PC #132 – A quintessential Camino experience – missed?

I got a sudden pang of regret last night.

I was reading Arlene’s blog, and something made me think of a section of the Meseta where I passed the San Bol albergue.

I’d read about this place, how wonderful it was, but I’d come from Hornillos del Camino that afternoon and the place was jammed full – no beds – and I was sure that San Bol would be full too.

So I walked past it.

I walked through to Hontanas and holed up there for the night. But I found out later that San Bol was only partly full, and those that had spent the night there had raved about their experience. They said it was one of the highlights of their Camino.

For some reason last night I thought back on that, and I remembered the moment I decided not to check it out.

To get to the San Bol albergue you have to walk down a track off the Camino – about 400m or so – and I didn’t want to walk that distance. That’s an extra 800m, there and back, to find out the place was full. By that stage I’d already walked about 28kms, and I had a long way to go to get to Hontanas.

However my PGS was telling me I should go check it out – yet my willforce overruled it. I was hot, tired, and I didn’t want to add nearly 1km to my day’s walk to find out the inevitable – that they were COMPLETO.

I should have listened to my PGS.

But it made me wonder what other quintessential Camino moments I missed. And it’s one thing I would do differently, should I walk the Camino Frances again – or indeed any Camino. I would put in that extra bit of effort and explore all possibilities.

I’m now curious – have any of you missed any quintessential Camino moments, for whatever reason?

Windows and doors

48 thoughts on “PC #132 – A quintessential Camino experience – missed?

  1. Ah yes! I should have listened… I should have gone to… I should have ducked! I should have let go the rope, gotten off the train at the last stop… Continued on.
    I have more Camino to do too Bill… It’s a very rich path… And thanks for staying on task… Asking these questions. These are the questions we all ask. God bless you, brother.


    • Thanks Peter!

      I try not to live with regrets. It’s wasted energy. But this just came to me fleetingly last night.

      I think as a means for me to learn. As I said to Jill earlier, the lessons keep on a comin’ !

      Good to have you back on the blog by the way! Your energy is very special.



  2. Hi Bill –
    Mine was not going out to Finisterre.
    We only had one full day after arriving in Santiago prior to flying out to London. We researched the bus but the timetable didn’t work out, so we didn’t go, to our regret.
    When I’m in Santiago next year after the volunteership, getting out to Finisterre is going to be a priority.
    Cheers –


    • Ah Jenny –

      You never know with these things – you might have gone to Finisterre and tripped on a step and broken your ankle.

      Or the bus might have tipped over a cliff because the driver was inebriated.

      Or you could have attracted the attention of a thief, who stole your passport and credit cards.

      Maybe not going to Finisterre was the best thing that could have happened to you!

      Then again, it’s something to look forward to next year!




      • So true Bill! I could have been washed out to sea too, after a tinto or two too many! BTW those ‘Santiago Celebration’ hangovers were NOT the reason we missed out on going!!!
        It definitely is something I’m looking forward to next year – I won’t be missing it a second time!
        Cheers –


  3. I am learning so much and taking notes! Thank you so much! You guys are so great and so helpful!



  4. I’ve walked past that place three times now, looked at it — thought “huh, cool” — then kept on walking.

    I’m very happy if I can find a space on the floor for my sleeping bag ; a space on the floor, given with true generosity of heart and spirit, and genuine Charity, is the best albergue experience that the Camino can possibly provide.


    • That’s very true Julian.

      Hey, I’ve got to say, this notion of walking from my front door in Mudgee to Santiago still hasn’t let go – even with my crook knee.

      Maybe with this brace I can do it.


      • Good to hear that — though you WILL be in for a tough road between … hmmmm … Chartres and round about Bordeaux if you follow the route I suggested.

        Things ease up as you enter the wine-producing Bordelais, and then South of Bordeaux, the Landes may be very solitary for a hiker, but they are also very spiritual (comparable in several ways to the Meseta) and the inhabitants are wonderful people ; then Gascogne and the French Basque Country are more overtly Camino-like and will bring you back towards familiarity ; though the utter shock of hitting SJPP after some weeks of more or less solitude will likely be stunning.

        The only place to stay that I’d absolutely recommend is the Monastery of Saint-Martin de Tours at Ligugé, a few Ks south of Tours, which is the oldest monastery in the West. Architecturally it’s not that notable, but the community there are extremely welcoming, very simple, generous, and deeply respectful.

