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No room in the albergues!

Jamie1240

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago (the French Way), September 7-October 17 (2016)
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.
 
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KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.
Hi, Jamie,

There weren't any reports of full albergues recently that's why I'm thinking you're just in a so-called "bubble" of pilgrims. Maybe allow yourselves non-walking day or walk the next day one and a half or even just half of the stage suggested in the guidebook. You can also reserve your bed in most private albergues.

Ultreia!
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Both increase in numbers and shift to walk later in the year most likely. It should become quieter after Pamplona, I wouldn't worry to much. Buen Camino, SY
 

BonitaHolland

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Starting 3rd Sep 2016
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.
We heard that 700 pilgrims left St Jean the 3/4th Sep which we were told was unprecedented. We've also experienced the same large numbers but had a few half days stopping at 1pm because of the heat and a rest day too. This way a big wave of people flattens out into smaller ripples. Hopefully we're now in a ripple.....
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
We heard that 700 pilgrims left St Jean the 3/4th Sep which we were told was unprecedented.
WOW, I can't even imagine that number of pilgrims the same day on one stage... Crazy.

But maybe the number was so high partly due to the weekend on 3/4th September. Somebody in Spain told me that Spaniards start walking on Fridays, rest of Europeans on Saturdays and the rest of the world on Sundays :)
 
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maggiec

Member
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.

It is a holy year, it is becoming more well known and the best way to avoid this is stay in the smaller towns. Most people follow the Brierly stages, so if you stay I between, it should be easier
 

SabineP

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Last edited:

GlenysP

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port "April 2011" and plan to walk Camino Frances from SJPdP "September 2015"
As others state, stay 5-8 kms either side of the usual Brierley stages.
I have a friend a few days ahead of you and she's also talked about the numbers. I had a similar thing as what you describe, around Roncesvalles also, September 2015 and could compare it with April 2011.
Particularly full on from about Astorga last September. It was the daily walking that I found most confronting, it wasn't as quiet or pleasant and MANY buses of pilgrims being dropped off at various important parts, eg Cruz and O'Cebreiro, etc. Carry tissues for café toilets too in the last 100kms.
 
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miriamaok

New Member
Past OR future Camino
SJPP to SdC Camino Frances (2016)
Coimbra to SdC Camino Portugues (2017)
Camino del Norte (2018)
I'm at Villatuerta just outside Estella. I have been booking albergues one night ahead because it is really busy. Lots of completo signs yesterday in Puente la Reina. I booked using http://alberguescaminonavarra.com

That will get me to Logrono and I'll see from there.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
I just walked it (CF) in July-August.
Never booked ahead and never had any problems finding space at albergues, and that is staying in towns that are "stages" in the guidebooks as well as towns in between. In fact, a number of times I stayed in sparsely populated albergues. Some almost empty. A couple of times had a whole dorm room with multiple beds to myself.
Even on the infamous last 100 km I had no problems.
I would guess that occasionally there is a surge of pilgrims, but overall it's nothing to worry about. Walk without stress. After all, isn't that what it's about anyway?
cheers and ultreia
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Also to consider: The stretch after Roncesvalles and before Pamplona is a bottle neck accommodation-wise. Both SJPdP and Roncesvalles can accommodate many pilgrims but then the villages, until you reach the big city of Pamplona, have far less beds. Things tend to relax after Pamplona, partly because there are more beds (in many different locations) but also because a number of pilgrims (especially those with easy options to travel home) discover that the Camino isn't really their thing. In short, Pamplona is as well a starting as a stopping point and for those that made it so far - Congratulations!

Buen Camino, SY
 

Terrri

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
May/June 2013
September/October 2016
September/October 2019
I recall a month or so back someone people were commenting about the same issue but, at the same time on the same camino other people were having no issues. I guess it all depends where you are in the "pack". You can try to get ahead of the pack or stay at the back - I prefer the back - or stay in the middle. Just like when we are driving in traffic! If you are at the back eventually you end up at the front and vice versa. If you stay in the middle you will always be in the thick of it.

We are leaving home on tuesday but because we are taking our time to get to SJPP we will be starting out on friday. After this weekend I will pay attention to where we are on weekends. I imagine the weekends might also be busier because the locals can walk just for the weekend and might choose bigger towns for this.

When I took the bus backwards along the camino there were pilgrims on the bus who were taking the bus back a few towns - long enough for a weekend walk home.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
I remember a few months ago there was a panicky thread about rumors of hundreds of pilgrims in SJPdP. So many that the authorities had to stop and detain them on the road heading to Roncesvalles. Ha ha. Of course it turned out to be false. Ridiculous that a rumor like that would get spread in the first place.
There was a children's story about stuff like that. A chicken was convinced the sky was falling.
 
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movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2015
I just returned from Colorado, U.S. where I hiked with my oldest grandson. On the plane I read a very lengthy article about the Camino which included a few plugs from tour companies. Even though the main topic was about the Rioja wines, the Camino got a lot of space. I do feel the tour companies are and have been generating increasing numbers over the last couple of years, especially from North America.
 

Shy Shy

New Member
Past OR future Camino
0
Relax. This is a similar pattern to last year in September 2015: the first two weeks / weekends in September are peak times for Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and the effects are felt along the stretch from Roncesvalles to Pamplona but much less so later on, in particular if you follow the advice already given in this thread (if still necessary).
I hope so. Will be travelling on the
Thank you for sharing Jaime,


Very informative for us near future pilgrims. I leave Canada tomorrow night
We heard that 700 pilgrims left St Jean the 3/4th Sep which we were told was unprecedented. We've also experienced the same large numbers but had a few half days stopping at 1pm because of the heat and a rest day too. This way a big wave of people flattens out into smaller ripples. Hopefully we're now in a ripple.....
I am starting my Camino on the 22nd. I'm debating if I should bring a camping mattress, in case I need it, but I hope it will slow down by then. I really don't want to be carrying extra weight if it's not necessary.
 
