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Just My Thoughts Post-camino

Discussion in 'The Camino Portugues' started by Canadian Wander, Sep 26, 2018.

  1. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Hello all, I wanted to jot down a few thoughts and observations of my recent Camino Portugues, maybe someone will gain a little something from my adventure.
    I will start out by saying my wife and I did Camino France, starting in SJdPDP Sept 2015, so I had a decent idea what to expect. One should never approach a Camino thinking you know what you need to know...lessons will follow!
    I had checked my pack going to Porto, as we had stuffed both pair of hiking poles, our walking around shoes, etc. My wife, whose bag was smaller was carry on. I took a day pack with my sleeping bag, my socks, a change of t-shirt, etc. Of course, we arrive in Porto airport...and the checked bag didn't. It took them 5 days to re-unite the bag with us. In that time, we were ok, as we were really carrying essentials, so it was the nice-to-haves we missed (my wife loves her poles though). Only problem then was, for 5 days, I was walking carrying everything in a pack that didn't fit....ah well, lesson learned. (for better explanations on how NOT to run into this type of issue, please refer to my man Wily, who did warn me!) He is allowed to laugh at me.
    We walked from Porto to Villa de Conde, along the board walk. Nice, easy walk, but not really that 'Camino' spirit type walk, and little in the way of pilgrims.
    Day 2 we ducked in towards Central, heading to Arcos to join up. Much longer walk, and very narrow, scary walking with traffic so close to your elbow, on cobble stone streets that are very hard on feet, knees and hips!
    Once on Central, I felt the Camino vibe starting, meeting more people along the way, and getting into my rhythm.
    From then, it was Camino walking time...eat, walk, sleep, repeat. The views were great, the accommodations familiar and food great, and cheap. We found cost wise it very similar.
    We did run into a number of people who had done Frances first, and in fact, 3 couples how had essentially started with-in couple of days of us in 2015, and one couple we remember seeing! Then the after walk cheer and story telling was fun.
    Santiago was fantastic, the cathedral had the blue netting of 2015 removed, and it was a beautiful job of restoration. We went to mass and saw the swinging incense...always a thrill for the soul.
    Essentially, I found a couple of things. It is not Camino 2, the adventure continues...it is a Camino that has its own demands and lessons. I was able to learn that even when I had lightened my pack for this trip, I was able to function easily without much of the stuff missing for 5 days...so there you go! The Camino wasn't better, or worse...just a different Camino, and needs to be treated as such, be open to the new lessons.
    The extra days after we spent back in Porto were fantastic...a great place to explore, a feast for the eyes, stomach, and soul. And the port is great to try all over!
    Thanks to all for the words of support and advice. I want people to consider this path if you haven't already got it on your bucket list, it is a joy....just a different joy!

    I will say in conclusion...my Spanish, while poor...is WAY better than my Portuguese, but the helpful Camino angels you meet makes it a blessing none the less!
     
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  2. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey CW - Excellent perspectives on you Camino! Couldn’t agree with you more! It sounds that our experience was very similar to the one you had. In particular, I liked what you had to say about it not being a better or a worse Camino, just different! To use your words, “just a different joy.” From what I’ve experienced, each Camino has the strengths and weaknesses of any other path that one might choose. The open mind, and perhaps the empty belly, presents so many opportunities to explore a new land, meet new and amazing people, and, just perhaps, come to better understand oneself In the process of the pilgrimage. So glad it was a good experience for you and your wife. Bom Caminho!
     
  3. Bryan Morlock

    Bryan Morlock Pilgrim Bryan

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    Thank you for this. It is a great lesson for those of us who have done a Camino and are considering coming back to do another one. The main point of "you may not know as much as you think you know" just because you have done it once before applies to daily life. While you should be better, there is still much to learn. Glad you enjoyed the journey.
     
