This is a step by step map and directions to walking along the river along the way into Burgos. It is a beautiful walk along the river as opposed to walking through the industrial area. Both will get you to Burgos.
This is the list of the stages that the Pilgrims Office in Saint-Jean-Pied-du-Port gives each pilgrim who visits them. It is an excellent view of the walk ahead.
Harrowing but Wonderful 1st Day by Roger and Rella Remedios
In March 2013 Rella and I flew to Madrid. Our plan was to fly to San Sebastian and then take the bus and train to St. Jean Pied de Porte. The plane changed course in mid flight and landed in Bilbao instead. It had snowed heavily in San Sebastian and the pilot decided that Bilbao was safer. A bus then took us to San Sebastian. When I logged onto the Camino Forum I found out that the Pyrenees above St. Jean had been hit with a snow storm and the Route Napoleon was closed. In addition, the Valcarlos, though still opened, seemed likely to close also if the snowfall continued. We went to bed that night thinking that our Camino Frances would likely be shortened. We considered taking the bus to Pamplona and starting there.
The next morning the situation in the Pyrenees was no better and we started researching buses to Pamplona. While on the Camino Forum I came across a mother and two young daughters (I believe 8 and 12) that were on their way to St. Jean to begin the Camino. The mother commented that they were from Vermont and a “little” snow storm would not deter them from starting the Camino in the Pyrenees. In reading this, Rella said to me that we did not come all this way to start our Camino in Pamplona. She also said that if the mother and two young girls were brave enough to head for St. Jean why not us. (Two weeks into the Camino, we met this family and thanked them for giving us the courage to start in St. Jean)
The evening before our departure on the Camino, we did a reconnaissance to determine the way out of St. Jean on the Valcarlos. The next morning we followed our route and thought we were well on our way, when Albert, an Italian pilgrim, called out to us that we were heading for the closed Napoleon. We were very thankful for his redirection because ten days into the Camino we learned that a Brazilian pilgrim took the Napoleon two days after us and fell to his death. His body was discovered in the snow, days after he went missing.
During the trek to Roncesvalles on the Valcarlos we walked through snow and snowy conditions. Once when we went off the main road onto a detour the snow was so heavy that we backtracked to the main road. Along the way we only saw one person. Umi was a young Japanese travel agent walking by herself.
We walked with Umi until her pace became too slow for us. We kept her within eyeshot for much of the way. When we lost sight of her we stopped until we could see her again. Twice we stopped and waited for her. She indicated that she tired and would be ok if she slowed down. I offered Umi half of my saved bocadillo, but she declined. I then offered her a piece of our dark chocolate bar and she gladly accepted it. This occurred once more before we reached Roncesvalles.
We lost contact with Umi over the subsequent days, but saw her again in Puente La Reina. Rella spotted her with five pilgrims talking outside of a cafe. When she saw us she ran over and hugged us both…telling us that if it weren’t for us she may not have made it to Roncesvalles. Umi then reached in her jacket pocket and handed us an oversized bar of dark chocolate. We ran into Umi several more time along the camino to Santiago de Compostela. That first day symbolized the Camino to us…Albert helped us and we were able to pass that help on to Umi. A harrowing, but wonderful, first day.
One of the tools you can use to help prepare for your Camino is the Godesalco website. This interactive planner is offered for many camino routes and will help you plan out your days based upon the kilometers that you hope to walk each day. The output files that you can create are visually helpful to see the elevation gain and loss for each stage you select and will help you to plan your days accordingly. You also will have an idea of the number of accommodations that are available in each village and town that make up your camino route.
I’ve created a helpful step by step document to walk you through how to use the planner! How to use the Godesalco website: Click Here
An example of some of the output files you can get from this planning site:
This is my blog post for April 6, 2013. My first Camino, Camino Frances. Needless to say I might not have been ready for the experience but the Camino has a way of bringing you along. Please excuse the spelling errors and bad grammar.
Archives for April 2013
Today I started as usual at around 6:30. As I walked out the door I realized that it was snowing. Not just a little but really coming down.
At the albergue
The above picture was taken at the top of the mountain. It snowed so hard on the way up that I could barely see the trail let alone find the trail markers.
