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Useful communication apps while on Camino in Spain (and possibly other EU countries)

Time of past OR future Camino
2023
The topic of how a pilgrim can reliably and quickly communicate with albergue owners comes up often on this forum. The answers get entangled with language and customs and so there are many "true" answers. I am indebted to @kirkie for her post today about "truth" for reminding me of how one truth can differ from another truth.

Anyway, on the surface the obvious way for a pilgrim to communicate reliably and quickly with an albergue owner is to talk to them (probably via the phone) but many pilgrims on this forum are monolingual English speakers and most albergue owners are Spanish speaking (although some are multilingual and speak English). Even when the pilgrim can speak some Spanish, telephone conversations can be especially difficult to understand because of a lack of bandwidth.

In addition, many albergues are small with limited staff and most do not have dedicated people to answer the phone at any time that a pilgrim might call.

Lastly, telephone conversations are verbal and so even when a pilgrim speaks with an albergue owner and makes a reservation there is a chance that this does not get written down by the albergue owner, if, for example, they are busy and they often are busy.

Written communications would be more reliable in these cases, for both parties.

One obvious written method is to send an email but many albergue owners are not particularly technology literate and even when an albergue publishes an email address often reading and replying to emails seems to get done last and in some cases doesn't get done for days and even weeks. This is partly because of how email works but this longer discussion is left for now.

Like most of us, most albergue owners have smart phones these days and so there are two other popular written methods of communication using these phones, SMS texts and specialised communication apps.

SMS texts are slightly more reliable than email, provided that the pilgrim has a mobile phone number for the albergue (as opposed to a landline phone number).

The most reliable, however, is using a popular smart phone communication app. There are a number of these apps but in Europe the three top apps are Whatsapp, Signal and Telegram. In Spain, the standout of these three is Whatsapp and almost every albergue owner will have a WhatsApp "phone" number.

WhatsApp is almost always the most reliable and quickest way to communicate with an albergue owner. Even if they are away from their check-in desk they will have their smart phone on them and Whatsapp will notify them that they have a message. Language issues can usually be dealt with by using a translation app on your phone and it is always polite to translate your message into Spanish even if you also include the English text.

I don't use WhatsApp myself (I use Signal) but I understand that the interface is similar to Signal (and behind the scenes Whatsapp uses the Signal protocol). One perculularity with Whatsapp is that you need to add the albergue phone number to your contacts before you can send them a WhatsApp message.

Like the other two already mentioned alternatives, WhatsApp can also be used to make "free" voice and video calls and so it can be a useful app to have on your phone anyway. It (like Signal but not like Telegram) allows your messages, voice and video calls to be encrypted for the entire distance between your phone and the other phone PROVIDED THAT YOU HAVE SET THIS UP.

For some people including me, WhatsApp has an issue. It is owned by Facebook/Meta and some information is shared with the parent company. This is an issue for people who want secure communications but should not worry most pilgrims who are only really interested in using it to make reservations.

Postscript:

In another, since closed, thread I posted a link to a Reddit article that showed Signal to be the most popular communication app in Spain. The article is "true" but it is dated twelve months ago and at that time WhatsApp was getting lots of bad publicity about it sharing confidential information (see: https://amp.theguardian.com/technol...me-to-leave-whatsapp-and-is-signal-the-answer) and lots of people were switching to other apps and at the time Signal was top.

Since then, things have settled and Signal is currently sitting at number 28 according to one app popularity site, see: https://appfigures.com/top-apps/google-play/spain/communication


As @kirkie said and I mentioned at the top, there is often more than one truth. However, appfigures.com doesn't say how they calculate popularity. Is it all time total downloads or is it recent downloads?

Anyway, when wanting to reliably and quickly communicate with an albergue owner, use WhatsApp.
 
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Corned Beef

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
C. Norte Sept/2022
Bizarrely, if you have WhatsApp on your phone and you email a hotel with your mobile number, you might find them communicating with you by WhatsApp.

As far as I know, and happy to be corrected, WhatsApp can indicate if your mobile has their software installed.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
As far as I know, and happy to be corrected, WhatsApp can indicate if your mobile has their software installed.
Yes, that is both a useful feature and part of the information sharing that is an issue for some people.

They keep a central list of everyone who has WhatsApp installed and if you share your phone contacts with WhatsApp it will go through your contacts and indicate if they have WhatsApp installed.

If someone installs WhatsApp after you and they are one of your existing contacts then WhatsApp will tell you that they are now using WhatsApp.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
SMS texts are slightly more reliable than email, provided that the pilgrim has a mobile phone number for the albergue (as opposed to a landline phone number).
Spain has a phone numbering system. Phone numbers in Spain that start with a 6 or a 7 are mobile numbers (except if the 7 is followed by a 0).
 
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Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
The topic of how a pilgrim can reliably and quickly communicate with albergue owners comes up often on this forum. The answers get entangled with language and customs and so there are many "true" answers. I am indebted to @kirkie for her post today about "truth" for reminding me of how one truth can differ from another truth.

