FAQ & Comments III

Q: I want to walk the camino, but I don’t have a religious motivation – i

am not catholic. I am just interested in history of pilgrimage and also
want to make a long trek through wonderful rural area full of
historical sights. Will i experience negative attitude on my way, will
albergues let me stay for a night, knowing that I am not a catholic
pilgrim but an ordinary backpacker ? Should I take a pilgrim credential?
A: There are many pilgrims not catholic, and also there are many
pilgrims not religious at all. However, in El Camino de Santiago
everybody is treated the same, there is no negative attitude and
everybody is welcome.

There are catholic albergues and also there are private albergues
and other albergues run by the government and other associations. They
all work the same, the only difference is that the catholic albergues
usually offer dinner for everyone together and also offer the
possibility of attend to mass, but of course that is not compulsory, it
is just an option, you can just sleep there without participate in
those things. Finally, just to inform you that no one will ask you what
is your religion in the albergues.

One of the main characteristics of el Camino is the tolerance so don’t worry at all about this matter.

Q: In the latest edition of the Davis/Cole “Walking the Camino de Santiago” it
states that since 2009 Cathedral authorities in Santiago have become very
strict on who can issue a “credential” and that now it is only available
through them or overseas Camino de Santiago sanctioned organizations. They go
on to say a pilgram should pick one up at one of these few groups before going
to Spain. I thought I could get one when I arrived at my starting point along
the French way. Being confused, I beg your clarification. Thanks, Gerry.

P.S. Great and infomative Web site.

A: I got my credential last july in St. Jean Pied de Port, and I am
pretty sure that they will continue providing it. Also, I don’t think
that important points in el Camino such as cities like Pamplona or
Burgos would stop providing with credential.

Also last August, two friends of mine got their credentials in Santander (in the North Way).

I am unaware of this new information in the Davis/Cole book, but
either it is incorrect or incomplete. Maybe they just mean that the
places that issue the credential along the camino will be reduced, but
for sure I won’t just be Santiago cathedral the only one issuing them.
That is what I can say after my last experience in el Camino in the
summer 2009.

Q: Thanks for your fab website – what a lot of information!

We are coming to Santiago de Compostela in the second week of February
2010. We only have one week in Spain. Will there be lots of alberges
open between Sarria and Santiago at this time of year? Which towns do
we stop in? Also is the last 100kms of the St James Way better than
doing the English Way from Ferrol to Santiago?

Thanks for your help.

A: all the albergues run by the reginal government in Galicia are open
all the year round and they cost 3 euro per night, so don’t worry about
the accomodation!!

Personally, I don’t know the English way, but I know the Camino
Frances, Camino Portugues and Camino del Norte and they are all very
nice!!!… If you want to meet some more people I would do the Frances
one (from Sarria) because February is still a quiet month, but all the
options are good.

Q: Hi, I am planning to walk the Camino Frances in September 2010 by myself.
Will this be a busy time and what is the weather like. I know that the summer
months are busier but I still hope to meet alot of people along the way. I am
a little nervous about not planning any accomodations ahead of time but
everything I’ve read says not to worry is this true. Thank you and great
information.

A: September is a great month to walk el Camino, it is still busy
enough but not crowded, and the weather is not so hot. There are
already some beautiful autumn colours, the grapes are ready for the
harvest…

Keep in mind that you don’t have to book any accommodation at all,
this is a different kind of travelling, this is a pilgrimage and El
Camino is full of pilgrim hostels that will host you. It is also an art
of improvisation because you can’t know beforehand how long will you
walk each day and where you will stay each night…

Buen Camino!

Q: I’m
hoping to do el Camino de Santiago in February and March 2010. I know this may
seem short notice, but the timing is right, and I have the next month
to plan this journey with one of my best friends. Your site has been
invaluable, thank you so much. I’m writing to ask if you have any
additional information with a list of hostels on the route? Again, I
won’t be traveling alone, but given the time of year, we’re concerned
that we’ll land in towns with nowhere to stay.

Really, just any additional information you have on accommodations to offer would be most sincerely appreciated.

Again, thank you very much for your site.

Courtney

A: I think you will be alright. Besides, the fact
that 2010 is a Holy Year makes your situation even better because more
pilgrims than a normal year are expected and as a consequence an extra
effort providing accommodation will be done, especially at the end of
the path in Galicia.

