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If you want a Compostela - plan extra time

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
On the forum and in other places we are seeing reports that because of the new ticketing system some pilgrims are missing out on collecting their Compostela. Apparently the ticket kiosk shuts down when enough tickets have been issued to keep the volunteers busy for the day, and lately that has been a lot less than the number of people wanting a Compostela. It means that those who miss out have to come back the next day and take their chances again. It is understandable from the perspective of the volunteers who staff the Pilgrims Office, but could be difficult and disappointing if you have a plane or bus or train to catch.
So, if getting the Compostela is important to you, do consider planning an extra couple of days in Santiago, just in case. And get to the ticket kiosk early. It may be OK once the numbers slow down, but that will not be for a while. I understand that record numbers have left SJPDP during September, so presumably lots of pilgrims will be arriving during October.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
It is understandable from the perspective of the volunteers who staff the Pilgrims Office, but could be difficult and disappointing if you have a plane or bus or train to catch.
I understand what they are doing, but I am bothered a little bit that the convenience of the volunteers has been chosen over the needs of the pilgrims! It makes me wonder if the Pilgrim Office understands its purpose. Compensated clerks were replaced by volunteers a few years ago. Now "the bottom line" has caused myopia by the Office. It makes me sad more than angry...:(
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Kanga, you are correct, in that they shut off the kiosks when enough numbers have been issued to keep them busy through closing. Overtime is not paid and staff DO have families and responsibilities outside their jobs, as do we all.

Allow me to expand, and explain why this is the case, and a problem.

Decades, and longer, ago priests, monks, brothers and seminarians did this job. Their labor was free, per se. But the volumes of arriving pilgrims were FAR lower than they are at present and into the future. Free labor is never the answer.

The issue is not the number of volunteers working per se. At this time of the year, at the end of the 'informal annual Camino season,' there are far fewer, like nil, two-week term volunteers working from around now until next Semana Santa (@ 14 April 2020)

As the days and weeks pass, the volunteers go away and only the paid staff remains. The entire paid staff is maybe 10 - 12 people. Some are part-timers. But, issuing Compostelas is only one of the things this staff does, albeit the largest volume.

If you ever owned or managed a service-oriented business that was open seven days a week, 363 days of the year (closed ONLY on Christmas and New Years Days), and having to cover two shifts every day, you can readily see that 10 -12 people are not going to go far. Plus, consider that although each person works a SIX-day week, having only one rotational day off, this means they can be scheduled a maximum of six shifts weekly.

Hence, mathematically, there are 14 basic shifts to be covered. Also, there are back-room and management responsibilities that must be accomplished on a daily basis. This includes supplying bulk quantities of credentials from this office all over Europe. Someone needs to do it.

Then too, there are the responsibilities to provide statistics, both for the daily pilgrim Mass and the reporting system writ large.

At least, two-full people shift-equivalents daily are consumed by these, and other directly-related pilgrim office duties. A 'shift-equivalent' is the person-hours needed to accomplish these duties. They can frequently be dealt out among the dozen or so staff, so each person helps a little. But, this in turn, reduces the time they are available to produce Compostelas.

So, you either add four shifts to the already calculated 14 required each week, or subtract three bodies from the 10 - 12 available on the roster. So, and let's add shifts for ease, say we need to cover 18 scheduled shifts but I have only 12 people, each working 6 shifts.

So my total resource is 72 person shifts and I need to cover 14 shifts. Mathematically, that means that, on average, I can only schedule about 5 people per shift. Even if I play with the numbers to schedule more folks in the morning when pilgrim demand is highest, I cannot sustain this rate through closing time.

Oh, I forgot, as an integrity-enhancing measure, they regularly assign one staff person, never a volunteer, to operate the cash register. This reduces the 5 people each shift to only 4 on average.

Also, and I intentionally did not include this, I made no provisions for sick days, personal days, sick children, sick parent, broken car, home repair, etc., requiring an employee to stay away from work, etc. To the extent that paid staff get paid holidays, these can ONLY be taken in the very off-season.

So, can you see the problem? It's the proverbial Texan stuffing of 20-gallons of cow manure into a 10-gallon cowboy hat... It does not fit.

That they get as many Compostelas done as they do is a testament to how hard they work, and the frequent, but irregular and frequently unpredictable drop-in volunteers. These include:
  • Other cathedral staff, like the ACC staff (2) and Arcofraternity de Apostol Santiago staff (1), who work elsewhere in the building,
  • Veteran pilgrims, like myself or perhaps some of you, who will come into town, perhaps off their Camino, and have a couple of days to offer to help out.
  • Local seminarians who can dedicate only a few hours in between their studies.
  • Local priests assigned to the University or one of the seminaries, who also might have limited and sporadic time to jump in to help.
As I have mentioned separately, the other issue is that the 2019 season has stretched longer, into September and perhaps October, as more and more pilgrims are seeking to avoid summer crowds. We all know this is going to worsen long before it ever improves.

The sole solution, IMHO is to try to encourage more pilgrims to volunteer more months. Instead of seeking to volunteer from May through the end of August, the office desperately needs as many volunteers as it can get from Semana Santa, at least through the middle of, and likely the end of October. Again, and as I have stated, hiring more paid staff is also not inthe cards. Remember the Compostela, the largest volume product this office cranks out, remains FREE.

And, THAT is my current projection. Once the Holy Year arrives in 2021, all bets are off...

Hope this helps explain the facts of life at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I am amzed no young spanish person has yet worked out that they could go in in the morning, take 20 or 30 tickets and then sell them on later to tired pilgrims in the long queue outside!!
You aren't allowed more than one ticket. If you do try to take a second one it will be snatched from your hand by a staff member.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
It seem that, as someone suggested, the trick might be to have more volunteers. How does one volunteer for a couple of weeks helping out? I'd do that in a heartbeat and perhaps others would as well. They ought to be able to up the number of volunteers quite dramatically. Another option might be to advertise that you could volunteer for say a week or so after you've done your Camino. Kind of an immediate pay back. Thoughts? Or am I just being too optimistic?
 

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 amzed no young spanish person has yet worked out that they could go in in the morning, take 20 or 30 tickets and then sell them on later to tired pilgrims in the long queue outside!!

OUCH! Perish the thought!!! I always assumed this would occur, eventually...

Back in August, when they turned this kiosks on, I asked the security guys about this. Their answer was two-fold:

1. No one comes in without a pilgrim credencial, and we can tell just by their look if they are the real deal; and
2. After the same person comes in a couple of times, the pattern will be found and stopped
3, They might try it, but we are watching for it.

This said, I have not heard reports of "QR chit scalping..."

Has anyone else heard or had first-hand experience with this?

Hope this helps.
 

Stefystar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from sarria 2015
Via Francigena Aquapendente to Rome 2016
Camino Portuguese from TuI 2016
On the forum and in other places we are seeing reports that because of the new ticketing system some pilgrims are missing out on collecting their Compostela. Apparently the ticket kiosk shuts down when enough tickets have been issued to keep the volunteers busy for the day, and lately that has been a lot less than the number of people wanting a Compostela. It means that those who miss out have to come back the next day and take their chances again. It is understandable from the perspective of the volunteers who staff the Pilgrims Office, but could be difficult and disappointing if you have a plane or bus or train to catch.
So, if getting the Compostela is important to you, do consider planning an extra couple of days in Santiago, just in case. And get to the ticket kiosk early. It may be OK once the numbers slow down, but that will not be for a while. I understand that record numbers have left SJPDP during September, so presumably lots of pilgrims will be arriving during October.
Hi kanga,
Just a thought,
I wander if they have less volunteer to deal with the Compostela this year or they may have thought with the cathedral not performing the mass due to restoration, they
Were expecting less pilgrims??
Last year as I arrived in Santiago,I went straight in the new place and waited 3 hours which I do not begrudge to mine, there was a system showing which desk you were going.
Did they advertise this new ticket system anywear,?
Ok don't recall hearing about it..
But, I will make sure next year to be there early,😉
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
It seem that, as someone suggested, the trick might be to have more volunteers. How does one volunteer for a couple of weeks helping out? I'd do that in a heartbeat and perhaps others would as well. They ought to be able to up the number of volunteers quite dramatically. Another option might be to advertise that you could volunteer for say a week or so after you've done your Camino. Kind of an immediate pay back. Thoughts? Or am I just being too optimistic?

