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Starting In Leon In April 2018

Discussion in 'Camino Frances' started by Greg Canning, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi all

    I'm back for more advice. I hope to have around 8 days in mid April (starting the week after Easter) to continue my Camino from Leon. Having looked ad godesalco I estimate we could probably reach Tricastela in that time (averaging 22.5 kms per day). Any advice as to whether that's too ambitious, not ambitious enough etc really welcome.

    Also any ideas on transport from that end back to Madrid would be very much welcomed. We will of course take the train from Madrid to Leon.

    Thanks again and Buen Camino all

    Greg
     
  2. MichaelSG

    MichaelSG Active Member

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    Getting to Tricastela should be reachable by the majority of Pilgrims. I did that in just under seven days. Tricastela is not exactly a transportation hub though.

    If you can make it Sarria, you can take a train from there to Madrid which runs several times a day. I think one time is direct and the others run through Orense. If you don't make it to Sarria, get a taxi from wherever to the train station there may still be your best option.
     
  3. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Hi Greg! You probably know this, but if you take one of the many buses out to La Virgen del Camino you'll avoid a good bit of the Leon city exit mess. There's a modernist church there that people like. Instead of walking the busy road onward on the main route, take the green route to Fresno del Camino, Oncina and Vilar de Mazarife. There are a number of very cool storks' nests in bell towers and if you lop off that first 7k with the bus, you can easily get to Hospital de Orbigo that day, where there are some good places to stay.
     
  4. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi C4S

    Happy New Year. I had heard that the exit from Leon can be a bit drab so the hint is great. Definitely going on my list. Any recommendations for Hospital?

    Thanks again

    Greg
     
  5. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Happy New Year to you too, Greg! I liked B&B El Caminero in Hospital d'Orbigo. It's in its own little compound with a courtyard, not hard to find, reasonably central, and has a big dinner and Continental breakfast. A very hard-working younger woman runs it with some family help. She has a little girl who was about 18 months when I was there two years ago, so she'll be running around by now. It gets great reviews on Tripadvisor and the rooms are nice.
     
  6. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Thanks C4S, will check it out.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
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  7. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Mike

    Looks like we will finish in Tricastela. So we will look to take your advice, taxi to Sarria and get a train to Madrid.

    Thanks again.

    Greg

    BTW really enjoyed your blog
     
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  8. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Greg, congrats on your next segmental camino frances trip. You don't need much advice now that you've walked several segments. I can comment regarding where we stayed during our recent camino - from Leon to Triacastela:
    • Leon - This was a rest stop for us, so we stayed there two days. First night was albergue muralla leonesa. The four of us stayed in a quad room with two bunkbeds. Very nice place in a great location. We'd stay there again. The second night we splurged and stayed at the parador in Leon. It was expensive (140 euros) and we were given a room facing a parking lot. We'll not stay there again.
    • San Martin del Camino - Albergue Nuestra Senora del Pilar. We've stayed there before. We had a private room for two with a private bath. It was okay. Shower water lukewarm at best as was the water pressure. On the positive side, the hopitalero was great and we had a superb community dinner with salad and paella and red wine. We'll stay there again.
    • Astorga - Alb Siervos de Maria. This is the municipal albergue. We stayed there before. Great location. We were able to stay in a quad room with two bunk beds. Very affordable (5 euros each). After two caminos, we've had our fill of municipal albergues. Lots of pilgrims and lots of noise in the early morning. Also, a few rooms seemed overcrowded with way too many bunkbeds. Next time we're in Astorga, we'll stay in one of the nice hotels, like Hotel Gaudi or Hotel Astur Plaza.
    • Rabanal del Camino - Alb Nuestra Senora del Pilar. We stayed here for both caminos. Comfortable albergue with outstanding patio and bar. Very nice hospitaleros. We stayed in bunk room with lots of pilgrims. Lots of competition for electrical sockets. We enjoyed our stay, but will stay in private room at one of the nearby hotels / private albergues next time.
    • El Acebo - Alb La Casa del Perigrino. This place is more like a fancy resort hotel, than an albergue. Swimming pool, amazing outside patio, nice bar and terrific restaurant. Rooms have balcony access with chairs to take in the amazing sunset. We took a room at the end of the hall that had 4 bunkbeds. The good news for us is that the four of us had a room to ourselves. Very nice toilet / sink / showers for men and women. We'd stay here again, but next camino will continue walking and stay in Molinaseca.
    • Ponferrada - Albergue Guiana. This was one of the nices albergues we stayed in during our camino. Great location, not too far from the Templars castle and also the old town area. Huge lounge / reception area. Our room was amazing. There were two single beds and two bunk beds for the four of us to share, plus a private bathroom that has the quality fixtures of a five star hotel. Downstairs lounge area was very comfortable and welcoming. We enjoyed a bottle of rioja in the lounge before going out for dinner. We'd definitely stay here again.
    • Villafranca del Bierzo - We decided to splurge and stay in the Parador. This was the second time we stayed there. Very contemporary feel, nice comfortable rooms, nice outdoor patio in back. Also not as expensive as other paradors - our room for two with private bath was 95 euros, including a fabulous breakfast. We'd definitely stay here again.
    • Las Herrerias - Casa Polin. Very nice place in a very small town. We stayed in a private room with a private bath that was very comfortable and cozy. We left the window open and could hear the water babbling over rocks at night. Very soothing. The hospitalera was so very nice. She tended bar, washed our clothes, and served us dinner. The bar and restaurant were great. It is a good location to begin the rugged uphill climb in the morning. We'd stay here again.
    • Fonfria - Albergue Reboleira. I'm not even sure Fonfria is a town. The albergue is located along a highway and is very isolated. The albergue is a bit rustic in terms of rooms and beds. We had a private room and private bathroom which were confortable. There is a nice bar and outside patio which is a great place to relax. The best part of staying here was going to a community dinner in a building across the street. The architecture is the traditional stone building with thatched roof. A huge group of us were seated at a very long table, then we enjoyed an amazing community meal. The next morning, the hospitalero packed us a lunch and sold us a bottle of wine, since we had a short hiking day. We'd stay here again.
    • Triacastela - Albergue Xacobeo. We stayed overnight in Triacastela before - the first camino was stayed in the albergue municipal down by the river. Nice place. This time we stayed in town at the Albergue Xacobeao. Unfortunately the private rooms were "completo", so we stayed in a room with several bunkbeds. It was nice and the shower / toilet areas were also nice. The alberuge owns a nearby bar and restuarant. We had lunch / dinner and breakfast there and all meals were delicious. We really liked Triacastela, but in hindsight, it was only a 2 hour hike from Fonfria, so we'll not stay here again.
    Hopefully this helps you and other pilgrims. Buen camino ! Bob
     
