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tour companies

avanars

New Member
They offer self-guided tours along the Camino (various routes) and they arrange lodging, provide maps, and transport luggage. You carry a day pack and walk. You meet them at a prearranged starting point and go from there. Several are on the internet, and is why I am asking. Herb
 

jeff001

Active Member
One thing they do is pre-book blocks of rooms in hotels and some of the private alburgues thus making it hard for people who carry their own pack to find lodging.
 

avanars

New Member
Not everyone is young and able to carry a backpack and some of us need a little help with our pilgrimage. My query was about reliability of those companies. Herb
 
Camino(s) past & future
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
Several times, I had the experience of struggling over a rough hill, carrying my own gear, only to meet the wagon carrying 25 backpacks for happy energetic people who picked up their packs from the guy a mile before town. These folks danced into town as though they had walked the Camino, and arrived ahead of those like me, who were also "old" and "tired"...but had carried their packs. It was difficult to watch as some weary pilgrims were turned away because the refugio was full of those "tiny pack" walkers.

That said, I realize that some people do need help. I saw a man doing the Camino in his wheelchair. He had no legs. He carried his pack on the back of his chair. He probably may have benefited from a carrier service.

I think that once you arrive in Spain, you will have no problem finding a company to carry your pack. There are several, and they all advertise well at the alburgues. You'll see cards posted on the bulletin boards. If not, you can ask, and every alburgue will probably be able to supply you with that information, especially during this Holy Year when so many will be walking.

If you are not actually disabled, can afford to pay for a service, you might consider also paying for a private room and leaving the refugios to those who struggle with the packs and travel by foot.

NOTE: Since posting this several years ago, I've changed my opinion somewhat. I have learned there are often good reasons for paying to have one's luggage transferred. I've also learned there are people who, for whatever their personal reasons, don't care to walk alone. I've also become the USA contact for amaWalkers, which is a HUGE step forward from where I was originally. I guess old dogs can learn.

I still believe that those who are able to carry their own packs and choose not to might want to consider hiring private lodging and leaving the albergue beds for those who carry their own. But I have learned that "walking your own way" is the best way, whatever the circumstances. I've also learned that the Camino will provide, no matter your circumstances.

One last comment. On the very first day I walked from St. Jean Pied du Port to Roncesvalles, on my very first Camino, I struggled so very hard to reach the top of the mountains. Once there, I cried (literally) every step DOWN the mountain in to SJPP. I cried from the pain in my feet. I cried because I had actually made a reservation at Orisson and had been talked into canceling it. I cried because I was so tired and unsure of myself. Then, at the top, a bus full of "pilgrims" jumped out of their transport, carrying wee daypacks and practically skipped down the trail. Oh, I cursed them sorely! I had no idea, of course, of the size of the Roncesvalles albergue. I had heard about the worry that one might not get a bed, so I cried out of fear, and looked at them with daggers in my eyes. As one group came up behind me, I muttered under my breath, probably something not very nice. They saw my distress as they passed, and one woman stopped. She said, "Are you ok?" I sniffled, "Not really!" She reached into her pocket, took out a chocolate bar, and broke off half and gave it to me, saying, "Here! This will help you down the mountain."

I continued to cry all the way into Roncesvalles, but this time, I cried because I was ashamed of myself. People are good - it never fails - they are good. And on the Camino, they help each other. Even though I was not nice or friendly, this pilgrim helped me. I have tried to remember that and to offer help, even to those who don't seem kind. One never knows what the true source of their pain might be.
 

avanars

New Member
Thanks for the eye-opener about habits on the Camino!! The companies mentioned put you in private rooms in B&Bs and carry your luggage...you carry a day pack. The do not say they take up places in the refugios, which would just not be right in my opinion. The requirement is to WALK or ride a bike, right, not to carry a huge backpack. We all do what we can! Thanks so much for the information. Herb
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
avanars said:
Any recommendations or warnings about One Foot Abroad or Frontier Holidays and their self-guided tours? herb

Anvars - hi. Many pilgrims use bag carrying services and there are many such advertised along the Camino Frances. I don't know the companies you mention but I am sure if you ask at albergues or hostals they will recommend and suitable local service for you.

Best wishes

John
 

GeoWA

New Member
Ok, so no one answered the question. Glad to get your perspective on tour companies in general, but do you have any experience with or knowlege about Frontier Holidays? Thanks in advance. :)
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
GeoWA said:
Ok, so no one answered the question. Glad to get your perspective on tour companies in general, but do you have any experience with or knowlege about Frontier Holidays? Thanks in advance. :)

I think it is pretty obvious that most posters on this forum do not use these companies so do not have any specific information on them.
 

Br. David

Active Member
Not done well so far I see - I think none of us on here have used tour companies .. but all is not lost - perhaps you could ask the company for testimonials? ...

