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Reservations

Santiago Photo Book

Marcia Shaver

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2008), Via de la Plata (2011), Portuguese (2014), Le Puy (2016-2017)
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
 

Nana6

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
France ( 2020)
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
Did they tell you the name of the new reservation system,?
Do sorry you were injured. Hope you get well soon.
I wonder if this is because of the Tourism Dept overseeing the Camino instead of the Cultural?
 

Marcia Shaver

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2008), Via de la Plata (2011), Portuguese (2014), Le Puy (2016-2017)
No, everyone just kept saying it was the new policy. The Hospitalero in Rocnesvalles had the grace to look shamefaced and say he was sorry and did not agree with it. Others were equally as apologetic, but that does not help us Pilgrims. I felt like it was such an armature mistake to make considering how many miles I have on the Camino, but upon returning home to a gathering of experienced Pilgrims here in Seattle I found that even the most seasoned among us did not know about this and all were shocked. We all just need to know that is how it is, plan ahead, and be sure to cancel our reservations if our plans change. Thanks for the good wishes on the knee.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
Madre mía, that sounds like awful experiences... Sorry to read about your knee...

With the 'bus loads' in Roncesvalles you don't literally mean pilgrims arriving by bus, do you? However... I just thought about another camino in the future and considered starting in Roncesvalles (as I got injured in between SJPP and Roncesvalles and had to bus to Pamplona, I never did the two stages in between). And I would most likely make a reservation for that first night. Which would make me somebody arriving by bus and taking a bed from a walking pilgrim...

Making reservations and not showing up or cancelling them in time: very inconsiderate. Simple as that.

Apart from that, I find it hard what to think of all of this (I mean, the debate about reservations). Is first come first serve better than making reservations? First come first serve makes the Camino a race. It makes pilgrims stop walking before 1pm and having long afternoons hanging around in a tiny village. It makes pilgrims waking up everyone at 5am in the dorm and start walking in the dark. Or it makes people to decide to walk shorter stages. Or it makes it harder for slower walkers. Or for pilgrims who would like to take their time and stop by churches and chapels and other 'cultural stuff' on the way. So there doesn't seem to be a good solution...

We might just have to deal with the fact that the Camino has become extremely popular...
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I walked the full Frances with 3 other family members beginning Holy Week in 2017. We reserved the first 3 nights months ahead, thankfully, and also our final 2 nights in Santiago. We emailed albergues ahead each day for the night and it worked out well. They did always tell us if we didn't show up by 4pm that our beds would be given away as no money was involved. I think it was a good policy they all seemed to have.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
We are back in Spain in September and I have prebooked our first 5 days, thinking to 'wing it' after that.
I literally could not find anything in Astorga near the centre of town and ended up having to book a very expensive apartment. Emails didn't work, no responses , so I booked the apartment whilst it was still available. Thankfully Casa Rurals and albergues before and after.
Im taking my 13 year old grandson and a husband with a dodgy knee and I'm not sure how far they can walk, especially in the heat.
Maybe I should book further ahead; my thinking was to secure the first 5 days and see how everyone felt to walk further each day after that, so booking isn't my favourite option. I prefer not to have to book and cancel, and both times before had no trouble finding places to stay.
A dilemma.
 

Marcia Shaver

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2008), Via de la Plata (2011), Portuguese (2014), Le Puy (2016-2017)
Yes, I do mean 2 big buses arrived and people piled off and went to the big Albergue. It was very disheartening, but I tried to look at it like they were just starting out and were really Pilgrims. The sign in the big Albergue in Pamplona gave me pause because it looks like anyone can stay. Yes, the Camino has become over loved! We will just have to adjust the way we approach it. I did not think I would like having to make reservations when we walked the Le Puy route, but it alleviated all the anxiety that Luka thought out so well and wrote about. Reservations did end up giving us the option to dawdle, go into all the churches, talk to the farmers, have a leisurely lunch, and arrive without the stress of uncertain accommodations. Thanks to the well wishers on my knee injury. PS: Portugal was really fun anyway!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
I'm on the Frances now, and I booked up through Pamplona before I started, because I had heard about the big bottle necks caused by the municipal albergues in Zubiri and Larrasoaña being closed for renovations. I also reserved a hostal room in Logroño as I knew I'd be there on a Saturday night. As I've been walking I have called ahead the same day or the night before if I knew where I wanted to stay. But I have also just showed up and have gotten a bed easily. The crowds definitely thinned out after Pamplona.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Yes, I do mean 2 big buses arrived and people piled off and went to the big Albergue. It was very disheartening, but I tried to look at it like they were just starting out and were really Pilgrims. The sign in the big Albergue in Pamplona gave me pause because it looks like anyone can stay.
I'd be curious to know which day in April it was. As it happens, the hospitalero group said in their May newsletter that on a particular day around the middle of April of this year, two busses with 140 people arrived and they were told that there were no beds available. They accepted it but they all wanted a stamp in their passports so that created quite some activity. Roncesvalles is for many Spanish pilgrims the start of the Camino de Santiago so they are bound to arrive on a bus.

Acording to both Eroski and Gronze, the Jesu and Maria albergue in Pamplona accepts non-pilgrims but they don't agree whether this is always the case or only until 30 April of each year.
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
If the albergues who accept reservations keep having no shows they will adjust their reservation to policy to stop losing money. The camino may provide but the market will correct/
 

sugargypsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
First one planned for May 2019: Camino Francés
I'm on the Frances right now, arrived in Estella today and so far had no problems in getting a cama abajo when I turned up at an auberge. I only prebooked Pamplona when arriving and two days ago I booked ahead too, I had to, because I was sending my mochilla ahead.

So experiences do seem to differ quite a lot.
 

Marcia Shaver

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2008), Via de la Plata (2011), Portuguese (2014), Le Puy (2016-2017)
Our arrival in Roncesvalles was Saturday, April 13. It was probably the worst possible day to start, and not what we planned. We had flight delays and other logistics that pushed us to start the Saturday of Holy Week. Thank you for telling me about the Albergue in Pamplona. Even allowing tourists until April 30 is sort of bad because so many are starting to walk earlier to avoid the crowds. It just was not my year to do the Camino, but I surely will not make that mistake again. I am so thankful that others are having a different experience, but I do still think it is worth a cautionary word.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Our arrival in Roncesvalles was Saturday, April 13.
Yes, that was also the day and date mentioned in the newsletter! So these two buses were actually turned away.

