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LIVE from the Camino SJPP to SdC

Past OR future Camino
2021
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2012
Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk.
Roncesvalles! I see from another thread that you've done no planning / research other than the forum and Ubend. Otherwise you'd have known that Roncesvalles has never provided blankets, is always freezing cold and has never offered a choice of bunk unless you explain the incapacity that requires a bottom bunk.

Buen Camino @Richard of York. You've a few more surprises coming ;)
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I've always found the volunteers at Roncesvalles very helpful. It is not an easy task to organise so many people, many arriving exhausted and probably with unrealistic expectations, this being their first experience of sleeping in an albergue. Time to learn the first lesson of the camino - be gracious for what you receive because this is not a tourist trip.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles.
Yes, a special and heartfelt thank you for these incredibly hard working volunteers. The need to make things work for everyone trumps individual desires. This is a pilgrimage, not a tour, and part of pilgrimage is accepting what is offered with gratitude. So tighten your seatbelt, @Richard of York , because you're in for a ride.

If you geniinely need things a certain way, albergue life may not be your cuppa, and there's nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. Fortunately there are plenty of private accommodation options along the way.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.

August 2001, in Roncesvalles, I slept in the large cold dormitory full of rickety bunk beds and no blankets. For some reason it didn’t occur to me it would be cold at the foot of the Pyrenees. I caught a cold that lasted all the way to Sahagun. I became the coughing pilgrim with whom no one wished to bunk near.

September 2002, I slept there again but was better prepared. The latest time sleeping in Roncesvalles was February 2019. We few pilgrims were housed in a small room with rickety bunks and too much heat.

I have yet to sleep in the nice new accommodations. One day!

Each and every time I found the hospies at Roncesvalles to be quite nice and very helpful.

Buen camino.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Every time I've slept in Roncesvalles the albergue has been in a different building. Although I think the latest is the old youth hostel, where I once slept, renovated.

Does anyone remember the second night on the CF, in the old school in Zubiri? Freezing cold, with really old wire framed saggy bunks, super thin mattresses, 2 basic toilets, and only a cold water tap outside for washing? We made such good friends because it was like being in the trenches together. Ah, them were the days!
 
Past OR future Camino
I plan to walk this year 2020 in September
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
Hi Richard, thanks for your very extensive post, so helpful as I plan to start your route in around 3 weeks. Could I ask a few questions that would help me. When you flew into Biarritz ( from Stansted?), were you able to travel to SJPP on the same day? I am hoping to, but worried I won’t make the last train from Bayonne station which I believe is around 18.30.
I want to pick up my credentials from SJPP, what time is the office open from and till?
how long did it take you to walk from SJPP to Roscenvalles?
Is there any option to the large Albuerge at Roscenvalles? My concern is mixing with such a large volume of people at the start of my journey.
I was surprised with your comment on the temperature. I was debating whether to bring a sleeping bag and this persuaded me.
sorry for all the questions but lots of things I’m thinking about/ planning for and any guidance would be so helpful. Hope second and subsequent days went well
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
August 2001, in Roncesvalles, I slept in the large cold dormitory full of rickety bunk beds and no blankets. [...]

September 2002, I slept there again but was better prepared. The latest time sleeping in Roncesvalles was February 2019. [...]

Each and every time I found the hospies at Roncesvalles to be quite nice and very helpful.
You may never have met the volunteer hospitalero crew in question because the association to which they belong started to work with the Roncesvalles albergue only in 2003 and they are not in Roncesvalles during the winter pilgrimage season, i.e. from November to February.

I've seen similar complaints like the one in the OP, and I suspect that there was a bit of a culture clash involved. You say something in your own language that sounds totally normal to everyone around you but when you say it in English it sounds harsh. He'll get over it. 😎
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
August 2001, in Roncesvalles, I slept in the large cold dormitory full of rickety bunk beds and no blankets. For some reason it didn’t occur to me it would be cold at the foot of the Pyrenees. I caught a cold that lasted all the way to Sahagun. I became the coughing pilgrim with whom no one wished to bunk near.