It is a curly one this as to start setting rules for what is and what isn't allowed on pilgrimage, and what is or isn't a pilgrim could be the beginnings of a rather unpleasant future .. we perhaps should remember that St Theresa of Avilia went in a coach and four and with servants ..... :shock:

It is the same number of pilgrims and the same number of beds of course, whether some are 'day-packing' or not so it isn't the filling of refuges specifically - except for that unexpected mass descent that takes over everything .. showers, restaurants etc - but, well, when you start a Camino you are given, or receive, or just meet if you like, the other pilgrims who start on the same day - bonds are made, sometimes lifelong friendships. People look out for each other, share first aid materials, food, a glass of wine. You lose people then meet up with them again a day or so later, to much joy. So each day of that endless sea of pilgrims is an almost self-contained mini-community of pilgrims, and communities are built on shared experiences and shared hardships - as well as shared celebrations.
Those who are day-packers don't - cannot - have the same experiences as those who carry the full load. They are too energetic, too clean, too fresh, too separate, too virginal - they don't become 'veterans' in the same way.

If you read AnnieSantiagos excellent post again you will see this. What you will also read there - the core of this - is that it is not fair ... and one of the treasures that you find amongst pilgrims is a sense of fairness ... so the apparent cold shoulder, so the apparent indifference to your post.

When you make your pilgrimage you will be amazed at some of the pilgrims you will meet, and how their very hardships add to their sense of fulfilment, as will yours. I remember meeting a French pilgrim last year who was in his nineties. He had walked each year for years. He carried a large and very heavy pack but had become too old to put it on or take it off unaided ... quite extraordinary - quite an extraordinary man. ... I had visions of him getting out of control on a descent and speeding up so much that he would leave a French pilgrim shaped hole in any house wall in the way at the bottom!
AnnieSantiago's post is a good post. It is both kind and explanatory - so don't write this forum off as unhelpful, come on in, enjoy.

hope this helps
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
As a known caminoholic, I am often asked about tour companies but I have no direct knowledge to pass on to people, other than to refer them to the Confraternity's page on them. At the hotel which now occupies the Monasterio Real de San Zoilo I encountered Nancy Frey leading a group once and had a very pleasant chat with them. Several of them were more interested in the history and art of the Caminio rather than the experience, but I saw that they were learning more about pilgrimage than they had planned.

While wondering if groups do not miss much of what I found great about the Camino--- being cast outside one’s comfort zone and encountering all sorts of extraordinary people—I realize that some people are either not physically able to carry their packs, or who are worried and fearful about travelling in a country where they do not understand the language (this really perhaps applies most to Canadians and USians, as for many of them, this is their first time overseas) and who would never make the journey without tour arrangements. I think that some of these tour-bound folk will look at the other pilgrims, see that there is an experience they are missing, and perhaps come back for another crack at it, this time without backup.

Some of those who are unable to carry their packs are not always easily identifiable— e.g., those with bone density issues, or who are recovering from surgery, and so I try not to judge too quickly. I find, however, that if it’s been raining for a few hours, and I have to try a few different places to find a room, my judgement gene comes to the fore more quickly.

Still, while I have occasionally been grumpy about tour groups picknicking at the side of the path, I have also on occasion been invited to join them – I recall a very wine-infused lunch with a group of eight German widowers who were in a bereavement group and decided to make the walk a year after their therapy sessions ended. Several of them decided that they would carry their packs which had hitherto been happily riding in the sag wagon. Perhaps few are truly immune to what they see on the Camino.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I am really looking forward to being a 'Touro-grino' this time around and having my excess stuff transported by Jactorans or Belorado Taxi while I walk with my trusty OMM only 3/4 full.

I have booked all our rooms ahead of time (none of them in tradtional albergues, of course, because one can't do that) but we will be staying in 4 private albergues where you can book ahead and have luggage delivered to.

A couple of weeks ago I posted here that I am looking forward to sleeping in, having a leisurely breakfast, taking time over lunch, having a siesta under a tree if its a hot day, and to not having to rush to get a bed. Another thing I'm looking forward to is spending a few nights on the town. I am an early bird and even at home I'm never up late but it might be nice to see the sights at night for a change and not have to rush back to make the 10pm curfew!

During the day I'll be walking the same paths as all the other pilgrims on the road but instead of queuing up outside an albergue at 1pm I'll be checking into a hotel or inn a little later in the day.
It is going to be a lot like walking the Via francigena, where there were no pilgrim refuges and one had no option but to stay in a hotel, inn or rather expensive monastery.

Our Patron Saint on this group walk is St Bona of Pisa - a 12thC saint who led groups of pilgrims from her home town of Pisa in Italy to Santiago 10 times and was made an official guide by the Knights of Santiago.
 

marthac

New Member
I made friends with a couple who were using One Foot Abroad. They were booked ahead in hotels but not part of a group or block. They were happy with the company. I asked because I have a friend with back problems who would like support. They found that by taking Pilgrim meals at local restaurants they bonded with many other peregrinos. They still got blisters. None of us are immune from suffering....
 

CJ Williams

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Turonense (1995)
Camino Francés (1996; 1999; 2001; 2005; 2008; 2011)
Camino Aragonés (2000)
I will wade in and touch the third rail here ...

