Have been home now for a bit over a week and am enjoying my cozy bed and taking showers without flip-flops and using a real towel instead of the RS travel towel. My washer is a treat as I don't have to wash anything else out by hand. So, onto the trip report. For those on FB, if you want my FB page, send me a message as we aren't supposed to put links up to our private blogs, pages, etc. All my photos are there as well as a list of my favorite Albergues.
My plan was to start in Pamplona and walk all the way to Santiago, a distance of 730 km. The 1st two days were quite tough and though I thought I was in pretty good shape, it seems I was mistaken. No blisters, but those hills! Not just going up, but going down too. The 2nd day had us climbing down and up a ravine with an old Roman bridge that had fallen and littered the slope with giant blocks of stone. Rainy day to add to the fun. This part of Spain is pure agriculture, grapes, asparagus, artichokes, fennel, sunflowers, and lots of gardens. Breathtaking scenery, with lots of ancient stone churches. Nights are spent in Albergues, where for the price of 6-10 €, you get a bed, usually a bunk bed, place to shower and wash your clothes (mostly by hand, but washers & dryers are often available for 3€) They often offer a dinner or there is a near-by spot to eat. Dinner is a Pilgrim Menu, offering 4-5 choices for 1st course, 4-5 choices for 2nd course, dessert, wine and water, all for 10 €. Most of the time it was decent food, and sometimes it was excellent. Most of the towns had small stores where you could get stuff to eat, either snacks or things to make picnics the next day. Some Albergues offered breakfast, but most of them were located near cafes or bars that had coffee, croissant, fresh OJ, toast, etc. Larger cities had a lot of places to choose from. Having a guide book is just about neccassary. Having a phone with wifi is useful too, as many of the private Albergues took reservations. Everyone was using booking.com to get places, especially in some of the cities where events were happening and people were desperate for beds. I saw this happen in Burgos, Logrono, and Leon. Other than that, it was never a problem to find a place to sleep. Once, in Villamayor del Montjardin, 6 people had to sleep in front of the Albergue on the padded play ground as both Albergues were full that night.
It didn't rain too often, but I had a great poncho that has an extra sort of pocket on the back that goes over the back pack. Got lots of comments on it from other people who wished they had the same sort of poncho. We had 1 day of fierce winds and rain, with the wind blowing around 40 km the entire day and our path was pure sticky, muck. It was a constant battle to get it off your boots enough to keep walking. I missed the Meseta except for the 1st part, as had to take a bus for the rest of it.
Unfortunately, I had some minor medical issues that were very painful (but not serious) that meant taking a bus several times, shortening the amount that I was able to walk. It also included a cool ambulance ride to Palancia, the closest large hospital. Spanish medical care was great, they were kind, sweet, and helpful. My German ins. card took care of everything, though I did hear from quite a few people that they treat Peregrinos for free. My one surprise is how rare it was to find anyone in the medical profession who spoke any English at all. It was a tough day because of this, as they had to use their iphones and google translations.
One meets people from all around the world. Lots of Koreans, Brazilians, as well as Europeans, Aussies, Americans and Canadians. Towards the end in Sarria, you get even more Spanish who are doing the last 118 km, the min. you need to get a Compestela.
How much did I spend? About 20-35 € per day. Occasional splurge in a private room for 20 €.