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The New Compostela Queuing System

K Turner

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
August-October 2019 CF
I didn't mind the system at all when I received my compostela 11 Sept. I don't have a QR scanner but used https://www.qrstuff.com/scan to keep an eye on the wait. I spent my time cleaning out my bag, having a snack, and chatting with other pilgrims. I think like anything else, new systems take time to work out the kinks. In the grand scheme of things, it just doesn't seem such a huge issue.

Have a great day, all.
 
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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
On a positive note, there is rarely a line up to visit the tomb of Santiago.
Ten days ago the queue inside the cathedral to visit the crypt was an hour long.
 
Past OR future Camino
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
I am intentionally refraining from saying anything pro or con about the new queuing system, as I have worked for the past six years, each summer, for a month. I would very much like to be welcomed back next year.

These people are very good friends, and are like a second family to me. We may, and do disagree sometimes. But I am going to avoid being critical in public.

The new system has promise. However they rolled it out on a very rainy, very busy Friday. We also had a lot of groups. This was a HUGE independent variable.

As an FYI, Friday is statistically the busiest day of the week during the season. The season starts with Semana Santa and ends about 1 October, after the universities are back in session, and annual holidays are exhausted.

By about 10:00 pm, when the paid staff finally left, instead of at 9:00 pm, volunteers and paid staff had processed some 3,200 pilgrims. Most of those were in groups.

The actual counting is running seriously behind. I was given that number orally, by a permanent staffer when I arrived for duty this morning.

In other words, management chose to roll out this new system on the worst possible day. Some of the variables they could have controlled better. Other variables were unknown when they opened for business yesterday, Friday.

I suggest that everyone just chill. Change DOES NOT come easy to anything within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. This includes the Camino Pilgrim Office at Santiago de Compostela.

Face it, the single-line, first-come-first-served queuing has been used for some 1,000 years in this process. Anything that changes this process is NOT going to come easily, either to pilgrims or the folks trying to welcome them.

They will work it out on their own. So long as there are no broken bones, blood in the streets or a general breakdown of law and order, we will survive this.

I am asking for general patience and understanding while the Pilgrim Office continues to build this airplane, while flying it. The best news is that the season is drawing to a close.

Hope this helps.


Ya gonna talk flying then try watching that film "Flight of the Phoenix".! There be many morals and lessons inherent in same! Buen camino and keep on truckin!

Yours aye

The malingerer. :)
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I arrived yesterday at 1500 and was told no more tickets that day. I know this was the case as early as 1300. So if you must get your Compostela the first day get to the office early. It opens at 0800 and by 0715 there were more than 60 people waiting. By 0800 there were more than 300 waiting. They were processing the Compostela at about 1 per min So they are limited to about 1000 a day. I got mine just after 0900. You can monitor the queue using the QR code on the ticket you get at the start which takes you here https://catedral.df-server.info/?num=66&fecha=2019-10-11&lang=1. Overall not a great system as ever Day the backlog get pushed back to the next day and just accumulated until the numbers coming in each day reduce to less than a 1000.
 

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I arrived yesterday at 1500
Yesterday was the second busiest day in October, probably the lead up to the national holiday on October 12.

So they are limited to about 1000 a day.
It depends. They issued nearly 3,000 compostelas on July 28, 2019, so the limit depends on the number of volunteers. My guess is that they get fewer volunteers in October than in July.

Your advice is sound!!! Get there early.:):):)
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
I arrived yesterday at 1500 and was told no more tickets that day. I know this was the case as early as 1300. So if you must get your Compostela the first day get to the office early. It opens at 0800 and by 0715 there were more than 60 people waiting. By 0800 there were more than 300 waiting. They were processing the Compostela at about 1 per min So they are limited to about 1000 a day. I got mine just after 0900. You can monitor the queue using the QR code on the ticket you get at the start which takes you here https://catedral.df-server.info/?num=66&fecha=2019-10-11&lang=1. Overall not a great system as ever Day the backlog get pushed back to the next day and just accumulated until the numbers coming in each day reduce to less than a 1000.
If they can only process 1000 a day and more than 1000 arrive, is there any alternative that would not also involve the backlog getting pushed back to the next day until the numbers coming in reduce to less than a 1000? Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like this isn't so much a result of a new system giving people numbers and more a result of more pilgrims arriving each day than they have volunteers to process.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
For info, an overview of the daily number of Compostelas that have been given out this month, according to the Oficina's website, is here.
 
