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Why No Public WCs along the Caminos?!?

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DebbieG64

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
First one next week, May 2019
Hello Fellow Pilgrims, I'm sure this subject has been talked about a number of times in the past and suggestions have been passed along to those responsible for maintaining the routes. I just finished my first Camino walking up the Coastal Portugal Route and to Finisterre & Muxia. With the many thousands of Pilgrims who walk the routes throughout the year, year after year, respectfully, I just don't understand why there are No Public WCs along the Way. Yes, I know you can stop and use the restrooms at a cafe/bar/restaurant but, there were days where you didn't see a cafe/bar for many miles, perhaps most of the day. There were also times I needed to make a quick stop due to the coffee kicking in but I wasn't interested in eating anything since just had breakfast or lunch. Also, when I walked in May, some of the cafes/bars/restaurants were still closed along the beach. Hey, I am blessed with a strong bladder but some Pilgrims aren't and it would be rude to assume they can hold or if they can't, expect them to go behind a tree, bush or rock in the Rural Areas of a city/town!?! This isn't the Appalachian Trail where you are in the backcountry, days away from the nearest town! There was a thread where someone suggested "training your bladder" before you walk your Camino. Yes, one can but what if a Pilgrim got sick with a stomach bug (a friend I know) or ate some food that disagreed with your digestive system? I did overhear of a Pilgrim who becoming very sick from a meal and had to walk all day before he could "change." I'm sure it happens to quite a few.

At most beaches I walked past, where locals & visitors swim and lay on the beach, I saw only outside showers for people to wash the sand off but no public restrooms, toilets, WCs or changing rooms! What do local people do who spend the day at the beach and have to go to the restroom outside of having to go to a restaurant/bar/cafe? I couldn't even find WCs in or around the Churches I passed, which for the most part sadly were all locked. How I wanted to visit, rest in some shade, in a quiet place, say a prayer, and even get a stamp but they're locked. I understand their theft & vandalism concerns. I once helped maintain a Church years ago. Someone even stole our red carpet on the Altar! I know many people are concerned about finding used toilet paper and waste along the routes. I am too. I saw too much of it myself! It seems to me that the only logical answer would be to build small WCs along the routes so people don't have to find a bush, a tree, a rock. Believe me, on the Coastal Portuguese route, I would walk a whole day before I saw a place to go like on the hike after Vigo! You are up on a ridge in the forest all day! I did find a rock but I shouldn't have too! There were many people walking, biking...the well-known, well used path! Hey, how about a seated Rest Area & a WC! I saw a few places one could be built! On other places along the Camino, I did come across just a few shaded rest areas for Pilgrims but no WCs! There was certainly room for one! When I was in Fatima, walking the Via Dolorosa in the woods, they had a real small public WC for Men & Women. In the States, we have Rest Areas & Public Restrooms at beaches, parks, in towns... along with water fountains. Let's face it. People need Restrooms/WCs! A WC wouldn't take up much space along the routes and it wouldn't be hard or expensive to build!

As a Pilgrim planning to return to walk another Camino in the near future, I would be glad to give $5 to help support building & maintaining WCs along the routes when I purchase my passport. To be honest, I don't even know why, in the 21st Century, closing in on 2020, we need to talk about this and ask, beg... cities, towns, beaches, parks ...to build WCs along the routes to help support Pilgrims and to keep the environment clean from human waste & soiled toilet paper!!! It's just plain common sense! What if the Church supporting Pilgrimage Routes with some funds to help build a few WCs to help support the basic needs of their Pilgrims? I know that would probably be impossible. OK, how about GoFundMe accounts for Camino Route WCs? Something needs and should be done beyond talking about it! Respectfully, just a few thoughts to a problem we all can agree on but the resolution isn't a tough one! Can someone on the route governing boards help out on this and try to make it happen? Thanks much. Buen Camino to all!
 

Gailsie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Fall '09 ;
After a few vacations in the Algarve and visiting Porto and Lisbon and 4 days on the PC, I don't think that Portuguese people have to go to the toilet except when they are home LOL. I found it very difficult to find places when I was in need. I would gladly pay to use toilets if they were available on the camino or on vacation.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Dunno about Portugal or Spain. Do know about the UK where you can hire a "Portaloo" for £50 a day including servicing. Delivery and removal extra. Providing toilet opportunities for a fairly small, 5000 ticket, 4 day music festival can cost £20,000. You can divide that by 20,000, multiply by 365 and you'll arrive a a cost per location per year. Your $5 isn't going to go far, you've made a contribution to the cost of 4 days of facility on a 10 day Camino, 35 days if you start in St Jean on the Frances, and who would you pay it to?

There are no Camino Authorities, there are no governing boards, there is no-one responsible for maintaining the routes. There is no-one who could co-ordinate or control a program of facility construction or pay for ongoing maintenance, service and repair. The Camino routes, as you have discovered, range through cities, towns, tiny villages, farmed country and wild country. Where would they site any facility? From my experience on the clean-up crews I'd suggest about 1 mile after anywhere a Pilgrim can get a drink or some food, because its around about a mile after they leave a fully serviced facility that most Pilgrims seem inclined to dump their water-bottle, bocadillo wrapper or worse. @DebbieG64 I can empathise with your distress but given that so many people on this planet do not have access to sanitary facilities at any time, let alone a bar or cafe, your $5 would be better spent at https://www.wateraid.org/uk/donate/donate-to-wateraid-today?id=UN0000,RA/TPP,OnlineRG,RA/TPP/01A&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI86qTr-u_5AIVRrDtCh1uvg-IEAAYASAAEgK5avD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds or your local equivalent.
 

Annet2020

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues 2020
I am planning to walk my first camino, the Coastal Portugal Route, in May 2020. Your post answers some questions I had about finding WC's along the route (had not found many answers until now). Unfortunately I'm not blessed with a strong bladder, so I must say this information does not make me very happy. ☹
 
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DebbieG64

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
First one next week, May 2019
I am planning to walk my first camino, the Coastal Portugal Route, in May 2020. Your post answers some questions I had about finding WC's along the route (had not found many answers until now. Unfortunately I'm not blessed with a strong bladder, so I must say this information does not make me very happy. ☹
I walked in May and many of the cafes on the beach off the boardwalk were closed because it still was in winter mode. I used my Camino app to find restaurants, cafes/bars at least for a Coke off the Way. Google Maps helps with finding restaurants off the path. When you get ready to walk out of a town/city, hit the cafe. You will be ok. Buen Camino!
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Unfortunately I'm not blessed with a strong bladder, so I must say this information does not make me very happy. ☹
Apologies for being bluntly physiological but the bladder is not really the issue. If you pee on vegetation or bare earth then the evidence is gone very rapidly. Not a problem really other than the potential embarrassment factor of being seen while micturating. Faeces are the big problem. Those who have more experience in impersonating bears may have developed techniques for dealing with this. Many first-time walkers do not. So the popular routes are full of unpleasant surprises for the desperate and unwary. It would be nice to think that the various local authorities would provide proper toilets at frequent intervals but as @Tincatinker points out that presupposes an overarching "authority" which does not exist. In the absence of which it is up to us all to take whatever steps we must to minimise our personal embarrassment and unpleasantness to those who have the misfortune to follow behind us...
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Most of the villages along the route from Le Puy seemed to have a public WC, maintained by the town. There were even a couple of dry WCs in remoter spots. (Dry = built not needing plumbing). Clearly a public service valued by the French.

My Spanish friends say the Spanish don't build them as the men can urinate anywhere and women will wait to get home. They also say, yeah it sucks, but they have other priorities.

Use the rock to hide behind, carry out your litter.
 

auburnfive

Active Member
As a group of 6, we walked the Portuguese coastal route last Sept, and it was very rare that we didn’t find washrooms in a cafe or in some cases near a church. Different time of year, luck, and my motto. “Never pass by a toilet, because you don’t know where the next one will be”. We always bought something as thanks for the facilities.
 

