FAQ : Communicate




  American Pilgrims FAQs          



  Can I mail a package ahead to myself?

- Yes, and this is fairly common. Many do it after starting out to lighten their load; others may do it with aforethought, sending a package of 'city clothes' ahead to Santiago. The service in Spain, called lista de correos, is the same as poste restante or, in the U.S., general delivery. You can buy a box at the correos (post office). Packages are addressed:


     Your name with your surname first and in capital letters and underlined or boxed


     Destination city with postal code and province (see below for some)


- The Correos' general policy is to hold a package for 14 days after which they will return it to the city of origin. Needless to say that would be very bad news! You might write "PEREGRINO" boldly on the box and you might also add "Retener en lista de correos hasta el <day> de <month>" ("Hold until date" with the month spelled out in Spanish) but nothing says that doing all that will guarantee anything.


- The lista de correos addresses of a few major cities along the Camino are:

     Paseo Sarasate 9/31080 Pamplona (Navarra)

     Paseo de Inmaculada 5/31200 Estella (Navarra)

     Perez Caldo 44/26080 Logroño (La Rioja)

     Plaza Conde de Castro 1/09080 Burgos (Burgos)

     Jardines de San Francisco s/n/24080 León (León)

     Calle General Vives 1/24400 Ponferrada (León)

     Calle Calvo Sotelo 183/27600 Sarria (Lugo)

     Orfas 17/15703 Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña)


- You will need your passport for identification when retrieving your package.


- Have a further question about mail service in Spain? Link to the Correos de España web site (click on "English" upper right corner).



- By the way, the information for poste restante service in France can be found at the site for Discover France (English). http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/DF_postal.shtml

Look for "General Delivery Service." We have seen advisements against sending packages from France (St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port for example) to lista de correos in Spain. Apparently the two systems don't recognize each other.


  How can I keep in contact with the people back home?

- Ah, the problems that face the modern peregrino!

- Cyber cafes do exist although they are not to be found in every hamlet. Where they do exist, they are usually very inexpensive.

- It is also possible to rent a cell phone or to purchase a cell phone in the U.S. that can be converted for non-U.S. use with the purchase of a different internal SIM card.

- Another way to go is to simply purchase a phone card on arrival in Spain.

- The usual place to find an assortment of these in Spain is in an estanco (tobacco shop).

- Look for the yellow on brown sign. You will need to find a (land-line) telephone to use this card, but most bars seem to have a public telephone.

- Calling North America using these cards can be very reasonable.


  What if I don't speak Spanish (or French, or Portuguese, or Basque, or … )?

- The Camino has for more than millennium been an international phenomenon and it still is. Although English may be the lingua franca in tourist areas, you will be traveling for the most part through rural Spain and you are going to encounter many people who speak only Spanish or one of the regional languages like Basque or Gallego.

- Any Spanish skills you can carry with you will be of use and your attempts will certainly be appreciated—and your own experience will also be that much more rewarding.

- With other peregrinos it is almost always possible to find some common language or at least to set up an informal translation chain. Here are several tips paraphrased from travel guru Rick Steves on hurdling the language barrier:


• Speak slowly, simply and politely: Speak with simple words and pronounce every sound. Make single nouns work as entire sentences and begin each request with PLEASE (e.g. “Por favor, ¿el albergue?”)

• Avoid using English slang and try to use internationally understood words: Many Europeans will draw a blank if you say 'break' or 'vacation,' but they will understand when you say 'holiday.' If you say 'restroom' or 'bathroom,' you will get no room, but 'toilet' is direct, simple, and understood.

• Exaggerate the local accent and use hand signals and body language to communicate. Be uninhibited—self-consciousness kills communication.

• Take advantage of the similarities among the major European languages. Four of the most common languages on the Camino—Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese—are related and come from Latin. The French word for Monday (our “day of the moon”) is lundi (“lunar day”). The Spaniards say the same thing—lunes. If Buenos días means good day, sopa del día is soup of the day. The other two common Camino languages—English and German—are also related. Sonne is sun, so Sonntag is Sunday.

• Use a notepad, because words and numbers are much easier to understand when they are written. To communicate something difficult and important (such as medical or dietary instructions), write it in the local language on your notepad. Or lacking that, write it in English.

Steves, Rick (2010) Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door 2010: The Travel Skills Handbook. Avalon Travel Publishing.


  Confraternity of St James : Frequently Asked Questions  



  How about keeping in touch ?

- A BT Chargecard makes phoning home at regular intervals extremely simple, and that's enough for many, who positively welcome their escape from more sophisticated methods of communication, and dislike the ever more intrusive mobile phone.

- But if you want to use email, for a list of cybercafés and other places offering Internet services along the Camino francés: http://www.intercom.es/mediaint/santiago/cibercafes.htm

- Getting letters from home is nice, though. In France, have people write to you Poste Restante, in Spain Lista de Correos. In each case, they should put your surname first, in capitals. When you go to collect mail, take your passport as ID; and to be sure, ask them to check under your first name as well as your surname. Here's a list of places along the Le Puy route and the Camino Francés, with postal codes, 2 or three days apart, which you might like to give to family and friends:

  Poste Restante:  

43000 le Puy-en-Velay / 48120 St Alban-sur Limagnole / 48260 Nasbinals / 12190 Estaing / 12320 Conques /

46100 Figeac / 46160 Marcilhac-sur-Célé / 46000 Cahors / 82200 Moissac / 32700 Lectoure / 32100 Condom

40800 Aire-sur-l'Adour / 64190 Navarrenx / 64220 St Jean Pied-de-Port

  Lista de Correos:

31080 Pamplona (Navarra) / 31100 Puenta la Reina (Navarra) / 26080 Logroño (La Rioja) / 09080 Burgos /

24080 León / 24700 Astorga (León) / 24400 Ponferrada (León) / 27600 Sarria (Lugo) /

15780 Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña)*

*(May 2007) The main postoffice in Santiago has been under repair for at least a year. The temporary office is in Rúa das Orfas; the post code is 15703. Please, someone, tell us when the main office opens again!

