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Are camino tours causing 'our' overcrowding?


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF to Burgos Sept/Oct 2014, Burgos to Astorga April 2016, Astorga to SdC 2017
...Some of these, like St Bona of Pisa who led groups of pilgrims from her home town to Santiago 10 times in the 12th century, were made one of the official guides along this pilgrimage route by the Knights of Santiago. Saint Bona was canonized a saint in 1962 for her dedication to St James and pilgrims.
St Bona is my favorite and I thought about her often when on the camino and about how young she was when she started her travels.
Camino(s) past & future
My only two points were that 1) the disciples on the road to Emmaus weren't doing so as pilgrims (nor was Christ), and 2) their discipleship has a far greater dignity than being a pilgrim (if it helps resolve the impasse, feel free to equate pilgrim with disciple in the context of walking on earth as a Christian).
I can't resist coming back to this. I'm not debating faith or theology - it would never occur to me to attempt this although there is apparently often that misunderstanding on the forum - I am just trying to explain the importance of the Emmaus theme in the history of pilgrimage, certainly in the Middle Ages but still today. It was quite a central theme then and I was surprised when I first learnt about this, I just wanted to share it with interested readers. So it was with some amusement that I read, in the December 2017 edition of a magazine, a contribution by D. Segundo L. Pérez López, the Dean of the Santiago Cathedral and Delegate for Pilgrimages, who wrote among other things:

En este contexto nos referimos al pasaje paradigmático del Evangelio que nos narra la ida de dos de los discípulos de Jesús: el viaje a la aldea de Emaús. A éstos se les presenta Cristo como peregrino que esclarece el significado de lo que ha acontecido en Jerusalén y ayuda a leer correctamente las Escrituras. No es extraño que tanto la literatura como el arte hayan valorado la dimensión del peregrino Jesús con los suyos de Emaús. Jesús a los que huían les devuelve la memoria y la verdadera interpretación de la historia.Uno de los mejores cuadros del Caravaggio acierta cuando coloca a uno de Emaús la concha del peregrino.

Which Google translate more or less as follows:
In this context, we refer to the paradigmatic text of the Gospel that narrates the journey of two of the disciples of Jesus: the journey to the village of Emmaus. Christ presents himself to them as a pilgrim who clarifies the meaning of what has happened in Jerusalem and helps them to read the Scriptures correctly. It is not surprising that both literature and art have valued the dimension of the pilgrim Jesus with his disciples in Emmaus. Jesus brings back the memory and the true interpretation of what had happened to those who flee. Caravaggio confirmed this in one of his best paintings when he put a pilgrim's shell on one of the Emmaus disciples.

So keep your eyes peeled and you may spot a sculpture of an Emmaus scene in a Romanesque or Gothic church or monastery where the two disciples and/or Christ are dressed as pilgrims.
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Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
I think that we on the forum are also contributing to it by recommending that people book ahead. This bypasses a vast majority of the parochial/municipal beds (and many confraternity beds) and then hammers the smaller, upscale private albergues. Thus, the very frenzy reported here focuses greater volumes of traffic on a minority of resources, which further accentuates the perception of scarcity and feeds the frenzy.

We are not fast walkers, seniors and Unapologetic planners. We know our limitations and do stay mostly in private pensions. In 2015 we decided to walk the Camino. In July, two months before our date of departure there was little availability on many of booking.coms offerings on the CF! So I recommend if you are not a speedster and looking for a decent private accommodation in September absolutely book ahead!

Though, I was eventually able to secure private rooms, I honestly hated the experience Of the CF inSeptember. We would have to wait as long as 40 minutes on a line to just get a cup of coffee. On this blog, I later read of more solitary times when other people had a different experience. Last year we started in March and what a difference it made. There was an opportunity to really share journeys with others and spend quality time with proprietors...discussing their experiences and perspectives. What a joy!

The last section during which we walked from Sarria to Santiago and arrived at the Cathedral on Holy Thursday was a September experience! We had planned the CF wanting to experience the TRIDUUM and the processions which were wonderful. However, I would never arrive at that time again. We did have reservations so accommodations were fine. But bathroom waiting times were as much as a half hour. There were hoards of groups who were all well behaved but the numbers were really overwhelming. Groups of bikes trying to wind their way between the groups. Getting a drink at a bar took way to long so we resorted to to buying food at the Supermarkets and eating in our room. The cathedral was completely mobbed and the TRIDUUM masses IMO lacked dignity and reverence on the part of spectators.

Each person has their reason for going when they do!! I encourage you to go whenever you want! HOWEVER, If you do not like the crowds on the CF at high season and the consequences of that, then consider going at another time, or take a different route, or find another hiking trail or pilgrimage. And if you do not want to wander around looking for a place to stay or stand on lines to hopefully find a place -do book ahead!
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