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Starting in April 2019 - avoiding crowds so we don't have to pre-book

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#1
Sorry I know it sounds miles in advance - but its not when you need to buy airfares from New Zealand! We are old and fat with some health issues - I don't expect to walk more than 20km day maximum, we are also tourists and want to spend extra days in the bigger towns - we love Spain - but have never been to this part though.

What is doing my head in is working out what to do about Easter (WHY didn't we do this year - when it was conveniently early). I'm assuming public holidays will mean we'll need reservations - I don't want to reserve - I want to be able to stop when my legs say enough! We don't have to stay in albergues - we can afford pensions and hotels if necessary - I'd like to keep accommodation under EUR50/night (for 2) if possible. We prefer to mix up accommodation and get a variety.

Starting at SJPP on about 8 April 2019 - would see us hit Maundy Thursday at around Najera? Would that be OK - smaller towns? Stay between stages (I assume the Gonze stages are to be avoided as well as the briely ones) To complicate matters everything I read about the Pilgrim menus puts me off - I'd rather have a main meal with the locals at lunch time and then arrive later in the day after that, and just do tapas in the evenings.

I guess my main questions are - staying off-stage will we be to just walk into town? Even around 5pm? Will there still be bars/restaurants open over the holiday? What about public transport?

Are there any other obscure holidays I need to worry about I know about 1 May - I think Asuncion has caught me out in Tahiti previously but I don't see it on this list https://publicholidays.es/es/2019-dates/

My other half is less than impressed about the pics of snow in the Pyrenees - our other option would be fly out of New Zealand around Good Friday - which would have us starting around 22/23 April - would that put us out of sync with the group who are working over Easter? Or do locals not walk over Easter because they are doing the religious thing - and therefore it would be a good time to be walking? Would starting 2 weeks later make much difference in the weather?

Sorry I know I'm over-thinking it - but its pretty hard - economically we have to book return airfares which are not at all flexible - so once we have the dates we're stuck with them.
 

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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
#2
I think you could probably safely wait until you're on the trail, a few days before Easter, to start planning where to stay. Get the WisePilgrim app on your phone and it will show lodging possibilities and connect you to Booking.com. And yes, there are many obscure holidays all over Spain. That is part of the "fun". You don't have to do the Napolean route, if you want to avoid the snow. The alternative path is supposed to be very nice, too.
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#3
Ooo thanks for the Wise Pilgrim tip - I'm going to buy that - seems to be exactly what I need - once you buy it do they keep updating it?
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
#4
Buen Camino! Follow your guide book but stop in the village/town just after or much better just before the recommended stages. May take a shorter day to set it up but it is a better option since most will pass you by galloping on to the next stop. Semana Santa is busy busy, lots of people on vacation since walking the Camino as a cheap holiday, it will thin out after Easter. Spain in the springtime is wonderful (!) gardens blooming in the towns and a myriad of wildflowers all along the Camino. Cool weather in the morning to make starting off walking at a faster pace in order to warm up, not too warm come afternoons to enjoy the walk.
 

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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
#6
Ooo thanks for the Wise Pilgrim tip - I'm going to buy that - seems to be exactly what I need - once you buy it do they keep updating it?
Yes, I believe it is updated regularly. The guy who runs WisePilgrim is on this forum (his name here is wisepilgrim). One great feature on that app is a live-time map that shows exactly where you are and where the Camino is. This was very helpful when trying to navigate the Camino through cities along the route.
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#7
Buen Camino! Follow your guide book but stop in the village/town just after or much better just before the recommended stages. May take a shorter day to set it up but it is a better option since most will pass you by galloping on to the next stop. Semana Santa is busy busy, lots of people on vacation since walking the Camino as a cheap holiday, it will thin out after Easter. Spain in the springtime is wonderful (!) gardens blooming in the towns and a myriad of wildflowers all along the Camino. Cool weather in the morning to make starting off walking at a faster pace in order to warm up, not too warm come afternoons to enjoy the walk.
Well I was figuring it would be like camping in Australia in the winter -freezing cold in the morning - so you stay in bed until it warms up - laughing at the silly people getting up a dawn! Semana Santa is the week before Easter right?
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#8
Camino(s) past & future
Aug-Sept(2016) SJPDP-Finisterre, July-Aug(2017) SJPDP-Muxia-Finisterre, July-Aug(2018) El Norte
#9
Yes I've found Gonze - I have enough Spanish to follow the simple stuff - particularly reading - I'm sure my speaking is very rusty - might have to study up a bit before we go. Will check out that app too - thanks
If you use the Google Chrome browser to view Gronze you can set it to automatically translate to English.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#10
You don't have to do the Napolean route, if you want to avoid the snow.
The older way across the mountains from St Jean goes through Valcarlos and up a valley. The actual 'alternate route' (the newer Napoleon) has thanks to Hollywood become the one everyone thinks to be the 'real' one.
The Valcarlos route is gentle at first but gets steep as you climb up and over the pass. But it's delightful - going through beech and then conifer forest. And either way you go it's not so high as farther East - these are basically high foothills.

I've walked the Frances twice during Semana Santa and have never had trouble fining a bed, without booking ahead of time. It's a wonderful time to be on the Camino - the processions are very touching.
And...yes...it is more busy with local families and groups. (And more noisy. Do bring your earplugs for when you stay in albergues.)
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#11
What is doing my head in is working out what to do about Easter (WHY didn't we do this year - when it was conveniently early). I'm assuming public holidays will mean we'll need reservations - I don't want to reserve - I want to be able to stop when my legs say enough! We don't have to stay in albergues - we can afford pensions and hotels if necessary - I'd like to keep accommodation under EUR50/night (for 2) if possible. We prefer to mix up accommodation and get a variety. Starting at SJPP on about 8 April 2019 - would see us hit Maundy Thursday at around Najera?
It's good to be aware of this but don't worry about it too much. The panicky online threads can be misleading. As far as I can tell, the real bottleneck around Easter and 1 May is the section Roncesvalles-Pamplona.

We walked Semana Santa (before and after Burgos) this year. We prebooked (trying to avoid bunk beds in albergues at literally all costs but that's us) but from what other people said, or didn't say actually, there didn't seem to be a problem to find albergue beds without booking. And that refers to staying in "endpoints". Note that Burgos is an extremely popular destination because of their famous processions; we had to resort to AirBnB for a night in Burgos on Good Friday. Hotel prices sky-rocket on that day, too. Public transport adopts holiday schedules on those days but otherwise the region does not shut down.

