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Phones in Spain

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
Le Puy to Moissac (2013)
Camino Portugues (Sept 2014)
Camino del Norte/Irun to Luarca (April 2015)
Camino Inglés/Camino Finisterra/Muxia (Oct 2015)
Moissac to St. Jean (2016)
#1
My girlfriend and I are planning to do the Camino in April and are thinking that at some point we may spend time walking alone. What I would like to know is if anyone knows if we can rent phones so we can call each other while in Spain. We won't need the phone to call home(U.S.), or any place outside of Spain. We don't want to use our own phone, but are hoping for a local inexpensive service for a month in Spain.
Thanks,
Ray
 
#2
Hi, Ray,

And welcome to the forum! I'm delighted to find a tech question I can answer, because that doesn't happen too frequently. Unless some of the more savvy forum members know otherwise, I think the hands down easiest and cheapest thing is for each of you to buy a basic cell phone, which will probably cost about 25 euros and come with 20 euros in air time. I have one I keep bringing back to Spain and I get a new SIM card and phone number each year, but the cost of the phone itself is negligible. The rates are pretty high, though. From cell to cell on the pre-paid plan of Movistar, it's about 35-45 centimos a minute, unless there's been a price revolution since last summer when I walked. But for what you describe, it sounds like the thing to do.

There are several companies in Spain, and they all seem to locate near each other in a city. I think the biggest are Vodafone and Movistar. I'm not enough of a phone connoisseur to know the difference between the two companies, but I think they're pretty much the same.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Camino(s) past & future
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
#3
Laurie is 100% right. We've just returned from living in Spain for 8 years. Mobile phone and internet are some of the most expensive in the world! But buy a couple of cheap mobiles and you'll virtually get the cost back with pre-loaded "time".
Buen camino! I walk the Camino Via de la Plata in May.......
Stephen
 
#4
One way to do this would be to take your own phones having had them unlocked then buy a Spanish SIM card - I bought a Vodafone SIM card for 12 euros which had a further 12 euros of call/texts included. Calls to other Vodafone users are free at weekends and discounted at other times. Texts cost 0.15€.
 

daesdaemar

Camino-holic
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles - twice
#6
My wife had an old Motorola V195 quadband GSM phone (unlocked of course) which she put away when she got her first smartphone. I took it to Spain 2 years ago when I did my first Camino. I bought a Vodaphone SIM card (Mi Pais plan) for 15 euros with 12 of those being credit for talk time. Calls to the USA are 18 cents after 8 PM and not really too bad at other times. Also, it gives you the flexibility to make calls while within Spain. I recharge it every 6 months (online) and it's always ready to go.
 

mmm042

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
#8
You should check out your current carrier's overseas plan, too. Mine came out to be very inexpensive for a month's use, and I didn't have to worry about finding a phone, SIM card, recharging, anything like that. Another option -- if you're just trying to keep tabs on your friend if you're separated, check into purchasing a texting plan on your current phone. Mine was $30 for 50 texts (there were other options), which turned out to be plenty more than I needed (I was gone 3 weeks). I'm also able to receive and read any texts from home for free, so while I was gone my family could text me all they wanted and it didn't cost a thing. It was nice, seeing as I was alone the entire time, to get a message from home every day.

Melanie
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
Le Puy to Moissac (2013)
Camino Portugues (Sept 2014)
Camino del Norte/Irun to Luarca (April 2015)
Camino Inglés/Camino Finisterra/Muxia (Oct 2015)
Moissac to St. Jean (2016)
#9
Thanks for the quick responses. If I understand correctly we'll be able to purchase phones in Spain with a predetermined amount of time on them so we can communicate back and forth, as necessary, while we are on the Camino. We would prefer not to bring phones from home, nor is calling the U.S. a necessary consideration. We can communicate to the U.S. through the internet.
Thanks again,
Ray
 

colinPeter

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SDC (2009) Somport-Jaca, Burgos-SDC, Cee-Muxia (2012) Le Puy - Aumont-Aubrac (2014) SJPP-SDC (Oct 2015)
#10
Anyone know if you buy a pre-paid Vodafone sim in Paris, for use in France & Spain (walking Aragones from Lourdes), can you "top it up" in Spain? Or can you only top up in country of purchase?
Col
 