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jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
I'm debating if I should bring a camping mattress, in case I need it

Hi, no need to take a camping mat. When an albergue is full it’s full. The fire risk laws do not allow them to have pilgrims sleeping on the floor, especially by the doors. Occasionally you hear of it, e.g. in a secluded corner somewhere, but not often. Jill
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
We heard that 700 pilgrims left St Jean the 3/4th Sep which we were told was unprecedented. We've also experienced the same large numbers but had a few half days stopping at 1pm because of the heat and a rest day too. This way a big wave of people flattens out into smaller ripples. Hopefully we're now in a ripple.....
Honestly, that 700 pilgrims leaving SJPdP in one day sounds like total falsehood. Just a pilgrim rumor mill.
On any of the times I walked out of SJPdP, can't say I ever saw more than 100 pilgrims combined throughout the whole day all the way to Roncesvalles.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
I hope so. Will be travelling on the


I am starting my Camino on the 22nd. I'm debating if I should bring a camping mattress, in case I need it, but I hope it will slow down by then. I really don't want to be carrying extra weight if it's not be necessary.
Don't sweat it. By late September the pilgrim numbers will have gone down I am sure. My best advice is to ignore some of the gossipy threads on here totally unsupported by facts.
I found the attached graph off the net. It's a couple of years old, but as you see the numbers go down as you approach October.
cheers and ultreia
compostela-pilgrim-certificates-camino-de-santiago-caminoways.png
 
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KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Those are really huge numbers. I did some math from Gronze site and both routes to Roncesvalles as the stopping point could (officially) accommodate 272 people not counting overflow possibilities...:
- Hunto: 22,
- Kayola: 15,
- Orisson: 28,
- Valcarlos: 24,
- Roncesvalles: 183.
Wouldn't want to be in that kind of crowd ;)
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I did some math from Gronze site and both routes to Roncesvalles as the stopping point could (officially) accommodate 272 people not counting overflow possibilities...:
- Valcarlos: 24,
Peg and I were in that big crowd at Roncevalles for one night of the mentioned first two weeks of May. The night before we stayed at the albergue in Valcarlos. There were only four of us there and one self-exiled himself to sleep outdoors (but later the kitchen) because he was such a heavy snorer.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
@KinkyOne: Don't forget that, in August and relatively speaking, many more people start from Roncesvalles than from SJPdP. Pilgrims on the Camino Frances are a nomadic population with a high fluctuation and mobility rate. :)
Really? Wasn't aware of that... I thought it was quite the contrary :confused:
Well at least I got that impression on this forum...

EDIT: I mean above for the starting points not about the mobility etc ;)
 

jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Really? Wasn't aware of that... I thought it was quite the contrary :confused:
Well at least I got that impression on this forum...

EDIT: I mean above for the starting points not about the mobility etc ;)

Not many Spaniards start in SJPDP, and Spaniards are the highest percentage of pilgrims. (Please someone correct me if I am wrong!) Jill
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Not many Spaniards start in SJPDP, and Spaniards are the highest percentage of pilgrims. (Please someone correct me if I am wrong!) Jill
OK, might be so that they mostly start in Roncesvalles but if so they still make numbers on "Day 2" etc. even more packed with pilgrims. Doesn't really change the issue. Of course we are dealing here with crowds (according to OP) approximately from SJPdP to Pamplona.

Althought most of the Spaniards I've met along the way started either in SJPdP or in different towns along CF. Not much of them from Roncesvalles. But statistics might be different.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
For the OP, my wife and I faced a similar situation when we left SJPP in early May and found all the accommodation in Zubiri full. We found a place a few km away that night, and we always found somewhere to stay for the rest of our Camino. It was not always in albergues, and sometimes relatively expensive compared to the cost of staying in basic albergues.

I tend to agree with @Mark Lee about the numbers, but caution that, as in May, there will be any number of people who are not currently walking that will somehow know better than those who are about the current conditions. Take it all in your stride, but equally be prepared to look for options other than albergues if you find places full.
 

Scarlet Fez

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Frances Sept/Oct 2016
Camino Portuguese Oct 2017
Del Norde Start 2nd May 2018
Travel out to SJPdP on Wednesday and head west Thursday. Play it by ear, go with the flow. I'm staying at Kayola the first night, so like what's been suggested and consider straddling the stages if it looks like it's going to be busy.
 

billmclaughlin

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
SJPP/Burgos 2012; Le Puy/SJPP 2013; Aumont Aubrac/Aire sur l'Adour 2014; Burgos/Santiago 2016.
It is a holy year, it is becoming more well known and the best way to avoid this is stay in the smaller towns. Most people follow the Brierly stages, so if you stay I between, it should be easier

But it is not a Santiago holy year. It is a worldwide holy year that allows a believer to obtain certain benefits at hundreds of locations. Nothing holy-year specific about Santiago this year.
 
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Diane Kinney

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Leon to Santiago May 21 to June 3, 2014
Ponferrada to Santiago September 2015
True while the Holy Year is not specific to Santiago, the Holy Doors at the Cathedral are open this year until late November. As one of the major pilgrimage sites, it does add some additional incentive for some. The Holy Door is only open during Jubilee Years and on the Feast of St. James when it falls on a Sunday.
 

Denzil66

New Member
Past OR future Camino
"2017"
It is a holy year, it is becoming more well known and the best way to avoid this is stay in the smaller towns. Most people follow the Brierly stages, so if you stay I between, it should be easier
What are the Brierly stages? I guess a travel guide?
 

Denzil66

New Member
Past OR future Camino
"2017"
For the OP, my wife and I faced a similar situation when we left SJPP in early May and found all the accommodation in Zubiri full. We found a place a few km away that night, and we always found somewhere to stay for the rest of our Camino. It was not always in albergues, and sometimes relatively expensive compared to the cost of staying in basic albergues.

I tend to agree with @Mark Lee about the numbers, but caution that, as in May, there will be any number of people who are not currently walking that will somehow know better than those who are about the current conditions. Take it all in your stride, but equally be prepared to look for options other than albergues if you find places full.
Doug so your recommendation would be not to book ahead.. I am planning to walk in May next year and hoping to stay in alternatives to hostels. Originally I thought I might book accommodation for the entire trip but reading here I am not so sure..
 