Keep an eye on regional holidays. Maundy Thursday as a public holiday caught us by surprise. And Easter Monday wasn't one. But, honestly, many pilgrims don't even notice when it's a regional or national holiday. :cool:

Ascension tends to increase pilgrim traffic because it is always on a Thursday so it is attractive for many Europeans to take leave from work around that weekend and they build it into a short or longer trip.
 
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scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
#12
Well I was figuring it would be like camping in Australia in the winter -freezing cold in the morning - so you stay in bed until it warms up - laughing at the silly people getting up a dawn! Semana Santa is the week before Easter right?
Semana Santa is the week before Easter a time of celebrations, processions, and a good time is had by all.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#13
You will not have a problem finding accommodations in April. Everything will be open, and there are lots of beds. Even the holidays will not present a problem.

If you are representing your physical condition accurately, do not try to hike 20 km per day the first couple of weeks. That is close to the journeyman distance!! The continuous walking will wear you down after the first three or four days, and you will need to let your muscles and joints catch up with you. Settle for 6-10 km if you need to.

If you fall behind schedule, there are plenty of buses and trains to move you ahead. If you decide on taxis, I suggest starting the day in one. Taxis may be hard to find mid-stage, particularly if you do not speak enough Spanish to tell a driver where you are. Taxis are available at hoteles, hostales, and albergues at the beginning of the day, and they will drop you anywhere on the way to your next destinations. Drivers know the Camino and all the points that it crosses roads and streets.

Many Spaniards eat their big meal midday. However, that mostly is in the cities. In the small villages you find the midday fare is sandwiches (bocadillos) or lighter food. In restaurants the midday meal may not begin until 1 p.m., though noon is also popular. The midday break ends by about 3 p.m. after which the kitchen may not open until 8 or 9 p.m. Openings are earlier in restaurants that cater to pilgrims because they know that they want to beat and be in bed by 10 p.m. In the big cities the Spanish begin showing up for dinner around 9 p.m., so the good restaurants may not open until then.

Buen camino.
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#14
Keep an eye on regional holidays. Maundy Thursday as a public holiday caught us by surprise. And Easter Monday wasn't one. But, honestly, many pilgrims don't even notice when it's a regional or national holiday. :cool:
My very first overseas trip to a non-English speaking country I was in Mexico for Easter - in the 80s. Pre credit cards. I figured I needed to cash a travellers cheque before the holiday - not realising Thursday was the holiday! Fortunately I had a US$100 note which I managed to change at a bad rate at a fancy hotel. I've never forgotten about Maundy Thursday in Catholic countries (and I still always carry a bit of easily convertible cash)
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#15
You will not have a problem finding accommodations in April. Everything will be open, and there are lots of beds. Even the holidays will not present a problem.

If you are representing your physical condition accurately, do not try to hike 20 km per day the first couple of weeks. That is close to the journeyman distance!! The continuous walking will wear you down after the first three or four days, and you will need to let your muscles and joints catch up with you. Settle for 6-10 km if you need to.

If you fall behind schedule, there are plenty of buses and trains to move you ahead. If you decide on taxis, I suggest starting the day in one. Taxis may be hard to find mid-stage, particularly if you do not speak enough Spanish to tell a driver where you are. Taxis are available at hoteles, hostales, and albergues at the beginning of the day, and they will drop you anywhere on the way to your next destinations. Drivers know the Camino and all the points that it crosses roads and streets.

Many Spaniards eat their big meal midday. However, that mostly is in the cities. In the small villages you find the midday fare is sandwiches (bocadillos) or lighter food. In restaurants the midday meal may not begin until 1 p.m., though noon is also popular. The midday break ends by about 3 p.m. after which the kitchen may not open until 8 or 9 p.m. Openings are earlier in restaurants that cater to pilgrims because they know that they want to beat and be in bed by 10 p.m. In the big cities the Spanish begin showing up for dinner around 9 p.m., so the good restaurants may not open until then.

Buen camino.
I'm hoping to average 20km over the whole trip - I'd prefer it was less but 20km day x 800 km is already 40 days - throw in a day off a week on average - I'm up to 47! Given that a lot of people seem to complete it in 35 odd days as per "the book" - I thought doubling the time was being conservative? Not so? To be honest I don't know how many kms we can walk a day - well we can 10km now on the flat without packs - routinely do around 15km according to the pedometers when we travel - but not carrying any weight. I'm 56 my partner 66 - so it really is a bit of try it and see.

Thanks this is very helpful - I didn't know that about the difference between country and city Spain - I've mainly been in southern Spain and Madrid - and yeah nothing open until at least 9pm.

I'm thinking though at that early in the year there is no real need to be starting really early in the morning so eater later would be fine too. I assume its just he Municipals that have curfews? We'd be OK in private albergues and pensions?
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (Planning)
#16
Private albergues are open later, and pensions sometimes are open until VERY late or even 24h. If you are open to those options, your walk can be way more relaxed.

Weather is also unpredictable. You are mentioning snow... we got a heat wave in April 2015, to the point my husband had a heat stroke in Galicia :p

About Easter, I would not worry about pre-booking too much in advance. Once you are there, if you see you are approaching the holidays and a big city, check some booking app online and make a decision. As mentioned above, in the most extreme case, take a taxi somewhere, and go back the next morning to go on from where you stopped :)

Buen camino, it will be great!
 
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017
#17
Semana Santa is the week before Easter a time of celebrations, processions, and a good time is had by all.
Semana Santa is called Holy Week in English-- beginning with Palm Sunday and then there are church services on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This week is a big deal for many Christian denominations-- and a very big deal for Catholics. In Spain, they have huge processions. Our family goes to all three services (Sat and Sun count as one). I especially love the washing of the feet on Thursday, and we go to the Easter Vigil (Sat) which is long. It begins with taking the light from a big fire outside into the church (candles), and there is music and beauty.

We walked before Easter in 2015, and had no problems finding beds-- we did not make reservation. However, we did not stay in any of the big cities during the procession times. (We were in Ponferrada for Palm Sunday-- we reached Santiago the day after Easter.) Some albergues were closed until after Easter. There were a number of Spanish families walking, but Easter was a bit early that year and there were not many people walking. (We were the only ones at a few albergues.)

Also-- many shops are closed during Semana Santa!

This was 4 years ago, so there are more pilgrims on the road now.

I wish you a Buen Camino.

