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Growing numbers on the Camino Portugues - newspaper article

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
A piece from La Voz de Galicia commenting on the remarkable growth in numbers walking the Camino Portugues and especially the Coastal variant. The president of the local Amigos association attributing much of that success to easy access to Porto for international travellers. He suggested that by the time of the next Holy Year the numbers walking the Portugues routes may be greater than those on the Frances.

 
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I am not sure what to think about this.

On one hand, on this forum and elsewhere I have long been a proponent of a more even distribution of pilgrims across various routes (essentially, away from the Francés). I just don't think it makes sense or is sustainable long-term or really desirable for anyone to have big crowds and bed races at certain times on the Francés while other routes are completely empty. But on the other hand ... the Portuguese coastal is not really what I had in mind for where the numbers 'should' go (more like the CPI or Geira if speaking about Portugal, or any number of less travelled caminos in Spain).

On my own scale that I'm just making up now, if the Camino Francés is the prototypical (modern) pilgrimage route, and the Rota Vicentina in southern Portugal is a walking holiday, then I'd put the Portuguese Coastal closer to the latter than the former. My perception is that it only just feels like a camino, if at all, though that does change once it rejoins the central. Without trying to ignite the 'true pilgrim' debate, if there is a significant shift towards the Portuguese coastal instead of more traditional routes, it might go as far as changing the idea of what pilgrimage is (and maybe that's inevitable anyway, and maybe it's already happening on the traditional routes regardless).

What do others think?
 
, it might go as far as changing the idea of what pilgrimage is (and maybe that's inevitable anyway, and maybe it's already happening on the traditional routes regardless).
I think that ship sailed long ago. Personally I'm not much concerned about the 'authenticity' of a particular route. My own understanding of pilgrimage is focussed much more on the destination than the route. So for me any route which leads a pilgrim to the tomb of the Apostle is a valid Camino. That is why I object so strongly to the cathedral's decision to give the Compostela only to those who walk one of their approved routes. I think that shifts the focus to the wrong place.
 
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On my own scale that I'm just making up now, if the Camino Francés is the prototypical (modern) pilgrimage route, and the Rota Vicentina in southern Portugal is a walking holiday, then I'd put the Portuguese Coastal closer to the latter than the former. My perception is that it only just feels like a camino, if at all, though that does change once it rejoins the central.
Having walked the Rota Vicentina, I agree that it is a lovely and stunning walking holiday, but also agree it totally lacked the feel of a pilgrimage Camino. I was not disappointed though as I had no expectations that it should. Afterward I then took a bus to Porto, choosing the Central route to hopefully have a similar feel to the Frances route.

I have not walked the Portuguese Coastal route other than the first two days out of Porto, but your comparison of a similarity to the Rota V. is probably true.
In fact, as much as I absolutely loved the first half of the Norte along the coast, I also remember thinking it did not remind me of the Frances and I noticed its lack of a pilgrimage feel, too.

I too, have no interest in debating what a "true pilgrim" is; I'm merely sharing my personal reflections.
 
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Same number of pilgrims like on CF? Where are the albuerges with 100-200 beds, then, like in Roncesvalles or Pamplona?
 
Same number of pilgrims like on CF? Where are the albuerges with 100-200 beds, then, like in Roncesvalles or Pamplona?
The Amigos president talks of the danger of numbers increasing faster than capacity: "Now, "as the story changed ", the fear that Lores has is that the "Portuguese Way will die of success." To avoid this, "we must continue to grow in a sustainable way," he says." (Google Translate)
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Same number of pilgrims like on CF? Where are the albuerges with 100-200 beds, then, like in Roncesvalles or Pamplona?

Maybe on the CP people stay more often in private accomodation instead of albergues. I do not know for a fact, but is an impression I have. See also this quote from the article that the CP attracts many more high-net-worth pilgrims come with tourist packages that organize everything for them
 
Maybe on the CP people stay more often in private accomodation instead of albergues. I do not know for a fact, but is an impression I have. See also this quote from the article that the CP attracts many more high-net-worth pilgrims come with tourist packages that organize everything for them
I've asked a friend of mine exactly that question, she's on the CP at the moment, leading a small group. I know she predominantly uses Albergues (unless her clients desire otherwise).

I know we occasionally see comments from people here on the forum who booked their first camino as an assisted package tour, it would be interesting to get their feedback.

Re: private accommodation, there is a highly entertaining 'Live on Camino' thread here on the forum from @Cheryl2445, and clearly she and her daughter are enjoying themselves immensely, staying in private accommodation.

But then, that could be said of many of us on any of the caminos !
 
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Having just walked the Coastal and the Senda Litoral six months ago, I can honestly say that the numbers of pilgrims on these routes were astounding! The albergue in Vigo has over 90 beds, and both nights we were there on the separate routes, it was full! It is definitely the largest albergue on this Camino.

Because the routes are on the seaside, already tourist destinations, I would agree that many pilgrims are staying in non-albergue accommodations. The seaside itself would attract a higher-end tourist-type pilgrim. We tended to avoid the albergues because of the sheer numbers of pilgrims we saw. We were not interested in a bed race, and we could afford to stay elsewhere. Almost everyone is attracted to the sea and pilgrims are no exception. Walking a pilgrimage by the sea, seems like an archetypal experience to me!

I was also astounded at how many pilgrims I met who said the Coastal and/or Senda Litoral was their first Camino! In my mind, this has shifted significantly over the years along with the numbers. The Camino Francés may be losing its luster as the "real" Camino. And yes, Porto is much, much easier to get to than SJPP.

