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The Camino: So much to fear - So little to fear.

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
As a 12-year repeat pilgrim, I read many posts here about, preps, anxieties, bed reservations, and so on. The simple fact is (and I am talking about the Camino Frances, wich I recommend for all first-timers):

You have to find your way to a starting point. Pamplona is an easy choice. Saint Jean pied de Port is only a starting point if you want to cross a mountain (Not an official starting point). You can start wherever.

Buying poles & other stuff at home is not needed: Everything you need is easily available in Spain at a fraction of your local price, and most likely at a better quality., wherever you are: Spain is a civilised country in Europe. We have everythng you need.

Pack light in order to save your back, and buy what you miss, in Spain, based on your needs. Do not carry much.

You are not embarking into the wild: You are walking through landscapes, ancient history, and villages/cities that were full of life centuries before Columubus "discovered" America. You will soon find that you have arrived in a civilised world.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
Spain is a civilised country in Europe.
Right on, Alex. Spain is a very civilised country in Europe.

People coming from parts of the New World may be surprised about this, but you can get almost anything you need* along the camino. Shops like Caminoteca in Pamplona or the Boutique du Pelerin in SJPP are available along the way to cater to pilgrims, not to mention monster Decathlon outlets in bigger cities. But it's better for the local economy (and more fun) to shop in the small places.

Do others have recommendations for local outdoor equipment shops in smaller towns along the Frances? This would be a valuable resource to have in one place, and these places need our custom now more than ever.

*The main important exception to this being some brands of shoe if they're American, like Oboz.
 
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
As a 12-year repeat pilgrim, I read many posts here about, preps, anxieties, bed reservations, and so on. The simple fact is (and I am talking about the Camino Frances, wich I recommend for all first-timers):

You have to find your way to a starting point. Pamplona is an easy choice. Saint Jean pied de Port is only a starting point if you want to cross a mountain (Not an official starting point). You can start wherever.

Buying poles & other stuff at home is not needed: Everything you need is easily available in Spain at a fraction of your local price, and most likely at a better quality., wherever you are: Spain is a civilised country in Europe. We have everythng you need.

Pack light in order to save your back, and buy what you miss, in Spain, based on your needs. Do not carry much.

You are not embarking into the wild: You are walking through landscapes, ancient history, and villages/cities that were full of life centuries before Columubus "discovered" America. You will soon find that you have arrived in a civilised world.
I'd love to cut/paste this into my Facebook Camino planning group . . . it is so right on!
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
Do others have recommendations for local outdoor equipment shops in smaller towns along the Frances?
There are several Planeta Agua locations on the Camino, in Zubiri, Puente la Reina, Viana, and Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

Not to forget or miss the unforgettable Senor Amancio Yagüez's Bazar El Peregrino, in Castrojerez!

And for those on the Galician end of the Francés, you're not without options, either:
For walking poles and all outdoor equipment this is a great place in Sarria--
http://www.peregrinoteca.com/tienda/
That's a good shop. Lot's of stuff. It's located to the right, just before you go up the big stairway in Sarria.

You're so right, Alex. This is far from the howling wilderness.
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC

Trey Pitz

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
As a 12-year repeat pilgrim, I read many posts here about, preps, anxieties, bed reservations, and so on. The simple fact is (and I am talking about the Camino Frances, wich I recommend for all first-timers):

You have to find your way to a starting point. Pamplona is an easy choice. Saint Jean pied de Port is only a starting point if you want to cross a mountain (Not an official starting point). You can start wherever.

Buying poles & other stuff at home is not needed: Everything you need is easily available in Spain at a fraction of your local price, and most likely at a better quality., wherever you are: Spain is a civilised country in Europe. We have everythng you need.

Pack light in order to save your back, and buy what you miss, in Spain, based on your needs. Do not carry much.

You are not embarking into the wild: You are walking through landscapes, ancient history, and villages/cities that were full of life centuries before Columubus "discovered" America. You will soon find that you have arrived in a civilised world.
Thank you and could someone specifically discuss trekking poles. Should I try and bring them with me, which would mean that I'd have to check a bag at the airport from the USA, or buy them there at my starting point (SJPP)? Will I be able to get good quality at a fair price in SJPP?
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
Will I be able to get good quality at a fair price in SJPP?
Yes.
Go to the Boutique du Pelerin in SJPP. They have a webpage and would likely be willing to hold the for you if you know what you want and they have them in stock.