If you are starting in St. Jean Pied de
Port you will be given a list with all the albergues or hostels in el
Camino, but just in case that you are starting in other point I attach
you the list (mine is 2 or 3 years old, so I presume that the new one
will include more new hostels).

It will be cold, especially in
the nights, however it should be bright and nice. If at some point you
can’t find a pilgrims hostel open in some village just ask the locals
where is the next one opened and if not just ask in the church of the
village, the always have some basic rooms to let pilgrims sleep in
their sleeping bags in special situations (overcrowded, hostel
closed…). So any doubt just ask the people, my experience says that
the pilgrims are never let down. There are also pilgrims in December
and January, so you won’t be alone.

Q: I am planning to walk the camino
next year, possibly June/July 2010. I was wondering if it is necessary to learn Spanish
or French fluently. I am 63 years old, female and to although I speak a
little of both languages, it worries me that I may not be able to
communicate. thank you for an excellent website – it has reassured me
on lots of other points.
Caz 26/11/09

A: Hi
Caz, thank you for the compliment about the website!!

I don’t think it is completely necessary to speak Spanish to walk
el Camino but a bit of knowledge of the language will
help. Don’t beafraid because I’ve seen people walking the whole Camino for a month
without speaking a word in Spanish.

It is true that many (or most of) of the local people in the
villages that you will walk through don’t speak English at all but some
of them manage to speak a basic English.

Besides, el Camino is a very international environment (more than
50% of the pilgrims are non-Spanish) and everybody help each other so
if at some point you are stuck with the language you won’t have a
problem because other pilgrims (Spanish pilgrims who speak English or
English-speaking pilgrims who speak Spanish) will help you. I have
translated countless times the menus in the bars for other pilgrims!!!
I enjoyed showing local foods and traditions to foreign pilgrims, El
Camino definitely is an exchange of culture.

Having said that I encourage you to improve your Spanish
before
your departure so that it helps you to take the most from El
Camino de Santiago. It
is nice to have the chance of talking to the old locals and other
Spanish pilgrims!!

Finally, I wouldn’t worry about the French if you start in St. Jean
Pied de Port. In that case you will have just a day in France and after
that it is all Spain.

Q: Hi There. I am planning on
walking the complete route myself over the summer months. Would it be
better to start the walk in early june to arrive just before 25th July?
Is this a good idea? as i have read this year is a Holy Year!I would
love to be there for the feast day or week celebrations. I look forword
to hearing from you. Many thanks.
Chas. Brolly 19/11/09

A: Hi
Chas, well, I have never been in the celebrations for Santiago’s
Day in a
Holy Year, but I have some friend that walked the camino in June and
July of last Holy Year and arrived in santiago just on time for the
celebrations and the fiesta and they were delighted. Take into account
that Santiago is the patron saint of Spain, Galicia region, and
Santiago de Compostela, the
25th of july used to be a national feast
day in Spain… all that combined with the fact that it is Holy Year
and there won’t be another for the next 10 years… I guess it is going
to be a great party altogether!! It also has a deep Christian
significance.

But on the other hand, you will have to be ready to put up with the
crowds, because for sure next year, and specially on that time of the
year el camino will be more crowded. Although, I think the situation
will only be that bad in the last part of el Camino (i.e. last 100 km).
Anyway it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as you are in the
mood to walk with more people around. Personally, I quite like the fact
that there are plenty of pilgrims and people to get to know and make
friends, I think that’s the biggest wealth of El Camino,
its people.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the facilities, because being a
Holy Year, there will be an extra effort by the regional governments
(especially the one of Galicia) to provide the pilgrims with
accommodation.

Q: My wife and I are planning to
walk with our backpacks from Pamplona to
Santiago de Compostela in
April and early May 2010. We would like to send our
suitcases on ahead to a hotel in Santiago
either from Pamplona or
Barcelona.
Any
suggestion on the best and safest way to do this? Do you know
if Santiago hotels in general would store our luggage until we arrive?

Thanks for
your info service.

