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Luggage Transfer Correos

Compostela confusion with unrecognized Caminos

2020 Camino Guides

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
NOTE FROM MODS: Forum member @MikeJS has finished his Olvidado/Salvador/Primitivo journey and in another thread recounted the difficulties he had getting a compostela. I have asked Mike if I could move the posts to a new thread, and he has agreed, so I will add them below.

To summarize — the Olvidado is not an officially recognized camino. But Mike connected with the Primitivo in Oviedo and walked from there to Santiago. The people in the pilgrims office were focused on the “unofficial” part of his journey rather than the fact that he had walked the entire Primitivo and certainly qualified for a credential. After a return visit and some consultation with “higher ups”, it was resolved.

I’m not faulting anyone in the office with these comments, I know they have a dizzying and confusing maze of caminos to sort out. I’ve written compostelas and distance certificates in the pilgrims office and know that it can be tough.

Really, the rule itself is quite simple — you have to walk at least 100 kms on an officially recognized camino, which means — the Inglés from Ferrol (or Coruña plus 25 km at home, or something like that), the Portugués from Tui, the Vdlp/Sanabrés from Ourense, the Invierno from Monforte de Lemos, the Francés from Sarria, the Norte from Baamonde, or the Primitivo from Lugo (? - not sure).

So — to make it easy on the office staff, if you’ve walked a combination of multiple caminos, make clear which official camino you are using to claim the compostela. And if you walk long distances like Mike, make sure to get those two sellos a day for the last 100!

Here is Mike’s original comment:

I got into Santiago De Compostela on Thursday 10 October after walking to Oviedo on the San Salvador and then to SdC on the Primitivo. The Olvidado was without doubt the best and most spectacular of the 3. However, I was a little disappointed to be told I could not have the official Compostela as i had not walked an ‘official ‘ camino. It appears they don’t recognise the Olvidado. Never had the problem before when I have combined other caminos such as the VdlP/Sanabres or the Sureste with the Frances and then the Invierno.
 
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SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
I got into Santiago De Compostela on Thursday 10 October after walking to Oviedo on the San Salvador and then to SdC on the Primitivo. The Olvidado was without doubt the best and most spectacular of the 3. However, I was a little disappointed to be told I could not have the official Compostela as i had not walked an ‘official ‘ camino. It appears they don’t recognise the Olvidado. Never had the problem before when I have combined other caminos such as the VdlP/Sanabres or the Sureste with the Frances and then the Invierno.

Congratulations @MikeJS ! But what a pity to hear about not getting the Compostela?
So weird.

Maybe @t2andreo , @peregrina2000 or @VNwalking can shine a light on this situation?
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
Congratulations @MikeJS ! But what a pity to hear about not getting the Compostela?
So weird.

Maybe @t2andreo , @peregrina2000 or @VNwalking can shine a light on this situation?
Just been back to the office to try to understand exactly what the problem was. Initially they said there was something wrong because I had only been walking for 3 weeks! Explained I walk about an average of 40 km a day. Had all the stamps (luckily I even bothered to get 2 each day in the last 100 km which I haven’t done before) showed them the route and all my individual day’s accounts! So then he called the boss over who went through the same questions and then he eventually said it’s because the Olvidado is not an official route for them! I smiled and thanked them for their help all the time through this interrogation. The boss left and the guy helping me then filled out a Compostela and asked me for the distance- so alls well that ends well.
Must say I did not realise the Olvidado route had not been accepted as office. However, I would have walked it any way as it was so fantastic!
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Just been back to the office to try to understand exactly what the problem was.

So then he called the boss over who went through the same questions and then he eventually said it’s because the Olvidado is not an official route for them! I smiled and thanked them for their help all the time through this interrogation. The boss left and the guy helping me then filled out a Compostela and asked me for the distance- so alls well that ends well.
Must say I did not realise the Olvidado route had not been accepted as office. However, I would have walked it any way as it was so fantastic!
Good that they gave some clarification! Happy for you.

Seems the Oficina houses some conservative types IMHO.
Long live the overcrowded Camino Frances or Portugues? :(

One would believe there are some commercial interests involved...?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Just been back to the office to try to understand exactly what the problem was. Initially they said there was something wrong because I had only been walking for 3 weeks! Explained I walk about an average of 40 km a day. Had all the stamps (luckily I even bothered to get 2 each day in the last 100 km which I haven’t done before) showed them the route and all my individual day’s accounts! So then he called the boss over who went through the same questions and then he eventually said it’s because the Olvidado is not an official route for them! I smiled and thanked them for their help all the time through this interrogation. The boss left and the guy helping me then filled out a Compostela and asked me for the distance- so alls well that ends well.
Must say I did not realise the Olvidado route had not been accepted as office. However, I would have walked it any way as it was so fantastic!
This is ridiculous. If you had started in Oviedo, you would be eligible for the Compostela. So the fact that you walked several hundred more kms than necessary disqualifies you? This is either a mistake or a very silly rule. Hoping that @t2andreo can shed some light here. But hey, don’t let it tarnish the glow. Btw, I should point out that I also walked the Olvidado this year and got a compostela with full explanation of my route.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I am glad that Mike eventually got his Compostela. In my experience, there are staff and volunteers who follow the LETTER of the rules, without deviation. Then there are others who follow the SPIRIT of the rules.

