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Walking, the best exercise

Walking is one of the simplest physical exercises we can perform in our daily life. Often underrated, perhaps because it doesn’t require gyms, special equipment nor personal trainers, it’s nevertheless one of the healthiest and easiest activities within our reach, even more so in our current situation, after a year of a pandemic that has involved several months of lockdowns and closed gyms.

The positive effects of walking in the body are well known: weight loss, less blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease… But more and more studies have appeared in the last few years proving the effects of walking in mental health as well. According to many scientists, walking (specially outdoors) has the following effects:

  • Improving our brain’s attention and memory capabilities.
  • Decreasing the risk of depression and anxiety.
  • Preventing age-related cognitive decline.

Besides, in the case of outdoors exercise, exposure to sunlight improves our vitamin D and serotonin levels. The latter is a neurotransmitter crucial in managing mood and sleep quality.

Walking as Camino training

Sometime later this year, perhaps as soon as in a matter of months, pilgrims will be able to come back to the Camino at last. Aside from its purely spiritual aspects, the Camino is obviously the ultimate “outdoor exercise”: walking several kilometers every day during a week (at least) will provide us with all the physical activity and natural environment we could possibly need. Risk of contagion outdoors is vanishingly low, and if we don’t wish to share and albergue, we can always book a room in the many hotels and hostels along the Camino.

The only problem we can find is that, after an entire year of an enforced sedentary lifestyle, many of us won’t be in physical shape for the Camino. That’s why it’s convenient to start training now; even if we don’t make the pilgrimage in the end, it will be useful anyway as phyiscal exercise.

Training for the Camino is actually quite easy, and it’s not even necessary to follow a rigurous set of instructions. It’s basically about getting used to walk every day. Veteran pilgrims advise the following:

  1. Start walking around 5 to 8 kilometers every day at least.
  2. As weeks pass, increase distances to 10 or 15 kilometers every day.
  3. It’s also convenient to get used to the weight of your rucksack. As usual, we’ll start little by little, carrying only the rucksack with our water bottle, and we’ll continue to the point of walking with the full weight of our luggage. It should be mentioned that not every pilgrim find this phase necessary: many advise walking with your rucksack just a couple of days, in order to find out if there’s anything in our equipment bothering us.
  4. Once we are on the Camino, the most important piece of advice is to take it easy the first few days. Enthusiasm at starting our pilgrimage at last can make us rush beyond our ability, and we’ll definitely notice it later. The Camino is not a competition, and it’s never been about who arrives first.

Of course, if we already have an active lifestyle in our daily life, the above “program” isn’t so necessary: we’ll just have to make sure to keep up with our usual physical activity, perhaps increasing the pace in the weeks previous to the Camino. In any case, the important thing is to persevere: go out and walk every day.

Finally, it should also be noted that footwear is a crucial factor in all of the above. Inadequate shoes might cause blisters and prevent us from walking comfortably. Which shoes are the most adequate and comfortable is a highly personal choice and a subject that could take an entire book; we have touched on it in the past in this blog:

 

The Camino at Easter

Easter has traditionally been a time of the year when many pilgrims have taken the road and walked at least a part of the Camino. This year, however, and given the ongoing pandemic situation, we have received several inquiries about our policy during this time.

Although at the time of this writing no final decision has been taken yet (the key date is March 10th, during the meeting of the Interterritorial Health Council in Spain), all signs point towards keeping the currently existing restrictions. This means that, in the regions through which the Camino passes, the following rules will apply:

  • Navarra: regional lockdown. Travellers cannot enter or exit the region without cause.
  • La Rioja: regional lockdown.
  • Castilla y León: regional lockdown.
  • Galicia: regional lockdown, plus travelling restrictions among municipalities.
  • Asturias: regional lockdown, plus travelling restrictions among municipalities.
  • Portugal: border controls with Spain.

Given this situation, we ask those pilgrims who wish to walk the Camino during Easter and need luggage transfer or people transfer services to write us at contacto@caminofacil.net, so that we can study their situation and give them if possible a customised solution.

We hope that these measures, along with the ongoing vaccination campaign, are the final push needed so that we can all see each other on the Camino again starting from this summer. We remind you that our website is still open and accepting reservations from April 10th on, and that all our reservations have free date changes.

The “Canal de Castilla”

Every pilgrim walking the Camino de Santiago between Burgos and León knows Frómista, a small town famous for the romanesque church of St. Martin de Tours. They are also familiar with the canal along which the path runs before arriving to the town. Said canal, known as the “Canal de Castilla”, has a long and storied past that reflects the history of Spain during the last three centuries.

The Canal de Castilla was first planned in the XVIII century, during the Enlightment. The Marquess of Ensenada, one of king Ferdinand VI’s ministers in charge of modernizing the country, had the idea as a way to improve communications between the central regions of the Spain and the coast. (Let’s remember that before railroads, land transport of cargo was extremely difficult, and even more so in a mountainous country as Spain). His project, which started construction in 1753, had initiall four canals, which would link Segovia with Reinosa, near Santander. This way, Castilla’s wheat production (specially in the region of Tierra de Campos in Palencia) would be exported abroad through the Santander harbour.

