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The Way of St. James (El Camino), Spain
What to know before you go!

How to Prepare for Your Pilgrimage:

The Camino de Santiago is the most famous, and sacred, pilgrimage walk in the world. Millions of people have traveled to the ancient burial site of St. James the Apostle for over 1000 years. Open your heart and mind to be responsive to new perspectives, ideas, cultures, etc. Some of us have dreamed of making this walk for many years, imagining breathing in the beauty and awakening the soul. Finally you have the chance to experience the incredible journey. As soon as you have decided to make the El Camino pilgrimage, please work on preparing physically and spiritually, so that, before you depart, you are accustomed to walking from 5 - 12 miles with not too much discomfort.

We do not include much free time for recreation, such as shopping. This is because our desire is to offer you the most comprehensive pilgrimage possible. However, all tours/activities are optional, and if you feel you are unable to keep up with the pace of the tour, manage the terrain, or would like free time for your own interests, you are welcome to refrain from participating in any aspects of the program you desire (of course, no refund can be issued for any aspects of the tour which you choose not to participate in).

It is important to note that the amount of walking is significant, and the terrain varies greatly throughout the tour. For this reason, we would like to offer you some recommendations, and we ask you sincerely read our tips carefully.

Emergency Contact Details:
Local Contact & Tour Escort while in Europe:
Javier Gomez
+34 677 442 367

* Emergency Response:
24 hour Emergency Response Team in the USA
(631) 468-6630

*Only contact this number in case of an emergency.
If you have questions regarding your tour or flight schedule
please contact us during normal business hours
(Mon-Fri 9:00 am - 6:00 pm EST)

Your Hotel Contacts:

Hotel Catalonia Goya
October 30-November 1 Goya, 49
(2 nights) Madrid, Spain
Tel #: + 34 (917) 814 949

Hotel Carris Alfonzo IX
November 1-2 Rúa do Peregrino 29
(1 night) Sarria (Lugo), Spain
Tel #: + 34 (982) 530 005

Hotel Pousada de Portomarin
November 2-3 Av. Sarria, s/n. 27170
(1 night) Portomarin (Lugo), Spain
Tel #: +34 (982) 545 200

Hotel Rio Tambre
November 3-4 Vilarino (Sambreixo)
(1 night) Palas de Rei (Lugo), Spain
Tel #: + 34 (982) 374 135

A Paínza
November 4-5 Viladavil
(1 night) Arzúa (La Coruña), Spain
Tel #: + 34 (981) 500 343

Hotel Amenal
November 5-6 Carretera de Santiago-Arzúa, 12
(1 night) O Pino (La Coruña), Spain
Tel #: + 34 (981) 510 431

Hotel Compostela
November 6-8 Horreo, 1.15702 (2 nights) Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Tel #: + 34 (981) 585 700

*Important notice: This itinerary involves an average of 13-17 miles daily of walking/hiking. It is essential that participants be in fit condition in order to complete the journey. We will have assistance vehicles (motor coach) available to assist pilgrims who are unable to complete a particular leg of the journey.

Details of Checkpoints:
There will be three (3) checkpoints set up for you each day that are divided into increments. Example: Day 5 includes 15 miles of walking: The FIRST CHECKPOINT will be set up 30% of the way – 4.5 Miles, The SECOND CHECKPOINT will be set up the next 30% of the way – 4.5 Miles (Total of 9 miles walked) - LUNCH – The Second Checkpoint will be where you will have lunch - The THIRD CHECKPOINT will be set up at your destination point for that day – 6.0 Miles (or the remaining 40% of the walk for the day)

*Note: Due to the terrain, the bus will not be available during the remaining walk. The Guide will always offer you two options: You will be offered recommendations of paths to take that will allow you to complete the walk, but not walking the full distance, or, you can choose to walk one or two of the legs each day depending on how you feel.

About Your Flights & Foreign Travel

Please visit for the most up to date travel restrictions

Final Documents:
Carefully review your flight confirmation to ensure that your name on the tickets are an exact match to that of your passport. Please note that the name field on your tickets is only 19 characters long, therefore names exceeding this length will be cut off (this is not a problem, as your actual reservation contains your full name). Please contact us immediately should any discrepancies be found.

Airline Tickets:
Your ticket is an electronic ticket (“e-tickets”). At check-in, you should provide your passport to the check-in agent. Be sure to bring a copy of your e-ticket confirmation for reference in case it is needed.

Young Travelers:
Travelers who are less than 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult. If a child will be traveling with adults other than parents or with only one parent, a notarized letter must be written by the parents or non-traveling parent granting authorization, including the dates of travel. We also suggest that you contact the appropriate consulate and airlines because they may have additional requirements. An infant is defined as anyone who is under the age of 24 months, and child is defined as any one between the ages of 24 months and 11 years for the entire duration of their trip.

International Flights:
We recommend that you check in for your domestic flights at least two hours prior to departure and for international flight at least three hours prior to the scheduled departure time. Passengers must personally check their luggage at the airline counter. Please advise the airline representative of your final destination upon check-in so that you will not need to claim your baggage and recheck it during flight connections. Please note that our pilgrims travel from all across the US, and you will be traveling independently for all flights until your arrival.

