproof hiking boots had the most foot problems. And it seemed young people experienced more foot and knee injuries than the older folks on the Camino (too many participation trophies maybe?).

Walking Poles: My wife bought a pair in St. Jean but seldom used them. I bought a walking stick and used it primarily for the uphills and downhills and held it the rest of the time which was fine.

Bedbugs: Didn’t see any and didn’t look for any either.

Sleep Sacks: Essential and we treated them with permethrin spray. Didn’t see a need for sleeping bags.

Rain Cover: The weather was great, we had only two days of partial light rain and one day of a more soaking rain. A hooded rain jacket and backpack cover worked nicely for us vs those ankle-length rain ponchos.

Cell Phone Data Plan: This can be expensive so we used WhatsApp for free text, call and face time over Wifi.

Toiletries: restock at supermarkets, not pharmacies which can be very expensive.

Flashlight: Bring one for early morning walks and getting around the albergues at night. Some people actually tried to walk before sunrise without one, not a good idea on wooded trails.

Bikers: Thought they might be but we never had an issue. They let you know when they are passing.

Albergues: Most were good. Never waited to use the showers/bathrooms, the food was fine and outdoor space was nice for relaxing and washing clothes after a day’s walk. My biggest concern coming in was being able to sleep in such an environment and I did struggle but to be expected when you are sharing a room with 10-16 other people. I didn’t find my cheap earplugs very effective. It was the snoring that kept me up but again, not much you can do about it. My wife tells me I snored as well so can’t point any fingers. Generally, people were considerate at sleep time.

Camino Forum: Most of the information is helpful but we found the tendency to recommend expensive items when not necessary in some cases. My wife, for example, found her backpack cover, rain jacket, microfiber towel and sleep sack on Amazon for less than $50 total. And the Camino doesn’t always provide if your fitness level is not up to par. We saw a lot of just do it advice for people who probably are not well suited or ready for such walking. We saw so many people injured after just a few days and clearly couldn’t continue.

Pet Peeves: Very few, we really didn’t have any bad experiences. Why are you walking the Camino question becomes tiresome and reasons are often personal. People who don’t organize their pack the night before can be irritating when they are stumbling around at 5:30 in the morning. Trump questions/comments. Tour groups over the last 100K who are everywhere and seem to be in it for the Compostela vs the experience and in most cases are not even walking all of those last 62 miles.

Finally, we loved our Camino experience. We’re so thankful we got a chance to walk the whole thing without any injuries or health issues. It was an incredible adventure that we’ll remember forever. Every pre-sunrise walk and albergue was different, the scenery was breathtaking in most cases and the medieval towns, churches and cathedrals were amazing. It wasn’t easy some times but it was well worth it and far exceeded our expectations.
 
Last edited:

Latecomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP (Sept 2015)

CF SJPDP-SdC+
(Sept/Oct 2018)
Hi GoBosco, Thanks for your well thought out write-up! Glad that you and your wife had a healthy journey and good weather! I am debating about the CF next April vs September, I think you might have tilted the scales. Latecomer
 

Mark T17

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo 2012
Frances Sept 2017 (bike)
September was great on a bike too, maybe we crossed paths somewhere. I left SJPDP on 16 Sept and finished on 28 Sept.
 

Jomas

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VF many times. Monaco-Lindau '15. Assisi-Pietralcina '17. CF '18.
HI. very nice read the experiences and directions for the way CF. Thank you!
 

Giopomerol

Member
Camino(s) past & future
It's not how many ....but how much you've gained. Future? Life itself is a Camino.
GoBosco, many thanks for taking the time and effort to post your observations and comments. They will be extremely helpful especially to the novice. The majority of us can relate to what you say ( my pet peeve are those rustling bags).

Obviously the more interesting aspects of the Camino are cognitive in nature ......but are harder to express concisely in words. Judging from your general comments the higher order (personal growth) aspects too would have been a wonderful and rewarding experience. Well done and again thanks for your insights. I enjoyed reading.
 

Rj7797

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017
Great post!

