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What would you change about the CF - if you could?

I think it's more an example of the fact you can come across inconsiderate / selfish / dishonest / choose your own adjective ... people everywhere, even on a Camino path. But hopefully they are by far the exception. 🙏
Hopefully you are right but as more walk Caminos, it seems that the numbers of those you describe may go up in even greater numbers then what one would consider proportional. Being an American I can see those numbers of hostile angry people growing like wildfire. The growth is coming from people of all stripes, shapes and sizes.
 
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Hopefully you are right but as more walk Caminos, it seems that the numbers of those you describe may go up in even greater numbers then what one would consider proportional. Being an American I can see those numbers of hostile angry people growing like wildfire. The growth is coming from people of all stripes, shapes and sizes.
Maybe I’m out of touch but I hope they are still a v small minority 😞 🤞🙏
 
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I didn't make up the rule, but this is what I know after having a couple of pilgrims with suitcases this summer. Suitcases take up a lot of room at the albergue when opened and pilgrims often want to leave them open or store them open in the middle of the walkway rather than closing them up and setting them upright or pushing them under the bunk. And suitcases, like backpacks should not be left open or stored on the bunk for the same bedbug reason that we ask pilgrims not to put their backpacks on a bunk. They can really be in the way for pilgrims sleeping in your dorm who have only their one backpack to deal with. A day bag AND a suitcase take up additional room. I don't know what they would say about a duffel bag, but the mechanics of a suitcase are just unwieldy when there isn't much room.

I also know that there are some organizations, that state publicly that suitcases are for tourists and backpacks are for pilgrims (just the messenger here folks so don't hate me.) For that reason, some pilgrim only facilities won't allow suitcases. There are other reasons, but these are the ones I know about. The HosVol organization (one of the ones we volunteer for) does not prohibit suitcases (per a message to us last year), but they are a PIA to deal with at the albergue.
 
I'd get it into people's heads that SJPP is no sort of magical "starting" place, but that pilgrims can start from anywhere and everywhere.

SJPP is a great place, and I've been through there 5 times on 3 Caminos, and slept in Albergues there (and on one Albergue floor) 7 times, but I have never and would never start from the place !!
 
I would hand out something in SJPP (and post in each albergue) saying

DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TOILET PAPER ON THE TRAIL!!!
BE RESPONSIBLE and PICK UP AFTER YOUSELF!

And as Alex said, fewer pilgrims.

Otherwise, I wouldn't change anything.
Gave me a laugh Annie (no criticism intended) for someone that leads groups on the Way. 😁😂
Your toilet paper comment is absolutely spot on.
The CF is a victim of its own success I submit
 
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After dropping a perfunctory number of posts that make fun of other posts I would seriously state that (as many have said) there is no reason to change anything. The Camino is just fine by changing without us changing it.
We don't need to change the Camino -- but we need to be changed by the Camino.
 
I can recall hearing stories of that happening on my first and second Caminos. That a hospitalero who found a pilgrim's behaviour unacceptable tore up their credencial. But it may simply have been a rural myth told to keep us delinquents in order.
I heard first hand of this being done -- but IIRC it was in the case of people not walking every step but taking motor transport, whilst pretending to walk every step. Though I heard of confiscating the documents rather than tearing them up.

It was a particular problem of the 1990s of some people wanting a cheap driving holiday across Spain and abusing the system as it was.
 
I know that is the case but I am still puzzled by the logic behind it. What difference does it make? If you are not carrying either then there is no real difference in practice between a rucksack and a suitcase. They are both luggage. Why is one more acceptable than another?
Dealing with this stuff is basically a free luggage service, and the suitcases had started to become seriously inconvenient, as I saw on my 2014 most noticeably.

They just fill up the space not just downstairs or wherever but also in the dormitories, and pretty much inconvenience everybody, including I would say their owners.

If people want tourism services, then there are hotels for them. Why should unpaid Camino volunteers have to deal with such hassle ? Or pilgrims need to deal with the amount of Albergue volume being occupied by this luggage or the noise of rummaging and general hassle that it provides ? Pilgrims need rest, not non-stop packing/unpacking alarums and excursions.
 
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If people want tourism services, then there are hotels for them. Why should unpaid Camino volunteers have to deal with such hassle ? Or pilgrims need to deal with the amount of Albergue volume being occupied by this luggage or the noise of rummaging and general hassle that it provides ?
I agree. I just find it hard to understand the logic which decides that a transported rucksack is perfectly acceptable while a transported suitcase of the same weight and dimensions is not. That seems to be more about appearance than the reality of the situation.
 
I agree. I just find it hard to understand the logic which decides that a transported rucksack is perfectly acceptable while a transported suitcase of the same weight and dimensions is not. That seems to be more about appearance than the reality of the situation.
The more egregious suitcases I saw on my 2014 were significantly more voluminous than a rucksack. Some people had 2 or 3 not just the one, plus their trail packs too.

One particular group of 3 people IIRC had about 10-12 separate bits of luggage between suitcases, backpacks, and daypacks.

That is more than just appearance versus dimensions.
 
I agree. I just find it hard to understand the logic which decides that a transported rucksack is perfectly acceptable while a transported suitcase of the same weight and dimensions is not. That seems to be more about appearance than the reality of the situation.
I don't think it is the transport service (which has the restrictions for weight), but more the places accepting or not accepting the luggage that has the restriction. I may perhaps be wrong.
 
