Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Camino de Santiago Tips

A friend of mine recently asked for some tips for his Camino Adventure. So here is a list I made. Hope you'll find it useful.

Camino de Santiago Tips

  1. Watch the movie “The Way” starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez to give you an idea of the walk.
  2. You might want to read “The Pilgrimage” as well by Paulo Coelho. (Although I have not yet read this book)
  3.  The most recommended route would be the Camino Frances or the French way.
  4.  If your schedule fits, you may want to walk the entire stretch coming from St. Jean Pied de Port which is from France near the border. The entire walk would take about 30-35 days , 700 kilometres 
  5. I f you want to start halfway, recommended starting point would be Burgos or Leon.
  6.  Best time to travel would be just after summer around September (to avoid the crowd)
  7.  Download the app Camino Pilgrim which gives you an idea of the recommended stops as well as the albergues, supermarkets, pharmacies along the way. I am not sure if this is available in Apple.
  8. You can buy the Pilgrim’s passport at the major stops. You need this to be stamped when you enter the albergue. You need the passport in order to claim your certificate at Santiago.
  9.  Travel light. Leave the unnecessary stuff behind. My rule of thumb is to bring 3 sets of clothes. You can have your laundry every 3 days.
  10. Add 50% buffer in your travel time so you won’t be pressured and you can travel at your own desired pace.
  11. Buy a local SIM.
  12.  Don’t forget to pack the following: slippers, headlight or flashlight, wet wipes, adaptor, mulitplug adaptor, ziplock bags, trash bag, ear plugs, sun block, microfiber towel.
  13.  Try to fit everything in a 20-liter bag
  14.  Don’t be prudish. Some albergues especially the municipal ones or Xunta have communal showers. They cost 6euros/night/person. For more privacy you can opt for the private albergues which cost about 10 to 15 euros.
  15. Bring a stone – There is a tradition of bringing a stone at the start of your journey and  then leaving it at Cruz de Hiero. This symbolizes atonement for one’s sins.
  16. Bring a water bottle. It’s good to be always hydrated. There are water filling stations along the way
  17. Bring waterproof shoes that you’ve used for at least a month. This ensures that your feet are comfortable in it.
  18. Bring a poncho as rain might happen especially in the Galicia area.
  19. Bring ibuprofen, loperamide, blister strips
  20.  Avoid getting your feet damp. This could easily develop into blisters which can be extremely painful and slow you down.
  21. I normally rest after walking for 4 kilometres.
  22. Plan to walk 20-30 kilometers per day.
  23. Be wary of Sundays. Most supermarkets are closed so ensure that you have food available during these days.
  24. Towards autumn, the sun can go down pretty fast. Make sure that by 4pm, an albergue is within 4 km radius so you can check in before sundown.
  25.  Learn a few Spanish phrases. A lot of Spanish people barely speak English so they would really appreciate if you can utter a few familiar words.
  26. Take photos, a phone camera should suffice
  27.  Plan to arrive before noon at Santiago de Compostela so you can attend the mass for the pilgrims at 12 noon. Bags are not allowed inside the church. You can deposit them at nearby shops for a minimal fee.
  28. When getting your certificate you can request for a personalized one for an additional fee. This would include your name, your starting point and the distance you have travelled.
  29. Make friends along the way.
  30. Have fun ! The journey will be over before you know it. Enjoy every minute of the Camino experience.

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