This is looking back at my way down the trail. It took me 3 hours to walk the 8k or 4.8 miles to the top. Crazy.Tonight I am staying at Santiago apostle albergue. A nice place with lots of people that have been traveling with me from the beginning. You see each other at night in the albergue and then maybe on the road.
Still having fun. My body is slowly starting to adjust.
Camino Frances guide (This is an older guide that I found on the internet, but still valuable)
Beginners Guide to the Camino Frances (again an older guide but still good info)
Walking the Portuguese presentation by Joanne This is a presentation that was done at our local meeting in June of 2017 on walking the Portuguese route.
Walking the Portuguese presentation by Kerri This is a second presentation that was done by Kerri at our local meeting in June of 2017. It is a different take on walking the Portuguese route.
Pilgrimage Prayers and Poems
A PILGRIM BLESSING
(The text of a medieval rite dated 1078 preserved in the Missal of Vich Cathedral, Barcelona, Spain. At the Abbey of Roncesvalles the blessing is used at the end of the Mass for the blessing of pilgrims passing through.)
Blessing of the Pilgrims Emblems
C: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R: Who made heaven and earth.
C: The Lord be with you.
R: And also with you.
Let us pray.
O Lord whose word makes all things holy, bless we beseech you these emblems, rucksacks and staffs to be used on this pilgrimage. May all those who carry them arrive safely at the shrine of St. James the Apostle, the objective of their journey. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Presenting the Rucksacks (When presenting the rucksacks the priest says: “In the name of the Lord”)
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, shoulder these rucksacks which will help you during your pilgrimage. May the fatigue of carrying them be expiation for your sins, so that when you have been forgiven you may reach the shrine of St. James full of courage, and when your pilgrimage is over, return home full of joy. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Presenting the shells and other emblems
Receive these shells and medals, as signs of your pilgrimage. With God’s grace may you behave as true pilgrims throughout your entire journey and be able to reach your objective, which is to visit the shrine of St, James and gain indulgences. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Blessing the Pilgrims
Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us through the Apostle St Paul that here below we have no lasting city and must always seek the heavenly city. Hear our prayers for these pilgrims we commission. May the Holy Spirit breathe his grace into their hearts; may he enliven their faith, strengthen their hope and feed the flame of their love. May they thus make their pilgrimage in the true spirit of penance, sacrifice and expiation. May the same spirit purify their minds from every evil thought. May he defend their hearts and give them the constant help of his protection so that they can reach the objective of their journey safely and by means of this pilgrimage they are now starting merit to come one day to the heavenly Jerusalem. You who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
May the Lord always guide your steps and be your inseparable companion throughout your journey.
May our Lady of Roncesvalles grant you her motherly protection, defend you against all dangers of soul and body. Through her intercession may you arrive safely at the end of your pilgrimage.
May St Raphael the Archangel accompany you throughout your journey as he accompanied Tobias and ward off every contrary or troublesome incident.
And may almighty God bless you, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Go in the peace of Christ
Translated from a French version of the Latin original by Brother David Leo fsc.
Copies available from the Confraternity of St James www.csj.org.uk
Pilgrim’s Prayer to St. James
An ancient prayer that comes at the end of the Pilgrim Mass said along the Camino de Santiago:
“O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldean’s, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over us, your servants, as we walk in the love of your name to Santiago de Compostela. Be for us our companion on the walk, Our guide at the crossroads, Our breath in our weariness, Our protection in danger, Our albergue on the Camino, Our shade in the heat, Our light in the darkness, Our consolation in our discouragements, And our strength in our intentions. So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road and enriched with grace and virtue we return safely to our homes filled with joy. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. Apostle Santiago, pray for us. Santa Maria, pray for us.
A different version of the Roncesvalles Blessing
“Oh God, You who took up your servant Abraham from the city of Ur of the Chaldean’s, watching over him in all his wanderings. You who were the guide of the Hebrew people in the desert, we ask that You deign to take care of these your servants who, for love of your name, make a pilgrimage to Compostela. Be a companion for them along the path, a guide at crossroads, strength in their weariness, defense before dangers, shelter on the way, shade against the heat, light in the darkness, a comforter in their discouragements, and firmness in their intentions, in order that, through your guidance, they might arrive unscathed at the end of their journey and, enriched with graces and virtues, they might return safely to their homes, which now lament their absence, filled with salutary and lasting joy. Through Jesus Christ Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, descend on you.
