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LIVE from the Camino Between Sarria and Portomarin

Time of past OR future Camino
September, 2023
Due to the influx of tour operators plus hundreds of teenagers on the Camino leaving Sarria today it wss hard to find an albergue in Portomarin (5 direct tries then I went to Booking.com) but I did and that’s not really the point. The big tour buses can’t get into the smaller towns after Sarria so they book mini buses. Spotted the mini buses - seat around 25- on the first town and then a couple of hours later. Took a picture. Those pilgrims had completely clogged a cafe so I continued on and down the road a bit found a nice cafe for lunch.

This nan came in and walked over to a couple and told them he discovered this cafe 25 years ago. While I was eating I saw one of the mini buses drive down the Camino. I saw it again 45 minutes or so later parked in a pull out. The other mini bus pulled up just as I approached and the man who ate at that cafe 25 years ago hops out snd then boards the waiting bus. I guess he didn’t want to eat at tye same cafe as his hus mates and walked down the hill to the cafe from 25 years ago. These mini buses must shuttle the pilgrims between each other and then on to Portomarin where I saw 2 larger tour buses waiting. Interesting. Its not like pilgrims wear a pedometer thatbis checked in Santiago. They have buses to shuttle them to where they can get stamps.

Due to do many on the Camino I’ve booked my beds up to Santiago. I hate doing that but with the rain and bed shortage its peace of mind.
 

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Be part of the Camino Cleanup team! Help us pick up litter from Ponferrada to Sarria.
Wow Samos to Portomarin in one day! Some going, and probably easier by bus 😉

Remember there is no requirement for a pilgrim to the shrine of Santiago to walk there, or ride a bike or an horse for that matter. The only requirement is that the pilgrim makes their pilgrimage with pilgrimage in their heart. The rules for claiming a Compostela require foot, bike or some poor nag but that is a different prize.

While I’ll agree that it’s more than a bit annoying to discover that Spanish school groups on half-term break and Parish groups on pilgrimage have booked out most the Albergues I understand you’ve found a bed. So, Buen Camino
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
Please explain your photo. Thanks.
Hi Bert45!
At the time i posted it seemed an appropriate follow up comment from VintageCowgirl's post above mine about the number of coaches unloading loads of pilgrims (in this case about 80 teenagers).
I had just walked down the hill from Portomarin when the coach started unloading them so i lent on the railings and waited for them to walk on for a bit ; before i started walking!!
It's a video clip not a photo!
Hope that helps .
All the best
Woody
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Hi Bert45!
At the time i posted it seemed an appropriate follow up comment from VintageCowgirl's post above mine about the number of coaches unloading loads of pilgrims (in this case about 80 teenagers).
I had just walked down the hill from Portomarin when the coach started unloading them so i lent on the railings and waited for them to walk on for a bit ; before i started walking!!
It's a video clip not a photo!
Hope that helps .
All the best
Woody
Oh! I see. I didn't realise it was a video. Thanks.
 
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Due to the influx of tour operators plus hundreds of teenagers on the Camino leaving Sarria today it wss hard to find an albergue in Portomarin (5 direct tries then I went to Booking.com) but I did and that’s not really the point. The big tour buses can’t get into the smaller towns after Sarria so they book mini buses. Spotted the mini buses - seat around 25- on the first town and then a couple of hours later. Took a picture. Those pilgrims had completely clogged a cafe so I continued on and down the road a bit found a nice cafe for lunch.

This nan came in and walked over to a couple and told them he discovered this cafe 25 years ago. While I was eating I saw one of the mini buses drive down the Camino. I saw it again 45 minutes or so later parked in a pull out. The other mini bus pulled up just as I approached and the man who ate at that cafe 25 years ago hops out snd then boards the waiting bus. I guess he didn’t want to eat at tye same cafe as his hus mates and walked down the hill to the cafe from 25 years ago. These mini buses must shuttle the pilgrims between each other and then on to Portomarin where I saw 2 larger tour buses waiting. Interesting. Its not like pilgrims wear a pedometer thatbis checked in Santiago. They have buses to shuttle them to where they can get stamps.

Due to do many on the Camino I’ve booked my beds up to Santiago. I hate doing that but with the rain and bed shortage its peace of mind.
Ohh… I’m sorry… you are running into that…. But You figured out-what i couldn’t… I felt like I was seeing ppl in “weird waves”— and I looked around and I expected to see a Greyhound type bus… but you are right… I thought Huge buses can’t get into littke towns… and now I remember seeing “mini vans” full…🤦🏻‍♀️
 
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Ohh… I’m sorry… you are running into that…. But You figured out-what i couldn’t… I felt like I was seeing ppl in “weird waves”— and I looked around and I expected to see a Greyhound type bus… but you are right… I thought Huge buses can’t get into littke towns… and now I remember seeing “mini vans” full…🤦🏻‍♀️
We got swamped by a tour bus dropping off about 80 obnoxious clients who smoked and shuffled their way along the trail. Making it hard for people like us to actually walk.