Airline Connections:
We must book your airline reservations based on the rules and routings provided to us by the airlines, including connection time, cities for connections, and partner carriers. Airlines determine the standard for the required minimum connecting time to transfer from one gate to another for each specific airport. We are subject to the availability of the carriers we work with, and also must ensure that all reservations correspond so that each participant is able to meet the group transfers to/from the airport. We do all in our power to provide you with the most convenient flight schedule available to us at the time of your booking, however we must still follow all appropriate airline rules and regulations.

Code-Share Flights:
Airlines in special agreements, which share planes in order to offer the greatest convenience to travelers. While your ticket may indicate that you are flying with one carrier (i.e. United), you may find that you are actually seated in a plane belonging to another carrier (i.e. Lufthansa). Please review your airline itinerary carefully to determine which airline is operating your flight as that is the carrier with whom you will check-in. Should the plan be operated by another carrier your itinerary will state "Flight Operated by (Airline)."

Passports and Visas:
All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport to enter Europe. Please note that your passport MUST be valid for 3 months after your scheduled return date. If you have not yet obtained your passport, or just noticed that it will not be valid, urgently contact your local passport office and apply for an expedited passport/passport renewal. A visa is not required for citizens of the USA for entry into Europe. For those who hold a passport from a foreign country, please be advised that it is the passengers responsibility to reconfirm if any visas are required.

Health Precautions:
No inoculations are necessary when traveling to Europe from the US. However, please consult with your health care provider before traveling. For the latest overseas travel health information, call the Center for Disease Control at 1-877-394-8747. Or visit For medical information, call the US Public Health service 301-443-2403.

Arrival Procedure:
After disembarkation from the plane you will clear immigration and proceed to claim your luggage. You will exit the baggage claim into the arrival lounge where you will be greeted by a representative displaying a sign which reads “206 Tours.” You will be transferred to your hotel where you will check-in and have time to refresh before meeting the rest of your group later in the evening. Please remember to look for the sign! If your luggage is missing you will proceed to your airline carrier’s baggage office in the airport terminal to complete a missing luggage form, which will include a description of your luggage. Upon locating your baggage, the airlines will bring your luggage to your hotel. It is important that you provide them with the correct address and dates that you will be at your hotels. You may also provide the emergency number listed in this booklet.

Flight Delays & Arrival Transfers:
If you missed your flight, forgot your passport or if you are re-routed you will probably miss the group transfer that is included in your package. In such circumstances you will need to take a taxi at your own expense to the hotel. You may submit a claim with insurance or airlines for reimbursement upon your return to the USA. Please do not hesitate to call the local contact’s number in Europe if you need any assistance.

How to Overcome Jet Lag:
Rapid travel through multiple time zones can take its toll on your physical and mental well-being. "Jet Lag" is the phrase used to describe the condition when an individual's internal body clock is out of sync with the actual time in the region to which you have traveled. It is important to try to adjust your internal body clock to receive the most out of your tour. Here are some tips on how to adjust your body to local time.

On the day of the flight/arrival:
*Get out of bed earlier than usual on the day of departure
*Drink a lot of water to compensate for the dehydration on long flights
*Shortly after your evening meal on your flight, set your watch to the local time
*Try to rest and/or sleep as soon as possible on your flight
*Try to go to bed around 10:00 PM the night of arrival

Luggage & What to Pack

Recommended Clothing:
Best to stick with light, already worn, comfortable clothing.
*pants (made of lightweight but tough materials for hiking is best choice leave your jeans at home)
*short/long sleeved shirts
*shirts /sweaters for layering
*wool/smart wool socks
*light undergarments
*lightweight but warm hooded jacket

Do not worry about the weight as we have luggage handling included. Stay away from cotton. A combination of day-to-day clothing such as sweatpants, sweatshirts and sneakers was once the preferred choice of the outdoor enthusiast. Nowadays, clothing that is specially designed for outdoor activities is preferred. Many outdoor clothing companies advertise the three-layer system, which incorporates a base layer, an insulation layer and an outer layer. For example, specialized hiking pants serve as three layers in one with the netting sewn inside acting as the base layer.

When it comes to selecting the proper gear, three key factors come into play: insulation, warmth and water resistance. This is particularly true when picking gloves and socks, because your hands and feet are most at risk for exposure to cold, damp and frostbite

Title Nine -
Eastern Mountain Sports – layering Tec shirt
Athleta -

The most important thing to bring is a pair of good shoes. Make sure you have two good pairs of comfortable weather flexible walking shoes. Leather hiking boots are not recommended. Make sure you walk in them for a couple of weeks to break them in. It is not practical to wear any footwear with high or narrow heels, as the roads are not always paved and are, at times, uneven cobblestone. On the plane you will want to wear loose-fitting clothes and pack a pair of slippers or socks to wear for the flight. Make sure your shoes are laceup or flexible, as your feet may swell due to the flight.

