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The Oficina del Peregrino

#1
Live from the Oficina del Peregrino

I’m working as a volunteer in the Oficina del Peregrino in Santiago for the last two weeks in August 2015. My forum post in no way represents the views of the Oficina del Peregrino. These are just my own observations and comments. Please note that I had a lot of comments/questions to my original post and so I am editing this post to add in the updated bits. Updates from the original post are in italics. I thought that it would be useful to have all of the info in one place rather than have to scroll down and read the various comments. Thanks to all of you who did make comments and suggestions. Thanks also to Ivar for posting my photos of the various certificates you can get in the Oficina.

The Oficina del Peregrino has their own website, which I would encourage your to visit if you haven’t already done so:

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/welcome/

You should note, however, that a few things need updating on the site and I have alerted the Oficina to this. The Oficina is still at Rua do Vilar, 3/1. It is now open from 8am to 8pm. At 8pm the doors close and peregrinos in the courtyard will be attended to. The left luggage service is no longer at the Oficina del Peregrino. See below for more details of where you can leave your back pack/bike. At the Oficina complex, there are toilets for peregrinos at the far end of the courtyard. There is also an Alsa bus office which is only open from 9:30am to 1:30pm on weekdays. Above the toilets is a special greeting area for Dutch peregrinos run by the Dutch Cofraternity of St James. Sisters from the Order of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (called Camino Companions) are also there to talk to peregrinos about their Camino (the highs and the lows). They are mostly from English speaking countries, but some speak Spanish. You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to talk to them. They run ‘decompression’ sessions from Monday to Saturday at 9am and at 2:30pm. They also have tea/coffee and biscuits.

Via the Oficina del Peregrino site, you can access statistical data on the pilgrims who have arrived in Santiago (and have complied with the official rule that foot, horse and wheelchair peregrinos need to have completed the last 100km of their route and bicycle peregrinos (bicigrinos) have completed the last 200km of their route.

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/statistics/

I know that some peregrinos have had to wait 60 to 90 minutes to get their compostela. This reflects the large number of peregrinos. For example, in July 2015, 44, 799 peregrinos arrived at the office having complied with official rules. Those of you who thought the Camino Frances was crowded, were correct. On July, 27, 923 people came to Santiago via the Camino Frances. Compare this to 7447 on the Portugues, 3561 on the Norte, 2037 on the Primitivo, 1893 on the Plata, 1813 on the Ingles and 53 on the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago or Fisterra-Muxia-Santiago. I did the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago before starting my two weeks of volunteering. Details of this are on my Live from the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago post.

Why are there volunteers? Why don’t they all speak Spanish?

The volunteer programme was started by Johnnie Walker (his forum name) in 2012. The volunteers were called ‘Amigos’ and wore dark blue shirts with ‘welcome’ on the front in various languages in white letters and ‘Amigo’ on the back. This was initially sponsored by the Confraternities of St James of UK and Ireland. So the first volunteers were from English speaking countries and not all spoke Spanish (though efforts were made to pair up Spanish speaking Amigos with non-Spanish speaking ones). The Amigo programme continued until 2014 and the sponsorship from other Cofraternities increased. The original remit of the volunteers was to greet peregrinos, answer questions as best they could and ensure the smooth flow of peregrinos from the queue to the desks to have their compostelas filled out. This was in the old office, up the stairs, which some of you will remember.

In 2015, the Amigo programme, was taken over by the Oficina del Peregrinos. We are no longer called Amigos, we are called Volunatarios and have a light blue T-shirt with a half scallop shell design. Many of the Amigos have come back, which is why you still have some Voluntarios that don’t speak much Spanish. Some Voluntarios still act as greeters. They also try to speed up the process of getting a compostela by asking peregrinos to have their credencials ready (as opposed to at the bottom of their ruck sack). Peregrinos are also asked (by some Voluntarios) to have their identity cards/passports to hand. This isn’t to check who you are, it is simply so that the people at the desk have a clearly written version of your name so they don’t make errors on your compolstela/certificate of completion. Other Voluntarios with language skills, like me, are at the desk issuing compostelas. Voluntarios are only there during the summer when there are a large number of peregrinos. At other times of the year, paid staff are at the desks. So the added presence of Voluntarios in the summer does help speed up the process.

Where do I get my compostela?
The compostela desks are now in a room to the left of the courtyard and there is a number system in place. When a desk becomes free, the number of the desk will come up and the peregrino at the front of the queue will be asked to go to that desk. We are aware that some people want to go in together as they have walked together. Nevertheless, we prefer people to go in one by one as there isn’t much space inside (particularly if people have large ruck sacks) and it does go quicker if your travelling companion goes to the next free desk rather than wait for you to get your compostela and then get theirs.
Please note: The certificate is a compostela. A compostelana is a woman from Santiago de Compostela.
compostela.png
The Compostela

What happens at the desk?
You will be greeted and asked to fill out a form. This asks for your name, gender, country (for people with multiple citizenship, you need to choose what you want announced in the Cathedral), your city/province (particularly important for peregrinos from Spain), age, occupation, mode of transport (foot/bike/horse/wheelchair) and where you started from. All of the data, apart from your name is entered into a database and this is used for the statistical report. You can see what the report for July looks like by going to the web link above. I should stress that your name is never entered into the database (there isn’t even a space for it), so you are never identified as an individual. A typical entry would be: female, Canada, Glasgow, 49, teacher, spiritual, foot, Muxia.

The person at the desk will examine your credencial to ensure that you have completed at least the last 100km for foot, horse and wheelchair peregrinos and the last 200km for bicigrinos. We know the routes and so can spot things that seem incongruous. We normally want to see at least 1 stamp (sello) per day up to the last 100km and then 2 per day after that. These can be from bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, albergues, gas stations, post offices, shops police stations and churches, i.e. basically anyone who has a stamp. Please make sure these are dated. When I did the Camino Portuguese in 2009 I got a stamp from a police station. They were delighted to be asked for a sello.

Why do I need two sellos for the LAST 100km (or 200km on bike)?
To prove that you really did walk it. As shocking as this sounds, some people do cheat. Some people don’t know that they need to get 2 sellos in the last 100km (or 200km for bikes). These people will be questioned about their route simply to ensure that they did walk/cycle it. We have refused to give compostelas to people who have credenciles that don't look right, like a person who didn't have any stamps after Melide because he said that there were no places between Santiago and Melide who had sellos! Those of you who have walked this stretch can imagine our jaws dropping at this statement. PLEASE note that its the LAST 100km (200km on bike) that counts. We have a very upset French couple who had walked from Le Puy en Velay to Puenta La Reina and then had taken a bus from there to Santiago expecting to get a compostela because they had walked over 100km (they had walked over 600km over the course of a number of years). We explained that we couldn't give them compostelas because they hadn't walked the last 100km. As I speak French (I'm Canadian) I got to explain all of this to them.

Why am I asked my motivation for doing the Camino?
Having worked at the desk, I can say that this is the thing that really does confuse some people. The categories on the form are: religious, religious and other, and sporting. These categories need some translation. Religious (religioso) is for people who are doing the pilgrimage for a religious motivation. Some peregrinos tick this box saying, ‘well, I’m Catholic’. However, you don’t have to be Catholic to do the Camino de Santiago for religious reasons. I’ve had a Buddhist from Nepal tick the ‘religioso’ box. Most people do the Camino for ‘spiritial’ reasons. This would fall under the category of ‘religioso o otra’. ‘Spiritual’ can have as wide a meaning as you want it to. One woman did the Camino after having made a promise that she would do so if she was cancer free for 5 years. Some people say that they aren’t religious, but do feel that they have changed as a person while doing the Camino. Some people do the Camino in memory of someone. If you do this, you can ask to have your Compostela dedicated. Your name goes on the form, but at the bottom, the desk person can write a dedication (it helps if you write down before hand exactly what you want written). I would count all of these as ‘religioso o otro’. If you tick either of these two boxes, you get the compostela. There are some people, however, who have no religious or spiritual reason for doing the Camino. They are doing it as a cultural/historical experience or as a long distance trek. People with this as a motivation don’t get the compostela. They get a certificate. They also get an extra stamp in their credencial to indicate that their motivation is sporting/cultural.

Both the compostela and the certificate are beautiful documents with the text written in Latin and coloured illuminations on the sides. People who have done the Camino earlier than 2014 will have received the old designs. Personally, I very much prefer the new designs. As both documents are in Latin, you name is translated in Latin (if possible). You will be Dnum (Dominum) if male and Dnam (Dominam) if female. Then your first name(s) will be translated into Latin. We have an online file with Latin translations and for tricky cases we have a book. I was recently defeated trying to find a translation for Stewart. It wasn’t on the computer document, in the book and the full time staff didn’t know of a translation either. Comments from past peregrinos indicate that Stewart/Stuart has a long history of not being translated into Latin in the Oficina. If anyone who specializes in Latin does know a translation for Stewart/Stuart, I’ll add it to the list. Your family name is not translated. One of the responces to the first version of this post noted that an American peregrina was upset that her name had been translated into Latin because she wanted the name she was christened on the Compostela. If you DON'T want your name translated into Latin on the Compostela make this clear at the desk. In my experience, most people are delighted to have their name translated into Latin. One peregrina said that it spoke to the history of the route.

When I volunteered in the Oficina in 2012, I did a ‘Live from the Oficina’ post. I mentioned the issue about ‘motivation’. I received an angry reply saying that asking people to choose their motivation was a ploy by the Catholic Church to inflate the number of religious people in their statistics. This sparked quite a lively debate. Many people on the forum had no problem at all with being asked their motivation. In all honesty, people have multiple motivations and they can change along the route. You can start off by doing the route as a long distance trek and then ‘find yourself’ on the Camino, which is more of a ‘spiritual’ experience. We ask what your motivation is so we know whether to give you the compostela or the certificate of completion. There is no sinister plan in asking you your motivation.

certificate-of-completion-.png
Certificate of Completion



What if I’m in a large group? Do I have to wait in the queue?
When I first volunteered in 2012, everyone had to show up with their own credencial. So we had large groups, particularly from schools, wait in the queue. Now we have a separate office for this. This is just a bit further down Rua do Vilar past the RENFE (train) office. If you are in a group of more than 6, see the security guard at the door and he will direct you to the group desk.

Can I get someone else’s compostela/certificate?
We prefer people to show up in person with their credencial and ID to get their compostela/certificate. However, there are times when a fellow peregrino is too ill to stand in the queue. In this case, it is acceptable to get a credencial/certificate for someone else. However, you do have to explain this to the Voluntario at the head of the queue and the person at the desk and you need to have their credenical and ID.

What do I have to pay for the credencial/certificate?
This is free (or, in other words, without price). If you wish to make a donation, there are locked boxes at the desks.

What is the distance certificate?
This was introduced in the last two years. This is a separate certificate, written in Spanish or Gallego (if you want yours in Gallego, please ask) which has your name as it is in your passport (i.e. not in Latin), the distance you completed (without using buses, cars or trains), when you arrived in Santiago, when you started your route, where you started and which route you did. For this certificate, you have to pay 3 euros. I was talking to some Belgians who had cycled from their home about this. The husband noted that it wasn’t even the price of two beers in Santiago . His wife added that it wasn’t the price of one beer in Belgium. Getting this certificate is totally optional. Some people who have travelled long distances want one. On the other hand, I have had people who have started in Sarria and are proud of their 116km who have also wanted them. We have an official list of distances based on the route on foot. Some of these differ from the distances in the guidebooks. If you are a bicigrino, travelled on the road and have some sort of meter that measured your distance, please mention this as it will differ from the distance on foot. We will put down what you have on your meter.

distance-certificate.png
Distance Certificate


Do I need a ‘tubo’?
You will be asked if you want a ‘tubo’ (a cardboard tube). These are very sturdy and are ‘Ryan Air proof’. If the Oficina they cost 2 euros. In shop next to the Oficina, you can get one for 1 euro. The one from the shop is a white with blue design. It is the correct size for the credencial/certificate of arrival. However, it is a bit too small for the distance certificate. In the Oficina, we have blue tubes with gold shells and red tubes with gold shells. If you decide to get your tubo from the Oficina, you will be given a choice of colour. IF you get the compostela/certiciate or arrival AND the distance certificate, we recommend the red tubo, which is slightly longer. The distance certificate is bigger than the credencial/certificate of arrival.

I just want a credencial, do I have to stand in the queue?
No! Just go to the Voluntario at the head of the queue or to the top of the queue if there is no Voluntario and explain that you want a credencial (pilgrims passport). This is 1.50 euros per credencial.

Can I leave my luggage at the Oficina? Can I have my ruck sack delivered to the Oficina? Can I leave my bike?
No. We no longer have a space for this. There is left luggage at the Correos (see above). Any bags sent ahead end up there. If you have a bike you can park it on the right had side of the courtyard while you are waiting to get your compostela. After that, you have to take it away.

Where can I leave my backpack/bike?
There are two places near the Oficina that will take your left luggage and bike.
The Instituto Europeo/Campus Steallae: This is in Plaza de la Quintera, 3. Basically, from the Oficina del Peregrino you head to the Cathedral. You arrive at Praza de Prateria (there is a fountain in it) you head up the stairs to the Cathedral. The door in front of you is where you enter for the pilgrims mass. Once on top of the stairs, if you look right, you will see another plaza. The Consigna/Luggage Store is at the corner at the top of the stairs you just climbed. There is a sign and it is pretty hard to miss. They are open from 9am to 8pm. They take bags for 2 euros, and bikes for 3 euros. They have a changing room (if you want to get out of wet clothes). They will also print off boarding passes.

Correros (Post Office): This is not far away, but is in a parallel street (Rua do Franco). You go down Rua do Vilar until you arrive at Informacion Touristica de la Provincia de Galicia. You turn left down a small side street and you will arrive at the post office. There are yellow arrows with 'Correros/Post Office' to follow. They are open from 8:30am to 8:30pm. You can store your bag for 24 hours for 2 euros. They will also send your bag or bike home for you. The prices for this are on a sign outside of the Correos. Prices start from 42.07 euros for a bike and 16.67 euros for a back pack. There is also a Correos desk at the Oficina del Pergrino. It is through a doorway to the left of the courtyard.

I want to go to Finisterre or Muxia on foot or by bus, where do I get information?
The Oficina del Peregrino gives advice to peregrinos who ARRIVE at Santiago. They don’t issue information or credenciales for people who want to continue onto Finisterre or Muxia by foot or bus. You can get this information from the Oficina de Tourismo de la Provincia de Galica, which is on 30-32 Rua do Vilar (same street as the Oficina del Peregrino, other side, half way down) . If you are walking, I can very much recommend the John Brierly guidebook. If you have spaces left in your credencial, you can use this to go onto Finisterre or Muxia. I would recommend getting two sellos per day. It is normally 3 long days to Finisterre or Muxia. In Finisterre, if you present your stamped credencial to the desk at the Albergue de la Xunta, you will be given a Fisterana certificate. If you continue to Muxia (one more day) and to Tourist Information, you will be given a Muxiana. Both are beautiful document, are written in Gallego and say that you have arrived at the ‘fin do Camino’ (end of the Camino). If your credencial is full, you can get one from the Provincial Tourist Office (address above). You can either go to Finisterre first or Muxia. When I did it in 2009, I went to Muxia first and then Finisterre as I wanted to end at the End of the World. However, I met a German peregrino who wanted to go to Finisterre first: ‘I want to go the the End of the World and then beyond’!

If you are going by bus, the timetable below will be helpful (thanks again to Falcon for supplying this).
http://antigo.quepasanacosta.com/busescostadamorte.html

Where can I get a map of Santiago? Where can I stay?
You get this from the city tourist office. This is also on Rua do Vilar (number 63). It is one the same side of the road as the Oficina del Peregrino. It is almost at the end. The Province of Galicia Tourist Office on Rua do Vilar will also give you a city map, but they can't advise you on hotels.

Pilgrim Mass
The Cathedral has a number of masses, but there used to be only one pilgrim mass. This was at noon. Now, there are two daily pilgrim masses, one at 12 and one at 19:30 (7:30pm). I would advise you to arrive an hour before the mass to get a good seat. If you arrive 30min before the mass, you might not even get a seat. If you get your credencial before 11am, you will be mentioned at the 12pm mass by your nationality and starting point. If you get your credencial after 11am, you will be mentioned at the 19:30 (7:30pm) mass or at the 12pm mass the following day. If you are unsure, please ask which mass you will be mentioned at. The Botafumeiro doesn’t always appear (see below). If you enter the Cathedral and it is attached to a pillar, if probably won’t be used. If it is unattached, that is a good sign. In the past, you used to be able to attend the mass with your back pack. This is no longer possible due to the very large number of people who attend this mass. This also reflects concerns about possible terrorist attacks (see below for comments from another volunteer about this). Security at the church door will turn you away if you have a large ruck sack. If in doubt about the size of your bag, ask security well beforehand. Security will also do random checks on smaller bags. If the Botafumeiro does come out, the best place to sit is in the transept (i.e. if you imagine the letter t with the altar at the top, you sit at the bit that crosses below the top. You can access this from the steps at the top of Rua do Vilar on the far side of the Praza de Prateria.

There is now a new queuing sytems to get in for both peregrino masses. There is one line for pilgrims WITH their credencial and one for 'tourists'. If you don't have your credencial, you have to join the tourist queue. Both queues are let in at the same time, but if the Cathedral looks like it is getting full, the close off the tourist line to make sure that pilgrims get the last places. The only mass where you are guarenteed to see the botafumeiro apart from the feast days listed below is at the Friday 19:30 (7:30pm) peregrino mass. Arrive at 6pm as this gets VERY crowded very quickly.

