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Vía de la Plata as a first camino

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VendulaF

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vía de la Plata (from Zamora)
Hello!
I am planning to take Vía de la Plata this mid August. I will not walk the entire VdlP, I am planning to walk only from Zamora to Santiago. It is my very first camino and I am planning to go solo.
I have chosen this way, due to I want to follow beautiful and calm path (not too crowded), however, as I understood, that is bringing also its difficulties. For instance with the accommodation or walking without meeting anybody for very long time and maybe getting lost....
Therefore I wanted to ask you for any reccomendation or an advice you can have for me. I have some basic overview of what do I need and what should I prepare for. However I would appreciate any information or suggestion from more experienced pilgrims!

Thanks a lot!

Vendy
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
From Zamora you have a couple of choices. Most people follow the Via de la Plata from Zamora until Granja de Moreruela. At Granja they turn left follow the Camino Sanabres through Ourense to Santiago. If you follow that path, you will find accommodation and you will have the company of a few other pilgrims at the albergues in the evenings. Be aware that mid-Aug is hot.
The planner on the Godesalco site will give you an idea of how far you must walk each day
The guide to albergues on Antonio Retamosa's site shows you roughly what to expect at each one:
With regard to the choice of camino - Sanabrés is less crowded than the Camino Frances but it has good infrastructure and it is well marked. I think it's probably a good choice for the preferences that you described.
Zamora is a lovely city - Well worth exploring before you start your walk. (But the albergue only allows pilgrims to stay one night).
 
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omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
My first camino was vdlp in 2006. Walked it several times since. Latter sections busier..lubian albegue was bursting at the seams so you'll definitely meet people. ...if you want to
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
Hi Vendy,

Whereas the southern sections of the VdP are in my opinion not really suitable for a first-timer (longer distances, no bars or villages in between, dogs and cattle running free along the camino) the Camino from Zamora onwards has a better infrastructure, allowing stages between 15 and 20 km. But still there are some stages where you have to cater for the whole day.

For planning you may also have a look at this:

Planning-tool camino sanabrés

From Zamora to La Granja de Moreruela it is two more stages.

I walked the section in May/June 2010 (holy year) and did not find it crowded at all. Since then, some new albergues have opened.

Two friends from Italy plan to walk it from mid-July and I will continue from Zamora to Santiago/Finisterre/Muxía next summer.

BC
Alexandra
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
Hi Vendy,

In 2018 I walked the VdlP from Zafra to Santiago. Started mid August as well. As someone already stated: it can still be warm that time of year, but doable. But north of Salamanca it wasn't too bad. Cover your head and carry plenty of water and so on...

Further south (in the Extremadura, between Sevilla and Salamanca) it was really hot, with temperatures up to 45 degrees Celsius. But further north it became more and more pleasant.

I thought the VdlP was very well waymarked. Didn't get lost once, although I have a tendency to do so (on the Frances I managed to get lost three times. And that's quite an achievement!!).

On the VdlP I didn't bring a guidebook. So I didn't use maps. Instead I used an app which provided me not only with information about the towns (what to see), the accomodation (albergues, hostels, pensions, hotels, pousada's and so on), but also with the GPS-track (that could be used offline, so I didn't need to be connected to a network and still be able to check if I was still on track). There are several apps available that can do the trick.

I didn't make reservations and never had any problems staying in albergues. I never had to stay in a hostel, hotel or otherwise. And there'll be enough pilgrims around to join or not (if you prefer to walk alone). Personally I really liked to walk alone during the day and be amongst other pilgrims in the evening, joining them for dinner and drinks. So you can enjoy your Camino the way you'd like it.

On the VdlP I met a young man from Germany that walked the VdlP-Via Sanabres as his first Camino. He enjoyed himself very much. Although the vast majority walks the Camino Frances as their first Camino, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't walk the VdlP as your first Camino!!

If you wish to avoid larger numbers of people, turn left at Granja de Moreruela and follow the Via Sanabres. If you continue straight ahead, the VdlP joins the Camino Frances at Astorga.

If like to have more detailed info (about daily distances, where the albergues are, the route, experiences or whatever) please let me know. Just to get a general idea:

60520
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
If you wish to avoid larger numbers of people, turn left at Granja de Moreruela and follow the Via Sanabres. If you continue straight ahead, the VdlP joins the Camino Frances at Astorga.
I agree that the Sanabrés sounds like a suitable Camino, given the OP's preferences.
A funny thing about continuing straight ahead at Granja de Moreruela is that the way to Astorga involves three days or so of very solitary walking through areas with few facilities (so I've heard), followed by a couple of weeks of the very sociable Camino Frances, which has the most developed infrastructure of any Camino.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
The Information linked by André Walker is not really up to date.

Villanueva de las Peras is not off-route but on an alternative route (roughly the same distance).
The private albergue in Sta. Croya de Tera (famous casa Anita) closed in 2017 and has not been reopened yet.

There is an albergue at monasterio Oseira (detour after Cea, the monastery itself is worth a visit, even if you do not want to sleep there) and there are some new albergues between Outeiro and Santiago.

Waymarks are sufficient, so you do neither really need a guidebook nor an app or gps.
Only bigger cities may present a difficulty. But there it is better to go to the tourist-information and get a detailed map.

BC
Alexandra
 

gschmidl

sator arepo tenet opera rotas
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo (11/2018), Camino Sanabres (4/2019)
I walked from Ourense as my first camino. It is as good as impossible to get lost, the arrows are everywhere; I used OsmAnd on my phone and turned on map markers, which shows the camino route in blue, but I barely ever needed it beyond checking how much further it was to go on any given day.