Look at any of my posts. There is a link to "Pilgrim Office Volunteering." It is blue... This will explain everything you need to know.

Hope this helps.
 

daesdaemar

Camino-holic
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles - twice
It seem that, as someone suggested, the trick might be to have more volunteers. How does one volunteer for a couple of weeks helping out? I'd do that in a heartbeat and perhaps others would as well. They ought to be able to up the number of volunteers quite dramatically. Another option might be to advertise that you could volunteer for say a week or so after you've done your Camino. Kind of an immediate pay back. Thoughts? Or am I just being too optimistic?

The two times I've been there the place looked fully staffed. I don't believe they have enough room for any "extra" volunteers...
 

Rich1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (5/15)
Frances & Muxia (2016-18)
Camino from Madrid (9/18)
Frances to Burgos (9/19)
TBC
I’ve seen several threads on this and have tried to avoid commenting as I didn’t want to sound like a nerd 🤓

I have done a lot of work involving queues, waiting lists and “demand management “ - the latter is a phrase I dislike intensely.

A queue is generated if there is a mismatch in demand and capacity - the phrasing of this is important. A queue does not necessarily mean that the average demand is more than the average capacity, just that there is a mismatch. For example, if on average 100 people request a compostela and there is capacity on average to provide 100, there still may be a queue depending on arrival patterns and capacity planning - the variation in capacity and demand. So a long queue does not necessarily mean that more capacity or volunteers are needed.

The problem arises when steps are taken to manage the queue - because often the obvious solution is the wrong solution - and will make the situation worse. And this is what has happened.

In theory you can not control demand - pilgrims arrive in steady amounts. There are seasonal variations, and I would think there are peaks and troughs through the day, and also some variation in day of arrival. You cannot control the number arriving - however this is what the new scheme is doing in essence - the office is only allowing a certain number to “arrive” daily - only a certain (and essentially fixed) number of compostelas are being given. Unfortunately this “demand management” has generated a waiting list because there are some days when more than 1400 are required. There is a mismatch. If less than 1400 are required, that spare capacity is lost - 1500 won’t be issued the next day.

The pilgrim’s office is no longer doing today’s work today. They are starting work with a waiting list - the people who arrived yesterday but couldn’t get a number. Some of yesterday’s work is left to do. This waiting list and can very quickly grow as quickly. Previously, today’s work was essentially being done today.

This is a very good example of an obvious solution being the wrong solution - and it is making the situation worse.

The solution(s) require an understanding in the variation in demand and trying to match the capacity to this (if possible) Also, if the process of obtaining a Compostela is simplified or streamlined or completely changed then obviously more capacity may become available and more compostelas can be ‘processed’ - and I have seen some good ideas for this on this forum.

One thing is pretty sure though - the current situation will probably get worse before it gets better.

Sorry about the long and boring post...and yes, I am a nerd 😂

PS I am certainly not blaming anyone here - the pilgrim’s office and all the volunteers are all working very hard to provide an excellent service in what can, I imagine, be a stressful environment especially when dealing with tired and sometimes grumpy pilgrims.
 
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NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I remain of the view that the PO issues just as many Compostelas as they ever did, it's simply that the new system gives a target of blame for those who don't get one.

Before, you'd show up, assess the length of the line up, and stay or leave. You might decide to come back another time or not, but your decision was made based on people ahead of you. You could check back from time to time and there was hope that perhaps the line up would be shorter (or gone) later.

Now, it's a blasted number/kiosk to blame and there's less hope that perhaps later in the day you could get in. Now, those that would have just given up and left and made it possible for you to get in later in the day, don't have to give up as they have their number.

It's unfortunate that those arriving into town in the afternoon no longer have any hope of getting their Compostela the same day (during high season).

I'd happily volunteer at the end of a camino. Will they take ad hoc volunteers who offer their services when collecting the Compostela?

On another note, while the PO likely needs the $ from issuing Distance Certificates, it would be a lot faster turnover if they didn't issue these.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@t2andreo I don’t understand why it is not possible for this all to be done by mail - hand out a questionnaire with all the details required including some open ended questions so people can’t cheat too easily, have a requirement that the signature be witnessed by someone who certifies the identity, and get the pilgrims to post or drop that form, together with their credential and a stamped self addressed envelope, to the Pilgrims Office. The staff in the office can then take their time to check and certify the documents and the correct number of stamps on the credential and post out the Compostela. They could charge for the special post service. It allows the spread of work throughout the year which would surely be helpful.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
The pilgrim’s office is no longer doing today’s work today. They are starting work with a waiting list - the people who arrived yesterday but couldn’t get a number. Some of yesterday’s work is left to do. This waiting list and can very quickly grow as quickly. Previously, today’s work was essentially being done today.
Articulated beautifully.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
As I've said in other threads on the same subject, this new system may have solved one problem - the fact that some pilgrims have had to stand in the queue for a couple of hours, but created other problems that IMO are worse as detailed by @NorthernLight and @Rich1. And now, rather than entering Santiago in a joyous mood, pilgrims are stressed by the thought that they may not get their Compostela. I witnessed this two weeks ago, as talk of the Pilgrims Office stopping the issuance of numbered tickets spread along the trail. Rather than enjoy their final walk and camaraderie with their fellow pilgrims they were rushing through breakfasts and breaks in their worry about getting to the Pilgrims Office "in time".

I agree that an option to receive a Compostela via the mail - for a price would help. Keep the old queue system, and if someone decides not to wait in line they could receive their final stamp with instructions on how to apply for the Compostela via the mail, or online. It would be easy enough to create a system where the credencial could be scanned and uploaded, a questionnaire answered, and payment processed.
I would also charge a nominal fee for Compostelas issued in person to pay for more permanent staff.
 

Stefystar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from sarria 2015
Via Francigena Aquapendente to Rome 2016
Camino Portuguese from TuI 2016
Look at any of my posts. There is a link to "Pilgrim Office Volunteering." It is blue... This will explain everything you need to know.

Hope this helps.
Hi an
I’ve seen several threads on this and have tried to avoid commenting as I didn’t want to sound like a nerd 🤓

I have done a lot of work involving queues, waiting lists and “demand management “ - the latter is a phrase I dislike intensely.

A queue is generated if there is a mismatch in demand and capacity - the phrasing of this is important. A queue does not necessarily mean that the average demand is more than the average capacity, just that there is a mismatch. For example, if on average 100 people request a compostela and there is capacity on average to provide 100, there still may be a queue depending on arrival patterns and capacity planning - the variation in capacity and demand. So a long queue does not necessarily mean that more capacity or volunteers are needed.

The problem arises when steps are taken to manage the queue - because often the obvious solution is the wrong solution - and will make the situation worse. And this is what has happened.

In theory you can not control demand - pilgrims arrive in steady amounts. There are seasonal variations, and I would think there are peaks and troughs through the day, and also some variation in day of arrival. You cannot control the number arriving - however this is what the new scheme is doing in essence - the office is only allowing a certain number to “arrive” daily - only a certain (and essentially fixed) number of compostelas are being given. Unfortunately this “demand management” has generated a waiting list because there are some days when more than 1400 are required. There is a mismatch. If less than 1400 are required, that spare capacity is lost - 1500 won’t be issued the next day.

The pilgrim’s office is no longer doing today’s work today. They are starting work with a waiting list - the people who arrived yesterday but couldn’t get a number. Some of yesterday’s work is left to do. This waiting list and can very quickly grow as quickly. Previously, today’s work was essentially being done today.

This is a very good example of an obvious solution being the wrong solution - and it is making the situation worse.

The solution(s) require an understanding in the variation in demand and trying to match the capacity to this (if possible) Also, if the process of obtaining a Compostela is simplified or streamlined or completely changed then obviously more capacity may become available and more compostelas can be ‘processed’ - and I have seen some good ideas for this on this forum.

One thing is pretty sure though - the current situation will probably get worse before it gets better.

