What are the negatives that people have come across that we don’t hear about?

Negative experience

The question was:

We read mostly about the positive aspects of the Camino(written by wonderful,helpful,positive people!!)…..What are the negatives that people have come across that we dont hear about ? Your experiences may help others avoid the pitfalls.

Read the whole conversation on the negative things about the Camino de Santiago here in our Camino forum.


34 Replies to “What are the negatives that people have come across that we don’t hear about?”

  1. Snoring/loud conversation in the refugios. People racing past you to get a bed for the night. Missing the yellow arrows (although this is probably only applicable on the less well known caminos). Having to leave at the end of your Pilgrimage. Trying to convince other people to give it a go. The question “but why do you want to walk all that way ?”. The pancake lady on the CdS saying they are free, then requesting several Euros. Not being able to stay more than one night in a refugio if you are ill or cannot walk.
    Errmm…not bad for four weeks of bliss.

    1. Hi Nick,
      If you are ill or not able to walk due to an injury most of the albergues let you stay more than one night. If you ask the keepers will let you stay if they see you really need it.

      Buen Camino!

    2. One thing not mentioned in anything that I’ve read is that the sleeping quarters is not a place for conversation even in the afternoon. A lot of pilgrims come in to sleep. Just etiquette that wasn’t shared.

      1. What gets tiring is sharing personal space with so many night after night.

        1. that’s why we’re bringing our tent to have some ‘peace’ time …

          1. I took enough funds to be able to stay in relative comfort, and have some ‘us’ time with my daughter, when we were in the larger cities. It was worth the 30Euro each time. I only ever lost the plot about accommodation once, and that was just because I really wanted to keep walking, but Georgia was over it and wanted to stop.

      2. The albergue is a place where pilgrims from all over the world meet and exchange their stories, they arrive at all times of the day and need to access the sleeping quarters.To expect them to stifle their conversations and tiptoe around because some selfish people consider that the albergue is their own personal rest-home for afternoon laps is totally unreasonable. The same people go to bed early in the evenings and draw curtains, turn out lights and expect those of us who retire later(but before curfew time of 10pm) to flounder around in the dark. The etiquette here is that sleep time, dark time and quiet time is between 10pm and 7pm, if you need your daytime naps – get a room.

  2. Only problem were the bicyclists who raced down hills without any warning to the walkers. My friend came very close to getting clobbered as did I. Note to bicyclists: We cannot hear you coming especially when it is raining and we have our hoods up.

    1. Cyclists who ring their bells because they don’t want to leave the side of the track that they and you are both walking on.

      1. … or maybe they are polite and considerate, informing walkers that they are behind and going past, so as not to frighten, etc.

        1. Unfortunately, this is happening when the trail is quite wide, but the cyclists are riding in a groove they don’t want to leave. The worst was a group of cyclists last summer who had installed a horribly loud siren to get walkers to move.

          1. Now that would be horribly rude! We were thinking of cycling as our children did it last year, but in the end decided to walk it this August starting from Arles, hopefully we won’t come across such unpleasantness. Like your comments by the way.

          2. Good luck! lots of cyclists are polite on the Camino. It’s just that when you’re in a silent and thoughtful stride, it can be unpleasant to have disrupted. πŸ™‚ Good luck this year! I will be volunteering at the alburgue in Ponferrada (I hope).

          3. hi, im also looking at walking from arles to santiago in mid aug/sept of next year and am a little overwhelmed by all the information. if you have any arles-specific info or links i’d appreciate your passing it on πŸ™‚ thanks!

          4. Hi there, we bought two little (A5) booklets from the Confraternity of Saint James by Michael Gaches (2011) which provides a simple and practical guide from the various routes from France to Spain. It is published in two parts: Arles to Toulouse; and Toulouse to Puente la Reina. His contact is: mikrowen@yahoo.co.uk – hope this helps.

    2. Funny about different perceptions of the same events. I had probably 15 cyclists pass me at great speed while I was walking. The lead cyclist usually waited until he was right beside me before yelling out “buen camino”,and startling me out of my peaceful walk. I thought it was hilarious and usually laughed out loud and hollered hello back. What the heck, I’m a slow walker and had plenty of time to get into my zen again.

