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Point Break

Camino de Santiago

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Anybody walk the Camino? I'm thinking of doing the French Way at some point in the next year or so. Now that the hips are replaced I need a goal (so of course one of the things that screwed them up is what I decided to do), and I could really use some time to reflect. I like to hike and I have nothing but time. Curious for any reflections from those of you who may have done it. I have done the Coast to Coast in northern UK in 2013 with Mrs PB so I'm no stranger to long walks.....but the Camino is twice as far. 

Experiences? Thoughts?

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3 minutes ago, Snaggletooth said:

SA fielde tripp?

It would be a long one.......

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I have a friend who is in the final days of her Camino walk, she is doing the full length of the French Way from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France to Santiago de Compostela = 732km  , I have not yet heard the long versions of her stories yet, but a consistent comment in our short exchanges has been how crowded the walk was at this time of year. The only thing that has not gone completely to plan has been the weather ( 4 seasons in a day stuff), otherwise food & lodging has all worked out so far.

Once complete she will have a short break in London then off for another month of walking in Northern parts of the UK, which to her will be the highlight of the trip.

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Loved the Coast to Coast in northern UK. Tell her I highly recommend (for whatever that might be worth).

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A buddy and I started the Portugues last September, the Lisbon to Santiago, not the much shorter Porto to Santiago. I'd heard the Portugues was much less frequently traveled and I felt like the Frances is pretty much a zoo or frat party. The down side is accomodations are few and very far between on the Portugues, most days averaging in the low 20 miles. We also learned that the guidebook distances were substantially off on the low side. The first day out of Lisbon was supposed to be 24 miles, gps called it 26.

Trained hard all summer and worked my way up to 18 miles no sweat, but without a pack on. Big mistake. Even with only 23 lbs of pack weight, my feet swelled significantly and by the middle of the third day, despite all the tape, lambs wool, moleskin and lubricants my feet were hamburger. We tried to convince ourselves it was just pain, not life threatening, but the blisters became brutal and the heat and wind were exhausting.

We resigned after about 60 miles, hopped a train to Porto and drank wine, ate simple Potuguese food and recovered for 4 days before coming home. I was depressed for months afterward.

I'll try again in a year or two, but probably just do the Porto to Santiago Littoral route. The north coast is lovely.

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I think I'd prefer the Tuscan olive and vineyard tour trek.....

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2 hours ago, Willin' said:

A buddy and I started the Portugues last September, the Lisbon to Santiago, not the much shorter Porto to Santiago. I'd heard the Portugues was much less frequently traveled and I felt like the Frances is pretty much a zoo or frat party. The down side is accomodations are few and very far between on the Portugues, most days averaging in the low 20 miles. We also learned that the guidebook distances were substantially off on the low side. The first day out of Lisbon was supposed to be 24 miles, gps called it 26.

Trained hard all summer and worked my way up to 18 miles no sweat, but without a pack on. Big mistake. Even with only 23 lbs of pack weight, my feet swelled significantly and by the middle of the third day, despite all the tape, lambs wool, moleskin and lubricants my feet were hamburger. We tried to convince ourselves it was just pain, not life threatening, but the blisters became brutal and the heat and wind were exhausting.

We resigned after about 60 miles, hopped a train to Porto and drank wine, ate simple Potuguese food and recovered for 4 days before coming home. I was depressed for months afterward.

I'll try again in a year or two, but probably just do the Porto to Santiago Littoral route. The north coast is lovely.

I feel your pain! When we did the C2C in UK we trained for a year including packs. It was still hard, 18 straight days of hiking, with a section that was unbelievable “hills”. Mrs PB did really well. I had some foot problems about 5 days in. I got wet feet one morning and hiked through it. Ooooops.........I brought moleskin but it was a struggle. Then I tried some Brit stuff.....compaq or something like that. Miracle. Toss in some waterproof socks I bought in one of the towns for wet days and a rerun of spray on waterproofing and all was fine. I hiked for a living and know about foot care/socks/blisters and still screwed up.

Would hiking in one of the “shoulder” seasons (spring or fall) make a difference on the French Way? I read the coastal route is beautiful.......but hilly?

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Personally, I think the shoulder season's the only way to go, with my preference on fall due to the weather being more predictable. Since The Way came out walking or biking the Camino has become quite the thing to do and the summer crowds on the Frances are ridiculous. Of course, the cheer and cameraderie of a high energy walk is a big draw for some. I like to keep it low key.

I'd considered the northern Coast route for my first Camino for the food and scenery but was concerned about the hills and distances and higher liklyhood of rain. You could live awful well on just tapas in northern Spain.