Anyway, on the surface the obvious way for a pilgrim to communicate reliably and quickly with an albergue owner is to talk to them (probably via the phone) but many pilgrims on this forum are monolingual English (American) speakers and most albergue owners are Spanish speaking (although some are multilingual and speak English). Even when the pilgrim can speak some Spanish, telephone conversations can be especially difficult to understand because of a lack of bandwidth.

In addition, many albergues are small with limited staff and most do not have dedicated people to answer the phone at any time that a pilgrim might call.

Lastly, telephone conversations are verbal and so even when a pilgrim speaks with an albergue owner and makes a reservation there is a chance that this does not get written down by the albergue owner, if, for example, they are busy and they often are busy.

Written communications would be more reliable in these cases, for both parties.

One obvious written method is to send an email but many albergue owners are not particularly technology literate and even when an albergue publishes an email address often reading and replying to emails seems to get done last and in some cases doesn't get done for days and even weeks. This is partly because of how email works but this longer discussion is left for now.

Like most of us, most albergue owners have smart phones these days and so there are two other popular written methods of communication using these phones, SMS texts and specialised communication apps.

SMS texts are slightly more reliable than email, provided that the pilgrim has a mobile phone number for the albergue (as opposed to a landline phone number).

The most reliable, however, is using a popular smart phone communication app. There are a number of these apps but in Europe the three top apps are Whatsapp, Signal and Telegram. In Spain, the standout of these three is Whatsapp and almost every albergue owner will have a WhatsApp "phone" number.

WhatsApp is almost always the most reliable and quickest way to communicate with an albergue owner. Even if they are away from their check-in desk they will have their smart phone on them and Whatsapp will notify them that they have a message. Language issues can usually be dealt with by using a translation app on your phone and it is always polite to translate your message into Spanish even if you also include the English text.

I don't use WhatsApp myself (I use Signal) but I understand that the interface is similar to Signal (and behind the scenes Whatsapp uses the Signal protocol). One perculularity with Whatsapp is that you need to add the albergue phone number to your contacts before you can send them a WhatsApp message.

Like the other two already mentioned alternatives, WhatsApp can also be used to make "free" voice and video calls and so it can be a useful app to have on your phone anyway. It (like Signal but not like Telegram) allows your messages, voice and video calls to be encrypted for the entire distance between your phone and the other phone PROVIDED THAT YOU HAVE SET THIS UP.

For some people including me, WhatsApp has an issue. It is owned by Facebook/Meta and some information is shared with the parent company. This is an issue for people who want secure communications but should not worry most pilgrims who are only really interested in using it to make reservations.

Postscript:

In another, since closed, thread I posted a link to a Reddit article that showed Signal to be the most popular communication app in Spain. The article is "true" but it is dated twelve months ago and at that time WhatsApp was getting lots of bad publicity about it sharing confidential information (see: https://amp.theguardian.com/technol...me-to-leave-whatsapp-and-is-signal-the-answer) and lots of people were switching to other apps and at the time Signal was top.

Since then, things have settled and Signal is currently sitting at number 28 according to one app popularity site, see: https://appfigures.com/top-apps/google-play/spain/communication


As @kirkie said and I mentioned at the top, there is often more than one truth. However, appfigures.com doesn't say how they calculate popularity. Is it all time total downloads or is it recent downloads?

Anyway, when wanting to reliably and quickly communicate with an albergue owner, use WhatsApp.
I think the fact that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook is part of its popularity. In Portugal, and I would guess in Spain too, it's amazing to me as a North American how many small businesses (and many medium-sized ones, too) use only Facebook as a contact with their customers; they don't have websites. I suspect because it's free, and very easy to do updates personally, rather than using a webmaster or similar. Even the municipalities have very active FB pages!

I would guess that if that's the case, WhatsApp would be quite closely connected as far as operability goes to Facebook and thus a logical choice for contact.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
For some people including me, WhatsApp has an issue. It is owned by Facebook/Meta and some information is shared with the parent company. This is an issue for people who want secure communications but should not worry most pilgrims who are only really interested in using it to make reservations
I as well.
Less about the privacy aspect than feeding what is a worldwide hatred-misinformation channel.

So for those of us who stubbornly stand on principle and don't have WA or FB, Signal sounds like it's not a viable option. SMS? Wondering if anyone has had experience with it one way or another.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
I as well.
Less about the privacy aspect than feeding what is a worldwide hatred-misinformation channel.

So for those of us who stubbornly stand on principle and don't have WA or FB, Signal sounds like it's not a viable option. SMS? Wondering if anyone has had experience with it one way or another.
I have made an attempt to get my contacts to install signal. I gave up as it got such a weak response. Perhaps i will try once more. I have duckduckgo as my default search engine, and it is wider reaching than before. Only if I am really stuck do I use the g search engine. My guess is that one way or another the cyber fishing crews know who we are and what we say. It's almost ok for the majority of us, as most of our traffic must bore the pants off them. The only way to stay squeaky clean is to live here and now, and resort to snail mail... and remember the tortoise and the hare.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
While this is not typical, it is reported in my online paper today. What does it mean? Nothing is foolproof.

