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Are There Really That Many More Pilgrims?

Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#1
There's a number of recent posts about waves and bed races and gobs and gobs of pilgrims, so I decided to look at the actual data. I noticed an oddity in the pilgrim's office data for March compared to April. March 2016 levels were across the board higher than previous years. But, April numbers are actually down by about 20% compared to 2015 and 2014 and even further compared to 2010 as the last Jacobean Holy Year (with exception of SJPdP which seems to continue growing in popularity as a starting point, but even those numbers aren't particularly higher).

My analysis looked only at 2013-2016 totals for March and April, and I looked at total numbers registering at the pilgrim's office for each month, as well as those that started in Sarria and SJPdP, and those that walked the Frances regardless of starting point. Obviously, there's a lot more data points that could be analyzed, and numbers are a lagging result of conditions on the ground (any early to mid May surge won't make the numbers until end of June). But, even with other routes gaining in popularity, no doubt some as pressure relief, the Frances remains the "800 lb gorilla in the room," and as it goes, so seems to go the pilgrim system as a whole.

Even so, the question in my mind remains, are we misinterpreting conditions on the ground by seeing a massive surge because we expect to see one? Or are other conditions (albeit grounded in real experience) creating false perceptions?

For instance, other factors have already been noted in the other threads --- an early Easter has created ideal holiday conditions for opportunistic pilgrimages, weekend starts in major cities with consequent waves, and a food festival in Pamplona.

All of which leads me to wonder if this year will actually produce the massive spikes the prior Holy Years have, or if it will actually be a nominal increase, more consistent with a sustained, organic growth rate.
 

Stellaluna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Coast to Coast (2015)
Frances (July 2016)
#2
There's a number of recent posts about waves and bed races and gobs and gobs of pilgrims, so I decided to look at the actual data. I noticed an oddity in the pilgrim's office data for March compared to April. March 2016 levels were across the board higher than previous years. But, April numbers are actually down by about 20% compared to 2015 and 2014 and even further compared to 2010 as the last Jacobean Holy Year (with exception of SJPdP which seems to continue growing in popularity as a starting point, but even those numbers aren't particularly higher).

My analysis looked only at 2013-2016 totals for March and April, and I looked at total numbers registering at the pilgrim's office for each month, as well as those that started in Sarria and SJPdP, and those that walked the Frances regardless of starting point. Obviously, there's a lot more data points that could be analyzed, and numbers are a lagging result of conditions on the ground (any early to mid May surge won't make the numbers until end of June). But, even with other routes gaining in popularity, no doubt some as pressure relief, the Frances remains the "800 lb gorilla in the room," and as it goes, so seems to go the pilgrim system as a whole.

Even so, the question in my mind remains, are we misinterpreting conditions on the ground by seeing a massive surge because we expect to see one? Or are other conditions (albeit grounded in real experience) creating false perceptions?

For instance, other factors have already been noted in the other threads --- an early Easter has created ideal holiday conditions for opportunistic pilgrimages, weekend starts in major cities with consequent waves, and a food festival in Pamplona.

All of which leads me to wonder if this year will actually produce the massive spikes the prior Holy Years have, or if it will actually be a nominal increase, more consistent with a sustained, organic growth rate.
An interesting analysis... I like your thinking!
 

billmclaughlin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP/Burgos 2012; Le Puy/SJPP 2013; Aumont Aubrac/Aire sur l'Adour 2014; Burgos/Santiago 2016.
#3
I too rather like your thinking/questioning.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the Camino adopted the technology used at major marathons and we got a chip to attach to a shoelace. Then we'd have great data!

And just to repeat something I've said elsewhere: this Holy Year declared by Pope Francis should have no impact on the number of people walking to Santiago...unless they missed the Pope's point entirely. There are Holy Doors and indulgences available worldwide.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#4
And just to repeat something I've said elsewhere: this Holy Year declared by Pope Francis should have no impact on the number of people walking to Santiago...unless they missed the Pope's point entirely. There are Holy Doors and indulgences available worldwide.
I laughed when I read your post because my father is something of a conspiracy theorist, and he posits that the Church declares a holy year or jubilee year whenever the Vatican's coffers are low and they want more money (he's actually a very faithful Catholic, but jaded about the human capacity for altruism). I pointed out that Pope Francis constructed the approach to Holy Doors and indulgences in such a way to undermine my father's argument. He was rather nonplussed because the evidence didn't support his prejudice.

I'm always amazed at the human tendency (my own included) to interpret reality by our preconceived notions of what it should be. If I'm looking at a zebra and arguing that it's white with black stripes, or black with white stripes, then clearly I've failed to recognize the most fundamental and shocking question --- what he's doing in my living room in the first place?!
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#5
There is such a thing as "seasonally adjusted" statistics. Holidays change from year to year. Accordingly monthly figures, as reported by the Pilgrims' Office in Santiago, may lead to misinterpretations, because "slices" of pilgrims can fall in one month or the other or both. Figuring out the "adjustments" over more than 800 kilometers, with the bulk happening on the Francés and from Sarria to Santiago, will need more than an occasional look at numbers. Let's look at the month of May arrival numbers in Santiago for a better interpretation of this year's trend.;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#6
There is such a thing as "seasonally adjusted" statistics. Holidays change from year to year. Accordingly monthly figures, as reported by the Pilgrims' Office in Santiago, may lead to misinterpretations, because "slices" of pilgrims can fall in one month or the other or both. Figuring out the "adjustments" over more than 800 kilometers, with the bulk happening on the Francés and from Sarria to Santiago, will need more than an occasional look at numbers. Let's look at the month of May arrival numbers in Santiago for a better interpretation of this year's trend.;)
Agreed and understood. I've been wondering if the early Easter resulted in a dampening effect on April and we'll see a compensatory surge in May, which also falls under the seasonal adjustment for Easter. However, unless there is a surge in May that is significantly higher than 20% over 2014/15 numbers, then I think we have to wait for June and maybe even July to assess whether we're dealing with a bumper year of pilgrims.

In the end, the data will speak for itself as to whether this year is far more busy than recent past, not whether there were multiple occasions with a lack of available beds (which may be for reasons completely unrelated to pilgrims).
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#8
Having arrived in Santiago on Friday, after a short stroll from Sarria, I would suggest No. Compared to last year.

But then we only see one small part of the 'conga line'. The bit we are in .....

We'll need to wait for the stats.....

On the topic of stats, the pilgrims from Thailand will have shot up percentage wise this year! My wife Pat in from Thailand. I think there were between 6 and 12 last year ;)
 
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Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#10
I am writing from Logrono. The answer to your question is yes.
Yes, there are that many more pilgrims?
OR
Yes, we misinterpreting conditions on the ground by seeing a massive surge because we expect to see one?
OR
Yes, there are other conditions (albeit grounded in real experience) creating false perceptions?

