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Jeff Oct 28th, 2000 04:49 AM

El Camino De Santiago
My wife and I are planning to bike the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail next year. Has anyone done this bike trip? Does anyone have experience on the trail? Any recommendations for guide books/maps? <BR>Thanks

JON Oct 28th, 2000 05:06 AM

The most usual route is the so-called "French-Way", entering the Peninsula in Orreaga-Roncesvalles, and making a 700 km. trip. You can begin it some 100-150 kilometres previously, but I tell you, the climbing to Orreaga is very strong, from some 150 metres above the sea-level you reach in very few kilometres some 1,000 metres. <BR>While cycling Nafarroa-Navarra, the Basque area, it will be very hilly, more or less the first 100 kilometres. Later you enter La Rioja province, Burgos, Palencia and León, completely flat but high, be careful with the wind, and in summer it can be very warm -during the day, at night it can be very very cold-. For me its landscape is not very beautiful, hundreds of kilometres of the same, but it is true that it is full of small towns with impressing Romanic buildings. <BR>Cruz de Ferro is the entering to Galiza, you have already made 500 kilometres and that climbing is not so easy but it is very nice. The last kilometres are made throught the provinces of Ourense, and A Corunha, both in Galiza, where Santiago is. <BR>There are other routes, such as the coastal one, which I prefer, it is not so flat, and it is much hillier, every time from valley to valley, landscape is green instead of the Castillian yellow, and you visit the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and from Oviedo -the capital of Asturias- you can choose: go to Leon and finish the French Way, or follow the coastal route, and choose to enter from Lugo or Ribadeo. Anything else you want, let me know, although I do not know so much. Anyway, there is a lot of information, mostly in Spanish, about the Camino, but in the tourism site of the Government of Galiza, you have info in English, as well as links. <BR>

Jef Oct 28th, 2000 05:33 AM

Thank you Jon. Your information is exactly the type of response I was hoping for.

Maira Oct 28th, 2000 06:09 AM

Hi Jeff-- myself and some friends from Germany picked up the route at Leon and continue on by car :-)(sometimes is the same trail; sometimes is parallel). It is an unbelievable experience to witness the byciclers and hikers doing the route from all over the world, for all kinds of reasons. The Route is in the UNESCO World Heritage List, so the small villages along the route is preserved as it must had been back in the Middle Ages. Like Jon so well stated, there are several pilgrimages routes to Santiago, the French Way being the most popular (about 800 kms). You see a lot of old cemeteries, rural architecture, romanic churches, old hospitals, historical buildings that serve as shelters. No words to explain. The route is marked with signs and when it crosses a town or village look for the sea shells carved on buildings or on the sidewalks (symbol of the Pilgrim; St. James the Apostle (Santiago) was a fisherman) The final stretch (I would say between Pontferrada and Santiago; last 200 kms) looked pretty rough; mountains, a lot of rain, at some points the trail is the same as for trucks and other traffic. Jeff I am only saying this so you plan accordingly; tons of people have done it. <BR> <BR>I would strongly suggest that you visit the region first and get an idea. Also, I picked up very good info in Spain about the towns (maps) and the history of the region, including a "Pilgrims Kit" in Leon. If you promised to return it, I can mail it to you so you check it out. It includes a detailed, plastic, foldable map of the route, a card where to write basic medical info translated to Spanish, a carnet that you can stamp at the different checkpoints, the phone numbers of the (free) shelters, and of the police and hospitals in every town along the route. There are also tons of info on the Internet; there are even bycicling associations (specially in England) that could assist you in your planning. also has some good books on the route (I did looked first in many bookstores; didn't find much). <BR> <BR>One more word of advice: learn some basic phrases in Spanish. English is not widespread in Spain and it could be very handy to be able to ask for water, shelter, toilet, etc... without hassles. The planning does take time; PLEASE keep us posted!