"Trump questions/comments." This made me chuckle as I remember the same. I would kindly shake my head and politely decline that conversation because to get away from that stuff was one of the reasons I was on the trip in the first place. I understand though.
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
Thanks @GoBosco for sharing your experience and observations. Great that you both had such a positive experience, with no significant problems or injuries.

I agree 100% with your comment re. young people sometimes experiencing more foot and knee issues than us older folks. I noticed that a lot on the Norte this year - knee braces seemed to be the accessory of choice for many younger pilgrims!
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
Great write up.
With ref to your statement 'Flashlight: Bring one for early morning walks and getting around the albergues at night. Some people actually tried to walk before sunrise without one, not a good idea on wooded trails.’
I would suggest that if you must use a flashlight in the albergue then please get one with a red light so as to disturb others as little as possible. Personally, I would never use artificial light when walking as I prefer to let my eyes adjust to the low light levels - you would be surprised how much more you can see and at least then I can see more than just a circle of light.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
Interestingly, it seemed people wearing heavy, waterproof hiking boots had the most foot problems.
Interestingly, I have worn waterproof hiking boots - not heavy - on 6 Caminos over the last 5 years, I'm 73, and my arthritic feet love those boots! Not one blister or any other foot problems.;)
Like very much your comment re bikers! That has almost always been my experience as well. Delighted that your Caminos were so positive! Will you be back?
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Agreed. I have worn Gortex shoes on most of my Caminos and never had a blister. I think people get blisters and, if they were wearing Gortex, they blame it. I believe some people are simply more prone to get them, and will get them no matter what, and there are those who will never get them even if they break all rules.
 

GoBosco

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Sept - Oct 2017
Interestingly, I have worn waterproof hiking boots - not heavy - on 6 Caminos over the last 5 years, I'm 73, and my arthritic feet love those boots! Not one blister or any other foot problems.;)
Like very much your comment re bikers! That has almost always been my experience as well. Delighted that your Caminos were so positive! Will you be back?

Probably not as the novelty is gone. We'll try something different next, we've been talking about England or Scotland.
 

GloriaAnn

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I plan to walk in September 2018
Our Camino Experience for Future Pilgrims

My wife and I recently completed the Camino Frances so we wanted to share some general thoughts while they are still fresh for future pilgrims.

Some background, I’m 63 and retired a year ago so we had time to walk the whole thing from St. Jean (left Sept. 7) to Santiago (arrived Oct. 8). We walked for 30 days, averaging about 16 miles a day which was our plan. We took a rest day in both Burgos (day 12) and Leon (day 20) to break things up. That schedule worked perfectly for us.

Preparation: I bought a 32L backpack, my wife a 28L. Both weighed about 13 lbs fully loaded. They were perfect in both size and weight. Most of the time we didn’t even realize we had one on.

We’re city people so we walk a lot and that was good training for the Camino. We did three “practice” walks: 14 miles without a pack, 16 miles with a day pack and 17 miles with our real pack to get a feel for the daily distance and determine our eventual plan of walking 16-17 miles a day. That’s all we did in terms of any training but I did lose some weight in advance which had to help (and we both lost 10+ lbs on the Camino which was an added benefit).

We did map out a schedule of daily distances and pretty much stuck to it on the Camino. In just a few cases, we extended our walks based on albergue preferences. We did book a few of the early albergues in advance and many of the others as we walked. We knew where we were going every day so it just made sense for us to do that. Having said that, many people we met did find an albergue without any reservations.

Hiking Shoes: It’s more of a walk then a hike so my wife had basic Columbia hiking shoes and I had a pair of lightweight hiking/trail runner shoes. I swear my wife was the only person on the Camino with no foot issues, not even a blister. I ended up with two blisters, one a painful one on the heel for a day but other than that, no issues or injuries unlike many of the others, especially early on. Interestingly, it seemed people wearing heavy, waterproof hiking boots had the most foot problems. And it seemed young people experienced more foot and knee injuries than the older folks on the Camino (too many participation trophies maybe?).