This latter group understand and consider the totality of the effort, the context, and the intention. In this particular instance, the Primitivo from Oviedo is well recognized. However, the Olvidado is not as well known.

It IS true that until the Jacobeo and Cathedral “officially” recognize a route does it become fully accepted for Compostela purposes. Then again, the full Olvidado does start at Bilbao and ends at Villafranca del Bierzo, not at Santiago. This is not the basis for formal route approval.

I obtained this information at:


This said, I accept that there might be another town/ pueblo lash-up that effects a detour towards Santiago earlier on.

To be a recognized Camino route, it is my understanding that the route must either end at Santiago, OR directly feed into a recognized Camino route that does end at Santiago. Examples would be the Aragones, Sanabres, or the other tributary routes that feed some of the major routes terminating at Santiago.

The Camino Olivdado, if I understand it correctly (having no direct experience), cuts a more or less diagonal line to the north of the Camino Frances. It effectively joins with the Norte at Bilbao, or with the Frances at Villafranca del Bierzo. Either way, it is sort of a highly-piggly route to get to Santiago, at least in my limited understanding.

This, I suspect, was the cause of Mike’s disconnect at the counter. I am glad it was resolved. But, I suspect this issue, in general, will worsen as more pilgrims seek creative ways to avoid crowding on the major pilgrimage routes over the coming years.

Pilgrims need to be mindful of how their new and creative routings will be interpreted at the Pilgrim Office. If you plan to walk on an indirect route, do plan to feed into one of the accepted routes that actually end at Santiago.

This way you can say you walked the Norte, Ingles, Frances, Sanabres, etc., but started from X on the tributary / feeder Y Camino Route. Many accepted routes follow this pattern, including the de la Plata and Invierno among others.

Planning ahead is a good thing. Do not presume that, just because you wandered about Spain like a pinball for several hundred Km, before ending up in Santiago, that the mere distance covered qualifies you for a Compostela. That issue is the basis for the formal rule printed on most credencials, that says you must have walked / cycled at least the final 100 / 200 km on any recognized route THAT ENDS AT SANTIAGO.

Hope this helps.
 
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MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I am glad that Mike eventually got his Compostela. In my experience, there are staff and volunteers who follow the LETTER of the rules, without deviation. Then there are others who follow the SPIRIT of the rules.

This latter group understand and consider the totality of the effort, the context, and the intention. In this particular instance, the Primitivo from Oviedo is well recognized. However, the Olvidado is not as well known.

It IS true that until the Jacobeo and Cathedral “officially” recognize a route does it become fully accepted for Compostela purposes. Then again, the full Olvidado does start at Bilbao and ends at Villafranca del Bierzo, not at Santiago. This is not the basis for formal route approval.

I obtained this information at:


This said, I accept that there might be another town/ pueblo lash-up that effects a detour towards Santiago earlier on.

To be a recognized Camino route, it is my understanding that the route must either end at Santiago, OR directly feed into a recognized Camino route that does end at Santiago. Examples would be the Aragones, Sanabres, or the other tributary routes that feed some of the major routes terminating at Santiago.

The Camino Olivdado, if I understand it correctly (having no direct experience), cuts a more or less diagonal line to the north of the Camino Frances. It effectively joins with the Norte at Bilbao, or with the Frances at Villafranca del Bierzo. Either way, it is sort of a highly-piggly route to get to Santiago, at least in my limited understanding.

This, I suspect, was the cause of Mike’s disconnect at the counter. I am glad it was resolved. But, I suspect this issue, in general, will worsen as more pilgrims seek creative ways to avoid crowding on the major pilgrimage routes over the coming years.

Pilgrims need to be mindful of how their new and creative routing will be interpreted at the Pilgrim Office. If you plan to walk on an indirect route, do plan to feed into one of the accepted routes that actually end at Santiago.

This way you can say you walked the Norte, Ingles, Frances, Sanabres, etc., but started from X on the tributary / feeder Y Camino Route. Many accepted routes follow this pattern, including the de la Plata and Invierno among others.

Planning ahead is a good thing. Do not presume that, just because you wandered about Spain like a pinball for several hundred Km, before ending up in Santiago, that the mere distance covered qualifies you for a Compostela. That issue is the basis for the formal rule printed on most credencials, that says you must have walked / cycled at least the final 100 / 200 km on any recognized route THAT ENDS AT SANTIAGO.