Anna Cameron

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances sept-oct 2018
I am planning to walk my first camino, the Coastal Portugal Route, in May 2020. Your post answers some questions I had about finding WC's along the route (had not found many answers until now). Unfortunately I'm not blessed with a strong bladder, so I must say this information does not make me very happy. ☹
I found I just had to change my habits and postpone my usual morning coffee until I had arrived at that day's destination. And did on occasion resort to bushes or trees, but ALWAYS removed whatever I had used or produced. (Too many others, shamefully, did not). Bring along a roll of doggy poo bags for used paper or whatever- sooner or later, you'll be glad you did.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Why? Because it's a camino - a road - rather than a public park.
As other people have said, there is no overarching entity that takes care of the camino, except maybe we who walk it. Since the costs to small pueblos for providing for that many people are prohibitive, it's up to us pilgrims to learn to be flexible, rather than demanding that other people take care of us.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
To be honest, I don't even know why, in the 21st Century, closing in on 2020, we need to talk about this and ask, beg... cities, towns, beaches, parks ...to build WCs along the routes to help support Pilgrims and to keep the environment clean
The answer is in the following statement...
yeah it sucks, but they have other priorities.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
In 3 Caminos, 2 with my 'dearly beloved' who generally stresses out if she is more than 10 minutes from a toilet.......we have not had any problems.

And Yes, we have both had 'tummy upsets' a couple of times.
I carry a small trowel that weighs only 20 gms for that kind of emergency. (used twice so far)

For other less 'serious' instances i.e. Number Ones........
A small ziplock bag is used to carry out the used tissues each day.

Personally, I would rather use a bush that a 'Porta Loo'. Have you seen how awful those places get?

If Pilgrims would only learn to treat the countryside with more care, Bury their Number Twos, and carry out their tissues, there would be no problem I'm sure.

And quite frankly, if I use a cafe toilet I 'always' buy something if I need it or not. Or if there is a tips jar, put something in that....

This is a topic that comes up often......... But I think we need to take responsibility, not the local authorities.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
A ‘Shewee’ enables women to pee in a standing position but you’ll need to practice using one at home, before you leave 😉
There’s a newer one that’s larger and more flexible that the original. I think it’s called Shewee Flex ... comes in a range of bright colours, so it should be easy to find quickly, in a pack.

But it’s no big deal to go discretely in the ‘great outdoors’ ... just pull your pants aside ... and get the angle right 😉
If I’m caught short when I’m driving (rural area) I just park the car in a gateway or a layby and open both doors on one side, which provides some screening. This works on busy roads too, for instance on motorways and trunk roads

Alternatively, a Macabi skirt would provide the sort of privacy enjoyed by many women in areas of the world where public loos are unheard of ... eg rural India.

Another use for a poncho, perhaps?
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
A ‘Shewee’ enables women to pee in a standing position but you’ll need to practice using one at home, before you leave 😉
There’s a newer one that’s larger and more flexible that the original. I think it’s called Shewee Flex ... comes in a range of bright colours, so it should be easy to find quickly, in a pack.

But it’s no big deal to go discretely in the ‘great outdoors’ ... just pull your pants aside ... and get the angle right 😉
If I’m caught short when I’m driving (rural area) I just park the car in a gateway or a layby and open both doors on one side, which provides some screening. This works on busy roads too, for instance on motorways and trunk roads

Alternatively, a Macabi skirt would provide the sort of privacy enjoyed by many women in areas of the world where public loos are unheard of ... eg rural India.

Another use for a poncho, perhaps?
In case there is no 'cover' what so ever, I have even acted as a privacy shield with our 2 umbrellas or a towel....

Though I can remember one time (alone) after Catrojeriz after the downhill, dying for a Pee.........
But there was a constant 'stream' of Pilgrims and no cover at all.........
The best I could find was where for 50 metres or so, the path dipped and was out of view.......
A quick bit of mental arithmetic indicated I should have time with 30-40 secs to spare...........
Just made it!! :oops:
 
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Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
This topic and all the litter along the Caminos just baffles me. Sorry if I'm wrong here or have developed primitive and unsophisticated manners from an active outdoor life. But honestly, few things are more human and natural and shouldn't cause any trouble or concerns than squatting in relative privacy behind a bush, cover the biological waste or, better, bury it, putting your spent paper in one of the bags you carry for such a situation, cleaning your hand with hand sanitizer you carry for just that, taking the bag with you and dump it in the next bin. No problem. With a bit of practice the operation can be carried out in minutes including taking off the backpack, clothing and get it on again..
Just get used to it. And believe me people are not interested in your doings and won't think twice about it. But they will think about the trash you left behind......
 

Ianinam

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013 / CP 2018
Hospitalera at Roncesvalles:
2015/2016/2017/2018/2019
Spain and Portugal are countries with many unemployed people. These countries are quite poor, especially Portugal is. So their priority is not to build, maintain and keep clean toilets for pilgrims who have the money to travel over the world to walk through their country ......

Pilgrims are not tourists, who pay a lot for 5* hotels and restaurants and keep up the economy.
A tourist demands, a pilgrim is grateful for what is offered .....
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Free public toilets are not part of the Spanish culture. Spain has evolved a different model. I don't want the local culture to change to accommodate me. It is one of the reasons I go there. Viva la difference.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Free public toilets are not part of the Spanish culture. Spain has evolved a different model. I don't want the local culture to change to accommodate me. It is one of the reasons I go there. Viva la difference.
Bravo..... In fact........
Larga vida a la diferencia ! :cool:
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I couldn't even find WCs in or around the Churches
I guess we come from different parts of the world ☺. I never expect to find WCs in a church and to this day I am still surprised when I happen to learn that there are toilets in or near a church or cathedral that is a major tourist attraction.

I do expect, however, to find a bar or an inn in the vicinity of any church, where I not only can buy a drink but also go to the loo if necessary. ☺
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I am planning to walk my first camino, the Coastal Portugal Route, in May 2020. Your post answers some questions I had about finding WC's along the route (had not found many answers until now). Unfortunately I'm not blessed with a strong bladder, so I must say this information does not make me very happy. ☹
You'll 'get over it' :rolleyes:

My wife Pat uses the toilet about 15 times a day! I kid you not.
A bladder the size of a matchbox!

On Day 1, of her first Camino she tried not to drink too much in the morning, so as to make it to the first toilet.
Ha. Fat Chance!
The idea of squatting behind a bush did not please her.........

She lasted 38 minutes :cool:

As she emerged from the bushes with a smile of relief on her face, she remarked "well that wasn't so bad"

She must have stopped 5 -10 times / day. Seriously.........
And of course every cafe / bar we passed!

If out of town......She would merely remark.........."look out for a nice bush in the next 10 minutes please"..........

I became an expert! Key characteristics to look for are.......: ;)

  1. Not an obvious location. Otherwise you'll find lots of people have been there before you.
  2. It provides 'cover' from both directions along the path.
  3. Don't forget to check the 'third' angle. Any other things like houses, roads, paths that may look 'onto' your chosen spot from behind you. (beyond the path)
  4. If needing to stop for something more 'serious' the ground surface should allow for digging a small hole.
I was always able to find such a spot within 5 minutes.........

Occasionally it was a grass ditch beside the path, but only if no one was within sight or following Pilgrims were far away.......
 