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nathanael

Guest
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.
I HEARD THIS SAME STORY AND WAS WORRIED SICK. i HAD STARTED IN lOURDES AND WAS WORRY FREE. wITH ALL THE STORIES i HEARD WAS THINKING OF DOING AN ALTERNET ROUTE. bUT ALAS IT WAS ALL HEAPED UP i HAD NO PROBLEMS YES THE ALBERGUES WERE FULL BUT NEVER SAW ANYWAY TURNED AWAY.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I HEARD THIS SAME STORY AND WAS WORRIED SICK. i HAD STARTED IN lOURDES AND WAS WORRY FREE. wITH ALL THE STORIES i HEARD WAS THINKING OF DOING AN ALTERNET ROUTE. bUT ALAS IT WAS ALL HEAPED UP i HAD NO PROBLEMS YES THE ALBERGUES WERE FULL BUT NEVER SAW ANYWAY TURNED AWAY.
Hi Nathanael, did you need to shout? Or was that a mistake?
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Doug so your recommendation would be not to book ahead.. I am planning to walk in May next year and hoping to stay in alternatives to hostels. Originally I thought I might book accommodation for the entire trip but reading here I am not so sure..
The choice to book ahead is a personal one. I certainly wouldn't book more than the next day or so before Sarria. Before Sarria you might book up to Pamplona if you want to be sure of getting a bed. After that it might be useful if you are plan to arrive later in the afternoon.
 

Sandra Ashby

New Member
Past OR future Camino
September
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.
I was in Zubiri yesterday around 4 pm and everything was full. There were so many people looking. The tourist office was closed and the person at the municipal albergue was doing his best to belp. We ended up getting a taxi to the next town....too exhausted to walk. I was told Roncevalles is processing 400 pilgrims a day. I am staying an extra day in Pamploma to see if that helps.
 
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M

Mark Lee

Guest
I HEARD THIS SAME STORY AND WAS WORRIED SICK. i HAD STARTED IN lOURDES AND WAS WORRY FREE. wITH ALL THE STORIES i HEARD WAS THINKING OF DOING AN ALTERNET ROUTE. bUT ALAS IT WAS ALL HEAPED UP i HAD NO PROBLEMS YES THE ALBERGUES WERE FULL BUT NEVER SAW ANYWAY TURNED AWAY.
Exactly. The Camino is a fluid thing. Not static. No way to predict anything on it. Whether it be the weather or the pilgrim numbers. Sure, obviously there are busier times than others on it, but even then it's impossible to predict day to day whether all albergues will be full. To say it is busy now and I can't find room at an albergue is only needlessly stressing out someone about to start the Camino tomorrow, next week or even next year. I guess I've spent over 120 days/nights on the CF from June-September. I always found room at the inn and never once booked ahead.
I've come to the conclusion there are some members of this forum that enjoy making the Camino seem more difficult than it is. It really is a stress free experience.
Ignore the grammar police on here. The reverse caps are cool.
cheers
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I've come to the conclusion there are some members of this forum that enjoy making the Camino seem more difficult than it is.

Really? I think most members of this forum actually go out of their way to help others :confused:
When people 'freak out' unnecessarily it is usually out of inexperience and it is quite easy to spot... and reassure accordingly.

What I don't find helpful is people saying categorically 'it is not hot on the Camino francés in the Summer', 'there are no bed bugs', 'there is no need to book ahead as there are always plenty of spaces' .... As we all know it isn't always the case, so better to have some idea of what may - or may not - lie ahead....Forewarned and all that ;)

Buen - stress free - camino to all :)
 

TMcA

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
I am somewhat incredulous that some of the posts on this thread discount the undoubtedly factual information provided by the OP. Along with dougfitz, I also witnessed the same shortage of early stage accommodations in May of this year. Other posts on this forum mentioned bed shortages extending well beyond Pamplona. So as domigee just suggested
so better to have some idea of what may - or may not - lie ahead....Forewarned and all that ;)

IMO, reserving ahead may be a good idea for those starting the CF in the first half of May or the first half of September, at least for the early stages. And I say this as someone who almost never booked ahead when I walked for nearly a month on the CF starting April 10, 2013.

Tom
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
The SJPP pilgrims office announced this morning that they had a record week last week ("record battu"). You weren't making it up, people. :)

Did they state how many pilgrims left/passed through SJPdP? Bon Chemin, SY
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
More than 3000 were recorded during the past week at the SJPP pilgrims office.

Holy ...! That is 400 pilgrims/day! Add to that the ones that start in Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Burgos, León etc. the Camino is off to a very interesting September/October, even when counting in/subtracting the ones that drop out/do the CF by stages... Buen Camino and more importantly Buen Albergue to all that look after these pilgrims along the way, SY
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Yes
However...
The correlation between numbers who request a credential in St. Jean and those requesting a Compostella in Santago is sketchy.
Many (really a high percentage) of those starting in SJPP do not walk all the way to Santiago.

Many folks now do not request Compostelas for various reasons.
Many people start at different places than SJPdP.
 

Odaly

Not all who wander are lost...
Past OR future Camino
Past: Camino de Santiago from SJPdP Aug 17-Oct 1, 2016
Future: from SJPdP May to July 2018
Hi everyone. I'm here now. I started on August 21st and can attest to 'completo' Albuergues. It is especially true after large cities where many begin (and end too). Specifically, Hornillos Del Camino and Berciano Del Real Camino were a problem with many having to find a way to another city/village.

I can agree with the recommendation to stay off the Birley stages, but I think you should also book ahead when possible. Especially if you KM count will have you arriving after 1 p.m. We have had wicked hot temperatures above 104 f and the last two day temps in the 40s. I know all about keeping your pack light, but keep varying temps in mind too. I had to purchase a hoodie to try to keep warm.

