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Is Courtesy Still Alive on the Camino? A Pre-Bookers Rant and more...

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
As more and more people make the choice to pre-book, the more pressures it puts on others to do the same. Pre-training is choice. Early rising is a choice. Stopping before major congestion points is also a choice (one I will definitely use). One thing I have learned on this earth is that choices have consequences, many of which are unseen at the time they are made. The consequence may not be to yourself but to someone else. Part of my path in life is to be the change I want to see in the world.
Walking the Camino Frances during a busy period is a choice which has consequences.
I apologize to those feel like my post... may induce a wee bit of guilt
I think you have misinterpreted the responses. Your post certainly doesn't induce any guilt in me.
I respectfully ask that all who comment further heed my earlier request to discuss the question "Is Courtesy Alive?"
Unfortunately, starting a thread does not give any control over the responses.

To address your key point, I would say that courtesy is very much alive on the camino. However, if you go with the preconceived idea that most of the people walking are discourteous (as judged on the basis of your particular criteria), then you will likely have your expectations met. That is unfortunate. The best way to contribute to courtesy is to listen respectfully and with humility to what other people are saying, and try to understand their perspectives, which may be quite different from yours (or mine) for reasons that we don't initially understand. These are lessons that I am still learning.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
Is this really an issue of courtesy? Or rather an issue of a feeling of injustice or general unfairness because some don't get a bed at all when there are not enough beds in a given location and on a given day or they don't get the nicer beds because the nice beds or nicer accommodation - no matter how "nice" is defined - have already been booked?
 

Jo Rose

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
August, (2018)
Why has no one suggested the "Village to Village" book? I used it and didn't have any problems finding places to stay or deciding where to go. When you check in with the Pilgrim's Office in SJPDP, they will give you a listing of all the albergues that are open on the Way. That will give you lots of options. Once you get to Roncesvalles, the Monestary has over 400 beds. And there are lots of other alternatives there, too. It's a wonderful journey -- go with an open heart and things will fall into place. It was the best gift I ever have given myself. I plan on going back again August of 2020. There were so many places that I didn't see (although I was on the Way for 7 weeks!!). Over 50% of the people I met were women traveling by themselves. I didn't get bed bugs, I didn't get robbed, I never ran out of places to eat, I never got sick, and I saw some incredible places and met some awesome people.
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
@Jo Rose Because Brierly is John the Baptist of the Way. @C clearly May is not the busy season June, July and August are. Mainly because people want to hit the holy days of obligation would be my guess. May is busy granted. And while humbly and asking people to move on from the original post to the original question does not guarantee people actually will, I hope that for discussions sake, people will exercise some common courtesy and do so. I'm actually interested in people's experience of common courtesy. Others might be too.

Apparently alot of people have missed that I have posted twice since my original post. Whatever. I opened the door to the discussion. I will however post again that I humbly thank all who have provided alternatives, some less than desirable than others, and again ask that that the discussion to focus on areas of courtesy you have been shown or did show along the way, your "lovely" pictures from your trek along the Valcarlos path, verify from your personal and recent experience that the offroad path to Valcarlos was both passable and safe, especially for women walking alone, refrain from making assumptions about me based on one post read and two (probably three) NOT read and discuss your direct experience along alternative routes from SJPP that would be useful.(I will request to admins to close my thread if I am continued to be attacked for posting an unpopular viewpoint that deserves legitimate discussion or if one more soul encourages me to stay at home.) I have not voiced what a true pilgrim is. I've refrained from attacking anyone personally and I would appreciate it if people did the same. And if this continues despite my fourth posting, I will prebook everything from St Jean to Santiago and give away beds to those whom I choose and deem worthy!! 🤣 And I snore loudly and profusely. So accept that pilgrims! LOL

I'm only joking but seriously people lighten up. In no way could what I have posted stepped on your toes unless you pre-book and even if I did, I already apologized. I owned my crap in the original post. I warned that it was a rant. I told you it was coming from fear. My second post I thanked everyone for sharing. My third post I shared my findings along Valcarlos from this forum and asked people with direct experience of the route to share their experience not snarkiness.
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
The joy of internet forums ... the many people who don't read the whole thread before giving a reply.

If you choose to take the Valcarlos route, I recommended staying there for the night. The hard part is after Valcarlos, so doing it the next day is smart. You could then just pause at Roncesvalles for a snack and if there are no beds (unlikely as you'd be ahead of the crowd) you'd have energy to go to the next village.

I did the Valcarlos route all in one day, a female alone, and never felt unsafe. I was the last one to arrive at Roncesvalle abbey that day. (Out of high season so beds weren't an issue.) If I were to do that route again, I'd sleep in Valcarlos.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
@C clearly May is not the busy season June, July and August are.
The first two weeks of May and the first two weeks of September are the absolute busiest periods in the section starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port. July and August are the absolute busiest periods in the section ending in Santiago.
 
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C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I am continued to be attacked for posting an unpopular viewpoint that deserves legitimate discussion
You started with a rant and strong opinions, inviting us to reprimand and admonish you.

I have read and re-read every post and do not see any personal attacks. There are differences of opinion expressed in legitimate discussion.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
IMHO, the bed race thing is here to stay. Pilgrim volumes have increased faster than development of additional bed spaces. This is a working example of Economics 101, the supply and demand part of the science.

By 2021, the next Holy Year, Camino volumes will at times reach "peak pilgrim' levels. This is the mathematical point at which all available beds at a given geographic place are filled. Regardless of what the locals do to develop more bed space, the supply will at times be oversubscribed. This I think is a fact of Camino-life.

During the summer 2021 I expect to hear repeated reports of 'no room at the inn.' In fact, the relevant regional authorities across northern Spain are presently convening meetings to discuss
how to approach the coming surge in volume for 2021. I have no idea what these prognostications will result in, but at least they are talking about it, and nearly two years out.

I am reading articles pertaining to this issue regularly in the various Galician and Santiago newspapers I keep up with. Friends either living there or active in the Camino movement have alerted me to some of the goings on.

What we pilgrims can do, besides being clever at finding a place to stay is perhaps reconsider walking our nth Camino this year. If we are compelled to walk the Camino during 2021, perhaps do it off peak.

Personally, my plan at present at present is to forgo walking in 2021, in exchange for hopefully spending more time as a volunteer at the Pilgrim Office...perhaps a second month at another time. It is still living in the Camino and it gives back to the community writ large. I plan to speak to P/O staff when I am there this May after my 2019 Camino.