  3. The people who think it’s a competition. There are some who pass judgment upon others who don’t walk as far.

    1. There should probably be no judgement for those whose pace is naturally faster….it is much harder for a person to walk at a slower pace if it not their natural rhythm…I am not sure why people feel the need to judge another. The camino is a very personal walk and it should be experienced and measured by the pilgrim, him/herself.

  4. I had heard for nearly 3 years that anyone could walk the Camino Frances. My ego heard only that, but apparently there was a comma followed by ‘as long as you have a reasonable level of fitness’. I thought I had. How anyone can walk from SJPP to Roncesvalles in one day is beyond me. Walking it in 2 near killed me. It terrified me for certain, and mostly because I had my daughter with me who was only 10 years old. I had an Italian man laugh at my tales of fear and anger at the assumption of how ‘relatively easy’ the walk was, and nearly punched him in the face. It was HARD. It was LONG, There was NOT enough water (I read that there was ample water supplies if you take your water bottles), and NOBODY would have noticed our absence if we had not turned up. I was really scared. It took us nearly 8 hours to walk from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles. I know now that many others (yes, old and infirm) took longer – but I was angry because of my fear (for my daughter mostly) that there was an air of incompetence given to any discussion of the difficulty of the path.
    Yet… throughout the journey when we told people we started at Saint Jean, they (The Spanish in particular) marveled at our BRAVERY. I should have spoken to them. Would it have stopped me? No, but I never heard anyone say it was really, really, really, scarey hard.
    And it was.

    1. I infer from your post that there was no option to stop midway (or so) for the night without having such a challenge on your first Camino day. Is this correct – because I fear a 15 mile walk, too, on the first day. I intend to go next May.

      1. We walked from Saint Jean to Valcarlos (we couldn’t go the Napoleon Route as it was still under snow and subject to drifts – 14 Koreans had been airlifted out just days before). The difficult walk I rave on about (I’m better now…) was Day 2 from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles via the road and some off-shoots that gave a reprieve from the Lambourgines racing past you on ice covered roads. I’d recommend doing the walk (either route) over 2 days. It will be difficult, but rewarding beyond measure. You can book ahead to stay in Orisson (Napoleon Route) or just turn up at Valcarlos (road route). Take lots of water. πŸ™‚

    2. Too many people go on and on about the beauty of the Camino – very few admit publicly that many spots are very challenging and difficult. My wife and I trained for months and walked about 200 km prior to our Camino – yet we found it much more difficult than we were led to believe. Translate “natural path” into – rough path filled with roots, stumps, rocks of all size that beg you to trip over them. Or “quiet shady trees” into a path mixed with sunlight and shade that will challenege your eyes to be able to see rocks and roots hidden in the shady spots. We managed it – we walked about 400 miles from Pamplona to Santiago, but was not nearly as easy as we thought.

      As for the albergues – people need to realize they rent a bed – not a room – we found it very inconsiderate when some who took places by the windows took it upon themselves to shut those windows in the night when others in the room wanted them open for ventilation. If they needed to be warmer they should not have picked window bunks.

      1. The open or shut windows also struck me. When I was on it on May wnd the weather was cold and wet I felt there was an epidemic of chest infections. Yet the windows were tight shut.

    1. Julia I was eaten alive in Portela on the Portuguese route, 3 weeks later and you can still see the scars on my legs.
      The cyclists were also annoying, no bells and they do seems to like sneaking up on you, and them scaring the life out of you yelling Buon Camino!

  5. Quet many kilometres is on asphalt og congrete. Very hard to the feets. Some communities has even change it to salute us. Is really no help. Changed from walking in trekking shoes to waking in running shoe. That would be my recommendation to others as well.

  6. In my weight lifting class this morning I noticed many things. I noticed that we all put different weights on our bars and no one expects us to do the same work just because we are all together. I noticed we give each other plenty of space and don’t throw our weights around and save our visiting for another space and don’t complain when I is not perfect and are polite and kind because we know we are all doing our best.

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