Friday, August 23, 2013

Budget for the Camino de Santiago

One of the very first things you need to consider when you plan your Camino de Santiago, is to determine how much you need to budget for the walk.  I was just asked this question and I remember that this was also one of the first things I needed to think about. I hope to answer that in this blog post.

Basically, once you are at the start of the Camino, and you have all your equipment with you, and plan to walk the entire way, then your costs will only be for lodging and food, and maybe washing/drying if you do not want to do laundry by hand.

Lodging

On the Camino Frances, lodging costs run from 5 to 10 euros a day if you are planning to stay in the municipal albergues, or from 8 to 15 euros if you stay at a private hostel.

Maybe twice during the walk, we splurged on a double room for about 20-25 euros each. Some albergues are actually donativos, or by donation, in which case you can donate whatever you want.  I believe one should always donate something, at the very least from 5 to 15 euros or more, and do it once you step in the door, as you might forget before you leave.  The municipal albergues usually have bunk beds (in some like Viana and Villadangos de Paramo, even triple bunk beds) in big halls shared with a number of people, so you have to remember to bring earplugs as it can be quite difficult to sleep at night.  Generally, though, it is lights out at 10 pm and there is a curfew also around that time, so you will sleep quite well after a day's walk.  I had no problems at all with any of the municipal albergues I stayed in.  I remember them all as quite clean and the beds comfortable.  Once in a while, though, you may want a bit more quiet and space, so you stay at a private hostel.  It may be a little more expensive, from 8 to 15 euros but sometimes there are less people to a room.  I remember though, that the municipal albergue in Ponferrada was a donativo, and there were only 4 to a room.  By the way, some albergues may not have heating. This will matter in the cold weather. We traveled in spring, with temperatures from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius.  I had a light down sleeping bag and wool sleepwear, so I was quite warm even in the albergues with no heating.  Usually they have wool blankets that you can use, so I put one or even two if available, over my sleeping bag.


Food and Water

In terms of food, you can make do with from 10 - 25 euros a day, depending on if you prepare the food yourself or eat out.

Sometimes, the bed cost also includes a simple breakfast, usually coffee, and bread with jam and butter, and once in a while, with some meats.  If the breakfast is not included, you can just stop at any cafe and get an espresso for 1 euro or a cafe con leche or milk coffee for 1.20 to 1.50 euros.  A croissant or pan neapolitana (chocolate croissant) would be about 1 euro. A set breakfast of bread, butter and jam, coffee would be around 4-6 euros. Once in a while, we would indulge in a full breakfast with bacon and eggs, coffee and a freshly squeezed orange juice and it would cost from 6 to 10.  Normally, we would just bring a picnic for lunch, such as a bocadillo, which you could buy from some stores (from 2.50 to 5 euros) or can make yourself for even less.  A bocadillo is actually a sandwich made from a baguette (50 cents to a euro) with different fillings of either meats (chorizos, ham) or even tortilla con patata (potato omelettes).

Spain coffee culture
Lots of restaurants usually offer a pilgrim meal for lunch and dinner which is a great deal for around 8 to 12 euros.  This would include a salad, a main course, a dessert and all the wine and/or water you can drink.  For lunch, though, this might be too much as you need to walk again, so sometimes, my sister and I would just share a pilgrim meal, or grab a bocadillo. During our walks, we would also oftentimes stop for a coffee or an Aquarius energy drink.  Usually, for dinner, we would have a pilgrim meal, allowing us to try out some of Spain's regional specialties, which are usually offered in this menu. This usually comes with wine, although you can also ask for a beer instead of the wine (which we sometimes did). Vegetarians also usually will have a choice in the pilgrim menu, or you can just ask them to leave out the meat.

In the Rioja region, starting from Logroño, there were a lot of places with tapas, or little plates of food, which I really love! The common ones that are quite filling are the tortillas de patata, callos (tripe stew with chickpeas), chorizos on bread and just about everything -- they're all good!  An order or one serving is called a pincho and would cost from 1.50 to 2 euros.  Three of these would be a meal for me.

You can make do with much less, if you just have a picnic for lunch and cook for dinner.  If the albergue has a kitchen, and you just buy food and cook -- then a meal of say, pasta or rice with eggs and sardines would cost less than 3 euros each! It is also a great chance to interact with other pilgrims. Sometimes, a group of pilgrims would plan, buy and share a meal with each other. Sometimes, I would join a group of pilgrims who would organize themselves and go out for dinner at a restaurant.  For my sister and I, we saw the walk also as a chance to try the local cuisine, so we tried the tapas and wine in the Riojan region like Logroño, the trucha (trout) in Roncesvalles, the cocido maragato (boiled meats) in the Astorga area, caldo gallego (cabbage soup) in Galicia,  pulpo (octupus) in Melide, and churros con chocolate and paella everywhere.   The food in Spain is great!

Tapas, tapas, tapas!!!
The meals I remember quite well were the ones shared with me by pilgrims, like the rice, tuna and egg with the Korean guys Edison, Jay and Tong in Puente la Reina, the shared communal meal in Tosantos caringly prepared by Jose Luis, the pasta given by Josef in Atapuerca when we were incredibly hungry. It was the act of breaking bread and sharing that added an extra flavor to the meal.  It is true that man does not live on bread alone.

If it might seem by now that all we did was eat on the Camino -- I think part of going to another country is enjoying its culture, and food is part of the culture.  So many of the foods in Spain, I recognize in the food of my own country, the Philippines, as we were colonized by Spain for more than 300 years.  Ferdinand Magellan landed in Mactan in the Philippines in 1521 and proceeded to "claim the islands for Spain" (how anyone can just come and claim a group of islands and people, I don't know!), and this lasted until June 12, 1898 when the Philippines and the Filipino people declared its independence from Spain. Anyway, this period of history lives on in our food, as well as in the Filipino language which is sprinkled with Spanish words (like kuchara, lamesa, baso -- related to eating again).

Spanish food
About water, we did not have to buy any bottled water.  We just filled up our water bottles and backpack bladder with water from the fountains/faucets along the way (as long as it says agua potable or potable water), and before leaving in the morning, filled up from the albergue kitchen tap water.  A beer and/or wine is also very reasonably priced, about 1-1.50 euro for a glass.  A bottle of a reasonable red wine at the grocery could cost maybe from 2-4 euros, but we just normally had wine which went with the pilgrim meal.

Laundry

At some point, you will need to wash your clothes.  Usually, albergues have a washing area.  It's easier if you have some washing liquid with you and handwash some clothes, which I did when I was walking alone.  Later, we would do laundry with my sister every few days or so at some albergues who had washing/drying facilities. This would cost from 3 to 6 euros for a load.  At several places, we paid from 6-9 euros and the albergue just took our clothes and it came back to us washed and dried. Wonderful!

In summary, it would be reasonable to allocate a daily budget in the Camino of about 30-40 Euros a day for lodging, meals and the occasional laundry. If you plan to stay only at the municipal lodgings and buy and cook your own food, then you can bring maybe 10 euros less. If you plan to stay once in a while at private hostels and take the occasional single/double room, then just add another 10-20 euros to this amount, or  budget of 40 to 50 euros/day.

I somehow think that any more luxury than that would really not feel like a pilgrim experience any more.

1 comment :

  1. Very concise and to the point info. As well as valuable for planning El Camino. Many thanks

    ReplyDelete