Saturday, August 23, 2008

TRAINING TO WALK THE CAMINO

There are about 15 different official camino routes in Spain, 7 in France and one in Portugal.
The routes vary in length from 107km on the Camino Ingles to over 1000km on the Via de la Plata. If you combine a route in France and a route in Spain to reach Santiago, you could be walking 1800km or more.
Most of the trails are cross country: on gravel, dirt, rocks, shale, mud, stones, grassy paths.
This is not a walk in the park or on a sidewalk!
If you walk the 800km camino Frances, you will cross three mountain ranges, traverse valleys and riverine hills. The camino Primitivo is shorter
(285km) but is one of the most arduous of the camino routes.
You really will need to do some training before setting off on any long distance trail especially one that might take over a month to walk.
People often ask about training: when to start, how much to do in a week, how far to walk. Any training should be specific to the event - i.e: cycling for a cycle race, swimming for a gala, running for a marathon. If you are going to walk the camino then you need to do WALKING training.
How much, how far, how often?
As a regular walker I walk every day with three longish walks of up to 13km each week and a few shorter walks of between 2 and 5kms.
Twice a week I walk on the beach and on Saturday and Sunday, I either walk in the suburbs or go on a hike.
I don’t do much extra training until a couple of months before doing a long distance walk. In those months I do longer walks of about 20km each weekend and do back-to-back long walks and hikes over hilly terrain.
I test all my equipment, shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, backpack etc.
Some people think that just being active is enough or that being a cyclist, swimmer or runner qualifies them physically to do an 800km cross-country trek with ease.
Walking uses different muscles – you might get shin splints from walking, and sore quads from running. You will be on your feet for much longer than you are used to so you need to build up stamina and endurance. “Time on your feet” will be much more important than speed and even the fittest runner will be tested doing a long, day after day walk.


Here is an example:

Bruce Fordyce was one of South Africa’s top ultra-distance marathon runners in the 1980’s. He won the Comrades marathon – a grueling 90km race between the two cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg - eight times in succession, and nine times overall averaging an incredible 5:34. He also won the London to Brighton Marathon for the third time in a row in 1983, setting a world record for 50 miles (80.45 kilometres), and in the same year he set a United States all-comers record in the 50 mile, clocking a ridiculous 4:50:51 in Chicago.

In 1996 Bruce was invited to take part in the 2-day Superb Charity Walk along the 90km Comrades Marathon route to Durban. The first day was about 46kms and the 2nd day 44km. Bruce didn't fare too well on this walk! He wrote an article about the walk in a weekend newspaper:

“I thought that walking Comrades over two days would be a doddle. I’ve always said that walking is for people who can’t run and that runners do not walk, even up the steepest of hills. After 6 hours of walking I hadn’t even reached the half-way mark. Usually by now I have finished the race, had a shower, given an interview and had my first beer. Here I was, facing Inchanga hill and another 7km to go. At the end of the first day I was aching in places where I didn’t even know I had muscles. I wore my trusty running shoes but had blisters and hot spots that reduced me to a hobble. If I hadn’t made a pledge to walk this event for charity I would not have started the 2nd day.

When I finally reached the end of the 2nd day I couldn’t get over the numbers of middle-aged women all strolling around, smiling, chatting and greeting their loved ones. I could hardly walk let alone stroll and had to be helped into a car. I was in no state to chat and was certainly not smiling. I’ve come to the conclusion that running is for people who can’t walk!”


So you are planning on walking a camino.
If you are not a regular walker, a good walking training program could be the difference between a comfortable, pain-free walk or a hobbling, painful trek.

When to start? If you are a healthy, fairly active person, I think about 4 months before your walk should do the trick. If you are grossly overweight, inactive, or ill - see your doctor before embarking on any training program. You might want to lose weight, go on a course of vitamins or clear up an illness before you start training.

Wiki has these points for starting out:

Motivate yourself. You will have a much harder time walking if you don't want to be out there. You have to want to do this long distance walk.

