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Camino awesome, Santiago not so much

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Ian Campbell

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Past: LePuy 2016
Future: Frances 2022
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
 
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I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I am sorry to read of your poor experience, Ian. All I can offer is: if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. From your family name, you may have roots in a tiny pocket of land where a fabled king did just that, having watched a spider...
 
Past OR future Camino
Ingles (after Covid)
I felt that way in Cusco, Peru before Machu Picchu. It was jarring to feel like a walking dollar sign and have hustler after hustler walk up to your outdoor café table trying to sell you something and not leaving until you rudely yelled "no" and then the next one would come try. I had one of them try to sell me things thru a picture window in a pizzeria! I think it's the contrast (for us) of coming off this lovely experience of contemplation and being thrust right into the commercial side of the destination, being charged tourist prices instead of local prices and losing the warmth of interaction we had before and now being looked at coldly with a calculator running in their heads.
 

pepi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Last: 2021, next: ???
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
Last year in SdC I took some photos of the cathedral on the Praza do Obradoiro; the guys in medieval clothes standing in front of it to pose for tourist money happened to be there and I couldn't avoid them.
IMG_1835.JPG
When they noticed me, they shouted at me loudly and in the most vulgar language for taking the picture without paying. Welcome to SdC!
After walking the Camino (for a month, in your case even 2 months), one has to get used to descending from the exalted state of a pilgrim into everyday life 😀. It helps not to regard SdC as a "holy city", but as an ordinary Spanish (Galician) town with all its facets, gutter included.
By the way, I couldn't help but give the guys my long finger and to realize that I'm definitely no holier than they are.... and to chuckle at myself. 😇
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
It helps not to regard SdC as a "holy city", but as an ordinary Spanish (Galician) city with all its facets, gutter included.
I agree. The same is probably even more true for Rome. A treasure trove of history and architecture of course but also a frantic overpriced rapacious tourist trap! It is quite a shock to end a 2000km walk mostly spent in silence and solitude in the hustle and bustle outside St Peter's. We are deluding ourselves if we expect to find a perfect Oz at the end of the yellow paint road! :)
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
When they noticed me, they shouted at me loudly and in the most vulgar language for taking the picture without paying. Welcome to SdC!
Wow. But I think that you were "lucky" to see them and that their performance did not last long. As far as I know the city administration of Santiago does not allow "street artists" to perform in front of the Cathedral. Their only concession is to the pipers under an arch at one of the entries to the Praza do Obradoiro and even their business is regulated to some extent.
 

wisepilgrim

Guidebook Author
Past OR future Camino
Many
Wow. But I think that you were "lucky" to see them and that their performance did not last long. As far as I know the city administration of Santiago does not allow "street artists" to perform in front of the Cathedral. Their only concession is to the pipers under an arch at one of the entries to the Praza do Obradoiro and even their business is regulated to some extent.
I think that they do, but also know that those licenses are very short and subject to renewal. I would imagine that if they keep up with the grumbling they won't be invited back.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
From another Scot (Robert Louis Stevenson) “It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive”

Surely it has always been like this to some degree? In medieval times you would have been offered a scrap of bone from some obscure saint, a splinter of wood from the One True Cross, a fragment of cloth from Christ's robe.

Now it's a Taiwanese tee shirt, a cathedral snow globe or a genuine plastic scallop shell.

Be grateful for the experience of the Camino and leave the memories of the snake oil salesmen behind as you board the flight home.

Well done, by the way, for the sterling walk - kudos!

 

Zordmot

3rd CF in May 2022
Past OR future Camino
April-May 2022
I agree with you Ian. Somehow, maybe through the several Camino movies I’d hoped it to be a climactic moment, a celebration but it was more of a re-entry moment, a reality check. I didn’t see a single other person I had met along the way. Pilgrims don’t greet each other like we did on the Camino. Combined with pouring rain, staying alone in a hotel room and that the cathedral was closed due to renovation, the day felt like a negative. I’m presently again walking towards Santiago and wonder if any of the veteranos here have had albergue experiences in Santiago that might help put a better point on concluding the Camino?
 
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waigandta

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Portuguese route 2 times and Frances route 1 time
Last year in SdC I took some photos of the cathedral on the Praza do Obradoiro; the guys in medieval clothes standing in front of it to pose for tourist money happened to be there and I couldn't avoid them.
View attachment 126372
When they noticed me, they shouted at me loudly and in the most vulgar language for taking the picture without paying. Welcome to SdC!
After walking the Camino (for a month, in your case even 2 months), one has to get used to descending from the exalted state of a pilgrim into everyday life 😀. It helps not to regard SdC as a "holy city", but as an ordinary Spanish (Galician) town with all its facets, gutter included.
By the way, I couldn't help but give the guys my long finger and to realize that I'm definitely no holier than they are.... and to chuckle at myself. 😇
I've seen those same guys. They are loud and abrasive. Don't let it put you off Santiago. I really enjoy the place. Shopping in the small shops and having all my Christmas gift needs taken care of in one short afternoon.
 
Past OR future Camino
2020
I felt that way in Cusco, Peru before Machu Picchu. It was jarring to feel like a walking dollar sign and have hustler after hustler walk up to your outdoor café table trying to sell you something and not leaving until you rudely yelled "no" and then the next one would come try. I had one of them try to sell me things thru a picture window in a pizzeria! I think it's the contrast (for us) of coming off this lovely experience of contemplation and being thrust right into the commercial side of the destination, being charged tourist prices instead of local prices and losing the warmth of interaction we had before and now being looked at coldly with a calculator running in their heads.
I never had that experience in Cusco. Sad that you did.
 

Maxsmart

Sierra Peregrina
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015), Camino Frances (2022)
Oh goodness, I’m so sorry for your experience. I think it’s all about your expectations. As a student of history, I think of pilgrimage as the earliest form of international tourism and Santiago as one of the first great tourist destinations. As someone else wrote, even in its earliest days, there would have been crowds of vendors hawking holy souvenirs to the crowds. Being just one in the crowd, surrounded by cafes, shops and stalls, made me feel like I was experiencing Santiago in the same way as the early pilgrims. I also went to two Pilgrim masses (even though I’m not Catholic) and visited some of the other churches in town as well as the Monastario de San Martiño Pinario. None of these other churches were particularly crowded. It was a nice break from the crowds. I also went and had a drink in the Parador lobby, and bought a few souvenirs. Touristy stuff. I enjoyed the energy, but I was prepared for it. I hope you have a better experience next time!
 
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tomlynum

New Member
Past OR future Camino
May 21, 2022
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
We agree 1000%. Santiago is all about the commercialization of the Camino. Our experience was so distressing we decided not to obtain the Compostela. My wife cried, but I told her the Camino is in your heart, in your soul. Not on a piece of paper.

