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Still not sure if vdlp is a good idea April 2018

NomadBoomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (September 2017), Vdlp (April 2018)
#1
Hi
After a fantastic frances Camino in September 2017 , I am lucky to be able to fit another 3-4 walk in April-Early May this year before heading back to Australia.
I posted before about which route to pick and after some great feedback decided on the Vdlp from salamanca via ourense, primarily as quieter than the frances and April a good time for this route. Further reading has made me a little concerned.

1. I am terrible at learning languages, so I have very poor Spanish. I do a lot of travelling so I don't mind being the village idiot in using mime etc in shops and restaurants. But is this going to prove difficult for accommodation? Am I going to find other pilgrims speaking English to talk to?

2. I can't get a sense of how busy the alburges are likely to be in this period. Some posts talk about quiet Alburges others (more recently?) mention full alburges. As above I may find it difficult to ring to book ahead. I don't mind paying a bit extra for a private room. I really don't want to taxi as I loved walking every step without no transport from beginning to end.

3. Although not particularly religious I love a Camino to be a pilgrimage not just another long walk. I went to as many pilgrim masses as I could on the frances and stopped at lots of open churches for a moments contemplation. I was always aware I was was following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims thru the ages. Does this hold for any other route?

Cheers Paul
 

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MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2014: Cam. Frances
2015: Chimayo, USA.
2016, 2017: VdlP
2018: Madrid and Ourense
#2
Paul, I wish you a Buen Camino which ever path you take, and I believe that the road is what we make it. I will also provide a little input. I've done the entire VdlP in March/April 2017 and much of it in April 2016 also. We've also done the entire Frances as well as parts of it two other times.

I love the VdlP, and in fact we plan to be there again this spring. It can be difficult in the rain, and the forecast continues to look ominous (the trails on the Frances are constructed to handle the water better, and on the VdlP there are very places to get out of the weather during the day).

Of course it's always good to know a few phrases, but Spanish is not required. The end of April could be a bit crowded, the spring is definitely the busiest time on the VdlP/Sanabres. Most of the time there are other folks that can assist in making reservations if needed.

We have found the Camino Frances to feel more like a pilgrimage, and the VdlP to feel more like a long hike. But there are numerous old churches in the villages, and the Salamanca, Zamora, and Ourense Cathedrals are all amazing.

Our main concern right now is the weather. On the Sanabres, if it continues to rain as much as it has been, pilgrims will end up walking right down the highway because the trails are 0.5 meters deep in water/mud, and 500 km of asphalt is not good. If the weather settles, we will start in Zamora in early April. If not, we'll take a train to somewhere else???
Mike.
 

Olimpia

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago Frances (2014)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#3
I share your concern. I have done the Frances and the North and I am hoping to complete de Via de la Plata this April. I am schedule to arrive in Sevilla April 1st and still wondering if I should take a train to Pamplona.
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
#4
Just to respond to a couple of your questions:

2. I remember reading a couple of recent threads that there was "no accommodation" rather than "full accommodation" on the VdlP, although I could be mistaken. I think lots of the albergues (on all the pilgrimage routes) only open from Easter onwards, so maybe this is why they were having problems(?)

3. I checked the statistics for last year: 1,351 people in total finished the VdlP in May, as opposed to 21,512 who finished the Frances - so if you're looking for "quieter" you're probably going to get it. I haven't walked the VdlP, but of all the paths I have walked, the Frances definitely offers something special in that your identity as a pilgrim is constantly affirmed by the sheer volume of pilgrim-related symbols, churches, albergues, and of course the large number of peregrinos sharing the experience.

That said... one of the reasons I love the camino(s) is that once you've started walking you don't need to do much planning, so if the weather's bad you could easily change your mind at relatively short notice and catch transport to a different starting point. April is always a tricky month weather-wise. I think the Frances and the Portugues are probably best equipped to deal with rainy periods. The Norte is also usually a bit milder at this time of year, as the ocean keeps temperatures relatively warm compared to the interior.
 

Olimpia

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago Frances (2014)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#5
I'll be close to Portugal so the Portugues is a option. However, I loved so much the Frances that I would not hesitate to do it again. It was 3 years ago.So it will be a new experience. I will still try the Via de la Plata.
Thanks
 

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hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
#6
I'd love to do this route in April as reports are that it is fantastic in the northern Spring. However our walnuts are starting to fall so I am busy with the harvest and will have to wait till the northern Autumn before setting off in the Vdlp again. Hope my observations on your questions below are useful:

1 Despite years of travel in Spanish speaking countries, my Spanish is very limited and mangled by overlays of Mexican inflections and all to often mixed with a dose of schoolgirl French (and Latin)... my daughter says i don't speak Spanish at all, more my own made up language. Scott didn't speak Spanish at all, but got buy very well with his own version of international mime language. Still we got on ok, may have missed some bits but had some very interesting"conversations" on pig farming, roasting peppers and growing trees etc. While there are fewer pilgrims, almost all speak English and if you want, it's easier to meet at the end of the day for a meal or a drink together then in other routes.

