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Differences in the walking experience - pre vs post Covid?

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Past OR future Camino
2017
The question is in the post title and regards the Frances. (But, those experienced on other routes can feel free to chime in though all readers would appreciate identification of the route upon which you comment!)

The top three things that one notices would be more than enough!

I have not been around here much for awhile as 'life intrudes' and so other priorities dominate my attention.

Further, upon checking in, I see little to offer on posted threads as I regard my past experience as severely out-dated and of little regard. (Though I am bemused to a certain extent by posts which implicitly suggest that avenues exist to experience the "best" of the Way.)

Certainly not a post in need of urgent response as I am well away (sadly) from being able to plan another walk. However, in a rare moment of idleness, I find myself curious.

Thanks in advance,

B
 
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pepi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Last: 2021, next: ???
I was wondering about this too when starting my 6th CF last fall, but rest assured, once taking the road, the all-compassing daily "rising – walking – washing – eating – sleeping" takes absolute priority over any other consideration, including Covid. Everybody and everything around you seems determined to look forward, not back. No, I felt no difference at all.
 

wisepilgrim

Guidebook Author
Past OR future Camino
Many
The post covid rush of pilgrims has amplified the worries about having a bed at the end of the day; some places on some days it is understandable but many others not quite so.

It has also amplified the number of pilgrims seeking private accommodation, which has the effect of pushing many albergues to offer them by converting a room of bunks into a room with two beds.

But if either of those don't influence you, then the covid part of post-covid walking experience won't affect you much.

The camino has changed in other ways in the meantime which has altered it a bit. With the growing popularity the demographic of pilgrims is shifting and growing, and although there are still a great many pilgrims that walk with a similar mindset that could be found 10 years ago they are greatly overshadowed by the number of pilgrims that are either repeat walkers or hyper planners and that does have an effect on the spontaneity of the camino and its daily duties.
 

frjuliangreen

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Inglés (2018)
Camino Portugués (2019)
Vía de la Plata/Camino Sanabrés (2020)
The question is in the post title and regards the Frances. (But, those experienced on other routes can feel free to chime in though all readers would appreciate identification of the route upon which you comment!)

The top three things that one notices would be more than enough!

I have not been around here much for awhile as 'life intrudes' and so other priorities dominate my attention.

Further, upon checking in, I see little to offer on posted threads as I regard my past experience as severely out-dated and of little regard. (Though I am bemused to a certain extent by posts which implicitly suggest that avenues exist to experience the "best" of the Way.)

Certainly not a post in need of urgent response as I am well away (sadly) from being able to plan another walk. However, in a rare moment of idleness, I find myself curious.

Thanks in advance,

B
The prices
 

pepi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Last: 2021, next: ???
The post covid rush of pilgrims has amplified the worries about having a bed at the end of the day; some places on some days it is understandable but many others not quite so.

It has also amplified the number of pilgrims seeking private accommodation, which has the effect of pushing many albergues to offer them by converting a room of bunks into a room with two beds.

But if either of those don't influence you, then the covid part of post-covid walking experience won't affect you much.

The camino has changed in other ways in the meantime which has altered it a bit. With the growing popularity the demographic of pilgrims is shifting and growing, and although there are still a great many pilgrims that walk with a similar mindset that could be found 10 years ago they are greatly overshadowed by the number of pilgrims that are either repeat walkers or hyper planners and that does have an effect on the spontaneity of the camino and its daily duties.
You are of course right about accommodation, and I should have mentioned that at 78, I have yielded the affordable bunk-beds to younger folks. (As should do seniors who can afford it imho.) And, ah yes, one other thing that has noticeably changed since Covid, is that suddenly, almost everybody seems to accept contactless payment even for small amounts. Very positive. (I am not sure if this applies to the albergues too)
 
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Past OR future Camino
2020
I began the Frances in St. JPdP May 13th, 2022 with the goal of finishing at Muxia.
I stopped in Leon due to difficulties/worries about finding bed. It broke my heart.
I walked the Frances in 2018 & 2019 to Finesteirre (2018) and Muxia (2019).
Never before did I have people warn me about the potential of sleeping out in parks, on church floors, etc. as I approached/arrived in Santiago.

As a small, not-young, single female traveling alone those options did not seem wise.

Never before did I think about calling ahead for reservations or using booking.com.
Almost no one spoke of taking taxis/buses to get to the location where their baggage was being ported ... a place they had reserved last February.
This year, it seems to be more the norm.