Buen Camino
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I was thinking that a few days of cold rainy weather would dramatically decrease the numbers (it always does) but I've just looked at the weather forecast for the Route Napoleon for the next week - glorious!
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2015
I was thinking that a few days of cold rainy weather would dramatically decrease the numbers (it always does) but I've just looked at the weather forecast for the Route Napoleon for the next week - glorious!
As it was this time last year Kanga.....glorious indeed! All the way to Galicia and even then, just a couple of days of lovely soft rain and very slight wind.
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
I was thinking that a few days of cold rainy weather would dramatically decrease the numbers (it always does) but I've just looked at the weather forecast for the Route Napoleon for the next week - glorious!

IME 1/3 of them, starting in SJPdP or Roncesvalles will give up, at least for the moment, in Pamplona or shortly after ... Buen Camino, SY
 

BonitaHolland

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Starting 3rd Sep 2016
Honestly, that 700 pilgrims leaving SJPdP in one day sounds like total falsehood. Just a pilgrim rumor mill.
On any of the times I walked out of SJPdP, can't say I ever saw more than 100 pilgrims combined throughout the whole day all the way to Roncesvalles.
700 in one weekend the source was the Pilgrim Office....
Exactly. The Camino is a fluid thing. Not static. No way to predict anything on it. Whether it be the weather or the pilgrim numbers. Sure, obviously there are busier times than others on it, but even then it's impossible to predict day to day whether all albergues will be full. To say it is busy now and I can't find room at an albergue is only needlessly stressing out someone about to start the Camino tomorrow, next week or even next year. I guess I've spent over 120 days/nights on the CF from June-September. I always found room at the inn and never once booked ahead.
I've come to the conclusion there are some members of this forum that enjoy making the Camino seem more difficult than it is. It really is a stress free experience.
Ignore the grammar police on here. The reverse caps are cool.
cheers
All any of us can do is be 'in the moment' with comments about what's happening on the Camino right now rather than earlier in the year, even last year or 'before' .... experience is very useful to share but the closer it is to the 'here and now' the more useful it is I find. Supportive comments for what's happening right now have been very helpful from many members, live updates have been incredibly supportive via this forum. I hope the wave flattens out soon....
 

BonitaHolland

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Starting 3rd Sep 2016
IME 1/3 of them, starting in SJPdP or Roncesvalles will give up, at least for the moment, in Pamplona or shortly after ... Buen Camino, SY
That's interesting .... are there any figures for how many of those who start continue all the way? Is 1/3 a guesstimate? I spoke yesterday to someone on their 2nd attempt who stopped at Day 8 last time and got to Day 11 this time....
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Foreigners, perhaps. Half the pilgrims are Spanish. They don't quit. They tend to do less than the Camino Frances from France. The real crowds are in the last 100km! There was a group of over 50 young pilgrims crossing the street into the Porta do Camino yesterday morning. Try to get a bed or cup of coffee among that crowd!!

The annual statistics by week are published for SJPdP. Try a Google search. About 4,000 receiving a compostela left from SJPDP. Another 1,500 left from Roncevaux.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
That's interesting .... are there any figures for how many of those who start continue all the way? Is 1/3 a guesstimate? I spoke yesterday to someone on their 2nd attempt who stopped at Day 8 last time and got to Day 11 this time....

It is a guesstimate as nobody does really any statistics about those that have to stop their pilgrimage earlier than planned. Buen Camino, SY
 
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D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
It is a guesstimate as nobody does really any statistics about those that have to stop their pilgrimage earlier than planned. Buen Camino, SY
I ended at SJPDP once. Waiting for the train to Bayonne I saw about ten persons limping in zoris with brand new boots hanging from their packs. Anecdotally that is probably 3% of those who start. More may quit at Pamplona, but it is a sampling of those who do not make it up the first climb.
 

Emily Scott

New Member
Past OR future Camino
None
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.
I'm in Molineseca and have similar problems my entire walk so far. I even had problems with places to Finisterre. I now have reservations for my entire journey so I wouldn't stress. The Kelly book on Amazon is very helpful as are several app sites. Definitely look at places in the middle of the pages.
 

Movin

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino France Sept "2016"
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.

Hi Jamie

We left St. Jean on 2nd September and found a similar situation to yours and that has continued as we continue walking west. What we have found is that even with the "Completo" signs up at a particular Albergue they will work to find you a bed, ringing around the others in town. I have not met anyone who found they simply had to walk on because of a lack of a bed at the end of a day. There is a lot of talk of the number of Pilgrams but that is just the way it is at the moment. We smile and put one foot in front of the other and know we will have more people to talk with if we decide to. Mostly we are happy that the heat wave has finished and cooler walking weather prevails. Quite a few will book a bed a night or two out and whilst that means you are set to what you must walk to it does mean one less thing to think about along the way. Others we meet regularly do not book yet find accommodation when they seek it. Most we have spoken with adopt a mix of both, perhaps booking in the larger towns on a rest day for a particular location or in the smaller hamlets if the next town on may be too far to walk to. Buen Camino
 

Helen from Montreal

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Santiago-Finisterre-Muxia, July 2017

SJPP-Santiago de Compostela, September-October (2016)
Hi, no need to take a camping mat. When an albergue is full it’s full. The fire risk laws do not allow them to have pilgrims sleeping on the floor, especially by the doors. Occasionally you hear of it, e.g. in a secluded corner somewhere, but not often. Jill

When the municipal albergue was full one day last week in Zubiri, they opened up a school and people were sleeping on cardboard in the school gym (according to some pilgrims we met on the way out the next day). So Maybe a mat would have made the experience more comfortable. In an albergue we stayed last week, they allowed latecomers to sleep in the lounge, as there was nothing available in the whole town after 4:00 pm.
 

jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
So Maybe a mat would have made the experience more comfortable.

Gosh yes indeed, but rather than carry a mat for weeks on end, just to use it on one night only, it is better to be adaptable, and put spare clothing underneath you. Jill
 
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MileHighPair

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2012, '14: Frances
2015: Chimayo, USA.
2016, '17: VdlP
2018: Madrid, Ourense, Salvador, Primitivo
I know I am late to this thread, but I am attaching a graph of 2015 pilgrims leaving SJPDP in 2015 (by week). Note that weeks 36/37 (the highest weeks) are in mid-September. There seems to be a consistent myth that pilgrim numbers drop in September. Arrivals in Santiago do drop after August, but September is the BUSIEST month leaving SJPDP. Every September there is a consistent problem with full refuges in the first several stages, and even well past Logrono on certain days, even toward the end of September. If you are active on the forum, or in any other Camino leadership position, please take note of this and help correct the mis-information concerning September crowds. Thanks!
 

