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.
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.
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