I'm attributing these changes to the pent-up demand by pilgrims who could not come for the past 2 years due to COVID.

But I fear that the changes may be reflective of a transition of the Camino from a pilgrimage to a tourist experience.
 
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Isabelpilgrim

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I began the Frances in St. JPdP May 13th, 2022 with the goal of finishing at Muxia.
I stopped in Leon due to difficulties/worries about finding bed. It broke my heart.
I walked the Frances in 2018 & 2019 to Finesteirre (2018) and Muxia (2019).
Never before did I have people warn me about the potential of sleeping out in parks, on church floors, etc. as I approached/arrived in Santiago.

As a small, not-young, single female traveling alone those options did not seem wise.

Never before did I think about calling ahead for reservations or using booking.com.
Almost no one spoke of taking taxis/buses to get to the location where their baggage was being ported ... a place they had reserved last February.
This year, it seems to be more the norm.

I'm attributing these changes to the pent-up demand by pilgrims who could not come for the past 2 years due to COVID.

But I fear that the changes may be reflective of a transition of the Camino from a pilgrimage to a tourist experience.
I'm walking now, met people who still mostly show up and find beds. I've been about hal and half, reserving vs not. I reserved first couple of nights, because of the heat. Did have one place full, but someone asked the hospitalero to drive me to next village (one of the ridiculously hot days) and albergue was not full, nor in Castojeriz, nor in Boadilla,nor Villalcazar. I had to bus ahead to Leon and Ponferrada, so prebooked hotel rooms, but walked into a place in Cacabelos, only 2 of us so far in room, and it's just past 5 pm. In some ways it hasn't changed, still had group meals. Saw a positive COVID test and I don't know whose it was but people weren't wearing masks. I sleep with a mask on in albergue, especially if I hear any coughing. Try to sleep near a window.
 

Rick M

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 22)
Sept 21
I began the Frances in St. JPdP May 13th, 2022 with the goal of finishing at Muxia.
I stopped in Leon due to difficulties/worries about finding bed. It broke my heart.
I walked the Frances in 2018 & 2019 to Finesteirre (2018) and Muxia (2019).
Never before did I have people warn me about the potential of sleeping out in parks, on church floors, etc. as I approached/arrived in Santiago.

As a small, not-young, single female traveling alone those options did not seem wise.

Never before did I think about calling ahead for reservations or using booking.com.
Almost no one spoke of taking taxis/buses to get to the location where their baggage was being ported ... a place they had reserved last February.
This year, it seems to be more the norm.

I'm attributing these changes to the pent-up demand by pilgrims who could not come for the past 2 years due to COVID.

But I fear that the changes may be reflective of a transition of the Camino from a pilgrimage to a tourist experience.
Alas, you were one of many who experienced what I think of as "The Stampede" that happened to a wave of pilgrims departing SJPP in the first two weeks of May this year. I departed on April 13th, and there were no issues with finding beds at all. Nobody should be surprised if a similar wave happens in the first two weeks of September.
 
Past OR future Camino
Two people to walk the Camino de Santiago in the spring of (2018)
We walked in 2018 and just completed the France on May 26th 2022. We walked in about the same time frame in both Caminos. Our sense is that there were more pilgrims overall, slightly more. Also we directly saw that there were fewer accommodations. We began during Holy Week in mid April so we did make some reservations between SJPdP and Pamplona but just winged it after that. The stress level was higher at the end of each day from finding a place to sleep. In one city we stayed at an expensive Parador and the next night slept on the linoleum floor of a church (an positive, memorable experience)
If we had to reserve accommodations ahead each day of a pilgrimage WE WOULD NOT DO IT!.. It would ruin the experience.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
The post covid rush of pilgrims has amplified the worries about having a bed at the end of the day; some places on some days it is understandable but many others not quite so.

It has also amplified the number of pilgrims seeking private accommodation, which has the effect of pushing many albergues to offer them by converting a room of bunks into a room with two beds.

But if either of those don't influence you, then the covid part of post-covid walking experience won't affect you much.