anniethenurse

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances.Vasco del Interior.Camino Finisterre& Muxia. Camino Portugues. Ruta del Ebro.
#11
i removed the links that doesn´t work anymore.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#12
colinPeter said:
Anyone know if you buy a pre-paid Vodafone sim in Paris, for use in France & Spain (walking Aragones from Lourdes), can you "top it up" in Spain? Or can you only top up in country of purchase?
Col
You have to buy a country specific card or pay roaming charges as you change countries. There are some that cover several countries but very expensive to use.

I use LeBara cards in both France and Spain...but different cards. My research (and experience) is that the LeBara has the lowest rates and purchase price.
Lebara.fr
Lebara.es
You can buy the Spain card in the U.S. (don't know about other countries) from Simsforspain.com
You can get a free french card from lebara.fr...even though they say they ship only to France they will actually ship to other countries. PM me if you need details.
 

colinPeter

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SDC (2009) Somport-Jaca, Burgos-SDC, Cee-Muxia (2012) Le Puy - Aumont-Aubrac (2014) SJPP-SDC (Oct 2015)
#13
Thank you Grayland.
 
#14
Subject: Phones in Spain

Stephen Nicholls said:
Laurie is 100% right. We've just returned from living in Spain for 8 years. Mobile phone and internet are some of the most expensive in the world! But buy a couple of cheap mobiles and you'll virtually get the cost back with pre-loaded "time".
Buen camino! I walk the Camino Via de la Plata in May.......
Stephen
I need help with cellphone/mobile arrangements. My walk (alone, late May) is limited to Sarria-Santiago but I have some difficulty walking and I need a phone for taxi service if I cannot meet my daily walking limit. I have prearranged luggage and accommodations. Also my age, eighty, is of some concern to my family so I need to assure them I am covered.

Can you or someone else give me advice on where, what to buy and services to include in a cheap phone. I understand the Internet is quite readily available along the way so the phone is mainly for emergency and local communication. Are they complicated to operate? I am not sure what buying a phone involves. Is everything set up and all I need is some instruction on how to use and a phone number, or is it more complicated than that.

Should I buy in Madrid or Sarria? Any detailed info would be helpful. Private messages also gratefully accepted. Thank you.
 

jirit

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
#15
One the best deals around in Spain is the BIC prepaid mobile phone

http://www.orange.com/en_EN/group/lates ... -spain.jsp

A guy I was walking with purchased one went he started and we used throughout the walk to book private albergues and the occasional pension, and keep in touch with our camino friends along the way.

You can easily recharge the phone if need be

Neville
 

evanlow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
#17
Anyone knows if one can get a prepaid SIM card at the Barajas airport in Madrid without going into the city?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#18
I looked around the airport last week to recharge my Vodafone account, and found nothing. So if they cannot recharge a phone, I doubt that anyone has a SIM chip.
 
#19
Hi Evan,

There is some information on http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-t ... ead-2.html, a bit outdated on Spanish data and voice SIMs but there are the websites mentioned which you can open to be updated.

Traveling by train to the Madrid city is easy, but be extremely careful as there is a roving gang of pickpockets in the train station, we saw an American tourist being pick pocketed and as he rushed to grab the robber the wallet was already passed to his mate. Not all pick pockets are male, there are females gang members carrying babies to distract you whilst their male accomplice robs you. We were nearly robbed on the train station escalator in Rome but was cleverly pick pocketed in the Sol Square in Madrid. The modus operandi was to drop a handful of coins at your feet, the instinct is to look down and bend down to pick these coins up, exposing your back pocket, both of my pockets were emptied in a flash. Put me off going to World Youth Day.

Toledo was a worthwhile diversion, budget some time for this visit which is unique, you will not regret it.

Buen Camino, may see you in Singapore mid-August.

Joe
 

evanlow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
#20
Thanks Joe.

There is a bus service that goes to Irun from the airport, hence no need to go to the city if just only for the SIM card. I've never had my pockets picked in Madrid the past few caminos although my wife and I was attacked in Rome by a bunch of gypsy girls a couple of years back. I also have the habit of carrying my wallet in the front pocket.

