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2019 Camino Trek Alone But Which Route

Discussion in 'The Camino Portugues' started by BelindaSBrown, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. BelindaSBrown

    BelindaSBrown New Member

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    Having completed camino FRANCES with my husband over three years I walked Santiago to Muxia in May 2018 to spread his ashes. This year I’m determined to carry on the journey as we had planned walking the camino Portuguese alone in May this year. It’s a big venture for me and I’m a bit apprehensive but hopeful I’ll meet many wonderful pilgrims as I always have before. Any advice welcome but I’m in two minds Whether to walk Lisbon to Porto on the original route or try to find the coastal route. How have people found the coastal route, will I find albergues ? I haven’t seen much mention of the community type evening meals you can find on the Frances route. I am planning to walk an average of 24km a day based on previous years. Thanks for any direction and advice.
     
  2. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Hi Belinda

    Sorry to hear about your loss.

    The Camino Portuguese is the second most popular Camino after The Camino Frances, so I am sure that you will meet lots of Pilgrims on the Camino Portuguese, as least from Porto – I can’t comment on the “Way” before Porto as this was where I started my own Camino Portuguese from :)

    I can’t offer you much in the way of specific advice as it is a few years since I walked this route, there are still a few snippets in my trek notes that you might find interesting, so if you want to look, just hit the link in my tagline :)

    One thing that I will mention is that the first 2 or 3 days out of Porto, the route is on cobblestoned streets and roads and many pilgrims find these incredibly hard on your feet, so please make doubly sure that you have suitable comfortable and durable footwear :)

    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
  3. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Belinda - How fortunate you were to be able to walk the CF with your husband. Having walked two Caminos with my wife, I value both the time and the experience we were able to share making our pilgrimages just that much more special. I can only guess how difficult your walk to Muxia was.

    Although I haven’t walked from Lisbon, I can say that the central route from Porto to Santiago was a Camino that we enjoyed very much. As on the CF, meeting wonderful fellow pilgrims was so important to our experience. Unfortunately, when we walked in late March, there were not a lot of other pilgrims yet on this trail. But quality will always trump quanity! Our interactions with great people from locals to pilgrims added to our success and enjoyment of the CP. On the northern half of the Portugués, finding albergues, private or municipal, was no problem. We used both the Brierley guide and gronze.com to help us locate places to stay. Except at Casa de Fernanda, we did not find the group dinners so common an experience as on the Francés. Many restaurants offered pilgrim dinners, but not the community-type found in albergues (had we walked later in the season this might have been different just not sure).

    I would add that beginning in Porto allowed us to conclude our journey in Santiago. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of getting my first glimpse of the cathedral upon completing a Camino. Best wishes in making your decision as to which route to take. As I’ve come to know, there’s no bad Camino! Regardless of your route, you’ll have another great experience. Bom Caminho!
     
  4. BelindaSBrown

    BelindaSBrown New Member

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    Thanks Rob, I have the right shoes so should be fine I hope as I’ve read this advice on quite a few posts.
     
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  5. BelindaSBrown

    BelindaSBrown New Member

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    I’m looking forward to finding Casa de Fernanda! Let’s hope a few more like that have appeared by now. Thank you for knowing how special it is to be able to walk with your spouse and the incredible experience it gives you. Gronze.com will be a new investigation for me but briefly I’m used to so I’m sure I’ll be fine. With thanks. Belinda
     
