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Richard A Stead

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
i have just finished my Camino Portuguese. Last year I did SJ P du P to Santiago and wanted something perhaps a little quieter however turned out not to be the case . Just as busy with fewer beds.
I guess my major problem however is Santiago itself. I didn't bother getting a Compostela as it meant queuing for 2 hours but the most disappointing thing was the pilgrims service. Despite arriving at 11am there was a queue stretching around the square mainly with group leaders ( follow me sticks ) and it seems dreadful that having walked hundreds of miles pilgrims are taking their chances with bus loads of tourists many of whom apppear to be only there to take photographs. Sure it is time to allow genuine arriving pilgrims to take their place before opening the pilgrim service to day trippers . This will be my last Camino as I think Santiago Caminos have turned into a tourist industry . A different destination if I do another.
 
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Richard A Stead

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
Sorry you felt that way about the Pilgrims Mass. I had a very different experience though there were lots of tourist groups when I was there. I guess it has more to do with what happens inside you than what happens around you.
Sorry but that sounds slightly superior. A Compostela is not important to me but being able to attend mass is without massive queues and cameras flashing away during the service is. Why should you assume that because I ask for these simple rewards after a pilgrimage of hundreds of miles what I feel inside is less than what you feel inside ?
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
To me "genuine pilgrims" sounds a little bit superior. What do you have to do to become one? Allthough I myself am not religious and don't like institutional religions at all to me it's logical that the cathedral is open to all. It would also be difficult for catedral officials to have to distinguish between tourists, real pilgrims, long distance walkers and so on.
( I too don't like crowded trails, so I will avoid the Camino Frances, when I walk the Norte next year I probably will not walk the last stretches to Santiago or take a bus)
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Debates about"true pilgrims" only go in one direction and that is quickly downhill. We haven't had to close a thread recently and it would be nice if that trend could continue for a while.

But for @Richard A Stead I do have a couple of suggestions. There are so many solitary and wonderful Caminos in Spain, and if that's what you're looking for, you have plenty of choices. Try the Levante, Olvidado, Castellano-Aragonés, St Jaume/Catalan, Ebro, San Olaf, invierno, Vadiniense and probably others that I have forgotten. I am pretty sure you will be happy with them all.
 

Laluna

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, Astorga - SdC, August/September 2017
I also missed the noon pilgrim mass because there was a huge snaking line throughout the square. It was a Sunday so that could have had something to do with it. I stayed in the line as there was a regular Mass at 1 pm which I really enjoyed and came back later for the evening mass. Both were very moving and I felt fulfilled by the experience. It was extremely busy and many tourists but I suppose that is to be expected for the time of year as the peak season was just ending.
 

JulieandPeter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances Spring 2015
Frances Fall 2017
Le Puy to SJPDP Fall 2018
Frances Fall2019
Frances Summer 2020
I felt the same way about the cameras at the pilgrim mass the first time, but I decided to close my eyes and it was bliss as I thought about all of the people we met and the lessons we learned along the way. The second time (in July), we slipped in just after everyone had left and the cathedral was empty with the exception of a few people cleaning things up and as Peter walked around the church, I sat alone in complete peace and had an entirely different experience than the first.
 
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Saint Mike II

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola @Richard A Stead , unfortunately the "powers that be" don't rate very highly the problems of the Camino Pilgrim. Santiago gets around 2 million tourists, about 7 times the number of pilgrims. They regularly spend more than we do, so their voice is heard ahead of ours, hence the lack of signs indicating the Pilgrim Office. From discussion with a number of volunteers at the Pilgrim Office I formed the opinion that Galician authority & even the Santiago Council saw all 300,000 of us as a necessary evil to be suffered. Not sure how this will be handled with over half a million due in Santiago for the 2021 Holy Year. Cheers for, off for my morning swim!
 

clearskies

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés - 2011 to 2018
Camino Portugués - 2018, 2019, April 2021
Celtic Camino - 2019
I've made my way to Santiago 4 times now.
For the first time, last week I avoided the Cathedral and made my way to Iglesia San Agustin for mass. I'll be doing the same going forward.
 

