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When was your first Camino?

JohnLloyd

Author of "Go Your Own Way"
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés - SJPDP to SdC - Autumn 2018
Portugués - Porto to SdC - Spring 2019
Francés again - ASAP
After seeing photographs from @David Tallan from a 1989 Camino, I'm wondering how far back the communal history of the Camino stretches on this forum.

For those who walked before Coelho, MacLaine, Sheen and Kerkeling brought the Camino into a wider public consciousness, when did you first walk the Way, and how does it compare now?

What is the extent of our collective experience?
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
This should be an interesting thread to watch. I only began my yearly Camino's since 2015 but have already noticed a few changes during those few short years. The main one being that so many more walkers started booking ahead, not just with hotels, but private albergues began taking reservations on booking sites. On my last two camino's I was surprised to find out that even a few munis were allowing you to email and hold a spot for you that same night as long as you arrived by a set time. By 2019, I had carefully arranged all my lodging ahead of time to avoid unnecessary angst. It seems there has been more prebooking as walkers have increased expoentially each year. I do miss stopping impromptu for the night as the mood strikes, but since I usually walk with one to three others, it becomes more difficult to wing it.
I can only imagine the many changes others have seen who have been walking camino's for many years.
 

Pia Valbak Schmidt

Pilgrim, DK, Caminos 2007,09,11,12,13,14.15,16,18
Year of past OR future Camino
2007,2009,2011,2012,2013,2014.2015,2016,2018. Hospitalera 2012,2013,2014,2016,2017
This should be an interesting thread to watch. I only began my yearly Camino's since 2015 but have already noticed a few changes during those few short years. The main one being that so many more walkers started booking ahead, not just with hotels, but private albergues began taking reservations on booking sites. On my last two camino's I was surprised to find out that even a few munis were allowing you to email and hold a spot for you that same night as long as you arrived by a set time. By 2019, I had carefully arranged all my lodging ahead of time to avoid unnecessary angst. It seems there has been more prebooking as walkers have increased expoentially each year. I do miss stopping impromptu for the night as the mood strikes, but since I usually walk with one to three others, it becomes more difficult to wing it.
I can only imagine the many changes others have seen who have been walking camino's for many years.
First time 2007, the first part of Camino Francés 🍀 🍀🍀
 
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mike mcbroom

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francis June 17, 2015 ,Portagusee from Porto to Santiago August 2016, Francis may 2018 this year wil
After seeing photographs from @David Tallan from a 1989 Camino, I'm wondering how far back the communal history of the Camino stretches on this forum.

For those who walked before Coelho, MacLaine, Sheen and Kerkeling brought the Camino into a wider public consciousness, when did you first walk the Way, and how does it compare now?

What is the extent of our collective experience?
My first Camino was 2015. I agree that the biggest change is the need to book ahead
 

Roland49

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
My first was 2019! Just before I turned 50. SJPdP to SdC.
It turned out that this pilgrimage had a far deeper impact how I manage and see my life and the people I interact with.

I booked forward just for a single occasion on my CF. It is possible. After only a few days I know, that the Camino provides!

BC
Roland
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Past? Not enough.
Future? Sure!
CF 2001.

Heard about it from a woman at church.

Read both SM and PC before walking.

Ugh!

Terrified in Rabanal del Camino night before walking through Foncebadon as a result.

No cell phones.

Internet cafes were the places to be.
Aaaaah: Internet Cafes.... that was something.
My first steps on the Camino were on the Jakobsweg in Switzerland.
Two weeks in 2004 with wife and children (at this time 5 and 7).
But the first long run was in 2007, from Vézelay to Carrion de los Condes
And as @nycwalking wrote, internet cafés were the place to meet: old PC's, full of viruses, Spanish only...
But it was the only way to send some news to the family (out of phone calls, which were horrendously expensive).

Buen Camino,
Jacques-D.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
2012
A lot has changed in the way of what "pilgrimage" means for most people. :)
I would have to totally agree with you. When I first walked in 2012 (not very long ago) I don’t think there was baggage service or apps for Camino. Nobody except for the Korean young people were on their phones, most pilgrim meals were almost exactly the same wherever you went. I think more people walked “simple” caminos. I think it means no technology, no where near as much “state is the art” gear etc. I don’t remember hearing about Camino Families. I walked in late September and October on the CF. Of course much less crowded. But I think more people walked independently than now but you still had wonderful friendships as
You often ended up in the same towns and albergues on many nights. I remember most albergues were stricter about locking doors and lights out and silence at nightZ if I remember correctly almost every night people were in bed and silent by 9:30 or the latest 10.
Is my memory faded and tainted as I age none so gracefully? I do t know. It also seemed like I had more deep and wonderful conversations than I have now. Maybe I am romanticizing a myth in my brain, maybe I have gotten a little more introverted, maybe I walk quieter caminos, maybe I attract fewer people who want that kind of connection. Maybe it is true. I don’t know.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Aaaaah: Internet Cafes.... that was something.
My first steps on the Camino were on the Jakobsweg in Switzerland.
Two weeks in 2004 with wife and children (at this time 5 and 7).
But the first long run was in 2007, from Vézelay to Carrion de los Condes
And as @nycwalking wrote, internet cafés were the place to meet: old PC's, full of viruses, Spanish only...
But it was the only way to send some news to the family (out of phone calls, which were horrendously expensive).

Buen Camino,
Jacques-D.
That’s how I communicated with my kids. Email in the cafe and when those villages were equipped a Skype call.
 

jayree

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP to SdC 2012
Irun to Fisterra 2013
Shikoku 2015
CP 2016
One of the very early walkers was Jack Hitt in 1981 who walked from Arles to SdC. He briefly describes the Camino in 1981 and notes that 10 years later, when he walked a second time, the infrastructure was much improved. The interview is in episode 10 of Dave Whitson's Camino Podcast. Most know that the movie "The Way" was loosely based on Hitt's book "Off the Road." The link to the iTunes podcast is here

 

Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
I would have to totally agree with you. When I first walked in 2012 (not very long ago) I don’t think there was baggage service or apps for Camino. Nobody except for the Korean young people were on their phones, most pilgrim meals were almost exactly the same wherever you went. I think more people walked “simple” caminos. I think it means no technology, no where near as much “state is the art” gear etc. I don’t remember hearing about Camino Families. I walked in late September and October on the CF. Of course much less crowded. But I think more people walked independently than now but you still had wonderful friendships as
You often ended up in the same towns and albergues on many nights. I remember most albergues were stricter about locking doors and lights out and silence at nightZ if I remember correctly almost every night people were in bed and silent by 9:30 or the latest 10.
Is my memory faded and tainted as I age none so gracefully? I do t know. It also seemed like I had more deep and wonderful conversations than I have now. Maybe I am romanticizing a myth in my brain, maybe I have gotten a little more introverted, maybe I walk quieter caminos, maybe I attract fewer people who want that kind of connection. Maybe it is true. I don’t know.

Don't worry It56ny: you remember very well and I'm glad I'm not the only one. We walked with our rucksacks and made fun of the one who took taxi, bus, train, or had his backpack carried. Good times gone for ever :)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
First and still the most memorable Camino was in 2005, and although we did not walk as pilgrims, it was a deeply moving and spiritual experience.

We do not walk as pilgrims ....we just like long distance walking
Had never read anything about the C de S.Did not even have a mobile phone!
Set off without a clue of what it entailed.with just 4 little pages from some book or other, no rain gear so just as well there was a heatwave that year! No idea about caring for my feet so ended up with mucho blisters!
Never booked anything, just stopped when we got tired and mostly in albergues
After the first Camino we always stayed in pensions, sometimes booking, sometimes just chancing it. By then the CF had become very popular
By then, the MiamMiam DoDo book had become a staple for booking
We've never used Booking.com

Even then in 05 I remember a fair amount of people walking and this was the only Camino when we had a"Camino family" and so much fun and laughter
The CP in 07 also had a fair amount of people but again did not book
By then we'd caught the "bug" and walked a Camino almost every year after that.....sometimes 2 in a year

On The Chemin de St Jacque in 06 the accommodation was mainly Gites and hotels and we did book
Before 2010 we met very few pilgrims walking and often went days without meeting any.since then however the Norte, Primitivo and the VDLP have become very popular and the "albergue " infrastructure has much improved I believe

In 2017 I had prebooked Hostals for about 12 nights but due to an emergency had to return home on the 2nd day......had to cancel them all again!

With the Via Francigena we only met about 10 pilgrims the whole time ...sometimes booking and other times just taking a chance.
One night we arrived in some town with every room booked for a fiesta!!
Bless the local church warden, she opened up a room for 6 of us!!

Our last 2 ...the San Salvidor (our favourite) and the Invierno, we pre booked everything......getting too old for the hassle of just taking a chance! And even in 18 and 19 there were very few pilgrims walking these two....perhaps mainly because the "albergue" infrastructure is not as developed as the CF.
hopefully, this is a work in progress.

Now just hoping to walk The Camino Ingles when safe to do so
After that....
The "Bug"isn't biting as much as it used to so who knows!!
 

FourSeasons

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
del Norte (July/August 2019)
September 2013 for me. I traveled from Idaho, USA to SJPdP in one travel day. In Bayonne they hooked up another car for the train and finally in SJPdP we stood in line at 20:30 hours all electrified bouncing off of each other with excitement. Little did I know my Camino family was being created in that magical moment.

