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Walking without preparation and guidebooks, can you do it?

sus-anna

New Member
Hello!

I had planned to walk the Camino portuguese, when I suddenly realized I just Got! to walk Via de la Plata instead.

I have now bought myself a ticket to Sevilla and I'm leaving tomorrow morning 07.00 from Stockholm.

I got tired of planning my Portuguese trip and started to wonder if all this planning, and just to follow all my plans maps and whatever, would take away a lot of the experiece itself. One shold just walk and feel a bit lost, isn't that part of the trip, I thought. :)

Reasonably, I should be able to walk just following the signs. I guess I just have to pick my my Pilgrim pass at the Cathedral ( ?) and then start walking.
Am I mad or can I do it?
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
?
Hi!

Just go ahead. You're bound for a great adventure and pleasant times.

Just take it easy at first and roll with the punches.

Wish I was there...best of luck and god speed.

Ciao!
Jean-Marc
 
Camino(s) past & future
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
A few notes from my VDLP walk last August that might help yo

I walked the first 8 days from Seville in August.

The way is well-marked and the people are friendly and helpful.

There are some LONG stretches however, and I'd highly suggest you pick up a map in Seville when you get your Credential there. The office is helpful and has lists of alburges, or at least they did when I was there.

CARRY WATER. There are long stretches with NO WATER and NO VILLAGES on this road.

Here are a few notes from my few days on the Plata. I'd like to try this walk again, but NOT in the summer, which was nearly suicidal!

Guillena has a nice place called Bar Lolo. If they are serving caracolas, ORDER THEM. They are snails and are wonderful! They also have very good tapas there. If you get to the fountain in the middle of this town, you may not find water. That's because it is turned off. If you look to the side of the fountain base, you will see a steel plate which is loose. Move it aside and you can turn the fountain ON. Please turn it back off once you've filled up your water bottles. The alburgue here is in a sports center and is donativo. Do not leave valuables. There have been thefts. You can get the key in the bar next door.

Castiblanco has a great little alburgue for 5 Euro. We slept out on the veranda, which has great views. Right across the street and to the left is a little bar with wonderful food. For 8 Euro we got a dinner of:

Beer
Gaspacho
Stewed Goat (wonderful!)
Potatoes
Water
Bread

It is a long trek from here to Casa Forestal. When we arrived it was empty and locked up.There was NO WATER in the fountain. We slept under the stars on the tile veranda. Gorgeous views and sunrise. There was no place to buy food. I'd call ahead and make sure this place is open before you set out. Otherwise, carry plenty of food and water!

WARNING: When you get to Almaden, steer clear of a place called Bar Macias. The lady there cheated us. Made us pay twice for our food. We had no recourse because our Spanish was not good enough. We ordered our food and beers, paid her, then when we got ready to leave, she insisted we pay again. It was disheartening. She's one of the few bad eggs along the Way. It is a hard climb into Almaden, but beautiful. Lots of wild pigs along the way. The alburgue there is very nice and clean and is 5 Euro. They have a nice kitchen and laundry area. There is a note on the door. You have to call the number to be let into the alburgue or you can walk up the street to a lady's house and ask. There is a market here where you can buy food. We cooked pasta with mussel sauce. We didn't have oil, so we used mayonnaise, garlic, onion, mussels... it was delicious! I soaked stale bread in milk and used that to thicken the sauce. Amazing...

El Real de la Jara. We left Almaden about 6:30 and by 11:30 we arrived at the beginning of town. But you must walk all the way THROUGH town to the swimming pool to obtain the key, then walk all the way BACK to the alburgue which is right at the beginning of town. It's lovely! A little hobbit house with 2 bedrooms of 4 beds each. Small, so get there early. Has a microwave, but no kitchen that I recall. This place was 8 Euro. A pretty town.

Next day for us was Hell day. It took us 7.5 hours in the extreme heat to arrive in Monesterio, only to find no alburgue there anymore. Hostal Maya at the beginning of town is 40 Euro for a double, way out of our budget. We continued through town to Hostal Extremadura for 15 Euro with air conditioning! (12 without) It was nice, ensuite, with a tv. Nice to have a good rest. Dinner was a pilgrim platter for 7.50 euro in the Hostal.

We rested a day there. There is a lovely little Hermita there. The lady next door has a key and is happy to let you in to see it. The mass is at 9 pm if you're interested in attending.

There is a lovely place to eat here called the DF Cafeteria. The food was EXCELLENT and plentiful. We had

Salad
Soup
Pork Steak
Potatoes
Ice Cream
Wine

Que BUENO!

