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More Police in tourist areas in Santiago to avoid inappropriate behavior of pilgrims

Yes me too! It’s not always obvious. For example there are many places in Australia you cannot drink alcohol… parks, some beaches, which I was quite unaware of and very different to most places in Europe, where it’s considered to be fairly normal.
It is similar in Toronto, where there are laws about public drinking. They are just now beginning, as a pilot, to allow some drinking in some specific public parks (with large signs in the parks indicating permission).

I think it is a vestige of "Toronto the Good" from many decades past when everything used to be shut down on Sundays and the temperance movement was strong.
 
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For example there are many places in Australia you cannot drink alcohol…
As a Brit I was very surprised at how tightly controlled alcohol sales were in Australia. I wanted to buy a bottle of whisky on my birthday while in the Northern Territory. Before I could even get inside the bottle shop I had to explain to a police officer (who carried an automatic rifle!) what I wanted to buy and where I intended to be when I drank it. And once in the shop my passport details were checked on a computer database before I was allowed to buy the whisky. Can't see that going down well in Spain or Scotland!
 
I totally agree with the 3 posters directly above. The not eating in a public square rule is not at all obvious. The rules need to be clear and accessible for all.
It would be helpful if the rules could be clearly and simply written down and then given out to every pilgrim, possibly at the same time as when acquiring the credential.
 
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As a Brit I was very surprised at how tightly controlled alcohol sales were in Australia. I wanted to buy a bottle of whisky on my birthday while in the Northern Territory. Before I could even get inside the bottle shop I had to explain to a police officer (who carried an automatic rifle!) what I wanted to buy and where I intended to be when I drank it. And once in the shop my passport details were checked on a computer database before I was allowed to buy the whisky. Can't see that going down well in Spain or Scotland!
Yes it absolutely incredible! I have never been refused entry to a bar anywhere in the world apart from loads of times in Australia, most of time when I not have even had a drink prior!!! I am used to it now as have been twice in last 8 or so months. Rules may vary by state. I guess in Europe we just pop in the supermarket and load up what we like and it’s done. Different game in Oz!

But if you do get in a bar you will see how big the penalties are for having intoxicated folks in. It’s displayed clearly on nearly very bar I have been in.

Not saying it’s a good or bad thing… just different. Think they have banned booze sales a couple of days a week up in Alice Springs!

I guess as British folks , we are used to strict alcohol laws in USA, and variances by state, but Oz come as a suprise given that we see it as being such a chilled fun loving country, and that Australians really ‘go for it’ in London bars!
 
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PS: I had a look on the website of the Cathedral of Santiago and of the Tourism Office but as I said I am not sure that this is what we are talking about:

I think you’ve found the actual language, @Kathar1na. The press has reported that the City Council has adopted these norms, (and has listed the same 12 topics as the documents you cite) so it is an official binding document. As of now, though, they don’t include the power to impose fines. But it does give the police the power to tell people to stop the behavior. Some on the City Council are urging action to impose fines for some of the more eggregious violations, so there is surely more to come!
 
It is similar in Toronto, where there are laws about public drinking. They are just now beginning, as a pilot, to allow some drinking in some specific public parks (with large signs in the parks indicating permission).

I think it is a vestige of "Toronto the Good" from many decades past when everything used to be shut down on Sundays and the temperance movement was strong.
Yea I was in Vancouver once and told about a 2 drink limit in the bar I was in. Told if I drank too much and had a accident I could possibly sue the bar! No idea if true! That said I like being asked to show my ID at age 57 to show I am of drinking age!!
 
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To be fair, I would not know that it is against the general rules of politeness to picnic in a public square in Europe (assuming one cleans up after oneself). I have eaten publicly in many plazas in Europe over the years and been quite unaware of my rudeness.
I think that one has to be a bit more specific. On my way to Santiago I have often looked for a bench near a church and with a view to a Gothic or Romanesque church to stop and have something to eat or drink. Either a bench or a café with chairs in the open air on the square. I never felt that I was disrespectful of either the locals or the patrimony. Also, I personally would not call this a picnic, just having a rest and something to eat and drink before I continue walking, and with a nice view.