Walking Poles: My wife bought a pair in St. Jean but seldom used them. I bought a walking stick and used it primarily for the uphills and downhills and held it the rest of the time which was fine.

Bedbugs: Didn’t see any and didn’t look for any either.

Sleep Sacks: Essential and we treated them with permethrin spray. Didn’t see a need for sleeping bags.

Rain Cover: The weather was great, we had only two days of partial light rain and one day of a more soaking rain. A hooded rain jacket and backpack cover worked nicely for us vs those ankle-length rain ponchos.

Cell Phone Data Plan: This can be expensive so we used WhatsApp for free text, call and face time over Wifi.

Toiletries: restock at supermarkets, not pharmacies which can be very expensive.

Flashlight: Bring one for early morning walks and getting around the albergues at night. Some people actually tried to walk before sunrise without one, not a good idea on wooded trails.

Bikers: Thought they might be but we never had an issue. They let you know when they are passing.

Albergues: Most were good. Never waited to use the showers/bathrooms, the food was fine and outdoor space was nice for relaxing and washing clothes after a day’s walk. My biggest concern coming in was being able to sleep in such an environment and I did struggle but to be expected when you are sharing a room with 10-16 other people. I didn’t find my cheap earplugs very effective. It was the snoring that kept me up but again, not much you can do about it. My wife tells me I snored as well so can’t point any fingers. Generally, people were considerate at sleep time.

Camino Forum: Most of the information is helpful but we found the tendency to recommend expensive items when not necessary in some cases. My wife, for example, found her backpack cover, rain jacket, microfiber towel and sleep sack on Amazon for less than $50 total. And the Camino doesn’t always provide if your fitness level is not up to par. We saw a lot of just do it advice for people who probably are not well suited or ready for such walking. We saw so many people injured after just a few days and clearly couldn’t continue.

Pet Peeves: Very few, we really didn’t have any bad experiences. Why are you walking the Camino question becomes tiresome and reasons are often personal. People who don’t organize their pack the night before can be irritating when they are stumbling around at 5:30 in the morning. Trump questions/comments. Tour groups over the last 100K who are everywhere and seem to be in it for the Compostela vs the experience and in most cases are not even walking all of those last 62 miles.

Finally, we loved our Camino experience. We’re so thankful we got a chance to walk the whole thing without any injuries or health issues. It was an incredible adventure that we’ll remember forever. Every pre-sunrise walk and albergue was different, the scenery was breathtaking in most cases and the medieval towns, churches and cathedrals were amazing. It wasn’t easy some times but it was well worth it and far exceeded our expectations.

Congratulations on completing the Camino! Thank you for the concise summary of your trip. I'm planning to walk next September and I'm about the same age as you. I have many doubts about my ability to make the whole walk, but hope that my motivation and preparedness will carry me through. I found your comments to be very helpful. Thank You!!!
 

Art Wenk

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2018
Our Camino Experience for Future Pilgrims

My wife and I recently completed the Camino Frances so we wanted to share some general thoughts while they are still fresh for future pilgrims.

Some background, I’m 63 and retired a year ago so we had time to walk the whole thing from St. Jean (left Sept. 7) to Santiago (arrived Oct. 8). We walked for 30 days, averaging about 16 miles a day which was our plan. We took a rest day in both Burgos (day 12) and Leon (day 20) to break things up. That schedule worked perfectly for us.

Preparation: I bought a 32L backpack, my wife a 28L. Both weighed about 13 lbs fully loaded. They were perfect in both size and weight. Most of the time we didn’t even realize we had one on.

We’re city people so we walk a lot and that was good training for the Camino. We did three “practice” walks: 14 miles without a pack, 16 miles with a day pack and 17 miles with our real pack to get a feel for the daily distance and determine our eventual plan of walking 16-17 miles a day. That’s all we did in terms of any training but I did lose some weight in advance which had to help (and we both lost 10+ lbs on the Camino which was an added benefit).

We did map out a schedule of daily distances and pretty much stuck to it on the Camino. In just a few cases, we extended our walks based on albergue preferences. We did book a few of the early albergues in advance and many of the others as we walked. We knew where we were going every day so it just made sense for us to do that. Having said that, many people we met did find an albergue without any reservations.