  6. anniem

    anniem Active Member

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    Belinda, I walked coastal route Porto to Santiago Sept 2018 so my knowledge is fairly up to date but I can't say I know everything. Rob says he did it a few years ago and there has been considerable improvements made in recent times. In particular the first few days out of Porto are not cobblestones but boardwalk which is easy on the feet, just make sure you have rubber tips on your poles or they will catch between boards.
    One of my walking buddies last year started in Lisbon but what she said it was; It was long and tedious getting out of Lisbon and the best way to do this is by train. Whereas there are some pleasant walking patches and towns between Lisbon and Porto all those I spoke to who had started in Lisbon had done quite a bit by train, bus, taxi and even hitch hiking! But this is hearsay.
    Porto is lovely so leave a day to explore. The cathedral is worth a visit and it is where the Pilgrim's office is so get your credencial there. Also visit the bookstore Livrario Lello https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livraria_Lello .You will find some criticise it as being crowded and commercial and not worth 5euro but for me it was a must see and I didn't regret it.
    The trails are very well marked with recent improvements and the albergues/hostels are mostly new and very good. There doesn't seem to be the municipal albergues as on the CF so the albergues seem to be mostly private so are bookable and for us it was wise to book as there was 6 of us. I don't know how busy it will be in May.
    Once you leave the coastal route there are many variations so it pays to study your Brierley guide to choose your route. One of my buddies had the app on her phone so was able to plot our route each day but for the last few days before Santiago the app stopped working so it was back to Brierley. One thing we learned was the trail tends to go around the villages not through like CF so don't bargain on getting a coffee stop as frequently. The coffee stops were not far away but you usually had to plan them. You are right, we did not find so many communal meals but it was not hard to find an evening meal and some company. Many hostels had good kitchens and many pilgrims self catered and this is a sociable activity. There were convenience stores nearby.
    I hope this helps, in short I would strongly recommend;
    1.You do Porto to Santiago.
    2.At the start get the subway/train to the end of the line in Porto otherwise there is a lot of suburban walking to get out of town, maybe 20kms?
    2.Get the latest Brierley guide and study it. Mine was 2018 from Amazon.
    3.Get the app on your phone.
    4.Book ahead for peace of mind.
    5. When you make the short ferry crossing from Portugal to Spain note Spain is an hour ahead so don't miss the last boat like we nearly did. It says the last boat is 3pm but that is Spanish time, it is actually 2pm in Portugal. Go figure!
    Buen Camino
     
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  7. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    I concur, Annie. This was my experience as well. I'd be happy to add some of my favorite hostels and casa rural as well if Belinda needs them. Also, some info on specifically how their metro system works in Porto would be useful if she needs it. They have a "buy a card, add fare according to zones" system.
     
  8. BelindaSBrown

    BelindaSBrown New Member

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    Hi Annie,great info many thanks, I am now hesitating about walking from Lisbon and need some further input I think. Glad to hear their are more places to stay though.[ so you did the coastal route from Porto rather than the central route is that right?

    Belinda
     
  9. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Belinda - Great advice from Anniem. Regarding Porto, let me add just a couple other thoughts. It’s quite a wonderful city. Try to give yourself a couple days there either at the start or at the conclusion of your Camino. The cathedral opens at 9 am and it’s very easy to pick up your Credencial from the good folks there if you need to. Although we used the metro in Porto which is very modern, efficient, and safe, to begin our Camino, we caught a city bus (#500) just below the cathedral near Rua dos Flores that took us along the Rio Douro up to Matosinhos where we began walking. Or, start your Camino at the cathedral, head down to the Douro walking along the river to the coast and then north from there avoiding the industrialized part of Porto all together. Like Anniem, we, too, thought visiting the Livraria Letto was worth the €5 cost. Plus, if you buy anything, that fee is applied to your purchase. I’m not sure how large a crowd you’ll encounter in May. If you have a good sense of how far you’ll walk each day, reservations at the private albergues will allow you to walk at your own pace and not worry about finding a bed at the end of the day. Reservations worked well for us although the CP was not at all crowded in late March-early April. My only caution regarding the Brierley's stages, at least on the central route, is that he has several very long days. We broke up two of these adding two extra days to our Camino which we would do again next time. Enjoy your Camino planning. It’ll be spring before you know it. Bom Caminho!
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
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  10. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Nice that you have been given some good up to date info from C4S and Annie – The old cobblestones were a killer and one of our small group of four had to retire after 2 days as his feet were so badly blistered, and he was an experienced walker who had accompanied me on more than half of the Camino routes that I have been lucky enough to walk !!