BTW, the online reservation system of the Roncesvalles albergue exists already since the beginning of last year. Only about a third of the beds can be reserved, the rest is first come first served. Beds must be paid in advance and there is no possibility to annul a reservation online.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
Did they tell you the name of the new reservation system,?
Do sorry you were injured. Hope you get well soon.
I wonder if this is because of the Tourism Dept overseeing the Camino instead of the Cultural?
I think the only "reservation system" here is the one that is used by the Roncesvalles albergue. There is no department that oversees the whole camino.

I sounds like a very unpleasant situation!
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Your account is odd to me since we arrived in Roncevalles the very next day (Easter Sunday, April 14) and there were available beds for those without reservations. In fact, from SJPdP through Pamplona, vacancies existed at each of our stops for folks showing up in the afternoon (even Orisson!) Zubiri was a bit tight in town, but the private albergue just outside of town and the larger hotel near the gas station had plenty of rooms.

It sounds like your experience was simply a bubble/spike which is terrible to be in, but can be alleviated by walking a short day and letting it move on. To paint the entire Camino as such is a bit unfair and needlessly frightening to newbies.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
The OP situation appears to have been a function of two, normally independent variables that occurred simultaneously to create a "perfect storm." When a large group of pilgrims descends on a town with finite bed space, they fill up. When this happens over a traditionally busy time of the year, Holy Week (Semana Santa) this is exacerbated.

What I have read in another thread pertaining specifically to the Monastery at Roncesvalles is that the abbott in charge there, did a deal with three tour companies to set aside 60 valuable beds for tour group use. That is all I know. But this is a full third of all the beds (180) available there. The ripple effect of pre-reservation en masse, combined with the scenario reported in the OP, clearly brought this result about.

Also, because these waves of pilgrims functions like the proverbial pig in the python, the 'completo' condition will roll through the entire Camino on a schedule closely following the standard Brierley stages. Stated another way, if you are caught in this wave, you are screwed if you stick to the same schedule as all the others in this clot.

The ONLY way to avoid this perfect storm is to be where the 'pig in the python' is not. You do this by altering your dates of arrival and departure from all terminal points on the Camino Frances.

You DO NOT want to be arriving on a Friday or Saturday at: Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada, Sarria, or any other village or town with convenient rail or bus links to the world. Even away from formal national holidays, like found during the Easter period or other key dates, like the Feast of Santiago on 25 July, most weekends during the season from Easter to October will find this condition at most of the 33 Brierely stages.

Finally, the burgeoning success of paid tour groups that provide logistical support without busses: reservations, mochila transportation, advance meal payment, etc. is becoming a large problem, especially on the Camino Frances. It is growing fast on the Camino Portuguese as well, especially from Porto to Santiago.

As the Holy Year approaches in 2021, expect more innkeepers and the folks in charge of the better and larger places to stay at preferred locations to be doing backhanded deals to keep their rooms full, at the expense of regular walking pilgrims. These folks are acting in their private commercial interest. I may not like it, but I do understand it.

So, to avoid this unfortunate situation:
  1. Alter your days of arrival and departure from the standard segment stopping places.
  2. Make advance reservations when you can, CONFIRM those reservations
  3. Have a Plan B for EVERY walking day... If I cannot get a bed / room at A, I will do B, or C.
  4. Walk at a different time of year, or
  5. Walk a different Camino route.
You are not going to see more new beds come on line in time for the Holy Year. The locals would rather turn pilgrims away than deal with added competition. Also, there is NOTHING you can do to affect the sort of backhanded deals done at Roncesvalles or other places of accommodation.

Sorry this sounds gloomy, but it is the facts of life as I see them. IMHO, the Camino de Santiago, at least the most popular routes is nearing saturation during the peak and preferred times of the year. I do not have the answer for everyone. The ideas I listed above will help but they are intended to get you down the road with less stress. I cannot solve this problem myself.

Hope this helps.
 
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Nana6

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
France ( 2020)
The OP situation appears to have been a function of two, normally independent variables that occurred simultaneously to create a "perfect storm." When a large group of pilgrims descends on a town with finite bed space, they fill up. When this happens over a traditionally busy time of the year, Holy Week (Semana Santa) this is exacerbated.

What I have read in another thread pertaining specifically to the Monastery at Roncesvalles is that the abbott in charge there, did a deal with three tour companies to set aside 60 valuable beds for tour group use. That is all I know. But this is a full third of all the beds (180) available there. The ripple effect of pre-reservation en masse, combined with the scenario reported in the OP, clearly brought this result about.

Also, because these waves of pilgrims functions like the proverbial pig in the python, the 'completo' condition will roll through the entire Camino on a schedule closely following the standard Brierley stages. Stated another way, if you are caught in this wave, you are screwed if you stick to the same schedule as all the others in this clot.

The ONLY way to avoid this perfect storm is to be where the 'pig in the python' is not. You do this by altering your dates of arrival and departure from all terminal points on the Camino Frances.

You DO NOT want to be arriving on a Friday or Saturday at: Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada, Sarria, or any other village or town with convenient rail or bus links to the world. Even away from formal national holidays, like found during the Easter period or other key dates, like the Feast of Santiago on 25 July, most weekends during the season from Easter to October will find this condition at most of the 33 Brierely stages.

Finally, the burgeoning success of paid tour groups that provide logistical support without busses: reservations, mochila transportation, advance meal payment, etc. is becoming a large problem, especially on the Camino Frances. It is growing fast on the Camino Portuguese as well, especially from Porto to Santiago.

As the Holy Year approaches in 2021, expect more innkeepers and the folks in charge of the better and larger places to stay at preferred locations to be doing backhanded deals to keep their rooms full, at the expense of regular walking pilgrims. These folks are acting in their private commercial interest. I may not like it, but I do understand it.

So, to avoid this unfortunate situation:
  1. Alter your days of arrival and departure from the standard segment stopping places.
  2. Make advance reservations when you can, CONFIRM those reservations
  3. Have a Plan B for EVERY walking day... If I cannot get a bed / room at A, I will do B, or C.
  4. Walk at a different time of year, or
  5. Walk a different Camino route.
You are not going to see more new beds come on line in time for the Holy Year. The locals would rather turn pilgrims away than deal with added competition. Also, there is NOTHING you can do to affect the sort of backhanded deals done at Roncesvalles or other places of accommodation.

