The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

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VictoriaF
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The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:18 am

I received several private inquiries about el Camino de Santiago. After providing individual responses, I think that some facts could be of general interest.

1. Schedule
13-14 April - flights to Madrid
14 April - train to Pamplona, night in a Pamplona albergue
15 April - bus from Pamplona to Roncesvalles, night in the Roncesvalles albergue
16 April - 27 May - walking from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela
    - 42 days of walking
    - walked every day (i.e., did not have any rest days)
    - 760 km - total distance covered
    - 18 km/day - average daily distance
    - 5 to 26 km/day - range of daily distances
    - always carried my backpack (i.e., did not use any motorized support services)
    - always stayed at albergues (i.e., always stayed in dorms, with 4 to 200 people in a room)
27 May - 03 June - in Santiago, visited Finisterra
    - Stayed at a monastery associated albergue
    - Had a private room with shared facilities, at 13 Euros/night (15 Euros/night in June)
03-12 June - Madrid
    - Stayed at a hostel near Gran Via, mixed dorm for 6 people, 18 Euros/night

2. Cost
- Albergue cost ranged from 5 to 10 Euros/night
- Public albergues were usually 5 to 7 Euros/night, private albergues were 8 to 10 Euros/night
- In some towns there was no choice of public vs. private
- Pilgrim breakfast was typically 3 to 5 Euros
- Pilgrim dinners was usually 10 Euros
- Most albergues had kitchens with refrigerators, cooking stoves, and dishes. Thus, it was possible to eat cheaper by buying food at grocery stores.
- Larger cities (Pamplona, Burgos, Leon) have a wide variety of restaurants at different price levels, but budget meals are also available
- Washing machine was 3 to 4 Euros, a dryer was about the same, but most people hang-dried their laundry
- My average cost was about 20 Euros/day. This means that in 42 days, I've spent less than 1,000 Euros, or just over 1,000 dollars. (I have not tallied it yet.)
- The cost of the gear I bought specifically for the Camino was about $1,500. Much of it is reusable.

3. Key tips
1. Get boots that are 1 to 1.5 sizes greater than your normal size. When you walk every day with a backpack, your feet expand.
2. Keep the weight of your pack low. People who were successful on the Camino carried from 7 to 9 kg packs. Those with 6 kg packs were lacking essentials and had to borrow them (e.g., aspirin, scissors).
3. Allow yourself extra time. If you push yourself, something can break. I had a few short days when I was too tired, or it was too hot, and on the occasions when I got badly lost.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by Jcraz13 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:25 am

I would travel in a group. This lady is missing from my hometown.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/loc ... /71038000/

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by HurdyGurdy » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:49 am

Victoria, if a pilgrim is too tired and far from a town, can the pilgrim set a little tent somewhere?

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by hicabob » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:52 am

Being someone who enjoys a walkabout I was wondering if this following critique is justified?
http://francistapon.com/Travels/Spain-T ... iago-Sucks

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by gatorman » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:52 am

That sounds like a really interesting trip! Would you be willing to share a few observations of your experiences along the way?
gatorman

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:55 am

Jcraz13 wrote:I would travel in a group. This lady is missing from my hometown.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/loc ... /71038000/


Denise Thiem's disappearance is a tragedy. But I would not use it as the reason for walking the Camino with a group. The individual and group travel experiences are very different. You may choose going with a group because you don't want to do the planning, don't want to carry a backpack, want to have your nightly stays are assured, or want to sleep in better places and eat better food than those available at albergues.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:04 pm

HurdyGurdy wrote:Victoria, if a pilgrim is too tired and far from a town, can the pilgrim set a little tent somewhere?


I saw people camping outdoors, but did not ask them for the details. As a practical matter, if you are carrying a tent just in case, you are carrying a few extra pounds of weight just in case (the tent itself, the ground sheet, the mat, the rain fly). I talked to a Belgium guy who started walking the Camino in France. Apparently, the albergues in France are more sparse and require reservations. On one occasion, he could not find a place at an albergue and ended up sleeping outdoors. It was a cold, wet night, and so he wore all his clothes, got into his sleeping bag, and dug a hole that protected him from the wind.

In Spain, albergues are plentiful. They aim to accommodate the peak summer demand, and in summer getting a bed could be challenging. But in spring, I always managed to get a bed without ever making reservations. Most of the time, I was able to get a lower bunk.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:34 pm

hicabob wrote:Being someone who enjoys a walkabout I was wondering if this following critique is justified?
http://francistapon.com/Travels/Spain-T ... iago-Sucks


I provide my commentary for each item below:

Francis Tapon in the blog post wrote:10 reasons why El Camino de Santiago sucks

1. Only about 1% of El Camino is a narrow (1-meter wide) dirt trail; 99% is a road (either a dirt road, 2-track road, paved road with little traffic, or a busy highway). This was a busy road with huge 18-wheel trucks and other traffic. Fun to do it in the rain!


Paved roads are 30-40% of the Camino. In many cases, it's possible to walk on a narrow dirt trail next to a road. Most of the Camino is unpaved roads, but not the type of trails you find, e.g., on the Appalachian trail. If you disqualify enough trails, you can be left with 1%, but for me this 1% is meaningless.


2. About half the time you're on a paved road or on a dirt path right next to a paved road. Some of the paved roads have little traffic, but others are quite busy.


This is pretty accurate, but for me not a disqualifier.


3. Because you're on a paved road so often, by the end of the day your feet may feel like they've been put through a meat tenderizer. Although I've hiked over 65 km in one day in steep mountains, I found it harder to do 65 km in one day on the flat Camino. My feet just ached too much from the frequent paved roads.


I can't confirm a meat tenderizer experience, because my maximum daily distance was 23-26 km. I could have made it to 30 km without getting tenderized.


4. About 95% of the time, car traffic is within earshot. El Camino often gives you the illusion that cars aren't near because you sometimes can't see the nearby paved road which may have infrequent traffic. However, it takes just one car to remind you that there is indeed a road nearby.Yes, you're on the Camino Santiago. How much roadwalking can you handle?


Reminders of cars did not bother me. I appreciated the proximity of the civilization, and so did most other pilgrims. My favorite activity was taking breaks at Camino-side cafes and bars.

5. Amenities distract from any spiritual mission you may have. With endless bars, restaurants, hotels, vending machines, tour groups, you're hardly removed from the "real world." This defeats much of the purpose of living primitively in a search for a deeper meaning or understanding of life. On the other hand, it's nice to have easy access to ice cream.