Hope this helps.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I usually walk in late April and through May.
As far as I am aware, May is now the busiest month!
It certainly felt like it last year.
If I walk the CF again sometime it will be at a different time of year I think.

I can only repeat the advice of others.
Remain flexible and be prepared to change your plans if you need to.
Try to avoid the common 'end of stages'.

I don't use Albergues myself as I generally book a day ahead. And I prefer privacy.
Long story.........

But for those who like to use Albergues I can imagine the frustration at not finding a bed because they were pre-booked.

Tour groups and pre-booking seem to be growing fast on the Frances........

We all have different opinions of whether that is a good thing or not.
But none of us have any control over it.........
 
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lissie45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk Frances 2019
@lizlane - I think you are missing a fundamental point - unlike most places in the world - there are plenty of places which don't take reservations - all of the cheapest albergues to start with. As you seems to be coming from a Catholic point of view - that fits with the "mortifying the flesh" thing anyways doesn't it?

I'm sure back in the Middle Ages the rich pilgrim certainly "booked ahead" by staying with the local bishops rather than bunking on the church floor.

I've been a independent traveller for a very long time - I rarely book more than a few hours in advance anywhere in the world - and am yet to have to sleep on the streets (came very close in Burma once though).

There is no rule anywhere that says you have to start is SJPP - I considered it but given the issues with altitude for my partner, and the limited accommodation, and the difficulty of getting there - we're starting in Pamplona.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
@Jo Rose Because Brierly is John the Baptist of the Way. @C clearly May is not the busy season June, July and August are. Mainly because people want to hit the holy days of obligation would be my guess. May is busy granted. And while humbly and asking people to move on from the original post to the original question does not guarantee people actually will, I hope that for discussions sake, people will exercise some common courtesy and do so. I'm actually interested in people's experience of common courtesy. Others might be too.

Apparently alot of people have missed that I have posted twice since my original post. Whatever. I opened the door to the discussion. I will however post again that I humbly thank all who have provided alternatives, some less than desirable than others, and again ask that that the discussion to focus on areas of courtesy you have been shown or did show along the way, your "lovely" pictures from your trek along the Valcarlos path, verify from your personal and recent experience that the offroad path to Valcarlos was both passable and safe, especially for women walking alone, refrain from making assumptions about me based on one post read and two (probably three) NOT read and discuss your direct experience along alternative routes from SJPP that would be useful.(I will request to admins to close my thread if I am continued to be attacked for posting an unpopular viewpoint that deserves legitimate discussion or if one more soul encourages me to stay at home.) I have not voiced what a true pilgrim is. I've refrained from attacking anyone personally and I would appreciate it if people did the same. And if this continues despite my fourth posting, I will prebook everything from St Jean to Santiago and give away beds to those whom I choose and deem worthy!! 🤣 And I snore loudly and profusely. So accept that pilgrims! LOL

I'm only joking but seriously people lighten up. In no way could what I have posted stepped on your toes unless you pre-book and even if I did, I already apologized. I owned my crap in the original post. I warned that it was a rant. I told you it was coming from fear. My second post I thanked everyone for sharing. My third post I shared my findings along Valcarlos from this forum and asked people with direct experience of the route to share their experience not snarkiness.
Busy months: May and September are very busy - I think the busiest. I set off on 1st September 2016, and was told we were the largest group of pilgrims arriving in Ronsesvalles that they could recall in any day. (And in my blissful ignorance I hadn't booked, but there were more beds then). They were putting people in taxis for nearby villages, and there was overflow lodging in containers in the yard.
June (2017) was less busy. noticeably. We were told by the hospitaleros that the Spanish walk in July, so I was glad I finished at the last of June.

Walking early : You may think that people all walk early trying to get a bed for the night.
This is incorrect as most of the people I met walking early were not racing to get a bed (most had pre-booked anyway) , but getting in cool walking hours, to be somewhere by 2-3 in the afternoon, as walking in the heat after that sucks the absolute life out of you.
At the end of June as I walked into Santiago it was 43 degrees, there were fires in Portugal, and a heatwave in London. After 2-3pm you need shade. (I am a fair skinned blonde prone to skin cancer)
The days I got in after 4pm, I was knackered. I got lost one day, came in after 4pm after walking nearly 43 kms and was so tired that night I couldn't even be bothered finding dinner. At home when training it's not uncommon for me to walk that type of distance, but at least 15-20 degrees cooler - and not be totaled at the end of it.

Courteousness: I can recall in two Caminos only one rude incident, and that was in Bayonne before we even got to SJPDP. In fact I thought people were extremely kind and considerate to each other most of the time, much more so than I would experience in normal life. Yes there are morning bag rustlers, headlight shiners, and you experience the odd cold shower when the hot water is used up - but over-all for me the Camino showcased the kindness of humans to each other like nothing else I have experienced.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Toulouse to Lourdes
@Jo Rose Because Brierly is John the Baptist of the Way. @C clearly May is not the busy season June, July and August are.
I may have missed a few points on this thread but I can assure you July/August are NOT the busy season on the camino francés! And long may it last 🆒
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
Tour groups [...] seem to be growing fast on the Frances........
I am not trying to dispute this but since we’ve been asked for our own experience: I’ve “met” tour groups only on this forum in the form of sometimes heated discussions about their existence.

As to the real road, at least between SJPP and O Cebreiro, which is 650 km, I’ve never met anyone who belonged to a tour group nor did I notice them. I met people who were on short section trips and had their accommodation booked in advance by a tour agency but that just means of course that someone else had booked private accommodation for them instead of they themselves phoning or emailing around.

For the most part, however, as many encounters are fleeting, I have no clue whether I’d met pre-bookers or not. 🙃
 
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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.
... your "lovely" pictures from your trek along the Valcarlos path, verify from your personal and recent experience that the offroad path to Valcarlos was both passable and safe, especially for women walking alone, ....My third post I shared my findings along Valcarlos from this forum and asked people with direct experience of the route to share their experience not snarkiness.
I've walked both the Napoleon and the Valcarlos routes several times. They are both beautiful in their own way - if the weather is good. The Napoleon is certainly spectacular and I understand why someone walking the first time would elect to walk it. These days I prefer the historic Valcarlos route because (a) it makes for a lovely, easy, 14km stroll through very pretty Basque farmland for the first day when I am usually a bit jet lagged (b) it is peaceful and uncrowded (c) there is no problem getting accommodation that night in Valcarlos and the second night in Roncesvalles (because I arrive well before the hoard going over the Napoleon) and (d) Valcarlos has an excellent restaurant!