The camino has changed in other ways in the meantime which has altered it a bit. With the growing popularity the demographic of pilgrims is shifting and growing, and although there are still a great many pilgrims that walk with a similar mindset that could be found 10 years ago they are greatly overshadowed by the number of pilgrims that are either repeat walkers or hyper planners and that does have an effect on the spontaneity of the camino and its daily duties.
I think you are 100% correct in your assessment. I am retired and have the luxury of walking when I choose. I would rather walk in late fall/winter then summer. Less people less hassle worries. Of course fewer choices and I will take walking in cold any day over walking in the temperatures and crowds you have from May or June to Early October. Last year I walked the VDLP starting in mid October. I ended up walking to Astorga only because so many albergues were still closed and I had to go to hostels and my budget took a beating. Only difference I saw was there were less open albergues and very few open kitchens to cook. Besides that there wasn’t that much difference. I think when you walk is the biggest factor in pre/post caminos. Especially on the popular caminos.
 
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The bed shortage is a serious problem and it needs to be dealt with.

Not finding a bed can be a catastrophe ... It can mean sleeping out, which is daunting for those in poor health, or without such experience, or without the necessary gear.

The fear and stress compromises the Camino for many more; pilgrims are forced to reserve, which causes difficulty for them and for albergues when reservations collapse due to illness, injury or weather; the dreadful bed-race destroys the cameraderei of the Camino very fast.

Worse, people have the heartbreak of ending their Camino midway and many more are deterred from undertaking their cherished pigrimage by fear ... of prices, bed shortages, the stress of it all.

The question is: what are those responsible for Camino infrastructure (whom I admire beyond measure for their selfless devotion to the Camino ideals) going to do about this? Another survey perhaps?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
those responsible for Camino infrastructure
There IS no oversight authority, beyond the normal governments that are responsible for all public infrastructure in their jurisdictions. So, they will prioritize projects on the basis of the needs of their populations.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I am walking from Le Puy this year, leaving in mid-September, then on to Irun, the Vasco Interior to Burgos, the Frances to Ponferrada, and the Invierno to Santiago. I expect the first section: a month on the Podiensis, to be crowded and to have to book ahead. After that, hopefully not so many days from Irun, the Frances emptying out in mid-October, and another wonderful walk on the Invierno. I shall have enough money to book private rooms, where available. But I shall try to accustom myself once again to the uncertainty of walking camino routes. I think that this is not something new for many of us. We don't necessarily know every day how the day will go, or the night. That is part of the pilgrimage.
 
There IS no oversight authority, beyond the normal governments that are responsible for all public infrastructure in their jurisdictions. So, they will prioritize projects on the basis of the needs of their populations.
True, and this means that the responsibility lies with the villages and towns on the Camino to ensure that no pilgrim is left without a bed or forced to destroy their budget by paying for accomodation they can't afford.
 
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True, and this means that the responsibility lies with the villages and towns on the Camino to ensure that no pilgrim is left without a bed or forced to destroy their budget by paying for accomodation they can't afford.
Isn't that is what has already been happening to "some" folks? It may take time for the needs of the various infrastructures to "sort it all out", and find and implement solutions.
 
Isn't that is what has already been happening to "some" folks? It may take time for the needs of the various infrastructures to "sort it all out", and find and implement solutions.
Yes, bureaucracy works at a snail's pace, particularly at local level. But Camino towns have had that responsibility of caring for pilgrims for a thousand years, and one destroyed Camino or one pilgrim deterred from their walk is one too many. It's not difficult to come up with solutions or to implement them swirly.
 

Isabelpilgrim

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I am walking from Le Puy this year, leaving in mid-September, then on to Irun, the Vasco Interior to Burgos, the Frances to Ponferrada, and the Invierno to Santiago. I expect the first section: a month on the Podiensis, to be crowded and to have to book ahead. After that, hopefully not so many days from Irun, the Frances emptying out in mid-October, and another wonderful walk on the Invierno. I shall have enough money to book private rooms, where available. But I shall try to accustom myself once again to the uncertainty of walking camino routes. I think that this is not something new for many of us. We don't necessarily know every day how the day will go, or the night. That is part of the pilgrimage.
I was considering the Invierno this morning but didn't have the brainenergy to figure out where it was, so am in Cacabelos instead.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I was considering the Invierno this morning but didn't have the brainenergy to figure out where it was, so am in Cacabelos instead.
The route to the Invierno starts at Ponferrada. If you stay in the albergue Guiana you will see the first markings for the route on the bridge which is just a few steps away.
 

pepi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Last: 2021, next: ???
I was considering the Invierno this morning but didn't have the brainenergy to figure out where it was, so am in Cacabelos instead.
Ahh, Cacabelos! This beautiful place will take good care of your brainenergy, a swim in the river, a nice dinner at one of the many restaurants, with a glass of cool Verdejo....gosh I envy you.