Kate
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#18
Buen Camino! Follow your guide book but stop in the village/town just after or much better just before the recommended stages. May take a shorter day to set it up but it is a better option since most will pass you by galloping on to the next stop. Semana Santa is busy busy, lots of people on vacation since walking the Camino as a cheap holiday, it will thin out after Easter. Spain in the springtime is wonderful (!) gardens blooming in the towns and a myriad of wildflowers all along the Camino. Cool weather in the morning to make starting off walking at a faster pace in order to warm up, not too warm come afternoons to enjoy the walk.
Indeed, Semana Santa is wall to wall people from Sarria on! I read on-line that the tentative Easter holidays for 2019 is between Sat. April 13 - April 22.
We walked from Galacia at the same time as their vacation began in 2017. It was anything but meditative. I am a planner and knew where I wanted to stop so we had reservations in private hostals that often had facilities for bunkers. I heard people calling ahead, several times, and in different towns, the same day they wanted a bed, that there was not a bed left in town? So my suggestion is if you are heading into Sarria and other major towns during Holy Week, do not wait till the same day to book!
 

tillyjones

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June 2015
VDLP May 2017
del Norte Sept 2018
#19
I think you are over thinking a bit. Worry about the meals when you're on the ground. ;)

I don't know that a holiday will have many more people in albuerques, particularly further away from Santiago.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#20
I don't know how a-typical our experience of Semana Santa was but we managed to not see a single procession in 2018 nor did we hear much noise, despite wanting to - at least watching one procession if not hearing some fiesta noise.

Our walk included the high time of Easter - Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday - in Castilla y Leon. From memory, we noticed nothing before Burgos. The BIG procession on Good Friday evening in Burgos was cancelled due to rain forecast; even more disappointingly, it didn't rain much in the end.

On Sunday, there was apparently a fiesta in the village where we had stayed the night but we had picked an albergue slightly off the Camino Frances (La Fabrica, a former flour mill in the middle of fields) and the obvious route to join the main trail on Sunday morning lead us through fields and we bypassed the village. BTW, the bunk beds in this pilgrims albergue had stayed mostly empty on this Saturday just before Easter Sunday. In the next village, there were church bells ringing but nothing to see. In the village after that, a few men were hanging around the church when we walked through; we learnt afterwards from another pilgrim that a small procession had indeed taken place some time later. And so on ... If we hadn't re-visited Burgos Cathedral and noticed that the famous statue of Christ had been taken off the cross and was lying recumbent in a side chapel, we would not have seen anything in particular in relation to Semana Santa. So, be forewarned and don't take everything at face value that you read. :cool:
 
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falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#21
To be honest I don't know how many kms we can walk a day
I recommend that you figure that out before being on the Camino! It is the wrong place to discover anything new (except scenery, food, and people). Know how far you can walk before you leave. Know how your backpack feels under load. Know how you footwear fits with pack and a repetitive step. Know which joints will be a problem. It is a lot more fun if you are not in agony. :) Discomfort, yes. Misery, no.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#22
Although other parts of the Camino, may not be full, as Katarina suggests, if the weather is decent, Sarria to SdC will be...especially if the weather is promising!!!Last Spring (2018) we got to Sarria on Easter Sunday. However the weather was really bad. It rained 6 days straight. The paths were muddy and rain soaked with lots of puddles. The pilgrim traffic was substantial, but we saw less school groups and less families with Children. The weather may have been a factor and Easter was April 1st...about two weeks earlier than 2017. Nevertheless, the private places we stayed in were all full. Many, Many more people start the Camino in Sarria.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#23
Lissie45,

Take your time! Start slow. If you are not doing much hill training before going, maybe consider the Valcarlos route. you stlll have a big climb, but you will save your knees on the downhill as you will not have as dramatic a downhill. Ease into the Camino. If when you are ready to begin your camino, the hills seem to much, take a taxi, shuttle or bus to Roncevalles. Or walk to Valcarlos and pick up transport there.There are buses and taxis you can take if you need to, especially at the beginnng.- so do not overdue it. Find your pace. Do not worry about how many Kms you can do now. You are not going till next Spring. Keep walking. Try and find some hills to walk on or use a treadmill and try to get up to a sustained grade that will help you build up the muscles. You have time. When you start send your pack ahead to Roncevalles. Many folks do it...it eases the stress on the joints and heart.

I have seen a number of folks try to do to much in the beginning and ruin the whole Camino. Yes there are some folks who can go on the Camino and walk there way to a decent rhythm and pace without training. I am not one of them. I need to put in the training time or I will be miserable walking for numerous reasons. You sound like you need to put time in as well? Good luck!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances from SJPP on 2015, 2016, 2018
Way of St. Francis, Italy April 2017
Portuguese (2018)
#24
I have walked two of my Frances Camino's starting in SJPdP on April 14th and finishing on May 21st. Just a couple of comments:
1) It was cold on both of mine (2016 and 2018) and I even walked in a snow storm on May 12th at Cruz de Fero. My friend walked the same time in 2017 and had it warmer, so watch the weather trends before you depart but be prepared for some cold and spring rain.
2) Easter didn't fall in either of these Camino's, but this year I was coming out of Burgos on Monday of the May 1st holiday week. Many Spanish people were taking this week to walk and probably starting in towns like Burgos. There were no beds in the towns after Burgos. I finally found one in Hontanas somewhere around 33K after Burgos and the town was full by 1:00. They were sending people in taxis in every direction.
3) Know that many towns will not have hotels, so if you are restricting yourself and wanting to stop when you feel ready you may not have trouble finding a bed but may have trouble finding a hotel or private room.
4) Pay attention to the elevation profile, this will have a significant impact on the km's that you can walk. 20 km can be very difficult with big climbs.
5) On all my Camino's we did not have trouble finding bars open on holidays, but not grocery stores, Farmacias.....
My advice is to take your time and give yourself the time to be flexible; our bodies don't always cooperate with our minds desires.
Buen Camino
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#25
I recommend that you figure that out before being on the Camino! It is the wrong place to discover anything new (except scenery, food, and people). Know how far you can walk before you leave. Know how your backpack feels under load. Know how you footwear fits with pack and a repetitive step. Know which joints will be a problem. It is a lot more fun if you are not in agony. :) Discomfort, yes. Misery, no.
Obviously we will train with the gear - and I live in the hills of New Zealand so we can do hills too! But with the best will in the world I can't actually do day after day of walking with gear, in the snow etc. So what I mean is that all the training in the world is not the same as actually doing a long trip.

The backpacks we've owned for 20 odd years and use everytime we travel - the only difference on the caminio is that they will be lighter - so we don't have that issue. The main problem will be shoes - I won't wear boots and really prefer sandals - hoping I can get away with those even in bad weather.
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#26
Lissie45,

Take your time! Start slow. If you are not doing much hill training before going, maybe consider the Valcarlos route. you stlll have a big climb, but you will save your knees on the downhill as you will not have as dramatic a downhill. Ease into the Camino. If when you are ready to begin your camino, the hills seem to much, take a taxi, shuttle or bus to Roncevalles. Or walk to Valcarlos and pick up transport there.There are buses and taxis you can take if you need to, especially at the beginnng.- so do not overdue it. Find your pace. Do not worry about how many Kms you can do now. You are not going till next Spring. Keep walking. Try and find some hills to walk on or use a treadmill and try to get up to a sustained grade that will help you build up the muscles. You have time. When you start send your pack ahead to Roncevalles. Many folks do it...it eases the stress on the joints and heart.