However, when I think of places I've been to over many years, the great Cathedrals and their squares or other immediate surrounding, I remember often people milling about, both visitors and people on their daily business. What I don't remember is people sitting on the ground in large numbers. It surprised me when I saw photos of the plaza Obradoiro with so many people sitting on the ground for the first time. And even more so when I saw photos or read news articles about people bringing champagne or beer or wine to have a kind of picnic party. This is perhaps the main issue ... the visual impact ... which is also what is says in the new Code: "VISUAL QUALITY - The cityscape surrounding you is of exceptional value: it is not a picnic area or a campsite." It is not the mere act of eating a sandwich or taking a sip from your Coke bottle, at least as I understand the communication efforts from the Santiago administration (in contrast to personal interpretations on social media ...).
 
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I think that one has to be a bit more specific. On my way to Santiago I have often looked for a bench near a church and with a view to a Gothic or Romanesque church to stop and have something to eat or drink. Either a bench or a café with chairs in the open air on the square. I never felt that I was disrespectful of either the locals or the patrimony. Also, I personally would not call this a picnic, just having a rest and something to eat and drink before I continue walking, and with a nice view.

However, when I think of places I've been to over many years, the great Cathedrals and their squares or other immediate surrounding, I remember often people milling about, both visitors and people on their daily business. What I don't remember is people sitting on the ground in large numbers. It surprised me when I saw photos of the plaza Obradoiro with so many people sitting on the ground for the first time. And even more so when I saw photos or read news articles about people bringing champagne or beer or wine to have a kind of picnic party. This is perhaps the main issue ... the visual impact ... which is also what is says in the new Code: "VISUAL QUALITY - The cityscape surrounding you is of exceptional value: it is not a picnic area or a campsite." It is not the mere act of eating a sandwich or taking a sip from your Coke bottle, at least as I understand the communication efforts from the Santiago administration (in contrast to some private interpretations on social media ...).
It very interesting. For me big groups sitting in a square, even enjoying champagne, seems a positive thing (even the imagery) as long as it’s doesn’t get out of hand.
 
It very interesting. For me big groups sitting in a square, even enjoying champagne, seems a positive thing (even the imagery) as long as it’s doesn’t get out of hand.
Maybe I am not getting around enough anymore. I merely said that I don't recall seeing large groups sitting on the ground in front of a Cathedral or in a historic town square and/or having group picnics: Amiens, Westminster, Canterbury, York, Noyen, Senlis, Saint-Denis, Notre Dame de Paris, Poitiers, Bordeaux, Leon, Burgos, Cologne, Aachen ... and that's only what immediately came to my mind right now. It's what I have observed and not how appropriate or inappropriate I personally regard it.
 
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Maybe I am not getting around enough anymore. I merely said that I don't recall seeing large groups sitting on the ground in front of a Cathedral or in a historic town square and/or having group picnics: Amiens, Westminster, Canterbury, York, Noyen, Senlis, Saint-Denis, Notre Dame de Paris, Poitiers, Bordeaux, Leon, Burgos, Cologne, Aachen ... and that's only what immediately came to my mind right now.
Sure understood! I guess reaching SdC feels quite celebratory for many, maybe a in a way visiting York doesn’t, renewing acquaintances, ‘the end of the road’ and in a big group a ‘picnic’ seems a good way to go. I had a quiet lunch in restaurant with a few folks and a few cocktails and that was enough for me!
 
To be fair, I would not know that it is against the general rules of politeness to picnic in a public square in Europe (assuming one cleans up after oneself). I have eaten publicly in many plazas in Europe over the years and been quite unaware of my rudeness.

It is subtle, I admit. I see it this way : when there is a terrace or cafe available I go and have a drink and a snack there. Otherwise I find a bench on a quiet plaza or park and have my picknick.
Of course these are unwritten rules like not putting your feet on a seat when in train / bus. Or not too much cleavage or too short skirt when entering a place of worship.
 
Ah, the unwritten rules:

If you knock over someone else's drink in a crowded pub always look at the person behind you and shout "Oi!";
Always buy your Mother-in-Law flowers, even if she suffers from Hay-fever;
The usual length of a piece of string is two inches shorter than required;
Veterans are always surprised that you made the same mistakes they did;
Rules are for the guidance of fools: "Avoid wise men".
 
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To be fair, I would not know that it is against the general rules of politeness to picnic in a public square in Europe (assuming one cleans up after oneself). I have eaten publicly in many plazas in Europe over the years and been quite unaware of my rudeness.
Very true, I have done that as well!
We tend to see the plaza in front of Santiago's cathedral differently, probably because it is a religious ending point of the famous pilgrimage.
 