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jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
There seems to be a consistent myth that pilgrim numbers drop in September.

Yes, it’s weird that. The camino is becoming popular where I am from, so I suggest that they do NOT start walking at the beginning of May, NOR at the beginning of September, as they are the busiest times.

But, no, I get a blank look . . . . as though to say that cannot possibly be right . . . . :confused:

I will start ANYTIME, but NOT May or September :D.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Nothing to do with grammar, writing in all caps is the equivalent of SHOUTING LOUD on forums etc. Buen Camino, SY
Everyone was remarkably nice about letting people know all caps is considered shouting (which they might not know), so it's good to let them know

that said, we might keep in mind when reading all caps posts (especially ones that have the first letter of a line in lower case) that the poster may have difficulty seeing the screen and types in all caps routinely (I have a few friends with vision problems, so no longer consider caps shouting unless accompanied with colorful language or excessive use of special characters)
edit: :):):):)
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Just a note about the current situation. I have been helping out in the private Albergue La Casa Mágica in Villatuerta (3 km before Estella) for the past week and we have been full pretty much very day. One pilgrim said that 400 pilgrims left the day he left Sjpdp which confirms some of the above reports.

We have been having many American and Australians coming through. I haven't ever spoken so much English on the Camino!

From what I understand, usually the numbers start to decrease by the end of September but who knows!
 
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jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
I have been helping out in the private Albergue La Casa Mágica in Villatuerta

My favourite albergue on the whole camino :D
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
the poster may have difficulty seeing the screen and types in all caps routinely
That is a good point to consider. However I am doubtful whether it is really the case that they can see caps more clearly. For me, the upper case text is much much harder to read as the shape of the word is lost and the letters seem more crowded. I think it would be better for those people to increase the font size but use upper/lower case normally. (This is my opinion only; I have no research to back it up.)
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
That is a good point to consider. However I am doubtful whether it is really the case that they can see caps more clearly. For me, the upper case text is much much harder to read as the shape of the word is lost and the letters seem more crowded. I think it would be better for those people to increase the font size but use upper/lower case normally. (This is my opinion only; I have no research to back it up.)
I agree...but sometimes those with poor vision are of an age that makes changing fonts challenging. AND they may also not realize it's 'shouting' so telling someone is always a good thing. I just wouldn't take offense if the caps continued.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
What are the Brierly stages? I guess a travel guide?

You don't want to know Denzil , believe me.
When in StJPP get a copy of Miam Miam Do Do and enjoy the accommodation from its pages.

My favourite albergue on the whole camino :D

A red and a sleep in the hammock , a beautiful place to stay.

Not many Spaniards start in SJPDP, and Spaniards are the highest percentage of pilgrims. (Please someone correct me if I am wrong!) Jill

I think you are 90% correct with the spaniards.
I notice on all t/shirts sold in Santiago that the yellow arrows commence in Roncesvalles.
 
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Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
On one mishap board I was on (the military version of an NTSB investigation) the young Lt. assigned as the board's admin assistant collected everyone's BOQ room assignment, cellphone number, and radio call-sign, put it onto a list, shrunk it down to wallet size, laminated it, and handed it out to all of us proudly the second day of the board. The board president looked at it for a second then threw it in the trash. The poor LT looked flustered and glanced at me as I started to laugh. I told the president (across the room from me) "Sir, I can just hold mine up for you if you want..." and turning to the Lt said "the colonel would prefer something printed in at least 12pt font, even if he has to fold it up to put it in his wallet."
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
I have a question about those who start at Roncesvalles. Do they get the same priority in the albergue as those who walked from SJPP? I know that those who started at O'Cebreiro - with new credenciales and no stamps yet - had to wait until all the walkers were checked in first.

Some here have mentioned that in many towns they saw pilgrims looking for accomodations to no avail around 4pm - 6pm. That will always be true. Stop and look for a place to stay at 1 pm. Problem solved.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I have a question about those who start at Roncesvalles. Do they get the same priority in the albergue as those who walked from SJPP? I know that those who started at O'Cebreiro - with new credenciales and no stamps yet - had to wait until all the walkers were checked in first.

Some here have mentioned that in many towns they saw pilgrims looking for accomodations to no avail around 4pm - 6pm. That will always be true. Stop and look for a place to stay at 1 pm. Problem solved.
I don't know if that would be fair...should everyone wait in SJPdP until all the pilgrims walking from in France got rooms? Should those who stopped at Orrison or on the Valcarlos route wait on those who walked from SJPdP? O/w I do agree, stop at a place that is NOT where everyone else wants to stop. Or take a train/bus/taxi ahead, then back the next day to resume walking. Inconvenient? yes, but there are ways around not having an albergue bed for the night.

edit: I would have been sad to not get a room after crossing the high route in a snowstorm. luckily even though many had instead taken bus or taxi to Roncesvalles I still got a room. If I had not, and there were no rooms at La Posada either, I'd have rounded up some fellow stranded souls and hailed a taxi. First world problems generally have first world solutions
 
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Denzil66

New Member
Past OR future Camino
"2017"
The choice to book ahead is a personal one. I certainly wouldn't book more than the next day or so before Sarria. Before Sarria you might book up to Pamplona if you want to be sure of getting a bed. After that it might be useful if you are plan to arrive later in the afternoon.
thank you Doug.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I have a question about those who start at Roncesvalles. Do they get the same priority in the albergue as those who walked from SJPP?
I am quite confident to say that there is no discrimination at the albergues with respect to where you started (SJPP, Roncesvalles, Pamplona or even the town before Sarria). However in some albergues there is the requirement that you have walked there. Those who started in O'Cebreiro presumably did not walk there, except maybe from the bus stop, so they had to wait to get into the albergue at O'Cebreiro. The next day they would be treated like all the others who started earlier.
 