The volunteers at the pilgrims office were so fun and helpful as they searched for beds for most of us. I stayed in an attic above an alburgue with an Irishman named Neil and a hole in the roof. Not a bad start and in the true spirit of the Camino. Some of us went to dinner, I took a shower and crawled into bed, late.

I started out late as well. 9:30 AM 😬 Arriving in Roncesvillas as the bells tolled 19:00 hours. I was assigned one of the last beds in the ancient overflow building. I was so green my nickname became Peregreenga. 🤣

I had no cell phone and remember inserting a euro to get spotty at best internet service at a cafe, a place some of us would gather to wait our turn as we sent our weekly emails back home. I didn’t discover cafe con letche until further down the way. What a shame. Instead, I would buy one of those small cups out of those vending machines just to get my motor running. Oh the good ol days. Hahahaha. I walked every single step with only one rest day. I stayed in alburgues all the way. No need to book ahead, I didn’t even know how to. Several times I got the last bed in the alburgue. 🙂 Magic, pure Camino magic. A few Camino Angels paid me a visit as well.

My first will always be my best and most loved Camino. I’ve walked two other Camino’s, three years apart from one another with so many changes in such a short time. I most likely will not walk from Sarria to Santiago again. 2019 left me weeping along that section. Too much noise, too little respect for what the Camino once was/is.

I do plan on going again, God willing. As most of you know, we can’t ignore the call of the Camino, nor would we want to. 😉 🥰
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
That’s how I communicated with my kids. Email in the cafe and when those villages were equipped a Skype call.
Internet cafes!!
We could not use them in 2005
We were still at the phone box along the way stage!!
Always carried lots of change!
Even now the "smartphone! Is wasted on us and definitely smarter!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Caminos Francais: 2002, 2012, 2019. (Future Ingles, Primitivo, Portuguese in 2021)
April-May 2002! My inspirations began with in the Chelsea Library and a 1994 read of On Pilgrimage (Jennifer Lash) and, later, Shirley MacLaine's martyr-like experiences; in reflection, I'd been receiving many "nudges" from my inner knowing that, in perfect timing, I would be drawn this Way. (Not, oddly, Paul Coehlo, but every Brazilian I encountered in 2002 was on the Camino thanks to his book.) Later, from Coorado Springs, I borrowed a rare English-language copy of Dutch author Cees Nooteboom's Roads to Santiago; less "how to" and more "be inspired by" and still a wonderful read. The London office of the Friends of the Camino dispatched their annually updated Camino Francais guide and a Camino pin wrought from pewter leavings washed up from the Thames. My son, unaware I was in "Camino dreaming", had gifted me a CD of "Chant"; sadly, my Burgos arrival coincided with a Province holiday and no bus to the monastery to be had. (Still on my bucket list.) REI had nary a clue as to the Camino and my gear was a grab bag of sale items, monstrous (and later donated) Lady Scarpas, a surprisingly effective if overladen Kelty, a woefully useless REI sleeping sack and no walking poles. My physical prep for a 50-something desk bound admin to walk across Spain was a fiasco; blisters by Larrasoanna. (FYI: I went down two dress sizes and lost 12-14 pounds.) The American Pilgrims quarterly was, I think, a multi-page issue, long on academia and short on eat-sleep-route advice. I seemed to be only person in Colorado headed to a Camino.

So why 2002? On my birthday, 27 February, I open a bequest from a loving Catholic aunt for $2500. By April 7th, I had quit my job, sold every stick of furniture, garaged my car, and, bearing prayers to be read in Santiago from eye-rolling family and bemused co-workers, I was staring from the window of a Pamplona-bound train at a landscape adrift in April snow surrounded by four grumpy St Louis "church lady" pilgrims who seemed unaccountably upset I was venturing forth rich with naive enthusiasm onto the Camino ... alone. When I stepped off the Pamplona bus and stared into the dusk at a gloomy loom of the massive Roncesvalles Abbey, I clasped the hands of a new Camino friend, we thought we had arrived at Dracula's castle. And so it goes. My fourth Camino awaits in Autumn 2021.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
My first Camino, as mentioned above, was in 1989. I was living in Madrid at the time and started in Roncesvalles, which was a fairly common staring point for the Spanish. I did not walk the whole way. A little by bus. A fair amount of hitchhiking. And the rest walking. The first Camino I walked the whole way was my second, in 2016.

That was one of the differences. In the 1980s there were certainly pilgrims who were walking the Camino, but it wasn't as assumed as it is today. There were also plenty of people who were driving it. In preparing to write this post, I pulled out a couple of booklets on the Way to Santiago published by Spain's Tourism Secretariat, one from 1977 and one from 1987. (If people want, I can see about scanning these into PDFs and uploading them.) The one from 1977 clearly assumes that the reader is driving along the Way. Rather than saying where the paths and water fountains are, it says which roads one should take and where gas stations are. The one from 1987 is a little more ambiguous. It is mostly talking about the historic route and the villages and sights along it, but it does so in the context of the modern roads to be useful to drivers. When I was hitchhiking, I got several rides from people who were driving to Santiago, from Germany or Italy.

That said, there were still people walking to Santiago and something of an infrastructure for it, although much less of one. There were credencials. Mine, that I got in Roncesvalles, was from Los Amigos del Camino de Santiago in Estella. They had created these for pilgrims leaving Roncesvalles and Jaca and intended, eventually, to have them for each point on the Camino. It was an 8.5x11" piece of card stock, folded in half. The front page was for the stamp from Roncesvalles. Inside were places for stamps from Viscarret, Pamplona, Puente la Reina, Estella, Logroño, Najera, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, San Juan de Ortega, Burgos, Fromista, Vilcazar de Sirga, Sahagun, Leon, Astorga, Rabanal del Camino, and Ponferrada. On the back, were more spaces for stamps from Villafranca del Bierzo, Centreiro, Triacastela, Sarria, Portomarin, and Palas de Rey. At the end, it exhorts: HERRU SANCTIAGU, GOT SANCTIAGU, E ULTREYA E SUSEIA, DEUS ADIUVA NOS. ALELUYA!!!

There were guidebooks, but not many. The ubiquitous Brierley wasn't around yet. I didn't have one when I started but somewhere along the way I picked up the tall paperback Everest guide (in Spanish) by Don Elias (who is known for having started the yellow arrows). I also picked up a smaller hardcover Everest guide (in English translation) by Eusebio Goicoechea Arrondo. The latter has an appendix listing the hotels, restaurants and service stations along the route. There were albergues, but not nearly as many of them and they tended to be in old schoolhouses, gyms, or religious institutions. The guidebooks didn't assume one was staying in these accommodations and tended to list the hotels/pensions/etc. ahead of them, I guess with the assumption that if one could afford a room in a hostal, that would be preferred tot he floor of a gym. I wasn't trying to stay in the albergues at the time. One accommodation story that has always stuck with me took place in O Cebreiro. There was no albergue then. Pilgrim accommodation in O Cebreiro was in one of the thatched-roof pallozas. There was a number to call, but I didn't have a phone. There was one inn (San Giraldo de Aurillac, a 2-star establishment). There were no rooms available, but as I was a pilgrim, the proprietor let me unroll my sleeping bag in front of the fireplace and sleep there. I never felt more like a medieval pilgrim.

The route was fairly well marked. There were regular road signs all along identifying the road as the Camino and giving the distance to Santiago. I particularly noticed the one in Viana, which was 666 km from Santiago, which I took a picture of. They also already had pavement markings in towns to show the Camino. The one in Santo Domingo de la Calzada was particularly ornate.

There were a lot less pilgrims. In 1989 only about 5,000 Compostelas were handed out (I wasn't seeking one). Although I identified as a pilgrim, I wasn't really staying at the free pilgrim accommodations, so I wasn't meeting a lot of other walking pilgrims to comment knowledgeably on the pilgrim community at the time. I have a friend who walked from Arles via Saint Jean Pied de Port a year later in 1990. (Yes, I know that people walking from Arles traditionally walk along the Aragones through Somport, and so did he, but he wanted to pass through SJPP.) He reports that there were 4 or 5 other pilgrims he saw regularly. From his accounts, it sounds much like what one would expect to encounter on one of the much less travelled Caminos today.
 
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jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I heard about the Camino in the Fall of 2009. I set off from SJPdP on March 23rd 2010 with 13 other people on the Napoleon route (no restrictions at that time) also no snow until very top. Roncesvalles Accommodation was in the old stone building down the hill from Monastery. There were 250/125 bunk beds all in one big room. There were 6 showers downstairs. Overflow were put in trailers. It was an interesting night. There were very few people with electronics and minimal Private accommodations along the way and the only washing machines I saw were in big cities ie: SDdC, Burgos, Leon, Pamplona etc.. I did not meet another American on the entire 32 day walk. Met lots a great people along the way whom I share many fond memories with still today.

After walking several other Camino's, I decided to walk the Frances again in 2017. I left on April 11th with over 300 other Pilgrims. I walked the Val Carlos route this time. When I got to Roncesvalles it was like a zoo. So many people that I just kept walking to Espinal, another 7km's. Between SJPdP, I met 7 Americans. I had a hard time finding accommodation in Espinal. When I told the operator of a restaurant/ bar/private albergue I was 66 and was going to just take out my sleeping bag and sleep on the floor, he found a bed for me. There was plenty of Private accommodation along the route and I never had to call ahead for accommodation. Everyone had electronics and there were washing machines in many places. This walk only took 26 days. Mostly, because I did not walk with a Camino family and walked some long days.