Assuming that you meant "Yes" to the first, the fact that things are really busy in Logrono for this specific weekend wasn't actually the question I am asking. By way of analogy, I'm asking to what extent the ocean level is rising this year with the Jubilee Year, and I suspect you're commenting on the state of the tide in Logrono (or Pamplona) on a weekend in a sequence of holy days following Easter. That the tide is high for you now doesn't really answer the question of whether or how much the ocean levels are actually rising. Logrono (and Pamplona) is a significant starting point (1st contributor), and you're there on a weekend (2nd contributor) of a major religious feast that is in a sequence of feasts (3rd contributor) that, combined, create a spike in pilgrimage for reasons explained by @annakappa in another thread.

So, we know you're experiencing a "high tide" event (or the crest of a wave, as other threads refer to it). But is that really because there is a significantly greater volume of pilgrims, or a notable concentration of roughly the same volume as last year?

Taking some older annual numbers from the Confaternity of St. James web site (I can't find records this old on the main pilgrim's office site), we see an interesting progression:
  1. In 1992, there were 9,764 pilgrims, but in the 1993 Jacobean Holy Year there were 10 times as many with 99,439.
  2. Then, in 1998, there were 30,126 pilgrims, but in the 1999 Jacobean Holy Year there were 5 times as many pilgrims with 154,613. (In 2000, a Jubilee Year, the number returned to their non Jacobean Holy Year trend.)
  3. Then, in 2003 there were 74,614 pilgrims, but in the 2004 Jacobean Holy Year there were only 2.5 times as many pilgrims with 179,944.
  4. Then, in 2009, we see that there are 145,877 pilgrims, but in the 2010 Jacobean Holy Year, there were slightly less than 2 times as many pilgrims with 272,135.
The gap between the normal years and the Jacobean Holy Year numbers continues to drop (from over 10x in 1993 to less than 2x in 2010). That the pilgrim levels in normal years are rising is obvious, but the real question is to what extent.

Will 2016 behave like a Jacobean Holy Year, in which case we're probably talking a 50% higher volume than 2015 numbers. OR, will it be more like the Jubilee Year of 2000 with growth roughly consistent with the recent trend of about 10% per year. The March numbers of this year suggest "yes" to the first case, but the April numbers suggest "yes" to the second case. And for every anecdote of crowds this weekend in Pamplona or Logrono, there's another like @Robo's where it's not materially worse. Until we have May (and possible June) numbers in, I don't think we have anywhere near enough data to say either way.

My guess (and hope, given that I am starting in Logrono in three weeks) is that we're dealing with the second case.
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
#11
We struggled to find a bed in Logrono last April. We were told that it is a popular Stag and Hen party destination for young spaniards and weekends are always very busy. I'd prebooked a hotel as I was meeting my husband but fellow pilgrims struggled to find anywhere. In 2014 I arrived during the September festival and walked on as it was so busy... loved the town though :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#12
We struggled to find a bed in Logrono last April. We were told that it is a popular Stag and Hen party destination for young spaniards and weekends are always very busy. I'd prebooked a hotel as I was meeting my husband but fellow pilgrims struggled to find anywhere. In 2014 I arrived during the September festival and walked on as it was so busy... loved the town though :)
The city is 150,000 people. Even if there were 500 or so pilgrims staying there on any given weekend night, it's a small number compared to what are more likely shifts due to completely unrelated events (like Stag and Hen parties). For instance, in 2013, we faced a shortfall in beds in Sahagun because of bull fights taking up most of the non-albergue beds in the town. We left right before the big weekend, and folks behind us reported it being almost impossible to find a bed. The shortfall had nothing to do with pilgrim volumes.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#13
Last year walking from Moissac [GR65 France] we went very ,very slowly approaching StJPdP
The reason......... Pamplona have a yearly festival where they party , bands perform in the street singing songs with families until after midnight , kids everywhere all day etc etc ..................and they also have something where you run with the bulls ??
And this goes for 7 days.
We got there on the Sunday the last day and still it was rocking.
No accommodation unless hotels and they were $$$$$ but very kind with hospitality.
It was a "great night " and the taxi took us the next morning to the park/uni before C/ M
No good walking as streets were still blocked and still alive @ 6.30am
It was not wise to walk believe me.

More to Spain that us wanderers / pilgrims / health fanatics etc.
 

MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2014: Cam. Frances
2015: Chimayo, USA.
2016, 2017: VdlP
2018: Madrid and Ourense
#15
One should also bear in mind that the number of pilgrims at the start of the Camino Francés, which the high demand for beds is currently reported for, does not equate to the number of pilgrims arriving in Santiago roughly one month later, see graphics below for typical patterns. The first image shows the number of pilgrims departing per week from SJPdP, as registered by the Pilgrims Welcome Office in SJPdP, and the second image shows the number of Compostelas given out in Santiago per month, both for 2015. Both probably reflect the peak times of pilgrims traffic although obviously not everyone registers at either end.

Note for peaks in May 2015: 1st May was in calendar week 18, Ascension Day in cw 20, Whitsun Monday in cw 22 (on 25 May 2015)

Ascension 2016 is behind us and Whitsun Monday 2016 is on 16 May this year - like now ;).

View attachment 25759 View attachment 25760
This is fantastic data. It confirms reports from on the ground that September is becoming very busy - the highest two data points leaving SJPDP are the first two weeks of September. I know this would surprise many folks I've talked to about an early fall Camino.
 

Shiv

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP - SdC (2014)
Pamplona - Finisterre (July 2016)
#16
I was kind of hoping the "surge" was because more people were going in the spring to avoid the summer rush there by leaving june and July less populated. ;)
Yes I'm hoping that too :D
 

billmclaughlin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP/Burgos 2012; Le Puy/SJPP 2013; Aumont Aubrac/Aire sur l'Adour 2014; Burgos/Santiago 2016.
#17
Well OP koilife continues to call this a Jubilee Year. If everyone misunderstands what the Year of Mercy is about, then we should expect Holy Years numbers this year, despite the Pope's attempt to make it clear that this Holy Year is not about generating tourist income for Rome or any other pilgrimage center and it should be celebrated fully much nearer home. He opened a Holy Door in the Phillipines himself! I can walk 15 minutes to the Holy Door at my own cathedral here in the US.

But then the commercial pilgrimage organizers have been doing all they can to counter the Pope's message. Book early because the Holy Door in Santiago is open this year! You wouldn't know that the cathedrals of Pamplona Burgos and Leon all have their Holy Doors offering the same opportunity to believers.

