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uspn

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  • Added on: January 21st, 2011
Mama-to-many wrote:1. Is there a lower age limit at the accomodations?
2. Could you conceivably book six beds and then let kids top and tail? (to make sure you had a booking) Or could you book as two separate groups? Boys group and girls' group perhaps.
3. Are the dorms sex-segregated?
4. Did you need to book your bed in September/October?
5. Was your experience largely solitary or did you meet with lots of others on the route?
6. Do people tend to walk along together and chat, or talk together in the evenings?
7. Is there internet access? ie could we blog daily or often or never?
8. Is there a website you would recommend for all the questions you don't want to field!?
9. Oh yeah, and the toilet one!


1. No age limit, either way, that I'm aware of.
2. I don't know. I doubt it. I saw some places that the rule was one person per bed, although they may bend the rules for children, I suppose. Most places there is more than one hostel, so you could probably split into two groups and have a bed for the night for all of you. Then again, some places there aren't even more than 6 beds in total... Groups are discouraged, because they often travel major parts of the trail by bus, and would take up entire hostels if allowed to, creating problems for many individual pilgrims who would have to either sleep outside or use expensive taxis to get to somewhere they could sleep.
3. They're certainly not. I saw nothing coming even close to nudity in the dorms, though, so that shouldn't be a problem. There's no reason to separate the genders, I think, as the Camino taught me that women can be just as obnoxious snorers as men can.
4. I didn't have to book anything at all. If you walk during shoulder season (March/April, late September/November), there will be plenty of accommodation, and I wouldn't worry too much about being turned away even as a family of eight to ten people. A tour group of random people would be different, but I would guess a family would receive a warmer reception.
5. You choose for yourself. I walked fairly swiftly, so I generally kept meeting new people only to leave them behind. If you walk at a more normal pace, you're likely to bump into the same people many more times and you will get to know them well. During the day pilgrims often stop for breaks when they see others doing it, and there's a lot of small-talk going on. Mind you, a huge percentage of the pilgrims speak only French or Spanish, so that may be a hindrance. But in general, there are plenty of opportunities to get to know people, and it's also easy to do your own walk in solitude, if you so prefer.
6. At the hostels there's a friendly atmosphere, and you're bound to get to know people there. Most people stop walking around 3-4 in the afternoon, get settled, go for a walk in the village and then return to the hostel for dinner, which often is a communal and social event.
7. There's plenty of Internet access, although sometimes a bit on the slow side.
8. http://www.caminodesantiago.me/ is a good site.
9. Tens of thousands of people DO sh*t in the woods/fields along the trail! Outside of the villages and towns that's your only option. The area just next to the trail is generally VERY fertile ground!

Again, good luck! #8D)

Bjørn
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Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: January 23rd, 2011
Bjorn (sorry about the lack of line through your o!)
Thanks for your informative and incredibly helpful replies. I now have the confidence that we could realistically do it. I'd prefer to travel in May/June (even though it's hot) coz it's winter here and I'd rather not leave our vege patch empty through the spring, but that would be a small price to pay, and I know accommodation would be less of an issue if we went later!

Thanks again.
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uspn

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  • Added on: January 23rd, 2011
Mama-to-many wrote:Thanks for your informative and incredibly helpful replies. I now have the confidence that we could realistically do it. I'd prefer to travel in May/June (even though it's hot)


No worries. #8D)

In that case it might be an idea to get started as early as possible. The closer you get to July, the more crowded the trail and hostels will be. And don't be surprised if the whole experience ends up looking a lot different from the one I had. In the northern springtime, what I found as golden, dry fields and yellow-red foliage will be incredibly lush and green surroundings. Which, of course, may be a good thing!

