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Reporting back from the Cami St. Jaume from Llançà to Montserrat

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
I have just returned from a wonderful 2 weeks of walking through the Catalan countryside on the Cami St. Jaume from Llançà in the Costa Brava, to Montserrat. I had a marvellous time. The scenery was great, walking was good, the wild flowers were amazing whilst the bird song just bubbled away in the background the entire time. I have never seen so many superb Romanesque monuments before. There was no litter on the trail, no overcrowding, no rush for beds and no aggro about sharing a path on the only day when I came across lots of cyclists.

Inspiration for the trip was sparked by a post by peregrino2ooo - Laurie - who wrote about the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, sometime last autumn. She then wrote up her Cami St. Jaume, which persuaded me that there was nothing to prevent me from doing the trip myself, on my own. So a very big THANK YOU to Laurie for her imput. It is much appreciated.

Actually, as I walked the route that Laurie took, I became very aware that she must be superwoman. Not only did she walk big distances, but she then spent time visiting museums and churches. The energy she has is incredible.

Laurie's post provides a very good account of the route, and links to her wikiloc trail and the official website were all I needed to get going. However, I want to add a little to the knowledge of the route, to encourage others to walk. You see, despite all its wonderful plus points, the route lacks one thing - pilgrims. Hopefully over the next few days I add a few updates, observations and suggestions that will help others to walk this lovely route.
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
First observation I want to make is a practical one - bring a Catalan dictionary!!!

Catalan is the language in the area. People speak it, signs are written in it. They speak 'Spanish' as well, but conversations are dotted with Catalan words too, I suspect.

It's quite fun guessing words - like tancat means shut, dilluns is Monday, an omelette is a truita whilst salad is amanida. Often the menu is in both Spanish and Catalan which gave me a good start, but then came the time when I went into a busy restaurant and the menu was only in Catalan, and the waitress was rushed off her feet. How I could have done with the dictionary at that point!
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
Accommodation.
As Laurie's notes mention, this is not a cheap camino.

There are only 2 pilgrim albergues, from what I can make out - one at Bonmati just west of Girona, and the one at Montserrat. I was charged 6 euros at Montserrat, and much to my surprise after Laurie's comment, the dorms are no longer single sex, neither are the washrooms. They do provide blankets but not pillows.

There are quite a few hostels along the route at:
Llançà: Hostal Costa Brava (booking.com)
Figueres: Hostal Figueres tel + 34 630 68 05 75 (hostelworld.com)
Girona: Room in Girona (hostelworld.com)
Sant Esteve d'en Bas: Allberg de la Vall d'en Bas (albergvallbas.cat)
Vic:
- Seminari Vic Allotjaments (single bed or room via hostelworld.com)
- Alberg Canonge Collel (single bed via xanascat.cat, tel +34 938 89 49 38), (whole rooms via booking.com)
Manressa: via xanascat.cat

I tried to stay at Sant Esteve on a Sunday night. The website was really slow, but I managed to book eventually, only to receive an email a few days later to say that they were closed on the Sunday night, could I do Monday instead? Shame as it looked like a nice hostel.
Alberg Cononge Collel and Manressa are both youth hostels. The xanscat website is dreadfully slow and unresponsive at times.

None of these places is 'cheap' - 15 euros min, even 20 euros, but still less expensive than the alternatives. I stayed at Hostal Figueres and it was lovely and clean, good sturdy beds, nice kitchen, washing facilities, sheets and duvet provided, towel available to rent.

The alternative is a hostal, fonda or hotel. Away from the cities, in small towns and villages, I paid about 25 euros for a single room, sometimes with a bathroom, sometimes without. In mid to late May, the places were always nearly empty. I was met with almost uniform kindness and consideration. Only 1 place, which was slightly off route, was offhand and indifferent, and my suspicion is that the staff were not local.

For what it's worth, I stayed at:
Llançà: Pensio Restaurant Llançà (where Laurie stayed) 23 euros. I would have stayed at the hostel but was worried about arriving too late for their check in time.
Figueres: Hostelfigueres 18 euros via hostelworld
Bascara: Pension Fluvia 25 euros without bath, +34 972 56 00 14. The email address on the website does not work.
Girona: Ibis Budget (!!!!) 35 euros well in advance
Amer: Fonda Giralt 25 euros with bath. +34 972 43 00 45. Nice evening meal.
Les Presses (just north of Sant Esteve) 30 euros
L'Esquirol: Hostal Collsacabra. 20 euros with bath
Vic: Alberg Canonge Collel, 29 euros for a very large room with bath, with 3 beds. Sheets but no towels.
Santa Maria d'Olo: Hotel Santa Maria 25 euros
Navarcles: Hostal Muntane, 25 euros, tel +34 938 31 04 40
Sant Vincenc de Castellet: Hostal Ca La Irene, 25 euros

For late May, there was absolutely no need to have booked in advance.
However, prices in Girona and Vic do seem to rise the nearer it gets to the stay.
If I walked again, I would not prebook, but would definitely have done my homework to know what my options were. There is definitely not accommodation in every village that you walk through.
 