Best of all, one of requirements that must be met to gain a plenary indulgence at a Holy Door is to pray that God hear the prayers of the Holy Father, one of whose intentions was ...

oh well
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
#18
... there's a lot more data points that could be analyzed...
I think it's important to be careful with statistics and data. This analysis is not comparing apples to apples, as the crowd reports are from early stages while the data is for completions. I think it's also important to avoid the bias of focusing on data that supports one's theory, whilest discarding data that contradicts it. Until someone installs a traffic counter at the upstream points, we will just have to wait for later months for a better data picture.
 

Alex Smith

Alex (from Scotland)
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 4th May to 11th June 2016
#19
Roncesvalles sold all their breakfast tickets before 3.00pm yesterday. That was back news for the many pilgrims taking it easy on the route from St Jean. it was windy and difficult with many arriving much later in the afternoon.
 

Canucks

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances, SJPDP to Santiago (2013), Le Puy to SJPDP (2014)
#20
I am writing from Logrono. The answer to your question is yes.
I just heard from my son, who was in Logrono yesterday also, and he said it is a real race for beds. He is in Najera today and said he got the last bed.
If you see a tall young Canadian, that's him!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#21
I think it's important to be careful with statistics and data. This analysis is not comparing apples to apples, as the crowd reports are from early stages while the data is for completions. I think it's also important to avoid the bias of focusing on data that supports one's theory, whilest discarding data that contradicts it. Until someone installs a traffic counter at the upstream points, we will just have to wait for later months for a better data picture.
Agreed that the Cathedral stats are trailing indicators and that those stats that we do have available are still early season. My question isn't discarding data or focusing on it selectively in support of a bias. If I'm discarding anything, it's the conclusions being drawn from isolated and anecdotal data points (the conclusions may indeed prove to be correct, but we have nowhere near enough data to confirm those conclusion). That people are experiencing a lack of beds is real, but so far those also appear to be at times and places where we would expect shortages to occur, so how does one differentiate?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#22
Roncesvalles sold all their breakfast tickets before 3.00pm yesterday. That was back news for the many pilgrims taking it easy on the route from St Jean. it was windy and difficult with many arriving much later in the afternoon.
I've never heard of a breakfast ticket. Where do you get those??? I usually get breakfast up the trail in Burguette or ...
 

Older Guy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
#23
From the ground a mixed bag. Santo Domingo most places I tried were full, so I went up in price. Burgos I had no problem finding a room a hotel without a reservation. Formista, I got in late today (5 PM, as waited out a rain squall in a restaurant)and hotels and Abergues were full. I got a place at a rural tourist hostel.

I suspect the holy year aspect is in play.

I will go with the flow a tittle longer as I really don't want to pre-book.
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#24
We all know that there are statistics and lies.:D However, if the past is a guide, and Santiago is consistent in recording pilgrim arrivals (which I know the Office is ;)), the trend of the first four months during the years from 2011 onward predicts increased numbers of pilgrims this year. Thus past records show (rounded to the nearest 1'000): 2011 19K, 2012 20K, 2013 21K, 2014 22K, 2015 26K and 2016 29K
There is a gradual tendency, away from the Frances in general, towards other Caminos (mainly the Portugues), but the Sarria-Santiago stretch seems able to attract ever increasing numbers (more than half the Frances walkers).:eek:
Ergo, let's walk the Invierno from Ponferrada to Santiago!:cool:
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#25
We all know that there are statistics and lies.:D However, if the past is a guide, and Santiago is consistent in recording pilgrim arrivals (which I know the Office is ;)), the trend of the first four months during the years from 2011 onward predicts increased numbers of pilgrims this year. Thus past records show (rounded to the nearest 1'000): 2011 19K, 2012 20K, 2013 21K, 2014 22K, 2015 26K and 2016 29K
There is a gradual tendency, away from the Frances in general, towards other Caminos (mainly the Portugues), but the Sarria-Santiago stretch seems able to attract ever increasing numbers (more than half the Frances walkers).:eek:
Ergo, let's walk the Invierno from Ponferrada to Santiago!:cool:
Keep the Invierno secret
 

GreatDane

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF to Burgos Sept/Oct 2014, Burgos to Astorga April 2016, Astorga to SdC 2017
#26
Do these numbers ever include pilgrims like me that are doing partial CF caminos each year due to not being able to take off time from work to do it all at once? Maybe that's the increase in the completos. I don't show up in the places they count (that I am aware of) since like this year I started in Burgos and ended in Astorga, yet I was taking up a bed space every night.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#27
Do these numbers ever include pilgrims like me that are doing partial CF caminos each year due to not being able to take off time from work to do it all at once? Maybe that's the increase in the completos. I don't show up in the places they count (that I am aware of) since like this year I started in Burgos and ended in Astorga, yet I was taking up a bed space every night.
No, never does this numbers include stage by stage walkers. Only in the year of initial start (mostly only in SJPdP) and in the year of completion in Oviedo (Salvadorana), Santiago (Compostela) or Fisterra/Muxia (Fisterrana/Muxiana). And that's only if you pick up one! Maybe there are some other documents of completion I'm not aware of though.

If one would want to get the closest to full overview of all or at least one Camino stats the numbers would have to be strictly collected from ALL accommodation possibilities, from the simplest albergues to Paradores.

Now I'm sure you won't be in 2016 numbers because nobody officially sign you in at your Burgos start and sign you "out" in Astorga.
 

Alex Smith

Alex (from Scotland)
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 4th May to 11th June 2016
#28
I've never heard of a breakfast ticket. Where do you get those??? I usually get breakfast up the trail in Burguette or ...
I've never heard of a breakfast ticket. Where do you get those??? I usually get breakfast up the trail in Burguette or ...
When you appear at Roncesvalles you are offered tickets for a bed, an evening meal and breakfast. On Saturday the take up was so great, that breakfast sold out mid afternoon. No criticism of Roncesvalles or staff. It is a wonderful place to spend an evening
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#29
The first premise of the cathedral statistics is that you sign in with them to receive the compostella or other certificates. If one doesn't sign in after the fact, their presence on the Camino isn't in the stats. This could be because they don't care about the documents, or because they quit along the way, or because they are section hiking and haven't (yet) completed. The last group will eventually make the stats and necessarily skew them for purpose of understanding traffic (if recorded from the start of their last section, their earlier sections aren't in the stats; if recorded from the first section, the starting point numbers indicate old traffic as recent).