Merrell Moab GTX
Tiger GTX
Adidas AX 1 Mid Gore Tex Boot
TrekSta Kobra II GTX Shoe

Walking Canes:
Allowed in carry-on baggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed. Walking Sticks will be available for purchase when you arrive, however, if you have your own which you would like to bring, they will be allowed with your Carry-On luggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed.

Other Suggested Items to Bring
*Travel Bible and Journal (unless you have cell phone/I phone/I pod or Blackberry)
*Portable alarm clock (unless you have cell phone/I phone/I pod or Blackberry)
*Dramamine (for motion sickness)
*Aspirin/Advil, etc.
*Epsom salt
*Mole skin
*Antibiotic cream
*Laxative and Imodium
*Pepto Bismol (tablets)
*Allergy/cold medicine; tablets
*Deodorant (travel size)
*Soap bar (travel size) and washcloth
*Shampoo and Conditioner (travel size)
*Toothbrush & Toothpaste (travel size)
*Chap Stick
*Lotion/Moisturizing cream (travel size)
*Feminine Items
*Handi-wipes: for freshening up during the day
*Travel pack size Kleenex
*Digital Camera, Charger, Extra Battery & carrying case
*Extra film for camera (expensive outside of US)
*Adapter and converter if you are bringing any electrical devices
*Grocery size plastic bags: 1-2 for dirty clothes
*Travel size poncho (in camping section of Wal-Mart)
*Inflatable head & neck rest, eye mask, foam earplugs (for flight)
*Nail file and/or nail clippers
*Pen (bring with you on the plane to complete customs forms)
*Travel Toilet Tissue (have some on you just in case bathrooms run out of them)
*Your I Phone / Cell Phone / Blackberry
*Small flash light
*Small/Medium size water bottle
*Bed bugs luggage spray / bed bug spray combo pack ….We do not expect any bed bugs, but since we hear that these days *bed bugs have been crawling through some of the most expensive hotels in the world and through the airports.

Luggage & What to Pack

Luggage/ Airline:
For your international flight you are permitted to maximum of ONE piece of checked luggage at no additional fee.

International air carriers are becoming stricter about the size and weight of baggage and carry-on luggage. Please reconfirm with your air carrier within one week of your departure for specific information as to size and weight limitations (in case of changes). Most airlines will charge steep fees if your checked luggage is oversized or overweight. Keep in mind that your scale at home may not match exactly with the scale at the airport, so be sure to leave a few extra pounds of leeway!

Portage of one (1) piece of luggage per person at your hotels is included in your trip costs. The porters will do their best to bring your bag to you in a timely fashion upon checking into the hotel, however at times there can be short delays due to the size of the group arriving. To make it easier for porters to identify your luggage, please be sure to use the enclosed luggage tag and clearly complete your name and contact details. If you prefer to have your bag with you immediately upon checking in to your hotel room please wait near the bus as the driver and porters unload the luggage so you can identify your baggage and bring it with you to your room.

Size allowances for Checked Bags:
Length + Width + Height = 158cm./62in.
Economy Class: 1 piece at 23kg. / 50lb.
Business Class: 2 pieces at 32kg. / 70lb. each
First Class: 3 pieces at 32kg. / 70lb. each

Size allowances for Carry-on Bags:
Length + Width + Height = 106cm./42in.
Weight : 1 piece at 8kg./17lbs.

Personal Item: You are also permitted one personal item to carry onto the plane such as a purse, laptop, briefcase, etc.

Important Items & Valuables:
Carry your passport, trip documents and money on your person but not all in the same place to limit the inconvenience in case of loss. Do not keep money, important documents, medicines or jewelry in your suitcase. Please leave valuable jewelry at home. We recommend a “neck safe” worn inside your clothes while touring. At all times please be as vigilant as you would in any major city, especially in crowded places. Never leave your bag unattended or out of sight in public areas, including airports, hotel lobbies, or dining rooms.

Be sure to keep ALL medications in your carry-on bag during your trip in case your suit case should be lost. Keep a separate list of important numbers (i.e. credit cards) in your luggage, together with a photo copies of your passport/visas.

Bringing Liquids in your Carry-on Bags:
For the latest information please visit -

Airline Regulations for Baggage:
For additional information or clarification please visit:

About Europe & Travel Abroad

The official language of Spain is Spanish.

Average Temperatures:
The average temperature in Spain during October is as follows:
Daytime Average: 66 F | Nighttime Average: 50 F

The average temperature in Spain during November is as follows:
Daytime Average: 56 F | Nighttime Average: 42 F

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avila Low 35 36 42 45 51 59 64 63 58 50 42 36
High 48 52 59 65 71 81 89 87 78 66 56 51
Barcelona Low 44 45 49 52 58 65 70 70 66 59 52 46
High 55 57 61 65 71 78 83 82 77 70 62 56
Garabandal Low 45 48 50 55 60 65 68 70 68 60 55 45
High 55 58 60 65 70 76 78 80 78 70 65 55
Madrid Low 35 36 42 45 51 59 64 63 58 50 42 36
High 48 52 59 65 71 81 89 87 78 66 56 51

