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Crazy not to reserve in 2021 Holy Year?

Rdunn

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte (2021)
I hope to walk the CF in June/July of 2021 (first ever Camino). It might be ill advised but it’s do it then or don’t do it for many years. Is it crazy not to book rooms all the way through? I see people doing that and it concerns me. I would rather not do that. I’d almost rather take a sleeping pad and sleep outside. With the 2020 backlog and it being a holy year, I get this gnawing fear that I’m missing out on some important info, or if don’t book now I won’t have a Camino to walk. Is that a reasonable concern?

Related... I would rather walk the CF for my first one but is doing the Norte wiser? I mostly just want to pray at churches all the way the way through, I figured the CF would be better for that. I would love your thoughts.
 
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I mostly just want to pray at churches all the way the way through,
A peregrino after my own heart! ... Walk the Frances, and as slowly as your schedule will permit!

2021 will be a strange, potentially chaotic year, so book acceptable accommodations ahead at every place you anticipate staying. That's what I've already done for September, when I plan to finish (@ O Cebreiro) the next installment of my own snails-pace, visit-every-church-I-can, walk.
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Starting with the last part of your question, first... I always advise people to make their first Camino on the Camino Frances. It is unique. You already have a yearning for that and I cannot think of any reason why you would do the Norte instead (I've walked both, plus a bunch of others).

I don't think the CF will be crowded in June/July of this year. For starters those are the hot months of the year and not as popular as starting in May or September, when the temperatures are likely to be milder. And then there is the whole question of the advisability of walking at all this year, noting that Spain has declared a State of Alarm until May 2021. I won't go into that, but my suggestion is that you stay flexible.

On the specific question you asked, about booking - I never used to do that but think that the changes brought about by the pandemic (less beds per hostel, spacing requirements, consideration of the economics of opening) will make it necessary to book at least one or two days ahead. I'd loved to be proved wrong.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Related... I would rather walk the CF for my first one but is doing the Norte wiser? I mostly just want to pray at churches all the way the way through, I figured the CF would be better for that. I would love your thoughts.
For what you are looking for definitely the Frances. Of course there are churches on the Norte, but to me they didn't seem as central to the villages as those on the Frances. On the Frances it seems like the towns are built around the church, while in the coastal communities on the Norte the towns are more focused on the sea.

Also, if you are concerned about a "bed race" the Norte in the summer can be quite busy compared to the number of available beds. The infrastructure is much better on the Francés.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Is it crazy not to book rooms all the way through? I see people doing that and it concerns me
You don't see the people who are NOT booking! :) We really don't know what the situation will be in June/July 2021. The Holy Year has been extended to include 2022, and many of us think that travel will not return to previous levels for a long time.

My suggestion is the same as it would have been a year ago before we ever heard about flattening the curve, etc. That is to book your first night or two, sometime before you travel. Then it should be fine to judge the situation on the ground, and make reservations just a day or 2 or 3 ahead. Take a smart phone and get familiar with a booking app on your phone. Keep an eye on fiestas and holidays when big towns often fill up on weekends.
I would rather walk the CF for my first one but is doing the Norte wiser?
Why would it be wiser? Crowds? Again there is no knowing, but it was pointed out that the Norte is tourist territory for Spaniards, and they might be traveling within Spain even if fewer people are coming from outside the country. So I don't see that it would be better in that regard. Of course you can always switch routes if you want.
 
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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
As a psychotically repeating pilgrim, I would strongly recommend the Frances for a first or only route. While I really like the del Norte for its history and the food, the Francese has got the pilgrim vibe and is well-supplied with an infrastructure.

While there are plenty of churches along the del Norte, you will not be able to count on a church being open for services in every spot--- many of the smaller places will only have one mass a week. The Bishops' committee on pilgrimage has put an effort into ensuring that most places will have daily masses -- usually in the evening-- and that priests are attuned to pilgrims and their needs (they weren't when I first did the Camino almost 20 years ago and I have a few stories!!). Local worshippers are very pleased when pilgrims attend and join with them, and you will be warmly received.

Generally speaking, I only book my first one or two nights before departure, and possibly in Santiago if I know my dates. The rest of the time, I would only book a day ahead and, perhaps after Astorga or Sarria, two days ahead. About half the time, I used a booking app, but as my Castilian improved, I would often just telephone ahead, carefully using my John Wayne accent so that the innkeeper did not assume that I be fluent.