September 2002, I slept there again but was better prepared. The latest time sleeping in Roncesvalles was February 2019. We few pilgrims were housed in a small room with rickety bunks and too much heat.

I have yet to sleep in the nice new accommodations. One day!

Each and every time I found the hospies at Roncesvalles to be quite nice and very helpful.

Buen camino.
Both times I stayed at the albergue in Roncesvalles I was housed in what seemed like a very nice new section. After seeing "the movie" I was actually disappointed I did not get to stay in the huge old room with the rickety bunks...I was wanting to experience what "Tom" did.

Does anyone remember the second night on the CF, in the old school in Zubiri? ...really old wire framed saggy bunks, super thin mattresses, 2 basic toilets, and only a cold water tap outside for washing?
I stayed at the muni in Zubiri in 2015. @Kanga you have described it well. I am a grateful pilgrim, but it was my least fave albergue in all 5 of my various Caminos. It was the first time a stranger who was French tried to communicate with me. He was quite rotund and sitting on his bunk directly across from me wearing only his bikini underwear with his legs splayed.🙈
 

Happy Penguin

Rainy day in Castilblanco
Past OR future Camino
2021
One thing I learned from past experience: don't ask the Dutch volunteers in Roncesvalles to switch your bedbunk for a different one :) if you arrive at the albergue accepting that, it will dramatically improve your experience, and you will appreciate the Dutch order and you will find the volunteers to be supernice and helpful!

Then go to your cubicle, put all your stuff on the assigned top bunk, take a shower, do your chores, eat the supper, and when the lights go off, if you have problem climbing the top bunk (🍷?) just take the bottom one, which is empty due to covid rules. Your cubicle partner will understand 🤫

As for the freezing winds from open windows, I remember well this Ronceswalles experience (just a month ago, July 5th)
But actually 5 degrees Celsius at night is a penguin's dream 🐧🐧🐧😋
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
I've seen similar complaints like the one in the OP, and I suspect that there was a bit of a culture clash involved. You say something in your own language that sounds totally normal to everyone around you but when you say it in English it sounds harsh. He'll get over it
Good point. Perhaps. On top of that, Dutch people are often very direct and to the point. British folk...not so much.
🤣
 

camino.ninja

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
Roncesvalles! I see from another thread that you've done no planning / research other than the forum and Ubend. Otherwise you'd have known that Roncesvalles has never provided blankets, is always freezing cold and has never offered a choice of bunk unless you explain the incapacity that requires a bottom bunk.

Buen Camino @Richard of York. You've a few more surprises coming ;)

About 50% chance of stupid arrogance from the volunteers in Rocesvalles. And 50% chance of very helpful and nice volunteers.
 

RestedMoon

New Member
Past OR future Camino
August (2019)
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
Thank you for your update!
 
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Happy Penguin

Rainy day in Castilblanco
Past OR future Camino
2021
26b33ac77a072afd2828f9bc12452550.jpg

Good old days in Roncesvalles...
 
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Scott Sweeney

Active Member
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
Oh you're going to have a fun journey. Buen Camino.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Roncesvalles! I see from another thread that you've done no planning / research other than the forum and Ubend. Otherwise you'd have known that Roncesvalles has never provided blankets, is always freezing cold and has never offered a choice of bunk unless you explain the incapacity that requires a bottom bunk.