Hiking Shoes: It’s more of a walk then a hike so my wife had basic Columbia hiking shoes and I had a pair of lightweight hiking/trail runner shoes. I swear my wife was the only person on the Camino with no foot issues, not even a blister. I ended up with two blisters, one a painful one on the heel for a day but other than that, no issues or injuries unlike many of the others, especially early on. Interestingly, it seemed people wearing heavy, waterproof hiking boots had the most foot problems. And it seemed young people experienced more foot and knee injuries than the older folks on the Camino (too many participation trophies maybe?).

Walking Poles: My wife bought a pair in St. Jean but seldom used them. I bought a walking stick and used it primarily for the uphills and downhills and held it the rest of the time which was fine.

Bedbugs: Didn’t see any and didn’t look for any either.

Sleep Sacks: Essential and we treated them with permethrin spray. Didn’t see a need for sleeping bags.

Rain Cover: The weather was great, we had only two days of partial light rain and one day of a more soaking rain. A hooded rain jacket and backpack cover worked nicely for us vs those ankle-length rain ponchos.

Cell Phone Data Plan: This can be expensive so we used WhatsApp for free text, call and face time over Wifi.

Toiletries: restock at supermarkets, not pharmacies which can be very expensive.

Flashlight: Bring one for early morning walks and getting around the albergues at night. Some people actually tried to walk before sunrise without one, not a good idea on wooded trails.

Bikers: Thought they might be but we never had an issue. They let you know when they are passing.

Albergues: Most were good. Never waited to use the showers/bathrooms, the food was fine and outdoor space was nice for relaxing and washing clothes after a day’s walk. My biggest concern coming in was being able to sleep in such an environment and I did struggle but to be expected when you are sharing a room with 10-16 other people. I didn’t find my cheap earplugs very effective. It was the snoring that kept me up but again, not much you can do about it. My wife tells me I snored as well so can’t point any fingers. Generally, people were considerate at sleep time.

Camino Forum: Most of the information is helpful but we found the tendency to recommend expensive items when not necessary in some cases. My wife, for example, found her backpack cover, rain jacket, microfiber towel and sleep sack on Amazon for less than $50 total. And the Camino doesn’t always provide if your fitness level is not up to par. We saw a lot of just do it advice for people who probably are not well suited or ready for such walking. We saw so many people injured after just a few days and clearly couldn’t continue.

Pet Peeves: Very few, we really didn’t have any bad experiences. Why are you walking the Camino question becomes tiresome and reasons are often personal. People who don’t organize their pack the night before can be irritating when they are stumbling around at 5:30 in the morning. Trump questions/comments. Tour groups over the last 100K who are everywhere and seem to be in it for the Compostela vs the experience and in most cases are not even walking all of those last 62 miles.

Finally, we loved our Camino experience. We’re so thankful we got a chance to walk the whole thing without any injuries or health issues. It was an incredible adventure that we’ll remember forever. Every pre-sunrise walk and albergue was different, the scenery was breathtaking in most cases and the medieval towns, churches and cathedrals were amazing. It wasn’t easy some times but it was well worth it and far exceeded our expectations.
 

Art Wenk

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2018
Thanks a lot for your observations. I'm curious about the rest days in Burgos and Leon: I thought that auberge's allowed you to stay for only one night. Did that mean moving to a different auberge in the same town, or how did you manage it.
 