We have yet to see how 2021 will unfold, although I think we are all, prospective pilgrims or not, hoping that things will unfold positively.
 

nathanael

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Plata,
I hope to walk the CF in June/July of 2021 (first ever Camino). It might be ill advised but it’s do it then or don’t do it for many years. Is it crazy not to book rooms all the way through? I see people doing that and it concerns me. I would rather not do that. I’d almost rather take a sleeping pad and sleep outside. With the 2020 backlog and it being a holy year, I get this gnawing fear that I’m missing out on some important info, or if don’t book now I won’t have a Camino to walk. Is that a reasonable concern?

Related... I would rather walk the CF for my first one but is doing the Norte wiser? I mostly just want to pray at churches all the way the way through, I figured the CF would be better for that. I would love your thoughts.
I see the concern in reserving, I have done eleven Caminos and never have reserve except when just before coming into Santiago. I see it as an adventure in providence and I also do not carry a cell phone, I guess its the fact I want my Caminos to be simple and unhampered by modern gadgets. But then each to his own.
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
What is interesting is that in Galicia it will be possible to pre-book the Xunta muncipal albergues (https://alberguesxacobeo.gal/). I suspect there will be lots of pilgrims booking ahead - however planning too far ahead can be problematic if something goes wrong or something delays you or you have a delightful surprise. Having walked on other pilgrim routes like the Via Francigena where it is necessary to ring ahead to book accomodation in many places, I have gotten used to planning a few days in advance and booking accomodation. But I don't think that I would like to book more than two-three days in advance - because you never know what surprise might happen! One of the joys especially on the Camino Frances was in "normal times" (except when walking in winter) was that you could stop in this village or the next one, or five further on, and find somewhere to stay without planning - but this year will still not be normal. IThat does not mean that you must book every night but there may be places were it may be useful to book in advance - cities, the last 100km from Sarria, "bottle necks" like Carrion de los Condes
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2010/2011/2012/2013: Madrid -Salvador -Primitivo 2014: EPW 2015: Amsterdam - SdC
For our albergue on the Primitivo we hardly have any bookings for this year. There is no need to book so much ahead. And except that, most of the early bookings we get, are cancelled anyway....
My advice would be to book your first 1-2 nights. Then you will see how busy it is and you can book 1-2 days ahead each day if you wish to do so. 1-2 days ahead (and 95% of the time also the same day) there is always space in my experience as a pilgrim and and as hospitalero.
 

arch

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Del Norte from Irun to Santander, Primitivo from Oviedo to Frances to Santiago September 2016
cannot think of any reason why you would do the Norte
I live in the mountains in the NE US and the thought of walking the flat Frances was not appealing. Loved the Norte and Primitivo in Sept 2016
 
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Zeton walks

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Autumn 2020
Like so many others, I had to cancel all my plans for walking Camino Frances in 2020 but hope to go this year, God willing and I get the vaccine. What I'm perseverating about now is that with everything just opening up that it will be more difficult to find lodging. I'd like to try all kinds of options both public and private. Last year I had the first three nights as well as last night reserved. Advice?
 

SenorJacques

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Apologies in advance for not answering your question directly, or even indirectly, but I wanted to respond because like you, I had planned to walk my first Camino in 2020 - and also like you, had postponed it to this coming autumn. But I’m concerned that the confluence of pent up demand and increased Holy Year numbers in 2021 may make accommodation planning this year more difficult - not to mention the fact that we still don’t know how many places to stay will even be open come September. So I’m reluctantly but gradually considering postponing my walk again until 2022, when presumably (and hopefully!) things will be closer to “normal”, or whatever “normal” looks like Camino-wise by then. In the meantime I will be following responses to this thread with interest!
 

mike mcbroom

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francis June 17, 2015 ,Portagusee from Porto to Santiago August 2016, Francis may 2018 this year wil
As a psychotically repeating pilgrim, I would strongly recommend the Frances for a first or only route. While I really like the del Norte for its history and the food, the Francese has got the pilgrim vibe and is well-supplied with an infrastructure.