Most of the Camino Frances has these elements of commercialism, but they were usually welcome. It became distractive only on the last 100 km. That's the minimum distance people have to walk to get the compostela, and it's much more commercial than the initial 700 km. Even on the last stretch, I had some nice peaceful hours of walking.

6. The scenery is monotonous. It's endless pastoral farmland everywhere you look. Far in the horizon, you might glimpse some real mountains. The most photogenic places are the towns and villages; since you can drive (or bike) to all of them, there's no practical need to walk between them.


Some scenery is monotonous, but not all of it. The monotonous pieces are good for contemplation. Also, when the scenery is monotonous, you focus on other things such as flowers, slugs and snails.


7. It's a skin cancer magnet. Infrequent trees means that a brutal sun is hammering you most of the day. In the summer, it's hard to tolerate. On the busier roads, El Camino often has a dedicated path right next to the road. That's nice because it's safer and lower impact than asphalt, but it's still an uninspiring, noisy roadwalk.


In summer, sun is a problem. In spring, when I walked, it was not.


8. Unfriendly commercialism. El Camino has become a big business, where the locals are sometimes unfriendly and seem to just care about getting your money.


Most locals were friendly and went out of the way to help. I forgot my toiletries bag at an albergue and discovered it only when I arrived to my next albergue, 22 km farther along the Camino. A guy Pepe was visiting his friends at that albergue and he offered to drive me to pick up the bag. On the way back, he invited me for coffee.


9. It's a cacophony of sounds. Rumbling 18-wheel trucks, ear-splitting motorcycles, angry barking dogs, blaring music from cafes, honking horns, and ringing cell phones. El Camino assaults your ear drums. At least there were no jack-hammers. Oh wait. I walked by one of those too.


I was not bothered by any sounds while I was walking. I was somewhat bothered by loud conversations and snoring in dorms, but it was my fault that I was lazy to use earplugs.


10. It's hard to take a piss. There's little privacy. Cars and pilgrims are constantly passing you by. After 3 p.m. most pilgrims retire to their albergues (huts) and you'll get more privacy to do your business. Nevertheless, at 7 p.m. one jogger still managed to catch me with my pants down.


Most of the time you do it in Camino-side cafes and bars. When you can't, you use bushes. Tricky situations arose when there were no cafes or bushes. Thankfully, this did not happen often.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:01 pm

gatorman wrote:That sounds like a really interesting trip! Would you be willing to share a few observations of your experiences along the way?
gatorman


I have many observations and I shared some of them in the posts above. My most dramatic experiences on the Camino were when I had to operate on myself and when I got lost. I operated on my large blister by running a needle with a thread through it. That was on advice of experienced pilgrims and worked for me quite well.

I got lost 2.5 times. The first time was in fields on Friday, 1 May. The date is important, because it's a major holiday, and if I got really stuck there, people would not find me until Monday, 4 May. It was raining, I took a wrong turn, did not want to take out my map because it would have gotten wet. When I realized that I was on a wrong path, I decided to go through a field rather than return to where I came from. The problem with the field was that it ended far before a village, and I had to walk through a tall grass. My rain pants and boots became soaking wet, but most importantly, the ground was not even and had a lot of holes which I did not see through the grass. A few times, I tripped over and almost fell. The final challenge was when the grass has ended and I came to a narrow paved road. There was a deep wide trench running along the road to collect rainwater. On that day it was full of rainwater. I had to get over that trench. Using my backpack, rain, and the state of tiredness as excuses, I just walked through it.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by jane1 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:09 pm

VictoriaF, thanks for sharing. Looks like you had a wonderful time.
On a typical day, how many others on the stretch you might be doing? A handful, a few dozen or 100s or more? I am trying to get an idea of the density of people on the trail?

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:15 pm

jane1 wrote:VictoriaF, thanks for sharing. Looks like you had a wonderful time.
On a typical day, how many others on the stretch you might be doing? A handful, a few dozen or 100s or more? I am trying to get an idea of the density of people on the trail?


From the top of my head, I'd say that on the initial 700 km of Camino Frances, it would be a few dozen; and on the final 100 km, hundreds. But I did not see these people all at once. The earlier I had started, the fewer people I saw. My earliest starts were at about 06:30; the latest one was at 09:30 when I got into an interesting discussion with a Czech volunteer at my albergue. My typical starts were like Boeing airplanes: 727, 737, 747.

If I walked relatively fast, I saw fewer people. When I was slacking out in cafes and bars, the main masses of pilgrims were catching up with me.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by surfstar » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:42 pm

hicabob wrote:Being someone who enjoys a walkabout I was wondering if this following critique is justified?
http://francistapon.com/Travels/Spain-T ... iago-Sucks


Ha! I think I would feel exactly like that guy. I like hiking when it takes me places you can't access otherwise. Different strokes...

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:55 pm

surfstar wrote:
hicabob wrote:Being someone who enjoys a walkabout I was wondering if this following critique is justified?
http://francistapon.com/Travels/Spain-T ... iago-Sucks


Ha! I think I would feel exactly like that guy. I like hiking when it takes me places you can't access otherwise. Different strokes...


I agree about different strokes. The issue I have with Francis Tapon, the author of the blog post, is that he should have done his research and known what to expect. Before I went to the Camino, I spent a lot of time studying maps, looking at the elevation changes, estimating my worst case scenarios. I saw where the Camino runs along paved roads, I noted locations of cafes and albergues, I knew that it would not be a wilderness experience--and it was not.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by surfstar » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:59 pm

It does sound like a unique way of taking in the country - slow paced, but with amenities akin to standard travel.

Much different than the thru-hiking backpacking trails he is comparing them to!

And glad to hear of your enjoyable experience :happy

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:02 pm

surfstar wrote:It does sound like a unique way of taking in the country - slow paced, but with amenities akin to standard travel.

Much different than the thru-hiking backpacking trails he is comparing them to!


You are right. I have characterized the Camino as a "walking camp for adults" and as a "800-km pub crawl."

surfstar wrote:And glad to hear of your enjoyable experience :happy


Thanks!

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by HurdyGurdy » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:11 pm

Victoria, did you meet Russian people in El Camino de Santiago?