Hope this helps.
I understand that totally and it really does not worry me. That’s why I smile and thank all through the process. But as others have said not only did I walk the lady 100km but I did walk the official Camino Primitivo so there really should not have been any problem to get a Compostela. Fortunately for me it’s the way that is important but I think my wife likes to see the Compostela to prove I wasn’t elsewhere!!
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
So then he called the boss over who went through the same questions and then he eventually said it’s because the Olvidado is not an official route for them! I smiled and thanked them for their help all the time through this interrogation. The boss left and the guy helping me then filled out a Compostela and asked me for the distance- so alls well that ends well.
I don't understand this - why did he ask you for the distance? Had you asked for a Compostela and a distance certificate?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I am glad that Mike eventually got his Compostela. In my experience, there are staff and volunteers who follow the LETTER of the rules, without deviation. Then there are others who follow the SPIRIT of the rules.

This latter group understand and consider the totality of the effort, the context, and the intention. In this particular instance, the Primitivo from Oviedo is well recognized. However, the Olvidado is not as well known.

It IS true that until the Jacobeo and Cathedral “officially” recognize a route does it become fully accepted for Compostela purposes. Then again, the full Olvidado does start at Bilbao and ends at Villafranca del Bierzo, not at Santiago. This is not the basis for formal route approval.

I obtained this information at:


This said, I accept that there might be another town/ pueblo lash-up that effects a detour towards Santiago earlier on.

To be a recognized Camino route, it is my understanding that the route must either end at Santiago, OR directly feed into a recognized Camino route that does end at Santiago. Examples would be the Aragones, Sanabres, or the other tributary routes that feed some of the major routes terminating at Santiago.

The Camino Olivdado, if I understand it correctly (having no direct experience), cuts a more or less diagonal line to the north of the Camino Frances. It effectively joins with the Norte at Bilbao, or with the Frances at Villafranca del Bierzo. Either way, it is sort of a highly-piggly route to get to Santiago, at least in my limited understanding.

This, I suspect, was the cause of Mike’s disconnect at the counter. I am glad it was resolved. But, I suspect this issue, in general, will worsen as more pilgrims seek creative ways to avoid crowding on the major pilgrimage routes over the coming years.

Pilgrims need to be mindful of how their new and creative routing will be interpreted at the Pilgrim Office. If you plan to walk on an indirect route, do plan to feed into one of the accepted routes that actually end at Santiago.

This way you can say you walked the Norte, Ingles, Frances, Sanabres, etc., but started from X on the tributary / feeder Y Camino Route. Many accepted routes follow this pattern, including the de la Plata and Invierno among others.

Planning ahead is a good thing. Do not presume that, just because you wandered about Spain like a pinball for several hundred Km, before ending up in Santiago, that the mere distance covered qualifies you for a Compostela. That issue is the basis for the formal rule printed on most credencials, that says you must have walked / cycled at least the final 100 / 200 km on any recognized route THAT ENDS AT SANTIAGO.

Hope this helps.
Ok, @t2, from one rule lover to another. The letter of the rule says you have to walk at least 100 km on an official camino route. Mike did that. Period. End of discussion. There is nothing to interpret here. I don’t see why it has become so complicated and convoluted.

Whether he drove, walked, or flew into Oviedo is totally beside the point.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I think you’re thinking the same thing I am, Kathar1na. Mike, did they give you a compostela or a certificate of distance?
Originally they only gave me a certificate of distance. After my discussion I got the Compostela. As I had both walked the last 100km and the Primitivo from start to finish I was confused as well. I think they had a confusion with giving me a Compostela for the whole 720km of the route. As I said before all ended fine. But it shows how confusing it can be f you don’t do a simple ‘official ‘ camino. However, it’s the rules and their rules so really not a problem for me.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I suspect that the person behind the counter took note of all the other sellos and simply lost the plot. The Compostela would have been based on the route followed for the final 100 km into Santiago.

So, if Mike ended at Villafranca del Bierzo, for example, then walked in on the Frances, the final 100 km would be from Sarria in, and the Compostela would be assured. However, if he cut over to the Primitivo, say at Oviedo or Lugo, he still would have walked at least 100 km on the Primitivo/ Frances route.

OTOH, if Mike walked the Olvidado from Bilbao, connecting to the Primitivo at Oviedo, then after Lugo, cut over to the greenway, connecting to the last bit of the Norte, before joining the end of the Frances at Arzua or Lavacolla, the staff person's head would likely explode from all the constructive distance computations involved. Each segment would need to be manually searched and the distance calculated. This is where the first group, literal rule followers, versus the second group, dynamic followers of the spirit, diverge.

If anything else was inferred, it could just be HUMAN ERROR. It is likely as simple as that. Now, the Distance Certificate might be a tad more complicated, as the staff or volunteer person would have had to construct the total distance from the various segments on different routes.

