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Starting the Camino in a couple of days

Discussion in 'Camino Frances' started by Shyland, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. Shyland

    Shyland New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    October 2017
    Hi everyone!

    This is my first post! :)

    I'm planning to start the camino Frances in a couple of days. I'm from Vancouver, Canada and I just finished a 2 week trip in Ireland. I am now in England and going to make my way over to Spain. I'm not sure if I'm going to start in Burgos or Leon. I would like to do the trail for 2-3 weeks. I'm starting to get cold feet and wonder 'what the heck am I doing?'. I guess I'm a little scared of walking the trail alone. I have The camino de santiago book (Anna Dintaman and David Landis). Do I need an app/GPS or is my book sufficient? What's the best way to get to Burgos or Leon from the UK? Any info or words of wisdom so I don't talk myself out of doing this would be so appreciated. Thank you

    Shawndra
     
    Tully34, JeffV, HedaP and 1 other person like this.
  2. Marcie

    Marcie Member Donating Member

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    VdlP 2017
    From one Canadian to another, Just go! you may never have done this before, but the camino is ready for you and you will figure it out!

    Welcome to the forum, and buen camino!
     
    James X and Shyland like this.
  3. G_the_D

    G_the_D Member Donating Member

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    I'll be several days behind you! If I were you, I'd take as much time as possible on Camino, so I would start in Burgos. (Pamplona if you have the time). Transport on the ground in Spain is pretty easy from the major hubs. Busses and trains go everywhere. goeuro.com is a great site to research the routes/times of buses, trains and air travel. Book on the providers site though. goeuro adds surcharges.

    Buen Camino from Calgary!
     
    amparo and Shyland like this.
  4. onwayhome

    onwayhome Active Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances Ponferrada-Santiago,(c1986)
    Frances SJPP-Santiago (2011)
    Portuguese Porto- Finisterre (2016)
    St Michaels Way (2016)
    Hi Shawndra

    Hope you can take some deep breaths and step in to this adventure. Really, many people will be walking the Camino everyday so you can usually find companions along the Way, or not, as you wish. Everything is well waymarked, just keep an eye open for yellow arrows, or the clack of walking poles. GPS can be handy if you are trying to find somewhere specific in a City. Maps.me is popular for off line mapping.

    Burgos to Leon is mostly the Meseta, long flat stretches, Leon onwards gets more hilly. I haven't gone direct to either from the UK. If I was going to, I'd probably start by looking at flight to Oviedo then bus/ train to Leon. I'm sure there are many alternatives as well.

    Have a great Camino, wherever you start from.
     
    Shyland likes this.
  5. jozero

    jozero Oh... That's what the shell is for... Donating Member

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    CF April 2016
    CF January 2018
    Hi Neighbour! Lots of flights into Madrid and regular buses heading out to major cities directly from airport. Check Alsa website for schedules. It will be getting chilly at night so hopefully you have some sort of sleeping bag in your gear. No real need for GPS ( I use Motion X GOS on my iPhone but more because I'm a bit of a geek and like keeping track of my treks) as the way is very distinct and very well marked with the yellow arrows and scallop shells. Pretty good chance you will see a sttream of Pilgrims leaving every morning so you can have the option of meeting up with people, walking with them in view or staying ahead/behind for some alone time. It's a wonderful experience and wish you a Buen Camino!
     
    Shyland likes this.
  6. Dorpie

    Dorpie Member

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    Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
    Camino Frances May 2015
    Camino Frances July 2017
    Hi Shawndra,

    You're definitely not starting at the busiest time of year but I'm pretty confident that you'll only be as alone as you want to be. Looking at last year's numbers 27,000 people arrived in Santiago in October last year, most of whom will have been on the Frances. I see the numbers were a lot lower come November but there were still over 200 people a day picking up their compostella.

    Sorry I can't really advise on getting there as I've never started from either, also it rather depends on where you're flying from in the UK as to what routes are practical/affordable.

    Unless you're keen on long days I'd probably not start from Burgos if you're only going to take 2 weeks. It can be done but that doesn't necessarily mean it should be done.

    For staying on course, the route is for the most-part extremely well marked with the ubiquitous yellow arrows, but there certainly is the odd moment, particularly in towns where you can get confused. One big advantage of the busier months is that you almost always have another pilgrim in sight to keep you heading in the right direction, this may not be the case when the crowds thin out. I found having Google Maps on my phone was enough to reassure me that I could always get back on track. Data is expensive if you're non European but having some kind of allowance as a back up is probably wise.