Sorry about the long and boring post...and yes, I am a nerd 😂

PS I am certainly not blaming anyone here - the pilgrim’s office and all the volunteers are all working very hard to provide an excellent service in what can, I imagine, be a stressful environment especially when dealing with tired and sometimes grumpy pilgrims.
Hi,
Thank you for your post as it is all about that, managing the afflux of pilgrim.
Volunteers or not it has grown to a volume that needs looking into.
It would complete a journey of body and soul,
And if we have to queue, no one complains, I think. But you should be able to get it there and then.
In saying that, it is free... And maybe ,as mentioned erlier by someone, we really should consider not to forget to leave a donativo, as getting this paper means so much to so many.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
My last three Camino's I walked I received my compostela at the new office. All three times (one less than two months ago) I waited in a queue for no more than an hour.

I have no gripes, whines, complaints etc for any inconvenience I may have experienced whilst receiving a free service, for a free sheet of paper at an administrative office staffed by volunteers.

ultreia and buen Camino
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I understand what they are doing, but I am bothered a little bit that the convenience of the volunteers has been chosen over the needs of the pilgrims! It makes me wonder if the Pilgrim Office understands its purpose. Compensated clerks were replaced by volunteers a few years ago. Now "the bottom line" has caused myopia by the Office. It makes me sad more than angry...:(
"needs"? More of a want, IMO.
"purpose"? Handing out free sheets of paper.
"volunteers" Yes, they are. There on their own time and dime. It is okay with me that conveniences are sent their way. I will be quite fine waiting for my free sheet of paper.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
@t2andreo I don’t understand why it is not possible for this all to be done by mail - hand out a questionnaire with all the details required including some open ended questions so people can’t cheat too easily, have a requirement that the signature be witnessed by someone who certifies the identity, and get the pilgrims to post or drop that form, together with their credential and a stamped self addressed envelope, to the Pilgrims Office. The staff in the office can then take their time to check and certify the documents and the correct number of stamps on the credential and post out the Compostela. They could charge for the special post service. It allows the spread of work throughout the year which would surely be helpful.

The biggest problem is my view is WHO is going to do it? As I said earlier, there is NO backroom administrative staff or any other people who can do this. All you would be doing is pushing the workload around and opening the process to more fraud than is already being committed. If you just transfer the line out front to an unseen line, nothing is improved.

You COULD impose a significant charge to do it remotely like maybe €10 or so. But even with this, the EU privacy laws prevent retaining personally identifying data like names. I do not see any way around this.

This is why I argue in favor of creating the automated express process so people who opt in can come to a separate entry, present the QR code saved to their smartphone, gain entry to the back door and be in and out in less than about two minutes, in my estimation.

Given the numbers of folks who: (a) have smartphones and are adept in their use, and (b) just want to get their Compostelas without all the attendant ceremony, etc., I assess that we could skim 30 - 60 percent of the incoming workload of non-group pilgrims right off the top.

This will never address 100% of the workload, but surely being able to handle hundreds or thousands of pilgrims using these tools, and needing only maybe 3 or 4 people, is attractive...no?

I think we can keep the same process if management will accede to a parallel, optional, express process. In this case, and IMHO, automation is the easiest cheapest and fastest solution.

The biggest obstacle is getting the Cathedral hierarchy to buy in. I have spoken to lay management fairly high up. They understand but point to the dog collar folks and shrug their shoulders... The refrain that hits my ears from my brain every time I go down this path with Pilgrim Office staff or management sounds like like the character Tevye from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof"... "Why you ask...well... it's TRADITION...!"

I look at it this way, "cheer up!" Once it gets bad enough to call the Policia Local in to handle the riots, fights and rampant vigorous disagreements, and the optics and press turn adverse, they will THEN call out for help. Pain usually get one off the "X."

I have offered verbally and in writing to hop on a plane, fly to Santiago, and help them diagram out, and put into requirements a process plan for handling all this. It is what I used to do, among other things, before I retired. If I might humbly state, I am actually quite good at it.

To the Cathedral, my labor, time, advice, and consulting comes free. All they have to do is say "come, we would like your assistance..." They know where to find me...

Hope this helps.
 

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)

Stefystar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from sarria 2015
Via Francigena Aquapendente to Rome 2016
Camino Portuguese from TuI 2016
Hi a2andreo,

Yes the concept is a bit like at the airport, split the queues in two ,
One speedy boarding style, the other classic
Queue...
Hummm..
Well there is something special
In getting your Compostela, even waiting in the queue sharing comments with other..
But if the infrastructure is limited then, email option ,for some, could definitely alleviate the queue to more manageable number??
But I am a romantic and waiting in the queue and leave from the pilgrim office with my Compostela is a perfect end
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
One simple solution to all this needs no change in the process at the Pilgrims Office.
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...-the-100-km-rule-to-300-km.39220/#post-391375
There would be howls of protest from the 100 km-paper-seekers, and resistance from the Xunta (which stands to lose revenue). But it would ease the crunch considerably.
There would also be a groan of protest from this 2000km-former-paper-seeker. Though probably a muted and sadly resigned one. Do we really need to muddy the already turbid waters even further by making a yet more divisive official "definition" of what a real pilgrim is? In my own opinion the introduction of the 100km rule was a serious mistake which has badly undermined the religious/spiritual character of the pilgrimage by shifting the focus onto an arbitrary physical performance test rather than personal motivation and understanding of its inspiration and object. I find the competitive nature of much current Camino comment distasteful enough with the all-too-frequent offhand dismissal of the 100km Sarria 'tourigrinos'. Shifting that boundary out to 300km does not seem likely to improve that situation much.
 
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another_mous

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances from SJPDP April 17 2017
I have to say, with basically only one downside - you have to arrive in the morning or plan for another day - the ticketing system is infinitely better than the live queue. You don't have to wait in the building for three hours any more.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Seen in La Voz de Galicia this week... We are not the only group of people who have to wait in lines to obtain something of value...


Evidently, even the Policia Nacional also hand out only a limited number of queue numbers daily...
 

Stefystar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from sarria 2015
Via Francigena Aquapendente to Rome 2016
Camino Portuguese from TuI 2016
I have to say, with basically only one downside - you have to arrive in the morning or plan for another day - the ticketing system is infinitely better than the live queue. You don't have to wait in the building for three hours any more.
Hi,
Look forward to see what is going to be after my Camino next year...hopefully they will implement an improved system ...or I will just go with the flow😉
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Hi,
Look forward to see what is going to be after my Camino next year...hopefully they will implement an improved system ...or I will just go with the flow😉
It is really not that bad. Like so many subjects on this forum it gets as they say, blown out of proportion.
Ultreia
 

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)
In my own opinion the introduction of the 100km rule was a serious mistake which has badly undermined the religious/spiritual character of the pilgrimage by shifting the focus onto an arbitrary physical performance test rather than personal motivation and understanding of its inspiration and object.
I could not agree more, @Bradypus.
Do we really need to muddy the already turbid waters even further by making a yet more divisive official "definition" of what a real pilgrim is?
Well, no - of course you're right. But a piece of paper wouldn't really matter in that case, so the definition of a 'real pilgrim' is a moot point. ;)


the ticketing system is infinitely better than the live queue. You don't have to wait in the building for three hours any more.
I may be one of the few that actually did not mind the experience, but rather liked it. You got to meet people and chat...it felt like one last communal experience before leaving the camino. And you could go any time - sure the queue was longer some times than others, but it just took a little patience, which our 'hurry-up' culture does not instill. And you could still go in the evening after arriving in the afternoon - the take-a-number routine now makes that impossible.
My pal @t2andreo and I disagree about this, I'm sure, but I guess I'm with the traditional guys upstairs. ;)🙏
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
I hesitate to mention this, as I genuinely would enjoy walking with all pilgrims, but be thankful that you do not have to put up with the growling grizzly bear (me) while he sleeps. Getting a Compostela in Feb/March is a snap! I've had to wait about 30 seconds in aggregate.