GoBosco

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Sept - Oct 2017
Thanks a lot for your observations. I'm curious about the rest days in Burgos and Leon: I thought that auberge's allowed you to stay for only one night. Did that mean moving to a different auberge in the same town, or how did you manage it.
We made it a real rest day by staying in a hotel in those two cities. It was a good move.
 

makingtrax

Member
Camino(s) past & future
El norte2010
Portuguese 2014
Primativo 2016
Frances sept 2017!
I finished The Frances Way last Tuesday in 30 days due to fact I had to rush back to london to babysit grandkids! I averaged similar mileage to Go Bosco Every night I massaged my feet with Vicks Vapor rub. The went straight to sleep. I walked the whole 800kms with no blisters just obviously tired feet. I had read this tip online couple if weeks before setting out and as I had new shoes thought I'd give it ago. I woukd recommend this to anyone attempting a long hike.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Thanks a lot for your observations. I'm curious about the rest days in Burgos and Leon: I thought that auberge's allowed you to stay for only one night. Did that mean moving to a different auberge in the same town, or how did you manage it.
That's what I had heard before I left. When I was actually on the Camino, I heard that many albergues will let you stay an extra night for a rest day without issue. Maybe it is a difference between private albergues and municipal/parochial ones. Maybe just practices have changed. We never put it to the test. On the two occasions we stopped for a rest day, we spent the second night in a hotel (with air conditioning!). If we were taking a rest day we wanted to really rest.
 

long trails

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2012
Mobile phone plans in Spain are very cheap and it's easy to purchase a sim card in Spain as most shops have at least one English speaker. It's a much better option that relying on Albergue's wifi which can be very patchy in the municipals.

Guess some folk prefer to organise their packs in the morning. Cannot see this being an issue if you had earplugs? Staying in private rooms is very cheap if you are a couple particularly from the US.
,
 

GoBosco

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Sept - Oct 2017
Mobile phone plans in Spain are very cheap and it's easy to purchase a sim card in Spain as most shops have at least one English speaker. It's a much better option that relying on Albergue's wifi which can be very patchy in the municipals.

Guess some folk prefer to organise their packs in the morning. Cannot see this being an issue if you had earplugs? Staying in private rooms is very cheap if you are a couple particularly from the US.
,

Thanks for your comments but no issues w/Wi-Fi, common sense says try to keep early morning noise to a minimum out of courtesy to fellow pilgrims in the room and didn't know private rooms were cheaper for U.S. residents. Besides, the multi-bed rooms are a big part of the Camino experience, makes for better stories afterward. Buen Camino.
 

SFAnnie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(April 2018)
Our Camino Experience for Future Pilgrims

My wife and I recently completed the Camino Frances so we wanted to share some general thoughts while they are still fresh for future pilgrims.

Some background, I’m 63 and retired a year ago so we had time to walk the whole thing from St. Jean (left Sept. 7) to Santiago (arrived Oct. 8). We walked for 30 days, averaging about 16 miles a day which was our plan. We took a rest day in both Burgos (day 12) and Leon (day 20) to break things up. That schedule worked perfectly for us.

Preparation: I bought a 32L backpack, my wife a 28L. Both weighed about 13 lbs fully loaded. They were perfect in both size and weight. Most of the time we didn’t even realize we had one on.

We’re city people so we walk a lot and that was good training for the Camino. We did three “practice” walks: 14 miles without a pack, 16 miles with a day pack and 17 miles with our real pack to get a feel for the daily distance and determine our eventual plan of walking 16-17 miles a day. That’s all we did in terms of any training but I did lose some weight in advance which had to help (and we both lost 10+ lbs on the Camino which was an added benefit).

We did map out a schedule of daily distances and pretty much stuck to it on the Camino. In just a few cases, we extended our walks based on albergue preferences. We did book a few of the early albergues in advance and many of the others as we walked. We knew where we were going every day so it just made sense for us to do that. Having said that, many people we met did find an albergue without any reservations.

Hiking Shoes: It’s more of a walk then a hike so my wife had basic Columbia hiking shoes and I had a pair of lightweight hiking/trail runner shoes. I swear my wife was the only person on the Camino with no foot issues, not even a blister. I ended up with two blisters, one a painful one on the heel for a day but other than that, no issues or injuries unlike many of the others, especially early on. Interestingly, it seemed people wearing heavy, waterproof hiking boots had the most foot problems. And it seemed young people experienced more foot and knee injuries than the older folks on the Camino (too many participation trophies maybe?).

Walking Poles: My wife bought a pair in St. Jean but seldom used them. I bought a walking stick and used it primarily for the uphills and downhills and held it the rest of the time which was fine.