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Annet2020

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues 2020
I found I just had to change my habits and postpone my usual morning coffee until I had arrived at that day's destination.
Actually, change my habits is what I do at home when going for walks longer than 1 or 2 hours: I just drink very little to avoid that I need a toilet on the way. But that's not exactly healthy when walking whole days for a couple of weeks. 🥳
 

Annet2020

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues 2020
Okay, now we're talking about WCs anyway, I have another question.
Mayby I'm over-worrying, but is it okay to use a bathroom in a cafe/bar/restaurant first and order a drink after that? I definitely intend to order something when I use the toilet in a cafe, but sometimes I really don't want my coffee before using the toilet first. But when I go straight to the bathroom first, not leaving some stuff at a table already because I'm walking alone, they don't see I'm planning to order something after that and won't be using their place as some free public toilet.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Hello Fellow Pilgrims, I'm sure this subject has been talked about a number of times in the past and suggestions have been passed along to those responsible for maintaining the routes. I just finished my first Camino walking up the Coastal Portugal Route and to Finisterre & Muxia. With the many thousands of Pilgrims who walk the routes throughout the year, year after year, respectfully, I just don't understand why there are No Public WCs along the Way. Yes, I know you can stop and use the restrooms at a cafe/bar/restaurant but, there were days where you didn't see a cafe/bar for many miles, perhaps most of the day. There were also times I needed to make a quick stop due to the coffee kicking in but I wasn't interested in eating anything since just had breakfast or lunch. Also, when I walked in May, some of the cafes/bars/restaurants were still closed along the beach. Hey, I am blessed with a strong bladder but some Pilgrims aren't and it would be rude to assume they can hold or if they can't, expect them to go behind a tree, bush or rock in the Rural Areas of a city/town!?! This isn't the Appalachian Trail where you are in the backcountry, days away from the nearest town! There was a thread where someone suggested "training your bladder" before you walk your Camino. Yes, one can but what if a Pilgrim got sick with a stomach bug (a friend I know) or ate some food that disagreed with your digestive system? I did overhear of a Pilgrim who becoming very sick from a meal and had to walk all day before he could "change." I'm sure it happens to quite a few.

At most beaches I walked past, where locals & visitors swim and lay on the beach, I saw only outside showers for people to wash the sand off but no public restrooms, toilets, WCs or changing rooms! What do local people do who spend the day at the beach and have to go to the restroom outside of having to go to a restaurant/bar/cafe? I couldn't even find WCs in or around the Churches I passed, which for the most part sadly were all locked. How I wanted to visit, rest in some shade, in a quiet place, say a prayer, and even get a stamp but they're locked. I understand their theft & vandalism concerns. I once helped maintain a Church years ago. Someone even stole our red carpet on the Altar! I know many people are concerned about finding used toilet paper and waste along the routes. I am too. I saw too much of it myself! It seems to me that the only logical answer would be to build small WCs along the routes so people don't have to find a bush, a tree, a rock. Believe me, on the Coastal Portuguese route, I would walk a whole day before I saw a place to go like on the hike after Vigo! You are up on a ridge in the forest all day! I did find a rock but I shouldn't have too! There were many people walking, biking...the well-known, well used path! Hey, how about a seated Rest Area & a WC! I saw a few places one could be built! On other places along the Camino, I did come across just a few shaded rest areas for Pilgrims but no WCs! There was certainly room for one! When I was in Fatima, walking the Via Dolorosa in the woods, they had a real small public WC for Men & Women. In the States, we have Rest Areas & Public Restrooms at beaches, parks, in towns... along with water fountains. Let's face it. People need Restrooms/WCs! A WC wouldn't take up much space along the routes and it wouldn't be hard or expensive to build!

As a Pilgrim planning to return to walk another Camino in the near future, I would be glad to give $5 to help support building & maintaining WCs along the routes when I purchase my passport. To be honest, I don't even know why, in the 21st Century, closing in on 2020, we need to talk about this and ask, beg... cities, towns, beaches, parks ...to build WCs along the routes to help support Pilgrims and to keep the environment clean from human waste & soiled toilet paper!!! It's just plain common sense! What if the Church supporting Pilgrimage Routes with some funds to help build a few WCs to help support the basic needs of their Pilgrims? I know that would probably be impossible. OK, how about GoFundMe accounts for Camino Route WCs? Something needs and should be done beyond talking about it! Respectfully, just a few thoughts to a problem we all can agree on but the resolution isn't a tough one! Can someone on the route governing boards help out on this and try to make it happen? Thanks much. Buen Camino to all!
I kind of sympathize with you but as Tinker said there is no "association" or anything else like that. A pilgrimage has challenges. I know luggage service and tours etc have made vacations for some out of the Camino. (Before you start screaming I am not knocking luggage service for those who have physical ailments). If you have to go behind a bush, then go behind a bush. It isn't that tough to do. Where do the Portuguese people on the beach go to the bathroom? My guess is where I and billions of fish go when swimming in the ocean. Simple, the ocean. Let things go, that's what one of the great Camino lessons. One thing you can easily let go of is your bladder behind a bush!!! Buen Camino
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@Anne2020 - yes - it is fine to use the bathroom first. You will probably find yourself walking with companions anyway, one of whom will mind your gear, or can be ordering or buying while you "rush"!

The tradition in Spain is that locals do use the toilets in bars even if not buying something - but they would be returning customers. On the camino we are not returning customers, and there are many thousands of us, so it is only fair that we buy something to help pay for the supplies.
 

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Hello Fellow Pilgrims, I'm sure this subject has been talked about a number of times in the past and suggestions have been passed along to those responsible for maintaining the routes. I just finished my first Camino walking up the Coastal Portugal Route and to Finisterre & Muxia. With the many thousands of Pilgrims who walk the routes throughout the year, year after year, respectfully, I just don't understand why there are No Public WCs along the Way. Yes, I know you can stop and use the restrooms at a cafe/bar/restaurant but, there were days where you didn't see a cafe/bar for many miles, perhaps most of the day. There were also times I needed to make a quick stop due to the coffee kicking in but I wasn't interested in eating anything since just had breakfast or lunch. Also, when I walked in May, some of the cafes/bars/restaurants were still closed along the beach. Hey, I am blessed with a strong bladder but some Pilgrims aren't and it would be rude to assume they can hold or if they can't, expect them to go behind a tree, bush or rock in the Rural Areas of a city/town!?! This isn't the Appalachian Trail where you are in the backcountry, days away from the nearest town! There was a thread where someone suggested "training your bladder" before you walk your Camino. Yes, one can but what if a Pilgrim got sick with a stomach bug (a friend I know) or ate some food that disagreed with your digestive system? I did overhear of a Pilgrim who becoming very sick from a meal and had to walk all day before he could "change." I'm sure it happens to quite a few.

At most beaches I walked past, where locals & visitors swim and lay on the beach, I saw only outside showers for people to wash the sand off but no public restrooms, toilets, WCs or changing rooms! What do local people do who spend the day at the beach and have to go to the restroom outside of having to go to a restaurant/bar/cafe? I couldn't even find WCs in or around the Churches I passed, which for the most part sadly were all locked. How I wanted to visit, rest in some shade, in a quiet place, say a prayer, and even get a stamp but they're locked. I understand their theft & vandalism concerns. I once helped maintain a Church years ago. Someone even stole our red carpet on the Altar! I know many people are concerned about finding used toilet paper and waste along the routes. I am too. I saw too much of it myself! It seems to me that the only logical answer would be to build small WCs along the routes so people don't have to find a bush, a tree, a rock. Believe me, on the Coastal Portuguese route, I would walk a whole day before I saw a place to go like on the hike after Vigo! You are up on a ridge in the forest all day! I did find a rock but I shouldn't have too! There were many people walking, biking...the well-known, well used path! Hey, how about a seated Rest Area & a WC! I saw a few places one could be built! On other places along the Camino, I did come across just a few shaded rest areas for Pilgrims but no WCs! There was certainly room for one! When I was in Fatima, walking the Via Dolorosa in the woods, they had a real small public WC for Men & Women. In the States, we have Rest Areas & Public Restrooms at beaches, parks, in towns... along with water fountains. Let's face it. People need Restrooms/WCs! A WC wouldn't take up much space along the routes and it wouldn't be hard or expensive to build!