My MD took one of the tour services on the Norte and spoke highly of the trip, and he ate like a king and always slept in a bed, but having sherpas do the heavy lifting isn't my style.

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4 hours ago, Willin' said:

My MD took one of the tour services on the Norte and spoke highly of the trip, and he ate like a king and always slept in a bed, but having sherpas do the heavy lifting isn't my style.

We did a similar on the C2C booking the whole itinerary ahead and having the service schlep the "luggage" from the previous nights location to the next nights location. We then walked with day packs needing only water, rain gear, lunch/snacks, socks, maps and compass/GPS etc. It was nice to know where you are staying and have a bed each night  sometimes a farmhouse catering to walkers, sometimes a room above a pub, occasionally a B&B. The down side was you had to make the required distance each day which on long days (15-20 miles) meant not much time for dithering along if you found something interesting. I suppose its a give and take. I'm looking for a little more spontaneity on this trek. I suppose that means a tent or at least a bag.

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I have a friend who should have by now, finished the walk.  He took about 4 visits to do it.  Raved about the experience.  His said all throughout the walk the various pubs have a pilgrims special menu.  There are also hostels to stay at but he used mostly hotels.  You get a passport at the beginning that you get stamped at the various holy sites.

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Hi Point Break,

I walked the Camino de Santiago in April of 2016 at the tender age of 64. I started at St Jean Pied de Port continuing to Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Burgos, Leòn, Ponferrada, Samos, Melide, Santiago de Campostela, Finisterre, Muxìa. It took me 40 days to cover slightly more than 900 km. I can only offer a couple of suggestions.

Travel Light : I only took one pair of pants, one t-shirt, one long-sleeve dry shirt, a hoodie, a windbreaker jacket, a watch-cap, two pairs of underwear,  three pairs of socks, one pair of trainer shoes, one pair of leather sandals, a pair of flip-flops. and a towel. In a 40 lt backpack, with rain-cover, I also brought a light synthetic summer sleeping bag, a water bottle, and an increasing amount of medicines. I bought, along the way, safety-pins to dry out the socks on the stern of the backpack, a wide brim hat, and a couple of t-shirts.

Take Care Of Your Feet : After 20 km of walking, mostly on hard-packed dirt or asphalt roads, my feet hurt. After 25 km, my feet screamed to stop. After 30 km, I knew I was causing damage to them. I noticed that many of the persons wearing hiking boots were having problems with blisters. I was super careful to apply baby-cream and after 8 days I thought I was going to get through it without problems. Then wham, the ankle and knee tendons got inflamed. I remember after a lunch break, I got up and could barely walk heel-to-toe. Fortunately the pharmacies in Spain are allowed to sell effective anti-inflammatories (ibuprofeno) over the counter. The pharmacist was also very understanding and took the time to explain it while we worked on the translation.

Weather Window : Basically, you have to choose between mud and hot. I started on March 31 only to discover that the pass Napoleon used to invade Spain was legally closed due to snow until April 1 and possibly beyond that. The fine of 1000 euros for trespassing was more convincing than the receding snow; we walked the road. We got rained on and down-poured on, but it was never freezing cold. When the sun was out it was hot but not Dalì-melting-watch-hot. Mostly we walked through green farmland, lots of mud. We never had serious problems finding the cheaper 'municipal' hostels because the offer was more than the number of pilgrims and we walked relatively fast. I came to understand that in the summer, people would leave the hostel well before sunrise, in part to escape the heat, but also to be sure to get a place at the next first-come-first-served hostel. The last 100 km was more like a religious procession as this is the minimum distance for the 'credencial'.

 

Trees2South.png.0a86c82e6d1613547548fd5c6d578dd3.png

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48 minutes ago, t.rex said:

Hi Point Break,

I walked the Camino de Santiago in April of 2016 at the tender age of 64. I started at St Jean Pied de Port continuing to Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Burgos, Leòn, Ponferrada, Samos, Melide, Santiago de Campostela, Finisterre, Muxìa. It took me 40 days to cover slightly more than 900 km. I can only offer a couple of suggestions.

Travel Light : I only took one pair of pants, one t-shirt, one long-sleeve dry shirt, a hoodie, a windbreaker jacket, a watch-cap, two pairs of underwear,  three pairs of socks, one pair of trainer shoes, one pair of leather sandals, a pair of flip-flops. and a towel. In a 40 lt backpack, with rain-cover, I also brought a light synthetic summer sleeping bag, a water bottle, and an increasing amount of medicines. I bought, along the way, safety-pins to dry out the socks on the stern of the backpack, a wide brim hat, and a couple of t-shirts.