Must Know Travel Terms Common Spanish Phrases Phrase Pronunciation
Hello Olá “ola”
Goodbye Tchau "chow”
Yes Sim “ssi”
No Não “nau”
Please por favor “pur fa-vour”
Thank You obrigado/obrigada “o-bri-ga-du/o-bri-ga-da”
Excuse Me com licença “ko li-cess-a”
Do you speak English? Você fala Inglês? “vo-say fala ing-less”
Can you help me? Podes me ajudar? “po-dess mee a-ju-dar”
I don't understand Eu não entendo. “e-u nau in-ten-du”
How much is it? Quanto custa? “ku-a-tu kuss-ta”
Where is? Onde e o? “own-de eh oh”
bathroom/restaurant/hotel banheiro/restaurante/hotel “ban-i-ero/res-tau-ran-te/hotel”
Taxi, please. Táxi por favor “taxi pur fa-vour”
Where is the emergency hospital? Onde e o pronto socorro? own-de eh oh prone-to soak-oro”

Hotels Accommodations:
Hotel rooms may be smaller than you are used to based on American standards. All rooms are comfortably appointed and offer a private bathroom. Mini-bar items and access to pay TV channels are at your own expense. King size beds are rare in Europe, so couples should anticipate queen size beds in most hotels. Travelers sharing a room with a friend (non-spouse) will have two twin beds in their hotel rooms. In some hotels, key cards operate the room’s lighting system and/or the elevator. All hotels offer a hair dryer in the bathrooms. Most hotels provide toiletries (shampoo, soap, lotion), and we strongly recommend that you bring an adequate supply of conditioner with you. It is also not customary for hotels to provide washcloths.

The voltage used is 220 volts AC, single phase 50 cycles (the U.S. uses 110/120 volts). Unless you use a high quality electric current converter, the heavier voltage will burn out electrical equipment you wish to use abroad. You will need to purchase a converter and an international adapter. The international adapter connects to the converter so plug will connect to the converter which will connect to the adapter. The adapter is a specific plug which is utilized throughout the tour. Adapter/converter kits that include the entire range of plugs can be purchased. Buying electrical devices in foreign places is not recommended unless you are sure the current they use is compatible with the current at home. It will likely cost you more than the original price to have an appliance converted.

Weights and Measures:
The metric system is used exclusively throughout Europe. A kilometer is a bit over 1/2 mile (.62 miles). A kilogram equals 2.2 pounds.

Telephone Information:
You may bring your cellular phone, but make sure to contact your wireless phone provider and inform them that you will be traveling overseas. Most have an "international plan" that you should sign up for. This will allow you to make calls to the United States while you are out of the country using your wireless phone. You can also check with your carrier for the exact rates in the countries where you'll be traveling. Travelers need to be especially careful of cell phone data charges. The rates for data are far more expensive than for roaming voice calls and text messages. If your cell phone has a data plan, be sure to turn data roaming "OFF" to avoid these potentially high fees.

Calling Europe from the USA: If your family wishes to call you during the pilgrimage from within the US, you must first dial 011, then then the country code 34 (when dialing Spain, for example), which is followed by the area code, followed by the telephone number.

Calling the USA from Europe: To make a direct international call, first dial 00, listen for the tone, and then slowly dial the country code (1 for the US and Canada, just like at home), the area code, and the local number.

Public Toilets:
Known as WC, are available in most tourist locations. Be prepared with tissues in your pocket at all times. Also, be aware that some public toilets are attended by workers who ask for a small “user's fee.”

You will be walking mostly on country roads & dirt roads. Pease make sure to have 2 good pair of walking shoes ( Hiking Boots or Sneakers).

If using a digital camera, we recommend you bring an extra memory card and batteries (just in case) as they are considerably more expensive outside of the US.

Be wary of any person approaching you offering unofficial taxi services. If you do not have an airport transfer included and you need transportation, make your way to the official taxi desk or to the regular taxi line outside the terminal. Choose only those vehicles with a meter and a taxi sign. If there is no meter, we recommend you pre-negotiate and agree on the fare, before you get into the cab.

Local Customs / Social Conventions:
A different way of life in some countries may take you by surprise, but if you travel with an open mind and respect local customs, you should find it easy to adapt to and enjoy your new surroundings. Standards of living may not be quite what you are used to, but there are compensations – a closer sense of reality and an authentic feeling of locale. Due to cultural differences you may not be greeted quite as cheerfully as back home; smiling is generally reserved for intimate friends. Be especially wary of people presenting themselves as “instant friends” and never accept food or drink from strangers.

Breakfast will be served in our hotel’s main dining room throughout the trip, and will be buffet style. Dinners will be at a local restaurant or your hotel. Please plan to enjoy your dinners around 7:00 pm each day. Unlike in the US, it is frowned upon to take food out of the dinning room. Most dinners will be served "sit down" with a pre-determined 3-4 course meal. Your meals include mineral water and wine.

While some restaurants may be able to provide for a special diet, such as vegetarian or sodium-free, there is no way for us to guarantee this. Please note, vegetarian meals tend to lack variety and imagination.

