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Via de la Plata or Frances... opinion

Year of past OR future Camino
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
Anyone considering the Via de la Plata is welcome to PM me, since we just walked the first week of it.

If this is your first Camino, despite what others may say, I strongly suggest you take the Frances.
The VDLP is MUCH more difficult and less diverse.
Beautiful in its own way, but very difficult.

That is my 2 cents!
 
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lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Is your assessment of difficulty due to the heat wave that you encountered, or were there other factors? I walked the VDLP in the spring, and although the Extremadura was a bit of a challenge, I found the route to be stunningly beautiful and diverse. It remains my favorite.

Illustrates how unique each of our camino experiences is, and that's my $.02 :)

lynne
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Fahrenheit 104. That is enough to make me sit back in my easy chair and wait for autumn!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
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
Lynne,
My opinion is based on having already walked the Frances,
on the 106 to 107 degree F heat,
on the complete lack of water between stages because the wells are seasonal and DRY in the summer, and on the difference in difficulty.

Like I said in another post, I´m sure this is incredibly beautiful in the Spring. The wildflowers must be gorgeous and the scenery is stunning, but in Summer it is deadly if you are not in excellent condition and if you are unable to carry 3 to 4 liters of water, which weighs a LOT when you´re a small person.

I´d like to come back in another season and try it. But never again in Summer.
According to locals this is the worst and hottest summer in many years.
It came to the point we were walking 500 yards, stopping to squat in shade to let our body cool down, then walking 500 yards. It took us 2 hours to go 2 kilometers. For us, that´s just loco!

There were a few strong people achieving it.
Joe and I just are not two of them.
We decided after a week that we wanted to enjoy our Camino.
We did not want to suffer and be almost dead with heatstroke at the end of each stage, which is the state we found ourselves in.

My feet swelled to the point that my 7.5 shoe was too tight, and I generally wear a 5.5 or 6.

There is absolutely NO shade between Seville and Zafra except for a few short places, and there is literally no water. Even at Casa Forestal, the well was dry and the firemen were having to drive to town for water.

The Frances is not that busy and we´´re having a great time now.
Good decision for us!
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Yes, I can picture it - and I had no idea that the water ran out in the summer... It sounds just awful, alright, and based on the pretty warm temperatures we had in April/May, I can only imagine the heat! Yes, you did make a good (and safe) decision to get out of there and move up to more tolerable conditions.

Be well and buen camino.

lynne
 
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skilsaw

Veteran Member
I walked the Via de la Plata in April/May of 2006.
Agricultural fields were bare but the rangeland was a carpet of grass and spring flowers.
I was able to get by carrying 2 litres of water each day.
Started with 500mls when i woke up in the morning,
Drank one litre before noon. Drank the second litre in the afternoon,
Drank extra at cafes... mostly Coca-cola, mostly for the caffiene and sugar.
Drank another 500 mls water just before bed.

Temperatures were very manageable. I didn't have a thermometer to say how hot it was, but i was never uncomfortably hot.

It is a good, solitary journey in the Spring.
David, Victoria, Canada.
 
D

Deleted member 397

Guest
I avoid the CF,in my opinion it's crowded,commercialised and generally does not provide the challenge and isolation of the VDLP. I walked from Vezelayto SDC via the northern route but joined the dreaded CF at Arzua. I was walking with a basque man who walkd from San Sebastian and he was horrified/disgusted with the crass commercialism and crowds at Arzua. Over a dozen 'albergues',hotels,pensions and hostals-all full in early august so the sports stadium was opened and 200 pilgrims charged 3 euro for the priviledge of sleeping on the floor and having a cold shower.
Having said that the VDLP is becoming crowded. I walked it in 2006 and there were usually only 1 or 2 others in the albergues but last year and this year they were often full.
Of course there are less facilities on the vdlp-that's part of the challenge and appeal and rather than be babied on the CF where I think he maximum distance between bars is 17 kms.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
I have to agree. After walking the Madrid this spring, we finished by walking the CF from Sahagun to Santiago. We had walked the CF previously in 2005 and I could not believe how crowded and commercial it had become. I did not get the same feeling from it and felt as if it was a race, a hike, a tradition...(without much spirituality). I won't walk the CF a third time. There are lots of other routes out there where you can still be alone with your thoughts and prayers and yet meet up with other pilgrims from time to time. We walked the VDLP in 2007 and look forward to walking it for a second time in 2011. I can hardly wait! Having said that, I'm aware that some pilgrims love to walk the CF over and over. Again, our unique needs and experiences make this forum such a rich exchange from which we all learn and respect one another's experiences and opinions.

lynne
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
I guess I am lucky. I can walk the streets of Manhattan during rush hour and "still be alone with [my] thoughts and prayers."

How unreasonable is it to collect 600 Euro for opening a sports stadium for 200 persons overnight? I don't think it as unreasonable as, say, compensation for AIG executives. They could have let the pilgrims make do with the evening air. Cleaning up after 200 pilgrims is not on my favorite morning agenda.

I fail to see the crass commercialism of providing housing, food, and coffee for pilgrims. I guess I am lucky there as well; I thought they were being pretty hospitable working hard for a pittance in a seasonal business. I hope that Ivar's undertaking is not commercialism. I think I get full value from him, and do not view his baggage and travel service as exploitation.

Maybe I am some sort of New Age wavelength.
 
D

Deleted member 397

Guest
The basque man I was walking with for the last 4-5 days was un used to the crass commercialism of the CF-by the way that phrase and "overcrowded" were used time and time again on the northern route. He had the naive belief that albergue indiacted a facility run by the municipality or some such organisation run by, mostly, vounteers so he was surprised to find over a dozen in Arzua which had vacancies but were 'booked out'. He also felt that the financial benefit of pilgrims, which did not exist 20 years ago, should have out weighed charging 3 euros for a floor space in a sports stadium. He was wondering what an AIG executive was and why it was relevant to Arzua-I explained that AIG was one of the American companies under that fiscal heavyweight,George Bush, that caused the world wide financial crisis but that it was irrevelant in this context.
As a contrast places like Guemes were donation and actually attracted large contributions because of the atmosphere and ambience offered.
By the way,we reached Arzua late in the afternoon and found somewhere to stay and walked past over 60 pilgrims lined up outside the sports stadium- why didn't they try or accommodation?-another manifestation of the herd mentatility?
 
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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
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:
Over a dozen albergues in Arzua?????
Wow - things have changed in two years!
When I was there in in September 2007 there were 2 albergues (1 had an overflow to a sports hall) one family run hotel and a camp site.
Its getting almost medieval when some towns and villages had over 30 albergues.
 

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