Bedbugs: Didn’t see any and didn’t look for any either.

Sleep Sacks: Essential and we treated them with permethrin spray. Didn’t see a need for sleeping bags.

Rain Cover: The weather was great, we had only two days of partial light rain and one day of a more soaking rain. A hooded rain jacket and backpack cover worked nicely for us vs those ankle-length rain ponchos.

Cell Phone Data Plan: This can be expensive so we used WhatsApp for free text, call and face time over Wifi.

Toiletries: restock at supermarkets, not pharmacies which can be very expensive.

Flashlight: Bring one for early morning walks and getting around the albergues at night. Some people actually tried to walk before sunrise without one, not a good idea on wooded trails.

Bikers: Thought they might be but we never had an issue. They let you know when they are passing.

Albergues: Most were good. Never waited to use the showers/bathrooms, the food was fine and outdoor space was nice for relaxing and washing clothes after a day’s walk. My biggest concern coming in was being able to sleep in such an environment and I did struggle but to be expected when you are sharing a room with 10-16 other people. I didn’t find my cheap earplugs very effective. It was the snoring that kept me up but again, not much you can do about it. My wife tells me I snored as well so can’t point any fingers. Generally, people were considerate at sleep time.

Camino Forum: Most of the information is helpful but we found the tendency to recommend expensive items when not necessary in some cases. My wife, for example, found her backpack cover, rain jacket, microfiber towel and sleep sack on Amazon for less than $50 total. And the Camino doesn’t always provide if your fitness level is not up to par. We saw a lot of just do it advice for people who probably are not well suited or ready for such walking. We saw so many people injured after just a few days and clearly couldn’t continue.

Pet Peeves: Very few, we really didn’t have any bad experiences. Why are you walking the Camino question becomes tiresome and reasons are often personal. People who don’t organize their pack the night before can be irritating when they are stumbling around at 5:30 in the morning. Trump questions/comments. Tour groups over the last 100K who are everywhere and seem to be in it for the Compostela vs the experience and in most cases are not even walking all of those last 62 miles.

Finally, we loved our Camino experience. We’re so thankful we got a chance to walk the whole thing without any injuries or health issues. It was an incredible adventure that we’ll remember forever. Every pre-sunrise walk and albergue was different, the scenery was breathtaking in most cases and the medieval towns, churches and cathedrals were amazing. It wasn’t easy some times but it was well worth it and far exceeded our expectations.


We are also your age, recently retired, and training for April 2018 departure. We train the same way, which I think will be adequate. I’m so happy to hear your experience, as I feel it will mimic ours. We are really starting to get excited.

Thanks for the info, and glad your adventure went so well.

Cheers,

Anita
 
Camino(s) past & future
First Camino francais Sept/Oct (2016)
Second Camino Niort Sept/Oct (2018)
VdlP Sept/Oct (2020)
Great account, clear concise and to the point. I did my first Camino 2016 at the age of 71 and completed St Jean to Santiago in 28 days. My preparation was similar. I went out with an open mind not looking for anything and not expecting to find anything. My level of health and fitness before starting out was considered good but unlike your wife, I did pick up blisters due entirely to complacency on my part

The whole experience was well worth the effort, walked every inch of the way, carried my backpack every inch of the way and stayed in municipal albergues to keep things as simple as possible.

I will be returning in September 2018 to complete Del Niorte Irun to Santiago. The trick is always in preparation, preparation and preparation. To all new comers, read "Gobosco".

Peter
 

sojourners

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
And the Camino doesn’t always provide if your fitness level is not up to par. We saw a lot of just do it advice for people who probably are not well suited or ready for such walking. We saw so many people injured after just a few days and clearly couldn’t continue.

Truth. The advice to 'just do it' with no prep or training might be fine for regular walkers/runners. It is terrible advice for the sedentary. I saw many, many injuries due to lack of pre-trip raining that could have been avoided by a modest walking program before departure.
 