Start out easy. Depending on the shape you're in, you might be starting with a walk in your local park, or a walk around your house. Start out with a distance you know you can easily walk.

Start building distance. Your walks should eventually start to increase in distance and time. Don't increase these too quickly though. You don't want to walk for fifteen minutes on one day, and then walk two hours the next day. (Buy a pedometer to measure your walks).

When you have reached your target distance repeat it once a week. This will only make your long distance walk seem easier.

Keep walking, and when it is time for your walk, you will be ready.

Other tips:

· listen to your body, let your breathing and heart rate recover before hard efforts;

· be disciplined, make sure you put the effort in;

· try to incorporate hills into your walks and use them for hard walks, not for recovery;

· do not expect immediate results, persevere and improvements will follow.

· Remember to take days off to rest to let your body recover.

· Find a good pair of walking shoes/boots to use on your walks - break them in.

· Keep yourself well nourished and hydrated. Eat high carb foods and drink plenty of water.

· Feel free to use a treadmill, but remember to get outside. Your long distance walk is mostly outdoors.

· Work out to build the other muscles in your body especially shoulders and back.

· Walk with a buddy. Talking to someone during your walk will make it more enjoyable.

· Listening to music on a personal music player or singing marching songs often encourages you to walk further, as you concentrate on the music instead of the distance.

Here are some old favourite walking songs to keep in time whilst you are walking.

Remember to include stretching in your program. Walkers are subject to the same kinds of pulls strains and other problems that runners get. Warming up is usually not a problem as you can get a perfectly fine warm-up by just beginning your walk at a slower pace. It's important to remember that muscles respond best to stretching when they are warm: think how pliable salt water taffy is when it's warm and how brittle and breakable it is when it's cold. Your muscles are like that too. So don't go out on a cold day and begin to stretch. Your stretches are best done either after the workout, or after a thorough warm-up (or both). Remember to take days off to rest to let your body recover.

Here is a16 week training schedule from a trek - training guide: (Click to downlaod the full guide)


Week 1 - 6:
2 x 30mins walks.
1 x 2 hour walk. Full stretch after each walk.

Week 7 & 8:
Sat or Sun: 4 hour walk and stretch
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day

Week 9:
Sat AND Sun: 4 hour walk and stretch. (Back-to-back walks).
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day

Week 10 & 11:
Sat or Sun: 6 hour walk and stretch with backpack
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 4, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 4, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day

Week 12:
Sat AND Sun: 6 hour walk and stretch. (Back to back with backpack).
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 4, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 4, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day

Week 13 & 14:
Sat or Sun: 8 hour walk and stretch
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 5, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 5, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day

Week 15:
Sat AND Sun: 8 hour walk and stretch. (With backpack).
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 5, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 5, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day

Week 16:
Sat or Sun: 4 hour walk and stretch
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch
Fri: Rest Day

If you follow this training regime, you will be fit and ready to enjoy any camino. Remember to do your stretches while you are on the trail. When you have a chance, sit or lie down with your feet up and accept any massages that are on offer.
Here you will find more on preparing for your pilgrimage.
Buen Camino!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

CAMPING ON THE CAMINO

Pilgrims' Blog - Camping on the camino:  http://worldtravelerandthinker.blogspot.com/

In May 2002 two friends and I walked the Camino Frances, and thinking that it might be crowded, took two small tents. We spent two freezing nights camping wild and after about 10 days, "donated" them to a unwanted belongings box in Villamajor de Monjardin!

Wild camping is legal in Spain but with some restrictions. You are not allowed to camp:
In any urban area (these areas are prohibited for military or tourist reasons)Within a 1km of an official campsite.
On tourist beachesIn the "Parques Naturales"
If you are sensible and "wild camp" close to these areas, having some sensitivity to the rules, you can camp almost anywhere in the countryside. It is illegal, however, to make fires so unless you have a camping stove, rather wait until you get to a cafe-bar for your daily fix of cafe-con-leche!