Once we got to our next stop they were met by their bus and directed to go to the only two little places available to serve pilgrims.

We waited while they all stood around blocking Everything and then after they got what they wanted. Which was the stamps another mad exodus back to their bus. ?!!

It’s equal parts maddening and trying to work on my tolerance. 💗
 
We particularly enjoy young groups walking. The kids we met were always polite and respectful. I also appreciate the student who said "It (the Compostela) is for the resume".

I always recall the guided tour group, compete with Credentials, sweat bands, gourdes, day packs, scallop shells and trekking poles for the 230 meter trek from the bus/van parking to the Igrexa de San Xoán de Portomarín.

Tour groups that reserve virtually the tables in cafes & restaurants, particularly on rainy days, are almost as disappointing those who place daypacks on benches that people need to rest.

I've actually seen several people put off by having their bags removed from a bench needed by a woman waiting for an ambulance.

I remind myself that: 1) many people can't or don't care to walk without support, and 2) avoid Sarria to SdC during tour bus season. :)
 
We particularly enjoy young groups walking. The kids we met were always polite and respectful. I also appreciate the student who said "It (the Compostela) is for the resume".

I always recall the guided tour group, compete with Credentials, sweat bands, gourdes, day packs, scallop shells and trekking poles for the 230 meter trek from the bus/van parking to the Igrexa de San Xoán de Portomarín.

Tour groups that reserve virtually the tables in cafes & restaurants, particularly on rainy days, are almost as disappointing those who place daypacks on benches that people need to rest.

I've actually seen several people put off by having their bags removed from a bench needed by a woman waiting for an ambulance.

I remind myself that: 1) many people can't or don't care to walk without support, and 2) avoid Sarria to SdC during tour bus season. :)
Brilliant advice ♥️
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Having walked Sarria to Santiago roughly a month ago with my wife's brother and sister in law, who were first timers, I concur that the last 100 k into Santiago is a bit of a zoo now.
My wife and I were simply astonished how busy and packed everything was.
We use to be those that promoted no pre-booking of albergues, but that simply isn't possible now unless sleeping under the stars is your thing.
Fortunately our walk to Finistere was more relaxed and less busy.
Our love of Caminos is undiminished, but after six Compostelas, our feeling is we will never do the last 100 k into Santiago again from any direction.
Next year we will likely walk from Lisbon to Porto and won't feel bad about not reaching Santiago in the least.
Been there, done that.
 
Due to the influx of tour operators plus hundreds of teenagers on the Camino leaving Sarria today it wss hard to find an albergue in Portomarin (5 direct tries then I went to Booking.com) but I did and that’s not really the point. The big tour buses can’t get into the smaller towns after Sarria so they book mini buses. Spotted the mini buses - seat around 25- on the first town and then a couple of hours later. Took a picture. Those pilgrims had completely clogged a cafe so I continued on and down the road a bit found a nice cafe for lunch.

This nan came in and walked over to a couple and told them he discovered this cafe 25 years ago. While I was eating I saw one of the mini buses drive down the Camino. I saw it again 45 minutes or so later parked in a pull out. The other mini bus pulled up just as I approached and the man who ate at that cafe 25 years ago hops out snd then boards the waiting bus. I guess he didn’t want to eat at tye same cafe as his hus mates and walked down the hill to the cafe from 25 years ago. These mini buses must shuttle the pilgrims between each other and then on to Portomarin where I saw 2 larger tour buses waiting. Interesting. Its not like pilgrims wear a pedometer thatbis checked in Santiago. They have buses to shuttle them to where they can get stamps.

Due to do many on the Camino I’ve booked my beds up to Santiago. I hate doing that but with the rain and bed shortage its peace of mind.
I had the same trouble, hundreds and teenagers and they too clogged the cafes . it was a terrible experience from Sarria after enjoying my peaceful Camino.
 