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NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Actually, I've found the que to see Jimmy is often longer, on this day it zig zagged across the square and back down the street!
That looks like quite a nasty line up to get inside the cathedral. Is this due to the construction limiting the number of entry doors?

I've been fortunate that each time I've been in SDC, (and I'll visit the cathedral and the tomb multiple times each visit), there has been zero wait at the entrance to the tomb. Sometimes I've had the tomb entirely to myself.

There's usually a line for the stairs up to the statue but I haven't felt the need to go back up there since the first visit.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I look at all the above lunacy, and I see the Compostela has lost all meaning. The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela has created a many-headed monster. A thousand-year-old institution dedicated to a simple message of grace has evolved into an exploitative, automated mess.
Like I said in another thread, if the Church wants to maintain its moral integrity, it's time it got out of the tourist souvenir business. And maybe it's time for pilgrims to consider why this paper souvenir is so important that they're willing to be treated like cattle at the end of a meaningful journey.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I stated in other threads and will repeat it here. Given the new queuing system, the arrival pattern and work process has changed. There are both Pros and Cons to the new system.

Perhaps the biggest Pro is that you can obtain a QR queue numbered ticket. then leave the pilgrim office check into your accommodations, have a meal, drinks, etc. before returning in time to be seen at the counter.

You can and should check the progress of the queue remotely, by using the QR scanning function together with your smartphone internet browser. The queue sometimes moves in bursts, and the waiting time can reduce quickly. YOU MUST PAY ATTENTION.

Just make certain you return in enough time before your number is called, DO NOT be a 'No Show.' If they call your number and you are not there, your number will be cancelled. Then, you must obtain another, higher number and restart the process.

Perhaps the biggest Con to the new system is that they now know how many people they can process in a given day, given available time and resources. It is not a linear calculation, but based on experience, it appears that they are now processing about 1,200 pilgrims daily, plus whatever groups arrive outside the queue system.

Based on this, the QR ticket kiosks are turned off when the maximum number of people that can be processed for the day receive numbers. So, you might arrive at 13:00, after the noon Pilgrim Mass, only to find out that no more queue numbers are being issued for the day.

The takeaway from this is that pilgrims must now and into the future revise their Santiago arrival plans. If you are intent on receiving a Compostela and / or Distance Certificate, you MUST proceed directly to the Pilgrim Office FIRST, on arrival in Santiago to obtain a QR queue ticket number. Having one of these QR tickets, no matter how high numbered, ensures that you will be seen that day.

Do not plan to attend the Pilgrim Mass and THEN go to the Pilgrim Office. You may be disappointed.

However, YOU MUST PLAN ENOUGH TIME to remain in Santiago long enough to be there to be processed. This means that all arriving pilgrims who want a Compostela and / or Distance Certificate should plan to stay a minimum of one night at Santiago after arrival. I recommend staying for two nights to ensure you can both receive these documents and see the other pilgrim arrival ritual things around Santiago.

When I am next at the Pilgrim Office, I plan to push for several process improvements to address these issues. These ideas for non-group processes include:
  1. Establish one or more Solo Sello locations at the Pilgrim Office, and around the old town, to provide authorized Cathedral sellos / stamps on credencials to signify that you made it to Santiago, and to close out the credencial for future use. This necessarily precludes obtaining a Compostela. However, most repeat pilgrims value their credencials more than repeat Compostelas. Plus, this is free and takes seconds. It does not require waiting in line. It would be an option...
  2. Continue to lobby for express, automated advance data provision via the internet so you can skip the queue entirely and go to a separate entry to have your credencial validation and be issued your laser printed, using a calligraphic font, Compostela and / or Distance Certificate. Again, this would be OPTIONAL. If you wanted to take a QR ticket and be interviewed at the counter to receive a Compostela the old-school way, you would have that choice.
I continue to maintain that managing the burgeoning numbers of pilgrims, particularly into the coming 2021 Holy Year required adding optional choices for satisfying pilgrim demand. These choices must necessarily introduce automation as an option, at least iMHO.