Botafumeiro
Many people ask if they will see the famous Botafumeiro swing. This is a very large insense burner. It is used for liturgical purposes and not as a tourist attraction, so it is used on certain feast days and if it has been booked in advance (see below). At the moment, it guarenteed to swing at the Friday mass at 19:30 (i.e. 7:30pm). This is sponsored by the Hotel Association of Santiago and the Xunta. The Cathedral fills up quickly for this mass, so I would recommend arriving at 6:00pm to get a seat. On some occasions, the doors are shut early if the Cathedral is full. Bring your credencial (your pilgrim passport) to join the peregrino queue.

If you are a group of peregrinos, you can request, WELL in advance, for the Botafumeiro to swing. However, you have to pay for this. You can request this and get details on the fees by emailing: botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es.

8 men (los tiraboleiros) are required to swing the Botafumeiro and so their presence has to be organized. You can’t just show up at the Pilgrim’s Office and offer to pay then and there (yes, people have tried to do this). Office staff are NOT told when the Botafumeiro has been booked by a group. This is so we can genially tell people that we don’t know. The idea behind this is that people should go to the mass for the sake of going to the mass and NOT just to see the Botafumeiro. At the beginning of the mass, people are reminded that this is a sacred event and that they are not to take photos. This doesn’t stop people from dragging out their cameras and phones if the Botafumeiro does swing. Honestly, there are tons of links on YouTube if you want to send your family and friends a video. It is much better just to watch it and not take photos or film clips. It looks a lot better if you are not peering through a view finder. See, for example, ww.youtube.com/watch?v=mtxuvtZqOog

The Botafumeiro will come out on the following feast days:
· La Epifanía del Señor: January 6
· Domingo de Resurrección: variable dates
· La Ascensión del Señor: variable dates
· La Aparición del Apóstol-Clavijo: May 23
· Pentecostés: variable dates
· El Martirio de Santiago: July 25
· La Asunción de María: August 15
· Todos los Santos: November 1
· Cristo Rey (the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent) (i.e. Nov 22 in 2015)
· La Inmaculada Concepción: Decemember 8
· Navidad: December 25
· Traslado de los Restos del Apóstol: December 30

Rituals at the Cathedral
If you are facing the altar, on the right hand side, behind the altar, there is a door with steps which leads up to a bust of Santiago. There is normally a queue. You can hug the saint (above the altar) and leave an offering if you wish. You are not permitted to take photos. On the left hand side, there is a door to go down to the crypt of Santiago, where his remains are said to be in a silver coffin. There is an area for kneeling down and praying.

Mass and Prayer Service in English (and other languages)
There is an English language mass (with a priest who speaks English as a native language) every morning except Sunday at 10:30 and a Prayer Service every evening except Sunday at 18:00 (6pm). This only runs during the 'high' season. This is held the the Chapel of the Virgin of Sorrows which is to the left of the altar. The chapel itself is very interesting. It is in one of the oldest parts of the Cathedral. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary with heard stabbed with swords. If you look at the altar piece you will also see symbols associated with the Cruxifiction of Christ: nails, hammer, sponge, etc. There is an advert on the chapel, so you can't miss it.

If you walk around the Cathedral you will see notices on other side chapels offering masses in German, French, Italian, Polish , etc. The hours are on these notices.


Pilgrim House

Pilgrim House opened up on July 24, 2015. It is run by volunteers (separate from the Oficina) and is funded with donations. It is on Rua Nova 19. This street is parallel to Rua do Vilar. Their website is www.pilgrimhousesantiago.com

They are open from 11am to 8pm, but are closed on Sundays and Wednesdays. The rational behind Pilgrim House is that it provides services for peregrinos. You can get your laundry done (for a fee), they print off boarding passes (for a fee), they have wifi, they have books you can borrow, they have a nice chill out space. You can leave your ruck sack here (hanging on a peg and unguarded). Everyday at 5pm they have a meeting point for pilgrims. So if you want to meet other pilgrims, this is a lovely place to go.

Are the Fransiscanos still giving out a special compostela? The surprising answer to this is 'yes'! Last year, they gave them out to people who had the cathedral stamp in their credencial to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of St Francis making the pilgrimage to Santiago. This was supposed to end in 2014, but it is still happening, albeit it with reduced opening hours. If you are in the Praza Obradorio in front off the Cathedral you head left down Rua de San Francisco (this goes along the right hand side of the Reyes de Catoloicos Hotel. You keep on going and will see a very large stone monument. Beyond this are steps. This leads to the Convento de San Francisco. You enter via the left hand side door at the entance. You stick to the left hand side and go to the far end of the church (you pass the Museum of the Holy Land). Here you will find the Sacristy. It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10:00-12:00 and from 17:30 (5:30pm)-19:30 (7:30pm). On Sundays, the sacristy is only open from 10:00-12:00. The certificate is donativo and there is a donation box at the desk. The volunteer I talked to when I picked up mine said that they don't widely advertise this because they want to see people who have faith and not just people who are collecting certificates. They also have a sello which is in the shape of a Tau. I was told that they will be doing this until the end of 2015.

If you want to see what the certificate looks like, go to:
http://caminoxacobeo.weebly.com/la-cotolaya.html


Bad Feet?
This doesn't fall within the remit of the Oficina, but I was given this information by Johnnie Walker and I think it is worth passing on as part of a FAQ post. There is a Foot Clinic very close to the train station. I've been told that the prices they charge are very reasonable (i.e. from 20 euros (or 10 euros per foot if you prefer to view it this way)). They are called the Clinica Podologica Galastur. They are on 5 Avenida de Lugo. If you are coming down from Plaza Galicia along Calle Horreo to get to the train station, you will arrive at a small round about (traffic circle) at the end of Calle Horreo (cross to the other side to get to the steps that go down to the train station). At the round about, you will noticce a Mexican restaurant to your left. Turn left onto Avenida Lugo, stay on the Mexican restaurant side of the street, go past the Cafe Ponteseca and you will soon arrive at the Clinica. They are open from 10:30-13:30 (1:30pm) and from 16:30 (4:30pm)-20:00 (8pm). I forgot to ask if this was all week or only Monday to Friday. In any case, they recommend that you phone for an appointment AND will make house/hotel calls (Phone: 881 959 183). I don't really see the forum as a place to advertise a business, however, I would regard this as a service for peregrinos, especially after watching people limp into the Oficina for two weeks.

How many peregrinos got compostelas/certificates of completion during my time as a volunteer (17-30 August, 2015)?
On my last day, I checked the stats for my period of being a volunteer. From Aug 17 to 30
24, 953 pergrinos received a compostela or completion certificate and were entered into the database.

We had peregrinos from 106 countries. Most came from Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. Below are the numbers from the top 12 countries:
Spain: 14,837 (59.46%)
Italy: 4000 (16.03%)
Germany: 1181 (4.75%)
Portugal: 1108 (4.44%)
France: 534 (2.14%)
Poland: 369 (1.48%)
UK: 284 (1.12%)
USA: 280 (1.12%)
Ireland: 202 (0.81%)
Korea: 167 (0.67%)
Holland: 128 (0.51%)
Brazil: 121 (0.48%)


Canada came in 15th place with 100 peregrinos (0.4%)

There was 1 from Nepal. I wrote his compostela and remember him well because I'd never seen a Nepalese passport.

Most peregrinos did the Camino Frances.
Frances: 15, 491 (62.8%)
Portugues: 4134 (16.57)
Norte: 2017 (8.08%)
Primitivo: 1499 (6.01%)
Ingles: 992 (3.96%)
La Plata: 728 (2.92%)
Muxia/Finisterra/Santiago: 39 (0.16%)
Otras Caminos (like the Levante from Valencia): 30 (0.12%)
Invierno (which starts if Ponferrada): 23 (0.09%)

I'd never heard of the Camino de Invierno until I saw it as a choice to click on my computer screen. You can get info on all of these routes from the Galican Provincial Tourist Office (mentioned above).


I hope that peregrinos arriving in Santiago will find this information helpful. Please note the the Oficina del Peregrino will be moving to a new location in the future. At the moment, this is planned for November. I’ve been told that this will have a larger area for giving out credenciales. It will have left luggage. It will also have international greeting areas. Longer term plans are for an albergue and restaurant. If you are planning on arrive in November, please check the forum and the Pilgrim Office website for an update.

The information here was updated on Sept 2, 2015. Thanks again for all of the very helpful comments I have received for the first version of this post. If you look at the comments and questions below, you will see how this edited version evolved.

Buen Camino!
 
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Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
#5
Thank you for volunteering and for all of this information. It is greatly appreciated!
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#6
Thank you for having gone to so much trouble to write such a detailed information. From now on, I think that all questions regarding the various Pilgrims facilities in Santiago can/ should be referred to this excellent write up! Fantastic!
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#7
Very useful information, thank you. A comment and a question, if I may. The new colour tubos look very pretty. Imfortunately because they are covered in that lovely paper and the paper is tucked in at the ends this makes a ridge that makes getting the documents out without damaging them. I ended up untucking the paper from the inside of the tube to avoid this. Now for the question: how different are the certificate (non religious/spiritual) and the compostela? Are they both similar to the certificate of distance? And yes, these are very pretty documents.

Oh, another silly question: are you trained to write using nice calligraphy? I ask because the man who wrote mine did such a lovely job that I thought he mustmhave practiced a lot. I appreciated the beautiful and careful handwritting. Thank you again.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#8
Thanks Nicole for your post. We thought that the numbered system for the desks was good and gave those at the desks time for each pilgrim without feeling rushed. We arrived right at the end of May and Pilgrim House was open then - we can recommend a visit there. Time to chat over coffee and we arranged for our washing to be done too.
Saludos to the team there and in the Pilgrim Office :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#9
Thanks Nicole for such an informative post. And thanks Ivar for introducing the bookmark option - I am definitely bookmarking this post!
 
Camino(s) past & future
september (2015)
#11
Live from the Oficina del Peregrino

I’m working as a volunteer in the Oficina del Peregrino in Santiago for the last two weeks in August 2015. My forum post in no way represents the views of the Oficina del Peregrino. These are just my own observations and comments.

The Oficina del Peregrino has their own website, which I would encourage your to visit if you haven’t already done so:

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/welcome/

You should note, however, that a few things need updating on the site and I have alerted the Oficina to this. The Oficina is still at Rua do Vilar, 3/1. It is now open from 8am to 8pm. At 8pm the doors close and peregrinos in the courtyard will be attended to. The left luggage service is no longer at the Oficina del Peregrino. You have to go to the Post Office (Correos) for this. This is not far away, but is in a parallel street. They are open from 8:30am to 8:30pm. You can store your bag for 24 hours for 2 euros. They will also send your bag or bike home for you. The prices for this are on a sign outside of the Correos. There is also a Correos desk at the Oficina del Pergrino. It is through a doorway to the left of the courtyard. There are toilets for peregrinos at the far end of the courtyard. There is also an Alsa bus office which is only open from 9:30am to 1:30pm on weekdays. Above the toilets is a special greeting area for Dutch peregrinos run by the Dutch Cofraternity of St James. Nuns from the Order of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (called Camino Companions) are also there to talk to peregrinos about their Camino (the highs and the lows). They are mostly from English speaking countries, but some speak Spanish. You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to talk to them. They run ‘decompression’ sessions from Monday to Saturday at 9am and at 2:30pm. They also have tea/coffee and biscuits.

Via the Oficina del Peregrino site, you can access statistical data on the pilgrims who have arrived in Santiago (and have complied with the official rule that foot, horse and wheelchair peregrinos need to have completed the last 100km of their route and bicycle peregrinos (bicigrinos) have completed the last 200km of their route.

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/statistics/

I know that some peregrinos have had to wait 60 to 90 minutes to get their compostela. This reflects the large number of peregrinos. For example, in July 2015, 44, 799 peregrinos arrived at the office having complied with official rules. Those of you who thought the Camino Frances was crowded, were correct. In July, 27, 923 people came to Santiago via the Camino Frances. Compare this to 7447 on the Portugues, 3561 on the Norte, 2037 on the Primitivo, 1893 on the Plata, 1813 on the Ingles and 53 on the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago or Fisterra-Muxia-Santiago. I did the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago before starting my two weeks of volunteering. Details of this are on my Live from the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago post.


Why are there volunteers? Why don’t they all speak Spanish?

The volunteer programme was started by Johnnie Walker (his forum name) in 2012. The volunteers were called ‘Amigos’ and wore dark blue shirts with ‘welcome’ on the front in various languages in white letters and ‘Amigo’ on the back. This was initially sponsored by the Confraternities of St James of UK and Ireland. So the first volunteers were from English speaking countries and not all spoke Spanish (though efforts were made to pair up Spanish speaking Amigos with non-Spanish speaking ones). The Amigo programme continued until 2014 and the sponsorship from other Cofraternities increased. The original remit of the volunteers was to greet peregrinos, answer questions as best they could and ensure the smooth flow of peregrinos from the queue to the desks to have their compostelas filled out. This was in the old office, up the stairs, which some of you will remember.

In 2015, the Amigo programme, was taken over by the Oficina del Peregrinos. We are no longer called Amigos, we are called Volunatarios and have a light blue T-shirt with a half scallop shell design. Many of the Amigos have come back, which is why you still have some Voluntarios that don’t speak much Spanish. Some Voluntarios still act as greeters. They also try to speed up the process of getting a compostela by asking peregrinos to have their credencials ready (as opposed to at the bottom of their ruck sack). Peregrinos are also asked (by some Voluntarios) to have their identity cards/passports to hand. This isn’t to check who you are, it is simply so that the people at the desk have a clearly written version of your name so they don’t make errors on your compolstela/certificate of completion. Other Voluntarios with language skills, like me, are at the desk issuing compostelas. Voluntarios are only there during the summer when there are a large number of peregrinos. At other times of the year, paid staff are at the desks. So the added presence of Voluntarios in the summer does help speed up the process.

Where do I get my compostela?
The compostela desks are now in a room to the left of the courtyard and there is a number system in place. When a desk becomes free, the number of the desk will come up and the peregrino at the front of the queue will be asked to go to that desk. We are aware that some people want to go in together as they have walked together. Nevertheless, we prefer people to go in one by one as there isn’t much space inside (particularly if people have large ruck sacks) and it does go quicker if your travelling companion goes to the next free desk rather than wait for you to get your compostela and then get theirs.
Please note: The certificate is a compostela. A compostelana is a woman from Santiago de Compostela.

What happens at the desk?
You will be greeted and asked to fill out a form. This asks for your name, gender, country (for people with multiple citizenship, you need to choose what you want announced in the Cathedral), your city/province (particularly important for peregrinos from Spain), age, occupation, mode of transport (foot/bike/horse/wheelchair) and where you started from. All of the data, apart from your name is entered into a database and this is used for the statistical report. You can see what the report for July looks like by going to the web link above. I should stress that your name is never entered into the database (there isn’t even a space for it), so you are never identified as an individual. A typical entry would be: female, Canada, Glasgow, 49, teacher, spiritual, foot, Muxia.

The person at the desk will examine your credencial to ensure that you have completed at least the last 100km for foot, horse and wheelchair peregrinos and the last 200km for bicigrinos. We know the routes and so can spot things that seem incongruous. We normally want to see at least 1 stamp (sello) per day up to the last 100km and then 2 per day after that. These can be from bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, albergues, gas stations, post offices, shops police stations and churches, i.e. basically anyone who has a stamp. Please make sure these are dated. When I did the Camino Portuguese in 2009 I got a stamp from a police station. They were delighted to be asked for a sello.

Why do I need two sellos for the last 100km (or 200km on bike)?
To prove that you really did walk it. As shocking as this sounds, some people do cheat. Some people don’t know that they need to get 2 sellos in the last 100km (or 200km for bikes). These people will be questioned about their route simply to ensure that they did walk/cycle it.

Why am I asked my motivation for doing the Camino?
Having worked at the desk, I can say that this is the thing that really does confuse some people. The categories on the form are: religious, religious and other, and sporting. These categories need some translation. Religious (religioso) is for people who are doing the pilgrimage for a religious motivation. Some peregrinos tick this box saying, ‘well, I’m Catholic’. However, you don’t have to be Catholic to do the Camino de Santiago for religious reasons. I’ve had a Buddhist from Nepal tick the ‘religioso’ box. Most people do the Camino for ‘spiritial’ reasons. This would fall under the category of ‘religioso o otra’. ‘Spiritual’ can have as wide a meaning as you want it to. One woman did the Camino after having made a promise that she would do so if she was cancer free for 5 years. Some people say that they aren’t religious, but do feel that they have changed as a person while doing the Camino. Some people do the Camino in memory of someone. If you do this, you can ask to have your Compostela dedicated. Your name goes on the form, but at the bottom, the desk person can write a dedication (it helps if you write down before hand exactly what you want written). I would count all of these as ‘religioso o otro’. If you tick either of these two boxes, you get the compostela. There are some people, however, who have no religious or spiritual reason for doing the Camino. They are doing it as a cultural/historical experience or as a long distance trek. People with this as a motivation don’t get the compostela. They get a certificate. They also get an extra stamp in their credencial to indicate that their motivation is sporting/cultural.

Both the compostela and the certificate are beautiful documents with the text written in Latin and coloured illuminations on the sides. People who have done the Camino earlier than 2014 will have received the old designs. Personally, I very much prefer the new designs. As both documents are in Latin, you name is translated in Latin (if possible). You will be Dnum (Dominum) if male and Dnam (Dominam) if female. Then your first name(s) will be translated into Latin. We have an online file with Latin translations and for tricky cases we have a book. I was recently defeated trying to find a translation for Stewart. It wasn’t on the computer document, in the book and the full time staff didn’t know of a translation either. If anyone who specializes in Latin does know a translation for Stewart/Stuart, I’ll add it to the list. Your family name is not translated.

When I volunteered in the Oficina in 2012, I did a ‘Live from the Oficina’ post. I mentioned the issue about ‘motivation’. I received an angry reply saying that asking people to choose their motivation was a ploy by the Catholic Church to inflate the number of religious people in their statistics. This sparked quite a lively debate. Many people on the forum had no problem at all with being asked their motivation. In all honesty, people have multiple motivations and they can change along the route. You can start off by doing the route as a long distance trek and then ‘find yourself’ on the Camino, which is more of a ‘spiritual’ experience. We ask what your motivation is so we know whether to give you the compostela or the certificate of completion. There is no sinister plan in asking you your motivation.