The computer will not do this, especially for some of the more esoteric routings we are all developing. Staff must consult Google Maps to sleuth the distances involved in some of these unconventional route match-ups.

So, my previous advice holds. If you are going to get creative with your Camino routes, document them well, and do try to enter Santiago from a well established route.

In this regard, I find the BIG MAP from Wise Pilgrim to be very useful in this regard. A digital copy of the Big Map, stored on one's phone, or as a .pdf, might be a valuable route reference tool.

Hope this helps.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Ok, @t2, from one rule lover to another. The letter of the rule says you have to walk at least 100 km on an official camino route. Mike did that. Period. End of discussion. There is nothing to interpret here. I don’t see why it has become so complicated and convoluted.

Whether he drove, walked, or flew into Oviedo is totally beside the point.
I recommend that we all chill. Consider volunteering to work at the counter, doing the job of trying to make sense of the various credencials that pilgrims drop on you. I am very OCD, keep my credencial in a waterproof pouch and protect it. All the entries in MY credencials are neat, orderly, and legible. You would not believe some of the tripe I have seen over the years...

Before we criticise what we THINK is a 'no brainer' I suggest walking a mile / km in the other guy's moccasins before making decisions. It is never as easy as it seems.

Also, in my direct experience, you might (or not) be surprised about how the most benign issue can quickly become a huge incident, solely from miscommunication or misunderstanding. Arguments about routings, distances, and Compostela eligibility are primary subjects of sometimes violent disagreements.

This is yet another reason to stop issuing Compostelas and to merely affix sellos to signify that one reached the destination. But, I digress...

Hope this helps.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I recommend that we all chill. Consider volunteering to work at the counter, doing the job of trying to make sense of the various credencials that pilgrims drop on you. I am very OCD, keep my credencial in a waterproof pouch and protect it. All the entries in MY credencials are neat, orderly, and legible. You would not believe some of the tripe I have seen over the years...

Before we criticise what we THINK is a 'no brainer' I suggest walking a mile / km in the other guy's moccasins before making decisions. It is never as easy as it seems.

Also, in my direct experience, you might (or not) be surprised about how the most benign issue can quickly become a huge incident, solely from miscommunication or misunderstanding. Arguments about routings, distances, and Compostela eligibility are primary subjects of sometimes violent disagreements.

This is yet another reason to stop issuing Compostelas and to merely affix sellos to signify that one reached the destination. But, I digress...

Hope this helps.
I think we are all pretty chilled about this and I never made any criticism of the people doing their tasks. I was simply highlighting potential problems and specifically that the Olvidado is not and approved route. To reiterate I walk all of the Primitivo so there really should not have been any confusion. When I went back to try to understand what the reason was for not originally getting the Compostela it was complicated by their original distrust of me walking such a distance. However, at all times everyone was polite and cheerful.
 

CdnDreamer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (12, 15 & 18) San Salvador (18), Portuguese (19)
It's good that you documented the whole route with pictures and stories of your walks. There are not many pilgrims who can walk 40 km per day and you were travelling through mountains! We shouldn't be surprised that a volunteer in Santiago had a hard time believing you walked all that way. Congratulations on finishing and getting your Compostela.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
What I wonder is if as a general rule there is any recourse for someone who hits a snag like this in the Pilgrims Office. Is it possible to appeal a decision made in error like this?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
What I wonder is if as a general rule there is any recourse for someone who hits a snag like this in the Pilgrims Office. Is it possible to appeal a decision made in error like this?
I know that when I was there, there was someone “in charge” for each shift. This was back in the day when the vast majority of people working in the office were paid, and there were just a few volunteers, but I assume that is still the case.

I really think that this was just a case of confusion on the part of the volunteer, because the rule is so clear. Throwing the words “camino olvidado” or “camino mozárabe” or “camino castellano-aragonés” into the mix should probably just be avoided, and we should stick to the name of the official camino we walked for the last 100 kms. The volunteers are all aware of those.