I've not seen any estimates as to how many there are of the three categories above, but my assumption is that they are reasonably consistent as a proportion of the number that are documented as complete, in which case the cathedral statistics are remain a good indicator of overall system load (though not an accurate count of it). If there is a material change in their proportion relative to the number of documented completions, that would clearly skew conditions on the ground in a way that the cathedral stats can't even indicate.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#30
When you appear at Roncesvalles you are offered tickets for a bed, an evening meal and breakfast. On Saturday the take up was so great, that breakfast sold out mid afternoon. No criticism of Roncesvalles or staff. It is a wonderful place to spend an evening
For clarity . . . was it only the tickets that sold out, or did beds run out as well?
 

Alex Smith

Alex (from Scotland)
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 4th May to 11th June 2016
#31
For clarity . . . was it only the tickets that sold out, or did beds run out as well?
Only breafast sold out. Roncesvalles can accommodate a huge number of pilgrims in some style. Breakfast fortunately was availble within an hours walk. (and a good breakfast at that)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#33
When you appear at Roncesvalles you are offered tickets for a bed, an evening meal and breakfast. On Saturday the take up was so great, that breakfast sold out mid afternoon. No criticism of Roncesvalles or staff. It is a wonderful place to spend an evening
Interesting. I've always gone to the restaurant and made a reservation. This is either new or I've been a dummy. Lol. Where is the breakfast??? There at the Albergue?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#34
Prepaid and booked breakfast at Roncesvalles is a 'new' addition Annie. It is served in the dining spaces of the hotels as is the evening pilgrim dinner. In the past the Hotel La Posada offered breakfast but generally after 09:00. Since pilgrims had to be out of the albergue at 08:00 that was too long to wait for ...Personally I have always enjoyed walking by early morning winter starlight down to nearby Burguete for breakfast.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#35
Prepaid and booked breakfast at Roncesvalles is a 'new' addition Annie. It is served in the dining spaces of the hotels as is the evening pilgrim dinner. In the past the Hotel La Posada offered breakfast but generally after 09:00. Since pilgrims had to be out of the albergue at 08:00 that was too long to wait for most...Personally I have always enjoyed walking by early morning winter starlight down to nearby Burguete for breakfast.
Ok thanks. Yes, I've always eaten at Burguete. Thanks! And do we still make our dinner reservations at whichever restaurant we choose? Any favorites? I usually eat at Posada c
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#36
The first premise of the cathedral statistics is that you sign in with them to receive the compostella or other certificates. If one doesn't sign in after the fact, their presence on the Camino isn't in the stats. This could be because they don't care about the documents, or because they quit along the way, or because they are section hiking and haven't (yet) completed. The last group will eventually make the stats and necessarily skew them for purpose of understanding traffic (if recorded from the start of their last section, their earlier sections aren't in the stats; if recorded from the first section, the starting point numbers indicate old traffic as recent).

I've not seen any estimates as to how many there are of the three categories above, but my assumption is that they are reasonably consistent as a proportion of the number that are documented as complete, in which case the cathedral statistics are remain a good indicator of overall system load (though not an accurate count of it). If there is a material change in their proportion relative to the number of documented completions, that would clearly skew conditions on the ground in a way that the cathedral stats can't even indicate.
Also it's hard to estimate how many people walked into Santiago but didn't pick up their Compostela. I can only say that after talking to people which returned to Spain to walk another Camino(s) about 80% of them didn't register at Cathedral office to get 2nd or 3rd or... Compostela. That might be the fourth group or merged with the first one you've mentioned.
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#37
Also it's hard to estimate how many people walked into Santiago but didn't pick up their Compostela.[...].
Some knowledgeable sources estimate the figure to be double the number of "official" pilgrim arrivals. The Santiago hotel association reports bed occupancy and watches the Pilgrims' Office data. It's like comparing the weight of eggs with the number of bananas. :eek:
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
#38
Some knowledgeable sources estimate the figure to be double the number of "official" pilgrim arrivals. The Santiago hotel association reports bed occupancy and watches the Pilgrims' Office data. It's like comparing the weight of eggs with the number of bananas. :eek:
Double as in

X "official" pilgrims + X "unofficial" pilgrims = 2X (double)
OR
X official pilgrims + 2X "unofficial" pilgrims (double) = 3X

And, this is primarily for beds in Santiago, not beds prior to Santiago? Which means there could be all kinds of other cases in there (such as people who flew/drove/bussed/trained into Santiago)?
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#39
Some knowledgeable sources estimate the figure to be double the number of "official" pilgrim arrivals. The Santiago hotel association reports bed occupancy and watches the Pilgrims' Office data. It's like comparing the weight of eggs with the number of bananas. :eek:
Beds in Santiago are not really relevant as there are many tourists groups that fly into SdC. Not to mention large scout/school etc. groups that occupy Seminario Menor from time to time.

But Monte de Gozo and further back on CF the numbers in accommodations might become relevant . I simply don't believe many organized plane/bus groups would sleep exactly on CF merely 5kms or so from SdC...
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
#40
Thank you but please bear in mind that it simply means that May and September are busy months for people leaving from SJPdP. Closer to Burgos, Leon or Santiago it may be a different picture.
According to my 'When are the busy periods...' charts, the pattern that you've shown for SJPP lasts until about Astorga, when it begins to change to the pattern seen for arrivals in Santiago. The data shown in my charts is for 2013 so it's a bit out of date now, but 2014 was almost identical, and I haven't got round to doing 2015 yet! The method for these draws heavily on seasonal adjustment methodology also been mentioned in this thread, but just measures the seasonality rather than adjusting for it. It doesn't take into account calendar events (Easter etc) because that's a different can of worms!

As there was so little change between 2013 and 2014, I looked back a bit further and compared 2009 with 2014 to get a 5-year comparison. There were some interesting findings, not least that the growth in overall numbers was driven almost exclusively by SJPP and Sarria departures. Starts from intermediate places like Burgos were pretty flat. A significant amount of the growth in SJPP departures appeared to be at the expense of Roncesvalles, which had fallen in popularity, so I ended up counting these two together for that particular analysis to avoid exaggerating the growth at 'the start'.

The whole pilgrim-counting business is a bit like trying to tie down a cloud really. You have to make assumptions about cyclists, you don't have any idea what someone recorded as starting in Denmark did...etc, etc.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#41
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#42
One interesting factor this year will be the arrival and demand for Compostelas around the Feast of Santiago on 25 July. Sanitago, as you know is not only the city's namesake, but is also the patron saint for all of Spain. So, this is a HUGE celebration for the country, for Galicia, and for Santiago de Compostela writ large.

Everyone wants to be there. Many Spanish pilgrims try to arrive at Santiago on or just before the feast day to be there on this confluence of highly important events. Consequently, the numbers of pilgrims seeking Compostelas, or even just a sello, was HUGE.

