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Thread: Primal while Backpacking in Spain? page

  1. #1
    Techie's Avatar
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    Primal while Backpacking in Spain?

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    I will be walking the Camino de Santiago from France to Spain in July. It takes about 30-35 days to walk the 900 km. The trail is very mild and passes through villages (sub 500 people) every 15-30 km that many people stay at for the night in special pilgrim hostels.

    I am bringing a backpack, tent, etc. but may stay at a hostel every 3-4 days to wash clothes and shower.

    My question is if anyone has ever done this before? Or if anyone has any recommendations for food during this trip.

    I'm not yet bringing a stove but I might buy a alcohol stove if all I can eat is Tuna out of the can. Most pilgrims pay 10 for a giant meal which is a entire bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, and little in the way of vegetables.

    I am currently working at a hotel in Italy until July and have had no problem not eating pasta, bread or ice cream (I eat lots of salad, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, and red wine). The local market here (3km down a mountain) is likely similar to Spanish ones and the only meat is processed (salami, etc).

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    Spain has excellent canned foods, like sardines, local seafoods, check your local tapas shop. Also you could bring nuts, hard cheeses, jerky, pemmican. Cured meats might work if you plan to eat it within a few days.
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    I've done four lengthy pilgrim walks, three in France and one in Spain (the route from Seville) but only walked your route as far as Pamplona. They are all generically similar, though. Spanish cuisine is a bit under-rated as it is for most of the time relatively unsophisticated, but that's a plus in my book. The flavours are simple but the quality is good. However for pilgrims it can be as you have found in Italy, small shops with not much fresh food and a lot of white bread. It's going to be hard to stay primal as there is little choice in small towns and villages, but meat is good quality and good value too. I'd go for a hearty lunch, not a snack, looking for restaurants offering a menu del dia, which is often something like pork and fries. You won't stay 100% primal but you'll get enough calories, that's the main thing. Tinned fish, as Damiana suggests, will help.

    I have to say, not that you asked, but I'd recommend ditching the backpacking gear and staying in hostels or the many private alternatives. The weight you save will make for a much more pleasant trip and you'll meet more people - it's a very social trip, if you want it to be. If you just carried a summer sleeping bag and small groundsheet you'd have a fallback if you really couldn't find a place for the night. In summer some hostels will have overflow areas and because nobody can book the refuges, they tend not to turn you away.

    Have a great trip!

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    I live in southern spain. Spanish food varies a lot by region so what I say may not be applicable up there...
    The cheapest way to eat in restaurants and bars is to have a large meal at lunch - a Menu Del Dia - they usually offer 3/4 first courses, 3/4 second courses and a pudding plus a drink. Often you can be "almost" primal with these if you navigate the choices well, though you might find a few noodles in your fish soup or get chips with your chicken etc.
    Alternatively if you are going with friends you can order raciones in restaurants. These are large dishes to share. There are many which are very simple and meat based so combining one of these with a salad is what my wife and I usually do. Examples are Carne en Salsa (meat in sauce), Lomo al ajillo (pork loin in garlic). There is lots of rabbit/conejo round here, also caracoles which are snails.
    They serve white bread with everything so beware 
    Breakfast is the hardest meal if you are out because almost everywhere just does tostadas which is toast. If you are lucky you can get a revuelta which is like scrambled egg mixed up with meat and veg for breakfast. We usually skip it or just have coffee.

    I hope that helps

  5. #5
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    I used to backpack in Spanish mountains for weeks at a time as a scout (admittedly in Southern Spain, but, still). Recommendations rehashed from a Primal perspective:
    -Take LOTS of extra water and refill whenever you can. As in, even 5 litres may not be excessive on longer days. You may have only drunk a glass' worth from your bottle, but REFILL. You need it to rinse your hands and utensils and food, to drink and to keep cool if the weather gets humid. When you need it, you'll be grateful.
    -Buy cheap chorizo, jamon and atun (tinned tuna) whenever you can, to eat on the go. Tinned aceitunas (olives) and pimientos (pickled peppers) are good also.
    -Buy fruit and veg on the way. It's cheap enough and ought to be very available in small villages.
    -If you have to make-do or order food, go for tortilla (omelet with potatoes in it), carne asada (roast meat), ensalada mixta (mixed salad with eggs and tuna), gazpacho (cold vegetable soup) or estofado (stew). Pre-made packaged tortilla and ensaladas won't kill you either, just avoid pasta- or arroz-based ones.
    -Apply sunscreen if you're outside between 11am and 4pm. The sun can leave more sensitive skins with 2nd degree burns on the hottest days.
    -Take and use an insect repellent (natural or otherwise); mosquitoes and midges will be the bane of your life otherwise.
    -Take something high in sugar and some salt. Hiking at an altitude sometimes destroys your body's hydration process before you even notice you're dehydrated. You may not ever make use of it, but a boiled sweet and some salted water help anyone who's crashed.
    -Don't fear picking chestnuts, plums, figs, almonds or prickly pears. They often hang over the side of the fences and any fruit that's outside the property is up for grabs. Prickly pears are usually wild. HOWEVER, don't pick the oranges that grow in the towns. For starters they're bitter, and second, they belong to the Spanish monarchy and can't be picked anyway.
    -You may find a lot of foods to be very salty. If they are, season with olive-oil and lemon and eat up.
    -Avoid eating much (or at all) during midday. Stick to water and have a larger meal at night. Have fruit and tortilla for breakfast and fatty meat and veg after sundown, ideally. This will keep your body working at its best.

