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Where To Start?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by colin_alot, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. colin_alot

    colin_alot New Member

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    I am very new to this. I am not sure where to start my walk? If I walk all the way to the Santiago, where is the best place to start? I am also thinking of walking in October, is that a good time?

    Out of curiosity too, are there any walks in Italy?

    Any feedback would be great!
     
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  2. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Colin - Can't help you with Italy, but as far as the Camino Francés goes, start in Saint Jean Pied de Port (SJPP). Cross the Pyrenees and then head west to Santiago. It's about 800 kilometers of great walking! Of course, there could be other starting points like Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, or even Sarria if you don't want to walk the entire CF. I'd suggest that you get a copy of the Brierley book, or another good guidebook, and get a sense of this journey. Typically, a pilgrim walks 12-15 miles a day. Build in a few rest days as well. With this said, if you plan to start your Camino in SJPP, 38-40 days should be plenty of time for the entire trip to Santiago and you'll be all set for an amazing adventure across Northern Spain. October would be a fine time to walk. Even starting in late-September to avoid the older weather in November might be advisable. Buen Camino!
     
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  3. Terry Callery

    Terry Callery New Member

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    Hi Colin,
    From a logistics standpoint Pamplona is a great place to start. High speed rail is just 3 hours from Madrid which is an easy city to fly into from just about anywhere. Your Camino would be 700 km from Pamplona.
    Check this out from "Slow Camino"
    https://www.slowcaminobook.com/slow-camino-pamplona-chapter-1.html

    I ate my first full breakfast in Spain at Cafe Iruna on the famous Plaza del Castillo, in the old quarter of Pamplona. All of Pamplona’s historic charm with its bricked roadways, small narrow cobbled streets built for horses, and stone buildings hundreds of years old is encapsulated in this cafe. Café Iruna is spacious inside with arabesque pillars rising to a ceiling 30 feet high, and with enormous stained glass windows through which an abundant amount of Spanish sunlight spills in. This café glitters with the gilded architectural detail so common to the nineteenth century. Café Iruna was one of Hemingway’s favorite places in Pamplona, a city he visited every year from 1923 to 1927 for the Fiesta de San Fermin, the running of the bulls.

    Pamplona is an intimate city and one designed for walking. There are few cars or vans on the side streets in the old city. Traffic seems to stay on the major avenues and boulevards. The pasty shop is small and narrow and family run, and it sparkles. The selection is not so much as to overwhelm you…all the sweet pastries, the croissants and fruit tarts are so nicely arranged. You are the only customer in the shop, and you feel the embrace of the one-on-one experience. Pamplona is like a woman slowly nibbling on your ear, it is a seductive place. Ambling around the city, I passed a wine shop that was just 14 feet wide. The butcher shop is also narrow, with sausages hanging from the ceiling and legs of Serrano hams oily and glistening on the counter waiting to be hand-sliced ever so thinly. There were just two butchers helping the only other customer in the shop as I took a couple of photos. There is no litter on the streets, which still wet and black from the night’s rain, reflect the beams of the morning sunlight.

    The RENFRE train from Madrid took me yesterday afternoon to a station just outside the old quarter of Pamplona. After three hours sitting on a train moving at 220 km per hour, I welcomed the 20-minute walk. With my backpack snugly on, I went a few blocks up the street from the train station to cross over the River Arga along the bridge. Up ahead on the left bank of the river, a bluff rose, and I saw the old city of Pamplona protected by ancient walled fortifications.

    Once inside the walls of the old city, my hotel was not far, and I found it tucked away off the Plaza Virgin on a deserted side street. A single room cost 38 euros at Hotel Eslava, which was a welcoming place accustomed to accommodating pilgrims. The avuncular owner was very helpful the following morning, directing me to the bus station where I would catch the bus to Roncesvalles to begin my Camino. The room was clean and nicely decorated, but somewhat small. It was really quiet, though, and I got a peaceful night’s sleep, which I needed to recover from jet lag, not having slept on the overnight flight to Madrid. This was my first night in Spain. In an ideal location, Hotel Eslava was about ten blocks to the bus station, four blocks from the Musee de Navarre, and just two blocks from the Camino de Santiago where the well marked route enters the old city, as it passes the Iglesia San Lorenzo.

    As I walked around Pamplona on the second day—my bus did not leave for Roncesvalles until 3:00 p.m.—I saw scallop shell tiles (the symbol of the Camino) plastered into the sidewalk along Calle Major, and I realized that I was actually walking on a section of the Camino de Santiago. The elusive dream was about to become a reality. I would soon be a pilgrim like so many before me. Known by various English names—the Way of St. James, St. James’s Way, St. James’s Path, St. James’s Trail, Route of Santiago de Compostela, and Road to Santiago—the Camino is the most important Christian pilgrimage in the world today. During the Middle Ages, it was as important as the pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem.
     
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