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Ponderada or Villa franca start? And last minute nerves. Advice please

DancingQueen15

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Not sure
Hello Everyone,
I'd really like some help and advice. I decided last week that I'd really love to do this camino and if I didn't use this little window that I had, I didn't know when I would next be able to go. ThenI found this amazing forum and spent the next few days reading.

So the return flights to Santiago from London are booked. I have nearly all of my kit finalised and it should come in at around 5kgs (10% of my bodyweight) not Inc water nor food. Kit has been selected after reading on here. So I'm happy with this.
I arrive Thursday morning and plan to start walking on Friday morning. I have 9 full days to walk, and I'm of average fitness, and will be walking by myself - so a lone female.
It's just that my excitement is turning to nerves and I have a few last minute questions:
- I was going to start in Ponderada but not sure if I'm pushing it to complete in 9 days. Also I have seen the safety alert from today for this stage. I did see in another thread the idea of starting in Villafranca, and starting one stage later. Which do you think would be better?
-I arrive at 9.30 at santiago airport. I'll then take the 11.10 Empresa Freire bus to Lugo and change there. I would get to Ponferrada (if I started here) at 3.30pm. Will I still get bed at this time? I'd rather stay with pilgrims for my first night than book a single room in hotel. Should I phone and book tomorrow? Spanish is pants, but worth a try if I need
-I also need to get a passport on Thursday. Are these easy to get in both places?
-can I buy poles anywhere before I start? I am coming over with hand luggage so need to buy when I arrive.

I am usually a very confident traveller, but then I normally have all my accommodation booked for a trip. This is very outside my comfort zone.

All thoughts and advice welcome.
Thank you
 
Last edited:
Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.
Rent a house in Santiago (1 month minimum)
300m from the cathedral and around the corner from the fresh food market in Santiago. Perfect place to tele commute from (1GB symmetrical connection).

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
DancingQueen15,

Welcome to the Forum!
If you do decide to start in Ponferrada you might consider staying in the parish albergue Nicolas de Flue. Centrally located near the Templar castle they offer 186 places. Although they do not accept reservations they do issue Credencials. If you Google the terms Ponferrada and sports stores you will see a list of possible shops for your poles marked on a handy map.

Good luck and Buen camino!

MM
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, DancingQueen,
If you are worried about finding a bed in Ponferrada (and I do think that in 9 days you can reach Santiago if you are reasonably fit -- it's about 200 km), you could email one of the private albergues in town. I have stayed at the private albergue Alea, and you can email them for a reservation. It's small, very nice, very close to the big parish albergue Margaret describes. The two women who run the Alea are delightful, and their website has all the info you would need to book: http://alberguealea.com

Welcome to the forum, and buen camino, let us know how it goes! Laurie
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
I never liked Ponferrada, too self-satisfied of a place, does have a wonderful church. Villafranca is more of a "real" place, good food, wonderful wine, history, and no fake castles. Downside? You will be facing a first day out steep climb. Nothing hysteric if you are in good shape, but it is somewthing to consider. O'Cebreiro has an enviable history, modern reality is a bit less. My recommendation? Start at Villafranca, stop before the climb to O'Cebreiro say Herrerias (lovely village) or La Faba, and walk on.
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Hello Dancing Queen. Just my thought on your first question. It is definitely possible to walk from Ponferrada in 9 days. I have walked it once in 8 days, and once in 10 days. Still, this was after some weeks of walking and my fitness level had increased by then. So If I was in your shoes, I would start in Villafranca, just to be sure not to have stress about arriving in Santiago in time (also because this is your first Camino, and maybe you do not know yet how much you want to walk each day). But then again, there is also a case for starting in Ponferrada... Buen Camino, I hope you will do well.

By the way, Scruffy1. I really love that comment, but I am actually not sure what you mean by claiming Ponferrada is a too self-satisfied of a place ?!:)
 
Last edited:
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Introibo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances ( March 2015 )
Camino Portugues ( September 2015 )
Hi DancingQueen, welcome to the forum.
I would also start from Villafranca. A beautiful town with a lovely square. I can recommend the Abergue Leo.
Newly opened and run by two sisters helped by their Mother Maria. I had a long chat with Maria ( who speaks excellent English )
about the Camino and Villafranca's important role in the development of the Camino. They've taken their grandparents home
and turned it into a lovely place for pilgrims to stay. A fantastic place to settle your first night nerves. They have their own
website and you could book in advance.

Buen Camino
 

DancingQueen15

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Not sure
Thank you everyone. Its been a great help. Just sat here repacking my bags. I decided to go to Ponferrada just because I could get there much earlier in the day than Villafranca. Either that or i was looking in the wrong place. Feel much happier having a hostel booked for the first night.
And ive booked into the suggested hostel too.
Ive decised that if I find I am walk too slow after a few days to make my target and enjou the camino then I'll bus a stage closer.
I think i will also take up the suggestion for villafranca, as that sounds lovely.
Thanks again, and all excited. Just need to make everything fit back into my bag now......
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
Hello Everyone,
I'd really like some help and advice. I decided last week that I'd really love to do this camino and if I didn't use this little window that I had, I didn't know when I would next be able to go. ThenI found this amazing forum and spent the next few days reading.

So the return flights to Santiago from London are booked. I have nearly all of my kit finalised and it should come in at around 5kgs (10% of my bodyweight) not Inc water nor food. Kit has been selected after reading on here. So I'm happy with this.
I arrive Thursday morning and plan to start walking on Friday morning. I have 9 full days to walk, and I'm of average fitness, and will be walking by myself - so a lone female.
It's just that my excitement is turning to nerves and I have a few last minute questions:
- I was going to start in Ponderada but not sure if I'm pushing it to complete in 9 days. Also I have seen the safety alert from today for this stage. I did see in another thread the idea of starting in Villafranca, and starting one stage later. Which do you think would be better?
-I arrive at 9.30 at santiago airport. I'll then take the 11.10 Empresa Freire bus to Lugo and change there. I would get to Ponferrada (if I started here) at 3.30pm. Will I still get bed at this time? I'd rather stay with pilgrims for my first night than book a single room in hotel. Should I phone and book tomorrow? Spanish is pants, but worth a try if I need
-I also need to get a passport on Thursday. Are these easy to get in both places?
-can I buy poles anywhere before I start? I am coming over with hand luggage so need to buy when I arrive.

I am usually a very confident traveller, but then I normally have all my accommodation booked for a trip. This is very outside my comfort zone.

All thoughts and advice welcome.
Thank you
Hi, can't help you there but I will wish you well and a Buen Camino, Peter.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
You should get a bed ok in Ponferada. When the Nicolas de flue albergue fills up they turn the library/sitting area into a dorm and when that fills they lay out mattresses in the large covered area at tthe front door. However, I might be inclined to start from Villafranca as the walk from Ponferada is mostly road/pavement slogging
 

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