Buen Camino
 
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skevin

Member
Past OR future Camino
Sept/Oct 2015 - SJPP to SdC
I began the Frances in St. JPdP May 13th, 2022 with the goal of finishing at Muxia.
I stopped in Leon due to difficulties/worries about finding bed. It broke my heart.
I walked the Frances in 2018 & 2019 to Finesteirre (2018) and Muxia (2019).
Never before did I have people warn me about the potential of sleeping out in parks, on church floors, etc. as I approached/arrived in Santiago.

As a small, not-young, single female traveling alone those options did not seem wise.

Never before did I think about calling ahead for reservations or using booking.com.
Almost no one spoke of taking taxis/buses to get to the location where their baggage was being ported ... a place they had reserved last February.
This year, it seems to be more the norm.

I'm attributing these changes to the pent-up demand by pilgrims who could not come for the past 2 years due to COVID.

But I fear that the changes may be reflective of a transition of the Camino from a pilgrimage to a tourist experience.
Hard agree. The Frances is very commercialised now. I mean souvenir shops in small towns? It’s Disneyland now. What a pity.
 

A Kerryman

Member
Past OR future Camino
2018,2019, 2021
We started on May 26 , Orrison was half full, Zubiri was full and getting a meal there was difficult , Pamplona on a Saturday was busy ( as you would expect ) but no bed issues after that till Burgos. I think people put too much value on what Booking.com says on availability . Azofra which is a fine Albergue was half empty . And everyone here said May would be crazy . It was much busier in 2019 I think
 

Isabelpilgrim

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
Ahh, Cacabelos! This beautiful place will take good care of your brainenergy, a swim in the river, a nice dinner at one of the many restaurants, with a glass of cool Verdejo....gosh I envy you.

Buen Camino
Thank you. It's quite chilly today, big change from a week ago.
 

Raj1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Plan on reaching Sjpp on 1st April. Start on 2 or 3 April 2019.
The question is in the post title and regards the Frances. (But, those experienced on other routes can feel free to chime in though all readers would appreciate identification of the route upon which you comment!)

The top three things that one notices would be more than enough!

I have not been around here much for awhile as 'life intrudes' and so other priorities dominate my attention.

Further, upon checking in, I see little to offer on posted threads as I regard my past experience as severely out-dated and of little regard. (Though I am bemused to a certain extent by posts which implicitly suggest that avenues exist to experience the "best" of the Way.)

Certainly not a post in need of urgent response as I am well away (sadly) from being able to plan another walk. However, in a rare moment of idleness, I find myself curious.

Thanks in advance,

B
Hi, I walked the CF from 18 May to 2 June from SJPP to Santiago. Previously I walked the same route in 2019,2020,2021.
In my opinion the three differences I noticed from previous years were as follows-

1) the remarkably fewer number of people walking the Camino of 40 years and below. This is the highest number of people above the age of 60 years that I have seen and the highest number from USA.
2) the fear and issue of beds in major stops ‘stages’ as most people were following the guide books suggested stops. In Pampolona, Puente la Reina, and even in Santiago there appeared to be issue of getting bunk beds. I started walking between the major stops and there was no issue of beds at all.
3) Prices of Albergues have definitely gone up. This year I was normally paying around €14 in Private albergues compared to around €10 in 2019.

Still a very enjoyable experience. Buen camino y buena vida!
 
Past OR future Camino
2019: León to Santiago; 2021: St. Jean to León.
We walked from León to Santiago in October, 2019, before Covid. We walked from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to León in September and October, 2021, after vaccines were widely available but people still wore masks indoors.

One difference I noticed was that before Covid, many chapels along the Camino were open for pilgrims to stop in and talk with local volunteers. After Covid, it seemed there were fewer chapels open to us and far fewer local people inside. This would have been a logical result of the need to avoid spreading Covid. It sure was nice to stop in, say a prayer, and meet local people. I’m hoping this will all be back to normal soon.

¡Ultreya y buen Camino!
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
True, and this means that the responsibility lies with the villages and towns on the Camino to ensure that no pilgrim is left without a bed or forced to destroy their budget by paying for accomodation they can't afford.
This is a fanciful notion, and needs to be challenged. Local councils are primarily responsible to their local residents, not to pilgrims. Others might provide background on how the establishment of albergues by parishes, associations and dedicated individuals made it possible for pilgrims without the financial resources to afford private hostel and hotel accommodation to undertake a pilgrimage. That higher levels of government, like the Xunta in Galicia, have stepped in to supplement pilgrim accommodation does not make it the responsibility of every village or town along the pilgrim routes.