Here (https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/russia-theme/following-the-cross-a-journey-with-russian-pilgrims) I read that
"Russia, it seems, is not just experiencing a resurgence of pilgrimage, but a resurgence of ‘extreme pilgrimage' "

The massive pilgrimage, "Velikoretsky Procession of the Cross [...] following the icon of St. Nicolay the Wonderworker" is quite impressive, but with very different people and places from El Camino.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aDFtugjlKc

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by dodecahedron » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:35 pm

I know you did a lot of advance preparation, including paying expected routine bills, etc. ahead of time.

Did you discover any surprises on your return home? Is there anything you wished you would have done differently to prepare, in retrospect?

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:42 pm

HurdyGurdy wrote:Victoria, did you meet Russian people in El Camino de Santiago?


I talked with a Russian woman who lives in Germany and later with another one from Siberia who now lives in Moscow. I have not met any people from Ukraine or other former Soviet republics.

I did meet many people from other Eastern European countries, especially from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Poland. I think people from mostly Catholic countries are more likely to come to the Camino than from Russian Orthodox ones.

HurdyGurdy wrote:Here (https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/russia-theme/following-the-cross-a-journey-with-russian-pilgrims) I read that
"Russia, it seems, is not just experiencing a resurgence of pilgrimage, but a resurgence of ‘extreme pilgrimage' "

The massive pilgrimage, "Velikoretsky Procession of the Cross [...] following the icon of St. Nicolay the Wonderworker" is quite impressive, but with very different people and places from El Camino.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aDFtugjlKc


The Russian pilgrimage is very interesting! It's quite different from the Camino. There are some deeply religious people on the Camino, but the majority look and act like hikers.

Thank you,
Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:47 pm

dodecahedron wrote:I know you did a lot of advance preparation, including paying expected routine bills, etc. ahead of time.

Did you discover any surprises on your return home? Is there anything you wished you would have done differently to prepare, in retrospect?


I have not looked at my finances yet {embarrassed}. I was going to do it today, but have not. When I do, if I encounter any abnormalities, I will report them here.

One thing that I will do differently next time is that I will bring with me a smartphone.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by dodecahedron » Mon Jun 15, 2015 3:28 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
One thing that I will do differently next time is that I will bring with me a smartphone.



What made you change your mind about this? (For me, your tale of getting lost 2.5 times would be enough to induce me to bring along a smart phone--or at least some form of navigational/GPS device. I have a terrible sense of direction, and probably would have gotten lost more frequently than you did.)

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:00 pm

dodecahedron wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
One thing that I will do differently next time is that I will bring with me a smartphone.



What made you change your mind about this? (For me, your tale of getting lost 2.5 times would be enough to induce me to bring along a smart phone--or at least some form of navigational/GPS device. I have a terrible sense of direction, and probably would have gotten lost more frequently than you did.)


The main reason for a smartphone is that I was making friends on the Camino but could not keep in touch with them. A navigation device might have prevented me from getting lost or enabled a faster recovery, but only if I had a cellular SIM and was not relying just on WiFi. And even a navigation device would not have helped in cases #2 and #2.5.

My second case of getting lost was on 14 May when I was walking from Acebo towards Ponferrada. I forgot to look at the map prior to leaving the albergue and did not realize that the first kilometer of the path out of Acebo was along a paved autoroad. Instead, I crossed the road and entered a wide path leading into mountains. After a while I started wondering why there were no yellow arrows (Camino marks). Then the path started changing its shape on me varying from wide to narrow, from open to overgrown and muddy. A normal person would have turned back. But I decided to persevere. The reasons for my stubbornness were that (1) the path was leading down and going back meant going up, (2) as the path was weaving around mountains I could see Ponferrada at the distance, and (3) I assumed that if there is a path, it must lead me somewhere civilized.

After about an hour on this path, I reached a dead end. A real dead end. It was a circular cul-de-sac surrounded by the woods with a sign "sin salida". At that point, I had to turn back, which is easier said than done. On my way down, I have not paid attention to paths merging with mine at acute angles. But on my way back up, I have encountered three forks, where I had no idea where I came from. In each case, I guessed. If my guessing chances were 50/50 on each fork, after three forks, my probability of retracing my steps was only 12.5%. As it turned out, I was not right all three times, because I have emerged from the mountains in a different place from the one where I have entered them. But I was fortunate that I came back to the autoroad. The mountain paths could have taken me farther into the mountains, never meeting the road.

I don't think GPS would have helped. It would have pointed to my general location somewhere in the middle of a mountain but not to specific mountain trails that would take me out.

The sense of direction is much less relevant than the ability to pay attention and common sense. If you pay attention, you are less likely to miss yellow arrows. If you have common sense, you turn back as soon as you realize that you are on a wrong path.

Victoria

P.S. If I had disappeared, the last place where I was seen would have been an albergue in Acebo. Acebo is 38 km down from Astorga where Denise Thiem had disappeared. One unfortunate outcome of my actions would be blaming Astorga for another female victim.
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by Epsilon Delta » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:01 pm

VictoriaF wrote:The main reason for a smartphone is that I was making friends on the Camino but could not keep in touch with them. A navigation device might have prevented me from getting lost or enabled a faster recovery, but only if I had a cellular SIM and was not relying just on WiFi. And even a navigation device would not have helped in cases #2 and #2.5.


Sorry to digress but...

GPS requires neither WiFi or cell service. The GPS service itself is free courtesy of the US DoD satellites. GPS just tells you where you are (latitude and longitude,) which is not always entirely useful, but there are free apps that allow you to load maps into a smart phones memory. This will provide a moving map display without any cellular or WiFi connection. Modern phones can easily carry large scale (1:50,000) maps covering the entire 700km route and perhaps 50km on either side. Combined with a modicum of map reading sense that should be more than enough to recover from any possible navigation error. In the cases you mention you would have been able to see you were headed to a dead end, as soon as you checked the map and it would be fairly easy to select the correct branches on the way back.

The only significant limits are the battery life of the phone and keeping it dry.

The same maps on paper would weigh a couple of pounds and occupy 60 cubic inches, so traditional guidebooks use strip maps that just show the route. These can be unhelpful once you are lost and off the route.

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:20 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:The main reason for a smartphone is that I was making friends on the Camino but could not keep in touch with them. A navigation device might have prevented me from getting lost or enabled a faster recovery, but only if I had a cellular SIM and was not relying just on WiFi. And even a navigation device would not have helped in cases #2 and #2.5.


Sorry to digress but...

