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Begins: Apr 24, 2023
Date: Wed, Jul 12th, 2023
Trip Distance: 509.2
Entry Visits: 73
Journal Visits: 1,856
Guestbook Views: 6
Guestbook Entrys: 1
For those of you looking for photos, Larry is busy doing the photo editing thing. I'll post them as soon as I am able!
So, any words of advise for those looking to do the Camino? Anything we would have done differently?
1. We took a cruise to get to Europe. This turned out perfectly! We had no issues with jet lag and the cost was about the same as a plane ticket. If time is not an issue, we would definitely do this again.
2. Lodging. This was a battle until we spent time in Burgos booking ahead. About 1500 people a day arrive in Santiago. In the small towns on the Camino, there just were not enough beds in spring for the huge number of Pilgrims. We tried going 'off-schedule', booking 2 then 3 days ahead. And still ended up without a bed. Some Pilgrims were buying sleeping pads for emergency sleeping outside. Some were getting up at 3am to get to the next town and score a bed. Once we booked ahead in Burgos, we were able to relax and enjoy the adventure.
3. Shoes. The Camino is 99% hard surfaces: concrete, asphalt, cobblestone, pavers, and very hard-packed dirt. Boots really aren't needed, but padding is helpful, as the bones take a jarring!
4. Gear. We took hiking poles, and probably would have been fine without them, or with just one each. We took umbrellas, mainly for the sun on the Meseta. We used the umbrellas a few times in the rain, and it was cool enough we didn't need them on the Meseta. We took sleeping quilts, which were nice to have. Some lodges don't provide blankets (a post-covid thing?). It was often cold in the lodges until the middle of the night. We often curled up in our quilts in the afternoon. I took a skirt to dress up in, totally not needed.
5. Toiletries/laundry. Most places provided soap (liquid) for the shower and hair washing. Never saw conditioner, even in the better hotels in cities. Lotion was sometimes available. The laundromats automatically add soap and the lodges that have machines usually provided soap, so we didn't need to bring any.
6. Phone/Apps/Electronics. We used T-mobile without problems, as they contract with many foreign countries for service. We had free internet and texting with this. WhatsApp is commonly used by lodges and other businesses. Booking.com worked great for getting a bed. We had 2 navigation apps: Wise Pilgrim and Far Out. WP did a better job with alternative routes and had some nifty tricks for contacting lodges. Both listed a variety of lodges, some different, so we had more options. Far Out had distances in miles instead of km, which wasn't needed, but was nice. Larry brought a rapid charger, which we used daily and sped up the charging process hugely.
7. Walking. The route is not hard to follow at all, but can be harder to spot in cities. We only took a taxi a couple of times (ie, when our lodge was many miles off-route). There were often stickers posted on the route announcing a name and phone number to call a taxi. Or the lodges/bars were good about helping with this.
8. Language. I was the most fluent in our group...which isn't saying much! But it did help to have some ability to speak Spanish. Particularly in small town, the locals we met sometimes did not know anything else. We had GoogleTranslate and that helped when my skills were insufficient!
I will always be grateful to the people of Spain, who were gracious, kind, patient, and made the Camino a wonderful experience.