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Another Great Camino Experience!

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Wily, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

    Mar 1, 2016
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    Upstate New York
    Our two weeks in Spain allowed us to go from SJPP to Burgos or about 2/5 of the CF or 175 miles. Here are a few of my observations from our first fall Camino (October):
    1. We gave ourselves more time to deal with jet lag and travel fatigue at the beginning of the trip by spending a full day in Paris before taking the train to Saint Jean where we also spent the better part of a day before walking. We didn’t start off tired this time!
    2. SJPP was busy, but more so with French tourists than pilgrims. Nonetheless, there were still lots of pilgrims preparing to cross the Pyrenees the same morning as us. For pilgrims arriving in SJPP when we did, there were plenty of albergues still with beds available. This did tighten up by evening.
    3. We were very pleased to have taken the Valcarlos Route this time. As it was a quite rainy and foggy departure morning, we got great views from the valley until most of the way up the mountain after Valcarlos. Although the first half is relatively flat, the second half gives one the full mountain experience of crossing the Pyrenees. Our seven hours on this stage was similar to what others were taking in the Napoleon Route. After a refreshing celebratory beer in Roncesvalles, we continued on to Burguete where we stayed in the Hostal Burguete in Hemingway’s old room and enjoyed our best meal on the Camino - Trout á la Hemingway. Even after a long day, it was well worth walking the extra two miles!
    4. It’s amazing how much one forgets! Although there were parts of the trail that I remembered quite well from four years earlier, other parts seemed rather unfamiliar. I didn’t remember the steep, rocky descent into Zubiri. We were more than happy to call it quits there for the day instead of walking on to Larazoaña.
    5. Following my own advice that I’ve posted, we took a rest day in Pamplona. We were just tired enough from the first three days that a bit of recharging was very much welcomed. We also got to experience more of what Pamplona has to offer including several coffee breaks at the Cafe Iruña. Heading out the following day well rested, climbing the Alto de Perdon wasn’t nearly as tough as I remembered.
    6. Having carried our packs on our previous Caminos, shipping our packs this time was a welcomed change (and a real treat). From what I could see, there are now at least four companies competing for transfer business. We used one by the name of ncequipajes (€5/bag/transfer) which was quite good. I’d email them each evening with my pick-up and drop-off information, fill out their envelop, and our packs were at our destinations before we were. An excellent company I’d use again. It did seem that more “mature” individuals were using the luggage transport services as we did. I’m also happy to say that there didn’t seem to be any stigma regarding walking with only a day pack. The real Camino spirit is alive and well with everyone feeling most accepted as they walk their “own” Camino.
    7. In part just luck, but our October weather was terrific. Only minimal rain. On several days we were hiking in 80F temperatures! Although it didn’t get light quite as early as I would have liked (around 8 am or a bit later), it was still easy enough to finish the hiking day by early to mid-afternoon. As Bob mentioned in his recent post, a headlamp is really needed if you leave in the dark.
    8. The number of pilgrims on the trail did seem to spread out after Pamplona. There really was no bed rush. I didn’t speak to anyone who had had problems getting a bed in the albergues. In fact, there were often a number of empty beds where ever we stayed.
    9. Our use of Booking.com continued to serve us well for reserving private rooms. Although we were paying more than one would for just a bed, at the end of the day, the private bath was most enjoyable and we were still able to enjoy the comraderie of our fellow pilgrims in public areas of the albergues.
    10. In the twelve stages we covered, there was no terrain where my trail running shoes weren’t more than enough. Nancy wore her Merrill’s. Along with toe socks, our feet were still in great shape by the time we reached Burgos. Had we continued on, we would have taken a second rest day here before taking on the Meseta.
    11. As Bob has mentioned, prices seemed higher on the CF than I, too, remember. But, beds for €5-10 are still to be found. The price of the pilgrim’s dinner seems to have crept up a bit. We typically paid around €12 for the three course meal with wine.
    12. As always, one meets people from all over the world. My biggest treat came meeting a guy now living in my home town in Oregon. It stills seems that a majority of pilgrims are either 20-something or those of us who are at or near retirement age. Still a great mix of kind souls share this experience.
    13. Having been across this route before, I have to say that I enjoyed it just as much this time. Nancy is already working on our plan to finish from Burgos to Santiago in 2020 (probably an October Camino again). After that, we’ll find another new route to walk although I’m tempted to go back to the Portuguese.
    14. I’m really glad to have biked the VDLP last spring. As much as I really wanted to do a bike Camino, it brought home something very important. So much of the Camino experience involves the people you meet and interact with along The Way. On my bike Camino, I never saw the same people more than once. I really missed developing those friendships made by seeing, talking with, and sharing meals together as one does when you walk. Walking helps make the Camino a very humanizing experience.
    15. Whether you can spend only a few days or as much as six weeks, time walking on one Camino or another will hopefully open both eyes and your heart to seeing the world in a new way and better understanding those around you as well as yourself. Time well spent!
    16. Just wanted to share one of my favorite photos from walking this time of year!

    Buen Camino Peregrinos!
  2. Maya Grandmother

    Maya Grandmother Active Member

    Oct 16, 2014
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    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for the info. So happy for you that that your feet are doing well and that you were blessed to do another adventure in camino life. I also walked the Valcarlos route in 2015 and found the rushing waters in April to be mystical. Enjoy your time together.
    danvo and Wily like this.
  3. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Collect moments, not things

    Jan 21, 2017
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    Wily, thank you so much for your observations. It sounds like you and Nancy had a wonderful time. A Fall Camino does sound wonderful. The pic of the grape vines is perfect for a poster or giant framed print!
    Looking so forward to getting back there in May....the Portuguese this time! Do you have pics of that trout dinner? Haaaaaa
    Canadian Wander and Wily like this.
  4. Bryan Morlock

    Bryan Morlock Pilgrim Bryan

    Nov 24, 2017
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    Minnesota, USA
    Wily, I second what hindsfeet had to say. More information and observation is always better. Glad you had a great trip. With luck I will try to duplicate that luck next fall.
    hindsfeet and Wily like this.

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