    I look forwards to reading your own Camino report on here in due course

    Best Regards and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
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  11. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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  12. BelindaSBrown

    BelindaSBrown New Member

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  13. BelindaSBrown

    BelindaSBrown New Member

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    Great advice, thank you. That river walk avoiding the industrial area of Porto sounds like the thing to do. Thank you so much for the info.
     
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  14. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Collect moments, not things Donating Member

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  15. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hindsy, I’m sure that you remember from nutrition class that tapas is one of the major food groups! So, it’s got to be good for you, right? Buen Camino!
     
  16. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Collect moments, not things Donating Member

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    Oh yeah......you are right...I remember now. As an appetizer, main course and dessert!!
     
  17. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    And wine guys... Don't forget the wine! It is an important part of the tapa process!
     
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  18. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Collect moments, not things Donating Member

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    Of course CW...it is without question that you would supply the wine, you know, solely for the purpose to not choke on the tapas. :D
     
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  19. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Just for medical reasons...got it!
     
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  20. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Belinda, my wife and I have completed the Camino Frances twice and will walk it again this fall. During our first camino, we ran into one pilgrim that had walked CF ten times! He said it was different for him each time. Obviously the people are different, and he stayed in different towns and/or different albergues. We're following this strategy during our Sept-Oct 2019 camino. We are allowing 37 days from St Jean to Santiago (no rest days) and staying in different albergues 30 of 37 nights. A few of our favorite places we want to stay again as mental souvineers.

    After this camino, we've discussed the possibility of walking a different route, such as Camino Norte / Primitivo, Camino de Madrid, or Camino Portuguese from Lisbon. We would not be satisfied with the relatively short camino from Porto so would look for a camino lasting 30 days or so.

    Based on very preliminary research (Brierley's guides and Gronze.com), the concerns I have is that these other routes are not as well developed as CF. Some of Brierley's stages are very long. And we will strongly resist anything but private rooms with private bathrooms the entire route. I'm a bit intrigued by Camino de Madrid. My wife and I absolutely love Madrid, and it would be great to pass through Segovia. A benefit is Camino de Madrid joins CF in Sahagun, so we'd have the benefit of walking through some of our favorite towns.

    We have time to think through this. For sure we'll avoid 2021, which is the jubilee year with hoards of pilgrims on CF !

    Bob
     
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  21. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    This sounds like the best trip plan Bob.... I for one can't wait to hear more of the detail!
     
  22. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    This certainly sounds like an interesting plan Bob – I have been privileged to walk quite a few of the lesser Camino’s and found them to be a completely different experience to The Camino Frances – In Many Ways !!

    One of these routes was the first sections of The Camino Sureste from Alicante https://www.csj.org.uk/planning-you...s-in-spain/eastern-routes/camino-del-sureste/ which links into The Camino Madrid – My original intention was to eventually continue all the way to Santiago de Compostela, but, alas, it is now looking like this won’t happen :-(

    One of the biggest differences between the more popular routes like The Camino Frances and Portuguese is that your Camino Family tends to be a much tighter group – You notice this a lot more when you stay in the Refugio’s de Peregrino which can often be very simple (Changing rooms of sports halls and sometimes parish houses etc) and certainly won’t have private rooms with attached bathrooms ;-) – And that might be your problem on the lesser Camino’s, finding villages with hotels frequently enough to tick your own boxes - You could arrange to be picked up in taxis and dropped off again the next morning in these situations, but that could be both inconvenient and expensive .

    Another thought is, how important is walking into Santiago de Compostela at the end of your next Camino – After my own first 3 Camino’s I started walking the link routes that typically feed into The Camino Frances like The Camino Aragones, The Tunnel Route, The Cami San Juan and The Primativo, I chose not to continue back to Santiago de Compostela, on these Camino’s, but you have the option whether to or not.