We have been recommending pilgrims make Sarria the conclusion of the Camino Frances
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
I felt that way in Cusco, Peru before Machu Picchu. It was jarring to feel like a walking dollar sign and have hustler after hustler walk up to your outdoor café table trying to sell you something and not leaving until you rudely yelled "no" and then the next one would come try. I had one of them try to sell me things thru a picture window in a pizzeria! I think it's the contrast (for us) of coming off this lovely experience of contemplation and being thrust right into the commercial side of the destination, being charged tourist prices instead of local prices and losing the warmth of interaction we had before and now being looked at coldly with a calculator running in their heads.
I was in Cusco but I was with Peruvians and experienced the some of the same but I did not feel it was any different than other touristic towns. I thought the town of Aquas Calientes was worse. If you ever travel to Lourdes you will really hate it. It is completely made up of overpriced hotels, bad restaurants and cheap trinket shops. It is the polar opposite of the sacred grounds of Lourdes.
Santiago? I have walked late in the year and mostly solitary caminos so I no longer have the joy that I had on my first two caminos of spending a few more hours with precious camino friends. I love the Cathedral and the shop I go every year to buy my wife a thank you gift for supporting my pilgrimages. Besides that, I always have time and would much prefer to walk to Muxia or find a quiet place to stay before returning to the non Camino world.
 
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Next up 2022?
Santiago is all about the commercialization of the Camino.
Wow.
This isn't the Santiago I know and love.
Over-focus on the negative things and you miss so much. The good people at the Welcome Centre upstairs from the Pilgrim's Office and Pilgrim House; early morning in the Cathedral; the Portico de Gloria; Fr Manny and the English Mass; Alameda Park, the market, and breakfast at Tertulia...and so much more.

Our experience was so distressing we decided not to obtain the Compostela. My wife cried, but I told her the Camino is in your heart, in your soul. Not on a piece of paper.
It's not Santiago's fault you had that reaction, without looking more deeply. You shot yourself in the foot out of pique. A pity. I feel sad for your wife. And you.
 

Lydia Gillen

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007/8/9, 2011 , 2012/13/14. C.F 2015
Camino Portugues 2017,2018,2019
volunteering
Ian, Congratulations an completing such a long Camino.

Thank God for your health and strength to be able to walk so far. What a pity that your experience in Santiago was not a good one for you, but coming into most cities after weeks of walking can be a culture shock.
Of course there was a lot of traffic, but I am amazed at how well mannered drivers are, who always without exception give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings.

You were given your beautiful Compostela free of charge by the Cathedral.

Did you go on the tour of the roof of the cathedral or the Portico the Gloria or did your browse around the Cathedral museum or the museum of pilgrims? Did you think of the millions of other pilgrims who have walked on those narrow streets of granite over the past 1000 years. Did you stand in awe of the cathedral and wonder how on earth it was built with wooden scaffolding held together with rope. Did you look at the self carved statue of Master Matteo who was chief sculptor of the Portico and master mason , did you wonder how anyone could be so gifted as to be able to carve such beautiful Statues, did you smile back at the smiling face of the young prophet Daniel?

When you visited the tomb did you reflect on how James had taken his masters words " go to the end of the earth" so much to heart that he had come to the Iberian Peninsula which at that time was the end of the known world .

Maybe you will come again some time and spend some time in Santiago, which is so unusual in that the town grew up around the first little church and the city grew up around the Cathedral. In all other cities it is the other way around. It was the thousands of pilgrims in the middle ages walking to and from Santiago that gave Europeans the sense of being Europe.

Ian reflect on all the good experiences along the Camino and do not let a few thoughtless or bad mannered people spoil the whole experience for you
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
I agree with you Ian. Somehow, maybe through the several Camino movies I’d hoped it to be a climactic moment, a celebration but it was more of a re-entry moment, a reality check. I didn’t see a single other person I had met along the way. Pilgrims don’t greet each other like we did on the Camino. Combined with pouring rain, staying alone in a hotel room and that the cathedral was closed due to renovation, the day felt like a negative. I’m presently again walking towards Santiago and wonder if any of the veteranos here have had albergue experiences in Santiago that might help put a better point on concluding the Camino?
I think it's a matter of timing. My first time in Santiago I miscalculated how long it was going to take me to get there and so was there for 3 days. The day I arrived and the next day I saw dozens of pilgrims I recognised. On the last day everybody I saw was unknown and that's when I knew it was time to go home.
 

C.C.

Member
Past OR future Camino
May 2017
Ian, Congratulations an completing such a long Camino.

Thank God for your health and strength to be able to walk so far. What a pity that your experience in Santiago was not a good one for you, but coming into most cities after weeks of walking can be a culture shock.
Of course there was a lot of traffic, but I am amazed at how well mannered drivers are, who always without exception give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings.

You were given your beautiful Compostela free of charge by the Cathedral.

Did you go on the tour of the roof of the cathedral or the Portico the Gloria or did your browse around the Cathedral museum or the museum of pilgrims? Did you think of the millions of other pilgrims who have walked on those narrow streets of granite over the past 1000 years. Did you stand in awe of the cathedral and wonder how on earth it was built with wooden scaffolding held together with rope. Did you look at the self carved statue of Master Matteo who was chief sculptor of the Portico and master mason , did you wonder how anyone could be so gifted as to be able to carve such beautiful Statues, did you smile back at the smiling face of the young prophet Daniel?

When you visited the tomb did you reflect on how James had taken his masters words " go to the end of the earth" so much to heart that he had come to the Iberian Peninsula which at that time was the end of the known world .

Maybe you will come again some time and spend some time in Santiago, which is so unusual in that the town grew up around the first little church and the city grew up around the Cathedral. In all other cities it is the other way around. It was the thousands of pilgrims in the middle ages walking to and from Santiago that gave Europeans the sense of being Europe.

Ian reflect on all the good experiences along the Camino and do not let a few thoughtless or bad mannered people spoil the whole experience for you
After 4 Camino’s…I still love Santiago…the parks, museums, walking thru the city streets, mass in the cathedral…the energy and excitement of the pilgrims… sorry you didn’t see that
 

Nick Barlow

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: April 2022
I was talking about this with people after I finished a couple of weeks ago and it occurred to me that it feels like a variety of the experience they call Paris Syndrome. It's where tourists (usually from outside Europe) have built up an image of Paris from the media and then go into shock when they're confronted with the reality that while it has all those beautiful buildings there, it's also just another city with everything you'd expect to find in one.

And I think when you've been walking towards somewhere for several weeks and been spending a lot of time contemplating it, it can be hard for anywhere to live up to our expectations of it, and so we'll look at the bits that don't fit with what we thought they'd be. And by that point we're so focused on the end being near that having to walk through the mundanity of the outskirts feels a bit of a letdown. (On a slight digression, I did wonder if there had been any pilgrims finding themselves pressed for time who'd gone straight to the airport when they reached it)

For me, I found that I got much more of a sense of completing something when I reached Finisterre than I did in Santiago. The idea that I'd reached a point I couldn't walk any further from got me feeling a lot more like I was done than I did arriving at the cathedral. But that's just me, we all walk our own caminos.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
For me, I found that I got much more of a sense of completing something when I reached Finisterre than I did in Santiago.
Although I have walked on to Finisterre Santiago is definitely the destination for me. But I think I understand what you mean. When I walked the Via Francigena reaching the Mediterranean turned out to be more personally significant for me than my final arrival in Rome. I think because as a teenager I was greatly impressed by John Hillaby's 'Journey Through Europe'.
 