Take Care Of Your Feet : After 20 km of walking, mostly on hard-packed dirt or asphalt roads, my feet hurt. After 25 km, my feet screamed to stop. After 30 km, I knew I was causing damage to them. I noticed that many of the persons wearing hiking boots were having problems with blisters. I was super careful to apply baby-cream and after 8 days I thought I was going to get through it without problems. Then wham, the ankle and knee tendons got inflamed. I remember after a lunch break, I got up and could barely walk heel-to-toe. Fortunately the pharmacies in Spain are allowed to sell effective anti-inflammatories (ibuprofeno) over the counter. The pharmacist was also very understanding and took the time to explain it while we worked on the translation.

Weather Window : Basically, you have to choose between mud and hot. I started on March 31 only to discover that the pass Napoleon used to invade Spain was legally closed due to snow until April 1 and possibly beyond that. The fine of 1000 euros for trespassing was more convincing than the receding snow; we walked the road. We got rained on and down-poured on, but it was never freezing cold. When the sun was out it was hot but not Dalì-melting-watch-hot. Mostly we walked through green farmland, lots of mud. We never had serious problems finding the cheaper 'municipal' hostels because the offer was more than the number of pilgrims and we walked relatively fast. I came to understand that in the summer, people would leave the hostel well before sunrise, in part to escape the heat, but also to be sure to get a place at the next first-come-first-served hostel. The last 100 km was more like a religious procession as this is the minimum distance for the 'credencial'.

 

Trees2South.png.0a86c82e6d1613547548fd5c6d578dd3.png

Thanks for the info! We are of the same general vintage so I appreciate your view. I love the idea of drying the socks during the walk. Wish I'd have though of that on the C2C!! 

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Hope you can make it happen...long thread count wishes~~~....curious what do artificial hips feel like ?...

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8 minutes ago, SailBlueH2O said:

Hope you can make it happen...long thread count wishes~~~....curious what do artificial hips feel like ?...

It’s pretty good but of course it’s only been 3 months. I’m told I’m way ahead of the recovery curve. That said, there are a couple things that are interesting. The most interesting is balance. What I really didn’t know is that the normal hip has a lot of feedback mechanisms to the brain to cooperate with the ankles/knees and core to maintain posture and balance. The hips contribution to that process no longer exists. So “rewiring” that takes some time. It’s most apparent during one of the PT exercises where I balance and hold on one leg. The whole leg shook at first and I couldn’t maintain the single leg for very long. That has improved considerably with practice to the point that with very little “wobble” I can hold the balance as long as I want. Add in some muscle spasms and pain/ache once in a while and it’s occasionally odd feeling......but continues to improve. It used to affect my gait but now it’s pretty normal and I’m walking 3 miles a day with no difficulty. Also I still have skin numbness outside of both incisions. That is normal post surgical with the anterior approach and may or may not improve.

Past that I have no real awareness that they are not my hips. 

I see the surgeon for my 3 month check next week. I am confident that the last restrictions will be lifted then (no full squats or lifting more than 25 lbs), and the progress should speed up even more. 

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2 hours ago, Point Break said:

It’s pretty good but of course it’s only been 3 months. I’m told I’m way ahead of the recovery curve. That said, there are a couple things that are interesting. The most interesting is balance. What I really didn’t know is that the normal hip has a lot of feedback mechanisms to the brain to cooperate with the ankles/knees and core to maintain posture and balance. The hips contribution to that process no longer exists. So “rewiring” that takes some time. It’s most apparent during one of the PT exercises where I balance and hold on one leg. The whole leg shook at first and I couldn’t maintain the single leg for very long. That has improved considerably with practice to the point that with very little “wobble” I can hold the balance as long as I want. Add in some muscle spasms and pain/ache once in a while and it’s occasionally odd feeling......but continues to improve. It used to affect my gait but now it’s pretty normal and I’m walking 3 miles a day with no difficulty. Also I still have skin numbness outside of both incisions. That is normal post surgical with the anterior approach and may or may not improve.

Past that I have no real awareness that they are not my hips. 

I see the surgeon for my 3 month check next week. I am confident that the last restrictions will be lifted then (no full squats or lifting more than 25 lbs), and the progress should speed up even more. 

Goal on dude~~~

 

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4 hours ago, t.rex said:

Hi Point Break,

I walked the Camino de Santiago in April of 2016 at the tender age of 64. I started at St Jean Pied de Port continuing to Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Burgos, Leòn, Ponferrada, Samos, Melide, Santiago de Campostela, Finisterre, Muxìa. It took me 40 days to cover slightly more than 900 km. I can only offer a couple of suggestions.