It seems wrong and unproductive to accuse all the participants in the crowds in Santiago (or other such destination) as being ignorant, inconsiderate, or rude. Their actions may be quite acceptable on a small scale (sitting on the plaza, having a snack, acting goofy, etc.) It is only when the number of people gets so high that the behaviour becomes a problem. When this happens, the rules have to change, customized for that particular place.

It is not enough to say "use your common sense" or "behave like you would at home" because what is reasonable for an individual at one time and place may not be reasonable in another time and place, especially when multiplied by 1000s. The individuals come from very different cultures and experience, and they are not aware of all the factors. They are excited in the moment and they tend to miss the bigger longterm picture. I count myself among the masses who appreciate some guidance at times.

The matter of rules/laws and human behaviour is always a question of balancing the needs/desires of individuals against the greater good. If excess drinking becomes a problem somewhere, then measures may be introduced to counter it. Those same rules may not be necessary or desirable in another time or place.
 
The regional newspapers continue to publish about this topic. One nuisance for the locals of Santiago is the chanting of large groups when they move through the narrow streets of the old town. It is presumably also something that is more present in Santiago than in Barcelona, Venice or Amsterdam. There is an Instagram account (#Compostelaresiste) that collects and publishes such videos and photos.

These two video recordings (one of them embedded in the news article) illustrate what it's like to live in these streets. Switch on the sound. The second one was today at 9 am.


 
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The regional newspapers continue to publish about this topic. One nuisance for the locals of Santiago is the chanting of large groups when they move through the narrow streets of the old town. It is presumably also something that is more present in Santiago than in Barcelona, Venice or Amsterdam. There is an Instagram account (#Compostelaresiste) that collects and publishes such videos and photos.

These two video recordings (one of them embedded in the news article) illustrate what it's like to live in these streets. Switch on the sound. The second one was today at 9 am.



I see some references in the video to groups that participated in the WJD 2023 in Portugal.
One wonders what the adult supervisors were ( not ) thinking and doing!
 
I had just been reading about the first encounter on the El Correo Gallego website before seeing @Kathar1na's post above. My personal reaction to that first one was ambivalent - I can understand a group making a procession towards the cathedral while singing a religious song. Not so convinced of the value of such ostentatious display of a national flag though. I do have a lot of sympathy for the local man clearly reaching the end of his patience. The video from compostelaresiste feels like a much more deliberately aggressive and intrusive act. What purpose was that display meant to serve?
 
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I see some references in the video to groups that participated in the WJD 2023 in Portugal.
Yes. Last year it was the massive influx of groups in the context of the PEJ22 event which was held in Santiago (so the city or the region had invited them to come en masse to Santiago) and this year it is the influx of groups before and after the WYD 2023 event in Lisbon in Portugal.
 
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THe IG page by Compostelaresiste.

 
Of course there must be problems in the old town but in my opinion the new mayor is from a political party (BNG) that are in the eye of many people included La Voz de Galicia that publishes a lot of news about it.
 
I can understand the residents being pissed off by such activity as this. Even though These WYD people are not conventional pilgrims its enough to get all tarred with the same brush. Overt displays of foreign flags are also unnecessary for those on a genuine pilgrimage.
 
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I would love to know what the year-round population is in Santiago’s historical center. My bet is that it is decreasing, both because of the proliferation and greater profitability of short term rentals and also because of the annoyances that come with huge crowds of people on the streets.

The City of Santiago is trying to combat both of these things, but it really is starting to seem like a losing battle. Not to be pessimistic, but these are the same phenomena that are emptying the full time population of Lisbon and Barcelona, and surely many other cities with beautiful historic centers. I wonder if forum members are familiar with successful efforts to keep the central city alive for those who live there.
 
When I was in Venice a number of years ago in summer, the historic areas were definitely extremely busy. The following year on the Camino I met an Italian man who lives in Venice and I commented what a beautiful and unique city he lives in. He rolled his eyes and said he dislikes living there because of the never ending influx of tourists.
I don't see how much can actually be accomplished to reduce tourism in Santiago with some of the accompanying annoyances (and sometimes disrespect) that go with it. To many visitors it is just another lovely city to see and I'm sure many of the locals feel the same as the Italian man who lives in Venice. I'm sure the same problem exists for locals who live near famous historical sites in cities around the world.
 