What if I’m in a large group? Do I have to wait in the queue?
When I first volunteered in 2012, everyone had to show up with their own credencial. So we had large groups, particularly from schools, wait in the queue. Now we have a separate office for this. This is just a bit further down Rua do Vilar past the RENFE (train) office. If you are in a group of more than 6, see the security guard at the door and he will direct you to the group desk.

Can I get someone else’s compostela/certificate?
We prefer people to show up in person with their credencial and ID to get their compostela/certificate. However, there are times when a fellow peregrino is too ill to stand in the queue. In this case, it is acceptable to get a credencial/certificate for someone else. However, you do have to explain this to the Voluntario at the head of the queue and the person at the desk and you need to have their credenical and ID.

What do I have to pay for the credencial/certificate?
This is free (or, in other words, without price). If you wish to make a donation, there are locked boxes at the desks.

What is the distance certificate?
This was introduced in the last two years. This is a separate certificate, written in Spanish or Gallego (if you want yours in Gallego, please ask) which has your name as it is in your passport (i.e. not in Latin), the distance you completed (without using buses, cars or trains), when you arrived in Santiago, when you started your route, where you started and which route you did. For this certificate, you have to pay 3 euros. I was talking to some Belgians who had cycled from their home about this. The husband noted that it wasn’t even the price of two beers in Santiago . His wife added that it wasn’t the price of one beer in Belgium. Getting this certificate is totally optional. Some people who have travelled long distances want one. On the other hand, I have had people who have started in Sarria and are proud of their 116km who have also wanted them. We have an official list of distances based on the route on foot. Some of these differ from the distances in the guidebooks. If you are a bicigrino, travelled on the road and have some sort of meter that measured your distance, please mention this as it will differ from the distance on foot. We will put down what you have on your meter.

Do I need a ‘tubo’?
You will be asked if you want a ‘tubo’ (a cardboard tube). These are very sturdy and are ‘Ryan Air proof’. If the Oficina they cost 2 euros. In shop next to the Oficina, you can get one for 1 euro. The one from the shop is a white with blue design. It is the correct size for the credencial/certificate of arrival. However, it is a bit too small for the distance certificate. In the Oficina, we have blue tubes with gold shells and red tubes with gold shells. If you decide to get your tubo from the Oficina, you will be given a choice of colour. IF you get the compostela/certiciate or arrival AND the distance certificate, we recommend the red tubo, which is slightly longer. The distance certificate is bigger than the credencial/certificate of arrival.

I just want a credencial, do I have to stand in the queue?
No! Just go to the Voluntario at the head of the queue or to the top of the queue if there is no Voluntario and explain that you want a credencial (pilgrims passport). This is 1.50 euros per credencial.

Can I leave my luggage at the Oficina? Can I have my ruck sack delivered to the Oficina? Can I leave my bike?
No. We no longer have a space for this. There is left luggage at the Correos (see above). Any bags sent ahead end up there. If you have a bike you can park it on the right had side of the courtyard while you are waiting to get your compostela. After that, you have to take it away.

I want to go to Finisterre or Muxia on foot or by bus, where do I get information?
The Oficina del Peregrino gives advice to peregrinos who ARRIVE at Santiago. They don’t issue information or credenciales for people who want to continue onto Finisterre or Muxia by foot or bus. You can get this information from the Oficina de Tourismo de la Provincia de Galica, which is on 30-32 Rua do Vilar (same street as the Oficina del Peregrino, other side, half way down) . If you are walking, I can very much recommend the John Brierly guidebook. If you have spaces left in your credencial, you can use this to go onto Finisterre or Muxia. I would recommend getting two sellos per day. It is normally 3 long days to Finisterre or Muxia. In Finisterre, if you present your stamped credencial to the desk at the Albergue de la Xunta, you will be given a Fisterana certificate. If you continue to Muxia (one more day) and to Tourist Information, you will be given a Muxiana. Both are beautiful document, are written in Gallego and say that you have arrived at the ‘fin do Camino’ (end of the Camino). If your credencial is full, you can get one from the Provincial Tourist Office (address above). You can either go to Finisterre first or Muxia. When I did it in 2009, I went to Muxia first and then Finisterre as I wanted to end at the End of the World. However, I met a German peregrino who wanted to go to Finisterre first: ‘I want to go the the End of the World and then beyond’!

If you are going by bus, the timetable below will be helpful (thanks again to Falcon for supplying this).
http://antigo.quepasanacosta.com/busescostadamorte.html

Where can I get a map of Santiago? Where can I stay?
You get this from the city tourist office. This is also on Rua do Vilar (number 63). It is one the same side of the road as the Oficina del Peregrino. It is almost at the end.

Pilgrim Mass
The Cathedral has a number of masses, but the one for pilgrims is at 12pm everyday. If you get your credencial before 11am, you will be mentioned at the 12pm mass by your nationality and starting point. If you get your credencial after 11am, you will be mentioned at the 12pm mass the following day. If you are unsure, please ask. At times, pilgrims registered between 11 and 11:30 might be mentioned at the noon mass. The Botafumeiro doesn’t always appear (see below). If you enter the Cathedral and it is attached to a pillar, if probably won’t be used. If it is unattached, that is a good sign. In the past, you used to be able to attend the mass with your ruck sack. This is no longer possible due to the very large number of people who attend this mass. Security at the church door will turn you away if you have a large ruck sack. If in doubt about the size of your bag, ask security well beforehand. If the Botafumeiro does come out, the best place to sit is in the transept (i.e. if you imagine the letter t with the altar at the top, you sit at the bit that crosses below the top. You can access this from the steps at the top of Rua do Vilar on the far side of the Praza de Prateria. If you want to get a good seat, arrive at 11am. By 11:30am, most of the transcept is already full and you might be lucky enough to squeeze in next to someone.

Botafumeiro
Many people ask if they will see the famous Botafumeiro swing. This is a very large insense burner. It is used for liturgical purposes and not as a tourist attraction, so it is used on certain feast days and if it has been booked in advance (see below). At the moment, it also swings at the Friday mass at 19:30 (i.e. 7:30pm). The Cathedral fills up quickly for this mass, so I would recommend arriving at 6:30pm to get a seat. On some occasions, the doors are shut early if the Cathedral is full.

If you are a group of peregrinos, you can request, WELL in advance, for the Botafumeiro to swing. However, you have to pay for this. You can request this and get details on the fees by emailing: botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es.

8 men (los tiraboleiros) are required to swing the Botafumeiro and so their presence has to be organized. You can’t just show up at the Pilgrim’s Office and offer to pay then and there (yes, people have tried to do this). Office staff are NOT told when the Botafumeiro has been booked by a group. This is so we can genially tell people that we don’t know. The idea behind this is that people should go to the mass for the sake of going to the mass and NOT just to see the Botafumeiro. At the beginning of the mass, people are reminded that this is a sacred event and that they are not to take photos. This doesn’t stop people from dragging out their cameras and phones if the Botafumeiro does swing. Honestly, there are tons of links on YouTube if you want to send your family and friends a video. It is much better just to watch it and not take photos or film clips. It looks a lot better if you are not peering through a view finder. See, for example, ww.youtube.com/watch?v=mtxuvtZqOog

The Botafumeiro will come out on the following feast days:
· La Epifanía del Señor: January 6
· Domingo de Resurrección: variable dates
· La Ascensión del Señor: variable dates
· La Aparición del Apóstol-Clavijo: May 23
· Pentecostés: variable dates
· El Martirio de Santiago: July 25
· La Asunción de María: August 15
· Todos los Santos: November 1
· Cristo Rey (the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent) (i.e. Nov 22 in 2015)
· La Inmaculada Concepción: Decemember 8
· Navidad: December 25
· Traslado de los Restos del Apóstol: December 30

Rituals at the Cathedral
If you are facing the altar, on the right hand side, behind the altar, there is a door with steps which leads up to a bust of Santiago. There is normally a queue. You can hug the saint (above the altar) and leave an offering if you wish. You are not permitted to take photos. On the left hand side, there is a door to go down to the crypt of Santiago, where his remains are said to be in a silver coffin. There is an area for kneeling down and praying.

Finally: Pilgrim House
Pilgrim House opened up on July 24, 2015. It is run by volunteers (separate from the Oficina) and is funded with donations. It is on Rua Nova 19. This street is parallel to Rua do Vilar. Their website is www.pilgrimhousesantiago.com

They are open from 11am to 8pm, but are closed on Sundays and Wednesdays. The rational behind Pilgrim House is that it provides services for peregrinos. You can get your laundry done (for a fee), they print off boarding passes (for a fee), they have wifi, they have books you can borrow, they have a nice chill out space. You can leave your ruck sack here (hanging on a peg and unguarded). Everyday at 5pm they have a meeting point for pilgrims. So if you want to meet other pilgrims, this is a lovely place to go.


I hope that peregrions arriving in Santiago will find this information helpful. Please note the the Oficina del Peregrino will be moving to a new location in the future. At the moment, this is planned for November. I’ve been told that this will have a larger area for giving out credenciales. It will have left luggage. It will also have international greeting areas. Longer term plans are for an albergue and restaurant. If you are planning on arrive in November, please check the forum and the Pilgrim Office website for an update.

Buen Camino!
Thanks soooo much for your time on putting this together. My daughter and I will be starting our camino the end of September. This is the first time so this kind of information is greatly appreciated.
 
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#12
Very useful information, thank you. A comment and a question, if I may. The new colour tubos look very pretty. Imfortunately because they are covered in that lovely paper and the paper is tucked in at the ends this makes a ridge that makes getting the documents out without damaging them. I ended up untucking the paper from the inside of the tube to avoid this. Now for the question: how different are the certificate (non religious/spiritual) and the compostela? Are they both similar to the certificate of distance? And yes, these are very pretty documents.

Oh, another silly question: are you trained to write using nice calligraphy? I ask because the man who wrote mine did such a lovely job that I thought he mustmhave practiced a lot. I appreciated the beautiful and careful handwritting. Thank you again.
You are right about the paper being folded in causing issues when you take out your credencial. I have seen some people undo the paper. I don't do this. If you take the inner corner (s) of your credencial/certificate of completion and distance and roteate them in a way that makes them tighten up and then gently pull out, your documents will come out with out any damange. That is, you rolled the documents tight to get them in and you roll them up again to get them out. I've done this very succesfully for people changed their minds about which colour tube they wanted.

No, we are not taught caligraphy. It would take a lot longer than two weeks for me to have pretty printing. I do take time to do the best that I can. However, I do have to admit that other people have a much nicer looking script.

Both the compostela and the certificate of completion have script written in Latin. I think that there is a translation on the Oficina del Peregrino website. There used to be a translation posted on the wall of the old office. I'll ask about this. Both have coloured illuminations which I think are from the Codex Calixto which is an ancient text about pilgrimage. It was stolen from the Cathedral by a disgruntled ex employee (an electrician) and found safely wrapped up in his garage. They look different but they both look like pages from a medieval manuscript. If I can figure out how to post photos of them I'll have a go.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#14
Live from the Oficina del Peregrino

I’m working as a volunteer in the Oficina del Peregrino in Santiago for the last two weeks in August 2015. My forum post in no way represents the views of the Oficina del Peregrino. These are just my own observations and comments.

The Oficina del Peregrino has their own website, which I would encourage your to visit if you haven’t already done so:

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/welcome/

You should note, however, that a few things need updating on the site and I have alerted the Oficina to this. The Oficina is still at Rua do Vilar, 3/1. It is now open from 8am to 8pm. At 8pm the doors close and peregrinos in the courtyard will be attended to. The left luggage service is no longer at the Oficina del Peregrino. You have to go to the Post Office (Correos) for this. This is not far away, but is in a parallel street. They are open from 8:30am to 8:30pm. You can store your bag for 24 hours for 2 euros. They will also send your bag or bike home for you. The prices for this are on a sign outside of the Correos. There is also a Correos desk at the Oficina del Pergrino. It is through a doorway to the left of the courtyard. There are toilets for peregrinos at the far end of the courtyard. There is also an Alsa bus office which is only open from 9:30am to 1:30pm on weekdays. Above the toilets is a special greeting area for Dutch peregrinos run by the Dutch Cofraternity of St James. Nuns from the Order of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (called Camino Companions) are also there to talk to peregrinos about their Camino (the highs and the lows). They are mostly from English speaking countries, but some speak Spanish. You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to talk to them. They run ‘decompression’ sessions from Monday to Saturday at 9am and at 2:30pm. They also have tea/coffee and biscuits.

Via the Oficina del Peregrino site, you can access statistical data on the pilgrims who have arrived in Santiago (and have complied with the official rule that foot, horse and wheelchair peregrinos need to have completed the last 100km of their route and bicycle peregrinos (bicigrinos) have completed the last 200km of their route.

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/statistics/

I know that some peregrinos have had to wait 60 to 90 minutes to get their compostela. This reflects the large number of peregrinos. For example, in July 2015, 44, 799 peregrinos arrived at the office having complied with official rules. Those of you who thought the Camino Frances was crowded, were correct. In July, 27, 923 people came to Santiago via the Camino Frances. Compare this to 7447 on the Portugues, 3561 on the Norte, 2037 on the Primitivo, 1893 on the Plata, 1813 on the Ingles and 53 on the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago or Fisterra-Muxia-Santiago. I did the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago before starting my two weeks of volunteering. Details of this are on my Live from the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago post.


Why are there volunteers? Why don’t they all speak Spanish?

The volunteer programme was started by Johnnie Walker (his forum name) in 2012. The volunteers were called ‘Amigos’ and wore dark blue shirts with ‘welcome’ on the front in various languages in white letters and ‘Amigo’ on the back. This was initially sponsored by the Confraternities of St James of UK and Ireland. So the first volunteers were from English speaking countries and not all spoke Spanish (though efforts were made to pair up Spanish speaking Amigos with non-Spanish speaking ones). The Amigo programme continued until 2014 and the sponsorship from other Cofraternities increased. The original remit of the volunteers was to greet peregrinos, answer questions as best they could and ensure the smooth flow of peregrinos from the queue to the desks to have their compostelas filled out. This was in the old office, up the stairs, which some of you will remember.

In 2015, the Amigo programme, was taken over by the Oficina del Peregrinos. We are no longer called Amigos, we are called Volunatarios and have a light blue T-shirt with a half scallop shell design. Many of the Amigos have come back, which is why you still have some Voluntarios that don’t speak much Spanish. Some Voluntarios still act as greeters. They also try to speed up the process of getting a compostela by asking peregrinos to have their credencials ready (as opposed to at the bottom of their ruck sack). Peregrinos are also asked (by some Voluntarios) to have their identity cards/passports to hand. This isn’t to check who you are, it is simply so that the people at the desk have a clearly written version of your name so they don’t make errors on your compolstela/certificate of completion. Other Voluntarios with language skills, like me, are at the desk issuing compostelas. Voluntarios are only there during the summer when there are a large number of peregrinos. At other times of the year, paid staff are at the desks. So the added presence of Voluntarios in the summer does help speed up the process.

Where do I get my compostela?
The compostela desks are now in a room to the left of the courtyard and there is a number system in place. When a desk becomes free, the number of the desk will come up and the peregrino at the front of the queue will be asked to go to that desk. We are aware that some people want to go in together as they have walked together. Nevertheless, we prefer people to go in one by one as there isn’t much space inside (particularly if people have large ruck sacks) and it does go quicker if your travelling companion goes to the next free desk rather than wait for you to get your compostela and then get theirs.
Please note: The certificate is a compostela. A compostelana is a woman from Santiago de Compostela.

What happens at the desk?
You will be greeted and asked to fill out a form. This asks for your name, gender, country (for people with multiple citizenship, you need to choose what you want announced in the Cathedral), your city/province (particularly important for peregrinos from Spain), age, occupation, mode of transport (foot/bike/horse/wheelchair) and where you started from. All of the data, apart from your name is entered into a database and this is used for the statistical report. You can see what the report for July looks like by going to the web link above. I should stress that your name is never entered into the database (there isn’t even a space for it), so you are never identified as an individual. A typical entry would be: female, Canada, Glasgow, 49, teacher, spiritual, foot, Muxia.

The person at the desk will examine your credencial to ensure that you have completed at least the last 100km for foot, horse and wheelchair peregrinos and the last 200km for bicigrinos. We know the routes and so can spot things that seem incongruous. We normally want to see at least 1 stamp (sello) per day up to the last 100km and then 2 per day after that. These can be from bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, albergues, gas stations, post offices, shops police stations and churches, i.e. basically anyone who has a stamp. Please make sure these are dated. When I did the Camino Portuguese in 2009 I got a stamp from a police station. They were delighted to be asked for a sello.

Why do I need two sellos for the last 100km (or 200km on bike)?
To prove that you really did walk it. As shocking as this sounds, some people do cheat. Some people don’t know that they need to get 2 sellos in the last 100km (or 200km for bikes). These people will be questioned about their route simply to ensure that they did walk/cycle it.

Why am I asked my motivation for doing the Camino?
Having worked at the desk, I can say that this is the thing that really does confuse some people. The categories on the form are: religious, religious and other, and sporting. These categories need some translation. Religious (religioso) is for people who are doing the pilgrimage for a religious motivation. Some peregrinos tick this box saying, ‘well, I’m Catholic’. However, you don’t have to be Catholic to do the Camino de Santiago for religious reasons. I’ve had a Buddhist from Nepal tick the ‘religioso’ box. Most people do the Camino for ‘spiritial’ reasons. This would fall under the category of ‘religioso o otra’. ‘Spiritual’ can have as wide a meaning as you want it to. One woman did the Camino after having made a promise that she would do so if she was cancer free for 5 years. Some people say that they aren’t religious, but do feel that they have changed as a person while doing the Camino. Some people do the Camino in memory of someone. If you do this, you can ask to have your Compostela dedicated. Your name goes on the form, but at the bottom, the desk person can write a dedication (it helps if you write down before hand exactly what you want written). I would count all of these as ‘religioso o otro’. If you tick either of these two boxes, you get the compostela. There are some people, however, who have no religious or spiritual reason for doing the Camino. They are doing it as a cultural/historical experience or as a long distance trek. People with this as a motivation don’t get the compostela. They get a certificate. They also get an extra stamp in their credencial to indicate that their motivation is sporting/cultural.