There are few ‘wild’ camping places on the Camino Frances as the route passes through many private and state owned farms and vineyards. However, many albergues with gardens or free land allow pilgrims to camp on their property e.g: Rabanal, La Faba, O Cebreirio .
Most albergues in the towns and cities don't have gardens or yards for camping but they will usually allow you to use their facilities. You could take a shower, make a meal in the kitchen or just chill out chatting to other pilgrims.
Be careful where you camp if you don't have a ground sheet.  Most flat, accessible, open places off the trail are used as toilets!
There is a chain of private albergues (none charge more than 10 euro per person) where you could spend the night in a twin or 4 person room. Pick up a leaflet along the way - Red de Albergues.


Official Camping sites in Spain are listed as Luxury, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and special category camps. All prices below are quoted in Euro, are High Season prices and excl 5% Vat: (Some give pilgrim discounts.) Please check opening times before you go as times can change without notice.Here are a few useful websites.

http://www.camping-spain.net/ www.canalcamping.com
http://www.campingbungalow.com

http://www.vayacamping.net

For a map of all the camping sites in Spain:
Zoom in to about 400% on the map on page one and look at the green tent icons.
You can also look at page two 'per autonomia' for camping locales
.



Camino Frances - camp sites


ST JEAN PIED DE PORT:
Camping de L’Arradoy: Tel: 05 59 37 11 75 1/3 to 1/10:
25 Persons 2**
Basic campsite. Pets allowed.


Camping Municipal: Tel: 05 59 37 11 19) 53 persons - 1*
Municipal campsite 200m from the town gate. Pets allowed.

Spain - Navarra

Aurizberri-Espinal 2nd: 1/4 to 31/10Urrobi Tel/fax: 948 760 200 http://www.campingurrobi.com/
400 Persons: Adults - 3.96€ Child – 3.19€ Single tent - 3.96€ Group tent – 4.13€ Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted.
Pets allowed:

PAMPLONA: All Year


Ezcaba – 8.5km from Pamplona: Tel: 948330315  http://www.campingezcaba.com
Adults – 3.60€ Child – 3.30€ Single tent – 3.60€ Group tent – 4.40€ - Swimming pool, restaurant. Mini-market. Hot showers: Telephone:



Huesca

PUENTE LA REINA – GARES 1st : All Year
Errota-El Molino: Tel: 948 340 604www.campingelmolino.com info@campingelmolino.com
7km south at Mendigorria: Tent – 4.20€ 1 500 persons: Adults – 4.15€ Children – 3.30€ : Hot showers: Internet: Restaurant: Mini-market:

Navarra

ESTELLA-LIZARRA 1st: All yearwww.navarra.net.lizarra lizarrakampinga@navarra.net1 000 persons: Adults – 3.80€ Children – 3.40€ Single tent - 3.80€ Family tent – 4.50€ Pets allowed: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted

Lizarra: Tel: 948 551 733 Fax: 948 554 755
La Rioja



La Playa: Tel/Fax: 941 252 253

248 persons: Adults – 4.50€ Children – 4.00€ Single tent – 4.00€ Family tent – 5.00€ Pets allowed: Cafeteria: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted

NAVARRETE: 1st : 8/1 to 9/12


Navarette: Tel: 941 440 169 Fax: 941 440 639
580 persons: Adults – 4.20€ Children – 3.85€ Single tent - 3.85€ Family tent – 4.20€
No pets allowed: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted

www.fer.es/campings campingnavarrete@fer.es


NAJERA: 3rd : 1/4 to 10/9
El Ruedo: Tel: 941 360 102

154 persons: Adults – 3.75€ Children – 3.50€ Single tent – 3.60€ Family tent – 3.75€ Pets allowed: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted

SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA: Open all year
Camping Bánares
: Tel: 941 342 804 5km before Santo Domingo: Full facilities


Burgos


BURGOS: 1st: 1/4 to 30/9Fuentes Blanca: Tel/Fax: 947 486 016
1 100 persons: Adults – 3.70€ Children – 2.60€ Single tent – 3.20€ Family tent – 3.80€ Pets allowed: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted



CASTROJERÍZ: 2nd : 1/5 - 31/5 y 1/9 – 30/9 (1/6 – 30/8)


Camino de Santiago: Tel: 947 377 255 Fax: 983 359 549
campingcastro@eresmas.com
150 persons: Adults – 3.50€ Children – 2.50€ Single tent – 3.00€ Family tent – 4.00€ No pets allowed: Cafeteria: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted

Palencia
CARRIÓN DE LOS CONDES: 2nd: All year
Edén: Tel:979 881 152

289 persons: Adults – 2.40€ Children – 1.80€ Single tent – 2.10€ Family tent – 2.40€ . Hot showers: Cafeteria: Shop: Telephone: Pets allowed. No credit cards.


Léon


SAHAGÚN: 2nd : All year
Municipal ‘Pedro Ponce’: Tel: 987 780 415 Fax: 987 781 112


www.campinglacota.com ponce@campinglacota.com
1 100 persons: Adults – 3.70€ Children – 2.60€ Single tent – 3.20€ Family tent – 3.80€ Pets allowed: Post and telephone: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted


MANSILLA DE LAS MULAS: 2nd : 29/6 to 1/9


Esla: Tel: 987 310 089 Fax: 987 311 810
http://www.ayto-mansilla.org/media/Tarifas_camping.pdf info@ayto-mansilla.org
168 persons: Adults – 3.70€ Children – 2.60€ Single tent – 3.20€ Family tent – 3.80€ No pets allowed: Hot showers: Restaurant: Cafeteria: No credit cards.


LEÓN: 2nd : 1/6 to 25/9


Golpejar de la Sobarriba: Ciudad de León: Tel: 987 269 086 Fax: 987 214 798
www.vivaleon.com/campingleon.htm camping-leon@yahoo.es4km from León: 141 persons: Adults – 3.20€ Children – 2.75€ Single tent – 3.50€ Family tent – 3.75€ No pets allowed: Hot showers: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Post and telephone: No credit cards


VILLADANGOS DEL PARAMO: 2ND : 14/4 to 28/9


Camino de Santiago: Tel: 987 680 253
494 persons: Adults – 3.60€ Children – 2.50€ Single tent – 3.00€ Family tent – 3.60€ Pets allowed: Post and telephone: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted


Hospital de Orbigo: 2nd 1/6 to SeptemberDon Suero De Quiñones: Tel: 987361018
All facilities: June to September.


SANTA CATALINA DE SOMOZA: 2ND: 15/3 to 15/10


At Santa Colomba de Somoza – bear left on Le142 before reaching Santa Catalina
http://www.carbayal.com/b4_en.htm 240 persons: Post and telephone: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Pets allowed: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted


RABANAL DEL CAMINO:
Wild camping possible in a field at Rabanal or the open area just beyond the village: No facilities


Galicia


O’CEBREIRO:
Wild camping is possible in field at the back of the village.


Lugo

SARRIA:
Wild camping possible on the banks of the river – access from Pont Riberio.


A Corúna

PORTOMARIN:Santa Maria – Turn right after crossing the bridge and then right again by the panaderia. 1km down the lane.ARZUA: All year.
Don Manuel: Turn left 500m from town centre – behind the hotel. Bar, restaurant, pool.





SAN MARCOS:
Restaurant: Pool: Bar – no shop.


SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA:
Monte do Gozo
: 1st : 20/6 to 25/9
Tel: 981 558 942

1 227 persons: Adults – 4.18€ Children – 3.46€ Single tent – 4.18€ Family tent – 7.00€ No pets allowed: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted. http://www.montedogozo.com/

As Cancelas: 2nd : All year


408 persons: Adults – 4.60€ Children – 3.50€ Single tent – 4.80€ Family tent – 4.80€ Pets allowed: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted.