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Next up 2022?
I have a question about those who start at Roncesvalles. Do they get the same priority in the albergue as those who walked from SJPP? I know that those who started at O'Cebreiro - with new credenciales and no stamps yet - had to wait until all the walkers were checked in first.
In my experience, no. It's quite something to get there at 4:30PM, exhausted after walking from SJPP, to find the place packed to the gills with people who had come up from Pamplona. This was early March, generally a slow time so the main accommodation block was not being used, but a large pulse of pilgrims had come up on the bus and by taxi. It was a surprise to say the least. I'd seen 6 other people all day, but when I arrived, there were almost no beds left.

I don't know if that would be fair...should everyone wait in SJPdP until all the pilgrims walking from in France got rooms?
I think there should be some concessions made for the people actually walking. Perhaps a middle path solution that offers space for those on the bus (perhaps as in Orrison, by reservation only), but prioritizes first-come-first-serve places for the people who've been out all day, often in dismal weather. Walkers who are exhausted (and perhaps cold and wet) need shelter far more than those who come fresh off the bus.

As it was this time last year Kanga.....glorious indeed! All the way to Galicia and even then, just a couple of days of lovely soft rain and very slight wind.
May it be so this September, too...Buen camino to one and all!
 
Past OR future Camino
walking in sept 2015
Hi, I just finished day 3 of our Camino de Santiago, starting in St. Jean. Arriving in Rancesvalles around 4:30, a couple hundred pilgrims were already there. Many of is got into overflow in rooms across the bridge, but all dinner and breakfast tickets were gone, restaurant was out of food, so we ate vending machine food (for which we were quite thankful). Next day we arrived in Zubiri, and again, everything was full! We had tried to reserve something early with no luck. The Municipal Albergues took pity on us and opened up extra space, so my friend and I got a room. But by 6 they were full and sent pilgrims away. We were able to make reservations in Pamplona for the following night, thankfully, because we ran into a few young pilgrims along the way who were panicking because there was nothing. We are now very worried that this will be a major issue the rest of our Camino. I thought this time of year was supposed to be no problem? Is this a sign of even more increases in pilgrims? Thanks! Jamie.
Hi I walked last year at this time and no things didn't get much better. In fact in one town the owner of one of closed albergues had to come back to town to open it up for overflow. We started leaving earlier everyday and just take what we could get. We did miss out in a couple of places and had to walk on longer distances leading to a case of heat stroke for me. I made a reservation in Logrono a hotel just to chill out somewhere nice. There was a huge amount of people starting when we did 1/ sept so I get your pain. No things didn't get any better no matter even if we tried to stop mid way and not use Briereley book. But having said all this it did just seem to work out as is the Comino way.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I met a young woman who was starting her Camino at la isla, and a young man who was starting in Cee ...I think the young especially might hear about the Camino while in Spain for other reasons and decide "why not"--even if it's not near a traditional starting point. People start where they start--is it my place to decide that for them?

I thought the rule was walkers before bikes, but don't recall anything about pilgrims who haven't walked yet...otherwise people couldn't stay in albergues in Pamplona, say, or Burgos or other spots pilgrims start shorter walks than from SJPdP, or Paris for that matter. I know none of us want to be disappointed by not getting a room, but I've been stranded in places you can't call a taxi or hop a bus (ah, fond memories of a border crossing in Africa). Spain is a first world country and I'd rather use a first world solution than start deciding whether an elderly/infirm pilgrim who starts in RV because he can't safely cross the Pyrenees (how many times has that been recommended on this forum) is less deserving of a room than a fit 26 year old who spent the night on valcarlos. Pilgrims start where they start, and I don't begrudge those who start one city short of me a room bc of it--if it's that important I could start in Roncesvalles also. Just bc Tom and Yost started in SJPdP doesn't mean we all must. it's sad when we don't get what we want, but it also gives us a chance to adapt and grow.

Edit: bed, not room. Been back too long
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
On re-reading JillGat's post I realize that she was likely asking specifically about the Roncesvalles albergue and whether walkers from SJPP had any preference over the new starters in Roncesvalles. (I was thinking she was asking whether the preference would be applied all the way down the camino.) I don't know the answer, but the albergue in Roncesvalles does take reservations, and is big enough that pilgrims would rarely be turned away.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
I have a question about those who start at Roncesvalles. Do they get the same priority in the albergue as those who walked from SJPP? I know that those who started at O'Cebreiro - with new credenciales and no stamps yet - had to wait until all the walkers were checked in first.

Some here have mentioned that in many towns they saw pilgrims looking for accomodations to no avail around 4pm - 6pm. That will always be true. Stop and look for a place to stay at 1 pm. Problem solved.

Every person who commences "their" Camino in my opinion deserve praise, regardless of where they start.
Any path is a pilgrims path.
In Europe most try and commence from their from doors.
But i cannot get my head around the common belief that the starting point is STJPdP.
The Spanish say Roncesvalles.

1/ In a beautiful bar next to the Parador in Santo Domingo there is an ancient map on the wall , at least 4 metres x 2 metres.
VALCARLOS is where you entered Spain according to this map/drawing.
2/ There is a wonderful map by Manfred Zentgraf showing the ancient paths to Santiago.
OSTABAT is where they all joint in France , not our much mentioned friend.
The map shows the following ;
If you commence in the UK and go via Amiens, Paris or Mont St Michel
or
If you commence in Geneva
or
If you commence in Paris, Lyon , Le Puy or Vezelay you all join and enter the ancient village of Ostabat.
You then went over the higher path to Oloron , Samport , Jaca , Pamplona and Puente Le Reina
or
Tried the lower path via Valcarlos.
I still cannot understand why the bus from Bayonne to St Palais is not considered by most.
Two days walk via Ostabat before StJPP , looking at the pyrenees all the time ........... straight over no problems.

In the 9th Century StJPP was never mentioned , Oviedo was.
 