Both the compostela and the certificate are beautiful documents with the text written in Latin and coloured illuminations on the sides. People who have done the Camino earlier than 2014 will have received the old designs. Personally, I very much prefer the new designs. As both documents are in Latin, you name is translated in Latin (if possible). You will be Dnum (Dominum) if male and Dnam (Dominam) if female. Then your first name(s) will be translated into Latin. We have an online file with Latin translations and for tricky cases we have a book. I was recently defeated trying to find a translation for Stewart. It wasn’t on the computer document, in the book and the full time staff didn’t know of a translation either. If anyone who specializes in Latin does know a translation for Stewart/Stuart, I’ll add it to the list. Your family name is not translated.

When I volunteered in the Oficina in 2012, I did a ‘Live from the Oficina’ post. I mentioned the issue about ‘motivation’. I received an angry reply saying that asking people to choose their motivation was a ploy by the Catholic Church to inflate the number of religious people in their statistics. This sparked quite a lively debate. Many people on the forum had no problem at all with being asked their motivation. In all honesty, people have multiple motivations and they can change along the route. You can start off by doing the route as a long distance trek and then ‘find yourself’ on the Camino, which is more of a ‘spiritual’ experience. We ask what your motivation is so we know whether to give you the compostela or the certificate of completion. There is no sinister plan in asking you your motivation.

What if I’m in a large group? Do I have to wait in the queue?
When I first volunteered in 2012, everyone had to show up with their own credencial. So we had large groups, particularly from schools, wait in the queue. Now we have a separate office for this. This is just a bit further down Rua do Vilar past the RENFE (train) office. If you are in a group of more than 6, see the security guard at the door and he will direct you to the group desk.

Can I get someone else’s compostela/certificate?
We prefer people to show up in person with their credencial and ID to get their compostela/certificate. However, there are times when a fellow peregrino is too ill to stand in the queue. In this case, it is acceptable to get a credencial/certificate for someone else. However, you do have to explain this to the Voluntario at the head of the queue and the person at the desk and you need to have their credenical and ID.

What do I have to pay for the credencial/certificate?
This is free (or, in other words, without price). If you wish to make a donation, there are locked boxes at the desks.

What is the distance certificate?
This was introduced in the last two years. This is a separate certificate, written in Spanish or Gallego (if you want yours in Gallego, please ask) which has your name as it is in your passport (i.e. not in Latin), the distance you completed (without using buses, cars or trains), when you arrived in Santiago, when you started your route, where you started and which route you did. For this certificate, you have to pay 3 euros. I was talking to some Belgians who had cycled from their home about this. The husband noted that it wasn’t even the price of two beers in Santiago . His wife added that it wasn’t the price of one beer in Belgium. Getting this certificate is totally optional. Some people who have travelled long distances want one. On the other hand, I have had people who have started in Sarria and are proud of their 116km who have also wanted them. We have an official list of distances based on the route on foot. Some of these differ from the distances in the guidebooks. If you are a bicigrino, travelled on the road and have some sort of meter that measured your distance, please mention this as it will differ from the distance on foot. We will put down what you have on your meter.

Do I need a ‘tubo’?
You will be asked if you want a ‘tubo’ (a cardboard tube). These are very sturdy and are ‘Ryan Air proof’. If the Oficina they cost 2 euros. In shop next to the Oficina, you can get one for 1 euro. The one from the shop is a white with blue design. It is the correct size for the credencial/certificate of arrival. However, it is a bit too small for the distance certificate. In the Oficina, we have blue tubes with gold shells and red tubes with gold shells. If you decide to get your tubo from the Oficina, you will be given a choice of colour. IF you get the compostela/certiciate or arrival AND the distance certificate, we recommend the red tubo, which is slightly longer. The distance certificate is bigger than the credencial/certificate of arrival.

I just want a credencial, do I have to stand in the queue?
No! Just go to the Voluntario at the head of the queue or to the top of the queue if there is no Voluntario and explain that you want a credencial (pilgrims passport). This is 1.50 euros per credencial.

Can I leave my luggage at the Oficina? Can I have my ruck sack delivered to the Oficina? Can I leave my bike?
No. We no longer have a space for this. There is left luggage at the Correos (see above). Any bags sent ahead end up there. If you have a bike you can park it on the right had side of the courtyard while you are waiting to get your compostela. After that, you have to take it away.

I want to go to Finisterre or Muxia on foot or by bus, where do I get information?
The Oficina del Peregrino gives advice to peregrinos who ARRIVE at Santiago. They don’t issue information or credenciales for people who want to continue onto Finisterre or Muxia by foot or bus. You can get this information from the Oficina de Tourismo de la Provincia de Galica, which is on 30-32 Rua do Vilar (same street as the Oficina del Peregrino, other side, half way down) . If you are walking, I can very much recommend the John Brierly guidebook. If you have spaces left in your credencial, you can use this to go onto Finisterre or Muxia. I would recommend getting two sellos per day. It is normally 3 long days to Finisterre or Muxia. In Finisterre, if you present your stamped credencial to the desk at the Albergue de la Xunta, you will be given a Fisterana certificate. If you continue to Muxia (one more day) and to Tourist Information, you will be given a Muxiana. Both are beautiful document, are written in Gallego and say that you have arrived at the ‘fin do Camino’ (end of the Camino). If your credencial is full, you can get one from the Provincial Tourist Office (address above). You can either go to Finisterre first or Muxia. When I did it in 2009, I went to Muxia first and then Finisterre as I wanted to end at the End of the World. However, I met a German peregrino who wanted to go to Finisterre first: ‘I want to go the the End of the World and then beyond’!

If you are going by bus, the timetable below will be helpful (thanks again to Falcon for supplying this).
http://antigo.quepasanacosta.com/busescostadamorte.html

Where can I get a map of Santiago? Where can I stay?
You get this from the city tourist office. This is also on Rua do Vilar (number 63). It is one the same side of the road as the Oficina del Peregrino. It is almost at the end.

Pilgrim Mass
The Cathedral has a number of masses, but the one for pilgrims is at 12pm everyday. If you get your credencial before 11am, you will be mentioned at the 12pm mass by your nationality and starting point. If you get your credencial after 11am, you will be mentioned at the 12pm mass the following day. If you are unsure, please ask. At times, pilgrims registered between 11 and 11:30 might be mentioned at the noon mass. The Botafumeiro doesn’t always appear (see below). If you enter the Cathedral and it is attached to a pillar, if probably won’t be used. If it is unattached, that is a good sign. In the past, you used to be able to attend the mass with your ruck sack. This is no longer possible due to the very large number of people who attend this mass. Security at the church door will turn you away if you have a large ruck sack. If in doubt about the size of your bag, ask security well beforehand. If the Botafumeiro does come out, the best place to sit is in the transept (i.e. if you imagine the letter t with the altar at the top, you sit at the bit that crosses below the top. You can access this from the steps at the top of Rua do Vilar on the far side of the Praza de Prateria. If you want to get a good seat, arrive at 11am. By 11:30am, most of the transcept is already full and you might be lucky enough to squeeze in next to someone.

Botafumeiro
Many people ask if they will see the famous Botafumeiro swing. This is a very large insense burner. It is used for liturgical purposes and not as a tourist attraction, so it is used on certain feast days and if it has been booked in advance (see below). At the moment, it also swings at the Friday mass at 19:30 (i.e. 7:30pm). The Cathedral fills up quickly for this mass, so I would recommend arriving at 6:30pm to get a seat. On some occasions, the doors are shut early if the Cathedral is full.

If you are a group of peregrinos, you can request, WELL in advance, for the Botafumeiro to swing. However, you have to pay for this. You can request this and get details on the fees by emailing: botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es.

8 men (los tiraboleiros) are required to swing the Botafumeiro and so their presence has to be organized. You can’t just show up at the Pilgrim’s Office and offer to pay then and there (yes, people have tried to do this). Office staff are NOT told when the Botafumeiro has been booked by a group. This is so we can genially tell people that we don’t know. The idea behind this is that people should go to the mass for the sake of going to the mass and NOT just to see the Botafumeiro. At the beginning of the mass, people are reminded that this is a sacred event and that they are not to take photos. This doesn’t stop people from dragging out their cameras and phones if the Botafumeiro does swing. Honestly, there are tons of links on YouTube if you want to send your family and friends a video. It is much better just to watch it and not take photos or film clips. It looks a lot better if you are not peering through a view finder. See, for example, ww.youtube.com/watch?v=mtxuvtZqOog

The Botafumeiro will come out on the following feast days:
· La Epifanía del Señor: January 6
· Domingo de Resurrección: variable dates
· La Ascensión del Señor: variable dates
· La Aparición del Apóstol-Clavijo: May 23
· Pentecostés: variable dates
· El Martirio de Santiago: July 25
· La Asunción de María: August 15
· Todos los Santos: November 1
· Cristo Rey (the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent) (i.e. Nov 22 in 2015)
· La Inmaculada Concepción: Decemember 8
· Navidad: December 25
· Traslado de los Restos del Apóstol: December 30

Rituals at the Cathedral
If you are facing the altar, on the right hand side, behind the altar, there is a door with steps which leads up to a bust of Santiago. There is normally a queue. You can hug the saint (above the altar) and leave an offering if you wish. You are not permitted to take photos. On the left hand side, there is a door to go down to the crypt of Santiago, where his remains are said to be in a silver coffin. There is an area for kneeling down and praying.

Finally: Pilgrim House
Pilgrim House opened up on July 24, 2015. It is run by volunteers (separate from the Oficina) and is funded with donations. It is on Rua Nova 19. This street is parallel to Rua do Vilar. Their website is www.pilgrimhousesantiago.com

They are open from 11am to 8pm, but are closed on Sundays and Wednesdays. The rational behind Pilgrim House is that it provides services for peregrinos. You can get your laundry done (for a fee), they print off boarding passes (for a fee), they have wifi, they have books you can borrow, they have a nice chill out space. You can leave your ruck sack here (hanging on a peg and unguarded). Everyday at 5pm they have a meeting point for pilgrims. So if you want to meet other pilgrims, this is a lovely place to go.


I hope that peregrions arriving in Santiago will find this information helpful. Please note the the Oficina del Peregrino will be moving to a new location in the future. At the moment, this is planned for November. I’ve been told that this will have a larger area for giving out credenciales. It will have left luggage. It will also have international greeting areas. Longer term plans are for an albergue and restaurant. If you are planning on arrive in November, please check the forum and the Pilgrim Office website for an update.

Buen Camino!
Nicole:

THANK YOU FOR POSTING ALL THIS INFORMATION! No, I am not shouting. I merely wanted to emphasize my gratitude. I worked as a Voluntario from mid-July to mid-August this year, and as an Amigo last year. Everything you posted is good and necessary information for any pilgrim to have.

Things changed a lot from my stint as an Amigo last year to that of Voluntario this year. The "cow bell" (macina de compagna de vaca) machine that announces the next available desk for obtaining a Compostela is a big process improvement. I understand that some people do not like the commercial aspect of it, but it DOES expedite matters. More importantly, in my experience, it can do the work of up to two staff / volunteers at the head of the line.

Previously, we used a security person AND an Amigo at the head of the line. IF the "next available desk" machine is honoured and only one person proceeds at a time, the staff at the head of the line can do other things, and the queue self-monitors itself. However, and also in my experience, if not watched frequently certain groups of pilgrims will just surge forward as a group. The folks working the desk do NOT like this.

I found I needed to work the line, reminding people that "one bong of the 'compagna de vaca' means una persona at a time "uno en uno..." Some days were easier than others. I did relent for parents with young children and married couples, so the handwriting on their Compostelas would match in case they wanted to frame them.

The length of the line varied during each day. At opening, there were 20-30 people waiting outside. About 10.30 another surge occurs as people try to get their Compostelas before the noon Pilgrim Mass. Things quiet down until the Pilgrim Mass ends about 13.00, when another surge occurs. This early afternoon surge is augmented by pilgrims waling into Santiago, who ended their daily walk at about 13.00 or 14.00, as is the custom on the Camino. The lowest volume, in my observation was late afternoon, around 5 - 7 pm. After that, there is a final, smaller surge of people trying to get their compostelas before the office closes.

What all arriving pilgrims need to understand is that the people working in the Pilgrim Office are employees who also have families and responsibilities outside their jobs at the Pilgrim Office. Volunteers do what needs to be done and do not get paid. But their paid staff are regular employees. They live locally and have families. Their day ends when the Pilgrim Office closes. If there are 50 people in the courtyard when the outer doors are closed, perhaps before the posted closing hour, it is so the people inside can complete their work and leave for the day.

The very large parasol umbrellas that extend shade and rain protection are very much appreciated by all. In 2014, I tended the grapes on the arbour a little. This year, they've multiplied with a vengeance. There might actually be enough grapes to make white wine. Shade is plentiful this year, at least until the first frost... Do they get frost in Galicia?

The ladies WC acted up again this year, a few days before the Feast of Santiago. This necessitated having the maintenance crew from the Cathedral come to open the new deep drain, and clean out they installed after the same thing happened while I was there in June 2014.

I only mention this only because I made a € 10 bet with one of the Dutch volunteers that the "clog" would NOT be fixed by the feast day, three days hence. Marjan insisted that it would, of course, be repaired before then. She was thinking in Dutch terms, not Spanish... BY nature, most Dutch people do not gamble, including making bets. The last time, the Dutch gambled in a big way was way back in 1637, when some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. When that speculative bubble burst, everyone suffered. In fact, even today, speculators call some speculative trading "Tulip Mania."

Well, while the drain stopped working on Tuesday, and the notification was made late on Tuesday, the Feast of Santiago came and went. I even offered to extend the deadline until the following Wednesday. From last year's experience, I knew how "fast" the Cathedral guys would get around to fixing anything broken in the Pilgrim Office.

I collected the €10 winnings and promptly placed it in the Dutch Associations' donativo jar. The bet was never about the money. I have many Dutch and Flemish friends and the value of the bet was in the possibility of winning a bet with a Dutchman.

As expected by me, the drains were not fixed until Wednesday afternoon, one week after the initial report. We had both men and women using the men's WC for that festival weekend. Marjan would have won the bet if she accepted my gentlemen's offer of extending the deadline. However, the entertainment value of winning a bet with a Dutchman was HUGE! I still grin just thinking about it.

I was asked to do Compostelas this year. While my Spanish improved significantly over last year, I am not yet able to converse, free-style with a native speaker. If the arriving pilgrims would stick to a script of expected answers to standard questions, I could handle it now. But, as you know from direct experience, that is not going to happen. So, in the off-season, I will seek to improve my Spanish. My strengths are, at present, better used outside.

If it was broken, I fixed it. If someone needed anything, I obtained it. If someone came in in pain or crying, I applied my red, foam clown nose and made them laugh. I took photos of happy Compostela holding pilgrims from around the world when asked, again using the clown nose to good effect. If someone needed directions, help or advice I provided it, often taking pilgrims by the arm directly to the service or shop they were seeking.

When tubos ran low in the regular or group office, I stocked them. I even adopted a tactic of loading the topmost work basket of each office workstation with a selection of red and blue "tubos" so the person working the position would not have to spend the 5 - 10 seconds to turn away to search for a tubo to sell. Those seconds add up over the day for each position. This, in turn increases the daily output of Compostelas.

This year, learning from last, I bought two blue water bowls at my nearby dollar store to provide water to arriving peregrino dogs. That was a big hit this year. I will repeat it next year.

I am very glad you are there to continue the practice of helping arriving pilgrims. I miss it and was sorely tempted to extend my stay this year. But, my wife decided we are moving to Florida. So I had to come home to put our home on the market and start making plans. There is always next year...

Buen Camino!
 
#15
Great information Nicole and thank you for volunteering.

I do have one suggestion for those behind the desk writing out compostelas: don't sweat if you can't find the name in Latin!

I couldn't understand why it was taking so long to fill it in (my walking companions were long done) so I finally asked the French gentleman what was going on (in French as he spoke neither English nor Spanish). Well he couldn't find my name in Latin and was debating to either proclaim me an Elizabeth or something else not even remotely close to my name. He was quite insistant and only after much persuasion agreed to write down my initials followed by my last name. I explained that I had never had a problem during the 4 previous visits to the oficina but he said that he was just following the rules!

Excuse my rant. I guess that he was taking things a bit too literal!

Cheers
LT
 

Lydia Gillen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007/8/9 2011 (C.F 2015)
#16
Thank you Nicole for taking the time to write up all this most helpful information. It will be a great aid to pilgrims arriving and therefore also to those working in the office.
 
#17
Nicole:

THANK YOU FOR POSTING ALL THIS INFORMATION! No, I am not shouting. I merely wanted to emphasize my gratitude. I worked as a Voluntario from mid-July to mid-August this year, and as an Amigo last year. Everything you posted is good and necessary information for any pilgrim to have.

Things changed a lot from my stint as an Amigo last year to that of Voluntario this year. The "cow bell" (macina de compagna de vaca) machine that announces the next available desk for obtaining a Compostela is a big process improvement. I understand that some people do not like the commercial aspect of it, but it DOES expedite matters. More importantly, in my experience, it can do the work of up to two staff / volunteers at the head of the line.