Rj7797

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017
I don't know if any others who have completed a camino saw this but I saw multiple people get terrible blisters because they didnt properly break their boots/shoes in before arriving. Just another item under preparation. Practice in what you'll actually walk in!
 

sojourners

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
I don't know if any others who have completed a camino saw this but I saw multiple people get terrible blisters because they didnt properly break their boots/shoes in before arriving. Just another item under preparation. Practice in what you'll actually walk in!

Excellent advice.

Over decades of of leading hikes in rough country, which the Camino is not, and on extended backpacking trips, often leading inexperienced people, I've found that heavy hiking boots create problems: blisters, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendon inflammation, etc. and that simple running shoes cause fewer problems.

I've counseled many of my students to transition from stiff, heavy, boots to simple, lightweight, shoes. None have ever gone back to boots.

That said, doing a good deal of walking in whatever shoes you will actually be wearing on the Camino should be considered a pre-trip requirement.
 

Older Guy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
Our Camino Experience for Future Pilgrims

My wife and I recently completed the Camino Frances so we wanted to share some general thoughts while they are still fresh for future pilgrims.

.....We took a rest day in both Burgos (day 12) and Leon (day 20) to break things up. That schedule worked perfectly for us.

Toiletries: restock at supermarkets, not pharmacies which can be very expensive.

Flashlight: Bring one for early morning walks and getting around the albergues at night. Some people actually tried to walk before sunrise without one, not a good idea on wooded trails.

Bikers: Thought they might be but we never had an issue. They let you know when they are passing.

Camino Forum: ........ And the Camino doesn’t always provide if your fitness level is not up to par. We saw a lot of just do it advice for people who probably are not well suited or ready for such walking. We saw so many people injured after just a few days and clearly couldn’t continue.

.....Pet Peeves: .....Tour groups over the last 100K who are everywhere and seem to be in it for the Compostela vs the experience and in most cases are not even walking all of those last 62 miles.

Finally, we loved our Camino experience. We’re so thankful we got a chance to walk the whole thing without any injuries or health issues. It was an incredible adventure that we’ll remember forever. Every pre-sunrise walk and albergue was different, the scenery was breathtaking in most cases and the medieval towns, churches and cathedrals were amazing. It wasn’t easy some times but it was well worth it and far exceeded our expectations.

Great summary. thank you for sharing your insights. I loved resting in Burgos and Leon. The cathedrals were great.

I agree that stuff at pharmacies were expensive, but very, very high quality. I wish I would have bought more lip balm to take home with me.

As to the flash light, I took a really tiny LED light and it was more than adequate. As to traveling prior to first light, not sure that is a great idea if you have to go on any roads.

As a bicyclist, I appreciated your comments and I tried to always yield to hikers.

And now one of the things I really wanted to comment on. I did a bike CF Camino starting in Pamplona. The number of sick and injured people I saw in Pamplona, Estella, and Logrono shocked me. I attribute it to several things. First, not taking the time to get over jet-lag prior to starting a strenuous exercise program (hiking the Camino). Second, not realizing that lots of exercise can be stressful if you don't eat well, stay hydrated and get enough sleep. Unfortunately, your immune system tanks and it is easier to catch a cold or your muscles get tight and you don't stretch and ultimately pull something. Third observation, group sleeping and eating arrangements always mean you really need to constantly wash your hands if you want to make sure you stay healthy. I heard lots of people coughing in the night and coughing on the trail in the early parts of the CF.

My pet peeves are similar to you. I was floored to see the tour buses drive up to a nice park, and hand out water bottles to people as they got off the bus with a day pack and proceed to the Camino trail. I was also horrified to see a tour bus set up around lunch time for its passengers to have picnic lunches by the side of the trail.

Yes, I can understand why someone might want to do that to say they have done the Camino, but it was still horrifying to see. On the other hand, I saw a church congregation carrying a cross on one segment of the Camino. While they blocked the entire trail, I dismounted and walked behind them in their procession and listened to their singing. That was inspirational.

Congratulations on your Camino. I hope you and your wife have many more great such experiences.
 