While there are plenty of churches along the del Norte, you will not be able to count on a church being open for services in every spot--- many of the smaller places will only have one mass a week. The Bishops' committee on pilgrimage has put an effort into ensuring that most places will have daily masses -- usually in the evening-- and that priests are attuned to pilgrims and their needs (they weren't when I first did the Camino almost 20 years ago and I have a few stories!!). Local worshippers are very pleased when pilgrims attend and join with them, and you will be warmly received.

Generally speaking, I only book my first one or two nights before departure, and possibly in Santiago if I know my dates. The rest of the time, I would only book a day ahead and, perhaps after Astorga or Sarria, two days ahead. About half the time, I used a booking app, but as my Castilian improved, I would often just telephone ahead, carefully using my John Wayne accent so that the innkeeper did not assume that I be fluent.

We have yet to see how 2021 will unfold, although I think we are all, prospective pilgrims or not, hoping that things will unfold positively.
I would like to here or read some of your stories of the early years
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
The reality as this is not a normal year no-one really know - some will pre-book everything before they go, some will book a few days in advance, some will book the day before and some will take their chance - some of this will come down to your own personal temperment and level of risk taking you are comfortable with - and whether in a pinch you'd rough sleep/bivvy if needed on occasion.

[Edited to remove link now that 2 threads have been merged.]
 
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Mycroft

Active Member
The Pope has extended the Holy Year through 2022, so that may help.
I recall last year there was talk of this, and then it was said the Pope indeed did extend, and then I was told the Pope did not extend the Holy Year into 2022. Sounds like it is back on! Thanks, Trecile.
 

Mycroft

Active Member
Apologies in advance for not answering your question directly, or even indirectly, but I wanted to respond because like you, I had planned to walk my first Camino in 2020 - and also like you, had postponed it to this coming autumn. But I’m concerned that the confluence of pent up demand and increased Holy Year numbers in 2021 may make accommodation planning this year more difficult - not to mention the fact that we still don’t know how many places to stay will even be open come September. So I’m reluctantly but gradually considering postponing my walk again until 2022, when presumably (and hopefully!) things will be closer to “normal”, or whatever “normal” looks like Camino-wise by then. In the meantime I will be following responses to this thread with interest!
And then there's me with my notion of "The Camino will provide."
 

Zeton walks

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Autumn 2020
There is another thread which is also currently debating booking accomodation which might be useful to consult but the reality as this is not a normal year no-one really know - some will pre-book everything before they go, some will book a few days in advance, some will book the day before and some will take their chance - some of this will come down to your own personal temperment and level of risk taking you are comfortable with - and whether in a pinch you'd rough sleep/bivvy if needed on occasion.
Hi Roving_Rufus, Thanks for your response. By "rough sleep/bivvy" I'm guessing you mean what I'd call "camping". If so, I'm afraid that won't be possible for me. I'll be 74 and won't be carrying camping gear. I'm a Camino newly and though very fit and hearty will need a bed every night.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I see the concern in reserving, I have done eleven Caminos and never have reserve except when just before coming into Santiago. I see it as an adventure in providence and I also do not carry a cell phone, I guess its the fact I want my Caminos to be simple and unhampered by modern gadgets. But then each to his own.
I have been on 5 caminos and never booked anything other than first night and one maybe two days before entering Santiago. I have had a couple of reservations though when I walked with an American guy who was terrified of not getting a bed so he would phone every evening to book the next nights beds for three. Not once were the albergues we stayed in full. Once I was on my own again, no more reservations. Never transported my bags either. However, I am not sure what I will do this year or next, nothing definite yet. I will probably play it by ear and book if it becomes necessary. One thing I would urge everyone to do. If you book ahead and then change your mind and stop at a different town, please please phone and cancel your booking. It was awful to see an albergue turning away weary pilgrims when there were ten beds reserved and only two people turned up.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
One thing I would urge everyone to do. If you book ahead and then change your mind and stop at a different town, please please phone and cancel your booking. It was awful to see an albergue turning away weary pilgrims when there were ten beds reserved and only two people turned up.
The albergues need to give a deadline, say 4:00pm. If you haven't shown up by then or called to say when you will be there your bed should be forfeited.
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Hi Roving_Rufus, Thanks for your response. By "rough sleep/bivvy" I'm guessing you mean what I'd call "camping". If so, I'm afraid that won't be possible for me. I'll be 74 and won't be carrying camping gear. I'm a Camino newly and though very fit and hearty will need a bed every night.
"camping" would be the luxury term - more of using of sleeping bag in somewhere like a church porch or another sheltered spot was what I meant- basically making doing if there was no bed. But in your instance, if you get caught out and can't find a bed- go talk to the local bartender they may know of someone who rents out a room.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Hi Roving_Rufus, Thanks for your response. By "rough sleep/bivvy" I'm guessing you mean what I'd call "camping". If so, I'm afraid that won't be possible for me. I'll be 74 and won't be carrying camping gear. I'm a Camino newly and though very fit and hearty will need a bed every night.
Hi Zeton
Rough sleeping does not necessarily equate with camping. I have only ever met one person carrying a tent on the Frances.

