Another video from the Camino Frances, this time from Miriam from Germany. She recently enjoyed a September Camino and had a ball. You can watch her YouTube channel where she gets to grips with life after the Camino! I love this video, I hope you do too!
The next letter on the “Towns Along the Way” series is “E”, as there are no towns starting with “D” (I dare you to look!). There aren’t too many so here goes…working towards Santiago.
Espinal is a typical Basque village and one of the first you will encounter after leaving Roncesvalles. At this point, you have 871km left before Santiago. Its name in Basque is Aurizberri and on leaving the town you are faced with a climb to Alto Mezkiritz. While not many stop here, there are many accommodation options (www.gronze.com). I don’t remember much of this town as I had stopped in Burguette (the town previous), and was deep in conversation with newfound Camino friends!.
We meet Estella (or to give it it’s full name Estella-Lizarra) 115km from St Jean Pied de Port. Estella is also part of Navarra and has a population of over 13,000 people. On entering the town, you cross the Picudo Bridge and are greeted with the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa, a large Romanesque church. There are plenty of places to stay (www.gronze.com). I have good memories of my time here and of the Agora Hostel, a great place to stay.
Espinosa del Camino (map)
And finally, Espinosa del Camino is located about 40km (or 2 days walk) from Burgos. It is in Castille y Leon and has a population of just over 30 people. It makes a living from the Camino with a number of cafes and albergues (www.gronze.com). It was in this town that I met a good Camino friend and had a cafe con leche, only to be told I walk too fast. And that was my first day!! Above we have Albergue La Campana, a great place to stop for a rest!
I need to buy a new pair of shoes soon as my current pair are a little run down. I embark on the Kerry Camino in May. And there is no better place for hiking shoes/boots than the Great Outdoors on Dublin’s George’s Street. I usually buy shoes at the start of the year and they last me 12-18 months.
My preferred brand is Salomon. I have worn shoes from North Face, Colombia, Meindl, and Merrell, but Salomon X Ultra GTX is the most comfortable for me so far. There are people that can walk a full Camino with a pair of €20 tennis shoes or even sandals(!) however I would prefer not to take my chances having experienced blisters and sore muscles on previous Caminos.
Here are just a few tips before you consider buying a pair of new shoes/boots:
- Be sure what you need. What is the type of terrain of the route you are taking? Is it flat or rocky with ascents and descents or a mixture? Are boots really needed?
- What season will you be walking in? If you are walking in March or April, you may need to choose boots instead of shoes. If you are walking in Summer, boots might be too heavy.
- Practice, practice, practice. When you buy your shoes/boots, wear them as much as possible, break them in, get used to them. They will be your best friends on the Camino.
- Buy a 1/2 a size extra. On the Camino when you walk, your feet will expand due to heat so the extra space is helpful.
- Talk to an assistant in the store and have your feet fitted. Listen to the advice. Try on as many shoes/boots as you can. It’s probably a good idea to buy insoles with them too. Superfeet is a good brand.
So have you any stories or advice you want to share about buying footwear? Let me know in the comments!
And with B over, we are on to the 3rd chapter…. There are loads of towns beginning with C, it must be a Spanish thing! 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 share it in the comments below.
Cizur Menor (map)
The first town you encounter on leaving Pamplona is Cizur Menor (or Zizur Menor locally). It is approximately 5km away from Pamplona and is also located beside its 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 altogether, staying there would be wise. I haven’t stayed here myself but passed through early one morning on the way to Puente la Reina. While on my way through, there was a fiesta ongoing however, it is a quiet town with all the amenities you will need.
The 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, so it is eerie to say the least. These houses were built to accommodate members of the local golf club. 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 and 2018). I have met some people who have enjoyed their time here, however.
Another blink and you’ll miss it town on the Camino. It is located 20 km from Ciruena and in the province of Burgos. At this point, you are 560 km 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). I must say that Albergue Bideluze is very active on social media during the high season!