I have seen a number of folks try to do to much in the beginning and ruin the whole Camino. Yes there are some folks who can go on the Camino and walk there way to a decent rhythm and pace without training. I am not one of them. I need to put in the training time or I will be miserable walking for numerous reasons. You sound like you need to put time in as well? Good luck!
This is exactly why I don't want to book in advance! I want to stay flexible so when the bodies say stop we do so. And that's not just about kilometers its also about weather. I feared for my life once when caught in a snow storm on the Everest trek - because I was trying to catch up with a group when I should have turned back.

I have a fantasy about climbing the Pyrenees - but if the weather is closed in there's no point, and Varcarlos doesn't sound like a bad option at all - and I know its the historical route. There's also no way we'd do Roncevalles in one day - we'll break it into 2 staying at either Varcarlos or Ormisson. We are a right pair at the moment actually - my partner struggles with up hill and altitude (cardiac issues) I struggle with downhills (osteoarthritic knees) so I'm very aware that we need to take it easy or we won't be going anywhere. And because we're flying some 30-40 odd hours to get to Europe in the first place, its not like we can just come back later and continue :)

We'll be doing lots of training in advance - I walked to Everest Base Camp with no training at all - but I was 29 then - and it still hurt quite a lot (and gave me the osteoarthritic knees !)
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#28
You are quite right! The best training for a Camino is a camino...
There are plenty of long distance walks in NZ - including the length of the country- but they involve carrying a helluva lot more than 5 or 6 kg, have no option for buses and luggage transfer along the way, and even sometimes lack vino tinto!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
#30
I would recommend NOT starting in SJPdP!! Use Pamplona as the beginning--it is easier to get to by train/air, and the route from there has many albergues so you can pick a doable distance. It is about stage 3 by the guidebooks so you also buy some time if you are short.
I have done Lepoeder only twice. On first Camino did SJPdP to Roncevaux (27kim ,1200m up, then 500 down). It took 12 hours and we got the last 2 beds and missed the mass. My hiking companion reinjured his knee and had to go to the hospital in Pamplona to have it drained--and shadow me by hitchhiking/bus/train for the next 3 weeks. The second time was after a walk from LePuy where I already had 40 days to precondition--and I stopped in Huntto to shave off 6km and 300m from the following day. It was a nice walk but still fairly grueling because of the elevation. The third time, also from LePuy (raining in SJPdP and snowing in the pass) I took a bus and started in Estella.
Also consider what the time zone changes do to your body--From Oregon it is 9 zones, you are 10 zones. It takes me 3-4 days to adjust to time zone change and a grueling first day does not make sense. I am fit but fat (28%BMI in mid70s) and have no other health issues.
If you have too much time in your plan, walk to Finisterra or do the Ingles. Even when conditioned it is wise to plan for a slow start (10-18km)--and remember to adjust for elevation changes!! IMO the first stage is a recipe to ruin a Camino for most of us.
Just because the widely sold guidebooks start in the lovely town of SJPdP doesn't mean you need to. And if Pyrenees is a dream, you can always go back at the end and do SJPdP to Pamplona.
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#31
Just because the widely sold guidebooks start in the lovely town of SJPdP doesn't mean you need to. And if Pyrenees is a dream, you can always go back at the end and do SJPdP to Pamplona.
You sir are a genius! What a bloody obvious answer and don't think I'd have ever have thought of it! This makes so much sense - it means if we do the Pyranees at the end the weather is far more likely to be kind too. The airfares we're looking at will mean we'll have to loop back to Paris anyways. We are thinking about hiring a car to see more of the north coast of Spain and Basque country - so this would be an easy extension - maybe even do it in reverse? It does make a lot of logisitics a whole lot easier!

Thank you so much - plenty of people told me to start in Pamplona but some part of brain had not figured out we could always go back LOL

Yeah the time change is brutal - we will not start walking for a couple of days to get over it. Probably a couple of nights in Paris - hardly a hardship
 
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
#32
IMO Paris CDG is one of the most congested airports. After my RLStevenson plus a few days in Paris, it took 2 hours to get seat assignments and another 45 minutes to pass security and walk to gate; just made the last boarding call.
And Pamplona is hard to get to from CDG (as is SJPdP). French and Spanish use different rail gauges--methinks 4 legs/transfers: CDG-Bayonne alone is a 7 hour train.
Use MAD as entry port (Hipmunk shows RT of $959 from AUK-MAD on Qatar--the direct Pamplona bus leaves same terminal T4.
And check cost of open jaw if you must do Paris--ie NZ-MAD; CDG-NZ. Pamplona is a nice layover city and albergues at intervals of 4.8, 6.1, 5.9, 2.7, 1.8, 2.5 km to make a flexible and short start. (from Wise Pilgrim app).
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#33
IMO Paris CDG is one of the most congested airports. After my RLStevenson plus a few days in Paris, it took 2 hours to get seat assignments and another 45 minutes to pass security and walk to gate; just made the last boarding call.
And Pamplona is hard to get to from CDG (as is SJPdP). French and Spanish use different rail gauges--methinks 4 legs/transfers: CDG-Bayonne alone is a 7 hour train.
Use MAD as entry port (Hipmunk shows RT of $959 from AUK-MAD on Qatar--the direct Pamplona bus leaves same terminal T4.
And check cost of open jaw if you must do Paris--ie NZ-MAD; CDG-NZ. Pamplona is a nice layover city and albergues at intervals of 4.8, 6.1, 5.9, 2.7, 1.8, 2.5 km to make a flexible and short start. (from Wise Pilgrim app).
There's a reason Qatar is cheap - its a 16 hour direct flight AKL-Doha - I think the world's longest! Back in the day when I had limited leave I might have done it - not now. But Korean does the flight direct out of Seoul and its only a $100 more and we might be able to see the cherry blosson in Korea so all good!

