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El Camino de Santiago

Mon 22 Feb, 2010 9:06 pm

My wife and myself, with my wife's sister an husband, are considering travelling to Spain in a few years time to walk some of the Pilgrims route from France to Santiago. There is no shortage of websites with personal stories and advice for preparation for this walk, but I was wondering if any Aussie/NZ forum members had done this walk and were willing to share their experiences in preparing for the trip, and equipment lists and what worked or did not work for you.

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Wed 10 Mar, 2010 7:53 pm

I am also keen to walk the Camino and have been doing quite a bit of research. The Council of Adult Education in Melbourne has a workshop for an afternoon presented by a woman who has walked the Camino twice. Some interesting information, photos and exhibition of eqipment etc. Cost $80. There is also a group that meets once a month through the Confraternity of Saint James to talk about the Camino - those who have walked it and those who aspire to. Details are on the CSJ Australia website. There are also workshops run by Marc Grossman in Melbourne, Sydney & NZ but these are mor expensive. Details also on the CSJ website.

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Sun 13 Mar, 2011 10:09 am

My wife, I and a 19yr old nephew did the Portuguese route in May 2010. 240kms over 11 days and had a fab time. We did that route to avoid the main more crowded French route as it was a holy year ie when St James' day falls on a sunday and pilgrims in a holy year get bonus points! We took a tent and could have used it once when the albergue was full with snorers in all rooms and even one poor sod with a sleep apnoea machine for company. Albergues are pilgrim-only accommodation inexpensive all spotless; some ultra modern some in restored stone houses.
We also found the Portuguese a little more friendly than the Spanish and prices were a little lower too. Our trip was all the more memorable for the friends we made along the way, especially a great couple from Brazil who became our walking companions from day 1 and we keep in touch with. Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful town but a bit of a tourist circus. Free meals for the first 10 pilgrims 3 times a day at THE Parador Los Reyes Catolicos (apparently the oldest hotel in the world) was a highlight.

We highly recommend the experience.

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Thu 16 Jun, 2011 12:26 am

I walked in Nov- Dec 2007 winterish ; cold for me. I did solo & 800kms ; Walking again Sep.2011 & weather should be kinder & more refugios and cafes open. In a few years plan is to walk from Le Puy or Vezalay. There is more information, blogs, photo & websites on internet than you could ever have time to read. You get into simplicity of walk, eat, sleep ,walk each day all over again. Wonderful towns , villages, experiences , people . Martin Sheen's movie THE WAY will be release in Australia in October & has been released elsewhere & this will generate another wave on interest. Recommned to go off season and not be on a Camino hwy. I had very positve & kind experiences from the Spanish people. Learn some Spanish

John Brielly's guidebook has all you need .

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Sat 02 Jul, 2011 12:14 pm

I walked the Camino September/October 2008.
I made it easy for me and walked the classical route, the Camino Frances. Started off in St Jean Pie de Port and ended up five weeks later in Santiago. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to continue to Finisterre. I can only tell you that it is an experience you will never ever forget! I walked it 'solo' but found it sometimes hard to actually be solo since there are so many nice people on the camino ;)
Good about it is that the main language spoken among the pilgrims is English. I myself don't speak any Spanish, but with hands and feet you always get what you want in the supermarkets. Was a bit harder at the very beginning in France... but maybe that's just the thing between French and Germans (I myself am German) ;)
I can only tell you to stay as much as possible in those alberges that are based on donations and led by volunteers (often church-based). So, so nice people, lovely atmosphere, heaps of fun cooking dinner/breakfast together!

Had a wonderful time there and would do it again without hesitating if there weren't so many other things that I haven't seen/done yet ;)

P.S. icabod is right, the free meals at the hotel are amazing!

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Tue 19 Jul, 2011 1:33 pm

does anyone know if it would be possible to do it in November and December or is it too snowy and cold? I'm Tasmanian and don't mind the cold ;-)

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Sun 07 Aug, 2011 2:11 pm

Yes being Tassie you will be conditioned for colder weather. Things to consider I walked 9 November - 9 December, cold , frost- but no snow.

I think it would be unseal to get snow . Things to consider hours of daylight very much reduced, the way/ path could be hard to find in darkness ; less refugios and albergues open, many open 1 May close 31 October ; less cafes and village life happening. So getting meal , food for breakfast can be limited . Need to carry more weight in pack as more layers needed.