It looks like they will do a special order for you:
 
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Past OR future Camino
Planning on the pilgrimage 2015
As a 12-year repeat pilgrim, I read many posts here about, preps, anxieties, bed reservations, and so on. The simple fact is (and I am talking about the Camino Frances, wich I recommend for all first-timers):

You have to find your way to a starting point. Pamplona is an easy choice. Saint Jean pied de Port is only a starting point if you want to cross a mountain (Not an official starting point). You can start wherever.

Buying poles & other stuff at home is not needed: Everything you need is easily available in Spain at a fraction of your local price, and most likely at a better quality., wherever you are: Spain is a civilised country in Europe. We have everythng you need.

Pack light in order to save your back, and buy what you miss, in Spain, based on your needs. Do not carry much.

You are not embarking into the wild: You are walking through landscapes, ancient history, and villages/cities that were full of life centuries before Columubus "discovered" America. You will soon find that you have arrived in a civilised world.
Congrats on so many caminos!! For me the great thing about deciding to do a camino was it pushed me so far outside my comfort zone. Especially if you are doing it alone. I remember being so concerned that I would become lost.
All these things we pack with the idea "I might need this" are just little security blankets.but very quickly you discover that " less is more" people are friendly and above all you CAN do this.
I recall walking through a small village where many people were outside sipping coffee and kids were playing. As I walked by with my back pack obviously a pilgrim and an older gentleman came up to me in beautiful Spanish and explained how not to mis the trail at the end of town. I explained to him respectfully "no habla espanol senor" this statement didn't not deter him in fact he spoke faster and with more zeal. I loved that senor because he made me feel so welcome and cared for. I thought what a privilege to walk across this wonderful country. I never really got lost, never was lonely, ate very well and slept in nice beds each night. I arrived in santiago with many less possessions but with a full heart and a Confidence that is given to all who complete a camino. Buen camino
 
Past OR future Camino
Planning on the pilgrimage 2015
Thank you and could someone specifically discuss trekking poles. Should I try and bring them with me, which would mean that I'd have to check a bag at the airport from the USA, or buy them there at my starting point (SJPP)? Will I be able to get good quality at a fair price in SJPP?
I was able to carry on my trecking poles because I had put them in a tube container. That was from lax to Madrid. I like bringing the poles as I didn't want to spend alot of time finding a good pair once I landed though I'm sure you could find a decent pair.
As far as the poles themselves. I used them everyday and to me they made all the difference on this long glorious hike. I did the norte which can be very hilly in places. Also they are great for long downhill trecks. Buen camino
 
Past OR future Camino
Porto to SdC-Sept 2017
Camino Frances-Apr/May 2019
Yes.
Go to the Boutique du Pelerin in SJPP. They have a webpage and would likely be willing to hold the for you if you know what you want and they have them in stock.

It looks like they will do a special order for you:
I ordered my Altus poncho from them and they held it till I arrived to pick it up. I made my purchase and thought all was done. Then the next morning I got an email from them stating that the cashier mistakenly charged me the in store price, not the cheaper online price. So I went there in the morning and they happily gave me the difference in Euros. I thought that was awesome service as I would never have know that I paid a higher price if the owner didn't email me. Koodos to them and I'd definitely give them my service again!
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A few times
Before I left for my first Camino I made all kind of last minute scrounging around trying to find proper gear and clothing to bring, and made do with what I had. When I arrived in SJPdP to my surprise their were shoppes there that had everything I needed. I could have shown up with old clothing, no gear at all. Ditched it all and bought everything there. I will concur for those that have specific footwear needs one may want to bring that with them. Most people do not have such needs and can get perfectly adequate footwear on the Camino. It's another topic that get's beaten to death here with never any really good advice given on it, lol. Just opinions and didactic. :D
You do not need robust, technical gear. You are not embarking up the north face of Everest and if something breaks you can purchase a new one.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
I'd definitely give them my service again
I as well.
I needed to go to the Post Office and one of the folks at Direction Compostelle needed to go so offerred to show me there. When I got to the desk and was in the middle of paying, I realized I did not have enough cash on me. She loaned me quite a lot of money, trusting me to go back to the shop and repay her. Of course I did, but how was she to know that I would?
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
And then one day you realize that the Camino is your comfort zone!
Very wisely said. A wise footballplayer from The Nederlands, Johan Cruyff, said, about many things in life: " You don't see it until you see it".