My recommendations:

Bring walking sticks. Especially the climb after the monastery is steep and if it rained recently, there'll be water merrily running on the path.
Bring enough water. I used a drinking bladder and refilled it at bars/cafés or from supermarkets.
If you want to earn a Compostela, stamp early and stamp often.
Bring a camera.

It's beautiful and solitary.
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
The Information linked by André Walker is not really up to date.

Villanueva de las Peras is not off-route but on an alternative route (roughly the same distance).
The private albergue in Sta. Croya de Tera (famous casa Anita) closed in 2017 and has not been reopened yet.

There is an albergue at monasterio Oseira (detour after Cea, the monastery itself is worth a visit, even if you do not want to sleep there) and there are some new albergues between Outeiro and Santiago.

Waymarks are sufficient, so you do neither really need a guidebook nor an app or gps.
Only bigger cities may present a difficulty. But there it is better to go to the tourist-information and get a detailed map.

BC
Alexandra
Correct: Casa Anita in Sta. Croya de Tera is closed, but on the other side of the river is another albergue (Albergue de Peregrinos Sta. Croya de Tera).
 

VendulaF

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vía de la Plata (from Zamora)
Thanks a lot for the information and sharing experiences from the VdlP!

I was planning to take Camino Sanabrés after Zamora. I am hoping I can make it in 14 to 15 days. It is not a lot of time, but I think it is possible if I walk every daly like about 30km (depending on where the next accommodation is).

Another question came to my mind. How is it with cooking? Is it possible to cook something small in Albergue? I think I would be happy to cook something small time to time to safe a bit of money...
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I was planning to take Camino Sanabrés after Zamora. I am hoping I can make it in 14 to 15 days. It is not a lot of time, but I think it is possible if I walk every daly like about 30km (depending on where the next accommodation is).
That is a rather tight schedule. The total distance is 425km so you need to do an average of just over 30km per day. If you only have 14 days, then you will have to do a couple of longer days and you may have to spend a couple of nights at hotels rather than albergues because the albergues are not evenly distributed. That will add to costs. If you play around on the godesalco planning tool, you'll get an idea of the possibilities.

60592

Another question came to my mind. How is it with cooking? Is it possible to cook something small in Albergue? I think I would be happy to cook something small time to time to safe a bit of money...
The guide to albergues that I linked to above (Antonio Retamosa's blog and guide) has icons that show the facilities at each albergue. You will see that many albergues have kitchens with utensils where you can cook - either for yourself or together with other pilgrims if you feel like sharing a communal meal. Cooking for yourself might reduce your costs a little - a typical pilgrim dinner at a restaurant costs around €10. But your best way to make economies is to plan your trip to avoid hotels and stay at albergues as much as possible.
 

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Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
Correct: Casa Anita in Sta. Croya de Tera is closed, but on the other side of the river is another albergue (Albergue de Peregrinos Sta. Croya de Tera).
On the other side of the river the name of the village is already Sta. Marta de Tera.
 

walkingstu

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino SJPP to SDC 2007 Frances
Camino Aragon Pau Fr. to Pamplona 2010
Camino Burgos to SDC 2012
Camino Porto to SDC 2015
Camino VDLP Seville to SDC March 2016
14 days straight, 30km+/day, August heat, Beautiful but hilly terrain. Carrying a lot of water. First Camino. You may want to consider starting at Puebla de Sanabria. It would give you more time to explore the experience.
 

VendulaF

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vía de la Plata (from Zamora)
14 days straight, 30km+/day, August heat, Beautiful but hilly terrain. Carrying a lot of water. First Camino. You may want to consider starting at Puebla de Sanabria. It would give you more time to explore the experience.
Yes, I realised the time is very tight, so I changed my plan a little bit. I will still go from Zamora, but I will take 18 days for walking. That should give me enough time go explore and experience the Camino, I hope. :)
 

P Rat

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino VDLP april (april2019)
So, haven’t read all the above replies and apologies if I repeat some sentiments.
We walked the VDLP as a first Camino (only arrived home a few weeks ago) and it was THE BEST we have ever done. Walked all of it, not without some physical issues but never never had issues with food, shops, accommodation etc. We have heard the general consensus that this Camino is a tad busier than it used to be, and we were certainly surprised to see some albergues near full. So it is not as quiet as it perhaps used to be? We had it very busy over Easter, but that would be expected. Zamora is gorgeous! Personally we found the first half more interesting but the whole VDLP is worth the effort!
Whatever you decide: do not overthink! Enjoy, Buen Camino!
 

Donna Sch

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Levante-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
England Camino routes ?2024
If you only have 2 weeks I would consider the Invierno from Ponferrada which would allow you to do a complete camino. It is a gorgeous walk, quiet, people are friendly and has many similarities to the Sanabres. There are some sections where the usual stages are on the long side with some big hills and I feel it is best to go slightly off camino to split them into more manageable chunks. But definitely one to do before the hordes discover it.
 

anthikes

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Frances
2018 Portuguese
2019 VDLP
I walked the VDLP this year from Sevilla via Astorga. I am in two minds what to recommend.

As it's your first camino you might like to mix things up by being on the quieter VDLP and then hitting the crowds on the Frances. I met a girl who actually switched from the VDLP to the Frances because it was her first camino and she found the lack of infrastructure tough. She also spoke no Spanish whatsoever, which can make things trickier on the VDLP. English is the defacto language of the French way! She was young too (in her 20s) and most people on the Via are 40 or 50 plus - think she found this a challenge too and wanted to be around people her own age.

Personally I found the section up to Astorga from Granja to be challenging due to complete lack of services, so would recommend the Sanabres Way on that basis.

Good luck whichever you choose!
 

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