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The Village to Village Guide to the Camino Santiago (the Pilgrimage of St James) Paperback – Nov 15 2006
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Every village is mentioned on the 800km way with information on each village, like don't cross this field because of a bull, or this is the village of barking dogs, or in this village the Baker helps Pilgrims or visit Madam Debril in this village near the laundry who likes chatting to pilgrims -
Ninety Five villages and a guide between them - In each village the books lists places to stay and other useful information - The book will suit the budget traveler who walks the Camino because I did the walk on $10 per day, staying in the religious establishments the book mentions often for free. The book also prepares you for the Journey and details exactly what to take, like how much weight, what type of clothes, shoes, how much does food cost, how to do your laundry, dealing with bed bugs, useful Spanish phrases and so on - It also lists places worth visiting as you walk this 800km track and some interesting stories and legends around these places.
There are also things to watch out for and useful tips - The book will mention at many different points legends around the Camino - It is a very detailed book on the 800km route every fork on this path is mentioned example.. the path now climbs for two km, turn right at the church, from the top of the next mountain you will be able to see the following five villages etc..-
I took maps and three other guides with me but after reaching the city of Pamplona to reduce weight I posted the other books back to New York along with my tent and electric stove - the book had warned me not to take the tent & stove
This is a book packed with information not only on the history of the places you will pas as a pilgrim. But all the information you will need to make detailed planning. The book is updated frequently and all the latest changes are in this book.
The village to village guide has been around for many years frequently coming out in new editions as pilgrims and clergy themselves report changes to the pilgrimage route, this 2007 edition is case to point.
The guide has aquired a bit of a cult status as not only does it have practical information and is a directional guide but it has many stories on the monuments and places of interest along the way. There have been many changes on the route. When the guide was first published there were hardly any pilgrims walking the way of St James, now many thousands make the journey. Prices too have gone up considerably and the new edition incorporates these changes. Latin American and the poor pilgrim will appreciate the guide as it allows one to do financial planning and make up a budget. The guide also points the way to cheaper accommodation.
You will NOT find pictures coloured arrows and diagrams in this guide. It's a sober practical tome. I agree that pictures are not needed as you will be walking many miles to see these places, to stare in wonderment of the discoveries you have made. Pictures rather spoil this. Its rather like Seeing `War and Peace" at the movies interpreted by Hollywood and then reading Tolstoy's famous literary work, . Therefore I am glad there are no pictures in this book and only medieval woodcuts.
The latest 2007 edition has done away with maps as the route is now way marked with thousands of arrows very fifty yards or so. So its impossible to get lost. There is one large map where you can plan your position in the context of where you are on the route and thus able to chart your progress.
There is very useful practical advice on how the plan your journey what the weather would be like during different seasons etc.
An entire section is devoted to the equipment you must take, useful things to carry in your rucksack, a useful chapter describes how to get to the pilgrimage route by Land Sea and Air. It is so detailed that it gives the latest taxi fares and times when taxis leave from |Pamplona to Roncesvalles.
The book is built on the experiences of Pilgrims past and that is its forte. The pilgrimage for every person is different however the book outlines how others did it and their itineraries.
The book also comes with a short English Spanish phrasebook, focused on what the walker might need to say while on the walk, at the back, very useful as on the pilgrim route which is off the beaten track hardly anyone speaks English.
So far, I'm disappointed. The information, I'm sure is accurate, but it is scance. Walking the Camino and A Pilgrim's guide had more references to lodging and meals and better route discriptions, complete with maps and walking elevations. Even the Lonely Planet's guide to all of Spain seemed to have about as much info as Village to Village.
Village to Village looks like it was prepared by loving, but inexpert hands. At the top of page 194 one of the editors hiccupped and deleted at least two villages and part of the description of Portomarin. (I don't know about the preceding 400km of the Camino leading to Portomarin.)
Because my walk will only be 5-6 days, I'll be able to take the short, pertinent excerpts from all of the books and will report when I return. For my own preparation I've relied the most on Walking the Camino de Santiago, but have regularly consulted the others.
Part of the preparation for the walk has been refining and refining what I'll be taking. Perhaps the editors of Village to Village have done the same, giving us a bare bones treatment of what we most need,ie. there are no maps because the arrows blaze the way. If that's the case, there may be virtue in having it. I'll let you know.
This is the oldest guide book on the Camino but it is updated every year with Pilgrims sending feedback on their journey. The 2007 edition has all the changes on the route. I have walked the route now over three times with Pilgrims from various confraternities of St James's. The problems of road works continue and no all the guides are up to date as this one. This guide is also used when we wish to plan our budget because it has all the latest prices for accommodation, useful when you consider that prices are steadily rising in Spain and it no longer is a cheap country.
The guide has hardly any pictures except about two dozen woodcuts, but one of the enjoyments of the pilgrimage is to see places that would surprise you, so seeing photographs tends to spoil it and the woodcuts do nicely. This guide is recommended by the Catholic Church so contains information for the religious pilgrim of on Holy places along the route. Its not a glossy guide like the lonely planet guide with artistic typesetting. But a guide for Pilgrims By Pilgrims.
Inside the book there are large letters with large line spacing thus the book is thick to give you the impression of a comprehensive guide. However not much data can be found inside.
The included pictures are also bad quality and ridiculous to look at and convinces me more and more that this book was a bad deal.
The grammar is poor and rather irritating and at first glance it doesn't seem to be much of a help as a road guide.
So all in all I am disappointed in the book. It's a shame if true what the Product Description says: "This guide is recommended by the Catholic Church to those making the pilgrimage to Santiago on foot."
There are other, cheaper alternatives which must be better than this one.