As for the suggestion that no pilgrim should be left without a bed, I suggest that it is the pilgrim's responsibility to find a place to sleep, not the local community's responsibility to find them a bed. Many local communities, perhaps through formal arrangements like a tourist information office or a dedicated individual who has the community contacts, will do their utmost to help. But to expect a cheap bed when there might be beds available in hotels, hostels or casa rural in reasonable proximity is completely unrealistic.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I walked the Caminho do Tejo and Camino Portugues this year, starting in late Apr. How similar to the CF these routes were is difficult to tell, but many of the issues already discussed here were evident along the way.

My challenge was to limit my daily distances to around 20 km. This is almost impossible if one were to rely completely on albergues on these routes even without the issue that many of the albergues that allowed reservations had no spaces available for anyone who arrived without one. Further, there were albergues that had closed, not necessarily for COVID related reasons, which had not re-opened.

So I already knew that there would be a different mix of accommodation to manage, and had factored that into my budget. Noting that pilgrims coming from the antipodes face a significant cost in airfares, equivalent for me to a hurdle cost around 30 euro/day for a month in Europe, my view was small increases in accommodation costs could be managed. As it was, the general costs were slightly higher than I anticipated, and many of the places that I needed to use to keep my distances manageable were much more expensive. I haven't done a detailed accounting for this year's pilgrimage, but it was more expensive than I had anticipated.

Staying more frequently in B&Bs, hostels and the occasional hotel had other, unanticipated, effects. First, it can be a rather lonely experience. I perhaps should have known this, having previously walked in Norway, where other pilgrims are fewer, and I had mentally prepared myself prior to those to walk alone as a matter of course. And on my previous CF, where I had used more private accommodation, I had the company of my wife, so this issue didn't arise.

Second, I lost touch with other pilgrims that I did meet along the way when I had managed to stay in albergues. Some of this would have happened anyway as I was doing shorter days than many others, and one doesn't expect that everyone will use the same accommodation night after night. Perhaps that might have changed if I had been more willing to walk with a 'camino family' but that isn't generally something I consider.

My general pattern of checking available accommodation changed completely this year. I had already booked places to stay in Lisbon and Santiago before I left Australia, anticipating that after the first few days I would be able to find a place to stay each day. This might have been possible later, but I quickly learnt that I would have difficulties doing this, particularly between Lisbon and Porto. As a result, I only considered using traditional albergues where I knew I could arrive by mid-afternoon. For longer stages and where albergues allowed bookings, I would start arranging accommodation a couple of days beforehand, and firm it up by the previous evening.

I didn't see much evidence of there being a bed-race before Porto, but there was afterwards. That said, some of the early starting may well have been motivated by the high daytime temperatures being experienced in central Portugal. Maxima in the mid 20s C were the norm between Lisbon and Porto. Those who started a little later and then caught up with me had walked in over 30 deg C temperatures getting away from Lisbon. I don't thing that was much different to my previous experience on the CF, it just hasn't gone away.

As @pepi has already suggested, the basic and familiar patterns of the day were little different.

I must admit that this year I more often found a laundromat, often of necessity if I was staying in a hotel, but also just for the convenience.

Overall, these were changes that I had anticipated, even if I hadn't understood how much difference they would make all taken together.

Have things changed? Yes, clearly. But underlying that, this pilgrimage still offered the same opportunities for quiet contemplation, contact with like minded people, spiritual reflection, and physical, mental and emotional challenges that I have come to expect from a good pilgrimage.
 
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patiras

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2010
The question is in the post title and regards the Frances. (But, those experienced on other routes can feel free to chime in though all readers would appreciate identification of the route upon which you comment!)

The top three things that one notices would be more than enough!

I have not been around here much for awhile as 'life intrudes' and so other priorities dominate my attention.

Further, upon checking in, I see little to offer on posted threads as I regard my past experience as severely out-dated and of little regard. (Though I am bemused to a certain extent by posts which implicitly suggest that avenues exist to experience the "best" of the Way.)

Certainly not a post in need of urgent response as I am well away (sadly) from being able to plan another walk. However, in a rare moment of idleness, I find myself curious.