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The more egregious suitcases I saw on my 2014 were significantly more voluminous than a rucksack
It makes sense to me to limit size, but not type of luggage.
I don't think it is the transport service (which has the restrictions for weight), but more the places accepting or not accepting the luggage that has the restriction. I may perhaps be wrong.
That's correct. The transport services do have size and weight limits, but don't care if it's a backpack or a suitcase. And if you pay the additional fee, they will take more than one bag.
 
Not much, at least about the camino itself. The beautiful and ugly, the serene places and the parts near a motorway, the cities and vast empty spaces...all those things are part of a whole.

People are another story. I would love fewer entitled, rude, drunk, loud, rustling, talking-on-the-phone-at-night, alarm-clock-setting or otherwise annoying people. And they would likely love fewer killjoys like me. So I guess that doesn't go anywhere. 🤭
People who complain about snoring. You are in an Albergue some people will snore and some quite loud. If people snore that's not their problem. Get a private room. 😄
 
It makes sense to me to limit size, but not type of luggage.

That's correct. The transport services do have size and weight limits, but don't care if it's a backpack or a suitcase. And if you pay the additional fee, they will take more than one bag.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is about the premise of some organizations that a suitcase means you are not a pilgrim, but a tourist. Again, not my words, but that is the principle reason. Don't stay at those places if you want to have a suitcase.
 
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I would hand out something in SJPP (and post in each albergue) saying

DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TOILET PAPER ON THE TRAIL!!!
BE RESPONSIBLE and PICK UP AFTER YOUSELF!

And as Alex said, fewer pilgrims.

Otherwise, I wouldn't change anything.
Definitely agree about the toilet litter; I was astonished and disgusted by the amount. What's wrong with having a plastic bag and disposing of it sensibly? Not only is it an eyesore, it's a health risk. Apart from that, I loved the journey.
 
I can recall hearing stories of that happening on my first and second Caminos. That a hospitalero who found a pilgrim's behaviour unacceptable tore up their credencial. But it may simply have been a rural myth told to keep us delinquents in order.
Yeah and the culprit simply walked on to the next place where a new credenciale can be obtained. told them a cackomania (!) story about it being lost\washed in the lavatory\dropped in the river... etc.

and heck - NO more additional fees and\or charges. THAT does not work because...well we all know WHY (whether we like it or not or want to admit it or not)

Theree will always be nice people and bad people. as Forrest said "stupid iz az stupid duz" and most of the time you cannot change it. (sadly I may add)
 
Definitely agree about the toilet litter; I was astonished and disgusted by the amount. What's wrong with having a plastic bag and disposing of it sensibly? Not only is it an eyesore, it's a health risk. Apart from that, I loved the journey.
Whats wrong with somehow learning to control your body functions to the point of making it to the next village? Say if you are walking the streets of London or Paris - will you just squat down in the middle of one if the urge overtakes you?!
I had couple of very close calls...and it was not, shall I say comfortable.... but I held it until i got to the next available toilet.

Yeah I know - thats me and its my camino :D and someone will retort with "easier said than done"... and I wont argue that; I'm just saying perhaps we should TRY!
 
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Yeah and the culprit simply walked on to the next place where a new credenciale can be obtained. told them a cackomania (!) story about it being lost\washed in the lavatory\dropped in the river... etc.
Not so easy to do in 1990. Not very many places issuing credencials then. Mostly that was done by confraternities. You might have to go on to one of the main cities to find an Amigos group to get a replacement. It would have been a bigger pain in the posterior than today. But I've no evidence that it actually happened in practice anyway.
 
In Pamplona, I saw a group of women driven right up to the city albergue, unload their monster suitcases and enter for accommodation. It's a cheap bed. And they get a stamp. I saw the same thing in a smaller village later on my walk. this time they were being picked up to be moved to the next accommodation. Unfortunately, there is really no way to regulate this unless the tour operators decide it's unfair.

Another issue -- related, but at the other end of the spectrum: During peak, a few albergues will only take those who have traveled a minimum distance on foot. That's a problem if you are walking, but incapable of going long distances. I only encountered that once when I had a foot injury and could only travel at a snail's pace for 10 km. They let me in eventually once they saw they weren't full, but it was a tense few hours. I do think albergues should accommodate the elderly and infirm and allow short legs. And certainly not turn them away in favor of those moving via van. After all, it's a spiritual journey and those not capable of walking more than 10 km in a day are just as validly walking.

I think we need to make a distinction between private and municipal Albergues. Private albergue’s have their own rules. The municipal Albergues, at least in Galicia, give first priority to people with disabilities and I guess that includes injuries; then those walking; and finally those on bikes.
 
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Well, First of all because I was there, there were NO OTHER people around. HE was on an errand to SIT on a bench across the church for what was at least an hour chatting it up with his buddies. I felt HE just didn't want to deal with anyone!! HIS tone was very gruff and mean. This is what I KNOW.

Oh an unhappy man - and I am sure there are quite a few on the Camino - but I think there are also more generous souls who will make a little adjustment so that one pilgrim can sit in their church.

Alternatively I have had some wonderful experiences sitting outside of a closed church, leaning against its precious walls, sitting in its garden, and listening for the divine within and without. And sometimes even been lucky enough to arrive during ‘cleaning / flower arranging’ time.