Hope this helps.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
"However, YOU MUST PLAN ENOUGH TIME to remain in Santiago long enough to be there to be processed. This means that all arriving pilgrims who want a Compostela and / or Distance Certificate should plan to stay a minimum of one night at Santiago after arrival. I recommend staying for two nights to ensure you can both receive these documents and see the other pilgrim arrival ritual things around Santiago."

Not long ago the hoteliers were complaining that pilgrims don´t spend enough time (and money) in the city -- they blow in, get their compostela, and blow out. I don´t want to be cynical, but this new regimen provides a clever solution to that "problem."
 

YoloRover

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
Download the QR reader it is amazing. I went at 730am thinking it was smart. There was a very long line outside already. Waited in that about 45 min. If you have the QR reader you can go have breakfast or whatever, I went somewhere that had wi-fi so I could see what number was being called. It was about 2.5 hrs later. When I went back, there was no line whatsoever. So I think sometimes going at 10am might be the best.

Watch that they spell your name properly on the certificate and buy the tube to protect the scroll for traveling
 

YoloRover

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
"However, YOU MUST PLAN ENOUGH TIME to remain in Santiago long enough to be there to be processed. This means that all arriving pilgrims who want a Compostela and / or Distance Certificate should plan to stay a minimum of one night at Santiago after arrival. I recommend staying for two nights to ensure you can both receive these documents and see the other pilgrim arrival ritual things around Santiago."

Not long ago the hoteliers were complaining that pilgrims don´t spend enough time (and money) in the city -- they blow in, get their compostela, and blow out. I don´t want to be cynical, but this new regimen provides a clever solution to that "problem."
I am very glad I spent 2 nights in SDC as it was my favorite city on the CF. Lodging was higher though but I made last minute rsvp and it was very close to the cathedral so it was over 100€/night. Well worth it though. After 8pm the streets really came alive
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
That looks like quite a nasty line up to get inside the cathedral. Is this due to the construction limiting the number of entry doors?

I've been fortunate that each time I've been in SDC, (and I'll visit the cathedral and the tomb multiple times each visit), there has been zero wait at the entrance to the tomb. Sometimes I've had the tomb entirely to myself.

There's usually a line for the stairs up to the statue but I haven't felt the need to go back up there since the first visit.
No construction, this was taken in a wet December a few years back. The problem was the entry for the tomb was the same as the statue, once inside they did allow you to leave the statue que and go down to the tomb, the line there was pretty slow as most visitors go in alone and spend time in prayer. Other times I've been there is a seperate door open for tomb visits and the line isn't as long.

I must admit I now avoid the cathedral and pilgram office, as I find the crush of people hard to take after completing one of the more isolated caminos. @Rebekah Scott has a point in that you need to find your own way to complete your Camino.
 
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YoloRover

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
No construction, this was taken in a wet December a few years back. The problem was the entry for the tomb was the same as the statue, once inside they did allow you to leave the statue que and go down to the tomb, the line there was pretty slow as most visitors go in alone and spend time in prayer. Other times I've been there is a seperate door open for tomb visits and the line isn't as long.

I must admit I now avoid the cathedral and pilgram office, as I find the crush of people hard to take after completing one of the more isolated caminos. @Rebekah Scott has a point in that you need to find your own way to complete your Camino.
Just went Sept 2019 and no line to get into Cathedral. I stumbled on it by accident, it is on the side of the church (if facing the cathedral, the right side). I had gone to Plaza Quintana behind the cathedral for a massage and saw a security guard checking people's bags. It's free to enter and the botafumeriro rope is visible. Lots of scaffoding inside and out. But I'm glad I saw the tomb.
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Past OR future Camino
yes...
I arrived yesterday and currently on the bus home. We arrived in good time so taking a number was no problem. Of course I had also been informed about the new system from you guys so I was prepared. Even so we spent a few minutes wandering around trying to figure where to go.... But pilgrims were helping other pilgrims directing you to the machine. It was all very easy in the end.

We were actually too early, in that our number would likely clash with our booked cathedral tour so we swapped with some pilgrims for a later number.

I have to say that once you have the ticket it was really easy. We visited St James, checked into our hotel, had lunch, rested, had our tour before returned to the waiting hall and chatted with other pilgrims. I received my compostela from the most charming of volunteers and left with a little tear and many memories.