I have a small company that operates on the Camino, organizing pilgrimages for groups and individuals who want to organize for a group (parish, university, school, cultural club etc.), to join an organized group or to have a bit more organization for self-guided pilgrimages. I won't say which one because I'm not here to advertise, but to contribute to the conversation and perhaps give the OP some more information as he makes his choices.

I cannot speak to what other companies do or do not do; I can only speak to what we do when we organize a pilgrimage for groups or individuals. First off, we do not "block" hotel rooms along the Camino because we can't guarantee we will be able to fill them, and anyway, most of the hotels on the Camino don't do this because they don't need to do this. From April to October, there is so much pilgrim traffic that hotels have little difficulty filling their rooms. We reserve only when an individual or group has confirmed their journey, and then only the precise number that we need.

Having walked the Camino on my own and with friends, with a full backpack and sleeping in albergues (and once in a tent) many times since the early 1990s, I have experienced the Camino in nearly every way imaginable. I strive to be very ethical about the way I run our organized pilgrimages, always respecting the pilgrims who are wlaking without organized support. For example, while there are private albergues along the Camino that allow groups and individuals to make reservations, I do not use them because I feel that pilgrims who are walking with their full packs without organized support should have first shot at them since they are usually on a tighter budget. I wouldn't use one unless it were absolutely necessary.

Finally, remember that since most pilgrims these days carry mobile phones and the pilgrim's guides list the names and numbers of hotels along the route, anyone who wants to can phone up a hotel and make a reservation. As a company, we have no advantage here and often have to seek alternatives to favorite hotels when we call to reserve simply because there are no available rooms. Many pilgrims walking with their backpacks reserve two or three days of hotel accommodation (or more) ahead of themselves "just in case", based on their estimate of what they will be able to walk, if they are having difficulties etc., and when they decide that they do not need those rooms, do not phone the owners to cancel. This is a recurring problem and also explains why those who wish to cannot always find a hotel room, particularly in the smaller villages and towns along the way, because the owners will not cancel a reservation until later in the evening just in case an exhausted walker should show up at 18.00 or something. And by the time that happens, they often can no longer fill the room.

So, folks, if you make a reservation in a hotel along the way and later decide you do not need the room because you have decided to walk on or go to the albergue, please have the courtesy to phone the owners and let them know.

As for backpacks, pilgrims on our organized and self-guided pilgrimages always have the option of carrying the full pack if they wish to. Some choose to, many prefer not to. Some choose to carry the pack some days and other days not. It varies widely. When you walk the Camino alone or without organized support, the pack is necessary and practical. Yes, it's a great metaphor, and it can be a great help to "interiorizing" the experience of the Camino for lots of people. But it's not that way for everyone, and as others have pointed out, some people cannot carry the pack. For every plucky 70-year old you've met with a full pack and kicking your butt on the Camino, there are dozens of others, young and old, who cannot. That's just the way it is.

I don't know if any of that is helpful to anyone or not, I'm just trying to offer some insight from the other side of the debate. God bless!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I have never been able to understand the intolerance shown towards Camino pilgrims who choose to walk in groups, or with companies, or who choose to stay in hotels instead of albergues and send their heavy packs ahead. Where did it come from??
When I read historical accounts of Camino pilgrimages - from Picaud to Lafti to Starkie - they all write about staying in inns or monasteries and riding on horseback or taking buses like Starkie. Georgiana King caught buses and rode on donkeys! Catherine Gasquoine writes abot taking the train from Vigo. They all wrote as pilgrims to Santiago. There are many medieval references to pilgrims walking in groups and the guides who lead them. (St Bona was one of these.)
Nobody points fingers at Via Francigena plgrims who sleep in hotels or inns. Nobody decries groups of pilgrims making pilgrimages to Lourdes or Rome or the Holy Land with tour Companies. The opinion that a pilgrim has to walk every inch of the way, carrying a backpack, staying only in pilgrim hostels seems to be a modern camino precept that only applies to the pilgrim walking to Santiago. And they can wear gortex shoes and jackets, wick-away t-shirts, have a credit card in their pocket and a blackberry in their pack - as long as they don't send it ahead or sleep in a hotel!
I have just been reading a delightful blog written by a couple who walked with Fresco Tours last year (I have no qualms mentioning their name - they are members of this forum). They had a wonderful walk through the difficult terrain in most'y wet weather and had the deepest respect for pilgrims who had started at St Jean or even further back. Their experience was no less meaningful because their guides prepared a picinc lunch for them.
This day becomes a thanksgiving of sorts as we have arrived safely, all of us, along with our tired and weary bones, bandaged toes, but joyous hearts. It reminds us not only that we have arrived here in one piece, but how truly thankful we are for what God has given us. Words can not describe this journey, only our faces as we all look at each other with the same respect. Tomorrow we will attend the Pilgrim's Mass at noon preceded by a tour of the Cathedral. We will visit the tomb of the Apostle and behind the High Altar through a small passageway we will be able to give a personal hug of thanksgiving to St. James as he looks out over the many pilgrims who sit in quiet contemplation. No one can feel this true joy unless they themselves walk the Camino de Santiago.

