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David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain on 05/28/2008 11:29:19 MDT Print View

For years I have been interested in doing the "Camino de Santiago" in segments. Is there anyone who has completed the pilgrimage? Or someone who has done part of the trail? Any advise on what the first leg of it is like? I am a backpacker and understand that this trekking does not require to carry the normal gear ~ tent, dehydrated food, stove, etc. What do you carry? What kind of pack weight can I expect? I'm a semi-light backpacker (23-25lbs)on a regular 7-10 day hike. Any information from someone who has had this experience would be totally appreciated!!

Mary

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain on 05/29/2008 10:03:32 MDT Print View

I haven't hiked it but being local to me I can tell you a few things.

It's more a countryside trip than anything else. You cross some mountains but it's all over good paths. Usually, you're on the plains, hiking from village to village so no wilderness at all.

Few people take camping/sleeping/cooking gear. Most stay at villages along the way. There's a dense network of hostels specific for this trail and a wealth of other accomodation options. Most people carry food just for the day. Your pack might be ridiculously light but you'll find that most people still carry kind of monster sized packs: many hikers on this trail are inexperienced and tend to carry lots of things. Also, people tend to tidy up more than in a backcountry trip so a lightweight, bare minimum approach to clothing that's fine in the backcountry may not be so much in order. People are in town several hours a day, every day.

There's certainly an end point but not one starting point. Most typical is Saint Jean de Pied de Port, on the Pyrenean foothills just north of the french border. If that's your starting point, you'll be throught the most scenic part of the trip on the first few days. After that, it's several hundred miles of plains and rolling hills and only close to the end you'll have to cross some mountain terrain. Remember this is an ancient pilgrim route, it wasn't meant for scenic value but for ease of going.

Summer is very warm and busy. The weather is quite similar to Southern California. I'd say the best time would be april to june or september to november but that's very subjective and depends a lot on what you're looking for. This trail is more a cultural experience than anything else, lots of people from many different countries so the busy times may be nice for the most social interaction... but many find them too busy.

You should be able to find lots of info on the net and given the number of english speaking hikers on this trail I'm sure there are lots of resources in english

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain on 05/29/2008 10:18:34 MDT Print View

David-
I'm going out there this Tuesday for 2 weeks. It will be the last portion, which is mostly hilly. It will be from Leon to Santiago, about 200 miles. If I have time, I will head to the ocean to Finnesterra.

You don't need any tents, cooking gear...just an overnight change of clothes, travel sheet, maybe a lightweight bag depending on when you go. I will be carrying very little and water is plentiful, so no need to camel up. People stay in hostels made for pilgrims so you need to get a pilgrim's passport which is thru the Confraternity of St. James. It gets stamped at each village that you stay. You can also stay in small hotales, or hotels as well, when available.

Lots of forums and links but this is my favorite for info.
http://www.pilgrimage-to-santiago.com/board/

another:
http://groups.msn.com/ElCaminoSantiago/messages.msnw

Buen Camino!

youtube has lots of videos as well.

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Camino de Santiago on 05/29/2008 14:59:54 MDT Print View

Iñaki your information is invaluable and I have archived it for reference when I do go to Spain. Thank you so much! I typically visit Spain every year, and this summer for the first time in 10 years I´m staying home. I´ll be back next June and plan to spend time on the Camino de Santiago. Spanish, by the way, is actually my native language:-) ¡Gracias por todo!

Mary D. Noll

Donna, may your trip on the Camino de Santiago be wonderful. I would love to hear about your experience when you get back. This time of year seems to be ideal for the hike since the temperatures will be quite pleasant in the section that you´ll be covering. I can´t wait to make my dream come true! ¡Buen viaje en el camino!

Mary

Edited by dpnoll on 05/29/2008 15:00:57 MDT.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Camino de Santiago on 05/30/2008 06:15:21 MDT Print View

Thanks, Mary. I will let you know how it goes. I have no knowledge of Spanish, but I'm not worried about that. I can figure out some of what is being said or written. : )

My understanding is that the year 2010 is a Holy Year and many pilgrims make their way to Santiago for the special absolving of sins, which takes place in July. It will be very crowded. Just something to think about.

Donna

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain on 06/23/2008 10:08:02 MDT Print View

Mary,
I have returned from Spain and I have to say, it was one of the best trips ever. Feel free to PM me and I can go into details about gear, etc..

I hiked 200 miles, wore Inov8 Roclite 320's, Gregory G pack,used bodyglide and Smartwool trailrunner socks and never once encountered a hotspot, blister or anything. I was carrying about 13 lbs before bread and cheese was added.