Thanks in advance,

B
I just returned from the Camino Primitivo
1. it was really easy to find a place to sleep, most of the municipal albergues were not full, since lots of people are reserving in the private ones, so... I am surprised that people are scared of not finding a bed. The Primitivo joins with the French in Melide and even there, it was not a problem at all.
2. no one talks about covid and often people want to have the window of the dorm closed at night (!). I am not sure where... but I did get COVID! which led me to have to stay in private rooms. I had no symptoms at all, only got tested after someone in my group tested positive.
3. when reserving on the phone, make sure to ask the price, people often charge more when you arrive...
4. heading into Santiago, I expected to have loads of people around, I went in around 4pm and crossed 12 people in total during the last 27km.
so... later in the summer it might be busier, but as of now, it wasn't that crazy,
Buen Camino!
 
Past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
I only walked the last 114km of the Frances during Covid...but every...every...every chapel was closed during the day, and only one church in the largest towns had a Mass at night- until the Cathedral in Santiago, which was half closed ;/. With the declining number of Catholics and priests in Western Europe (as in the US) plus Covid, I don't know if some of them will *ever* reopen.

(I have suggested, not in jest, that people set up QR codes at closed churches/ museums that would lead to a website with pictures. If menus can be put behind a QR code, why not a 360 virtual tour?)
 
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DoughnutANZ

I would rather be fishing
Past OR future Camino
2023
The bed shortage is a serious problem and it needs to be dealt with.

Not finding a bed can be a catastrophe ... It can mean sleeping out, which is daunting for those in poor health, or without such experience, or without the necessary gear.

The fear and stress compromises the Camino for many more; pilgrims are forced to reserve, which causes difficulty for them and for albergues when reservations collapse due to illness, injury or weather; the dreadful bed-race destroys the cameraderei of the Camino very fast.

Worse, people have the heartbreak of ending their Camino midway and many more are deterred from undertaking their cherished pigrimage by fear ... of prices, bed shortages, the stress of it all.

The question is: what are those responsible for Camino infrastructure (whom I admire beyond measure for their selfless devotion to the Camino ideals) going to do about this? Another survey perhaps?
This post uses very dramatic words that don't reflect reality.

Apart from the early May and September waves that can be easily avoided the only people stressing and walking in fear are the hyper planners and the inexperienced pilgrims who listen to them.
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2019 CF
Walked the CF 14.May to 16.June in 2019.
Walked the CF 14.May to 13. June in 2022 and just returned.

The amount of pilgrims seems comparable. Maybe a few give or take, i did not count them.
There seem to be a few less young people. And for obvious reasons few russians and chinese. Also many non-europeans (specially the americas)
Prices have increased significantly. 20-50% i would say, with exceptions in both directions. Also card payment is now a thing.
The number of daypack pilgrims seems to have increased significantly.
There was a huge fear going around of not getting beds, so the overwhelming majority made reservations.
I never had a problem getting a bed without a reservation. Specifically i never had to knock on a second door.
When we travelled in a larger group we sometimes called ahead at lunch to check if there were beds available. Never ran into problems there.
I once seen people having to take a taxi in Ages (the municipal closes one day in the week and the two smaller private ones filled up).
Have seen my first usable kitchen in Castilla. Navarra and Rioja albergues did not allow cooking "because covid". (ofc. i only checked at albergues i stayed at)
As in 2019 you can still have a very solitary CF if you get the timing right. Most people tended to start very early and finish early.
Early starters are still a PITA ;-)
There seems to be a LOT more vegetarian and even vegan options.
I met less "free spirited" people. (maybe the money part has something to do with that)
I had many magical moments.
I got the feeling that the camino might be a bit more "touristy". But that might be a thing everyone who ever walked a second time has said...

edit: people still carry way to much unused stuff with them in their packs.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
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I think the differences have been during and post covid, as compared to before.

Last year, many Albergues were closed, including in some out of the way places where it made little sense, such as in ones where you would normally just get the key and sleep there alone.

A few remain closed, but it's rare.

The biggest differences I find are quite local.

Some towns or pueblos were and are more worried, others far less ; which varies from France for instance, where attitudes have been mostly the same everywhere instead of being local in that way.

Last year was different though on the Camino itself, as the Spanish/Foreign ratio was at 1990s levels, and most of the non-Spaniards were similarly French or Dutch, as in the same period.

And the various closed Albergues led to a greater degree of all ending up sleeping in the same places, which again felt very 1990s.

Also, fewer crowds.

As to now, whilst numbers are still a little bit down from "normal", it's getting a lot closer to business as usual, though restrictions and worries are still keeping some away.
 

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