John McEvoy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
I did the Camino for the first time this year in August and I had an amazing experience including the challenges. The country was beautiful , the peregrinos that I met were great , some weird but nice. I did NOT find the Spanish people very nice towards pilgrims though, that was very disappointing, even in the small towns that exist because of the Camino.
'
Before people go crazy , I did find some Spanish people (mainly in the countryside ) nice but in general my experience was that they were ticked off every day about everything.

The one advice that I would give someone is that when planning your day during the Camino , you need to be aware that when approaching a large city (Pamplona, Burgos, Leon , Santiago) plan on when entering the city to LOCATE a bus terminal or train station, so that you can get a taxi to take to your albergue, hotel ,etc.. If not once you enter the large city you still have an hour to an hour and a half to get to (find) your hotel. You are tired at the end of the day when you enter the large city , so this is when the Camino can start breaking down. Finding a taxi is just wonderful and refreshing.

Plus, look at your guide book and see where the albergue , hotel, B & B , etc is located. If your accommodation is located at the beginning of the city, when you start the next morning you will have an hour to an hour and a half walk before you LEAVE the city and that can be demoralizing

BUEN CAMINO
 

Older Guy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
For me I traveled with both a dedicated Garmin GPS and a cell phone gps mapping application. To find the albergue, hotel, or B&S in large cities, I would enter the address and then let the electronics guide me to my final location.

However, if you don't have a GPS, then the advice of taking a taxi is sound as some of the cities, with pre-Nepoleonic non-grid winding roads and dead ends were pretty impossible to figure out.

I also found navigating within large cities by the "shells/arrows" to be difficult because of all of the advertising that was competing for my visual attention.
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
John, congratulations on your completion. Sorry about some 'not so good' experiences. Chances are that many locals, and sometimes Hospitaleros, are beginning to burn out. But given the current flooding of walkers on the Camino, I think there's room for some understanding. I saw enough bad behaviour myself, mostly from pilgrims, but I also experienced kindness, care and concern from both locals and at the Albergues. There is also the issue of Spain's current tension around a subject that is obvious and needs no comment. The Camino is gaining in such numbers as to become what I fear, could become unsustainable. When I returned from my life-changing journey in 2015, I looked back and could see the commercial writing on the wall and ever since, have felt so grateful for walking when I did. 'Tis true there are many other routes to consider. Again, "Well done."
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I don't know if any others who have completed a camino saw this but I saw multiple people get terrible blisters because they didnt properly break their boots/shoes in before arriving. Just another item under preparation. Practice in what you'll actually walk in!
I found that trail running shoes didn't require a break in period. I wore a brand new pair of the same style that I trained in, and had no blisters.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I did the Camino for the first time this year in August and I had an amazing experience including the challenges. The country was beautiful , the peregrinos that I met were great , some weird but nice. I did NOT find the Spanish people very nice towards pilgrims though, that was very disappointing, even in the small towns that exist because of the Camino.
'
Before people go crazy , I did find some Spanish people (mainly in the countryside ) nice but in general my experience was that they were ticked off every day about everything.

The one advice that I would give someone is that when planning your day during the Camino , you need to be aware that when approaching a large city (Pamplona, Burgos, Leon , Santiago) plan on when entering the city to LOCATE a bus terminal or train station, so that you can get a taxi to take to your albergue, hotel ,etc.. If not once you enter the large city you still have an hour to an hour and a half to get to (find) your hotel. You are tired at the end of the day when you enter the large city , so this is when the Camino can start breaking down. Finding a taxi is just wonderful and refreshing.

Plus, look at your guide book and see where the albergue , hotel, B & B , etc is located. If your accommodation is located at the beginning of the city, when you start the next morning you will have an hour to an hour and a half walk before you LEAVE the city and that can be demoralizing

BUEN CAMINO

I never found any of the Spaniards that I interacted with particularly rude, and I never had to use a taxi to find my accommodation. However, I do have a cell phone with T-Mobile data service that allows me to use Google Maps, so it's usually pretty easy to find my place. Also never minded the walk into or out of a city. I think that comes down to expectations.
 

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