Priest: May the Lord direct your steps with his approval, and be your inseparable companion on the entire Camino.
Priest: May the Virgin Mary grant you her maternal protection, defend you in all
dangers of soul and body, and may you merit to arrive safely at the end of your
pilgrimage under her mantle.
Priest: May the Archangel Rafael accompany you on the Camino as heaccompanied Tobias, and protect you from every injury and obstacle.
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, receive this pouch, habit for your pilgrimage, so that, castigated and corrected, you hasten to prostrate at Saint James’ feet, where you yearn to arrive and, after having completed your journey, you come to us delighted with the help of God, who rules over the world without end. Amen.
Receive this staff as support for the journey and your efforts during your pilgrimage so that you are able to defeat the throngs of enemies and thus arrive safely at Saint James’ feet and, after having completed your journey, you come to us delighted with the consent of the same God, who lives in and rules over Heaven without end.
C: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R: Who made heaven and earth.
C: The Lord be with you.
R: And also with you.”
Let us pray. ”O Lord whose word makes all things holy, bless we beseech you these emblems, rucksacks and bikes to be used on this pilgrimage. May all those who use them arrive safely at the shrine of St. James the Apostle, the objective of their journey. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
“All-powerful God, you always show mercy toward those who you love and you are never far away for those who seek you. Be with your servants on this pilgrimage and guide their way in accord with your will. Be a companion for them along their journey, a guide at crossroads, strength in their weariness, defense before dangers, shelter on the way, shade against the heat, light in the darkness, a comforter in their discouragements, and firmness in their intentions, in order that, through your guidance, they might arrive unscathed at the end of their journey and, enriched with graces and virtues, they might return safely home; through Jesus Christ Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.”
Together we say the Pilgrims ‘ 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 faith and happy in hope on our pilgrim journey following the path of Christian life and sustain us so that We may finally reach the glory of God the Father Amen”
Padre Nuestro (Our Father in Spanish)
Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo,
Santificado sea tu Nombre;
Venga a nosotros tu reino
Hágase tu voluntad en la tierra como en el cielo.
Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada dia,
Perdonna nuestras ofensas,
Como tambien nosotros perdonamos
A los que nos ofenden;
No nos dejes caer el la tentacion,
Y libranos de mal.
The pilgrim prayer – Thomas Merton
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end…. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem lost in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
St. Gildas 5th C Pilgrims’ Prayer
In health may I and all of my companions
Safely arrive with no harm or injury –
May my boat be safe in the waves of the ocean,
My horses safe on the highways of the earth,
Our money safe as we carry it with us
To pay due heed to our poor necessities.
May our enemies fail to do harm to us,
However evil the counsels which inspire them,
In the eternal name of Christ our Master,
May my roads all lie plain before me,
Whether I climb the rugged heights of mountains,
Or descend the hollow depths of valleys,
Or trudge the lengthy roads on open country,
Or struggle through the thickets of dense forest:
May I walk always in straight ways and shining
To longed-for places . . .”
Prayer for Saint James
O glorious Apostle, Saint James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart was chosen by Jesus to be witness of His glory on Mount Tabor, and of His agony in Gethsemane; thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory: obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life, that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus, we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor’s crown in heaven. Amen.
In defense of pilgrimage:
St Jerome: “We do not worship, we do not adore for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are.”
in Mystics and Zen Masters: ”Our task now is to learn that if we can voyage to the ends of the earth and there find ourselves in the aborigine who most differs from ourselves, we will have made a fruitful pilgrimage. That is why pilgrimage is necessary, in some shape or other. Mere sitting at home and meditating on the divine presence is not enough for our time. We have to come to the end of a long journey and see that the stranger we meet there is no other than ourselves – which is the same as saying that we find Christ in him.”
“The geographic pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.” ~Thomas Merton. 1964
Who can free himself from achievement,
And from fame, descend and be lost
Amid the masses of men?