I remember walking the long lines with a pre-inked sello just to provide the service to pilgrims to keep them out of the three-hour + line. This year, the new office layout and design will eliminate much of the queue issues. I was there in April and was very impressed with security and queue management.

Now, if you do not have a credential in hand, you are not admitted to the secure walled-in grounds...period. Pilgrims are only allowed from the walled-in courtyard / garden into the Pilgrim Office building, proper, in clutches or groups of a couple dozen at a time. There are no more snaking lines. However, the enclosed grounds are VERY spacious. There is ample space to spread out, have a picnic on one of the provided stone tables with benches, spread out on the grass lawn, or whatever, until you can get into the office proper. Inside the secure courtyard, there are vending machines, a consigna for mochilas (rucksacks), and ample bike racks.

Last year, in 2015, the feast fell on a Saturday. I was there working as a volunteer in the Pilgrim Office. The entire ancient city looked like Disney World on a major "school's-out" holiday. It was wall-to-wall people all over. This included pilgrims, but also a LOT of tourists. It was kind of scary creepy at times to see this city so jam-packed with people.

It was also a security nightmare for the city and junta. For a brief times, Santiago de Compostela became like all other major cities, and with all the challenges and law-enforcement problems that come with those crowds.

All in-city lodgings were full. The Tourist Information Office on Rua do Vilar was out of recommendations. I know, because I walked pilgrims there for assistance, only to be told there was nothing available. Even the inconveniently located Seminario Menor, across the "valley" was full. Pilgrims who walked into town on that Friday or Saturday, without an advance reservation, found themselves unable to find any bed anywhere at any price.

Even the Pilgrim Office was placing calls to usually unknown places desperately trying to find bed space for tearful pilgrims, especially those arriving late in the day. I will not reveal those places, except to state that they were very unconventional. We hand-walked pilgrims to those "secret" lodgings.

In fact, I recall that they only place "in town" with available beds over that weekend was the huge junta-run albergue at Monte do Gozo, about 3 km OUT of the city center.

While August might be the peak month for issuing Compostelas, as the summer surge seeks to finish before they have to return to jobs, university, etc. in September, the days before and after 25 July are the statistical high-days for demand on everything in Sanitago. This includes Compostelas at the Pilgrim Office. We were running at 1,200 to 1,400 Compostelas issued per day in the week leading up to the festival weekend. Then ,on that Friday, the day before the feast day, through Monday, the numbers spiked to more than 2,000 daily. The staff at the office and volunteers remained each evening until everyone was accommodated.

It will be interesting to compare and contrast last year's Saturday holiday, with this year's Monday Festa de Santiago. I will be there this year as a volunteer as well.

The other point I want to offer is that if YOUR Camino plans have you arriving at Santiago either a few days before or after the Feast of Santiago on 25 July, this year on a Monday, I BEG YOU to make advance reservations for a place to stay. Do not presume you will find a bed on arrival if you walk into Santiago from Friday, 22 July through Tuesday 26 July. When the beds are gone, they are gone.

If you have to make a hostal or hotel reservation, and it costs more than a private albergue, team-up with one or more pilgrims in need of a place to stay on the final day or two before Santiago, offer to share the DOUBLE you have pre-reserved, and split the higher costs. Please trust me on this. There is a chance that the Monday holiday will result in smaller overall numbers than a Saturday holiday last year, but why take the chance on a crappy ending to a good Camino?

I hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#43
The pilgrim numbers will only continue to increase as more people learn about the Camino, and as more and more support service operators offer more services to provide access to more and more pilgrims of all ages and abilities. While I do not like competing with travel agencies and organized group tours of the Camino for bed space in rented lodgings, I understand the economics of it. As an individual pilgrim, I have only to adapt and overcome.

The next formal Holy Year occurs in 2021. A Holy Year occurs when the Feast Day of Santiago falls on a Sunday. Everything that is occurring now is simply a precursor for what is coming. I see a continued growth of pilgrim numbers of about 10 percent per year, until 2021. By then, we will see the 2015 number of Compostelas issued (267,000 +/-) likely exceed 400,000. This is MY opinion, based on what I see. The 2021 number may not reach 400k, but it will most certainly exceed 350k.

That is one of the reasons the Pilgrim Office recently moved to spacious new quarters at Rua Carretas #33. It is down the ramp at the Parador on the Plaza Obradoiro, then the first right onto Rua Carretas, to a left at the next corner onto Rua García Sabell. The entry to the secured courtyard and garden is actually around the corner on Rua García Sabell.

The Cathedral management, while being very parsimonious, does understand that pilgrims must be received in a more professional and efficient manner. The new office space is a HUGE improvement over the prior two cramped locations on Rua do Vilar.

Last year, the Galician junta granted a limited sum of money to redevelop a vacant, church-owned building. I believe it was formerly a care home for elderly nuns. When the supply of elderly sisters dropped below a certain point it ceased being viable to maintain the large building. So it was turned over as the International Pilgrim Welcome Center. Unfortunately, while there was enough junta funding to renovate the first floor, where pilgrim processing occurs, the upper floors remain to be renovated, as funds can be made available in future.

As I said, the church is parsimonious. So, the Pilgrim Office must be self-supporting. Insofar as I am aware, they do not receive operating funds from the Cathedral administrative budget, as such. Funding to pay the staff, and operating costs, must come from revenues raised at the Pilgrim Office. So, they are reliant on donations, and the small profit from sales of Mileage Certificates, tubos, and miscellaneous souvenirs. But Compostelas remain free, although donations are appreciated.

I hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2016
#44
There's a number of recent posts about waves and bed races and gobs and gobs of pilgrims, so I decided to look at the actual data. I noticed an oddity in the pilgrim's office data for March compared to April. March 2016 levels were across the board higher than previous years. But, April numbers are actually down by about 20% compared to 2015 and 2014 and even further compared to 2010 as the last Jacobean Holy Year (with exception of SJPdP which seems to continue growing in popularity as a starting point, but even those numbers aren't particularly higher).

My analysis looked only at 2013-2016 totals for March and April, and I looked at total numbers registering at the pilgrim's office for each month, as well as those that started in Sarria and SJPdP, and those that walked the Frances regardless of starting point. Obviously, there's a lot more data points that could be analyzed, and numbers are a lagging result of conditions on the ground (any early to mid May surge won't make the numbers until end of June). But, even with other routes gaining in popularity, no doubt some as pressure relief, the Frances remains the "800 lb gorilla in the room," and as it goes, so seems to go the pilgrim system as a whole.

