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First Timer Questions?

Discussion in 'Camino Frances' started by Lou Galan, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. Lou Galan

    Lou Galan New Member

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    Hello everyone!
    I am making a last minute decision to walk the Camino starting in SJPD. I have a couple of questions that I would appreciate some help with.

    If I plan to travel after the Camino so where would someone leave a larger travel pack? I have an REI 30-35L pack that I used in New Zealand on the Milford Track but had a 50L Osprey pack for the rest of my journey.

    Where would you leave a bag? Would you send it ahead to Santiago De Compostela?
    How much water to you pack daily or is there water along the way?

    Thank you in advance everyone! (This forum is amazing!)
     
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  2. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Lou - Welcome to the Forum. Let me answer your water question for you. When I walked the CF, I only carried one 750ml bottle. Although I'm not a big drinker, part camel I guess, it was more than sufficient. Water and drinks are very available along the route. Between fountains, cafe/bars, and convenience stores, one can find some type of refilling station every few kilometers. Therefore, I don't think you need to carry more than a single bottle due to all of the places where you can get either water or some other type of drink. The longest single stretch without services is on the first stage from Orisson to Roncesvalles. There, you might want to have an extra bottle as it's a long climb to the top. And then there's the free wine tap at Irache to look forward to. Buen Camino!
     
  3. El Condor 2014

    El Condor 2014 Active Member Donating Member

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    Welcome to the Forum @Lou Galan

    @Wily has answered your question re Water requirements, I am a big water drinker on the Camino and I usually carry 1 lt in my bladder plus a small 500 ml bottle. I don't think you would need much more than that. As Willy mentioned , there a lots of bars and fountains along the Camino Frances.

    Re sending your big pack to Santiago
    There are a few services available where you can send your pack from anywhere in Spain to Santiago
    I have used Ivar Rekve a couple of times see link for information http://www.casaivar.com/luggage-storage-in-santiago-de-compostela/
    Some of my pilgrims friends have also used "Correos" ( Spanish Mail ) see link for info http://www.elcaminoconcorreos.com/en/envio-maletas.php

    If you have any other questions let us know

    Buen Camino
     
  4. Lou Galan

    Lou Galan New Member

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    Thank you very much Wiley and El Condor. EC, I just returned from Australia. Love your country!

    Another question I thought of. What is the weather like in September? Is it transitioning from summer? Is it cooler or should I expect warm days?
     
  5. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Lou and welcome to the Forum

    I've walked at the end of September and into October a couple of times. Even into early October we experienced some really hot days. You have to understand that the Camino (well the Frances and Norte) run parallel and close to the Northern Spanish Atlantic coast and there are a number of quite high sections so therefore the weather can be changeable. What we found is that the morning can be quite chilly but by mid-afternoon it can really be scorching hot. You can also expect to get some rain, from fine misty rain to quite heavy downpours which turn the track to mud.

    So really you need to be prepared for all kinds of weather. Most people use layers, e.g a light shell jacket over a good technical fleece and top. A lot of people will have rain covers for their packs, ponchos and gaiters. My advice is to get good lightweight hiking shoes (I use Merrells but there are lots of choices and by the sounds of it you know what you need in that Department). Have a look at the forums around clothing and packing lists. As Wily will surely tell you..keep it light.

    The great thing about the Camino (certainly the Frances) is that you are never too far from a major town and it passes through some pretty big cities, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon etc where you will be able to source anything you might discover you need.

    Best of luck and Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  6. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Lou - Great advice from Greg! I, too, am a big fan of layering. Everything I take is multi-functional. Therefore, I'm able to travel very light. I see a large number of pilgrims carrying far too much. You won't need much in your Camino. If it's not essential, leave it at home. As Greg said, anything can be bought over there if you really need it. One of the big lessons I learned on my first Camino was to cut down on the weight I carried. This last spring, my kit only weighed 6 kg. It was a delight to carry! If you go to post #26 of my CP blog below, you'll find a list of my gear along with weights. Keep it light! Let me also reinforce Greg's comment on Merrell Moab GTXs. It's a good, lightweight, waterprook hiker. Check them out if you don't already have hiking shoes. Lots of information on the Forum about gear. Buen Camino!
     