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2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
An historian friend of mined noted that Rome and Canterbury were basically the shrine of a saint around which a carnival was built. Remember that it's also a provincial capital and a university town with real stuff happening in it.

While it was the only place in Spain where I was overcharged, it was also the place where the tattooed staff in a souvenir shop rushed out to assist a pilgrim who had suddenly fallen quite ill. Still, it's a bit of a shock entering a city after weeks of wandering into pueblos wondering if there's anything to eat....
 
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I'm so sorry this was your experience! I was just there this week (after a short section of the CP, with friends who'd never walked), and loved being there and showing off the city. I was able to take the good and ignore the bad, but maybe it was because I was just so grateful to be there after a 4-year absence. Promising myself it won't be so long next time....
 

WisTom

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Via Francigena Torino-Rome Feb/Mar 22
I agree. The same is probably even more true for Rome. A treasure trove of history and architecture of course but also a frantic overpriced rapacious tourist trap! It is quite a shock to end a 2000km walk mostly spent in silence and solitude in the hustle and bustle outside St Peter's. We are deluding ourselves if we expect to find a perfect Oz at the end of the yellow paint road! :)
Rome was a shock. Walked this year from Turin to Rome starting on Feb. 19 - not the season for Italian pilgrims. Arriving at St. Peter's after 35 solitary stages, I was not ready for the selfie-taking crowds at all the famous sites. Left the next day to continue walking south on the Via Appia.
 

FourSeasons

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Costa/Senda Litoral
Porto/SdC Sept 2022
Santiago (old town) with it's shortcomings captured my heart in 2013 then again in 2016, 2019 and God willing 2022. It feels like home to me. Arrive with the spirit of the Camino and your heart will be glad, for The Spirit is alive and well in Santiago and a little bit of magic too. Buen Camino!
 
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Hilarious

Hilarious
Past OR future Camino
Planning stage Camino Frances from SJPdP (Sept. 2019)
Firstly, Ian - what a fantastic achievement. We are all unique - no one else will experience the Camino, your Camino exactly the same as you. It has taken me many years to realise - it is what it is - sometimes you have to let things slide like water off a ducks back. You get what you focus on. Cliches I know - I am still working on these lessons. I spent four days in Santiago at the end of my pilgrimage. Yes, there were lots of touristy things and I happily bought souvenirs for friends and family and myself. We went on a free (donativo if you wished - we certainly did) walking tour of Santiago. Met our guide in Praza Obradoro (forgive any spelling mistakes) - she was one of the highlights of Santiago for us - wonderful insights into history both ancient and more modern. This guide took so much pride in her city, we were so blessed to be able to experience Santiago through her eyes. Sometimes with time and reflection we can see things in a different light.
 
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I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
So sorry you felt that way but for me after 18 caminos over years do not agree on my last ever Camino on Frances because it was very first. One.but every time I reach santiago I still get feeling of love and great achievement everybody trying make living vin these hard times at moment present god bless them all they do not force you to buy from them as I think you suggested
 
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Albertinho

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I agree with you.
in my montlhly column about the Caminho Português at a Dutch website about Portugal I wrote that the Way to Santiago is great but once arriving there , it is the anticlimax.Better to be on the way instead of ending the Way.
.
I stayed there for a longer time, 14 days , as an volunteer at the Pilgrim Office where it is nice to stay and to work.I loved my stay in the hospederia San Martin Pineiro and some other places but as been said , Santiago is one big touristical and commercial bussiness .
Not the devote atmosphere you hope for once you arrive .
But on the other hand people who live and work there have a living .
And it is a beautiful medieval city center.
So I definitively will come back there because it is the ultimate end of my camino.
 

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FRM

How do you walk the Camino? One step at a time.
Past OR future Camino
C.F. 2014, 2019, 2020, 2021
C.P. 2022
I think we fail to recognize that each year the Camino becomes less of a walk/experience for pilgrims and more of a tourist attraction. Those on the forum represent more of the “true” pilgrim than many of those actually walking. I’m on the Portugues (in Caminha) now and no one I have talked to knew it was a holy year and a surprising number don’t know who St. James is or his role in the Camino. For many (a majority?) the Camino is a vacation that involves walking, cheap food and drink and nothing more. It’s sad. Many of the businesses on the Camino (especially in larger cities) are just that, businesses. The less popular routes are where the true Camino spirit thrives.
 

FourSeasons

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Costa/Senda Litoral
Porto/SdC Sept 2022
Santiago (old town) with it's shortcomings captured my heart in 2013 then again in 2016, 2019 and God willing 2022. It feels like home to me. Arrive with the spirit of the Camino and your heart will be glad, for the The Spirit is alive and well there and a little bit of magic too. Buen Camino!
@Kelly Ann what about my post makes you give it a “sad” emoji? Just curious as I see you’ve done so on other posts that have a positive note towards Santiago? Does our love for Santiago de Compostela make you sad?
 

Cicada

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
 

Cicada

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I guess it is what it is. Cafe owners in Santiago have had little or no income for the past 2 years! Buy a coffee and pastry here in Sydney it'll cost more than €6.
Been twice to Santiago loved it . Maybe fo us on the good stuff!!!
 
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KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Past OR future Camino
2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022
Wow. But I think that you were "lucky" to see them and that their performance did not last long. As far as I know the city administration of Santiago does not allow "street artists" to perform in front of the Cathedral. Their only concession is to the pipers under an arch at one of the entries to the Praza do Obradoiro and even their business is regulated to some extent.
Wow @Kathar1na , I'm surprised to read your response and to learn the street artists are not allowed. I've seen these 'frozen statue' performers in the square on numerous camino. There was also once an old man with a scruffy dog wearing a pilgrim cape, hat, gourds...he wanted money to take a photograph of his dog. I was yelled at by a piper under the arch on my first camino for simply snapping a quick photo. I think the people who surround the cathedral in the old city who are vendors or performers in any way are no different than those in any other tourist city. They pedal tidbits and tales, but offer little else. I'm not sure where pilgrims get the expectation of kindness. We arrive after long long walks, but we are one of the masses and not special to those who survive in the old city.
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
Oh goodness, I’m so sorry for your experience. I think it’s all about your expectations. As a student of history, I think of pilgrimage as the earliest form of international tourism and Santiago as one of the first great tourist destinations. As someone else wrote, even in its earliest days, there would have been crowds of vendors hawking holy souvenirs to the crowds. Being just one in the crowd, surrounded by cafes, shops and stalls, made me feel like I was experiencing Santiago in the same way as the early pilgrims. I also went to two Pilgrim masses (even though I’m not Catholic) and visited some of the other churches in town as well as the Monastario de San Martiño Pinario. None of these other churches were particularly crowded. It was a nice break from the crowds. I also went and had a drink in the Parador lobby, and bought a few souvenirs. Touristy stuff. I enjoyed the energy, but I was prepared for it. I hope you have a better experience next time!
It is nice visiting the convents,and churches,and have a drink in the parador.
 