Las Sirenas: 2nd: All year
Tel: 981 898 722 Fax: 981 580 844
300 persons: Adults – 3.50€ Children – 3.00€ Single tent – 3.50€ Family tent – 3.50€ Pets allowed: Restaurant: Cafeteria: Mini-market: Hot water showers: Post & Telephone: Credit cards accepted.

(Information from “Guia official de Hoteles y Campings del Camino de Santiago” as well as from various guides and web-sites)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Refuge, refugio, albergue (del peregrino), pilgrim hostel (click here to view video)

Refuge, refugio, albergue (del peregrino), pilgrim hostel – these are all terms for the pilgrim shelters along the various camino routes in Spain. If you can spare 10 minutes to watch the Youtube video of the DVD "Welcome", you will get a sense of what the pilgrim albergues are all about.
And, also watch this short video on the Albergue Acacio & Orietta in Villoria de la Rijoa:

What are they? Where are they? What are they like?
Are they all huge, noisy, crammed dormitories with snoring, snuffling pilgrims? What are the beds like, and the showers? Do they give you meals?

What are they?
Pilgrim shelters - albergue de Peregrinos - are places for pilgrims (not tourists) to sleep overnight while on their pilgrimage. Found in almost every town and village, they follow in the thousand year tradition of providing shelter to pilgrims on their way to the tomb of Saint James in Compostela.
Where are they?
They are found in restored churches, halls, renovated barns, private homes and many other structures. Some are open all year, others only in summer so always check your guide book before deciding on where to stay.
What are they like?
In Ribadiso do Baixo, also known by pilgrims as Puente Paradiso, there is an award winning albergue in the restored hospice of San Anton on the banks of the Rio Isa , which dates from the fourteenth century. It has modern ablutions, a washroom for clothes, kitchen, and in 2007 we found a new bar and restaurant right next door - business must be booming!
In Leon, one of the most cramped shelters but also one of the few that separates men and women, your hosts are the nuns of the Convento Santa Maria de las Carabjalas. You can attend a mass at 8pm and will have a blessing and breakfast before you leave in the morning. There is no kitchen but you can make tea or coffee in the common room.
 
Are they all huge, noisy?
In Manjarin, a donativo albergue, 10 people sleep in a small stone barn on mattresses laid out on a wooden platform. There is no running water, toilet or electricity. Tomas Le Paz is a Knight Templar who conducts a Templarios ceremony every morning at 11am (when it is 12pm in Jersualem). He provides an evening meal -cooked on a gas stove - and a breakfast. He also provides tea or coffee to passing and visiting pilgrims throughout the day.

 
In Hospital de San Nicolas, 10 people sleep in the loft of a restored hermitage church. The monks wash the pilgrims' feet - following the tradition of Maundy Thursday when Christ washed the feet of his disciples - you have a pilgrim blessing and sing pilgrim songs at dinner by lamplight.
Some modern albergues are like university campus digs with all mod-cons including vending machines, cafeteria, bar and computer room for internet. Not much atmosphere and little camaraderie with other pilgrims.

There are over 400 pilgrim albergues (refuges) on the Camino Frances. Some are provided by the church, some by the local government or municipality; others are owned and run by volunteers from different Confraternities of St James around the world such as the 'donativo' Gaucelmo albergue in Rabanal which is owned and run by the CSJ - UK.
There are albergues that are owned by individuals or families who have devoted their lives to providing shelter to pilgrims, such as the refuge at Manjarin which is run by Tomas Martinez Le Paz, and Ave Fenix at Villafranca del Bierzo which Jesus Jato and his family have been running almost all their lives.



Most of the church, municipal and confraternity owned albergues are ‘donativo’ – donation. However, from 1 January 2008, all the municipal or church sponsored albergues in the Province of Galicia started levying a charge of 3€.
You cannot book a bed ahead at a church, municipal or CSJ owned albergue. These are run on a first come, first served basis. Most of these also don’t accept pilgrims with vehicle back-up, those who have sent their backpacks on ahead, or who have arrived by bus, train or taxi, and many do not accept large groups.These albergues also have a ‘pecking order’ in that walking pilgrims take priority and pilgrims on bicycles often have to wait until evening before being told whether or not they have a bed for the night.



