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Walking the camino this summer - what route in 2-3 weeks?

pilgrimage2011

New Member
Dear forum,

I am so grateful for this website! Ever since I read Paolo Coelho's The Pilgrimage I've wanted to walk to Santiago de Compostela. I love the prospect of the physical challenge, and doing this by myself, as well as meeting inspiring people along the way.

I'm trying to plan it out for this summer, but as it turns out I only have from July 18th till August 6th, as my summer holiday does not start until the 18th of July and I'm teaching again on the 8th of August. I live in Amsterdam, so can leave Amsterdam on the 18th and have to be back there on the 6th of August.

Can I ask for your advice on the following:

- How and whereto can I best travel from Amsterdam to start the camino if I want to reach Santiago de Compostela in 2,5 weeks?;
- For me this is a spiritual journey, and I am therefore not looking to do anything specific as a tourist, but are there places or times I shouldn't miss?;
- What would be the estimated costs of walking the camino to Santiago for, say, 2,5 weeks (including overnight stays and food)?
- Do you have to plan the whole camino beforehand (like, make hostel reservations), or can you just start walking from your point of departure?;
- When they say it's crowded on Camino Frances in the summer months, what do they mean exactly?

Ok, that's all I can think of right now. Thank you so much!

All the best,
Pieternel
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
I would think that Leon would be your best option to start with the time you have. You would have travel time and a day or so in Santiago.
If you can finish the Pilgrimage next year you may want to consider starting from St. Jean and just walk as far as you can in the time you have.
Most important is to prepare by doing training with your pack.
The only reservation you will need is for the first night of where you decide to start. The rest of your Camino will just fall in place and you will have plenty of fellow Pilgrims to follow along with.

Others can advise on transportation.
I think (my opinion) that 30 euros a day budget would be adequate....a little more if you want to treat yourself to a hotel a couple of times. I assume you will elect to stay in albergues most of the time and they should average about 10 to 12 euros per night. The Pilgrim Menu at night in most areas runs about 10 euros on average.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004.SJPP-SdC-Finisterre)(1998-2012 completed in sections). Norte (2006.122km) Inglés (2009)
Municipal albergues in December 2010 were 5€ per night. Private albergues cost more.

30€ is a good guide.

Starting at SjPP and doing the Camino over three years is popular. Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Sahagun are big cities with good transport links to Europe.

If you think León is too tight a schedule, try Astorga, though you will face mountains on your first day.

The best advice I have been given is, walk at your own pace. If you rush you pick up injuries and you miss things you will regret not seeing or doing. In 1998 my companion insisted on walking to a plan and we walked through a village getting ready for a fiesta. I would have stopped, he wouldn't. I now walk solo.

If spirituality is important you will want to time to stop at churches and shrines and that adds to the day's journey. Some albergues are in churches and they should be stayed at if at all possible.

Mass is usually held daily, often at 19.00 CET. Some churches offer a pilgrim blessing and a sello as well. Factor that into your journey.

You have already laid out some principles. Is it vital to get to Santiago this year? If you feel you must get there then work out how far you can walk each day (remembering Galicia is hilly unlike Holland) and count backwards to your starting point.

The cathedral at León requires at least an hour of your time to explore and for prayer.

I strongly recommend you buy the CSJ guide to the Camino Francés, the link is on this site, as it gives you distances and albergues and hotels. It is updated annualy and is invaluable.

Start walking and reading and as you find more questions check this site because they are almost certainly already answered.

But, please feel free to ask specific questions, that is what the site is about.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004.SJPP-SdC-Finisterre)(1998-2012 completed in sections). Norte (2006.122km) Inglés (2009)
The church of Vilar de Donas which is 3km off the Camino is somewhere you must go.

You might think of stopping at Eirexe or Palas de Rei and then getting a taxi to the church, if you can, persuade others to come with you and share the cost.

I found three companions and we negiotated a flat fee for a trip to the church, the taxi waiting 40 minutes and then returning us to Eirexe.

If there are things off route that you want to see then do not be afraid to take a taxi and get it to return you to the pick up point. That way you will still walk the Camino and not feel afterwards that you should have not missed part of it.

If time starts to run out do not rush. Take transport to Sarria and walk the last 112km which will gain you the Compostella. If all goes well that should not be necessary, but it is worth remembering.

A couple of thoughts for you to take or leave as you feel. Hopefully others will add to this thread from their experience.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
The church of Vilar de Donas which is 3km off the Camino
There is a very nice 10-bed albergue on the Camino right at the intersection for the side trip to Vilar de Donas, and it will save you a taxi ride and from the awful albergue in Palas de Rei. It has two rooms and two showers, both with plenty of elbow room. The bar in front of the albergue serves caldo Gallego and other food, and is well patronized by the locals. The scarecrows in the adjacent field are a standard Kodak moment for pilgrims.

The church is open the usual uncertain Spanish hours. On a Sunday I walked over, and waited until mid-afternoon for it to open. The Knights Templar relics and the decaying wall paintings are very interesting.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004.SJPP-SdC-Finisterre)(1998-2012 completed in sections). Norte (2006.122km) Inglés (2009)
falcoln 269 is quite correct about the private albergue at the corner. I ate there is December 2010 and the owner's son in law, a policeman, spoke good English. The church opening hours are in the CSJ guide. I arrived too late to get to the church before it closed.

This albergue was closed in December and, as I have never stayed there, was hesitant to recommend it. Glad to hear a good report. Walking from there to Vilar without a rucksack is certainly a good option.

In December 2010 I found that the depressing albergue falcoln 269 talks about was closed. The good news is that a brand new municipal albergue, built opposite the sports hall, is now open. I didn't stay there because I wanted to get to Casanova but it looks very good. nb. the new albergue is before entering the town.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
If you want to do yourself a real favor, avoid Palas de Rei and stay here a few kilometers after the city:

http://www.everyoneweb.es/abrigadoiro/

The main building/bar has accommodations for large groups, but the owner has purchased and renovated the building across the street, which has smaller rooms, two beds in one room, four or six in another. Call ahead during the busy season, because it has become quite popular. The only food is at the owner's restaurant, but the meal cooked by his wife was great (and the usual reasonable price). The owner is a pilgrim and very hospitable.

And I have no objection to Palas de Rei; it has some nice eating places, and the hostal I have stayed in around the corner from the municipal albergue is quite nice and had several computer terminals at a reasonable price. But I found the albergue to be dumpy, dirty, noisy, crowded, and bed bug infested. None of those are ideal qualities in my mind. The other albergue, painted blue, has been closed every time I passed through. It is reported to be nicer.

Before reaching Palas de Rei, before even reaching the new albergue before the city, there is a nice restaurant at the top of the hill. You can get a "steak" and the lunch featured an asado that was delicious.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004.SJPP-SdC-Finisterre)(1998-2012 completed in sections). Norte (2006.122km) Inglés (2009)
Thank you for this info.

Staying here is on my list.

Whenever I re-walk a section I like to stay at different albergues and those that offer good food are high on my agenda. :D
 

virveb

New Member
I walked last year 12 days from León to Santiago de Compostela. That was a little too short time, had to walk too many times over 30 kilometer´s a day. If you have 2-3 weeks I would suggest you to start from León, spent a day there before starting to walk, and maybe couple days in Santiago after arriving there. I took a flight to Santander and then a bus to León and started to walk next day. Did not see much of the town. This year I will start from Roncesvalles (or Pamplona) and stop at León and will see the things I missed last time ;-). :D
 

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