Buen Camino @Richard of York. You've a few more surprises coming ;)
They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all.
Richard of York, you will learn that not only does the Camino provide it also teaches us to let lots of stuff go. I have learned, especially on Camino that 9 times out of 10 the blame probably lies with ourselves not with the object of our anger. Even if it is less than 9. The lesson learned is it just isn't very important. As Tincatinkersaid they have never offered blankets and right now in the land of Covid there will probably be alot more albergues that don't. Just put some more clothes on and you will be fine. I have stayed in this "offending" albergue twice. Both times I asked for a lower bunk because of my age and frequency of bathroom use and difficulty getting down at night. I said it was not just for my well being but to help insure the uninterrupted sleep of the Pilgrim below me. Both times I was given a bottom bunk without a second thought. I also have to say that the people working there couldn't be nicer especially given the numbers of Pilgrims that need to be accommodated and checked in. I think it is especially more difficult than other albergues because of the size and also because there are so many first time pilgrims with first night jitters sleeping there. Relax, breath and be thankful.
Remember the old adage (I am not sure if I do but let's give it a whirl!!!)
Tourists demand, Pilgrims are thankful.
It brings alot more joy to your pilgrim heart and spirit to be thankful.
Buen Camino
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi Richard, thanks for your very extensive post, so helpful as I plan to start your route in around 3 weeks. Could I ask a few questions that would help me. When you flew into Biarritz ( from Stansted?), were you able to travel to SJPP on the same day? I am hoping to, but worried I won’t make the last train from Bayonne station which I believe is around 18.30.
I want to pick up my credentials from SJPP, what time is the office open from and till?
how long did it take you to walk from SJPP to Roscenvalles?
Is there any option to the large Albuerge at Roscenvalles? My concern is mixing with such a large volume of people at the start of my journey.
I was surprised with your comment on the temperature. I was debating whether to bring a sleeping bag and this persuaded me.
sorry for all the questions but lots of things I’m thinking about/ planning for and any guidance would be so helpful. Hope second and subsequent days went well
I can answer all your questions, eceot the first one as I never rush to get to SJPP
But the rest
What time is the Pilgrim office open?
How long does it take to walk?
It is different for every single person. How good a shape are you in? How fast do you walk? How do you know that no matter how good a shape you think you may be that first day is still going to present challenges. How long do you need to rest when you stop to eat something, rehydrate and get your strength back. Start early, stay hydrated, bring snacks, listen to your body and stop when your body tells you to stop and rest, hopefully you have the right shoes and your pack fits well and you have not overpacked. Give yourself about 10 days as a new pilgrim and you will know how long it will take to get somewhere. It also will depend on the time of year, the weather that day and how well you can tackle a hill like the one to Orisson and just as importantly that last lovely steep downhill.
Where else can you sleep in Roncesvalles check Gronze.com
https://www.gronze.com/etapa/roncesvalles/zubiri
or Wise Pilgrim
Sleeping bag, maybe but you can always put on extra clothes. But have a sleep sack for sure.
Hope this helps
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Every time I've slept in Roncesvalles the albergue has been in a different building. Although I think the latest is the old youth hostel, where I once slept, renovated.

Does anyone remember the second night on the CF, in the old school in Zubiri? Freezing cold, with really old wire framed saggy bunks, super thin mattresses, 2 basic toilets, and only a cold water tap outside for washing? We made such good friends because it was like being in the trenches together. Ah, them were the days!
On my first camino I thought after sleeping in the 4 Seasons Zubiri Albergue de Perigrinos and the day before walking to Roncesvalles, I made this far I got this!!!!!!! It is a great way to gain lots and lots of confidence for a new Pilgrim!!!!!!
 
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dfox

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2017
It was May, 2017. The pilgrim menu in one of the restaurants in the albergue, which was on the 1st (or 2nd) floor, had roasted (or grilled) fresh fish (river trout?), it was so yummy. The meal was 10 euros.
 

Peadarmac

Irlandes Pedro
Past OR future Camino
Astorga-S de C '11,'18,19
St Jean-Belorado '13 & '17
Belorado-Astorga '15
Fisterra-Muxia '11,'18,'19
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
Your description of the Volunteers at the Albergue is extremely unfair, unkind and totally uncalled for. Whatever your experience you have absolutely no right to describe these folks as ‘nasty people’. I have only experienced a great welcome and kindness from the Volunteers at this Albergue. In future please adhere to the adage ‘ if you have nothing nice to say , say nothing at all ‘
 