While many things might annoy and challenge me I think one of the reasons I wouldn’t change a thing is that the Camino gives me a perfect opportunity to practice- Just for today I will adjust myself to what is ….
Now if I could just be more diligent in practicing this at home …. 🤨
 
I walk up to nearly every church door, large or small, in both city and village that I pass by on my Caminos in every country. I have sometimes seen a local inside "manning the ship" at a small desk. I give a euro donation and they usually turn on the lights for me. That said, most churches in Spain are unfortunately locked.
In France on the Via Podiensis (on the Cele Variant) I recall my friends and I saw a lovely church on a small unpopulated hill and detoured off the trail on the backroad to take a look. As we neared the church a lady literally came running out of the only nearby house and showed us she had the key in her hand to unlock the door for us. It was the sweetest gesture and if she hadn't seen us walk by, our little detour would have been in vain.

Oh you reminded me of an experience in 2007 - we were walking past a church on CF (I wasn’t even sure I was a pilgrim yet) when a priest popped out of the side door and beckoned us in - actually nearly demanded. He gave us a detailed tour of ‘his’ church- some of it must have been in English - and its incredible artifacts. I was very moved. I think it was after that that I started to think of myself as a pilgrim.
Thank you for triggering this memory.
 
Oh, simple!!! I would move the remains of St James to Roncesvalles!! Then pilgrims could walk from Santiago to Roncesvalles and I could walk through France to Roncesvalles - I SO loved my Camino in France, completely different experience to walking the Camino in Spain.
Not a joke - I am quite serious on that one!

Or put half the remains in Roncesvalles? Making the Camino in Spain a dual carriageway? 😂

HHmm ... I guess the 100kms compostela dash would then be from Los Arcos as well as Sarria, halving the numbers
I think there are 15 separate skull of saint James so easy to arrange LOL !
 
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Not really a full explanation. You might need a priest for sacramental services. You don't need one to unlock the place or to keep an eye on it.
Spain, like the rest of the western world, not only has less priests, but also has a declining population of church goers. So the volunteer parish numbers decline, and the volunteers that do assist are getting older and can do less, or nothing.
 
An interesting proposal. Not immediately convinced it would be practical though. When and how would you collect the fee?
Pilgrim office at beginning and end. Pay with your passport or with the credential. Of course it's not foolproof and easily avoided, but the point is I'd bet more would give than wouldn't. Thoughts?
 
I would eradicate other pilgrims that wanted to tell me what to do. One woman who was about 40 years younger than me told me I had to stop for lunch when I was much more comfortable having snacks. She told me this twice and it was my third camino of 800 k. Did she think i was so old i wasn't capable of looking after myself?
I don't have lunch at home. Another woman wanted to be surrounded by a camino family and wanted me to stop where she did and go out to dinner with her.
I didn't like the toilet paper either. One time I sat near toilet paper as it was the only rock in the shade. Either take your toilet paper with you or don't use any.
 
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I know that is the case but I am still puzzled by the logic behind it. What difference does it make? If you are not carrying either then there is no real difference in practice between a rucksack and a suitcase. They are both luggage. Why is one more acceptable than another?
It might be based on the idea that people who bring backpacks and intend to carry them may find themselves for various reasons forced to occasionally send them ahead, but at least there was the intention to carry them, even if the pilgrim was not always able to follow through on that intention. Someone bringing luggage never had the intention of every doing anything other than shipping it.

(I am aware that there are people who bring backpacks with never the intention of doing anything other than shipping it, too.)
 
Pilgrim office at beginning and end. Pay with your passport or with the credential. Of course it's not foolproof and easily avoided, but the point is I'd bet more would give than wouldn't. Thoughts?
The challenge would be that there is one end but a million beginnings. There are at least hundreds of different routes spread across Europe and each has many, many possible beginning points. That's not even considering people who follow the most traditional pilgrim practice of starting at their front doors.

Significantly increasing the cost of credencials is a much more practical way of implementing this, if it were desirable. But I have serious doubts of its effectiveness in making a better Camino.

That's because there are a number of studies that people look at financial transactions in a fundamentally different way than they look at non-financial transactions. Different motivations and feelings of entitlement come into play. This came out quite clearly in a study of the effect of late pickup fines when applied by daycare operators. You would think that fining parents for picking up their kids late would cause the number of late pickups to be reduced. It is elementary economics. But studies have shown that it has exactly the opposite effect. That's because once the fine is in place, on-time pickups don't become a matter of "doing the right thing". They become a financial decision, what's the cost of the time? And for a larger number of parents, it is worth the money not to have to hurry. And once the parents start looking it as a financial decision, not an ethical decision, it is really hard to get them to go back, even if fines are eliminated and appeals to conscience are made.

What does this have to do with the $20 charge? All of a sudden, the pilgrimage becomes a product you have purchased and your whole Camino is framed like that. You are a customer as much as a pilgrim. I really doubt that would be an improvement.

(As a side note, this is also something to consider in the context of donativos and the different ambience they can create.)
 
What does this have to do with the $20 charge? All of a sudden, the pilgrimage becomes a product you have purchased and your whole Camino is framed like that. You are a customer as much as a pilgrim. I really doubt that would be an improvement.
I think that attitude is increasingly common anyway. On Facebook Camino groups one of the most frequent first questions I see is "Which travel company should I book with?". I find it very sad that the first perception is that the Camino is a packaged commodity to be bought off the shelf rather than an individual journey to be made. Asking "Where can I buy this?" rather than "How can I do this?"
 
