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Up-to-date pilgrim's synopsis

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:
#1
This is posted here with permission from a SaintJames@Yahoo forum member:

Dear friends,

My wife and I walked the Via de la Plata last month and I want to share
our itinerary with anyone who is interested. I had a great deal of helpful
advice while I was preparing thanks to Pat R. The information on this route
is not as extensive as the French or Portuguese routes, (both of which we
have done). We were also fortunate to meet a gentleman named Manuel in Casar
de Careses and he plotted an itinerary for us in order to make Santiago in
Conststhe amount of time we had for the trip. Manuel has done this route at least
10 times and consequently he was very knowledgeable about the terrain and
people along the way. He averaged 40k per day so we didn't see much of him
after Caraboso! We averaged 4 to 5 k per hour and often walked 5 or 6 hours
before we found a place to rest. We only brought the Confraternity of Saint
James pamphlet with us, which was not sufficient since it only points out
the villages and albergues and not a detailed map of the route. I'm not
aware of a updated book in English or Spanish on all the sections of the Via
de la Plata, a route which is fluid and changing with alternatives. A few
times past Orense we witnessed the route changing before our eyes with
earthmovers and re-paving trucks changing the course of the route along with
the arrows. A few times the arrows were wrong all together and sometimes
they were in conflict with the stone markers. We often added kilometers to
our day looking and experimenting with various paths. We also learned to
deal with the challenges and joys of walking within feet of bulls inside of
what I called "gated communities". There are sections, mainly between Merida
and Salamanca where for hours there are no facilities (shade, water, place
to sit, coffee, store, people, you name it) and the temp was 104f for the
first week. We could leave the albergue at 4:30 am and not stop walking for
the day until 6:00 pm or later if we got lost. The albergues for the most
part were fantastic: many of them in beautiful buildings and some with
kitchens. The albergue in Rionegro del Puente (where we did not stay the
night because of the distance we needed to cover) was hands down the best
albergue that I have seen on any camino. I would move in to this place in a
minute. The dining room can comfortably sit 50 people with no problem.
Beautiful place and empty when we were there. The route was difficult, but
from Tabara on you don't have to walk as far and hard as we did if you don't
need to reach Santiago in one trip. Before Salamanca you have less options
for shorter days. Many people did much shorter days on the last 100 k. There
are mountains for the last 8 days that are killers but the scenery is
incredible. That being said, we would both go back and do this route
tomorrow. Four different pilgrims told us that between Seville and Merida
there were no arrows or albergues, which seemed strange to me but I would
recommend Merida as a good starting place. It is a four-hour train ride from
Madrid and has fantastic Roman ruins worth a day in advance of the camino.

1. Merida to Aljucen 17k (picturesque albergue by the river; no cooking) 2.
Alijucen to Alcuescar 22k (Alijucen- typical albergue simple)
3. Alcuescar to Caceres 40k (Alcuescar- great monastery with dinner and
peaceful vibe)
4. Caceres to Casar de Careres 11k (public hostal-clean with a bar that
opens early!!!)
5. Casar de Careses to Grimaldo 43k (Casar de Careses-alber. with kitchen
nice)
6. Grimaldo to Carcaboso 30k (small albergue next to bar; no store but small
kitchen)
7. Carcaboso to Caparra 20k (Carcaboso- stay with Elena! Bar Via de la Plata
up stairs)
8. Caparra to Banos de Montimayor 28k (hostel truck stop; Elena will call
owner to pick you up at the Roman arch that the camino passes through;
middle of nowhere)
9. Banos to Fuenterroble 33k (Banos; hot spring resort in the mountains;
albergue or hostel great views and incredible roman road out of town over
the mountain)
10. Fuenterroble to San Pedro 30k (Fuenterroble- parish house with
priest/dinner great)
11. San Pedro to Salamanca 25k (private albergue; sweet little cottage)
Two nights rest in Salamanca because of a swollen ankle, (it is a great city
with a wonderful Albergue next to the cathedral and park)
We took a bus from Salamanca to Zamora (skipped two days of walking) and
then same day took a bus from Zamora to Tabara (skipped two more days). This
was the only way to make Santiago in our time frame.

12. Tabara to Santa Marta 23k (nice modern albergue with kitchen)
13. Santa Marta to Mombuey 36k (public albergue in church; slept on mats) 14.
Mombuey to Puebla de Sanabria 33k (old cottage no kitchen; bar open
early!!!)
15. Puebla to Lubian 35k (Puebla de Sanabria-beautiful town; private
albergue and hostals; castle on hill top; bar opens early!!!)
16. Lubian to Gudina 24k (albergue with kitchen-lovely; remote town)
17. Gudina to Laza 35k (great modern albergue-friendly locals-bar open
early!!!)
18. Laza to Xunqueira de Ambia 35k (Laza- modern albergue; village
like Shangri-La!!)
19. Xunqueria to Orense 19k (modern Albergue; kitchen lovely town)
20. Orense to Cea 21k (old monastery on top of hill above city;hard to find.
Great place to rest if you have the time. free mineral baths and great food;
a real city)
21. Cea to A Laxe 39k (nice modern albergue with kitchen)
22. A Laxe to Capilla des Santiago 34k (A Laxa; big modern albergue with
expresso machine!!!)
23. Capilla to Santiago 16k (Capilla lovely modern albergue with kitchen in
tiny village)

In almost all cases the albergues had no more than 5 or 6 people including
ourselves in June and July. From Orense on things began to pick up.. Locals
say April is the busy time of year on this route; not so hot I guess

Buen camino to all,
Jeff Mayor

Contact jeffmayor1@gmail.com for more info.

p.s. About pack weight. I use the 10% of body weight index as a guide. What
really made a difference on my knees, back and feet was I dropped 35 lbs.
preparing for the camino this year which reduced my over all load.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Via Podiensis 2002, Camino Frances 2003, 2004, 2008, 2012, Via de La Plata 2005, 2006. 2013, Camino Ingles 2013, Camino de Madrid 2008, Camino Salvador 2008, Camino del Norte 2010, Camino de Levante 2012,
Camino Mozarabe 2015, Camino Salvador 2015, Camino Primitivo 2015
#2
Hello and thanks for a good account of the VDLP. It doesn't seem to have changed much since 2005 and 2006. I was a bit surprised about the four people who said there was no marking or albergues between Sevilla and Merida. Have I misunderstood? The first mark is a concha on the wall of a building directly across the road from "La Giralda" the cathedral of Sevilla. From there the Camino is well marked via Triana and out of Sevilla to Guillema (R + F deportivo) and next day to Castelblanco del Arroyo (council refugio) and so on, all the way to Merida. Los Amigos de la Via de la Plata have done a good job. The refugios at both Almaden de la Plata and Real de la Jara were both first class. The only place we stayed without a refugio was at Toremieja, the night before Merida.

All the best,

Kevin
 
#3
This May, June, July I found it to be well marked all through out, including Sevilla to Merida. Later on, though we missed a couple of them, and sometimes they were so far apart, making us think we had missed one.
Lillian
 

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