Even so, the question in my mind remains, are we misinterpreting conditions on the ground by seeing a massive surge because we expect to see one? Or are other conditions (albeit grounded in real experience) creating false perceptions?

For instance, other factors have already been noted in the other threads --- an early Easter has created ideal holiday conditions for opportunistic pilgrimages, weekend starts in major cities with consequent waves, and a food festival in Pamplona.

All of which leads me to wonder if this year will actually produce the massive spikes the prior Holy Years have, or if it will actually be a nominal increase, more consistent with a sustained, organic growth rate.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2016
#45
As someone who is currently on the Camino my idea was to leave it to spirit to guide me to the place that I would be at every night but I have found is that spirit is guiding me to the guide to make reservations otherwise I have no bed at night or I do a big race to get one every morning which I have no choice or desire to do while I'm on my journey.
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#46
This year will see again a long weekend with 25th July attached. Unless one has booked ahead, perhaps it's good to check in for 2 nights at the albergue of Monte de Gozo. The walk down to town is easy and if one doesn't feel like going back up by foot, there is a bus service from town to nearby.:cool:
 
#47
Also it's hard to estimate how many people walked into Santiago but didn't pick up their Compostela. I can only say that after talking to people which returned to Spain to walk another Camino(s) about 80% of them didn't register at Cathedral office to get 2nd or 3rd or... Compostela. That might be the fourth group or merged with the first one you've mentioned.
I am sure there are lots of pilgrims who don't collect their compostelas. I'm currently in Santiago having walked from Porto and I have no intention of queuing for one. I received my precious compostela from my first Camino but I hope, God willing, to walk many more but I have no particular desire to collect more compostelas. Talking to pilgrims on the Portuguese route during the past few days it's clear that many second, third and more time pilgrims don't register at the pilgrims office on arrival. There are so many better things to do in Santiago than stand in a queue.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#48
I am sure there are lots of pilgrims who don't collect their compostelas. I'm currently in Santiago having walked from Porto and I have no intention of queuing for one. I received my precious compostela from my first Camino but I hope, God willing, to walk many more but I have no particular desire to collect more compostelas. Talking to pilgrims on the Portuguese route during the past few days it's clear that many second, third and more time pilgrims don't register at the pilgrims office on arrival. There are so many better things to do in Santiago than stand in a queue.
Wow, your first post since you've joined the forum in 2011!!! How could you avoid the temptation? Amazing! :D
 

Wokabaut_Meri

merely labeled
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPdP - Santiago (April/May 2015)
#50
Many years ago I studied a module on statistics and interpretation. One of the final assignments was to write a credible story that matched the statistics provided. After handing it in we were then asked to use the exact same statistics to disprove what we had written the previous week. A lesson in interpretation and a warning to us that figures are only a guide, often a very good indication but never to be trusted unless the full story is known.

Reading through this informative thread took me back to this lesson and, short of electronically tagging everyone, we'll never be able to tie down the exact numbers. It would make a great study (masters/doctorate) for someone out there though if all the variables presented here are any guide. Just my love of numbers shining through :rolleyes: I guess that the only thing that we can all be certain of is that numbers will continue to steadily increase and good forward planning such as the opening of the new Pilgrim Office acknowledges that.

Thanks for providing all the good advice though, especially from @t2andreo about verifiable spikes such as the Feast of Santiago. This and the known increase in numbers for Easter, Holy Days/Years and Holidays really helps with forward planning.
 
Camino(s) past & future
April (2015) SJPdP to SdC; Porto to SdC April (2016)
#51
As I said, the church is parsimonious. So, the Pilgrim Office must be self-supporting. Insofar as I am aware, they do not receive operating funds from the Cathedral administrative budget, as such. Funding to pay the staff, and operating costs, must come from revenues raised at the Pilgrim Office. So, they are reliant on donations, and the small profit from sales of Mileage Certificates, tubos, and miscellaneous souvenirs. But Compostelas remain free, although donations are appreciated.

I hope this helps.
Thank you for this information t2andreo. When I arrived in SdC on May 7th there was a queue that went right round the building and took almost 2 hours to get to the front of. We were all exhausted, but one of the young volunteers (she was from the UK) was going round offering sweets to everyone, chatting and soothing the frayed nerves of weary pilgrims who had arrived earlier. The building is a wonderful facility/exhibition space and I would like to make a donation to the Pilgrim Office fund but don't know how to go about doing so now I am back at home, can you advise please?
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2016
#54
I came here for a journey after the loss of my son and now I'm losing hope. It is so much coming a race for beds that people are actually skipping using buses so they can get to place to get a bed. In Carrion the placed opened at 12 and was full by 1:30. Tomorrow is scheduled for 16 miles in the heat, the last day I did that I overdid it and ended up with a sick day to recover. Still looking for peace and hope to find it.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Inglés 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#55
Can you take an additional rest day? You might just be caught up in bubble/wave and getting behind the wave might alleviate the problem. Also you are close to Moratinos, perhaps @Rebekah Scott has some advice for local alternatives? Buen Camino, SY
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#56
I came here for a journey after the loss of my son and now I'm losing hope. It is so much coming a race for beds that people are actually skipping using buses so they can get to place to get a bed. In Carrion the placed opened at 12 and was full by 1:30. Tomorrow is scheduled for 16 miles in the heat, the last day I did that I overdid it and ended up with a sick day to recover. Still looking for peace and hope to find it.
Pease don't worry about the others there are ways around those rushers.
After Sahagan where you have a big rest , try 14 km to Calzadilla where you have 2 albergues with rooms for 2-4 people,
then 23 km to Mansilla and give yourself a private room at Pension de Blance[ 25e] or Hostal El Postigo [ 20e]

Then 20km to Leon

From there on MM you will have great choices if you select villages a fraction shorter than the 23-28km majority.
If someone has MMDD there are wonderful places where the rooms have only 2-6 pilgrims.

Peace be with you for the remainder,
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & Finisterre (2012); Ruta del Ebro (Tortosa to Sastago) (2014); Camino del Norte (Santander - Serdio) (2014); Camino Liebana & Camino Vadiniense (2014); Camino San Salvador (2015); Camino Olvidado (Sodupe - Reinosa) (2015); Camino del Norte (Irun - Deba & Serdio - Llanes) (2015)
#57
I am sure there are lots of pilgrims who don't collect their compostelas. I'm currently in Santiago having walked from Porto and I have no intention of queuing for one. I received my precious compostela from my first Camino but I hope, God willing, to walk many more but I have no particular desire to collect more compostelas. Talking to pilgrims on the Portuguese route during the past few days it's clear that many second, third and more time pilgrims don't register at the pilgrims office on arrival. There are so many better things to do in Santiago than stand in a queue.
I didn't collect my compostela when I first walked the Frances in 2012 and I won't bother when I return this summer. As you say, much better things to do in Santiago and the first thing I wanted to do was get away from my fellow pilgrims.