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The more egregious suitcases I saw on my 2014 were significantly more voluminous than a rucksack. Some people had 2 or 3 not just the one, plus their trail packs too.

One particular group of 3 people IIRC had about 10-12 separate bits of luggage between suitcases, backpacks, and daypacks.

That is more than just appearance versus dimensions.
A transported rucksack might mean that that pilgrim had a minor injury, or was worried about a particularly difficult stage, and sent it ahead once. A suitcase means they never intended to carry their own stuff.

When I rode one of Victor's horses up to O Cebreiro, I had to send my backpack ahead to Fonfria, where I would stay that night. I spent the rest of the day embarrassed by my daypack and wanting to say "I always carry my own pack - today is an exception!!!" Talk about appearances, LOL.
 
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I think that attitude is increasingly common anyway. On Facebook Camino groups one of the most frequent first questions I see is "Which travel company should I book with?". I find it very sad that the first perception is that the Camino is a packaged commodity to be bought off the shelf rather than an individual journey to be made. Asking "Where can I buy this?" rather than "How can I do this?"
THIS!
It's that "bucket list" thing. Buy the package.
 
Ok, so inspired by the "Has the Camino lost it's way" thread. What would people change to the current Camino (CF) to make it better in their own eyes/opinion whatever that may be (without breaking any forum rules obvs)? It could be stuff like removing or increasing the 100km etc.

As most of you probably know, I loved my recent CF, but there were a few things I'd like to see different.

I can start with this:

Where major roads/motorways/railways have been built through or close to the Camino, where feasible the Camino could be routed further from these. Where not feasible maybe more could be done to lessen the impact by planting trees or similar to lessen the noise effects? I understand some drudgery is part of the Camino such as the walks in to the cities etc and it has it's place and not what I'd change, but things like the above that are cut through the countryside could be made better I think.
I’d like permission to cover and repair spray painted graffiti
 
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is about the premise of some organizations that a suitcase means you are not a pilgrim, but a tourist. Again, not my words, but that is the principle reason. Don't stay at those places if you want to have a suitcase.
But by barring some (for having a suitcase) us that going against the whole point of the camino. There is no perfect pilgrim.
 
But by barring some (for having a suitcase) us that going against the whole point of the camino.
What would you say is "the whole point of the camino"? More than 30 years since my first Camino and I am still struggling to define it. Gets even harder every time I walk one. I'd love to hear from someone who has the definitive answer.
 
I’ll list neither what I liked nor what I didn’t, because when I go somewhere, I want to see what IS more than what I would prefer it to be.

But I will confess that there were things I liked and things I didn’t.
 
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What would people change to the current Camino (CF) to make it better in their own eyes/opinion whatever that may be (without breaking any forum rules obvs)? It could be stuff like removing or increasing the 100km etc.
For me, not so much the route itself, but two things I'd like to see changed:

1) Somehow (and have no suggestions) get the mountain bikers off the paths. They are ruining the experience for the hikers. There were times when packs of them would come by and just expect the hikers to move to the side and let them by. Often I observed that there was a road next to the path with a bike lane and yet they take the pedestrian path. I know this is controversial, but you asked.

2) I'd love to see porta potties at strategic locations along the Camino. In some locations, you find a secluded spot, only to find out that hundreds have recently found that same spot. You need to be careful where you walk!

Can't think of anything else, overall it was a wonderful experience.
 
For me, not so much the route itself, but two things I'd like to see changed:

1) Somehow (and have no suggestions) get the mountain bikers off the paths. They are ruining the experience for the hikers. There were times when packs of them would come by and just expect the hikers to move to the side and let them by. Often I observed that there was a road next to the path with a bike lane and yet they take the pedestrian path. I know this is controversial, but you asked.

2) I'd love to see porta potties at strategic locations along the Camino. In some locations, you find a secluded spot, only to find out that hundreds have recently found that same spot. You need to be careful where you walk!

Can't think of anything else, overall it was a wonderful experience.

1. Cyclists need to know that pedestrians always have the right of way.

2. Portapotties aren't a solution for the volumes on the route, unfortunately.
 
1. Cyclists need to know that pedestrians always have the right of way.

2. Portapotties aren't a solution for the volumes on the route, unfortunately.
Agree with you on the first point, but many of the bikers I encountered were not as well informed or courteous. Some were, but many were not.

Regarding porta potties, they seem to work well for large volume events and hiking paths in the USA, but comparing the two regions/cultures, is not a fair comparison. And then you get to the bigger issue of who pays for the service. My point is that without some sort of facilities support, you are left to find private spots when nature calls. I doubt the locals like the current situation and I found it less than desirable, but when nature calls............ The OP asked what I'd like to see changed, so perhaps I should revise my response to say better restroom support.
 
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1. Cyclists need to know that pedestrians always have the right of way.
My experience, having biked thousands of kilometers (and walked thousands) is that most of us do know that. And that includes hundreds of kilometers in both modes on the Francés and the Vía de la Plata.
 
The one thing if would change is having a single route for cyclists and walkers.
For me, not so much the route itself, but two things I'd like to see changed:

1) Somehow (and have no suggestions) get the mountain bikers off the paths. They are ruining the experience for the hikers. There were times when packs of them would come by and just expect the hikers to move to the side and let them by. Often I observed that there was a road next to the path with a bike lane and yet they take the pedestrian path. I know this is controversial, but you asked.