Tap Water:
While most local tap water will not hurt you, due to differences in mineral and micro-biotic levels, we recommend that you avoid consuming local tap water, as it may upset your stomach.

This trip is not very shopping oriented and one is not expected to have allotted time for much shopping, however, while in Madrid or in Santiago de Compostela there are many beautiful shops and you may like to bring some gifts back home. Stores are open daily Monday to Saturday. Some observe a "siesta" from 1pm to 4pm, re-opening until 7pm. Some malls close later in the day and are open Saturdays after sundown. Ask your tour escort for regional specialties products which the countries/cities in your itinerary are known for small, light items that you can easily carry home make splen-did and festive gifts. Don’t forget to buy something nice for yourself too, to evoke pleasant memories of your vacation abroad once you return home. Whenever travel-ing abroad, be aware of your personal belongings when shopping in crowded areas. If you purchase a video or DVD, please check very carefully that it is compatible with your home viewing system. Sales tax or VAT (value added tax) is already included on price tags.

Business Hours:
Throughout the year, apart from Festivals, businesses are open during the following hours:
Offices: Mondays to Fridays: 08:30am - 1:00pm and 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Banks: Mondays to Fridays: 08:30am - 1:30pm and 2:45pm - 4:15pm
Stores: Mondays to Saturday: 09:00am - 1:00pm and 4:30pm - 7:30pm

Currency & Money

Currency Exchange:
The EURO is the currency of Spain; as of Sep 1, 2014 the rate is:
$1.00 (USD) = 0.73 (EURO) // 1.00 (EURO) = $1.36 (USD)

Keep in mind that this is the "pure" exchange rate and any form of currency exchange has some fees associated. For up to date currency exchange rates please visit Please note that the currency fluctuations have been particularly volatile in the last year, so we strongly urge you to check the up-to-date exchange rates prior to departure and prior to currency exchange.

Make sure to bring along a credit card for convenience and security. Visa or MasterCard are the best options, as American Express is not accepted in many stores. Please be aware that Discover Card is not accepted in almost all European countries. You may also choose to bring traveler's checks, however not all shops/restaurants accept them due to the devaluation of the US dollar. If you would like to carry cash, we recommend that you exchange USD at your local bank prior to departure in order to obtain the best exchange rate. It is also practical and cost effective to withdraw local currency using your ATM/Debit card during your trip. Be advised that exchanging money at airports, your hotel or local change booths will result in fees that are extremely high.

**It is recommended that you contact your local bank/credit card companies before departing to advise them you will be traveling so that they do not put a hold on your cards when an international transaction is made.**

We are frequently asked, "How much money should I bring with me?" This is a difficult question to answer as each person is different. The type of lunches you prefer can make a big difference (restaurant vs. cafe). Are you planning on purchasing mementos for yourself or loved ones? We recommend that the minimum spending money you should bring with you/budget for, in addition to the suggested tips, is the equivalent of $30.00 per person per day. Remember, you can always spend less, or bring money home!

Credit Cards & ATM Machines:
ATM machines can be found just about everywhere in Europe and are accessible 24 hrs a day; most offer English as a language option. Be sure to find out your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. Also keep in mind that many banks impose a fee every time a card is used at a different bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more). On top of this, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank before you go. You can also get cash advances on your credit card at an ATM.

For increased security, European Banks now issue debit and credit cards that carry an embedded chip. As part of their anti-fraud measures, you are seldom asked to give an store / restaurant employee your card for them to swipe. Instead if you are at a restaurant, your waiter will bring a portable little machine / card reader to your table with the amount of your bill already entered. You cannot add a tip to the total (leave small tip in cash instead). Your card is swiped and you will be asked to OK the total and enter a PIN. Note: The PIN for this is not the Cash Back PIN. If you have a normal US credit/debit card without a chip, you do not have a PIN. Just in case you do not have or you forget your PIN, just hit the OK with no PIN entered. It usually works. If you have any questions about your ATM card, check with your bank in advance of your departure from home. Ensure you know how to contact them if you encounter problems using your card. Use your card before you leave home and again shortly after arrival, even if you do not need the money, solely to verify that everything works.

U.S. Customs:
U.S. citizens who have been in Europe for more than two days may return to the US with up to $800 worth of merchandise duty-free. For those who wish to bring more home, a flat rate of 3% duty is levied on the next $1,000 worth of purchases. It's a good idea to retain the receipts from your purchases should they be requested by a Customs Inspector upon your return to the US. For details visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website:

Traveling International – Register with US State Department
Enroll with The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) - It is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For 24 Hour Consular Emergency Line: U.S. 1.888.407.4747 / Outside the U.S. 1.202.501.4444

Value Added Tax (VAT) Refund:
Value Added Tax (VAT) is a form of indirect tax applied to the value added at each stage of production (primary, manufacturing, wholesale and retail). This tax is much like the sales tax in the US. Tourists who purchase goods worth 35 Euro or more are entitled to a discount of at least 5% on the purchase price plus a VAT refund. There is 20% value added tax on most goods and services in Europe. At retail stores, this tax is already included in the price. Upon making a purchase of 175 Euro or more at a gift store that has an agreement with VAT authorities, you should fill out a form at the store and have it stamped there. You will be eligible, upon presenting the form and the item, for a 20% refund at the airport prior to departure. Do not pack these gift items in your luggage, but should be kept in your hand luggage. Tourist services, such as hotel accommodations and meals taken in hotels, paid with foreign currency are exempt from VAT tax.