  9. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Thanks AGAIN Bob for the great info. As always lots of food for thought. This time round my wife will celebrate a significant birthday on the Camino (probably on the day we climb O'Cebreiro based on current planning) so I will be trying to spoil her a little.

    I have already booked the Hospederia Pax in Leon. We stayed there at the end of our last trip and I would highly recommend it. It is actually a working convent with 19 nuns still resident and with an albergue at one end (Albergue de peregrinos Las Carbajalas) but the hotel is most definitely 5 star. We had a huge room and even "huger" bathroom with a whirlpool bath and massive walk-in shower. A real treat after walking with the bonus of being able to attend Vesper, matins etc if you wish.

    Having completed a few Caminos now I think we have "enjoyed"the albergue and shared dorm experience (and the early morning rush/noise) to its full and we will probably try to stay in B&Bs or at least private rooms in the albergues :) . As I've said previously not having the time to do the Camino in one go has one small advantage in that we can afford the occasional splurge on our accommodation so I will definitely be checking out your recommendations (the Parador in Villafranca sounds lovely).

    This time, because of the need to get a train back to Madrid in the early morning we will probably not stay in Tricastela but taxi on to Sarria as soon as we arrive and stay overnight there. We will start back in Tricastela in the Autumn we hope.

    Thanks again and Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  10. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi all

    Well once again thanks for all the great advice. Unfortunately because of time restrictions and travel option our walking time is now 7 days rather than 8. So taking on board the advice received so far this is our itinerary:-

    1) León (Virgen del Camino - Hospital de Órbigo 26kms - B&B El Caminero

    2) Hospital de Órbigo - Astorga 16.9kms - Hotel Astur Plaza (I know we could possibly walk a bit further but given the challenges to come we decided to have a shorter day here).

    3) Astorga – Foncebadón 26.5kms - B&B El Trasgu

    4) Foncebadón – Ponferrada 28kms - Albergue Guiana 50

    5) Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo 23.2kms - Parador de Villafranca

    6) Villafranca del Bierzo - Las Herrerías de Valcarce 20.9kms

    7) Las Herrerías de Valcarce – Triacastela 30 kms. We realise this is probably ambitious but our intention is to taxi on to Sarria on this day so we will walk as far as we like and then look for a bus or taxi to Sarria and from there for the train back to Madrid the following morning. So far it appears that there is only one train per day to Madrid at around 11.30am and it takes around 6 hours). We will then return to that point in the autumn to restart).