Past OR future Camino
I plan to walk this year 2020 in September
I can answer all your questions, eceot the first one as I never rush to get to SJPP
But the rest
What time is the Pilgrim office open?
How long does it take to walk?
It is different for every single person. How good a shape are you in? How fast do you walk? How do you know that no matter how good a shape you think you may be that first day is still going to present challenges. How long do you need to rest when you stop to eat something, rehydrate and get your strength back. Start early, stay hydrated, bring snacks, listen to your body and stop when your body tells you to stop and rest, hopefully you have the right shoes and your pack fits well and you have not overpacked. Give yourself about 10 days as a new pilgrim and you will know how long it will take to get somewhere. It also will depend on the time of year, the weather that day and how well you can tackle a hill like the one to Orisson and just as importantly that last lovely steep downhill.
Where else can you sleep in Roncesvalles check Gronze.com
https://www.gronze.com/etapa/roncesvalles/zubiri
or Wise Pilgrim
Sleeping bag, maybe but you can always put on extra clothes. But have a sleep sack for sure.
Hope this helps
Thanks for the reply, great help.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Oct 2020
August 2001, in Roncesvalles, I slept in the large cold dormitory full of rickety bunk beds and no blankets. For some reason it didn’t occur to me it would be cold at the foot of the Pyrenees. I caught a cold that lasted all the way to Sahagun. I became the coughing pilgrim with whom no one wished to bunk near.

September 2002, I slept there again but was better prepared. The latest time sleeping in Roncesvalles was February 2019. We few pilgrims were housed in a small room with rickety bunks and too much heat.

I have yet to sleep in the nice new accommodations. One day!

Each and every time I found the hospies at Roncesvalles to be quite nice and very helpful.

Buen camino.
I slept there last October. Yes they had rules, but they were the norm (ie no shoes in the hostel living area) but nothing unexpected or unreasonable. Was in the new building at half capacity allowed, due to Covid, very comfortable, definitely not cold.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Oct 2020
Good point. Perhaps. On top of that, Dutch people are often very direct and to the point. British folk...not so much.
🤣
That is true. I have Dutch friends and you always know where you are with them as they say what they mean. Being tolerant to other ways of life makes for an interesting and enjoyable journey.
 
Past OR future Camino
2019
To be fair RoY is giving his opinion of his experience of how he felt he was treated which is a part of his update, your experience may be totally different but you cannot say he is wrong or out of order it is his experience please remember this before criticising his post, volunteers like the rest of humanity can have off days and he may have met them on one of these days. Richard of York I wish you buen camino and I hope your experience improves for you, keep the updates coming as I start out on 21st of September and appreciate your feedback in real time 👍
 

Spicer

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino frances (2017)
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
We were there in 2018. It was busy but the staff were friendly and helpful.
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
As I said before, I've always had really good experiences with the volunteers there - they are, as far as I know, unpaid, btw, so not "staff".

It is good to learn that different cultures have different unspoken rules. For many years our family was involved with a voluntary student exchange program. I learnt never to ask my Norwegian exchange student a question to which I did not want a truly, really, straightforward honest answer. So if I asked: "Do I look fat in this?" he would say: "Yes". If I asked the same question to a British student, she would say: "It looks nice from behind". If I asked my Bolivian exchange student, he would say: "You look gorgeous beautiful Mama, of course you do not look fat"!!!

We are initially uncomfortable with new cultural norms. It used to be called culture shock. Now that we all travel so much, we forget that it is a real thing. It is as well to remember for the first few weeks on the Camino, and not to be too judgmental.
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
So if I asked: "Do I look fat in this?" he would say: "Yes". If I asked the same question to a British student, she would say: "It looks nice from behind". If I asked my Bolivian exchange student, he would say: "You look gorgeous beautiful Mama, of course you do not look fat"!!!
🤣 🤣 🤣

It is as well to remember for the first few weeks on the Camino, and not to be too judgmental.
Absolutely. Very wise words.
 

A Kerryman

Member
Past OR future Camino
2018,2019, 2021
As I said before, I've always had really good experiences with the volunteers there - they are, as far as I know, unpaid, btw, so not "staff".

It is good to learn that different cultures have different unspoken rules. For many years our family was involved with a voluntary student exchange program. I learnt never to ask my Norwegian exchange student a question to which I did not want a truly, really, straightforward honest answer. So if I asked: "Do I look fat in this?" he would say: "Yes". If I asked the same question to a British student, she would say: "It looks nice from behind". If I asked my Bolivian exchange student, he would say: "You look gorgeous beautiful Mama, of course you do not look fat"!!!

We are initially uncomfortable with new cultural norms. It used to be called culture shock. Now that we all travel so much, we forget that it is a real thing. It is as well to remember for the first few weeks on the Camino, and not to be too judgmental.
By the same token would it not be fair to apply the same patience and judgement to the original post ,
a Pilgrim arrives tired , possibly in pain after the first day and unfortunately puts his thoughts , frustration into words and posts onto the forum .
He probably regrets doing so .
 

Cicada

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
Are you the Richard Of York who Gained Battles In Vain?
Volunteers were great in April 2017! Buen Camino
 
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ISABEL linares

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
The volunters are traying to help,so no need for insults.
 

Bettyvel

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
And I can help wo
Thanks for the reply, great help.
From my recent experience I can help with the other questions:
Arriving by train us easy and handy. The one coming from Bayonne for example (passing Biarritz) arrives to the next platform in that the little train leaving to SJPP, and the matter waits for the incoming trains (!) . I took that train and had time to go to the pilgrims welcoming office. Please note that you will be given a list of albergues which Gad been done with 2019 data so some changes have happened after COVID! Crosscheck and plan ahead.
Buen camino!
 

BonitaHolland

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Starting 3rd Sep 2016
Hi Richard, thanks for your very extensive post, so helpful as I plan to start your route in around 3 weeks. Could I ask a few questions that would help me. When you flew into Biarritz ( from Stansted?), were you able to travel to SJPP on the same day? I am hoping to, but worried I won’t make the last train from Bayonne station which I believe is around 18.30.
I want to pick up my credentials from SJPP, what time is the office open from and till?
how long did it take you to walk from SJPP to Roscenvalles?
Is there any option to the large Albuerge at Roscenvalles? My concern is mixing with such a large volume of people at the start of my journey.
I was surprised with your comment on the temperature. I was debating whether to bring a sleeping bag and this persuaded me.
sorry for all the questions but lots of things I’m thinking about/ planning for and any guidance would be so helpful. Hope second and subsequent days went well
You’ll need to stay in Biarritz I think overnight then catch the train to SJPP the next morning or change your flight time. We arrived at SJPP then queued along the wall at 2pm to check into the Albergue and start your experience with chatting to other walkers. We then started our walk the next day. The walk to Roscenvalles is very long, so split it into two. Try to stay at Osiris overnight which is a couple of hours walk from SJPP it’s a fabulous experience at the dinner with everyone socialising but you’ll need to book well in advance. Everyone needs a sleeping bag or at least a silk bag. It’s rare to find blankets and I’d be wary anyway because of bed bugs. Have a great trip and don’t rush….
 
Last edited:

Moll1e

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2015 St. jean to Logrono
I've always found the volunteers at Roncesvalles very helpful. It is not an easy task to organise so many people, many arriving exhausted and probably with unrealistic expectations, this being their first experience of sleeping in an albergue. Time to learn the first lesson of the camino - be gracious for what you receive because this is not a tourist trip.
Well said!
 

Moll1e

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2015 St. jean to Logrono
About 50% chance of stupid arrogance from the volunteers in Rocesvalles. And 50% chance of very helpful and nice volunteers.
Actually yes, I've just had a flashback to an extremely rude older volunteer who was quite vindictive at dinner time.

It takes a special team to deal with people who have been walking all day over a very arduous route and are exhausted. A generous dose of tolerance and welcome is required!
 
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Moll1e

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2015 St. jean to Logrono
About 50% chance of stupid arrogance from the volunteers in Rocesvalles. And 50% chance of very helpful and nice volunteers.
This from On Being newsletter today:

"We hope that gathering places can be places of connection, yes; but also places where powers and presumptions are undone, and places where griefs can be acknowledged, their burdens can be laid down — if only for a while — and where the possibility of spiritual and bodily rest can be honored. Wherever you find such place of retreat, amidst all the demands and losses of this last year, we wish you the deepest hospitality in order to experience the deepest rest."

Beautiful!
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
It takes a special team to deal with people who have been walking all day over a very arduous route and are exhausted. A generous dose of tolerance and welcome is required!

It is worth realizing that the Roncesvalles team is quite special.