However, when I arrived in Oviedo last summer, having walked the San Salvador, I made straight for the cathedral to collect my certificate which takes pride of place on my bedroom wall.

Maybe it's my inner misanthrope ...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#58

Felipe

Veteran Member
#59
The newspaper El correo gallego reports a record number of pilgrims in May. So, the "sporadic waves" became, after all, a surge, although (as far as I can see) not particularly spectacular, compared with last year.
The "Correo" which I suppose gives the point of view of the tourism industry, expects an "extraordinary summer". It assigns the increment to the Year of Mercy.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#60
Talking to pilgrims on the Portuguese route during the past few days it's clear that many second, third and more time pilgrims don't register at the pilgrims office on arrival. There are so many better things to do in Santiago than stand in a queue.
I registered and received a Compostela after each of my five Spanish camino journeys. I have never had to queue for one. At the end of my first Camino Frances walk I had to wait for a few moments in an office in the Cathedral while the person in charge of issuing the Compostela was located and informed that a pilgrim had arrived and was asking for one. Then we had a pleasant 15 minute interview and chat before I walked off with my Compostela to ask for my free pilgrim's meals at the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos. Sadly the first meal was an underwhelming experience in a windowless dungeon and I didn't repeat the experiment :) That was my longest wait. In the past couple of years I have been in and out of the Pilgrim Office within 5 minutes. Walking in off-season does make matters much easier.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
#61
The numbers for May 2016 - arrivals in Santiago who claimed a Compostela - are out. So what's the verdict?
The May arrival numbers are unlikely to reflect the impact of any significant increase in departures from SJPP in early May. I expect that only those doing around 30km/day would have arrived in time to collect their Compostela in the last week. You would need to wait till the June arrival numbers are available, and even the a increase over a week or so will have smoothed out. In any case, I don't think the linkage between departure date and arrival date will be strong enough to form any statistically valid conclusions. There will never be a clear 'verdict'.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
#62
I wonder if the seasonal dynamics of those starting in Sarriá are different to those of long distance walkers. I would expect that for "short" distance pilgrims, months with many holidays (as it happened, apparently, in May) may be more attractive.
 
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Lucy Keenan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Northern Route - 2016
Santiago to Finestiere and Muxia - 2017
Frances Route - May 2018
Camino Ingles
#63
Also it's hard to estimate how many people walked into Santiago but didn't pick up their Compostela. I can only say that after talking to people which returned to Spain to walk another Camino(s) about 80% of them didn't register at Cathedral office to get 2nd or 3rd or... Compostela. That might be the fourth group or merged with the first one you've mentioned.
What I'd best time to aueue for the compostela would you say?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
#64
What I'd best time to aueue for the compostela would you say?
I presume you mean queue. I have pretty much gone to the Pilgrim Office as soon as I have arrived. This year I walked with my wife, and we stopped at San Marcos overnight. So we were rather earlier than I was on the two previous times. While it might have been tempting to spend a few moments savouring our arrival at the Praza Obradorio, it was raining and we decided to go straight to the Pilgrim Office and collect our compostelas. Another consideration might be whether you want to go to the pilgrim mass if you arrive before midday. You might then choose to defer going to the Pilgrim Office until afterwards.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Inglés 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#65
You don't need to go at your first day to the pilgrims office, I always take my time 'to arrive' before taken care of paperwork. Perhaps @t2andreo could chime in with tips regarding rush and less rush hours as he was a volunteer at the pilgrims office. Buen Camino, SY
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#66
I usually go first thing as I arrive in the morning, no queues....
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
#68
Interesting discussion on this rainy morning. I was here last year and I am on my way again. I am in Molinaseca. I have not encountered any race or fight for a bed yet. If we do not look at statistics but look around and talk to the albergue people I got several times the same answer about being busy / normal /lower than usual that business is lower than last year(s), as much as nearly up to 30% in a wonderful hostel. There are far less people from overseas (and yes, where are all these interesting Koreans e.g.). Americans hunting 'The Way' (like I encountered september / october last year) have decided to stay home aswell it seems. When I ask albergistas why they suppose there are less peregrinos several thought it was because of the fear for terrorist attacks. Anyway, I am enjoying my camino and I can only hope that a lot of people will get - and take - the opportunity to walk, get inspired and reflect. From this point of view there will never be too many peregrinos.
 

Older Guy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
#69
I encountered a couple places were the cheap beds had filled up and they were sending folks to the medium priced places this May. I also encountered a huge slow line at the Pilgrim's office in Santiago to get my Compostella. I do think that because it was a Holy Year of Mercy and one could get an Indulgence, that there were more pilgrims "on the Camino." Not all of them were headed for Santiago.

Considering that you could get an Indulgence (or multiple ones to dedicate to dead friends and relatives) for doing any length of pilgrimage, confessing your sins, praying for the Pope, attending Mass and entering any of a number of Cathedral Holy Doors, I would expect lots of people were out on segments of the Camino trail outside of Burgos, Pamplona, Leon, etc. to get Indulgences. I am sure many were not intending to go all the way to Santiago to get and Indulgence and a Compostella at the end of the Camino trail.

Although I had planned on doing the Camino in May of 2016 well prior to the Pope making it a Holy Year of Mercy; when he did, that just cemented things in my mind. It made this year's Camino even more special. I also dedicated some Indulgences to dead relatives (my mother and grandmother), again, making a Camino this year even more meaningful and special.
 

Older Guy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
#70
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017
#71
Roncesvalles sold all their breakfast tickets before 3.00pm yesterday. That was back news for the many pilgrims taking it easy on the route from St Jean. it was windy and difficult with many arriving much later in the afternoon.
What is a breakfast ticket? Is this something I need to pre-buy?
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#72
What is a breakfast ticket? Is this something I need to pre-buy?
If you want breakfast in one of the two restaurants that serve pilgrim meals in Roncesvalles you need to purchase a ticket when you arrive at the albergue. You will also be offered to buy a ticket for dinner too. I bought one for the "big breakfast" when I walked, and personally, I wouldn't buy one again. It wasn't that great. And I found that I preferred to walk a few miles in the morning before stopping to eat.
 