But maybe @t2 has more insight based on his more recent experiences.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
My last visit to the pilgrim office was after walking from San Andres de Teixido. Also not on a recognized route. After some initial hesitation I was told that I could have a Compostela because I had joined the Camino Ingles at Neda 102km from Santiago and I would be recorded as having begun my pilgrimage there. As I was not prepared to endorse the notion that I only became a pilgrim once I set foot on an approved route I declined that offer and left without a Compostela for that journey.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
My last visit to the pilgrim office was after walking from San Andres de Teixido. Also not on a recognized route. After some initial hesitation I was told that I could have a Compostela because I had joined the Camino Ingles at Neda 102km from Santiago and I would be recorded as having begun my pilgrimage there. As I was not prepared to endorse the notion that I only became a pilgrim once I set foot on an approved route I declined that offer and left without a Compostela for that journey.
I understand that feeling, @Bradypus, but as long as we are in the compostela rabbit hole (I’m starting to agree with Tom’s idea that the world would be better without them) but I think that it makes sense for the pilgrims office to have an official and limited list of starting points that qualify. I don’t think that means that anyone thinks you only became a pilgrim at Neda, any more then when you walk from Budapest to Santiago you became a pilgrim at Sarria — yet that is all the office cares about and recognizes.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
but I think that it makes sense for the pilgrims office to have an official and limited list of starting points that qualify.
I disagree on this point. Over the years I have seen the Compostela rules grow gradually more narrow and restrictive. I have reluctantly accepted this. But the recent insistence on walking only an approved route marks a new and unacceptable qualitative shift in understanding: an endorsement of a changing definition of 'pilgrimage' which now places the emphasis mainly on the physical characteristics of the journey itself and not on its motivation and its increasingly nominal goal at the shrine of the Apostle. The Compostela testifies that the named person has visited the tomb of the Apostle in 'pietatis causa'. Is walking exclusively on an officially approved path for the final 100km of that journey really an essential demonstration of that religious or spiritual intent? What is it about the officially approved routes which adds that unique spiritual quality to one's journey which walking the same distance on a parallel but unblessed road would lack?
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
After I walked my Francés - Salvador - Norte combo Camino this year I went to the Pilgrims Office only to ask for a distance certificate. I could see the look on the poor volunteer's face as I'm sure he was thinking "how am I supposed to calculate that distance?" His demeanor improved when I told him that I had kept careful track of the distance. He said "good, I'll put that down." 😊
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
It would really help if the website of the Oficina del Peregrino were up to date and clear on these matters, instead of us having to rely on word of mouth and ever increasingly confusing interpretations and reports. I had a look at their website and as far as I can tell:
  1. The requirements for obtaining a Compostela say nothing about a recognised route, only the requirement of at least walking the last 100 km. Has this changed? I vaguely remember having read a claim that words to that effect are in the newest editions of the S.A.M.I. Cathedral's own credential. If that is true, can someone post an image of the text?
  2. The requirements for obtaining a distance certificate do mention recognised routes - por una de las rutas reconocidas como oficiales para la SAMI Catedral de Santiago, and it is clear from the design of the distance certificate that the assumption is that one has walked one particular route. Although this logic may work as long as one has only walked in Spain it goes totally out of the window when you have come from further away. The certificate is obviously not designed to take into account all the pirouettes that pilgrims perform, often on the 2nd and subsequent pilgrimage. It also messes up their statistics ...
  3. On the last pages of the credential issued by the S.A.M.I., there are sketches of the various routes. They include place names and distances to Santiago next to these place names. It may be useful to post copies of these as it would end the discussions of where the 100 km start. What matters here, are not the distances that Google maps may work out or that are written on the mojones but those fixed by the S.A.M.I. Cathedral for the purposes of issuing Compostelas.
Anyone?
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
The requirements for obtaining a Compostela say nothing about a recognised route, only the requirement of at least walking the last 100 km. Has this changed? I vaguely remember having read a claim that words to that effect are in the newest editions of the S.A.M.I. Cathedral's own credential. If that is true, can someone post an image of the text?
From the version of the credencial I was shown in November last year
rule.jpg
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
IMHO It's time the cathedral got out of the tourist souvenir business. This endowing trails with "official" status only leads to local authorities scrambling to cash in on their local hiking trails (most of the newly minted "caminos" have little to no historic ties to the Santiago pilgrimage) and this kind of hair-splitting nonsense at the end of the road. Don't even get me started on the "take a number" system now imposed at the pilgrim office,, and the long shifts served by overworked volunteers -- young people were paid to do that work before volunteers were put in place a few years ago as a cost-saving measure. I know lots of volunteers enjoy the work, but the last time I was there (in June) the exhausted people behind the counter were not exuding joy. It smelled like exploitation.
The whole Compostela award thing has got out of hand. Where is the Christian grace and witness in this automated trophy market?
Something similar was set up at the temple in Jerusalem a couple of thousand years ago -- a church-sponsored marketplace with a captive consumer base.
That was the only time in the Bible Jesus really lost his temper...
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
What I wonder is if as a general rule there is any recourse for someone who hits a snag like this in the Pilgrims Office. Is it possible to appeal a decision made in error like this?
I always tell people to ask (politely) to speak to the person-in-charge. This varies based on the day and time of day. But these are mostly the most senior folks on the paid staff working there.

Getting angry, agitated or argumentative only makes them "dig their heels in." So, I always advocate a calm, reasoned approach to your complaint or question. Ask the senior staff person to explain to you why this was done, so you can learn for the future. I would be surprised if this does not result in some accommodation being made.

Consider that there is a cultural component to every difference of opinion. You will usually get more with honey than with salt... Just sayin...

