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#1
Hi! I am planning to travel to Santiago de Compostela (by flight) in June. I am planning to walk from the city to Finisterre. I've read from previous posts and websites that it'll take approx 3-4 days to get there. I would like to know:

1) Are there a lot of people (pilgrims and tourists) walking on the route?

2) Is it safe for an independent female traveller (i.e. me) to walk alone?

3) I don't speak Spanish at all (I can learn the very basics before I travel). Will it be impossible to do the walk without knowing the language?

4) Regarding the refuge sites along the route to Finisterre, is it not possible for a non-pilgram to stay there? Are there any hostels nearby at the stops for non-pilgrams?

Many thanks in advance!
 
#2
Hi, zcfaac!

I walked to Finisterre alone (female, mid-50s) in 2004. It was September, and the crowds were not huge, but enough to make the albergues seem well occupied. There was never a time that I felt uncomfortable, and as always, there is no shortage of walking companions if you don't want to walk alone. The walk was very nice, a few stretches on highway (right before Oliveiroa and after Cee on the way to Finisterre are two that stand out in my mind), but lots of off-road beauty.

Here are the logistical details:

Day 1 – 22 km Santiago to Negreira (unlike the other camino entrances into Santiago I've taken, this way out of town takes you into pure countryside about 10 minutes after you leave the cathedral.) There is no industrial or residential suburban stuff to go through. It’s a wonderful walk, takes you through some really pretty small towns. Several cafes and restaurants on the way for rest stops. Woman who runs the albergue in Negreira cooks supper. In town, there are many restaurants and cafes (in fact, I believe there’s a restaurant in Negreira with a Michelin star).


My one and only bad dog experience (in four caminos) happened a few km before Negreira. The gates to a huge manor estate were open, and as I walked by, two large growling german shephards came racing out of the gate and towards me. At just that moment, a car came by on the street and stopped. I hopped in and he drove me about 200 yards beyond the dogs. Later that night in the albergue, a woman arrived who had been bitten by those same dogs.

Day 2 – a long haul, about 35 km from Negreira to Oliveiroa (but no obvious stopping point in the middle). Oliveiroa is a small hamlet of about 7 houses, the refugio is in an ancient stone house, adjacent to another stone building with many pigs snorting around, kind of bucolic, no? The woman in charge also makes a basic dinner for all pilgrims. There is a bar in town up on the road where pilgrims congregate before dinner.

Day 3 – About 27 km to Finisterre, the end of the world. The refugio is right in town near the harbor. Make sure to walk up to the lighthouse, at sunset especially, for a drop dead gorgeous sight. Though it really isn’t the westernmost point of Europe (that distinction belongs to Cabo da Roca on the coast outside of Lisbon), it is a very beautiful spot.


As far as accommodations for non-pilgrims, I think Oliveiroa is the only problem. Negreira and Fisterre both have options. But I think I remember a larger town a few km before Oliveiroa, with a name that sounds similar (in fact some walkers took a wrong turn to get to it because the names are similar).
 

Magnara

Maggie Ramsay
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago de Compostela (2005) Via Francigena (2010) Le Puy to St Jean (2014)
#3
I learnt the very basics of Spanish before we went. We found it extremely useful and mde it possible to at least get by. In the East many people speak a bit of French, but we didn't find many anywhere along the route who spoke English, not enough to rely on it to shop, sort out a problem, get directions etc. I bought a cd lesson set and learnt on my way to work every day for a few weeks, that was enough. One tip we discovered: if you say "Do you speak English" people say no, If you say "Do you understand English" many more people will say "A little bit".
Buen Camino
Magnara
 
#4
peregrina2000 said:
Though it really isn’t the westernmost point of Europe (that distinction belongs to Cabo da Roca on the coast outside of Lisbon)
_continental Europe_ Iceland is the most westerly part of Europe (unless you count Greenland, which was part of the EEC until 1985), and W Ireland is also further west (Santiago is on about the same longitude as Cork). In any case, Cabo Fisterra is not the most westerly point of Galicia; that honour goes to the Cabo da Nave further north. If you walk out to the cape at Fisterra, you are heading south, not west.
See map

peregrina2000 said:
As far as accommodations for non-pilgrims, I think Oliveiroa is the only problem. Negreira and Fisterre both have options. But I think I remember a larger town a few km before Oliveiroa, with a name that sounds similar
You're probably thinking of Olveira (there is also Ponte Olveira), but if anything they're just as small, and I don't think there's any accommodation there either. http://maps.google.co.uk/?z=13&ll=42.96 ... 040267&t=h
And, yes, I don't think there's any accommodation between Negreira and Cee apart from the albergue in Olveiroa.
 
#6
a big thank you to all your replies!! they're very useful!

i still have some queries, but i'll post them later. i'm having my final exams at the moment.

cheers.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#7
1) Are there a lot of people (pilgrims and tourists) walking on the route?

Depends on various factors, such as a particular Camino and the time of year. I would venture to say that for most caminos there may be more peregrinos/turigrinos/bicigrinos and other grinos, that experience them during the summmertime than at other times. But then again there may be more walking the CF, than, say, the C Aragones or the Via de la Plata.

2) Is it safe for an independent female traveller (i.e. me) to walk alone?

This is an important subject of discussion that needs to be addressed every time it comes up. I say as safe as with anyone else, as safe for an ind male traveler, as safe as it may be in the general area where u live. I know of male and female peregrinos that have had unsafe experiences during their caminos, but then they've turned out to be more females than males. Nonetheless, and based on my experinece, these are uncommon cases. The Caminos are preyy safe. Just walk "defensively," as when u drive a car, assuming ur a driver :!: (strange analogy).

3) I don't speak Spanish at all (I can learn the very basics before I travel). Will it be impossible to do the walk without knowing the language?

Another important subject. It definitely would help but I don't think it's indispensable. "Bun Camino!," may be important to know, along with a few other expressions.

4) Regarding the refuge sites along the route to Finisterre, is it not possible for a non-pilgram to stay there? Are there any hostels nearby at the stops for non-pilgrams?

I don't think so, but then again it may depend on the particular albergue, the hospitalero at the time, and availability. Sometimes there r hostels, sometimes not. Sometimes u can make arrangements with people that live on a given area to rent u a room, sometimes not.

Ask, ask away, peregrina. I believe that at the same time we may be helpful to u, you put us to think about our experiences, always nice to meditate, ponder, remember.

Best,

xm 8)
 
#8
Hi, I've just completed the camino from Santiago to Fisterra (21-24/6)! It was a great trip! I met many people and got lots of advice from them! Thank you so much to those who have left messages in response to my enquiries!
 
#9
zcfaac8 said:
Hi, I've just completed the camino from Santiago to Fisterra (21-24/6)! It was a great trip! I met many people and got lots of advice from them! Thank you so much to those who have left messages in response to my enquiries!
Glad your trip was great. For the benefit of those who are to follow in your footsteps, it would be interesting to know how you would now answer the questions you posed in April about:

-numbers of pilgrims
-language usage issues
-female safety
-refugios availability/quality.

Thanks!
 

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