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Returning from Santiago- should I seek a travel agent?


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Hello! My name's Lindsay and I've never traveled out of the country before and I'm hoping to do the pilgrimage next July, but I have a few questions.

I live in upstate New York, but expect to fly out of and back into Boston, Mass. I plan to do El Camino Frances and fly into Biarritz.

What is the most prudent way to organize this? Should I:

+ Buy a roundtrip ticket and look into a bus/train/etc from Santiago de Compostela to Biarritz? Does such a service exist?

+ Try to find a flight that will permit me to fly into Biarritz and OUT of Santiago, back home to Boston? (Money is, of course, a concern for me)

+ Or is that really dependent upon my individual circumstances? Should I seek a travel agent to help me organize this?

I'm petrified of getting stuck somewhere without a way home due to shoddy planning or something, and I very much need specifics. Can anyone here help me? It would be very, very appreciated.
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
You will have a great Camino! Take a breath, understand that if you are going on a pilgrimage then things will work out. An old lesson that I learned long ago is that being in control is an illusion.

First, spend some time looking at the forum. You will find a wealth of information and the vast majority of it will be helpful to you as you being to plan.

Second, decide how much time you can devote to the Camino. Are you going to walk the whole thing, the last 100 km (both of which will earn the compostela, anything else will not). If you are going to walk the whole Camino, pilgrims often average 26 km/day, which would mean that a Camino Frances takes about 30 days to complete. Many other pilgrims go slower, take days off, etc. and thus take more days...say 33 - 36 days. In addition, some will spend a few days in Finisterre or stay in Santiago de Compostela touring the coast/city and relaxing/reflecting on the Camino. Decide how much time you are going to allow yourself to walk and then those are your dates. IF you run slow then you can always speed up your Camino by taking a bus for a short portion to catch up to your schedule. Does that make sense?

Third, you have a lot of time to prepare. Many prepare physically, particularly those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle; others prepare spiritually/emotionally, etc. Take some time to read some books about pilgrimage, or the history of Santiago de Compostela; the more you know about history, culture, etc. the more enjoyable the Camino.

After you have spent some time reading, please continue to ask questions. Forum members enjoy helping those who are seeking to begin their Way. In many ways, we begin our fist steps of the Camino when we respond to that still small voice by saying, "Yes, I will go".

Buen Camino,

I have flown from Washington, D.C. on Iberia. I flew via Madrid to Pamplona to start (you can take the bus to Roncesvalles from there) and flown home from Santiago via Madrid. Unlike here in the U.S. (where flying to one city and returning from another can be very expensive), the Pamplona and Santiago legs were not much more expensive than the roundtrip flights. I twice in March/April which I know are generally cheaper than the middle of the summer. This past summer, though, I got a pretty good rate (I think less than $600.) and flew into San Sebastian and out of OViedo. I would wait a few months to see what is happening with airfares.
Hi Lindsay,
It's really easy to get from Biarritz to SJPP. I live in Vancouver and one of the best (cheapest) ways to get from here to Europe is to fly to London. I've tried to Paris and to Amsterdam but London works the best for me. I book my flight to Biarritz the same day and stay in Biarritz a day or even two (jet lag is an issue for me so day 1 I can hardly see straight let alone walk). There's a youth hostel in Biarritz close to the train station. I'm at the other end of the age spectrum but was very warmly welcomed. They even gave me a private room because there was room to do that at the time and they thought I would be more comfortable. There are also lots of pretty good two star hotels in Biarritz (and lots of 5 star too if you prefer!). Try the historic part of town. I really enjoy being there and if you've never been to Europe before it's more what you will expect of traditional " European " architecture.
The train goes from Biarritz to SJPP several times a day. You can take an early train and get started up the hill the same day or take a later one and stay the night at SJPP. Either way will almost certainly get you sitting around a dinner table with your first introduction to other pilgrims - some of whom you will meet over and over again at other albergues.
There's a ton of information about where to go ,what to take etc on the forum. Remember that we each have our own, sometimes strong, opinions about what is the best way to do a certain thing. Read everything and make your own decisions based on what feels right for you of course.
If you don't speak any Spanish I recommend trying to learn at least a few words. You don't need it but it can enhance your own experience a lot. Okay - way more than you wanted.
Buen camino

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oops - and one more thing. Don't bother booking your flight out of Santiago from home. There are several airlines that fly out of Santiago. Ryanair is probably the cheapest although others may know better. At any rate - using Ryanair (must be booked online as far as I know) you can get back to London, Madrid and Barcelona quite easily and inexpensively. Other airlines are Iberia and Vueling. Just as an example, Ryanair flies from Santiago to London for anything from 50 Euros plus taxes to zero Euros plus taxes (about 25 Euros) depending on the day. I've never flown on it so just pointing out options not making recommendations... but I think a little internet research ahead of time will put your mind at rest.
Also - just as a point of interest, I find trains and buses are very convenient and relatively inexpensive but I've always purchased tickets on the spot not from home.
Hi Lindsay,
I've made two trips to Spain and followed each of your plans.

First trip - after finishing the Camino, I took the train from Santiago to Biarritz and then flew through London home. This was an excellent arrangement. The train left Santiago early in the morning and I had a lovely review of my walk as the scenery rushed by. I was able to purchase my train ticket at the station one day in advance. If I was to do it again, I would get the train ticket on the day I arrived in Santiago, just to insure I get a seat. I had an extra day in Biarritz so I cruised the beach. Magnificent. People of all ages strolling the promenade and kids surfing.

Second trip - I flew to Seville and walked the Via de la Plata to Santiago. My flight home was from Santiago with a changeover in London. Both trips were convenient and about the same price.

I had a travel agent book both trips. They cost about the same.

It may sound like a trite cliche, but things always seem to work out fine on the Camino.
The Camino taught me to let go and relax. Everything turned out fine, and wouldn't have been any better if I fretted about the details.

Enjoy your preparation time. Your pilgrimage has already started.

David, Victoria, Canada

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