    And as for cold feet......wear 2 pairs of socks! ;)

    Buen Camino,

    Rob.
     
    Shyland likes this.
  7. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member

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    French Camino (2017)
    Considering your time-frame I’d say that León is your best option and it will give you time to stay a day or two in Santiago. If you fly into Madrid then grab a taxi to the Chamartin train station (around 30 Euro). From there you can take the fast train to León, it will only be slightly more than two hours. You may have to make reservation in advance.

    Buen Camino.
     
    Shyland likes this.
  8. Mark Barnes

    Mark Barnes Old Engineer

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances - September - November (2017)
    Hello, I am in Leon and can assure you will not be alone. There may be times you do not see anyone else on the trail but in short time you will catch up with someone or they will catch up with you. I came this time of year thinking there would not be many people but there is many more than I expected. Have fun.
     
    Shyland likes this.
  9. andycohn

    andycohn New Member

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    Location:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances (2012, 2013, 2015); Finisterre to Muxia (2015); Portuguese (2017); Primitivo (2017)
    Do it! It's a piece of cake. Check out flights from London to Madrid (EasyJet or RyanAir), then bus (Alsa) or train (Renfe) to Leon. Leon is probably a better option than Burgos, because after Burgos you have 8-10 days walking across Meseta, Spain's central, very flat high plain (like walking across Manitoba for 8-10 days). As others have said, the Way is well marked so no need for a guidebook at all, but best written guidebook is Brierley's book on Camino de Santiago Best app. is Wise Pilgrim. You'll have plenty of company. No worries. Enjoy.
     
    Shyland likes this.
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith New Member

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    July/ Aug (2016): StJPdP to Viana
    Apr 2017: Viana to Castrojeriz
    Hello Shawndra
    We flew from Heathrow to Bilbao to pick up our Camino in Viana and got back comfortably from Castrojeriz using the Alsa Bus Service.
    It is pretty easy to sort your journey out. Even though we haven't got as far as Leon, we've done a bit of the Meseta - agree with Dorpie; unless you like long walks in wide plains, start from Leon.
    If you keep the yellow arrows in sight getting lost is pretty difficult. I've always been put on the right path by locals if I messed up.
    Though we walked in a group plenty walked alone. They always seemed welcomed by fellow peregrinos, so don't let that be a reason not to get out there.
    Only wish I could pick my Camino back up now, have to wait to Easter!
    Buen Camino
    Phil
     
  11. Shyland

    Shyland New Member

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    Thank you. This seems the easiest way to get to Leon. Have you done this recently?
     
  12. falcon269

    falcon269 sidra; no commercial interests

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    The Cercanias shuttle train goes from terminal T-4 to Chamartin and Atocha, and is a lot less than a taxi ride! The cost of the shuttle is included in the price of the train ticket from Madrid to Leon. The Renfe ticket office in T-4 will guide you through the process.
     
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  13. Tully34

    Tully34 New Member

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    First off- no worries. I finished from SJPP this July. Incredibly safe and people watch out for one another on the Camino. I’m assuming you’ve got appropriate gear (clothing/shoes/sleeping bag) and not too much. Your filled backpack should be ~10% of your body weight. If you’re adventurous, in shape, and love hiking, you’re fine from Burgos. If not, start from Leon. There’s a good site Santiago.forwalk.org that I used while traveling to see what villages where coming and where to stay- very helpful. There’s also a site similar to this on FB (American Pilgrims on the Camino) that was very responsive on questions. It doesn’t matter if your from BC! Buen Camino and enjoy!!!! I’m jealous as I could do it again now.
     
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  14. Beth Hood

    Beth Hood New Member

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    Camino Frances, June 2017
    Hi Shawndra,
    I did 10 days of the Camino alone during the summer - and honestly, alone for me was the way to do it. It leaves you much more open to discovering those around you and what is within you. I never felt concerned for safety. I loved the solitude and loved the unexpected companionship of fellow pilgrims. Trust, and enjoy!

    Beth
     
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  15. NualaOC

    NualaOC Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Hi Shawndra, welcome to the forum. As others have said, you're likely to have a lovely combination of solitary walking and company when you need it.