As a Pilgrim planning to return to walk another Camino in the near future, I would be glad to give $5 to help support building & maintaining WCs along the routes when I purchase my passport. To be honest, I don't even know why, in the 21st Century, closing in on 2020, we need to talk about this and ask, beg... cities, towns, beaches, parks ...to build WCs along the routes to help support Pilgrims and to keep the environment clean from human waste & soiled toilet paper!!! It's just plain common sense! What if the Church supporting Pilgrimage Routes with some funds to help build a few WCs to help support the basic needs of their Pilgrims? I know that would probably be impossible. OK, how about GoFundMe accounts for Camino Route WCs? Something needs and should be done beyond talking about it! Respectfully, just a few thoughts to a problem we all can agree on but the resolution isn't a tough one! Can someone on the route governing boards help out on this and try to make it happen? Thanks much. Buen Camino to all!
Here is my contribution to the subject of loos on the Camino https://readingontheroad54893552.wordpress.com/2018/11/23/when-nature-calls/
(btw, have just done the South West Coast path in UK and it was worse!)
 

Dancing Rain

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Salvado (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
I have come to value all those cafes on the Camino Frances. I stop at them regularly, and leave a euro or two if I’m not having food or drink. My digestive system means I also have many “nature stops”, and so carry a range of supplies for personal care and accidents
 
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LTfit

Veteran Member
View attachment 64527

One of two public toilets seen between Le Puy and Conques. If the French can do it, why not the Spanish?
Who do you expect to fund this (purchase, installation and especially the daily clean-up)? I'm always surprised when pilgrims expect this service. Just because public toilets are possibly commonplace where you come from, this does not hold true for many European countries. In The Netherlands where I live there are next to none. You make due or go into a café. As others have said, there is no one organization responsible for the Camino.
 

Faye Walker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
View attachment 64527

One of two public toilets seen between Le Puy and Conques. If the French can do it, why not the Spanish?
Because *everything* is more expensive (considerably more so) in France. It is a wealthier country with more public resources. It is also more populous, generally speaking, and so infrastructure is less per capita.

That expense is connected, I am certain, to the relatively untravelled LePuy option compared to the various routes across Spain and Portugal.
 
Camino(s) past & future
This will be my husband and my first Camino at age 68!
I am planning to walk my first camino, the Coastal Portugal Route, in May 2020. Your post answers some questions I had about finding WC's along the route (had not found many answers until now). Unfortunately I'm not blessed with a strong bladder, so I must say this information does not make me very happy. ☹
I vote for the Shewee device
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
If Pilgrims would only learn to treat the countryside with more care, Bury their Number Twos, and carry out their tissues, there would be no problem I'm sure.

And quite frankly, if I use a cafe toilet I 'always' buy something if I need it or not. Or if there is a tips jar, put something in that....

This is a topic that comes up often......... But I think we need to take responsibility, not the local authorities.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
I anticipated all sorts of problems when I went on my first Camino in '14.
Just years prior I had undergone prostatic surgery and needed regular toilet visits...
But on the CF I found it very easy, within the hour, a cafe would appear.
Using the toilet is half a Euro, buying a coffee was 1 Euro.
Coffe is highly deuretic and thus the perpetuum mobile would continue all day long...
Look at it this way. A cafe owner will look after his toilet all day long if he wants satisfied customers...
Private landowners along the CF is pestered by countless tissue papers behind stone walls and on private land...
It really is a minor problem, I found it not a problem to carry my bladder responsibly for the time it took to reach a facility.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
Okay, now we're talking about WCs anyway, I have another question.
Mayby I'm over-worrying, but is it okay to use a bathroom in a cafe/bar/restaurant first and order a drink after that? I definitely intend to order something when I use the toilet in a cafe, but sometimes I really don't want my coffee before using the toilet first. But when I go straight to the bathroom first, not leaving some stuff at a table already because I'm walking alone, they don't see I'm planning to order something after that and won't be using their place as some free public toilet.

If you are leaving things at a table and you are walking alone, I am sure you are not Leavng any valuables at the table? I know it is hard slugging items into bathrooms, but do make sure you do not leave credentials, passports, , etc, money in your bag while you “run” in🙂.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
If you are leaving things at a table and you are walking alone, I am sure you are not Leavng any valuables at the table? I know it is hard slugging items into bathrooms, but do make sure you do not leave credentials, passports, , etc, money in your bag while you “run” in🙂.
Exactly!

I can't imagine myself taking my backpack to the usually quite small toilets, trying to close the door behind me, then putting it down on (usually) wet floor, doing the job, lifting the backpack, trying to open the door etc. :D :D :D
 

Annet2020

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues 2020
If you are leaving things at a table and you are walking alone, I am sure you are not Leavng any valuables at the table? I know it is hard slugging items into bathrooms, but do make sure you do not leave credentials, passports, , etc, money in your bag while you “run” in🙂.
What I meant was that I'll walk straight to the bathroom taking my stuff with me (I will be walking with a daypack), so my point was I will not leave my stuff at a table, indicating I will be a customer and not just getting there for bathroom only.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
Free public toilets are not part of the Spanish culture. Spain has evolved a different model. I don't want the local culture to change to accommodate me. It is one of the reasons I go there. Viva la difference.
I wonder. You can find free toilets at every busstation and trainstation in Spain and sometimes also on beaches. That is a lot more than in the country where I come from. Apart from that, it seems much more normal to walk into a bar as a woman and ask to use the restrooms (however not on a busy Camino probably).

But yes, in nature bushes rule. Pee is good for soil fertility as well. I heard about permies who pee in their own vegetable garden for that reason.
 

Walton

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
  1. If needing to stop for something more 'serious' the ground surface should allow for digging a small hole.
We took special purpose plastic trowels on our first camino. Useless for digging holes on sunbaked "hard as rock" ground.

I'm taking a jackhammer on the next Camino! 😂

The worst part in my opinion, is the Orisson to Ronceveles section especially to the Spanish border. Barbed wire fences on both sides of the path.

Wirecutters might be taken also? :p

I still recon there is a great business opportunity for someone prepared to tow portaloos to be placed strategically along the way. I'd pay happily pay 5 euros to visit when needed.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
I can understand the confusions and concerns of those who are unused to European and especially Spanish mores. From Barcelona to Estapona, Malaga to SdC, whether a customer makes there way to the services before placing an order at the bar is of little interest to the proprietor and will arouse little interest. If that "customer" turns out to have not been a customer at all but one merely taking advantage of an open door the proprietor might take a different view or may just shrug their shoulders and confide their views on the "deseducado" to none but themselves. Most have been content with the convention that a purchase, or a coin on the bar, covers the cost and (in)convenience.

I've sensed this pactum pacificae is now breaking, at least along the Autopista Pergrino/a. Too many will duck, dive and contrive to use and yet not pay for the facilities provided. In the UK now you'll find Railway Station coffee bars with a :) logo-ed sign "the door code for the lavatories is on your till receipt". I'll not bother translating that into Spanish, yet. But the :) is usually the give-away.
 

LesR

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
I am planning to walk my first camino, the Coastal Portugal Route, in May 2020. Your post answers some questions I had about finding WC's along the route (had not found many answers until now). Unfortunately I'm not blessed with a strong bladder, so I must say this information does not make me very happy. ☹
All is not lost - my experience in CF 2017 and CF2018 was that there were very few public WCs and with the heat of the day and being a prolific sweater, so much (water) went in and so little came out.... And I learned to check with the bladder before I left a town/village....

Yes, an occasional inconvenience (and, being male, biology was on my side) but hardly spoiling the joy of walking the camino...
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I have come to value all those cafes on the Camino Frances. I stop at them regularly, and leave a euro or two if I’m not having food or drink.
I noticed last time out..........a combination lock on the bathroom at a cafe in Lavacolla.
That started a discussion with the owner as we were having lunch.

She was 'fed up' with 'entitled' Pligrims coming in to use the toilet, demand the wifi password, and sit there without buying a thing! 'Customers' were given the key code.

Quite frankly I don't blame her.........
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
She was 'fed up' with 'entitled' Pligrims coming in to use the toilet, demand the wifi password, and sit there without buying a thing! 'Customers' were given the key code.
Good for her.
Entitlement is the opposite of what the camino is about.
 