GPS requires neither WiFi or cell service. The GPS service itself is free courtesy of the US DoD satellites. GPS just tells you where you are (latitude and longitude,) which is not always entirely useful, but there are free apps that allow you to load maps into a smart phones memory. This will provide a moving map display without any cellular or WiFi connection. Modern phones can easily carry large scale (1:50,000) maps covering the entire 700km route and perhaps 50km on either side. Combined with a modicum of map reading sense that should be more than enough to recover from any possible navigation error. In the cases you mention you would have been able to see you were headed to a dead end, as soon as you checked the map and it would be fairly easy to select the correct branches on the way back.

The only significant limits are the battery life of the phone and keeping it dry.

The same maps on paper would weigh a couple of pounds and occupy 60 cubic inches, so traditional guidebooks use strip maps that just show the route. These can be unhelpful once you are lost and off the route.


This is a useful digression.

GPS would not have helped me in either first or second instance of getting lost. I knew approximately were I was but needed to make specific decisions on how to get from the fields to a village (1st instance) and from the mountains to the road (2nd instance).

Detailed maps could have prevented me from getting lost in the first place. Particularly, in the 2nd instance, if I had a habit of checking maps on the smartphone, I would not have ventured into the mountains. But when I was already lost, I don't know if I would have found all trails and their branches on the map. They seemed to be created ad hoc.

The battery life can be dealt with by recharging the phone every night; at least that's what other pilgrims did. But keeping the phone dry is an issue. In my first instance of getting lost, I would not have gotten lost if it were not for the rain. I was unsure if I had to make a turn and did not want to pull out my mapbook because it would get wet. By the same logic I would not have pulled out my smartphone.

Are there rain protectors for smartphones?

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by DSInvestor » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:32 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Are there rain protectors for smartphones?


I have a case made by Lifeproof for my iPhone that is waterproof. They make models for other some other smartphones too (Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, S6).

You can get protectors for maps too. Here's a link to an REI page:
http://www.rei.com/search.html?ir=q%3Am ... q=map+case

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:24 pm

DSInvestor wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Are there rain protectors for smartphones?


I have a case made by Lifeproof for my iPhone that is waterproof. They make models for other some other smartphones too (Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, S6).


Excellent!

DSInvestor wrote:You can get protectors for maps too. Here's a link to an REI page:
http://www.rei.com/search.html?ir=q%3Am ... q=map+case


I was using a small guidebook which mostly consisted of maps with some limited amount of text. If I tried to flatten the book to fit it into an enclosure, it would have broken at the spine. I probably could have devised a process for carrying it in a plastic bag under my rain jacket and peeking into it by briefly unzipping the jacket. But after my first instance of getting lost I decided that in case of rain, I would just memorize the route to the next cafe or bar. And that's how I got lost in the instance-2.5.

It was raining, and I studied my map before leaving the albergue so that I knew exactly what I was going to do, where I was going to walk, and for how long. I started with good intentions. I was on the properly marked trail. I was doing all the right things, but. But I was the only one on the marked trail, and I saw a group of six people walking on an autoroad parallel to the trail. I decided that under the circumstances (rain, heavy fog, mountains), I would be safer staying close to a group than walking by myself. And so I left the trail, came to the road, and started following the group without speaking to them.

First I followed the entire group. Then some people in the group started walking faster than others and I followed the faster ones. Then there was only one guy walking in front of me. He was walking fast, and I was trying to keep up with him. Then I started getting doubts about this road. It was an autoroad, and so I would not perish if I followed it (unlike the fields in case-1 or mountains in case-2). But some things did not make sense, e.g., the distance to the next town was much greater than the one that I remembered from my map. But I assumed that the guy knew what he was doing. At some point he was ahead of me and I could not see him in dense fog. I started getting nervous. Then all of a sudden he has appeared walking towards me. I asked him why he was going back and he said that he changed his mind!

That was the first time we spoke; until then I was just following him without getting into a discussion. He was Spanish, did not speak English, and our short exchange was in Spanish which I handle at a very basic level. He did not want to get into any details. I said that in that case, I will follow him back. He did not respond and went back fast, not caring if I could keep up with him. A few minutes later, there was a side road that I thought could lead us to the proper Camino path. I yelled to him if that was a good way back to the Camino, he responded that he did not know and continued going in the opposite direction along the autoroad. I had to decide whether to follow him (at the top of my speed ability) or to turn off into what seemed like a reasonable path back to the Camino. As I was contemplating my two bad choices, other people from his group have appeared. The man talked to them (I could not hear nor understand it), turned around, and started walking again in the original direction.

I waited for others in his group to come to the point where I was, and one of the guys in the group explained to me in English that we will see the Camino shortly. Now, I also turned around and went with this group. Pretty soon we did come to a bar that was at the intersection of the Camino and the autoroad.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:55 pm

VictoriaF wrote:My second case of getting lost was on 14 May when I was walking from Acebo towards Ponferrada. I forgot to look at the map prior to leaving the albergue and did not realize that the first kilometer of the path out of Acebo was along a paved autoroad. Instead, I crossed the road and entered a wide path leading into mountains. After a while I started wondering why there were no yellow arrows (Camino marks). Then the path started changing its shape on me varying from wide to narrow, from open to overgrown and muddy. A normal person would have turned back. But I decided to persevere. The reasons for my stubbornness were that (1) the path was leading down and going back meant going up, (2) as the path was weaving around mountains I could see Ponferrada at the distance, and (3) I assumed that if there is a path, it must lead me somewhere civilized.

After about an hour on this path, I reached a dead end. A real dead end. It was a circular cul-de-sac surrounded by the woods with a sign "sin salida". At that point, I had to turn back, which is easier said than done. On my way down, I have not paid attention to paths merging with mine at acute angles. But on my way back up, I have encountered three forks, where I had no idea where I came from. In each case, I guessed. If my guessing chances were 50/50 on each fork, after three forks, my probability of retracing my steps was only 12.5%. As it turned out, I was not right all three times, because I have emerged from the mountains in a different place from the one where I have entered them. But I was fortunate that I came back to the autoroad. The mountain paths could have taken me farther into the mountains, never meeting the road.

Victoria


As I was writing the above post I recalled that while I was wondering in the mountains I saw some wild animals. One of them followed me in the bushes parallel to the trail, made noise and disappeared just as I looked at him. The other one crossed the trail in front of me and I could see it better. The first one seemed to be a bear, the second one was a wolf. When I later told other people about this they doubted that I could see a bear.