Sorry this sounds gloomy, but it is the facts of life as I see them. IMHO, the Camino de Santiago, at least the most popular route is nearing saturation during the peak and preferred times of the year. I do not have the answer for everyone. The ideas I listed above will help but they are intended to get you down the road with less stress. I cannot solve this problem myself.

Hope this helps.
Thank you for explaining
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Tom, your detailed explanations are always illuminating. I suspect the Ascension holiday this weekend is going to be a repeat performance of early May. We will find out very soon.
That being said, I sincerely hope that the fragmented and independent handling by local and provincial authorities over how the Camino is managed doesn't come under some almighty umbrella authority.
The bad press will keep the wary Pilgrims away. So I hope the complaints keep getting posted. ;)
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
As there is no one organization that coordinates rules or policies all along the Camino, nothing will change long term. It is up to the locals to force democratizing this process once again (e.g. first come first served, walkers get first dibs). We pilgrims can do little to affect this. Moreover, human nature being what it is, don't hold your breath for changes.

The only thing we can do is boycott by not doing Camino. But THAT sort of defeats the entire process doesn't it?

One solution, which also ain't gonna happen, is for some enterprising business person to develop a chain of inexpensive, standardized, private albergues, using off the shelf light industrial prefabricated buildings. Once erected and decorated on a reinforced slab, you would not easily tell the difference. Each location can be locally themed and decorated. Think the lowest category of IBIS hotels, then subtract features so as to get to pilgrim necessities.

The modern esthetic aside, this is a virtual 'no brainer' business model. It would have a separate, non-Booking.com (with the 15% commission) reservation system. Besides "IKEA new" kind of has a quality all its own.

I know this will never happen. But, IMHO and solely along the Frances, this is I believe the ultimate solution. Were I the Great Poobah, it would be done already.

Just trying to add to the dialog...
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
LMAO thinking about how a tour operator dealt with 2 bus loads of pilgrims without beds.
I don't know whether there was a tour operator involved. I actually thought that this must have been a privately organised trip. I'm sometimes an avid reader of the bulletins of the various amigos associations and although I've never seen them on the road myself I know that they all organise group trips where a large group walks a few days along a camino or other. I can imagine that there are other Spanish groups like this. But I don't know any further details.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Tom, that is enough to turn me off the Camino forever. The "holiday inn" place in El Acebo is perfect example of that kind of thinking. Thank God that the Camino is a six month revenue producer at best, so no one is going to build place that are empty 50% of the time.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I don't know whether there was a tour operator involved. I actually thought that this must have been a privately organised trip. I'm sometimes an avid reader of the bulletins of the various amigos associations and although I've never seen them on the road myself I know that they all organise group trips where a large group walks a few days along a camino or other. I can imagine that there are other Spanish groups like this. But I don't know any further details.
When I was a hospi at San Anton, we would have a "busload" of tourists show up every few days. They were normally all from the same country and would come in to snap photos and listen to our interpretation of some of the architecture. The best part was they left small donations in the donativo jar and rarely demanded to use the toilet.
Edit added on 1 June:
One of my favorite stories was to tell visitors about San Anton's constant companion, a pig, which is immortalized in this stone work.
DSCN0688.JPG
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I don't know whether there was a tour operator involved. I actually thought that this must have been a privately organised trip. I'm sometimes an avid reader of the bulletins of the various amigos associations and although I've never seen them on the road myself I know that they all organise group trips where a large group walks a few days along a camino or other. I can imagine that there are other Spanish groups like this. But I don't know any further details.
Okay, I can understand your response but any group coming in a bus or two has to been organized by someone. Just look at the numbers of people who descend on Lourdes daily.
My guess is they were only going inside to get a look at how "pilgrims spend the night" and asking for stamps. Fair enough.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Well, not everything we read on the forum turns out to be actual fact. In this case, two busloads of people did not take away pilgrims’ beds at the Roncesvalles albergue and I have my doubts about the existence of a special arrangement for setting aside beds for tour operators, too ... although they can presumably book beds like anyone else.

There are peak days when there are apparently not enough beds between Roncesvalles and Pamplona, given the ever increasing number of camino walkers along that part of the camino, and it’s good to be aware of it. Too many people cannot bear the thought of having to start somewhere else than SJPP or Roncesvalles ...

And there are clearly not enough cheapo albergue beds waiting for everyone everywhere at any time.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
The situation of increasing 'peak days' especially along the Camino Frances is evidence of a phenomenon I have termed "Peak Pilgrim." It is defined as a point in time, logically a night, when ALL beds in ALL places of lodging at a particular place on a Camino route are full. When Peak Pilgrim hits, there is literally no room at the inn, anywhere in town.

Incidents of this occurring have been increasing over the past 18 months or so, at least according to my forum ramblings. However, the scope and frequency of these events is becoming more prevalent. Individual places are being affected like a blob of liquid, spreading outwards as more and more bed space is consumed.

There is NOT ONE CAUSE, at least IMHO. I rate the proximate causes as being:

1. Overall heightened interest in walking the Camino
2. Increased prevalence and use of mochila transport services, making the Camino accessible to more people. If it is easier to walk without carrying a backpack, you will be more likely to do so.
3. Increased use of advance booking by organized groups. This can range from small, family groups, to guided groups (you know who you are), to groups with advance arrangement provided, to organize guided groups of students, social clubs, religious organizations, or even commercial tour firms.

I DO NOT rate advance reservations made by individual pilgrims as being a cause. This I regards as a normal thing and not something that increases overall bed consumption. I view it as a different way of filling existing beds.

The third point, organized groups is a more recent phenomenon. It is is this segment of the Camino market that will ultimately cause widespread Peak Pilgrim, likely this or next year, but certainly for the coming Holy Year in 2021, at least along the Camino Frances.

The only things a walking solo or small unorganized group (couple, family, efriends, etc.) can do is to think, plan ahead and always develop options. In an earlier post, above (#22) I posted five suggested methods for mitigating the effect of Peak Pilgrim on individual pilgrims. May I recommend you read them, again if need be?

The only other thing I would add is that, at least for the Holy Year (2021) I do not plan to walk a Camino. It has been my practice to walk once annually since my first Camino in 2013. This year, medical issues prevented me from doing so. I am spending this coming year getting better so I can return to walking next year (2020). At least, that is my personal goal.

