Friday, May 3, 2013

Guides, books and apps for the Camino de Santiago

Update: April 14, 2015!!! Camino Pilgrim app Version 1.7.0! Updated albergues! Weather forecast at each town ( available with any amount of donation)! I have worked so hard on this app and hope to continue doing so, so please just imagine you are treating me to a cafe con leche and a little croissant or maybe even a pilgrim meal along the Way when you donate, I would really appreciate it!

Update: October 20, 2014!!! New and improved Camino Pilgrim Android app - now Version 1.6.0 

Please try this out if you have an Android smartphone! I have come out with the latest version of the Camino Pilgrim,  a new Android app I developed for the Camino de Santiago.  This is an app that can make a personalized schedule for your camino. It contains information on each of the stages, the towns or localities you will pass, as well as the facilities available there.  Also contained in the app are updated information, as of October, 2014 of pilgrim albergues (meaning the ones catering specifically to pilgrims, and not hotels), their locations, contact email and phones (the app allows you to directly email or even call them with the given number).

In this latest version, offline map libraries were updated to make the rendering faster.  You can now also click on the offline map icons to find out the names of the localities and lodgings/albergues.

In Version 1.4.0, I have added a cool new feature! -- an option to Share your location, so you can always let your family and loved ones know exactly where you are, plus information links to useful tips about the Camino.  In Version 1.3.1, I improved the offline maps handling quite a bit!  To use this feature, which allows you to use maps as you walk the camino and even without wifi, you have to first download offline maps for Spain and a portion of France.  You can do this download within the app and while you have a wifi connection.  While the download is ongoing, you can then continue to do whatever you are doing.  With these offline maps, you can check out the Camino trail on your map, find out the albergues close by, and best of all, you can find where you are (by clicking on the Show Location)!  You can leave your heavy books and maps behind, and everything can be in your smartphone!  I have also included German translations.  If someone can help me with the Spanish translations then I could probably provide that too.

Please see my related Camino Pilgrim App Blog which provides tutorials and information on the app usage.  Below is a screenshot of the towns/localities for the Camino Frances using the Google Online Maps, and a sample schedule generated by the app from the base Itinerary -- Camino Frances/Finisterre 35 Days (Pinay Pilgrim).

Update: May 10, 2014!!! New Android app -- Camino Pilgrim!

Please check out  Camino Pilgrim,  a new Android app I developed for the Camino de Santiago.  The latest version, Version 1.21 is available.  This app helps you plan your Camino.  You can look at available itineraries and customize them to suit your schedule, specifying your date of departure.  Locality distances and facilities, lodging details including location and information are also provided in the app.  Locality and lodging information and a simplified Camino trail are shown in online and offline maps.  Using the offline map, you can look at map information even without wifi.  Please see my related Camino Pilgrim App Blog which provides tutorials and information on the app usage.


Before I left for my Camino, I did quite a bit of research on the Internet, and in one of my first blog entries, Helpful links to the Camino, I made a write-up of the most important resources I found online.

After my Camino experience, I am now updating that knowledge.  This current blog entry discusses the guides, books and apps that, to me, are the most useful to bring with you on your trip, should you decide to go on the Camino Frances.

For my Camino, I decided not to bring a guidebook and ended up bringing some looseleaf print-outs of what I thought I would need, and in fact, they contained all the information I needed.  The ones that I ended up using a lot are as follows:
So, yes, you can make do without a guidebook and just follow the yellow arrows as long as you pay very close attention.  The conch shell signs are not always consistent in different areas. Generally, going towards Santiago, the rays point from where you originate from, and the hinge part points toward Santiago (consistent with the idea that Santiago is the end point of your pilgrimage).   In some areas on the Camino Frances, this seems not always followed -- so just double check by looking for the yellow arrows usually under the conch shell or found in other places.  Going to Finisterre from Santiago, the rays point toward Finisterre and the shell hinge toward Santiago (still consistent with the idea of Santiago being the end point).

When there is an alternative route, there are usually signs on the road that give you the available options and distances.  Each option is then signposted as well.  To be extra sure, I had a simple compass (you always head west), and I had an Android smartphone with GPS and a GPS app (Osmand) with offline maps for the area loaded in -- which in the end I did not really use.  I did not turn on the GPS as it used up my phone's battery power.

Although I did not bring a guidebook, I also once in a while peeked into the guidebooks of my fellow pilgrims.  The guidebooks are very comprehensive and contain extra information such as backgrounds, history which are also quite interesting.  The English speakers generally always had the John Brierley book " A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de Santiago"(300 grams).  Outstanding and very comprehensive book.  The German speakers either had the Joos and Kasper book "Spanien: Jakobsweg Camino Frances" or the Cordula Rabe book: "Spanischer Jakobsweg".  These are also very good books.  The French speakers had the Miam-miam-dodo Camino 2013 guidebook, which I also took a look at and which contained important information and looked quite light.  A number of other people also had the Michelin guide to the Camino Santiago which seemed the lightest of all (82 grams), and contained basic yet important information.  I was not able to see what the Spanish pilgrims brought as guidebooks -- one of them showed me a printout with descriptions. 

A useful smartphone app that I used was Life 360 which lets you check in your location to inform your family that you are okay.  For my real-time blog, I used the Blogger app for Android which was really easy to use.  I could immediately add pictures from my gallery.  I noticed, however, that to publish your post, you will need to have a really strong wifi signal.

I did not get to use any of the Camino apps I loaded into my smartphone, but I actually looked quite a few times at the Camino app I am currently developing for the  Android environment.  Watch out for it here as I am still fine-tuning the functions.  I hope it will turn out to be useful.   (Update: June 1, 2014. Yes, I finished the app! It is called Camino Pilgrim. See above!)


  1. Gaya,
    I really enjoyed your blog, and looked forward to reading it Monday mornings together with coffee and my version of a bocadillo. I love your page on Lessons from the Camino, and I thought an appropriate line to add to the end would be..
    "Life is Beautiful"

    Your blog brought back memories of my own Camino trip from 2008. Here is something that I wrote in an email, that I want to share with you:

    ... to travel on the same route that pilgrims have done so for a thousand years was very special. These pilgrims make that journey for many reasons, with their hopes and dreams, and they believed the effort would shorten their stay in purgatory. For me the trip was a little bit of heaven on earth, the scenery was so beautiful, life was simple but delightful, and removed from the everyday trappings and encumbrances, I felt like my soul could finally catch up after living so busily in Washington.

    From your blog, I know you appreciated those same things.

    So what is next for you?

    1. Hi Bendi,

      Thanks very much for your comment! I am glad that you enjoyed reading my blog as much as I enjoyed embarking on that amazing experience.

      Thank you also for sharing some memories from your own Camino. I also felt sometimes that it was "heaven on earth" and felt the jubilation of seeing so much beauty around me.

      Yes, "Life is [indeed] beautiful"!

      I have no plans yet for a next Camino, but I have heard nice things about the Camino del Norte and Camino Primitivo. Maybe next time... "When the world is too much with [me]..."

      I remember this poem by William Wordsworth:

      The World Is Too Much With Us

      The world is too much with us; late and soon,
      Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
      Little we see in Nature that is ours;
      We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
      This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
      The winds that will be howling at all hours,
      And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
      For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
      It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
      A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
      So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
      Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
      Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
      Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.