He will flow like the Tao, unseen…
Such is the perfect man:
His boat is empty.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” (Psalm 84:5)
But in moments of silence, of meditation, of enlightenment and peace, one learns to live in the atmosphere of solitude even in the midst of crowds. …One opens the inner door of his heart to the infinite silences of the Spirit, out of whose abysses loves wells up without fail and gives itself to all. In His silence, the meaning of every sound is finally clear.
Thomas Merton. Love and Living.
Pope John Paul II said,
“To go in a spirit of prayer from one place to another, from one city to another, in the area marked especially by God’s intervention, helps us not only to live our life as a journey, but also gives us a vivid sense of a God who has gone before us and leads us on, who himself set out on man’s path, a God who does not look down on us from on high, but who became our traveling companion.”
Blessing and Prayer for the Pilgrim:
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, who brought your servant Abraham out of the city of Ur protecting him through all his travels and wandering, and who was the
Hebrew nation’s guide through the desert, we ask you to bless these children of yours who, for the love they bear your name, are on a pilgrimage to Rome.
Be for them their companion on the way, their guide at the cross-roads, their fortress in danger, their shelter on the road, their shade in the heat, their light in the darkness, their comfort in weariness, their consolation during sadness, and their resolve in intentions.
So that through your guidance they arrive safely and unhurt at the end of their road, and, enriched with grace and spirit, secure and filled with happiness return home healthy and full of worthy virtues. Apostle Peter, pray for us Holy Virgin, pray for us
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Teilhard de Chardin quotes©
(From Saint Anthony’s Messenger, Aug. 7, 2002)
1. Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you find that the Camino opens your eyes to the unseen.
2. Blessed are you, pilgrim, if what concerns you most is not arriving, but arriving with the others.
3. Blessed are you, pilgrim, when you contemplate the sights of the Camino and find them full of names and of new dawns.
4. Blessed are you, pilgrim, because you have discovered that the true Camino begins at its end.
5. Blessed are you, pilgrim, if your backpack empties of things as your heart doesn’t know where to fit so many emotions.
6. Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you discover that a step backwards to help another is more valuable than one hundred forward without awareness of those at your sides.
7. Blessed are you, pilgrim, when you have no words to give thanks for all the wonders in every nook of the Camino.
8. Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you search the truth and make of your Camino a life and of your life a Camino, after Him who is the Way, the Life, and the Truth.
9. Blessed are you, pilgrim, if in the Camino you meet yourself and make yourself a gift of time without hurry so that you may not neglect the image of your heart.
10. Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you find that the Camino is rich with silence, and the silence is rich with prayers, and the prayers are encounters with the Father that awaits you.
All-powerful God, you always show mercy toward those who you love and you are never far away for those who seek you. Remain with your servants on this holy pilgrimage and guide their way in accord with your will. Shelter them with your protection by day, give them the light of your grace by night, and, as their companion on their journey, bring them to their destination in safety.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The Padre Pio Foundation: Prayer for Pilgrims
Three Powerful one liners: (Known as “The Pilgrim’s Prayer.” It was prayed during the Middle Ages, silently, mile after mile, day after day, by pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land.)
“Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom Come.”
“Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee.”
(Jesus encouraged Sister Faustina and the whole world to pray “the Chaplet of Mercy.” Jesus says to us: “I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those Souls who trust in My mercy.”)
Reflection on a Pilgrimage
Living stones, Father, we are as You have made us – living stones for You – not walls of stones for rejecting others, but rather stepping stones to Your Kingdom. May we come to rejoice in each others’ uniqueness – gifts and weaknesses. There Lord, You will have Your way with us, for it is only through You and by You and in You that we have our true being, not for our sakes, but for Your glory.
“The breviary [in 1908] contains Prayers for travelers that have received the consecration of the Church and of centuries — the “Itinerary,” which priests seldom fail to recite for themselves and their companions as often as they begin a journey. As it may seem rather long for general use, we give an abridgment for the use of those who may wish to know, and learn it.
May the almighty and merciful Lord direct us on our journey; may He make it prosper and maintain us in peace. May the Archangel Raphael accompany us along the way and may we return to our homes in peace, joy, and health.
Lord, have mercy on us! Jesus Christ, have mercy on us! Lord, have mercy on us!