For me, each time returning to the Camino, is like coming home. I have no fears, just knowledge it will be well.

But it will maybe not be like that for firsttimers, So here is some advice:

The first days you will be bewildered, not knowing the rules of albergues, your stamina etc. But you will very soon understand that you have entered a civilised area: there will be shops everywhere, sellling all you could possibly need, for a much better price than at home.

Start out walking distances like an old person, in order to finish as a young person: Build your physic on the Way.

Smell the roses; do not rush: This may be a life-changing adventure for you. it is, for many.

If you have concerns about beds, book ahead. But try to take the plunge. I have rarely booked ahead, but have never, in 12 years, slept without a bed. If in trouble, ask in the nearest bar. They are locals and know every possibility.

Above all, enjoy an extensive feel of freedom.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
But it will maybe not be like that for firsttimers
Of course. What I decided before my first Camino was that if I realized that it wasn't for me, then I would just spend the rest of my time in Spain on a beach. 🏖 😊

Obviously, though I found my "happy place" on the Camino.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
As I walked by with my back pack obviously a pilgrim and an older gentleman came up to me in beautiful Spanish and explained how not to mis the trail at the end of town. I explained to him respectfully "no habla espanol senor" this statement didn't not deter him in fact he spoke faster and with more zeal. I loved that senor because he made me feel so welcome and cared for. I thought what a privilege to walk across this wonderful country.
I occasiinally encountered helpful locals on my Caminos who offered directional help even before we realized we were veering a bit off course when going through a village or city. They were usually older and sitting in upstairs windows watching the world go by. They would smile, shout out and point us in the right direction👉.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
I went on a zany search in a remote part of the Camino for duck tape to fix my sandal. I found out, finally, from a guy repairing a roof in a small town that it is called "Cinta Americana" in Spain. So glad I didn't know that to begin with, because I wouldn't have experienced the journey to find it.
 

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Past OR future Camino
Planning on the pilgrimage 2015
I ordered my Altus poncho from them and they held it till I arrived to pick it up. I made my purchase and thought all was done. Then the next morning I got an email from them stating that the cashier mistakenly charged me the in store price, not the cheaper online price. So I went there in the morning and they happily gave me the difference in Euros. I thought that was awesome service as I would never have know that I paid a higher price if the owner didn't email me. Koodos to them and I'd definitely give them my service again!

Oh my I'm not used to service like that wow. I bet that made your day.great story!😉
 
Past OR future Camino
Planning on the pilgrimage 2015
I went on a zany search in a remote part of the Camino for duck tape to fix my sandal. I found out, finally, from a guy repairing a roof in a small town that it is called "Cinta Americana" in Spain. So glad I didn't know that to begin with, because I wouldn't have experienced the journey to find it.
What would we do without our precious duck tape. Someone told me a good hack is to wrap some duct take on your tracking poles. It takes up no space and you always have a little for the inevitable repair that needs mending. Well done buen camino
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I ordered my Altus poncho from them and they held it till I arrived to pick it up. I made my purchase and thought all was done. Then the next morning I got an email from them stating that the cashier mistakenly charged me the in store price, not the cheaper online price. So I went there in the morning and they happily gave me the difference in Euros. I thought that was awesome service as I would never have know that I paid a higher price if the owner didn't email me. Koodos to them and I'd definitely give them my service again!
Typical. Honest and friendly people of Spain. Not like many other countries, where money comes first...

As a further note: If you try to/can speak a little Spanish, they will love you. I cannot say how a month's worth of intense Spanish school has helped me in Spain. I just love to be able to communicate with the people, however the little I can. It is SO rewarding, being treated like a friend of the country. Which I am of course,
 
Past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
I as well.
I needed to go to the Post Office and one of the folks at Direction Compostelle needed to go so offerred to show me there. When I got to the desk and was in the middle of paying, I realized I did not have enough cash on me. She loaned me quiteca lot of money, trusting me to go back to the shop and repay her. Of course I did, but how was she to know that I would?
Could it have been your honest, open face? Or your rather unique walking outfit?
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
What would we do without our precious duck tape. Someone told me a good hack is to wrap some duct take on your tracking poles. It takes up no space and you always have a little for the inevitable repair that needs mending. Well done buen camino
I started doing exactly that after my adventure searching for it.
 