My only suggestion would be perhaps some information boards? When I returned for my compostela, at the entrance there were many confused pilgrims. The ticket machine closed around 1:45 but there are no instructions. The poor security guy was there alone trying to explain in Spanish that pilgrims needed to return tomorrow. I was able to explain to the French and English speakers but perhaps a notice would be useful?

I am grateful for my Compostela - it means a lot to me. (Ps I'd also be very happy to pay for mine, as would most people I suspect, if it helped fund more staff and helped process the volumes of pilgrims? )

I've previously written to the Pilgrims Office to ask if I could be of any assistance as a volunteer. I'd love to have the opportunity to give back to something that has given me so much... And I am only really available outside of the summer... If you need someone at the end of November then I'm your girl 😊

Thanks for all the information on here. .. Thanks to you guys I have my compostela ❤️
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
"However, YOU MUST PLAN ENOUGH TIME to remain in Santiago long enough to be there to be processed. This means that all arriving pilgrims who want a Compostela and / or Distance Certificate should plan to stay a minimum of one night at Santiago after arrival. I recommend staying for two nights to ensure you can both receive these documents and see the other pilgrim arrival ritual things around Santiago."

Not long ago the hoteliers were complaining that pilgrims don´t spend enough time (and money) in the city -- they blow in, get their compostela, and blow out. I don´t want to be cynical, but this new regimen provides a clever solution to that "problem."

I had not thought of this new queue system in that context. But, I rather suspect you are onto something.

Seen in a broader, conspiratorial context, it does make sense. The pilgrim office makes a change that mandates pilgrims stay in town longer to be serviced. Coincidentally, the local economy benefits...

One wonders...

My observation and assessment parallels Rebekah’s to the extent that this whole thing is getting so large as to be very unwieldy.

I can see converting over to a “solo sello” process for documenting the end of a pilgrimage, combined with issuing a pre-printed, non-personalized version of the current Compostela.

But like most changes, this will likely never happen... I am still trying to Sort out whose bright idea the new QR queue system was. On balance, I prefer the old way...

Each year, I show up to help as a volunteer. I do try to gently steer proceses in a better direction. But at the end of the day, I am just a volunteer. I do what I am told.
 
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Micah26

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino France's (2018)
Hi all,
sounds like they’re trying to make a positive change. Last October when I got my Compostela I waited in line for almost 3 hrs. Difficult for me as I’ve had a stroke and my side was really struggling. But I had a nice conversation with several pilgrims. To me this was part of the process. Patience and gratitude were my companions. But that’s how I tried to take the whole adventure... except for my first day walking out of Pamplona I was cranky and concerned about what I’d gotten myself into! After that day I went with the flow... BTW the next day I waited in line again for three hours with some new camino friends. I am grateful I could and thankful for the opportunity to practice my new found patience. A big THANK YOU to anyone who helped all the volunteers that work so hard!
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I've continued to update the list of the number of Compostelas given out daily during this month of October. They are now in the range of 1000 Compostelas per day. Yet someone reported in one of the FB groups I'm following that two days ago (15 October) there were no more numbers given out after 14:00, and on the following morning, a waiting line of a few people had already formed by 6:30. Amazing change of behaviour patterns ...
 
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mmmmartin

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
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The office is still issuing 1,100 compostelas a day, so it will stop issuing tickets when that number is reached. Last week that number was reached by midday but now it is reached by about 3pm, perhaps later. So the total number of compostelas issued remains the same. Perhaps the number of pilgrims is dropping off a bit, but not much. And the office manager will know how many workers there are on any given day so will determine the number of tickets to be given out.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Numbers of Compostelas given out every day are currently below 1000 and this morning when a pilgrim who posted on FB went to the Pilgrims Office at 7:45, he was only the 15th person in line. So no long early morning queues before the office opens at 8:00. He had received his Compostela by 8:30.

Of course, all this is not newsworthy ... ;).
 

mmmmartin

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One day this week the volunteers were told to go home at 6.30pm so the pressure on numbers is dropping away now. One of the full time staff said last week that at the end of this month there'd be 60 a day. He was going to find another job. I guess some of them are laid off at the end of the rush.
 