So unless I can catch up with a friend in Madrid, I will probably just wait till Irun before getting the SIM.
 
#21
Evan, It is good to see you have learnt from experience. My wife was robbed in Rome in front of the teeming crowd of tourists and gypsies in the Trevino Fountain, she had her purse in her front pocket. The bulge made by the purse was unfortunately too obvious. A girl came right up to her and thrust a baby in her face saying 'baby baby'. The maternal instinct was to caress the baby and by then her purse was gone, picked by the girl's accomplice.

The trauma of looking for a police post, reporting the robbery to a disinterested Italian policeman who has seen it too often before, is worse than the robbery itself. Take care, keep safe, and enjoy your Camino. How we miss the mata mata of Singapore.

Joe
 

ffp13

Addicted pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Completed Caminos: 2009 SJPP, 2011 Roncessvalle , 2012 Pamploma, 2013 Roncessvalle, 2013 Porto, 2014 Burgos, 2014 Porto

Future: Roncessvalle
#22
Is data available on pre paid SIM cards within Spain ?

In Australia many phone network providers give free access to social networking sites eg FaceBook and twitter, is there something like this in Spain ?

Thanks

Frank
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
#23
ffp13 said:
Is data available on pre paid SIM cards within Spain ?
Yes.
ffp13 said:
In Australia many phone network providers give free access to social networking sites eg FaceBook and twitter, is there something like this in Spain ?
No, I have not heard of this...

Do some searches here regarding mobile phones in spain, there should be a few conversations:
http://www.caminodesantiago.me/camino-d ... earch.html

Saludos,
Ivar
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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:
#24
The costs of using roaming in Europe (for us from South Africa) is exhoribitant - especially a Smart Phone as the time to update every app, every new photo on google or Facebook is charged for.

I buy a Spanish data Sim card which provides free, unlimited Internet, emails, Facebook and Twitter but not YouTube access etc. If you use it for phone calls you will have to keep topping up - and if you have a Blackberry, it doesn't include BBM.

You have to maintain a balance in the card (around €4.50) for the service to remain active. It doesn't expire if you don't use it as long as there is the minimum amount on the card.

This is just one of the Spanish providors: http://www.spainsim.com/voda3gSIM.htm
 

ffp13

Addicted pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Completed Caminos: 2009 SJPP, 2011 Roncessvalle , 2012 Pamploma, 2013 Roncessvalle, 2013 Porto, 2014 Burgos, 2014 Porto

Future: Roncessvalle
#25
Thank you Ivar & silly doll

What silly doll described sounds exactly like what I am looking for, I can keep in touch back to Oz via Facebook and emails and make reasonably priced calls within Spain, ie to Albergue pensions or other pilgrims. Like SA Oz international roaming is legal theft by phone companies. After 1 week in HK my brother had almost a $1000 data bill for his smart phone, On my last Camino I used a phone service called Ekit it was cheaper than roaming but still expensive. Companies like vodaphone are established across Europe there is no reason why they can't offer Europeans a phone service that works in bordering countries at standard non roaming prices, maybe there should be an EU phone network?



Regards

Frank
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#26
I just had a Vodafone 3G data SIM card for my unlocked iPhone 3GS for 3.50 Euro per week for 100 mb of data. A phone call was additional and expensive. Finding an English speaking clerk is difficult, and the very pleasant one I finally found did not know the product very well (and Vodafone keeps changing what is available, and different plans are available in different cities!). I asked if I could pay for several weeks in advance, and was told that, no, I would have to pay each week and could not get more data for a longer period. It was 3.50 a week for 100 mb and had to be renewed each week.

Wrong. When I hit the weekly limit, I was offered by text 1 gb for a month for 19 Euro. I jumped at the offer, and never had to renew again.

I asked how I could check my account balance, and the clerk said there was no way. But there is. Call *134# and a return text message gives the balance. However, that phone number does not work for all Vodafone accounts.