  7. Galloglaigh

    Galloglaigh Member

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    As someone once said - There is no such thing as bad weather ... only the wrong clothing.
     
  8. Frances

    Frances New Member

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    Hola from a first time hiker,

    My decision to venture to Spains Camino came after continuously bumping into people who had traveled here. It calls to some who have no answer as to why they want to make this journey. I want the Camino to answer this question for me.
    My choice was the Camino Frances, starting in Astorga. I have allowed three weeks in mid-sept. to then return to Madrid. I am combing this forum for advice and suggestions to allow me to focus on my journey, not the destination.

    Bien Camino todo
     
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  9. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Frances and welcome to the Camino

    It's kind of hard to answer your question as the Camino really is a very personal experience (I know this sounds strange as we tend to walk sometimes in groups and sometimes alone...a bit like life itself I suppose). The best advice I can give you is to try to take the Camino as it comes. Make sure you are as physically prepared as possible and have all the gear you need.

    Then take the time out to think about why you want to do it (doesn't need to be anything profound) and maybe consider what it is you are looking for.....then leave the possibility of receiving an answer completely open. Because, just as in life, the Camino may provide answers but not necessarily to questions you thought you needed to ask. Sometimes we learn the best lessons when they are the ones we least expected.

    Finally one of the problems all of us who only have a finite amount of time on the Camino encounter is the need to get to a particular point on the Camino within a particular timeframe. Then we are in danger of rushing to get to the next point or the finish or destination. Try to be aware if those feelings come upon you and try to stay in the moment. Enjoy all the wonderful experiences the Camino has to offer.

    The Brierly guidebook gives some guidance for thoughts or considerations on the Camino, some find them good others not but you could check them out. It might help.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
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  10. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Frances - Welcome to the Forum. I was pleased to read your post this morning as I sit in a café in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala thinking a similar thing. Why do we make any journey? An excellent question to think about before, during, and after our travels wherever they might take us.

    As Greg said above, the Camino experience is a highly personal one. One may leave home knowing why they are going on pilgrimage while others try to discover it as they walk. The experience is so varied as to insights and outcomes that the mystery of the Camino encourages an openness to what you will encounter. Going into it without any particular preconceived ideas or expectations presents you with the opportunity for any amount of personal growth you're interested in attaining.

    As there is no one way to walk the Camino, your decisions will make it uniquely yours. Although some think there may be "real" pilgrims out there as opposed to whatever you'd call the rest of us, your efforts to walk make it very "real" or authentic whether ot not you choose to sleep in simple albergues or in Paradors, whether you transport ahead your pack or carry it every day, whether you take a bus one day or walk the distance. It's all good! It's all real! What you will experience is the importance of your fellow pilgrims along The Way and all the other people you meet and some from whom you may need assistance. Without the human factor, the Camino would just be another long walk. And, perhaps that could be said about any trek as I experience this very phenomenon daily far from home. It will be the many interactions that you have walking that will help you answer the question that you pose now and that start your journey with. Buen Camino!
     
  11. Frances

    Frances New Member

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    Kind messages from both of you guys. I'm definitely open minded as I plan this journey and encouraged by the people who are helping me along the way... I look forward to the time I can assist someone as I become more familiar along the route.
    Basic questions:
    Is it important to make reservations ahead for Albergue stays?
    How would I do this without a phone?
    My Spanish is mucho limited but I am taking an online course - I don't want to assume that English is common in Spain - thanks for the forum,
    Frances
     