    There's no need for GPS as the trail is very well marked. As for an app, it might be handy for checking accommodation options - from what I can reall about the Dintman and Landis book, it doesn't have a lot of information on that aspect. However, you could also just figure this out as you go along, or buy one of the other guidebooks (e.g. Brierley).

    Re. travel from the UK - both Burgos and Leon are easily accessible by bus or trail from Madrid. The Rome2Rio website is a very useful tool for planning your journey.

    Wishing you a Buen Camino!
     
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  16. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member

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    Yes, I did it end August this year. Of Course falcon269 is right, the shuttle is much cheaper than and just as fast as a taxi – a taxi is just more comfortable and flexible :).

    Make sure you get the right train. There are trains that take up to 5 hours for the journey and fast trains that do it in 2hrs 10min. If you can get the 2:40 PM train you will be in León at 4:50.
     
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  17. Shyland

    Shyland New Member

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    Thank you so much. Super useful info. I think I will do the taxi plan. Thank you so much for your help!
     
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  18. Shyland

    Shyland New Member

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    Thank you Beth! I'm all booked so no turning back now
     
  19. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member

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    You are welcome! I am sure you will enjoy it - it's a really nice walk.
    Buen Camino.
     
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  20. UserGerardo

    UserGerardo New Member

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  21. Shyland

    Shyland New Member

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    Thanks everyone for all your advise and encouragement! This forum is made up of some awesome people. Well I'm headed to Leon tomorrow and I'm doing the Camino. Still nervous but encouraged by all of you.
    One more question, any recommendations on the the best alberge to stay at in Leon to get me feet wet? Haha.
     
  22. mspath

    mspath Veteran Member Donating Member

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    In Leon the Benedictinas
    Hospideria PAX
    offers private accommodation which is very nice and which you can reserve.
    Here is their web--
    http://www.hospederiapax.com/

    Their Pilgrim albergue provides dormitory accommodation for 134 with shared facilities but does not accept reservations except for groups. Both facilities are located on the plaza Santa María del Camino.

    The Hospideria has a pleasant dining room open to all with a good inexpensive daily menu .

    While often staying in the pilgrim albergue I peeked at the Hospideria facilities which appear to be very comfortable. The choice is up to you!

    Good luck and Buen camino!
     
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  23. Shyland

    Shyland New Member

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    Thank you so much!!!! I’m just on the train to Leon now and I will look at the places you mentioned. I’m quite nervous but I know it will all work out. :))
    Shawndra
    hank
     
  24. Shyland

    Shyland New Member

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    Thanks so much Rob! So kind of you to write all of that for me. I’m on the train to Leon right now. I’ve armed myself with google maps and a Canadian phone roaming fee. I’ve got my 2 pair of socks and I’m going for it!

    Thank you again!
    Shawndra


    QUOTE="Dorpie, post: 560693, member: 45270"]Hi Shawndra,

    You're definitely not starting at the busiest time of year but I'm pretty confident that you'll only be as alone as you want to be. Looking at last year's numbers 27,000 people arrived in Santiago in October last year, most of whom will have been on the Frances. I see the numbers were a lot lower come November but there were still over 200 people a day picking up their compostella.

    Sorry I can't really advise on getting there as I've never started from either, also it rather depends on where you're flying from in the UK as to what routes are practical/affordable.

    Unless you're keen on long days I'd probably not start from Burgos if you're only going to take 2 weeks. It can be done but that doesn't necessarily mean it should be done.

    For staying on course, the route is for the most-part extremely well marked with the ubiquitous yellow arrows, but there certainly is the odd moment, particularly in towns where you can get confused. One big advantage of the busier months is that you almost always have another pilgrim in sight to keep you heading in the right direction, this may not be the case when the crowds thin out. I found having Google Maps on my phone was enough to reassure me that I could always get back on track. Data is expensive if you're non European but having some kind of allowance as a back up is probably wise.

    And as for cold feet......wear 2 pairs of socks! ;)

    Buen Camino,

    Rob.[/QUOTE]
    La
     
  25. Fergus

    Fergus New Member

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    planning my first
    We are starting out on the 18th and flying ryanair from Dublin to Santander, then a bus to Logrono. There are routes to Leon and Burgos as well
     

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