Previously, we used a security person AND an Amigo at the head of the line. IF the "next available desk" machine is honored and only one person proceeds at a time, the staff at the head of the line can do other things, and the queue self-monitors itself. However, and also in my experience, if not watched frequently certain groups of pilgrims will just surge forward as a group. The folks working the desk do NOT like this.

I found I needed to work the line, reminding people that "one bong of the 'compagna de vaca' means una persona at a time "uno en uno..." Some days were easier than others. I did relent for parents with young children and married couples, so the handwriting on their Compostelas would match in case they wanted to frame them.

The length of the line varied during each day. At opening, there were 20-30 people waiting outside. About 1030 another surge occurs as people try to get their Compostelas before the noon Pilgrim Mass. Things quiet down until the Pilgrim Mass ends about 1300, when another surge occurs. This early afternoon surge is augmented by pilgrims waling into Santiago, who ended their daily walk at about 1300 or 1400, as is the custom on the Camino. The lowest volume, in my observation was late afternoon, around 5 - 7 pm. After that, there is a final, smaller surge of people trying to get their compostelas before the office closes.

What all arriving pilgrims need to understand is that the people working in the Pilgrim Office are employees who also have families and responsibilities outside their jobs at the Pilgrim Office. Volunteers do what needs to be done and do not get paid. But their paid staff are regular employees. They live locally and have families. Their day ends when the Pilgrim Office closes. If there are 50 people in the courtyard when the outer doors are closed, perhaps before the posted closing hour, it is so the people inside can complete their work and leave for the day.

The very large parasol umbrellas that extend shade and rain protection are very much appreciated by all. In 2014, I tended the grapes on the arbor a little. This year, they've multiplied with a vengeance. There might actually be enough grapes to make white wine. Shade is plentiful this year, at least until the first frost... Do they get frost in Galicia?

The ladies WC acted up again this year, a few days before the Feast of Santiago. This necessitated having the maintenance crew from the Cathedral come to open the new deep drain, and clean out they installed after the same thing happened while I was there in June 2014.

I only mention this only because I made a € 10 bet with one of the Dutch volunteers that the "clog" would NOT be fixed by the feast day, three days hence. Marjan insisted that it would, of course, be repaired before then. She was thinking in Dutch terms, not Spanish... BY nature, most Dutch people do not gamble, including making bets. The last time, the Dutch gambled in a big way was way back in 1637, when some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. When that speculative bubble burst, everyone suffered. In fact, even today, speculators call some speculative trading "Tulip Mania."

Well, while the drain stopped working on Tuesday, and the notification was made late on Tuesday, the Feast of Santiago came and went. I even offered to extend the deadline until the following Wednesday. From last year's experience, I knew how "fast" the Cathedral guys would get around to fixing anything broken in the Pilgrim Office.

I collected the €10 winnings and promptly placed it in the Dutch Associations' donativo jar. The bet was never about the money. I have many Dutch and Flemish friends and the value of the bet was in the possibility of winning a bet with a Dutchman.

As expected by me, the drains were not fixed until Wednesday afternoon, one week after the initial report. We had both men and women using the men's WC for that festival weekend. Marjan would have won the bet if she accepted my gentlemen's offer of extending the deadline. However, the entertainment value of winning a bet with a Dutchman was HUGE! I still grin just thinking about it.

I was asked to do Compostelas this year. While my Spanish improved significantly over last year, I am not yet able to converse, free-style with a native speaker. If the arriving pilgrims would stick to a script of expected answers to standard questions, I could handle it now. But, as you know from direct experience, that is not going to happen. So, in the off-season, I will seek to improve my Spanish. My strengths are, at present, better used outside.

If it was broken, I fixed it. If someone needed anything, I obtained it. If someone came in in pain or crying, I applied my red, foam clown nose and made them laugh. I took photos of happy Compostela- holding pilgrims from around the world when asked, again using the clown nose to good effect. If someone needed directions, help or advice I provided it, often taking pilgrims by the arm directly to the service or shop they were seeking.

When tubos ran low in the regular or group office, I stocked them. I even adopted a tactic of loading the topmost work basket of each office workstation with a selection of red and blue "tubos" so the person working the position would not have to spend the 5 - 10 seconds to turn away to search for a tubo to sell. Those seconds add up over the day for each position. This, in turn increases the daily output of Compostelas.

This year, learning from last, I bought two blue water bowls at my nearby dollar store to provide water to arriving peregrino dogs. That was a big hit this year. I will repeat it next year.

I am very glad you are there to continue the practice of helping arriving pilgrims. I miss it and was sorely tempted to extend my stay this year. But, my wife decided we are moving to Florida. So I had to come home to put our home on the market and start making plans. There is always next year...

Buen Camino!
Thanks to everyone for the very supportive comments. A very special thank you to t2andreo for his helpful input on working the queue as a Voluntario. This year, Camino Bob is working as a Voluntario and, as his Spanish is very limited, he has been doing what he calls 'pre compostela prep'. He agrees that the 'cow bell' number system does have a comerical aspect, but it does make things run more smoothly. He gets people to get out their credenciales and ID cards before they arrive at the desk and this does speed things up as most people don't write their names clearly on their credencial (and we do want to write your name correctly). We do notice in the office when there isn't someone working the queue as people start to come in as groups rather than one by one. I do think that the letting married couples go in as pairs so that the writing matches seems sensible. I seem to remember that we did this the first year of the Amigo programme. I think that having a water dish for peregrino dogs is a great idea. Camino Bob is going to get one. The point made about full time staff having lives outside of the Oficina del Peregrino is a fair one. Currently the volunteers are on two shifts: 10am to 3pm and 3pm to 8pm. The volunteers leave at 8pm and the courtyard door closes. The paid staff remain until the peregrinos in the courtyard are attended to. Some staff don't get to go home until 9:30pm and then are back before 8am to open up again. t2anddreo is also correct about the waves of peregrinos. There is a pre and post peregrino mass rush. He might be right about the 5pm-7pm lull, but from within the office, we never run out of peregrinos. When I finished my pre-volunteering Camino (see my Live from the Muxia-Fisterraa-Santiago post) I arrived at 5:15pm and only had a 10 minute wait. The people I was talking to today had waited at least 60 minutes. Today (August 27) 1616 peregrinos were given credenciales/certificates of completion.

LTfit makes a valid point about Latin names. I think that the French volunteer who was trying to find a Latin translation must have just started writing compostelas. It took me some time to get used to the Latin names on day 1, but I explained to peregrinos that I was trying to find their name. We have a computer document with many of the names and you get quicker at scrolling to the right place. If you are not on the Latin Name document on the computer, we have a book which we an consult. If I can't find a name there, I ask the paid staff as they know most of the names by heart. As I said in my post, I couldn't find Stewart in Latin so I just wrote down Stewart. We also do this for Japanese, Korean and Chinese names. We do get people with Basque or Catalan names. I ask them what the Spanish equivalent would be. I also have some 'cheat sheets'. I have the most common Spanish male and female names with their translations. I also have a sheet with the distances from the most popular starting points. I ask people their motivation as they are filling in the form so I can get started on filling out the correct certificate. I tell people what their Latin name is before I write it down. I have have had a couple of people who have studied Latin point out that the names are in the accusative and not the nomitave case. I took Latin in Secondary School a LONG time ago, so I know what these cases mean. If someone knows enough Latin to correct the book, I put down what they suggest.

I did find a n English translation of the compostela:

“The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint James, custodian of the seal of Saint James’ Altar, to all faithful and pilgrims who come from everywhere over the world as an act of devotion, under vow or promise to the Apostle’s Tomb, our Patron and Protector of Spain, witnesses in the sight of all who read this document, that: Mr/Mrs/Ms…………………has visited devoutly this Sacred Church in a religious sense (pietatis causa). Witness whereof I hand this document over to him, authenticated by the seal of this Sacred Church.
Given in Saint James of Compostela on the (day) …… (month) …… A.D. ……”

I've not yet found a translation of the certificate of completion.

I've taken photos of the new credencial, certificate of completion and the distance certificate but still don't know how to post photos.

Buen Camino!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Peter Fransiscus

Do good and good will come to you.
Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
#19
Live from the Oficina del Peregrino

I’m working as a volunteer in the Oficina del Peregrino in Santiago for the last two weeks in August 2015. My forum post in no way represents the views of the Oficina del Peregrino. These are just my own observations and comments.

The Oficina del Peregrino has their own website, which I would encourage your to visit if you haven’t already done so:

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/welcome/

You should note, however, that a few things need updating on the site and I have alerted the Oficina to this. The Oficina is still at Rua do Vilar, 3/1. It is now open from 8am to 8pm. At 8pm the doors close and peregrinos in the courtyard will be attended to. The left luggage service is no longer at the Oficina del Peregrino. You have to go to the Post Office (Correos) for this. This is not far away, but is in a parallel street. They are open from 8:30am to 8:30pm. You can store your bag for 24 hours for 2 euros. They will also send your bag or bike home for you. The prices for this are on a sign outside of the Correos. There is also a Correos desk at the Oficina del Pergrino. It is through a doorway to the left of the courtyard. There are toilets for peregrinos at the far end of the courtyard. There is also an Alsa bus office which is only open from 9:30am to 1:30pm on weekdays. Above the toilets is a special greeting area for Dutch peregrinos run by the Dutch Cofraternity of St James. Nuns from the Order of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (called Camino Companions) are also there to talk to peregrinos about their Camino (the highs and the lows). They are mostly from English speaking countries, but some speak Spanish. You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to talk to them. They run ‘decompression’ sessions from Monday to Saturday at 9am and at 2:30pm. They also have tea/coffee and biscuits.

Via the Oficina del Peregrino site, you can access statistical data on the pilgrims who have arrived in Santiago (and have complied with the official rule that foot, horse and wheelchair peregrinos need to have completed the last 100km of their route and bicycle peregrinos (bicigrinos) have completed the last 200km of their route.

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/statistics/

I know that some peregrinos have had to wait 60 to 90 minutes to get their compostela. This reflects the large number of peregrinos. For example, in July 2015, 44, 799 peregrinos arrived at the office having complied with official rules. Those of you who thought the Camino Frances was crowded, were correct. In July, 27, 923 people came to Santiago via the Camino Frances. Compare this to 7447 on the Portugues, 3561 on the Norte, 2037 on the Primitivo, 1893 on the Plata, 1813 on the Ingles and 53 on the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago or Fisterra-Muxia-Santiago. I did the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago before starting my two weeks of volunteering. Details of this are on my Live from the Camino Muxia-Fisterra-Santiago post.


Why are there volunteers? Why don’t they all speak Spanish?

The volunteer programme was started by Johnnie Walker (his forum name) in 2012. The volunteers were called ‘Amigos’ and wore dark blue shirts with ‘welcome’ on the front in various languages in white letters and ‘Amigo’ on the back. This was initially sponsored by the Confraternities of St James of UK and Ireland. So the first volunteers were from English speaking countries and not all spoke Spanish (though efforts were made to pair up Spanish speaking Amigos with non-Spanish speaking ones). The Amigo programme continued until 2014 and the sponsorship from other Cofraternities increased. The original remit of the volunteers was to greet peregrinos, answer questions as best they could and ensure the smooth flow of peregrinos from the queue to the desks to have their compostelas filled out. This was in the old office, up the stairs, which some of you will remember.

In 2015, the Amigo programme, was taken over by the Oficina del Peregrinos. We are no longer called Amigos, we are called Volunatarios and have a light blue T-shirt with a half scallop shell design. Many of the Amigos have come back, which is why you still have some Voluntarios that don’t speak much Spanish. Some Voluntarios still act as greeters. They also try to speed up the process of getting a compostela by asking peregrinos to have their credencials ready (as opposed to at the bottom of their ruck sack). Peregrinos are also asked (by some Voluntarios) to have their identity cards/passports to hand. This isn’t to check who you are, it is simply so that the people at the desk have a clearly written version of your name so they don’t make errors on your compolstela/certificate of completion. Other Voluntarios with language skills, like me, are at the desk issuing compostelas. Voluntarios are only there during the summer when there are a large number of peregrinos. At other times of the year, paid staff are at the desks. So the added presence of Voluntarios in the summer does help speed up the process.

Where do I get my compostela?
The compostela desks are now in a room to the left of the courtyard and there is a number system in place. When a desk becomes free, the number of the desk will come up and the peregrino at the front of the queue will be asked to go to that desk. We are aware that some people want to go in together as they have walked together. Nevertheless, we prefer people to go in one by one as there isn’t much space inside (particularly if people have large ruck sacks) and it does go quicker if your travelling companion goes to the next free desk rather than wait for you to get your compostela and then get theirs.
Please note: The certificate is a compostela. A compostelana is a woman from Santiago de Compostela.
View attachment 20592
The Compostela

What happens at the desk?
You will be greeted and asked to fill out a form. This asks for your name, gender, country (for people with multiple citizenship, you need to choose what you want announced in the Cathedral), your city/province (particularly important for peregrinos from Spain), age, occupation, mode of transport (foot/bike/horse/wheelchair) and where you started from. All of the data, apart from your name is entered into a database and this is used for the statistical report. You can see what the report for July looks like by going to the web link above. I should stress that your name is never entered into the database (there isn’t even a space for it), so you are never identified as an individual. A typical entry would be: female, Canada, Glasgow, 49, teacher, spiritual, foot, Muxia.

The person at the desk will examine your credencial to ensure that you have completed at least the last 100km for foot, horse and wheelchair peregrinos and the last 200km for bicigrinos. We know the routes and so can spot things that seem incongruous. We normally want to see at least 1 stamp (sello) per day up to the last 100km and then 2 per day after that. These can be from bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, albergues, gas stations, post offices, shops police stations and churches, i.e. basically anyone who has a stamp. Please make sure these are dated. When I did the Camino Portuguese in 2009 I got a stamp from a police station. They were delighted to be asked for a sello.

Why do I need two sellos for the last 100km (or 200km on bike)?
To prove that you really did walk it. As shocking as this sounds, some people do cheat. Some people don’t know that they need to get 2 sellos in the last 100km (or 200km for bikes). These people will be questioned about their route simply to ensure that they did walk/cycle it.

Why am I asked my motivation for doing the Camino?
Having worked at the desk, I can say that this is the thing that really does confuse some people. The categories on the form are: religious, religious and other, and sporting. These categories need some translation. Religious (religioso) is for people who are doing the pilgrimage for a religious motivation. Some peregrinos tick this box saying, ‘well, I’m Catholic’. However, you don’t have to be Catholic to do the Camino de Santiago for religious reasons. I’ve had a Buddhist from Nepal tick the ‘religioso’ box. Most people do the Camino for ‘spiritial’ reasons. This would fall under the category of ‘religioso o otra’. ‘Spiritual’ can have as wide a meaning as you want it to. One woman did the Camino after having made a promise that she would do so if she was cancer free for 5 years. Some people say that they aren’t religious, but do feel that they have changed as a person while doing the Camino. Some people do the Camino in memory of someone. If you do this, you can ask to have your Compostela dedicated. Your name goes on the form, but at the bottom, the desk person can write a dedication (it helps if you write down before hand exactly what you want written). I would count all of these as ‘religioso o otro’. If you tick either of these two boxes, you get the compostela. There are some people, however, who have no religious or spiritual reason for doing the Camino. They are doing it as a cultural/historical experience or as a long distance trek. People with this as a motivation don’t get the compostela. They get a certificate. They also get an extra stamp in their credencial to indicate that their motivation is sporting/cultural.

Both the compostela and the certificate are beautiful documents with the text written in Latin and coloured illuminations on the sides. People who have done the Camino earlier than 2014 will have received the old designs. Personally, I very much prefer the new designs. As both documents are in Latin, you name is translated in Latin (if possible). You will be Dnum (Dominum) if male and Dnam (Dominam) if female. Then your first name(s) will be translated into Latin. We have an online file with Latin translations and for tricky cases we have a book. I was recently defeated trying to find a translation for Stewart. It wasn’t on the computer document, in the book and the full time staff didn’t know of a translation either. If anyone who specializes in Latin does know a translation for Stewart/Stuart, I’ll add it to the list. Your family name is not translated.

When I volunteered in the Oficina in 2012, I did a ‘Live from the Oficina’ post. I mentioned the issue about ‘motivation’. I received an angry reply saying that asking people to choose their motivation was a ploy by the Catholic Church to inflate the number of religious people in their statistics. This sparked quite a lively debate. Many people on the forum had no problem at all with being asked their motivation. In all honesty, people have multiple motivations and they can change along the route. You can start off by doing the route as a long distance trek and then ‘find yourself’ on the Camino, which is more of a ‘spiritual’ experience. We ask what your motivation is so we know whether to give you the compostela or the certificate of completion. There is no sinister plan in asking you your motivation.

View attachment 20591 Certificate of Completion



What if I’m in a large group? Do I have to wait in the queue?
When I first volunteered in 2012, everyone had to show up with their own credencial. So we had large groups, particularly from schools, wait in the queue. Now we have a separate office for this. This is just a bit further down Rua do Vilar past the RENFE (train) office. If you are in a group of more than 6, see the security guard at the door and he will direct you to the group desk.

Can I get someone else’s compostela/certificate?
We prefer people to show up in person with their credencial and ID to get their compostela/certificate. However, there are times when a fellow peregrino is too ill to stand in the queue. In this case, it is acceptable to get a credencial/certificate for someone else. However, you do have to explain this to the Voluntario at the head of the queue and the person at the desk and you need to have their credenical and ID.

What do I have to pay for the credencial/certificate?
This is free (or, in other words, without price). If you wish to make a donation, there are locked boxes at the desks.