Keep up the fantastic work volunteers, you have overdelivered in every category! Un abrazo muy fuerte!
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
It is really not that bad. Like so many subjects on this forum it gets as they say, blown out of proportion.
Ultreia
With respect RJM, you did say above that you had waited only an hour each time you collected a compostela. Your patience might conceivably have been stretched thin if each wait had lasted 3 hours, or if you arrived at lunchtime and found that you couldn't get a ticket that day. The number of posts is proportional to the considerable number of people expressing an opinion on the issue.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
With respect RJM, you did say above that you had waited only an hour each time you collected a compostela. Your patience might conceivably have been stretched thin if each wait had lasted 3 hours, or if you arrived at lunchtime and found that you couldn't get a ticket that day. The number of posts is proportional to the considerable number of people expressing an opinion on the issue.
No doubt given a choice I would not want to wait in a long queue, but honestly if I did I just would not be that bothered by it, and if I was I would just forgo getting my free sheet of paper.
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
No doubt given a choice I would not want to wait in a long queue, but honestly if I did I just would not be that bothered by it, and if I was I would just forgo getting my free sheet of paper.
I personally feel similarly. I obtained a compostela back in 2012 after a relatively short wait. But none since, not only because I could not be bothered queueing for the length of time now required, but also because I considered one document enough. I would probably endure the queue if it was for my first though. And I have to admit being told to come back tomorrow would just as probably result in a sense-of-humour failure...
 

natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago (2009)
León-Ponferrada (2014)
Camino Inglés (2017)
It was recently brought to our attention that the Church of San Francisco is still issuing their beautiful certificates. It isn't the same as the Compostela, of course, but those seeking to mark their Camino with a ceremonial certificate can obtain one there. I think they have morning hours, then a siesta for lunch, and then they re-open in the afternoon. This could be a good option for those who can't or prefer not to wait for a Compostela. (Or you can get both!)
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Previously, today’s work was essentially being done today. This is a very good example of an obvious solution being the wrong solution - and it is making the situation worse.
But how do you know this? Do you have insight in their internal data? How do you know whether there wasn't a mismatch in the past between supply and demand? Whether people arrived, saw the long queue, decided to come another time on the same day or the next morning or not at all? And how do you know whether there isn't a change in behaviour patterns with the new system?

How do you know whether pilgrims who saw long queues and gave up in the past, just resigned and decided not to queue or come another time and regarded this as tough luck and their own choice? While now, in the same situation (daily demand outstrips supply by the same number of pilgrims as before), confronted with the fact that there are no more tickets, they don't regard it as their choice but as something forced upon them and unfair, hence discontent that gets voiced loudly?

There are more than a few pilgrims with recent experience (August and September 2019) who regard the ticketing system as a huge improvement. The overwhelming majority of those who do get a Compostela don't have to wait at all in long queues throughout the day with the new system.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon ie even before any cap is reached, queues don't form any more, neither for tickets nor for Compostelas. There currently is a queue of up to a few hundred people for tickets in the morning, from 6 am to 8 am when the office opens, and that queue dissolves quickly since taking a ticket from the machine doesn't take long. I wonder whether anyone expected this phenomenon to materialise ...
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
As I understand it the Pilgrims Office used to be staffed by a permanent paid core staff of 18 employees, with extra temporary paid staff in the busier months. Volunteers were extra helpers to welcome pilgrims, in their own language.

Now the Pilgrims Office is staffed almost entirely, according to @t2andreo, by volunteers.

The change seems to have happened when one Cannon died, and another was put in charge. The change was not universally welcomed, especially by those who were out of a job.

Each year the Cathedral receives millions of visitors. Millions. Most make a donation of at least something. I have not seen any statistics on how much money the Cathedral receives in income and donations. Or how much the Cathedral receives in grants from the Xunta and the National Government. It is regarded as a national treasure, so I assume at least something. It would be fascinating to know.

If anyone feels strongly about the current problems, then they can write to:

Don Julián Barrio Barrio
Archbishop of Santiago
vicecanciller@archicompostela.org
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sep/Oct 2018)
Camino Portugues (May 2021)
The pilgrim’s office is no longer doing today’s work today. They are starting work with a waiting list - the people who arrived yesterday but couldn’t get a number. Some of yesterday’s work is left to do. This waiting list and can very quickly grow as quickly. Previously, today’s work was essentially being done today.
I disagree with the statement that today's work was being done today. The PO didn't stay open until the last pilgrim got their compostella. They would have had to cut the line off somewhere and say come back tomorrow. The tickets at least avoid having people stand in line, only to be told "not today".

As someone mentioned above, this is not a case of the PO handing out fewer compostellas. The seasonal demand has increased to the point where is does not make financial sense to accommodate 100% of the pilgrims daily. For those in the know, the best bet is to plan a few extra days if you want to get a compostella, or avoid finishing during the peak season.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Hmmm, one thing I do agree with is that the government, local and national as well as the church (local and otherwise) could do more to help the pilgrim's office in the wake of the ever increasing numbers of pilgrims who want a compostela.

The Camino no doubt brings tens of millions of dollars across Spain every year. Revenue from every type of pilgrim out there most of whom want a compostela of some type. Not to mention the semi-pilgrims and tourists that use the Camino as a base for their travels. Money brought in from the airlines, trains, bus companies all the way down to a tiny local cafe on the route. No doubt they can pry open their treasure chests and throw some more gold doubloons to the pilgrim's office in SDC so that they can hire/rehire the paid staff.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
No doubt they can pry open their treasure chests and throw some more gold doubloons to the pilgrim's office in SDC so that they can hire/rehire the paid staff.
I would put trash can (providing and emptying) ahead of Pilgrim Office support...:)
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I would put trash can (providing and emptying) ahead of Pilgrim Office support...:)
Those would work great only if they were able to buy common sense and selflessness for the pilgrims with the trashy tendencies, lol. :D
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
Things have changed it seems but in May 2019 at the end of our Portuguese Camino we were advised that because there were three of us who'd all started in the same day, same place and walked together , we could leave our credencials at the P. Office, our Compostela certificates would be prepared (also certificates of distance) and could be collected later that day or the next day. This system worked very well for us.
 

EGW

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None
As I understand it the Pilgrims Office used to be staffed by a permanent paid core staff of 18 employees, with extra temporary paid staff in the busier months. Volunteers were extra helpers to welcome pilgrims, in their own language.

Now the Pilgrims Office is staffed almost entirely, according to @t2andreo, by volunteers.

The change seems to have happened when one Cannon died, and another was put in charge. The change was not universally welcomed, especially by those who were out of a job.

Each year the Cathedral receives millions of visitors. Millions. Most make a donation of at least something. I have not seen any statistics on how much money the Cathedral receives in income and donations. Or how much the Cathedral receives in grants from the Xunta and the National Government. It is regarded as a national treasure, so I assume at least something. It would be fascinating to know.

If anyone feels strongly about the current problems, then they can write to:

Don Julián Barrio Barrio
Archbishop of Santiago
vicecanciller@archicompostela.org

Hi Kanga,
I was a volunteer in the PO over summer. No, it is not staffed almost entirely by volunteers. That is not true.

In our training, the Dean, who is in charge of the PO, told us that the PO is and has to be self-financing. The Cathedral does NOT fund the PO. The Xunta apparently contributes toward the security but even then they (the Xunta) want to withdraw this.

In my two-week stint, working >80h, I noted that only ONE pilgrim put something into the donation box. The Compostela is issued free of charge. To issue 1400 per day in summer, on such a business model, is a miracle.

It seems that after walking all those kilometros, we are all back into the I-want-it-and-I want-it-now mentality.

I seem to have wasted my time.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola @t2andreo . Looks like should really knuckle down with my Spanish studies and volunteer for the pilgrim office in October 2020. I am planning to walk the Porto during the last two weeks of Sep and then go on to Finestere and Muxia. Will be in touch when plans are a lot firmer. Cheers
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I seem to have wasted my time.
I don't think you wasted your time but it's good to hear from volunteers who were in Santiago recently. Interesting to learn that the PO has to be self-financing.

As far as I can tell, the accounts of the Cathedral are not public although they did make information about their expenses public not so long ago when the issue of paying for visits to the Pórtico de la Gloria came up. But the dean spoke only about expenses, not about income.

