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1   - What is the Saint James's route? 

2   - Why crossing the Saint James's route? 

3   - Where is the Saint James's route located? 

4   - What is the Saint James's route like? 

5   - What are the shelters of the Saint James's route like? 

6   - Who are the hostess? 

7   - Where does the Saint James's route start? 

8    - Are there many Saint James's routes? 

9   - What is the pilgrim's passaport, and how to get it? 

10 - What is the Compostelano certificate? 

11 - Is it better to take your own bike or to buy another one there? 

12 - What's the best way to carry the bike? 

13 - What distance did you cross to start the Saint James's route? 

14 - Is it more expensive to take bikes on trains? 

15 - How should the luggage be arranged? 

16 - Which acessories and spare parts should we take for the bikes? 

17 - What is the importance of Finisterre in Saint James's route? 

18 - How much do we pay for meals on Saint James's route? 

19 - Is it possible to get lost in Saint James's route? 

20 - When is it better to cross Saint James's route? 

21 - Which kind of people do we meet crossing the route? 


 1 - What is The Saint James's Route?  It's the route created by the christians who came from all over the world to pray at the grave of the apostle James found at Galicia about a thousand years ago. 

It is the only route which has not been created with commercial purposes.

 2   - Why crossing Saint James's route?  There are many reasons. This is very personal. 

Some have religious reasons, other mysticism, other artistics and culturals and others by sport. 

Some people go there for turism, others want adventure, others to meditate, others to meet people, others have made a promisse, etc. 

Crossing Saint James's route is something to remember for ever and it's very important. While crossing the route, we meet many pilgrims, with lots of reasons.

 3   - Where is Saint James's route located?  Saint James's route has no beggining. In the middle age, pilgrims came from everywhere to Santiago de Compostela, where the route ends (but it's written in some books that the route ends in Finisterre). 

Its most known distance is called French Route that starts in France, cross Pirenees cordillera and gets Spain by Navarra's region (Spanish Basco country) and continues to west until Galicia, where Santiago de Compostela is located.

 4   - What is the Saint James's route like?    Most of the roads consist of trails of sand, clay, stones, old roman pavements, and sometimes we can take it for modern roads or it seems like walking side by side with them, getting into cities and small villages ("pueblos") , that seems to be still in the Middle Age. 

The landscape along the road is breathtaking, offering pilgrims a surprise on each curve. 

 5   - What are the shelters of the Saint Jaems's route like? They are places of hospitality to pilgrims, and they are kept in their majority by the mayoralty, government of the provinces, churches, and Friend's Assotiation of Saint James's route. There are many private shelters kept by people devoted to the pilgrimage's reason. 

They are almost always clean and comfortable. Pilgrims have to have their own sleeping bag and put it on their beds because some shelters don't have bedspread and things of the sort (some have). There are hot showers and places to wash your clothes, boards to messages and advices. Almost always clean and reasonable comfortable. There aren't sheets and things alike (some ones have); pilgrims must take their slleping bags and put them on the beds. There are, in most shelters, hot showers, places to wash your clothes, murals to leave messages and warnings, guest's book and pilgrim's book where every pilgrim can registrate their impressions. 

Hosts are the ones who take care of the shelters.

 6   - Who are the hosts?   They are voluntary ex-pilgrims that dedicate their vacations to work at shelters, taking care of their administration. At some shelters we can find priests and in the others citie-hall employees.

7     - Where to begin the Saint James's route?  It's your choice. Nowadays there are traditional places signed as the beginning of the Saint James's route. At the French route, it used to begin at Roncesvalles, in Spain. 

We preferred to begin at Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, about 35 km before, in France, for some reasons. One was that we could cross the Pireneus and enjoy that fantastic passage. We also wanted to know Madam Debril, famous hostess from that city and president of the Friends of Saint James's route Association. She has been mentioned at Paulo Coelho's book "Diário de Um Mago". 

That city seemed to be from a fairy tale's book we used to read in our childhood. 

If you choose beginning on Aragonês's route, you can begin in Somport, Canfranc or Jaca.

 8    - Are there many Saint James's routes?  Yes, there are. If pilgrims came from everywhere, we can say that there are many routes. However the ones that begin outside Iberian Peninsula are called French route and Aragones route, which join a few kilometres ahead in a city called Puente de la Reina. Until Santiago de Compostela the name French route is maintained. Inside the Iberian Peninsula Ibérica there are many routes to Santiago, like Via de la Plata, Português, Primitivo, Camino del Norte and many others.

 9   - What is the pilgrim's passaport, and how to get it?  It's the pilgrim's credential, while crossing Saint James's route. 

Along this route pilgrims will have their stamps ("sellos"), at cities and pueblos where they pass by to prove that they have performed the minimum distance requested to have the right to receive the Compostelana. (certificate that they have finished crossing Saint James's route). 

The last 100 km by foot or 200 km by bike are enough to have that right, but of course it will not be enough for you. 

You can get your passaport at the begining og pilgrimage at the shelters, local parishes or at cities-hall.

 10 - What is the Compostelano certificate?  Known as the "Compostelana", it is emitted at Santiago de Compostela; it is the proof that you have really crossed  Saint James 's route. 

