Weekend Watch #19 – Camino Invierno

I will most certainly be walking this route soon. The Camino Invierno was recently made an official route to Santiago (news in Spanish) with the aim of relieving the pressure on the Camino Frances from Ponferrada. It is 261km long and runs underneath the Camino Frances. If you were to walk it now, the chances are you would be walking alone for the majority of the day. The only accommodation available are pensions and it can be expensive as there are no municipal albergues open just yet. In time, and when the numbers of pilgrims increase, albergues will open also.


The below video has been recently uploaded to YouTube and shows many photos of the Invierno.

2016 and the Camino Ingles

It’s about this time of the year when I start to plan for another Camino. I return to my guidebooks and scour the internet. The questions that often arise are a) what route will I take? b) where will I start and end? and c) how will I get there? The question… “will I be able to afford it?” has never cropped up….until now.

At this point, I haven’t truly decided if I will make a return in 2016. In the last month, I received some great news that I can’t share just yet and it has made me reconsider a return for next year. Ah..but the Camino is not going anywhere, I hear you say! You can make a return in a few years, surely? You may very well be right (you are actually!), but I had my heart set on a return, and the heart is never wrong! I guess I will know a definite answer in the coming weeks.

If I do return, I plan on taking an alternative route. The reasons for this are many. Firstly, the Pope has announced 2016 as a jubilee year for pilgrims and the amount of people walking the final stages is expected to increase. Secondly, I have already walked from Sarria to Santiago in 2011 and wish to try something different. And finally, I would like a bit of solitude. I am interested in the Camino Ingles and have ordered Johnnie Walker’s guide from the csj website. The Camino Ingles starts in Ferrol in Galicia, in the north of Spain and is just over 100km long. It is perfect for a week’s walk.

My return all depends on how everything goes with this “great news” but I should know in January if one of the Caminos will expect my rucksack and shell.



Weekend Watch #18 – To The End of the World (on the Camino de Santiago)

Before I mention this week’s “Weekend Watch”, I want to send out my thoughts to the people of France following last night’s events. Like most people, I watched the news as the events unfolded and the numbers of dead increased. I met so many good people from France on my times on the Camino.

This week’s clip from the Camino is uploaded by a guy from the US. It’s one of the better videos out there and is 35 minutes long, so if you have some time to spare, you should watch it. He went through alot of pain, it has to be said!

To the End of the World (on the Camino de Santiago) from Hank Leukart on Vimeo

Daily Costs on the Camino

I haven’t written about this subject before so I thought I would talk about my experiences with daily costs over the last number of years. It’s important to start out by saying that everyone’s estimates tend to be different so your estimate may be higher than mine. You may choose to avoid hostels and have a more comfortable Camino, there by increasing your costs. You may also prefer to wild-camp, sleep in donativo albergues, buy food in supermarkets and cook yourself. Personally, I have always preferred albergues and I like menu del dias (daily 3 course meals). My Caminos have generally lasted 12-13 days and I have spent on average €25-€35 per day, which includes food, accommodation and incidental costs during the day.

I could never see myself spending more on the Camino. First of all, I am not on holiday. If I travel on a city break or to the country in Ireland, my costs tend to be higher as I stay in b&b’s and guesthouses. So I go to avoid the luxuries that I would receive in a hotel or guesthouse. Sometimes sacrifices can be good.

So I will break down daily costs under accommodation, food and incidental costs.


Accommodation can be broken down into albergues, hostales, casa rurales or pensions, and hotels. Albergues cost from €5 up to €15. Some albergues are donativo also, which mean that they accept a donation of your choice. It’s important to note that this does not mean they are free! Albergues would provide bunk beds in dormitory-type rooms. I much prefer these as they increase the chance of meeting people!
Hostales, casa rurales and pensions offer private rooms with an en suite bathroom or shower. Some would include a meal as standard and costs tend to range from €25-€45. I like to stay in pensions the night before I start out, and after I finish. Great examples of these would be Casa Waslala in Belorado and Posada Regia in Leon.
And finally, there are hotels which tend to cost the most. Rooms cost in excess of €60 per night. Whilst these offer great comfort, it might be worthwhile rechecking the reasons you are walking the Camino if you are staying in one of these each night!


I tended to eat meals in the nearest restaurant and chose the “menu del dia” aimed at pilgrims. This was usually the same “high on carbohydrate / low on calorie” meal, and after a while, it did get boring. It usually consists of three courses with ice cream or some fruit to finish up and cost €10. But you are well fed by the end.
You have the option also of veering away from the “menu del dia” and choosing on of the restaurant’s own menus. You are then sampling traditional food at a slightly higher cost.
Alternatively, you can purchase your own food and make dinner at the albergue where you are staying. The downside to cooking alone that is you have to compete with the hordes of other pilgrims who have decided to do the same thing. It can be cost-effective, but it is tiring. Another cost-effective idea is getting together with friends and sharing the costs. If there are 8 of you, you could have a hearty meal plus wine for €5 each. Now you can’t go wrong with that…as long as you aren’t washing up!!

Incidental Costs

From the moment you start walking until the finish for the day, there will be costs that you incur. These include numerous cafe con leches, multiple cervezas, tortillas, fruit for snacks and some chocolate. These would also include trips to museums or cathedrals (some do charge for entry!!). I usually purchased chocolate, fruit and something to make a sandwich with, the evening before, and that kept me going the next day until I had finished walking. The cost? A little under €10.