Glamgrrl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Travel318
It’s an industry, a tourist industry, no matter your reason for walking. I’m that person that has to stop every 20 minutes, plus the after coffee break. First, utilize every opportunity even at cafes, and support the businesses that are there to support you. Second, water the tree. Use the left pocket right I met method. Left for tissue, right for the baggie for used tissue. Use for the day and dump, Reuse or throw away. For poo, have a doggie bag, hand wipes and sanitizer. Pick it up. A darker bag is better than ziplock. Toss at the next garbage can. It’s just not that hard. If you feel the urge, plan and stop.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I noticed last time out..........a combination lock on the bathroom at a cafe in Lavacolla.
That started a discussion with the owner as we were having lunch.

She was 'fed up' with 'entitled' Pligrims coming in to use the toilet, demand the wifi password, and sit there without buying a thing! 'Customers' were given the key code.

Quite frankly I don't blame her.........
I don't blame her either!
Water, toilet paper, and cleaning products aren't free.
 

LesR

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
I noticed last time out..........a combination lock on the bathroom at a cafe in Lavacolla.
That started a discussion with the owner as we were having lunch.

She was 'fed up' with 'entitled' Pligrims coming in to use the toilet, demand the wifi password, and sit there without buying a thing! 'Customers' were given the key code.

Quite frankly I don't blame her.........
I also recall a bar between Sarria and Santiago (cannot remember specific details) where the toilet lock was controlled by a switch under the counter - no pay, no go...

In an similar vein, a bar is the same general area - we were met with the owner in heated discussion with a perigrino about use of the toilet by passing walkers rather than customers - "vamoose" was the only word I understood!

I do not begrudge a bar owner wanting some recompense for the use of their facilities by perigrinos - these facilities require time and funds to clean and maintain, and a cafe con leche is always welcome anyway...
 
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Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
Just had a great idea! Maybe the Church could fund the public toilets - as their modern contribution to the notion of going on pilgrimage.
 

peterbells

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept 2018 (Sarria to Santiago), repeating Sept 2019
When researching my Camino last year one piece of advice was train your body to poo morning and/or evening, ie where you are staying before/after the actual walking and as having a pee on the way is manageable.
 

Dancing Rain

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Salvado (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
All depends on one’s digestive system....some of us have had health problems &/or surgical interventions that make such”bowel training” problematic
 

Faye Walker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Just had a great idea! Maybe the Church could fund the public toilets - as their modern contribution to the notion of going on pilgrimage.
Assumes "The Church" does not commit to modern infrastructure already, nor that the camino is not providing in its symbiotic way both for the walkers and the villages along the way. But Luther did object to the indulgences of pilgrimage.... perhaps it would be better to follow Luther's way if one feels that the church is failing?
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Yes, it is that simple.
As most of you know, this is a touchy topic with me.
I wish the Pilgrim Office in SJPP would give a hand out that says CARRY OUT YOUR TOILET PAPER!
Just THAT would make a huge difference!
I have wet towelettes that I used to clean my kids when they were babies. They come in very handy when I am walking for all sorts of reasons. I always have some sort of disposal for them that I carry too. Usually a plastic bag from a grocery store or a zip lock bag. Whatever you drop you need to keep the item you cleaned it with until you get to a garbage can.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
If Spain (28.000 USD per capita) and Portugal (21.000) are quite poor countries what adjective would be for Morocco (3000) and Ethiopia (760) ?.
Maybe the person should have thrown in by Western European standards.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I have wet towelettes that I used to clean my kids when they were babies. They come in very handy when I am walking for all sorts of reasons. I always have some sort of disposal for them that I carry too. Usually a plastic bag from a grocery store or a zip lock bag. Whatever you drop you need to keep the item you cleaned it with until you get to a garbage can.
That's wonderful that you do this.
Now if we just could convince the other hundreds of women who leave their nasty wipes and paper and feminine product supplies along the trail.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
That's wonderful that you do this.
Now if we just could convince the other hundreds of women who leave their nasty wipes and paper and feminine product supplies along the trail.
I appreciate your saying that but I am a guy hahahaha!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I appreciate your saying that but I am a guy hahahaha!
Oops, sorry! lol!
I know I'm gonna be yelled at for saying this, but when it comes to Camino toilet grossness, it's the women, not the men. And often the more prissy ones! The ones who would call the police if someone squatted, peed, and left nasty paper in THEIR yards. Go figure...
 

DebbieG64

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
First one next week, May 2019
Why? Because it's a camino - a road - rather than a public park.
As other people have said, there is no overarching entity that takes care of the camino, except maybe we who walk it. Since the costs to small pueblos for providing for that many people are prohibitive, it's up to us pilgrims to learn to be flexible, rather than demanding that other people take care of us.
Wow! A bit bitter are we today! Also, some rather insensitive comments too! Yes, it is a "road" but it is not in the backcountry or the outbacks! The Way does move through, around and into towns, cities... urban areas with some rural areas where there is an abundance of traffic-- pedestrian, bicyclist & vehicular --other people running, biking and walking the outdoors! Even at parks, at the beaches with lots of pedestrian traffic and bathers/swimmers, I didn't see restrooms. I don't know how other countries are set up but here, we have counties who take care of the unincorporated areas outside the city. It is up to the county, the Parks & Recreation Departments, to provide public park restrooms for their areas from the taxes collected each year. Now, I noticed the boardwalks along the Portugal Coastal Route. Who constructed and now maintains the boardwalks which are way outside the city limits? Why not include a public WC? Now, for a guy, it is really easy to unzip and empty your bladder but for us gals, it is quite different! If you are not sure what us gals have to go through, use your imagination! We are flexible and NO, we are not "demanding that other people take care of us!" Sir, and I use that term loosely, this is the 21st century, not the 12th century and we are not in the backcountry. I would hope that we have come a long way since the 12th century... in attitude, in sensitivity, with somewhat learned empathy towards others and some wisdom, in regards to personal care, and in reference to much needed facilities! We are not asking for someone to built an extravagant building! Even portables would work! It is the only decent, common sense, the Mature!!!!, human... thing to do when you have thousands and thousands of pilgrims walking the Way. It will also help keep the area clean of used toilet paper, garbage and human waste! Afterall, we are not neanderthals tracing around the wilderness! We are (supposed to be) civilized people who, hopefully, have some measure of respect for the environment whether we live there or are just passing through!
 

DebbieG64

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
First one next week, May 2019
Spain and Portugal are countries with many unemployed people. These countries are quite poor, especially Portugal is. So their priority is not to build, maintain and keep clean toilets for pilgrims who have the money to travel over the world to walk through their country ......