Travel Light : I only took one pair of pants, one t-shirt, one long-sleeve dry shirt, a hoodie, a windbreaker jacket, a watch-cap, two pairs of underwear,  three pairs of socks, one pair of trainer shoes, one pair of leather sandals, a pair of flip-flops. and a towel. In a 40 lt backpack, with rain-cover, I also brought a light synthetic summer sleeping bag, a water bottle, and an increasing amount of medicines. I bought, along the way, safety-pins to dry out the socks on the stern of the backpack, a wide brim hat, and a couple of t-shirts.

Take Care Of Your Feet : After 20 km of walking, mostly on hard-packed dirt or asphalt roads, my feet hurt. After 25 km, my feet screamed to stop. After 30 km, I knew I was causing damage to them. I noticed that many of the persons wearing hiking boots were having problems with blisters. I was super careful to apply baby-cream and after 8 days I thought I was going to get through it without problems. Then wham, the ankle and knee tendons got inflamed. I remember after a lunch break, I got up and could barely walk heel-to-toe. Fortunately the pharmacies in Spain are allowed to sell effective anti-inflammatories (ibuprofeno) over the counter. The pharmacist was also very understanding and took the time to explain it while we worked on the translation.

Weather Window : Basically, you have to choose between mud and hot. I started on March 31 only to discover that the pass Napoleon used to invade Spain was legally closed due to snow until April 1 and possibly beyond that. The fine of 1000 euros for trespassing was more convincing than the receding snow; we walked the road. We got rained on and down-poured on, but it was never freezing cold. When the sun was out it was hot but not Dalì-melting-watch-hot. Mostly we walked through green farmland, lots of mud. We never had serious problems finding the cheaper 'municipal' hostels because the offer was more than the number of pilgrims and we walked relatively fast. I came to understand that in the summer, people would leave the hostel well before sunrise, in part to escape the heat, but also to be sure to get a place at the next first-come-first-served hostel. The last 100 km was more like a religious procession as this is the minimum distance for the 'credencial'.

 

Trees2South.png.0a86c82e6d1613547548fd5c6d578dd3.png

So you went on to Muxia!      Ultreya! 

Interesting comments about accomodations. I was under the impression there were albergues every few k and plentiful watering stations on the Frances. My impression was you could count on finding lodging at numerous spots along the way each day, so you weren't locked into a tortuous hike if you had medical problems, although I had heard the best accoms fill early and preference is given to those bearing their own packs on foot, then on bike (I seem to recall an expectation of  at least100k/ day for the bikers), then those being chauferred. I met a few folk on my Caminho that had made advance reservations, but they were very experienced walkers and knew their capabilities and what to expect. It sucks to make a res and not be able to get there at the end of the day, both for you, and the guy whom you denied a bed to.

The other thing about the Portugues is since there are so few dedicated albergues and hostels along the way, you are competing for bed space with a very dense migrant worker population whom often fill all the local hotels and hostels for weeks on end, especially during harvest. Calling ahead doesn't always work, as we'd been told one morning that all rooms were full at our target hotel that day, then welcomed with open arms at the end of the most soul sucking day of walking ever.

One last caveat. Bed bugs! Read up about them. Follow the Camino forums! Find out the hot spots and avoid them. Take every precaution. Around mid day of our first day out of Lisboa we met several peregrinos at a lunch truck, one of whom, a very petite Japanese girl, asked if we have anything to treat the mosquito bites she got overnight at a hostel. It was bed bugs, she was covered head to toe with bites, and everyone except two very kind or ill informed elder ladies slid away from her on the Group W bench. Worst possible way to start a Caminho!

This was the start in Lisboa...

21731263_1551699444868749_96093489692703

mid day two medical treatment....

21751416_1555880744450619_34875319106711

just before retiring, day 3, leaning very hard on those sticks...

21558630_1555881047783922_89832088430999

Bom Caminho!

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Walked the last 100km of the French Way last August.

Fantastic trip. Had the peasants carry the luggage so just had a day pack. We were booked ahead so didnt need to worry about accomodation so had a very relaxing time. took 7 days to walk the 100km so wasn't too stressful. Left early in the mornings as it did get hot later in the day.

As for a religious experience. Not a big one on Churches but i got he vibe of why people were there.

Would definilty recommend it. Would avoid the main summer season as even in the late August alot of people but that was part of the experience. Loved the food and chilled red wine.

Have fun

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