Many of the privately owned albergues have come together under the umbrella of an organisation called Red de Albergues Camino de Santiago. They publish an annually updated fold out list of all the albergues along the Camino Frances ‘donde el camino se hace reposo’ (where the camino sleeps) with the mileage between villages and towns, and symbols indicating whether the establishment has internet, a kitchen, laundry facilities, a bar or restaurant etc.
Their ‘Rules of Use’ are that the albergues are for the exclusive use of pilgrims on foot, bicycle or horseback who have the pilgrims’ credential. However, they also provide contact details for pilgrims wanting to send their backpacks on ahead. You can download a brochure from their website:(Redalberguessantiago.com)
Some of the newer albergues offer single and double rooms, rooms for 4 people in 2 bunk beds with en suite bathroom, rooms for 10 people and dormitories that sleep up to 80 pilgrims. The charges vary from 5€ for a general dormitory to 9€ for a private room.


Do they give you meals?
Few albergues offer any meals but some, in the more remote areas, offer a communal evening meal and, perhaps, bread, biscuits, tea and coffee for breakfast. These are either ‘donativo’ or for a few euros. Some that come to mind are Eunate,
Villa Mayor Monjardin, Granón, Tosantos, Arroyo San Bol and Manjarin. Pilgrims might be asked to help prepare the evening meal and to wash the dishes afterwards.

Some albergues have kitchens although most of these are usually poorly equipped with shortages of pots and pans, crockery and cutlery. Most albergues have electricity and those that don’t, cook on gas stoves and eat by lamplight.


What are the beds like?
There are very few albergues that have single beds. Villadangos is an exception with beds in one large room and bunks in smaller rooms: Bercianos also has a room with beds and in Azofra - a large modern albergue - there are two beds per cubicle.
Most provide bunk beds in dormitories or rooms that sleep from 10 people to 200 people. None provide linen so sleeping bags or liners are essential. The majority offer blankets and some even provide a pillow.
There are a number of albergues where pilgrims sleep on mattresses on the floor. This, in my opinion, is often more comfortable than sleeping on a bunk bed especially if the mattress is soft or lumpy or if the bunk is a triple deck bunk!

All but the most basic albergues have showers, basins, toilets and wash tubs for washing clothes. Some provide washing machines and dryers. There are a minimal number of albergues that do not have electricity, running water or even toilets. (Manjarin, San Bol, Hospital San Nicholas, Convento San Anton). These, almost medieval refuges, are often the most spiritual, atmospheric places to stay.

Itzandegia at Roncesvalles is the first albergue a pilgrim will stay in along the Camino Frances in Spain. It is a large restored 12th century stone building with a vaulted ceiling that has 100 bunk beds, a heating system and hot water for the showers. It is necessary to show the Pilgrims' Credential and the inscription ticket at the entrance. Price: 5 euros. (They do not have blankets).
In Larrasoana the beds are in the old municipal hall as well as a second building not far away that caters for overflow numbers. The ablutions are in a pre-fab hut alongside the building.
There are two albergues in Pamplona – Paderbon which is run by the German St Jakob Association and for 4€ you can stay in a large modern albergue in the newly restored church of Maria y Jesus.
The albergue ANFAS outside Estella is run by people with special needs.
In Granón you climb a spiral stairway up a tall bell tower of the church and sleep on mattresses on the floor. The donativo albergue has a box with an inscription – “Give what you can – take what you need’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEkftcdOmjk

Yellow Arrows lead the way along the camino paths and also in the towns and villages to the albergues.
Albergues close for most of the day so that volunteers can clean up and get it ready for the daily influx of new pilgrims. Most only open at about 2pm and you have to leave by 8am or 8h30 the next morning.If you arrive at an albergue that is still closed, you put your backpack down on the ground in line and wait for the volunteer 'hospitalero' to arrive. Some hospitaleros ask you to take your boots off before entering the dormitories. You might also be asked to leave your walking sticks in a predetermined place.
You usually have to sign in by writing your name, age, nationality, starting place, whether you are walking,
cycling etc. into a register. Your credential is stamped and you give a donation or pay the required amount.
You might be shown
where the bedrooms and ablutions are, and you might also be told the rules of the house - lights out, time to vacate in the morning etc.

