There were so many Q´s I asked myself before going on my Pilgrimage and many people asked me lots of questions when I returned so I thought I´ll write everything down for people to read!
Hope it´s helpful!
For anyone not knowing anything about it, the Camino is a pilgrimage to the remains of St. James which lie in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
There are a couple of different routes you can take, I walked the original way which is called Camino Frances.
Is it safe to walk for Women?
Every Tom, Dick and Harry ( not Styles unfortunately) asked me before I left if going on the pilgrimage all by myself was a good idea, if it was safe, if I wasn´t scared.
I made the decision with a very open mind and only when I had to justify to these “Camino Safety Know-it-alls” why I was walking by myself, I started googling whether it was safe or not.
It is safe and walking alone, especially as a woman, should not be seen as an issue.
There´s always people walking in front of you/ behind you and you´re never totally alone ( expecially in busy seasons).
If you still feel a bit uneasy, you could book to travel with a group ( CaminoWays offers Group Trips) and I know of a Facebook Group called Camigas who is a networking group especially for women walking the camino by themselves. They also have a Facebook Group you can join.
I read that it usually takes 5 weeks to complete. I don´t have the time to do it in one go, what are my options?
In order to get the Compostela, the certificate that you walked the Camino, you need to have walked at least the last 100km but I met people that split their journey in stages. There are many people that cannot get a total of 5 weeks off in one go, so they might do the last 100km first which usually takes 1 week and then do the earlier stages bit by bit at later stages.
I´m not religious/catholic/spiritual. Can I still walk it?
Definitely! Whatever you believe in or whatever your reasons may be to walk the Camino, you should do it if you feel like doing it.
I don´t want to walk. Can I also cycle?
Yep, you can. You can also go by horse if that tickles your fancy;).
Bear in mind that there are some rules that apply to cyclists; you need to have cycled the last 200km to be able to get the Compostela and some hostels only allow Cyclists once a certain number of beds are given to walkers.
What will I pack?
I´ve written a whole post about what to bring here.
What about the food?
Spain is generally a bit cheaper regarding food. There are supermarkets along the way where you can stock up on food and snacks. Pretty much all of the restaurants on the way will offer a pilgrim´s menu which is a set 3 course dinner with bread & water/wine for around 12 Euro.
If you´re vegan or vegetarian the options might not be great but it´s not impossible to find a vegetarian place and I also saw some vegan options,especially in the bigger cities.
Guide books generally show if a place has vegan/vegetarian options available.
What´s a pilgrim´s passport and where can I get one?
The passport is your access card to hostels and is also proof that you actually walked the whole way. You need at least 2 stamps per day (from hostels, cafes, museums, hotels, tourist offices) to get your Compostela.
You can get one at tourist offices when you´re there or get it in advance at your local St. James´ Society.
I don´t like staying in a hostel, what other options do I have?
You could book yourself into a hotel or b&b room. Big cities have a couple of options, smaller cities have at least a b&b.
Some hostels also offer private rooms that are a lot cheaper than hotel rooms.
Prices vary depending on the season but generally you´ll be looking at these prices ( rough guide lines):
Donativo – whatever you can afford Hostel – around 6 Euro B&B – 20 – 25 Euro Hotel – 30 – 60 Euro
In Summer, you could also bring a tent and sleep outside.
Do I have to speak French/Spanish?
Don´t expect people to speak fluent English but if you learn a little bit of the basics you should be fine and can get by.
Most of the guide books have a section with basic phrases and after 1 week you have down most of them.
Hope this post was helpful and let me know if you have any more questions.
Happy to answer them:)