Fuente de Campos is the next place we walked. On this stretch you will cross a creek which may have water this time of year. It was bone dry when we crossed, and here is where we met an Angel of the Camino asking us "Quieres agua frio?" He took us into his house up on the hill, gave us water, peaches, and gaspacho. His name is Antonio Duran and he is an artist, a wood carver. The food and water gave me strength to make another 6 km.

We tried stopping at the Alburgue in Fuente, but it's not really an alburgue for Pilgrims and the guy at the desk was quite mean to us. So we walked on to Hostal Extremadura again (must be a chain) and bought a room for 38 Euro (ouch!)

It was here we made the decision to walk another route. We caught a bus to Leon. It was a difficult decision, but the lack of water was killing us.

I think you're smart to walk this route in the early spring.
I'd love to hear your notes, because I plan on attempting it again another year.

Buen Camino!
May God Walk With You!
Annie
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Well this is an adventure. You probably need to know something of the stages and where the albergues are so when you get to Sevilla go , if you can, to the off ice of the local Amigos and they will provide you with the information you need. Their office is just over the bridge to Triana
(almost on the route) at San Jancinto, No 25, portal 6, local 41010 Sevilla Tel: 954 335 274.

Let us know how you get on!

Buen Camino

John
 

sus-anna

New Member
Thanks to all of you!

I have now packed my bag and will take a nap before I'm going to the airport.

I will return when I find a wifi and tell how it's like.

I't will be a lot of rain I've heard so I guess no lack of water ;-)

Best wishes to everyone

Susanna
 

Hugh McMullan

New Member
:) I walked the Via de la Plata in 2008 and like you had no idea what to expect! The yellow arrows take some getting used to and with long distances between villages we landed in pueblos in siesta time a lot . In the smaller villages only usually one shop so stock up early. Also nothing happens in these remote villages on Sunday so prepare for a good rest day. Most villages have a library for your internet but opening times vary. The experience was amazing however and I plan to do it again this May. I walked in June/July in 2008 and temperatures often hit 40 degrees and above. So the advice about carrying as little s possible is spot on. After 5 days I ditched shorts/shirts/socks/my half read book my cup cutlery and plates and shampoo. Saved a few kilograms and made a big difference!
When I walked I teamed up with 2 other pilgrims and we were the only three pilgrims walking for 17 days. When we got to Embalse Alacantara the hospitelero told us he only expected 8 peregrinos in July as it is just to hot to walk. Any other advice I think of I will send again
hughie
 

sus-anna

New Member
I'm back home now and I did it!
The weather was everything from +20 and so much sunshine is was a torment, to snowstorm in the mountains. Lots of rain around Sevilla and in Galicia of course. Have never seen rain like that and never been so wet ever in my life (since I practised swimming with clothes on in a swimmin pool in school).

Finding the way: The problem is that these signs and yellow arrows are often hard to find so one has to spend lot of time to find the right way, when not following a guide book. Putting out the signs and arrows: that job was not well done in many places. I often lost my patience and walked on the road instead. The Camino was flooded and very wet on many places so that was often better.

I had very little things in my bag just clothes to change with, a sleeping bag, a towel, a toilet bag with everyting in small size, a raincoat and umbrella and a pair of sandals. My clothes were very lightweight things, my jacket and trousers dried after 10 minutes or so which I prefer as you cant avoid getting completely soaked anyway. That was less than 10% of my weight and then I had my walking sticks which took up 10% = great!
I walked in a pair of lightweight boots but it did not help me since they were often filled with water when it rained, then they were heavy anyway. Often I prefered to walk in my sandals wearing a pair of socks, and simply accept I was completely wet.

Many times there were 20 km or more between the villages and then one had to carry food and water etc, as there were no places to find water (or a loo) anywhere. Many days I just had biscuits and potato chips to eat as that was all that could be found.

The albergues were of very different standard. Some were with no heating and wet matresses for 10 euro, and so cold our breaths looked like white smoke ( Aljucen). Others were very stylish and comfortable for 5 euro (Zamora). Very difficult to dry the clothes and shoes because of the rain as the heating was not enough.

I also walked very long distances everyday, I liked it. I thought I would walk slowly and look at things but I found myself walking long, as fast as I could and I enjoyed being completely exhausted every evening.
The last days I felt more or less like an animal or something , just walking trying to find something to eat, whatever, trying to find somewhere to sleep, whatever would do as long as it had a roof. I would say the struggle with beeing wet, hungry, the uncomfortable and cold albergues took up most of my mind. I spent very little time doing something spiritual as I was occupied trying to survive. And most of the churches were closed anyway. But I have learnt to be grateful for little things.
Well that was my first Camino and I will do it again. :)
 

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