Carfax

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Samos to SDC April and May 2016
SDC to Fisterra and Muxia) August 2016
As a 12-year repeat pilgrim, I read many posts here about, preps, anxieties, bed reservations, and so on. The simple fact is (and I am talking about the Camino Frances, wich I recommend for all first-timers):

You have to find your way to a starting point. Pamplona is an easy choice. Saint Jean pied de Port is only a starting point if you want to cross a mountain (Not an official starting point). You can start wherever.

Buying poles & other stuff at home is not needed: Everything you need is easily available in Spain at a fraction of your local price, and most likely at a better quality., wherever you are: Spain is a civilised country in Europe. We have everythng you need.

Pack light in order to save your back, and buy what you miss, in Spain, based on your needs. Do not carry much.

You are not embarking into the wild: You are walking through landscapes, ancient history, and villages/cities that were full of life centuries before Columubus "discovered" America. You will soon find that you have arrived in a civilised world.
Hear hear. What is needed is advice on where to buy. I came through Madrid on my first trip in 2016 and a large store there whose name I forget had everything I brought with me. !! Next time - if ever click and collect?
 
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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
I as well.
I needed to go to the Post Office and one of the folks at Direction Compostelle needed to go so offerred to show me there. When I got to the desk and was in the middle of paying, I realized I did not have enough cash on me. She loaned me quiteca lot of money, trusting me to go back to the shop and repay her. Of course I did, but how was she to know that I would?
This is not about Spain or the Camino, but your story reminded me of the time in Mexico I bought a bottle of wine in a little shop and asked the clerk (the only worker there) if he had a bottle opener. He said, "No, but wait here," and left me alone in the wine shop while he disappeared a few blocks away to a bar and borrowed one for me.

And back to Spain, how about that unsupervised wine fountain outside of Irache. Is there another country on earth that could get away with this without seeing horrific abuse? We can't even keep people from destroying water fountains in parks in my town in the US.
 
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jenny@zen

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Via De la Plata
I ordered my Altus poncho from them and they held it till I arrived to pick it up. I made my purchase and thought all was done. Then the next morning I got an email from them stating that the cashier mistakenly charged me the in store price, not the cheaper online price. So I went there in the morning and they happily gave me the difference in Euros. I thought that was awesome service as I would never have know that I paid a higher price if the owner didn't email me. Koodos to them and I'd definitely give them my service again!
This and other anecdotes regarding Direction Compostelle (aka Boutique du Pèlerins) sums up the owners Pierre and Nadia to a tee! They are knowledgeable pilgrims, helpful, kind and generous. In my mind they embody the Camino spirit.

Some on this forum say that SJPP is ‘nothing special’ and you are as well to start in Pamplona. That may be so for some … but for others ( me included) this small French-Basque town is charming and will forever be a significant part of The Way, whether as the start of the Camino Frances, or the end point of various French and other European Caminos before crossing Into Spain

Pierre and Nadia at Direction Compostelle are just one example of the warmth and charm of this pilgrim town. And I have vivid memories of all my Pyrenees crossings from there to Roncesvalles, whether by route Napoleon or Valcaros. If you have the time - my humble opinion is that SJPP is well worth a visit. 🙏
 

jenny@zen

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Via De la Plata
Typical. Honest and friendly people of Spain. Not like many other countries, where money comes first...

As a further note: If you try to/can speak a little Spanish, they will love you. I cannot say how a month's worth of intense Spanish school has helped me in Spain. I just love to be able to communicate with the people, however the little I can. It is SO rewarding, being treated like a friend of the country. Which I am of course,
This shop is in France / Basque Country - in SJPP. And yes, honest and friendly. And kind and generous!
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
And I have vivid memories of all my Pyrenees crossings from there to Roncesvalles, whether by route Napoleon or Valcaros. If you have the time - my humble opinion is that SJPP is well worth a visit.
So very true for me too, Jenny! A beautiful town with good memories, and walking the city walls was one of the highlights for me.
 
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06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
For those with a little time, there is a shop in Pamplona, image attached, fairly central, which is independent, as far as I am aware. It has plenty of maps, books, clothes, shoes and whatever else to do with outdoor life... I have a scout around there usually when I have the chance. They generally have a rail or two with sale items. Of course you will get greater variety in Decathlon, but sometimes local is more... It is fairly near the monumental bull statues.
D27CDD5A-FB61-440F-AA0D-6FF126B08CEA.jpeg
 

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