VAT refunds, if applicable, may sometimes take up to three (3) months to process. If you pay with local currency, there will be no VAT refund. In order to acquire a VAT refund, the following procedure must be followed:
*Look for the “tax refund” sticker on the business door or publication
*Ask for a VAT refund invoice from the sales clerk.
*At the airport VAT desk, show the original receipt, the VAT tax form, and the goods you have purchased.
*At the end of the procedure, you will receive a check drawn in your favor which may be cashed that same day
*On each purchase exceeding $200 (including VAT), the VAT will be refunded upon presentation of the invoice at the port of departure

Tips are an important part of earnings for your guide and bus driver. Although you should tip according to your discretion and satisfaction, we recommend that you bring $125. (equivalent of 99 EUROs) per person and place in tip envelopes (included in your final documents package).

*Tour escort who is with you throughout your tour or for the whole day should be tipped approx. EUR 8 per person per day (depending on level of satisfaction)

*Bus driver EUR 4 per person per day (depending on level of satisfaction) It is suggested to provide the tour escort and the bus driver their tip money the day prior to your return.

*Spiritual Director/ Your Priest: Gift or donation to the Spiritual Director is at your own discretion. Restaurants, hotel staff, luggage handler and bell boy tips are included in your package price. No additional tips should be given.

Useful Links
Airline complaints (delays, baggage)
Airline delays:
Airline seating:
Airline tracker:
Airport security wait times:
Airport (information, maps)
Better Business Bureau:
Bus and subway directions:
Calendar and holidays:
Calling codes:
Country facts:
Currency converter: & or
Customs (USA):
Department of Homeland security:
Driving directions: ;
Electric Guide:
Emergency/Disaster information:
FAA Air traffic Control:
Flight delay info:
Flight tracker:
Foreign Language Basics:
Frequent flyer programs:
Health (travel health info) ; ;
Internet access/hotspots: ;
Language translation:
Last minute travel preparation:
Mass Times around the world:
Passports and visas:
Physical disabilities travel:
Time around the world:
Tipping guide:
Tourist offices and embassies:
Traffic advisories:
Transportation Security Admin.:
Travel planning:
Travel planning (religious sites):
US State Dept Travel Warnings:
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The Way of St. James, often known by its Spanish name, el Camino de Santiago, is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the apostle are buried. Whenever St James' day (July 25th) falls on a Sunday, the cathedral declares a Jubilee Year. The next Holy Year will be in 2021. El Camino has existed for over a thousand years and was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times. There is not a single route; the Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly traveled. However, the Black Plague, the Protestant Reformation, and political unrest in 16th-century Europe resulted in its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims arrived in Santiago annually. However, since then, the route has attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 1993.

Today, thousands of pilgrims make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did- on horseback or by donkey. Many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life. The scallop shell, typically found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of El Camino. Originally, the scallop shell served practical purposes for pilgrims gathering water to drink or for eating from as a makeshift bowl. Also, because the scallop shell is native to the shores of Galicia, the shell functioned as proof of completion. Besides being a practical tool, the scallop shell also serves as a metaphor. The grooves in the shell that come together at a single point represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination- the tomb of Saint James. The scallop shell is also a metaphor for the pilgrim. As the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up on the shores of Galicia, God's hand also guide the pilgrims to Santiago. Most pilgrims have a document called the Credential or "Pilgrim's passport" that is stamped with the official St. James stamp at each town in which the pilgrim stays. It provides walking pilgrims with a record of where they stayed, but also serves as proof to the Pilgrim's office in Santiago that the journey is accomplished according to an official route. The stamped credential is necessary if the pilgrim wants to obtain a Compostela, a certificate of completion. Upon arrival at the Cathedral in Santiago, pilgrims take their credential to the nearby Pilgrim Office and a Compostela certificate (written in Latin) is issued.

A Pilgrim's Mass in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is held each day at noon. Pilgrims who received the Compostela the day before have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass.

The musical and visual highlight of the mass is the synchronization of the beautiful 'Hymn to Christ' with the spectacular swinging of the huge 'Botafumeiro'. The 'Botafumeiro' is the famous thurible found inside the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Incense is burned in this swinging metal container. As the last chords die away, so the multitudes of pilgrims happily come forward to reach the spiritual highlight of the mass- the rite of communion.