I didn't realise buses left direct from Barajas - though we'd be getting in the evening so I'm totally fine to spend the night and go to Pamplona the next day! Madrid is a lovely city anyways - and Spanish is much better than my French

CDG maybe be the 2nd worst airport in Europe - Heathrow is definitely the worst! What with Brexit coming up end of March - we are definitely avoiding the UK on this trip! Even a slight hickup is a disaster for London airports
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#34
I have a fantasy about climbing the Pyrenees - but if the weather is closed in there's no point, and Varcarlos doesn't sound like a bad option at all - and I know its the historical route. There's also no way we'd do Roncevalles in one day - we'll break it into 2 staying at either Varcarlos or Ormisson. We are a right pair at the moment actually - my partner struggles with up hill and altitude (cardiac issues) I struggle with downhills (osteoarthritic knees) so I'm very aware that we need to take it easy or we won't be going anywhere. And because we're flying some 30-40 odd hours to get to Europe in the first place, its not like we can just come back later and continue :)
The idea of starting in Pamplona and coming back for the mountains at the end is a good one.
And so you know, both routes go over a pass, though the Valcarlos route is not quite as high as the Napoleon.

But if you really want to climb the Pyrenees, you'll need to be further East. From SJPP to Roncesvalles is hill-climbing, no matter which way you go. Big hills, but still hills. Think walking across the Kaimais or Kaimanawas, rather than the Southern Alps. But if you walked the Camino Aragonés from Arles you'd definitely be in the mountains. And it's also an 'authentic' camino route. There are a number of good threads here on the Forum, and here are a few of many links for you to check out:
http://americanpilgrims.com/camino/route_descriptions/route_arles.html
http://www.mundicamino.com/los-caminos/20/camino-aragones/
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#35
@VNwalking - I like hills and mountains but my partner ended up in a Chinese hospital for 2 weeks and medivacced back home when he got series high altitude odema at around 2500m on the Tibetean plateau - we won't be doing real hills (unfortunately)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#36
Well, the Col du Somport is only about 1600m - which is nothing by comparison to Tibet!
And the highest point on the Napoleon Route is about 1400m.
 

hotelmedicis

Commercial Interests
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2001 (+more)
VDLP 2013, 2018
#38
It is worse than even New Delhi...
Heathrow vs CDG: well I think it depends on which terminal we're talking about. Heathrow Terminal 5 is a dream. I have flown in and out of there well over a dozen times and love it. T3, on the other hand, is terrible. I arrived at CDG T1 two weeks ago and it was empty, I mean, no lines at immigration whatsoever. I actually stopped in awe of the vast space at the passport checkpoint and the police officers had to wave me over. There was nobody.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
#39
Got me thinking about my views of departure gate hell so checked the internet. CDG is only 14th worst!! Orly is #4 and Stansted is #2. Heathrow not on list!! And on re-examination, I think my ranking for arrivals and departures is different. CDG was easy arrival and transfer to a train for Lyon--loved it then.
Sorry for a bit of a thread hijack.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#40
And for layovers, Reykjavik was astonishingly (and surprisingly) terrible, for many reasons.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#41
There's a reason Qatar is cheap - its a 16 hour direct flight AKL-Doha
It is the cheapest also in Australia ...........and THE BEST.

I'm hoping to average 20km over the whole trip - I'd prefer it was less but 20km day x 800 km is already 40 days - throw in a day off a week on average - I'm up to 47
You sound like a teacher Lizzie ?
Don't over complicate this walk. Start in St JPP , there are many ways across the top or via Valcarlos taking 2 days and your time frame of over 40 -42 days is ideal.
You can talk all bloody day on whatever you wish but in the end common sense has over 200,000 pa doing this their way.
Take your time early 4 -5 days to Pamplona and the rest falls into place.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#42

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#43
I'd rather have a main meal with the locals at lunch time and then arrive later in the day after that, and just do tapas in the evenings.
If you do this you will be completed by 35 days.
We stop at lunch [ noon -12.30 pm] find the restaurant where ALL the local farmers eat [ yes they come to their village and then return to the field ] and dine with them and eat what they eat.
You will see the old vans in front of a little house/shop in the village .
Suggest you look for the word "Comedor" which could be in their passage way or off the main eating room and go behind .......
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#44
Varcarlos doesn't sound like a bad option at all
If the weather says no over the top this is the way
We have walked via Valcarlos more than the over the top. [Notice i don't say Napoleon because he was never there ] and always stay in a Casa Rural in Valcarlos.
And it won't be any easier , in fact if heavy rain has been prior you stay on the road , which is very safe and reach Burguete.
 
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Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#45
I'm sure my speaking is very rusty - might have to study up a bit before we go. Will check out that app too - thanks
No need , you will meet 30 plus different nationalities [yes keep a record] and the common language is ENGLISH.
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#47
If you do this you will be completed by 35 days.
We stop at lunch [ noon -12.30 pm] find the restaurant where ALL the local farmers eat [ yes they come to their village and then return to the field ] and dine with them and eat what they eat.
You will see the old vans in front of a little house/shop in the village .
Suggest you look for the word "Comedor" which could be in their passage way or off the main eating room and go behind .......
Sounds like our sort of place!
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#48
No need , you will meet 30 plus different nationalities [yes keep a record] and the common language is ENGLISH.
I doubt that its the common language of the locals though? Rural Spain is very much not English speaking in my experience - is the Caminio different? I'm not saying Im fluent - but used to be able to - and need to revise so that I can do all the basic travel Spanish stuff
 

Lydia Gillen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007/8/9 2011 (C.F 2015)
#49
This is a fantastic forum , but its one weakness is that one does not know the age nor the fitness level of those giving advice.

I am going against most advice given on this thread by saying that you might be well advised to book your first few nights and to walk short days.

I am almost 75 and plan to walk from Tui on the border of Portugal and Spain starting April 22nd that is Tuesday of Easter week. I have done this stage twice before and knew where I wanted to stay. Of the six places I choose , all private Albergues,, two were completely booked out and in another I got the very last bunk . I did my booking in May 2018 for April 2019. Eleven months in advance, I could hardly believe it!!. The Spaniards love to walk the Camino at Easter time. Nowadays I am slow and I could not risk not being able to get a bed, also I can no longer carry my full rucksack so need an address to send the ruck each day.

Do brush up on your Spanish, listen to tapes of CD when ironing or cooking etc. It really enhances your whole experience to be able to converse with local people and they seem to appreciate it so much.

Buen Camino
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#50
Well I was figuring it would be like camping in Australia in the winter -freezing cold in the morning - so you stay in bed until it warms up - laughing at the silly people getting up a dawn!
Its the second month of Spring in April , thats our October , well past winter.
If you stay in an alberque every person will be awake at dawn . Whether they have breakfast [ communal kitchen with fridge for food ] or start is up to them .
We started with a banana and coffee / cake at first stop.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#51
I doubt that its the common language of the locals though? Rural Spain is very much not English speaking in my experience - is the Caminio different? I'm not saying Im fluent - but used to be able to - and need to revise so that I can do all the basic travel Spanish stuff
For the last 10 years we have walked the Camino's in France and Spain , just returned home this week from Porto=SDC=Muxia=Finisterre then the Ingles.
As i said Lizzie a quarter of a million people walk through these villages/towns/cities every year
The language used on the Camino Frances is English. The Camino is very big business and as i said you will come across at least 30 nationalities .
 