Over 200 emergency calls missed​


More than 200 emergency 999 or 112 calls were not answered due to a problem with the service in the early hours of yesterday morning, the Department of Communications has said.
Department officials were notified by BT Ireland that the emergency call service suffered an outage between 1am and 2.15am.
This resulted in 227 people who called the phone line being unable to reach the emergency operators.
BT Ireland, who operate the emergency phone line on behalf of the State, told the department that An Garda Síochána had since followed up with all callers who were affected by the temporary outage.
Minister of State Ossian Smyth has sought a detailed report from BT Ireland on the reasons behind the emergency phone line outage. The contract with BT Ireland to run the 999 and 112 call answering service was signed in 2018
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
I as well.
Less about the privacy aspect than feeding what is a worldwide hatred-misinformation channel.

So for those of us who stubbornly stand on principle and don't have WA or FB, Signal sounds like it's not a viable option. SMS? Wondering if anyone has had experience with it one way or another.
SMS texts are WAY more used in rural Iberia, and maybe the rest of Europe, than they are here in North America. Most of my neighbours, many of whom still use basic cellphones, not smartphones, text a lot. I use texts as a matter of course, when living in Portugal, for daily contact needs.

I think it's well worth getting comfortable with the medium. Advantage: you can compose a message in a foreign language at your leisure. You don't feel so "under the gun" as you do, trying to speak to someone when you're not that confident about your Spanish, or Portuguese. And they almost always respond the same way; you can take your time interpreting the response.

And afterwards, you have a written record of what the response was. And once you have a confirmed contact via text, you have the phone number, and a previous contact, and you can then phone if it seems clear the person contacted can communicate in your home language instead of theirs.

Texting works!
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
They keep a central list of everyone who has WhatsApp installed and if you share your phone contacts with WhatsApp it will go through your contacts and indicate if they have WhatsApp installed.
I think it would be more correct to say that they have a registry of the telephone numbers that are associated with WhatsApps accounts, rather than knowing whether or not it is installed on any particular handset. Once that number has been verified, you can use WhatsApp as a pretty standard voice-over-IP telephone. You can use a web-based version or app on a PC or tablet.

More, you can change the SIM on your phone, say if you want to use a local SIM when in Europe, and your friends will still be able to contact you through WhatsApp without having to keep them informed about what number you are using in the country you are in, and you will get the call on whatever device you are using if you have the app active. You might have to keep those friends who aren't using WhatsApp (or Signal) informed if you want them to contact you.
 
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wisepilgrim

Camino App Maker
Time of past OR future Camino
Many
I think it's well worth getting comfortable with the medium. Advantage: you can compose a message in a foreign language at your leisure. You don't feel so "under the gun" as you do, trying to speak to someone when you're not that confident about your Spanish, or Portuguese. And they almost always respond the same way; you can take your time interpreting the response.
The other thread mention by OP is pertinent here, as it describes a new feature which does exactly this. Often times the first message is the most stressful, and this was an attempt to overcome that stress by reliably composing a polite message that had all of the necessary details. From there you can learn just how easy it is to communicate with a translator, and in the cases where a hospitalero speaks multiple languages he may just reply in your native tongue because of the country code in your WhatsApp profile.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Bizarrely, if you have WhatsApp on your phone and you email a hotel with your mobile number, you might find them communicating with you by WhatsApp.

As far as I know, and happy to be corrected, WhatsApp can indicate if your mobile has their software installed.
As someone who struggles with technology greatly I would like to add if you do not have whatsapp on your cell phone it is super easy to install. When I moved to Mexico 9 years ago I had never heard of it. Everyone in Mexico uses it and I would say 95% of people use it as their primary or only means of communications. It took about 60 seconds to download it, and set it up.
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Same here, actually...the impression that I had got from the thread was that texting was an unfamiliar technology!
There is a difference between standard text messaging (SMS) and messaging via apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, etc. In the US I think that most people have free (SMS) texting with their phone plans, and therefore it's very popular. But in other countries SMS texts may incur extra costs. For that reason I understand that WhatsApp is preferred over standard SMS texting in many parts of Europe.

And if you don't have a local sim card the rates for international texting are quite high.

You need a cellular signal to send SMS texts, but messaging apps can be used over wifi, making it a good option for pilgrims and other travelers.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
SMS texts are WAY more used in rural Iberia, and maybe the rest of Europe, than they are here in North America.
Not quite.
In the US I think that most people have free (SMS) texting with their phone plans, and therefore it's very popular. But in other countries SMS texts may incur extra costs.
Same in Canada. The SMS is the basic feature with any cell phone in North America, whether "smart" or not, and whether or not the participants both have accounts with Facebook, WhatsApp or whatever. They only need a cell phone number.

When I am in Spain, I wish I had that basic service. I am still confused about how to WhatsApp with someone who is not on my list of contacts.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
SMS texts are slightly more reliable than email, provided that the pilgrim has a mobile phone number for the albergue
But the phone plans I've had in Spain do not seem to include basic SMS messaging.

You have to add them to your contacts.
And that step annoys me! That's where I'd rather do an SMS text.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
During my recent adventure with the Portuguese health care system I was very thankful that I had had my husband install WhatsApp on his phone.