2) I'd love to see porta potties at strategic locations along the Camino. In some locations, you find a secluded spot, only to find out that hundreds have recently found that same spot. You need to be careful where you walk!

Can't think of anything else, overall it was a wonderful experience.
I agree and good you said it. There is a whole network of rural roads which could form the basis of a cycle route. With the increase in cyclists and walkers on the camino this would be a sensible development.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
But by barring some (for having a suitcase) us that going against the whole point of the camino. There is no perfect pilgrim.
Different people see different things as the "whole point of the Camino". For some, the whole point of the Camino is visiting the relics of St. James. For others, that is incidental. For the people running the albergues with these restrictions, the whole point of the Camino is the journey, and specifically doing the journey in a certain way (walking carrying what you need on your back) and the specific experiences and transformations that come with that. Different strokes (and places of accommodation) for different folks.

Myself, I prefer to walk and carry my backpack, but I don't consider someone less of a pilgrim for making different choices. If someone wants to go by bus with her church group and priest to visit Santiago de Compostela and the relics of St. James, I consider her every bit as much of a pilgrim as myself.
 
As I have stated before, I wish the Pilgrims Office in St Jean would publish their daily numbers. They can do that in the offseason. I would like the Albergues in Roncesvalles to also publish their daily numbers, again it can be in the offseason. I started hiking from St Jean on Sept 2, 2022. It was one of the busiest days of the year. Turns out that if I had started a week earlier it would have been a lot less crowded. When I got to Granon and stayed at the Bautista Albergue, the lady said it was their biggest day of the year with over 60 people. Just 3 day earlier they only had 9 people.
 
As I have stated before, I wish the Pilgrims Office in St Jean would publish their daily numbers. They can do that in the offseason. I would like the Albergues in Roncesvalles to also publish their daily numbers, again it can be in the offseason. I started hiking from St Jean on Sept 2, 2022. It was one of the busiest days of the year. Turns out that if I had started a week earlier it would have been a lot less crowded. When I got to Granon and stayed at the Bautista Albergue, the lady said it was their biggest day of the year with over 60 people. Just 3 day earlier they only had 9 people.
Where should these numbers be published? If you had been following the forum closely while planning your September Camino you would have known that the first two weeks of September are probably the busiest weeks of the year for those starting from St Jean Pied de Port.
 
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If someone wants to go by bus with her church group and priest to visit Santiago de Compostela and the relics of St. James, I consider her every bit as much of a pilgrim as myself.
I just came across a short item on a Spanish news site about a group of 200 Koreans currently travelling the Camino Frances by bus. Including a number of priests who join in leading the celebration of mass in churches along the way. I would certainly consider them pilgrims and as with the many walking Korean pilgrims I met on the Frances last winter I admire their commitment in time and effort and also financial cost.


Edit: A PS. On my second Camino I met a German church group travelling by bus to Santiago. One lady told me quite bluntly that I was not a pilgrim because I was travelling alone and was not accompanied by a priest to say mass and hear confessions daily. She and her friends were pilgrims, I was a tourist. I think that we can all have tunnel vision at times.
 
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As I have stated before, I wish the Pilgrims Office in St Jean would publish their daily numbers. They can do that in the offseason. I would like the Albergues in Roncesvalles to also publish their daily numbers, again it can be in the offseason
May I suggest, instead of expressing your wish repeatedly on the forum ;) that you write to the Pilgrims Office in St Jean and the Albergues in Roncesvalles and let them know of your wish? Following the last time this wish had been expressed in a forum thread I did contact one of them. To date, I have not received any reply.

Apart from that, I agree with @trecile and this has been pointed out many times before on the forum: The first two weeks of September are two of the busiest weeks of the year for those starting from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and it has been like this for numerous years now. The information is available but one needs to get it, it is not being spoon-fed to each and every pilgrim. I do understand of course how annoying it is when one learns about it only afterwards. But at least one knows it now for next time, and one can inform any future pilgrim one happens to talk to.
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I also know that there are some organizations, that state publicly that suitcases are for tourists and backpacks are for pilgrims (just the messenger here folks so don't hate me.) For that reason, some pilgrim only facilities won't allow suitcases. There are other reasons, but these are the ones I know about. The HosVol organization (one of the ones we volunteer for) does not prohibit suitcases (per a message to us last year), but they are a PIA to deal with at the albergue.
I wonder how they would define a “suitcase.” On my next walk I plan to carry in my backpack a very light zippered bag that I can put things in to send ahead if I choose to - for example on a day that may have a steep incline. I certainly wouldn’t (and couldn’t) carry a second backpack for just that.
 
I wonder how they would define a “suitcase.” On my next walk I plan to carry in my backpack a very light zippered bag that I can put things in to send ahead if I choose to - for example on a day that may have a steep incline. I certainly wouldn’t (and couldn’t) carry a second backpack for just that.
I stand to be corrected but i'd say the issue is more the 30kg monster suitcases people used to travel with before the 10kg fits-in-the-overhead-bin became popular.

People still do travel with those large cases, full of outfits, jackets, hairdryers and straighteners, laptops etc. which is fine.. just hospitaleros might view them with suspicion.
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People still do travel with those large cases, full of outfits, jackets, hairdryers and straighteners, laptops etc. which is fine.. just hospitaleros might view them with suspicion.