You mark your bed by unrolling your sleeping bag onto it. You leave your backpack next to the bed and go off to shower, wash clothes, find food or sightsee.
Shower and bathrooms are usually uni-sex. Two places I've stayed in did not have shower curtains or doors.
Most albergues have a curfew - 10h30pm or 11pm when lights are switched off and doors are locked. Pilgrims may only stay one night and the only exception might be if you are injured and cannot walk the next day.
Pilgrims staying in the albergues will have free medical treatment for minor injuries such as blisters, tendinitis or pulled muscles.




In most towns you have the option of staying in alternative accommodations such as small hotels, hostales, fondas (inns) or even up-market paradors. A single room in a small inn can cost from 20 -

30 euro: hotales from 30 - 45 euro: hotels from 45 - 60 euro.


Paradors are the state-run hotels that are found throughout Spain. In 2008, they range from 100€ a room to 500€ a suite. Many are restored medieval castles, Arab fortresses, palaces, monasteries and convents.
The Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos in Santiago was built in 1499 as a pilgrim hospice and hospital. It became a hotel in 1953 and is one of Spain’s most sumptuous state run Paradors. The cost of the rooms range from 210E to 525E per night. It retains the tradition of providing a free meal to at least 10 pilgrims each day.
Stone barn at Manjarin. Pilgrims sleep on mattresses on the floor

Modern albergue in Azofra: Kitchen, 2 beds to a cubicle, splash pool.


Albergue San Javier in Astorga - noisy, wooden floors, nice courtyard, equipped kitchen, friendly hospitaleros

New, private albergue in el Ganso. Friendly owner, use of kitchen, 3 bed room downstairs, bunk beds upstairs, use of washing machine

Beautiful gardens - Boadilla - bunk beds or on mattresses in the loft: family run

Arroyo San Bol - very basic, bunk beds, no running water, medicinal spring, gas stove (no electricity) no toilet. New Knight Templar took over in 2008

My favourite albergues? (Not the 'best' most upmarket, clean, modern, but the best for atmosphere, caring and spirituality.
*Eunate – meal by candlelight – walk around the church in the moonlight (Check opening times – sometimes is closed if there is no hospitalero)

*Granon – sleep on mattresses in the bell tower of a church – sing for your supper (Open all year)

*Tosantos – sleep on mattresses - pilgrim blessing in the attic chapel – pray for pilgrims who have left a prayer request (not sure of opening times)

*Arroyo San Bol - Run by Francisco, a Knight Templar – no running water, 1000yr old medicinal spring at the back, no electricity, no toilet –.(Open April – mid October)

*Convento San Anton – magical, basic albergue in the ruins of the San Anton convent (Open to end of September)

*San Nicolas - – sleep on mattresses in the loft of a restored church – communal meal cooked by Italian hospitaleros, pilgrim blessing includes washing of pilgrims feet (late June to mid-September)

*Bercianos – ancient straw and mud house, watch the sunset before being allowed to have a communal dinner

*Manjarin – Atmospheric albergue run by Tomas the Templar - basic, no running water, electricity or toilet. Sleep in a stone barn on mattresses – stay for the Templario blessing and ceremony at 11am. (Open all year)


*Villafranca del Bierzo - Ave Fenix run by the Jato family for almost 30 years – Jesus Jato is a healer. (Open all year)


*La Faba – Albergue Vegetariano run by a German hippie who sells incense and Eastern jewellery: pick the vegetables in the field next door and help cook the dinner.


video