Hope this helps.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
I have the distinct feeling that the pilgrim's office have some mysterious "unofficial rules". When I was there, the volunteer kind of objected my first sello (it was from a new albergue in Leon) and immediately added "ah, but you have another from San Isidoro, so it is right". On the other side, he did not coment about my credencial not showing two sellos every day, for the last 100 km.
This was before the "certificado de distancia" was introduced, so this was not the issue.
I don´t care too much about the compostela, but liked the little ritual of making the queue. I talked a bit with some people I had met in the Camino; some waiting pilgrims were obviously happy, some lost in their thoughts, some seemed even a bit sad.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I suspect it is less about "unofficial rules" as it is about experience and communication. Regarding a new albergue, counter staff have seen most every possible sello before. So, when a totally new one first crops up, some folks who did not get so informed may incorrectly interpret this as a low-level fraud. It has been done before...

Whenever there is a change, in anything upstream, the information is not always communicated immediately, That is why, if you are adversely affected, you should politely ask to speak with the person-in-charge. This is usually one of the most experienced paid staff then in the office. There are managers, per se, but they are not always available. Your best resources is the very experienced permanent paid staff. They have seen it all, and are usually always accommodating.

Politely, ask the reason for the adverse determination so you can learn for the future. If you adopt the position that YOU may have misunderstood something, instead of trying to 'put one over' anyone, they are far more likely to see things your way. In my experience, the conciliatory approach works far more often than being argumentative.

Hope this helps.
 

Annet2020

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues 2020
I still wonder how they calculate the distance they write on the distance certificate. On the Camino Portugues from Porto to Santiago de Compostela there are different routes: the Central and the Coastal (with or without Litoral stages).
Starting and finishing point is the same, but Central route is 260 km, Coastal (or Litoral) is 280 km. Cannot find anywhere if they do consider this difference, or if they always put down 260 km because the central is the original route.
 

SioCamino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2015, CPo 2016, VDLP[Sev-Các] 2017, VDLP[Các-Sal] 2018
I still wonder how they calculate the distance they write on the distance certificate. On the Camino Portugues from Porto to Santiago de Compostela there are different routes: the Central and the Coastal (with or without Litoral stages).
Starting and finishing point is the same, but Central route is 260 km, Coastal (or Litoral) is 280 km. Cannot find anywhere if they do consider this difference, or if they always put down 260 km because the central is the original route.
Off the top my head actually there are 3 official distances - Porto vía Coastal fully (I.e. Baiona, Vigo) 280, Porto vía Coastal then via Tui 260 and Porto vía Central fully 240. Don’t know how they calculate them though!
And before anyone comes back to saw they got x when they did y - volunteers (and staff) are only human and can make mistakes.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I have the distinct feeling that the pilgrim's office have some mysterious "unofficial rules".
There could be other reasons. There's currently another recent drama on the topic "I didn't get my Compostela" doing the rounds on FB and amongst all the comments and opinions there is this line "The gentleman didn’t have good English and we didn’t have good Spanish".
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
My last visit to the pilgrim office was after walking from San Andres de Teixido. Also not on a recognized route. After some initial hesitation I was told that I could have a Compostela because I had joined the Camino Ingles at Neda 102km from Santiago and I would be recorded as having begun my pilgrimage there. As I was not prepared to endorse the notion that I only became a pilgrim once I set foot on an approved route I declined that offer and left without a Compostela for that journey.
@Bradypus, you had mentioned this story a few times before but this is the first time that I get a clearer understanding of what happened there. While I admire your principled stand I still wonder whether there wasn't a misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge or insufficient training on this particular staff's or volunteer's side. OK, fair enough, the last 100 km have to be done on one of the official routes but even if San Andres de Teixido isn't in their database as a starting point beyond those 100 km, they could have entered your starting point as "Resto de Galicia" and "Otro camino" for their statistics. 326 brave souls were registered by the Oficina in 2018 as having followed an "other camino".

All this is particularly absurd because San Andres de Teixido is a pilgrimage site in its own right that is probably known to everyone in Galicia and, after all, that's what pilgrims used to do, going from one pilgrimage site to the next or deviate occasionally from the main road to the final destination in order to be able to visit a nearby pilgrimage site.
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
OK, fair enough, the last 100 km have to be done on one of the official routes but even if San Andres de Teixido isn't in their database as a starting point beyond those 100 km, they could have entered your starting point as "Resto de Galicia" and "Otro camino" for their statistics.
That might have been an option but it was not suggested at the time. It would still not address my basic objection to the demand that the final 100km is walked on an approved route. Do you define a pilgrimage by its route or by its destination? Historically the Compostela has been given to mark a visit to the shrine of the Apostle. Now it is being given only after walking a specific path ending in Santiago. The distinction may seem trivial but I do not find it so.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
It does seem to be getting unnecessarily complicated. Having been accused here of suffering from OCD for insisting on walking obscure routes to Santiago, I've never been questioned by the (invariably charming) staff when collecting one of my compostelas, although once I got a whistle of surprise when explaining how you could get to the tomb from Tortosa vía about seven "official" routes (including passing San Andrés de Teixido).

And, sqd, I get to Santiago on 25 November vía the Arles, Aragonés, Ebro, Castellano-Aragonés, Lana, Olvidado, Manzanal, Vïa de la Plata, Zamorano-Portugués and Sanabrés and don't get my tenth compostela, well, I'll be quite sad.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I get to Santiago on 25 November vía the Arles, Aragonés, Ebro, Castellano-Aragonés, Lana, Olvidado, Manzanal, Vïa de la Plata, Zamorano-Portugués and Sanabrés and don't get my tenth compostela, well, I'll be quite sad.
Wonderful. And respect...just...wow.
I look forward to seeing how you manage to string those together, Alan. (Manzanal? Going to look it up now...)
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
That might have been an option but it was not suggested at the time. It would still not address my basic objection to the demand that the final 100km is walked on an approved route. Do you define a pilgrimage by its route or by its destination? Historically the Compostela has been given to mark a visit to the shrine of the Apostle. Now it is being given only after walking a specific path ending in Santiago. The distinction may seem trivial but I do not find it so.
I fully agree that a pilgrimage is about the destination and intention and not how you get there. They gave that up, not when they limited it to specific paths, but when they said the last 100 km had to be walked and that people who took the bus to Santiago don't qualify. That was when it ceased to be about the destination and intention. This last is but a variation in a theme that has been around for a long time.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
They gave that up, not when they limited it to specific paths, but when they said the last 100 km had to be walked and that people who took the bus to Santiago don't qualify.
I agree. A very unfortunate decision which has distorted the understanding of pilgrimage ever since. This latest development simply reinforces that shift in understanding in a way which I personally regard as being the final straw.
 
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davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I suspect that the person behind the counter took note of all the other sellos and simply lost the plot. The Compostela would have been based on the route followed for the final 100 km into Santiago.
Something similar to that very thing occurred to me at the counter last October. The volunteer was a bit confused about the placement of a few sellos which was - due to the inattention of a busy bar owner and myself - skipped a couple of blank spaces. This was after Sarria.

At the next two stops, I told the sello givers to go ahead and stamp in the blank spaces left above. So the sellos and their locations were out of sequence. I guess that for the volunteer, it was more of a question related to puzzlement, rather than any concern over my having followed the 'rules' themselves.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised that this level of attention was paid to sellos and locations. It wasn't any big deal; it just made me realize that the Credencial does get more than a short cursory glance :)
 

Aurigny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés; Português Central; Português Interior; Primitivo; Português da Costa; Invierno
And yet in its annual statistics, the Pilgrims' Office lists people who began their journey in Russia, Australia, Egypt, resto Africa...Presumably there are not approved routes that commence in all these places, so the idea of starting at a non-standard point of origin surely cannot be a foreign concept to the authorities.

I hope not, anyway. I'm thinking of starting my next trip either at the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre in Geneva or St James' Church in Dublin, and I'm not sure that either of those will elicit many nods of recognition in the Rúa das Carretas.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
And yet in its annual statistics, the Pilgrims' Office lists people who began their journey in Russia, Australia, Egypt, resto Africa...Presumably there are not approved routes that commence in all these places, so the idea of starting at a non-standard point of origin surely cannot be a foreign concept to the authorities.

I hope not, anyway. I'm thinking of starting my next trip either at the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre in Geneva or St James' Church in Dublin, and I'm not sure that either of those will elicit many nods of recognition in the Rúa das Carretas.
No worries. It is NOT the point of origin that is the primary issue; it is what route a pilgrim follows during the LAST 100 km into Santiago (or 200 km for bicycles) that is at issue with the rules. :)
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
the idea of starting at a non-standard point of origin surely cannot be a foreign concept to the authorities.
It is not, but I doubt that distances from obscure places is a high priority for the Office. The boss probably just instructs volunteers to do a Google Map walking distance query, and calls it a day. When I am a cranky old man, I plan to argue with the clerk for an hour because the mileage is wrong for my variant to Calzadilla out of Sahagun...
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Mike,
Great positive attitude ......
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
I had a similar experience last week when explaining that I'd walked the Camino Mendocino, Camino de Madrid and part of the Camino Francés. I was told in no uncertain terms that the Camino Francés was the only recognised part of my walk.

I didn't feel inclined to argue, as it wasn't a particularly empathetic encounter. However I had promised the Camino Mendocino folk that I'd declare myself as having walked this recently recognised route, so it was a little disappointing not to be able to do that (or even to have the Camino Mendocino or Madrid mentioned on a distance certificate). Not a disaster, though as I don't usually bother with such formalities any more!