Multipurpose

Member
Past OR future Camino
March/April (2018) maybe 2017
i have just finished my Camino Portuguese. Last year I did SJ P du P to Santiago and wanted something perhaps a little quieter however turned out not to be the case . Just as busy with fewer beds.
I guess my major problem however is Santiago itself. I didn't bother getting a Compostela as it meant queuing for 2 hours but the most disappointing thing was the pilgrims service. Despite arriving at 11am there was a queue stretching around the square mainly with group leaders ( follow me sticks ) and it seems dreadful that having walked hundreds of miles pilgrims are taking their chances with bus loads of tourists many of whom apppear to be only there to take photographs. Sure it is time to allow genuine arriving pilgrims to take their place before opening the pilgrim service to day trippers . This will be my last Camino as I think Santiago Caminos have turned into a tourist industry . A different destination if I do another.
I know what you mean, it seems like that mass is more for entertainment value than anything else. I don't know if I would wait two hours to see a gigantic swinging incense burner even though I am a devout Catholic. I don't go to mass to be entertained,
 

JMac56

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF(2015)
CF+Fis(2016)
CP:Porto-SdC-Mux-Fis(2017)
CF:Leon-SdC(2017)
CF+Mux+Fis(2018)
Hi Richard,
Should you find yourself in SdC again, might I respectfully suggest you try the English Mass held in one of the small Chapels in the Catedral at 10am each day. In my experience it is a wonderful Service with a real community feel and, mostly, Pilgrim audience. I also love going into the Catedral in the early morning and late evening when it is quiet.
Buen Camino.
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
I've only gone to the cathedral in April and then again in early May. The cathedral was never full, nor was there a line. It's hard for me to imagine the crowds that have been described here. I've gone to pilgrim masses, and to the mass in English in the little chapel. (What is with those scary cherubs? Can we sign a petition somewhere to have those taken down?) -- But back to Santiago and crowds. I am glad I was there when the streets and cathedral were relatively empty. -- -

I do remember a long time ago, my husband and I were in the Canadian Rockies and had spent the day climbing and then when we were almost at our goal when a helicopter chopped by, landed and out came it's paying passengers. And then they watched us struggle with packs and in a sweat up the hill. Oh well, they had a different experience, and I am not still envious. They were first to get to the glacier, but it wasn't a race and the didn't see the waterfalls we passed by. I wondered what they thought of us.

Another time, I was walking on a hot and dusty road in Southern Africa and was passed by tourists in an air conditioned bus headed to a hotel and posh safari. It was like watching people in a bubble drive by. I wouldn't have changed places for the world.
 
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KentuckyJay

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Hiked Leon to Santiago in May, 2014.
Hiked Porto to Santiago in May, 2016.
i have just finished my Camino Portuguese. Last year I did SJ P du P to Santiago and wanted something perhaps a little quieter however turned out not to be the case . Just as busy with fewer beds.
I guess my major problem however is Santiago itself. I didn't bother getting a Compostela as it meant queuing for 2 hours but the most disappointing thing was the pilgrims service. Despite arriving at 11am there was a queue stretching around the square mainly with group leaders ( follow me sticks ) and it seems dreadful that having walked hundreds of miles pilgrims are taking their chances with bus loads of tourists many of whom apppear to be only there to take photographs. Sure it is time to allow genuine arriving pilgrims to take their place before opening the pilgrim service to day trippers . This will be my last Camino as I think Santiago Caminos have turned into a tourist industry . A different destination if I do another.
If possible, perhaps you might try a spring hike. I hiked CF in May, 2014 and the Portuguese route in May, 2016. No crowds on the Camino nor in Santiago and the weather was great.
 

CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
Frances Burgos toSdC March/April 2016
W. Highland Way August 2016
Camino Somewhere September 2017
If possible, perhaps you might try a spring hike. I hiked CF in May, 2014 and the Portuguese route in May, 2016. No crowds on the Camino nor in Santiago and the weather was great.
You are so right! I'm leaving for France in a few days, then on to Spain. Last year, I was in Spain in April. It was cold and wet on a few days, but that's why we buy merino wool and raingear, right?
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
I just got an Back Roads Adventure Tour Guide book -- they have a "Taste of the Camino" trip-- starting in Porto. 5 days in posh hotels, you can walk a few hours each day, AND you get to watch the pilgrims in Santiago.
 
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Laluna

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, Astorga - SdC, August/September 2017
Here is a photo of the queue for the noon pilgrim's mass which I missed as I was still standing in the line at about 1 pm unfortunately.
 