When things sometimes get extra busy a number of local communities and individuals step in to help. This sometimes means being offered an exercise mat on the floor of a local gymnasium or a long seat in a bar.

More often, when things get busy it simply means paying a bit more for non-albergue accommodation or catching a taxi to another town ahead, behind or off the track and a taxi back again in the morning. 😁
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I recall last year there was talk of this, and then it was said the Pope indeed did extend, and then I was told the Pope did not extend the Holy Year into 2022. Sounds like it is back on! Thanks, Trecile.
Yes, it had been requested earlier in the year, but was just announced this past week.

 

Zeton walks

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Autumn 2020
Hi Zeton
Rough sleeping does not necessarily equate with camping. I have only ever met one person carrying a tent on the Frances.

When things sometimes get extra busy a number of local communities and individuals step in to help. This sometimes means being offered an exercise mat on the floor of a local gymnasium or a long seat in a bar.

More often, when things get busy it simply means paying a bit more for non-albergue accommodation or catching a taxi to another town ahead, behind or off the track and a taxi back again in the morning. 😁
Thanks Doghnut NZ, I so appreciate your help.
 
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henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I hope to walk the CF in June/July of 2021 (first ever Camino). It might be ill advised but it’s do it then or don’t do it for many years. Is it crazy not to book rooms all the way through? I see people doing that and it concerns me. I would rather not do that. I’d almost rather take a sleeping pad and sleep outside. With the 2020 backlog and it being a holy year, I get this gnawing fear that I’m missing out on some important info, or if don’t book now I won’t have a Camino to walk. Is that a reasonable concern?

Related... I would rather walk the CF for my first one but is doing the Norte wiser? I mostly just want to pray at churches all the way the way through, I figured the CF would be better for that. I would love your thoughts.
You’ll get some opinions, but no facts, on the key question you pose.

The availability of accomodation on the CdF is a simple balance of demand and supply, with some variation in price accordingly. In a steady-state predictable year it all works out, somehow. In 2021 - and possibly future years, who knows; nothing is certain.

If it makes you feel better to book ahead, get on with it. In my opinion it’s far too early: you’ll only see a fraction of available accommodation on ( for example) booking.com; you will sacrifice spontaneity for possible certainty and none of us know what accommodation will actually be available in due course.

I’m sorry if this isn’t helpful - but the reality is ‘nobody knows’ and, in my opinion, you’re over-thinking the situation.

In previous years when I’ve walked - some of which were very busy - I never once came across anyone who failed to find somewhere to sleep; although occasionally it was on a sports hall floor. That’s part of the experience. Other pilgrimages are available.

My advice is no better than anyone else’s but, if you want it it is:

Stay flexible
Don’t sweat the small stuff
It’ll all be OK in the end
Don’t book anything just yet.
 

Roby

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May/June 2018
I plan to come to Spain in June or September, depending on the vaccination and my son.
I do not intend to book accommodation, as this significantly impairs the freedom you have on the Camino.
You don't know how much you will want / be able to walk in the coming days, who you will meet, how you will feel, how much you will like the place you are going through, what the weather will be like.
One of the beauties of the Camino is indulging in the moment, not having an obligation.
You will always somehow manage, find a solution, there will always be someone near you to help you.
Do not worry.
If it still turns out that there is a need for reservations, then you will start booking accommodation for the day in advance.
Just enjoy, indulge.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
......
I do not intend to book accommodation, as this significantly impairs the freedom you have on the Camino.
You don't know how much you will want / be able to walk in the coming days, who you will meet, how you will feel, how much you will like the place you are going through, what the weather will be like.
One of the beauties of the Camino is indulging in the moment, not having an obligation.
You will always somehow manage, find a solution, there will always be someone near you to help you.
Do not worry.
If it still turns out that there is a need for reservations, then you will start booking accommodation for the day in advance.
Just enjoy, indulge.
As @Robi and others have said, a large part of the attraction of a Camino pilgrimage is the spontaneity and learning to let go of a need to constantly be in control.