  12. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Frances - I'm one of those who likes reservations. Mid-September will still be a busy time on the Camino. Most of my reservations were made before I left the States. It was very easy to do. Because I had a bit of a schedule to keep, I knew exactly how far I was going everyday. With my bed reserved, I had greater flexibility to take my time and not worry about getting to an albergue before it was full. Of course, this is only true for the private albergues as one can't reserve in the municipales. Here are a couple websites that you might find useful in identifying places where you might like to stay.

    http://caminoteca.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/List-of-Albergues-2016.pdf

    https://www.gronze.com/camino-frances

    Most of the time, I simply sent an email to the albergue requesting a bed. They were very good about quickly writing back. In a few places, I used Booking. com to make my reservations. Once you are walking, you can ask an hospitalero at an albergue to call ahead for you and inquire about beds. With that being possible, I had no need to carry a phone for reserving beds.

    The more Spanish you know, the more fun you will have communicating. However, you'll do just fine with your limited Spanish as English is widespread. If you're not already familiar with it, try out Duolingo for a little more Spanish practice. Buen Camino.
     
  13. Daniel Bowater

    Daniel Bowater Member

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    Hi Lou, The other members have contributed some sound advice. When you get to Saint Jean go to "Bouricot" transport company near the pilgrim registration office- they have a good system in place. I was in a similar predicament. Here's a little clip I made explaining what happened with my luggage.
     
  14. Daniel Bowater

    Daniel Bowater Member

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  15. Lou Galan

    Lou Galan New Member

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    Thanks again Wiley!
     
  16. Lou Galan

    Lou Galan New Member

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    I just read post #26. You confirmed what I was feeling. I've seen other blogs where people are carrying 46L bags and I think that is just too much. I'm trying to get everything into a 30L bag. You are the best Wiley!
     
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  17. Michael

    Michael New Member

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    I decided just afew days ago to walk the Camino Frances and I start a week on Saturday! I do not know if this is rash but I trust all will work out well.
    The questions I have are about sleeping, will a sleeping bag be necessary or will a silk liner be ok, and how bad are the bed bugs?

    I am really looking forward to the trip and experience.
    Best wishes to all
    Michael
     
  18. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Michael - There are really two camps on the sleeping bag vs. liner issue. Personally, I like and travel with a very light (1.1 pound) 1-season bag. For just a few ounces more than a liner, I have a bedroll that will give me just a bit more warmth than a liner. In the mountains and on rainy days, I found the my sleeping bag offered just that little extra comfort that was appreciated after a long day of hiking. Many albergues do offer blankets, but that's not guaranteed.

    I have yet to encounter bed bugs. However, I do treat my sleeping bag and backpack with Permethrin just to be on the safe side. I'd recommend picking up a can of it and spraying your equipment before leaving. At least in the private albergues, there was almost no discussion of these nasty little creatures. I'm sure you will have a great experience. Buen Camino!
     
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  19. Michael

    Michael New Member

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    Thanks Wily for the advice, there is lots of conflicting views but I guess we are all on our own personal journey.
    Michael
     
  20. Daniel Bowater

    Daniel Bowater Member

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    Hi Michael, My advice for sleeping bag etc is also the same as above. Silk liners are a bit basic for my liking. I prefer a light +10 rating sleeping bag for comfort and a little bit of warmth. Mine was also treated with permetharin spray before leaving home. Here's a short clip explaining some quick tips for sleeping bag & towel selection...cheers
     
  21. Michael

    Michael New Member

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    Thank you for suggestions guys, I have a light bag but was just concerned about all the comments about limiting weight.
    Not long now and the butterfies have started flying!

    Best wishes
    Michael
     
  22. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Michael - I think a light bag will serve you well. As I said above, many albergues do offer blankets if even more is needed. You'll be fine!

    You are correct to be concerned about weight. How much will you be carrying? On my spring Camino, I got my pack weight down to 6.25 kg including water. That was several kg lighter than the pack I carried on the CF a year earlier. It made a big difference! If your weight is on the high side, go through your gear and take only the essentials. You don't need much on the Camino and if there is something specific you do need, you can buy it in Spain. To walk far, carry less! Buen Camino.
     