In lieu of walking, I am planning to devote the block of time and my financial resources to volunteering for an additional month at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago, if they will have me. As my normal annual stint is mid-July to mid-August each summer, I plan to ask to come to help just before Semana Santa (Holy Week) in 2021 and to remain for a month. I know they will need the added help.

Those of you not wed to walking during the 2021 Holy Year, might consider giving back in this manner as well... Just sayin... Instructions on how to offer your services as a volunteer can be found at:


I do hope this all helps.
 
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Seamus68

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Apr 2017
Camino Del Norte April 2018
Camino Frances - St Jean to Burgos 2019
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.

Unfortunately yes i believe now you need to book at least 2 days in advance.
Walked in Mid April got to Roncesvalle all booked out.
So lucky shared £90 room with Japanese chap as we were both exhausted.
The Camino has changed since 2017, booking is now essential, especially
if there is a Holy Week, then its critical to book !

I would suggest even try a different route, the Camino del Norte is as yet
unspoiled. Or do the Frances late in the year say September ..October

kr

jim
 

Lou Lulu

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on first Camino.
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
My husband and I have just arrived in Burgos. We have not booked ahead at all but were lucky to get the last 2 places at the monastery at Roncesvalles. We have stayed at the municipal and private accommodation along the way and have enjoyed the freedom of being able to stop when we want and enjoy the local experiences. Except for Roncesvalles everywhere else we have stayed has not been fully booked. Sorry your experience was so different. I am, however, not sure if the last 100 kms into Santiago will pose difficulties with accommodation.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
at least for the Holy Year (2021) I do not plan to walk a Camino.
Crowded Spanish routes aren't the only option, of course. The Holy Year would be a great time to walk routes in Germany, or Geneva-Le Puy in France. There's no need to give up a healthy year of walking .. we don't know how many of those we have left.
 

Michael-FL

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Portugues (2017)
Frances/Salvador/Primitivo (2021)
First let me say that I love the Camino, ...
Marcia, so sorry to read of your injury and of your troubles with just getting a bed for the night. I’ve heard many times that to be a pilgrim is to suffer at least a little, but this sounds just crazy. It gives me pause in my planning and dreaming to walk the Camino again in 2021, the next Holy Year. I have heard some predict many more thousands are anticipated that year. I wonder then if I should take a less traveled Way; e.g. the Primitivo, Norte, etc. and do it in non-peak season? I share your concern that maybe the Camino has become too well loved. I’d like to think the two busloads were actually peregrinos starting out and not a “Club Med” version of the Camino.
Prayers and best wishes for your recovery.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
Also, because these waves of pilgrims functions like the proverbial pig in the python, the 'completo' condition will roll through the entire Camino ...

The ONLY way to avoid this perfect storm is to be where the 'pig in the python' is not. You do this by altering your dates of arrival and departure from all terminal points ...

You DO NOT want to be arriving on a Friday or Saturday at: Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada, Sarria, or any other village or town with convenient rail or bus links to the world. Even away from formal national holidays, like found during the Easter period or other key dates, like the Feast of Santiago on 25 July, most weekends during the season from Easter to October will find this condition at most of the 33 Brierely stages.
This excellent advice also applies to the Le Puy route (especially Le Puy - Conques) especially in the popular months of May and September.
 

tominrm

Hiking to Celebrate the End of Working Life.
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2014,2019)
del Norte ( 2015)
Portuguese ( 2016)
Primitivo ( 2017)
VdlP (2018)
I had a similar experience leaving sjpdp until I got to Pamplona. I think it is about time to start Camino France start from Pamplona rather than sjpdp until people straighten out the mess. Zubiri and Larasona municipal albergues were undergoing restoration, and that was the main problem in late April/early May. But it is not good to see this kind things go on when inexperienced pilgrims start their pilgrimage.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
booking is now essential,
Not necessarily. I just came off the Via de Bayona and have spent last night and tonight in old-fashioned old-school albergues. Tonight in San Nicholas near Itero de la Vega, and last night in San Anton. Last night there were 4 pilgrims for 12 places and the hospi said the night before (? not certain here, but it was some time this week) there was no-one. Nada. Tonight SN nay be full, maybe not.

The thundering herds want wifi and hot showers. One way of getting out of sync with them is to be happy with quiet snd simplicity. Unfortunately these options are now few and far between. So it is not much of a solution.

But if it works? Heaven. I spent the whole afternoon in San Anton reading and just sitting there soaking it in.

The only thing we can do is boycott by not doing Camino.
I beg to differ. The Frances IS crowded, no doubt about that
My unscientific impression is that there are way more people on this meseta stretch than last time I walked through here in 2016. But besides getting out of sync with the Frances herd, there are still plenty of options.
Many other routes are virtually empty.
The best part was they left small donations in the donativo jar and rarely demanded to use the toilet
As I hung out there yesterday afternoon, people helped themselves to the toilet, in spite of the 'privado' sign on the door....and left no donations.:rolleyes:
 

JAO

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept 2018
My husband and I have just arrived in Burgos. We have not booked ahead at all but were lucky to get the last 2 places at the monastery at Roncesvalles. We have stayed at the municipal and private accommodation along the way and have enjoyed the freedom of being able to stop when we want and enjoy the local experiences. Except for Roncesvalles everywhere else we have stayed has not been fully booked. Sorry your experience was so different. I am, however, not sure if the last 100 kms into Santiago will pose difficulties with accommodation.
I started in SJPP on Sept 2 last year, finished in early Oct. Roncevalles was full, and about 50 pilgrims took taxis to the next 3 towns. Zubiri also filled. KNEW to pre-book Ronevalles online, but had a veteran in not told me to pre-book to Pamplona, I would have been stuck. Also-- depending on the time of year, other towns along the way could be full up as well. I walked in wine festival season and couldn't find space in Los Arcos due to their festival. I advanced only one town to Estella, sat at a cafe and had one of the most memorable afternoons, pre-booking for the next 10 days with a fellow peregrina who became a dear friend. I then spent time on each rest day in Burgos and Leon, booking the next legs. Crowds definitely spread out after Pamplona, but there were definitely towns that were "completo" due to above mentioned festivals. In early October, several Albuergues in Sarria (where I treated myself to a Pensione) ,were closed already for the season, tho the big ones on the other side of the river were open.
 