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Rossco

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2015, Camino Portugues 2017, Camino Finisterre 2017, Le Puy Route (Sept. 2018)
i have just finished my Camino Portuguese. Last year I did SJ P du P to Santiago and wanted something perhaps a little quieter however turned out not to be the case . Just as busy with fewer beds.
I guess my major problem however is Santiago itself. I didn't bother getting a Compostela as it meant queuing for 2 hours but the most disappointing thing was the pilgrims service. Despite arriving at 11am there was a queue stretching around the square mainly with group leaders ( follow me sticks ) and it seems dreadful that having walked hundreds of miles pilgrims are taking their chances with bus loads of tourists many of whom apppear to be only there to take photographs. Sure it is time to allow genuine arriving pilgrims to take their place before opening the pilgrim service to day trippers . This will be my last Camino as I think Santiago Caminos have turned into a tourist industry . A different destination if I do another.
Couldn't agree more. I'm in Finisterre after starting in Lisbon and I'm glad it's over. No more Caminos for me and if I stay in another albergue it will be too soon
 

Christian Hiriart

The Camino keeps calling.
Past OR future Camino
Frances September (2016) St. Jean to Leon
Planning for the next...
Here is a photo of the queue for the noon pilgrim's mass which I missed as I was still standing in the line at about 1 pm unfortunately.

That is a whole lot of people. Personally I would go back to the Albergue/refugio/hotel have a cold adult beverage or a siesta and wait for the evening. Having said that is also neat to be there and feel the excitement around you, all those people enjoying just being there soaking up the spirit or soul which this place represents. No judging or wandering who is whom and how they arrived, just love the place for what it is. SDC is more than the cathedral, there is much to see, enjoy and learn.
 

Gregory Stegman

New Member
Past OR future Camino
9/2014 Camino Frances. 5/2015 Lepuy. next 6/16 ?
i have just finished my Camino Portuguese. Last year I did SJ P du P to Santiago and wanted something perhaps a little quieter however turned out not to be the case . Just as busy with fewer beds.
I guess my major problem however is Santiago itself. I didn't bother getting a Compostela as it meant queuing for 2 hours but the most disappointing thing was the pilgrims service. Despite arriving at 11am there was a queue stretching around the square mainly with group leaders ( follow me sticks ) and it seems dreadful that having walked hundreds of miles pilgrims are taking their chances with bus loads of tourists many of whom apppear to be only there to take photographs. Sure it is time to allow genuine arriving pilgrims to take their place before opening the pilgrim service to day trippers . This will be my last Camino as I think Santiago Caminos have turned into a tourist industry . A different destination if I do another.
Santiago has turned into a major tourist attraction which is fabulous for this City. I walked the Portuguese in August 2016 and found the track deserted from Lisbon to Porto. From then on it was busy. I think these days the main sections have to be walked in the off season or shoulder seasons early spring or late autumn.
This year I flew to Japan and trekked the Kumino Kodo which is a 2,000 year old Buddhist pilgrimage. It's mostly mountains but absolutely breathtaking in this world heritage region.
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Past OR future Camino
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
Couldn't agree more. I'm in Finisterre after starting in Lisbon and I'm glad it's over. No more Caminos for me and if I stay in another albergue it will be too soon

Have it your way! ... I'll have it my way :)
 

Lydia Gillen

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007/8/9, 2011 , 2012/13/14. C.F 2015
Camino Portugues 2017,2018,2019
volunteering
I love the Cathedral in Santiago. I get a great sense of being in communion not only with God but also with the millions of pilgrims who have participated in Mass here throughout the long centuries. However I do get frustrated at the apparent lack of devotion displayed by some. I get deeply frustrated when they spread themselves out and will not let the fifth person into the bench. That is most probably saying more about me than them. So I often go to the 7.30, 8.00 or 9.00 mass which is held in the Capillo del Santismo, which is the Blessed Sacrament chapel which is situated on the left hand side if you are half way down the Cathedral and facing the high altar. You will have been in the habit of getting up early on the Camino, so go to mass early, visit the tumb of St. James then on to the pilgrim Office for your compostela and then you will really enjoy your breakfast .
 
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Rossco

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2015, Camino Portugues 2017, Camino Finisterre 2017, Le Puy Route (Sept. 2018)
Have it your way! ... I'll have it my way :)
You're welcome to your way. I'll have it my way. I'm entitled to my opinion. How dare I criticise the Camino.
 