I imagine for those who walked pre-21st century it was dramatically different.

Looking forward to a 2021 Camino or maybe two!!

Ultreya,
Joe
 
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kaylfrazer

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Roncesvalle-SDC (2001), SJPP-SDC(2003), Le Puy - SJPP (2011)
I first walked in 2001. I was there during 9 /11. People I met along they way told that that I should have been there 10 years earlier when it was less crowed and less commercial. I had only one night sleeping on the floor. I went for several days without meeting anyone who spoke English. Although I loved almost every minute of the way, I knew that I would not become a camino junkie like some of those I met. When I got to Santiago, I stayed at the Seminario and the next morning the Brazilian woman in the bed next to me started packing to walk on the Finisterre.. and realising that I could not go on was like being punched in the stomach. After 3 Caminos I still dream of returning, although that is now unlikely for a number of reasons. I am just profoundly grateful for the caminos that I have walked and wonderful people I met along the way, some of whom are now lifelong friends
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances. 2001
Via de la plata 2008
Arles -Piemonte-Frances-Cee 2014
(Bastan-Francés) 2019
I discovered the Camino in 1997 when I walked a couple of sections. But I had no credential.
I remember a pilgrim lodging just west of Sarita where I had a nice meal. I spoke no Spanish and thought I had communicated that I was walking on the track that was the Camino. The host was a very nice lady that evidently thought I was really a pilgrim and was VERY disappointed in me when I was picked up by a car with a woman in it. I returned to a nice hotel in Saria with my wife and the idea maybe there was something I was missing about this trail. And what was with all those yellow arrows?
When I returned in 2001 to walk “the whole camino “ the rumor was that there was a a lady who would determine if you were sufficiently spiritual before she would issue your credential. (That was not true but I let the priest that I was going to walk with do the talking. )
Many years and about 4500 kilometers later I’m still hooked on this camino.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Ingles 2018
Qusetion to those who did walk say more than 15 years ago, I know the numbers have spiked but, was it more enjoyable and had a sense of doing something very different without all the technology with apps for this and that and more high end clothing and equipment that appears to be norm nowdays?
Although I am a Camino rookie, I do date back to backpacking with a Lonely Planet guide that was 30 plus years ago and l remember feeling seriously distant from home.
I still prefer a Brierly or Wise Pilgrim book than an app, I need something real on the bookshelf alongside the Lonely Planet books when I get home, memories.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
2001. From SJPDP to SdC.

No pre-booking, unsupported walk-up pilgrims only accepted in refugios (then called), no luggage carriers, no mobile phones, no accommodation between Huntto and Roncesvalles on the Napoleon, mostly dirt paths (very few "improvements") but sometimes walking on busy roads was unavoidable, often only cold showers, far fewer pilgrims, sometimes terribly uncomfortable beds but no bedbug experiences of which I was aware, few "pilgrim menu" meals at restaurants (we ate at lunchtime or catered for ourselves as the normal Spanish dinner starting at 10pm was too late to get back to the refugios before the door was shut), far less choice with accommodation, on arriving at SdC we could go straight into the Cathedral with our backpacks on, put our hands directly on the Portico of Glory, and hug the Saint.
 

FourSeasons

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
del Norte (July/August 2019)
2001. From SJPDP to SdC.

No pre-booking, unsupported walk-up pilgrims only accepted in refugios (then called), no luggage carriers, no mobile phones, no accommodation between Huntto and Roncesvalles on the Napoleon, mostly dirt paths (very few "improvements") but sometimes walking on busy roads was unavoidable, often only cold showers, far fewer pilgrims, sometimes terribly uncomfortable beds but no bedbug experiences of which I was aware, few "pilgrim menu" meals at restaurants (we ate at lunchtime or catered for ourselves as the normal Spanish dinner starting at 10pm was too late to get back to the refugios before the door was shut), far less choice with accommodation, on arriving at SdC we could go straight into the Cathedral with our backpacks on, put our hands directly on the Portico of Glory, and hug the Saint.
And that was only 20 years ago. 😥 20 years. I fear the world is moving too fast.
 
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jayree

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP to SdC 2012
Irun to Fisterra 2013
Shikoku 2015
CP 2016
David Gitlitz walked the Camino in 1974. Below is an excerpt of the experience.

"In 1974 the pilgrimage road was essentially an undeveloped echo of an ancient past. The traditional routes had not been mapped or marked, there was no support system of hostels, and, in fact, the majority of villages along the old "French" and "Roman" roads had no lodgings or restaurants whatsoever. Villagers along the route, astonished to see living pilgrims, offered the group their hospitality. They slept on rectory floors, haylofts, schools, the visiting rooms of cloistered convents. Once they kipped down in a barn on fresh-strewn straw; the owner told them that local lore said that in the village it was her family that had traditionally lodged pilgrims, although, she confessed, they hadn't actually seen one for generations. They studied the churches and castles, and attended mass with the village priest. That summer Davidson, Gitlitz, and the students, accompanied by an engaging friar from Roncesvalles, painted the first arrows on the Navarran segments of the Camino."

More info at
 

camino07

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
First Camino from St Jean in2007 for my 60th year. No need to book, no pack transport ,no mobile phone. Collected coins to use the blue phones in bars to keep in touch with my family in Australia.
I have walked various Caminos every year since. I remember a big influx of Americans after "the Way" came out and a similar jump in Germans after Hape Kerkeling's book. At first I walked from beginning of May or September but now I tend to go April or late September. Massive increase in bag transport but still like to carry mine. Who knows what I will be like after this Covid break though.
I have seen the demise of internet cafes and places from where you could phone home easily. Now I am very happy to have my smart phone. There is more and more need to reserve in advance but usually only the day before apart from cities.
I'm an addict and can't wait for our international flights to start again. heard today that it may not be until 2022. Scream!!…..I'm getting older as I write .:rolleyes:
 

JohnLloyd

Author of "Go Your Own Way"
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés - SJPDP to SdC - Autumn 2018
Portugués - Porto to SdC - Spring 2019
Francés again - ASAP
My first Camino, as mentioned above, was in 1989. I was living in Madrid at the time and started in Roncesvalles, which was a fairly common staring point for the Spanish. I did not walk the whole way. A little by bus. A fair amount of hitchhiking. And the rest walking. The first Camino I walked the whole way was my second, in 2016.

That was one of the differences. In the 1980s there were certainly pilgrims who were walking the Camino, but it wasn't as assumed as it is today. There were also plenty of people who were driving it. In preparing to write this post, I pulled out a couple of booklets on the Way to Santiago published by Spain's Tourism Secretariat, one from 1977 and one from 1987. (If people want, I can see about scanning these into PDFs and uploading them.) The one from 1977 clearly assumes that the reader is driving along the Way. Rather than saying where the paths and water fountains are, it says which roads one should take and where gas stations are. The one from 1987 is a little more ambiguous. It is mostly talking about the historic route and the villages and sights along it, but it does so in the context of the modern roads to be useful to drivers. When I was hitchhiking, I got several rides from people who were driving to Santiago, from Germany or Italy.

That said, there were still people walking to Santiago and something of an infrastructure for it, although much less of one. There were credencials. Mine, that I got in Roncesvalles, was from Los Amigos del Camino de Santiago in Estella. They had created these for pilgrims leaving Roncesvalles and Jaca and intended, eventually, to have them for each point on the Camino. It was an 8.5x11" piece of card stock, folded in half. The front page was for the stamp from Roncesvalles. Inside were places for stamps from Viscarret, Pamplona, Puente la Reina, Estella, Logroño, Najera, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, San Juan de Ortega, Burgos, Fromista, Vilcazar de Sirga, Sahagun, Leon, Astorga, Rabanal del Camino, and Ponferrada. On the back, were more spaces for stamps from Villafranca del Bierzo, Centreiro, Triacastela, Sarria, Portomarin, and Palas de Rey. At the end, it exhorts: HERRU SANCTIAGU, GOT SANCTIAGU, E ULTREYA E SUSEIA, DEUS ADIUVA NOS. ALELUYA!!!

There were guidebooks, but not many. The ubiquitous Brierley wasn't around yet. I didn't have one when I started but somewhere along the way I picked up the tall paperback Everest guide (in Spanish) by Don Elias (who is known for having started the yellow arrows). I also picked up a smaller hardcover Everest guide (in English translation) by Eusebio Goicoechea Arrondo. The latter has an appendix listing the hotels, restaurants and service stations along the route. There were albergues, but not nearly as many of them and they tended to be in old schoolhouses, gyms, or religious institutions. The guidebooks didn't assume one was staying in these accommodations and tended to list the hotels/pensions/etc. ahead of them, I guess with the assumption that if one could afford a room in a hostal, that would be preferred tot he floor of a gym. I wasn't trying to stay in the albergues at the time. One accommodation story that has always stuck with me took place in O Cebreiro. There was no albergue then. Pilgrim accommodation in O Cebreiro was in one of the thatched-roof pallozas. There was a number to call, but I didn't have a phone. There was one inn (San Giraldo de Aurillac, a 2-star establishment). There were no rooms available, but as I was a pilgrim, the proprietor let me unroll my sleeping bag in front of the fireplace and sleep there. I never felt more like a medieval pilgrim.