Fittingly, there are priests administering the Sacrament of Penance, or confession, in many languages to complete the plenary indulgence. Along the routes to Santiago have walked people of all stamps and conditions: honest pilgrims, convicts, minstrels, beggars, adventurers, tramps, fugitives from justice, bandits. The religious people made the pilgrimage urged by their unrestrained need to visit the tomb of the Apostle and to begin a personal relationship with him. Other pilgrims made the journey in order to fulfill a promise made to the Apostle after they overcame a difficult situation. Among these were those who had been seriously ill, and others that came in search of a miraculous recovery. There were also convicts who made the pilgrimage as a punishment, imposed either by the ecclesiastical authorities or civil judges. But not all pilgrims made the journey for pious reasons, some "pilgrims" sought gain. There were penitents who were fulfilling an assignment, those who wanted to see the world, those who were obliged by testamentary clauses to visit Santiago in order to receive an inheritance.

The first known pilgrim was Gotescalco, Bishop of Puy, who made the pilgrimage in 950 accompanied by his retinue; later the route was to be followed by the Marquis of Gothia, who was murdered on the way; a century later, the Apostle’s tomb was visited by the Archbishop of Lyon. And along these distinguished pilgrims, a growing number of believers of all conditions traveled by the same route.

The Way to Santiago has indissolubly connected the culture, the knowledge and the information. Everything that was said, preached, told, sung, sculpted or painting along the Route was known to more people and places. On account of its influence on literature and art, Compostela, along with Rome or Jerusalem, became a place of worship for Christian society, especially between the 11 and 14 C.

The Way of Saint James
The Way of St. James or El Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.

It was one of the three most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, the other two are of course Rome and Jerusalem. It is a pilgrimage route where a plenary indulgence could be earned. It is believed that the St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. The Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela.

St. James Pilgrim Accessories:
The scallop shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Although the scallop shell served a practical purpose for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago to gather water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl, the origin of the symbol dates back to the time after James' death when his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, the body washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops. The scallop shell also acts as a metaphor. The grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination: the tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela. The shell is also a metaphor for the pilgrim.

The pilgrim's staff is a walking stick used by pilgrims to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Generally, the stick has a hook on it so that something may be hung from it. The walking stick sometimes has a cross piece on it.

You will receive a “pilgrims passport” called the credencial, which is a pass to give you access to many pilgrims places. Although we do not need it, but some pilgrims use this passport to get accommodation in refugios along the trail. The "pilgrim's passport", the credencial, is stamped with the official St. James stamp in each town or refugio visited. It provides a record of where we as pilgrims ate or slept, but also serves as proof to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago that the journey is accomplished according to an official route, to obtain a compostela, a certificate of completion of the pilgrimage. The compostela is a certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims on completing the Way.

Pilgrim's Mass
Pilgrim'Mass is held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela each day at noon for pilgrims. Pilgrims who received the compostela the day before have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass.

The musical and visual highlight of the Mass is the synchronization of the beautiful "Hymn to Santiago" with the spectacular swinging of the huge Botafumeiro, the famous thurible kept in the cathedral. Incense is burned in this swinging metal container, or "incensory". As the last chords die away, the multitude of pilgrims jostle happily as they crowd forward to reach the spiritual highlight of the Mass, the rite of communion.

Priests administer the Sacrament of Penance, or confession, in many languages, permitting most pilgrims to complete the indulgence attached to the pilgrimage upon satisfying the other canonical conditions.

St. James
About Saint James (Santiago)
The Apostle Saint James (Santiago) the Greater, as he was called by Christian tradition, was one of the sons of Zebedeo and Salome; his brother was John the evangelist, also Apostle. He was invited by Jesus "beside his brother and immediately after Peter and Andrew- to become fisherman of men". He was one of the apostles that had a close and intimate relationship with the son of God. He accompanied him when he began the propagation of the word of God; he was present in the Mount of Olives when he predicted the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, the complete ruin of the city and the catastrophes that will precede the end of times; and witnessed the last apparition of Jesus in Galilee after his resurrection. Santiago died young, around age 42, beheaded by order of the King of the Jews, Herodes Agripa I, when, in a frustrated attempt to win the confidence of Rome, intensified the persecution of the first communities of Christians.

According to tradition, after the death of Jesus, the apostles divided among them the places where they should predicate, and to James fell Spain and the occidental regions. Legend tells two versions about the presence of the Martyr in the Iberian Peninsula; the first says that he went through Asturias, Galice, Castile and Aragon, spreading the word of God unsuccessfully. During this mission the Virgin appeared before him by the Ebro river, above a column, and ordered him to build a church there. The second version assures that after his martyrdom, his disciples carried his body by boat from Jerusalem to Iria Flavia, in Finisterre. At this point, historic facts and legend merge to obtain a colorful story. Once beheaded, his body was thrown out of the city to feed dogs and beasts, but, when night fell, his disciples took it and carried it to the Port of Jope. Providentially, an empty fully rigged boat appeared. On the seventh day of navigation they arrived at the mouth of the Ulloa river, in Galice. As they put the body of their master on a heavy rock, the rock melted like wax and turned into a sarcophagus.