I was in a public hospital with a broken arm and a broken phone, and thus no way to call or message my husband. The hospital couldn't make an international call for me. Finally, a doctor offered up her personal phone for me to call my husband via WhatsApp.
 
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Dennis Pack

Member since 2017
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago Norte 2018
In Ecuador, it was my understanding that using WhatsApp and Facebook did not use up your data, therefore both were the most popular way to communicate.
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
But the phone plans I've had in Spain do not seem to include basic SMS messaging.


And that step annoys me! That's where I'd rather do an SMS text.
I'm surprised. My very basic Vodaphone coverage in Portugal includes texting and calling. I don't have a smartphone and don't pay for data. I assumed that was common.

I just looked up my Vodaphone coverage online. I believe I get charged the same for a text as for a local call: .05 euros. Well worth it.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
My very basic Vodaphone coverage in Portugal includes texting and calling. I don't have a smartphone and don't pay for data. I assumed that was common.
I have had failures with texting on previous plans in Spain, and the instructions that come with my recent Vodafone 30-day prepaid plan do not even mention SMS texts. I admit that I gave up on that aspect a few years ago and now rely on voice phone or WhatsApp.
 

Slowninja

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Portuguese 2019 and 2022
Just to throw this in the mix if you use booking.com app there is a feature where you can message the accomodation directly in the app. It also has a translation feature built in, so language is not an issue. This worked for me in Spain this week and is very efficient.

I used Smartly network and there is no roaming charges for data or calls
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I have had failures with texting on previous plans in Spain, and the instructions that come with my recent Vodafone 30-day prepaid plan do not even mention SMS texts. I admit that I gave up on that aspect a few years ago and now rely on voice phone or WhatsApp.
Unfortunately, the SMS standard does not provide any guarantee of either timeliness or delivery. This won't just be in Spain, but across the world. I have seen suggestions that up to 5% of SMS messages are not delivered, and many more delivered with long delays. I wouldn't recommend using SMS for emergency communications of any sort.

Note that although IP networks (wifi, etc) are generally more reliable, these are also asynchronous services, ie there isn't a dedicated end to end connection as there is with standard telephone services. So VOIP or IP based messaging could also suffer from delays over and above any associated with the communication pathways used to carry this traffic.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Same here, actually...the impression that I had got from the thread was that texting was an unfamiliar technology!
That might be so, but I also know that at first, I didn't know how to identify what were landline numbers and what were mobiles and so didn't know which ones would accept an SMS message.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
You have to add them to your contacts.
And that step annoys me! That's where I'd rather do an SMS text.

The step of adding contact info is avoided if you use a camino app like Wise Pilgrim, which has populated the numbers and added the connection. But even if you just use your own WhatsApp app, it is a pretty trivial annoyance for a pretty big benefit, IMHO.

If you write text messages that don’t show the albergue’s name, aren’t you going to have to remember which phone number is which albergue, pensión or hotel? That seems like a bigger annoyance, so I would think that you would want to add them to your contacts anyway.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
If you write text messages that don’t show the albergue’s name, aren’t you going to have to remember which phone number is which albergue, pensión or hotel? That seems like a bigger annoyance, so I would think that you would want to add them to your contacts anyway.
Exactly!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
But even if you just use your own WhatsApp app, it is a pretty trivial annoyance for a pretty big benefit, IMHO.
Yes, well, that could be said about a lot of things that nevertheless frustrate us! Once you have learned it, it is trivial. I have entered numbers as new contacts and still had problems. Sometimes the WhatsApp number seems to be recognized by the system and I can just enter it but I wouldn't be able to re-create that for you. Likely that is because I don't really understand the interactions among different Contacts lists. All I can say is, that I am not yet confident and efficient in my WhatsApping and I often avoid it by asking the other person to send me the first message! I really just need to take an evening to browse YouTube and experiment with it, but I am lazy and also keep getting distracted by other things on YouTube!

- Not a moron, just learningavoiding 😄 🤣
 

Corned Beef

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
C. Norte Sept/2022
Since this is becoming a WhatsApp love-in, we should start to mentions "groups"

I had never come across WhatsApp nor knew about it until I did the Camino Frances when the group I was travelling with collected all our numbers and set up a group so we could keep in contact with everyone within the group but were spread out over the miles.

Then on subsequent conferences, someone did the same so that our group of attendees could find each other while roving around the EU in Brussels.

The group function is very, very useful.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2023
SMS was originally very popular because of its wide interoperability on GSM phones, back in the day when GSM was rare in the USA.

