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timeline limitation- where to fast forward?


I've made my mind up to do this route. However, I want to be done in 4-5 weeks including rest days and exploring days.

Should I begin at SJPD and skip other stages or should I just begin somewhere else like Pamplona? What are the most dreaded routes due to highway roads or strenuous demands or lack of scenery or anything else you can think of?

Pilgrim advice greatly appreciated~ Denise
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HI again, I started in Roncesvalles and took 35 days, no rest days, I was not very fit, averaged 20 km per day or so. I skipped the 8 km through industrial suburbs in Burgos and the first 6 or so km out of Leon. I would not miss the bit before Pamplona it was one of my favourite bits. Later on I think there is a whole day or two along highways a day or so before climbing up to O Cebreiro, you could try and miss that. I believe the bit between St Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles is quite beautiful, but it takes 2 days if you are not very fit and are just starting out. I took a taxi over the mountains, so still saw the scenery. It was great. All the best, Gitti
In May 2009, it took me 33 days from Saint Jean to Santiago.
No resting days but 2 very short ones (5 and 8 km), one of 13 and the rest between 18 and 33 km (long distances rarely, and mostly in the meseta).
You can avoid the industrial entry to Burgos, as we did : There is a beautiful way along a small river, through a park. (there is a topic here as well about that)
You can avoid (partly) the way along a high way after Villafranca del Bierzo by taking the Camino Duro (very steep but great scenery and really calm).
The Pyrenees, well some people say it is the most beautiful part, when I did it, everything was in a big fog, so did not see anything. But would not have missed this start.

Probably you should just make your mind up where you want to start.
The rest, you will feel, see, discover on your Camino.
I did the whole thing in 31 days twice, without any rest days. Averaging 20-25km the first 2 weeks and close to 30 the next 2 weeks.

Regarding your question, I'd say just start walking and see how it goes. You might find out you dont want any rest days, could save the bus for harder days, or might not need the bus at all. Or just take it when the schedule is getting too tight. People along the way (pelgrims or hospitalero's) can inform you on the less interesting bits (which is all very relative, even the industrial parts have their good sides if you look hard enough)

Have a great Camino!
Hi there, try and give yourself 5 weeks if possible. You should enjoy the Camino and not drive yourself to exhaustion day after day.

When are you going? Remember 2010 is a Holy Year and July-August will be hell. I would recommend from mid-September to mid/late October.

I did it in 32 days from Roncesvalles, had 3 rest days (in Burgos. Leon and Sarria), and two "cheating" stages when I took the bus from Estella to Najera and the train from Sahagun to Leon.

I preferred to start in Roncesvalles rather than SJPDP so as to avoid the Pyrenees' climb on the first day and to do the whole trip on Spanish soil.

I recommend one rest day in Burgos (lots to see, don't miss the monastery of Las Huelgas) and one in Leon (for the Cathedral), plus bypassing Logrono. If you take the train from Sahagun to Leon you avoid the dangerous highway crossing. The 5-km highway stretch after Triacastela and the rocky descent from Rabanal del Camino to El Acebo are also bad.

The stretch from Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro is very long if you do the Camino Duro, or dangerous if you follow the highway, and you may want to split it in 2 days and stay overnight in Valcarce. But the climb into Galicia and the arrival to O Cebreiro is unforgettable!

Also unforgettable are the climb to Alto del Perdon after Pamplona and the descent from El Acebo to Molinaseca.
The detour to the magnificent Eunate church after Uterga is a MUST, as is the detour to Vilar de Donas from Eirexe.

Please refer to my long "Did it!" post on 5 November 2009 for my summary, impressions, and practical tips.

Remembering my own Camino last autumn starts me daydreaming again. How I envy you!

Have fun and ULTREYA!!!

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Thank You, Pilgrims!

I plan to jot all your tips down in a journal before leaving. I just received John Brierly's book with detailed maps and now these towns/cities you mention don't seem so foreign anymore... I feel like I'm getting a picture of what town is where and so forth.

I like the advice of just begin and walk... (I'm starting at SJDP) feel the camino, rest when needed... fast forward maybe on days I need rest versus trying to avoid industrial areas and look for the beauty in any stage, etc, etc. I will unfortunately be walking in July but at least will get about a week first in June... but then again, there must be "beauty" in walking in the heat as well, si? Am very excited!

Good stuff here! Grazie~ Denise
Ciao Gitti!

Yes, I'm liking it too. I like Brierley's reminder of preparing "internally." However, I've got that covered! I'm feeling much more confident about the camino knowing I will take it at my own pace, even if only going 5-10k the first few days!

On the other hand, getting ready otherwise is both exciting and burdensome. I'm excited to find the proper gear but in the last 5 years or so, find "shopping" a chore! I dread the idea of walking around the next 2 Saturday's in a store while trying to discover a proper fit for the right backpack. I sound as whiny as my students now.. ha!

If I recall correctly, you are now a veteran walker/hiker but in the beginning were not? How much physical preparation did you do before your fist camino? And did you hike in athletic tennis shoes or hiking boots? I'll be going from about June 23- to end of July on the SJPD route... any thoughts on light weight sleeping bags?

Grazie~ Denise
HI, thanks for your reply, I did zero training before leaving. 1 walk of 16 km and that was it. I used my lightweight gortex boots which I had bought for the Camino only to find that one boot was 1 cm higher around the ankle and the buckles were in different places and one buckle pushed right onto a bone on my foot! I ended up sending the boots back and then I had mega problems with footwear, which impacted on my walk quite a lot. You will read about it on my blog which I posted to this forum the other day.
My subsequent walks were so much easier, I am getting better and better at managing myself and my gear.
Re backpack, it is a bit like shoes, very personal. I have a 32 Ltr Deuter, but lots of people rave about the 32 ltr OMM, which weighs half of what the Deuter weighs.
I have just bought an Altus poncho, which lots of people also rave about.
I attach my refined packing list which works a treat for me, the only thing that will be different from now is the Altus instead of cape or jacket. It is both in one.
Have fun shopping, it is exciting. And the little spiritual sayings of John Brierleys for each stage are quite amazing, on so many occasions they gave a lot of meaning to what happened on the day.
Regards, Gitti


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gittiharre said:
Have a wonderful time, I loved my John Brierley guidebook, Gitti

John's guides are marvelous indeed. I have had the chance of meeting John in person on the camino Portugues. He is one of those people that inspire the world around him, a remarkable man with an unlimited supply of energy and with a real passion for the camino in all its forms.

He tries to keep his guides up to date, walking the camino several times a year to do it. Therefore he only brings out the 4 guides that he has on only 2 routes + finisterra.

I'm a bit biased when it comes to these guides but I feel they are the best out there :) .
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
If I had to skip bits, it would be
Sahagun and 10km either side of the town
15km before Burgos
8km before Leon (from Archueja?)
10km after Leon (to Virgen del Camino)
last 25km from Santa Irene to Santiago, but that stops you getting the compostela
Actually, while I have been playing some things by ear, I hadn't given much thought of "banking" days according to need versus fast forwarding highway stages... and so..... thanks to you and others, I now have yet again more wisdom to store!

Grazie~ Denise

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