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SIM Cards & Pillow cases in Leon

Camino(s) past & future
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
#1
I thought this subject might catch some eyes. :D
My daughter and I are getting the planning started for our Camino in June. Since we only have 3 weeks from leaving the US till returning, we have decided to begin in Leon and go all the way to Finnesterre. It appears this will give us a few break days, not force us to kill ourselves, and have time to enjoy Santiago also.

The training and packing list are coming together, but I had two questions that only those in Europe or experienced with the Camino could answer.

SIM Cards: I plan to bring a mobile phone, but understand that I can purchase a pre-paid SIM card that will work internationally from most local Tabacs and that it is much cheaper than using one from the States. It can be refilled online from a Web Cafe with no problems. Is this true? How much do they cost and is there a place in Leon that I should go for this?

Pillow Cases: I understand that pillows in Europe are a slightly different size that those in the US and that pillowcases will need to be a bit bigger. Thus we plan to buy pillow cases in Leon to use the rest of the trip for the Albergues' pillows. Is this true or can we just bring one from home and it will fit well?

Sink Drain covers: In someone's packing list, they included a plastic drain cover to use in the sinks for washing clothes because the albergues do not always have drain plugs. Is this really necessary? I would think that drain plugs would be essential in the albergue and that no one would be walking away with these. Is it best to have one?

I know these are strange questions, but we are trying to make sure we plan as best as possible. Any assistance from your experience would be helpful.

Thanks.
Rambler
 
#2
Rambler, what I did was buy a cheapie phone that can be used in Europe off of Ebay & then got a UK Orange card, also on Ebay (since most of my international travel is to the UK it makes more sense). Orange is now in Spain & I'm sure you can get SIM cards there too. You must make sure though that you can use your US phone in Europe since they use a different band or something like that. :)

As for pillowcases, maybe get a couple of king-sized pillowcases here for use on the Camino? If the cases are too small, you could always drape the pillowcase over the pillow.

Kelly
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#4
Hello there Rambler,
How exciting for you to be walking with your daughter! That will be such a special journey.
I used a silk sleeping bag liner that has a fold over section at the top to slip the pillow into. Perhaps you can buy a Continental pillowcase - that should fit all pillows. As I have a lower back problem, I also took a little camp pillow which I used to put between my knees.
 
Camino(s) past & future
September 2006
August - September 2017
#5
Don't know about cell phones, I left mine at home... I did use the internet though.

As to pillow cases, we took a silk sleep sack that I got from REI, that had a pillow cover built into it. As most albuges did not have sheets, this worked out very well for my wife and I. It weighs next to nothing an crushes down to about the size of your fist.

My wife would not go without her foam contured pillow, which I put into a stuff sack and carried for her on top of my pack. She never complained of her back pain, so it was worth it to me.

A drain stop could be helpful, but most of the time, we just let the water run, as there usually werent there.

Buen Camino
Jerry
 

Arn

Moderator
Staff member
#6
I honestly think I'm trying to finally get away from contact with the outside. If you see any black helo's they've found me and I'll be gone a few days and then return. As to pillows:

Jerry wrote:which I put into a stuff sack and carried for her on top of my pack.
Knowing Jerry to be a gentleman, I can understand and salud him!

For me, I found that if a carry a cheap box wine, the insert inside, once free of liquid, makes a fantastic collapsible pillow. During the day, I fill it up with water...or some such!

Buen Camino,

Arn
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#7
Rambler said:
Sink Drain covers: In someone's packing list, they included a plastic drain cover to use in the sinks for washing clothes because the albergues do not always have drain plugs. Is this really necessary? I would think that drain plugs would be essential in the albergue and that no one would be walking away with these. Is it best to have one?Rambler
I have not done the Camino yet, but have travelled extensively staying in many hostels in Europe and elsewhere. Sink 'drain covers' - we call them plugs here!- are not available in many places. For many years I have taken a plastic universal plug in my toilet bag, and have often found use for it.
Margaret
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#8
A Universal plug is something we recommend everyone take - especially if you are walking in France where they sometimes charge you extra for a bathplug. They are inexpensive and don't weigh much. It's amazing how often the plugs for the wash troughs go missing and it can be frustrating to wash clothes while the water drains away!
 

Arn

Moderator
Staff member
#9
I've found that rather than a plug, I have a flat piece of rubber that fits over just about any size hole and make a super seal...also very light weight and not bulky.

Buen "keeping it clean" Camino
Arn
 
Camino(s) past & future
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
#10
Thanks to everyone for all the great replies!

The bag liners we got from REI do not have the Pillow insert so we may still need the pillow cases. Ivar:
The SIM card information helped. I followed your links and got to the Wiki site for calling home which answered all my questions. I am going to try and find a "tarjeta" from Movistar or Vodafone in Leon that I can use in my multiband phone. It appears the phone companies may have shops or I can get a card in a grocery store. then my family can call from the States to the local Spain number.
Also adding the drain plug to my list of "stuff". It keeps getting heavier...

Thanks again.
Rambler
 

Dale

Active Member
#11
Hi Rambler:

Just to add to the SIM Card Cell Phone confusion this company has SIM Cards and cheap European Cell Phones available : http://www.telestial.com/?gclid=CPeT66Dbm5ECFQQjPAodKCyKPA plus they provide a lot of information on the topic. I assume you know that the SIM Card won't work in most North American Phones. An international cell phone is classified as a GSM mobile phone that operates on the GSM 900 and GSM 1800 frequency. An international cell phone with the appropriate sim card, will provide coverage in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific Rim including Australia. A world cell phone with the GSM 1900 frequency will expand coverage to include the United States, Canada and a growing part of South America. Hope this makes sense.
 
Camino(s) past & future
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
#12
Dale:
Thanks for the information. If I buy from Telestial it would be US$39 plus $8 shipping. You get $10 of time with the card.
It sounds like the purchase option in Leon will be better and cheaper. It will have to cost Euro33 to equal the Telestial one.

I think it will be better, but Ivar, maybe you know the prices.

Thanks.
Rambler
 
#13
I hesitate to add any thoughts to a thread having to do with electronics, because I don't own a cell phone for use in the US. So my comments may be of no help to anyone. But in 2003, my walking partner and I decided we really should have a cell phone for emergency contacts on the Camino. In a cell phone store in Pamplona, we bought a phone with a 25E usage card inside it for a total of 25E. Not a fancy phone by any means but it did the job. (And since it's lasted for five years, I assume it is of acceptable quality). We held on to the phone at the end of the walk. On our next walk, took the phone back to the same store and got a new card and a new phone number. Last summer we did it again in Bilbao. One email to the US telling everyone our new phone number and we were immediately "reachable." I have no idea if that's an easier solution than Sim cards.
Laurie
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
#14
..a few more centavos to the móvil phone discussion...

To the best of my knowledge the only regular American cell phone that works in Europe is a tri-band phone with service from Cingular (now ATT). I tried to get one a couple of years ago and this is what I was told by both my carrier and Cingular. I did not want to switch my American service to this Cingular/ATT and so a couple of years ago bought an inexpensive Vodafone in Madrid. Each year when I go, I either "recargar" recharge it or get a new number - if you recharge within 9 months of last use you can keep the same number.. otherwise it is a new card and a new number. It is so simple and handy to use a European phone in Europe. You can call the States, they can call you and you are local to call an albergue, another Pilgrim, a taxi, train station, etc.

Last summer I had students in Spain for a month and most of them bought the inexpensive Spanish phones with either a card or prepaid minutes. In my opinion, the simplest way to go.
Buen Camino,
 

Arn

Moderator
Staff member
#15
I've been debating the phone issue and I think it's a good idea as DeirdrE sugggest. I suppose I'll get a charger and I'm set. I could see where us folks here on the Forum...if we choose not to go back the next year...we could mail the phone we have to the next peregrino...or a student in DeirdrE's class and they could pay the shipping, or whatever, and have the phone....good to go!

Arn
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
#16
If you buy the phone in Spain the battery charger comes with it - no need for an adapter! When I leave Spain I simply remove the battery, return it to its original box and keep the entire thing in a cool place until the next time I return to Spain (as in next week!) The first order of business upon arrival in Spain (or anywhere else in Europe) is to charge up the phone and I'm in business... and you can always "recargarlo" add more minutes at El Corte Inglés! Between that and Vodafone and "recharging kiosks" (for minutes) it is so much more simple than here in the States. Since everyone in Spain (Europe, for that matter!) has had a móvil phone forever, they are much more savvy about conveniently recharging the minutes.

Buen Camino,
 
#17
Deirdre,

Great info on getting a mobile.....I think it will be quite useful and practical for all the things you mentioned...could you give some leads as to where in Pamplona I could purchase one and also any idea of prices....did you buy the phone and then buy minutes for Spain and minutes for international ..it also sounds like there is not a "contract" for so many months/years to be signed as we do in Canada and the US ......in addition to using it locally I will be using it to keep in touch with home...

Thanks,
Marilyn
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
#18
Hi Marilyn,
Pamplona is a large town (small city). Vodafone is everywhere in Spain - and their stores are small and located in every shopping area. I know there is a fairly large Corte Inglés (department store) in Pamplona - I was in it! Anyway, go to the tourist office in Pamplona - I'm sure they can direct you to a phone store.
Some can be purchased with minutes that you can add to when they are nearly used up. All have the ability to call internationally and for home to call you. I have in the past put about 20€-30€ on my phone and it lasts weeks! You dont' need to buy a contract... just minutes. You buy the phone and number (some as cheap as 25€) there is usually a set number of minutes (not too many) included. As they run out, you simply add more. There are even automated machines - similar to ATM machines- where you can type in your phone number, put in an amount of money, and your minutes are automatically added on! It is amazingly convenient!

There is nothing fancy about my phone - it does have a camera! and I used it as a clock/alarm as I broke my watch just before I began the Camino (very convenient, actually). But it does everything I want it to... Everyone in Spain has a móvil... so the stores are everywhere! I don't know where specifically in Pamplona, as I bought mine in Madrid, but i have used it all over Spain and called internationally - including to a friend on the Camino who had a French móvil. I didn't use it often, but I must say it came in very handy - we booked a hotel in Fisterra, I had to go to the hospital in Santiago and it helped my friends keep in touch with me and I with them... it was nice to have it. Hope this helps...
 
#20
The tips above should provide enough information on how to keep in touch with home whilst overseas, particularly Spain. If you are from the Americas or countries not using the GSM phones you may find that the triband phones may not work even if unlocked, our Cingular did not work

GSM mobile phones are readily available at around 40E in Spain without the SIM card, there are cheaper bargains if you have time to shop around. We found that the cost of the calls on the mobile using the Spain SIM cards was many times the cost of calling using the phone(telefonica)card and other calling cards so readily available at nearly all retail outlets.

Spain is a first world country with plenty calling booths, there are many internet cafes with cheap phone call facilities in addition to the excellent internet facilities. The web site below provides more details of mobiles in Spain:

http://gospain.about.com/od/spanishlife ... nghome.htm

You may find disapproving comments from the purists for carrying a mobile on the Camino, fortunately they have not surfaced on this forum, and instead we find so many practical aspects on the use of a SIM which has come through to be shared.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#21
There is nothing wrong with taking your phone as long as it on silent for most of the time and you don't have long, loud conversations in the dormitories when other pilgrims are trying to sleep!
Last April when the Italian and the English pilgrims were lost in the snow crossing from St Jean to Roncesvalles, the Italians were able to find a signal and called 112 using their cell phones. They were found by resuce workers. As you know, the Englishman wasn't so lucky and he was found a bit too late, only 50m from a road, but with severe hyperthermia.
The same thing happened to a South African guy who survived a six-hour ordeal lost on Table Mountain in a storm. Thanks to his cellphone when he was able to keep in contact with the Wilderness Search and Rescue
There are many other stories of people being saved by their cell phones, either by the networks being able to pin-point where they are, or calling for help when being abducted (like the woman who called for help whilst being locked in the trunk of a car).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#22
There´s a great service in Madrid, run by an American/Scottish expat who can set you up with a mobile phone at the best price available, and have it waiting for you when you arrive in Pamplona or Leon. You can either rent one or buy one, the quality is excellent and the price is right. His name is Jer, you can find him and his business at http://www.multimadrid.com. (he runs the very handy website, too.)

I´m not related to him, but I´ve used his service for years. Tell him Rebekah sent you! (For use on the Camino I´d recommend Movistar and Orange, in that order. Vodafone has big holes in their coverage through Castilla-Leon.)

reb
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#23
I was too rushed before my last Camino to arrange a SIM card, and wanted to get out of Barcelona airport as quickly as possible, so did not pick up a telephone there. However, I had erroneously taken my Canadian cellphone with me (a Motorola on a Rogers contract) and, sipping Campari in a café in Tárrega, heard my phone ring with a call from a friend in Toronto. The reception was excellent, to the point my friend did not believe that I was in Spain, and I had to call the waitress over to testify (in Catalan) that I was.
 
Camino(s) past & future
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
#24
Here in the States AT&T (Cingular) is full GSM now. A tri-band or quad band phone that is unlocked should work in Spain. My plan is to bring a Treo and load all my notes and infomration about Albergues, etc. into the phone. It has a Spanish/French/Italian/English dictionary program also that I think will be helpful. The cheepest way then to talk to them back in the US will be to have someone call my new "Spanish" number from a phone with cheap international fees. Plus I can use it all though Spain to call bus lines etc.
Thanks again for all the information.
Rambler
 

vinotinto

Active Member
#25
Chev.Jerry said:
As to pillow cases
To save on weight, you can always stuff the pillow into one of your T-shirts, or cover it with a fleece jacket...that's sort of a minimalist path, I suppose, especially if you don't mind drool stains on your outfit the next day... :wink: :arrow:
 
Camino(s) past & future
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
#26
Vinotinto:
That is a Great Idea!!!
I am all for double using. Actually that may allow to bring a third shirt that I otherwise would not bring. But the shirt is much more useful than a pillow case.

These are the kind of ideas that make this forum so invaluable.

Thanks.
Rambler
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#27
On my last Camino, I rented a phone in Spain from http://www.onspanishtime.com
They also do the SIM card route as well.
It was very convenient and I thought a good deal. Their service was superb!
lynne
 
#28
At night my sarong was my pillowcase. More of a concern for me than bedbugs was lice. This long hair would be in trouble with those critters, so I made sure my pillow was covered. No guarantees but hey...
Lillian
 
Camino(s) past & future
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
#29
I have tried to talk my daughter into bringing a sarong, but she just rolled her eyes at me! Guess that is just not the type of thing that the typical US teenager wears around.
Anyone know of a good website that would tell her the pros of sarong use?

I guess maybe this is a topic for a different thread though.
Rambler
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#30
On each Camino, I have used my sarong for -
- a pillowcase
- wearing from shower to bunk
- just wearing as clothing when washing/drying clothes
- shawl when the evenings were chilly
- tablecloth for picnics

Wouldn't go anywhere without it!

lynne
 

Trudy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
#31
Forget the pillow case. I wrap my silk sleeping sheet around the pillow, as I find the sheet too narrow to sleep in comfortably. Regarding pillow size: I can't recall any albergue that had reasonably sized pillows ie standard size. Most albergue pillows are small to large cushion size, and some albergues have none at all. That's when you improvise and stuff the sleeping bag sack with clothes to use as a pillow!
 
#32
What I needed was a European cell phone I could use during my trips abroad.
And after doing some research I decide to stay with http://callineurope.com/; the rates they offer look more competitive compared to few sources I verified. And I won't have to pay any monthly fees and will be able to reroute my US number.
 

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