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Felipe

Veteran Member
I know only a case (not by personal experience) of an albergue where the hospitalero reserve beds for "long distance" walkers: the "Porta de Santiago", in O Pedrouzo. See
http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergue-porta-de-santiago
comment #144
(I copy and paste): "I stayed here in August 2013 and I was delighted to discover they have continued the old tradition of keeping back beds for longer distance walkers".
Comments say that there is a nightly curfew and the hospitalero is strict about the "silence in the bedroom" rule after 22:00 hs. Seems good to me...
 
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Some here have mentioned that in many towns they saw pilgrims looking for accomodations to no avail around 4pm - 6pm. That will always be true. Stop and look for a place to stay at 1 pm. Problem solved.

My heart sank as I read this. What if everyone walking took this approach and the albergues fill up by 1pm - do we then stop even earlier? A noon curfew perhaps? I fear that even more people would feel the answer is to begin walking ludicrously early - even before it gets light. Or perhaps we could create a new tradition of 24/7 pilgrimage with 24/7 albergues where pilgrims can sleep in a hot-bunk rotation like submarine crews: nocturnal peregrinos catching up on their sleep during the daytime while their sun-loving partners slog across the meseta?

Unfortunately with the pressure on bed spaces currently being reported along the Camino Frances the alternatives available are hardly more attractive. I am one of those peculiar creatures who walks because he actually enjoys it: the physical business of putting one foot in front of another. When I set out each morning I rarely know whether today I will walk 20km, 40km, or even 50km (admittedly not often!). Most days I will walk 30 - 35km, aiming to stop in late afternoon. Time for a meal, some breaks, some sight-seeing, some conversations with new friends along the way. So much can and does happen that might make me alter what I would laughingly call my "plans" for the day. The idea of being forced to stop so early in the day is appalling to me. Book a bed in advance? - then I lose the spontaneity and freedom which is so much part of pilgrimage for me. For similar reasons I do not use rucksack transport services. Private rooms? - on occasion yes but my pockets are not deep enough to make this routine. For me personally it is important to walk all the route I have chosen and except in dire emergencies (so far thankfully just once) I do not use transport to reach my night stop. Although I have always preferred to travel light on the Spanish caminos and trust in finding a bed each night I have somewhat reluctantly decided that for my next walk along the Frances, beginning next week, I will be carrying a lightweight bivvy bag to make sleeping outdoors a more attractive and practical prospect should the need arise.
 
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I'd rather use a first world solution than start deciding whether an elderly/infirm pilgrim who starts in RV because he can't safely cross the Pyrenees (how many times has that been recommended on this forum) is less deserving of a room than a fit 26 year old who spent the night on valcarlos.
I'm not so sure I know what you mean, @Smallest_Sparrow, and not really wanting to disagree because I don't actually feel too strongly about this. But what about when it's the opposite of your example? In the situation I described, the majority of the people who were in the albergue that night were under 30--and they hadn't walked to get there. I'm in my early 60s and had walked from SJPP. The weather was kind that day, but I was still beat. They bus arrivers were not, at all.

it's sad when we don't get what we want, but it also gives us a chance to adapt and grow.
It wasn't a matter of what I wanted, but a matter of needing shelter. Fortunately I got it, but barely. The room was full minutes later. Were the shoe on the other foot I would hate to get off the bus and later find that I'd taken a bunk space from someone who had walked all day to get there, and who needed the space more than I. It wouldn't feel right.

So I'm glad there is at least one place that manages take the distance walked and physical need into consideration. But the albergue at Roncesvalles does not--as @Kathar1na's post so aptly shows.
The myth is that it's a venerable Camino institution whose mission is to serve pilgrims who have walked through the mountains from France. That's what it was built for, but times have changed. And while it is venerable and does serve pilgrims who walk in--it does so while now also needing to fill space with bodies. How that happens is no longer part of the calculus.

In a beautiful bar next to the Parador in Santo Domingo there is an ancient map on the wall , at least 4 metres x 2 metres.
Thornley, do you have a photo of this? It would be very interesting to see.
 
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I still cannot understand why the bus from Bayonne to St Palais is not considered by most.
Two days walk via Ostabat before StJPP , looking at the pyrenees all the time ........... straight over no problems.
Because no-one talks about this as an option--we're in a SJPP rut :oops:. It's a great idea, Thornley, giving the body a few easier days at first before the uphill walk through the mountains.

There are three pilgrim categories: pilgrims coming from France who have already walked for several days or weeks (about 10%), pilgrims who had started in the morning in Saint Jean Pied de Port and are therefore on their first day (about 15%) and pilgrims who are starting the way and have not yet walked (about 75%). ...in many cases, the pilgrims have the intention of walking for several days, often 4-5 days.
That was a voice from 2001. Things have no doubt changed since then.
Certainly in numbers have gone up, but maybe not in percentage or intention? Those percentages describe the situation I witnessed quite accurately, with the exception of the number of people coming from before SJPP. The intention of almost all of the Spanish peregrinos I've met on my caminos, walking for part or all of Semana Santa as a family school outing--though this may not be the case at other times of year.
 
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I think that is a wrong conclusion/summary. They do their utmost to find a place for everyone who walks in.
I didn't mean to say that they don't--sorry if I was not clear, @Kathar1na. What I was thinking of was what you had said--that is, that the albergue is taking in both pilgrims and visitors/school groups.

Edit: And yes, thank you for that, Katharina--it was early March. Not intending to incite panic, when there is absolutely no need for it!:oops:
 

Thornley

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Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
I'm not so sure I know what you mean, @Smallest_Sparrow, and not really wanting to disagree because I don't actually feel too strongly about this. But what about when it's the opposite of your example? In the situation I described, the majority of the people who were in the albergue that night were under 30--and they hadn't walked to get there. I'm in my early 60s and had walked from SJPP. The weather was kind that day, but I was still beat. They bus arrivers were not, at all.


It wasn't a matter of what I wanted, but a matter of needing shelter. Fortunately I got it, but barely. The room was full minutes later. Were the shoe on the other foot I would hate to get off the bus and later find that I'd taken a bunk space from someone who had walked all day to get there, and who needed the space more than I. It wouldn't feel right.

