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to book or not to book...

Jane A

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2019)
#1
that is the question!
Hi, everyone! I'm making arrangements for a group of 5 middle- aged women for the first segment: SJPdP to Los Arcos, beginning on April 28. Our more mature bones require more private lodging than a typical albergue would provide - so we're interested in not necessarily fancy, but private rooms. I know based on previous posts that our time frame could bring weather conditions making the Napoleon route unlikely - but if we can, that would be our desired route - with an overnight stop in Orisson. But if we have to take Valcarlos instead, is there a suggested overnight stop there as well? or just continue on to Roncesvalles?
I'm trying to decide about booking lodging in advance, but the 2 route options are making it difficult. If I book in advance with plans on staying in Orisson, but then have to take Valcarlos, that mucks up all the reservations by a day. I'd love to hear from you seasoned travelers who have experienced the Camino during a similar time frame, with small groups, etc.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (Oct. 2018)
#2
Welcome to the forum, @Jane A !

If you can't walk the Napoleon route, then simply plan to spend the night in Valcarlos, and the rest of your arrangements can stay as planned.

If you make that stop, your first day walking will be a fairly easy one through rolling French farmlands and quiet back roads, as compared to the very strenuous climb to Orisson. However, day 2 from Valcarlos to Roncesvilles is actually a steeper grade than the one to Orisson, so don't think it's an easy way out! 😉 If the weather is decent you can take the woodland paths, following streams and with gorgeous views of own. There are no services between Valcarlos and Roncesvilles, so you can pick up water and snacks before you leave.

My husband and I stayed at the beautiful Casa Rural Etxezuria in Valcarlos, and had a delicious meal of grilled lamb chops at the unassuming little bar/tienda in the middle of the village. There are several other private accomodations in town, as well as the municipal albergue. Valcarlos remains one of my very favorite villages on the Camino.

I haven't taken the Napoleon route, but my understanding is that Orisson is dorm room only, so that may be something for your group to keep in mind.

Happy planning and Buen Camino!
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
#3
A stop in Orisson is a good idea for those that want to walk the Napolean, but are uncertain about their stamina. Its also a great introduction to the Camino. Private rooms though.......uh, no. Its a Camino boot camp for the albergue way of living.

Don't be concerned about the weather. Nobody can predict it, so why worry? No matter what the weather, you can always walk to Orisson. If you arrive and the weather is bad going over the Napolean the next day, the folks at Orisson will arrange transportation to Valcarlos where you can continue your walk to Roncesvalles the same day. Also, Express Bourricott runs a "mountain shuttle" service every day to get people between SJDP and Roncesvalles, as well as intermediate points.

Buen Camino
 

Jane A

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2019)
#4
Welcome to the forum, @Jane A !

If you can't walk the Napoleon route, then simply plan to spend the night in Valcarlos, and the rest of your arrangements can stay as planned.

If you make that stop, your first day walking will be a fairly easy one through rolling French farmlands and quiet back roads, as compared to the very strenuous climb to Orisson. However, day 2 from Valcarlos to Roncesvilles is actually a steeper grade than the one to Orisson, so don't think it's an easy way out! 😉 If the weather is decent you can take the woodland paths, following streams and with gorgeous views of own. There are no services between Valcarlos and Roncesvilles, so you can pick up water and snacks before you leave.

My husband and I stayed at the beautiful Casa Rural Etxezuria in Valcarlos, and had a delicious meal of grilled lamb chops at the unassuming little bar/tienda in the middle of the village. There are several other private accomodations in town, as well as the municipal albergue. Valcarlos remains one of my very favorite villages on the Camino.

I haven't taken the Napoleon route, but my understanding is that Orisson is dorm room only, so that may be something for your group to keep in mind.

Happy planning and Buen Camino!
Thank you! this certainly puts my mind at ease. Good to have options :)
 

Jane A

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2019)
#5
A stop in Orisson is a good idea for those that want to walk the Napolean, but are uncertain about their stamina. Its also a great introduction to the Camino. Private rooms though.......uh, no. Its a Camino boot camp for the albergue way of living.

Don't be concerned about the weather. Nobody can predict it, so why worry? No matter what the weather, you can always walk to Orisson. If you arrive and the weather is bad going over the Napolean the next day, the folks at Orisson will arrange transportation to Valcarlos where you can continue your walk to Roncesvalles the same day. Also, Express Bourricott runs a "mountain shuttle" service every day to get people between SJDP and Roncesvalles, as well as intermediate points.

Buen Camino
thank you for the advice. i know that Orisson is dorm style, but it seemed not an overwhelming step to take to get a taste of a more traditional pilgrim experience.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF15, CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF17, CP17, CdN, CM, CF18, LePuy19
#7
You plus 5 pilgrims will fill some of the bedrooms at Orisson. Almost like a private room with bunk beds. Reservations are required.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#8
I chose to walk the Valcarlos route and absolutely loved it for the same reasons as Bala and never regretted it! In fact, I took my son and daughter in law a year later and once again we walked the Valcarlos. There is so much variety to see in the landscape!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#9
To book or not to book, is a commonly debated question here.

And here are 2 schools of thought.

The Napolean v Valcarlos option has already been explained.

Don't Book Ahead.

These people like the freedom that this imparts. Being able to just stop when you want to, or stop where new found friends are staying, or just take a day off or walk a shorter day.

Flexibility and spontaneity are the big bonuses here.

Book Ahead

I fall into this camp. Partly.

Because I just book a day or two ahead, depending on how far I feel I want to walk, where my new friends might be staying or just how I feel at the time.

So it's almost as flexible. Why I do it, is that I like private rooms, and I like knowing that I have my bed/room booked at the end of the day. Some stops are small villages with few private room options.