Since then differing messaging apps have been developed like Signal, WhatsApp and Apples product. Of course, none of these new apps talk to each other and this has prompted the GSM alliance to develop Rich Communications Services or RCS. This Verge article has some background, https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/12...rvice-messaging-explainer-what-is-google-chat

Google seems to be quite keen on RCS, Apple somewhat less so. It is possible that the lure of interoperability may eventually make RCS more popular although it is probably unlikely to completely dominate the market because while it is more secure than SMS it doesn't have the end to end encryption of Signal and other products.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
My approach to populating my contacts list with accommodation contact numbers from Gronze.com, working from a Google browser in an Android phone:

a. open the Gronze listing for the accommodation entity.
b. highlight and copy the name
c. long tap on the telephone number (short tap opens the number in the phone dialer screen)
d. select 'add to contacts'
e. paste the copied name into one of the contact name fields. I use first name, but it's your choice.
f. check the number field. If the number begins with the number 2, replace that with the + sign. If there are other characters, replace everything before the first '3' with a + sign, Check the number has now been formatted correctly, country code, area code, number in groups of two or three digits.
g. save the entry

If there are several numbers listed for the same place:
h. return to the entry in Gronze, and long tap the next number
i. select 'add to contacts'
j. select 'add to existing contact'
k. paste the name copied in step b into the search field and search. This will bring up the entry you have just created, and the new number listed
l. save the entry

I did this 'on the fly' when in Portugal, and it worked perfectly well adding accommodation at only those places where I thought I might stop. I haven't tried it on a tablet or desktop.

If the number is available through WhatsApp, it will show up in the contact list when you search for it. If it doesn't, the number is not linked to a WhatsApp account.
 

camino.ninja

RIP 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
My approach to populating my contacts list with accommodation contact numbers from Gronze.com, working from a Google browser in an Android phone:

a. open the Gronze listing for the accommodation entity.
b. highlight and copy the name
c. long tap on the telephone number (short tap opens the number in the phone dialer screen)
d. select 'add to contacts'
e. paste the copied name into one of the contact name fields. I use first name, but it's your choice.
f. check the number field. If the number begins with the number 2, replace that with the + sign. If there are other characters, replace everything before the first '3' with a + sign, Check the number has now been formatted correctly, country code, area code, number in groups of two or three digits.
g. save the entry

If there are several numbers listed for the same place:
h. return to the entry in Gronze, and long tap the next number
i. select 'add to contacts'
j. select 'add to existing contact'
k. paste the name copied in step b into the search field and search. This will bring up the entry you have just created, and the new number listed
l. save the entry

I did this 'on the fly' when in Portugal, and it worked perfectly well adding accommodation at only those places where I thought I might stop. I haven't tried it on a tablet or desktop.

If the number is available through WhatsApp, it will show up in the contact list when you search for it. If it doesn't, the number is not linked to a WhatsApp account.

@dougfitz you should try the Camino Ninja App ...it would make your life so much easier on the tech side. At least from what you just said :)
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
@dougfitz you should try the Camino Ninja App ...it would make your life so much easier on the tech side. At least from what you just said :)
I did, it didn't. Neither did I find Wise Pilgrim all that useful to me. I know some did, so perhaps it was just me. I found a combination of OSM And+, Gronze and the installed contacts book on my phone the most workable solution.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
I did, it didn't. Neither did I find Wise Pilgrim all that useful to me. I know some did, so perhaps it was just me. I found a combination of OSM And+, Gronze and the installed contacts book on my phone the most workable solution.
Ditto. Supplemented with Google Maps for bars, restaurants and places of interest.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Ditto. Supplemented with Google Maps for bars, restaurants and places of interest.
Yes. The OSM And+ interface is a little more cumbersome when it comes to presenting information like that. Having said that, I found that Google wasn't as good at finding information about places and things in Portugal as I have found it elsewhere. It appears as if some businesses don't bother to see Google as a useful tool for their business, and don't make the effort to have current information available through the platform, or perhaps even on the web.
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2022 Norte Primitivo
Here’s how to WhatsApp message someone without adding them to contacts -

  1. Launch your desired browser (Chrome, Safari) on your Smartphone.
  2. Enter the URL ; on the search bar.
    • Where number is the full phone number with the country code. For example, it might look something like https://wa.me/19876543210, where 1 is the country code for the US followed by the 10-digit phone number. You don’t need to enter the + sign.
    • Note: You don’t need to enter the + sign. There are no leading zeros or signs required.
  3. Next, tap Go on your keyboard.
  4. Here, you will see a popup screen titled “Open this page in WhatsApp”? with two options: Cancel & Open. Tap Open.
  5. Now, you will be redirected to the WhatsApp message screen so that you can send a message to the noncontact.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Here’s how to WhatsApp message someone without adding them to contacts -

  1. Launch your desired browser (Chrome, Safari) on your Smartphone.
  2. Enter the URL ; on the search bar.
    • Where number is the full phone number with the country code. For example, it might look something like https://wa.me/19876543210, where 1 is the country code for the US followed by the 10-digit phone number. You don’t need to enter the + sign.
    • Note: You don’t need to enter the + sign. There are no leading zeros or signs required.
  3. Next, tap Go on your keyboard.
  4. Here, you will see a popup screen titled “Open this page in WhatsApp”? with two options: Cancel & Open. Tap Open.
  5. Now, you will be redirected to the WhatsApp message screen so that you can send a message to the noncontact.
Nice tip. I found it also worked just entering the web address as wa.me/xxx. If the number is in the country you are calling from, you don't appear to need the country code. WhatsApp adds that if it isn't present.