Happy trails,

Bjørn
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Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: January 23rd, 2011
Lush and green also means potentially wet, so I think we'll be more inclined to go for the autumn. It just seems more sensible, especially with kids.
Also, can you remember if there were any days you walked that you HAD to go more than 20km to reach the next alberque? We know our smallest (age 4) can manage to walk 20km, not sure about whether we should train to be able to push her a bit further! We'd be hoping to take about 60 days and do only 15km or so a day (sometimes a bit more, occasionally less).....but are the hostels that closely situated? Need to do some proper research if we don't want to carry tents!
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uspn

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  • Added on: January 23rd, 2011
Mama-to-many wrote:can you remember if there were any days you walked that you HAD to go more than 20km to reach the next alberque?


You've got an energetic 4-year-old! #8D)

Generally you don't have to walk many kilometres to find the next place to sleep. Keep in mind, though, that many hostels run by volunteers will not open until late in the afternoon, so you may have to wait outside for a while before they'll let you in.

The French pilgrim association maintains a great leaflet that describes in detail the distance between the official hostels, but I can't find a newer version on-line than one from 2008:

http://www.pilgern.ch/images/pdf_dokume ... _08-01.pdf
http://www.pilgern.ch/images/pdf_dokume ... _08-02.pdf

(Two separate pages, showing all official hostels from St Jean -> Sahagun -> Santiago.)

A few new hostels have opened since 2008, so it's not entirely accurate anymore.

The first day, from St Jean to Roncesvalles, is amazingly beautiful on a good day, but it's a long and at times steep walk. There's a place not on the leaflet, Orisson, which can be used to break the day into two days, of which the second one will be somewhat shorter than 20km, but it's a hard day's walk anyway.

Then there's a 20,5 kilometer day later, to reach Burgos. That should be no problem. Walking the suburbs of Burgos isn't that fun anyway, so you can just jump on a bus as you approach the city.

The rest of the way you should be fine, although you may have to skip a few scenic alternative routes and stay on the main trail to find hostels with less than 20km between them.

Bjørn
http://bjornfree.com/

Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: February 15th, 2011
"Should I take no leave this year and then I'd have ten weeks owing next year and we could walk the Camino in September/October and spend a week in Paris?"
So asked hubby last night.
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minerguy

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  • Added on: June 5th, 2011
Love the pictures of your pilgrimage. I decided to do this walk myself a couple weeks ago and will set off on Wednesday. It will be a busy time, but not quite so bad as July/August from what I read. A little cooler too I'm hoping. I plan to keep a good pace going to finish in around 30 days - see how it goes once I'm on the road. I do plenty of hiking, but never day after day after day before like this. I need to get back to Brussels to see my girlfriend before she leaves for Guatemala in July.

USPN - Coincidently I will be going to Norway from Brussels for a couple of weeks in mid July. Maybe we'll be able to meetup and relive some of the experiences. Plus I can get a few suggestions for Norway then too :)
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uspn

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Holds PhD in Packing
 
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Joined: April 21st, 2008
Location: Oslo, Norway

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  • Added on: June 5th, 2011
It's been fairly cool lately, so you should be fine as long as you bring your umbrella, or preferably something more practical to guard against the rain. #8D) Your walk will look very different from mine, I think, as it should be nice and green along the trail for you. I'm sure it will be every bit as interesting and meditative, though. Enjoy!

I'm off for Florida next week, and after that I will be hiking in Northern Norway until around July 20, but drop me a note here if you survive the camino, in case I'm back in Oslo. I'll be happy to suggest things to do in Norway any time. For some excellent, inexpensive hiking and staying in cabins, look into Jotunheimen. There's a direct bus taking you from downtown Oslo to Gjende, right where some great trails and mountains begin. http://turistforeningen.no/english/

Buen Camino!

Bjørn
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minerguy

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  • Added on: June 5th, 2011
Great, thanks. I'm looking to get to Norway the 16th or 17th so will just miss you then. Will be around until the 4th or 5th so there will still be some chances. Definitely looking forward to hiking while there. I'll be in great shape after the Camino, though the climbs will be change. I will have a one man tent with me and the same small bag as on the camino which should give me lots of flexibility. Will pick your mind for suggestions as it gets closer. Cheers!
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