Our “Eclectic Camino” Trip Schedule

This is a brief summary. Here is a map to help you see the overall picture of what we did. As you will see, it is quite manageable.

Our Eclectic Camino Map
Our Eclectic Camino Map

As I said in my previous post, it is not the purest of caminos, but it is our very own and we seniors (both 68 years old) recommend it without hesitation. We planned this trip together and grew closer in the planning, the training and the Camino itself. We are still on our Camino and will be for the rest of our lives. We walked some of the hardest stages of the Camino Frances, about 200 km in all, including the high route through the Pyrenees. We walked 113 km across Galicia and received our Latin compostelas. Public buses were used as much as possible for routes we did not want to walk. Taxis were used when necessary. A full itinerary with accommodation and bus companies is in my post of June 1. I am also adding photos on the June 1 post. As the photo additions are a work in progress, you might want to revisit that post from time to time. I would really appreciate your comments or questions and will try to respond to all of them.  Splitting the last four stages up made it less grueling and more meditative. We left ourselves plenty of flexibility – still had four nights in Santiago and a chance to see Fisterra (Galician for Finisterre) and Muxía. Distances we walked are centered and bold type. I first became interested in Spain and the Camino while reading James A. Michener’s great book, Iberia – a non-fiction work describing, with great love and style, his visits over a period of about four decades. Michener has influenced the way I look at all aspects of that crazy, amazing and uniquely-historied country.

Itinerary Summary

Apr 22 Toronto à Paris CDG
Apr 23 Paris CDG à Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Apr 23 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Apr 25

8 km

Apr 25 Orisson PrivR
Apr 26

17.1 km

Apr 26 Roncesvalles H
Apr 27 Taxi
Apr 27 Pamplona P
Apr 29 Public bus
Apr 29 Óbanos PrivR (3 km from Eunate Church)
Apr 30

3.5 km

Apr 30 Puente la Reina Many routes funnel across this beautiful 12th C Romanesque bridge
Apr 30 Bus
Apr 30 Estella P – “Toledo of the North”
May 2 Bus
May 2 Santo Domingo de la Calzata Miracle of the chickens
May 2 Bus
May 2 Burgos P (Well worth 2 days)
May 4 Bus
May 4 León Parador J
May 5 Bus
May 5 Puente de Orbigo Crazy knight defends this bridge for 30 days against all braggarts
May 5

17.5 km

May 5 Astorga MR
May 6 Taxi
May 6 Foncebadón
May 6

2 km

May 6 Cruz de Ferro Drop your stones here and pray
May 6

20.7 km

May 6 Molinaseca H
May 7 Taxi
May 7 Villafranca del Bierzo P   –  La Puerta del Perdón
May 8 Bus 2 buses via Lugo, then Sarria
May 8 Sarria MR –  Start of the essential camino if you want a compostela
May 9

22.4 km

May 9 Portomarín PrivR
May 10

12.8 km

May 10 Ventas de Narón PrivR
May 11

12.0 km

May 11 Palas de Rei P
May 12

15.0 km

May 12 Melide H
May 13

13.9 km

May13 Arzúa Hostel
May 14

16.3 km

May 14 Santa Irene PrivR
May 15

13.8 km

May 15 Vilamaior CR
May 16

9.0 km

May 16 Santiago de Compostela P – Took bus tour to Finisterre and Muxía on May 18
May 20 Bus
May 20 Bilbao P
May 23 Bilbao à Toronto
Distances walked in kilometers centred and bold H = hotel, CR = Casa rurál, MR = Municipal Refugio, PrivR = Private Refugio, Parador = Parador
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Our Own Camino Santiago

Anita on our scary Day 2 crossing the Pyrenees into Spain, complete with fog, rain, ice pellets, wind and snow. Luckily, not all at the same time.
Anita on our scary day 2 crossing the Pyrenees into Spain, complete with fog, rain, ice pellets, wind and snow. Luckily, not all at the same time.

I’ve been largely out of WordPress touch since the last week of April, when Anita and I flew to France to begin our first Camino Santiago. We chose the Camino Frances, which is the most popular. We also chose not to walk all of the 780 kilometers (485 miles) from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela near the NW coast of Spain.

We walked some of the most difficult stages, such as the first stage from France through the Cize Passes to Roncesvalles, following the route taken by Charlemagne in the 8th C and Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th. Not counting sightseeing we walked almost 200 km in about 15 different bits.

Staying in the Hotel Roncesvalles (on the left) next to the collegiate church, was a good move. Three heaters in our suite and a huge tiled shower area made cleaning our mud-soaked gear a lot easier. After the 10 hour ordeal from Orisson this was a merciful place to stay.
Staying in the Hotel Roncesvalles (on the left) next to the collegiate church, was a good move. Three heaters in our suite and a huge tiled shower area made cleaning our mud-soaked gear a lot easier. After the 10 hour ordeal from Orisson this was a merciful place to stay. Yes, that’s snow…
We chose to do it this way because, as a couple, we have physical limitations that would have put our long-term fitness at risk if we had walked the whole way and because we wanted to have the energy to sight-see primarily in Pamplona, Estella, Burgos and León along the way. I joke that there were three in our party: Anita, my camera and I. A total love for Spain and its incomparably rich and crazy history was a major inspiration for me.
I will admit right away that this is not the “purest” way of doing the Camino Frances. Some will argue that one must do Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques in its totality, walking every inch and carrying all one’s necessities all the way. Some take no photos. Some take one photo at the beginning and one at the end. A few whip their backs in penance carrying a cross as they trudge the Way of Saint James (we didn’t see any of this particularly tiny subgroup). I respect each individual’s camino. There are as many camino choices as there are pilgrims. If you choose to judge ours… so be it.
We happen to think that ours was everything we hoped for and more.  A thorough itinerary of our trip, including our chosen refugios, pensións, casa rurales, hotels, public buses taken, walk lengths will follow soon. We were on the camino from April 25 until May 16, when we arrived at the pilgrim office in Santiago de Compostela to be congratulated and get our Compostelas, the documents that certify that one has completed the pilgrimage on foot. We traveled the last 113 kilometers across Galícia from Sarria to Santiago completely on foot and, by so doing,  qualified for our Compostelas. We added 4 nights in Santiago and three nights in Bilbao to the trip, flying home from the latter on May 23.
I share this stuff with you in the hope that  you will find something useful or inspiring here. Continue reading “Our Own Camino Santiago”