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Planning to go on the Camino


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I am planning to go on the Camino de Santiago this spring for a month (April through May). This is the first time that I will make the Camino. English is my second language, but I can communicate in English. But I do not know anything about Spanish. Will I be OK without knowing Spanish on the Camino? I also want to make my backpack as light as possible (as everyone wants, I think). I am a mountain hiker, so I basically know how to make a backpack, but walking on the Camino may be different. Do I need to bring sleeping pad? Do all bunk beds in shelters have mattress? What guide book is good in information and light in weight? Can anyone give me some good thoughts? Thanks!
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Reply to Yiyoocha

There are thousands better qualified to reply to your request for information but having read your request and seeing that you have had no replies I thought I would attempt an answer. My reply is based upon my experience, gained when I walked the 500 miles from St Jean to Santiago in September/October 2003. I was then 57 years old, male, English. I walked with pilgrims of many nations (Brazilians, Finns, French, German, Dutch, American, Canadian, Mexican, Spanish, etc ), and found English to be the universal language. I speak some French and that came in useful with the French and the French-Canadians I met, though they also spoke some English. Hostal keepers, dealing as they do with people from many nations, also speak some English. In local shops and bars the same is not necessarily true. Local shops are often self service so you can pick up what you want and read the total payable from the cashiers till. For use in Bars and with Spanish people on route I found some words of Spanish helped and learnt a few simple phrases before going, (you know the ususal ones that help in all situations: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, sorry, I do not speak Spanish, coffee, beer, sandwich, one, two, bed, bedroom, toilet/lavatory, where is the route to santiago) All hostels I visited either had bunks with matresses or sleeping mats provided for the floor. A sleeping bag is considered necessary, though two Austrians I met in several hostals managed to borrow a few blankets in each and thus travelled without bags. There are many guides. Some, especially those produced in Europe are glossy, heavy, and have maps and suggested day walks. However the route I took, the Camino Frances, is incredibly well waymarked with yellow arrows on everything from town pavements to the sides of barns in wild open country. On the one occassion I went wrong a woman leant out of her house window to put me right. I used a copy of the route guide produced by the Confraternity of St James, ( this is annually updated from comments of pilgrims the previous year, it lists every hostal, how many beds, local sources of meals, and the distances between. It is light to carry and only costs a few pounds. The website given is on the links page of this site. That site also gives advice about equipment to carry, the credencial (Pilgrim passport neccessary for entry to pilgrim hostals - it keeps out tourists seeking cheap accommodation - hostals vary from from, free, to give a donation, to pay say three euros), and lots more. PILGRIM


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Thanks note to Pilgrim for reply

Thank you, Pilgrim, for your reply. After I wrote questions about planning to make a pilgrimage on the Camino, I felt a little silly because I knew that my questions were too broad to get answered. In fact, I am planning to go on the Camino, but honestly, I do not even know how to make questions and how to begin. But your answer is much more specific than my quesion and it is helpful! I think I may need to stop worrying: just face the Camino and see what is there. Thank you again. Buen Camino!

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