It is a fairly recent phenomenon. No luggage services at the time of my first two Caminos. Unless you had your own private back-up vehicle then you had to carry everything. Which included a sleeping bag and mat since there was often no private accommodation in smaller towns and villages and occasionally only bare floor space to sleep on in refugios. Once Jacotrans and the other companies arrived people had little direct incentive to pare down their packing lists to essentials. But it does feel as if people lately are taking that to extremes. Unfortunately once a practice has taken hold it is very difficult to alter it or end it. Putting toothpaste back in the tube. Especially if imposing restrictions is now "going against the whole point of the camino."
 
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Significantly increasing the cost of credencials is a much more practical way of implementing this, if it were desirable. But I have serious doubts of its effectiveness in making a better Camino.

That's because there are a number of studies that people look at financial transactions in a fundamentally different way than they look at non-financial transactions. Different motivations and feelings of entitlement come into play. This came out quite clearly in a study of the effect of late pickup fines when applied by daycare operators. You would think that fining parents for picking up their kids late would cause the number of late pickups to be reduced. It is elementary economics. But studies have shown that it has exactly the opposite effect. That's because once the fine is in place, on-time pickups don't become a matter of "doing the right thing". They become a financial decision, what's the cost of the time? And for a larger number of parents, it is worth the money not to have to hurry. And once the parents start looking it as a financial decision, not an ethical decision, it is really hard to get them to go back, even if fines are eliminated and appeals to conscience are made.

What does this have to do with the $20 charge? All of a sudden, the pilgrimage becomes a product you have purchased and your whole Camino is framed like that. You are a customer as much as a pilgrim. I really doubt that would be an improvement.

(As a side note, this is also something to consider in the context of donativos and the different ambience they can create.)

This downside makes a lot of sense, but I would suggest that it depends on how it is framed and how the money is used - do the people paying it understand and see the benefit of what it is used for?

Bhutan charges a daily fee to all travelers (at least they did - I haven’t checked lately). It is used to reduce the number of visitors but also for environmental projects, to allow people to maintain traditional lifestyles, and for the general benefit of citizens. At least 20 years ago (which is when I was there), it seemed that the people who traveled to Bhutan understood and appreciated why the fee was charged and I don’t believe necessarily became more “demanding” of what they expected. (The country has become much more of a high-end destination since then, with very lux resorts and the like, that this of course might have changed - but probably not just because of the daily fee ).
 
I just came across a short item on a Spanish news site about a group of 200 Koreans currently travelling the Camino Frances by bus. Including a number of priests who join in leading the celebration of mass in churches along the way. I would certainly consider them pilgrims and as with the many walking Korean pilgrims I met on the Frances last winter I admire their commitment in time and effort and also financial cost.


Edit: A PS. On my second Camino I met a German church group travelling by bus to Santiago. One lady told me quite bluntly that I was not a pilgrim because I was travelling alone and was not accompanied by a priest to say mass and hear confessions daily. She and her friends were pilgrims, I was a tourist. I think that we can all have tunnel vision at times.
Thanks for posting this. Perhaps it could be 'bookmarked' as a reference when the 'pilgrim vs non pilgrim' discussions make their way into threads, as they inevitably do.

I like to walk for weeks on end and carry my own backpack- so that's at least two ticks in the box for what some seem to regard as a 'pilgrim'. But my faith and intentions - I don't practise a christian faith and I'm not walking to the bones of St James. I don't feel the need to categorise myself or others. But I'd bet most if not all of those on the bus are more 'pilgrim' than me, in any religious sense of the word.

Both experiences in the above post are further proof that we can't - and why would we presume to - know someone's faith or intentions, nor what's in their head or heart, based on outward appearances. So, I guess that is something I'd like to change - not about the Camino - but about how we view others. Again, thanks for posting @Bradypus 🙏
 
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But I'd bet most if not all of those on the bus are far more 'pilgrim' than me.
It is really only on the Caminos and on some recently revived routes like the Via Francigena and the Olavsleden which are directly modelled on the Caminos that 'pilgrimage' is so closely identified with walking in particular. For most Christian pilgrimage destinations and those of other faiths pilgrims arrive by whatever form of transport is most convenient. As a Camino forum we tend to focus on a far narrower definition of 'pilgrimage' and 'pilgrim' and lose sight of the bigger picture.
 
Wouldn’t change a thing. I walked on sacred ground, walked by millions of feet for well over a thousand years. I am but a humbled visitor to that historic path.
Agreed.
However, the path was frequently soiled around the edges of farmers' fields from human excrement. On hot days, the stench was overpowering.
People passing through and not abiding by "leave no trace" rule of hikers was abhorrent. A trowel and bags to collect take mine -- the only way.
 
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Edit: A PS. On my second Camino I met a German church group travelling by bus to Santiago. One lady told me quite bluntly that I was not a pilgrim because I was travelling alone and ... etc.
I came across a similar group of French pilgrims on my 2005, with similar notions. I was "not a pilgrim".

I told them that I was walking from my parish church for a purpose of thanksgiving for my Baptism and Confirmation that very same year at Easter and Pentecost, from our Bishop.

Not only did they change their opinion of me personally, but they expressed their gratitude for having taught them that foot pilgrims are pilgrims too.

It's when we don't talk to each other that misunderstandings occur !!
 