    Any comments or advice greatly appreciated.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  11. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Looks great, Greg. You'll probably be glad of a little extra time in Astorga (I say that with bias - it's my favorite Camino Frances town). The day between Rabanal/Foncebadon to Ponferrada is tough not only for the up part, but the down part on rocky, steep creek bed. I wished I had sent my pack ahead that day because of the imbalance it caused. If you can send your packs ahead on that last 30K day up and over O Cebreiro that might help with the longer mileage day also.
     
  12. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    [QUOTE="Crepes4Suzette, post: . If you can send your packs ahead on that last 30K day up and over O Cebreiro that might help with the longer mileage day also.[/QUOTE]

    Hi C4S

    thanks for another great idea. I will certainly think about that. Have to say I have found the descents (from col de Lepoeder through the forest and down the Alto de Perdon) at least as challenging as the ascents. That's when I am really thankful for my hiking poles. Wonder if there will still be snow at that time?

    I am really looking forward to Astorga. My wife is celebrating a siginficant birthday on the day we reach Las Herreiras so we are hoping to treat ourselves to some nice accommodations this time. Will report back on all.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  13. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    What a nice husband you are, Greg:0)). The picture on the left was taken in mid-May on the day between Rabanal and El Acebo, where you'll be in April, and as you can see, there's a bit of snow in the higher elevations. There wasn't any snow on the route, though, and all that was needed was a fleece jacket in the mornings up until the usual peel-off time around 10 a.m. As another forum member also said, try not to take the road that particular day to avoid the creek beds - tons of blind switchbacks, fast cars, faster cyclists and steep drop-offs.

    In Astorga, I stayed at Hotel Gaudi once and Hotel Via de la Plata once (the latter has a REALLY nice water area with sauna, jacuzzi, pool and spa services if your wife would like a spa treatment as a birthday present. The rooms are very contemporary and comfortable). Despite what it must sound like, I really do like a mix of albergues, inexpensive pensions, and once in awhile a hotel!

    Will look forward to hearing about your next Camino adventure! The part you're doing might be my favorite part of the Frances.
     
  14. Giorgio T

    Giorgio T New Member

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    Hello All,

    First off, thank you for sharing all this great information!
    I'm hoping to start at Leon (taking a train from Madrid) and go all the way to Santiago de Compostela in early February of 2018 (...I know, I'm starting to plan rather late!). I am seeking advice on a few things and am grateful for any-and-all feedback:

    1) Is the Camino Frances from Leon to Santiago bike-friendly? If so, do you think I could cover the distance (roughly 100 miles, no?) in 4-5 days?
    2) Will the albuergues and Inns be open during this time of year?
    3) Will the weather be simply unbearable this time of year?
    4) Where are the main train stations along this route?

    I thank you in advance for your time and feedback, and apologize for my ignorance!

    Ciao
    GIORGIO
     
  15. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Giorgio, the Gronze.com site has some information about each etapa's lodging options - yours starts at Etapa 21. Under "Disponibilidad" you can often find info about whether they're open in invierno/winter (or how to make SURE they are by email). It's in Spanish, but not too difficult to understand even for people with little Spanish. Yes, people cycle the entire 790K from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. There are people out HIKING the Caminos right now, but I'm not a cyclist and given what I've seen of the roads they take, I'm not sure I'd do it in winter, as there are some formidable mountain roads on the section you're thinking of (the trails that the hikers are on are often different from the cycling routes).

    The municipals are likely to be open, but some of them have very little heat. People who do it in winter say they love the solitude though, and new places have opened up to provide alternatives to the municipals. The main train stations beyond Leon on the Frances are Astorga, Ponferrada, Sarria and Santiago de Compostela. Hopefully others better acquainted with cycling can add more information. Please don't ever be concerned about "ignorance"! There's so much to know, but also many people here who like to help.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  16. Galloglaigh

    Galloglaigh Member

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  17. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Giorgio

    Welcome to the forum. I can’t really offer any advice on the cycling or on the section you propose doing as we are only starting in Leon ourselves. I can say that we walked as far as Frómista in March and April this year which was really at the beginning of the season. Accommodation wasn’t too hard to find but sometimes it was difficult to find anything to eat especially in the smaller villages. I would suggest trying to stay in places that will also provide food in the evening. The last thing you want after a long day is to have to search for somewhere to eat. In a lot of the small villages we passed through the restaurants and bars had not yet opened. This I am told is not unusual before Easter.

    Good luck and buen Camino

    Greg
     
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  18. Giorgio T

    Giorgio T New Member

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    Wow! Thank you so very much everyone- I really appreciate the information sharing. I will dig a bit deeper in the resources you all listed and make sure I'm well organized.

    I've been dreaming of walking/biking some of the Camino for a long time and am excited at the chance of it becoming a reality for the first time!

    I will reach out with any further questions should they arise.

    Thank you again so very much!

    Ciao
    GIORGIO
     
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