  23. Michael

    Michael New Member

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    Thank you Wily
    I hopefully am taking only essentials, was out carrying it up the Mendip Hills here in England today and it felt fine. I have not weighed it but it felt good and I walked for 4 hours.
    Could I ask a question about food for the first day from StJPP. What is good to carry? If an early start is made and the shops have not opened then the food would need to be bought the day before, but from my memory the bread in France does not last one day to the next and turns into stone!

    Best wishes
    Michael
     
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  24. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Michael - That first day out of SJPP is definitely a long one. Hopefully, you'll have the same wonderful weather that I had and enjoy some of the greatest views the CF has to offer.

    I left SJPP early in the morning with a planned break in Orisson for coffee and something to eat. I would definitely recommend that you do the same. Their tortilla de patatas, as well as other cakes, are excellent! Plus, after that first 8 km uphill, you'll be ready for a break. But, by leaving early, you'll be out of town before most stores open. However, there are plenty of grocery-type stores to pick up some lunch supplies the day before for your trek over the Pyrenees. My lunches usually consist of bread, cheese, and fruit. You're correct about the French bread. My best solution for that is to close it up in a plastic bag so it's not rock hard the next day. It won't be perfect, but it will be edible. Or, when in Orisson, get a sandwich and/or other snacks to take along with you. The restaurant there will be quite happy to put together a ham or cheese sandwich for you. Because services are very limited, you might want to carry just a bit more water with you than you usually do for this climb.

    I was able to arrive nice and early to Roncesvalles. After checking in, walk over to the Casa Sabina for something to eat and/or drink. You'll meet plenty of other pilgrims there and get to celebrate together your accomplishment of crossing the Pyrenees. Buen Camino!
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
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  25. Michael

    Michael New Member

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    Thank you Wily
    Your clear advice is boosting my confidence!
    Many thanks
    Best wishes
    Michael
     
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  26. keithlundy1

    keithlundy1 Active Member

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    Hi Lou
    I'm just back from completing my second Camino. I carried a bit more weight this time as I wanted to experience camping out under the stars so my rucksack was around 11kg. I know there will be many people who will be gasping in surprise but honestly I carried it with me every day. The first 3-4 days like any long journey is a bit tiring until you've got you walking legs on and after that I was fine and the comfort was I had everything I needed in my rucksack.
    With regard to water, I'm quite a thirsty walker and I carried a 1ltr bottle which was more than sufficient as long as you make use of the watering holes, cafes along the route, I'm a real coffee drinker so I never turn down the opportunity to refresh with a nice hot coffee and sticky Danish when I can.
    I started my Camino on the 25th August and took 31 days to complete it and during that time there were 4 days of quite torrential rain and 2-3 light drizzle, so make sure you have a decent smock as the rain days I had lasted for hours and one didn't stop all day. Two years ago when I walked my first I started on the 23rd August and it took me 29 days only because the rain was so bad there's not an awful lot to see when it's chucking it down so it was a case of head down and walk, I think I had about 11 days of rain on the first one, so expect several days to get wet. Enjoy your journey. Buen Camino. Keith, Norfolk
     
  27. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Keith - Congrats on completing your second Camino. Thirty-one days is a very solid walk particularly with the days of torrential rain that you had. That was also my walking time, but the Camino Gods were more kind to me regarding the weather with only one day in Galicia where it rained heavily all day. Ah, but such are the ways of the Camino! Nonetheless, good advice regarding rain gear for when we do encounter the inclement weather which will pop up one place or another.

    I am most impressed that you carried all of your camping gear! Kudos! What was it like sleeping out under the stars? I don't envy that 11 kg pack, but I'm glad you got used to it and rather quickly it sounds. Well done! I'm sure the cafe con leches along The Way added to your fortitude and resolve particularly with a hill in front of you. And, as you point out, carrying the 1L water bottle was sufficient, even for a thirsty guy, due to the number of places to spot and resupply on the CF.