The route was fairly well marked. There were regular road signs all along identifying the road as the Camino and giving the distance to Santiago. I particularly noticed the one in Viana, which was 666 km from Santiago, which I took a picture of. They also already had pavement markings in towns to show the Camino. The one in Santo Domingo de la Calzada was particularly ornate.

There were a lot less pilgrims. In 1989 only about 5,000 Compostelas were handed out (I wasn't seeking one). Although I identified as a pilgrim, I wasn't really staying at the free pilgrim accommodations, so I wasn't meeting a lot of other walking pilgrims to comment knowledgeably on the pilgrim community at the time. I have a friend who walked from Arles via Saint Jean Pied de Port a year later in 1990. (Yes, I know that people walking from Arles traditionally walk along the Aragones through Somport, and so did he, but he wanted to pass through SJPP.) He reports that there were 4 or 5 other pilgrims he saw regularly. From his accounts, it sounds much like what one would expect to encounter on one of the much less travelled Caminos today.
Where there Little Yellow Arrows then?
 
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John Brierley Camino Frances Guide
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JohnLloyd

Author of "Go Your Own Way"
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés - SJPDP to SdC - Autumn 2018
Portugués - Porto to SdC - Spring 2019
Francés again - ASAP
There are some fascinating insights here.

Already, I am detecting a close parallel between the Camino and one of my other great loves, the Glastonbury Festival here in the UK.

That festival started in 1970, inspired by Woodstock and quickly gained a reputation as a counter-culture event, largely attended by people who wanted to experience "alternative lifestyles" or just lie in farmland fields listening to music for a summer weekend.

Over the years, it has grown ever larger and more mainstream, until it was televised live from 1997 onwards.

It's now as big a part of the UK's summer TV schedule as Wimbledon, with the nation glued to all the big acts as they perform on the Pyramid Stage.

I've been going since before the televised age and I've been to 20 Glastonburys altogether, so I've seen how it's expanded from three or four stages to more than a hundred performance spaces over a 700-acre site, and from a weekend event to very nearly a full week of almost non-stop cultural expression for the entertainment of a quarter of a million people.

Unsurprisingly, there are varied opinions about the character of the festival as it has grown up and grown outwards.

sign-NRG01.jpg

Some welcome the changes, while others mourn the supposedly "lost spirit" of the counter-culture days.

Glastonbury does not feature the same level of crass commercialism seen at other festivals, turning down corporate sponsorship from big brands, and actually donating seven-figure sums to three charities from the takings, but still there are many who wish they could take the festival back to its origins.

So it seems it is with the Camino.

Before the internet, and before it was popularised on the big screen, it clearly had a different character.

But we cannot turn back the clock.

Just as I might think that there's a section of the Glastonbury crowd who could be more thoughtful about their experience, rather than simply hedonistic and hectic, that surely applies to our views of the Camino experience too.

Time and progress change everything.

But the Camino and Glastonbury still share a common truth and character.

Here, people from all over the world come together and discover another way of life for a while.

It's up to us what we do with that experience when we return home again.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
I’m another 2012, but not because I’d seen “The Way” - although I did watch it, enthralled, before I left. I retired at 66 in 2011, and I think the discovery of the Camino saved me from what might otherwise have been a somewhat bleak outlook in retirement.

I feel very nostalgic about that first VdlP. I actually discovered it after watching Ridley Scott’s 1492 film that included a cathedral scene with a botafumeiro. I did some research on google, and stumbled on Santiago and the pilgrimage.

I knew very little about it. My family were bemused, concerned or horrified. The only guide book I had was a freebie given to me by the Amigos in Seville. I remember their encouragement with immense gratitude. I certainly didn’t know this forum. I only interacted with about 10 pilgrims the whole way, most of whom did not speak English. In many albergues I was alone - it was June and hot.

Nevertheless, for me, although at the time it was a formidable physical and mental challenge, it was intensely spiritual. My parish priest gave me special pilgrim blessing the day before I left. My first pilgrim mass was intensely emotional.

I’m probably atypical having started my Camino life with the VdlP. I chose it because I had the opportunity to visit my brother in southern Portugal before leaving from Sevillle: he’s the one who was horrified.
 

Dromengro

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP - Leon 1984
Frances (2021)
1984 was my first and last pilgrimage along the Way of St James via the Frances.
I have no idea how I found out about it, pre internet days and of course no forums to find out anything beforehand, but somehow I found myself in SJPdP. I felt a bit uneasy as there was a lot of Basque ETA grafitti and flags and I had to get off the train on the way because of a bomb threat, it reminded me a lot of Northern Ireland.
After a bad start at the "the old woman's house" which is now the Pilgrims Office, where I had somehow learnt that I must visit to get her blessing, which I did not receive, quite the opposite. I headed off and after after a daylong detour the wrong way, eventually walked over the hills to Roncesvalles and into Spain, where a military border patrol gave me a bar of chocolate.
I carried no guidebook, I don't think there were any then, but did have a Michelin road map of Spain. These days of course the route is well marked with arrows, large information signs and concrete waymarkers with Scallop shells, but I made my way west by following the few yellow hidden markers and mostly guesswork (why did they choose yellow in a land of yellow stubble fields, yellow rocks, yellow houses, yellow post boxes and post vans, even most of the dogs are yellow), I'm not sure if I followed the exact route, or even knew that there was a particular path, as much of it seemed to be along roadsides.
I wild camped with a flysheet, though usually just slept below the stars, in the hot dry August weather. I carried no special equipment, just an old canvas ex German army rucksack , cotton shorts, a couple of shirts and sued crepe soled desert boots, I bought a goatskin bota bag to carry water, which I refilled where I could from the village fountains, where locals would also come to fill their pans, possibly out of curiosity to find out who the gringo was bathing in it. I don't know if albergues existed then or not, as I would not have been able to afford them. I had heard about refugios that were for real Pilgrims, but after my experience with the old woman who forbid me to walk her route I didn't seek them out and met no other Pilgrims. I knew nothing about sellos or that you even got a compostela once reaching Santiago. Most villages looked run down or semi deserted and shops were hard to find, usually closed and often little more than a spare room of a house, with hams and salami hanging from the ceilings, and found it difficult to find things that I could make a meal from without cooking. I couldn't afford to eat in Cafes or Bars, so don't really remember seeing them, except for one where the bar was part of a cow barn, with the cows looking over the wooden partition into the bar. I met few if anyone who spoke much English but they were friendly and often came over and shook my hand and occasionally pressed money in to it, some shops refused payment, once also in a fancy restaurant where I ate because I couldn't find a shop, unfortunately the dogs were not so friendly and I soon learnt to carry a stick.
Although I didn't reach Santiago but only got as far a Leon, mainly due to the extreme heat I'm glad that I experienced it before the infrastructure which I've read about since discovering this site and I was hoping to return last year to see the many changes and meet some "real" pilgrims for myself as I can not imagine what it must be like now with, internet, phones, gps, yellow arrows,waymarkers, scallop shells, guide books, information boards, pilgrim graffiti, albergues, pilgrim menus, atms, supermarkets, laundromats, showers, pilgrim tours, baggage transfers, bed races and bedbugs. It seems so busy .
 
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John Brierley Camino Frances Guide
This guide is one of the ones that has been around for over 15 years. Updated yearly. Please read the reviews.
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
2006. Free internet access in every albergue/refugio across all of Castilla and Leon. Contacted Meindl to tell them about a hole in the lining of the heel of my right shoe. Upon my return home, continued the conversation,... got a new pair of shoes. Superlatives I could use aplenty, but suffice it to say it was an achievement I would never have attempted alone. Since then, many more kilometres walked, a few lovely camino experiences. Another one waiting in the wings. Photos taken with disposable cameras!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Where there Little Yellow Arrows then?
Yes. They started in 1984. They were the creation of Don Elias (the author of the Spanish-language guidebook) who was the parish priest in O Cebreiro and one of the leading figures in the revival of the Camino. He passed away in 1989, the year I first walked, so he didn't get to see the fruits of all his labour.

The story is that he was given some surplus paint from the Spanish Department of Highways and that's why the arrows are yellow.
 

JohnLloyd

Author of "Go Your Own Way"
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés - SJPDP to SdC - Autumn 2018
Portugués - Porto to SdC - Spring 2019
Francés again - ASAP
Yes. They started in 1984. They were the creation of Don Elias (the author of the Spanish-language guidebook) who was the parish priest in O Cebreiro and one of the leading figures in the revival of the Camino. He passed away in 1989, the year I first walked, so he didn't get to see the fruits of all his labour.

The story is that he was given some surplus paint from the Spanish Department of Highways and that's why the arrows are yellow.
Yes, I read about him in my Brierley when I arrived in O Cebreiro, and tipped my hat in grateful thanks.

I wonder what he would make of the Camino now.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Oh, and a couple more significant differences from my 1989 Camino.

No Internet. No cell phones. My communication with home was by post cards.

Prices were in pesetas rather than euros. Everything was cheaper then. I remember when I arrived in Santiago I was offered a room by a little old lady on the street. It wasn't a big room, but it was a single, a room to myself. It cost 200 or 300 pesetas ($2 or $3 Canadian, less in USD). That was notably cheap, even then.
 

