A Typical Day on the Camino

Leslie Anna 13km from Santiago

My typical day on the Camino de Santiago started about 6am. I was a mature student before hiking the on the Camino de Santiago for the first time; at that time I would have been doing well if I was awake before 9am, (I had got into student life and loved it). So six in the morning was initially shocking, however, I easily got used to the early morning.

There are the “bag rustlers” – these are pilgrims that think it is a good idea to start in the dark anywhere from 4.30 onward. Personally this was never attractive for me. Sleeping in albergues demands tolerance and the bag rustlers test it to the limit.  There are quite a few pilgrims on the Camino who start very early and intend to finish their walking day by noon or the latest 2pm – in many cases this is the due to the fear of not finding somewhere to sleep the next night due to albergues being full – this was never an issue for me until after Sarria the last 100km or so on the Camino Frances.

The only other people that push the tolerance to the same extent are the snorers, (afraid I am one, hay-fever made it worse than usual – I’m told). Buy good ear plugs, a must. The worst snorers are the ones that have had a few drinks, to be expected.

Leslie Anna 13km from SantiagoThe first big difference for me was no coffee first thing in the morning, usually I had to walk to a cafe which was often 3 to 5km in the next village where I would stop for breakfast.

At home I would not leave the house in the morning without having a shower.  This is a luxury that is not available while staying in hostels or albergues.  The only time I was able to have a shower before starting my walking was the few nights I stayed in a pension, (B&B).  Being a bit smelly is just a fact of life for pilgrims using albergues on the Camino.

So given my aversion to mornings at the time, I would often be the last to leave the albergue in the morning, about 6.45 or 7.00am.  Many albergues close in the morning at 7.30 or 8am, though this is changing slightly due to the high number of private hostels.

Then simply walk. I did not hurry and walked at my pace. Some days I walked with other pilgrims, sometimes on my own. Simplicity itself, just bloody wonderful. Nothing to do but walk and eat and talk – if I wanted to – an incredible break from my norm.

Often I would not finish walking until 3 or 4pm, after having lunch somewhere I would rest from the heat under a tree.

Once I reached the albergue I would shower and wash my clothes. I had one set of clothes for the evening and another for walking, no others.  More often than not I hand washed my walking clothes – this again has changed quite a bit over the years and almost all private albergues have washing machines.

Then perhaps an afternoon sleep for an hour, read, or chat with pilgrims, some that I might not have seen for a day or so. It was surprising that I could sleep for an hour in the afternoon and then easily sleep again at 10pm.

Sometimes some pilgrims need help, help fixing blisters, advice on how to care for very hot feet, (a basin of very cold water for 20min, great).

Then about seven in the evening I would eat a pilgrims menu in the local village bar or cafe; the pilgrim menu is sufficient and I never went hungry, however it is not exciting food, (and I lost a lot of weight without trying). Some albergues cook an evening meal or have a kitchen where you can cook, if there is a communal meal I suggest participating as they are a great way to meet more people and the food is usual very good.

I would be in bed and fast asleep by 10 or 10.30pm, I would wear little to bed – usually my shorts that I was planning to walk in the next day.  After a few days getting used to sleeping in rooms with other people I slept great almost every night.

Then get up and do it all again, Buen Camino.

6 replies
  1. Ron Ritchie
    Ron Ritchie says:

    Hi Leslie. Great reflections about your Camino. I too completed the walk beginning mid-September in 2012. The fall is a great time – fewer crowds, cooler days and the grapes are being harvested as you walk. Two things really helped us (I walked with two friends): first, several weeks before beginning our adventure, we reserved beds in Orrison just 8 kilometres after leaving St. Jean Pied de Port. It doesn’t seem like a very long first day, but it was a very welcome break after climbing up and down (mostly up) for the better part of the morning. It also makes the second day much more bearable. Making the trek all the way from SJPP to Roncesvalles in one day (25 km) is extremely gruelling and I’m told that many pilgrims quit after that first day due to excessive blisters and other injuries.
    The second thing that worked well for me was how I rotated my clothing. I too had two sets of basic clothing: including two t-shirts and two sets of hiking pants – all light weight and quick dry. But to ensure that you have fresh clothing to wear, try this: as soon as you check into the albergue, have your shower and then immediately wash the clothes that you wore for the day. In your pack is the clean set that you washed the previous night. Put that set on to wear for the evening and then wear that set again for your walk the next day. With quick dry clothing, your clothes are dry by the morning and can be packed before you leave on your day’s hike, ready to put on for your evening dinner. I rarely used the washing machines and driers because it meant that you had to stick around the albergue for quite a bit of time when you could be out exploring the cities or villages where you are staying.
    It was a life changing experience for me as well and am looking forward to the next adventure! Ron Ritchie, Collingwood, Ontario, Canada

  2. John David
    John David says:

    I walked the camino this past April/May and my typicsl dy sounds similar to all I’ve read. One difference is the “beer first” approach to life. After completing a days walk and securing a bed. I would seek out a cold beer before doing laundry or showering. If the world ended right then, you wouldn’t mind not having clean clothes or being personally clean BUT you wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy that last cold draft Galicia or Mahou!!

    • Doreen Gaudron
      Doreen Gaudron says:

      Hi John David, we are planning this walk Mid April, May 2016 and wondering if you could give some info on weather at that time. Doreen

  3. M McKinley
    M McKinley says:

    Same here, I washed all my clothes of the day in the shower and only once had to use a dryer because it was raining and cold in the morning in Hornillos. I just returned day before yesterday and am having trouble resisting the temptation to wash my underwear every day even though I know I have at least ten sets clean in the drawer just over there! And how will I walk without Esteban, My Staff? Oh, right, Long Beach, CA is pretty flat…


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