If you are planning on walking from Cebreio to Santiago, you'll enjoy reading this blog.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Whenever this recurring theme appears in the Forum, I think of ice hockey. When a team loses by one goal in overtime, everyone wants to blame the goalie, who did not stop that final shot. They forget that five other teammates have been on the ice for over an hour, allowing every shot on goal that occurred. How can it really be the goalies' fault? Was a defender never a step slow in the game?

Hundreds of pilgrims grab beds throughout the day. How can any blame for an unsuccessful bed race fall on a touro-grino?

As to the worthiness of a pilgrimage with or without a pack, it is a concept not deserving comment.
 

GeoWA

New Member
Thanks, Br. David, for your gracious and informative reply. I have a lot of sympathies for the backpackers who do it all for themselves, who get by "with a little help from [their] friends." Best wishes for continued happy travels.
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
I walked the pure and authentic way to Santiago.
Anyone who doesn't do it just like me should burn their compostela, and hang their head in shame.
There. I've said it.

Just my warped and twisted sense of humour coming out.
Buen Camino to all!
David, Victoria, Canada.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
skilsaw said:
I walked the pure and authentic way to Santiago.
Anyone who doesn't do it just like me should burn their compostela, and hang their head in shame.
There. I've said it.

Just my warped and twisted sense of humour coming out.
Buen Camino to all!
David, Victoria, Canada.

:lol: Unfortunately, that is the attitude (no humor) of many who post here.
"Do it the way I did it or you are not a "real" pilgrim"
"I love to be around people and stay in the albergues...so you must also!"
"Put peas in your shoes and walk the whole way" :wink:

...and so on. :shock:
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
grayland said:
skilsaw said:
I walked the pure and authentic way to Santiago.
Anyone who doesn't do it just like me should burn their compostela, and hang their head in shame.
There. I've said it.

Just my warped and twisted sense of humour coming out.
Buen Camino to all!
David, Victoria, Canada.

:lol: Unfortunately, that is the attitude (no humor) of many who post here.
"Do it the way I did it or you are not a "real" pilgrim"
"I love to be around people and stay in the albergues...so you must also!"
"Put peas in your shoes and walk the whole way" :wink:

...and so on. :shock:

Oh dear...I thought it was a tired cliché that US citz have no sense of ironic humour. It seems I was wrong!
 

Pablo2007

Member
grayland said:
skilsaw said:
I walked the pure and authentic way to Santiago.
Anyone who doesn't do it just like me should burn their compostela, and hang their head in shame.
There. I've said it.


"Put peas in your shoes and walk the whole way" :wink:

...and so on. :shock:

Reminds me me of an old joke, but I'm afraid I cant remember exactly how it goes, but something along the lines of two Pilgrims trying to increase their suffering . One suggest peas and the other says he will use Chick Peas ( garbanzos) anyway somewhere along the way the one with the regular peas is amazed that his friend does not appear to be suffering as much as he is and when he asks him about it the other one says " Oh the chick peas ? they are no trouble at all, I cooked them before putting them in my shoes"

OK OK so its not so funny.

My only comment regarding tour companies would be CHECK the Itinerary on a map and measure the distances. I came across a few people from Australia in 2009 who had used a local company which had booked their stays etc It all seemed to be going well until I saw here coming through Molinaseca at around 5.30pm after having started in Rabanal . THe tour company had booked her in at Ponferrada and I'm afraid it was all a bit too much for her. to start with it was over 33 kms and when you include the ascent and then the tricky decent to Molinaseca it would have been much wider to stay at Molinaseca. She had only started at Leon so she only had a few days walking under her belt. It would have been wiser to shorten the stage. But other than that she was happy enough. Most hotels along the Camino speak enough English to book a room, many web sites have hotels, B&B listed and their are any number of "Bag carrying" people to eliminate the need to for a 'Tour" company, just takes a few hours of research and a few phone calls.

Take care

Pablo
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
?
sillydoll said:
I have never been able to understand the intolerance shown towards Camino pilgrims who choose to walk in groups, or with companies, or who choose to stay in hotels instead of albergues and send their heavy packs ahead.

Neither have I.
On the other hand, I have difficulties with people of have walk part of the way and speak in terms as if they had done every step. i.e. ''When I walk the Frances'' as opposed to '' when I walked ON the Frances''.
Instant expert after 100 or so km on a 750 km route.
Don't walk all of the way (I don't care) but don't act as if you did. Fonies!!!

Jean-Marc
 

Arn

Veteran Member
Well,

I think we've covered just about every possible why and wherefore possible both on and off topic...or so it seems to my untried eye.

That said, the Way is there for all...on foot, bike, horse or, when necessary...public transport. You may carry a heavy pack, the lightest pack...or no pack at all.

When you arrive at your destination...hopefully SDC, you will have accomplished something that you will remember for a lifetime.