Michael; Camino-addicted

Take your time to enjoy a beautiful moment
Year of past OR future Camino
A few Caminos
Next plan - Camino de Baztan
My first Way of St. James began at the shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne Cathedral in 2004. Then I went on in several annual stages through France and Spain and in 2011 I reached Santiago for the first time.

At the beginning I was in my early 30s and thought I was physically unbeatable - until I crawled up the stairs after dinner on the first evening.
So I learned very early how it is better not to do it - I remember the pain as if it were yesterday.

This first Camino week ended in Luxembourg
Especially in France (cross-country from the border to Vezelay and then the Via Lemovicensis) the way was a great challenge, but the enormous friendliness of the French turned it into a very great gift.
I myself speak only ten words of French and when it comes to France and foreign languages, there are very big prejudices in Germany, but I can only praise our neighbors again and again for their great helpfulness.

That was a good foretaste of what I have been experiencing ever since. Regardless of whether you speak a common language, with a little good will, every encounter with another pilgrim can become a great enrichment.

Since then, I was on different Caminos almost every year.

Many things have changed - I have changed.

Some changes I like, some not.

But it is and remains my dream to walk the 2,500 or so kilometers someday from my front door to Santiago in one big pilgrimage.
 
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gns

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First 2016
Latest Camino Frances Jul-Aug 2020
I am a real latecomer walking from Salamanca in 2016.

I gather King Alfonso thinks the Camino has gone downhill terribly since he did it.

Over all I think it can only be a good thing if more people benefit from doing something that we all think is worthwhile even if it means that the atmosphere is somewhat different.

I was put off doing the Camino Frances by the numbers and couldn't really see what the fuss was about. However, when I did it in August last year I realised how special it is, with endlessly varied sights and experiences, and a clear sense of progress through the landscape. A Spanish peregrino who walked with us did say that 2020 felt like his first camino in 2003, with the lower numbers and less litter.

For those who would like to experience a "throwback" Camino there is always the Camino Torres. I saw no one walking for the first week and as far as Ciudad Rodrigo there are only basic albergues provided by the villages on the way.
 
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Barbara

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
2000 or 2001, i forget which but will check, cycling from home in Central France. First Pilgrim accommodation at St Jean d'Angely, and I had a guide to the. Tours route from the Confraternity of. St James. I used a homemade Credential a far as Roncevaux where they issued me a proper one. The old woman at St Jean was called Mme Debril if I remember rightly and was very pleasant to me. She gave me a list of places to stay and some route advice, which together with a Michelin map of Spain got me to Santiago.
I left home in October and it rained. A lot. I remember stepping out of a phone box in. Dax after calling the place i wanted to stay (Centre Jean Paul II) where I had left a pool of water on the floor practically deep enough to swim in. Crossing the border into Spain was done in thick fog with at the same time driving rain and wind so strong I walked pushing the bike on the descent to Roncevaux, where I stayed in a very large dorm smelling of wet wool and even wetter pilgrims. I don't think i got everything dry before i got to Santiago. I didn't see Galicia at all as it rained all day most days. It was a fantastic experience. Next Camino was the Norte and Primitivo from Le Puy.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
1984 was my first and last pilgrimage along the Way of St James via the Frances.
I have no idea how I found out about it, pre internet days and of course no forums to find out anything beforehand, but somehow I found myself in SJPdP. I felt a bit uneasy as there was a lot of Basque ETA grafitti and flags and I had to get off the train on the way because of a bomb threat, it reminded me a lot of Northern Ireland.
After a bad start at the "the old woman's house" which is now the Pilgrims Office, where I had somehow learnt that I must visit to get her blessing, which I did not receive, quite the opposite. I headed off and after after a daylong detour the wrong way, eventually walked over the hills to Roncesvalles and into Spain, where a military border patrol gave me a bar of chocolate.
I carried no guidebook, I don't think there were any then, but did have a Michelin road map of Spain. These days of course the route is well marked with arrows, large information signs and concrete waymarkers with Scallop shells, but I made my way west by following the few yellow hidden markers and mostly guesswork (why did they choose yellow in a land of yellow stubble fields, yellow rocks, yellow houses, yellow post boxes and post vans, even most of the dogs are yellow), I'm not sure if I followed the exact route, or even knew that there was a particular path, as much of it seemed to be along roadsides.
I wild camped with a flysheet, though usually just slept below the stars, in the hot dry August weather. I carried no special equipment, just an old canvas ex German army rucksack , cotton shorts, a couple of shirts and sued crepe soled desert boots, I bought a goatskin bota bag to carry water, which I refilled where I could from the village fountains, where locals would also come to fill their pans, possibly out of curiosity to find out who the gringo was bathing in it. I don't know if albergues existed then or not, as I would not have been able to afford them. I had heard about refugios that were for real Pilgrims, but after my experience with the old woman who forbid me to walk her route I didn't seek them out and met no other Pilgrims. I knew nothing about sellos or that you even got a compostela once reaching Santiago. Most villages looked run down or semi deserted and shops were hard to find, usually closed and often little more than a spare room of a house, with hams and salami hanging from the ceilings, and found it difficult to find things that I could make a meal from without cooking. I couldn't afford to eat in Cafes or Bars, so don't really remember seeing them, except for one where the bar was part of a cow barn, with the cows looking over the wooden partition into the bar. I met few if anyone who spoke much English but they were friendly and often came over and shook my hand and occasionally pressed money in to it, some shops refused payment, once also in a fancy restaurant where I ate because I couldn't find a shop, unfortunately the dogs were not so friendly and I soon learnt to carry a stick.
Although I didn't reach Santiago but only got as far a Leon, mainly due to the extreme heat I'm glad that I experienced it before the infrastructure which I've read about since discovering this site and I was hoping to return last year to see the many changes and meet some "real" pilgrims for myself as I can not imagine what it must be like now with, internet, phones, gps, yellow arrows,waymarkers, scallop shells, guide books, information boards, pilgrim graffiti, albergues, pilgrim menus, atms, supermarkets, laundromats, showers, pilgrim tours, baggage transfers, bed races and bedbugs. It seems so busy .

Amazing. Wonderful. Oral history.
 

alhartman

346 joyful days in Spain and France since 2005
Year of past OR future Camino
Hope so!
2005--as a consolation prize for not being able to do the planned Pacific Crest Trail. After a coworker regaled me of her 2004 walk, I knew that a pack without cooking gear, food, shelter would appeal to my aging body! At the last minute my college roommate joined and it was a fantastic experience; repeated a few times on Frances but also LePuy(2), Toulouse, Vezelay, VdlP, and CP. In 2005 there were 601 fellow Americans (vs 4332 on second in 2013) as SJPdP leavers out of a total of 23710.
  • No cell phones.
  • Spotty internet at locuteria or refugio--1 eu slot machines.
  • Bigtime bed race--last bed (or completo 5 times); including Roncevalles; with 3 working showers and 3 working toilets.
  • No reservations.
  • No known pack services (at Castrojeriz some fellow pilgrim ratted out a group with auto support and the hospitalero took their packs out of the queue)
  • My injured mate mostly hitchhiked until his knee was well. Said easy to get rides with the shell.
  • Always dinner choice of lomo, pollo, or merluza--a vegetarian finally put me on the ordering two primero to avoid all the fried meats. (lentiles then ensalada mixte)
  • Little English spoken--only met 2 fellow Americans.
  • No bedbugs.
  • Only a few days of rain; and a few more of showers.
  • Col Lepoeder had about a meter of packed snow.
  • No real concept of Camino family--tho we did travel with a fairly consistent pod.
I didnt train, but had been doing almost weekly volkswalks. Just used my backpacking gear except a new GoLite pack (just shoulder straps, sternum strap, and mediocre waistband. Still my second favorite pack after my Aarn. But who needs lots of pack support with a total weight of under 20 pounds with daily water)
My original emails are here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/a-return-to-a-more-basic-camino.67593/#post-849869
SJPdP2005.jpg
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
2005 from Roncesvalles to Santiago, read about it in VG, a Norwegian newspaper, when finished I thought never again, but since then I dropped in on longer and shorter caminos up to the corona stopped me.
 
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Silver Oxide Camino de Santiago pendent
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2006 September St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago . Municipal Albergues all the way.Stayed in overspill accomodation next to municipal in Hornillos ,we slept on the floor and in O'Cebreiro slept on a chair in the municipal ,all beds taken.
Foncebadon was a pile of rubble.How things have changed.
My first camino,first time walking in Spain..I travelled alone but met up with some French people and walked with them to Santiago.An incredible experience and a great adventure.
I have walked many caminos since then and hope to walk many more in the future 😉 .
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Late comer 2016.
I had known about it for over a decade but hadn't been brave enough to interrupt my career. I finally decided that I needed more life in my life so I took the plunge.
Followed up by 2017 and 2019. The main change I found was in the Saria - Santiago stretch, it was noticeably busier in 2019. I will walk the Frances again but detour off on the Invierno. There is a thread on that at the moment that I'm following closely.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (1974 + others)
David Gitlitz walked the Camino in 1974. Below is an excerpt of the experience.