See my images on youtube: search aussieredhat . this will give you indication of weather . most morning hovering at zero or a little below. ... er&list=UL

I would pack back up meal .

The plus side is not hundreds of people - nice small Camino pod and you will find days of walking on you own and meeting other walkers perhaps only at days end .

People do take snow shoes for sections but more January /Feb , or you have enough time to wait for weather to clear. need to allow more time if heavy snow , reduced visibility.

Temperatures a lady who has repeatedly walked January /Feb for many years winter 2010 with pictures - Europe experienced an intense winter in 2010.

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Sat 01 Oct, 2011 5:33 pm

I did the walk from St Jean to Santiago in Sep 2007, 4 weeks and 3 days of walking. Mostly as a single female, although I did start it with a friend but she walked too fast in the heat for me. Beautiful experience.

Main lessons learnt were - abandon a lot of the Aussie bushwalking principles of carrying items just in case - that's what they provide shops in the numerous villages, towns, cities for. Also the Aussie down sleeping bags - too bulky & hot for your large day pack. I shipped mine, and other bulky gear carried just in case (eg fleecejacket) to the poste restante in Santiago to collect at the end. Bought a very small compact sleeping bag for approx E40, which was brilliant for sleeping in the albergues (walking hostels) and has proved very useful for Australia & NZ walking. Have not seen them here in Australia yet. In an Australian winter, I sleep with thermals & cope fine.

10kgs in a large day pack (35litres), with a proper harness system is about all you need. Two sets of clothes are all you need - clothes washing gets to be high on your daily agenda each afternoon.

Blisters - something I haven't seen in many years of extensive Aussie bushwalking on the mainland & in Tassie. The Germans provided the following tips - lather your feet with cream every day before you put socks & boots on. I ended up with severe blisters after 3 days with walked in boots (two-three layers deep - photos available if you are keen). Yet I have walked for 10 days with 20kgs here in Australia. I stayed at a albergue where it is claimed that there are magical healing powers for blisters in the waters there. Let me tell you, they are magical. I spent the afternoon there soaking & sunning & they were almost gone the next morning. Miracle heh.... I then creamed my feet, wrapped my feet completely in bandages, put on socks & did the rest of the walk in my Teva sandals These sandals got an awful lot of comments, as everyone else was in boots. I'm a converted Teva sandal walker now for day walks & summer at home.

Walking poles are big in Europe, but there's only a few places where they would be useful, unless you have an injury & rely on them. Watch out for the bicyclists who use the same route without bells.

The albergues in the eastern end of Spain have a ritual of 10pm for lights off & 6am for lights on. Bang! I suspect the circuit breaker does this using a timer, as there's certainly no person switching them on & off. Head torch is essential to cope with this. Again I found very small head torches in Spain ( 4 years ago now), that I haven't yet seen in Australia. I lost my Aussie one....but now have a very small, light in weight, bright, multi-mode. Red light is useful on your torch to use without waking others.

Happy to share other experiences if you wish.

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Mon 25 Jun, 2018 11:41 am

tas-man wrote:by tas-man » Mon 22 Feb, 2010 10:06 pm - My wife and myself, with my wife's sister and husband, are considering travelling to Spain in a few years time to walk some of the Pilgrims route from France to Santiago. . . .

How time flies!
I had forgotten about this post from eight years ago and only found it when searching for forum members reports on the Camino, having just returned from walking the Portuguese Camino in May 2018. After many years of the "talk" we finally did the "walk!"




Re: El Camino de Santiago

Mon 25 Jun, 2018 2:12 pm

My sister runs spiritual walks of the Camino every year or two.
She's quite well known as she takes a harp with her so she stands out!

PM me if you want her details.

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Mon 09 Jul, 2018 9:01 am

Hey Tasman, congrats. Did you do the central or the coastal Portuguese Camino? Am planning to do the coastal with spiritual variant next May. Will by then should also have done 4 days on the via podiensis (le puy route) and a few sections near Innsbruck, Austria and in Switzerland on the jakobsweg. Would be keen to hear more about your Portuguese Camino. Cheers

Re: El Camino de Santiago

Fri 19 Jul, 2019 9:44 pm

Finished the Camino Frances at the end of May. A fantastic experience I would recommend to anyone. Now thinking about the Portuguese next year! :D
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