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
Having walked Sarria to Santiago roughly a month ago with my wife's brother and sister in law, who were first timers, I concur that the last 100 k into Santiago is a bit of a zoo now.
My wife and I were simply astonished how busy and packed everything was.
We use to be those that promoted no pre-booking of albergues, but that simply isn't possible now unless sleeping under the stars is your thing.
Fortunately our walk to Finistere was more relaxed and less busy.
Our love of Caminos is undiminished, but after six Compostelas, our feeling is we will never do the last 100 k into Santiago again from any direction.
Next year we will likely walk from Lisbon to Porto and won't feel bad about not reaching Santiago in the least.
Been there, done that.
 
Just wondering when "tour bus season" starts. My son walked the Camino Frances mid-May to June and only saw the students at the end from Sarria. My husband was thinking of doing it next September-October. Advice on when it's less busy and can find albergues?
 
Just wondering when "tour bus season" starts. My son walked the Camino Frances mid-May to June and only saw the students at the end from Sarria. My husband was thinking of doing it next September-October. Advice on when it's less busy and can find albergues?
September-october? I just did that - it was a river of tour busses from around Sarria.
I had one good experience from that though. I was resting on a bench when one of the tourbusses stopped close by. The guide actually told the "pilgrims/tourists" to be mindful of the pilgrims that was walking - make room when they come as he said. When I got up and walked again I passed them and they all greeted me with buen camino.
Be understanding - they are not there to ruin your/our camino.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I had the same trouble, hundreds and teenagers and they too clogged the cafes . it was a terrible experience from Sarria after enjoying my peaceful Camino.

Its a cheapish bus ride to Ourense from Sarria and the Sanabres is a much nicer route in the grand scheme of things. The only annoyance was the albergue at Dozon has closed so from Cea you have a very long day ahead of you unles syou bus back to Cea after walking it.

Only saw one bit of agro with the bus pilgrims when they rocked up to the albergue nr San Pedro de Vilanova and invaded the albergue to use the toilets. One of the guys threatened the hospitalero and much shouting occurred and punches almost got thrown. He said to me shortly after that a minibus was coming to pick them up to take them to Santiago along with some other choice words.

The issue of the minibus pilgrims kept being raised by hospitalero/hospitaleras all the way along the CF when i walked, especially after Ponferrada. But a lot of the private albergues were of the opinion if they give us money we don't really care. If they aren't threatening people, neither do I.
 
Just wondering when "tour bus season" starts. My son walked the Camino Frances mid-May to June and only saw the students at the end from Sarria. My husband was thinking of doing it next September-October. Advice on when it's less busy and can find albergues?
I’m sure tour bus season is year round. I first ran into tour group on Sept 25 in Puente La Reina. The albergue had 38 beds. Me, 2 Swiss men, and 35 from a bus. Other tour groups in town. 4 big tour buses idling at the curb when I wslked out in the morning. Need to book a bed ahead of time. Sometimes took 2 hours and many full albergues. Used Booking.com more than I wanted. Even trouble on small towns. On Oct 10 I got the last private room in La Laguna in El Burgo Ranero. Me, an Italian man, and the rest a bus tour.

Buses are a great way to see the Camino and get your credentials stamps if you are unable or unwilling to walk.

I had better luck booking albergues with less than 25 beds to avoid the tour bus passengers. Up until Astorga I saw pilgrims be turned away who hadn’t booked beds ahead. After that many albergues I stayed in weren’t full until after Sarria when we caught up with the buses and groups again.
 
I admittedly had no issues finding a bed this year except in O Cebreiro. But I have mainly stayed in Municipal (Xunta and association run) albergues and the occasional donativo. The only private albergues I stayed in were Grello Hostel in Ourense (while I recuperated after a ligament injury) and Seminario Menor in SdC. I suspect the minibus groups avoid the municipals and donativos for the most part.
 
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
I have perhaps a different view of the student groups walking around Easter several years ago. At the time I was 74 and described by my brother as "old, slow, but he keeps on moving." On a quite warm day for which I was over dressed for the temperature and walking quite slowly up a very long uphill section. A group of three young men, ? 14 years old passed me, stopped about 50 yards past me and talked among themselves. One of them walked back to me and asked if I were ok. I told him I was and thanked him for his concern. We both moved on but those boys were never more than 75 yards away from me and kept looking back to be sure I was ok. They stayed with/near me til the top of the grade. I offered them a cold drink and we sat and talked for about a half hour. Two of the three had visited the US, the third planned to. As long as the world produces such fine young men, we'll be alright!
 
I too had a wonderful experience walking the CF in October. It rained continuously from Sarria. There were two large school groups one from Madrid and one from Belgium. I made friends with a group from Belgium. They were wonderful, respectful, clever, young people. They spoke multiple languages and asked me lots of questions about Australia. I enjoyed their company.
 

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