Maira Oct 29th, 2000 03:41 AM

This two websites should be particularly useful for cyclers: <BR> <BR> (it shows the route on profile ascents and descends; some parts in Spanish, very useful pictorial info). <BR> <BR>The cycling pilgrim FAQ

nevado Oct 29th, 2000 05:01 AM

I did la ruta in September and the weather was superb. We hit rain, cold nights, and of course heat, but nothing compared to the heat of July and August (not to mention the rush of tourists during the summer months). There were still plenty of people on the road but it was fine. You'll be glad you did on bike after seeing the walkers cutting blisters off the bottom of their feet at night! Ouch! If you're planning to stay in the refugios (free loging for pilgrims) be aware that the cyclists have to wait until the hikers are in for the day (they have priority). Another reason not to go in July/August. There are some segments where you will find no other loging unless you are up for another 20-30 km. ride. I was not in shape at all and luckily the first days were easy. By the end I had completely transformed my body- good way to force exercise on yourself. All of my guidebooks were in Spanish except for two: The Road to Compestela by Rob Neillands and Northern Spain the Road to Santiago de Compestela by Michael Jacobs. I think I had about 12 guidebooks in all (I know- a bit overboard) but I was doing research as well. The best maps were in a Spanish book Rutas a Pie El Camino De Santiago put out by El Pais/Agular. It mapped out every kilometer of the route and had topographical photos/maps as well so you could see those great "puertos" coming. O Cebreiro was my favorite stop along the way. I've since been back there a couple of times. There's an inn if you're interested with lovely hot meals. I also bought a cookbook with dishes found on the route, unfortunately it's in Spanish (unless you do speak Spanish).

Jef Oct 29th, 2000 06:55 AM

Thank you Jon, Maira and Nevado. You have provided me with excellent guidance to start my planning. We will probably start in early to mid-September. I hope we experience the fine weather Nevado mentioned. We just returned from two plus weeks hiking in the French Alps (Tour de Mt Blanc plus day hikes) and had sunshine almost the entire time. That is much better than last year's bike trip in the french Dordogne. We had two weeks of rain! <BR> <BR>Maira, thank you for the generous offer of allowing me to borrow your "Pilgrim's Kit". I will try to get a kit. If not, perhaps I can still take you up on your offer. <BR> <BR>Thanks again.

ttvilla Nov 1st, 2007 05:04 PM

My grandson and I would like to take this pilgimmage. I am still young anough and he is still willing to go with grandma. I am looking for advise.
Please any one with a recommendation for a tour group? Nothing to big. Not too many people.
Help please.

WillTravel Nov 1st, 2007 05:20 PM

ttvilla, I haven't taken the route, but I have looked into it a bit. What type of tour company are you wanting? Is it one where you walk the distance, but the tour company takes care of your luggage, bringing it from one location to the next?

Aduchamp1 Nov 1st, 2007 05:42 PM

My wife is planning to walk starting in late April. She tried this year but when we were in San Sebastian she had to return due to deaths in the family.

She has been walking with a back pack for training.

The following is a site that is compendium of many Camino sites.

The book she likes the best is the following:

A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de Santiago: Camino Frances - The French Way of St. James (Camino Guides) (Paperback)
by John Brierley (Author)

toledo Sep 22nd, 2008 01:16 AM

I walked from St Jean to Leon this year but had to come home due to terrible blisters. This was through attempting to do too much too quickly. Some people can manage 20 miles a day, some only 6 or 7. Many people I had passed a few days earlier appeared in the same hostal, having used the bus or train. Everyone's Camino is different, it's what you make it.
One piece of advice is to carry no more that 9 kilos. Some days it felt as though I had the world on my back, other days it felt as though my pack was empty.
The route is easy to follow, marked everywhere with yellow arrows so there is no need for heavy books.
Be prepared to look for private lodgings in some towns because the Camino Frances is very popular and the demand for beds is greater than those available.

adrienne Sep 22nd, 2008 04:31 AM

I would love to hear about your biking experience so please post if you do this. Here are some books I've read about the Camino de Santiago as I want to do this someday and will probably bike due to knees not being up to walking. The best book was Travels with my Donkey by Tim Moore (recommended by someone on this board). Off the Road by Jack Hitt. I've read other books but they were not worth recommending.

You should join the Society of St James and they will help with information on the route.

I'm not sure you need a map as they are various way markers to point out the route. One of the web sites will have photos of the various markers.

Here are some sites to look at. I can't remember which ones are good as it's been a while since I've looked at them.

I have the last 2 marked as &quot;very informative&quot; so you might want to look at them first.

I also have an interesting trip report that was serialized in the UK Telegraph about a man in his 60s who walks a 1,000 mile route. Email me if you want a copy.

Buen Camino!

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