These people are volunteering for two weeks, paying their own travel expenses, and trying to assist pilgrims the best they can. And then they are, being insulted on a public forum for being nasty people and stupidly arrogant, by people who found the albergue to be a bit too cold & who can not deal with a bit of directness.

And then next year, these volunteers will volunteer again.
 

Moll1e

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2015 St. jean to Logrono
It is worth realizing that the Roncesvalles team is quite special.

These people are volunteering for two weeks, paying their own travel expenses, and trying to assist pilgrims the best they can. And then they are, being insulted on a public forum for being nasty people and stupidly arrogant, by people who found the albergue to be a bit too cold & who can not deal with a bit of directness.

And then next year, these volunteers will volunteer again.
That may be so, but I wonder about selection and training of volunteers. In my opinion, there's a difference between directness and rudeness and I experienced the latter on one occasion.
 

Susannah1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
I struggle with modern technology. I had a thread with the wrong date for my start, so perhaps if I start a new one someone will get rid of that one. This is now *LIVE FROM THE CAMINO*

I flew to Biarritz on Friday, walked sjpp to Roncesvalles on Saturday, to Zubiri on Sunday, to Villava yesterday and now at Uterga.

Not many people. Mostly Spaniards. Country no 2 seems to be Italy, with a good third of people I meet. Just 1 2 or 3 people from USA (possibly 3rd), Germany, Ireland, France plus me from the UK.

Masks - you need them in shops/ at the bar, but the effort is half-hearted. About 25% in the streets of Pamplona

Hostel availability - it's all about 50% because of covid so at least I get a bottom bunk, but everyone seems to be booking ahead a day or 2. I'm in Estella tomorrow, I wanted a hotel for 2 nights so I booked this yesterday.

There are so few of us we are all meeting at the same places. It's quite nice really, goodness knows what it's normally like.

A special mention to the volunteers at Roncesvalles. They did their best to scare everyone from continuing, with the 'You must wear your mask all the time on the Camino'. No you don't. Also the place was freezing, no blankets and temperatures about 5 degrees at night, and no choice of top or bottom bunk. I cannot climb down from a top bunk so they are lucky they didn't have a case on their hands. I do not recommend it at all. Officious, nasty people.
I stayed in Ronscevalles this time 2019 and was surprised how cold it was at night. In fact many mornings of my August camino started off walking in the cold temperatures and socks were utilised as gloves! I had googled the albergue at Ronscevalles before I left and was expecting the giant bed hall with rickety bunks (as portrayed in The Way) so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself in the new section with a sturdy bunk in groups of four beds. I loved that albergue, had a warm welcome and some fun conversation with one of the volunteers in the laundry.
 
Past OR future Camino
I plan to walk this year 2020 in September
You’ll need to stay in Biarritz I think overnight then catch the train to SJPP the next morning or change your flight time. We arrived at SJPP then queued along the wall at 2pm to check into the Albergue and start your experience with chatting to other walkers. We then started our walk the next day. The walk to Roscenvalles is very long, so split it into two. Try to stay at Osiris overnight which is a couple of hours walk from SJPP it’s a fabulous experience at the dinner with everyone socialising but you’ll need to book well in advance. Everyone needs a sleeping bag or at least a silk bag. It’s rare to find blankets and I’d be wary anyway because of bed bugs. Have a great trip and don’t rush….
Thanks Bonita
 
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ISABEL linares

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
About 50% chance of stupid arrogance from the volunteers in Rocesvalles. And 50% chance of very helpful and nice volunteers.
The volunteers are doing a very good job for nothing, maybe those who think they are arrogant they should go to an hotel.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
And there I was thinking that this thread is a frank but balanced exchange of views, concentrating mainly on two unwisely chosen words in the first post and subsequent reactions.

@Richard of York hasn't been back since he penned his review of his first days live on the Camino Frances. I am looking forward to his next instalment, in particular since he had announced earlier that he had planned to do as much as possible/sensible barefoot.

This reminds me of David from the Casa de los Dioses near Astorga who posted videos from his recent walks to Santiago earlier this year, where he indeed walk sections barefoot, but not very often I think.
 
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