This is something for those who want to save money: make many copies of the "Compostelana" and go toeveryday to the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos at breakfast, lunch and dinner time. The first ten pilgrims eat for free during three days.

 11 - What is better: take your own bike or buy another there?  No doubt that it's better taking your own bike. 

If the pilgrim uses a brand new boot to cross the route he will certainly have his feet hurt. 

Same way when it refers to bikes. The best thing to do is taking the one you are used to ride. This way will you avoid bad surprises to your spine and to the rest of the body.

 12 - How to make it more practical to take the bike?  Talk to chosen company when buying your travel tickets. There is always a possibility to have some extra kilos for you, a special passenger. Maybe you will not need to use them, but it is worth having, just in case. If you want to to bring some souvenirs you will possibly need to have that. We brought  many books, what mean extra weight. 

The bike should be carried in special bags to transport them which you can find at a good bike shop. This will make it easier for you to carry your bike when going from the airport to hotels or train stations.  

You can transport your bike in its very box.If you don't have yours, it's easy to get one at bike shop.

 13 - What distance did you cross to begin Saint james's route?  We left Rio de Janeiro to Madrid by plane. Then we took a night train to the frontier of Spain/France (Irun/Hendaya). Then we got another to Bayonne e from there another to Saint Jean Pied-de-Port. 

At this last station, we setted the bikes to early next day begin the route.

 14 - Is it more expensive to take bikes on trains?  You must pay attention. 

Always choose to to travel at cabins at night. This way you can take your bike as part of the luggage and then you can put it in a lower bed. Tickets are a bit expensive, but by travelling at night you will not have to pay to spend the night in a hotel. So it's cheaper.

 15 - How should the luggage be arranged?  Luggage must be the lightest the possible and its weight must not overweight 12 kilos. You are able to ride carrying more than that in your saddlebag, but it's better that you keep space to take food or other souvenirs you want. 

You can send the extra weight by mail to yourself to Madrid or Santiago and before taking the plane back you can get it at the post office.

 16 - Which acessories and spare parts should we take for the bikes?  Only the basic things like: a spare inner tube, and a pump (in case you want to repair your inner tube), tools to chains, a tire, and other tools you can think as basic. 

To avoid unpleased surprises with you bike, the best thing to do is to revise it thoroughly before leaving equipping it with crank sets more apropriate for clibing up, a new chain, brakes, cables etc. 

It's advisable to equip your bike, if you don't have yet, with a front suspension (essential), bar end, fenders, striker, supporter of inner tubes (like Mr. Tuffy), rear flashlights and headlight (if you are thinking of riding at night, which is not advisable).

 17 - What is the importance of Finisterre in Saint James's route?  Some books insist that it finishes only in Finisterre. 

Finisterre, which is located at Galicia's shore is the most ocidental part of the European continent. Since old times when people believed Earth was plane, it used to be said that the end of the Earth was Finisterre. It is said that pilgrims who arrive at Finisterre must despoil as a way of throwing away the damages that cause pain to human being. In the middle age some pilgrims got nude and burnt their clothes at Finisterre.

 18 - How much do we pay for meals at Saint James's route?  It depends on the hungry and sophistication of each one. We bought fruits, bread, chese, salami, fruit juice, etc to our breakfast; at lunch time we used to buy at markets. 

Every ciclist knows how important the feeding is for having a good performance. It is used to be said that you do not have to wait feeling thristy or starving to have water or food. It's very important to have something to eat while riding. 

We used to have dinner and always asked "menú del día", which was not more than Us$ 10.00 (some places we paid less than that). You have bread, wine and dessert in a quantity you want. Generally we spent about Us$ 20.00 per day. 

Attention: enjoy everything the route can offer to you. Nobody will claim if you take some apples, grapes, mulberries, and other fruits you find along the way.

 19 - Is it possible to get lost in Saint James's route?  Almost impossible. There are many "schedules" of the Saint James's route that are sold everywhere. But if you don't want to buy any of them, you'll still have the yellow arrows everywhere to indicate the route. At trees, gates, floor, walls, stones. Everywhere you can see the yellow arrows. The "pueblos" are very close from each other and there is always somebody to give you some indication. 

 20 - When is it better to cross Saint james's route? Do it at spring or European fall. 

Don't even think doing in the winter. In summer it is very hot and overcrowded. Many people are on vacation and the shelters are crowded. 

We crossed the route at european fall of 1996 and despite being too cold it only rained two days. The wind blowed very strong in the afternoons but for our information it is not common.

 21 - Which kind of people do we meet crossing the route?  People from all around the world, every age and every social status. 

We met a spanish just married couple in honeymoon; met a dutch seventy years priest who left his house in Holand, by bike and arrived together with us at Santiago and helped us to pray our first pilgrim's Mass. 

We met an Austrian in a saw-horse and we met a group of American girls of a medieval association dressed like being in the middle age. 

We meet people from all over the world, anyone with something to tell, grasped with beaty and motivated with the strenght of Saint James's route.

This FAQ was updated at 10.02.2002
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Copyright © 1996 - 2003   -   José Roberto Pinto de Almeida. Versão em inglês por Glaucia Costa da Silva e revisada por Roger Pinheiro.Versão em espanhol por Jose Roberto Pinto de Almeida, com revisão de Guillermo Fernández Carrión.