Prior to my first Camino I didn't understand this fully and tried to research every aspect and I worried about finding accommodation and getting lost. Just two days into walking the Frances from St. Jean Pied de Port I realised that none of my worrying had been necessary.

Spain is a first world country with modern infrastructure. While the Camino trails often go through country areas and occasionally forests you are not in the wilderness and are rarely far from civilisation and public transport. Accommodation options abound.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I hope to walk the CF in June/July of 2021 (first ever Camino).
@Rdunn, it is very difficult to say how the flows of pilgrims and other visitors will develop throughout 2021. I would go as early as possible in your situation. While all the regions along the Camino Frances try to attract more visitors during a Holy Year, the influx will be strongest in Galicia and during the summer months there, judging by previous Holy Years and also judging by current planning by the regional authority in Galicia. The further away from Galicia, the less impact will be felt. So I wouldn't worry about accommodation any more than in any other year (i.e. very little) for most of the trail except for the last 5-10 days. In the first part of the Camino Frances, June/July is actually "low season" for pilgrimage.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
What is interesting is that in Galicia it will be possible to pre-book the Xunta muncipal albergues (https://alberguesxacobeo.gal/). I suspect there will be lots of pilgrims booking ahead - however planning too far ahead can be problematic if something goes wrong or something delays you or you have a delightful surprise.
Perhaps useful to add for those not familiar with this novelty:

You can make your reservation from 1 pm the day before your stay at the albergue until 1 pm the same day.
See their Frequently Asked Questions. Under current arrangements, they will keep your place until 8 pm. They will keep it even for longer if you inform them beforehand that you will arrive after 8 pm.
 

Old Kiwi

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I have always stayed in Municipal albergues where you can not book anyway. Only once have I arrived to find the "Completo" sign out, and so moved on to another cheap albergue. Last year I booked accommodation in Santiago two days before I got there. I seriously believe in "The Camino will provide" and have not been disappointed.
 

Zeton walks

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Autumn 2020
You’ll get some opinions, but no facts, on the key question you pose.

The availability of accomodation on the CdF is a simple balance of demand and supply, with some variation in price accordingly. In a steady-state predictable year it all works out, somehow. In 2021 - and possibly future years, who knows; nothing is certain.

If it makes you feel better to book ahead, get on with it. In my opinion it’s far too early: you’ll only see a fraction of available accommodation on ( for example) booking.com; you will sacrifice spontaneity for possible certainty and none of us know what accommodation will actually be available in due course.

I’m sorry if this isn’t helpful - but the reality is ‘nobody knows’ and, in my opinion, you’re over-thinking the situation.

In previous years when I’ve walked - some of which were very busy - I never once came across anyone who failed to find somewhere to sleep; although occasionally it was on a sports hall floor. That’s part of the experience. Other pilgrimages are available.

My advice is no better than anyone else’s but, if you want it it is:

Stay flexible
Don’t sweat the small stuff
It’ll all be OK in the end
Don’t book anything just yet.


Thanks Henry, Sounds like great advice!
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
The albergues need to give a deadline, say 4:00pm. If you haven't shown up by then or called to say when you will be there your bed should be forfeited.
I would make it 3pm at latest. Make contact to confirm or cancel or bed forfeit
 

nathanael

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Plata,
A peregrino after my own heart! ... Walk the Frances, and as slowly as your schedule will permit!

2021 will be a strange, potentially chaotic year, so book acceptable accommodations ahead at every place you anticipate staying. That's what I've already done for September, when I plan to finish (@ O Cebreiro) the next installment of my own snails-pace, visit-every-church-I-can, walk.
do we really know the Camino will be open this year? I for myself will remain in Canada for another year.
 
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SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
do we really know the Camino will be open this year? I for myself will remain in Canada for another year.

" The " Camino is always open seeing locals in Spain are able to do their daily walks.

Another thing is if all albergues and private accomodations wil reopen.
 

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