Tvsteve

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(1999) (2005) (2017)
#52
Everything will workout just fine. Day by day, one day at a time. Enjoy the moment. I started early April last year, on my own with no preconditions, no reservations and no definitive plan. Got a bed every night, no problems, met wonderful people from all across the globe, perfect. Took 33 days from SJPDP, with no days off, just got into a rhythm and kept at it. I’m 75 yrs old, semi-fit and had few issues. I went onto Muxia, which was an experience far different than the trek to Santiago.

I spent Easter in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, wonderful procession.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#53
I went onto Muxia, which was an experience far different than the trek to Santiago.

I spent Easter in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, wonderful procession.
Magnificently said.
 
Camino(s) past & future
I am planning my first Camino in April/May 2019
#54
Sorry I know it sounds miles in advance - but its not when you need to buy airfares from New Zealand! We are old and fat with some health issues - I don't expect to walk more than 20km day maximum, we are also tourists and want to spend extra days in the bigger towns - we love Spain - but have never been to this part though.

What is doing my head in is working out what to do about Easter (WHY didn't we do this year - when it was conveniently early). I'm assuming public holidays will mean we'll need reservations - I don't want to reserve - I want to be able to stop when my legs say enough! We don't have to stay in albergues - we can afford pensions and hotels if necessary - I'd like to keep accommodation under EUR50/night (for 2) if possible. We prefer to mix up accommodation and get a variety.

Starting at SJPP on about 8 April 2019 - would see us hit Maundy Thursday at around Najera? Would that be OK - smaller towns? Stay between stages (I assume the Gonze stages are to be avoided as well as the briely ones) To complicate matters everything I read about the Pilgrim menus puts me off - I'd rather have a main meal with the locals at lunch time and then arrive later in the day after that, and just do tapas in the evenings.

I guess my main questions are - staying off-stage will we be to just walk into town? Even around 5pm? Will there still be bars/restaurants open over the holiday? What about public transport?

Are there any other obscure holidays I need to worry about I know about 1 May - I think Asuncion has caught me out in Tahiti previously but I don't see it on this list https://publicholidays.es/es/2019-dates/

My other half is less than impressed about the pics of snow in the Pyrenees - our other option would be fly out of New Zealand around Good Friday - which would have us starting
Sorry I know it sounds miles in advance - but its not when you need to buy airfares from New Zealand! We are old and fat with some health issues - I don't expect to walk more than 20km day maximum, we are also tourists and want to spend extra days in the bigger towns - we love Spain - but have never been to this part though.

What is doing my head in is working out what to do about Easter (WHY didn't we do this year - when it was conveniently early). I'm assuming public holidays will mean we'll need reservations - I don't want to reserve - I want to be able to stop when my legs say enough! We don't have to stay in albergues - we can afford pensions and hotels if necessary - I'd like to keep accommodation under EUR50/night (for 2) if possible. We prefer to mix up accommodation and get a variety.

Starting at SJPP on about 8 April 2019 - would see us hit Maundy Thursday at around Najera? Would that be OK - smaller towns? Stay between stages (I assume the Gonze stages are to be avoided as well as the briely ones) To complicate matters everything I read about the Pilgrim menus puts me off - I'd rather have a main meal with the locals at lunch time and then arrive later in the day after that, and just do tapas in the evenings.

I guess my main questions are - staying off-stage will we be to just walk into town? Even around 5pm? Will there still be bars/restaurants open over the holiday? What about public transport?

Are there any other obscure holidays I need to worry about I know about 1 May - I think Asuncion has caught me out in Tahiti previously but I don't see it on this list https://publicholidays.es/es/2019-dates/

My other half is less than impressed about the pics of snow in the Pyrenees - our other option would be fly out of New Zealand around Good Friday - which would have us starting around 22/23 April - would that put us out of sync with the group who are working over Easter? Or do locals not walk over Easter because they are doing the religious thing - and therefore it would be a good time to be walking? Would starting 2 weeks later make much difference in the weather?

Sorry I know I'm over-thinking it - but its pretty hard - economically we have to book return airfares which are not at all flexible - so once we have the dates we're stuck with them.
around 22/23 April - would that put us out of sync with the group who are working over Easter? Or do locals not walk over Easter because they are doing the religious thing - and therefore it would be a good time to be walking? Would starting 2 weeks later make much difference in the weather?

Sorry I know I'm over-thinking it - but its pretty hard - economically we have to book return airfares which are not at all flexible - so once we have the dates we're stuck with them.
I
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April/May 2017
#55
I'm hoping to average 20km over the whole trip - I'd prefer it was less but 20km day x 800 km is already 40 days - throw in a day off a week on average - I'm up to 47! Given that a lot of people seem to complete it in 35 odd days as per "the book" - I thought doubling the time was being conservative? Not so? To be honest I don't know how many kms we can walk a day - well we can 10km now on the flat without packs - routinely do around 15km according to the pedometers when we travel - but not carrying any weight. I'm 56 my partner 66 - so it really is a bit of try it and see.

Thanks this is very helpful - I didn't know that about the difference between country and city Spain - I've mainly been in southern Spain and Madrid - and yeah nothing open until at least 9pm.

I'm thinking though at that early in the year there is no real need to be starting really early in the morning so eater later would be fine too. I assume its just he Municipals that have curfews? We'd be OK in private albergues and pensions?
Hi Lissie,
Check out my FB blog "Just a mum on the camino" and you will get an idea of what it was like Apr/may in 2017 for a kiwi on the camino :)
I found I had to walk my way up to the distances of 20km, its better to work your way to longer days as you just push your body too much. Some days I booked a bag transport when I was feeling extra tired and this can be organised the night before. Theres no need to organise everything. I was worried about knowing everything before I walked, but its such a great environment for walkers. People share info and advice and its easy to work out things as you go along. I walked alone and I felt safe and among friends. And met many kiwis!
The weather was brisk in the mornings but hot in the middle of the day and then cool at night again. I started walking around 7.30-8.30 and stopped about 2pm or when I was tired. I didnt book anything except near the last week when I wanted a private room and the amount of walkers had increased. But I did this as I went and not before I left NZ as I had no way of knowing my pace. I planned on walking a week longer than the usual month that some seem to do it in as I wanted spend some extra days in the big cities and so it worked out I walked 39 days over 42 days. From SjPdp to Santiago. Feel free to email me for any questions. Id be happy to help! lancerach252@gmail.com. I plan to go again next year at the same time as you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#56
I doubt that its the common language of the locals though? Rural Spain is very much not English speaking in my experience - is the Caminio different? I'm not saying Im fluent - but used to be able to - and need to revise so that I can do all the basic travel Spanish stuff
@lissie45, do brush up on your rusty Spanish so that you can interact with locals and Spanish pilgrims in the language of the country you are in. You can easily walk for 30+ days in an expat bubble dominated by English but it's fun (and enriching in a different way) to break out of it from time to time. :cool:
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#57
[QUOTE="Kathar1na, post: 651213, member: 15378" ]expat bubble dominated by English but it's fun (and enriching in a different way) to break out of it from time to time[/QUOTE]