2 Never had a problem finding a bed, although we did sleep in some odd places, part of the experence really. You can strike groups of locals who are out walking a section as it's apparently a popular thing to so especially taking in the spring flowers, these groups can book out an alburges which can be a pain, but it's their country and somehow an extra bed is found and the groups are only walking a few days so they aren't a long term problem. Many of these groups will have English speakers and are keen to talk to long distance pilgrims and give you local insights.

3 As pagan history buffs, Scott and I enjoyed the Roman remains and open spaces on the Vdlp. But as this is Spain you won't be short of ancient churches and shrines to worship in, many are small and plain as this has long been a poorer part of Spain. But there are some magnificent and significant places to visit along the way, Seville, Salamanca, Zamora and Ourence spring to mind, do some research and you will find many more.

Have a great walk, it's a beautiful and soulful route.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Frances SJPDP
2016 Portugues (with wife)
2017 VDLP
2018 Portugues (with daughter)
#7
I walked the VDLP in May 2017. The weather was very rainy and we had to make some detours where rivers were overflowing and the trails impassable along with wading through others. When I got the Sanabres and heard that the rain and snow made it difficult I stayed on the VDLP to Astorga and joined the Frances to SJPDP.
It ended up being a great experience even if not what I had planned. I had no problems with alberges even if some of them were "interesting" but I met great people both locals and pilgrims along the way.
 

Olimpia

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago Frances (2014)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#8
Thanks to all for the valuable input. I will arrive Sevilla April 2nd and hopefully will start the VDLP the following day with high hopes and an open heart. Both my previous experiences have been precious. This I am sure will be great!
 

NomadBoomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (September 2017), Vdlp (April 2018)
#9
Thanks to all of those who took the time to post. I really appreciate the valuable input, and it has encouraged me to try the Vdlp. I think I will delay booking a flight to Madrid for now and keep an eye on the weather forecasts. If it is not looking too bad I will stick to the original plan with the option to transfer to a different route if it is not working for me.
Buen Camino Olympia!
Cheers Paul
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April/May 2017
#11
Good morning to you all. I fly out to Seville this weekend to start the VDLP. Any news from those pilgrims who started this week on the state of the River Molinos on the first stage?
 

Ewbok

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances2013, Leon to Santiago 2013, frances 2016, Vdp 2016
#12
Hi
After a fantastic frances Camino in September 2017 , I am lucky to be able to fit another 3-4 walk in April-Early May this year before heading back to Australia.
I posted before about which route to pick and after some great feedback decided on the Vdlp from salamanca via ourense, primarily as quieter than the frances and April a good time for this route. Further reading has made me a little concerned.

1. I am terrible at learning languages, so I have very poor Spanish. I do a lot of travelling so I don't mind being the village idiot in using mime etc in shops and restaurants. But is this going to prove difficult for accommodation? Am I going to find other pilgrims speaking English to talk to?

2. I can't get a sense of how busy the alburges are likely to be in this period. Some posts talk about quiet Alburges others (more recently?) mention full alburges. As above I may find it difficult to ring to book ahead. I don't mind paying a bit extra for a private room. I really don't want to taxi as I loved walking every step without no transport from beginning to end.

3. Although not particularly religious I love a Camino to be a pilgrimage not just another long walk. I went to as many pilgrim masses as I could on the frances and stopped at lots of open churches for a moments contemplation. I was always aware I was was following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims thru the ages. Does this hold for any other route?

Cheers Paul
Hey Paul, the Vdp is a great Camino. The thing that I found about it that was particularly enjoyable was that it is a in country type experience more so than the Camino from says. He Francis is well set up for pilgrims, there are plenty of pilgrims on the trail, there’s loads of accommodation and it’s very build and friendly. Vdp on the other hand, because if she is so much fewer pilgrims is Very much a solo experience with a much harder groove of pilgrimage. I personally loved it, there were many days where I would be alone seeing only a few people at the hostal. I would highly recommend the stages can be 20 to 30 km but the elevation gain for the most part is pretty minimal. I’m 52 and in reasonably good shape and had no problem with any of the walking. There is a lot of road walking but they’re mostly secondary roads. But if you have 3 to 4 weeks I would take the opportunity and go to Portugal.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Past: CF: Sarria to Santiago May 2017
VdlP/ Sanabres: Salamanca to Santiago May 2018
Fisterra Muxia
#14
Hi Kanga Are you starting in Seville? I start from Salamanca on 28 April and am looking forward to what the Camino will reveal Buen Camino
 

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