In chapter 2 of our guide to the Camino, we discuss the language of the regions, food on the Camino, and what public holidays could affect your journey to Santiago.
Language: Having some knowledge of Spanish will certainly enhance your trip. The local people with appreciate a few words of Castellano. You should, however, be aware that Spanish (Castellano) is not the only language spoken in Spain. Once in Northern Spain you will pass through autonomous regions with their own language and distinct culture. Regions with their own language are Catalonia (Catalan), Galicia (Gallego), and País Vasco (Basque). Being aware of these distinctions will set you apart from the traditional tourist and allow you to fully appreciate the local people and their culture. As for the routes outside Spain – the Camino Portugés and Via Podiensis – learning basic phrases in Portuguese and French will help you interact more with local people and pilgrims.
One of the greatest parts of any Camino is passing through varied and interesting places which come with a distinct cuisine. Many restaurants on the Camino have a ‘menu de peregrino’ (costing around €10) they tend to be good value for money and often include a free bottle of good quality wine. While on the Camino path even the smallest of villages will have a small restaurant, bar or shop to pick up provisions.
Spain has a lot of festivities and bank holidays (12 national ones and at least 4 regional and/or local ones) during which all banks, shops and government institutions are closed: 01/01, 06/01, 01/05, 15/08, 12/10, 01/11, 06/12, 08/12, 25/12 and of course the Thursday, Friday and Sunday of Holy Week (Semana Santa; normally at the end of March/ beginning of April, depending on the Catholic calendar) Saint James' Day is 25th July, and celebrated as a public holiday in Galicia, with many festivities taking place in Santiago. Although businesses are closed and public transport may be affected, many celebrations and events take place on this day in Santiago. Should you need any more information about walking the Camino, please do not hesitate to contact us or browse our collection of Camino tours.