        You’ll discover anyway on such a long Way that there are more than just the three “phases” in the Camino experience than the ones that most people talk about … 😉

        LOL you could always hire me as a guide, I suppose …


        • Two bloke limping? That would be funny!!

          Thanks Julian.

          I’m curious about costs through France – especially from le Puy onwards – is it more expensive than the albergues in Spain?

          And meals too?



      • Yeah it’s more expensive. No menus del peregrino, and things are just generally more expensive in France.

        You really, really sure about this whole Le Puy thing ? You’d just be adding several hundred KM to your Camino for not much good purpose, IMO.

        The Camino from Paris goes via either Orléans or Chartres (I’d recommend Chartres, though the stages along the Loire from Orléans to Tours are superb) ; then down to Tours, Poitiers, Saint Jean d’Angély, Saintes, Bordeaux, Dax, SJPP etc

        Even the Vézelay route would be FAR more sensible than hiking 100% off-Camino all the way from Paris to Le Puy !!!


        • Yes, I think it would be an either / or.

          You’re right – it makes no sense going from Paris via le Puy, if I was to do that.

          But if I had limited time, or my knee was really problematic, then le puy to SJPP could be an option –

          It seems to me though you need to be more cashed up to Camino in France. I’ve been through all those areas – and I know the Loire region quite well, although I’ve been there usually at the expense of the cannes film festival, so it’s a whole other thing, staying in fancy places etc doing it as a pilgrim would be an entirely new experience. But it’s beautiful country



    • It seems to me though you need to be more cashed up to Camino in France.

      I’ve always walked the Camino in poverty, and next time will be no exception — many times I’ve slept rough from lack of anywhere affordable to sleep, in Spain, France, and Italy alike.

      hmmmm knowing France and the French like one of the natives is a distinct advantage though, and whilst the daily expenses on the Camino are higher, the quality of what you’ll be eating is also better — the negative being that the Spaniards are more generous with their portions.

      Typically, I’d survive on french bread of whichever kind tickled my fancy on any particular day, then tomatoes, pâté, sausage, cheese, ham, raw minced beef from whichever OK butchers’ I could find, whichever tins of this or that, mackerel usually either + tomato or mustard sauce ; with the occasional peanuts+chocolate+orange juice combo from a supermarket if energy levels got too low. And every few days either a lunch or supper on whichever good-looking cheap restaurant I happened to stumble upon. The odd pizza slice or sandwich if they seemed edible. Strangely enough, the pilgrim’s wine is more easily acquired in Spain than France…

      The menus del peregrino, no matter how much one might joke about them at the time, are a great relief past the Pyrenees …

      The ratio of private versus religious/municipal/donativo hostels is MUCH higher in France, and whilst in ’94 on the Paris route no pilgrim hostels whatsoever even existed, I can see that this is no longer the case. OTOH as a practicing Catholic in 2005, some possibilities were open to me that would have been closed to others (for which I was and am massively grateful).

      It’s bound in any case to be easier than it was 20 years ago, even for just the basics.


  5. I seemed to miss all the great spots. I always ended up at the nasty albergue. I always walked with people who spoke of the great experience, fantastic meal, best place ever experience they had just had and which I had just missed. I only had two communal meals at an albergue, one of which I just blogged about – memorable but not in the expected way. I stopped for cafe con leche the morning I came to San Bol. It was almost empty (it was after 0800) and I had read about the spring-fed well for tired pilgrim feet. But, that morning, the weather was freezing cold! No way was I going to take off my socks and boots to turn my feet into ice cubes!! I took photos of the place (the spring looked like a small concrete pool), then continued on..


  6. For me it was missing the sun set at the lighthouse in Finisterra. The same group, two couples, one of whom had moved my laundry in the albergue just before O Cebriero, turned up and started drinking wine. They got loud and raucous as the evening went on so with about an hour to go we left and walked back to the town and had dinner. Next time hopefuly.


  7. so no major regrets, there where a few places and I had them all listed and before I click ‘post comment’… whoosh my reply disappeared…. ok ok already Camino, I hear you, NO REGRETS. lol


  8. Hi Bill,
    I went to San Bol even though the previous hospitalero told me it was closed. I was one of the seven pilgrims to spent the night there, and it was wonderful even with no heat , and no light, .
    But I missed Eunate, my first time on the Camino for the same reasons than you. So instead of keep going I just went back and finally got there and spend a fantastic night, and I am glad I did because now the albergue is closed. So just come back to the French Camino and do it again, even a small portion , in april after the Portugal tour , get to the train , go there. wE HAVE ONLY ONE LIFE.


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