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Recommending the via de la plata

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
#1
I've noticed that most people still want to walk the camino frances yet the recent photo of a long line of people waiting for a bed and the comment that some albergues are filling up in 20 minutes should make prospective pilgrims think twice. I finished the via de la plata from sevilla to SDC in may and can highly recommend it. There were very few people-especially the further on I walked, in fact quite often it was me and a Dannish bloke I met staying in albergues.
The scenery, in hindsight, is varied and ranges from olive tress/vines to corn/wheat fields to more forested and hilly in galicia.
The waymarking is excellent. There are some long stretches with no accom,water,shade or food. The Dannish fellow had walked the frances 3 times and said the VDLP was much harder.
I think that within a very few years this way will too be crowded-do it while it's still isolated!
Kevin
 

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#2
golly time flies. it seems only yesterday i was in a valladolid "cyber" killing time posting my update to the mosquitoes question a couple of entries below. i walked from seville late june and all july and saw a handful of other pilgrims, mostly cyclists, who said hello and that was their role in my camino over. on the other hand there were a couple of people i kept bumping into in out of the way cafes, bars, maybe once or twice a week for hundreds of miles. we'd catch up on our experiences ...ships in the night. from a personal perspective i'd say the main threat to the camino is new roads. they were laying the damn things under my feet as i walked. my takkies forever clogged with bitumen. every day i came across major roadworks, often twice a day. i think they must be spending the last of their european union infrastructure handouts or else maybe they have to give the money back. in extremadura there were six lane motorways being simultaneously built next to four lane roads next to immaculate two way blacktops.......all coming and going to the same dorps and with hardly any traffic. ended up spending a lot of time on diversions and too much time walking on viciously cambered shoulders often only two feet wide with spanish juggernauts sucking off my hat in their wake. or having to take evasive action and jump into deep culverts, inevitably chokkablock with empty pet water bottles and soiled daipers. the spanish, god bless them, have a cavalier attitude to litter. of course, by the time i was spending days on my hands and knees crawling uphill along dried up stony riverbeds in galicia i was thinking...wow..give me a viciously cambered shoulder to walk along, please. anyway, it's still a great walk...go for it!
 

bjorgts

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos in Spain, France, Portugal, Germany since 2003. 2018: Finish Levante + Zamora - Verin
#3
Crowded

Just to fill in the picture: I walked from Sevilla to Caceres 26.4-9.5 this year. Since we never started early in the morning, we some days walked the whole day without seeing any other pelegrinos. Other days we met some. But in the evening, they were there! A lot of people and not too big albergues. In Guillena, we were about 20 in the sports senter. In Castilblanco de los Arroyos the albergue was full. In Almaden de la Plata almost full (around 50 beds? - week-end). Merida - full, and so on. Other days we were not so many. Og course that was the first 300 km, and people told us there were not so many pelegrinos two/three days ahead, but even more a day ot two behind! Many of them had planned to walk all the way to SDC. So obviously we were on Via de la Plata on a top. May be end of april is such a top on this camino, because one get the advice not to walk there in summer?

There are a lot of space for all who walk Via de la Plata now! But may be in some weeks/months/periods there can be problems getting a bed, bacause there are more people walking there and the infrastructure is not like that on the french route. But recommend it - oh yes. Bjørg
 
#4
perhaps there are caminos within caminos. i only stayed in a handful of albergues during the 50 days i took to walk the route. this included several days layover in places such as merida, caceres, salamanca, zamora, etc.

call me antisocial but my youth was sufficiently institutionalised by boarding school and armies to the extent that i will go a long way to avoid bedding down in a large room full of often smelly old and young, men, women, boys and girls snoring, farting, arriving in the middle of the night or else getting up in the middle of the night for an early start. all crowding for toilet/s and shower/s and the limited if non-existent hot water. no thanks. i like to use the bathroom when i want to. put on or put out the lights want i want to. the hotels/bars/hostals etc were nearly all good and very cheap.

my routine was up at 5, walk from 6 to around 2. find a room. shower. nice long lunch of menu del dia with a bottle of ice cold tinto. crash semi naked onto my cot until 7 without worrying i'm offending someone. go shopping for water, peanuts etc. have a cold beer and tapas in a bar then bed by 9. preferably with the aircon going full blast. (although aircon got rarer the further north in the price bracket places i stayed in). i'm saying all this because there might be other weirdos like me who are put off the trip by the thought of albergues. though they are fine for kids. because with a little thought and a spanish guide michelin i think they can be totally avoided, even if it means straying from the camino for a few miles, as i sometimes did, to one of the many clean truck stops on one of the many, many roads that dog the route, where one can get an ensuite room for about 20-25 euros. same price if 2 or 3 of you. i had 2 of my kids with me for the first month. this is obviously why i met less pilgrims. but doing it this way, staying in control of my environment, made it an easy walk, even at the height of summer.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#5
Kevin et al -

Thanks for your persepectives on VDLP. We are still waffling about which route to do for our second Camino, and this definitely gives us the information we have been seeking.

We may just give it a go on VDLP this coming April. Why did your companion think it was more difficult than the Frances? - was it just the longer stretches without water, shade or shelter, or did he find the terrain more difficult?

Peace,

lynne
 

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Camino(s) past & future
2002-2004-2006-2008-2011-2015
Cycled from Scotland,walked Francias, walked V.D.L.P, winter on Francais, stroll on Englaise
#6
Hi,
Like the others I walked the VdlP this Spring - I was in no hurry so took 51 days. I slept in albergues and hostals and only had to sleep on a floor twice.
The albergues are mostly under local control and sad to say are often not well maintained. Pilgrims do not seem keen to clean up behind themselves. Cooking facilities are sketchy with often very limited pots etc.
Hostals were clean and welcoming.
If planning to stay at advertised Hostal at Miraltajo phone ahead as it can be full/closed. Do not miss the private albergue 'Casa Anita' in Santa Croya de Tera which gets my vote for the best Private Albergue.
Differences between the Francias & VdlP? The infrastructure on the VdlP is not so well developed and as you now know the stages between villages are longer so you have to carry lots of water (I recommend a 2/3 litre water bladder) and trail food (biscuits and cheese). Rarely is mid-morning coffee available.
There are fewer religious buildings to visit as most in the villages are locked.
Physically the route is no harder than the Francais and I think the scenery is more varied and covered in wild flowers. Lots of solitude.
The local people I met were very welcoming and more than willing to let me stumble along in my version of Spanish but, while they laughed, we managed to communicate.
Pilgrims that I met were often older, serial, camino followers. I only met 3 camino babies (first timers).
I found the guide book published by Pili Pala Press to be vague and in need of updating. The German language guide appears to be the most accurate.
In short, I loved it and, dare I say it, preferred the VdlP over the Francais.
Dael
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
#7
Lynee
The bloke I walked with said the VDLP was much harder than he Frances because of the lack of infrastructure along the way.Some stretches were long without any facilities-even water until fountains in Galicia. He was used to bars/cafes/restaurants every 10-15kms which was not the case on the VDLP. One place had only one bar closed on wednesday-yes, the day we were there. I found the albergues mostly ok-in galicia they were excellent.Occasionally we stayed in a hostal if the albergue looked iffy.
Having said that, it was my first camino and I enjoyed it-the retrospective is very compelling in that I keep thinking about it every day and am thinking of the portugues way next year. Some indications are that it is getting busier which I why I strongly recommended it before it because done to death.
Kevin
 

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