What is the distance certificate?
This was introduced in the last two years. This is a separate certificate, written in Spanish or Gallego (if you want yours in Gallego, please ask) which has your name as it is in your passport (i.e. not in Latin), the distance you completed (without using buses, cars or trains), when you arrived in Santiago, when you started your route, where you started and which route you did. For this certificate, you have to pay 3 euros. I was talking to some Belgians who had cycled from their home about this. The husband noted that it wasn’t even the price of two beers in Santiago . His wife added that it wasn’t the price of one beer in Belgium. Getting this certificate is totally optional. Some people who have travelled long distances want one. On the other hand, I have had people who have started in Sarria and are proud of their 116km who have also wanted them. We have an official list of distances based on the route on foot. Some of these differ from the distances in the guidebooks. If you are a bicigrino, travelled on the road and have some sort of meter that measured your distance, please mention this as it will differ from the distance on foot. We will put down what you have on your meter.

View attachment 20593
Distance Certificate


Do I need a ‘tubo’?
You will be asked if you want a ‘tubo’ (a cardboard tube). These are very sturdy and are ‘Ryan Air proof’. If the Oficina they cost 2 euros. In shop next to the Oficina, you can get one for 1 euro. The one from the shop is a white with blue design. It is the correct size for the credencial/certificate of arrival. However, it is a bit too small for the distance certificate. In the Oficina, we have blue tubes with gold shells and red tubes with gold shells. If you decide to get your tubo from the Oficina, you will be given a choice of colour. IF you get the compostela/certiciate or arrival AND the distance certificate, we recommend the red tubo, which is slightly longer. The distance certificate is bigger than the credencial/certificate of arrival.

I just want a credencial, do I have to stand in the queue?
No! Just go to the Voluntario at the head of the queue or to the top of the queue if there is no Voluntario and explain that you want a credencial (pilgrims passport). This is 1.50 euros per credencial.

Can I leave my luggage at the Oficina? Can I have my ruck sack delivered to the Oficina? Can I leave my bike?
No. We no longer have a space for this. There is left luggage at the Correos (see above). Any bags sent ahead end up there. If you have a bike you can park it on the right had side of the courtyard while you are waiting to get your compostela. After that, you have to take it away.

I want to go to Finisterre or Muxia on foot or by bus, where do I get information?
The Oficina del Peregrino gives advice to peregrinos who ARRIVE at Santiago. They don’t issue information or credenciales for people who want to continue onto Finisterre or Muxia by foot or bus. You can get this information from the Oficina de Tourismo de la Provincia de Galica, which is on 30-32 Rua do Vilar (same street as the Oficina del Peregrino, other side, half way down) . If you are walking, I can very much recommend the John Brierly guidebook. If you have spaces left in your credencial, you can use this to go onto Finisterre or Muxia. I would recommend getting two sellos per day. It is normally 3 long days to Finisterre or Muxia. In Finisterre, if you present your stamped credencial to the desk at the Albergue de la Xunta, you will be given a Fisterana certificate. If you continue to Muxia (one more day) and to Tourist Information, you will be given a Muxiana. Both are beautiful document, are written in Gallego and say that you have arrived at the ‘fin do Camino’ (end of the Camino). If your credencial is full, you can get one from the Provincial Tourist Office (address above). You can either go to Finisterre first or Muxia. When I did it in 2009, I went to Muxia first and then Finisterre as I wanted to end at the End of the World. However, I met a German peregrino who wanted to go to Finisterre first: ‘I want to go the the End of the World and then beyond’!

If you are going by bus, the timetable below will be helpful (thanks again to Falcon for supplying this).
http://antigo.quepasanacosta.com/busescostadamorte.html

Where can I get a map of Santiago? Where can I stay?
You get this from the city tourist office. This is also on Rua do Vilar (number 63). It is one the same side of the road as the Oficina del Peregrino. It is almost at the end.

Pilgrim Mass
The Cathedral has a number of masses, but the one for pilgrims is at 12pm everyday. If you get your credencial before 11am, you will be mentioned at the 12pm mass by your nationality and starting point. If you get your credencial after 11am, you will be mentioned at the 12pm mass the following day. If you are unsure, please ask. At times, pilgrims registered between 11 and 11:30 might be mentioned at the noon mass. The Botafumeiro doesn’t always appear (see below). If you enter the Cathedral and it is attached to a pillar, if probably won’t be used. If it is unattached, that is a good sign. In the past, you used to be able to attend the mass with your ruck sack. This is no longer possible due to the very large number of people who attend this mass. Security at the church door will turn you away if you have a large ruck sack. If in doubt about the size of your bag, ask security well beforehand. If the Botafumeiro does come out, the best place to sit is in the transept (i.e. if you imagine the letter t with the altar at the top, you sit at the bit that crosses below the top. You can access this from the steps at the top of Rua do Vilar on the far side of the Praza de Prateria. If you want to get a good seat, arrive at 11am. By 11:30am, most of the transcept is already full and you might be lucky enough to squeeze in next to someone.

Botafumeiro
Many people ask if they will see the famous Botafumeiro swing. This is a very large insense burner. It is used for liturgical purposes and not as a tourist attraction, so it is used on certain feast days and if it has been booked in advance (see below). At the moment, it also swings at the Friday mass at 19:30 (i.e. 7:30pm). The Cathedral fills up quickly for this mass, so I would recommend arriving at 6:30pm to get a seat. On some occasions, the doors are shut early if the Cathedral is full.

If you are a group of peregrinos, you can request, WELL in advance, for the Botafumeiro to swing. However, you have to pay for this. You can request this and get details on the fees by emailing: botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es.

8 men (los tiraboleiros) are required to swing the Botafumeiro and so their presence has to be organized. You can’t just show up at the Pilgrim’s Office and offer to pay then and there (yes, people have tried to do this). Office staff are NOT told when the Botafumeiro has been booked by a group. This is so we can genially tell people that we don’t know. The idea behind this is that people should go to the mass for the sake of going to the mass and NOT just to see the Botafumeiro. At the beginning of the mass, people are reminded that this is a sacred event and that they are not to take photos. This doesn’t stop people from dragging out their cameras and phones if the Botafumeiro does swing. Honestly, there are tons of links on YouTube if you want to send your family and friends a video. It is much better just to watch it and not take photos or film clips. It looks a lot better if you are not peering through a view finder. See, for example, ww.youtube.com/watch?v=mtxuvtZqOog

The Botafumeiro will come out on the following feast days:
· La Epifanía del Señor: January 6
· Domingo de Resurrección: variable dates
· La Ascensión del Señor: variable dates
· La Aparición del Apóstol-Clavijo: May 23
· Pentecostés: variable dates
· El Martirio de Santiago: July 25
· La Asunción de María: August 15
· Todos los Santos: November 1
· Cristo Rey (the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent) (i.e. Nov 22 in 2015)
· La Inmaculada Concepción: Decemember 8
· Navidad: December 25
· Traslado de los Restos del Apóstol: December 30

Rituals at the Cathedral
If you are facing the altar, on the right hand side, behind the altar, there is a door with steps which leads up to a bust of Santiago. There is normally a queue. You can hug the saint (above the altar) and leave an offering if you wish. You are not permitted to take photos. On the left hand side, there is a door to go down to the crypt of Santiago, where his remains are said to be in a silver coffin. There is an area for kneeling down and praying.

Finally: Pilgrim House
Pilgrim House opened up on July 24, 2015. It is run by volunteers (separate from the Oficina) and is funded with donations. It is on Rua Nova 19. This street is parallel to Rua do Vilar. Their website is www.pilgrimhousesantiago.com

They are open from 11am to 8pm, but are closed on Sundays and Wednesdays. The rational behind Pilgrim House is that it provides services for peregrinos. You can get your laundry done (for a fee), they print off boarding passes (for a fee), they have wifi, they have books you can borrow, they have a nice chill out space. You can leave your ruck sack here (hanging on a peg and unguarded). Everyday at 5pm they have a meeting point for pilgrims. So if you want to meet other pilgrims, this is a lovely place to go.


I hope that peregrions arriving in Santiago will find this information helpful. Please note the the Oficina del Peregrino will be moving to a new location in the future. At the moment, this is planned for November. I’ve been told that this will have a larger area for giving out credenciales. It will have left luggage. It will also have international greeting areas. Longer term plans are for an albergue and restaurant. If you are planning on arrive in November, please check the forum and the Pilgrim Office website for an update.

Buen Camino!
Hi Nicole, thank you for this information.
Loved reading it, wish you well, Peter.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#20
Nicole:

Please tell Camino Bob that the water bowls were nested together and stored on top of the several loose-leaf binders on an upper shelf to the right of the cash register. They are a royal blue color with white dog bones printed on them. They might have fallen behind the binders. So, he may have to look for them.

If he cannot find them, tell him to go to a China store. They carry inexpensive dog bowls. There is a good one located opposite the Carrefour on Rua Montres del Rio (sp?) in the new section of town, right from Plaza Galicia, then three blocks down. Carrefour on the left (red sign), Oriental Bazaar on the right across the street.

P.S. He can also find a foam, red clown nose there (mixed in the toys on the left wall). Anything to keep the waiting pilgrims entertained is legitimate in my book, as long as it is not vulgar.

P.P.S. Ask Camino Bob to give my best wishes to Jorge (print seller guy), and David and Maria (correos staff). I am thinking of all of them.

Thanks
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#21
Thank you for adding pictures of the 3 documents. Turns out I was given a Compostela despite being clear that this was pure exercice for me ;0)
 
#22
Nicole:

Please tell Camino Bob that the water bowls were nested together and stored on top of the several loose-leaf binders on an upper shelf to the right of the cash register. They are a royal blue color with white dog bones printed on them. They might have fallen behind the binders. So, he may have to look for them.

If he cannot find them, tell him to go to a China store. They carry inexpensive dog bowls. There is a good one located opposite the Carrefour on Rua Montres del Rio (sp?) in the new section of town, right from Plaza Galicia, then three blocks down. Carrefour on the left (red sign), Oriental Bazaar on the right across the street.

P.S. He can also find a foam, red clown nose there (mixed in the toys on the left wall). Anything to keep the waiting pilgrims entertained is legitimate in my book, as long as it is not vulgar.

P.P.S. Ask Camino Bob to give my best wishes to Jorge (print seller guy), and David and Maria (correos staff). I am thinking of all of them.

Thanks
Thanks! I'll have a look for them tomorrow! The Correos staff are all very lovely. I'll say hello!
 
#23
Thank you for adding pictures of the 3 documents. Turns out I was given a Compostela despite being clear that this was pure exercice for me ;0)
Ah! The desk staff should make the difference between the certificates very clear, particularly as you would have ticked the 'non religioso' box. When I have people who say that they have a mixture of motivations (very common occurance) I show them both certificates and explain the difference.

A BIG thanks to Ivar who posted the photos for me.
 
#24
Friday 19:30 (7:30pm) Mass with Botafumeiro update!

I've been talking to some Office staff about this. They recommend arriving at 6pm to get a good seat for the 7:30pm mass. I was also told that the entry is from the Praza de Praterias, door which is at the top of Rua do Vilar, where the Peregrino office is. Cross the plaza and go up the stairs. I've been told that there are TWO queues. One for people with credenciales and one for people without. So, if you have a credencial, bring it with you and get into the correct queue. By credencial, I mean the thing you get stamped, not the compostela/certificate of completion.

Please note that this only applies to the Friday 19:30/7:30pm mass. The daily pilgrims mass at midday is first come first served with our without a credencial.
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#25
Nicole, you would be the perfect person for writing a manual for the next bunch of Oficina de Peregrinos volunteers:D The search file for names in Latin can indeed be time consuming when odd names turn up, but one can always ask the person if it is OK to write the name without "translation".:cool:
 

Alan Pearce

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones 2008, del Norte 2009, VdlP 2011, Ingles 2014, Camino de Madri 2015, Frances 2017
#26
I met an American woman in SdC this year who was very disappointed that her compostela showed her name in Latin, and not the name she was christened with. Is it possible to ask the staff to use the common form of your name, and not the Latinised version?

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 
#27
the names are in the accusative and not the nomitave case. I took Latin in Secondary School a LONG time ago, so I know what these cases mean. If someone knows enough Latin to correct the book, I put down what they suggest

Buen Camino!
Hi, Nicole! It's been a long time.

I had this same question come up when I was writing compostelas last year, and what I remember is that we (this is the papal "we", since my Latin knowledge is basic) determined that the structure of the sentence in Latin requires the accusative case for the names and not the nominative, so it's not a mistake after all.

Buen camino, Laurie
 
#28
Looking at an old thread from 2006 Stewart/Stuart seems to have been difficult for some time:

"I ended up as Simonem while my friend Stuart was ... Stuart!!
Simon"
It's interesting to know that other people haven't been able to translate it! I guess that all the Stuarts/Stewarts were on the north side of Hadrian's Wall and all of the Romans were on the south side!
 
#29
Hi, Nicole! It's been a long time.

I had this same question come up when I was writing compostelas last year, and what I remember is that we (this is the papal "we", since my Latin knowledge is basic) determined that the structure of the sentence in Latin requires the accusative case for the names and not the nominative, so it's not a mistake after all.

Buen camino, Laurie
Hi Peregrina 2000! It has indeed been a long time! I thought that this might be the case. Of course, if you look at the English translation, which I posted above, it looks like the name should be the subject of the sentence, but of course in Latin the sentence structure would be different.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
#31
In Korean names must be difficult to translate into latin.
In the case of Chin-Hae meaning truth is easy and short "veritas", but in case of Jin-Kiong meaning "A combination of jewels and diamonds"??. In the oficina there must be a list of common Korean names I suppose.:)
 
#32
I met an American woman in SdC this year who was very disappointed that her compostela showed her name in Latin, and not the name she was christened with. Is it possible to ask the staff to use the common form of your name, and not the Latinised version?

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
The reason why the name is put in Latin on the compostela/certificate of completion is because these documents are in Latin. The distance certificate is in Spanish or Gallego and the name goes down as it is written in your passport. I am sure that if she would have asked the staff, they would have written her name down as it was in her passport. After all, it is less work if you don't have to look up a Latin translation. They would also have changed it for her if she had asked them to do so.

I would say that 99% of the people I wrote credencials for were delighted to see what their name was in Latin. One lady in particular said that she felt that having the document and name in Latin spoke to a long tradition of pilgrimage. I explain to people that I'm going to write their name in Latin on the credencial/certificate of completion if I can find a traslation and then tell them what the translation is.

In response to the Koren pilgrim, we don't have a book of common Korean names in the office. We go by what is in your passport or credencial. We don't translate these into Latin. We do have a Latin-Spanish dictionary in the office, so if your name in Korean translated to 'Happy' we could look up what the Latin form of 'Feliz' was., which I think would be Feliciam for a woman. You would have to request this and know what your name means. We don't normally even try to translate Chinese and Japanese names. As I explained above, some European names, like Stewart/Stuart don't have a Latin translation (that we've been able to find). Eastern European names are also hard to translate unless the person knows what it would be in Spanish.
 

Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
#33
Then there are names which are identical in Latin such as Michael! (at least that is what google tells me)
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#34
The reason that the ONLY entry to the the cathedral is from the South facing transept, facing Praza de Praterias, at the top of Rua do Vilar is security. Earlier in the year, several, credible terroristic threats were made against the Cathedral, and the city.

For the Feast of Santiago this year on 24-25 July, the entire ancient center of the city was locked down tight with counter-terrorist police and para-military troops hidden discretely around the perimeter of the old city, within minutes of the Cathedral proper. They had armored vehicles, water cannons, and even at least one forward-deployed "bomb squad" that I could see. Helicopters and drones were used to provide constant aerial surveillance. There were even officers dressed like pilgrims, with their weapons stashed in mochilas roaming the old section. However, the ear buds and close haircuts were the giveaway to me. I worked in counter-terrorism before retiring nine years ago, so I knew what to look for.

I noticed these "just-in-case" preparations as I was leaving the Pilgrim Office for the day on Friday evening, just before the feast. It was then that I decided I would sit the crowds out at the flat and read all about it in tomorrow's newspaper. Nothing happened, which is the best result for all. All the people attending the celebrations were blessed with fine weather and a great time was had by all. I saw the fireworks in a TV news report the next day. That was close enough for me.

To tighten matters up, they made the south-side the sole entrance so they could stop folks bringing in rucksacks and could personally search smaller hand bags and day packs. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that one bad person with a rucksack full of something that would go "BOOM" would ruin everyone's day. Cleared bags are given a colored sticker. The stickers change color daily. I could not discern a pattern in the color choice.

There is a consigna nearby, to pay €2 to check your rucksack for 24-hours. It is located at the top of the stairs from Praza de Praterias, to the right as you face the Cathedral. It costs €3 to check a bicycle for 24-hours. This is the closest place to the cathedral to pay to stash your rucksack or bike.

Please do NOT ask to just leave your rucksack in the Pilgrim Office courtyard, for free, even at your own risk. For the same reasons rucksacks are not permitted in the Cathedral, so too are unattended rucksacks not welcome at the Cathedral's Pilgrim Office. Got it? Unfortunately, the real world intrudes even in a Holy City like Santiago de Compostela. Bad people will still do bad things. One must maintain vigilance. Do do otherwise would IMHO be naive and foolhardy.

The sole exit from the Cathedral is on the opposite, north transept, facing the Hospederia San Martin Pinerio.

The official, western main entry is closed completely for much needed renovations.

I hope this helps...
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#35
Yesterday, Aug 28, we issued 1970 compostelas/certificates of completion in the Oficina del Peregrino.
And here I was just thinking to wish you "happy last days" in the Oficina del Peregrino:eek: All the best, Nicole, and thank you for keeping us so well informed of the happenings in Santiago?s "activity center". Take care!:cool:
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Lisboa - Santiago
2014 Ferrol -Santiago
2015 Porto -Santiago
2018 Porto -Valença
#36
Nicole:

THANK YOU FOR POSTING ALL THIS INFORMATION! No, I am not shouting. I merely wanted to emphasize my gratitude. I worked as a Voluntario from mid-July to mid-August this year, and as an Amigo last year. Everything you posted is good and necessary information for any pilgrim to have.