Castildelgado is located between Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Belorado and lies beside the busy N-120 motorway.
Cardeñuela 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 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 and your first view will be the ruins of a castle, which was a lookout in times of battle. 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. You should stock up with refreshments before leaving this town as you have the difficult Alto de Mostalares to climb. Enjoy it – you have arrived at the meseta!
Cacabelos is a village in the El Bierzo region of Leon. You will pass it as you walk to Villafranca del Bierzo, usually within your last 10 days. It is a moderate size town with good facilities and a good selection of accommodation (www.gronze.com). There are over 5000 people living in Cacabelos. Many choose to by-pass here and stay in Villafranca, including me, this is one for the future. The refugio (pictured) has been renovated from an old church and is a bit special, I hear.
Calzadilla de la Cueza (map)
Quite a few people may not know the name of this town. Rather than placing a name on it, they will be able to describe how they feel about arriving there!! I say this as Calzadilla de la Cueza is the first stop after a grueling 17 km walk from Carrion de los Condes. It may well be the best thing you will see all day, depending on the weather.
This little town may not be much but after walking 17km, it has everything you need. I have walked road three times and have always stopped here for refreshments. There is also accommodation also should you choose to stay (www.gronze.com) .
Calzadilla de los Hermanillos (map)
On leaving Sahagun, there are 2 options to take; the tradational French route or the old Roman way. The French route leads you to El Burgo Ranero and to Mansilla de las Mulas, while on the Roman road you may be alone. The only town on this route is Calzadilla de los Hermanillos before you reach Mansilla de las Mulas. Quite a lot of people choose the first option. Calzadilla is a small town, and it has a population of just over 80. Being a town on the Camino, there are albergues (www.gronze.com). The advantage of walking this route is you can divert back to the other if you find it too solitary.
Carrión de los Condes (map)
Carrion de los Condes (or Carrion as many peregrinos prefer to call it) is a large town prior to Calzadilla, mentioned above. It is a little over halfway to Santiago (410km) and by all means, is one of the major Camino towns. It has a population of over 2,000 people and has a wealth of accommodation (www.gronze.com). I have stayed in Carrion a number of times including during the feast of Corpus Christi (start of June). It is a tradition on this day throughout Spain to layer their roads with flower petals of all different colours and make a great design. All the albergues are run by religious orders, so there can be a tendency to get swept away by their routine which is not a bad thing. I chose to stay in Villalcazar de Sirga, the town preceeding Carrion, in May 2015, but there is no doubt I will return to Carrion in the future.
O Cebreiro (map)
Not quite the highest point on the Camino, but it is not far off. O Cebreiro is the first village in Galicia and a welcome relief after a 1300m high climb from Villafranca. I just about made it in 2012. Seeing it for the first time reminded me of home…the music, the food, the buildings, it had a real Celtic feel to it and it just didn’t look like anything else on the Camino. The views are amazing. There is plenty of accommodation (www.gronze.com) with the main albergue holding up over 100 beds. I stayed in the fabulous Hotel Celta Venta back in 2012. On leaving this village you have 165 km left and are on the homeward stretch. Enjoy the descent!
Our next post will be on Towns beginning with D, can you think of any?
Hi folks. If you are planning your Camino, the information you receive from people who have walked the Camino previously can be more valuable than the information you find in guide books. So the following may prove valuable to you. I came across a podcast owned by Dave Whitson from Portland, Oregon, called “The Camino Podcast”. There are over 20 episodes uploaded on iTunes, Soundcloud and on his website www.northerncaminos.com. Dave is also the author of “The Northern Caminos” guidebook which dissects the Caminos north of the French Way.
A number of episodes on his podcast form a series where Dave “re-walks” the Camino with previous pilgrims. I was delighted to be asked to discuss the stretch from Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Burgos. You can hear me at the 29-minute mark in part 2. Below are all three episodes and you can find further uploads from Dave by clicking here.