  4. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    CW, thanks for the summary of your camino experience. My wife and I will walk our third camino frances next fall. We will then consider whether to walk our 4th camino on CF again, or an alternate route, such as Camino Portuguese or Camino Norte. After our first two caminos in which we stayed in various sized rooms, we have decided to stay in private rooms. Can you or Wily comment whether walking CP from Porto or from Lisbon has a good network of albergues / hostels which allow pilgrims to stay in private rooms the entire camino? Thanks! Bob
     
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  5. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Actually, Wily has a pretty extensive list of private rooms he booked, we copied a few. All can be done with Booking.com.
    We were kind of forced to find hotel/hostel accommodations in the crazy attempt of getting our missing pack delivered once it arrived in Porto, after that we did what we are comfortable with...walking and finding a place, which presented no problems. The Portuguese route is not too badly covered, maybe not as extensive as France...but no problems at all. We never had to sleep in the street!
    It is worth considering!
     
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  6. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Bob - My list of accomodations can be found below in my CP Blog. It’s a combinstion of albergues and private accomodations (mostly small hotels). On my way to Boston this afternoon. After we get settled and enjoy a little seafood tonight, I’ll try to annotate that list for you since I think I know what you’re looking for. Bom Caminho!
     
  7. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Bob - Here is my annotated list of places where we stayed along the Caminho Portugués. No real dogs, but a few very special spots that I’d love to return to. Hope this helps with your planning. Bom Caminho!

    Accomodations on Camino Portugués

    Porto - The Poet’s Inn . Lovely Boutique-type inn in the heart of old Porto. Walk down the hill to the train station and cathedral or up the hill to the interesting bookstore Livraria Lello. Plenty of neighborhood eateries. Excellent continental breakfast included. Make reservations well in advance of your travel dates. Very popular.

    http://www.thepoetsinn.com/en/

    Vila do Conde - Bellamar Hostel. Older hotel on second floor. Large rooms. Nothing really special, but clean with a great view of the river. Inexpensive. It’s on the square along the river after crossing the bridge into town. Easy exit in the morning heading to the Caminho Central. Very good continental breakfast available in the morning.

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_R...o_Conde_Porto_District_Northern_Portugal.html

    Barcelos - Barcelos Way Guest House. Modern accommodations found just before crossing bridge into the town. Large, modern, comfortable room with a king size bed. Just a couple doors down from a popular albergue. A good pilgrim’s meal can be gotten just across the street.

    https://www.bedandbreakfast.eu/bed-and-breakfast/barcelos/barcelos-way-guest-house/1076706/

    Lugar do Corgo - Casa de Fernanda. My favorite stay on the Caminho. Halfway between Barcelos and Ponte de Lima. Fernanda has one private room. It can be reserved, but you need to call her (she rarely gets on the computer). Her English is excellent and it’s easy to make a reservation at her house. We had feasts for both dinner and breakfast. The bacalhau was some of the best I’ve ever had. Lemon marmalade in the morning was to die for. On the rainy afternoon we arrived, we say in the covered garden area enjoying cod bites she fried for us along with hot wine. A place not to miss. Very popular!

    https://www.yelp.com/biz/casa-da-fernanda-vitorino-dos-piães

    Ponte de Lima - Hostel/Pizzaria Beira Rio. There’s a pizza restaurant on the first floor, but above it are some delightful rooms with views of the river and the old bridge. Comfortable rooms with private bath. Quite inexpensive. Just a few feet from the main square with sidewalk cafes for drinks and people watching. The whole world passes by your windows, but it’s not overly noisy. Right on the Caminho. In the morning, cross the bridge and you’re on your way out of town. The pizza downstairs was excellent.

    https://m.facebook.com/pizzariadofo...669713071/?type=3&source=54&ref=page_internal

    Rubiaes - NINHO Albergue. A delightful spot run by volunteers. Both dorm sleeping and private rooms available. We stayed in a private room in the back with our own cat buddy. Our room had a small kitchenette as well. Pleasant breakfast with fellow pilgrims in the morning. Just a couple hundred meters down the road is an excellent restaurant where most of the guests took their meals. Albergue feel, but with a private room and bath. A nice little gem in the countryside.

    https://www.gronze.com/portugal/viana-do-castelo/rubiaes/alojamiento-local-ninho

    Tui- Alb. Tui Hostel. Wonderful albergue, but no private rooms.