Things changed a lot from my stint as an Amigo last year to that of Voluntario this year. The "cow bell" (macina de compagna de vaca) machine that announces the next available desk for obtaining a Compostela is a big process improvement. I understand that some people do not like the commercial aspect of it, but it DOES expedite matters. More importantly, in my experience, it can do the work of up to two staff / volunteers at the head of the line.

Previously, we used a security person AND an Amigo at the head of the line. IF the "next available desk" machine is honoured and only one person proceeds at a time, the staff at the head of the line can do other things, and the queue self-monitors itself. However, and also in my experience, if not watched frequently certain groups of pilgrims will just surge forward as a group. The folks working the desk do NOT like this.

I found I needed to work the line, reminding people that "one bong of the 'compagna de vaca' means una persona at a time "uno en uno..." Some days were easier than others. I did relent for parents with young children and married couples, so the handwriting on their Compostelas would match in case they wanted to frame them.

The length of the line varied during each day. At opening, there were 20-30 people waiting outside. About 10.30 another surge occurs as people try to get their Compostelas before the noon Pilgrim Mass. Things quiet down until the Pilgrim Mass ends about 13.00, when another surge occurs. This early afternoon surge is augmented by pilgrims waling into Santiago, who ended their daily walk at about 13.00 or 14.00, as is the custom on the Camino. The lowest volume, in my observation was late afternoon, around 5 - 7 pm. After that, there is a final, smaller surge of people trying to get their compostelas before the office closes.

What all arriving pilgrims need to understand is that the people working in the Pilgrim Office are employees who also have families and responsibilities outside their jobs at the Pilgrim Office. Volunteers do what needs to be done and do not get paid. But their paid staff are regular employees. They live locally and have families. Their day ends when the Pilgrim Office closes. If there are 50 people in the courtyard when the outer doors are closed, perhaps before the posted closing hour, it is so the people inside can complete their work and leave for the day.

The very large parasol umbrellas that extend shade and rain protection are very much appreciated by all. In 2014, I tended the grapes on the arbour a little. This year, they've multiplied with a vengeance. There might actually be enough grapes to make white wine. Shade is plentiful this year, at least until the first frost... Do they get frost in Galicia?

The ladies WC acted up again this year, a few days before the Feast of Santiago. This necessitated having the maintenance crew from the Cathedral come to open the new deep drain, and clean out they installed after the same thing happened while I was there in June 2014.

I only mention this only because I made a € 10 bet with one of the Dutch volunteers that the "clog" would NOT be fixed by the feast day, three days hence. Marjan insisted that it would, of course, be repaired before then. She was thinking in Dutch terms, not Spanish... BY nature, most Dutch people do not gamble, including making bets. The last time, the Dutch gambled in a big way was way back in 1637, when some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. When that speculative bubble burst, everyone suffered. In fact, even today, speculators call some speculative trading "Tulip Mania."

Well, while the drain stopped working on Tuesday, and the notification was made late on Tuesday, the Feast of Santiago came and went. I even offered to extend the deadline until the following Wednesday. From last year's experience, I knew how "fast" the Cathedral guys would get around to fixing anything broken in the Pilgrim Office.

I collected the €10 winnings and promptly placed it in the Dutch Associations' donativo jar. The bet was never about the money. I have many Dutch and Flemish friends and the value of the bet was in the possibility of winning a bet with a Dutchman.

As expected by me, the drains were not fixed until Wednesday afternoon, one week after the initial report. We had both men and women using the men's WC for that festival weekend. Marjan would have won the bet if she accepted my gentlemen's offer of extending the deadline. However, the entertainment value of winning a bet with a Dutchman was HUGE! I still grin just thinking about it.

I was asked to do Compostelas this year. While my Spanish improved significantly over last year, I am not yet able to converse, free-style with a native speaker. If the arriving pilgrims would stick to a script of expected answers to standard questions, I could handle it now. But, as you know from direct experience, that is not going to happen. So, in the off-season, I will seek to improve my Spanish. My strengths are, at present, better used outside.

If it was broken, I fixed it. If someone needed anything, I obtained it. If someone came in in pain or crying, I applied my red, foam clown nose and made them laugh. I took photos of happy Compostela holding pilgrims from around the world when asked, again using the clown nose to good effect. If someone needed directions, help or advice I provided it, often taking pilgrims by the arm directly to the service or shop they were seeking.

When tubos ran low in the regular or group office, I stocked them. I even adopted a tactic of loading the topmost work basket of each office workstation with a selection of red and blue "tubos" so the person working the position would not have to spend the 5 - 10 seconds to turn away to search for a tubo to sell. Those seconds add up over the day for each position. This, in turn increases the daily output of Compostelas.

This year, learning from last, I bought two blue water bowls at my nearby dollar store to provide water to arriving peregrino dogs. That was a big hit this year. I will repeat it next year.

I am very glad you are there to continue the practice of helping arriving pilgrims. I miss it and was sorely tempted to extend my stay this year. But, my wife decided we are moving to Florida. So I had to come home to put our home on the market and start making plans. There is always next year...

Buen Camino!
Thanks for this extended explication .
One question. Why we are not allowed to make pictures or vids inside the pilgrims office ? All happy people, fullfilled their walk . They want to take home some happy images.
I used my Gopro video camera just to make an impression of the proces of issuing the Compostela in front of the desk as a happy memory but the Spanish speaking volontario told me off so I just filmed the entering of the office. On my computer I blurred the person .
Here my vid

From minute 7 is a short impression of the pilgrimsoffice.
Bom caminho
 
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Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Lisboa - Santiago
2014 Ferrol -Santiago
2015 Porto -Santiago
2018 Porto -Valença
#38
I met an American woman in SdC this year who was very disappointed that her compostela showed her name in Latin, and not the name she was christened with. Is it possible to ask the staff to use the common form of your name, and not the Latinised version?

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
Last time, May 2015 I was disappointed my name was NOT written in latin.
There was a discussion about it on this forum about why or why not.
It depends on the volontario behind the desk as it seems.
I have two Compostelas where are written our names in latin and one not.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#39
I am not intending to speak officially for the Oficina del Peregrinos, but I do hope this helps clarify matters.

In my experience, I believe there are three reasons why photos and videos in the Pilgrim Office proper, beyond the doorway, are not allowed:
  1. The staff are private persons and entitled to their privacy. Permitting photos or videos would invade that privacy. This is a particular concern across Europe (EU), which has far more strict privacy protections in certain regards than we do here in the US.
  2. They handle a significant amount of money in the office on some days. Taking photos that may reveal the physical layout of the office and location of money is simply not a wise thing to. The security of the staff and office in general preclude allowing filming.
  3. Not everyone who shows up at the Pilgrim Office necessarily WANTS to be photographed or included in a video. Yes, there are some folks who are on the Camino for very private reasons. These folks may not wish to be seen there and then. The reasons are many and varied. But over the years, some people have walked the Camino because of family, relationship or marriage problems, legal difficulties, or simply to just "drop off the radar."
Thus, and as I hope we can all understand, having these photos or videos show up on You Tube or someone's Facebook page is not necessarily a fair or wise thing. The Camino has extended anonymity to all pilgrims for as long as I am aware. Allowing inside photos or videos runs counter to that principle.

Just as an FYI, even when I took a few photos while serving as a Voluntario, I had to be careful not to show staff faces or physical details if the office. My photos were reviewed before I was allowed to keep them. I was asked to delete images showing staff unless the individual staff persons agreed I could have their photo.

This said, Galicia TV and the print media regularly comes by for interviews of the office directors, as the Camino is a subject of continuous and ongoing interest to all Galicians and many Spaniards. This was especially true around the Feast of Santiago this past 25 July. Even then, the staff always does those stand-up interviews outside the office. in the courtyard.

Finally, after two years' experience as an Amigo (2014) and Voluntario (2015) I can tell you categorically that the volunteer staff will do whatever is reasonably possible to facilitate photos and videos OUTSIDE the Pilgrim Office in the courtyard or on the Rua do Vilar outside the Cathedral property. Personally, I and my colleague Voluntarios took hundreds of still photos and even shot videos in the courtyard and street. We never turned down a request. Even without a common language, hand gestures always worked.

I also used my red, rubber clown (payaso) nose to induce arriving pilgrims to laugh, and laugh hard, so the photos they would cherish for life would show them laughing and smiling. I got a lot of use from that USD 1.00 nose... Everyone left satisfied. And THAT is what being a Voluntario meant to me...

I hope this helps.
 
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#40
Thanks for this extended explication .
One question. Why we are not allowed to make pictures or vids inside the pilgrims office ? All happy people, fullfilled their walk . They want to take home some happy images.
I used my Gopro video camera just to make an impression of the proces of issuing the Compostela in front of the desk as a happy memory but the Spanish speaking volontario told me off so I just filmed the entering of the office. On my computer I blurred the person .
Here my vid

From minute 7 is a short impression of the pilgrimsoffice.
Bom caminho
Pictures: Not taking pictures is news to me! Lots of people were taking pictures in the office when I was there. More than a few took pictures of their compostella being written. It is, of course, polite to ask if this is OK. On the other hand, there does have to be a flow of pilgrims moving away from the desks and out of the office so the next pilgrims can get in. So people did leave the office to take a photo of them holding their compostela. The most popular place for this seemed to be at the entrance where is says Oficina del Peregrino. There is also an issue with how many people are in the office. We have 8 desks. If each desk has one pergrino with a large backpack and at least one friend taking a photo, you have 16 people and 8 backpacks in a not very big space.

Bags and Security:
I didn't think about the security issue with regards to backpacks in the Cathedral for the pilgrims mass. I just thought that there are so many people in there that if all of the pergrinos had their large bags on their back they would end up hitting up against other people. If you had your rucksack on the floor or a seat, this takes up space that person could take. Of course, when you go to the Correros, there is an X-Ray machine that bags go through before they are accepted. I heard about the other left luggage place next to the Cathedral, but the didn't seem to have regular hours. I'll check up on this and report back. Today was my last day of volunteering, but I'm still in Santigo for a few more days so I can rest before going back to work.
 
#41
Pictures: Not taking pictures is news to me! Lots of people were taking pictures in the office when I was there. More than a few took pictures of their compostella being written.
That was my experience as well, Nicole. I took many pictures of happy people getting their compostela and was included in a lot of pictures (in fact, Albertinho, I think I'm in one of yours!). T2andreo's experience of having to get clearance for his pictures is totally unlike anything I experienced, but it may depend on who is in the office at the time. When I was there in May 2014, there were several on-camera interviews (with pilgrim office staff as well as with pilgrims) done right in the office and no one batted an eye or suggested there was any problem.
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Lisboa - Santiago
2014 Ferrol -Santiago
2015 Porto -Santiago
2018 Porto -Valença
#42
That was my experience as well, Nicole. I took many pictures of happy people getting their compostela and was included in a lot of pictures (in fact, Albertinho, I think I'm in one of yours!). T2andreo's experience of having to get clearance for his pictures is totally unlike anything I experienced, but it may depend on who is in the office at the time. When I was there in May 2014, there were several on-camera interviews (with pilgrim office staff as well as with pilgrims) done right in the office and no one batted an eye or suggested there was any problem.
Yes Laurie. That were happy times last year when we were pictured with you in the middle at the pilgrims office.

The Spanish guy probably had an off day, a hang over or whatever and did not wanted to be captured on my camera. :cool:
 
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Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Lisboa - Santiago
2014 Ferrol -Santiago
2015 Porto -Santiago
2018 Porto -Valença
#43
I am not intending to speak officially for the Oficina del Peregrinos, but I do hope this helps clarify matters.

In my experience, I believe there are three reasons why photos and videos in the Pilgrim Office proper, beyond the doorway, are not allowed:
  1. The staff are private persons and entitled to their privacy. Permitting photos or videos would invade that privacy. This is a particular concern across Europe (EU), which has far more strict privacy protections in certain regards than we do here in the US.
  2. They handle a significant amount of money in the office on some days. Taking photos that may reveal the physical layout of the office and location of money is simply not a wise thing to. The security of the staff and office in general preclude allowing filming.
  3. Not everyone who shows up at the Pilgrim Office necessarily WANTS to be photographed or included in a video. Yes, there are some folks who are on the Camino for very private reasons. These folks may not wish to be seen there and then. The reasons are many and varied. But over the years, some people have walked the Camino because of family, relationship or marriage problems, legal difficulties, or simply to just "drop off the radar."
Thus, and as I hope we can all understand, having these photos or videos show up on You Tube or someone's Facebook page is not necessarily a fair or wise thing. The Camino has extended anonymity to all pilgrims for as long as I am aware. Allowing inside photos or videos runs counter to that principle.

Just as an FYI, even when I took a few photos while serving as a Voluntario, I had to be careful not to show staff faces or physical details if the office. My photos were reviewed before I was allowed to keep them. I was asked to delete images showing staff unless the individual staff persons agreed I could have their photo.

This said, Galicia TV and the print media regularly comes by for interviews of the office directors, as the Camino is a subject of continuous and ongoing interest to all Galicians and many Spaniards. This was especially true around the Feast of Santiago this past 25 July. Even then, the staff always does those stand-up interviews outside the office. in the courtyard.

Finally, after two years' experience as an Amigo (2014) and Voluntario (2015) I can tell you categorically that the volunteer staff will do whatever is reasonably possible to facilitate photos and videos OUTSIDE the Pilgrim Office in the courtyard or on the Rua do Vilar outside the Cathedral property. Personally, I and my colleague Voluntarios took hundreds of still photos and even shot videos in the courtyard and street. We never turned down a request. Even without a common language, hand gestures always worked.

I also used my red, rubber clown (payaso) nose to induce arriving pilgrims to laugh, and laugh hard, so the photos they would cherish for life would show them laughing and smiling. I got a lot of use from that USD 1.00 nose... Everyone left satisfied. And THAT is what being a Voluntario meant to me...

I hope this helps.
Better asked a dollar for each picture taken from you with the red nose on :D
I understand what you mean with the privacy rules but never met this before on the camino.
Not in 2013. Not in 2014. Only this year.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#44
I also never noticed any problems for taking pictures inside the Pilgrim Office when we worked there in 2013, neither when we visited this year. Took pictures both in and out, including several ones of old colleagues.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#45
Is there an increased wariness about photos since the social media sites stated that they can link your photos, details etc and share them with your friends friends, so widening the 'circle'?
We do not put photos online and tag them. When taking photos of another couple in Santiago, and having ours taken, we all agreed that they were for our private use only as we all value our privacy etc. The social media is now so intrusive and making so many extra links that the old freedom to take photos is now becoming difficult :(.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#46
Better asked a dollar for each picture taken from you with the red nose on :D
I understand what you mean with the privacy rules but never met this before on the camino.
Not in 2013. Not in 2014. Only this year.
Security, in general, has had to tighten up all over Santiago de Compostela in response to legitimate outside threats and concerns. It is unfortunate, but I believe, necessary. It is the application of the old adage that (in English) goes like this: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.." You can convert to kilograms and kilos as appropriate.

This said, during the month of my volunteer service this year, we took many fine photos and videos in the courtyard, including videos of smiling pilgrims exiting the office with their new Compostelas, etc. It is only filming inside that is not allowed. We were very happy to help in this regard.

Finally, and just to cover all bases here, when you are inside the courtyard, off the Rua do Vilar, you are on private, Cathedral property. The "management" can set reasonable rules for conduct on its property as it deems necessary for the comfort and safety of all.

But, when you are in a queue, on Rua do Vilar, you are in the public domain and nearly anything legal goes...

I hope this helps.
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#47
Not taking pictures and videos at the Pilgrims' Office?
A few Forum members are getting me worried that some hacker steals 8 years of happy Santiago memories from my computer, "publicizes" them and that I might get sued somewhere (certainly not in Spain):eek:
By the Beard of Santiago Apostle, am I to check my YouTube productions of the Camino de Santiago since 2007.:mad:
Does anybody suggest that I should blotch all the happy faces at the Pilgrims' Office, in its garden, on the outside street? What about all those people showing amazement in the Cathedral at the Botafumeiro's swinging?:cool:
Give me a break:p
 
#48
Hello Again!

I finished my last day as a volunteer yesterday. I'm in Santiago for a few more days. I checked out a few things that have mentioned in the resonses above. I'll update here for people who are following this thread, but I will also go back and edit the original post so that people who are new to this page don't have to scroll through all of the responses.

Left Luggage: I checked out the Left Luggage place near the Cathedral. They were very friendly and I was even taken on a tour. This is run by Campus Steallae/Instituto Europeo. It is Plaza de la Quintera, 3. Basically, from the Oficina del Peregrino you head to the Cathedral. You arrive at Praza de Prateria (there is a fountain in it) you head up the stairs to the Cathedral. The door in front of you is where you enter for the pilgrims mass. Once on top of the stairs, if you look right, you will see another plaza. The Consigna/Luggage Store is at the corner. There is a sign and it is pretty hard to miss. They are open from 9am to 8pm. They take bags for 2 euros, and bikes for 3 euros. They have a changing room (if you want to get out of wet clothes). They will also print off boarding passes.

Peregrino Masses: I thought that there was only one a day. Now there are two. There is one at 12 and one at 19:30 (i.e 7: 30pm). Arrive an hour before hand to get a reasonable set. For both you have to put your large backpacks or bags in storage. There are security officers at the door who will not let you in with a large bag. They may also do random checks on smaller bags. There is now a new queuing sytems to get in for both masses. There is one line for pilgrims WITH their credencial and one for 'tourists'. If you don't have your credencial, you have to join the tourist queue. Both queues are let in at the same time, but if the Cathedral looks like it is getting full, the close off the tourist line to make sure that pilgrims get the last places. The only mass where you are guarenteed to see the botafumeiro is at the Friday 19:30 (7:30pm) pilgrim mass. Arrive at 6pm as this gets VERY crowded very quickly.