I would love to know what the year-round population is in Santiago’s historical center. My bet is that it is decreasing, both because of the proliferation and greater profitability of short term rentals and also because of the annoyances that come with huge crowds of people on the streets.

The City of Santiago is trying to combat both of these things, but it really is starting to seem like a losing battle. Not to be pessimistic, but these are the same phenomena that are emptying the full time population of Lisbon and Barcelona, and surely many other cities with beautiful historic centers. I wonder if forum members are familiar with successful efforts to keep the central city alive for those who live there.

IMO , as long as the local governments do not put a halt to the amount of airbnb or local rentals I do not see it change quickly.

A friend in Barcelona had to move to the outskirts seeing after the renewal of his contract the rent was too big for him to pay.

On a personal note :

An acquaintance in Bruges moved from her gorgeous small house there .Garden faced one of the canals . She was breastfeeding her baby in the back of her garden when tourists were clicking their cameras. Gone privacy.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
There are local cultural variations across Mediterranean Europe, but what I've found is that what's objected to is eating and drinking in public and in an ostensible manner potentially disturbing to ordinary people going about their ordinary business.

I've never seen anyone bothered eating or drinking quietly and discretely in some corner away from the normal crowds, except in some cities with huge vagrancy problems.

Béziers springs to mind.

As to the Plaza and Santiago generally, I've found that if you don't heedlessly impose your taking of food & drink onto others, and don't put yourself out in some awkward display, you'll not have much problem.

It's disrespectful to eat or drink bang in the midst of where others will clearly wish to simply enjoy their peace and the beauty with their own sense of tranquillity, whereas to do so off in some discrete corner to the side of these things is not.

This principle is I think true everywhere, even though many of the younger pilgrims walking just the 100+K from Sarria and treating the Camino like a party experience during Summer may not have the time to understand it.
 
these are the same phenomena that are emptying the full time population of Lisbon and Barcelona
Yes, this is true for many attractive cities around the world - local population is pushed out of the city centres, by price and/or tourist behaviour.

It seems to me that Santiago is a bit different - simpler, in fact - as it is more of a single-focus destination. It attracts many more people than similar cities that don't have the uniqueness of being the Camino endpoint. It is clear to me that there is a direct conflict between tourism/pilgrimage promotion, and the comfort of the residents. That is a dilemma that the local politicians have to face. Somehow I doubt that posting a Visitors' Code of Conduct will resolve it, although it may be one good part of an overall strategy.
 
It seems to me that Santiago is a bit different - simpler, in fact - as it is more of a single-focus destination.
With respect, I don't think that's true ...

Yes it's a major Pilgrimage Destination, but it's also a University Town, a transport hub, a secondary Regional Capital, and more importantly it's a living major city with hundreds of thousands of citizens to whom we are just transients.

Last time I was there, I really had the chance to get out into the normal parts of town that few pilgrims ever even see, let alone visit -- a real eye-opener. And as elsewhere in Spain, those I treated with the respect and friendliness they deserve returned it in kind.
 
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Yes it's a major Pilgrimage Destination, but it's also a University Town, a transport hub, a secondary Regional Capital, and more importantly it's a living major city with hundreds of thousands of citizens to whom we are just transients.
For us (Galegos), the fact that Santiago is the Capital of Galicia is in the first place of importance.
 
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Good article about this touristification of the city of Compostela :

https://www.elconfidencial.com/espa...en-compostela-amenaza-la-convivencia_3715263/
Good article. Thank you for sharing . Key take for me was the ratio of residents to tourists. In many tourist places, folks visiting will be a minority and whilst noticeable will just blend in.

Clearly SDC with its unique offering is not like that. Venice comes to mind as similar, and of bigger places Florence and Sevilla.
 
As a Brit I was very surprised at how tightly controlled alcohol sales were in Australia.
This is going way off topic. but rest assured, if you come to Australia, restrictions on the sale and consumption in other states and territories are nowhere near as tight as they are in the Northern Territories (and not very different to the UK - I wouldn´t live here if they were).
 
This is going way off topic. but rest assured, if you come to Australia, restrictions on the sale and consumption in other states and territories are nowhere near as tight as they are in the Northern Territories (and not very different to the UK - I wouldn´t live here if they were).
Well I guess compared to UK et al it does feel that way, for me it’s really hugely noticeable against the vast majority of other countries! I guess if you live there it feels different! Always a way though!!

I guess the no booze on some of the beaches and parks was more the surprise!
 