One Step Now
Pilgrim steps, I pray are but one at a time today. For if more might be required I will see it as not desired to even begin the way in prayer less I fall into some despair. But God asks only this somehow for me to take one step with my God now.
Taxis, Luggage Transport & Other Travel Services in Portugal
Portugal Green Walks Camino Portuguese luggage transfer services.
USING YOUR CELL PHONE IN EUROPE: U.S. CARRIER, SIM CARD, NEW PHONE OR WIFI?
You have a U.S. cell phone and plan to travel to Europe soon. You don’t love the idea of spending half of your time looking for free wifi. You want to be able to wander the streets of Paris thanks to Google Maps or post real-time shots of your tasty gelato in Rome on Instagram. This guide provides detailed summaries of each option for using your cell phone in Europe and will walk you through how to choose your best option and the process to get sorted.
Option 1: The International Plan Offered by Your U.S. Cell Phone Carrier
If there’s no wifi, your smartphone must use cellular data to connect to the internet, and if you don’t use an online service like Skype or WhatsApp, your smartphone must use a voice network to call home. If you keep your U.S. wireless plan when using the internet and making those calls, you may be charged roaming fees to use another carrier’s tower whenever you’re off wifi. That’s as much as $2/minute for calls and $2/MB of data!
U.S. wireless carriers, however, have begun offering more competitive international plans and some even provide free international roaming. So in deciding how to use your cell phone abroad, start by reviewing the international plan offered by your existing U.S. wireless carrier. Whether you keep your cell phone carrier for your trip to Europe will depend on which carrier you have and your answers to the nine questions at the end of this post.
Option 2: Replace Your SIM Card
A SIM card is a small card containing a chip that allows your cell phone to tap into a specific mobile network. You can remove the SIM card from your U.S. wireless service carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) by inserting a pin or paper clip into the small whole on the side of your phone and replacing it with an international SIM card. When you take out your U.S. SIM card, you’ll get a new number from the country where you purchased the card, and you’ll be unable to call or text with your U.S. number. But you’ll usually pay significantly less for cellular data using a local SIM card, and you can connect with those in the U.S. using online calling and messaging services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and iMessage/FaceTime (see here for a comparison of top wireless calling apps). SIM cards also may provide better coverage than if you use the international plan of your U.S. carrier if you’re using T-Mobile and Sprint’s 2G networks.
TIP: Even if you change your SIM card, you may be able to check your voicemails from calls to your U.S. number. A Verizon representative claimed that voicemails couldn’t be accessed without your Verizon SIM card, but we’ve been able to still listen to voicemails by calling our U.S. number then pressing # and entering the voicemail code.
When deciding whether to get a new SIM card, you should review your answers to the nine questions at the end of this post and this detailed article on whether to buy a SIM card, which includes a comparison chart of popular offerings, useful tips on where and how to buy SIM cards and helpful checklists for buying either a local or global SIM card.
**In June 2017, the EU implemented the “roam like at home” rule, which prohibits providers from charging roaming fees. If you buy a SIM card in one EU country and travel to another EU country, you cannot be charged a roaming fee. This has made global SIM cards less appealing, but there may still be reasons to get a global SIM card.
Using Your Cell Phone in Europe
Option 3: Buy or Rent a Separate Phone
If you’re only taking a short trip buying or renting a separate cell phone in Europe makes little sense unless you go to the country frequently enough to justify the upfront cost (at least $20-30 for a crappy phone) or you have an old phone you can use, and you’re able to easily add your contacts. You’ll still have to pay for a new SIM card, but you can leave your primary phone as is and receive calls texts to your U.S. number in an emergency if you’re willing to pay the roaming charges or for the international plan. It also makes sense if your phone is locked. In which case, you can’t replace your SIM card (find out how to unlock your smartphone).
Option 4: Rely only on Wifi
On our trips to the Middle East and India eight plus years ago, we did nothing. We kept our U.S. wireless carrier but turned our phones to airplane mode and relied on wifi and Skype to call home. This is no longer a good option for the Travel Honey team and most of our readers. If we’re using our cell phone in Europe, we want to be able to get directions, text home and obviously let the world know about our cool trip on social media. In real time.