And so now I did some search and found the following passage:

Wikipedia wrote:The Cantabrian Mountains are home to an important variety of plant life, as well as the Cantabrian brown bear (Ursus arctos pyrenaicus), catalogued as being in danger of extinction, which extends from Léon to areas in Palencia and Cantabria, and the Cantabrian Capercaillie (T. urogallus cantabricus).

Other animals associated with the range include the Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus) and the rebeco, or Cantabrian chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica parva).


The wolf on the Wikipedia page looks exactly like the one I've met.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by sk.dolcevita » Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:56 pm

As long as we are talking about GPS, Nokia Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone OS come with an excellent GPS service (HERE Maps) that does not require an internet connection. One needs to download the map of the region (free) and then use the device just as any other GPS device. Maps for most regions of the world are available.

And for what they offer, Nokia Lumias are cheap compared to their Apple and Android brethren. For example, a Nokia Lumia 635 smartphone can be had for ~$45 regular price and for $29.99 or less on frequent sales at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Radioshack. It is an excellent phone for any one.

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by Barefootgirl » Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:34 pm

Victoria,

Thank you for sharing the details of your Camino with us.

Can I ask a question, purely out of curiosity?

Was there a specific reason you began your Camino on the Spanish side of the Alps versus French (SJPP?)

Thanks, BFG
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:12 pm

Barefootgirl wrote:Victoria,

Thank you for sharing the details of your Camino with us.

Can I ask a question, purely out of curiosity?

Was there a specific reason you began your Camino on the Spanish side of the Alps versus French (SJPP?)

Thanks, BFG


Barefootgirl,

St Jean Pied de Port (SJPP) is on the French side of the Pyrenees, Roncesvalles (RV) is on the Spanish side. To get from SJPP to RV one must cross the mountains. Specifically, on the first day, one has to cover the distance of 25.1 km (15.6 miles), ascend 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) and steeply descend 500 meters (1,700 feet). I thought that it was too much for the first day and decided to skip it.

The stage from SJPP to RV can be broken into two by walking the first day 8 km to Orisson and gaining 600 m (2,000 feet) of altitude. This makes the second day from Orisson to RV more manageable. However, according to my book, the Orisson albergue has only 18 beds, and people reserve it well in advance. (Later, I was told that the owners of Orisson have another building where they put the overflow of pilgrims.)

I felt a bit guilty about skipping the first stage and called it my "Napoleonic complex" because this path is called "Napoleon's Route." But then I started meeting people who have made it over the Pyrenees but then had severe problems with their knees, shins or ankles. Some of these people terminated their journey, others were spending several days in RV (or Zubiri or Pamplona) recuperating, others were walking in pain. I started feeling better about my choice but still had a gnawing feeling that my Camino was incomplete.

However, by the time I have finished the Camino, I decided that I made the best possible decision for me. It was never intended to make the first Camino day the hardest day; it just happened this way. People walk the Camino from all over Europe. Paths from Eastern Europe and Northern Europe converge in France, and then several paths through France converge in SJPP. SJPP is a "collection point" for most European pilgrims. These people, hardened by several weeks of walking, cross the Pyrenees relatively easily. For them, it's one day among many. But for someone who is just starting the Camino, taking on the Pyrenees does not make sense. There are a few other days with long distances and significant ascents and descents that I handled easily without a hitch, because by that time I was in excellent physical condition.

Will I do it differently the next time? I might reserve Orisson or check with them about the overflow. A better idea is to start walking in France, several days before SJPP, so by the time the big day comes, I'd be ready.

Victoria

PS I had an idea to come to SJPP and do the SJPP-RV stage after I reach Santiago and get my compostela. I could handle it physically and had enough time to do it. But eventually I decided that it would waste too much time and instead chose to spend my time in Santiago and then Madrid.
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by HalfMillionaire » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:53 pm

Very inspiring Victoria. Camino has been on my to do list for some time.

Would you say that knowing some Spanish will make material difference to the experience?
Did you find many folks who are doing it for purely secular reasons?
Finally, are people doing the whole leaving rocks as leaving sins behind thing? I thought that was a fascinating concept.

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:43 am

HalfMillionaire wrote:Very inspiring Victoria. Camino has been on my to do list for some time.

Would you say that knowing some Spanish will make material difference to the experience?
Did you find many folks who are doing it for purely secular reasons?
Finally, are people doing the whole leaving rocks as leaving sins behind thing? I thought that was a fascinating concept.


HalfMillionaire,

Knowing Spanish is useful but it does not make a material difference. There are so many people with so many languages on Camino Frances that (1) business owners are used to dealing with people who don't speak a word of Spanish and (2) other pilgrims can help with translations. Still, the more Spanish one knows the better. I know enough Spanish to ask for a bed, for a meal, for a price, and for directions. I can understand most responses to my trivial inquiries. But I wish I could carry a meaningful conversation with Spanish-speaking pilgrims beyond asking where they are from and where they are going to sleep.

There is a saying that "There are no atheists in foxholes." Likewise, even people who come for secular reasons have some spiritual component in their reasons. Clearly, I can't speak for all pilgrims, but I got the sense of it from three sources: (1) books I've read about the Camino, (2) spiritual sessions that I attended in church based albergues, and (3) discussions with my Camino friends. Spiritual reasons were related to finding the answer to "Who am I?", contemplating big life decisions or changes, recovering from personal tragedies (deaths, diseases, divorces, relationship breakups). There were many retirees, many more than I expected. In the retrospect, it's logical that retired people walk the Camino off-season, before the summer heat and vacationers.

Yes, most pilgrims carry a little rock from home and leave it on Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on Camino Frances. I have not brought a rock with me. As I was approaching Cruz de Ferro, I decided that when I reach it I will make a wish. Then I decided to "cheat" and prepare my wish in advance. The thoughts about a good wish have occupied my walking contemplation for an hour, and I perfected my wish so that all I had to do was to explicitly mutter it to the monument. And then a strange thing happened. When I was facing Cruz de Ferro, a very different wish came out from my lips.

There is a notion that every pilgrim cries at some point on the Camino. Cruz de Ferro was the first place where I saw many people crying publicly (rather than in private discussions and spiritual sessions). The other place was the Pilgrims' Office in Santiago de Compostela where people lined up to report their arrival and receive a compostela (the official certificate of completion, in Latin). I cried in the Santiago Cathedral when I attended a Pilgrim Mass--a mass in my honor.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:11 am

dodecahedron wrote:I know you did a lot of advance preparation, including paying expected routine bills, etc. ahead of time.