An earlier comment about how to possibly finance the PO made me grin. I think the poster wasn't aware just why trains and buses are so cheap in Spain: RENFE (consisting of two separate entities) and many regional and local busses are running a deficit and need injections of taxpayers money.
 

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)
In my two-week stint, working >80h, I noted that only ONE pilgrim put something into the donation box. The Compostela is issued free of charge. To issue 1400 per day in summer, on such a business model, is a miracle.

It seems that after walking all those kilometros, we are all back into the I-want-it-and-I want-it-now mentality.
How sad.
The office needs a sign that says in many languages, "Donativo does not mean free."
Thank you for your service, @EGW. Not a waste of time at all.
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
The office needs a sign that says in many languages, "Donativo does not mean free."
That won't work. It would have to say something along the lines of "Please make a donation. It costs ... € to produce and issue your Compostela".

Or maybe it would be enough to increase the cost of the ever popular Credential by 50 eurocents.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Hi Kanga,
I was a volunteer in the PO over summer. No, it is not staffed almost entirely by volunteers. That is not true.

In our training, the Dean, who is in charge of the PO, told us that the PO is and has to be self-financing. The Cathedral does NOT fund the PO. The Xunta apparently contributes toward the security but even then they (the Xunta) want to withdraw this.

In my two-week stint, working >80h, I noted that only ONE pilgrim put something into the donation box. The Compostela is issued free of charge. To issue 1400 per day in summer, on such a business model, is a miracle.

It seems that after walking all those kilometros, we are all back into the I-want-it-and-I want-it-now mentality.

I seem to have wasted my time.

I don't want to revive the at times heated debate on Donativo Albergues and whether the Albergue should display a 'suggested' donation, but..........

Surely the PO could put up signs saying something like .... if you can ..... please drop in 2 Euros to help fund this service.........or something to that effect.

I never even noticed any donation boxes. I'll be sure to look for them now!

I'm sure 95% of Pilgrims can 'afford' a couple of Euros! Heck if if was 3 Euros for a Compostela that would bring in close to 1 million Euros a year. That would have to help surely..........

Or 'must' it be Free for Everyone for some reason?

I'm sure those 'busloads' of Pilgrims we see would be happy to pay more ! ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Or 'must' it be Free for Everyone for some reason?
We discussed this before. I have the impression that for many people the Compostela is a souvenir. A free but not a cheapish kind of souvenir. For others, it has a different kind of value, witness the increasing popularity of the "Vicarie pro" option. Selling pieces of paper with a spiritual value on behalf of the Catholic Church has a very bad rap. Surely everybody knows about "As soon as the coin in the casket rings ... "?
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
We discussed this before. I have the impression that for many people the Compostela is a souvenir. A free but not a cheapish kind of souvenir. For others, it has a different kind of value, witness the increasing popularity of the "Vicarie pro" option. Selling pieces of paper with a spiritual value on behalf of the Catholic Church has a very bad rap. Surely everybody knows about "As soon as the coin in the casket rings ... "?

Sorry I haven't heard of that. I'm not a Catholic.
I just despair sometimes at people who walk a Camino in outfits costing hundreds of dollars, spending many hundreds if not thousands on accommodation and food, and we 'worry' about charging them 5 Euros for their Compostela. I'm clearly missing something...........

I think those who cannot afford it or would be offended at such a charge must surely be in a very small minority?

This is making me very grumpy, I'd better sign off before I get into trouble ;);)

Or maybe the Cathedral should change it's 'policy' and help fund the PO? :eek:
Last I heard the Catholic Church was not that poor :cool:
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Sorry I haven't heard of that. I'm not a Catholic.
It's an old marketing slogan, attributed to a minor figure at the eve of the Reformation. One may think that is old history but I feel that would underestimate the lasting imprint of that event, and all that followed from it until today, on our collective memory.

Anyway, that's my explanation why they will not charge for the Compostela but do charge 3 € for the distance certificate and 2 € for the credential.

Also, do we really know what "self-financing" means in this context? Surely Cathedral authorities are paying for the staff that is employed and tasked with working at the Pilgrims Welcome Office full time or part of their working time, for the renovation of the building and running costs like electricity, for the website, for the investment costs for the ticketing system etc etc? All this is not covered by income from selling distance certificates and other merchandise alone?
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I did not notice the donation box when I got a Compostela last month.
No neither did I . I would happily donate or pay for one.
We received ours two Sundays ago.
The main issue for us is that we didnt know what the process was. We arrived at 8.15am, and the line reached right down the street. But it moved quickly, and we then noticed people leaving without their Compostela.
Then when we reached the doorway there were security guards there; there were many people arguing with them, and they were attempting to sort in some fashion. We just didnt understand what they were doing.
When we walked into the building we became aware of two queue lines - people walking right through, and those sitting on the floor in a line.
An English speaking pilgrim told us to join the first line which stretched out of the building and into another, and eventually we were given a piece of paper with a number on it. Mine was 403.
Another English speaking pilgrim explained the process to us, and we headed off for breakfast. We couldn't get the QR thing working, but pilgrims at the table next to us did, and we roughly gauged our timing, calculating we had time to attend the English Mass.
So the process was actually fine - it was just very confusing initially , and people were getting upset with the guards.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
The Cathedral does NOT fund the PO.
Or maybe the Cathedral should change it's 'policy' and help fund the PO? :eek:
Last I heard the Catholic Church was not that poor :cool:

And there you have it. But anyway, I'd happily pay for a Compostela (if I wanted one) and I'm sure those people who missed out because they had a plane to catch would have too, if given the option. But they weren't.

It is quite amusing that the idea of paying for a Compostela is being equated with paying for an Indulgence. Appropriately medieval!
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
It is quite amusing that the idea of paying for a Compostela is being equated with paying for an Indulgence. Appropriately medieval!
As far as I am concerned: I didn't equate the two. I tried to provide an explanation why the Santiago Cathedral may be averse to selling Compostelas. Things are not as simple as presented sometimes. Witness the argument that the "Catholic Church isn't poor" and should therefore be able to pay for all sorts of things for which they are not paying or not paying enough.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
As I understand it the Pilgrims Office used to be staffed by a permanent paid core staff of 18 employees, with extra temporary paid staff in the busier months. Volunteers were extra helpers to welcome pilgrims, in their own language.

Now the Pilgrims Office is staffed almost entirely, according to @t2andreo, by volunteers.

The change seems to have happened when one Cannon died, and another was put in charge. The change was not universally welcomed, especially by those who were out of a job.

Each year the Cathedral receives millions of visitors. Millions. Most make a donation of at least something. I have not seen any statistics on how much money the Cathedral receives in income and donations. Or how much the Cathedral receives in grants from the Xunta and the National Government. It is regarded as a national treasure, so I assume at least something. It would be fascinating to know.

If anyone feels strongly about the current problems, then they can write to:

Don Julián Barrio Barrio
Archbishop of Santiago
vicecanciller@archicompostela.org

Please do not misinterpret what I have written, in this, or any other thread that relates to how the workload at the Pilgrim Office is being handled.

I wish to clarify and re-emphasize that the PIlgrim Office is permanently staffed by a paid cadre of about a dozen, dedicated and hard-working people.

During the busiest summer month, and at certain times during a day, the paid staff wearing civilian clothes, are sometimes lost in a sea of turquoise, ACC Voluntario shirts. It is also true that the office could not function without these additional helpers during the peak season.

FYI, these volunteers come from:

- local seminaries that are closed for the summer (at Pamplona)
- Cathedral offices and organizations (like ACC) that can help out from time to time.
- local priests and deacons on the university or Cathedral staffs who might be available
- college-aged people attending one or another church-sponsored summer program in town
- local residents, known to the office staff, who just come to pitch in
- Camino veteran volunteers, like us, who want to give back for what they have experienced

During the peak season, from June through the beginning of September, when universities return to session, the number of volunteers and pilgrims peak. But, as September progresses, the number of volunteers dwindles as their other obligations beckon. By about October, and through April, there are very few regular volunteers and paid staff dominate.