Part of the route to Valcarlos is along a very minor, secondary road - it only services the adjoining farms. After Valcarlos there is a path through the beech forests and the only reason to walk the main road is if the weather is terrible - in which case it would also be horrible on the Napoleon (see my first comment).

In accordance with your request I attach some of my photos of the Valcarlos route.

5275152752527535275452756
 

Attachments

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
again ask that that the discussion to focus on areas of courtesy you have been shown or did show along the way, your "lovely" pictures from your trek along the Valcarlos path, verify from your personal and recent experience that the offroad path to Valcarlos was both passable and safe, especially for women walking alone
Or ... you could type Valcarlos and Napoleon into the search field and explore the many comments and pictures that have already been posted on this topic on the forum. Otherwise one of the moderators may consider this as serious thread drift and close the thread 🙃. And isn't this part of the aspects of either being adventurous or growing spiritually/moving out of one's comfort zone to venture out and explore on one's own instead of consuming ready made bits of information? 😉

Note that many people who praise the Valcarlos route have also walked the Napoleon route. Never having walked the road to Roncesvalles that Dr. Thomas Avery, ophthalmologist from California (or was it Florida? It had a golf course in any case), walked may be tough to live with.

On a more general note, I'm excited by the information that we can ask moderators to close threads that have become "way too boring". I could name one or two ... :D
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago planned for May 2020
We will be starting our Camino April next year. I don't want us to have to be part of a "Bed Race", I want us to be able to take our time and enjoy the walk "Smell the flowers" without having to worry about getting a bed and as such I will probably pre-book a lot or our accommodation along the way. Not only will this allow us to travel at our own pace but it will also free up 2 beds in a non-private hostal/aubergue which we would otherwise be using.
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
@Kanga thank you for the pictures. They are indeed lovely. ;) Plus it was useful to hear that it made getting a bed easier in Roncesvaille. If I did take that route it would be to rest in Valcarlos.

@Kathar1na I did use the search engine to explore posts on the Valcarlos route. That's where I found the video posted and learned that some people had experienced it had impassable areas. So I was hoping that people who had recommended this alternative might elaborate more and confirm or rule out that parts were impassable.

@Mark Day thank you for offering another perspective of why people might book ahead. I feel my level of tolerance and acceptance rising more each day of pre-bookers.

@Anamiri I too burn very easily. That's why I am considering the May and September months.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances to Fisterra/Muxia 2013, twice in 2014, 2015, twice in 2016, 2017, a week on the VdlP
I can confirm that courtesy is alive and well on the Camino and that in my experience some of the loveliest and most thoughtful people I have met in recent years have been met on the Camino. But I can also confirm that the Camino is not a controlled utopian ideal and as such many of the frustrations we have at home will be present on the Camino. But for me, the good far outweighs the bad and the abundance of goodness shown by people is what brings me back each year.

I hope you are able to let go of your self-identified fear of not being able to secure a bed. Viewing those who book ahead as the discourteous frustration of others is in my opinion misjudged. Albergue or Parador, weighed down or pack shipped ahead, we are all doing what we think we can cope with and the biggest courtesy we can afford to others is not to judge them or attribute them blame for what we might perceive as a negative to our journey. I happily give up my seat at a busy cafe to someone who might need it or share my water, carry another's pack for a time or stop to ensure someone's welfare and have experienced the same courtesy's given to me countless times.

I book ahead and this year when I begin my 9th Camino I will also book ahead. Because without that freedom I simply wouldn't be able to walk. I have paranoid schizophrenia and it is vital to my wellbeing that I know I have secure self-contained accommodation that I do not have to share. Not because I am anti-social but because after a day walking and trying to ensure my mind is not disturbed I need to eliminate triggers and be in a controlled space.

My first Camino was done with hotels being my only type of accommodation but having experienced the wonderful aspects of socialising with other pilgrims I tried casa rurals and hostels, hoping to interact more. Last year I sought out private rooms in albergues and absolutely loved it. My journey to Santiago is an internal journey also and each time I walk I have less anxiety and time to listen...to God, the Camino and other Pilgrims.

So private room or dormitory, booking ahead might be the only way your fellow pilgrim can manage. Wishing you a safe and secure Camino.
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
I hope you are able to let go of your self-identified fear of not being able to secure a bed. Viewing those who book ahead as the discourteous frustration of others is in my opinion misjudged. Albergue or Parador, weighed down or pack shipped ahead, we are all doing what we think we can cope with and the biggest courtesy we can afford to others is not to judge them or attribute them blame for what we might perceive as a negative to our journey. I happily give up my seat at a busy cafe to someone who might need it or share my water, carry another's pack for a time or stop to ensure someone's welfare and have experienced the same courtesy's given to me countless times.

I book ahead and this year when I begin my 9th Camino I will also book ahead. Because without that freedom I simply wouldn't be able to walk. I have paranoid schizophrenia and it is vital to my wellbeing that I know I have secure self-contained accommodation that I do not have to share. Not because I am anti-social but because after a day walking and trying to ensure my mind is not disturbed I need to eliminate triggers and be in a controlled space.
I have been able to let go of my fears and grow in understanding and tolerance of others' point of view because of this thread. Part of what I found was so shocking was how common the pre-booking has become. It just wasn't an issue when I was actively involved with the forum in 2012 and 2013. It was known then about the need to pre-book in Orrison but I also didn't realize that there was a real need to book in Roncesvaille because I didn't know they didn't have the same numbers of beds available. I have an old Brierly guide and probably need a newer edition. When people explained the beds were now limited, I searched the forum. Then I learned the number of available beds was decreased in 2017, read that thread through. Now I understand why pre-booking has become a thing. I realize now that I may have to use this tool in the future but I'm still going to try without it and if I have to sleep on the ground somewhere then that's okay too. And I so appreciate your comments about courtesy because I hope to have many opportunities to care for others and show it as much as I can so the Camino stays the Camino!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
@Jo Rose Because Brierly is John the Baptist of the Way. @C clearly May is not the busy season June, July and August are. Mainly because people want to hit the holy days of obligation would be my guess. May is busy granted. And while humbly and asking people to move on from the original post to the original question does not guarantee people actually will, I hope that for discussions sake, people will exercise some common courtesy and do so. I'm actually interested in people's experience of common courtesy. Others might be too.