On 2008 we were accompanied most days by a group of young Koreans who were a rarity 10 years ago.
They wanted to learn english the meaning of many english words in sentences .... we had much fun.
We avoided the Aussies and Kiwis " expats" as we were in Europe and wished to enjoy the europeans plus to our surprise in 08 many asian countries.
We have had no problems since and we walk every year still only knowing the basics [ food , grog , please , thank you , good morning / night ] for not only in Spanish but most European countries as thats who you walk with.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#58
@Thornley, we probably come from different life backgrounds and continents and that's ok.

So please let me explain: expat bubble means for me people from all over Europe plus a few from other continents and they all speak some kind of English, without any locals or just a token local included.

The other thing, I think, would be called compatriots bubble. :cool:

The OP has already enough Spanish to follow simple stuff she says. To brush it up to have proper conversations with anyone would be just great.
 
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lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#59
The OP has already enough Spanish to follow simple stuff she says. To brush it up to have proper conversations with anyone would be just great.
The last time I was in Spain in 2001 - I used my Spanish a lot - in Madrid, Avila, Cordoba, Sevilla - the guesthouse/pension/bar/shop owners/workers either didn't speak English or thought my Spanish was good enough not to change languages (and I know my Spanish is rough) So I will be truly astounded if I can walk into a shop/hostal/bar in Leon or Burgos or Pamplona and speak English and expect to be understood! Has it changed that much in 18 years?
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#60
So I will be truly astounded if I can walk into a shop/hostal/bar in Leon or Burgos or Pamplona and speak English and expect to be understood! Has it changed that much in 18 years?
My experience is much more limited than that of others but quite a number of shop/hostal/bar owners and employees who deal a lot with tourists/pilgrims in these towns can communicate efficiently in English.

I still remember my very first day on the Spanish soil of the Camino Frances in Roncesvalles several years ago: the (youngish) servers in the restaurant of the Hotel Roncesvalles (the "poshest" of the lot) did not speak English, they could not even explain the menu to us. To me, that was unexpected and a surprise. The first words I heard from the hospitaleros in the Roncesvalles albergue next door were English with a strong Dutch accent - to me, that was a big disappointment - it didn't feel like having arrived in Spain. :cool::cool::cool:

Along the first sections of the CF in Navarra, there were several owners of casas rurales etc who preferred to talk to me in French instead of English. That was also unexpected for me.

PS: Since you mentioned it earlier, I now remember that we were seriously confused about the wine bottles we were offered with our meals at Roncesvalles. Happy innocent souls that we were, we were not yet aware of the concept of a pilgrim's menu. Theirs is not too bad, btw, there's worse to come later on. :cool:
 
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falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#61
So I will be truly astounded if I can walk into a shop/hostal/bar in Leon or Burgos or Pamplona and speak English
Me, too. I am grateful If a clerk in the Vodafone store speaks enough English to help me with a cell phone chip. I cannot think of a better way to ruin a camino than to expect anyone except fellow pilgrims to speak English. For other language-impaired pilgrims, louder is NOT clearer. By all means, repeat a request in the probably vain hope that you will be understood, but stay in your "indoor" voice!
 

lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
#62
Me, too. I am grateful If a clerk in the Vodafone store speaks enough English to help me with a cell phone chip. I cannot think of a better way to ruin a camino than to expect anyone except fellow pilgrims to speak English. For other language-impaired pilgrims, louder is NOT clearer. By all means, repeat a request in the probably vain hope that you will be understood, but stay in your "indoor" voice!
You know I thought that was a myth - until I was on a bus in the south of Spain when an English man got on and asked for "2 returns to Ronda" - now if you say that to a bus driver in New Zealand they'd have no idea what you were saying and they do speak English! This guy just said no hablo ingles - and then the guy repeated it - shouting. At which point the driver just blanked him - and the guy go off the bus. Hilariously somewhat later it turned out that the driver had some knowledge of English - when someone was struggling but trying in Spanish - he understood - but yeah loud shouting idiots were obviously not worth his effort!
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#63
Along the first sections of the CF in Navarra, there were several owners of casas rurales etc who preferred to talk to me in French instead of English. That was also unexpected for me.
You might be in trouble here mate , no French spoken there .
I made the same mistake when walking from Le Puy when 3 days before StJPP .
i was reminded i had entered The Basque Country.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#64
So I will be truly astounded if I can walk into a shop/hostal/bar in Leon or Burgos or Pamplona and speak English and expect to be understood! Has it changed that much in 18 years?
You will be understood if you mob speak proper english:)
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#65
You might be in trouble here mate , no French spoken there .
I made the same mistake when walking from Le Puy when 3 days before StJPP .
i was reminded i had entered The Basque Country.
Hm, French isn't my preferred language of communication; it was the Spanish owners in Navarra who preferred French over English. I was disappointed to hear very little spoken Basque, both before and after the border. Just saw it mainly in written form.

This was along Dax - Ostabat - SJPP. Perhaps it's different along the road from Le Puy?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#66
loud shouting idiots were obviously not worth his effort!
Shouting idiots are poorly received everywhere, but Spain has a very different attitude toward customer service. The customer is not "always right." Business owners are very proud of building their dream, and welcome customers and treat them very well. But they run their business their way. If the customer does not like it, the owner is happy to see them go elsewhere. Special orders likely will arrive at the table in the exact same state as the regular orders. Where tortilla is custom-made, if the owner likes it runny, it always will be runny. If the customer wants its firm, the customer simply does not know what makes a good tortilla, and the cook will deliver it runny in the hope that the customer will see the light.