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I look at all the above lunacy, and I see the Compostela has lost all meaning. The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela has created a many-headed monster. A thousand-year-old institution dedicated to a simple message of grace has evolved into an exploitative, automated mess.
Like I said in another thread, if the Church wants to maintain its moral integrity, it's time it got out of the tourist souvenir business. And maybe it's time for pilgrims to consider why this paper souvenir is so important that they're willing to be treated like cattle at the end of a meaningful journey.
Am I being judged for my choice to want “that tourist souvenir?” I am 5 k short of Santiago, and yes, I want that memento after walking for 7 weeks. And I don’t think I should be deemed foolish to do so. If it has lost all meaning for you, please don’t rain on our parade. Peace to you.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
For info: daily totals published on the Oficina's website.

Date
Compostelas​
Date​
Compostelas​
Date​
Compostelas​
1 Oct​
1.224​
11 Oct​
1.677​
21 Oct​
873​
2 Oct​
1.413​
12 Oct​
1.417​
22 Oct​
976​
3 Oct​
1.225​
13 Oct​
1.480​
23 Oct​
893​
4 Oct​
1.413​
14 Oct​
1.023​
24 Oct​
827​
5 Oct​
1.298​
15 Oct​
1.020​
25 Oct​
1.286​
6 Oct​
1.152​
16 Oct​
1.033​
26 Oct​
913​
7 Oct​
1.118​
17 Oct​
1.054​
27 Oct​
1.000​
8 Oct​
998​
18 Oct​
1.583​
28 Oct​
642​
9 Oct​
1.412​
19 Oct​
1.195​
29 Oct​
616​
10 Oct​
1.447​
20 Oct​
1.062​
30 Oct​
609​
31 Oct​
832​
Total:
34.711
The official figure for October 2019 was 36.115, due to the fact that they usually make some adjustments to they daily data.
 
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Andrea Mayfield

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RobinK*

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi there,
I’m traveling to Bilbao next weekend. I will walk the Olvidado and Invierno to Santiago. Some time in September I hope to reach Saint James.

Does anyone know if this QR-code system is still in place in order to obtain a Compostela certificate?

Best regards, Robin
 
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2012
The QR system was scrapped because of the potential breach of EC data protection laws. Current rules suggest that you collect a receipt for at least €5 expenditure from every bar/cafe you pass.
OK, not true. The QR system is up and running, you can even get a digital Compostela: who would raise a digit to that 😉
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
The QR system was scrapped because of the potential breach of EC data protection laws. Current rules suggest that you collect a receipt for at least €5 expenditure from every bar/cafe you pass.
OK, not true. The QR system is up and running, you can even get a digital Compostela: who would raise a digit to that 😉
A digital Compostela?! That is news to me. I would appreciate knowing more about this.

I have not been able to volunteer since August 2019, when the first version of the QR queuing system was placed into use. The Spanish COVID situation and government policies permitting, I am headed over on 1 September for a few weeks as a volunteer.

My original white paper on using automation to attenuate the effect of the originally anticipated 500,000 + pilgrims for the Holy Year (pre-pandemic), called for using the advance input of information over the internet, via an app on a smart phone, to pre-print a Compostela and (optionally) a Distance Certificate, once you entered Santiago, and the office computer had received your final electronic credential information.

Two dedicated laser printers would be used - one each for a Compostela and Distance Certificate) - and the computer would automatically print the certificates once you had submitted your final information and pressed "submit." By the time you finished walking to the Pilgrim Office, everything would have been done behind the scenes.

This allowed for 'express processing.' Only these pilgrims would scan their QR codes on their smartphones and be directed to a different room, counter etc. to have their routing verified then a laser-printed certificate or two issued. This process would take moments instead of the present amount of time.

It appears to me that they are developing some of the pieces of this suggested process over time. I do not care. My intent was to create an alternative for people who did not wish to queue like the rest of us. I even allowed that there could be a nominal fee attached to receiving express processing and the calligraphed certificates.

The benefit of this express process is beautifully calligraphed certificates, and nil time spent waiting for someone with horrid penmanship, from having to deal with manually completing a certificate. The time per person DOES add up over the hours each day. My assessment is that a very small percentage of certificates would be spoiled and not used.

Actually, the staff go through a fair number of blank certificates daily if they grab the wrong certificate or start to writhe incorrect information and have to re-do the certificate. these spoils end up being used as scratch paper behind the counter after being torn in pieces.

I hope this helps - I would like to know more about the digital Compostela though.

Tom
 
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