Finding English on Vodafone is impossible. The literature says *123#1 gets an English operator, but it does not. There is no English option even on their webpage. Vodafone operates in England, but nothing on that website is applicable to the services and offerings in Spain. Apparently the two companies do not share anything but ownership. All the services available in England stop working in Spain, and the phone number in England is dialed as an international call even if the account phone number and the source of the call are both Vodafone.

All most curious...
 
#27
I took the good advice offered on this thread and bought a phone for 55 euros at ORANGE in Sarria (also available at Movistar, Vodafone I believe) with charger, earphone and about 15-20 euros in prepaid time. I walked alone, had prepaid lodgings and only used it several times but happy to have it with me. My plan only covered Spain.

Can this phone be used elsewhere in Europe with upgrading?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#28
Orange is fairly new to Spain, but has provided the best coverage in France for quite some time. I don't think the Spanish SIM card works in France, however. Since it is the same company, they may merge service in the future. English users of Vodafone in the United Kingdom find that Spanish Vodafone is not integrated! Go figure.
 

Sheesh

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(CF 2009, 2013) (?-2018)
#29
I'd love to hear if anyone has used Orange's BIC phone yet? How did it work out for you?

I go back and forth wondering if I want/need the phone. Currently I am leaning towards it. I would use it to stay in touch with sympatico people I meet while on route, for pre-booking the occasional pension/hostal for a rest break, or after Sarria it crowds make it hard to get an albergue bed. I don't want to get into the rush for beds! Also, it would be nice to know that folk at home could reach me in an emergency.

The BIC phone also comes with a flashlight, FM radio (I'll bring my own ear buds), and an alarm clock, so it's possible that I could cut down a little weight from not having to take those three items. (I know, I know - why an alarm clock? Not for use in Albergues I assure you!)

So if anyone has used this phone, can you please tell how it worked out for you. And is it fairly simple to charge and buy and load additional time. It looks like incoming international calls are not very expensive at all. But I could be missing something in my reading of that. :wink:

I arrive in Madrid on May 10 and am traveling directly to Burgos to start my walk on May 12, so would prefer to purchase it in Burgos if possible. Although I see that they can be ordered online on the site below.

http://www.simcardspain.es/en/free-mobi ... spain.html

One last question with regard to pre-booking private albergues. How easily is this done? Is it hit and miss which ones allow it? Thanks in advance.

Sheesh
 

jirit

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
#31
Sheesh said:
I'd love to hear if anyone has used Orange's Bic phone yet? How did it work out for you?

I go back and forth wondering if I want/need the phone. Currently I am leaning towards it. I would use it to stay in touch with sympatico people I meet while on route, for pre-booking the occasional pension/hostal for a rest break, or after Sarria it crowds make it hard to get an albergue bed. I don't want to get into the rush for beds! Also, it would be nice to know that folk at home could reach me in an emergency.

The BIC phone also comes with a flashlight, FM radio (I'll bring my own ear buds), and an alarm clock, so it's possible that I could cut down a little weight from not having to take those three items. (I know, I know - why an alarm clock? Not for use Albergues I assure you!)

So if anyone has used this phone, can you please tell how it worked out for you. And is it fairly simple to charge and buy and load additional time. It looks like incoming international calls are not very expensive at all. But I could be missing something in my reading of that. :wink:

I arrive in Madrid on May 10 and am tralleling directly into Burgos to start my walk on May 12, so would prefer to purchase it in Burgos if possible. Although I see that they can be ordered online on the site below.

http://www.simcardspain.es/en/free-mobi ... spain.html

One last question with regard to pre-booking private albergues. How easily is this done? Is it hit and miss which ones allow it? Thanks in advance.

Sheesh
When I walked the Camino in Spain the second time back in 2011, one guy I ended up walking with purchased the same prepaid BIC phone. Worked well and we were able to recharge it with additional time as required. We used it generally to prebook private albergues. I think the purchase price was 29 euro back then but I think we got closer to 60 minutes with the phone. Certainly more than the 10 minutes they are offering now. However we only needed to recharge it only once with I think 20 euros in additional minutes for the entire five week walk to Finisterre. Therefore the total cost was 50 euros for the entire 5 weeks.

I might consider doing the same this Spring when my wife and I walk the Via de la Plata.
 

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