"In 1974 the pilgrimage road was essentially an undeveloped echo of an ancient past. The traditional routes had not been mapped or marked, there was no support system of hostels, and, in fact, the majority of villages along the old "French" and "Roman" roads had no lodgings or restaurants whatsoever. Villagers along the route, astonished to see living pilgrims, offered the group their hospitality. They slept on rectory floors, haylofts, schools, the visiting rooms of cloistered convents. Once they kipped down in a barn on fresh-strewn straw; the owner told them that local lore said that in the village it was her family that had traditionally lodged pilgrims, although, she confessed, they hadn't actually seen one for generations. They studied the churches and castles, and attended mass with the village priest. That summer Davidson, Gitlitz, and the students, accompanied by an engaging friar from Roncesvalles, painted the first arrows on the Navarran segments of the Camino."

More info at
I walked with David Gitlitz in 1974. It was a life-changing experience as it is for many first-time walkers. We met some of the Camino "historical" figures: Madame DeBrille in San Jean Pied de Port, José María Alonso in San Juan de Ortega (of the garlic soup fame), Walter Starkie in the Pilgrimage Museum in Astorga (who was also visiting as we were), and Elías Valiña in O Cebreiro. No arrows, no albergues, no other pilgrims. I went back in 2001 with my own students - a total transformation from my first pilgrimage. Still a special experience, no matter the changes.
 

JohnLloyd

Author of "Go Your Own Way"
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés - SJPDP to SdC - Autumn 2018
Portugués - Porto to SdC - Spring 2019
Francés again - ASAP
Late comer 2016.
I had known about it for over a decade but hadn't been brave enough to interrupt my career. I finally decided that I needed more life in my life so I took the plunge.
Followed up by 2017 and 2019. The main change I found was in the Saria - Santiago stretch, it was noticeably busier in 2019. I will walk the Frances again but detour off on the Invierno. There is a thread on that at the moment that I'm following closely.
Can you send me the link for that?
Much as I tried to accept the influx of fresh Pilgrims at Sarria with their clean rucksacks and untanned legs, I’m not sure if I’d want that again.
 

Canada Wanders

Lost, but making great time...
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2015
CP 2018
Well, I had thought my 2015 CF was my first Camino...but oddly enough it turns out it wasn’t! Was looking at some of our travel pictures, and it seems we did our first in 2011...”Camino Inka”, the Inka trail in Peru! A697ACC1-73C7-4A8B-9627-D5B2967D25D7.jpeg
 
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Canada Wanders

Lost, but making great time...
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2015
CP 2018
We also did CP in 2018, which was nice...but truth be told...while it was great, it wasn’t the impact of the CF. I believe it was the distance, and the number of days letting you get out of your ‘normal’ life, and into Camino time and spirit.
 
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
I first walked in 2006, and have walked nearly every year since.
It was much quieter, not as many private albergues.
Not so many buses - seemed like people were kinder - it was very special.
We slept in the old albergue at Roncesvalles and the old one in Burgos.
I cried all the way down to Roncesvalles, I was in such pain - but I finished the whole route!
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
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Petsu

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2011
St.-Jean-PdP to Leon August-September 1996. Had only read a newspaper article, so knew practically nothing about the route, so I walked the first day along the main road all the way to Roncesvalles. As I was used to carry a 20-30 kg pack in Lappland, I also had way too heavy a backpack - it was 17 kg without water and food - icluding a jacket 😁 ( there was a back up plan to spend a couple of weeks in some coastal city, if the walking would not work due to a knee operation earlier that year ) . Then summer 1997 with a lot more understanding and a 10 kg pack from Leon to Santiago.
 
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Mike Wells

author of 'Cycling the Camino Frances'
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (1995) (2017 twice) (2018); Via de la Plata (1996); Finisterre (2018)
I first went to Santiago in 1972. In late June/early July I had three weeks to kill between completing a graduate traineeship and starting my first 'proper' job. Deciding to take my little Mini on a drive to and around Spain, I collected some literature from the Spanish tourist office in London. Amongst the leaflets and maps was a brochure about Santiago and its famous cathedral and I made this my first target. I didn't follow the 'pilgrim route' (there wasn't one then) in that having crossed France in a day I continued along the north coast of Spain with nights in San Sebastian, Oviedo and Coruña then via Finisterre to Noia in the Rías Baixas. The next morning I drove up through the forests to arrive in Santiago for breakfast and parked for free in Praza do Obradoiro right in front of the cathedral. I walked around the cathedral, paid my resects to St James then in one of the side chapels saw a small exhibition about the Camino. This described how hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had travelled the route every year in medieval times and that a few were walking it again in the 1970s. The aim was to promote and encourage a re-creation of the pilgrimage. For me it was the first time I had heard of it and I dismissed the idea of re-opening the medieval route as wildly impractical. How wrong I was!

I came back to Santiago in autumn 1995, this time by cycling from SJPdP. It took me 12 days and it rained a lot. I had the first edition of Alison Raju's recently published Camino guidebook for Cicerone Press as well as a book of diagrammatic maps based on those of Don Elías and separate accommodation lists issued by each province. Incidentally Alison died late last year, so sad to hear of her death. I picked up my pilgrim credentials at Roncesvalles abbey. The route was mostly waymarked with yellow arrows, but not like the overkill of today and it was possible to stray accidentally off-route.

I had intended to ride off-road, but the section from Burguete to Espinal was so muddy that the wheels would not go round. I abandoned the trail and instead followed the road as far as the Montes de Oca. I saw a few other cyclists and small number of walkers, between ten and twenty each day mostly plodding alongside the N120 in the rain. There were a few local albergues, mostly in church halls, village halls or old schools and operated by religious organisations or local municipalities. My memory is that these were free to stay at, in exchange for a task such as cleaning the kitchen, sweeping the floor or putting the rubbish out, rather than a donation. My memory may be wrong though, as I only stayed in two (Navarette and Frómista) preferring local hotels and hostales.

After the Montes de Oca, the rain stopped and I set off across the meseta by the off-road route then continued along the green lanes of Galicia to Santiago. I celebrated with a night in the Santiago Parador
dos Reyes Católicos. In those days, cyclists were allocated a parking place in the garage, nowadays there is a cycle rack in the first courtyard. The next day I cycled on to Padron, then more popular than Finisterre as an add-on destination.

In April the following year (1996) I rode the VdlP, taking 14 days. I had the route more or less to myself, seeing only one small group of walkers and no other cyclists. As there were no specific maps or guidebooks I had to navigate with a Michelin road map. Waymarking was scarce and unreliable. It was out-of-season and I cycled from Parador to Parador (Zafra, Merida, Caceres, Plasencia, Salamanca, Zamora, Benavente and Villafranca) paying very reasonable prices. When the gauleiter in the pilgrims' office saw my credential covered in stamps from Paradores he enquired if I had used a car. What a cheek! I ended in the Santiago Parador of course, which became a habit for all future visits.

For three years running between 2001-2003 I took escorted groups to Santiago. We did not fly or go by coach, rather we travelled by train from London all the way to Santiago and back. We went out via the FEVE line along the north coast to Ferrol and returned via the RENFE inland route through León and Burgos. No Compostelas for these trips of course, but I did give them my own certificates confirming that they had travelled to Santiago and back. I didn't offer absolution for their sins however!
 
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Petsu

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2011
Qusetion to those who did walk say more than 15 years ago, I know the numbers have spiked but, was it more enjoyable and had a sense of doing something very different without all the technology with apps for this and that and more high end clothing and equipment that appears to be norm nowdays?
Although I am a Camino rookie, I do date back to backpacking with a Lonely Planet guide that was 30 plus years ago and l remember feeling seriously distant from home.
I still prefer a Brierly or Wise Pilgrim book than an app, I need something real on the bookshelf alongside the Lonely Planet books when I get home, memories.
Of course there was less services, but I still think my earlier caminos 1996, -97, -98, 2001 and 2002 were in a way more pleasant than the ons in 2007 and 2011. As there were so much more people, it felt that you would be walking in a constant line. Also the race to refugios was at times ridiculous - people starting at 4 o'clock waking everybody up and then sitting three hours in front of the refugio waiting it to open. People also stayed more with 'themselves' - that is in smaller groups that they started with or had befriendlied early on the road. Before you basically knew and regularly met everybody walking a day or two befor and after you - due to different pace of walking and rest days.
 

NYSE

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances & Camino Finisterre/Muxia April 2019
This should be an interesting thread to watch. I only began my yearly Camino's since 2015 but have already noticed a few changes during those few short years. The main one being that so many more walkers started booking ahead, not just with hotels, but private albergues began taking reservations on booking sites. On my last two camino's I was surprised to find out that even a few munis were allowing you to email and hold a spot for you that same night as long as you arrived by a set time. By 2019, I had carefully arranged all my lodging ahead of time to avoid unnecessary angst. It seems there has been more prebooking as walkers have increased expoentially each year. I do miss stopping impromptu for the night as the mood strikes, but since I usually walk with one to three others, it becomes more difficult to wing it.
I can only imagine the many changes others have seen who have been walking camino's for many years.
My first [and only to date] was in 2019 commencing a week after I retired. Landing in Lisbon, I took the all night train to Hendaye then walked the coastal route to St. Jean Pied de Port to loosen the legs for the big journey.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
My first [and only to date] was in 2019 commencing a week after I retired. Landing in Lisbon, I took the all night train to Hendaye then walked the coastal route to St. Jean Pied de Port to loosen the legs for the big journey.
I will hope you have a second Camino in the not too distant future once covid is under control...my wish as well.
 