Pilgrims are not tourists, who pay a lot for 5* hotels and restaurants and keep up the economy.
A tourist demands, a pilgrim is grateful for what is offered .....
I wasn't a tourist, neither an many who Walk the Camino! We are not "demanding." Stop being so defensive, judgemental and arrogant on who or what is a 'pilgrim' and a 'tourist!' These are simple suggestions on how to attend to our natural needs and on how to keep the environment clean. Why not include a public WC on the outskirts of the Way? Even a simple portable? Hey, many people are unemployed and going through rough times all over the world. Now, for a guy, it is really easy to unzip and empty your bladder but for us gals, it is quite different! This is the 21st century, not the 12th century and we are not in the backcountry. I would hope that we have come a long way since the 12th century... in attitude, in sensitivity, with somewhat learned empathy towards others and some wisdom, in regards to personal care, and in reference to much needed facilities! Even portables would work! It is the only decent, common sense, the Mature!!!!, human... thing to do when you have thousands and thousands of pilgrims walking the Way. It will also help keep the area clean of used toilet paper, garbage and human waste! Afterall, we are not neanderthals tracing around the wilderness nor are we tourist staying at 5 star accommodations! I thought walking the Camino teaches one to not be some judgmental, to not to criticize others, to learn and practice some empathy ... to not be so nasty in attitude! We are (supposed to be) civilized people who, hopefully, have some measure of respect for the environment, respect for others whether they are residents or other visitors, whether we live there or are just passing through! Now, if you came to my area and asked about facilities, I would be glad to help you find some!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I wasn't a tourist, neither an many who Walk the Camino! We are not "demanding." Stop being so defensive, judgemental and arrogant on who or what is a 'pilgrim' and a 'tourist!' These are simple suggestions on how to attend to our natural needs and on how to keep the environment clean. Why not include a public WC on the outskirts of the Way? Even a simple portable? Hey, many people are unemployed and going through rough times all over the world. Now, for a guy, it is really easy to unzip and empty your bladder but for us gals, it is quite different! This is the 21st century, not the 12th century and we are not in the backcountry. I would hope that we have come a long way since the 12th century... in attitude, in sensitivity, with somewhat learned empathy towards others and some wisdom, in regards to personal care, and in reference to much needed facilities! Even portables would work! It is the only decent, common sense, the Mature!!!!, human... thing to do when you have thousands and thousands of pilgrims walking the Way. It will also help keep the area clean of used toilet paper, garbage and human waste! Afterall, we are not neanderthals tracing around the wilderness nor are we tourist staying at 5 star accommodations! I thought walking the Camino teaches one to not be some judgmental, to not to criticize others, to learn and practice some empathy ... to not be so nasty in attitude! We are (supposed to be) civilized people who, hopefully, have some measure of respect for the environment, respect for others whether they are residents or other visitors, whether we live there or are just passing through! Now, if you came to my area and asked about facilities, I would be glad to help you find some!
Wow! You are the one who sounds bitter and angry (and judgmental) to me!
I apologize ahead of time if I'm wrong, but that's just how it sounds.
I know how difficult it is to get our point across in these forums, but ouch!

Well :::sigh:: as VNWalking and Ianinam said, it is a road, not a public park.
And it's made of roads in many different communities, across the entire country of Spain, all who would have to "get on board" and most likely cannot afford to supply WCs for pilgrims. Perhaps you should start a GoFundMe to put WCs along the Camino? I'm not kidding... someone needs to start somewhere. But then, who would pay to empty and clean them?

By the way, you don't say which country you are from.
In the USA we have the Pacific Coast Trail and the Appalachian Trail, neither of which have regular toilets along the route, to my knowledge.

A pilgrim is grateful, they do not demand. Respectfully, if people from other countries don't like the way the pilgrimage is set up, perhaps they should find other more improved places to walk. :🤷: In the meantime, they should be respectful of the country, the countryside, the people, the culture, and the offerings, imo, and act like mature humans, not animals leaving piles of waste behind them.
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Wow! A bit bitter are we today!
If you are not sure what us gals have to go through, use your imagination!
I did not find anything bitter in the comments which @VNwalking has made. A reasoned response. And I am sure that after a great deal of experience of walking the Caminos she is just as aware of the issues as you are.
 
Camino(s) past & future
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Most of the villages along the route from Le Puy seemed to have a public WC, maintained by the town. There were even a couple of dry WCs in remoter spots. (Dry = built not needing plumbing). Clearly a public service valued by the French.

My Spanish friends say the Spanish don't build them as the men can urinate anywhere and women will wait to get home. They also say, yeah it sucks, but they have other priorities.

Use the rock to hide behind, carry out your litter.
A lot of the small towns in Portugal have these as well. Generally somewhere near/in the public plaza, or near the church. I know the "downtown" part of our town has two sets: one by the bandstand down in the big park, and one at the other end of town near the church. Unfortunately, even the nearer of the two is probably 1/2 km east of the caminho .
 
Camino(s) past & future
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Exactly!

I can't imagine myself taking my backpack to the usually quite small toilets, trying to close the door behind me, then putting it down on (usually) wet floor, doing the job, lifting the backpack, trying to open the door etc. :D :D :D
For Portugal in any case, locals are very, very honest. There should be no risk in leaving your backpack in a cafe while you use the facilities. Even if you can't speak Portuguese, you can always gesture to leave it behind the bar. I'd be very surprised if anyone said "no." Portuguese hospitality precludes it!
 
Camino(s) past & future
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Spain and Portugal are countries with many unemployed people. These countries are quite poor, especially Portugal is. So their priority is not to build, maintain and keep clean toilets for pilgrims who have the money to travel over the world to walk through their country ......

Pilgrims are not tourists, who pay a lot for 5* hotels and restaurants and keep up the economy.
A tourist demands, a pilgrim is grateful for what is offered .....
I agree. These are poor countries, by northern European and North American standards. And the rural areas that the caminos go through are the poorer parts of these poor-ish countries. Their local tax priorities are their own citizens, who in many cases desperately need whatever public services can be offered.

For Portugal anyway, there are a zillion little cafes, each of which is highly regulated and has, in my experience anyway, a very clean, if possibly basic, WC. A coffee in one of these places typically costs about 60 euro cents, or about $1 or, I believe, 50 pence. A tea is the same. Bottled water--"Pedras" in Portuguese cafes, is just a tiny bit more. A small price to pay for "the pause that refreshes!"

If you can't stand the very strong Portuguese espresso, ask for an "abatanado" (Ah-BAT-A-NAH-DOO), which is the Portuguese equivalent of an Americano and comes in a bigger cup with more hot water.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
There were also times I needed to make a quick stop due to the coffee kicking in but I wasn't interested in eating anything since just had breakfast or lunch.
I'm not always hungry or thirsty when "nature calls", but I still always buy something - a packet of chips or wrapped pastry to save for later when I use the facilities at a bar.
 

Stroller

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2015), Frances (2016)
Two small thoughts, "you brought it in you take it out", and the other "if you don't like the camino as it is don't go there".

Many walk caminos because they are as they are and "improvements" actually spoil them for many because they have a need occasionally to cope with life outside their comfort zone.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
So much debate over such a human and natural activity.....What is all the fuss about?
I must say again: Learn and adapt to your "body clock" and bodily functions, prepare for the "inevitable" and accept it with a smile. When you fell the need look for a proper place to go. If no toilet is in sight get behind a convenient bush, tree, bend in track, below a terrain curve etc, do your business, take your paper with you in a bag, clean your hands in sanitizer and dump your spent paper in a bin. How hard can it be? Judged by this thread some apparently worry about this aspect of the pilgrimage. Which is unnecessary.
Once you learn how to do your business quickly and in a clean and efficient way you also relieve your self from the stress of absolutely having to find a facility and holding your bodily functions back until you do. Which can cause you a lot of pain in your abdomen and potential "disasters".
If you are too civilized and sophisticated for that and you must use proper toilet then buy something I.e. a glass of juice at the counter and use the facility with a clean conscience.
Unbelievable such a natural thing can cause so much debate.....😂
 

Annet2020

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues 2020
For Portugal anyway, there are a zillion little cafes, each of which is highly regulated and has, in my experience anyway, a very clean, if possibly basic, WC. A coffee in one of these places typically costs about 60 euro cents, or about $1 or, I believe, 50 pence. A tea is the same. Bottled water--"Pedras" in Portuguese cafes, is just a tiny bit more. A small price to pay for "the pause that refreshes!"
I don't mind at all to buy a coffee or anything else to use the toilet in a cafe, but according to the opening post there are stretches along the coastal Portugues route you don't find an open cafe for most of the day or they're still closed in May because it's low season.
 
Camino(s) past & future
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
I don't mind at all to buy a coffee or anything else to use the toilet in a cafe, but according to the opening post there are stretches along the coastal Portugues route you don't find an open cafe for most of the day or they're still closed in May because it's low season.
The tourist cafes built right along the boardwalk are pretty much seasonal, for sure. But if you zip off the boardwalk into any nearby town through the access paths that are built east across the dunes, there's almost inevitably some small cafe open all year round, from 9 or 10 in the morning through to the mid-evening. The Portuguese can't survive without them, themselves!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
w! A bit bitter are we today!
Not on the least, Debbie, I'm just being realistic. But feel free to project all you like. ;)

Public loos - even portibles - are expensive and need to be regularly serviced and maintained. @Tincatinker was pretty clear (if you resd his comment above) about what that can cost.
So, really? A hamlet with a handful of (mostly elderly) permanent residents is supposed to fork out the money to provide facilities for thousands of foreign tourists who walk through, offering nothing?
That describes many of the places the caminos pass through. And demanding loos of such people is not only unrealistic but a few other things besides. And the camino is about none of those things.
 