Edit: see further comment below at post #56
 
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I have just read an article about the g search engine and privacy. In case anyone is interested I will now do a copy and paste. It is from a subscription to a national paper, and may not open just with the link.

Google’s ‘surveillance capitalism’ criticised​

EU group accuses tech giant of putting consumers on ‘fast track to surveillance’

CONOR POPE Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Millions of European consumers have been unwittingly “placed on a fast track to surveillance” after signing up to Google services because of how the tech giant sets up its platforms, according to an EU-wide consumer group.The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), which has a presence in 10 EU countries, has accused Google of “unfairly steering consumers towards its surveillance system” when they sign up to its services instead of giving default privacy options.
“It takes one simple step to let Google monitor and exploit everything you do,” said the BEUC deputy director general Ursula Pachl. “If you want to benefit from privacy-friendly settings, you must navigate through a longer process and a mix of unclear and misleading options.”
She said people who create a Google account are, as a result, “subjected to surveillance by design and by default. Instead, privacy protection should be the default and easiest choice for consumers”.
People can choose to create a Google account voluntarily or be obliged to create one when they use certain Google products and services including apps on android phones.
Sign-up is the critical point at which Google asks users to indicate their “choices” about how their account operates and according to the BEUC, the express personalisation setting means consumers activate “all the account settings that feed Google’s surveillance activities”.
It notes Google does not provide consumers with the option to turn all settings “off” in one click and if consumers want to activate the more privacy-friendly options, this requires “manual personalisation”.
“Google is a repeat offender,” Ms Pachl said. “It is more than three years since we filed complaints against Google’s location-tracking practices and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner in charge has still not issued a decision on the case. Meanwhile Google’s practices have not changed in essence.”
The tech giant still “carries out continuous tracking and profiling of consumers and its practices set the tone for the rest of the market”, she added.
Misleading
The BEUC said the language Google uses during registration “is unclear, incomplete, and misleading and also frames the more privacy-friendly options as missing out on advantages”. It described the company as a “colossus in the world of surveillance capitalism [with] 81 per cent of its revenue comes from its advertising operations, which in turn depend on the data it hoovers up on people to personalise adverts for them.”
In response a Google spokeswoman told The Irish Times the company was aware “consumer trust depends on honesty and transparency” and said it had “staked our future success on building ever simpler, more accessible controls and giving people clearer choices. And, just as important, doing more with less data.” She said the company welcomed the opportunity “to engage on this important topic with Europe’s consumer advocates and regulators”.
Addressing the specific claims made by the BEUC, she said Google aims “to help people make choices on their terms, when someone creates a new Google account, we present different options. These options are clearly labelled and designed to be simple to understand” and it remained “committed to ensuring these choices are clear and simple”.
 

wisepilgrim

Camino App Maker
Time of past OR future Camino
Many
If you write text messages that don’t show the albergue’s name, aren’t you going to have to remember which phone number is which albergue, pensión or hotel? That seems like a bigger annoyance, so I would think that you would want to add them to your contacts anyway.
Yes and no. Adding a new contact to your phone can be a pain, and on iOS it frustrates me to no end trying to get country codes in while trying to copy paste the actual number from elsewhere.

But it is a whole lot easier to do from within the WhatsApp app once you have sent the message. Just click on the number at the top and you’ll be presented with all the info and an ADD button.
 

wisepilgrim

Camino App Maker
Time of past OR future Camino
Many
I'm surprised. My very basic Vodaphone coverage in Portugal includes texting and calling. I don't have a smartphone and don't pay for data. I assumed that was common.

I just looked up my Vodaphone coverage online. I believe I get charged the same for a text as for a local call: .05 euros. Well worth it.
If we’re talking about communicating with albergues, this philosophy doesn’t always work. What may be affordable for you may just be an annoyance for the receiver, and after all what you want most is a reply. And while a reply isn’t guarantee in any medium, one that cost the owner money might reduce your chances of one.

Looking into my sms app for some evidence I realize that the only sms messages I receive (I’m in Spain) are from the USA or my bank. Everything else, from neighborhood correspondences to my insurance agent to the DHL delivery guy all use Whatsapp. I would love to see that drift towards Signal / Telegram, and it may well do, but the SMS is going the opposite direction.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I know this is only anecdotal, but I've just come back from a month in Portugal and Spain, and another month in Germany, Australia, Italy and Slovenia. Every day in Portugal I reserved accommodation, often the same in Spain, and every two or three days in the other countries. During all that time I made two local cell phone calls, two cell calls back to Australia (reception was hopeless), sent and received no sms messages, and received no cell phone calls. Everything else was done by WhatsApp, either via a message "chat" or by using the WhatsApp audio (usually the latter).
 
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camino.ninja

RIP 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
I did, it didn't. Neither did I find Wise Pilgrim all that useful to me. I know some did, so perhaps it was just me. I found a combination of OSM And+, Gronze and the installed contacts book on my phone the most workable solution.
Well as long you enjoy copy-pasting it's all good :)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Well as long you enjoy copy-pasting it's all good :)
I don't. But Camino Ninja didn't have information on accommodation options at places I planned to stay at, and neither did Wise Pilgrim nor Buen Camino, the apps that I also had loaded. In other places, only a few of the available accommodation options for a place were listed. While it was more cumbersome to cut and paste from Gronze, at least I was able to find places using Gronze or booking.com that the apps I had loaded weren't listing.