jimmyc

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2015
I felt that way in Cusco, Peru before Machu Picchu. It was jarring to feel like a walking dollar sign and have hustler after hustler walk up to your outdoor café table trying to sell you something and not leaving until you rudely yelled "no" and then the next one would come try. I had one of them try to sell me things thru a picture window in a pizzeria! I think it's the contrast (for us) of coming off this lovely experience of contemplation and being thrust right into the commercial side of the destination, being charged tourist prices instead of local prices and losing the warmth of interaction we had before and now being looked at coldly with a calculator running in their heads.
I found Cusco the same. i went to the railway station to purchase a ticket to Machu Picchu and they said it would be US$100. I caught a bus to the next station and it was $3.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I agree with you Ian. Somehow, maybe through the several Camino movies I’d hoped it to be a climactic moment, a celebration but it was more of a re-entry moment, a reality check. I didn’t see a single other person I had met along the way. Pilgrims don’t greet each other like we did on the Camino. Combined with pouring rain, staying alone in a hotel room and that the cathedral was closed due to renovation, the day felt like a negative. I’m presently again walking towards Santiago and wonder if any of the veteranos here have had albergue experiences in Santiago that might help

For me the spiritual climax was not Santiago but the cruz de ferro. So much so that on my next 25-day Camino I believe I can make it. Commercialization, crowds, etc. It just didn't move me the way the ritual of the iron cross did. Ultreia to each his own Camino.
That's where last time we experienced a minor miracle.
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I think you can have different experiences on different days. The first time I walked into Santiago it was hot, but magic, the piper, the other pilgrims. Exploring around, watching other pilgrims walk in, buying some Camino souvenirs to take home. Buying an entire tarte de Santiago and eating it between us with icecream and laughing because of the brain freeze. Went to the Cathedral which was jam packed and loved the spectacle.
The last time it was raining, not just a bit, but torrential, so we stayed indoors until it abated. Didnt see other pilgrims because of the rain, and were so cold after our walk we just wanted to huddle in bed. The Cathedral was closed. Eventually we ventured out, went to the Anglican service (twice) and decided to head to the coast.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
All of us who walk into Santiago de Compostela whatever our reasons or beliefs share similar quickened emotions upon our arrival. The weight of history is so great with the accumulated layers of centuries, both visible and invisible. One can see much and also feel or imagine even more such as hordes of past pilgrims following the same timeless route towards the cathedral throughout the ages.

Overwhelmed, my emotions were always a complex mix of euphoria and sadness; I felt weary but thrilled and sincerely thankful to have made it!!

Arriving at the simple northeast corner of the cathedral near the plaza Azabacheria I would put my hand on the ancient stone and weeping offer silent thanks for all that has been which enabled my camino...I then would enter and sit quietly pondering within the great silent nave.
 
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Richard Smith

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2016
Kumano Kodo 2014
I just finished my camino ... This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me.
I know what you mean, I felt that sometimes too and it was a shock. But on reflection most of our time in Santiago was good and rewarding.
We then took a bus to Porto and maybe that city was the same, not sure, but it felt perfectly OK and wonderful. We were tourists with great legs and simple needs rather than pilgrims.
Perhaps Santiago is not part of the camino - the journey vs the destination?
 
Past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
All of us who walk into Santiago de Compostela whatever our reasons or beliefs share similar quickened emotions upon our arrival. The weight of history is so great with the accumulated layers of centuries, both visible and invisible. One can see much and also feel or imagine even more such as hordes of past pilgrims following the same timeless route towards the cathedral throughout the ages.

Overwhelmed, my emotions were always a complex mix of euphoria and sadness; I felt weary but thrilled and sincerely thankful to have made it!!

Arriving at the simple northeast corner of the cathedral near the plaza Azabacheria I would put my hand on the ancient stone and weeping offer silent thanks for all that has been which enabled my camino...I then would enter and sit quietly pondering within the great silent nave.
You have been blessed, @mspath. You continue to share your blessings. That is what blessings are for! Sharing. Let them go. They have work to do...
 

Plataman

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances: (2009), (2013), Via de la Plata; (2016)
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
The area of Santiago around the Cathedral is very much a tourist trap...be prepared to pay a lot for very little. Last time we were there in 2018 we stayed away from the cathedral area, found a place about a km away in a commercial residential area...few tourists, mostly locals. Prices were good, people friendly, and felt much more authentic than the frenzied pace of crowded tourist haunts.
 
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Laura the Explora

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I'm sorry you had that experience of Santiago! My partner and I have been to Santiago 7 times (including stops on our way home after going to Fisterra), and it's absolutely one of our favorite places. That said, last year it was a quite different from 2017 and 2019 both because of the crowds of non-pilgrims due to the Holy Year and the tenseness many carried due to COVID. Perhaps that has carried over a bit to this year as well?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I'm surprised to read your response and to learn the street artists are not allowed.
It may be new or it may not be strictly enforced. It may be recent, perhaps only since 2021. Quote: Las plazas del Obradoiro, A Quintana, Platerías y O Toural no albergarán las actividades de los artistas callejeros de la ciudad. Así lo establece la nueva normativa que regula este aspecto.
 

Albertinho

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022
It may be new or it may not be strictly enforced. It may be recent, perhaps only since 2021. Quote: Las plazas del Obradoiro, A Quintana, Platerías y O Toural no albergarán las actividades de los artistas callejeros de la ciudad. Así lo establece la nueva normativa que regula este aspecto.
I noticed last April that all those streetartists had disappeared but there were lots of beggars begging for money.
 

DoughnutANZ

I would rather be fishing
Past OR future Camino
2023
wonder if any of the veteranos here have had albergue experiences in Santiago that might help put a better point on concluding the Camino?

Arrive with the spirit of the Camino and your heart will be glad, for The Spirit is alive and well in Santiago and a little bit of magic too.

we were so blessed to be able to experience Santiago through her eyes. Sometimes with time and reflection we can see things in a different light.

Not the devote atmosphere you hope for once you arrive .
But on the other hand people who live and work there have a living .

Cafe owners in Santiago have had little or no income for the past 2 years! Buy a coffee and pastry here in Sydney it'll cost more than €6.

All of us who walk into Santiago de Compostela whatever our reasons or beliefs share similar quickened emotions upon our arrival. The weight of history is so great with the accumulated layers of centuries, both visible and invisible. One can see much and also feel or imagine even more such as hordes of past pilgrims following the same timeless route towards the cathedral throughout the ages

Overwhelmed, my emotions were always a complex mix of euphoria and sadness; I felt weary but thrilled and sincerely thankful to have made it!!

Lots of great stuff here.

I think that we make our own feelings about a place (or anything else).

Similarly to @mspath I had mixed feelings walking into Santiago, excited and sad, and I had been thinking about how I would mark the end of this journey.