Buen "doing it my Way" Camino

Arn
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Where does the Camino Frances start? Really? Where does it actually start? Where did it start in the middle ages? Walter Starkie claimed that it started in Paris. How many people today walk from Paris? Very few. So the hundreds of thousands who start from Roncesvalles or St Jean or Pamplona should not claim to have walked the Camino?? :?
Historically it started from your own front door and there was certainly no need to travel backwards a few hundred kilometers in order to start walking.
So, if your front door was 2000km from Santiago, that is where the pilgrimage started for you. And if your front door was 250km from Santiago, that is where it started for you.
The Pilgrims' Office decided, in their wisdom, that you only had to walk 100km to qualify for a Compostela and hundreds and thousands of pilgrims do just that. They have a certificate to prove it and nobody can take that away from them!
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
The way you hold your knife,
The way we danced till three,
The way you changed my life,
No, they can't take that away from me.
 

PilgrimChris

Active Member
I think Sil's post deserves a thread all it's own. It is way off topic of the original post, but an interesting topic in it's own right.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Like many other posts, this one kinda meandered off topic - from a reasonable request for advice about a tour company, to personal opinions about tour companies, to opinions on 'authentic' pilgrims, to those who ".. walk part of the way and speak in terms as if they had done every step. i.e. ''When I walk the Frances'' as opposed to '' when I walked ON the Frances''. Instant expert after 100 or so km on a 750 km route." which is the comment I was referring to (off topic or not, it was there!)
 

PilgrimChris

Active Member
Sil i wasn't having 'a go' at you or anyone :)

I was trying to say that your comment on 'where does the Frances Route really begin?' deserves it's now thread.
Forgive me if i did not make myself clear enough :)
 
Pablo, I thought it was funny, when I first read the line, "put peas in your shoes" my first thought was cooked or uncooked. I have a bit of warped sense of humor, sometimes when someone asks to borrow dental floss, I ask "used or unused and with or without knots?"

Caminado, in all my years I've heard Americans be accused of quite a few things but never not having a sense of humor, I've always heard that was Germans. Not trying to start a rant here, just never heard that before, must be saying it behind our backs! LOL
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
BHfmSanDiego said:
Pablo, I thought it was funny, when I first read the line, "put peas in your shoes" my first thought was cooked or uncooked. I have a bit of warped sense of humor, sometimes when someone asks to borrow dental floss, I ask "used or unused and with or without knots?"

Caminado, in all my years I've heard Americans be accused of quite a few things but never not having a sense of humor, I've always heard that was Germans. Not trying to start a rant here, just never heard that before, must be saying it behind our backs! LOL

No youve misread what I said.......I did not say there was a view that US people have no sense of humour! I said in effect that there is a common view that they have no sense of irony in humour. Like all generalisations it is flawed. But from time to time I find it to be true. And on this forum. :D

BTW I find, against generalisation, that the Germans have a great sense of humour.
 
Caminado, what really made your post about the ironic humor confusing was attributing it to a "US citizen" when the quote you referenced was written by a Canadian, who have provided the world with some great comedians. though I can't say if they have provided ironic humor.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Pablo2007 said:
My only comment regarding tour companies would be CHECK the Itinerary on a map and measure the distances. I came across a few people from Australia in 2009 who had used a local company which had booked their stays etc It all seemed to be going well until I saw her coming through Molinaseca at around 5.30pm after having started in Rabanal. THe tour company had booked her in at Ponferrada and I'm afraid it was all a bit too much for her. to start with it was over 33 kms and when you include the ascent and then the tricky decent to Molinaseca it would have been much wider to stay at Molinaseca. She had only started at Leon so she only had a few days walking under her belt. It would have been wiser to shorten the stage. Pablo

Ewww ouch. I was pretty fit by the time I reached Rabanal- though my body was kinda tired. But the walk from Rabanal to Molinaseca was enough for me, and I would have shortened it except I was trying to catch up to someone, and the sun fooled me by hiding behind mist until I had passed a point-of-no-return. There was some quite tricky up and down walking after Foncebadon. I never got any view over the Cruz de Ferro as the mist was so heavy, but at least it kept things cooler. Later in the day on the descent to Molinaseca, the heat and the lack of any shelter made it hard work. I crawled into the albergue at Molinaseca, and couldn't have managed to go onto Ponferrada that day. If I was a 'newbie' just starting, I think it would have been nearly the end of me!
Margaret
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
BHfmSanDiego said:
Caminado, what really made your post about the ironic humor confusing was attributing it to a "US citizen" when the quote you referenced was written by a Canadian, who have provided the world with some great comedians. though I can't say if they have provided ironic humor.

Sorry BH, you've got it all mixed up.
 

pat.holland

Member
Camino(s) past & future
C F 2007-10, Le Puy St. Jean 2011-13, C P 2015 Via F 2016-7
Just to get the discussion back to the original topic, can I say that we met a woman who had left her group because she was not happy with the guide. She realised that she did not need the group.
She said that the guide did not have Spanish, did not know any archaeology or history and gave out to people who were falling behind. If this is so, then it seems to me that the quality of the guide you get, if you book for a guided walk is vital. Arrangements re collection of bags booking of accomodation are all very useful, especially for the first timers or the anxious. A compromise might be a service which gets you on the road and helps you for the first few days and then lets you off on your own. a few days and you know your own pace and needs as well as realising that you can get by on our own as regards food and beds.
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
I chose a luggage transfer service for medical reasons. The alternative of NOT doing the Camino was not even a consideration. Consequently, and purely for ethical reasons, there was NO way I was going to claimed an Albergue bed at the expense of another pilgrim with his load on his/her back going without. Simple as that. A number of people chose to luggage transfer some portions; i.e. SJPDP-Roncesvalles. I can understand that; it is not as if the route is much less challenging.