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chinacat

Veteran Member
All is not lost - my experience in CF 2017 and CF2018 was that there were very few public WCs and with the heat of the day and being a prolific sweater, so much (water) went in and so little came out.... And I learned to check with the bladder before I left a town/village....

Yes, an occasional inconvenience (and, being male, biology was on my side) but hardly spoiling the joy of walking the camino...
I’ve always found that my perspiration balanced my water intake on countless adventures in the mountains .... I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened.
A pint of tea when I got back to ‘civilisation’ soon got things moving again 😉

I stopped carrying my Shewee (used twice, just for the novelty value really, on car journeys) years ago ... thought it might be useful in the car and left it in the boot ... where it has lain, forgotten, to this day ...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
If Spain (28.000 USD per capita) and Portugal (21.000) are quite poor countries what adjective would be for Morocco (3000) and Ethiopia (760) ?.
I’ve been to Ethiopia. There are many remarkable features of the country. Public toilets - indeed toilets of any kind - are not one.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I am not going to say what "a true pilgrim" is or does, because in my books, a "true pilgrim" is anyone who considers themselves a pilgrim (and even some who don't). So I won't say that a "true pilgrim" is never demanding, accepts whatever they are given with gratitude, never complains, etc. Heaven knows I couldn't live up to such a standard!

The Camino is what it is. Some amenities it provides. Others it doesn't. We each have to look at what is available and decide whether what is on offer is enough to draw us there, despite what may not be on offer. And the Camino has much to offer. The things that many of us value most don't come with a price tag. Time to think, away from our regular worries and responsibilities. Good fellowship with like-minded souls. Experiencing landscapes in ways that aren't available when we take them for granted or move through them at many km an hour. An up-close view of different cultures, both urban and rural.

Other things do come with a price tag. Places to stay, generally not too far apart to walk from one to the other. Places to eat or buy groceries and cook, too, so that we don't have to carry many days of provisions with us. These more material amenities are proliferating as the Camino grows in popularity. Not just in quantity (there are so many more albergues, bars, restaurants and shops now on the Camino Frances than there were in 1989 that it boggles the mind) but in what they provide (it is now not uncommon for albergues to offer Internet access and laundry machines, for example).

So what amenities are provided on the Camino is not fixed, but changes over time. In most cases, these are market changes. Pilgrims are ready to pay for something and when enough of them are willing to pay, it eventually gets built. In some cases, local people will build things that are not directly paid for by pilgrims but are there to support the pilgrim traffic. Signposts come to mind, but there are also staffed pilgrim information offices, at a few places on the Camino Frances and even a few on the Camino Finisterre. These were not put in place because pilgrims demanded them or said they should be there. They were put in place because the local authorities in that particular part of the Camino thought they were a good idea and were ready to pay for them. That's why the km markers in Navarre don't look like the ones in Galicia. Perhaps, some day, public washrooms will be provided like these are.

But that day isn't today. Saying they should be there, here on these forums, won't put them there. I won't say that anyone needs to accept that they are not there. Just that anyone walking the Camino will likely have a much better time of it if they accept that they are not and comes up with some strategies to cope with that fact.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I have watched this thread with some dismay as some contributions have used words that verge on, or indeed step over the line, of being ad hominum rather than just being robust.

I can understand the OP holding her views on this strongly, but I would suggest three things:
  1. as pilgrims, we need to be careful about being too willing to spend other peoples money on things where at best we are paying indirectly. Even more so when we are not members or closely associated with the communities and their other needs that local councils need to satisfy.
  2. as forum members, we are not a lobby group for individual's personal passions. There is a difference between sharing our experiences and helping others learn, and expecting that we will somehow attempt to influence the spending decisions of the national, regional and local government agencies or the various dioceses that might be involved.
  3. when we deploy rhetorical devices that imply 'common sense' or 'we can all agree on', and have these challenged from the very outset, continuing to defend a position based on such shaky foundations isn't going to be easy.
Further, having travelled relatively widely over my lifetime, but to both North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the past five years, I would suggest this is a problem that exists everywhere. On a recent road trip across the western USA, there were almost no public toilets outside of cities and major towns. We relied on cafes and restaurants, roadside service centres and the like. Even at our start point, Chicago, public toilets along the lake front did exist, but beyond that, one relied on publicly accessible toilets in hotels and major buildings, as well as in the cafes and restaurants where we ate.

Even in my own country, the construction of free public toilets along some of our major roads outside of towns is only relatively recent, and took advantage of several technologies that emerged late in the 20th Century like the improvements in composting toilets, more efficient solar power panels and better battery storage technologies that provide for night time lighting. The operating costs of such toilets appear to be relatively low - the resupply of consumables like TP in particular needs to be managed, but in most cases, people using them know that they can rinse their hands but need to bring their own soap or hand sanitizer. I also carry TP in the car anyhow just in case I find myself somewhere without a toilet.

These might provide opportunities for deployment by local councils along the Camino routes, where the environmental conditions are suitable, that don't have the high operating costs of conventional toilets. But that is something councils would need to assess along with any other capital works needed by their local communities.
 
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Faye Walker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
You mean the Camino is not like going to Disney World???:eek:
(I hope it never is!)
I fear it may be too late. Some sources I have been reading seem to have lost the plot entirely and it really does come off like it's some kind of chug-along adventure ride akin to the Log Ride.... Not just bag shipping but trousseau portage, pre-booking, itineraries, and demands for *my camino* to be honoured as *my unique specialness* that is more important than the culture one is trammelling through... People who think nothing of being more excited that they will meet other "pilgrims" than that they may encounter multiple cultures and languages across the 800 km. It's as though Spain is an after-thought if any thought at all.

Sure... it's "your camino" or "my camino" but that was supposed to meant we could tolerate each person's own way of thinking... of bearing their burdens, seeking solace, forgiveness, communion, etc. I don't think it was supposed to mean that we all just have to give blessing to entitled, demanding behaviour of oblivious litter-bugs who knock other walkers out of entire regions by pre-booking to the gills....

I used to say that Brierley had ruined the Camino with his *stages* but now I think really, Emilio Estevez nearly single-handedly destroyed it. I fear for the impact on the culture and land of the people who must live there.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I used to say that Brierley had ruined the Camino with his *stages* but now I think really, Emilio Estevez nearly single-handedly destroyed it. I fear for the impact on the culture and land of the people who must live there.
I actually regret being an extra in the movie...but then I'm one of the pre-booking, bag-hiring ruiners, I guess. 🙄😬
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I fear it may be too late. Some sources I have been reading seem to have lost the plot entirely and it really does come off like it's some kind of chug-along adventure ride akin to the Log Ride.... Not just bag shipping but trousseau portage, pre-booking, itineraries, and demands for *my camino* to be honoured as *my unique specialness* that is more important than the culture one is trammelling through... People who think nothing of being more excited that they will meet other "pilgrims" than that they may encounter multiple cultures and languages across the 800 km. It's as though Spain is an after-thought if any thought at all.

Sure... it's "your camino" or "my camino" but that was supposed to meant we could tolerate each person's own way of thinking... of bearing their burdens, seeking solace, forgiveness, communion, etc. I don't think it was supposed to mean that we all just have to give blessing to entitled, demanding behaviour of oblivious litter-bugs who knock other walkers out of entire regions by pre-booking to the gills....

I used to say that Brierley had ruined the Camino with his *stages* but now I think really, Emilio Estevez nearly single-handedly destroyed it. I fear for the impact on the culture and land of the people who must live there.
This is not the post about your views it just triggered what I'm gonna to write. So really nothing personal :)

First of all there are more than 50 Camin(h)os de Santiago on Iberian peninsula. So if Camino Frances became "Disney World" why not walk any of those.