Apparently alot of people have missed that I have posted twice since my original post. Whatever. I opened the door to the discussion. I will however post again that I humbly thank all who have provided alternatives, some less than desirable than others, and again ask that that the discussion to focus on areas of courtesy you have been shown or did show along the way, your "lovely" pictures from your trek along the Valcarlos path, verify from your personal and recent experience that the offroad path to Valcarlos was both passable and safe, especially for women walking alone, refrain from making assumptions about me based on one post read and two (probably three) NOT read and discuss your direct experience along alternative routes from SJPP that would be useful.(I will request to admins to close my thread if I am continued to be attacked for posting an unpopular viewpoint that deserves legitimate discussion or if one more soul encourages me to stay at home.) I have not voiced what a true pilgrim is. I've refrained from attacking anyone personally and I would appreciate it if people did the same. And if this continues despite my fourth posting, I will prebook everything from St Jean to Santiago and give away beds to those whom I choose and deem worthy!! 🤣 And I snore loudly and profusely. So accept that pilgrims! LOL

I'm only joking but seriously people lighten up. In no way could what I have posted stepped on your toes unless you pre-book and even if I did, I already apologized. I owned my crap in the original post. I warned that it was a rant. I told you it was coming from fear. My second post I thanked everyone for sharing. My third post I shared my findings along Valcarlos from this forum and asked people with direct experience of the route to share their experience not snarkiness.
I'm sorry if I made you sad with my second post in this thread. In my defense, I had read and taken to heart all of your posts in this thread, not just the first, and was responding directly to the immediately preceding post you had made. I only posted it because, despite all of what you had taken from the various responses, you still seemed to hold on that booking ahead at places that permit it was discourteous. I would certainly not advise you (or anyone) to remain home except under doctor's orders.

The fact is that there is a wide variety of accommodations on the Camino. Many places do not accept pre-booking. Others do. Some encourage or request it. On my last Camino, I walked the Camino Portugues from Porto. I generally did not book ahead. When I set off, I had two bookings: one for the first night in Porto (at a hostel not aimed primarily at pilgrims) another at the Casa da Fernanda, a few days in.

Casa da Fernanda is a private home with a bunkhouse where Fernanda and her family welcome pilgrims and offer warm hospitality, a communal home-cooked dinner, a convivial evening and a breakfast buffet on a donativo basis. There is room for 14 pilgrims to sleep there. Reservations are recommended. I didn't feel at all discourteous about letting my hosts know I would be there. From everything I've read, the refuge at Orrison seems a similar sort of place (except not donativo).

As for Roncesvalles, as you've been told, they only allow reservations for the minority of beds, so if you prefer the disposition of beds as pilgrims arrive, there are plenty that are given out that way. If you get to Roncesvalles and there are no beds at the albergue, there are other accommodation options, or you can walk 3 km further to Burguete.

If you want some examples of courtesy shown along the way, perhaps this thread might help: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/sharing-“camino-angel”-stories.58523/

As to when is the busiest time- I always thought July and August were busiest, but these statistics seem to tell a different story:
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I'm still looking for the connection implied in the thread title--that booking ahead is discourteous. What did I miss?
The premise seems to be that by booking a bed you are having a negative effect on your fellow pilgrims who do not choose to book ahead by reducing the number of beds available. Having this negative effect on pilgrims who are doing nothing wrong is presented as discourteous in the original, fear-driven "rant" and in some of the subsequent responses. I don't agree with it myself, but I can follow the argument.

To those who do hold that pre-booking is discourteous (either lizlane or others who agree), if I have misrepresented your positions, please do step in and set the record straight.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
This post is going to contain some ranting. It's coming from fear. I've waited 7 years to finally have my opportunity for the Camino. I am hoping to leave in May but given what I've seen in all the FB groups on the Camino, there is a new trend that wasnt around in 2012 when I first got the call.

Pre-bookers. There were tour companies in 2012 for sure. I remember older pilgrims complaining about them. There was bag service (Maybe not as many now). But the boatloads of pre-bookers for Orrison who are also pre-booking additional albergues for days following Orrison is creating ALOT of fear in me. May is definitely pre-booked for Orrison.

So all those pilgrims who have been told "It's your Camino. Walk it any way you want..." Well given that I have a spinal condition but am otherwise fit I'm having to assess if I can make the push straight to Roncesvaille. And if I get there, there is no given I will have a place to sleep because all the other May pre-bookers will likely have left the day before and pre-booked there as well.

The mean judgy side of me wants to say "Don't they trust God?" The mature side of me asks me "Do you?" I know this is an internal struggle with fear and trust. I mean I don't even have my ticket to leave yet. But all this talk about "It's your Camino. Walk it however" might lead to some issues for others. Like how I despite my physical limitations might have to walk the alternate path from SJPdP just because some weren't sure how they were going to feel once they reach Orrison. Or how I despite my pain might be forced to carry on to Roncesvaille, bed availability still uncertain. I'm not techy and if you tell me to reserve ahead for Roncesvaille I might scream. I've waited seven years to do this. But I might not be able to do the "It's your Camino. Walk it like you want." thing because I do want to see the pinnacle. That's been part of my dream. Not walking some roadway to Valcarlos. I just wish people would stop telling people that it's okay to pre-book because it's really not. I mean you don't even know if you'll have to stop. In my opinion, pre-booking is okay if you are travelling with more than two in your party and especially if you have seniors or kids. Otherwise, you're leaving out that God the Universe whatever you believe in might be drawing people with needs to the Camino.

First come, first served. That's what people were b*tching about 7 years ago. The tours, the bag service, the clusterclod in Sarria, the race for a bed. At least early bird gets the worm is fair. This pre-booking thing has thrown me a curve ball. I'm actually considering that despite the money and freedom I now have that I should post-pone. I can barely figure out how to arrange my arrival because I've never traveled abroad. Before I knew that if I traveled that I might have to early rise, I might have to expect congestion the closer to Santiago I got but this is a whole other predicament. I barely use my phone's capability in my own life!

I went to my local chapter meeting of APOC. I paid my dues for two years, just as I have here on the forum. The presenter was discussing how in a Camino basics lecture you can send your bags ahead, you can pre-book your stays in albergues. I cringed when he couldn't tell the backpacker bent on the Alps what was so special about the Camino Frances. This was Tuesday. At REI. (also of which I'm a member).

"Because it's a pilgrimage." I wanted to scream. According to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago, "Groups organised with support car or by bicycle are requested to seek alternative shelter to the pilgrim hostels. " https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/pilgrimage/the-credencial/

I think this should be taught to individuals as well. Why? Because of common courtesy. If you have a credencial from Santiago (available in the forum store for a 2 E donation), you AGREE TO ABIDE BY IT. The spirit of this if you are booking ahead, do so at a hotel! Not a hostel or albergue!

So I hope people can help me to shed these fears Will I like and others like me, the technologically challenged, follow in the footsteps of Jesus? ""Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

I'd love to hear your stories. Reprimand me. Admonish me. But if you say to me "Book ahead" I will start another thread about bringing back pilgrim values.
You ranted. You received a lot of replies. You responded. Then you got more replies. Now?
Before you reply, you asked a question: Is Courtesy still Alive on the Camino?
What have you learned as a result of the replies you have received? I have to say that my recent camino experience was that yes, courtesy is still alive on the Camino.
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
That was how my fears colored my perceptions and it was also written without prior knowledge about the bed limitations so in my mind it was selfish. (Now I get that it's survival) And it was written based on seven-year-old information I had gleamed from the forum. Back then, the big congestions occurred in June-July-August. May was wet and not popular. Trends change and the Camino just seems so timeless. It never occurred to me things might've changed. So I was genuinely ignorant. Now I'm up to speed. I know what to anticipate now and have received so much support that I'm humbled.

@David Tallan to be fair, I probably didn't have the humility in other posts because it was only this am that I read the announcement thread from 2017 about the reduced beds. It was good read the comments of so many that have also posted here discuss their own fears about the impact on trends for pre-booking. It took a few days for it all to gel together. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

I am especially grateful for the love and tolerance that was shown to me as I moved through this process of acceptance. Even this thread shows the process people can move through on their way to the Way. For me, I'm bringing a few things to give away to others who might need encouragement at low points, some rosaries I made, extra patches I ordered and hope to be a blessing more than I came to be blessed.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo
This post is going to contain some ranting. It's coming from fear. I've waited 7 years to finally have my opportunity for the Camino. I am hoping to leave in May but given what I've seen in all the FB groups on the Camino, there is a new trend that wasnt around in 2012 when I first got the call.

Pre-bookers. There were tour companies in 2012 for sure. I remember older pilgrims complaining about them. There was bag service (Maybe not as many now). But the boatloads of pre-bookers for Orrison who are also pre-booking additional albergues for days following Orrison is creating ALOT of fear in me. May is definitely pre-booked for Orrison.

So all those pilgrims who have been told "It's your Camino. Walk it any way you want..." Well given that I have a spinal condition but am otherwise fit I'm having to assess if I can make the push straight to Roncesvaille. And if I get there, there is no given I will have a place to sleep because all the other May pre-bookers will likely have left the day before and pre-booked there as well.

The mean judgy side of me wants to say "Don't they trust God?" The mature side of me asks me "Do you?" I know this is an internal struggle with fear and trust. I mean I don't even have my ticket to leave yet. But all this talk about "It's your Camino. Walk it however" might lead to some issues for others. Like how I despite my physical limitations might have to walk the alternate path from SJPdP just because some weren't sure how they were going to feel once they reach Orrison. Or how I despite my pain might be forced to carry on to Roncesvaille, bed availability still uncertain. I'm not techy and if you tell me to reserve ahead for Roncesvaille I might scream. I've waited seven years to do this. But I might not be able to do the "It's your Camino. Walk it like you want." thing because I do want to see the pinnacle. That's been part of my dream. Not walking some roadway to Valcarlos. I just wish people would stop telling people that it's okay to pre-book because it's really not. I mean you don't even know if you'll have to stop. In my opinion, pre-booking is okay if you are travelling with more than two in your party and especially if you have seniors or kids. Otherwise, you're leaving out that God the Universe whatever you believe in might be drawing people with needs to the Camino.

First come, first served. That's what people were b*tching about 7 years ago. The tours, the bag service, the clusterclod in Sarria, the race for a bed. At least early bird gets the worm is fair. This pre-booking thing has thrown me a curve ball. I'm actually considering that despite the money and freedom I now have that I should post-pone. I can barely figure out how to arrange my arrival because I've never traveled abroad. Before I knew that if I traveled that I might have to early rise, I might have to expect congestion the closer to Santiago I got but this is a whole other predicament. I barely use my phone's capability in my own life!

I went to my local chapter meeting of APOC. I paid my dues for two years, just as I have here on the forum. The presenter was discussing how in a Camino basics lecture you can send your bags ahead, you can pre-book your stays in albergues. I cringed when he couldn't tell the backpacker bent on the Alps what was so special about the Camino Frances. This was Tuesday. At REI. (also of which I'm a member).

"Because it's a pilgrimage." I wanted to scream. According to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago, "Groups organised with support car or by bicycle are requested to seek alternative shelter to the pilgrim hostels. " https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/pilgrimage/the-credencial/

I think this should be taught to individuals as well. Why? Because of common courtesy. If you have a credencial from Santiago (available in the forum store for a 2 E donation), you AGREE TO ABIDE BY IT. The spirit of this if you are booking ahead, do so at a hotel! Not a hostel or albergue!

So I hope people can help me to shed these fears Will I like and others like me, the technologically challenged, follow in the footsteps of Jesus? ""Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

I'd love to hear your stories. Reprimand me. Admonish me. But if you say to me "Book ahead" I will start another thread about bringing back pilgrim values.
I am going to do the Camino Primitivo part 2 from Lugo in May with four of my school friends. We are ladies of a certain age, have a variety of ailments and limited time. We have pre-booked accommodation and baggage transfers. All of our accommodation is privately owned hotel or guest house. We are paying hard earned cash which will go back into the Galician economy. I feel no guilt at what we are doing, we have been friends for 49 years and want to do our Camino together.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
Burgos to Santiago, May 2019, D.V.
Hi Lizlane,

Another option is to have a first night in Hunto (we did). Yes, it's a bit lower than Orisson, but it cuts quite a chunk out of this big SJPDP-Roncesvalles stage.

Here are the details about the gite : http://www.gites-de-france-64.com/ferme-ithurburia/
There's also Kayola, 1km before Orrison, run by the same folks, and "only" €15/night. A night there followed by breakfast at Orrison works for me. €35/night to sleep in a dorm doesn't.
 

NavyBlue

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy and Camino Frances. Via Francigena. Tro-Breiz in progress.
There's also Kayola, 1km before Orrison, run by the same folks, and "only" €15/night. A night there followed by breakfast at Orrison works for me. €35/night to sleep in a dorm doesn't.
Hi,

From the infos available on the net, the rates at Orisson and Ferme Ithurbaria are 38 € for half board/demi-pension, an average one in France.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
I apologize to those feel like [...] my POV may induce a wee bit of guilt
I think you have misinterpreted the responses. Your post certainly doesn't induce any guilt in me.
We are paying hard earned cash which will go back into the Galician economy. I feel no guilt at what we are doing
This is an interesting topic I feel: Do you feel guilty or defensive because you pre-book or don't stay in albergue dormitories?

It's not often discussed but I feel that it's there when posters refer to "splurging" or "spoiling" themselves when staying a night in a parador or hotel, or cite reasons related to their health or age for their choices. And others of course are trying to instil a sense of guilt, a sense of not doing it the right way, if you don't stay mostly in dormitory style albergues without booking ahead. It has to do with preconceived ideas of what a contemporary pilgrimage must be like but as I like to point out, unlike in the Middle Ages, there is no higher authority of the religious-feudal kind that makes the rules for everyone on the pilgrimage roads anymore.

When I set out on the long road to Santiago (I don't walk it all in one go), I was totally outside of any "camino bubble". I had not seen the movies, had not read the books, wasn't a member of a camino-pilgrim association, and internet forums like this one barely existed, YouTube and FaceBook had not yet been invented. I didn't even know that there was a network of municipial and parochial albergues of the kind you find in Spain and in particular in Galicia, and to a much lesser extent elsewhere on the many roads leading to Santiago. I had never heard of the contemporary donativo concept. Without a care in the world, I stayed in small hotels or pensions and even in modern chain hotels. I stayed a few times in dormitory style accommodation but only because there was no other option. The later did not make me grow and it did not give me a feeling of freedom and I was not out of my personal comfort zone because I had stayed in similar or "worse" accommodation many times before while hiking or trekking.

To cut a long story short, once I had reached Spain and learnt more about contemporary camino-ing, I became defensive about my chosen accommodation style and several times I packed the silk sleeping bag liner and vowed that I'll give it a go with the bunkbeds. I never did 😀, although I enjoy staying in private rooms in albergues. I thought it through and I ended up feeling happy with my choices. It is me who makes the pilgrimage rules by which I abide. And I don't feel that others ought to feel bothered by my choices. If you meet me on the road, you will not be able to tell that I put my head to sleep at night on a pre-booked pillow 😀.

PS: My rule number one is "every step of the way". My second rule is "not one step too many". 🙃
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
We are paying hard earned cash which will go back into the Galician economy.
And into the economy of the other regions in Northern Spain of course. 🙂

Take Roncesvalles for example. It is no longer a monastery and the monks are long gone. The pilgrim albergue, the two smaller hotels/guesthouses and the more upmarket hotel are owned by the Diocese of Pamplona. They are still paying off a mortgage or loan of hundreds of thousands of euros which they took out many years ago for the renovation of the pilgrim albergue, in addition to funds they received from the regional government. The albergue provides employment for one or two local people and is otherwise run by volunteers from The Netherlands. The guesthouses and the hotel provide employment for a larger number of local people.

When you stay in the albergue, pre-booked or not, you part with €12, and when you stay in the hotel say now in May, now doubt pre-booked, you leave €80 behind. That eases a lot of any potential bad conscience 😃. And weren't pilgrims of yore not meant to give (alms) freely and generously to those who have less and part with their money? Today's pilgrims don't seem to be aware of this 🙃.
 
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David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I visited Roncesvalles quite a few times last year, first aiding - the Dutch teams were always kind and helpful, great place, except for that spaceship style 'cafeteria' with all the cold stainless steel and machines ...

.. in September it was always full and the team organised a minibus and some taxis to take weary pilgrims further on, where there was room. Some pilgrims became rather distressed - exhaustion combined with low blood sugar I think (all pilgrims should be given a cup of tea and a huge slice of cream cake when they arrive - sorts out the blood sugar!).
One afternoon a coach arrived, packed with pilgrims, all clean and bright, plus a van and coach with a large group of Polish mountain bikers, all starting the next day - they quickly filled up the refugio ... and then we waited for the backpacking walking pilgrims to come in late into the evening - some were so so weary .. I spoke to the team about 'reserved' places and they said that the number of places set for pre-reservation was set by the diocese and they disagreed with it totally as it was much too high and didn't allow for the latecomers, who were always more weary, but that as numbers were fluid the diocese preferred guaranteed income.
Those who overnight halfway tend to get in pretty early but those who walk the whole distance from St Jean in one go arrive much later, and it is they, or sometimes they, that do not have a bed.

So - if you get to Roncesvalles late and there is no room at the inn, it is not the team's fault, they feel for you.

Personally I feel that they should have saved their money and kept on using the 12th century huge building - I loved it there, snores, and farts and all ;)
 
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Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
Hi Liz,

you do not really need to worry.

That "Orisson" is pre-booked should not give you any concern. In France you HAVE to preebook your albergue. It is considered normal.

Neither parish-albergues nor those run by the Xunta of Galicia do accept any reservations. There you can still get your bed on a first come-first serve-policy. Most of them do not even accept pilgrims with backpack-transport.

Another possibility to deal with the crowds is to avoid reaching mayor cities and favourite starting-places (Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, Ponferrada, Sarria) on a week-end. One village before or one thereafter you will be fine.

I think your problem with reserving beds will soon be solved. In August 2017 I walked the Portugues and almost everybody did reserve his bed. But nevertheless it was possible to obtain beds without reservations. Perhaps due to the fact, that many people reserved several beds at different places - just to stay flexible (that is a lack of courtesy I really want to complain about). But now most reservations require that you pay for your bed by credit-card in advance. So the landlord is sure that he will have his money if the "pilgrim" does not show up. This rule leads to less reservations und thus to more beds being available spontaneously.

BC
Alexandra
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Back in the good olde Middle Ages, the goal was to pray to the relics of the Saint. You had to survive the trip there to do that. Trains, plains and automobiles were not an option. We can be darned sure pilgrims would have used them if they were available. And they would still be pilgrims.

They would have called ahead to secure food and lodging too, and I bet the weathy (those who made the journey themselve and hadn't hired someone to do it for them) would have sent their manservant ahead each day with the luggage to get a room, while they loitered over a mug of wine in a tavern somewhere.

We are blessed that kind people in parishes and peublos offer us shelter. If it were still the good olde days, we'd spend half our time looking for a crust of bread, and a spot out of the cold to wrap ourselves in our stinky, damp cloak to sleep. The other nights we'd be sleeping on the cold floor of the church and grumbling -and grateful.

We are so lucky. We have much nicer options. But isn't it interesting that the modern pilgrimage is more about the path poorer people had to take.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
:eek:
Well I do hope they come up with a gameplan for the Holy Year in Roncesvaille.
You may be surprised to learn that during the last Holy Year (2010), the number of pilgrims who passed through Roncesvalles was 6% less than in the previous year 2009.

Quote: Roncesvalles saw a decrease of 6% in the number of pilgrims during this Holy Year (2010). The Holy Year 2010 was a success, but only in Galicia. Most of the 270,000 pilgrims who arrived in Santiago during the recently completed Holy Year chose the short path (just over 100 km), starting their pilgrimage from Sarria or Cebreiro. Only a minority departed from France. The influx of long-distance pilgrims was so low that it represented a fall of between 3 and 6% compared to 2009. [...] the long-distance pilgrims have not felt the call of the Apostle during this Holy Year; they prefer any other date to be able to make their journey in peace, fleeing from the crowds and the masses. [...] Navarre, Aragon, La Rioja and Castilla y León did not notice a Holy Year effect. On the contrary, their shelters have been emptier than usual. In 2009, the number of pilgrims who walked the entire French Way increased by 19% compared to 2008, perhaps because they took the opportunity to do so before the Holy Year began."

https://www.caminodesantiagoreservas.com/noticia.asp?i=13

Looks like now it the time ...
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
Great article! Thank you! I'm so glad I'm getting all my misconceptions out of the way BEFORE I walk lol!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
This is an interesting topic I feel: Do you feel guilty or defensive because you pre-book or don't stay in albergue dormitories?

It's not often discussed but I feel that it's there when posters refer to "splurging" or "spoiling" themselves when staying a night in a parador or hotel, or cite reasons related to their health or age for their choices. And others of course are trying to instil a sense of guilt, a sense of not doing it the right way, if you don't stay mostly in dormitory style albergues without booking ahead. It has to do with preconceived ideas of what a contemporary pilgrimage must be like but as I like to point out, unlike in the Middle Ages, there is no higher authority of the religious-feudal kind that makes the rules for everyone on the pilgrimage roads anymore.

When I set out on the long road to Santiago (I don't walk it all in one go), I was totally outside of any "camino bubble". I had not seen the movies, had not read the books, wasn't a member of a camino-pilgrim association, and internet forums like this one barely existed, YouTube and FaceBook had not yet been invented. I didn't even know that there was a network of municipial and parochial albergues of the kind you find in Spain and in particular in Galicia, and to a much lesser extent elsewhere on the many roads leading to Santiago. I had never heard of the contemporary donativo concept. Without a care in the world, I stayed in small hotels or pensions and even in modern chain hotels. I stayed a few times in dormitory style accommodation but only because there was no other option. The later did not make me grow and it did not give me a feeling of freedom and I was not out of my personal comfort zone because I had stayed in similar or "worse" accommodation many times before while hiking or trekking.

To cut a long story short, once I had reached Spain and learnt more about contemporary camino-ing, I became defensive about my chosen accommodation style and several times I packed the silk sleeping bag liner and vowed that I'll give it a go with the bunkbeds. I never did 😀, although I enjoy staying in private rooms in albergues. I thought it through and I ended up feeling happy with my choices. It is me who makes the pilgrimage rules by which I abide. And I don't feel that others ought to feel bothered by my choices. If you meet me on the road, you will not be able to tell that I put my head to sleep at night on a pre-booked pillow 😀.

PS: My rule number one is "every step of the way". My second rule is "not one step too many". 🙃
I never felt guilty when I pre-booked. It never would have occurred to me. I also never felt guilty when not staying in albergues. On my first camino (1989) I don't think I was that aware of albergues. On my second camino, I slept in hotels on rest days. My impression was that was the "thing to do". Albergues were for one night and moving on. If you were going to hang around, any additional days should be elsewhere. On my third camino, I only slept in albergues.

That said, I think there is no reason to feel "guilty" for sleeping in hotels, guest houses, or other non-albergue accommodations. The idea of albergues is to keep the Camino affordable for pilgrims. If you don't need them for that purpose, if anything it is virtuous to sleep elsewhere, especially when supply doesn't meet demand, and leave the albergue spots for the pilgrims who really need them and can't afford the more expensive accommodations. I stay at albergues because I enjoy the company of other pilgrims, not because I think it is the virtuous thing to do.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
I've just come across a recent news article about the economic impact of the Camino de Santiago on Navarra, ie on the first section of the Camino Frances from Valcarlos/Roncesvalles to Viana. According to a survey/study for 2018:

Foot pilgrims spend 6 nights in Navarra and spend 36 € per day on average. The majority gets their information through mobile apps, around 20% carry a paper guidebook on them.
Bed shortage is a myth. The annual demand amounts to 400,000-500,000 overnight stays, while the offer is 4 million beds. Sporadic saturation is recorded in Roncesvalles and Zubiri on some weekends between May and September, which makes it necessary to put coordination measures between nearby hospitality establishments in place.
The highest demand is for albergues. 96% of establishments allow booking: of these nearly 70% allow online reservation.
60% of the pilgrims plan to finish in Santiago, while 40% want to spend one or two weeks walking a section of the trail.

Surprised?
 
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Arctic_Alex

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking Camino Frances April 2019
A friend of mine walked 2 years ago. As he walked twice the „standard distance“ per day, he was ALWAYS a late arrival inthe evening. He never pre-booked but he always got a bed to sleep in. That was before peak-season though.

Yes, Orisson requires a pre-booking. Which I dislike. But nothing to be done about it.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
This post is going to contain some ranting. It's coming from fear. I've waited 7 years to finally have my opportunity for the Camino. I am hoping to leave in May but given what I've seen in all the FB groups on the Camino, there is a new trend that wasnt around in 2012 when I first got the call.

Pre-bookers. There were tour companies in 2012 for sure. I remember older pilgrims complaining about them. There was bag service (Maybe not as many now). But the boatloads of pre-bookers for Orrison who are also pre-booking additional albergues for days following Orrison is creating ALOT of fear in me. May is definitely pre-booked for Orrison.

So all those pilgrims who have been told "It's your Camino. Walk it any way you want..." Well given that I have a spinal condition but am otherwise fit I'm having to assess if I can make the push straight to Roncesvaille. And if I get there, there is no given I will have a place to sleep because all the other May pre-bookers will likely have left the day before and pre-booked there as well.