    O Porriño - Alojamiento Camino Portugués. Modern, comfortable private albergue, but no private rooms.

    Redondela - Alfonso XII. Lovely apartment with two private rooms. Just a few doors down from the municipal albergue and plenty of eateries. We were the only ones there so we had the entire apartment to ourselves including use of a washer and dryer. Felt like relaxing at home. Found the best vino de casa in Spain at a tiny bar just at the corner.

    http://www.alberguealfonsoxii.com/index.html

    Pontevedra - Slow City Hostel. Loved Pontevedra! A charming hostel with both dorm and private rooms. Although our room was a bit Spartan, it was most comfortable and clean. Nice central area for taking coffee and talking with other pilgrims. Slow City is just a couple blocks off the main street and the Camino. A great pulpo restaurant is within a block of the hostel.

    https://slowcityhostelpontevedra.com

    Caldas de Reis - Alb. O Cruceiro. Both an albergue and a hotel offering private rooms. Our modern room was clean and pleasant, but like most standard hotel rooms. Nothing really special. Good restaurant downstairs (really enjoyed the squid ink pasta). A large grocery store is right across the street. Albergue is on a pretty busy street a couple blocks off the Camino.

    https://www.ocruceiroalbergue.com

    Padron - Alb. Corredoiras. Nice, modern albergue, but no private rooms. Really enjoys the peppers here in Padron.
     
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  8. Amy Brooks

    Amy Brooks Active Member

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    Wily and others

    How long did it take to do the Camino Portugues? I have done all my research on the Spanish ways and was curious how long the Portugues route is. I visited Portugal two years ago for the first time. Didn't make it to Porto but it was a wonderful visit and I know I will return. Wonderful people and great food.

    Thanks - hope everyone had a good week! Haven't had much time to train this week as work has been all consuming. I miss the meditative rhythm of a nice long walk...
    Cheers,
    Amy
     
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  9. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Hi Amy. We took 12 days, nice easy pace most days, and able to finish up before the heat really set in.
    We took a bus back to Porto, so we could depart from same airport, and had 3 days to explore Porto, which was fabtastic! Great food, beautiful city, nice wine and port...and do NOT miss trying real Portuguese tarts! Crazy gooD
     
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  10. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Amy - Although Brierley suggests doing the CP in ten days, we did as CW and walked it in twelve. We decided to break up a couple of the longer stages (Barcelos to Ponte de Lima (34 km) and Tui to Redondela (33 km)). Because we had wanted to stay at Casa de Fernanda, we knew before we started that we’d be stopping halfway to Ponte de Lima. Nancy’s knee probem encouraged us to take it a bit easier once we crossed over into Spain so stopping and spending the night in O Porriño worked out well. We had a day in Porto on both ends of our trip. The bus back to Porto from SdC was quick and easy. In hindsight, another day or two in Porto would have allowed us to see a few more of the sights and enjoy more of the great food. And, as CW said, those Portuguese tarts are crazy good! Bom Caminho!
     
  11. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Collect moments, not things

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    I need to know....what is inside the Portuguese Tarts? Fruit?.....any pics?
     
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  12. KateM

    KateM Member

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    Thanks for sharing Wily! I am so excited to see this list. It will really help with my planning for next September. (Especially Pulpo in Pontevedra!!)
     
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  13. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Hindsy - I knew something in the food category would get your attention. The pastéis de nata are custard tarts. Yum! Check this out:

    https://leitesculinaria.com/7759/recipes-pasteis-de-nata.html

    ¡Buen provecho!
     
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  14. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Lol...that Hinds, intrigued by the tarts! Best taste going.
     