But for those who are more willing to unplug, just beware. If you have Verizon or AT&T, and need to use your phone in a pinch, a two-minute call will run you $40 on AT&T and $35.80 on Verizon. Also, before landing in Europe, make sure you turn cellular data and roaming off or put your phone to airplane mode so you are not charged roaming fees.
SO, HOW DO YOU DECIDE HOW TO USE YOUR PHONE IN EUROPE?
To sum it up, if you’re trying to use your cell phone in Europe, don’t rely on wifi, that’s an unecessary inconvenience. And if you’re going for a short trip, skip using another phone. Instead, evaluate the cost of your U.S. wireless carrier’s international plan and the inconenience of getting a SIM card.
Do you want to learn more about using your cell phone in Europe, including whether to get a SIM card, 14 tips for saving data when traveling, what’s the best calling app and how to use offline maps? Then click here or download your free guide in one easy to ready PDF below. You may also like one of our awesome free itineraries for Iceland, Italy or Portugal.
Spain has four network operators, Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, and Yoigo. As of 2016, Vodafone had 95% 4G coverage, followed by Orange with 89%, and Movistar and Yoigo each cover 86% of the population. Movistar is known to have better coverage overall, but check the areas you specifically plan to visit. Spain has a healthy resellers market, but most don’t offer 4G on prepaid SIM cards.
Both Vodafone and Orange offer a tourist SIM card. With Vodafone, you can get 2GB of 4G data and 50 minutes of international calls for about $16, and Orange offers 3GB of 4G data and 30 minutes of international calls for about $37. Movistar charges you about $11 for a SIM card, and you can get another 1gb of 4G data for about $10. Yoigo charges you about $21 for SIM card but you get that amount in credit.
Spain requires you to register your SIM card, so you must bring a photo ID. There are no branded SIM card provider stores in the major airports in Spain and the available SIM card stands are overpriced, so wait to buy a SIM card if possible (there’s free wifi at the Madrid airport). See here for more details on SIM cards in Spain.
Portugal’ s major operators are MEO, Vodafone, and NOS. MEO and Vodafone have the best 4G coverage, followed by NOS. 4G coverage is good in Portugal except for unpopulated areas. There’s public wifi, but it’s not super widespread.
Vodafone has a 30-day holiday SIM with 5GB of data, 500 min. local calls/texts and 30 min. calls/texts to the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand. There’s also a 1GB option for 10 euros that only includes local calls/texts. MEO offers a cheaper weekly plan (about $16 for local minutes/texts and 4GB of data) and a two-week tourist plan (about $16 for international minutes/texts and 2GB of data), but the weekly plans can’t be topped off, and the tourist plans are only available at a few stores. NOS is slightly cheaper, and you get local minutes/texts and 1GB of data for about $12. See here for more details on SIM cards in Portugal.
The big four network operators in France are Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR, and Free Mobile. France’s SIM card options are generally pricier than a lot of other European countries, and many cafes do not have wifi. Also, you’ll find 4G in the bigger cities, but you’ll be limited to 3G in the countryside.
As of January 2017, Orange has the best 4G coverage in 17 cities and 88% of the population, but the others are not far behind: Bouygues has 85%, SFR has 81%, and Free has 80%. All of the network operators allow tethering on their SIM cards.
Each of the providers except Bouygues Telecom offers a tourist option that allows you to use the SIM card throughout Europe. The Orange Holiday is the most expensive at 40 EUR, and Free Mobile has the cheapest option at 20 EUR (but you can only buy Free Mobile SIM cards in machines, which can be confusing if you don’t speak French or know how to switch out a SIM card from your phone). There are many Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom shops in Paris. They may try to sell you the more expensive package, so make sure you ask for all your options. You can also get a better deal through one of the MVNOs (Lebara is a popular option), but your coverage and speed may be less – and you’ll only be able to buy the SIM card in a supermarkets, tobacco shops, etc. where you may not find help if there’s an issue.
You’re required to bring your passport to buy a SIM card. And because it needs to process, it takes about an hour to get service as long as you’re buying directly from a provider’s store (e.g, an Orange or SFR store). If you buy the SIM card elsewhere, you may have to wait more than a day to activate your card, so double-check before buying. See here for more information on SIM cards in France.