Budgeting is pretty important, however, so it is important to over-budget than under-budget.


Towns Along The Way – “C” – part 1

Slightly later than planned, I am bringing you the 3rd chapter to the “Towns Along the Way” series. And with very little surprise, I am going to look at towns than start with “C”. There are loads of them…so I will split this post up in two. I have only stayed in two of these towns myself, so this may be the perfect chance for me to learn something about them, as well as pass on some information to you! And as always, if you have any feedback about these places, please feel free to comment.

So let’s get started..

Cizur Menor (map)


The first town you encounter on leaving Pamplona is Cizur Menor (or Zizur Menor locally). It is approximately 5km away from there and is also located beside it’s sister town Cizur Mayor, which is just off the Camino Frances. It holds a population of roughly 2400 people. It has a number of albergues (www.gronze.com) and should you wish to avoid Pamplona, this would be a good option. I haven’t stayed here myself but passed through at 7am on the way to Puente la Reina. I was glad I didn’t however, as there was a fiesta ongoing right through the night. On the whole though, it is a quiet town with all the amenities you will need.

Cirueña (map)

5348750770_bc17de89bdThe town of Ciruena is unique. Not only does it lie slightly off the Camino but before reaching the town itself, you are greeted by hundreds of empty houses…a ghost town. They were built to accommodate members of the local golf club which is just around the corner. Ciruena itself has a population of 131 people and strangely enough has two albergues (www.gronze.com), both of which have received positive reviews. I have previously chosen not to stay here, opting to stay in the town previous to it (Azofra in 2015) and the town following it (Santo Domingo de la Calzada in 2013). I have met some people who have enjoyed their time here however.

Castildelgado (map)


Another blink and you’ll miss it town on the Camino. It is located 20km from Ciruena and in the province of Burgos. At this point, you are 560km from Santiago and just becoming used to being a pilgrim. Castildelgado offers little to the pilgrim but should you wish to call it a day, there is a pension (www.gronze.com).

Castildelgado is located between Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Belorado and lies beside the busy N-120 motorway.

Cardeñuela-Ríopico (map)

Cardeñuela RiopicoCardeñuela Riopico is a town located in the province of Burgos. It is actually 13km from the city itself and has a population of just over 100 people. You will encounter this little town as you leave either San Juan de Ortega, Ages or Atapuerca making your way to Burgos. I have previously chosen to stay in Atapuera and had breakfast in the either of the albergues here, whichever was open! There are three albergues here  (www.gronze.com). A further 2km on down the road from Cardenuela is it’s sister town Orbaneja Riopico.

Convento de San Anton (map)

The ruins of San Anton is not so much a town but rather a place. They are located on the outskirts of Castrojeriz. The Convento de San Anton was built in in the 14th Century, and was originally the King’s Palace. It was later turned into a hospital for passing pilgrims on their way to Santiago. Since 2002, the tradition of offering shelter to pilgrims holds as volunteers maintain a donotivo refugio in the ruins (www.gronze.com).

I haven’t stopped by during my previous Caminos as it has not been open unfortunately, but one day I would like to stay here.

Castrojeriz (map)

CastrojerizCastrojeriz is a town located in the province of Burgos and is a popular stop along the Camino. The town is based at the foot of a hill which has a lookout castle in ruins. The town was built along one main road which circles the hill. There are more than 1,000 people there. As it is a popular stop along the Way, there is plenty of accommodation (www.gronze.com). I haven’t stayed here myself, choosing to stay in Hontanas. I have however stopped here for breakfast. I would recommend Hostel El Manzano. It is also wish that you stock up with refreshments as you have the difficult Alto de Mostalares to climb once you leave Castrojeriz. Enjoy it – the Meseta has well and truly kicked in at this stage!

Weekend Watch #17 – El Camino de Santiago (1000km)

Another weekend has arrived and yes, it can only mean one thing…here’s another weekend watch!! :)

Here is a great 5 minute summary of a full Camino uploaded to YouTube in the last week. The start of the clip has a great phrase: “Everywhere is within walking distance, if you have the time“, which is very true. I long to have the time to walk 1000km. It’s great that the uploader managed to take clips of the running of the bulls in Pamplona and some of the festivities in Navarra.

You can find my Camino de Santiago playlist on YouTube and the full “Weekend Watch” archive is located here.


Storytelling and the Camino..

So last night I was at a storytelling event at the great Abbey Theatre in Dublin. I was there to listen to 10 storytellers who had reached the The Moth Dublin final, but most importantly, I was there to support a man I met on the Camino in 2013. Storytelling had taken hold of his life since then, but this is a very good thing. We had met a number of times since our times on the Camino, most recently at the Camino Information night that I spoke at. He also told a magnificent story of the many varied people he met while he on his way to Santiago.

The Abbey was full, and shortly after 8pm the first performer took to the stage. Each story must be mo more than 6 minutes in length, must be true and points are awarded for delivery also. To some people, this kind of thing might come naturally, but to others, there are a lot of factors to consider. My Camino buddy appeared 2nd to last with a powerful story. When he had finished, nothing could be heard but silence.


A tiny flame started to burn in my head after leaving the Theatre. Could I do something like this? I have always liked creativity whether it be blogging to writing music, but performing to a crowd is a major crutch, no matter how small. I’ve never been a confident person…and you need tons of confidence to speak or perform in front of a crowd. That said, speaking to 50-60 people at the Camino Information night was a start and if I can do that, I am going in the right direction.