Mera

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
I am so sorry for what you have gone through
I understand how disappointing and discouraging it was for you as I had a similar experiences. Hope you will recover quickly. Norte is slow this time. In Muntibar, I was the only one in a 20-bed facility, and it was a bit scary.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
According to both Eroski and Gronze, the Jesu and Maria albergue in Pamplona accepts non-pilgrims but they don't agree whether this is always the case or only until 30 April of each year.
I checked the website of the Jesu and Maria albergue in Pamplona. They are owned by the municipality of Pamplona and indeed, they have different prices for pilgrims, tourists and groups. From 1 May until 30 September, it’s for pilgrims only, and from 1 October until 30 April tourists are also accepted and reservations are then possible. I don’t think that’s something new. And in general, people travel now more and more during their non-working time, whether they are pilgrims or not.
 

marigold

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2009) Sarria - Santiago; (2011) SJPP - Navarette; (2012) Logrono - Santiago;( 2013) Leon - Santiago - Finesterre
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
 

marigold

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2009) Sarria - Santiago; (2011) SJPP - Navarette; (2012) Logrono - Santiago;( 2013) Leon - Santiago - Finesterre
So sorry to hear your story. It sounds like a nightmare! I cant imagine what the experience must have been like for new pilgrims. Such a shame it has come to this.
 

Terry W

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017
April 2018
April 2019
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
Hello My daughter and I started from st Jean,,,, on the 9th of April so one week before you we had a booking a Ronceshvallas. But only just got two beds in Valcarlose In our time frame there was a party of twenty four they were very well organised down to putting on the track their own arrows where they obviously thought the camino ones were not good enough . We also had problems getting beds at time I also saw a municiple albergue with a sing on the door at 12.30 saying SOLD OUT I am very suspicious that even the municipals are bowing to pressure from large parties such as the one I have mentioned considering the nature of this party of twenty four,they would have had the ability to pull strings at a bishops level between their two countries. ( I am Catholic)
I have walked the Francis three times in the last two years.
I am worried about the Camino as a spiritual journey.
 

tomishy

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April/May 2019
Yes, I do mean 2 big buses arrived and people piled off and went to the big Albergue. It was very disheartening, but I tried to look at it like they were just starting out and were really Pilgrims. The sign in the big Albergue in Pamplona gave me pause because it looks like anyone can stay. Yes, the Camino has become over loved! We will just have to adjust the way we approach it. I did not think I would like having to make reservations when we walked the Le Puy route, but it alleviated all the anxiety that Luka thought out so well and wrote about. Reservations did end up giving us the option to dawdle, go into all the churches, talk to the farmers, have a leisurely lunch, and arrive without the stress of uncertain accommodations. Thanks to the well wishers on my knee injury. PS: Portugal was really fun anyway!
We are currently walking and have also been told that "tourists" can now stay in al argues even municipal and they can reserve these beds :(
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
there was a party of twenty four they were very well organised down to putting on the track their own arrows where they obviously thought the camino ones were not good enough.
How odd. Did you talk to them? Did they perhaps belong to a Friends of the Camino association?
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Kathar1na, I think we need to separate the hysteria from the facts here.
How could so few people be wrong and the vast majority is not reporting any problems?
Granted Zubiri and Larrasoana have some issues with their municipals but I think the albergue at Roncevalles is really well managed.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
I stayed in Roncesvalles the night before the OP (April 12). I had a reservation, so I had no problems. Since I had stayed at Beilari and Orisson the previous 2 nights, I found some walking companions who were phoning ahead for reservations -- so when we got to Zubiri on the 13th, we had a room for 4 of us reserved.

That was a date when there were no available beds all the way into Pamplona. I heard lots of stories and witnessed people taking taxis some distance from the Camino. This kind of overcrowding happened all during Semana Santa. Even with our phoning ahead and trying to make reservations in non-stage villages, one day we could not find anything open ahead and had to taxi through a stage.

When I walked the Frances 3 years ago, I was in a bubble but escaped it fairly early on. I really loved stopping when my body told me to stop. I loved not knowing where I would spend the night. I felt the loss of that freedom when we had to stress about where/how to book ahead.

Most of the albergues where we phoned ahead told us they would hold the room until 2 PM. That was additional stress, though I was a fairly fast walker.

And: I had a couple of friends who would book ahead at municipal albergues -- evidently, at least during the 2nd half of April, this was a thing.

The Frances is changing. I'm not particularly happy with the effects of some of the changes.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
How odd. Did you talk to them? Did they perhaps belong to a Friends of the Camino association?
I was just wondering whether people are not aware that in some parts of the country it is still the local amigos de camino associations who maintain the signs and arrows and not some public administration entity. And they do go on group walks.

For example, the Navarra association write in their latest newsletter that this spring various members of the association repainted the yellow arrows on various stages of the Camino Francés and Baztan: Esta primavera varios miembros de nuestra Asociación cumpliendo los deberes de mantenimiento del camino han efectuado un repintado de las flechas amarillas en varias etapas del Camino Francés y Baztanés.
 
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Lindsay53

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April / May 19
Perhaps I was extraordinarily fortunate but I did not book ahead anywhere on my Camino from St Jean to Muxia. I started on 14 April and even though it was Easter week and there were lots of pilgrims on the way I had a bed in Roncesvalles, and although Zubiri took me three tries I found a place there as well. I made a point of (mostly) avoiding the Brierley timetable and although I did hear some other pilgrims discussing bed problems I had none myself. In fact on one occasion there were only two and on another only four others in the albergue with me.