Where I see JB and EE are a little bit "guilty" is that people believe just that, Camino de Santigao = Camino Frances. It is not. But it is not the fault of those two guys but because of the ignorance of the people.
 

Faye Walker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
This is not the post about your views it just triggered what I'm gonna to write. So really nothing personal :)

First of all there are more than 50 Camin(h)os de Santiago on Iberian peninsula. So if Camino Frances became "Disney World" why not walk any of those.

Where I see JB and EE are a little bit "guilty" is that people believe just that, Camino de Santigao = Camino Frances. It is not. But it is not the fault of those two guys but because of the ignorance of the people.
Indeed.... I will not walk the CF beyond Ponferrada if I ever walk it again. There are so many other ways to reach Santiago without the distraction of bed-races entirely fabricated by the last 100k on the CF phenomenon, and without the distraction of those who demand more, more, more of the comfort of home.

On my first camino I endured a tragedy and experienced amazing kindness; on my second camino I found communion in a fairly profound way... but the need to outrun (by waking at 4:30 in the morning, or walking 15-20 K beyond our intentions) the tourigrinos was intrusive.

And so: the CP in the "off season" from Coimbra this year -- to gain some space, and to see a people and a culture I was unable to come to know in 2014 when I had intended it. Perhaps the Le Puy or the Francigena if health and luck permit...

Maybe the VdLP from Salamanca up to Astorga.

I don't know. There are so many ways to Santiago, or to Rome... I shall walk until I can't....

[Nothing personal taken. Just musing aloud in call-return mode].
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
The first time I read in these forums of the concept of 'packing out' your toilet waste I admit I was confronted. However, having considered it, and further to Robo's story above about using a trowel, something further convinces me of it's worth, and indeed advisability. In those stretches of the Camino where a toilet is not available, and only a single likely-looking bush or tree is in sight, I foresee that other pilgrims, quite a few of them, have very probably availed themselves of its proximity for an identical purpose, with the distinct possibility that when you dig your own little hole you might strike 'Black Gold'.

Now, that is worse than confronting.
 

BartM

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Porto (2019)
The tourist cafes built right along the boardwalk are pretty much seasonal, for sure. But if you zip off the boardwalk into any nearby town through the access paths that are built east across the dunes, there's almost inevitably some small cafe open all year round
The boardwalks in Portugal are impressive - a low tech solution which doubtless protects the dunes and coastal areas while providing access for beachgoers and pilgrims. Who provides them? Some are a bit dilapidated but others are maintained and this year I saw new sections being built. Could the budget for this not stretch to some public toilets? Although, I realise that this might not be the custom or culture in Spain or Portugal.
 

BartM

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Porto (2019)
In the USA we have the Pacific Coast Trail and the Appalachian Trail, neither of which have regular toilets along the route, to my knowledge.
The Pacific Coast Trail and the Appalachian Trail do have some "pit toilets" maintained along the trail - though obviously few and far between.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I used to say that Brierley had ruined the Camino with his *stages* but now I think really, Emilio Estevez nearly single-handedly destroyed it.
If I ever feel that things have gone too quiet around here - which this morning seems very unlikely :cool: - I may post the first three volumes of my magnum opus "Why I loathe the Brierley guides" then hide behind a wall as the firefight begins. But even I will not put the blame singlehandedly or even mostly on the Blessed JB. Or on a modestly entertaining remake of "The Wizard of Oz". Change on the Caminos has been a long evolutionary business and I think that the critics or fans of Brierley or Estevez are inclined to attribute rather more influence to their bête noire/hero than is really merited. In reality a far more complicated stew of factors has been involved.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
As great as it may sound at first, the idea of 800 km of Spanish countryside lined with Portaloos isn't so appealing either ...

I wouldn't be surprised if some regions or localities do install a few chemical toilets or dry toilets in the coming years.

Don't get your hopes up, though: I doubt that the used toilet paper will disappear from the trail. Many women - and I'm convinced it's mainly women - will continue to leave their traces in this way and will not use the cabins.

The problem are the high numbers of camino walkers on the Camino Frances in particular but also the lack of appropriate behaviour - either laziness, thoughtlessness or lack of knowledge and lack of education - on the part of the camino walkers. They drop their wet toilet paper where they used it instead of taking it with them in a plastic bag and people apparently can't be bothered to walk a few meters away from the trail and in particular spare the places next to the trail that make a nice spot for a rest. It's disgusting behaviour and chemical toilets won't make it go away.

I've walked quite a bit in many places. The Camino Frances is the only trail where I've learnt to deliberately avoid any spot that looks inviting to have a rest. And that is not the fault of the locals. Even the immediate environment of benches that have been put there for pilgrims to enjoy is not spared. Yuck!!!
 

Faye Walker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
If I ever feel that things have gone too quiet around here - which this morning seems very unlikely :cool: - I may post the first three volumes of my magnum opus "Why I loathe the Brierley guides" then hide behind a wall as the firefight begins. But even I will not put the blame singlehandedly or even mostly on the Blessed JB. Or on a modestly entertaining remake of "The Wizard of Oz". Change on the Caminos has been a long evolutionary business and I think that the critics or fans of Brierley or Estevez are inclined to attribute rather more influence to their bête noire/hero than is really merited. In reality a far more complicated stew of factors has been involved.
Fair enough...
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Last time this issue came up I suggested 'long-drops' (pit-toilet?). Deep hole, beams to hold a wooden floor and a squat plate. No need to flush and just a 3 sided re-usable wood shelter facing away from the Camino, no roof and bring your own toilet paper. Low maintenance; spread the spoil heap from the first hole around and there-after back-fill the old hole when the next one is dug. Only problem is - who pays for the digging each time and initial outlay of wood, beams and squat plate????? .....how long before they become filled up/unuseable etc.... and who decides where they are 'needed'?
Answers on a post-card please :)
I would prefer a cafe con leche and the cafe toilet and try to adapt my life to suit the Camino pattern so maybe only a pee needed if anything, and only that in an emergency with TP carried out.
Supporting the cafe supports the local economy and helps keep some of the little places open and the villages alive. We have even walked 200 mts off Camino (and then rejoined the Camino) to a signed cafe rather than use a bush. Maybe some of the 'off-Camino' cafes could be encouraged to advertise themselves better.
 
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jmcarp

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
Like nearly all the man-made "problems" in today's society, it all boils down to awareness, common sense, and personal responsibility, none of which seem to be taught anymore.

Scene 23, Take 1, Somewhere on the vast and desolate Meseta:
Un-named perigrino/a: "I sure need to pee. Oh, there's a bush, I'll just go behind that. [so far, so good]. Yikes, look at all that tissue--and what's that smell? [Does his/her business] Eeew, now what do I do with this piece of nasty tissue? I know, I'll just leave it here--someone [anyone but me] will pick it up."

Therein lies the problem: "It's not my problem." Really?
 

Faye Walker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Like nearly all the man-made "problems" in today's society, it all boils down to awareness, common sense, and personal responsibility, none of which seem to be taught anymore.

Scene 23, Take 1, Somewhere on the vast and desolate Meseta:
Un-named perigrino/a: "I sure need to pee. Oh, there's a bush, I'll just go behind that. [so far, so good]. Yikes, look at all that tissue--and what's that smell? [Does his/her business] Eeew, now what do I do with this piece of nasty tissue? I know, I'll just leave it here--someone [anyone but me] will pick it up."

Therein lies the problem: "It's not my problem." Really?

I never thought of an *upside* to tissue left behind until this post: without it as a marker that says "someone peed on this spot" one could easily step in a pee sodden spot (in sandals no less). Tissue is, presumably, dropped where the deposit has been made, providing a flag that says "feet on either side"... [I'm not arguing in favour of leaving tissue behind...]

What really stunned me was the need for some poor farmers to post graphic signs that pleaded, fundamentally, "Please don't poop on my bodega".

Too many pilgrims, I fear, are just very inconsiderate. It's *their* unique little camino after all....

Ugh.
 

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