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  15. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Collect moments, not things

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    Ha!!!!!! They look absolutely wonderful! Plus they give you the recipe! I love that kind of crust. I can't believe that they turn out 22,000 pastries a day!!!!! :D
     
  16. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Collect moments, not things

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    Heh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Drool, drool
     
  17. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Wily, thanks so much for your list of recommended places to stay along the Camino Portuguese. Also, appreciate your comments and comments by Canadian Wander regarding your pace and days allowed from start to finish. Camino three for us will be CF again, but many new towns and hostels we've not stayed in before. I suspect that for Camino Four we'll be ready for a change. Lead scenarios for us are walking Camino Portuguese from Lisbon or Camino Norte. We prefer the longer "immersion" caminos to embrace the culture, comradarie, spirit, food and wine experience. Thanks again. Bob
     
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  18. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Bob - If I have any complaint about the CP it’s that it was over too quickly. I know exactly what you mean regarding “immersion”. With my wife still working, the two week long Caminos have had to do for now. Starting in Lisbon, if that’s what you decide to do, would give you that extended experience for all the reasons you mentioned. I like how your plans include staying in many new towns and hotels along The Way. Although I certainly have some favorites, checking out new places would be how I’d do it as well. With that idea and the CP in mind, let me mention that the trek from Vila do Conde to Barcelos is a long day particularly in the rain. In hindsight, and because we stopped there for refreshment, next time I think we’ll stop for the day in Pedra Furada about 8 km short of Barcelos. Antonio (see page 128 of the Brierley guide) has a small restaurant and albergue with private rooms. The smells coming from the kitchen late in the afternoon were devine. Bom Caminho!

    874A9B00-D72B-4702-AEDC-45D9A8D95311.jpeg 317EB166-A18F-47B9-AF5C-DC4A69925767.jpeg
     
  19. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    I have to say I do agree with Wily about the length of the walk. I found it was over all too soon.
    And if you can break up that day 2 hike Vila do Conde into a shorter walk it would be better, as part of that is rather nasty walking along very narrow roads with cars whizzing by. Much better once you reach Arcos...but until then it is a bit white knuckled.
     
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  20. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Wily, I have Brierley's guide to CP. It puzzles me why his proposed stages are so long. For example, starting CP in Lisbon, the first 7 stages are all longer than 30kms, and stage 8 is 29.2 kms. Following his stages, it takes 13 days to arrive in Porto and 9 of 13 stages are more than 30 kms. While the terrain may not be as variable / challenging as CF, I wonder why Brierley's plan would not have daily stages to be 18 to 25 kms? Without looking closely at Gronze.com regarding walking distances between towns and availability of suitable albergues / hostels I worry that there is not adequate infrastructure in terms of places to stay, restaurants, etc. Even your excellent recommendations on places to stay from Porto to Santiago include some that do not have private rooms or only one or two rooms are available. Maybe more options will be available by the time we walk our fourth camino. If not, we'll research camino infrastructure along camino norte, or simply walk camino frances again. Last year during our second camino, we really enjoyed passing through towns we walked through before. We were able to stay in a few of our favorite albergues, eat at our favorite restaurants, and already know our ways around town, where the grocery store is located, etc. Bob
     
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  21. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Bob - I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s really an issue of infrastructure. As numerous as the opportunities are on the Francés for finding accommodations, we didn’t find that quite so on either the Portugués or Inglés. You are correct in your observation about the longer stages. I now find that doing a 30km day more than I generally care to do particularly when walking with my wife. For that very reason, we broke two of his stages in half and were very glad that we did. Traveling when we did in late March and early April, not around Easter, there was very little competition for beds. In fact, nowhere would a reservation have been necessary except perhaps on the end points. However, I know the traffic significantly increases later on in the season. If you do plan on making the Portugués your Camino number four, the logistics will be just a bit more difficult if you want to stray from the Brierkey stages. However, there are still a good number of in-between spots where private accommodations can be found to suite your needs at least in the Porto to SdC half. Bom Caminho!
     