Thanks for posting this. Perhaps it could be 'bookmarked' as a reference when the 'pilgrim vs non pilgrim' discussions make their way into threads, as they inevitably do.
Anyone making their way to the Tomb of the Apostle with religious purpose by whatever means of travel, and/or by means recognised by the Cathedral/Pilgrim Office/Diocesan Church as being a "pilgrimage" within the conditions provided, is a pilgrim.

Someone driving alone by car to Santiago, and visiting the Tomb of the Apostle for that purpose is a pilgrim.
 
Not that I count it as "the correct source", but Wikipedia mentions in the definition of a pilgrim the religious perspective (holy place)..

A pilgrim (from the Latin peregrinus) is a traveler (literally one who has come from afar) who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journey (often on foot) to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system. In the spiritual literature of Christianity, the concept of pilgrim and pilgrimage may refer to the experience of life in the world (considered as a period of exile) or to the inner path of the spiritual aspirant from a state of wretchedness to a state of beatitude.[1]

...but not in the definition of a pilgrimage

A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.[1][2][3]
 
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Someone driving alone by car to Santiago, and visiting the Tomb of the Apostle for that purpose is a pilgrim.
But should the pilgrim in a car get the same preferential right to spend the night in the albergues? It cannot be ticked for "car" in the credential.. Just asking..
 
But should the pilgrim in a car get the same preferential right to spend the night in the albergues? It cannot be ticked for "car" in the credential.. Just asking..
No, but where you sleep also doesn't have any bearing on whether you are a pilgrim or not.
 
But should the pilgrim in a car get the same preferential right to spend the night in the albergues? It cannot be ticked for "car" in the credential.. Just asking..
The Albergues are for foot pilgrims, bicycle ones, horse ones, and so on.

The only pilgrims that can normally go by car or by other motor means and stay there are those with a physical handicap -- though increasingly, people with electric bikes are admitted too.
 
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But should the pilgrim in a car get the same preferential right to spend the night in the albergues? It cannot be ticked for "car" in the credential.
I'm not sure what the "preferential right" is for albergues. They are operated by different entities that have different policies, so what "should" be done is up to them. There is no overarching set of rules.

No, you cannot get a compostela for driving to Santiago. But getting a Compostela is controlled by the Santiago Cathedral's Pilgrim Office, while defining a "pilgrim" is a broader and personal question.
 
Insurance agencies insist on it. In the 90s there was a string of thefts of paintings, retablos, statues, etc from Spanish churches-- warehouses were filled and sold to collectors who did not ask any questions. So the churches came to be locked--but the key is usually easily obtained from a local. As well, churches were locked in areas where local sentiments were... strong.
That makes sense. It is also an explanation I have heard. In England, churches in villages are often open (though not always). Cromwell and his chums made sure there isn’t much to steal but villages in the south of England are not depopulated as they are in Spain.
 
Not to hijack, and to be fair, I am certain that not all pilgrims who utilize a tour of some kind or stay in a hotel always realize there there may be rules at albergues. I have had other pilgrims staying in hotels who wandered in to "do laundry" or share a meal not realizing that laundry facilities were for guests only or that we were not a restaurant/bar. Still others on tours have stopped in and asked to see the inside of an albergue because they were staying in hotels and wanted to see what an albergue is like. We've had pilgrims on this forum surprised when some hotels (and albergues) will accept only backpacks and not suitcases. There is a lot that new pilgrims don't know which is why we are here to try to patiently dispel some of the mysteries and misconceptions. I try to remember that when I respond.
The ban on suitcases may be because of space - there is an obvious limit to the size of a backpack, but not to a suitcase that is being transported. HosVol rule is that if the pilgrim is carrying it, we let it in. Whether transported luggage of any type is allowed is up to the individual albergue or its owners (usually the parish or local council or in Galicia the Xunta).
 
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I would love a few albergues designated as “silent” in the sleeping rooms. I get snoring, etc can’t be regulated lol, but loud talking late at night or early morning can. I imagine these rooms as contemplative snd catering to those who are seeking a spiritual journey.

And I wish those on tours, especially those being shuffled by buses, could be accommodated in places other than pilgrim only albergues.
On my first Camino in 2006 I stayed at the albergue right past the bridge going into Trinidad de Arre.
WONDERFUL place, btw.
They had a separate snoring room - honor system - and for us, it worked.
We had a very peaceful, restful, snore-free night.
 
Once Jacotrans and the other companies arrived people had little direct incentive to pare down their packing lists to essentials. But it does feel as if people lately are taking that to extremes.

Yes, especially saw this trend last year. I was gobsmacked at how many (largish) suitcases I nearly tripped over.
 
Somewhere up above someone said that everyone here encouraging new walkers (no offence meant to the OP but I hate the term ‘newbies’, it always feels so patronising) is also part of the problem. As someone who has come here for info etc, let me add something. When I first heard of the Camino a few years back I imagined this was one very long, rustic walk. The appeal of doing it next year was because these old knees are not up to hard core mountain or wilderness trails any more, but the spirit inside still yearns to be out there. So, plans were forming to do what turns out to be the Frances. I expect it’s evident by now that I soon discovered the Frances isn’t the only show in town but is by far the most popular.

So, what impact has all the advice and chat on here had? Well, from the tons of info I’ve gleaned (many thanks to you all) it’s unlikely I’ll walk the Frances as I wouldn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle, especially of the last 100km, unless I go out of season. The Portuguese is the current hot favourite. I probably won’t stay in the auberges as I can afford a bit more privacy and, while I can still enjoy a bit of communal living and sleeping from time to time, I wouldn’t want to do this solidly for 30+ days. But that said, I probably won’t, after all, set out to do a whole Camino, but more likely pick out the nicest sections, because I wouldn’t relish walking though towns or cities. (Or maybe I’ll just avoid the caminos altogether and go to the casinos, since that’s what my spell-checker keeps trying to persuade me towards :) ).