I appreciate that as a solo pilgrim it was easier to find somewhere, but with a little flexibility it is possible to walk without booking ahead.
 

janinedawn

JanineDawn
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2019).
Our arrival in Roncesvalles was Saturday, April 13. It was probably the worst possible day to start, and not what we planned. We had flight delays and other logistics that pushed us to start the Saturday of Holy Week. Thank you for telling me about the Albergue in Pamplona. Even allowing tourists until April 30 is sort of bad because so many are starting to walk earlier to avoid the crowds. It just was not my year to do the Camino, but I surely will not make that mistake again. I am so thankful that others are having a different experience, but I do still think it is worth a cautionary word.
All this discussion is disheartening and unfortunately counter to the spirit with which we all embarked. Looking at the wider map of caminos why not investigate the less trodden paths: e.g., Budapest-Wien-Linz-Salzburg-Graz-Zagreb-Triest?
 

stinmd

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May 2015; Camino del Norte/Primitivo - July/August 2016; Camino Portugues - Sept 2017
Do bear in mind that one does not have to stay in albergues. There are plenty of other options (e.g., casas rurales), if one's budget permits. Phoning ahead would get one out of this 'race-for-bed' mentality, allowing you to enjoy the camino at leisure. As they say: it's the journey, not the destination!
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
All this discussion is disheartening and unfortunately counter to the spirit with which we all embarked. Looking at the wider map of caminos why not investigate the less trodden paths: e.g., Budapest-Wien-Linz-Salzburg-Graz-Zagreb-Triest?
It should be noted again, for those totally new to caminos and this discussion, that the problem with insufficient albergue beds is very limited both in time and place. It concerns mainly Roncesvalles and the small towns or villages before reaching Pamplona, and very few periods in time, usually in late April, in early May and in early September and then usually just the weekends and the long weekends on which public holidays in major European countries fall. The dates of some of these public holidays vary from year to year.

The pilgrims office in SJPP said they had reached a new absolute daily record this year on the eve of 1 May 2019: they registered 558 pilgrims. Roncesvalles has about 200 beds, +/-, in the albergue and some more beds in the three hotels/inns. So no matter how you look at it, 500 pilgrims won’t fit into 200 albergue beds - maybe they did in the Middle Ages but not in 2019. Too many people think that the peak season is in the summer. It isn’t the case for the first stretch of the Camino Francés. Anyone planning to start walking from SJPP now - June, July, August - can ignore this discussion because the number of people starting from SJPP is not so high now.
 
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Joanneendres

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning ( April/May 2020)
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
This is so worrisome. We are going a year from now and the main appeal of this entire journey is to be able to flow with each day and not have to plan ahead ( except for the first two nights). Now I'm wondering if this is really the case of we should reconsider doing the French way and do another one instead. Anybody else have thoughts?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
This is so worrisome. We are going a year from now and the main appeal of this entire journey is to be able to flow with each day and not have to plan ahead ( except for the first two nights). Now I'm wondering if this is really the case of we should reconsider doing the French way and do another one instead. Anybody else have thoughts?
I've only done (so far) the Francés and the Norte (Norte in the summer), and I found that the Norte required more advanced planning than the Francés.
 

stinmd

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May 2015; Camino del Norte/Primitivo - July/August 2016; Camino Portugues - Sept 2017
By the way, for those walking in groups (e.g., a couple), it might cost just as much to share a room in pensiones or casa rurals as in albergues. Something to consider...
 

stinmd

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May 2015; Camino del Norte/Primitivo - July/August 2016; Camino Portugues - Sept 2017
... plus, you might get real cotton towels! 😄
 

Terry W

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017
April 2018
April 2019
How odd. Did you talk to them? Did they perhaps belong to a Friends of the Camino association?
Yes I know who they belonged to but I am trying to be PC in this matter and keep my faith in the spiritual breakthrough my first Camino gave me. Saying any more would open up a can of worms and we may never get the lid back on. Enough to say I am very worried about where the camino is going.
 

tcmiller3

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014
Not necessarily. I just came off the Via de Bayona and have spent last night and tonight in old-fashioned old-school albergues. Tonight in San Nicholas near Itero de la Vega, and last night in San Anton. Last night there were 4 pilgrims for 12 places and the hospi said the night before (? not certain here, but it was some time this week) there was no-one. Nada. Tonight SN nay be full, maybe not.

The thundering herds want wifi and hot showers. One way of getting out of sync with them is to be happy with quiet snd simplicity. Unfortunately these options are now few and far between. So it is not much of a solution.

But if it works? Heaven. I spent the whole afternoon in San Anton reading and just sitting there soaking it in.

I beg to differ. The Frances IS crowded, no doubt about that
My unscientific impression is that there are way more people on this meseta stretch than last time I walked through here in 2016. But besides getting out of sync with the Frances herd, there are still plenty of options.
Many other routes are virtually empty.

As I hung out there yesterday afternoon, people helped themselves to the toilet, in spite of the 'privado' sign on the door....and left no donations.:rolleyes:
Thanks for your comments! I walked the Camino in 2014 & 2016. There was quite a difference in those two years. WIFI was spotty at best in 2014 but getting a bed was easy. In 2016 there was a lot more pilgrims, WIFI was available, and getting a bed was a bit more difficult!! I am thinking of walking in 2020, I’m 77 and this will probably be my last one, but would like to do a route less traveled! Any suggestions on alternates? Thanks
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
All this discussion is disheartening and unfortunately counter to the spirit with which we all embarked. Looking at the wider map of caminos why not investigate the less trodden paths: e.g., Budapest-Wien-Linz-Salzburg-Graz-Zagreb-Triest?
Perhaps one reason is that many pilgrims want to end their pilgrimage in Santiago de Compostela for the purpose of visiting the Cathedral and the Tomb of St James. Of course, there are many Caminos that end in Compostela, but some of those are likewise seeing growth and increased pilgrim traffic.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
In 2020 I will be 74 and I am looking for an answer to the same question.
A friend of mine from Biarritz just finished his third Camino and found a brochure for El Cavino de Santiago. It is route from Logrono to SdC through all of the important wine regions. It does not look like it follows the traditional walking paths, in fact it could be a driving tour; but then you can also walk on all of the roads between these two towns.
So after I finish my Camino this year from Le Puy and make a brief stop in Biarritz before heading back to the US I plan to talk to him about planning a Camino during the harvest in 2020.
If it makes sense I will start a new thread in August with more information.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Perhaps one reason is that many pilgrims want to end their pilgrimage in Santiago de Compostela for the purpose of visiting the Cathedral and the Tomb of St James. Of course, there are many Caminos that end in Compostela, but some of those are likewise seeing growth and increased pilgrim traffic.
Dave, I totally agree with you and think it is worth questioning one's motives to do a Camino versus the limits of one's comfort zone.
I have arrived in SdC as many times as I have stopped short and walked for a few weeks somewhere in Spain, there are many great trails to follow.
On Monday I leave for Le Puy en Velay to walk to Cahors, granted it has taken me some work to make sure I have bookings along the Cele Valle variant, but after Cahors I plan to jump ahead to Burgos and walk the CF across the Meseta for 3 weeks to Ponferrada and call it quits. The only reservations I have in Spain are at Norte y Londres, San Zoilo and Hospederia Monastica Pax.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Don, you will love the Cele Variant. It is awesome! Just thinking of it makes me smile. My friend and I only came across no more than 4 walkers total, although the gites had French walkers. We called ahead a day at a time.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Dave, I totally agree with you and think it is worth questioning one's motives to do a Camino versus the limits of one's comfort zone.
I have arrived in SdC as many times as I have stopped short and walked for a few weeks somewhere in Spain, there are many great trails to follow.
On Monday I leave for Le Puy en Velay to walk to Cahors, granted it has taken me some work to make sure I have bookings along the Cele Valle variant, but after Cahors I plan to jump ahead to Burgos and walk the CF across the Meseta for 3 weeks to Ponferrada and call it quits. The only reservations I have in Spain are at Norte y Londres, San Zoilo and Hospederia Monastica Pax.
Excellent point, Don. I am hoping that what I write below is not taken as anything other than what I do and prefer. I am decidedly NOT making any reference to any one else's preferences or motivations :)