Did you discover any surprises on your return home? Is there anything you wished you would have done differently to prepare, in retrospect?


An updated answer:

I am now investigating a major surprise, the breech of the security clearance data at the OPM. There is a lot of highly sensitive information, relevant not only to the National Security but also to one's Identity and financial security. For example, Washington Post described these data as follows:
On 10 July 2014, The Washington Post wrote:In those files are huge treasure troves of personal data, including “applicants’ financial histories and investment records, children’s and relatives’ names, foreign trips taken and contacts with foreign nationals, past residences, and names of neighbors and close friends such as college roommates and co-workers. Employees log in using their Social Security numbers.


The most recent breech is analyzed in the Krebs On Security blog: Catching Up on the OPM Breach. There is enough here to scare even the most serene person. My immediate reaction was that it's so bad that it's not worth worrying about. But Brian conveniently linked to another blog post: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Security Freeze.

I have placed Security/Fraud Alerts with credit reporting agencies before I left for the Camino. At that time, I decided to post pone the decision whether to keep renewing these alerts or to put freezes. Now, I am inclined to put freezes and follow Brian's other recommendations.

Alerts and freezes complicate the process of applying for new credit cards, which I frequently started doing in order to collect sign-up bonuses. As I was learning the credit card game, I was annoyed that the identity protection measures would further complicate the process. Now, I see the situation differently. The risks to my identity are much greater than I had thought. And the credit card game has lost much of its appeal now that I cannot use REDcard reloads to manufacture spending. I don't spend enough on credit cards to qualify for the best sign-up bonuses.

And so, as the moment, I am thinking of stopping playing the credit card game and reverting to the conventional payment for flying. I might change my mind again.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by HalfMillionaire » Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:28 am

Thank you for your detailed response Victoria - most illuminating. Your answer was much closer to the question I had in my mind but was unable to put in words accurately (secular vs spiritual). I would very much like to know which books did you use to prepare for the trip and your opinion of usefulness/uselessness of them. Also - my plan would be to the Camino in end of May - is that too late to enjoy the spring sparseness plus escape from oncoming heat that you enjoyed?

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:55 am

HalfMillionaire wrote:Thank you for your detailed response Victoria - most illuminating. Your answer was much closer to the question I had in my mind but was unable to put in words accurately (secular vs spiritual). I would very much like to know which books did you use to prepare for the trip and your opinion of usefulness/uselessness of them. Also - my plan would be to the Camino in end of May - is that too late to enjoy the spring sparseness plus escape from oncoming heat that you enjoyed?


While preparing for the Camino, I read three books:
1. Camino de Santiago: Practical preparation and background by Gerald Kelly
2. Your Camino: On foot, bicycle or horseback in France and Spain by Sylvia Nilsen with Greg Dedman
3. Camino de Santiago: To walk far, carry less by Jean-Christie Ashmore

Book-1 is very short and provides an executive summary-like introduction to the Camino. Book-2 contains compressed and conveniently organized information from the Camino blogs. Book-3 was instrumental for my decisions for what to buy for and bring to the trip.

On the Camino, I carried:
4. Camino de Santiago: St. Jean Pied de Port - Roncesvalles - Santiago de Compostela - Finisterre: Maps - Mapas - Cartes by John Brierley.

Book-4 is very small and convenient. It containes all the information I needed about the daily stages and nothing extraneous. Brierley has a full size book that contains all the information from my book plus descriptions and details of the places one passes by. While a larger book may seem more useful, it would have two issues: (1) it would add to the carried weight and (2) it would be less convenient to work with maps, e.g., designing custom stages that do not correspond to the recommended stages.

IMPORTANT: I purchased books 1 through 4 back in 2013 when I started getting serious about the Camino. Books 1 through 3 have relatively lasting relevance; but book 4 is updated every year with new information about the trail, albergues, cafes, etc. The old version of the book is good for general planning (e.g., estimating how many days one needs for the journey), but for the actual walking one should get the latest version. I did not, and thus I missed some opportunities for better stage planning.

After the Camino, I purchased:
5. I'm off then: Losing and finding myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling

Book-5 is very popular among German pilgrims who were inspired by it similarly to the English-speaking pilgrims inspired by the film The Way. Kerkeling is a famous comedian, and his book has a good combination of a personal story, general observations, and humor.

----------

End of May is late, in my opinion; it's already hot and crowded. This is based on my subjective experience; book-2 and Camino blogs contain statistical data. Perhaps, end of May is better than end of June.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by HurdyGurdy » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:16 pm

Victoria, you have been interested in consumer's behavior.

Any thoughts on having such a great time, for only 20 euros a day?

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by CarlZ993 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:58 pm

Cool walk. Glad you had a wonderful experience.

On your key points:
- It is advisable to have larger shoes than normal. I wore a size 13 instead of my normal size 12 on my AT hike. I only had one blister in 140 days of hiking.
- Packweight is always critical. This saying works better in US measurements than in metric: "Ounces become pounds... Pounds become pain." But, it is possible to have a very light pack & be at 6 kilos (~13 lbs) with everything your need. For clarification, I'm talking about 'Base Pack Weight' which is everything in your pack except your consumables - food, fuel, & water.
- Pace & rest is essential on long hikes. Fewer miles/kilos in the beginning of your hike & you can increase your distance as your get your 'Trail Legs' under you. Your body will need some rest. Rest can be 'Zero Days' (taking the day off & zero trail miles covered) or 'Nero Days' (have a near zero day). For me, I had 12 Zero Days on my AT hike & quite a few Nero Days (what I call a 'Nero Day' is something under 10M).
Carl Z

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by G12 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:46 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Barefootgirl wrote:Victoria,

Thank you for sharing the details of your Camino with us.

Can I ask a question, purely out of curiosity?

Was there a specific reason you began your Camino on the Spanish side of the Alps versus French (SJPP?)



Barefootgirl,

St Jean Pied de Port (SJPP) is on the French side of the Pyrenees, Roncesvalles (RV) is on the Spanish side. To get from SJPP to RV one must cross the mountains. Specifically, on the first day, one has to cover the distance of 25.1 km (15.6 miles), ascend 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) and steeply descend 500 meters (1,700 feet). I thought that it was too much for the first day and decided to skip it.

The stage from SJPP to RV can be broken into two by walking the first day 8 km to Orisson and gaining 600 m (2,000 feet) of altitude. This makes the second day from Orisson to RV more manageable. However, according to my book, the Orisson albergue has only 18 beds, and people reserve it well in advance. (Later, I was told that the owners of Orisson have another building where they put the overflow of pilgrims.)

I felt a bit guilty about skipping the first stage and called it my "Napoleonic complex" because this path is called "Napoleon's Route." But then I started meeting people who have made it over the Pyrenees but then had severe problems with their knees, shins or ankles. Some of these people terminated their journey, others were spending several days in RV (or Zubiri or Pamplona) recuperating, others were walking in pain. I started feeling better about my choice but still had a gnawing feeling that my Camino was incomplete.


Glad you had an enjoyable experience. Sounds like a smart idea skipping the initial SJPP leg, especially with something that may have negatively impacted the remainder of your trip and later. Tell us more about the needle, thread and blister.

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:04 pm

HurdyGurdy wrote:Victoria, you have been interested in consumer's behavior.

Any thoughts on having such a great time, for only 20 euros a day?


HurdyGurdy,

I am interested in Behavioral Economics and I have identified numerous instances of how BE plays out on the Camino. Most of the cognitive biases I've noticed were my own, but some were committed by others and I learned about them in discussions. After I had collected many interesting examples, I started bouncing them off other pilgrims, which further enhanced my ideas. Now, I have over 300 pages of notes on the BE of the Camino and want to do something with them.

Victoria

PS I am always attuned to the BE manifestations. When I took a walking tour of Madrid, I thought of some ways in which the Spanish Inquisition had used BE principles and shared them with my tour guide. That was the third tour I took with this guide and by that time she was familiar with my ideas. She even told me that she was going to incorporate some BE into her doctorate thesis.
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:31 pm

CarlZ993 wrote:Cool walk. Glad you had a wonderful experience.

On your key points:
- It is advisable to have larger shoes than normal. I wore a size 13 instead of my normal size 12 on my AT hike. I only had one blister in 140 days of hiking.


I got larger boots, but during the first few days they were a bit loose and I got blisters from friction. Once I realized that, I started wearing extra socks until my feet expanded. In the retrospect, it's much easier to deal with larger boots and even blisters than with the boots that are too small. I've met people who could not wear their boots after their feet expanded. And so they were walking in their second pair of footwear, usually sandals. But wearing sandals had other problems. Some of the descents were brutally steep, and twisting an ankle or falling down was a real possibility even in hiking boots.


CarlZ993 wrote:- Packweight is always critical. This saying works better in US measurements than in metric: "Ounces become pounds... Pounds become pain." But, it is possible to have a very light pack & be at 6 kilos (~13 lbs) with everything your need. For clarification, I'm talking about 'Base Pack Weight' which is everything in your pack except your consumables - food, fuel, & water.


The minimum pack weight depends on the duration of the walk and on the contingency planning. I had a "medical" plastic zipbag that weighed over 1 kilo. I knew that I would be in a Western country and could buy anything I needed, but I could not expect getting what I needed when and where I needed it. I don't take any prescription drugs, but I wanted to have various treatments for feet, headaches, cold, and other common conditions. Next time, I will not take a few of the items that I had with me this time, but the total carried weight will be essentially the same.

CarlZ993 wrote:- Pace & rest is essential on long hikes. Fewer miles/kilos in the beginning of your hike & you can increase your distance as your get your 'Trail Legs' under you. Your body will need some rest. Rest can be 'Zero Days' (taking the day off & zero trail miles covered) or 'Nero Days' (have a near zero day). For me, I had 12 Zero Days on my AT hike & quite a few Nero Days (what I call a 'Nero Day' is something under 10M).


My shortest Nero Day was 5 km, the day of my arriving to Santiago. I wanted to arrive early in order to be clean and presentable at the 12:00 Pilgrim Mass as the Santiago Cathedral. An unexpected benefit was that when I checked into my preferred albergue they asked me if I wanted a private room. A bed in a dorm was 10 Euros, a private room was 13 Euros, and so it was an easy choice. I suppose private rooms are gone quickly and a couple hours later I would not have gotten it.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:17 pm

G12 wrote:Glad you had an enjoyable experience. Sounds like a smart idea skipping the initial SJPP leg, especially with something that may have negatively impacted the remainder of your trip and later. Tell us more about the needle, thread and blister.


Thank you, G12,

Of all the decisions I've made before, during and after the Camino, the decision not to walk stage-1 from SJPP to Roncesvalles haunted me the most. Walking that stage provides you with an experience that stays with you on the remaining 760 kilometers. You bond more tightly with the others who've done that stage. Even if you did not walk it with them, a common accomplishment enhances camaraderie.

Before I left, I've read the Camino blog and paid particular attention to the discussions of the foot and leg care. There was a lot of information, and people were as passionate about their preferences as the Bogleheads are about investing alternatives. While the opinions varied widely about blister prevention (liner socks, preventive tape, foot cream, etc.), the remediation suggestions were quite consistent: (1) you MUST pop it, (2) make a small incision and drain it, do NOT cut it off, (3) disinfect the instrument and the blister, (4) cover the popped blister when walking, (5) remove the cover and let the popped blister breathe overnight.

One variation of rule-2 is to pop a blister with a needle that has a thread in. You make a hole with a needle to enter the blister, push the needle through the blister, and exit with the needle on the other side of the blister, while leaving a part of the thread inside the blister. After you pull the thread from the needle, you put the needle away and are left with a thread running through the blister. I think the theory behind it is that you drain a blister through holes with a thread in them as effectively as through holes without a thread. But the thread keeps the blister essentially closed and this enhances the healing process.

Running a needle with a thread through a large blister was scary. It's bad enough when a medical professional has to "pinch" you with a syringe; it's much worse to do it to yourself with a regular needle. I used a black thread which looked quite ugly, and still I was proud of my achievement.

Victoria

P.S. I pulled the thread out two days later. I did not reuse the thread.
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by Lynette » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:59 pm

Congratulations Victoria and thanks for sharing with us. On freezing and unfreezing accounts, I have found it is really easy provided you keep the pin. I opened a new bank account a few weeks ago and it took me less the 10 minutes to unfreeze the accounts. I live in Michigan so I had to pay $10 to unfreeze Experian and Equifax. I think Transunion was free. In some states, I think it is free. One can specify either the period or time-frame for which you want to account to be unfrozen. I bought a new car on Monday and they wanted me to unfreeze Experian. It took less than 5 minutes + $10. So its easy to unfreeze the accounts - just keep the Pin!