Buen Camino!

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Camino de Santiago on 06/23/2008 18:17:48 MDT Print View

Donna,

Bienvenida Donna!! Welcome back!! I can't wait to hear details about your adventure! I am so glad you had an enjoyable experience and your light, light gear weight!!!
As you know I am going to Spain next year and after touring for 18 days and visiting with our good friends for a few days,my plan is to do part of the Camino de Santiago. Any first hand information, advise and suggestions from you will only help my trek be more enjoyable! I have my guide and have read numerous reports on the pilgrimage. A great book about his spiritual experience on the Camino was written by the Brazilian writer Paolo Coehlo.
I'm anxious to read your reflexions:-)

Mary

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Camino de Santiago on 06/24/2008 04:08:27 MDT Print View

I picked up one of his books in Santiago...but they didn't have that particular one. Still, very good.

The weather was upper 40's in the morning and 70's during the day. I was at the tail end of 2 weeks of constant rain. Flowers in full bloom; heather, gorsh, all sorts of things! Cuckoo bird called out every morning as I walked to see the sunrise. Cafe con leche ( coffee with milk) was the best in the entire world. People had such spirit...you would walk or sleep in the albergue with them and not see them for days and then there they are, full of stories and sharing a meal.

gear-wise...if you go in the heat of the summer, just bring a travel sheet and a pillowcase. Sleeping is coed dorms and varies from 4 in a room to 50 in a room. Bring earplugs. I just had a change of shirts and undies, and a sleepshirt with running shorts. Extra socks but I never used them. You can wash your clothes at the albergue and they provide racks or a line. I brought some thin rope to string across my bed as an extra line to hang things. You can always pick up food for lunch and nibbles in the towns. I wore a nylon jacket that I waterproofed for rain gear. Get a good hat for the sun!! Lots of sunscreen. Good shoes 1/2 size larger. The downhills on the mountains is just that...straight down. I didn't use poles, but many did. I found that I didn't need them except maybe for a few times. Go light, go light, go light. Buy something called Voltaren creme which is an analgesic inflamation pain reducing non-steroid creme. Works wonders on swollen feet. 15 minutes and pain and swelling gone.

You may want to stay in a hotel from time to time just to have some personal time and cleaning time. Some albergues offer a washing machine for 3 Euros. Some have internet for 1 Euro 25 minutes. Most albergues cost 5-9 euros anight. meals were 6-9 euros. breakfast can be had at any bar after 8am. Try the liquer Orujo to help you sleep or warm you up. We hit snow and rain in the mountains, so be prepared. I had a thick undertop for that day. You don't need to carry more than a liter of water at any time. Lots of fountains for pilgrims.
You will make friends from all over the owrld, no matter where you begin. Just begin.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Camino de Santiago on 06/24/2008 04:48:19 MDT Print View

I did bring a summer sleeping bag, synthetic, one pound (Deuter)which was perfect for that cool temp at night. Many others brought the same sort of bag. You are required to bring something, whether a sheet or bag. One German woman gave me a good tip: try to sleep before or after a big town. Space is minimal and its also crowded getting a place to eat and it's no fun. So, I did this and was glad. Pomferada is a must to stay at the monastery. You need to get there early to line up for a room. They treat you very well there, too.

Once in Santiago, you head to the Pilgrim's office to get your Compastella and they can make travel arrangements home at discount prices for you. Also will find you a place to stay, give you all kinds of info..prices of taxi to the airport or bus schedule...that sort of thing. The town is a bit commercial, but that is to be expected. Go into the new town area to Liberia Follas Nova, which is a 3 story bookstore full of books. Not like Barnes and Noble, but all books. Stuffed on the shelves. The bottom floor has various languages of books.

Feel free to email me anytime about more info.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Camino de Santiago -- any good links? on 06/24/2008 07:03:18 MDT Print View

My oldest son wants to do this hike with me someday. Are there any good links to refer to? Your favorites? Thanks.

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Camino de Santiago on 06/24/2008 11:16:07 MDT Print View

Donna,

I want to thank you for taking the time to write your detailed experiences and recommendations. This is the first year I haven't gone to Spain since 1998 and although I have many projects to work on, there isn't a day that I don't miss it! As I start my planning for next year, I would like to stay in touch and have you help me with the many questions that are sure to arise. My deepest appreciation!