For me, I do Camino only as a religious/spiritual pilgrimage. That is the personal bias and perspective behind my reply above.

If I want to simply do a long walk, I will head out on backpacking trips in the Sierras, the Rockies, or the Cascades at home. While I enjoy walking in Spain, and cherish the Caminos I have done and will do, I would not spend the money or time to travel all that way simply for engaging in a long distance walk.

Again, this is how I view doing a Camino, and I am not begrudging those who have other motivations or preferences. Obviously, there are many reasons why people walk a Camino, and many ways in which people view doing a Camino as well :)
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Chris, I was so afraid of the problems with weekend walkers that I decided to make a number of reservations. One of those reservations was cancelled because of a "late" wedding being scheduled at the gite. The owner was kind enough to find me an alternate place to stay. I will be posting some photos on FB.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
I realize it is more expensive, but fond another pilgrim, if you are alone,
First let me say that I love the Camino, have done many routes, and always walked in the spring (holy week included). I don't want to complain, but to warn other Pilgrims about the apparently new reservation system. In April my husband and I began walking at St. Jean Pied de Port for a repeat of the Camino Frances. We found the town of Valcarlos completely booked, and when we arrived at Roncesvalles we were told it was completo due to the "new reservations policy". I am talking about the Monastery. We were exhausted but went to the Tourist information and they were totally unhelpful: no help in reserving, calling a taxi, etc. Two bus loads of people showed up an hour after we were turned away and took the beds we had been denied. We walked on to Burquette: totally booked. Pilgrims were desperate. A kind hotel person took pity on me after informing me that the next 2 towns were fully booked as well. He called a camping area a few kilometers off of the main route and reserved one of the last places for us. We walked on down the main road and had to hurry to get food before their dining area closed. The next day Viskarette was fully booked and we slogged on to Zubiri without stopping. Pilgrims were literally running down the steep hill and I kept thinking "There goes my bed". Upon arrival we learned Zubiri and Larasoanna were both completo. There were dozens of dazed Pilgrims milling around trying to figure out what to do, and the shop keepers were completely unhelpful. Who could blame them, as they were over run by all of us. No taxis were available. Finally a Danish couple secured a taxi via phone and it created a riot when it arrived. I felt sick having to say "We 4 booked it and we are taking it" to fellow Pilgrims. As we were going up the hill in Pamplona I felt terrible seeing Pilgrims trudge up the hill with their packs, knowing I was taking their beds. We did get into the Jesus and Maria Albergue, where we saw a sign listing the price for Pilgrims, groups, non Pilgrims and TOURISTS! What? They are now letting anyone stay, and make reservations as well? We were grateful for a bed, but spent 3 hours on email and phone trying to secure reservations for the next week. The next day going up the Alto de Perdon my knee gave out, and the short story is I tore my meniscus and had to end our Camino due to overuse. I would normally have taken 6 days to cover the distance that I was forced to do in 3 days, as I am 65 and my husband is 70. We went on to be tourists in Portugal so it was a nice "vacation", but I am now facing surgery. That night in Puenta La Reina, as I had arrived by taxi and saw Pilgrims being turned away by 1:00 because everything was full, 10 beds went empty in an Albergue that has 40 beds. The same with the next night! This is terrible that people make reservations and do not bother to cancel them, depriving others of a place to sleep. So back to "not complaining": Making reservations is not the end of the world and should not deter you from doing the Camino. In France we needed reservations every night, and knowing this we just planned a bit differently. I am sorry to say that the days of walking just as far as you feel like and getting a bed at 1:00 in the afternoon are finished. This new reservations policy is quite broken, and I hope they reconsider it. In the mean time, plan your stops a bit in advance, and make reservations to ensure your bed. A phone that works in Spain is a must. I only received 1 reply to my queries via email.
Ooo
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
Dave, I totally agree with you and think it is worth questioning one's motives to do a Camino versus the limits of one's comfort zone.
I have arrived in SdC as many times as I have stopped short and walked for a few weeks somewhere in Spain, there are many great trails to follow.
On Monday I leave for Le Puy en Velay to walk to Cahors, granted it has taken me some work to make sure I have bookings along the Cele Valle variant, but after Cahors I plan to jump ahead to Burgos and walk the CF across the Meseta for 3 weeks to Ponferrada and call it quits. The only reservations I have in Spain are at Norte y Londres, San Zoilo and Hospederia Monastica Pax.
Find another pilgrim and use booking.com. I have never been disappointed. A day's walk is so much nicer when you do not need to worry about a bed.
 

Rj7797

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017
As someone hoping to return whenever the possbility presents itself(one year? ten years?) the number of pilgrims, tours, and future of the Camino are probably the topics that fascinate me the most. Espically the Frances as that is where I feel called to return at least once more. I really enjoy the updates from people walking and the opinions of seasoned pilgrims.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Find another pilgrim and use booking.com. I have never been disappointed. A day's walk is so much nicer when you do not need to worry about a bed.
I am not sure I understand your response. I chose to walk alone and prefer not to disturb my peace and quiet with the chatter of walking with someone else.
Over my eight years on the Camino I have never had a problem finding a bed at the end of the day, the exception being I do chose to make reservation at some places I truly love to spend the night.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
When I was a hospi at San Anton, we would have a "busload" of tourists show up every few days. They were normally all from the same country and would come in to snap photos and listen to our interpretation of some of the architecture. The best part was they left small donations in the donativo jar and rarely demanded to use the toilet.
Edit added on 1 June:
One of my favorite stories was to tell visitors about San Anton's constant companion, a pig, which is immortalized in this stone work.
View attachment 58394
The FIRST Ditch Pig, I presume?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
We’ve just had the long Ascension weekend. Ascension Day is always on a Thursday and it is a public holiday in a number of European countries. So there was apparently “a big influx of pilgrims” in SJPP and the welcome office said on their FB page that nobody has to sleep outside and they will always find a solution. I can’t link to the photo they published today to illustrate it so I’m pasting it here and hope this is allowed.