On a more general note - I wonder if this situation impacts on pilgrim office statistics for the smaller routes? And does that have a knock-on effect for the amigos groups who try to demonstrate pilgrim numbers for the routes they work hard to develop and maintain?
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Something similar to that very thing occurred to me at the counter last October. The volunteer was a bit confused about the placement of a few sellos which was - due to the inattention of a busy bar owner and myself - skipped a couple of blank spaces. This was after Sarria.

At the next two stops, I told the sello givers to go ahead and stamp in the blank spaces left above. So the sellos and their locations were out of sequence. I guess that for the volunteer, it was more of a question related to puzzlement, rather than any concern over my having followed the 'rules' themselves.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised that this level of attention was paid to sellos and locations. It wasn't any big deal; it just made me realize that the Credencial does get more than a short cursory glance :)
My sense is that the less experienced you are coming to the counter as a volunteer or new staff member, the more rule-driven you will likely be. OTOH, in my direct observation, the most seasoned and experienced staff people or volunteers, who has been there and seen that, will likely just glance at the totality of the sellos, get a feel for your intentions, and accept what you present. They can TELL who is legitimate and who is posing a likely problem.

This is why long walkers, like from Saint Jean Pied de Port, Sevilla, Irun, San Sebastian, Madrid, Lisbon, etc. do not have an eyelid blinked if they are missing a sello or two. Conversely the shorter one walks, relatively, the greater attention is likely period to the number and arrangement of the sellos you provide. I have personally experienced this after my Caminos, and they all know me... go figure...

This said, I DO wish, like Rebekah mentions above, that the Cathedral could literally redefine itself out of the personalized Compostela business. They might do this by issuing pre-printed, non-personalized Compostelas, once you have had your credencial double stamped - solo sello. It could be the same Compostela, modified to remove all the fill in places. This virtually eliminates the queues altogether...

It will never happen. But, one can dream one...

Hope this helps.
 

GettingThere

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
Roncesvalles-Sarria Sep-Oct 2017
C. Frances sections Apr-Jun 2019
I had a similar experience last week when explaining that I'd walked the Camino Mendocino, Camino de Madrid and part of the Camino Francés. I was told in no uncertain terms that the Camino Francés was the only recognised part of my walk.

I didn't feel inclined to argue, as it wasn't a particularly empathetic encounter. However I had promised the Camino Mendocino folk that I'd declare myself as having walked this recently recognised route, so it was a little disappointing not to be able to do that (or even to have the Camino Mendocino or Madrid mentioned on a distance certificate). Not a disaster, though as I don't usually bother with such formalities any more!

On a more general note - I wonder if this situation impacts on pilgrim office statistics for the smaller routes? And does that have a knock-on effect for the amigos groups who try to demonstrate pilgrim numbers for the routes they work hard to develop and maintain?
There was a thread recently (which of course I can't now find!) where it was explained that the Pilgrim's Office only reports statistics for the named Caminos which either finish in Santiago, or join one of those within the last 100km (eg the Primitivo which joins the Frances). So if you look at the annual set of statistics, although they have a long table recording starting points, the table of Caminos walked is very short. It does not mention the Camino de Madrid or any of the others which don't go all the way in to Santiago unless they join within the last 100km. So the figures for the Via de la Plata only include those who take the Sanabres variant; anyone whose Camino "feeds into" the Frances further back than the last 100km will be counted as the Frances, even if the majority of the distance they have walked is on other Caminos. The tiny figure for "other Caminos" apparently does not encompass all those unlisted more distant routes (numbers would be higher), although I'm not sure what it does represent if not that. It's one more indication of the focus on that last 100km I guess, almost to the exclusion of everything else.
 

surya8

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues Central and Coastal 2017 & 2019; Portugues Interior, Sanabres, Fisterra & Muxia 2018
And yet in its annual statistics, the Pilgrims' Office lists people who began their journey in Russia, Australia, Egypt, resto Africa...Presumably there are not approved routes that commence in all these places, so the idea of starting at a non-standard point of origin surely cannot be a foreign concept to the authorities.
Well, I can't speak for ther countries that you've mentioned but as for Russia it is on one of the Camino routes. I live in Kaliningrad, on the coast of the Baltic sea, and one of the routes starting in Lithuania passes through Kaliningrad (former Koenigsberg) and goes to Gdansk in Poland, then further west to Germany along the sea coast. It's called Via Baltica, and is easy to walk now with the electronic visas to Kaliningrad introduced this July. There is also another official option from here - Camino Polonia, which is a bit further south in Poland. And I've heard about that Russian guy from Kazan, Tatarstan who cycled all the way from there to Santiago last year. I am hoping to start my walk from home some day as well.
 
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