MooBro

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2019
I just got an Back Roads Adventure Tour Guide book -- they have a "Taste of the Camino" trip-- starting in Porto. 5 days in posh hotels, you can walk a few hours each day, AND you get to watch the pilgrims in Santiago.
Maybe we can charge them to watch us!
 

David O

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Walked the camino in 2015
Sorry but that sounds slightly superior. A Compostela is not important to me but being able to attend mass is without massive queues and cameras flashing away during the service is. Why should you assume that because I ask for these simple rewards after a pilgrimage of hundreds of miles what I feel inside is less than what you feel inside ?
Fully agree with your sentiments, I walked the way of St James in 2015, and I felt then that the Camino is now a victim of its own success and the film, however the most disappointing thing for me was pilgrims mass being invaded by tourists who did not have the first idea how much walking the way means to people and to sit in what should be silent contenplation for your safe arrival, to have it spoilt I felt was wrong
 
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was pilgrims mass being invaded by tourists
Ten to twenty times as many "tourists" visit the Cathedral as receive compostelas. Santiago tourism is 5 to 15 million visitors per year. Until criteria were established for a compostela, every one of them could get the compostela. Millions visited back when only a few thousand walked the Camino. It is easy to fall into the trap that walking/biking/riding pilgrims have a claim on the mass that is superior to "tourists.":)
 

Laluna

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, Astorga - SdC, August/September 2017
That is a whole lot of people. Personally I would go back to the Albergue/refugio/hotel have a cold adult beverage or a siesta and wait for the evening. Having said that is also neat to be there and feel the excitement around you, all those people enjoying just being there soaking up the spirit or soul which this place represents. No judging or wandering who is whom and how they arrived, just love the place for what it is. SDC is more than the cathedral, there is much to see, enjoy and learn.

Christian Hiriart, I couldn't agree more. Of course a part of me was a little bit frustrated if I'm honest at having to miss the noon mass and standing in the line for more than an hour but also, having just completed the Camino I was in that certain state of mind that I was just observing and absorbing everything around me and enjoying the atmosphere and being in that special place at that special time. So I stood and waited for the 1 pm mass which was not the pilgrim's mass but was very moving and beautiful and returned for the pilgrim's mass in the evening.
 
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Next up 2022?
What in the world makes us think that just because we've walked to Santiago we're entitled to have it conform to our personal expectations of how it 'should' be? It is what it is. And if that bugs us...the thing that needs to be adjusted is inside, not outside.
Santiago, and the carnival atmosphere in the cathedral (unpleasant as that is) are not the source of the suffering - the entitlement and expectations are.
(And if anyone thinks I'm coming from on high, just so you know I can do entitlement and expectations as well as the next person...but I just don't have any wish to be enslaved by them.)
 
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martin1ws

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2018; (2020); 2021
... Despite arriving at 11am there was a queue stretching around the square mainly with group leaders ( follow me sticks ) and it seems dreadful that having walked hundreds of miles pilgrims are taking their chances with bus loads of tourists many of whom apppear to be only there to take photographs....

I would be probably disappointed by something like that.

... You will have been in the habit of getting up early on the Camino, so go to mass early, visit the tumb of St. James then on to the pilgrim Office for your compostela and then you will really enjoy your breakfast .

For my camino notes:
"... go to mass early, visit the tumb of St. James then on to the pilgrim Office for your compostela... [probably many tourists in SdC]"

I was in Rome with my family this year during holidays... in the afternoon the queues in front of the St Peter's Basilica where very, very long. So we came back early in the morning and it was completely different.

I think often I can avoid crowds of people, bed races and things like that by planing (e. g. changing starting point from SJPdP to Somport or changing time).
If I cannot avoid something like "too many tourists" I want to try to feel that it is not my camino ... I am only a guest here and want to try to be grateful.
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I try to remember that a large percentage of the people packing into the pilgrim Mass may never have been inside a cathedral before, much less a church service. They have no idea what church is about, or what is expected of them. We the believers need to treat them humanely, or they'll never see the beauty of holiness in that holy city. The cathedral is just an interesting old building. We are the church.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
The cathedral is just an interesting old building. We are the church.
When I first read this I thought your wrote "we are at church", but then I re read it and appreciated you more profound meaning. I have a great interest in old buildings, in part due to coming from a young country that doesn't have many... those that we do have are at risk of crashing down in earthquakes. But I generally find I am able to satisfy my interest from examination of the exterior and avoid going into ones that are functioning churches. No one likes to be gawped at, especially when they are trying to spend quiet reflective time at the end of a meaningful journey. I was pretty taken aback on recent visits to Santiago when people pull at you and try and pose with the "pilgrims" like we are some kind of photo op. So I can understand the frustration and grumpiness of the OP.
 