Booking a day ahead helps me relax and take my time.
I'm often the last Pilgrim to arrive on any given day!
I like to walk slowly and 'smell the Roses'.

Warning

Don't book every night before you have even started.
You will lock yourself into a program / timetable that you might not be able to maintain as it's totally inflexible.

I cannot imagine having to walk a pre-planned route with specific stops. There is no way I would know beforehand how many kms I want to walk, 10 days 'down the line'.

There are just too many variables. Fitness, injury, people I might meet etc.

I have met many people who did this and none that thought it worked out well for them.
In fact they hated the inflexibility and added pressure to 'make it' to specific locations, when they were tired and hurt.


Happy Planning :)
 
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Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#10
If you are walking from SJPdP in a group of 5 or 6, and you want to stay at the same places, YES book ahead. Booking ahead is essential for the first night at Orisson. They work via e-mail.

This time of the year they are closed, as the Napoleon Pass is closed until at least March. But send the e-mail request once your dates are FIRM. They address each e-mail request in the order it is received...the early bird and the worm... If you want to stay together in one room ASK. They will try to accommodate you.

Also, they will eventually respond in time. However, you might not hear anything until after the holidays, like at the end of February or March. Many pilgrims are put off by this approach. But, they take their holidays at this time of the year, as there are no paying customers. It makes complete sense. Just be patient and book as soon as you have solid dates.

Orisson has become a very popular place to stop after the steepest part of the entire Camino Frances. Even though it only takes about three-hours to climb from the village to Orisson, the short day is much appreciated. It make the next day's 18 km much easier. Plus, the views from the deck are beautiful beyond description.

Beyond Roncesvalles, I recommend you book ahead every 3 days or so, for the next 3 days. Booking.com has become very popular. Gronze.es (only in Spanish) also has a lot of information on places to stay that may not make it into Booking.com. Gronze is also very popular. Once you know your group walking pace and comfort level, you can plan and book ahead as needed.

After Easter, the 'season' has officially begun. Starting in late April, traffic picks up along all routes, but especially the Camino Frances. In early May, there are a lot of university class groups, tour agency groups, etc. So, if you are trying to book commercial lodging (hostals, hotels, etc.) you will have competition. Also, these groups typically do not stay in albergues. This is why you must book as soon as you are CERTAIN of your dates.

If you are six women, you will do better trying to book three doubles, than six single rooms. Many small hostels do not have six single rooms...just sayin...

All the other comments above are very good. This is just my synopsis.

Hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Villa Frqnca to Santiago (2009)
Plan to start Camino Frances (2018)
#11
that is the question!
Hi, everyone! I'm making arrangements for a group of 5 middle- aged women for the first segment: SJPdP to Los Arcos, beginning on April 28. Our more mature bones require more private lodging than a typical albergue would provide - so we're interested in not necessarily fancy, but private rooms. I know based on previous posts that our time frame could bring weather conditions making the Napoleon route unlikely - but if we can, that would be our desired route - with an overnight stop in Orisson. But if we have to take Valcarlos instead, is there a suggested overnight stop there as well? or just continue on to Roncesvalles?
I'm trying to decide about booking lodging in advance, but the 2 route options are making it difficult. If I book in advance with plans on staying in Orisson, but then have to take Valcarlos, that mucks up all the reservations by a day. I'd love to hear from you seasoned travelers who have experienced the Camino during a similar time frame, with small groups, etc.
Hi,
My 73yr old friend and I (65yr) walked from StJPDP to Finistere in two stages this year. Like you, we mostly wanted to stay in private rooms and to know where we were going. I booked the first 2 or 3 nights before we left home and I booked all the other accommodation one or two nights ahead, mostly using John Brierley’s wonderful guidebook, which lists plenty of private rooms in most places, either in Albergues or small guest houses. I sometimes used booking.com too, but I always found somewhere to stay and this way worked very well for us. I would not have wanted to have it all fixed before we left England, as we wanted to know we had flexibility over how far we walked and when we needed rest days etc.

We walked over the Napoleon route to Ronscevalles in early May with no problems at all. Having walked the South west coast path in SW England, the Napoleon route didn’t seem half as bad as we had expected. We were in Orisson by 9.30 am, having started at 7 am. Great place for coffee!

Enjoy however you decide to do it.

Helen
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
#12
I also stayed in the Casa Rural Etxezuria and it is very nice. The comments about the second day out of Valcarlos being very steep are spot on as well. There are actually three options:

1) Try to book a stop in Orisson which makes a lot of sense. There is no rush,I hope, to get to Roncesvalles. Afterall, the reason is to walk, not make distance.
2) Take the Valcarlos route with a booking there and then go to Roncesvalles
3) Walk to Orisson and then take a taxi back to StJPDP on day one. Then take the taxi back to Orisson for the next day's walk to Roncesvalle (it's not cheating).
 

Stacey J

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2017
Portuguese 2012
#13
My wife and I found that a better way to break up that first long distance is to walk up to the Virgin of Orisson and arrange for a taxi to pick you up there and take you back to your lodging SJPP for a comfortable night’s rest, and to return you to the Virgin in the morning. Orisson is really only a morning’s walk from SJPP and still leaves you with a long walk the second day. It is an albergue with its disadvantages. Have a good lunch there and walk further. The Virgin is closer to half way. The taxi/bus normally stops at the Virgin, morning and afternoon, but make sure you make prior arrangements because it doesn’t always – as we learned to our sorrow. This tactic also will leave you several hours ahead of the rush on the second day. For a group such as yours, the taxi cost is minimal. You could also do the same tactic on the lower route.
 



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