    Basically, you have a Lot of choices with picking your next route and I look forwards to hearing which one you opt for, then reading about your experiences walking the “Way”

    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
  23. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Rob, once again you are a wealth of information for the Camino! I've never heard of the camino de sureste. I've been to Alicante before - a wonderful beach town I visited when I studied at the University of Valencia in 1978. And walking through Toledo and Avila would be terrific! Assuming we rejoin CF at Astorga, that makes the total trek to Santiago more than 1,000 kms, which may be more than we can chew, particularly if we don't have the comforts of private rooms.

    My wife and I consider ourselves "authentic pilgrims" by staying mostly in municipal albergues during our 2015 camino. During our second camino, we felt the good night's sleep in private albergues was worth the extra cost. By comparison, the average cost per reserved albergue / casa rural this year's camino will be 65 euros per night, which generally includes breakfast. A bit pricey, but this will be another fantastic camino adventure for my wife Cindi and me !

    We're fairly young (age 62 for upcoming camino), and in good health and good shape. Plenty of time to consider camino options for the future. Thanks again ! Bob
     
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  24. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    No Problem Bob – Always pleased to be of help and share my experiences with others who are considering walking routes that I was privileged enough to walk myself :)

    One website that I always found to be a fantastic resource, but rarely gets mentioned on here is http://www.mundicamino.com/ -



    There is Lots of information available on the well tramped Camino’s, but finding accurate information on the lesser walked routes is much harder. I have seen me print off scores of strip-maps from the above site and found them invaluable. Not to mention all the other information that they provide.

    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
  25. Amy Brooks

    Amy Brooks Active Member

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    Belinda

    I am also doing the Camino Portuguese in May! So I hope our paths cross. Due to work obligations I cannot take enough time to go from Lisbon to Santiago so I am starting in Coimbra. This will be my first Camino so I am open to any and all advice about the CP and the Camino in general. Which of course this forum has already been a great source of info.

    Wily - if you are reading this - I bought my plane tickets this week! I leave Portland on May 8th - start walking on May 11th in Coimbra. I cannot wait!

    I cannot thank the folks on this forum enough for all the encouragement and support - I cannot wait to report back in the meantime - 15 weeks to go - commence the serious training!

    Amy
     
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  26. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Amy - So glad to hear that you were successful getting the plane tickets you wanted. Fifteen weeks may seem like a lifetime away, but I promise you that the time will pass quickly as you prepare for your Camino.

    Training for any Camino is always my recommendation. Although the terrain on the CP is generally pretty hiker friendly, keep in mind that when you walk day after day after day, conditioning really pays off. The more you prepare in advance, the easier the walk.

    A couple quick recommendations for you: 1) hiking poles are very helpful and can really increase your walking efficiency, 2) make sure you have good footwear. The most difficult aspect of walking the CP for us were the cobblestones. Some folks have problems with them; others don’t. Because the terrain is gentle, I’d suggest checking out trail running shoes. No need for a heavy duty hiking boot, although I do love my low-cut Merrell Moab GTXs., and 3) travel light. You won’t need much on the Camino. Keep the weight down in your pack. My pack these days is in the 6 kg range. It’s a delightfully light pack that I could carry all day long. As the saying goes, “to walk far, carry less.” I know you’ll have a great experience! Bom Caminho!
     
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  27. Amy Brooks

    Amy Brooks Active Member

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    Wily

    Thanks so much for the good wishes and advice! I do use poles - I love them - just one question - will the airline let me carry those on? I have heard differing reports on this. I just booked two nights at your recommended Poet's Inn on my way back home... I am taking your advice to spend some time in Porto.

    I LOVE my Salomon light weight low cut hikers, but it sounds like those may be too much for this route?

    Re: training - because I work full time I usually walk a couple evenings during the week - then do back to back longer hikes/walks on the weekend. I run 4 times a week so I am not concerned about the cardio - but am concerned about how the day to day will wear on my body. I have a couple of hot spots (not blisters!) - my right hip and knee get sore in the evenings after long walks so a friend has recommended doing yoga. Never done yoga so we will see how that goes.

    Did you take your cell and use an international plan or did you get a phone over there? Sounds like you used it for wayfinding and booking?