In the end I let out a very loud yeahah as I walked into the square, scaring those people standing nearby and then eliciting smiles all around.

I guess that set the scene for me and from then on I spent my time exploring the city, looking for the gems while ignoring the rest.

It might have helped me a lot that even in Santiago the Camino Angels were hovering around and offered the hospitality of staying with a local in their home.

Thanks Sybille, I know that you said that you are unlikely to ever get to ANZ but if you do, there is always a place for you in Auckland while I am around.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I noticed last April that all those street artists had disappeared but there were lots of beggars begging for money.
Thank you for sharing your recent observation (of the area around the Cathedral I presume).

Both silent and aggressive begging in major European towns are a topic that often gives cause for discussion.

Coming back to the first post, I see that the poster merely shared his experience and feelings after having been in Santiago, Madrid, Sevilla and Granada. I have not properly visited the latter three Spanish cities for ages and I could not say what they are like "hassle wise" 😉 these days. Are they much different from Santiago de Compostela in this respect?

For what it is worth, I felt that Burgos, Leon and Santiago are modern towns with an amazing patrimony; I felt this both before and after my walk to and through them. I did not regard them or Santiago in particular as a "holy city", but as an ordinary Spanish (Galician) town with all its facets, as someone so aptly put it.

BTW, just my own impression of what I found noticeable: this huge open and empty space in front of the Cathedral of Santiago and the 'grandiosity' that is created by the surrounding buildings. I am more used to seeing medieval Romanesque or Gothic cathedrals bang in the middle of commerce and surrounded on all sides by busy citizens in their daily lives with all the facets of city life.
 
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Albertinho

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022
Thank you for sharing your recent observation (of the area around the Cathedral I presume).

Both silent and aggressive begging in major European towns are a topic that often gives cause for discussion.

Coming back to the first post, I see that the poster merely shared his experience and feelings after having been in Santiago, Madrid, Sevilla and Granada. I have not properly visited the latter three Spanish cities for ages and I could not say what they are like "hassle wise" 😉 these days. Are they much different from Santiago de Compostela in this respect?

For what it is worth, I felt that Burgos, Leon and Santiago are modern towns with an amazing patrimony; I felt this both before and after my walk to and through them. I did not regard them or Santiago in particular as a "holy city", but as an ordinary Spanish (Galician) town with all its facets, as someone so aptly put it.

BTW, just my own impression of what I found noticeable: this huge open and empty space in front of the Cathedral of Santiago and the 'grandiosity' that is created by the surrounding buildings. I am more used to seeing medieval Romanesque or Gothic cathedrals bang in the middle of commerce and surrounded on all sides by busy citizens in their daily lives with all the facets of city life.
I have been 2 weeks in Santiago and noticed this everywhere in the medieval towncenter ,not only around the Cathedral.
 

Isca-camigo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Various ones.
Don't give up on Santiago the place, it has much to offer to your heart. Maybe on my 1st time after an incredible experience in arriving in the square I slightly looked at the place in the next few days with a disparaging eye, maybe expecting more or it did not meet my expectations with the latter probably being true. But a little on that visit and definitely my 2nd when I decided to not have expectations before arriving, the place showed some of its alchemy to me, keep that in mind and try not to expect to much from it, it shows you a different side which is transformative.
 

happymarkos

HappyMark
Past OR future Camino
2018
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
Hi Ian
I had a similar let down when I finished my first. It was such a contrast to the peace and spiritually of the Camino from Le Puy.
Santiago didn’t seem to be very spiritual or special. Perhaps my expectation that it would be the highlight turned out to be unrealistic. The second and subsequent times I walked in I had more grounded expectations. The real journey is “On the Way”
You are not alone.
As others have said people do it their own way. I hated the ones playing loud music over the last 50-100 km as well as large groups chatting. Another lesson I had to learn.. acceptance.
Buen Camino
Mark
 

Leaderene

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
Camino Portuguese
Camino Ingles
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I am so sorry to hear this Ian. I have just returned from walking on the Camino. I walked from Santiago to Muxia so spent a few days in Santiago first, I had missed it so much. Then I returned to Santiago to find it busier but I had such joy from introducing a friend to it and after walking the Camino Ingles, I spent another two days. At no time did I experience any of what you experienced. I met up with fellow pilgrims from the path, I explored museums and parks that I had not been to before, I went to new eating places and enjoyed the kindness, smiles and hospitality I have enjoyed on all parts of the Camino. I didn't want to leave. We have both had very different experiences and I am sad that yours wasn't a good one. Perhaps at some point you will give it another chance.
 

Niels

camino mi privio
Past OR future Camino
Norte, Primitivo, Muxia 2016; Frances 2018 + 2022
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
Santiago's a city, and things ARE more expensive here. And in some Places more noisy and aggressive, too. No doubt about that. But it still is Santiago and maybe the most magnificent cityin the World. Gabriel Marcia Marquez said, in the rain it was the most beautiful city in the World.
 
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Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.
Some people give their country of origin a bad name by their behavior and then you get this kind of situation that you have experienced. I was also yelled at as a volunteer and that is certainly not pleasant to say the least. And when it comes to Santiago as a city, it is no different from other cities in other countries.🙏🏻
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
We have been recommending pilgrims make Sarria the conclusion of the Camino Frances

People are of course free to do that if they wish. I hope you are also advising those who set out with the clear intention of ending their journey in Sarria to stay in private accommodation. Pilgrim albergues are provided for those making a journey to the tomb of the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela. If you have no intention of doing so - even if it must be in a series of stages perhaps over several years - then it is an abuse of hospitality to make use of the pilgrim albergue network.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
Our experience was so distressing we decided not to obtain the compostela.

We have been recommending pilgrims make Sarria the conclusion of the Camino Frances
Less than 2 weeks ago in this post, you didn't even know if the cathedral was open. Now you are making recommendations to prospective pilgrims that they not complete their pilgrimage to Santiago? It seems like a rash judgement to me!
 

Isca-camigo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Various ones.
We have been recommending pilgrims make Sarria the conclusion of the Camino Frances
I'm going to be polite here, so much is said about the 100km as being not like the Camino previous to it and so not of value. I don't feel that way and it just as special to me as any other part of it, something I read recently and I can't pinpoint in my mind where, but to give the outline of what was said " the last 100km is your way to holding onto what you have experienced on the Camino, so instead of looking at it as this noisy busy part of it which has no relevance, you can see it as your equivalent back in your normal life, where you suddenly have to experience a lot less tranquil situations, so if you cant hold on to tranquility in the last 100 you're not going to do it at home, so see those last km as way of preparing you for your home life ".. personally I don't need this attitude, because I look forward to the last 100, but if I hand learnt to do this then I would use this attitude. As to telling people to stop Sarria.......I really hope they ignored you!
 
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IngridF

Intrepid Peregrina
Past OR future Camino
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
Ian, fellow Canuck here. Sorry you felt that way and experienced some unpleasantness. Myself I love SDC, but highly recommend to stay for a while and not always be in the old city SDC has so much else to offer that most pilgrims, due to tight travel plans or simply stilcking around the cathedral never have a chance to explore. Keeping in mind that this year not only is the extension of the Holy Year and the return of Pilgrims and Tourists en masse, it does not surprise me that tempers flare on both sides. Keep in mind that a lot of the 'locals' have gone through the worst of COVID restrictions and shut downs, that we Canadians never had to endure. Keep in mind that the Russian Ukrainian war has deeper consequences in Europe, we do not experience in Canada. Fuel cost might be one thing here in Canada, but still manageable, not so much in Europe, and in this case Spain that already had a slow economic recovery from a previous crises. I hope you will take home all the beautiful lessons and experiences gifted to you during your Camino ...one if the biggest lessons for me was and still is TOLERANCE. Light and Love, Suseia!
 

IngridF

Intrepid Peregrina
Past OR future Camino
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
Ian, fellow Canuck here. Sorry you felt that way and experienced some unpleasantness. Myself I love SDC, but highly recommend to stay for a while and not always be in the old city SDC has so much else to offer that most pilgrims, due to tight travel plans or simply stilcking around the cathedral never have a chance to explore. Keeping in mind that this year not only is the extension of the Holy Year and the return of Pilgrims and Tourists en masse, it does not surprise me that tempers flare on both sides. Keep in mind that a lot of the 'locals' have gone through the worst of COVID restrictions and shut downs, that we Canadians never had to endure. Keep in mind that the Russian Ukrainian war has deeper consequences in Europe, we do not experience in Canada. Fuel cost might be one thing here in Canada, but still manageable, not so much in Europe, and in this case Spain that already had a slow economic recovery from a previous crises. I hope you will take home all the beautiful lessons and experiences gifted to you during your Camino ...one if the biggest lessons for me was and still is TOLERANCE. Light and Love, Suseia!
 

Bastalley

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Past Sarria to Santiago then to Finnester, Muxia and back to Santiago

Future. June. Norte route.
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I am in Santiago right now and I have to agree with you. This is my 5th Camino and the atmosphere/culture seems to have changed over the last 3 years. The crowds and noise are overwhelming as always however people seem on edge. One bar demanded that we sit outside with the other pilgrims even with the high temperatures today. Even the employee at the compastella office yelled at me for not having a cell phone to scan and obtain a number. Prices are always higher in the towns close to Santiago but I don't understand the change in culture towards pilgrims.
 

Pierre Julian

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Ingles, VdP, San Salvador, Aragonese & Northern. Sections of Portuguese & Mozarabic.
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I agree with you Ian. I have been to Santiago many times, and it's not an easy place.

Maybe Santiago is an anticlimax after all the joys and hard work of the Camino? We can have lots of expectations about camaraderie, rest and welcome after all the challenges.

I think it helps to be realistic and have low expectations, then anything is a bonus. In reality, it can be crowded, the drunken / badly behaved pilgrims seem to be particularly vocal, it's difficult to find accommodation at times and the albergues often seem to be expensive with grumpy receptionists, there is the constant droning of bagpipes, the weather which is either very hot or very wet, the cathedral staff are often unfriendly, and there is a lot of confusion and misery dealing with the pilgrims' office.

Nevertheless, I've had some happy moments there: the cathedral very early in the morning, lying on my back in the square looking at the cathedral, and enjoying the beautiful cathedral square, visiting the parador, and being with my friends, the joy of getting the compostella, seeing people I'd walked with arriving, and leaving it when continuing to Finisterre (which I find a far more powerful and beautiful conclusion). There are kind people around, it just takes a while to find them in all the chaos.

These days I'm not bothered about arriving there, far better to live each day on the Camino fully than to think about the destination. I think there's some kind of saying: "the way is the destination".
 
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Juno

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino French Way (2012 - 2014)
SJPDP - Sahagun (June 2015)
Sahagun - Muxia (June 2016)
I think you can have different experiences on different days. The first time I walked into Santiago it was hot, but magic, the piper, the other pilgrims. Exploring around, watching other pilgrims walk in, buying some Camino souvenirs to take home. Buying an entire tarte de Santiago and eating it between us with icecream and laughing because of the brain freeze. Went to the Cathedral which was jam packed and loved the spectacle.
The last time it was raining, not just a bit, but torrential, so we stayed indoors until it abated. Didnt see other pilgrims because of the rain, and were so cold after our walk we just wanted to huddle in bed. The Cathedral was closed. Eventually we ventured out, went to the Anglican service (twice) and decided to head to the coast.
Been there in all weathers too. Still love Santiago as there’s so much to do. I’ve yet to do a guided tour, share a tart but have sat in the yellow rectangle which is the National Geographic emblem as some of you may know, with a lady from Guatemala and that was priceless; the world comes to you on the Camino. I know some of you will laugh or groan but I like the woman singing Ave Maria under the bridge by San Martin Pinario - what a voice! Also staying in the Monastery and buying souvenirs. :)
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Prices are always higher in the towns close to Santiago but I don't understand the change in culture towards pilgrims.
Fatigue? The novelty worn off? Resentment at the growing pressure of numbers? Over just two consecutive days in the past week there were 4,890 Compostelas issued. That is only 28 fewer than the total for the entire year of my first Camino. In just two days in May.
 

JesperK

New Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 2013-2016x2-2018 CP:2014 CF:(2022)
We agree 1000%. Santiago is all about the commercialization of the Camino. Our experience was so distressing we decided not to obtain the Compostela. My wife cried, but I told her the Camino is in your heart, in your soul. Not on a piece of paper.

We have been recommending pilgrims make Sarria the conclusion of the Camino Frances
That hits home with me. I arrived in Santiago 4 days ago and got the same feeling as on my former caminos(5) and for the second time I didn't go to the pilgrim office to get the compostela. As an israeli guy I was walking with said - "the stamps means nothing to me and neither does the compostela."
I couldn't get out of santiago fast enough.
 

Albertinho

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022
Fatigue? The novelty worn off? Resentment at the growing pressure of numbers? Over just two consecutive days in the past week there were 4,890 Compostelas issued. That is only 28 fewer than the total for the entire year of my first Camino. In just two days in May.
And lots of pilgrims coming to the Pilgrims Office unregistered ‼️ 🤭 yesterday more than 400 😏
why ? PLEASE register in advance ! Less waiting for the pilgrims who did so and less work for the volunteers.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I agree that it is probably a lack of information rather than selfish disregard for the protocol that produces those numbers of pilgrims arriving without having registered. I wonder if the office has been in contact with the albergues in the last 100 km. Surely they can help spread the word. Clear instructions in multiple languages would go a long way to solving the problem, if you heard about the process in an albergue several days out.
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
"I agree that it is probably a lack of information rather than selfish disregard for the protocol that produces those numbers of pilgrims arriving without having registered. "

That seems quite likely. There is a "Register" button on the pilgrim office website but nothing in the section about the Compostela says that doing so in advance is requested or required. Not the first time that a change in rules or procedure has been introduced without proper explanation. I was given a scolding in 2018 by pilgrim office volunteers for not knowing that the last 100km should be walked on an officially recognised route. A rule so recent that it did not appear on the version of the credencial I had received from Ivar a couple of weeks before and which was mentioned nowhere on the pilgrim office's website at the time. If changes are made to the Compostela rules or procedures then they should at least be well publicised.
 

Ronald Boivin

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
Santiago seems like a “holey” city. Similar experience in 2015. I was going the Covid drop in tourists would help Santiago citizens to appreciate the new influx of dinero. Remembering this and reading your post strengthens my November plans on walking through Santiago and not staying .
 
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I was given a scolding in 2018 by pilgrim office volunteers for not knowing that the last 100km should be walked on an officially recognised route. A rule so recent that it did not appear on the version of the credencial I had received from Ivar a couple of weeks before and which was mentioned nowhere on the pilgrim office's website at the time.
An off-topic vent.
But grrrr. If you walk to Santiago and want a Compostella, you shouldn't have to follow the touristically approved and 'improved' ways. I can imagine why they ask this, given numbers of arrivals (and the money involved for towns on approved routes). But getting a Compostella for walking as a pilgrim shouldn't depend on what route one takes, so long as the walking happens.
 
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Pierre Julian

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Ingles, VdP, San Salvador, Aragonese & Northern. Sections of Portuguese & Mozarabic.
That hits home with me. I arrived in Santiago 4 days ago and got the same feeling as on my former caminos(5) and for the second time I didn't go to the pilgrim office to get the compostela. As an israeli guy I was walking with said - "the stamps means nothing to me and neither does the compostela."
I couldn't get out of santiago fast enough
I'm sorry to hear it's so difficult there. I've only queued up for two compostelas, my first camino and another time with a friend when it was very quiet. The compostela is nice to have, but the misery and loss of peace involved in getting it meant I decided it wasn't worth it for the other times.
 
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Pierre Julian

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Ingles, VdP, San Salvador, Aragonese & Northern. Sections of Portuguese & Mozarabic.
Santiago seems like a “holey” city. Similar experience in 2015. I was going the Covid drop in tourists would help Santiago citizens to appreciate the new influx of dinero. Remembering this and reading your post strengthens my November plans on walking through Santiago and not staying .
Hi Ronald, if you've been there before I'd say walk straight through. Or stay at an albergue close to Santiago and walk through very early in the morning if you want to see the cathedral etc.
 

ElizabethMC

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Ingles - 2018
Camino del Norte - 2022
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I agree with you on this. I have been there twice and its never been the highlight of my trip. I feel it’s getting more and more commercial and expensive.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
But getting a Compostella for walking as a pilgrim shouldn't depend on what route one takes, so long as the walking happens.
I agree. In fact I'd like to go further and drop the distance and route rules altogether. Go back to the days when Compostelas were available for all who visited the shrine of the apostle with spiritual intent - irrespective of distance travelled or the mode of transport. Not going to happen any time soon though.
 

jflorez

Joe Florez
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: May/Jun (2018), Sept/Oct (2021)
Felt the same upon arriving in October last year. Spent a day and a half in SdC before continuing on to Muxia and then Fisterra. Adding the walk beyond SdC was the perfect way to decompress and recover from the shock to the senses of the bustling tourist city. I know many can't extend their stay, but if there is the opportunity to continue walking it really is a cathartic way to process your pilgrimage and with much fewer people than that last 100 km stretch. That first glimpse of and reaching the ocean was far more celebratory for me.
 
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Rita Flower

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022 Via del la Plata
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
It can be a shock to find Santiago is a city full of ordinary people just trying to make a living.
I found I loved Santiago best in the early morning when most locals and pilgrims were still in bed. That’s when I felt the energy of the Holy City.
And
There is a beautiful story I heard years ago about the monk who meditated alone in a cave for 20 years and had many blissful experiences. One day he decided he was ‘done’ and came back to the town into the busy market place. All of a sudden someone bumped into the him. The monk blasted the person. Where had his attainment gone?
I think walking the Camino can be the easy part. Integrating the experience into daily life is the challenge … till the bliss of the Camino can become one’s everyday experience.
 

J F Gregory

Camino Frances April 2023
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2016, Portuguese 2021, Frances 2 2023
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I am sorry you experienced Santiago in that way. My experiences were just the opposite. Perhaps next time will improve
 

Sharonih

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
I agree and though the bufemerro (sorry about the spelling) swung at 3 masses while we were in Santiago I could not go as I went into the Church first and just saw opulence and a Brother/Priest with his hand out wanting money if I wanted to take a photo from behind the Alter. I think for my self part of it was sensory overload after walking from SJPdP and I needed that breath of peace and recovery before I reintegrated myself with full on tourism overload. What arriving there did confirm for me is that it was truly about the Journey not the Destination.
 

truenorthpilgrim

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Geneva >> SJPdP May 2023
Arriving in Santiago is equal parts exhilarating and a let down. You've finished, the journey was hard and wonderful, and now you must exit the pilgrim/camaraderie bubble. I always feel a sense of sadness slowly descend upon arrival. However, I always stay at Hospedaria San Marino Pinario so I can hold on to that pilgrim feeling (while having my own room!). Plus that yummy breakfast buffet can't beat.

Santiago is a bustling university town inundated with hoards of pilgrims, so I'm sure the locals have their moments with tourists. The fact that it's a "holy city" really means nothing. I've been to sacred sites in India, and it's still India.
 
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truenorthpilgrim

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Geneva >> SJPdP May 2023
My avatar here on the forum used to be a very old photo of me bathing in the Ganga just upstream from Varanasi. A river and a city which are sacred to millions but which both have plenty of unpleasant surprises in store too. I can see the parallels!
I would also argue because these are holy cities/sites is precisely why all sorts of characters come out of the woodwork. Plenty of folks wearing orange impersonating "sadhus".
 

John Crawford Howell

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Our experiences with time, place, and circumstance are bound to be different. I loved Santiago. Part relief at accomplishing my goal, part the return of my appetite for food (seems I could not get enough Pulpo and Pimientos), and part the ability to consume more than a half Caña of beer. In short, I was relaxed in an ancient city surrounded by grand architecture, reunions with fellow Peregrinos, and the hospitality extended to me everywhere I went in the city. I stayed 5 days and was sad to board the train and depart for Paris. Thank you, Santiago, for a wonderfully memorable interlude. I shall return.
 

truenorthpilgrim

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Geneva >> SJPdP May 2023
We agree 1000%. Santiago is all about the commercialization of the Camino. Our experience was so distressing we decided not to obtain the Compostela. My wife cried, but I told her the Camino is in your heart, in your soul. Not on a piece of paper.

We have been recommending pilgrims make Sarria the conclusion of the Camino Frances

If the camino is in your heart and soul, why would you feel the need to dissuade others on their pilgrimage?