Simply put, the number of volunteers is dynamic. The number of paid staff is constant. The present and coming, larger problem is that there is a reasonable limit on the number of volunteers available. But, for the next several years, the number of arriving pilgrims is going to continue to increase significantly. We are already seeing the number of daily arrivals remain higher than in the past, later - beyond the usual early September typical end of season.

So, while it appears at times that the pilgrim office is run mostly by volunteers, THIS IS NOT THE CASE. The office is operated by the cadre of dedicated, low-paid, but hard-working staff. Volunteers come and go.

Volunteers from all sources are used to address the annual pig in the python phenomenon. However, of late, the proverbial piggie is getting bigger and longer... During the summer months each day is typically "all hands to the pumps..."

So, the challenge in everything I have written on this, and it has been a lot, especially of late, is to develop more efficient products and flexible processes, so more work (a lot more work) can be done with fewer people, at all times of the year. The coming Holy Year is going to bring this all to a head.

Despite what my posts suggest, I have neither direct access while I am at home; nor, serious influence over what Cathedral and Pilgrim Office management do in terms of policies and processes. Nonetheless, I continue to pray and be hopeful than "the penny will drop" and someone there reads some of this material.

Clearly, anyone who feels so inclined can write His Excellency, the Archbishop, at the Cathedral. I do not desire to impede that right. If you do write, I recommend you write in Spanish (use an online translator - I personally find the Microsoft one better overall to Google). Also, include your English language text BELOW or on an enclosed second page, so they can read both to better understand exactly what you are trying to say.

Finally, if you DO decide to write, be on point, be respectful, be sincere. The Archbishop's boss is Pope Francis, direct. So, His Excellency, Don Julián Barrio Barrio, is a very senior official in the Church hierarchy.

I do ask that you try to have all the information, or send a PM to ask a specific question off line. In fact, I am writing this clarification in response to a query from another Camino veteran who felt that Kanga's post might be misunderstood. I understand totally. I am frequently misunderstood...I am an expert at it, in fact. Kanga is trying to help, and I sincerely appreciate the assist.

I feel that it can only help. Hope it does.

I hope this clarifies.
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Perhaps worth mentioning: I'm following several Camino FB groups (in several languages, btw) and of those who are currently getting Compostelas in Santiago, nobody reports about queuing in the morning long before sunrise or arriving shortly before or after midday only to learn that the daily ticket contingent is exhausted and they had to come back the next morning or leave town without a coveted Compostela. There are, however, reports of experiences of weeks or years ago or of no date whatsoever mixed into the threads and some comments are touching on the borders of the absurd ... but what's new in cyberspace ... anyway, the general situation on the ground seems to be more relaxed.

Any news from the archbishop yet? Or at least the vice chancellor?
 

gschmidl

sator arepo tenet opera rotas
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo (11/2018), Camino Sanabres (4/2019)
Tangentially, how many people get just a Compostela but no protective case or Certificate of Distance? Is that known?
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Well, at least it's official and we know that they do know about it: the Pilgrim Welcome Office's website has been updated and you can read it on every page of their website if you scroll right to the bottom:

To collect the Compostela it is necessary to withdraw a ticket with a QR code that allows you to verify the status of the row [= waiting line] in real time. (Notice: in times of great influx, it cannot be guaranteed Collection of the Compostela on the same day).
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Tangentially, how many people get just a Compostela but no protective case or Certificate of Distance? Is that known?
I doubt there are records for that though someone could probably work it out from the pilgrim office's stationery orders. Perhaps that information should be recorded by the pilgrim office and published on their website? Would only take a few seconds. But multiply that by 300,000+..... :)
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
The sole solution, IMHO is to try to encourage more pilgrims to volunteer more months. Instead of seeking to volunteer from May through the end of August, the office desperately needs as many volunteers as it can get from Semana Santa, at least through the middle of, and likely the end of October. Again, and as I have stated, hiring more paid staff is also not inthe cards. Remember the Compostela, the largest volume product this office cranks out, remains FREE.

Thanks for that explanantion, @t2andreo .
We're planning to walk the Caminho Portugues next year, so I'll read through your notes elsewhere in this forum about applying to be a volunteer.
I haven't got dates yet, but do you think it would be possible/feasible to finish our Camino, and then stay on in SdC as volunteers? Also, would they take a couple?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Yes, it is possible. You need to nail down your volunteer assignment FIRST, then plan your Camino backwards from there.

On my second Camino (2014), I walked from SJPdP to Santiago, arriving on a Friday. I stayed in a local hotel at my expense, then moved to the volunteer flat and started work on Monday. That is a general, and still valid pattern.

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
Perhaps worth mentioning: I'm following several Camino FB groups (in several languages, btw) and of those who are currently getting Compostelas in Santiago, nobody reports about queuing in the morning long before sunrise or arriving shortly before or after midday only to learn that the daily ticket contingent is exhausted and they had to come back the next morning or leave town without a coveted Compostela. There are, however, reports of experiences of weeks or years ago or of no date whatsoever mixed into the threads and some comments are touching on the borders of the absurd ... but what's new in cyberspace ... anyway, the general situation on the ground seems to be more relaxed.

Any news from the archbishop yet? Or at least the vice chancellor?

Not a peep... The message I sent to PO staff a couple of weeks ago may not have percolated up yet. Then again, it could have been relegated to the “circular file...” (aka, the trash bin).

I do not have direct communications with PO managers.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
Look at any of my posts. There is a link to "Pilgrim Office Volunteering." It is blue... This will explain everything you need to know.

Hope this helps.
I wrote and received a reply that the new assignments would be out in February. I assumed the office was covered for now. Would rather have volunteered than walked this month. Am hanging around an extra couple of days to suss out the volunteer situation myself.
 
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gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
Actually the system seems to be working very well. Went & stood on line this morning for my ticket, went for a coffee and before I knew it my number was up. I’m at KM-0 so have been passing by throughout the day, went into the building this PM for an appointment, everything seems really relaxed, from folks lying about on the grass, chilling in the courtyard, no more mad queues like last spring.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Leon - Santiago (2015); Ingles (2016); Baiona - Santiago (2018); Pamplona - Burgos (2021? 2022?)
My last two Caminos, I got up early in the morning the day after my arrival, and strolled down to the PO at 8 am, where I waited in a very short line to obtain my Compostela. I treasure the memory of those strolls through the quiet city, with beautiful slanted light, and the only noise being the shush shush shush of shopkeepers sweeping their stoops, and the earliest of peregrinos arriving into town. I'm a little sad that apparently this numbering system means that those solitary morning walks will be no more, but at least I have my memories.
 

JacquelineD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 2019
I was there 24th September to collect my Conpostela. I hadn't realised about the new ticketing system and I didnt have spare time in santiago. I made it to the pilgrims office at 11.10am. I got ticket 831. There was a staff member at the machine who was giving the tickets out. So not much chance of getting 20 and selling them on! I got my Compostela at around 4.30pm. 8 desks were manned that day. Tickets stopped being issued at 2pm but the office were still issuing Conpostelas until after 8pm.
Of course pilgrim numbers may have dropped now its October and if I'm out of date I apologise for the lateness of this post.
But in my humble opinion I think the staff are working flat out. Trying to get through each day. Most people were patiently waiting all getting excited when their number was near. I did see a few people at the entrance rather cross at not being able to get a ticket at around 4pm and arguing with the guard. It's a no win situation isnt it? The office are trying to get through the hundreds of pilgrims each day yet someone will be upset as they dont know the new routine. The host of my.last accommodation didnt. He said no you just queue. But I'd heard about the ticketing system from friends I had met on the camino. I'm grateful to all the volunteers at the Pilgrims Office. They have a long day. Thank you
 

JacquelineD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 2019
Sorry for the spelling mistakes......Compostela with a 'm'
I'm writing this on my phone. Apologies
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
My last two Caminos, I got up early in the morning the day after my arrival, and strolled down to the PO at 8 am, where I waited in a very short line to obtain my Compostela. I treasure the memory of those strolls through the quiet city, with beautiful slanted light, and the only noise being the shush shush shush of shopkeepers sweeping their stoops, and the earliest of peregrinos arriving into town. I'm a little sad that apparently this numbering system means that those solitary morning walks will be no more, but at least I have my memories.
Posted elsewhere -
7:50 AM yesterday
85FB22D0-CF3C-451D-AE9B-A920FCBFFC7A.jpeg
No more silent walks, I guess. The Camino seems to be evolving rapidly, along with climate change, perhaps?
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
Please do not misinterpret what I have written, in this, or any other thread that relates to how the workload at the Pilgrim Office is being handled.