The other issue was that none of the apps covered the Caminho de Tejo route once it separated from the Camino Portuguese Route at Santarem, and neither did Gronze. By the time I got back onto the Camino Portuguese route at Tomar, I had become well enough practiced at using OSM And+ and WhatsApp. While I occasionally consulted one or other of the apps I had loaded, I didn't put much time into that, and I accept that I might not have found all the functions that I might have found useful.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Here’s how to WhatsApp message someone without adding them to contacts -
Excellent, thank you.

If I were to use WhatsApp I would likely try to handle lists of WhatsApp contacts with this method but with a twist; I would create an HTML file with a table of names and numbers with the numbers linked. Then I could open that file with a browser and click the number.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
There is a difference between standard text messaging (SMS) and messaging via apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, etc. In the US I think that most people have free (SMS) texting with their phone plans, and therefore it's very popular. But in other countries SMS texts may incur extra costs. For that reason I understand that WhatsApp is preferred over standard SMS texting in many parts of Europe.

And if you don't have a local sim card the rates for international texting are quite high.

You need a cellular signal to send SMS texts, but messaging apps can be used over wifi, making it a good option for pilgrims and other travelers.
You said it in a nutshell. This is why I change my sim card to Vodafone as soon as I arrive. They have great coverage everywhere. Very inexpensive lots of data to use whatsapp to call my wife and kids and super easy to recharge. I was on the VDLP last year and although I rarely even look at my phone when I am walking there was never a time I did not have coverage. I think if you have blanket coverage on the VDLP it is probably a safe bet you will everywhere in Spain.
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
If we’re talking about communicating with albergues, this philosophy doesn’t always work. What may be affordable for you may just be an annoyance for the receiver, and after all what you want most is a reply. And while a reply isn’t guarantee in any medium, one that cost the owner money might reduce your chances of one.

Looking into my sms app for some evidence I realize that the only sms messages I receive (I’m in Spain) are from the USA or my bank. Everything else, from neighborhood correspondences to my insurance agent to the DHL delivery guy all use Whatsapp. I would love to see that drift towards Signal / Telegram, and it may well do, but the SMS is going the opposite direction.
Fair point, but one has to ask, compared to the 15% or whatever "cut" that booking.com takes on a booking, the cost of substantially less than 1 euro to respond to a text msg seems a pretty good deal! (Fully acknowledging that for those peregrinos/as who use WhatsApp, that may be a better choice.)
 
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BombayBill

Still Learning
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2022 Norte Primitivo
Excellent, thank you.

If I were to use WhatsApp I would likely try to handle lists of WhatsApp contacts with this method but with a twist; I would create an HTML file with a table of names and numbers with the numbers linked. Then I could open that file with a browser and click the number.
Clever idea. Hadn’t thought of that. And for the real geeks amongst us I’ve read that you can create a macro using the shortcut feature on iPhone. I’ll puzzle on this with my vino verde tonight.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Clever idea. Hadn’t thought of that. And for the real geeks amongst us I’ve read that you can create a macro using the shortcut feature on iPhone. I’ll puzzle on this with my vino verde tonight.
Thank you. I've used HTML since the time that webpages could embed images on them so that is what immediately came to my mind but it just occurred to me that spreadsheets could probably do the same thing (I suppose they can be set up to create links from a cell with a number, I haven't used spreadsheets much and not in a long while). This method may be more accessible to many.

BTW, I would have both name and number visible so you could easily pass on the number to other pilgrims if they would like it. I would link the number over the name since it is one string of characters whereas the name would have spaces and could be a little more difficult to select or manipulate.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Here’s how to WhatsApp message someone without adding them to contacts -
  1. Launch your desired browser (Chrome, Safari) on your Smartphone.
  2. Enter the URL ; on the search bar.
    • Where number is the full phone number with the country code. For example, it might look something like https://wa.me/19876543210, where 1 is the country code for the US followed by the 10-digit phone number. You don’t need to enter the + sign.

Thanks Bill. I tried this out and I have a couple of questions. First let me add a bit of detail.

I do not have WhatsApp installed on my Android phone. I plugged in the URL into my phone's browsers, Chrome and Brave. Both ended up with a webpage like this one screenshotted from Brave.

Screenshot_20220701-162754.png
Examining the URL of that page I see it as:

Very good (except I would expect either &app_present=0 or &app_absent=1). If I clicked to continue I got a webpage saying the app wasn't installed and offering to download it for me (no thanks, I'm keeping my contacts to myself for now).

Notice the &text in the URL. Does that mean the browser will only allow me to text or does that mean it is the default? Can I get to change to phone call? More likely though is that if I continue (and had the app) I will be transferred from the browser to the WhatsApp app. Is that correct? If so then I would repeat my earlier questions.
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2022 Norte Primitivo
Don’t quote me but I believe you have to have a verified phone number to use WhatsApp. So presumably you must install it on a phone. Then using that verified account you can use the browser.