Back to the OP:If you do not like/want to plan, you pay. Some people are fine with that. I saw the material provided by one of those self-guided tour companies; a shell, a map, detailed walking instructions, vouchers for the hotels, and luggage transfers. ALL of that can be coordinated by the Pilgrim himself/herself. The "Detailed" instructions were a verbal of the map; no cultural highlights nor historical notes. Pretty lame.

Honestly, given the inmensity, quality, and accesibility of information already available online, I do NOT see a point whatsoever in getting a guided tour. Sorry, just my personal opinion.
 

rasmo

New Member
Hi,
I have two times travelled with Spain is More (http://www.spainismore.com). Very nice hotels, nice service and a very usefull handbook. They also provide guidebooks, maps etc. Its also possible to arrange transport of luggage. I can only recommend!!!
Okt. 2011. I walked in september 2011.
Hanne.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Historically there have always been groups and group leaders on the Camino. In the middle ages the Knights of Santiago honoured special group leaders as official guides for the pilgrimage to Santiago.
Some people (especially women) don't like to trek or travel on their own. This is where small groups enable them to live their dream of walking a Camino - in the company of like-minded people.
One of the pilgrims who came with me in June had been planning her Camino for 6 years but never had the courage to go it alone. She had a wonderful Camino and is still raving about it. She isn't completely computer savvy and would never have been able to make all the accommodation, transport, extra excursions or taxi transfer arrangements herself.
Being with a group enabled people to do things that we would not have been able to afford as individuals or couples - like hire a bus to take them to St Jean for lunch, visit the castle at Clavijo, spend 3 hours at the World Heritage site of Las Medulas and share a taxi to Finisterre at night to watch the sunset - with a picnic basket of tapas and vino!
Remember, companies all offer a different service. some offer luxury accommodation, back-up vehicles, picnics on the trail, gormet meals and a knowledgeable guide.
Others offer less luxurious accommodation, baggage transfers, some meals and a knowledgeable guide.
Most have the option of self-guided walks/cycles where they make the accommodation bookings, transport arrangments and provide you with vouchers, guide book etc and a telephone number in case you need assistance.
All are priced differently and you get what you pay for.
There are more than a dozen companies offering walks on the Caminos and if any of them don't live up to a pilgrim's expectations, they won't stay in business very long!
 

nonieconnor

New Member
I'm planning on doing the Camino Frances in the fall 2012. I'm a little dismayed that there seems to be this prejudice about doing the "real deal" vs. having some help. My goal for the Camino is to let go of my intensely critical and demanding attitudes, leave my comfort zone, do what's right for me and respect the choices others make as what's right for them.
I need the help--admitting that is a big step! So if anyone can recommend a company that offers a self-guided option but with pack transport, lodging and an emergency phone #, I'd really love to hear it. I've been searching around and haven't found anyone who will plan this for a solo pilgrim, starting in Roncevalles or SJPP.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:

clearskies

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Here and there
@sillydoll Yes, I would recommend Garry also. A good friend who looks after his clients well to ensure they have the trip of a lifetime. He has even given me a few tips for my own caminos where I walked solo.

Garry@spanishadventures.com
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
jeff001 said:
One thing they do is pre-book blocks of rooms in hotels and some of the private alburgues thus making it hard for people who carry their own pack to find lodging.
....and I am sure the local economy appreciates their efforts!! People who choose to carry their own pack are typically people who, for the most part and for most of the Camino, would not choose to pay the higher rates that local hotels and private albergues charge.....so it is a WIN/WIN situation the way I see it :wink:
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Most of the traditional albergues don't accept groups of more than 5 people. And, as Olivares has said, the majority of pilgrims who carry their own packs spend most nights in traditional albergues - not hotels or pensiones.

Some private albergues have mixed accommodation - double rooms, 4-bed rooms, 6-bed rooms and dormitories. They might accept bookings for the doubles, triples and quad rooms but reserve the dorms for pilgrims who pitch up looking for a bed.

I've walked four Caminos carrying my pack, staying mostly in albergues with an occasional night in a 'habitacion' in a private albergue or small inn. The hotels certainly didn't make any money out of me on those four Caminos so imagine if they didn't accept advance bookings from groups and relied only on the passing pilgrims like me for their livelihood? (On the Via Francigena I carried my pack but only stayed in hotels/hostels/monasteries because there were no pilgrim albergues.)

Hotels, penisones, hostales, fondas, posadas, casa rurals and apartments survive on pilgrim groups and tourists that reserve beds ahead. There is a relatively short 'pilgrimage' season and many close in October or take their own holidays in November when the numbers drop substantially.