Lynette

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VictoriaF
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:02 pm

Thank you, Lynette,

And congratulations with a new car!

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by G12 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:21 pm

Victoria, interesting about the thread, I had not heard of that. I can understand the bonding aspect of leg 1 and feeling one had accomplished the entire trek, but feeling well and being able to finish would trump that.

Think I had shared the boulder fields story of Mt St Helens when summitting and the beating it put on my knees that took 5 weeks to subside, packed a lot of fluid up MSH due to unexpected heat that week as the prior day was 98 nearby. No way I could have hiked the next day or even a week later and yes I was in very good shape. After investigating I am weaning off long term use of GERD meds as I strongly believe it is contributing to the knee issue as I do not have arthritis. I think it would be cool to hike el Camino.

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:28 pm

HurdyGurdy wrote:Victoria, you have been interested in consumer's behavior.

Any thoughts on having such a great time, for only 20 euros a day?


A follow up response:
One of the fundamental Behavioral Economics findings is anchoring. When people are exposed to low numbers they are bidding less for (possibly unrelated) items; high numbers prompt people to bid more.

On the Camino, people anchor on the prices of albergues. At first, albergues seem ridiculously cheap. My first albergue was in Pamplona for 8 Euros. It was a large dormitory at a church in the center of the city. I came to Pamplona with an American guy I've met at the Madrid airport, and we thought that the price was shockingly low. We went out for dinner, and that was shockingly low, too.

But as time went, I got used to the albergue prices and developed the notion of normal and expensive. 5 to 7 Euros became a norm. 8 to 10 Euros was expensive, unless it was a particularly nice albergue. I spent all my Camino nights at albergues, but some of my friends tried regular hotels. They commented that they missed the social atmosphere of the dorms and felt out of place among people who were normally dressed and groomed. It's silly to complain about a 30 Euro hotel room, but after you are used to paying much less, you notice it.

My other Camino friends were staying mostly in hotels. A Canadian woman now living in New Zealand has designed her Camino around comfortable places to stay. She never had a chance to anchor on 5 Euro albergues, and thus she considered her expenses low. And they were low, if you anchor on what people normally spend on European vacations.

Victoria
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:44 pm

G12 wrote:Victoria, interesting about the thread, I had not heard of that. I can understand the bonding aspect of leg 1 and feeling one had accomplished the entire trek, but feeling well and being able to finish would trump that.

Think I had shared the boulder fields story of Mt St Helens when summitting and the beating it put on my knees that took 5 weeks to subside, packed a lot of fluid up MSH due to unexpected heat that week as the prior day was 98 nearby. No way I could have hiked the next day or even a week later and yes I was in very good shape. After investigating I am weaning off long term use of GERD meds as I strongly believe it is contributing to the knee issue as I do not have arthritis. I think it would be cool to hike el Camino.


I've met several people who did SJPP to Roncesvalles and then had severe knee, shin, ankle, and other problems. One friend, a 22 year old girl from Virginia, had to terminate her trip in Pamplona and go back. But the question will always remain whether I could have done it without severe health consequences.

If you think you might want to walk the Camino, investigate it further. I provided the highlights of my trip but there is much more to it. Different books provide different perspective ranging from purely practical to deeply spiritual. Earlier I listed the books I've read, but there are many more that I have not read. Also, there are blogs and YouTube videos that provide the latest information.

The thing to remember is that people do the Camino in a wide variety of ways. The strongest and fastest ones walk over 40 km per day and finish Camino Frances in less than 20 days. The weakest ones engage support services to deliver their backpacks to their nightly stays, walk much shorter daily distances, and usually do only the last 100 km of the Camino. People wish limited time come to the Camino for a couple weeks every year, do a piece, go home, and the following year start where they have dropped off. Really hard walkers start much farther in Europe: in France, Belgium, and even Poland and walk several thousand kilometers. Bicyclists bike the Camino. One can even travel it on a horse.

Best wishes,
Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by cfs » Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:47 pm

Thanks shipmate Victoria for the sitrep on El Camino de Santiago. Hope to meet you one day walking La Via de la Plata (Sevilla to Santiago, connecting to Camino Frances in Astorga). Muchas Gracias y Sigamos por el camino.
~ Donating Member ~

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by MichaelRpdx » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:24 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Are there rain protectors for smartphones?
Victoria
Better - there are now waterproof smartphones. Two that I have direct experience with are:
  • The Sony Xperia series - not recommended because Sony seems to be flailing in the market.
  • The Samsung Galaxy 5 and I believe 6.

Portland residents who like to use their phones as cameras all the time care about these things.
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by MichaelRpdx » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:52 pm

Victoria, thank you so much for this thread and the very informative dialog it has generated.

I have a cousin who is doing it for purely spiritual reasons in the fall of 2016. He has invited and encouraged me to join him for all or part of his Camino. I'm leaning but not committed. This thread will be a wonderful resource in planning and deciding.
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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by Peter Foley » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:15 pm

I have thought about doing the Camino as a linguistic experience. (I speak Spanish, French, and some Portuguese and Italian.) This would only make sense if there were groups of individuals who spoke those languages along the way. Staying in touch with some individuals that one might meet would be a real plus. I would hope that over the course of the Camino I could improve my French fluency and regain my long lost Portuguese fluency (it's been 40 years since I stayed with Portuguese friends in Oporto.)

Any thoughts as to how realistic an approach that might be?

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Re: The cost of walking el Camino de Santiago

Post by MichaelRpdx » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:34 pm

Peter Foley wrote: I would hope that over the course of the Camino I could improve my French fluency and regain my long lost Portuguese fluency (it's been 40 years since I stayed with Portuguese friends in Oporto.)

Any thoughts as to how realistic an approach that might be?

From https://www.caminodesantiago.me/2013-statistics-for-the-camino-de-santiago/
Top Nationalities:
  • Spain: 105.891 (49,05%)
  • Germany 16.203 (14,73%)
  • Italy 15.621 (14,20%)
  • Portugal 10.698 (9,73%)
  • USA 10.125 (9,21%)
  • France: 8.305 (7,55%)
  • Ireland: 5.012 (4,56%)
  • UK: 4.207 (3,82%)Canada:
  • Canada: 3.373 (3,07%)

You would greatly improve your Portuguese odds by choosing one of the routes that start in Portugal. :?
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