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NYSE

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances & Camino Finisterre/Muxia April 2019
I will hope you have a second Camino in the not too distant future once covid is under control...my wish as well.
I'm more than ready now. And if, for some reason, I can never walk another Camino, I'll be thanking God I prioritized the Camino and retired earlier than I planned. Those days on the Camino were some of the happiest days of my life
 

Roz.K

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Coastal Camino Portugues (2019)
My husband and I began travelling to Europe in 2009, once our 5 children were in Uni and independent enough to leave at home. My husband got his first passport at age 55. We do a lot of hiking in Australia, so some long distance walks were on the cards for us. When it comes to planning, my husband says that I am very "anal", but I just like to be very organised and plan everything in advance.
2009:- Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk in Northern England.
2010:- Coast to Coast walk (again)
West Highland Way in Scotland
2015:- Rota Vincentina in Portugal
The Wicklow Way in Ireland
2016:- Tour du Mont Blanc
2019:- Camino Portugues (coastal)
We were booked to walk caminos in 2017 and 2020, but had to cancel for health reasons and then the Covid epidemic last year. After watching the movie "The Way", I said to my husband, Mark, that I wanted to do that walk. We really love Portugal and Spain; the culture, the food, the people and their pace of life. So, we do plan to do another Camino,the question is WHEN?????
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
Alto de Pedron. Finished on crutches.
I sympathize! The absolute worst weather I ever encountered on any of my Caminos was when my son and I crossed the Alto de Perdon together in May 2017. It was just dreadful! Most of our "Camino family" bailed out at Zariquiegui and taxied ahead to Puente, but he and I pressed on at my insistence because I so very much wanted him to reach and see the monument up at the top. ... By the time we started down I was in alarmingly bad shape. If it hadn't been for my son, well, I honestly don't know what might have happened to me! And my son fully appreciated that! ... Uterga was as far as we could manage in the icy cold and wet, but he got me there safely. ...The hot lentil soup at the 'Albergue Camino del Perdon' was close to a life saver.

I've never been prouder of him.

1611456353531.png
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
Of course there was less services, but I still think my earlier caminos 1996, -97, -98,...
@Petsu, I was impressed that you are such a veteran. I clicked on your avatar to find out where you are from.
CSF on google offered "Cerebral Spinal Fluid" and google maps confidently directed me to DerRunder somewhere in Perth.
So...?
 
Year of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
And on that note - my post above - Google is at present involved in a spat with the Australian government and is threatening to cut google search in Australia. (They obviously should do a google search on our prime minister). I won't miss it. Firefox? Yahoo?
 
2021 Camino Guides
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Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
Year of past OR future Camino
Walking, Astorga-Sarria 2011, StJPdP -Longrono 2012, Logrono- Burgos 2013, StJPdP - SdComp 2014, Valenca do Minho - Santiago ,Easter 2015, Seville- Santiago by roadbike, Sept 2015. Burgos to Leon, walking, May 2016
My first camino was in 2004, when I cycled from Pamplona to Santiago, not on the walker's route but on the roads alongside. Since then I have returned 17 times, cycling and walking. I have been on Camino Frances and Via de la Plata a number of times, also on the Camino Portogues, Finisterre, Primitivo and Ingles. I just love the challenge, scenery, meeting people from other countries, history, towns and villages, weather, saying an odd prayer, the whole package. I intended walking the Meseta for the third time last April, but I had to cancel. I hope to return, probably next year the way things are looking.
 

Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
My first camino was 2003. I walked across Spain from Llanes to Tarifa in 1998 and heard about the Camino Francés in Carrión de los Condes. I found a book in a charity shop, "The Pilgrim Route to Compostela" ©1990 translated from French. So I read up on it, but I don't think I took it with me. At the end I thought that walking the Camino Francés should be made compulsory. There were enough yellow arrows and accommodation was no problem. I did no planning and no training. I used a folding trolley to carry my rucksack wherever it was smooth enough. I walked the Valcarlos route that time (April), as advised at the Pilgrim Office in SJPdP.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
My first camino was 2003. I walked across Spain from Llanes to Tarifa in 1998 and heard about the Camino Francés in Carrión de los Condes. I found a book in a charity shop, "The Pilgrim Route to Compostela" ©1990 translated from French. So I read up on it, but I don't think I took it with me. At the end I thought that walking the Camino Francés should be made compulsory. There were enough yellow arrows and accommodation was no problem. I did no planning and no training. I used a folding trolley to carry my rucksack wherever it was smooth enough. I walked the Valcarlos route that time (April), as advised at the Pilgrim Office in SJPdP.
Would that be this one?
20210124_133346.jpg
 

NancyLee

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First Camino Mar-April 2018
Arn, I empathize- after 7 days on CF in March, 2018, I went home in a wheelchair! 🦽. But I happily returned in September, 2019 and carried on from where I left off (Logrono) and made it all the way to Santiago! Nancy from Canada 🇨🇦 🎒😀
 

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Silver Oxide Camino de Santiago pendent
Camino de Santiago pendant that has a shell on the front, and "Camino de Santiago" engraved on the back. Comes with a black cord. Pendent is slightly larger than a 50 euro cent coin, about 25mm.
John Brierley Camino Frances Guide
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Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
Would that be this one?
View attachment 91968
100%! The hand-drawn maps are atrocious, aren't they? But there's lots of useful information. Also some useless information – if I'm generous, I could imagine that the information has become out of date. However, one of the pieces of information I spent a lot of time trying to find, I'm now sure was never true: "Facing No 7 [Ligonde] is a house showing the name 'Nabal del Hospital.'" Another, relating to Palas de Rei, "... there are several medieval houses, one of which bears a carved St James's scallop-shell." If anyone know different. let me know. [The PdR tourist office doesn't know of it.]
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Caminos Francais: 2002, 2012, 2019. (Future Ingles, Primitivo, Portuguese in 2021)
Age 59, First Camino April-May 2002, from Colorado Springs to Madrid. Camino Francais. Not one person in family or office had any idea about my destination and, politely, thought I was bonkers. A woman! Alone! Walking across Spain! Never phased me, not once. Quit my job to go, too. Raised as an Army Brat and lived in such diverse locations Oklahoma, Vietnam and Paris by age 19, I sensed the Camino would be an adventure and just got on with it. Singularly ill prepared with boots and backpack and days of painful feet, I had never worked that hard in my life. Joy, tears, laughter, pain = 5 minutes on the Camino.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
This should be an interesting thread to watch. I only began my yearly Camino's since 2015 but have already noticed a few changes during those few short years. The main one being that so many more walkers started booking ahead, not just with hotels, but private albergues began taking reservations on booking sites. On my last two camino's I was surprised to find out that even a few munis were allowing you to email and hold a spot for you that same night as long as you arrived by a set time. By 2019, I had carefully arranged all my lodging ahead of time to avoid unnecessary angst. It seems there has been more prebooking as walkers have increased expoentially each year. I do miss stopping impromptu for the night as the mood strikes, but since I usually walk with one to three others, it becomes more difficult to wing it.
I can only imagine the many changes others have seen who have been walking camino's for many years.
My first was CF in 2009, at age 55. Pamplona-SdC. Never prebooked.

I normally do not prebook until to this very day. I want the freedom to settle down when I feel for it. As I walk quite quickly (4-5 km/h), I am stopping at 1-2 PM normally, after some 20-25 kms, which is perfectly into my comfort zone. Plenty of time to find a bed and relax. I may book ahead occationally, but only for a combination of a long day/an albergue I really like/peace of mind.

I spend the afternoons shopping food and prepare my meals in the albergue, usually. Also reading and walking around in the day's pueblo/city/town. Some chatting with locals is also rewarding. And I watch those late-arrivers stressing into the place for a bed at 4-5 PM...

Mind you, in all these years, I have NEVER been without a bed at the end of the day.

I like this freedom, and should the worst happen, I will find a bench/church steps, or some greemn area, where I can roll out my sleeping bag. I am very relaxed about this issue. Hey, I am on an adventure! :cool:
 

David61

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
Frances (2020)
My first was CF in 2009, at age 55. Pamplona-SdC. Never prebooked.

I normally do not prebook until to this very day. I want the freedom to settle down when I feel for it. As I walk quite quickly (4-5 km/h), I am stopping at 1-2 PM normally, after some 20-25 kms, which is perfectly into my comfort zone. Plenty of time to find a bed and relax. I may book ahead occationally, but only for a combination of a long day/an albergue I really like/peace of mind.

I spend the afternoons shopping food and prepare my meals in the albergue, usually. Also reading and walking around in the day's pueblo/city/town. Some chatting with locals is also rewarding. And I watch those late-arrivers stressing into the place for a bed at 4-5 PM...

Mind you, in all these years, I have NEVER been without a bed at the end of the day.

I like this freedom, and should the worst happen, I will find a bench/church steps, or some greemn area, where I can roll out my sleeping bag. I am very relaxed about this issue. Hey, I am on an adventure! :cool:
Quick? Am I missing something? 4-5kph is very average
 

Old Kiwi

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I first read about the SF in a book in 2002 and thought "I must do this". Unfortunately, it did not happen until 2016. Now I don't want to stop.
 
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OzAlex

Camino Frances Autumn 2014 and Spring 2018
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
After seeing photographs from @David Tallan from a 1989 Camino, I'm wondering how far back the communal history of the Camino stretches on this forum.