The mean judgy side of me wants to say "Don't they trust God?" The mature side of me asks me "Do you?" I know this is an internal struggle with fear and trust. I mean I don't even have my ticket to leave yet. But all this talk about "It's your Camino. Walk it however" might lead to some issues for others. Like how I despite my physical limitations might have to walk the alternate path from SJPdP just because some weren't sure how they were going to feel once they reach Orrison. Or how I despite my pain might be forced to carry on to Roncesvaille, bed availability still uncertain. I'm not techy and if you tell me to reserve ahead for Roncesvaille I might scream. I've waited seven years to do this. But I might not be able to do the "It's your Camino. Walk it like you want." thing because I do want to see the pinnacle. That's been part of my dream. Not walking some roadway to Valcarlos. I just wish people would stop telling people that it's okay to pre-book because it's really not. I mean you don't even know if you'll have to stop. In my opinion, pre-booking is okay if you are travelling with more than two in your party and especially if you have seniors or kids. Otherwise, you're leaving out that God the Universe whatever you believe in might be drawing people with needs to the Camino.

First come, first served. That's what people were b*tching about 7 years ago. The tours, the bag service, the clusterclod in Sarria, the race for a bed. At least early bird gets the worm is fair. This pre-booking thing has thrown me a curve ball. I'm actually considering that despite the money and freedom I now have that I should post-pone. I can barely figure out how to arrange my arrival because I've never traveled abroad. Before I knew that if I traveled that I might have to early rise, I might have to expect congestion the closer to Santiago I got but this is a whole other predicament. I barely use my phone's capability in my own life!

I went to my local chapter meeting of APOC. I paid my dues for two years, just as I have here on the forum. The presenter was discussing how in a Camino basics lecture you can send your bags ahead, you can pre-book your stays in albergues. I cringed when he couldn't tell the backpacker bent on the Alps what was so special about the Camino Frances. This was Tuesday. At REI. (also of which I'm a member).

"Because it's a pilgrimage." I wanted to scream. According to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago, "Groups organised with support car or by bicycle are requested to seek alternative shelter to the pilgrim hostels. " https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/pilgrimage/the-credencial/

I think this should be taught to individuals as well. Why? Because of common courtesy. If you have a credencial from Santiago (available in the forum store for a 2 E donation), you AGREE TO ABIDE BY IT. The spirit of this if you are booking ahead, do so at a hotel! Not a hostel or albergue!

So I hope people can help me to shed these fears Will I like and others like me, the technologically challenged, follow in the footsteps of Jesus? ""Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

I'd love to hear your stories. Reprimand me. Admonish me. But if you say to me "Book ahead" I will start another thread about bringing back pilgrim values.
simple..don't do the overcrowded, over rated CF. You'll find it much easier on any other route
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
simple..don't do the overcrowded, over rated CF. You'll find it much easier on any other route
That is not an option for me as a first-time solo pilgrim, first time abroad person. This was mentioned as a suggestion and I addressed my needs and reasons in previous responses.. Part of my confusion was hearing albergue and thinking this applied to ALL the hostels but this was cleared up by other members.

My Camino, the one I've waited seven years to do, is the Frances route. If I wanted to walk a different way I could have done a shorter route years ago. I desire to go, immerse myself and come back changed, spend as much as necessary. Another route may be in my future but the call I feel is specific to the French Way. Every picture I see of someone on the meseta speaks deeply to me. I have a divine appointment with my Creator on that stretch but shortening my experience in ANY way doesnt sit well with my soul.

These are the things I've learned as a result of this post:
1. Plan to arrive in SJPP NOT on a weekend.
2. Roncesvaille no longer has the capacity it once did, making pre-booking necessary for those who didn't pre-book at Orrison, especially during peak season. Peak season is different for starting in SJPP than peak season for Santiago.
3. Our fears weigh us down more than a backpack and if one throws a bunch of preconceptions, misconceptions and judgement into the sack too, deciding to take all the garbage with, then walking 500 miles won't bring change. One has to be willing to let go of the internal baggage.
4. Choose the town less stopped in to break for the day before or just after the Brierly stages.
5, Albergues are not synonymous with hostels and many other hostels accept no pre-booking.
6. People who pre-book are not being selfish. They are taking steps to care for themselves.
7. The bed-race is just as much a drive for security as it is a practical way to avoid the sun.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
My Camino, the one I've waited seven years to do, is the Frances route. If I wanted to walk a different way I could have done a shorter route years ago. I desire to go, immerse myself and come back changed, spend as much as necessary. Another route may be in my future but the call I feel is specific to the French Way. Every picture I see of someone on the meseta speaks deeply to me. I have a divine appointment with my Creator on that stretch but shortening my experience in ANY way doesnt sit well with my soul.
It sounds like you are planning to pack way to many expectations.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
Your summary is very good but I still see a bit of confusion in one point...

Albergues are not synonymous with hostels and many other hostels accept no pre-booking.
The word "albergue" is generally used on the Camino to describe places that in North America would be called "hostels" - lodging where you can rent a bed in a room with other travelers.

The places that do not accept pre-booking ARE a sub-group of albergues. They tend to be nonprofits and run by church or municipal agencies and they are quite strict about only accepting pilgrims with credentials.

Other albergues are privately owned and operated, and they can make whatever rules they want, about pre-booking, price, accepting tourists without credentials, etc. Some of them operate closer to the traditional model, and some are more commercially focused. Some albergues have a few 1- or 2-person rooms as well.

In Spain, a hostal is similar to a small hotel, but with fewer amenities. You get a private bedroom (sometimes with private bath, sometimes shared). Most (likely all) hostales would be happy to accept pre-booking.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Camino Portugues, June 2019
I was careful, walking the Frances (in the spring and in the fall) about either arriving early at my next stopping place (arriving early is more important than starting early, and if you keep it to 20K, it's usually not a problem) or booking ahead the day before in what I expected to be bottlenecks.

But I met an eccentric, little old Australian woman again and again along the way, who never planned ahead. She had what looked to be inappropriate shoes, a floppy red hat, and an over-the-shoulder tote bag instead of a pack. I never thought she would make it, but she made it the whole way, smiling and chatting to everyone. And she didn't walk short distances, either. One evening, I was sitting outside the albergue in a small village with a glass of wine when she showed up in town. Everything was full. She calmly explained her situation to the various hospitaleros, and they managed to find her a place to sleep. She depended on people's kindness and altruism all along the way.

I watched this scenario and thought what a gift she gave to others, letting them help her out. Nothing feels better than being the one who can save somebody who is stranded.
 

Youngae

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am walk my first Camino in april
I understand why you feel in this way but if only fit and tall with long-legged people who can walk fast can guarantee their beds, that doesn't seem too fair either to me. Public albergues weren't available for reservation in 2017. These were cheaper, too.
 

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