- In France, you'll be charged €0.46 (i.e. the cost of a standard stamp) per item that you collect from Poste Restante. Collection in Spain is free.

- Anyone willing to make similar lists for the other routes and send them to us?


  Should I try to learn some French and/or Spanish before I set off ?

- You'll get by without, and plenty of people do, and though the lingua franca among the non-French and non-Spanish pilgrims is English, don't expect to meet many English-speaking Spaniards, pilgrim or otherwise. Your enjoyment of France and Spain and the people you meet will be greatly enhanced if you can find the time to learn, as a minimum, the rudiments of polite everyday exchanges. Similarly, it helps to know what to ask for in shops and restaurants.

- For emergencies of course it's even better to be able to explain your

problem, and to know what's going on around you. In any case, the more language you have, the more you will enjoy your trip.

- You can probably build on school French, and Spanish isn't difficult, and you'll pick up a certain amount as you go along: but time spent beforehand at an evening class, or with a teach-yourself book, and listening to French or Spanish radio or TV, will be time very well spent.

- We recommend the BBC Get By In ... (French, Spanish etc) series - small slim books in 5 chapters, with a single cassette, or the Talk ... (French, Spanish etc) series, an expanded version of the above.

- The Instituto Cervantes, 102 Eaton Square, London SW1W 9AN (020 7245 0621) offers Spanish language classes. Their website is www.londres.cervantes.es

- Or how about a Spanish language course at the University of Santiago itself? http://www.spanish-university.es/santiago-spanish-course.php

- The Univesity also offers Spanish-language courses which include a week on the Camino: http://www.csj.org.uk/tour-operators.htm#educ


                                                Staying in Touch with Home

                                                Richard W. Tripp, Jr. 2011





- You can send mail home from any town or village. Stamps can be purchased from the post office, which are called Correos. They use yellow for the public boxes and the signs indicating their location. As in most countries, the postal system has a long tradition of postal savings which has evolved into a bank, and you will often find a bank associated with the post office, indicated by Caja Postal. This can be confusing to the unaware. Often you may find it more convenient to buy stamps from an estanco (tobacconist).

- If someone wishes to send mail to you and you do not have a more definitive address, have them mail it to you addressed care of the Lista de Correos and the town. You can then collect the mail at the main post office of that town.



- Because of the increased use of cell phones throughout Spain, public telephones are gradually disappearing although they still exist. There are two types of public telephones in Spain. Every bar, cafe, or restaurant will have a green colored public telephone. These phones require .50, 1 and 2 euro coins and do not accept the telephone cards available at kiosks or post offices. The telephones that accept telephone cards are mounted vertically, normally in booths (cabinas). They are operated by Telefonica, the national telephone system. Such phones can be found in busy public places like airports and shopping centers and theaters or telephone booths in plazas. They will have instructions in English on the phone.

- Telephone cards (tarjetas de telefono) can be bought at news kiosks and estancos (tobacconists). The telephone cards can be used for international calls or calling within Spain.

- You can also use a US calling card to call the United States. Be sure to obtain the overseas access numbers of interest before you leave as you may have difficulty finding them after your arrival. Your family should understand that you may not be able to call them at a specified hour because you may have to use an outside phone and stand in line to use it. Even if you have an internet based calling system such as Skype, it may not always be available where you will want to call from.

- Having an 800 number at home will not work as a way to stay in touch. US toll-free numbers are toll free only when called from within the US and Canada. Thus if you call an 800 number from Spain, it will cost just as much as if it were a regular number.


  Electronic Mail

- Larger cities and towns will have “cybercafes” or other commercial places where you can pay to access the internet and check your email. Many albergues will have computers with coin-operated access to the internet. Cybercafes can be most easily found by asking a student who will in many cases help lead you to the place, practicing their English in the process. To use a cybercafe to check your email, you will need to have established a internet browser mail account, such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail, etc., before you left home. Even then, you can only check the accounts for which you have set up the internet account to access. If you plan to do this, check everything out before you leave to make sure you have completed all the steps.

- If it is important to stay in touch, establish a back-up account that is also set up to read mail at your primary account. This is in case you have a problem logging on to your primary account for some reason. You have to be able to receive a message from the system operator to address the problem. Also ensure your address book is up to date.

- Operating hours vary widely, from open 24 hours to less than eight hours per day. Costs do vary widely, from 1.50€/hour to 1€/half-hour. Some places have a minimum and others only charge for the time you are at the terminal. Some cybercafes may be very noisy because of a students playing games over the internet. Do not expect a smoke free environment. Expect that the keyboards will be arranged differently and the operating system and thus commands will be in a foreign language.

- The key combination for “@” is not shift-2 but alt-graphic-8.



  retour à Q.Pratique Route



delhommeb at wanadoo.fr