    Welcome back and look forward to hearing more about your Camino on the forum. Buen Camino!
     
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  28. keithlundy1

    keithlundy1 Active Member

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    Hi Frances
    I'm just back from completing my second Camino and even though I'm 2yrs older and a bit slower I loved every single day and I know you will too.
    In response to your questions:
    I made 2 reservations, 1 for when I arrived in SJPP so I had somewhere to sleep the night before I started and 1 when I neared the end when I was about 5 days away from Santiago (The Last Stamp, Albergue, great place ), I had a pretty good idea what day I was going to arrive so I didn't tie myself to fixed destination each day. I started each day around 7am as I don't believe there is any benefit walking in the dark, there is so much to see and the photo opportunities you'll miss starting too early is not worth it, believe me I took close to 2000 photos this time and everyone brings back wonderful memories.
    If you do want to reserve an Albergue it's no problem, dial the number as it appears in the guide and ask could they speak English, the first time I walked every Albergue I called was so helpful.
    Regardless of where you're starting from your journey will be so very special and it will be all yours to remember forever, by the way I walked it this time 2yrs ago and experienced at least 10-11 days of rain and some of them were quite heavy where it rained all day so make sure your trekkers shoes are waterproof and you have a full length waterproof smock that you can wear over everything to keep you and your rucksack dry. Good luck Frances and if there is anything you're not sure about just ask away i'LL HELP YOU AS MUCH AS I CAN. Buen Camino, Keith, Norfolk
     
  29. keithlundy1

    keithlundy1 Active Member

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    Hi Wily, Thanks for that I feel quite proud myself. Some of the rain days were really brutal and really tested my resolve but I never questioned my reasons for being there again.
    The camping was really special, sitting out in complete darkness looking up at the sky I have never seen so many hundreds of thousands of twinkling stars, I took an astral guide to amuse myself at night trying to find the different constellations,
    You know what Wily, the first time I walked it 2yrs ago it felt very special to walk in to Santiago knowing I'd completed one of the biggest challenges I've ever faced but this time it was different. This time I knew I could walk it so the physical challenge whilst still a challenge wasn't what I remember most, this time deep inside I felt like a true pilgrim, embracing all the spiritual and religious feelings along the journey and feeling as one with the true essence of what the Pilgrimage really means, it's why I'm going back again but I'm going to give it at least a couple of years before I do it again but with a much lighter rucksack ha ha, I'll be looking at about 6kg for the next one. Buen Camino, Keith Norfolk
     
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  30. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Keith - Your Starry Nights experience sounds amazing! Hundreds of thousands of stars and you there with your astral guide. Nice!

    I, too, had the same experience after my first Camino of walking into Santiago bring aware of the physical challenge that I had completed. The first sighting of the cathedral that May morning was very moving. In hindsight, my struggle with blisters gave my walk even greater significance. Had it been all that easy, I'm not sure it would have been as meaningful. I will tell you, I certainly know a lot more about footcare now and oh how important it is to take care of your feet properly when a problem occurs.

    Like yours, although in a different way, my second Camino was an experience unlike my first. Although I walked a different Camino that was not as long, the discerning difference is that I walked it with my wife. As it wasn't just my Camino, being concerned about her enjoyment of the experience, I believe, made my pilgrim exoerience even richer. It was no longer only just about me! Rarely in our relatively long married life have we so depended on one another to walk on yet another day. It became a very different challenge particularly when she fell victim to the cobblestones and developed knee problems. As a team, we completed our Camino which lead to all kinds of new insights both as a couple and as individuals. It was such a rewarding an experience for her that next spring we head back to Spain to walk the Inglés and then on to Finisterre together. The Camino provides in some pretty amazing ways as you well know. Buen Camino!
     
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