In the beginning of the 9C the sepulcher of Santiago el Mayor (James the Greater), evangelist in Spain, was discovered. Pelayo, a hermit who lived in the former diocese of Iria Flavia, had a "divine revelation" in the deep of the forest. He sees "altar lights" and hears "angels singing". The parishioners of San Félix de Solobio, at the foot of the forest, announced the event. The bishop Teodomiro went in the forest, found the mausoleum and identified it as the Apostle Santiago’s tomb. At a time when Europe needed to be united, the Route to Santiago was the first element that made it possible.

The find of the sepulcher of the first Apostle Martyr became an unquestionable symbol, compatible with the diverse conceptions of the Christian peoples.

Conscious of the importance of having the relics of Santiago el Mayor, the Spanish Monarchies contributed significantly to the success of the holy route. In those times the Peninsula had a growing need for money and soldiers to fight against the Moorish.

The kings of Aragon, Navarre and Castile made a great effort to attract to their possessions powerful rich people, and to that end, employed all possible means: interchange of presents, arranged marriages and the announcements of the favors dispensed by the Apostle. As the faith in the miracles performed by Santiago extended people began to make pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in order to obtain his grace.

Prayer of Preparation
O Lord my God prepare my spirit so that, through the intercession of the Apostle James, it may be open to your word, receive it, and put it into practice. Amen.

Daily Prayer
My Lord Jesus Christ! Here I am close to You, brining with me in prayer joys and sorrows of my brothers and sisters as well as the continual happiness and difficulties of my daily walk. Sometimes I lose my way on the path of life, and I don’t know what to do. Frequently I am distracted by material things and am in need of enlightenment. Lord, create in me a longing for You and a firm resolution to never offend You again. Give me your grace to contemplate the path of Your earthly life and to be attracted further by the example of St. James the Apostle. May I wholeheartedly follow You in the path of this life and find in You peace and joy without end. Amen.

Prayer to Saint James the Greater
O Glorious Saint James, because of your fervor and generosity Jesus chose you to witness his glory on the Mount
and his agony in the Garden. Obtain for us
strength and consolation in the unending struggles of this life.
Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously,
to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown
of glory in heaven. Pray for us that we may be willing
to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did.
Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen.

Pilgrim’s Prayer
St. James, Apostle
chosen among the first
You were the first to drink
The cup of the Master
and you are the great protector of pilgrims;
make us strong in the faith
and happy in hope
on our pilgrims’ journey
following the path of Christian life
and feed is so that
we may finally reach the glory of God the Father. Amen.

What If...& Frequently Asked Questions:

What should I do if my flight is cancelled or delayed?
If your flight is cancelled or delayed it is imperative that you work DIRECTLY with the airlines at the airport to arrange for alternate flights or protection. Please note that once your tickets have been issued or you have checked in for your flights, we can no longer make any changes to your flight itinerary. This can only be done by the airlines. In such case, remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so be persistent. However, it is important to remember that it is not the airline agents fault, so try your best to remain courteous to them, as you may find that you receive more assistance this way. Please be advised that the airlines are not required to offer reimbursement for personal expense or overnights when delays/cancellations occur due to weather. We strongly recommend the purchase of Travel Insurance for this reason (

What should I do if I miss my flight due to my late arrival at my departure airport?
If you should miss your flight, due to your own late arrival at your departure airport, it is imperative that you work DIRECTLY with the airlines at the airport to arrange for alternate flights. You will incur additional costs (minimum of $200 per person) for such changes. Please note that you should contact us once your alternate arrangements have been made so that we may arrange for a private transfer (at your expense) if necessary.

What happens if I miss my group transfer upon arrival?
If your plane arrives late, or you are re-routed you will probably miss the group transfer which is included in your package. In such circumstances you will need to pay for a taxi or private transfer to take you to your hotel. This cost will be at your own expense, and you may submit a claim to the airlines for reimbursement upon your return and/or to your travel insurance. For most destinations taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel is the easiest and least expensive course of action. However, for some destinations even a taxi can be very expensive due to the distance you are traveling. If you prefer to have a private transfer arranged for you in lieu of taking a taxi, you will need to contact us to advise us of your flight delay and new arrival time at least 4 hours prior to your new arrival time. In this case we will do everything possible to arrange for a private transfer to meet you upon your arrival, however, you will be responsible to remit payment to your driver upon drop off at your destination. If you arrive at your destination, and are unable to locate your driver or a taxi, please call your local emergency contact (listed in your Final Instruction Booklet) so that they may dispatch a transfer for you. Please remember to save your receipts. We strongly recommend the purchase of Travel Insurance for this reason.

What happens if I have a problem or complaint during my trip?
If you have any problems, concerns, or complaints during your trip, please communicate them IMMEDIATELY to your tour escort. Your tour escort is at your disposal to assist you with all your needs including issues with your hotel room, meals, etc. Remember, there is very little that can be done to undo a problem once you have returned home, but, most of the time your tour escort can address any concerns you may have swiftly. However, if the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction by your tour escort, then please contact our office.

What should I do if I want to change my ticket?
If you would like to change your ticket for any reason once it has been issued you MUST work DIRECTLY with the airlines. You will incur additional costs (minimum of $200 per person) for such changes.

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