But you don’t have to turn over your contacts. On my iPhone I have blocked access to my contacts. It can make things a little trickier when receiving a call as you will have to remember whose number that is on the screen.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Does that mean the browser will only allow me to text or does that mean it is the default? Can I get to change to phone call? More likely though is that if I continue (and had the app) I will be transferred from the browser to the WhatsApp app. Is that correct? If so then I would repeat my earlier questions.
From my quick check this morning:
  1. a. no, b. it is the default, but see below
  2. yes, once in the app you can chose to text, voice or video call
  3. yes
Simply, the web page is only a mechanism to start WhatsApp seeded with a number. After that, everything is done in WhatsApp. This makes sense if you remember that WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption which will need the app at both ends of the connection.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Nice tip. I found it also worked just entering the web address as wa.me/xxx. If the number is in the country you are calling from, you don't appear to need the country code. WhatsApp adds that if it isn't present.
I have done some further checking on this. While WhatsApp will add the local country code to some numbers, others it wants to parse the first digits as an overseas country code. I think it will be easier to include the country code as a matter of practice.
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2022 Norte Primitivo
I have done some further checking on this. While WhatsApp will add the local country code to some numbers, others it wants to parse the first digits as an overseas country code. I think it will be easier to include the country code as a matter of practice.
Agreed. I’ve learned to go through my critical contacts and make sure they all have a complete number. IE change North American numbers like 4035551212 to 14035551212.
Though depending on what method I’m using I’m sometimes perplexed whether to add a “ +”
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
There is a difference between standard text messaging (SMS) and messaging via apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, etc. In the US I think that most people have free (SMS) texting with their phone plans, and therefore it's very popular. But in other countries SMS texts may incur extra costs. For that reason I understand that WhatsApp is preferred over standard SMS texting in many parts of Europe.

And if you don't have a local sim card the rates for international texting are quite high.

You need a cellular signal to send SMS texts, but messaging apps can be used over wifi, making it a good option for pilgrims and other travelers.
Very true. Most people who have whatsapp in the United States have it because they have friends or family in Latin America or Europe. I have spoken to Korean people who almost always use an app that I believe is exclusive for Korea. The same is true for the Chinese I believe.
 

Till

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese 2018, del Norte 2022
Yes, well, that could be said about a lot of things that nevertheless frustrate us! Once you have learned it, it is trivial. I have entered numbers as new contacts and still had problems. Sometimes the WhatsApp number seems to be recognized by the system and I can just enter it but I wouldn't be able to re-create that for you. Likely that is because I don't really understand the interactions among different Contacts lists. All I can say is, that I am not yet confident and efficient in my WhatsApping and I often avoid it by asking the other person to send me the first message! I really just need to take an evening to browse YouTube and experiment with it, but I am lazy and also keep getting distracted by other things on YouTube!

- Not a moron, just learningavoiding 😄 🤣
Maybe that's why it may be good for you to walk the camino and recalibrate. :) :cool:
 
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Mananath

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
July 2022
You said it in a nutshell. This is why I change my sim card to Vodafone as soon as I arrive. They have great coverage everywhere. Very inexpensive lots of data to use whatsapp to call my wife and kids and super easy to recharge. I was on the VDLP last year and although I rarely even look at my phone when I am walking there was never a time I did not have coverage. I think if you have blanket coverage on the VDLP it is probably a safe bet you will everywhere in Spain.
Just picked up a Vodafone sim card.. current promotion gets you 100gb for 15eur. And it includes roaming in the US (for months so long as you renew with the app)
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Just picked up a Vodafone sim card.. current promotion gets you 100gb for 15eur. And it includes roaming in the US (for months so long as you renew with the app)
I hope that promotion is still available in October when I walk. I doubt it as it seems their best promos are during the summer months. I still get really good ones in the fall too. Buen Camino
 

camino.ninja

RIP 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
I don't. But Camino Ninja didn't have information on accommodation options at places I planned to stay at, and neither did Wise Pilgrim nor Buen Camino, the apps that I also had loaded. In other places, only a few of the available accommodation options for a place were listed. While it was more cumbersome to cut and paste from Gronze, at least I was able to find places using Gronze or booking.com that the apps I had loaded weren't listing.

The other issue was that none of the apps covered the Caminho de Tejo route once it separated from the Camino Portuguese Route at Santarem, and neither did Gronze. By the time I got back onto the Camino Portuguese route at Tomar, I had become well enough practiced at using OSM And+ and WhatsApp. While I occasionally consulted one or other of the apps I had loaded, I didn't put much time into that, and I accept that I might not have found all the functions that I might have found useful.

There's a million roads going to Santiago and new ones are marked up every day for a multitude of reasons. And if you walk those not in the apps, it wouldn't make sense use the apps. That is correct. The Camino Ninja App covers mostly official routes, and tends to only include relevant accommodations close to the route when possible. I think you made the right choice for your choice of camino.
 

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