Dave 10/11/09

A: Hi
Dave, I suppose there will be no problem to get your luggage stored in
your hotel before your arrival but I think you would have to arrange it
yourself with the hotel, maybe phoning them…

Anyway I think that the most popular way to do
this (in fact many
pilgrims overloaded usually have to send things ahead in the
middle of el Camino de Santiago) is via
the Spanish National Post (CORREOS).
You could send
your suitcases as a “Paquete Azul”
(Blue Packet), it is quite cheap and
safe. You can send it to you (To: your name) to a local post office in
Santiago de Compostela,
they keep it for 2 weeks and during that period
of time you can pick it up (usually the blue packet needs 4-5 days to
get its destination, so you would have around 18-19 days to pick it).
Maybe if it is not enough time for you to get there you can send it to
a middle point, i.e. Leon, and then from Leon to Santiago.

Also private companies of packet delivery, i.e.
MRW, keep the
packet in their office about 15 days. So perhaps if you could arrange
something with a hotel it could be the most comfortable way to do it so
that you don’t have to worry about the time (anyway I advise you to
send it as
a Blue Packet via Correos, either to a hotel or to local office of
Correos).

Some useful links: Paquete Azul, MRW

Buen Camino!

Replay:
Thank you.
This is exactly the information I was looking for.
All 3 Santiago
de Compostella hotels
I contacted by e-mail said they
would store
our bags at no charge.
Please pass this info on to your
readers and thanks again.

Dave

Q: I plan to walk El Camino de Santiago from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela in late March 2010 with a group of about 10
friends. Is the Camino active at that time i.e.
accommodation, etc.
available, pilgrims
passport
can be processed? what is the weather
like, usually? would many other pilgrims walk at this time of year?
grateful for any guidance you can give.

Al Hayes
4/11/09
A:
El Camino de Santiago will
definitely be active at that time. You plan to walk the
last 100 km of El
Camino and that is the part with the best facilities
for the pilgrims, so you won’t have
problems to get the pilgrims
credential and you will have plenty of accommodation.

The weather could be wet, specially in spring. The
last 180-200km
of El Camino de Santiago, along Galicia
region (in the Northwest of
Spain), are usually quite wet, even in summer, since Galicia is quite a
rainy country, and therefore I recommend you to take waterproof
clothes. But don’t be discouraged because of that, you
may also get
beautiful days, and the landscape is just amazing. If you had time I
recommend you to continue from Santiago de Compostela to
Finisterre, in
the coast, where the camino really ends (extra 100km).

The next year will be a Holy Year
(Xacobeo 2010), so el Camino
will be very
crowded, but I think that so early in the spring you won’t have to
worry about too many pilgrims.

Q: Nice site and has a wealth of
information. I would like to do the trail
but I am very close to my dog and would
like to take him with me. I don’t mind sleeping in tents if the
‘alberges’ do not accept animals. Would this be possible?
Chris 20/10/09

A: Hi
Chris,

of course that it would be possible. It is true that most of the
albergues in el Camino
de Santiago don’t accept dogs
inside for hygiene matters, but many of
them let you keep them outside, maybe in a courtyard, or maybe let you
sleep in a separate place if the dog doesn’t like to stay alone in the
night.

Having said that, I think it could be very useful
if you carry
your own little camping tent so that you
can be more independent, you
would have no problems at all to camp nearby the albergues. Most of
pilgrims with dogs do so.

Finally, there is a fact that I would like to tell
you. I have
seen pilgrims that had to leave their
dogs behind because the trail was
too hard for the dogs. This happens when the dogs are small size dogs.
A small dog may be able to walk 20-30 km in a day but when they have to
keep on walking for 30 days they may be
exhausted, so please, evaluate
the possibilities of your dog as well as yours. Of course you wouldn’t
have a problem if your dog is a big one,
in that case he would walk
double than you!!

I wish you buen Camino!

Q: Hey, I just wanted to know all
the options available of doing the Camino
de Santiago by myself with regards
to accommodation,
walking it with or without a guide,etc. The reason to do it by
myself is to meet people and not stick to people that I know.
Is
it possible to walk with an unguided random group?
thanks a lot.

Brendan
21/10/09
A: Hi
Brendan,

yes, of course it is possible. Actually I have done El
Camino de Santiago as
you describe “with an unguided random group” many times. It is my
favorite way of doing el camino so that I
can meet new people.

You don’t need at all a guided group to walk el camino. It is very
simple, and you will be surprised when you see that most of the
pilgrims,
especially those who start it at the very beginning in St.
Jean Pied de Port, arrive
alone. Then you can make very good friends from all around the world
and for sure those friendships will continue after el Camino.

