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Committed To Camino, Oct 2019, Looking For All Advice

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Stealthfixr, Jan 5, 2019.

  1. Stealthfixr

    Stealthfixr New Member

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    I have been lurking here for the better part of a year and finally get to join the fun!

    I just chose to retire from the US Air Force after (what will be) 28.5 years of service. I have long thought that the best way to 'transition' to this new life & career would be to walk the Camino...which has long fascinated me. My wife is excited to go as well, and we fortunately have some time to consider the best routes, distance and methodology.

    While we would like to do as 'authentic' a route as possible, we would like to limit the route chosen to a 30-day journey, if possible. We are both 49 years old, in great health and exercise frequently. Money isn't our first limitation, but certainly a consideration. I do use a CPAP at night (tiny travel version), and would like wall power whenever possible, but I can sleep (loudly) without it. Timing wise, we have between 1 Oct to 31 Dec 2019 to do this, but would like to do some other Europe sightseeing while we are there; I was thinking to start in early October before the weather turns too cold. We will be bringing baggage not connected with the Camino for follow-on trips and not sure where to leave that.

    Any and all advice on route selection and anything else very appreciated. Thank you

    Mark
     
  2. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Mark - First, welcome to the Forum. If you’ve been reading the posts for the past year then you’ve already gathered a lot of great information.

    Your plan sounds fine. October would be a lovely month to be on the Camino as I believe Bob can tell you since he’s done it a couple times in the fall. It’s very possible to walk the CF in 30 days. I did it in 31 days and could have done it in a shorter period of time had I wanted to. Being in good physical condition as you indicate you are makes your plan even more feasible. I really enjoyed the CF as my initial Camino, but I have to say that since then, two shorter Caminos, the Portugués and the Inglés, have both been great walks. In part, it depends on how much you want to walk every day and whether or not you want to build any rest days into your Camino. Although I loved crossing the Pyrenees starting in SJPP, if you feel you’ll be a little strapped for time or want to build a bit of a buffer into your 30 day trip, start in Pamplona. I found the Brierley's guide very helpful in planning my trip.

    If you do decide upon the CF, you can have your “extra” luggage for your post-Camino travels sent to Santiago. The main bagage transport company along the Francés is JacoTrans. You’ll find more information below on their website.

    https://www.jacotrans.es/

    Finally, my best single piece of advice for anyone is to travel light. Keep down your backpack weight and your entire Camino will be more enjoyable. Enjoy the months ahead of you to plan your Camino (it’s almost half the fun). Buen Camino.
     
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  3. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Mark, congrats on your retirement and thanks for your service to our country. Just like you, many of us found that walking the camino can be a great transition into retirement. I retired at yearend 2014, then walked Camino Frances with my wife Sept-Oct 2015. We had such a great experience we walked it again Sept-Oct 2017 with my brother and his wife. We followed the Brierley guide to help us with stage planning. Camino one we allowed 35 days and only took one rest day. In 2017 we allowed 38 days and took two rest days. We're walking Camino Frances again this fall (mid-Sept to late Oct) and are targeting 37 hiking days with no rest days. We absolutely love walking the camino in the Sept-Oct time of the year. The pilgrim traffic is lower than the peak months and the weather is mostly good. During our second camino, we had some rain days 2, 3, and 4 then over 30 days of blue skies and sunshine.

    As Wily said, you can certainly walk the camino frances in 30 days. The wild card is whether you develop foot / knee problems that will slow you down. My wife and I did great during our second camino. On our first camino, she developed bad blisters on the first day. The blisters got worse, and later stabilized, but this caused her to walk differently. She developed severe knee pain. She was able to make it to Santiago, but when she returned to the US, she had developed two stress fractures. I developed tendonitis on my first camino, and a few blisters on our second camino. For our second camino Cindi forwarded her backpack ahead every day via Jako-trans and carried a few items in a daypack.

    There are lots of tools to help plan your camino, such as Brierley's guide, the website Gronze.com and the camino forum.

    A few veterans can comment to you regarding CPAP. Some albergues have electrical outlets for each bed, but this tends to be rare. Since many pilgrims carry cell phones and other electrical devices, there is always a rush to the outlets to recharge your devices. I recall an albergue we stayed at in Rabanal del Camino, the only electrical outlets in the sleeping room were right by the door and there were devices everywhere connected to the few outlets.

    Sending your other luggage ahead is possible, but you'll need to look into how long the destination point will hold luggage for you.

    Good luck in your planning. It's quite an adventure, and be warned that this can be very addictive causing you to walk the camino time and time again!

    Bob
     
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  4. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    I assume that when you were in the USAF you gave traveled out side the US and realize that Europe uses different electrical power than the US does. Make sure your CPAP macnind can handle the difference.
     
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  5. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Probably the first thing to mention is that The Route de Napoleon closes every year on 1st November and although you could walk the Valcarlos Route, Most pilgrims say that The Route de Napoleon is the most spectacular day of the entire Camino, so it would be a shame to miss this

    But

    As you are planning you walk from 1st October, as long as you don’t hang around too long looking at the some of the rest of Europe, then you should be OK :)

    So – Once you have got your dates sorted out

    1. Definitely reserve your beds / room at Saint Jean Pied de Port – Sites like booking.com have both beds in private Albergue’s and rooms in hotels, but book ASAP as the cheaper / better options get booked up early
    2. If you are considering staying at Orisson then it’s essential to book your bed there http://www.refuge-orisson.com/en/ – Many pilgrims walk from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles in a single day (I did so myself, but at that time there wasn’t the option of staying at Orisson) – However, I now recommend that unless you are a hardened experienced trekker then staying at Orisson is a good idea and has the advantage that this allows you to do some sightseeing in Saint Jean Pied de Port before you start your walk (Many Pilgrims miss doing this and Saint Jean Pied de Port is a really beautiful; place and far too nice to miss) – So, apart from the obvious of it easing you into your pilgrimage by splitting the first and usually considered as the hardest day of the walk into two. You needn’t set off until you have taken an early lunch and can then walk the 8k uphill to Orisson and have a leisurely start to your pilgrimage.
    If Orisson is already full up when you try to reserve your bed, ask if they had any beds available at the nearby Kayola gîte ?? - And if Kayola gîte is also full then there was a thread on here where someone also wanted to break the Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles section into two stages and couldn’t find accommodation to enable them to do this, so, they walked up to Orisson one afternoon, returned to Saint Jean Pied de Port by taxi, then spent the night at Saint Jean Pied de Port, caught a taxi back to Orisson the next morning and continued their walk to Roncesvalles. - Now this may sound somewhat convoluted, but, especially if you aren’t an experienced walker, better than burning out on your first day.

    Just one thing to be aware of when making your booking and that is Not to use the contact from on the above website, but to reserve your beds using the email address next to the contact form, then, as there have been a few reports of people who haven’t had confirmation emails sent, if it were me, I would telephone them just so that I was 100% sure that I had a bed waiting for me when I arrive :)

    1. It is now also possible to book a bed in the municipal Refugio at Roncesvalles on their website at http://www.alberguederoncesvalles.com/
    2. Then after Roncesvalles, you should be OK and not have to book beds until you get closer to Santiago de Compostela – The closer you get to Santiago de Compostela, the busier the “Way” will get – You will see this slowly happen and be able to judge for yourself when there is a need to book a bed in advance, but I would certainly expect that, IF you are intending walking well into the afternoon then you will have to book in advance after Sarria and probably even before – But if you are stopping walking soon after mid day then it might well be possible to walk all the way from Orisson without reserving a bed
    My own recommendation is that you should reserve your beds in the above places ASAP and preferably it should done as soon as you have all the details of your flights.

    Usually (Apart from Roncesvalles) if you need to reserve a bed, you can only do so in private Albergue’s and hotels, Municipal Refugio’s operate on a first come, first served basis – But If you need to reserve a bed, you will be able to do this on a day to day basis, so will still be able to maintain most of your flexibility.


    Although it is quite a while ago, I started my own Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied de Port on 6th October and walked, initially to Fromista, arriving there on 21st October – From there I went home, but returned to Fromista 2 years later to complete my Camino.

    The weather was superb as far as Burgos with very little rain, but after Burgos things changed dramatically with a cold rain that turned the paths into Mud – And a Thick Gluttonous Mud that stuck to the soles of our boots making them heavier and Heavier with each step, so every few yards we had to stop to attempt to clean them and this was very tiring and made progress very slow. So when it comes to starting to plan your kit list, you might want to consider what weather conditions that you are likely to encounter and ask some other pilgrims who have also trekked the route at this time of year what their experiences were


    I hope the above info helps

    Best Regards and Buen Camino


    Rob (Ex Royal Navy) :)
     
  6. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    @RJS thank you for a very useful outline of how the first one, or two, days be planned for.

    If possible I would recommend that a new "main topic" be started with it using a title similar to "The first day on the CF", it is that good.
     
  7. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Great idea Unklehammy! Getting a good start on the CF or any other camino is most important! As one crosses the Pyrenees on Day 1 of the CF, there are certainly bits of wisdom we can all share regarding the challenges that one of the more demanding days on this particular pilgrimage poses. So, sharing ideas on how we were successful sounds like a wonderful idea for a discussion. With different perspectives come a greater understanding of what has or hasn’t worked for those who have walked from SJPP to Roncesvalles. Of course, there’s no one right formula, but perhaps lots of good ideas. Why don’t you start us out? Buen Camino!
     
  8. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your kind words about my post UnkleHammy, I believe that there is merit in what you suggest and perhaps Leslie can add a sticky under his own “How to get to Saint Jean Pied de Port” thread on The Camino Frances Forum – Perhaps entitling it as you suggest, or “Planning the first few days of your Camino Frances” ??

    Then we could all contribute and other posters could post their own ideas, especially if they differ from above, thus giving the pilgrim planning the route as much relevant information as possible in order for them to make an informed choice :)

    Although most of us on here base our posts on our own individual experiences, one thing that I have learned over the years is that, We All Walk Our Own Camino’s and what might well be ideal for one Peregrino, could be Hell for another !!

    One example being that (Other than the starting points and Santiago de Compostela) I have never pre-booked accommodation on any of the routes that I have walked as, to me, I like to keep my Camino’s as flexible as possible, but others like to have everything booked up in advance so they know that they have a bed for the night – There is neither a right or a wrong way, just a way that suites the individual pilgrim.



    Good Luck and Buen Camino to one and all

    Rob
     
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  9. anniem

    anniem Active Member

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    Mark, I think as it is your first Camino you should do the CF. As Wily says it is very doable in 30 days. I did the CF in 2015 to celebrate my 70th birthday and did it in 31 days. It was a challenge but one I rose to. My walking buddies were younger so kept me going. I did transport my pack by Jacotrans for the last couple of weeks. As to the rest there is excellent advice from experienced pilgrims above.
    Just get out there and do it!
    Buen Camino
     
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  10. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for joining in, Stealth, and happy retirement! You're in good company here as many of us are retired and hiking and traveling and generally enjoying a life less encumbered by duty. I agree that the Frances is a great introduction to the "Camino Experience" as the most community spirit is found there (the Portuguese - the second most take is also nice for that, but nowhere near as challenging, scenic, full of history, and full of people willing to share in the journey). I found October very cold throughout the Galicians, but I tend to despise the cold anyway. There are people here who have had spectacular experiences (and the photos to document them) in the dead of winter, so no season is necessarily a bad one, but I had trouble staying warming October especially in Galicia because the heat is rarely on in Spain (even in the nicer hotels in Madrid) until some undetermined time after the end of October. Take warm clothes and good rain gear (Galicia is very rainy, but also very beautiful). Happy planning - with the military you probably have plenty of international travel experience, but October is a great time to see the rest of Europe (you'll likely avoid the strikes and the summer crush of tourists). Let us know how you're getting along with your plans!
     
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  11. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Welcome aboard Stealth, and welcome back to the civie side. The Camino is a great way to celebrate the changes.
    Being retired Army Medic (Canadian), I did think my wife was crazy when she first suggested it....put on a pack and walk across the country? Been there....BUT....she was 100% right and I loved every bit of it. She did mention red wine and crusty bread, so I was in.
    Best part...better gear than the service would ever provide.
    Walking with my wife was an absolute highlight. What better way to see a country and share with your better half?
    We did ours Sept/Oct 2015, and found the weather was just fine.
    Can't offer any info on CPAP though.
    Enjoy, and let us know how it goes!
     
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