For those who walked before Coelho, MacLaine, Sheen and Kerkeling brought the Camino into a wider public consciousness, when did you first walk the Way, and how does it compare now?

What is the extent of our collective experience?
I read about it in the early 90’s and finally got there in Autumn 2014 and again in Spring /Summer 2018 .
 

sharon w

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007
Camino Portugues 2009
Via Podiensis, Camino Frances, Camino Finisterre 2012
Cammino di Assisi 2014
Via Podiensis, Camino del Norte, Camino Frances(Astorga to Santiago) 2015
Aussie Camino 2016
After seeing photographs from @David Tallan from a 1989 Camino, I'm wondering how far back the communal history of the Camino stretches on this forum.

For those who walked before Coelho, MacLaine, Sheen and Kerkeling brought the Camino into a wider public consciousness, when did you first walk the Way, and how does it compare now?

What is the extent of our collective experience?
I walked the Camino Frances with my husband and 4 friends in 2007. There was less paving and less accommodation along the way. Also, not as many people walking.
 

JohnLloyd

Author of "Go Your Own Way"
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés - SJPDP to SdC - Autumn 2018
Portugués - Porto to SdC - Spring 2019
Francés again - ASAP
It's really fascinating to read these varied histories from different times on the Camino.

I think I read somewhere else that "the best time to go anywhere was many years ago".

That may be true, but someone else will say that in a few years time.
 

Eckart.S

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
several
In 1973 I went to Spain with my parents by car during the summer vacation. My father, a history teacher, decided we have to follow the Camino Frances and I had the impression we visited every ancient place.

This is what I remember from Spain:

- Endless roads through Spain day after day. It sounded absolutely strange to me, when my father explained that in the middle age people used to walk all the way to Santiago.
- Several medieval or roman bridges. I did not understand, why such enormous bridges had been built for such little streams.
- Spanish coffee. I started drinking coffee in Spain and still love the Spanish coffee.
- Menu del dia
- Cathedral of Burgos. Everything was open, you could just walk in.
- Cathedral and Prazza do Obradoiro in Santiago
- Finistera with strong and cold winds.

I had almost forgotten this trip to Spain. But when I stood again in front of the Cathedral in 2012, it was an overwhelming feeling being back at this place after so many years.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
In 1973 I went to Spain with my parents by car during the summer vacation. My father, a history teacher, decided we have to follow the Camino Frances and I had the impression we visited every ancient place.

This is what I remember from Spain:

- Endless roads through Spain day after day. It sounded absolutely strange to me, when my father explained that in the middle age people used to walk all the way to Santiago.
- Several medieval or roman bridges. I did not understand, why such enormous bridges had been built for such little streams.
- Spanish coffee. I started drinking coffee in Spain and still love the Spanish coffee.
- Menu del dia
- Cathedral of Burgos. Everything was open, you could just walk in.
- Cathedral and Prazza do Obradoiro in Santiago
- Finistera with strong and cold winds.

I had almost forgotten this trip to Spain. But when I stood again in front of the Cathedral in 2012, it was an overwhelming feeling being back at this place after so many years.
It's interesting to note that your Camino in 1973 was by car. As I mentioned in another thread, I have a booklet from the Secretaria de Estado de Turismo from 1977 "The Way to Santiago". Unlike modern guides that show the paths and water fountains, this one shows the roads and where all the gas stations are en route. I am getting the impression that, while there were a few people walking in the 70s and 80s, it was more common to drive the route for those wishing to experience it. It was only in the late 80s and 90s that walking again started to become predominant.

Did you put your hand on the central column of the Portico of Glory when you arrived?
 
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Eckart.S

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
several
Did you put your hand on the central column of the Portico of Glory when you arrived?
I was 16 at this time and do not remember many details about our visit of the cathedral.
What I do remember is that just behind the entrance of the cathedral there was a statue. When entering the cathedral everyone kissed one special spot of this statue. I was so disgusted.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I was 16 at this time and do not remember many details about our visit of the cathedral.
What I do remember is that just behind the entrance of the cathedral there was a statue. When entering the cathedral everyone kissed one special spot of this statue. I was so disgusted.
I think that was the statue of Master Mateo, the genius if the Portico of Glory at the entrance. I have vivid memories of putting my hand into the hand-shaped indentation on the central pillar, though, made by the centuries of fellow Pilgrims who had done the same.
 
Yo ho, My first Camino was in August 2001, SJPDP to Fisterra. Since then, I have been fortunate to walk at least one of the Caminos every year in either Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, England, Danmark, Switzerland or Italy. I am planning like a lunatic for when the restrictions are lifted and it is safe to walk Caminos again.
 

JNast

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planned August 21-Oct 10 (2017)
2017 Camino Francis from SJPDP to celebrate my 50th birthday. I've scheduled my second for 2020 (now 2021) which will be the Camino Francis via Madrid. MI_temp.jpg
 

danabagg

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
'08, '11,'14, 17, 18, 19...all Camino Frances
2008 went by myself from Roncevalles to Santiago, been back in 2014 & 2017 (for my 70th birthday I wanted to be standing on top of the Pyrenees) SJPP to Santiago, and 2011, 2014 & 2018 in part...I love the Camino Frances & pray I can do it one more time.
 
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Roger de Flor

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Hice el camino francés hace 20 años (1999). Ahora quiero cruzar el del norte. (2019)
!999, my first - 2019 my second. A galaxy of separation: cultural, religious, money spent, inspiration of spirit, refugios v albergues, the Spanish for admiring support for a pilgrim v another 35 euro customer. In '99 I stayed in monasteries, walked alone, did not get passed by 30 guys on bikes, or van loads of "pilgrims" jumping ahead for a 3 hour repast. Different vibe. After 1/2 way in '19, I stopped in León. Would like to finish for personal reasons, hope to, but there are other pilgimages. Ultreya.
 

Roger de Flor

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Hice el camino francés hace 20 años (1999). Ahora quiero cruzar el del norte. (2019)
first 1999 - second 2019 a galaxy of difference: cultural, religious, money spent, a pilgrimage v bucket list, refugio v albergue. I walked alone in (99), did not get passed by 30 cyclists, or van full of 'pilgrims' hopping to next major stop for a 3 hour repast (19), dealing with Spanish in their language, not treated as a 35euro customer. Inspired by my Catholic religion. Most of the enjoyment of 99 not experienced in 19. I stopped in León in 19, may finish in future. Other pilgrimages attract me.
 

ouroboros

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2012) (2019)
Camino Portuguese (2017)
At age 55, the Camino Frances was my first in 2012 with my spouse. SJPP to Santiago from the US. We carried no electronics except a digital camera and music on headphones. Used the Brierly and tore pages out as we went to reduce weight. Communicated home via euro-fed albergue computers with keys so worn out you could barely read the letters. No booking ahead and we often got the last beds, but the Camino provides. Walked the Camino Portugese in 2017 with spouse again and booked ahead for the first time due to Fatima Pilgrimage happening same time and limited beds. My mother died while I was walking the Portugese and it was consoling to be walking to Santiago where her spirit found me and walked with me before she left this plane.
2019 I walked the Frances solo from SJPP to Tricastela and could not bear to walk the last 100 km with so many pilgrims so I stopped. I was also injuring my hip, as I always carried my backpack and only sent it on at the end when I was in pain. I was grateful for that option. It might be my last Camino as I tore a hip tendon completely on that one and am trying to recover without surgery. I used the Wise Pilgrim app for the last two caminos which was very useful.
if I do go again, maybe renting a burro would be helpful. Each Camino, St James always had our backs, but my husband says, rightly I think, that the deepest grooves in his soul were formed on the Camino where we were not in control and had to go forward by faith alone. That’s what makes it a pilgrimage and the memories, both good and bad, are indelible and forever.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
if I do go again, maybe renting a burro would be helpful.
Er, no. Please don't. I walked over 4 thousand km with my wonderful donkey so I can probably speak from experience here. You will spend considerable time getting to know the donkey, which is not of itself a problem but will make it hard to say goodbye. Or perhaps very easy 🙄
If you are a fast walker then you will almost certainly have to change your habits, not because the donkey is slow, because mostly they will walk at about 5km/hour, but because everyone and his dog will want to stand in front of the donkey and talk to the donkey (or maybe talk to you) in either case you will get a break from walking. You just have to stand still instead. The donkey will probably be given a treat. You probably won't be, but if it's chocolate try to steal it.
You have to load and unload. Not great for your hip or back, especially if your donkey doesn't feel co-operative. And it won't be light, the pack saddle alone is a hefty lump. Then there is the stuff the donkey needs. Oh, and the tent. Because that's usually what you will be sleeping in, unless you have a support vehicle. You to need to have your donkey on a lead rope if walking on roads, and if you are unlucky enough to get one that you can't keep easily under control when he or she is scared then you stand a fair chance of tweaking your hip. Yes, generally they are more placid than horses, as well as being more intelligent. But things happen.
Don't misunderstand me, i think walking with a donkey is a great experience, just not an easy option. I suggest pack transport, easy stages, and not spending an hour on donkey care and installation every night as a better option if you have fitness problems.
On the positive side, at least you can have an intelligent conversation, as long as you don't expect long answers. Plus they make great hand warmers and will ensure you never spend more than ten minutes drinking your morning coffee.
 
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