Pilgrims can develop an attitude, but it will be the same in a hundred years. The pilgrim is raising his/her blood pressure in a futile effort to change Spain. Microcosms can be even more obstinate. Think Navarre and Galicia. Even Spain does not change them...;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
#67
My husband and I walked over Easter this year and there is an increase of locals as well as other Europeans because it's a very cheap walking holiday if you live around there. We did not have a problem with finding rooms or Auberges though we could have stayed in B&B's, hotels ect we really liked the camaraderie of the Auberges better. Bonus a number of them you can get private rooms in them, when available and we never paid 50 euros for a room it was always less. We walked the Pyrenees, we chose to do it in stages as it was day 1 and walking 26 km was not appealing but it was one of the most picturesque places we walked and I am so glad that we accomplished it.

The food is usually very good and there is a wide choice in the Pilgrims Menu so other getting bored with French fries rarely we went off the menu though we had some great Pintxos nights and some memorable off pilgrim menu meals.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances spring( 2017). Vía de plata Spring (2018)
#68
Sorry I know it sounds miles in advance - but its not when you need to buy airfares from New Zealand! We are old and fat with some health issues - I don't expect to walk more than 20km day maximum, we are also tourists and want to spend extra days in the bigger towns - we love Spain - but have never been to this part though.

What is doing my head in is working out what to do about Easter (WHY didn't we do this year - when it was conveniently early). I'm assuming public holidays will mean we'll need reservations - I don't want to reserve - I want to be able to stop when my legs say enough! We don't have to stay in albergues - we can afford pensions and hotels if necessary - I'd like to keep accommodation under EUR50/night (for 2) if possible. We prefer to mix up accommodation and get a variety.

Starting at SJPP on about 8 April 2019 - would see us hit Maundy Thursday at around Najera? Would that be OK - smaller towns? Stay between stages (I assume the Gonze stages are to be avoided as well as the briely ones) To complicate matters everything I read about the Pilgrim menus puts me off - I'd rather have a main meal with the locals at lunch time and then arrive later in the day after that, and just do tapas in the evenings.

I guess my main questions are - staying off-stage will we be to just walk into town? Even around 5pm? Will there still be bars/restaurants open over the holiday? What about public transport?

Are there any other obscure holidays I need to worry about I know about 1 May - I think Asuncion has caught me out in Tahiti previously but I don't see it on this list https://publicholidays.es/es/2019-dates/

My other half is less than impressed about the pics of snow in the Pyrenees - our other option would be fly out of New Zealand around Good Friday - which would have us starting around 22/23 April - would that put us out of sync with the group who are working over Easter? Or do locals not walk over Easter because they are doing the religious thing - and therefore it would be a good time to be walking? Would starting 2 weeks later make much difference in the weather?

Sorry I know I'm over-thinking it - but its pretty hard - economically we have to book return airfares which are not at all flexible - so once we have the dates we're stuck with them.

The Spanish have the week off between Palm Sunday and Easter. Many of them walk the Camino Frances that week. Albergues on the camino Frances will be crowded. My husband and I are in our 60s and have walked 2 caminos. We walk very slowly, and prefer to mix albergues with pensions and private rooms. I suggest you start a week or 2 before holy week. Within a week you will have a better feel for how far you can walk each day. At that point you can plan ahead and book your holy week accommodations. For us holy week 2017, on the Camino Frances was the only time where we saw every thing book up.

If you can, try to allow an extra week for the camino. If you finish as planned, you can tour around Portugal and Spain for a week very inexpensively. We finished early this year, due to weather and took the bus and trains thru Portugal. Stayed in Pensions, traveled light. Had so much fun.

I wouldn't stress about the weather. It will be what it will be. We had snow, freezing rain etc. in April this year on the via de la plata. Normally it is hot in April. We just adjusted our route, took the bus, or hunkered down and walked in the snow. Its all part of the journey.

One more piece of unsolicited advice. Start walking now. Walk at lunch time, walk after dinner. walk from the furthest parking space to the store. Even several short walks a day will build up endurance and increase the enjoyment of the Camino. Best of luck, and Buen Camino.
 

Busybody

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Now french Way
#69
Sorry I know it sounds miles in advance - but its not when you need to buy airfares from New Zealand! We are old and fat with some health issues - I don't expect to walk more than 20km day maximum, we are also tourists and want to spend extra days in the bigger towns - we love Spain - but have never been to this part though.

What is doing my head in is working out what to do about Easter (WHY didn't we do this year - when it was conveniently early). I'm assuming public holidays will mean we'll need reservations - I don't want to reserve - I want to be able to stop when my legs say enough! We don't have to stay in albergues - we can afford pensions and hotels if necessary - I'd like to keep accommodation under EUR50/night (for 2) if possible. We prefer to mix up accommodation and get a variety.

Starting at SJPP on about 8 April 2019 - would see us hit Maundy Thursday at around Najera? Would that be OK - smaller towns? Stay between stages (I assume the Gonze stages are to be avoided as well as the briely ones) To complicate matters everything I read about the Pilgrim menus puts me off - I'd rather have a main meal with the locals at lunch time and then arrive later in the day after that, and just do tapas in the evenings.

I guess my main questions are - staying off-stage will we be to just walk into town? Even around 5pm? Will there still be bars/restaurants open over the holiday? What about public transport?

Are there any other obscure holidays I need to worry about I know about 1 May - I think Asuncion has caught me out in Tahiti previously but I don't see it on this list https://publicholidays.es/es/2019-dates/

My other half is less than impressed about the pics of snow in the Pyrenees - our other option would be fly out of New Zealand around Good Friday - which would have us starting around 22/23 April - would that put us out of sync with the group who are working over Easter? Or do locals not walk over Easter because they are doing the religious thing - and therefore it would be a good time to be walking? Would starting 2 weeks later make much difference in the weather?

Sorry I know I'm over-thinking it - but its pretty hard - economically we have to book return airfares which are not at all flexible - so once we have the dates we're stuck with them.
Hi Lissie
I walked the Camino from NZ also but had all our accommodation pre booked and it was the best thing to do. Sometimes took a taxi if too far and then taxied back in the morning or just walked on. Got caught in a storm in the Pyremese. Very scary but often very pleased that finding accommodation was not an issue. Took 42 days. Had days off which I loved. Walked an average of 20kms a day with no training but had to be somewhere before 2.30 or it was just too hot to walk. Started at 9 each morning which was cold. Got my pack taken forward each day but bought a very light weight pack at Pamplona and sent my old one home in the post. Even a couple of kilos extra weight each day meant I couldn't walk as far as I wanted to. Found I didn't eat while walking but loved that first beer at 3 when I stopped. Don't normally drink beer. When I booked my airfare I have a couple of extra weeks up my sleeve so I could either walk to Finisterre if I wanted to bus. Ended up travelling to Finnestere and Muxia with friends I made on the Camino and had an amazing time in really beautiful parts of the world. I am planning on doing Porto to Muxia in 2019 at this time. Can't wait.
 

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