    Offal terms spelt phonetically (offal is good):
    -eegado = liver
    -reenyon = kidney
    -kayos = tripe
    Those are the ones you'll likely come across, anyways.
    Calamares are squid, boquerones are white-bait and cangrejo is crab (non-phonetic), but they often come deep-fried. Sardinas are sardines and are often fresh when you can get them.
    -Be wary of some mostos, as sometimes mosto means grape-juice and sometimes it means "fermented grapes, with pulp, likely brewed in a basement". Also, don't drink aguardiente. Spanish firewater can kill a weaker man (only exaggerating a bit) and is often, again, illegally or legally, home-brewed. (In smaller villages it's almost certainly an illegal, superalcoholic drink.)

    I think that's all you need to be aware of in Spanish mountains.
    It will be amazingly fun and you'll love it, I'm sure. And most of these things probably won't be an issue. But it's better to be prepared for anything than ignorant.
    Last edited by Kochin; 05-14-2013 at 05:10 AM.
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  6. #6
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    I'd sample all the local cuisine that looked appealing and enjoy the adventure. I'm jealous you are doing the Camino!
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
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    I spent a month in Santiago de Compostela about a decade ago, just before coming to the realization that I was gluten intolerant. I enjoyed the city immensely, but my health was totally the pits with pain, swelling of the feet, and fatigue. I attributed this at that time to eating too many carbs, which was most of the food we were offered at the university. I also drank lots of wine, which I know now can be an inflammation issue for me.

    Although I am not religious, at the time I thought that would be a great challenge and a great hike to take, but one that I never would be able to do. Now, reading this, I realize that I could do this.

    The cuisine in the area of Santiago de Compostela is bland and salty. I agree with visiting markets. That time of the year there will be lots of fruits and vegetables. You may see small wheels of tasty, fresh local cheese. Of course when you get to the public market in Santiago de Compostela, it is amazing. Be sure to go through the whole thing, if only for entertainment value. I was especially impressed with the stall that sold only dried pig faces...

    I enjoyed the white aguardiente a lot, lol. It is truly firewater. Drink only if you are accustomed to drinking hard liquor straight up.

    A few times when I was looking for a lower-carb breakfast than pastry or churros I found an open bar that had leftover plain potato tortilla they would sell me, after looking at me kind of funny. If you are thinking you want to have tortilla for breakfast in the morning, you might purchase it the evening before in case the bars are closed in the morning.

  8. #8
    Techie's Avatar
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    PrimalCon New York
    Thanks everyone for the replies.

    I'm in Italy until June 30 and after FedExing my expensive electronics back home I will then leave Tuscany where I've been since April 5. Then I'm going to take the train from Florence to Paris, spend the day there and then take a train to Saint Jean Peid de Port where most people start.

    Equipment List:
    65L internal backpack
    Solo ultralight gebert tent (feels more like a bivy)
    summer sleeping bag liner
    thermarest pad
    Travel pillow
    Towel (cut in half)
    2L camelbak
    1 mess kit, 1 pocket knife, 1 first aid kit, 1 headlamp
    2 pairs of pants, 1 pair of athletic shorts, 1 pair Vibrams, 1 pair of Moab Merrell hiking shoes, 4 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of underwear, 2 under armor loose dry tees, 2 short sleeve button shirts, 1 hat. 5 cigars + matches
    8 feet of cloth cord, 1 toothbrush, 1 laundry/soap bar, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream.
    iPhone and USB cable (possibly Solar Charger that can be draped on backpack)


    I should have room for a liter of wine, 2-3 tins of fish, and veggies and other stuff.

    I think this will be under 25lbs. Which for my body weight will be very light for such small distances each day.




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