I did feel that the Coastal Route, especially when it didn't follow the sea, felt more like a Camino, with hills, crosses and Roman roads, but yet, the seaside Sendal Litoral is also Camino-like in that you can find lots of pilgrim comraderie. It's easier, flat and on lovely boardwalks that are easy on the lower extremeties! What's not to like?

Regardless of my thoughts, what will be, will be, and hopefully as this pilgrimage grows, so will the orderliness and oversight by the powers that be! Incidently, there are also many more pilgrims on the Lisbon to Porto section. I will tackle that section in a week and report back on that one!!
 
Having just walked the Coastal and the Senda Litoral six months ago, I can honestly say that the numbers of pilgrims on these routes were astounding! The albergue in Vigo has over 90 beds, and both nights we were there on the separate routes, it was full! It is definitely the largest albergue on this Camino.

Because the routes are on the seaside, already tourist destinations, I would agree that many pilgrims are staying in non-albergue accommodations. The seaside itself would attract a higher-end tourist-type pilgrim. We tended to avoid the albergues because of the sheer numbers of pilgrims we saw. We were not interested in a bed race, and we could afford to stay elsewhere. Almost everyone is attracted to the sea and pilgrims are no exception. Walking a pilgrimage by the sea, seems like an archetypal experience to me!

I was also astounded at how many pilgrims I met who said the Coastal and/or Senda Litoral was their first Camino! In my mind, this has shifted significantly over the years along with the numbers. The Camino Francés may be losing its luster as the "real" Camino. And yes, Porto is much, much easier to get to than SJPP.

I did feel that the Coastal Route, especially when it didn't follow the sea, felt more like a Camino, with hills, crosses and Roman roads, but yet, the seaside Sendal Litoral is also Camino-like in that you can find lots of pilgrim comraderie. It's easier, flat and on lovely boardwalks that are easy on the lower extremeties! What's not to like?

Regardless of my thoughts, what will be, will be, and hopefully as this pilgrimage grows, so will the orderliness and oversight by the powers that be! Incidently, there are also many more pilgrims on the Lisbon to Porto section. I will tackle that section in a week and report back on that one!!
I enjoyed reading your observations on the two Portuguese routes that mostly follow the sea; the Senda Litoral and Coastal route, Elle, and look forward to your report when you get back home!
 
Incidently, there are also many more pilgrims on the Lisbon to Porto section. I will tackle that section in a week and report back on that one!!
We just came back from our house just uphill from the Lisbon>Porto section, in north-of-the-tracks Barquinha just south of Tomar. We were often working down in the yard in the morning when peregrinos were walking through. Otherwise, we can see the walkers from our home's back windows. So we see many of them!

I would guess we were seeing at least 6 on the typical day, over the month from early March to early April. This was way more than we had seen in other years. And this is pretty early for the out-of-Lisboa Portuguese caminho. We talked to some walkers, since we were sometimes just over the fence, working away, with our neighbour's sheep, the local lawn-mowers, following us around for the more succulent weeds we pulled up, and other goodies...

Quite a few of the walkers were Spanish and thus not likely to be accessing and being part of this English-language forum all that much. Very few were Portuguese. (The Portuguese pilgrim experience is very much focussed on Fátima.) Typically, we were seeing pairs, with the occasional trio.

Our concelho (municipality) formally marked the Santiago route about 3 or 4 years ago. In the last year, they also have formally marked the Fátima route, which in our area, goes east>west through Entroncamento, rather than north>south to Tomar, as the Santiago route does.

Central Portugal (in our area, Ribatejo, anyway) seems very committed to the pilgrimages. Good to see.

Bom caminho, wherever you're heading!
 
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Our concelho (municipality) formally marked the Santiago route about 3 or 4 years ago. In the last year, they also have formally marked the Fátima route, which in our area, goes east>west through Entroncamento, rather than north>south to Tomar, as the Santiago route does.
So good to hear!! Thank you so much for this info. I am going to contact you privately.
 
Incidently, there are also many more pilgrims on the Lisbon to Porto section. I will tackle that section in a week and report back on that one!!
Are you doing this section again ? Was it about 7 years ago you walked from Lisbon?

I enjoyed your Camino Portuguese blog very much especially the days from Lisbon.
 
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Same number of pilgrims like on CF? Where are the albuerges with 100-200 beds, then, like in Roncesvalles or Pamplona?
Walking the central route right now and it is FAR less crowded than the CF was this same time last year. Have yet to see any signs that say hostels and albergues are full… We have seen many pilgrims walk into all types of accommodations with no problem getting a bed/room.
 
More than halfway from Lisbon to Porto, now in Coimbra. There are more new pilgrims we are seeing each day. A total guess is about 25-30 we have seen moving in similar stages.

The municipal albergue in Cernache is closed making Conimbriga a pinch point. Only one 10-bed private albergue and the owner was turning pilgrims away. The nearest town with accommodations is a bit of a distance off-Camino in Condeixa-a-Velha or Condeixa-a-Nova and they are expensive comparatively.

The traditional stages to avoid Conimbriga are 30 or more kms.

This route is seeing a huge increase in pilgrims. A Dutch woman I talked to was having trouble with getting a bed in albergues. Because we are more flexible, we have had no trouble. However I was very happy to have reserved the Albergue de Conimbriga, 2 days ahead, or perhaps an Uber would have been required!
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Today is a tough day, I would expect, for finding lodging. A national holiday, with probably a long weekend for everyone. Bom 25 de Abril!
 

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