Vicki Brian Miller

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
Santiago has turned into a major tourist attraction which is fabulous for this City. I walked the Portuguese in August 2016 and found the track deserted from Lisbon to Porto. From then on it was busy. I think these days the main sections have to be walked in the off season or shoulder seasons early spring or late autumn.
This year I flew to Japan and trekked the Kumino Kodo which is a 2,000 year old Buddhist pilgrimage. It's mostly mountains but absolutely breathtaking in this world heritage region.
We are thinking about doing this walk, in Japan, in 2019. What time of year did you go and which part did walk. How many days. Is there any books or information about the walk
 
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Sandy C

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Inglessa
Debates about"true pilgrims" only go in one direction and that is quickly downhill. We haven't had to close a thread recently and it would be nice if that trend could continue for a while.

But for @Richard A Stead I do have a couple of suggestions. There are so many solitary and wonderful Caminos in Spain, and if that's what you're looking for, you have plenty of choices. Try the Levante, Olvidado, Castellano-Aragonés, St Jaume/Catalan, Ebro, San Olaf, invierno, Vadiniense and probably others that I have forgotten. I am pretty sure you will be happy with them all.

Thank you for this list of less-busy choices. My wife and I walked from Santander last month and I was surprised by the number of pilgrims and the shortage of beds in albergues. (What really surprised me, though, were the reports of bedbugs in a few of the albergues.) For our next camino, I'll try to gather information on the sites you've mentioned. Thank you! Lee Cameron
PS Would you let me know how to post a private message, please. It wasn't really my intention that this message be broadcast. Thanks!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thank you for this list of less-busy choices. My wife and I walked from Santander last month and I was surprised by the number of pilgrims and the shortage of beds in albergues. (What really surprised me, though, were the reports of bedbugs in a few of the albergues.) For our next camino, I'll try to gather information on the sites you've mentioned. Thank you! Lee Cameron
PS Would you let me know how to post a private message, please. It wasn't really my intention that this message be broadcast. Thanks!

Hi, Lee,
It's easy once you figure it out. Go to the top of this page, under the banner across the top. There are several things like "recent posts", "camino guides", and one is "Private conversation." Just click on those words and it will bring up a form for you to fill out. In the "participants" line, put my forum name, and then a title and then a message. Actually, it will be easier if I just send you a PM so you can see it. Buen camino, Laurie
 

Gregory Stegman

New Member
Past OR future Camino
9/2014 Camino Frances. 5/2015 Lepuy. next 6/16 ?
We are thinking about doing this walk, in Japan, in 2019. What time of year did you go and which part did walk. How many days. Is there any books or information about the walk
Hi,
I walked the Kumino Kodo in July. Mid summer was horribly hot and humid. /MarchApril/ May or October are the preferred times. I took the Nakahechi route. Accommodation is booked through Kumano Travel which must be organised months in advance. In May next year I’m walking some of the same route then switching to the very difficult Kohechi route to end up in Koyasan. Koyasan is the spiritual home of the Japanese Buddhist and one stays in Buddhist temples. Nakahechi route 6 days only but it’s remote and feels like two weeks. Kohechi is extremely remote and can be dangerous. I’m on FB.
 

Gregory Stegman

New Member
Past OR future Camino
9/2014 Camino Frances. 5/2015 Lepuy. next 6/16 ?
Have it your way! ... I'll have it my way :)
I was following a person I met in Sydney who walked the camino Frances and she was with a large group of Pilgrims the entire journey. The posts were fabulous as she was having a blast of a time but it was more like a walking vacation. Don’t get me wrong, that’s cool. For me walking a camino is a spiritual journey not a social walk. I like to spend time alone to think, revalue my life ect. Each day on my Camino’s in Spain or Portugal I would try and visit an old church in the country side. Even today with the Camino’s being crowded I would still enjoy the experience but would walk in early spring or late autumn. Each to their own.
 
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