Mary

To Roleigh:

Two great websites to check out are:

http://www.catholiclinks.org/caminodesantiagoenglish.htm

http://www.caminosantiago.com/

Edited by dpnoll on 06/24/2008 11:20:13 MDT.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Re: Camino de Santiago -- any good links? on 06/24/2008 12:21:32 MDT Print View

I placed 2 good links that were my favorite in an earlier post, maybe the second post in this section. They also provide webcams to some of the popular areas, including santiago and the several squares everyone meets.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Re: Re: Camino de Santiago -- any good links? on 06/24/2008 12:22:19 MDT Print View

There are also lots of blogs and youtube sights as well. Just do a google.

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Camino de Santiago on 06/24/2008 13:58:11 MDT Print View

Donna,

I don''t know what I've been thinking! I'm in the middle of priming walls and mulching the garden, and I'm thinking about your trek and realize that I haven't asked you if you started in León, if you did the whole 200 miles you had planned, or did you add/change your route the route you had chosen? Also, how many miles approximately did you walk per day? Did you enjoy the food? Did you come across any local fairs/festivities? Did you participate? Did you travel by yourself? Did you visit any other part of Spain? Oh, I don't know! There is truly so much I would love to know!
Whatever additional information you post will be awesome!

Have a terrific day!

Mary

Edited by dpnoll on 06/24/2008 14:00:17 MDT.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Camino de Santiago on 06/25/2008 03:36:43 MDT Print View

I did begin in Leon and finished in Santiago, which is close to 200 miles. I had a friend with me and we both decided to take in the sites, which meant we took the longer trail at times to visit a monastery or climb another mountain while others took the shorter path along a road. I had to move ahead towards the end so I could spend one full day in Santiago and then head to Madrid for my plane. We did come across small township festivals..missed the big jousting festival. We decided not to push big miles, so the most we did was 28 Km in the mountain rain/snow but on average 25 Km. Food excellent as well as the people.
I had no extra time to visit more of Spain, but would love to go back and do the walk along the northern coast. My friend continued on to Finnisterre and then will catch a train or bus to Bilboa to see the Guggenheim. I spent part of a day in Madrid...city shock after being in the mountains...and took in the Picasso and Dali works at the Reine Sophia museum.

I would post pictures but haven't a clue how to do that!

Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Re: Camino de Santiago on 06/25/2008 04:41:48 MDT Print View

Donna,
When you post, there's a rectangular button that says "Insert Image at Cursor".
I look forward to your photos.
Chris

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Re: Re: Camino de Santiago on 06/25/2008 07:43:56 MDT Print View

well whaddya know. I'll give it a go when I get home from work.

Thanks!

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Camino de Santiago on 06/25/2008 14:50:50 MDT Print View

Donna,

It will be awesome to see some of your pictures! All you do is click on the button that says "Insert Image at Cursor" just above on the right side like Chris said and that's it! You can post more than one picture if you'd like to.

You've seen some of Spain and definitely need to go back and see more of it. Madrid is a great city, and there is so much to do and see just in that city alone. Obviously you like art and the Reina Sofía Museum, as well as the Prado are a must! In Figueres - north of Barcelona- there is an outstanding Dalí museum. There is beauty everywhere you go. I never get tired of seeing some of the same things and discovering new ones. It's such a wonderful culture, isn't it?

Are you planning to do the entire Camino in another couple of trips? Or just one more? Is there anything that you would've done differently?

Thanks so much for all your insight. I feel very fortunate to have the chance to talk to you and know that you will be a great resource for my trip next year.

Saludos cordiales,

Mary

Edited by dpnoll on 06/25/2008 14:59:08 MDT.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Camino de Santiago on 06/26/2008 03:48:24 MDT Print View

Does the size of the picture have to be changed? Just asking before I do this. It will be in the next few days. I have caught a terrible cold and am wiped out.

My friend said I need to learn French because we may start in LePuy next time. I would like to start either in StJean or Roncevalles and hike to Leon sometime in the future. And spend more time in Madrid. The metro system is wonderful. I was lucky that it wasn't rush hour and no pickpocketers.

The only advice is that the food is not very vegetable-laden, so if you need fiber in your diet, plan on that. Bring something that works for you. I had no problem but many did.

Mud is very slippery there and builds up heavily on your shoes. Walking sticks are good support for this.

The last 100Km are hard surface/road and take a toll on your feet.

beyond that....it's a nice adventure!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Camino de Santiago on 06/26/2008 04:44:56 MDT Print View

The really funny thing is that more French just on the N side of the border speak English than Spanish. You could almost get away with just a few words.

StJean - tourist town, but very nice strawberry custard flans. :-)

Roncevalles - Monastry, impressive, but large tourist add-on for the car people. The external crypt for the Charlemagne/Roland soldiers is interesting.

Cheers
Roger