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  22. Amy Brooks

    Amy Brooks Active Member

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    Bob
    I too would want to do the CP from Lisbon. Doing a bit of research now but I would love a Camino that includes those tarts... had minimum one a day when I was in Portugal two years ago. They are delicious. I am a Camino rookie but I am really starting to worry about the numbers of folks on the CF. Plus I love Portuguese history. I see the CP goes through Tomar which was one of my all time favorite places in Portugal. Very tempted.

    Thanks Wily for the list of places to stay! Very helpful.

    Amy
     
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  23. BenL

    BenL The Burghers of Calais

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    The Portuguese egg tarts are available in most cafes. We tended to indulge in them on most of our mid day stops during our CP this May as we walked from Porto. Once you cross into Spain, no such luck. We had the cheapest espresso and Portuguese tart (Euro 1 for both, if memory serves me correctly) at a rest stop when we bused from Santiago to Lisbon (cafe was one level below ground at mid way stop).

    DSC_2076.JPG
     
  24. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Yes! That's the ticket!
     
  25. Bryan Morlock

    Bryan Morlock Pilgrim Bryan

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    I'm in!
     
  26. BenL

    BenL The Burghers of Calais

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    Amy,
    We spent 1 night in Tomar and 1 night in Fatima prior to starting our CP camino from Porto. We bused to both cities. Loved both. The Convento de Cristo in Tomar is a great place to visit. See pics of the inner sanctuary.


    Tomar sanctuary.JPG

    Inside pic
    Sanctuary.JPG
     
  27. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Great pics Ben!
     
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  28. Amy Brooks

    Amy Brooks Active Member

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    Ben

    Great pics of the sanctuary. We walked up there from our place down in the main old town and we were so surprised by the spectacular grounds and church up there. The next morning my best friend and I went for a run and came upon the hustle and bustle of vendors preparing for market day. We returned later with her husband and the three of us had a great time meeting the locals and trying to buy some picnic items with our non-existent Portuguese. I really enjoyed Tomar and would love to include it in a Camino.

    Thanks for sharing your pics - brought back great memories.
     
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  29. KateM

    KateM Member

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    Hi Bob.
    I've been planning my CP for months now and have a planned itinerary that covers Lisbon to Porto in 19 days plus some rest days. Porto to SDC is planned to take 12 days plus rest days too. 31 walking days in all, most of which are about 20km, give or take! I've looked at Gonze and Brierley and am pretty sure there is accommodation where we plan to stop. We have booked our accommodation in Lisbon, Porto and SDC....and where we have a planned rest day. Using Booking.com these can be cancelled if needed. In the case that I'm unable to find something, I'm happy to be creative with a taxi! The itinerary still allows for flexibility but as we are 3 older women and I love the planning part, with research and forums such as these, having a plan makes me feel a little more secure!
    Only 7 months until I'm there!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Kate
     
  30. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Kate, your CP plan sounds great! I'm also a planner and began planning our third camino just a few months after completing our second camino frances in Oct, 2017. I also use Gronze.com and Booking.com extensively to plan the stages of our camino. My wife and I like the certainty that we'll have a bed / room waiting for us at the end of each day. And since we send Cindi's backpack ahead via Jaco-Trans we need to know the destination for each day anyway.

    For our camino this fall, we are planning on 37 days hiking St Jean to Santiago, plus 5 additional nights before/after the camino. We have firm reservations for every single night! Of the 42 nights, we used Booking.com to reserve 24 nights. For the remaining nights, we made reservations using the contact information in Gronze.com. For those private albergues or casas rurales, I'll send a followup email a few months in advance to re-confirm our reservation. Some prefer the freedom to decide how long to walk and where to stay each day, but this routine suits us well. We did the same when we walked camino frances with my brother and his wife and we didn't have a single glitch.

    Enjoy your continued planning! All the best! Bob
     
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