In my previous blog I spoke on how to prepare to walk the Camino. In this blog I would like to share on how we actually got there.
As I have said it was a process of preparation over a 2 year process. Losing weight, gaining better health, studying, reading, and of course training by walking regularly were all a part of that process.
I checked on many sites to see what the cost would most likely be to walk the Camino as well as cost of food and accommodation. We were living back in Australia at the time so an airfare to Europe was a great cost.
- So the first thing to consider is when will you undertake walking the Way?
As we don’t like crowds, we decided that either spring or autumn would be our preference to walk. Due to time constraints we settled on autumn. I am an autumn girl and love the colours of fall so this was really great for me.
Weather in Northwest Spain in October is usually warm but not hot, we found this to be so with some cooler days and nights. Generally it was pleasant. You can expect some rain (unless you travel with Paul – more on that later). Galacia is Spain’s wettest region and on average, rains 18 days out of 31 in October. Santiago de Compostela averages between 64 degrees and average lows 55 degrees.
We found these temperatures to be pretty accurate with some fog in certain areas. Some times there were light showers as we headed out in the morning but by mid morning it would fine up to become sunny. Paul had a special anointing and was spoiled with the weather. He prayed because he hates wet feet and started believing for fine weather. Almost immediately the sun came out and stayed for nearly 3 weeks! We really only had a few days of heavier, uncomfortable rainfalls early on – hence the prayers. This is not normal, particularly in Galacia! So be prepared with wet gear and good weatherproof shoes!
The wind and changeable weather on the Pyrenees can not be underestimated and you need to be prepared for that.
We also liked that there was fewer people on the Camino. One issue starting mid autumn was the amount of albergues that were closed or closing for the season. Spring also has the same but reversed with some not being open yet for the start of the season. Winter there are even fewer albergues open so a lot of research and preparation needs to be done! Summer has its own challenges with so many vying for a bed for the night and space on the walk.
2. You’ve chosen the season, now where are you going to start the walk?
Most choose the Frances Camino which starts most commonly from St Jean Pied de Port. We chose to warm up by walking two days from Bayonne. There are many other points of starting and ways to traverse, France and Spain. It is purely up to you which direction you start from and which way you head. We actually met a couple walking the Camino backwards, starting at Santiago and walking back to St Jean! We chose the most common route to begin with but who knows where we will go next time!
Some of our friends flew or trained it from Barcelona. It really depends on where you are coming from and where you want to start from.
3. You’ve chosen the season and the route, now how much is it going to cost?
The average day:
- AIRFARES – Of course this depends on where you are starting from. We flew from Sydney to Paris. From Paris we took a train trip down to Bayonne in the South of France where we actually walked two days to the jump off point of St Jean Pied De Port. From Santiago De Compostella, after having spoken to some people on the Way we decided to self-drive through Portugal and then across to Barcelona where we flew back to Paris. These are all costs that need to be allowed for.
- HOTELS – We slept mostly in the Albergues, the hostels that you will find in nearly every town you come to. At that time of year and in 2015 the fees were about Euro 10-15 per bed per night. I see that some are saying currently it has risen to nearly Euro 30 per night We paid more for the odd hotel stay but rarely more than Euro Euro 30- 35 per night. We wanted to experience being with others but did enjoy the alone nights as well. Some paid much more when they arrived in Santiago staying in an up market hotel to celebrate their completion. On reflection I would do that too next time. Because we hadn’t pre-booked we had to take what we could get. Summer would be much worse! It is up to you what you choose to pay but I would suggest getting more up to date costs before you head off. Some chose to camp along the Way too but I would be considering what you need to carry to do that!
3. FOOD – We set ourselves a 30 Euro a day budget each, but probably would be closer to 35 Euro per day. We found the Pilgrim meals, a three course meal most towns offer, for 13-15 Euro were fine and economical. We often bought lunch, cheese, bread or other foods, from the little food places or markets along the way. Sometimes we ate at a restaurant but they were fairly inexpensive. Tapas bars are a great way to eat economically too. It’s your choice on your budget.
4. INCIDENTALS – We probably allowed 10 Euro per day for these including pharmacy items, but I would suggest shopping at larger stores as some of these were very expensive particularly when dealing in Euros. Mostly I brought medicines and other items from Australia but you must consider the weight factor of carrying as opposed to buying along the Way.
All up our total budget for the two of us was 4000 Euros exclusive of return air fares to Australia and doesn’t include the cost of setting up your kit or travel insurance. This did include our train fare, hire car and flights to Paris to fly home and we had some cash left over. I would have preferred to train it back to Paris but we left the run too late and from an overnight fare costing 100 or so Euros, booking on the day of travel would have cost over 500 Euros – each! So we booked a cheap air fare and flew to Paris for lunch before our flight that night back to Australia. I could then say, “My husband flew me to Paris for lunch!”
These are suggestions and there are a lot of sites with up to date information which I again suggest you read. Some of the forums give great information but ultimately half the adventure and fun of the Camino journey is working it out as you go along!
Until next time