Are the Fransiscanos still giving out a special compostela? The surprising answer to this is 'yes'! Last year, they gave them out to people who had the cathedral stamp in their credencial to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of St Francis making the pilgrimage to Santiago. This was supposed to end in 2014, but it is still happening, albeit it with reduced opening hours. If you are in the Praza Obradorio in front off the Cathedral you head left down Rua de San Francisco (this goes along the right hand side of the Reyes de Catoloicos Hotel. You keep on going and will see a very large stone monument. Beyond this are steps. This leads to the Convento de San Francisco. You enter via the left hand side door at the entance. You stick to the left hand side and go to the far end of the church (you pass the Museum of the Holy Land). Here you will find the Sacristy. It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10:eek:o-12:00 and from 17:30 (5:30pm)-19:30 (7:30pm). On Sundays, the sacristy is only open from 10:00-12:00. The certificate is donativo and there is a donation box at the desk. The volunteer I talked to when I picked up mine said that they don't widely advertise this because they want to see people who have faith and not just people who are collecting certificates. They also have a sello which is in the shape of a Tau. I was told that they will be doing this until the end of 2015.

How many peregrinos got compostelas/certificates of completion during my time as a volunteer (17-30 August, 2015)? 24, 953!
We had peregrinos from 106 countries. Most came from Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. Below are the numbers from the top 12 countries:
Spain: 14,837 (59.46%)
Italy: 4000 (16.03%)
Germany: 1181 (4.75%)
Portugal: 1108 (4.44%)
France: 534 (2.14%)
Poland: 369 (1.48%)
UK: 284 (1.12%)
USA: 280 (1.12%)
Ireland: 202 (0.81%)
Korea: 167 (0.67%)
Holland: 128 (0.51%)
Brazil: 121 (0.48%)
There was 1 from Nepal. I wrote his compostela and remember him well because I'd never seen a Nepalese passport.

Most peregrinos did the Camino Frances.
Frances: 15, 491 (62.8%)
Portugues: 4134 (16.57)
Norte: 2017 (8.08%)
Primitivo: 1499 (6.01%)
Ingles: 992 (3.96%)
La Plata: 728 (2.92%)
Muxia/Finisterra/Santiago: 39 (0.16%)
Otras Caminos (like the Levante from Valencia): 30 (0.12%)
Invierno (which starts if Ponferrada): 23 (0.09%)

I'd never heard of the Camino de Invierno until I saw it as a choice to click on my computer screen. You can get info on all of these routes from the Galican Provincial Tourist Office (mentioned above).

Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (Oct. 2018)
#49
Thanks for taking the time to post all this really helpful and interesting information, Peregrina Nicole. It sounds like you had a wonderful time volunteering in the office. When the day finally comes that I'm entering the Pilgrim Office, I hope I meet someone as cheerful and friendly as you. :)
 
#50
Vounteering was exhausting but rewarding. Our shifts were from 10am-3pm or from 3pm to 8pm. A 5 hour shifts sounds like nothing, but It is a very intense 5 hours, particularly if you are switching between languages and listening to what each peregrino has to say. I was always impressed by the cheerfulness of most peregrinos. We had people soaking wet and limping in who were clearly exhausted, but the had big smiles and they all deserved a cheerful welcome. I hope that you have a wonderful Camino. I've picked up more leaflets from the Galician Tourist Office. At the moment, the Coastal Portuguese Route looks good. It will also give me a chance to improve on my very dire Portuguese. Thankfully, all of the Portuguese pergrinos understood my explanations in Spanish.
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#51
Spain, like most European countries, has laws providing for the right to the "representation of one's image," and there is a much stronger presumption of privacy than in most English-speaking countries. I have found out that people just don't like it that much. When taking photographs of buildings and public places, I have been asked to delete photographs if a person was in them (and complied), and Spanish friends have since told me that consent is expected to be sought.
 
#52
Spain, like most European countries, has laws providing for the right to the "representation of one's image," and there is a much stronger presumption of privacy than in most English-speaking countries. I have found out that people just don't like it that much. When taking photographs of buildings and public places, I have been asked to delete photographs if a person was in them (and complied), and Spanish friends have since told me that consent is expected to be sought.
I think that the issue about taking photos and films is very interesting. As I did suggest in an earlier reply, it is always polite to ask before taking a photo. I also agree that with sites like Facebook, photos aren't private things anymore and that people should take this into consideration. I would have no objection to having someone take a photo of me writing their compostela if they asked. I do think that to take a photo without asking is rude (regardless of what the law says). As an aside, I went into the Oficina to drop off the opening hours for the Sacristia at the Convento de San Francisco in case any peregrinos asked about the Compostela Franciscano. Galician TV was getting their cameras set up. They clearly had permission from the Oficina as one of the managers was there helping them. I doubt, however, whether the peregrinos in the queue or the people writing compostelas were asked for their permission to be filmed.
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#53
There is (apparently) a distinction between a photograph being taken, and a photograph being used/published/posted, but others more learned than I should comment on this. You have likely noted Spanish news broadcasts where identifiable people in (say) a queue have their faces blurred. There is apparently a provision for crowd scenes where releases not be sought.
 
#54
Hello Everyone!

Tomorrow morning (Sept 3, 2015) I head back to Glasgow. I've done a final update on the original 'Live from the Oficina del Peregrino' post, which contains two new entries (in Italics). One is on the English language mass and the other is on a Foot Clinic close to the train station which has reasonable prices and has been highly recommended. Hopefully, none of you will need the foot clinic, but just in case.....

Mass and Prayer Service in English (and other languages)
There is an English language mass (with a priest who speaks English as a native language)every morning except Sunday at 10:30 and a Prayer Service every evening except Sunday at 18:00 (6pm). This only runs during the 'high' season. This is held the the Chapel of the Virgin of Sorrows which is to the left of the altar. The chapel itself is very interesting. It is in one of the oldest parts of the Cathedral. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary with heard stabbed with swords. If you look at the altar piece you will also see symbols associated with the Cruxifiction of Christ: nails, hammer, sponge, etc. There is an advert on the chapel, so you can't miss it.

If you walk around the Cathedral you will see notices on other side chapels offering masses in German, French, Italian and Polish. The hours are on these notices.

Bad Feet?
This doesn't fall within the remit of the Oficina, but I was given this information by Johnnie Walker and I think it is worth passing on as part of a FAQ post. There is a Foot Clinic very close to the train station. I've been told that the prices they charge are very reasonable (i.e. from 20 euros (or 10 euros per foot if you prefer to view it this way)). They are called the Clinica Podologica Galastur. They are on 5 Avenida de Lugo. If you are coming down from Plaza Galicia along Calle Horreo to get to the train station, you will arrive at a small round about at the end of Calle Horreo (cross to the other side to get to the steps that go down to the Train Station). At the round about, you will notice a Mexican restaurant to your left. Turn left onto Avenida Lugo, go past the Cafe Ponteseca and you will soon arrive at the Clinica. They are open from 10:30-13:30 (1:30pm) and from 16:30 (4:30pm)-20:00 (8pm). I forgot to ask if this was all week or only Monday to Friday. In any case, they recommend that you phone for an appointment AND will make house/hotel calls (Phone: 881 959 183). I don't really see the forum as a place to advertise a business, however, I would regard this as a service for peregrinos, especially after watching people limp into the Oficina for two weeks.

Buen Camino!
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#56
Thank you for your time, smile at the desk, and for the inside scoop, the behind the scene portrait of what goes on for what the rest of us get to enjoy. i hope,you enjoyed your service at the pilgrim's office as much as I have enjoyed ypur posts.
 
#57
I had great time at the Oficina and I've been asked to come back next summer. By then, hopefully, the Oficina will have been moved to its new building which is currently undergoing renovation. I have been told that the move is planned for the winter. The new Oficina will be near the Reyes Catolicos and so will still be very near the Cathedral. I've been looking at the Portuguese Coastal Route for next year and I have plans to take Portuguese lessons. It will be useful to practice this before doing my stint in the Oficina. I speak fluent English, Spanish and French. My Italian is good enough for helping peregrinos, but my Portuguese really is dire. Caligraphy classes probably also wouldn't be a bad idea. Eveeryone around me had much more beautiful printing.

Gracias y Buen Camino a todos!
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#58
... I've been looking at the Portuguese Coastal Route for next year and I have plans to take Portuguese lessons. It will be useful to practice this before doing my stint in the Oficina. I speak fluent English, Spanish and French. My Italian is good enough for helping peregrinos, but my Portuguese really is dire. ...
Nicole, just make sure you get your ear used to Portuguese portuguese!;) It's pronunciation is sometimes incomprehensible and in any case quite different from Brasilian portuguese.:eek: And, by the way, in Portugal one gets along better with English than Spanish:rolleyes:
 
#59
Hi Frauluchi!

I found when I did the Portugues from Oporto in 2009 that the younger people spoke English and the older ones spoke Spanish. In the Oficina, I managed with English and Spanish with the Portuguese and Brazilians. I can say hello and congratulations, but I want to do better. I speak French, Spanish and English. My Italian is shakey, but is good enough to communicate with pilgrims. My German is dire.What I have found incredible during my work in the Oficina is my ability to language change. I mean going from English to French to Spanish. The normal office staff (not volunteers) do this all the time and it is not an easy thing to do. They are amazing!
 

fraluchi

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
#60
What I have found incredible during my work in the Oficina is my ability to language change. I mean going from English to French to Spanish. The normal office staff (not volunteers) do this all the time and it is not an easy thing to do!
Easy for whom is continuously faced with foreign languages, has a good ear and ability to communicate well with 500 essential word combinations. It also helps to have been exposed to different tongues from an early age. Although I am Dutch, I have lived in foreign countries since I was 10 years old, and when I was 20 spoke ((and wrote) fluently Dutch, French, German, English and Italian. That was over 50 years ago, and at the moment I manage a few more languages. It was great to work at the Pilgrims' Office!:rolleyes:
 

zzotte

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Camino Frances, 2014 Lourdes to SDC, 2016 Camino del Norte
#61
Peregrina Nicole, Thank you very much for the information all the the time and effort thanks again

Zzotte
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#62
I have really been enjoying your narrative on volunteering. I am glad you had a good experience, and thank you for sharing it with us.
 

jacobusg

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
2015 September
Camino Ingles
2016, June 6-12
#63
My wife and I, and two friends, completed the Camino on 1 October, and were taken on by Cyril at the Office, who with a good humorous banter guided us towards obtaining the compostellas. Took all of 3/4hr during which time we had coffee in the bar opposite. Thank you Cyril.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#64
I would be interested in volunteering at the Pilgrim Office this summer. I should arrive in Santiago around June 3/4.
Can anyone tell me how I apply? I searched the forum but could not find the information
Thanks.
 
#65
I would be interested in volunteering at the Pilgrim Office this summer. I should arrive in Santiago around June 3/4.
Can anyone tell me how I apply? I searched the forum but could not find the information
Thanks.
Hi Annie, the volunteer schedule for the year is worked on a roughly two week basis. 1st to 15th of the month and 16th to last day of the Month. I don't know what flexibility there is around this as departures and arrivals need to fit around availability in the communal flat. I'm not sure a week late would work but a day or two might be fine :)

You can email info@acogidacristianaenelcamino.es with your request and they will send you an application form, in order to supply your details, experience and availability.

Feel free to PM if you need more information.

¡Buena Suerte!
Mig
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances caminando desde SJPP hasta SDC
#66
Hi I have a question hope you can help. I started El Camino from SJPDP on May 17 on a bicycle, I need to drop my bile (rental) in Arzua then walk to Santiago more or less 40kms. Can I still get my compostela if I biked 700kms and walk only 40kms ???
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#68
Reprinted from the SdC Pilgrim's Office website

To get the “Compostela” you must:
  • Make the pilgrimage for religious or spiritual reasons, or at least an attitude of search.
  • Do the last 100 km on foot or horseback, or the last 200 km by bicycle. It is understood that the pilgrimage starts at one point and from there you come to visit the Tomb of St. James.
  • You must collect the stamps on the “Credencial del Peregrino” from the places you pass through to certify that you have been there. Stamps from churches, hostels, monasteries, cathedrals and all places related to the Way are preferred, but if not they can also be stamped in other institutions: town halls, cafés, etc. You have to stamp the Credencial twice a day at least on the last 100 km (for pilgrims on foot or on horseback) or on the last 200 km (for cyclists pilgrims).
You can do the Way in stages, provided they are in chronological and geographical order. However, if you only do the minimum required distance (last 100 or 200 km), you must always get your Credencial stamped at the start and end of each stage, including the corresponding date, to show that the pilgrim has resumed the Way in the same place where they last stopped (i.e. you should always get the stamp at the starting point even though you have already stamped the card in the same place at the end of the previous stage).
Children and pilgrimage. Children who make the pilgrimage with their parents or in groups, and have received the sacrament of Communion, or have the ability to understand the meaning of the spiritual or religious nature of the Way, can receive the “Compostela”. If they are not mature enough due to their young age, they are given a special certificate with their names. In the case of infants or very young children, their names are included on the parent or accompanying adult’s “Compostela”. If you are in any doubt, please contact us at the Pilgrim’s Reception Office so we can look at each individual case.
 

Annaluisa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April May 2018
#70
Hi. Meant to say. Walk last 100km to Santiago from Sarriá. Plus 2-3 stamps per day to demonstrate you didn't cab it or bus it.
Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#72
Bike 200km. Walk 100km. = Compostela :)
It sounds so simple. And it would be, were they looking at the whole journey. But he isn't biking the last 200 km. Nor is he walking the last 100km.

Personally, it seems to me that the intent is for him to complete the last stretch under his own power. Walking seems to count twice as much as cycling. By this calculation, he has done more than the required any way you look at it.
 
#73
Jamie spoke to the Pilgrim Office in Santiago and the advice he received was this:

If biking and walking and you don't walk the last 100 km of the Camino Francés you won't be able to obtain the compostela even if you have already cycled more than the minimum necessary.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances caminando desde SJPP hasta SDC
#74
Please report back on your actual experience. It is an interesting question.
Hi i decided to finish on my bike . But I was able to call oficina del peregrino and I was informed that no matter how many kms I've done on my bike , one must do the last 100 from Sarria, and have your stamps on your credential, otherwise no compostela. So I did the whole Camino Frances on my bike . It took me 11 days, not bad for someone who is not a cyclist ‍♀️ nor owns a bicycle , and had a tremendous fall going downhill on day 3. But was, is and will be the most incredible, amazing and blessed experience I've ever done. Buen Camino.
 

Attachments

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#75
Jamie spoke to the Pilgrim Office in Santiago and the advice he received was this:

If biking and walking and you don't walk the last 100 km of the Camino Francés you won't be able to obtain the compostela even if you have already cycled more than the minimum necessary.
Yes. That also matches what the information states on their website as well; it appears that there is no lack of consistency in the criteria that is being given.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#76
Hi i decided to finish on my bike . But I was able to call oficina del peregrino and I was informed that no matter how many kms I've done on my bike , one must do the last 100 from Sarria, and have your stamps on your credential, otherwise no compostela. So I did the whole Camino Frances on my bike . It took me 11 days, not bad for someone who is not a cyclist ‍♀️ nor owns a bicycle , and had a tremendous fall going downhill on day 3. But was, is and will be the most incredible, amazing and blessed experience I've ever done. Buen Camino.
Congratulations; and ouch!!!!.... :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
----
#77
Yes. That also matches what the information states on their website as well; it appears that there is no lack of consistency in the criteria that is being given.
I usually try not to comment on Compostela rules but the information given (no Compostela if one biked 700 km and walked 40 km and the whole thing continuously and in the same direction) is a mindless interpretation of their current rules ... in particular, since they hand out Compostelas to pilgrims who sailed 100 nautical miles and then walked the last 10 km to Santiago which is a very official rule for awarding a Compostela.(*)

Also, what if I biked only 20 km per day during the last few days and got my two stamps each day? There are no rules on minimum distances per day. Where's the difference if I biked or walked or mixed the two as long as I covered the last 200 km? You can walk only 5 km daily for 100 km and you will get a Compostela. Very silly interpretation.

But congratulations to @Jaime Trevino Elizondo for arriving at the meta and taking it all in his stride.

(*) If you don't want to believe me, just read the rules printed in the Cathedral issued credencial, second paragraph, at https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/pilgrimage/the-credencial/#!
 
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davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#78
I usually try not to comment on Compostela rules but the information given (no Compostela if one biked 700 km and walked 40 km and the whole thing continuously and in the same direction) is a mindless interpretation of their current rules ... in particular, since they hand out Compostelas to pilgrims who sailed 100 nautical miles and then walked the last 10 km to Santiago which is a very official rule for awarding a Compostela.(*)

Also, what if I biked only 20 km per day during the last few days and got my two stamps each day? There are no rules on minimum distances per day. Where's the difference if I biked or walked or mixed the two as long as I covered the last 200 km? You can walk only 5 km daily for 100 km and you will get a Compostela. Very silly interpretation.

But congratulations to @Jaime Trevino Elizondo for arriving at the meta and taking it all in his stride.

(*) If you don't want to believe me, just read the rules printed in the Cathedral issued credencial, second paragraph, at https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/pilgrimage/the-credencial/#!
Sorry; I very well may have read things incorrectly and would appreciate your help, because I don't see the disagreement. Perhaps you might clarify why what has been written is in contradiction to what you have posted? I did comment knowingly about how many km one must walk or ride daily; only how far from SdC one must continuously walk or ride. Thanks, Katha1na. :)
 
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Camino(s) past & future
----
#79
would appreciate your help,
I was merely picking up the idea of consistency and developing it further. The way I see it: a policy (or perhaps just one volunteer's interpretation of the policy) for awarding Compostelas that allows to mix walking and sailing on a last section of the Saint James' Ways but does not allow to mix walking and biking lacks inner consistency.

I have a (perhaps bad) habit of picking up a few words from a previous post and put it into a quote to indicate a subthread within a thread when that thread grows large and has messages going in quite different directions. I'm reminding myself that I must pay again more attention to this to avoid misunderstandings.
 


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