    Thanks again! Bom Caminho!
    Amy
     
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  28. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Amy - The reports are mixed about poles on planes. In the past, we’ve checked them. They arrived with us into Porto, but unfortunately didn’t into Santiago last spring.

    I was at Logan Airport in Boston yesterday where I had the opportunity to ask two different TSA officers whether or not I could bring hiking poles through security. They both said the same thing - yes, but under certain conditions. One, they have to be collapsible poles. Two, they need to be secured inside my backpack. And three, they have to have rubber tipped ends on them. Although I have seen folks with poles in the cabin, some places, like Santiago, have signs indicating ploles must be checked. I’m afraid that there might be a lack of consistency in terms of what is allowed. It may depend on the airport and who you deal with at security. My plan next time is to pack my poles as I indicated above, but be prepared to go back to check them if there is a problem.

    Your Salomon’s won’t be too much shoe. My Merrell’s are also a light weight, low cut hiker and they were great on the CP. I only mention trail runner shoes as another good option for folks.

    Amy, you, just like my wife, who, too, has some hip and back problems, might find the cobblestones tiring on the body by the end of the day. When walking became problematic, we did three things. First, we started shipping her backpack daily from albergue to albergue. There’s a great system of luggage transportation in Portugal and Spain. Second, we visited one of the great pharmacies that you’ll find everywhere for ibuprofen cream and knee wraps/braces. Finally, we extended our Camino by a couple of days, breaking up some of the longer stages into more manageable segments. And, low and behold, we made it to Santiago having had an excellent Camino. The training your doing now will be more than adequate, but do add in the yoga.

    You’ll find several threads on the Forum regarding phones. My wife carried her phone as her camera. We didn't use it except when we had access to wifi to albergues or cafes. When I have needed to use a phone for reservations, I’ve always just asked someone where we were staying if they would make a call for me. In general, I haven’t found much need for a phone, but I understand carrying one for emergency reasons. With my carrier, AT&T, if I were to activate my phone in Europe, I’d be charged $10 for a 24-hour period. In the case of an emergency, I’d be more than glad to pay that fee. Check with your carrier on their plans or possibly look into purchasing a sim card when you arrive in Portugal. There should be one that works for both Portugal and Spain. Bom Caminho!
     
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  29. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Amy, for our second camino, my wife used Salomon trail running shoes and they worked great for her. Since she had knee pain the first camino, she shipped her backpack ahead every day and that also worked well. My wife got occasional blisters and hot spots and used lambswool during our second camino. It was amazing. However, we learned that it is not available in Spain or very hard to find, so we bought several bags of it for our next camino this fall.

    We each had a set of trekking poles and used them almost daily. For the trip to Spain, we collapsed and placed them in a nylon bag which we then checked on. We also placed a swiss army knife and scissors. We carried our backpacks with us onto the plane. No way we'd check them on an risk losing them when we arrived.

    With regards to cell phone, we are on Verizon. My wife added the International Plan to her phone during our time in Spain. I'm thinking that was around +$40 / month. It was well worth the added cost. We called Jako Trans each afternoon to confirm the pickup and delivery destination. We also called home to the US each Sunday to speak with our kids or her mother for a quick checkin conversation. Also, we just generally felt safer knowing that if there was an emergency we could call for help.

    Bob
     
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  30. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    Fresno, California
    @Amy Brooks I recommend that you go to several places that sell cell phones. I normally use ATT but found that their $10 a day rate was activated on all calls including incoming spam calls. I talked to Veriron and T-Mobile and decided that T-Mobile had the best overall rates. All three of the carriers supported Europe communications.

    I used T-Mobil and had an unexpected problem at hone. It was very nice, well not really, to know that someone had my son's name on a kill list and that he had a 24 hour armed bodyguard assigned to him. Eventually nothing happened to him, but I was quite worried and quit my first Camino in Pamplona and returned home.

    I realized that there was very little I could do, but I wanted to be several thousand miles closer. My wife liked that too.

    I think that being able to have two way communications with family is important when you are gone for a significant amount of time/distance.
     
    RJS and Wily like this.
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