So I'm glad there is at least one place that manages take the distance walked and physical need into consideration. But the albergue at Roncesvalles does not--as @Kathar1na's post so aptly shows.
The myth is that it's a venerable Camino institution whose mission is to serve pilgrims who have walked through the mountains from France. That's what it was built for, but times have changed. And while it is venerable and does serve pilgrims who walk in--it does so while now also needing to fill space with bodies. How that happens is no longer part of the calculus.


Thornley, do you have a photo of this? It would be very interesting to see.

Will try
Who is going first , you or me:)
 

samxysam

New Member
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I think the solution is that, you either walk a little bit quick or a little bit slow. Just avoiding these people. Everything will be fine. :) Based on my experience.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
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2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I'm not so sure I know what you mean, @Smallest_Sparrow, and not really wanting to disagree because I don't actually feel too strongly about this. But what about when it's the opposite of your example? In the situation I described, the majority of the people who were in the albergue that night were under 30--and they hadn't walked to get there. I'm in my early 60s and had walked from SJPP. The weather was kind that day, but I was still beat. They bus arrivers were not, at all.


It wasn't a matter of what I wanted, but a matter of needing shelter. Fortunately I got it, but barely. The room was full minutes later. Were the shoe on the other foot I would hate to get off the bus and later find that I'd taken a bunk space from someone who had walked all day to get there, and who needed the space more than I. It wouldn't feel right.

So I'm glad there is at least one place that manages take the distance walked and physical need into consideration. But the albergue at Roncesvalles does not--as @Kathar1na's post so aptly shows.
The myth is that it's a venerable Camino institution whose mission is to serve pilgrims who have walked through the mountains from France. That's what it was built for, but times have changed. And while it is venerable and does serve pilgrims who walk in--it does so while now also needing to fill space with bodies. How that happens is no longer part of the calculus.


Thornley, do you have a photo of this? It would be very interesting to see.
I hope we can agree to be friends :)

I walked the route Napoleon in a snow storm so bad I couldn't see my hand at times. Age 55, 108 pounds soaking wet, which I was btw when reaching Roncesvalles. I was starving, and very very happy I got a bed. Had I not, I'd have called a cab. I would have felt bad if they threw someone out to make room for me, or I'd seen pilgrims all lined up waiting for me to get a bed before they were allowed. EDIT: and from reading your posts @Viriani, I think it would bother you also. All of us. END EDIT Besides la posada takes reservations, and so does the hotel.

Many of the towns and cities being worried about has both lodging alternatives to first come first served albergues, and public transportation. Including RV. And no where is it written we must start in SJPdP and walk the CF in may or aug/sep. Plenty of room on other paths and/or other times. I purposely avoided peak months, and looked up fiesta dates for every region I walked to avoid those. I stay out of New Orleans during Mardi gras :eek:

I just don't think it would be fair to exclude pilgrims who start in RV, Leon, Burgos, etc from the albergues, or make them wait just in case I might arrive, when I can either walk forward or call a cab.
When I walked from fonsagrada I reached o Cavado but didn't feel like stopping. Rumor had it there was a pension and an albergue in Castroverde but no one knew a name or number. I continued on and the albergue hadn't opened yet, the pension was full. I could have called a cab to go forward or back, or walked. I chose to walk on to Lugo.
I find it easier to manage my choice than those of others.:rolleyes:
 
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Shy Shy

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Don't sweat it. By late September the pilgrim numbers will have gone down I am sure. My best advice is to ignore some of the gossipy threads on here totally unsupported by facts.
I found the attached graph off the net. It's a couple of years old, but as you see the numbers go down as you approach October.
cheers and ultreia
View attachment 29010
Thanks. On the airport now travelling to Madrid. Can't wait to start my camino. :)
 

jerbear

Active Member
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Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
Yes change your destination for the day. And beds will be there.
 
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jerbear

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Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
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Replace expections with gratitude. This make the camino magic very very obvious. Buen!
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
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2018
I am quite confident to say that there is no discrimination at the albergues with respect to where you started (SJPP, Roncesvalles, Pamplona or even the town before Sarria). However in some albergues there is the requirement that you have walked there. Those who started in O'Cebreiro presumably did not walk there, except maybe from the bus stop, so they had to wait to get into the albergue at O'Cebreiro. The next day they would be treated like all the others who started earlier.

I wasn't taking sides here, re. who *should* get "priority." Just saying that it's something good to know if you are going to start there in Roncesvalles. Apparently you can reserve a space, so no problem. Walkers starting in O'Cebriero were out of luck.
 

JillGat

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Past OR future Camino
2018
My heart sank as I read this. What if everyone walking took this approach and the albergues fill up by 1pm - do we then stop even earlier? A noon curfew perhaps? I fear that even more people would feel the answer is to begin walking ludicrously early - even before it gets light. Or perhaps we could create a new tradition of 24/7 pilgrimage with 24/7 albergues where pilgrims can sleep in a hot-bunk rotation like submarine crews: nocturnal peregrinos catching up on their sleep during the daytime while their sun-loving partners slog across the meseta?

Take whatever approach you want. Express outrage about how things *should* be all you like. What difference will it make? I didn't start inordinately early. I am just saying that, by stopping around lunch time, I always had a place to stay. Another option is to take one of the less-used routes. Myself, I had a wonderful, mostly serene, solitary walk on the Camino Frances in May and June.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Soooo....on this assumption that Pilgrims starting in Roncesvalles should wait until all the Pilgrims have arrived from SJPP to obtain their well earned bed, had SJPP not be the starting point for many, then they also should wait for weary walkers coming in from far? Ostabad, Lourdes, etc! Sorry, but I see no reason why someone starting in Roncesvalles should have to wait for all the Pilgrims coming in from SJPP. After all, they chose to start in SJPP!
Personally, I have never considered starting in SJPP, but arrive by bus in Roncesvalles. It arrives about 19.30, so most walkers from over the Pyrenees should have arrived by then. The fact is that I have never tried to stay at the Albergue, because by then, I have travelled about 24 hours and have an 8 hour jet lag. The last time we started in Roncesvalles, we attended Mass and then walked down to Burgete in the semi-dark, where we had booked a B&B. That walk was one of my favourite memories of all my Caminos.
 
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