Older Guy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
#73
My experience with Albergue meals is that they were more about the "social" experience and comradery of being a pilgrim than quality food. I found that at least a few shared meals or actively joining other pilgrims for a lunch or dinner, even if it was at a village pub or restaurant was an important part of the Camino experience. I had some Albergue dinners and talked long into the night. I had some meals in bars/restaurants where I wished the next table a "Buen Camino." Depending on how they responded I asked if I could slide my table with theirs and then bought a bottle of wine for the table. The discussions that followed were some of the highlights of my pilgrimage. I always told people that I had heard that one was called to the Camino and asked them what was it that called or made them decide to be a pilgrim on such a famous journey.
 
#74
In 2006 when i did my camino, there were around 107000 pilgrims and 2016 not counting December over 270000. I am actually shocked about the growth in numbers and i can imagine the mad run for beds at the albergues.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#75
In 2006 when i did my camino, there were around 107000 pilgrims and 2016 not counting December over 270000. I am actually shocked about the growth in numbers and i can imagine the mad run for beds at the albergues.
I never experienced a mad dash for beds on the Camino this year. I also understand that there are more albergues now than 10 years ago.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#76
If you want breakfast in one of the two restaurants that serve pilgrim meals in Roncesvalles you need to purchase a ticket when you arrive at the albergue. You will also be offered to buy a ticket for dinner too. I bought one for the "big breakfast" when I walked, and personally, I wouldn't buy one again. It wasn't that great. And I found that I preferred to walk a few miles in the morning before stopping to eat.

Well said trecile,
How any one eats at Roncesvalles in the early morning instead of 4 km up the road astounds me.
I will get severe reactions but i hope it is from people who HAVE walked the camino.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#77
I do not think that it's particularly useful to compare numbers in particular months between two subsequent years, as it's well-known that there are certain monthly variations, and certain yearly ones that really just make those stats quite anecdotal.

Just because certain particular months or even years may have some local decrease in statistical numbers does literally nothing to change the FACT that pilgrim numbers are significantly larger overall in the 2010s than the 2000s, the 2000s than the 1990s, the 1990s than the 1980s, and so on all the way back to the 1960s than the 1950s, prior to which numbers were fairly stable.

This does not necessarily mean that this very significant historic increase in numbers is still ongoing, nor does it necessarily mean that the number of pilgrims in the 2020s will be greater than in the 2010s. I'd personally expect, rather, that eventually the numbers will hit some peak and then more or less level off, bearing in mind the aforementioned monthly and yearly variations & Holy Years and &c.

The real question here IMO is therefore NOT "Are there really that many more pilgrims ?" (answer : oh yes !!!), but rather "Have the yearly pilgrim numbers peaked or not ?"
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#78
And here is the pattern for pilgrims at the SJPDP Pilgrim Welcome office for 2016 by week. Similar to 2015 (see above), with peaks in late April and throughout May and in September:

View attachment 30525
Source: Accueil Pélèrins St Jean Pied de Port
I can see why the Spanish start in Roncesvalles , or middle of summer or middle of winter .

The graph shows;
3,000 people one week in Sept.
Allow 430/day on the path
45 people in Orisson
That leaves 400 to continue , and the next day the same occurs and so on.....thats why people don't stop and smell the roses and enjoy the culture/scenery and people.
WHY do they stop at Roncesvalles instead of walking to Burgette , a quaint and lovely village
AND
;)
I won't mention Sarria Jabba Papa in relation to numbers.
 
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A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#79
Well said trecile,
How any one eats at Roncesvalles in the early morning instead of 4 km up the road astounds me.
I will get severe reactions but i hope it is from people who HAVE walked the camino.
Insecurity. Afraid they won't find something a few km later. I walked some 4 km (cannot eat just after getting up) and found a bakery that had ok bread but delicious artisanal dark chocolate.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#80
The real question here IMO is therefore NOT "Are there really that many more pilgrims ?" (answer : oh yes !!!), but rather "Have the yearly pilgrim numbers peaked or not ?"
From your fingers to God's ears, let's hope they have.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
#82
There's a number of recent posts about waves and bed races and gobs and gobs of pilgrims, so I decided to look at the actual data. I noticed an oddity in the pilgrim's office data for March compared to April. March 2016 levels were across the board higher than previous years. But, April numbers are actually down by about 20% compared to 2015 and 2014 and even further compared to 2010 as the last Jacobean Holy Year (with exception of SJPdP which seems to continue growing in popularity as a starting point, but even those numbers aren't particularly higher).

My analysis looked only at 2013-2016 totals for March and April, and I looked at total numbers registering at the pilgrim's office for each month, as well as those that started in Sarria and SJPdP, and those that walked the Frances regardless of starting point. Obviously, there's a lot more data points that could be analyzed, and numbers are a lagging result of conditions on the ground (any early to mid May surge won't make the numbers until end of June). But, even with other routes gaining in popularity, no doubt some as pressure relief, the Frances remains the "800 lb gorilla in the room," and as it goes, so seems to go the pilgrim system as a whole.

Even so, the question in my mind remains, are we misinterpreting conditions on the ground by seeing a massive surge because we expect to see one? Or are other conditions (albeit grounded in real experience) creating false perceptions?

For instance, other factors have already been noted in the other threads --- an early Easter has created ideal holiday conditions for opportunistic pilgrimages, weekend starts in major cities with consequent waves, and a food festival in Pamplona.

All of which leads me to wonder if this year will actually produce the massive spikes the prior Holy Years have, or if it will actually be a nominal increase, more consistent with a sustained, organic growth rate.
Besides percentages of increase or decrease (comparing March to April) I'd be interested in actual numbers walking in those months. If there are many fewer people walking in March than April, only a few more or less will have a greater effect on the percentages. If you know what I mean.
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#83
Do remember that the Easter holidays were again overlapping March with April. Thus the individual months' arrivals in Santiago are not indicative. It is however noticeable that for the first 4 months this year, overall numbers who registered in Santiago's Pilgrims' Office increased by 5% compared to the same period in 2017 (when 20% compared to 2016). On the Camino Frances, however, there appeared less walkers then last year (-4%), though there were 5% more walkers who started from Sarria this year, showing an ever increasing "popularity". Walkers from further away were -14%, but here the weather conditions may have played a role. Walkers on the Portuguese showed an increase against last year of 25%. Note that there were less Spanish pilgrims this year compared to last year Jan-Apr: 42% of all pilgrims compared to 45%.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#84
The increasing numbers do not seem to be evenly spread across the different routes. Last year's increase in numbers on the Portugues was quite remarkable. The Ingles has also seen an impressive growth in popularity (admittedly from a very small base). A short news item today hints at a probable further increase on the Ingles by noting that the Pontedeume albergue has had a 35% increase in numbers so far this year over the same period in 2017. Only a single snapshot but suggestive.

https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/notic...les-impulsa-pontedeume/0003_201805F1C7991.htm
 

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