C

Castilian

Guest
They speak 'Spanish' as well, but conversations are dotted with Catalan words too, I suspect.
Not really. When they speak Castilian, they speak Castilian and when they speak Catalan, they speak Catalan. Sometimes some people that aren't too used to speak in Castilian may say inadvertently a word or two in Catalan when speaking in Castilian but that's not a problem for understanding. In fact, if you put a I didn't understand face, they'll (usually) realize another word is used in Castilian and will try to recall which one is.
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
Not really. When they speak Castilian, they speak Castilian and when they speak Catalan, they speak Catalan. Sometimes some people that aren't too used to speak in Castilian may say inadvertently a word or two in Catalan when speaking in Castilian but that's not a problem for understanding. In fact, if you put a I didn't understand face, they'll (usually) realize another word is used in Castilian and will try to recall which one is.
I think that was exactly what was happening in a couple of conversations I had. The odd word here or there that sounded out of place. Maybe 'dotted' was too strong a word to use - would 'sprinkled very slightly' be more appropriate?
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
LT, in her account of her walk, Laurie mentions that you found the climb up to Montserrat one of the hardest you had ever done. Can you recall which way you went? Thankfully, I took the gentle route!
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
The 'official' guide to the Cami St. Jaume can be found here: http://www.camidesantjaume.cat/descargas/guia_port_selva-jonquera-montserrat_ESP.pdf
Some of the stages are quite long. Laurie mentions this in her account of her walk, (see https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/my-cami-st-jaume-from-llançà-to-montserrat.36051/).
If, like me, you have problems with walking 30km when it is hot, then there are ways to cut the days down in length.

The first stage from Llanca to Figueres is a horror - 30km, including a 600m climb and descent, a fantastic monastery to visit, a Romanesque cloister and a Romanesque church. Laurie suggests splitting it in 2 by staying at the Hostal Xavi in Vilajuiga. However, when I went past last month - twice, once at 9am on a Monday morning and once at 4pm on a Tuesday - the shutters were all down and the place looked very shut. Might just be holidays, but check carefully if you intend to stay there. Google maps suggests that there is a nice B&B in Pau which would be an alternative. Another option would be to use the train and spend 2 nights in either Llanca or Figueres. The fare is only 2.50 euros. If you spend a second night in Llanca, then there is no need to take a full rucksack with you when you tackle the hill! The second half of the walk is flat so much easier.

The third stage Bascara to Girona is also over 30km long. The only definite hotel along the way is the Hotel Restaurant Mendinya (+34 972 49 80 00). It's beside the main road, part of a petrol station complex. I was going to stop at the cafe there for a drink, but I decided I needed to push on. There were several trucks parked in the vicinity, so it's possibly a truck stop, but that would not be a reason to discount it at all. An alternative would be to catch the bus into Girona, from either Cervia de Ter or Medinya. The timetable can be found here: http://www.ampsa.org/img/L'Estartit-Girona.pdf
A third option would be to try one of the alojamientos rurales in the area. I get the feeling that they are what we call 'holiday cottages' in the UK, ie the entire property is let at once, either for a week or for a weekend. But it has been suggested in several places that owners can be very kind and let pilgrims have a single bed for the night, if the property is not occupied. Worth a phone call the day before.
If you do take the bus from Cervia or Medinya, dont be tempted to leave out the section as it looks dull from the bus. The Camino winds its way beside the river for several kilometres and is quite delightful.

Heading out of Girona along the lovely carillet, there are lots of options as to how the route is divided up. Might be worth considering staying at the municipal alberg in Bonmati that just happens to be about 15km out of Girona. It's very small - only 3 beds, with pilgrims going to Santiago being given preference. You also have to ring up in advance. Information is here: http://www.stjuliabonmati.com/guia-del-poble/equipaments-publics-2/alberg/

There is the Romaneque Monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres which is well worth visiting but it is off the Camino. Laurie did a really long day in order to take it in, and then took a taxi back to Vic. Just after crossing the bridge at Roda de Ter, I noticed a signpost indicating that the Parador was 9km away in one direction and Vic was 10km in another. Had I not got accommodation booked in Vic, I would have headed off and spent a night in the Parador, then walked into Vic the next day (20km).