Ugh, I sincerely hope no one listened to you.
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
I think it's a matter of timing. My first time in Santiago I miscalculated how long it was going to take me to get there and so was there for 3 days. The day I arrived and the next day I saw dozens of pilgrims I recognised. On the last day everybody I saw was unknown and that's when I knew it was time to go home.
I had the same experience.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
I've been to sacred sites in India, and it's still India.
🤣
Yeah.

Rilke comes to mind:
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.
 
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Dan

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013
Le Puy 2014
Pennine Way 2015
Del Norte 2016
Arles Route 2018
Way St Francis 2019
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience and opinion.
Ian - We've been to Santiago a few times (and we are just back from doing Le Puy again).
Everything you say mirrors our experience. There will be responses with pious claptrap, and some will be patronising, but facts are facts.

Santiago has lost its magic. We are thankful that we made our first visit in more innocent times. Our memories of that wonderful experience are still clear.

However, during every visit since, we have noticed the former care and concern for the pilgrims wearing a bit thin. There is an increase in the number of those focussed on extracting the maximum amount from the pilgrim trade. Santiago has become a tourist drawcard. It's a pity.

Of course there are honourable exceptions. Ivar who runs this forum is one of them - without this facility we would all be lost (literally!) - and we know of a few others - true believers.

Those who see everything only through rose-coloured glasses are entitled to their vision, and to insist that they are right.

We, who knew the place in the days before the Pilgrim Mass was desecrated by the forest of iPhones taking snaps of the consecration of the host and the wine ... we are entitled to lament the loss of innocence.
 
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Next up 2022?
we have noticed the former care and concern for the pilgrims wearing a bit thin
Yes, in general this may be so, though it hasn't been my experiece. The trend would hardly be a surprise, given the numbers of people walking intp Santiago every year - and the decreasing proportion of those who are 'old school.'

But the old spirtit is definitely still there. You just have to learn to ignore the touristic part. Which let's face it has always been there. The street leading down to the cathedral is named after the Jet amulets that pilgrims would buy to take home as souvenirs. Plus ça change...
 

cbacino

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
I just finished my camino and got my Compostela and distance certificate - 1515 km from Le Puy in two stages. The experience was extremely rewarding, perhaps above all for getting to know the Spanish people and culture, which we Canadians have little connection with. I was truly impressed at how often I was treated with sincere friendliness, and how many times people went out of their way to help a stranger.

This made my experience of Santiago a little disconcerting. The Holy City seemed to have an angry edge everywhere I went. Traffic was bad. Everyone seemed to be either in a rage, or else sizing me up for how much money they could get from me. I was screamed at more than once in cafés and then at another I was charged 6 euros for a café americano and a small piece of Santiago torta. (I guess I should have gotten a written quote in advance!) Frankly I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The rest of the camino and the other cities of Spain I have visited - Sevilla, Madrid and Granada were all very positive experiences.

I hope this doesn't seem like a bummer for those on their way to Santiago, but it's just an honest experience tourist destinations?
That pretty much, but not entirely, sums up tourist destinations.
 
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Albertinho

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022
Not all pilgrims are on this forum so may not know about pre registration.
I am aware of that. Nevertheless it has to be mentioned all the time. As many as read about this matter, the better it is.
E ninguém disse que era ( ou é ) fãcil . Nobody said it was ( or is) easy.
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Those who see everything only through rose-coloured glasses are entitled to their vision, and to insist that they are right.

We, who knew the place in the days before the Pilgrim Mass was desecrated by the forest of iPhones taking snaps of the consecration of the host and the wine ... we are entitled to lament the loss of innocence.

As one of those forum members whose first experience of the Camino dates back to another century I do struggle with the pace and extent of changes in numbers, approach and attitude. For those who have come fresh to the Camino in the past few years the crowds, the noise, the hustle and the commercialism are simply part of the experience. How could it be otherwise with nothing to compare? I'm not sure that those very recent pilgrims with "rose-coloured" vision fully understand how the Camino has evolved in a very short time and therefore how difficult it can be for some of us with longer memories to simply embrace and enjoy every aspect of the Camino of today. So their comments can often appear trite and patronising. I walked my first Camino in a year when less than 5,000 people received a Compostela. In 2019 there were nearly 350,000. Before someone tells me that I should welcome that growth with open arms I would ask them to try this: Think about your first Camino. Now imagine that every pilgrim you met on that journey had brought 60 friends with them. Would that really have made your journey a more pleasant and enriching one? If you cannot honestly say "yes" to that then please do not lecture me about welcoming growth on that scale.

But the old spirtit is definitely still there. You just have to learn to ignore the touristic part. Which let's face it has always been there. The street leading down to the cathedral is named after the Jet amulets that pilgrims would buy to take home as souvenirs. Plus ça change...

Of course the old spirit is still there. I am very blessed in having pilgrim friends living in Santiago itself. And there are others who have a deep vocation to welcoming pilgrims and making their experience of the city as rich and rewarding as possible. But I do sympathise with those who struggle to find that old spirit at times. It is sometimes hard to find the mental filters needed to screen out the dross and reveal the prizes. Especially when physically or emotionally drained by the journey.
 
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06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
A funny thing happened today on the way to the Forum...
I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils. No I did not. I might have, though. It would be my fact. Dear forum members, we are dots in the ocean. If you have memories, relish them. If you have new life, take it home with you. Don't blame the city of Santiago for your disappointments. Don't actually blame anybody, or anything. If this is claptrap, report me. I can, actually, live with that. There are far many more people walking, or even hiking 🙃( it is a pilgrimage, for goodness sake) than have even heard of the Forum.
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012, 2013, 2014.
Ian - We've been to Santiago a few times (and we are just back from doing Le Puy again).
Everything you say mirrors our experience. There will be responses with pious claptrap, and some will be patronising, but facts are facts.

Santiago has lost its magic. We are thankful that we made our first visit in more innocent times. Our memories of that wonderful experience are still clear.

However, during every visit since, we have noticed the former care and concern for the pilgrims wearing a bit thin. There is an increase in the number of those focussed on extracting the maximum amount from the pilgrim trade. Santiago has become a tourist drawcard. It's a pity.

Of course there are honourable exceptions. Ivar who runs this forum is one of them - without this facility we would all be lost (literally!) - and we know of a few others - true believers.

Those who see everything only through rose-coloured glasses are entitled to their vision, and to insist that they are right.

We, who knew the place in the days before the Pilgrim Mass was desecrated by the forest of iPhones taking snaps of the consecration of the host and the wine ... we are entitled to lament the loss of innocence.
Facts may be facts but they are only your facts. Everyone has to draw their own impression of Santiago or anywhere else for that matter, that will be their facts.
Santiago was always a commercial city, anyone who thinks it was different in the past was looking through rose coloured glasses, and for all that I still love the place and return whenever I can.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
This whole thread has turned into an odd sort of debate where some people are taking a position and assuming the others have taken a counter position. In fact, most of us are just trying to discuss and share our subjective thoughts, recognizing the complexities of our desires and experiences. I don't see much patronizing, rose-coloured glasses, lamentations, or entitlement. Let's give each other credit and not imply such attitudes.
 
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