As we can see, it was an incredibly ambitious project for its time, and it’s not surprising that the construction was interrupted several times. Neverthless, in 1791 a part of the Northern Branch was finished, connecting Alar del Rey and Calahorra de Ribas. This branch is the one we can see when passing through Frómista.

The War of Independence in 1808 interrupted the construction again, and afterwards, the state of the country’s finances forced king Ferdinand VII to grant the work to a private company. The Carlist Wars in the 1830s hampered the construction again, and the canal wasn’t finished until 1849, almost a century after its start. By then, railroads had already made it obsolete, and parts of the initial project (the Southern Branch to Segovia and the parts of the Northern Branch that reached Santander) were never built.

Despite all that, the canal was en economic boon to the regions that it crossed, thanks to the irrigation it provided as well as the infraestructure (mills, paper factories…) built taking advantage of hydraulic power.

The Canal today

Nowadays, the Canal de Castilla still provides water to nearby cities and irrigation to farmers, but it has also been turned into a recreation and tourism destination. Its facilities (locks, mills, docks…) are of great historic value, and the canal as a whole was declared “Bien de Interés Cultural” (spanish heritage site) in 1991. Besides, the surroundings of the waterways have turned into wetlands of great ecological value, with birds such as the bittern or the  aquatic warbler finding habitats in them.

Some sections of the canal are open to navigation, and we can take organized boat trips on them, as well as practice kayaking and canoeing.

The Canal de Castilla and the Camino

The best known meeting point between the canal and the Camino de Santiago is, as mentioned above, on the Camino Francés, in the stage between Boadilla del Camino and Frómista. (There is also another point in Herrera de Pisuerga, a town through which the Camino del Norte passes).

Our first sight of the Canal will take place shortly after leaving Boadilla, after walking for around 1.7 km. From there we’ll have the canal to our right all the way until reaching Frómista. Shortly before arriving to this town, we will find the old lock operator’s house, turned now into the tourism office. In order to reach Frómista itself we have to cross a small iron bridge, and from it we can enjoy the unique sight of the famous four-level lock located there, the biggest level change in the entire canal. We are sure that pretty much every pilgrim has taken at least a picture from this place.

Boat trips along the Canal

Another attraction that we can enjoy in the canal are the touristic boat trips. Close to the tourism office mentioned above, we can embark on the “Juan de Hómar” boat, which makes round trips from Frómista and Boadilla del Camino. This initiative was started in the autumn of 2018, and it kept operating right until the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020.

Regarding the current 2021-2022 Jacobean year, we have been in touch with the boat operators, and they say that they plan to start operating as soon as the Camino season starts, although with the expected health-related capacity restrictions. Its planned scheduled is:

  • From march to summer: departures from Frómista every day except Tuesday, at 11:00, 12:30, 16:30 and 18:00.
  • During the summer: same as above, except that the afternoon trips start at 17:00 and 18:30.

For further information, we advise following the Palencia Turismo Facebook page, or calling the phone number (34) 673 368 486.

 

Merry Christmas from Caminofácil

After a difficult year, we at Caminofácil hope that you and your loved ones are safe, and we would like to send you our wish that we can all see each other at the Camino again in Jubilee Year 2021. We are already working to make your Camino easier and safer.

Buen Camino!

Today (October 12th) is the last day of our regular luggage transfer service for this year. It’s been a difficul season for obvious reasons, where we have all had to make the utmost efforts to provide the best service to the pilgrims that have visited us.

Next year is an “Año Jacobeo” (Jubilee Year) and it undoubtedly be better, so we will be around again helping all pilgrims who need it. We hope to see you on the Camino!

As usual, we remind you that our taxi service is still active, and that you can make your booking at https://taxi.caminofacil.net/en/. Also, if you are still on the  Camino and need luggage transfer service, please write us at contacto@caminofacil.net, and we will try to give you a customized solution.

Buen Camino!

Registry for travellers arriving to Galicia from certain territories

Galicia’s regional government has announced today that travellers arriving to the region from certain territories with a high Covid-19 incidence must provide their contact information on arrival.

The measure applies to anyone who has been in those territories in the 14 days prior to their arrival to Galicia. Travellers can provide their information through the phone number 881002021, or the website https://coronavirus.sergas.gal/viaxeiros/.

The territories to which this applies are the following:

  • Spain: Aragón, Cataluña, Navarra, Basque Country and La Rioja.
  • Europe: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbajian, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Moldavia, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden and Ukraine.
  • America: Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Montserrat, Panama, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, San Vicente and Granadines, St Martin, Surinam, United States, Virgin Islands, Venezuela, Haití, Jamaica and Nicaragua.
  • Asia: Bahrein, Bangladesh, India, Irán, Irak, Israel, Kazajistán, Kuwait, Kyrguistán, Lebanon, Maldives, Omán, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UAE, Uzbekhistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Syria, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • África: all countries.