I remember Hape Kerkeling (the German comedian who wrote the award winning book about his 2001 Camino experience) saying that he could afford to spend his nights in a hotel and that way he left the dormitory beds to pilgrims who couldn't afford hotels.
 

Gard13

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Reading this thread has really distressed me. I am travelling from Australia to walk as much of the Camino as I can in the few weeks I have for my holiday. I thought I would enjoy walking on my own and perhaps meet a few interesting people along the way. However I now feel less inclined to make contact with other walkers as I expect a number will be like some of those who have posted here, intolerant, self-righteous and to be avoided at all costs. I am not religious and so don't consider myself a pilgrim in the original sense of those who walked the way in the past. I am a tourist on holiday who enjoys walking and seeing a country at a leisurely pace. Some of you remind me of bush walkers I have come across here in Aus.....so focused on how far and how fast they can get from A to B that they never see what is around them. Reading this makes me think I'll stick to conversations with those carrying light day packs, at least I can assume they are walking for the pleasure of it and will hopefully not be closed minded, self-congratulatory, "clubby" individuals. I pity those of you who begin, or worse still, end your walk with the closed minded attitudes expressed by some. You will have missed a lot of beauty and probably a lot of pleasant conversations along the way and go home "less" rather than "more" . Historically this is a Catholic, "Christian" pilgrimage path, some of you have little Christian spirit in your souls!! I look forward to walking, talking and sharing my way with all the other tourists and walkers experiencing Spain and the Camino.
 

Gard13

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
I realise I didn't specify, but I will be carrying my own stuff in my pack on my own back but staying in hotel type accommodation along the way. I am too old, have sufficient funds, have spent too many nights sleeping in true "rough" style camping in the bush and, at my age, need to get up too many times to go to the bathroom to want to spend a night NOT in the bush without the convenience of my own toilet.

I also hate bedbugs, snoring (except my own), and having to compete for somewhere to lay my weary feet....I'd rather swag out by the side of the road. So fear not all you Camino purists, I will not be doing you out of a Refugio bed.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Gard13 said:
Reading this makes me think I'll stick to conversations with those carrying light day packs, at least I can assume they are walking for the pleasure of it and will hopefully not be closed minded, self-congratulatory, "clubby" individuals. I pity those of you who begin, or worse still, end your walk with the closed minded attitudes expressed by some.
You make of the Camino what you wish. You meet all sorts of people on the Camino, and they carry various sized packs for different amounts of time for their own reasons. It would be a mistake to judge all those who carry their backpacks by a few comments you've read on the Forum that you find upsetting. You'd be missing out on talking to a lot of interesting people.
Margaret
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Gard13 said:
... However I now feel less inclined to make contact with other walkers as I expect a number will be like some of those who have posted here, intolerant, self-righteous and to be avoided at all costs. ... Historically this is a Catholic, "Christian" pilgrimage path, some of you have little Christian spirit in your souls!! I look forward to walking, talking and sharing my way with all the other tourists and walkers experiencing Spain and the Camino.

Wow! Who is now full of prejudice? You are judging people on the base of a few posts in a forum thread without having ever met them? Don't you think that is a bit over the top? BTW, the word pilgrim comes originally from the Roman law term "peregrinus" from "per=over" and "agre=field" and means "foreigner / stranger that comes over the fields". It was used to describe free people that lived in the Roman empire, but were not Roman citizens. Originally it had no religious connotations whatsoever and in this linguistic and historic sense pretty much everybody that walks the Camino is a pilgrim, SY
 

Sue M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-Burgos(2012)Leon-Santiago(2013)Sarria- Santiago(Sept 2013),Frances (coach,2013),Le Puy-Conques(May 2014), parish pilgrimage organised for June 2015.
I walked from SJPdP to Burgos every step of the way carrying everything and staying in municipal albergues. It was a great and unique experience. In June I am walking on from Leon with the Ramblers. Really looking foward to having stuff carried on and having a hotel room to myself. Different experience. Each has its pros and cons but different times call for different solutions. We do what we can.
 

robhay60

Member
All of us have the freedom to choose...All of us are living our lives in the best way we know how..All of us are making choices based on our own individual and unique perception of reality...
This is wonderful is it not? Its what makes this such a wonderful and diverse world!

I was on the Camino Francis last year for one month walking from Saint Jean to Santiago.. It was the most incredible and amazing journey i have ever taken...

During that time i met many pilgrims, many ages, many nationalities, many different individuals experiencing "The Camino"..

It is challenging without a doubt, and at times it can really take you right out of your comfort zone, and then some!

What i found truly humbling and inspiring was that no matter what and where and with who , there was always a feeling that you were not alone, that you had support if you needed it.. This was seemingly provided without judgement or blame... Yes i might have walked alone but there was no doubt in my mind that i was not alone.. The people i walked with were amazing and even now almost a year later they are still with me..I dont think they will ever leave!

This is part of what makes "The Camino" so magical and special. Everyone just gets on with it..IN THEIR OWN WAY...How you do it, how you manage the challenges is purely an individual thing..