So just note this in your calendars for SJPP/Roncesvalles: Easter week/Easter weekend ❌, 1st of May bridge ❌, Ascension weekend ❌ ........🤓

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
There are a lot more French and Spanish holidays left on the calendar for 2019.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
There are a lot more French and Spanish holidays left on the calendar for 2019.
True. Depending on where you are on your way to Saint James, you may get caught out by a public holiday and the shops are closed and you risk starvation ... Whitsun Monday, Fronleichnam, 14 juillet, the 15th of August are coming up next ... but I think the three I mentioned are the ones with the greatest surge of the demand for pilgrim beds in SJPP and Roncesvalles.
 

AlexanderAZ

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 (Sept/Oct): CF: SJPdP-->Fisterra-->Muxia (solo)
2019 (late Sept): CF: SJPdP-->Leon (honeymoon!)
I attempted to make reservations yesterday at Albergue Casa de la Abuela in Los Arcos for Oct 4th which is forty-four (44) days from now. I was told the entire place is booked (private rooms & bunks) "with a big group coming from Corea". OP, seems your experience is going to be more common.
 

Evvie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019
I attempted to make reservations yesterday at Albergue Casa de la Abuela in Los Arcos for Oct 4th which is forty-four (44) days from now. I was told the entire place is booked (private rooms & bunks) "with a big group coming from Corea". OP, seems your experience is going to be more common.
Yes, I've received the same response from several albergues. Groups are booking an entire place.
 

Evvie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019
As there is no one organization that coordinates rules or policies all along the Camino, nothing will change long term. It is up to the locals to force democratizing this process once again (e.g. first come first served, walkers get first dibs). We pilgrims can do little to affect this. Moreover, human nature being what it is, don't hold your breath for changes.

The only thing we can do is boycott by not doing Camino. But THAT sort of defeats the entire process doesn't it?

One solution, which also ain't gonna happen, is for some enterprising business person to develop a chain of inexpensive, standardized, private albergues, using off the shelf light industrial prefabricated buildings. Once erected and decorated on a reinforced slab, you would not easily tell the difference. Each location can be locally themed and decorated. Think the lowest category of IBIS hotels, then subtract features so as to get to pilgrim necessities.

The modern esthetic aside, this is a virtual 'no brainer' business model. It would have a separate, non-Booking.com (with the 15% commission) reservation system. Besides "IKEA new" kind of has a quality all its own.

I know this will never happen. But, IMHO and solely along the Frances, this is I believe the ultimate solution. Were I the Great Poobah, it would be done already.

Just trying to add to the dialog...
What a great idea! I'd be in on it but I imagine there's a lot of red tape to go through, either renting or purchasing the properties. Prefab's would be perfect and IKEA-type decor.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
We’ve just had the long Ascension weekend. Ascension Day is always on a Thursday and it is a public holiday in a number of European countries. So there was apparently “a big influx of pilgrims” in SJPP and the welcome office said on their FB page that nobody has to sleep outside and they will always find a solution. I can’t link to the photo they published today to illustrate it so I’m pasting it here and hope this is allowed.

So just note this in your calendars for SJPP/Roncesvalles: Easter week/Easter weekend ❌, 1st of May bridge ❌, Ascension weekend ❌ ........🤓

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor
And a pilgrim should be grateful for this solution! I love it!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
This thread made me go back and take a look at the DAY that my group of 8 arrived (with reservations) at Roncesvalles in May 2018. It was on a Monday.

I was surprised to see MANY pilgrims being turned away because the albergue was completely booked. So this isn't something new.

The Camino has changed in many ways. And one of those ways is that pilgrims are going to have to start making reservations ahead of time.

I can't blame the operators. I had a conversation with an ugly American (I'm American btw) on one of my last Caminos, where he admitted he had booked 3 lodgings up ahead, and would stop when he was tired. I asked if he would call and cancel the reservations he had made in the other lodgings and he said, "Naw." I'd use the word here I called him, but it's not nice, and it was a stronger sentiment than "jerk!".

I'm not saying it's just Americans who have caused this necessity not only to reserve, but to PAY ahead, but they sure haven't helped matters.

Regarding buses, I was happy to read these bus people were turned away. On my very first Camino, 13 years ago, after trudging to Roncesvalles from SJPP, a big bus stopped at the top of the hill and let off a large group of people, who ran laughing down the mountain into Roncesvalles. Boy, was I pissed! In fact I was crying because I was so tired and my feet hurt, and this added insult to injury. However, one of the laughing ladies offered me a piece of chocolate and I had to stop hating her. I don't know if they stayed at the albergue. I was too tired to care - that was back when we all were in bunks in one giant room. But I'm pretty sure buses have been stopping there with pilgrims forever. It is, after all, one of the beginnings of the Camino, not SJPP. So it's very possible it was their very first day.

My advice to new pilgrims is either 1) Book ALL of your lodging from SJPP through Pamplona as well as the day you arrive in Santiago or 2) give yourself some extra days so you can walk shorter stages, arriving in the villages before 2 pm or 3) Be prepared to sleep outdoors. I've done it many times, it's no biggie :)

Many reservations, by the way, can be made via booking.com This way, they have your credit card info and your booking is guaranteed (pretty much), and if you are a no show, you pay anyway! Most lodgings will give you 2 days to a week to cancel with no fee.

Buen Camino Pilgrims!
It's a whole other Camino!
 

Rj7797

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017
I attempted to make reservations yesterday at Albergue Casa de la Abuela in Los Arcos for Oct 4th which is forty-four (44) days from now. I was told the entire place is booked (private rooms & bunks) "with a big group coming from Corea". OP, seems your experience is going to be more common.
Wow :(
 

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