You will
also be very free and as you say “you wouldn’t have to stick to people
you know”. It is funny but very often you walk during one day (or just
some hours or even some days) with someone and then you lost track of
him or her the following day… then you wonder if you would see them
again… don’t worry, for sure you will see then again before arriving
in Santiago de Compostela,
when you expect it less… That’s the magic of el Camino de Santiago.

Buen Camino!!

Q: Hola, thanks for your lovely
website. I would love to walk the last 100km of el camino de
Santiago
next may (2010). Because my legs are not so good at moving, to do so I
plan on only doing the last stages but taking a longer time to do them.
Is it possible to walk shorter distances each day than the more usual
20 – 40k? Are there villages to stop in overnight if I can’t make the
distances shown for each stage?
many thanks.
15/10/09

A: Yes,
in the last 100km before santiago (aproximately from Sarria) the
installations of El Camino are very good and prepared to receive many
pilgrims. Nearly in every village that you walk through there will be
public and/or private albergues (hostels). So I would say, there will
be no more than 10-15km without a place to sleep.

Next year is a Holy
Year so there will be more pilgrims
than usual.
I hope this info is useful. I wish you a good
walk!!

Q:
hi, thank
you
for a fabulous web site with lots of very useful info.

I have done
2 stages in
france and will now continue from SJPP to comp
in oct, can the weather be too rough in late oct?

tor from
oslo. 07/09/09
A:
Hi Tor,
Thank you for your message!!

Once I have done a part of El Camino de Santiago
in
october (around the 2nd-3rd
week) and I liked it a lot, firstly because it is much less crowded and
also because autumn is a beautiful time for the colours and fruits in
the countryside.

The weather will still be quite warm in the day with very nice
sunny bright days that sometimes can even be very hot especially in the
first 2 weeks. The nights will be already cool. But also in october, it
is frequent to have some stormy and rainy days, so be prepared for some
day of rain.

In overall, I think october is a nice month to do El
Camino.

I hope that you will have a very nice experience.

Buen Camino!!

Q:
Me
gustaría saber si tu web del Camino de Santiago
está rota o solo te la
has
currado en Inglés. Resulta que excepto el principio, HOME, cualquier
otro
enlace está en ingles y claro eso es
un obstáculo
para entenderte.

Pablo.
16/08/09
A:
Hola Pablo,
pues no esta rota, es que la idea era hacerla
primero en ingles e irla traduciendo poco a poco al espanol, pero por
ahora solo me ha dado tiempo a traducir un par de paginas, inicio y un
dia en el camino de santiago.

Lo siento si se hace un poco dificil
entenderlo si no tienes mucha practica con el ingles, pero te invito a
que me preguntes cualquier duda que tengas sobre el camino.

Q:
I’m going to
walk the camino in
late August, is your
advice about cost still current?
Ruben 10/08/09

A:
Yes my advice
about the cost is still valid, you can spend around 20-25 euros a day
approximately as I say in the website.

Navarra, especially before Pamplona, is the most expensive part, I
would say. Then La Rioja is much cheaper with most of its albergues
asking a donativo (that doesn’t mean that they are free but you should
give some money depending on your possibilities to help them to
continue offering hospitality for the pilgrims).

Then Castilla and Galicia are also quite
cheap (also
the menus and
the shops to buy food). In Galicia, the albergues run by the regional
government (Xunta de Galicia) have a fixed cost of 3 euro.

Q:
I am
considering doing the walk (first time) but also taking my 13 year
old daughter. Are there any kids on the walk? Other than the physical
aspect of the journey are there any reason to not take her?

Anonymous
01/09/09
A:
I think I can
be a very nice and fun experience for your daughter. In
general there aren’t many kids on El Camino
but every
time that I have
walked it I have met some families with kids. It is better if she knows
beforehand that she won’t be with more kids. The physical aspect is not
to worry about and as long as she knows that she will be sleeping in
big rooms with more pilgrims (many of them snoring 😀 ) and she eats
well, she won’t have any problem.

Q:
I want to
walk the Camino in the Spring of 2010.
Can anyone
tell me about it.

Joni 21/08/09
A:
Hi Joni! I
think that’s probably the best time of the year (April-May)
because the weather is already nice and it is not so crowded as in
summer. I’m sure you’ll really like it!

The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela