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Planning on arriving in Santiago on July 24 or 25, 2016?

Hello! I am Peregrina Nicole and I'm working in the Oficina del Peregrinos during the fiesta of Santiago (St James). The feast day itself is July 25, but quite a lot happens on the eve of the festival (July 24), including the fireworks. One of the local newspapers, La Voz de Galicia, says that most of the hotel rooms in Santiago and surrounding areas have already been booked for the 24th and 25th. If you are planning on staying in Santiago on these days, I cannot recommend highly enough trying to pre-book whatever is left. There are a lot of peregrinos who are arriving now and will arrive for the festival. However, there are also lots of non-peregrino tourists, as Santiago is the patron saint of Spain. As far as I've been told, the King and President will be here for the mass. This gives you an idea of: a) how important this festival is; and b) how heightened security will be.

To go back to numbers, on July 25, 2014, 1731 peregrinos arrived to get their compostelas. On July 25, 2015, 1853 arrived. Already, yesterday (July 20, 2016) we had 1010 peregrinos. This year the papers are predicting more than last year for July 25, 2016. I spoke to volunteers who worked on July 25, 2015. They said that peregrinos showed up expecting that the Oficina would find room for them. We don't do this and do not have the infrastructure to do so. When peregrinos ask for rooms, we direct them to Tourist Information. However, there is a limit to what they can do when rooms run out. Last year, the Oficina recommended that peregrinos could get spaces to sleep in Monte Gozo. There are buses from Monte Gozo to the Praza do Galicia (just on the edge of the historic centre). This was not an ideal solution for most peregrinos as it involved 'going backwards', but at least it was a place that still had beds for peregrinos.

Getting into the Cathedral is another issue. You can no longer enter with a back pack, so these need to be stored before you can be let in. The Oficina del Peregrino has some places, the Correos (post office) in the old town has more places and there are also places in a Peregrino Service place at the top of the stairs above the Praza Prateria (by the entrance to the Cathedral), but to the right on the Praza Quinteros. Peregrino House on Rua Nova will also do backpack storage. Volunteers working last July 25 reported angry peregrinos who showed up assuming that getting a credencial and putting their bags in storage would be a quick enough process for them to get a seat in the Cathedral for the noon mass. If you have a big queue of peregrinos nothing moves quickly because we will still look over your credenicales to make sure that you have the appropriate stamps, we still have to store left luggage in an appropriate way and shouting at us is not going to make things move more quickly for you.

It is worth mentioning that some of the staff are employees of the Oficina. However, those of us in blue T-shirts are volunteers. We have paid our own airfare to Santiago and we work for free because we all have had positive experiences on the Camino and want to give something back.

I know that this all sounds a bit negative, but I do hope that peregrinos arriving on July 24 and 25 have a positive experience and are well prepared!

Buen Camino!
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
I really hope that all pilgrims do appreciate the hard work you all do and never shout at you! Sleeping/staying in Monte de Gozo is certainly the best option imo if you haven't found/reserved a bed in Santiago itself yet. What are ~4km to a pilgrim that has walked hundreds? Also, as Monte de Gozo is one of the cheapest albergues in the area, you can always splash out on a taxi when going back and fro at odd hours.
Buen Camino, SY
 
I really hope that all pilgrims do appreciate the hard work you all do and never shout at you! Sleeping/staying in Monte de Gozo is certainly the best option imo if you haven't found/reserved a bed in Santiago itself yet. What are ~4km to a pilgrim that has walked hundreds? Also, as Monte de Gozo is one of the cheapest albergues in the area, you can always splash out on a taxi when going back and fro at odd hours.
Buen Camino, SY

Hi SYates! Thanks for your support. All of the volunteers have done at least one Camino and many have done more than one. So we all understand tired, dehydrated, in pain and frustrated because we have all been there. So when people vent, we understand this, but this is not going to change the egalitarian manner in which we deal with all peregrinos.

What I forgot to mention in my previous email is that peregrinos should also be aware that buses and trains out of Santiago will be very full and so these should also be booked in advance. RENEFE deals with trains and ALSA with buses.

SYates is correct, Monte de Gozo isn't that expensive to get to and from in a taxi. A taxi for one person coming from the airport in Lavacola is 21 euros. This is further away than Monte de Gozo and divided up amongst 4 people would not be much at all.

If you don't have anything booked, a 'stress free' arrival plan would be to check into Monte de Gozo. leave your bag, get cleaned up and change clothes and then to head into Santiago by foot, bus or taxi, get your Compostella and enjoy the fiesta.

Try to not loose your Compostela, but if you do, check in with the Oficina. The local bars are not unused to finding these and at some point (when they are not too busy) will return them to us. We have a rather interesting 'lost and found' box.

Buen Camino!

Peregrina Nicole
 
Hi SYates! Thanks for your support. All of the volunteers have done at least one Camino and many have done more than one. So we all understand tired, dehydrated, in pain and frustrated because we have all been there. So when people vent, we understand this, but this is not going to change the egalitarian manner in which we deal with all peregrinos.

What I forgot to mention in my previous email is that peregrinos should also be aware that buses and trains out of Santiago will be very full and so these should also be booked in advance. RENEFE deals with trains and ALSA with buses.

SYates is correct, Monte de Gozo isn't that expensive to get to and from in a taxi. A taxi for one person coming from the airport in Lavacola is 21 euros. This is further away than Monte de Gozo and divided up amongst 4 people would not be much at all.

If you don't have anything booked, a 'stress free' arrival plan would be to check into Monte de Gozo. leave your bag, get cleaned up and change clothes and then to head into Santiago by foot, bus or taxi, get your Compostella and enjoy the fiesta.

Try to not loose your Compostela, but if you do, check in with the Oficina. The local bars are not unused to finding these and at some point (when they are not too busy) will return them to us. We have a rather interesting 'lost and found' box.

Buen Camino!

Peregrina Nicole
Umm. I think that it is RENFE rather than RENEFE.
 

GoFish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino July 16
I am on track to be there the 25th. I would rather not deal with the majority of the chaos (even though the 25 is my birthday and it would be fun to pretend it was all for me lol). My question is this, do you think if I take my time to cover the last 115 km and arrive the 26, will the crowds have thinned enough to make it worth slowing down. I really like to avoid crowds and even walking through the cities I've moved very fast and just gone straight on through. I want to continue on through to the lighthouse as soon as possible. Thanks
 

brambles

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inca (2018)
Camino Frances (June/July 2019)
Camino Portugues (June/July 2020)
I am wondering the same. I am estimating that we will make it to Santiago around the 24th, 25th or 26th and trying to decide if we should speed up or slow down to avoid the crowds and be able to enjoy a day or two in Santiago before heading to Finesterre. I would like to buy plane tickets for the week of June 17th (my daughter's graduation from 8th grade is Monday the 17th) and can't decide which day to buy to be able to spend a day in Paris, get to St Jean, get started with my daughter. Then my husband and son will join us in Sarria so I want to book accommodations from then on especially because there will be four of us. I don't want everyone to be overwhelmed and unhappy with large crowds at the end and spend a whole day in line at the pilgrims office. Does anyone have suggestions? Thank you!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
In general the early morning is the best/quietest time to go to the pilgrim office to collect your compostela (i.e. the day after you arrive). I'm not sure what it's like on/around July 25 though.
 

Mark McCarthy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014 2015
Lourdes 2 SdC 2016
Sarria 2 SdC April&Oct 2016 & (April 2018)
Camino Baztan June 2017
On my first Camino I planned to avoid the feast day by a week but due to illness ended up arriving on the 24th with the huge crowds. It was a fabulous experience - even with all the crowds from Sarria onwards, it was well worth it. If you are walking about that time, I would recommend making reservations from Sarria onwards.
 

brambles

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inca (2018)
Camino Frances (June/July 2019)
Camino Portugues (June/July 2020)
OK! So I just made reservations from Sarria on and we will arrive on the 26 and stay in Santiago until the 28th. Phew! :)
 

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