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Good article about this touristification of the city of Compostela :

https://www.elconfidencial.com/espa...en-compostela-amenaza-la-convivencia_3715263/
This article really paints the picture well. Santiago is a city of 98,000 and it gets more than twice as many tourists per capita than Barcelona, a city of about 1.7 million. Santiago has a tourist total of 1.1 tourists per resident, while Barcelona gets .44 tourists per resident. I don’t think that’s a perfect way to measure the impact on the city, but it does highlight how extreme the numbers in Santiago are. A tourist tax is not going to stop the influx, but at least it will provide some money to deal with it.

The article also hints at the underlying political conflict - the city mayor is from a different political party than the Xunta‘s executive. While the Xunta pays people to promote the camino on instagram (can that possibly be true?!), the city is left to deal with the result. That complicates things quite a bit!
 
Of course there must be problems in the old town but in my opinion the new mayor is from a political party (BNG) that are in the eye of many people included La Voz de Galicia that publishes a lot of news about it.
I read a similar long article just now on eldiaro.es that was published ten days ago: Tourism in Santiago de Compostela between the threat of a collapse and the rhetoric about the millionth visitor

It sheds a bit more light on some of the background for this near constant flow of articles about raising numbers of visitors and bad behaviour, for example: the differences in tourism policy between the city administration of Santiago and the Galician government who are the ones with the big money for PR, especially during the Xacobeos/Holy Years and whose main aim appears to be an increase in visitor numbers; the hassle about a city tax that is wanted by the city administration but has to be approved by the Galician government who is not in favour of it; the influx of these huge faith/movement affiliated youth groups in the context of the European Youth Pilgrimage last summer "when the city collapsed" and now again this summer with groups visiting Santiago on their way from and to World Youth Day in Lisbon - their loud chanting, their group dancing in the public space, the noise they make ...; and what the two previous mayors of Santiago attempted to do and what the current mayor's goals are.

That the old town is getting empty of the local population, of families with children, of traditional shops is of course a phenomenon that is not only related to tourism but it is happening and it is sad.

A curiosity in this news article: they make a reference to numerous anecdotes and among them to the owner of a bookshop who says that there are days in which our bookstore becomes an improvised tourist information point. The so-called Camiño Francés de Santiago passes through the square, which is about 300 meters from the cathedral, and there is no municipal office there [...] a pilgrim came in to ask us about "the Wailing Wall". 🥴

[The Wailing Wall, also known as Western Wall, is in Jerusalem.]
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I read a similar long article just now on eldiaro.es that was published ten days ago: Tourism in Santiago de Compostela between the threat of a collapse and the rhetoric about the millionth visitor

It sheds a bit more light on some of the background for this near constant flow of articles about raising numbers of visitors and bad behaviour, for example: the differences in tourism policy between the city administration of Santiago and the Galician government who are the ones with the big money for PR, especially during the Xacobeos/Holy Years and whose main aim appears to be an increase in visitor numbers; the hassle about a city tax that is wanted by the city administration but has to be approved by the Galician government who is not in favour of it; the influx of these huge faith/movement affiliated youth groups in the context of the European Youth Pilgrimage last summer "when the city collapsed" and now again this summer with groups visiting Santiago on their way from and to World Youth Day in Lisbon - their loud chanting, their group dancing in the public space, the noise they make ...; and what the two previous mayors of Santiago attempted to do and what the current mayor's goals are.

That the old town is getting empty of the local population, of families with children, of traditional shops is of course a phenomenon that is not only related to tourism but it is happening and it is sad.

A curiosity in this news article: they make a reference to numerous anecdotes and among them to the owner of a bookshop who says that there are days in which our bookstore becomes an improvised tourist information point. The so-called Camiño Francés de Santiago passes through the square, which is about 300 meters from the cathedral, and there is no municipal office there [...] a pilgrim came in to ask us about "the Wailing Wall". 🥴

[The Wailing Wall, also known as Western Wall, is in Jerusalem.]
The article confirms that local conservative newspapers talk much more now about pilgrim bad behaviour cases than in the period of the previous mayor ( PSG).
 
PSG is not conservative but is not nationalist like BNG

That is interesting to those of us that are not close to the nuances of Spanish media.

A bit of a heads-up to be careful to stay away from comments on national politics.
The quoted post does not cross the line of forum rules...but any follow up posts should be very restrained.
 
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