I wish to clarify and re-emphasize that the PIlgrim Office is permanently staffed by a paid cadre of about a dozen, dedicated and hard-working people.

During the busiest summer month, and at certain times during a day, the paid staff wearing civilian clothes, are sometimes lost in a sea of turquoise, ACC Voluntario shirts. It is also true that the office could not function without these additional helpers during the peak season.

FYI, these volunteers come from:

- local seminaries that are closed for the summer (at Pamplona)
- Cathedral offices and organizations (like ACC) that can help out from time to time.
- local priests and deacons on the university or Cathedral staffs who might be available
- college-aged people attending one or another church-sponsored summer program in town
- local residents, known to the office staff, who just come to pitch in
- Camino veteran volunteers, like us, who want to give back for what they have experienced

During the peak season, from June through the beginning of September, when universities return to session, the number of volunteers and pilgrims peak. But, as September progresses, the number of volunteers dwindles as their other obligations beckon. By about October, and through April, there are very few regular volunteers and paid staff dominate.

Simply put, the number of volunteers is dynamic. The number of paid staff is constant. The present and coming, larger problem is that there is a reasonable limit on the number of volunteers available. But, for the next several years, the number of arriving pilgrims is going to continue to increase significantly. We are already seeing the number of daily arrivals remain higher than in the past, later - beyond the usual early September typical end of season.

So, while it appears at times that the pilgrim office is run mostly by volunteers, THIS IS NOT THE CASE. The office is operated by the cadre of dedicated, low-paid, but hard-working staff. Volunteers come and go.

Volunteers from all sources are used to address the annual pig in the python phenomenon. However, of late, the proverbial piggie is getting bigger and longer... During the summer months each day is typically "all hands to the pumps..."

So, the challenge in everything I have written on this, and it has been a lot, especially of late, is to develop more efficient products and flexible processes, so more work (a lot more work) can be done with fewer people, at all times of the year. The coming Holy Year is going to bring this all to a head.

Despite what my posts suggest, I have neither direct access while I am at home; nor, serious influence over what Cathedral and Pilgrim Office management do in terms of policies and processes. Nonetheless, I continue to pray and be hopeful than "the penny will drop" and someone there reads some of this material.

Clearly, anyone who feels so inclined can write His Excellency, the Archbishop, at the Cathedral. I do not desire to impede that right. If you do write, I recommend you write in Spanish (use an online translator - I personally find the Microsoft one better overall to Google). Also, include your English language text BELOW or on an enclosed second page, so they can read both to better understand exactly what you are trying to say.

Finally, if you DO decide to write, be on point, be respectful, be sincere. The Archbishop's boss is Pope Francis, direct. So, His Excellency, Don Julián Barrio Barrio, is a very senior official in the Church hierarchy.

I do ask that you try to have all the information, or send a PM to ask a specific question off line. In fact, I am writing this clarification in response to a query from another Camino veteran who felt that Kanga's post might be misunderstood. I understand totally. I am frequently misunderstood...I am an expert at it, in fact. Kanga is trying to help, and I sincerely appreciate the assist.

I feel that it can only help. Hope it does.

I hope this clarifies.
Thanks for the background information. At the end of the day I think we need to remember that the entire operation is considered an outreach of faith by the archdiocese. From personal experience such activities rarely follow a focused business model. In fact, there is often an aversion to operate in that way, as it is considered to detract/be a distraction from the true intent.
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Wow! That's a long queue at that time in the morning. We didnt have to queue to get in but like I say I was 831 at around 11.15 am
Pictures say more than a 1000 words, don't they 🤔 ... I would love to see a photo of that queue at 10 minutes past 8 instead of 10 minutes before 8 ...
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
Pictures say more than a 1000 words, don't they 🤔 ... I would love to see a photo of that queue at 10 minutes past 8 instead of 10 minutes before 8 ...
I was #107. Was only there so early because I was staying down the street. I think there were about another 100 on line after me. But after this first batch got their tickets the line was gone. Don’t think it was really worth it to show up so early, if I’d arrived at 8:10 I probably would have walked straight in and been only about 200 further back. But it did mean that I was out in time for the English mass and was able to sign up for a foot massage in the afternoon.:)
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I was #107. Was only there so early because I was staying down the street. I think there were about another 100 on line after me. But after this first batch got their tickets the line was gone. Don’t think it was really worth it to show up so early, if I’d arrived at 8:10 I probably would have walked straight in
Thanks for this clarification. I reckon that this early morning queue that starts to form around 6 am apparently and disappears shortly after 8 am will be a permanent fixture, no matter what they do. Even when there is enough staff to guarantee that everyone will get a Compostela on the day there will be people who want to get their Compostela first thing in the morning, for whatever reason, and they will queue for their ticket before the office opens.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2008, 2009), Camino Frances (2011)
Porto to SDC (7/2017) Primitivo (9/2019)
Can anyone tell me if I can get the ticket carrying my pack or do I need to store it somewhere? I will walk into Santiago early tomorrow to get my ticket with hopes of getting the complostella by mid-day.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Can anyone tell me if I can get the ticket carrying my pack or do I need to store it somewhere? I will walk into Santiago early tomorrow to get my ticket with hopes of getting the complostella by mid-day.
Unless things have changed recently, you can have your pack with you in the pilgrim office.

Not in the cathedral though.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Yes, you can go to the Pilgrim Office with your rucksack, and get a ticket.

The office also has a “consigna” to store your bag. It costs €2,00 daily. You can even store stuff there, at €2 daily while continuing on to Finisterre, etc.

I advise proceeding directly to the Pilgrim Office, get a QR queue number ticket, then assess if you can leave the premises to check in at your accommodations, have coffee, etc.

Just be sure you are in the hall when your number is called. Please, DO NOT BE A NO SHOW!!

Hope this helps.
 
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JacquelineD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 2019
Yes, you can go to the Pilgrim Office with your rucksack, and get a ticket.

The office also has a “consigna” to store your bag. It costs €2,00 daily. You can even store stuff there, at €2 daily while continuing on to Finisterre, etc.

I advise proceeding directly the Pilgrim Office, get a QR queue number ticket, then assess if you can leave the premises to check in at your accommodations, have coffee, etc.

Just be sure you are in the hall when your number is called. Please, DO NOT BE A NO SHOW!!

Hope this helps.
I agree. Head straight for pilgrims office. Once you have your ticket you can go for lunch. Relax and see the square and the Cathedral. Priority is getting that ticket!
It may take a few hours, in my case it was 5 hrs from getting the ticket to obtaining my Compostela but each day is different.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I understand what they are doing, but I am bothered a little bit that the convenience of the volunteers has been chosen over the needs of the pilgrims! It makes me wonder if the Pilgrim Office understands its purpose. Compensated clerks were replaced by volunteers a few years ago. Now "the bottom line" has caused myopia by the Office. It makes me sad more than angry...:(
I'm not sure what you are suggesting as an alternative. Keep the volunteers there until all pilgrims have been served, even if it means they never eat or sleep? Aside from the other challenges involved, it seems like this might be a shortsighted tactic, as it might significantly diminish the number of volunteers. Force more people to volunteer? Pay for a larger office and more staff than the sales at the office can support (remembering, of course, that the Compostela is free)?

It is easy to say "it should be done differently" without proposing a sustainable way of doing so. But this is unlikely to lead to any change. If you want to see change, it helps to suggest something that people can do differently.

The Compostela is very nice and I have a couple from my most recent pilgrimages, but it hardly qualifies as one of the "needs of the pilgrims". Food. Drink. A place to sleep. Sometimes medical attention. These are the needs of the pilgrims. Not the piece of paper, nice as it is.