Whether you carry your pack or not, take a bus, use GPS or maps, sleep in or out, take a hotel, whatever! hey each to there own, do what you need to do in order to make your "Camino "
happen.
There really is no right or wrong way, there is no law or set of rules that you need to follow. A person carrying their own pack is no better than someone not.

This forum is terrific for sharing information and possibly even getting a "Feel" for what the "Camino" is about but... when all is said and done its not until you are actually on "The Camino" that you will fully appreciate what its truly all about.

Too much talk and too many opinions can possibly cause some confusion...If you are attracted to doing your own "Camino" then yes do it! Whatever way you can manage it, go for it...
On your own , with a friend, a group just do it . The way i see it is that as soon as you start thinking about it , then the journey has already begun..Buen Camino :arrow:
 

jastrace

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Camino Portuguese in planning (Sept 2018)
We are currently walking the Camino Frances, having our packs transported each day and staying in private accommodation. Gard13 I fully understand your concerns, I was anxious about what others may say before we started (based on a very small number of opinions posted on this forum). But we are having a great time and meeting plenty of nice people. There is a wide mix of people - sure most carry their packs and stay at alburgues, but there are always plenty of walkers at our hotel each night, there are organised tour groups (with support buses providing coffee stops), cyclists, and plenty of people using transport services. As with most things, there is enough of a mix of people and attitudes that you find like minded folks.

We too are using Garry's services from Spanish Adventures and highly recommend him.
 

Gard13

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Jastrace thank you so much for you encouraging and measured reply. You put me to shame with my opinionated outpouring.

I humbly apologise to any who my reply upset, just as I was upset by some of the early thread comments. Perhaps it's only upside was a chance for those FEW to understand how distressing it is to be prejudged and dismissed on the basis of the comments or behaviours of a few who you may resemble.

I will take my lesson from you Jastrace and be sure the first things I pack are acceptance and an open mind and hope I meet many like you along the way. Have a great walk.
 
Dear Gard13; you have nothing to feel bad about - Go Aussie go!! - you said it like it is, as we Aussies do! There is much opinionated better-than-though on the Camino and the forum (and the opposite also true - lots of supportive, friendly, wise souls along the Way). You'll have a great time doing the Camino YOUR WAY - the only way to do anything in life. I hope you have a great time - Im sure you will. :D
 

nonieconnor

New Member
Herb,
I don't know these companies but I would urge you to check out "Spanish Steps." Their 35 day Camino allows you to walk every step from Roncesvalles to Santiago, or as much of it as you want to. I did the Camino with them last October and it was great. Just for the record, most of us were in our 60's and probably could not have carried packs--I for sure would not have made it without the support. We met plenty of other people from many different countries, and I didn't notice anyone sneering at us because we only carried day packs. We never stayed in albergues, and did not follow Brierly stages. In October the pilgrim traffic is a lot lighter, so I doubt we deprived anyone of a bed. I am depressed to read this thread--one of the things I tried to learn from the Camino was to squash the critical voice in my head and just go with the flow. Thousands of people walk parts of the Camino in a constant stream in all different ways at all times of the year--it's an adventure and an experience I'll never forget--"phooey" is what I say to the people who can't rejoice in what they accomplish without judging themselves in relation to others.
 

ElleClarke

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
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I have never been able to understand the intolerance shown towards Camino pilgrims who choose to walk in groups, or with companies, or who choose to stay in hotels instead of albergues and send their heavy packs ahead. Where did it come from??
When I read historical accounts of Camino pilgrimages - from Picaud to Lafti to Starkie - they all write about staying in inns or monasteries and riding on horseback or taking buses like Starkie. Georgiana King caught buses and rode on donkeys! Catherine Gasquoine writes abot taking the train from Vigo. They all wrote as pilgrims to Santiago. There are many medieval references to pilgrims walking in groups and the guides who lead them. (St Bona was one of these.)
Nobody points fingers at Via Francigena plgrims who sleep in hotels or inns. Nobody decries groups of pilgrims making pilgrimages to Lourdes or Rome or the Holy Land with tour Companies. The opinion that a pilgrim has to walk every inch of the way, carrying a backpack, staying only in pilgrim hostels seems to be a modern camino precept that only applies to the pilgrim walking to Santiago. And they can wear gortex shoes and jackets, wick-away t-shirts, have a credit card in their pocket and a blackberry in their pack - as long as they don't send it ahead or sleep in a hotel!
I have just been reading a delightful blog written by a couple who walked with Fresco Tours last year (I have no qualms mentioning their name - they are members of this forum). They had a wonderful walk through the difficult terrain in most'y wet weather and had the deepest respect for pilgrims who had started at St Jean or even further back. Their experience was no less meaningful because their guides prepared a picinc lunch for them.


If you are planning on walking from Cebreio to Santiago, you'll enjoy reading this blog.
Thank you, I was getting pretty disheartened reading all these posts! I have pretty gimped up feet but I am going to do the last 110km's, my husband and I have never been to Europe before, don't know the languages so we will truly be fish out of water, the tours just seemed the smartest and easiest way to make this happen but man, some people...yeesh. Thank you for posting.
 

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