The remaining long stage - out of Vic - is a real problem. It is 21km to L'Estany with its gorgeous Romaneque monastery, but there is nowhere to stay there apart from 2 alojamientos rurales and an expensive apartment connected with the monastery. The only hotel in the area is in Santa Maria d'Olo, which is 10km further on the route, making it a long 31km day. There is a bus from L'Estany to Santa Maria d'Olo, but is leaves at 11.15 or 20.10.
Even if it is possible to stay at L'Estany, the next day present problems as there is no hotel in Artes, 22km away, with Navarcles being the next place with hotel accommodation. There is, however, a frequent bus service between Artes and Navarlces.
The only possible solution is a bus from Vic to Santa Eulalia at 8.15 on weekdays in term times which cuts 8km off the total for the day and maybe makes it a more manageable 23km.
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
I knew this would happen - life got busy and I got sidetracked! Couple more thoughts on the route.

Manresa. Laurie mentions that she thought two of the towns that she passed through were well worth a longer visit and Manresa was not one of them. My husband and I drove through the southern suburbs of the town in Sept 2015, and I did not like what I saw. There were several places where I know that I would not feel at all comfortable, were I to walk there on my own even during daylight.

So when it came to planning my walk, I went for the alternative option of bypassing the town. It made sense from a safety point of view and Navarcles to Sant Vincenc fitted perfectly with my daily distance preference. It is actually a pleasant walk too. After the turnoff for the town centre, the (signed) path continues down the tarmac country lane, then along a farm track then along a forest track before meeting up with the main route.

Manresa's main claim to (pilgrimage) fame is the cave where St Ignatius stopped for a year on his way back from Montserrat in 1522.
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have just returned from a wonderful 2 weeks of walking through the Catalan countryside on the Cami St. Jaume from Llançà in the Costa Brava, to Montserrat. I had a marvellous time. The scenery was great, walking was good, the wild flowers were amazing whilst the bird song just bubbled away in the background the entire time. I have never seen so many superb Romanesque monuments before. There was no litter on the trail, no overcrowding, no rush for beds and no aggro about sharing a path on the only day when I came across lots of cyclists.

Inspiration for the trip was sparked by a post by peregrino2ooo - Laurie - who wrote about the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, sometime last autumn. She then wrote up her Cami St. Jaume, which persuaded me that there was nothing to prevent me from doing the trip myself, on my own. So a very big THANK YOU to Laurie for her imput. It is much appreciated.

Actually, as I walked the route that Laurie took, I became very aware that she must be superwoman. Not only did she walk big distances, but she then spent time visiting museums and churches. The energy she has is incredible.

Laurie's post provides a very good account of the route, and links to her wikiloc trail and the official website were all I needed to get going. However, I want to add a little to the knowledge of the route, to encourage others to walk. You see, despite all its wonderful plus points, the route lacks one thing - pilgrims. Hopefully over the next few days I add a few updates, observations and suggestions that will help others to walk this lovely route.
Hi
I have just returned from a wonderful 2 weeks of walking through the Catalan countryside on the Cami St. Jaume from Llançà in the Costa Brava, to Montserrat. I had a marvellous time. The scenery was great, walking was good, the wild flowers were amazing whilst the bird song just bubbled away in the background the entire time. I have never seen so many superb Romanesque monuments before. There was no litter on the trail, no overcrowding, no rush for beds and no aggro about sharing a path on the only day when I came across lots of cyclists.

Inspiration for the trip was sparked by a post by peregrino2ooo - Laurie - who wrote about the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, sometime last autumn. She then wrote up her Cami St. Jaume, which persuaded me that there was nothing to prevent me from doing the trip myself, on my own. So a very big THANK YOU to Laurie for her imput. It is much appreciated.

Actually, as I walked the route that Laurie took, I became very aware that she must be superwoman. Not only did she walk big distances, but she then spent time visiting museums and churches. The energy she has is incredible.

Laurie's post provides a very good account of the route, and links to her wikiloc trail and the official website were all I needed to get going. However, I want to add a little to the knowledge of the route, to encourage others to walk. You see, despite all its wonderful plus points, the route lacks one thing - pilgrims. Hopefully over the next few days I add a few updates, observations and suggestions that will help others to walk this lovely route.
Hi, Felice,

I just saw this post as I was searching through the Cami Catalan forum. I was walking when you posted it. So glad you had such a good time, it is a really gorgeous route. And the info you have added is very helpful. Breaking up some of those long stages can be a problem, but you've got some creative ideas there! I wonder if there are others who are thinking about this route, it is a gem.

Buen camino, Laurie

P.s. I agree with your idea about the Vic parador. The detour I took to the monastery, off camino, was really nice (though hard) and had the totally unexpected bonus of those ancient sacrificial and burial sites. Spending an afternoon in the Vic parador, then walking the short way into Vic the next day and spending the rest of the day at the museum, etc., would be a great two-day alternative that would remove the taxi part of the journey.
 

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