Or so it seems to me. This is just my opinion
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
You cannot control the number arriving - however this is what the new scheme is doing in essence - the office is only allowing a certain number to “arrive” daily - only a certain (and essentially fixed) number of compostelas are being given. Unfortunately this “demand management” has generated a waiting list because there are some days when more than 1400 are required. There is a mismatch. If less than 1400 are required, that spare capacity is lost - 1500 won’t be issued the next day.
You are the expert in this, not I, so I am probably missing something obvious here, but wasn't this always the case - in the old system as well as the new?

In the old system, as I recall, at some point during the day they would close the doors and stop giving out compostelas. They had X number of volunteers who could process Y compostelas an hour (more or less) giving them a maximum daily capacity of Z compostelas (less if there were some times during the day when there wasn't a pilgrim for every volunteer). If more than Z pilgrims arrived, some would end up having to come back the next day. If less half of the volunteers were sitting in front of empty wickets one day, that wouldn't create extra capacity the next day.

Was this not the case in the old system? If so, why are you saying it is a product of the new system?

I must be missing something.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
You are the expert in this, not I, so I am probably missing something obvious here, but wasn't this always the case - in the old system as well as the new?

In the old system, as I recall, at some point during the day they would close the doors and stop giving out compostelas. They had X number of volunteers who could process Y compostelas an hour (more or less) giving them a maximum daily capacity of Z compostelas (less if there were some times during the day when there wasn't a pilgrim for every volunteer). If more than Z pilgrims arrived, some would end up having to come back the next day. If less half of the volunteers were sitting in front of empty wickets one day, that wouldn't create extra capacity the next day.

Was this not the case in the old system? If so, why are you saying it is a product of the new system?

I must be missing something.
Yes, this was the case with the old system, but I don't think that people expect to be turned away as early as 12:30, as has happened with the new system. I think that the new system puts undue stress on pilgrims on their last day of walking to Santiago. I saw it happen as word spread along the trail that they better hurry if they wanted to get a Compostela that day.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
The Compostela is very nice and I have a couple from my most recent pilgrimages, but it hardly qualifies as one of the "needs of the pilgrims". Food. Drink. A place to sleep. Sometimes medical attention. These are the needs of the pilgrims. Not the piece of paper, nice as it is.
And isn’t distinguishing between our wants and our needs one the essential things that a pilgrimage is supposed to teach us? A Compostela is only a material thing after all.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
Yes, this was the case with the old system, but I don't think that people expect to be turned away as early as 12:30, as has happened with the new system.
But Is this the fault of the pilgrim office or simply the result of the huge increase in the number of pilgrims? No system is ever perfect, and as this one is new, I’m sure any real kinks will be worked out. But in the end, if one wants the Compostela on the same day, it may be necessary to start walking at 4 AM from Monte de Gozo, which will probably start to open year round.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Yes, this was the case with the old system, but I don't think that people expect to be turned away as early as 12:30, as has happened with the new system. I think that the new system puts undue stress on pilgrims on their last day of walking to Santiago. I saw it happen as word spread along the trail that they better hurry if they wanted to get a Compostela that day.
It seems to me (and again, this is not my area of expertise) that with either system, if more people arrive and are looking for Compostelas on a particular day than volunteers are able to process, some pilgrims are not going to end up with a Compostela that day. In the new system it is purely those who arrive after a certain time. In the old system it was (a) those who saw a long line and decided it wasn't worth the wait and (b) those who were in line or joining the line when they reached the cut off point towards closing time and said "no more". The more there were of the former, the less there were of the latter.

What has changed with that there is no longer the daunting prospect of a long line driving some pilgrims away. These pilgrims get their place in line, which uses up volunteer capacity that would previously have gone to meeting the Compostela needs of other pilgrims.

Personally, I think there is always undue stress on pilgrims who have planned their arrival in Santiago to align exactly with their flight home. It gives no leeway in case anything unexpected happens on the Camino requiring one to take rest days/walk slower/walk shorter distances than anticipated/etc. If pilgrims planned for some extra days cushion, not only would it allow them to easily get their Compostela without stress (go in the next day; not the day they arrive) but, with the new system, they could get their Componstela without spending a lot of time waiting in line, either.
 

nathanael

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Plata,
On the forum and in other places we are seeing reports that because of the new ticketing system some pilgrims are missing out on collecting their Compostela. Apparently the ticket kiosk shuts down when enough tickets have been issued to keep the volunteers busy for the day, and lately that has been a lot less than the number of people wanting a Compostela. It means that those who miss out have to come back the next day and take their chances again. It is understandable from the perspective of the volunteers who staff the Pilgrims Office, but could be difficult and disappointing if you have a plane or bus or train to catch.
So, if getting the Compostela is important to you, do consider planning an extra couple of days in Santiago, just in case. And get to the ticket kiosk early. It may be OK once the numbers slow down, but that will not be for a while. I understand that record numbers have left SJPDP during September, so presumably lots of pilgrims will be arriving during October.
Personally I do believe getting a Compostela is important! You have done the journey why all this jumping through hoops. This year will be my twelfth Camino and I do not plan in getting a Compostela. For me, the journey is sufficient and the experience of doing it is what counts.
 

Mariy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Camino 2019
I had a different experience getting my Compostela. I walked with a group (from my Parish) and the morning after we arrived in SDC our credentials were collected and we were told to come to the Pilgrim Office at 1 PM to collect our Compostela.

We were directed to go to the second floor and were met by a Sister. We gathered around and prayed the Pilgrims Prayer and she then proceeded to call each name to hand over the Compostela. I wanted the Distance Certificate too but was told that you have to line up for that. I took two tickets for myself and my sister. Ours were still about 450 away from the numbers being called out. You can also see which numbers are being called in real time through the app. We went out to eat lunch, go to the Cathedral to visit St. James Tomb, hug his statue, do some shopping, eat ice cream, do more shopping and eating. When we went back to the PO at around 5 pm, we were still 200 numbers away.

My sister decided she was too tired to wait and went back to the hotel. I stayed and waited, falling asleep in the lounge downstairs. When I was less than 100 numbers away, I went up to the office. There was a Korean Pilgrim who was asking people in line if they could switch tickets. He only had an hour left to spare before he had to go to the airport for his flight home. No one wanted to exchange with him saying they too had a plane to catch. I went up to him and offered my sister's ticket. He was so happy but of course all depended when we were being called.

Glad to say we both made it with a few minutes to spare before he had to leave for the airport and me to our group's farewell dinner. My whole take away from this is to come early or as soon as you arrive in SDC (after all the picture taking on the square of course). As mentioned before the church of San Francisco also gives a certificate with a small donation.
 
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mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
My experience of being a volunteer and working for two weeks in the pilgrim office last October is that if you can show you have the ticket you can jump the queue and get a compostela immediately. I saw it happen a few times. I also saw people claim they had a ticket but were unable to produce one so they were sent to the back of the queue with a flea in their ear.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
My experience of being a volunteer and working for two weeks in the pilgrim office last October is that if you can show you have the ticket you can jump the queue and get a compostela immediately.
What? Even if their number is far off?
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
Yes, a couple of times when I was issuing compostelas the security bloke brought someone straight through the queue to me and I did the compostela instantly. I asked to see the ticket, obvs. Whether that would work now, when the system is slightly different, is a moot point I think.
 

APilgrim3393

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(17-18-19) Norte (2018) Aragones (19’) de la Plata to Mérida (18’) Primitivo some (19’)
Look at any of my posts. There is a link to "Pilgrim Office Volunteering." It is blue... This will explain everything you need to know.

Hope this helps.
@t2andreo Where is the link to volunteer at the pilgrim's office? Please advise.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
@t2andreo Where is the link to volunteer at the pilgrim's office? Please advise.
Unfortunately, @t2andreo is no longer a forum member, but you can find his thread on volunteering in the Pilgrim's Office here


There is also a subforum for volunteering

 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
It's worth sending an email to Montse who runs the office but they're not accepting any volunteers at all at the moment because they're operating the office using a single "bubble" of people. If you're not in the bubble, you won't work there. But it's worth asking for future years, although I'd suggest you send the email and if no reply within a week just print it off and post it in an envelope to Montse at the office. She's enough on her plate right now without worrying about future years. And if still no reply, I'd suggest waiting six months and trying again.
 

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