 

Reopening: yes, we will be on the Camino this summer!

As we approach the end of the “state of alarm” in Spain and we come back to a (relative) normal state of affairs, we have been getting questions from pilgrims interested in walking the Camino this summer. We want to confirm to our friends that yes, we will be providing service as usual in all Caminos, both with luggage transfer and passenger transportation.

Clients that already had confirmed bookings with us can modify their starting date using our website, which is open 24/7. They can also make bookings through it as usual. We want to remind our customers that, if you change your mind, you can change dates later at no cost and also cancel your booking.

Obviously luggage transfer isn’t everything, and the posibility of walking the Camino also depends on the availability of albergues and hotels. We will try our best to share news in that regard through our social media.

Given the current situation, we at Caminofácil have also adopted strict measures to ensure the safety of our services, with protocols such as the use of masks and gloves, as well as using alcohol and ozone machines to clean our passenger cars after each trip.

Despite these difficult times, we hope we’ll be able to see you this summer and autumn on the Camino de Santiago, enjoying the nature and sights that our country has to offer.

Regarding the current situation in Spain and the Camino de Santiago

As you know, the Spanish Government announced yesterday (March 14) the “state of alarm” in the spanish territory, which among other things bans people’s movements without just cause. This obviously means that our luggage transfer service is suspended as long as said state remains in place.

Those of our clients who have bookings with us can switch them free of charge to a later date. If you wish to cancel your booking, you can do so by logging into our website or emailing us at contacto@caminofacil.net.

If you are on the Camino right now, you can get information at these points (info vía A survival guide to the Camino de Santiago in Galicia):

We hope that all our clients are well and take care of themselves and their loved ones through the social distancing measures explained by health authorities, and we hope that we’ll be able to see each other soon on the Camino.

The Camino Primitivo

Catedral de Oviedo

When we talk about the Camino Primitivo, we are talking about what is probably one of the lesser known routes of the Camino de Santiago, and yet, it was the first one to be established (hence its name), and it holds in store many surprises that are worth discovering.

The Camino Primitivo was the route of the first recorded pilgrimages to Santiago recorded in history, and it is the one taken by king Alfonso II of Asturias (nicknamed “the Chaste”) to visit the tomb of Santiago, recently discovered back then.

If we decide to take this pilgrimage, we’ll find a well marked course, where it will be difficult to get lost, with walkable and not too difficult stages. A route where paths are clean thanks to abundant maintenance efforts and to the daily transit of cattle. A zone of green landscapes which, despite the occasional muddiness in winter, is very well worth visiting.

The Camino Primitivo, which follows along the trail of the first pilgrims, passes through spectacular zones of Asturias and León, entering Galicia through other equally beautiful ones. It’s a less travelled road, full of leafy and green vistas.

Starting the Camino Inglés in Ferrol: what to see

Photo via OurUtopy in Flickr.

The Camino Inglés is becoming increasingly popular. More and more pilgrims every year take this hitherto less known route, as the statistics compiled by the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago prove; according to them, last year (2018) Ferrol was the fifth most popular starting point for those who reached the compostela, beating even classic places of the Camino such as Leon and O Cebreiro. And of course, we at Caminofácil have started our luggage transfer service along the Camino Inglés.

Because of all this, we wanted today to offer a brief guide to the pilgrim who start her way in Ferrol and wishes to spend a couple of days before exploring the city.

Ferrol Vello

Photo via charlotteinaustralia in Flickr.

This neighbourhood is the original nucleus of the city. The pilgrims who disembarked in Ferrol during the Middle Ages in order to reach Santiago did so here, in the Curuxeiras dock. Walking through the neighbourhood today, one can still get the feel of that original town, a typical galician fishing village.

From here we can also take a ferry for a touristic tour of the estuary.

A Magdalena

Photo via Trevor Huxham in Flickr.

This neighbourhood, which comprises Ferrol’s urban center today, was declared “Conjunto Histórico Artístico” by the spanish government in 1983. Its beautiful art nouveau buildings, built at the beginning of the XX century for the city’s bourgeoisie, give it an unique character.

San Felipe Castle

Photo via amainamos in Flickr.

Built in the XVI century, this castle constituted the main defense of the city, along with the castles of Palma and San Martiño (no longer existing). Their location allowed the defenders of the city to close the estuary off by laying a chain between this castle and the Palma castle, so that no ship could enter.

Beaches

Photo via OurUtopy in Flickr.

Ferrol is surrounded by long beaches of incomparable beauty, ideal for the practice of surf or any other nautical sport. Several of them have the blue flag distinction, which rewards their cleanliness and safety. Some of them are the beaches of Doñinos, Esmelle or Santa Comba.

Cape Prior

Photo via Jesús Perez in Flickr.

The lighthouse at Cape Prior, 14 km. away from the city, is the perfect place to observe the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. The galician coast, full of cliffs, offers us here a place of incomparable beauty.