So I’d say forums such as this probably have the opposite effect as they most likely inform people who will go walking regardless, but after reading up on here might make different choices and spread out a bit more.
 
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So I’d say forums such as this probably have the opposite effect as they most likely inform people who will go walking regardless, but after reading up on here might make different choices and spread out a bit more.
I think that the forum is serving a useful purpose in that case. People often have a mental image of the Caminos which is very wide of the mark. Particularly those whose previous experience has mostly been hiking and camping on wilderness trails. A very high risk of disappointment in that case. We read it now and again here. Helping someone to make an informed decision not to walk a Camino is just as valuable as encouraging them to walk.
 
Well, from the tons of info I’ve gleaned (many thanks to you all) it’s unlikely I’ll walk the Frances as I wouldn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle . . .

Victory! The collective negativity of the Forum's "it's too crowded" crowd has once again successfully discouraged a never walked a Camino future Pilgrim to not walk the Camino Frances. Our vigilance has been rewarded.
 
I don't know if changing anything is relevant, I mean this, in that, every walk is different, every destination a different experience, places I’ve strolled through in earlier pilgrimages, have become major stopping off points in later Caminos.

I’ve met the worst of albergue owners, waiters, and staff in shops, but also the most helpful people you could ever imagine meeting. Unfortunately, the rude ones, tended to be younger, I used to live in Andalucía, and I experienced the same there with Bar staff... like the Vancians’ there will be more tourists tomorrow, so why bother...


You are in España, so make an effort to speak the language, be open, curtious and curious, the Spanish are very proud of their traditions and culture, you can make the difference if you decide to make the most of your walk.

I've never seen a pilgrim with a suitcase, that’s ridiculous.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
When I first heard of the Camino a few years back I imagined this was one very long, rustic walk.
I'm guessing this is in reference to the cities/urban areas and non-rustic infrastructure in places. But at it's core the majority of the CF could be described as a rustic walk. It's certainly beautiful and amazing scenery you pass through no matter what way you look at it, with endless history, culture and provenance thrown in for good measure.
it’s unlikely I’ll walk the Frances as I wouldn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle, especially of the last 100km, unless I go out of season.
I generally spend my holidays in mountains as far away from people as possible, but I have to say I ended up loving the CF and only recall two occasions of slight annoyance of too many people which was very short lived and with hindsight could have been avoided. I probably went in what would be described mid-season.
 
I would hand out something in SJPP (and post in each albergue) saying

DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TOILET PAPER ON THE TRAIL!!!
BE RESPONSIBLE and PICK UP AFTER YOUSELF!

And as Alex said, fewer pilgrims.

Otherwise, I wouldn't change anything.
I would like to see all women and people with vaginas carry a reusable ‘pee pad’ such as Circle Care instead of toilet paper.
 
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So, what impact has all the advice and chat on here had? Well, from the tons of info I’ve gleaned (many thanks to you all) it’s unlikely I’ll walk the Frances as I wouldn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle, especially of the last 100km, unless I go out of season.
This is why I so hate the fearmongers.

I was walking the last 50 km of the Frances last year during the busiest season for this part of the walk. This is the most crowded part, after all the "crowds" from Sarria have been joined by everyone who walks the Primitivo. I shared a few photos from that walk in this post. Note the level of hustle and bustle. I was by no means out of season.
 
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This is why I so hate the fearmongers.

I was walking the last 50 km of the Frances last year during the busiest season for this part of the walk. This is the most crowded part, after all the "crowds" from Sarria have been joined by everyone who walks the Primitivo. I shared a few photos from that walk in this post. Note the level of hustle and bustle. I was by no means out of season.

This post illustrated why those new to the Camino should take that fear mongering with a grain of salt:

I am both a hiker and a walker and this distinction played a huge role in how my first Camino (May-June 2023) evolved.

I have done a lot of solo and not-solo backpacking in various US locations. I love it. But I also walk a lot just around town. I love solitude. I knew that the Caminos are ancient pilgrimage paths, but also that some are more remote and mountainous than others. So (using lots of resources on this forum and with help from many here) I decided to walk from Logroño to León on the CF and then take the San Salvador to Oviedo and then the Primitivo to Santiago. Solitude and mountains, that was my plan! Early in my journey, I even met two other solo female pilgrims with the same plan. I was vindicated!

I soon discovered that in order to make my plan work and reach Santiago with time to continue to Muxia, I needed to keep the pace, but I found that I wasn't taking as much time as I really wanted to take pictures of flowers (I'm a retired botanist) or just sit in a bar and watch the pilgrims go by.

Then, in Sahagún, at Albergue de la Santa Cruz, I was attending a mass in English (my Spanish is good enough to catch the gist of a homily but not the details) and the priest said "The Camino is a pilgrimage, not a hike." His words hit me like a ton of bricks. I was trying to make my Camino into a hike. I was trying to convince myself that the lesser-trod paths with lots of elevation and solitude were preferable to the most popular, well-traveled, well-accommodated CF.

And even though I had previously told many people that the CF was not the way for me, I changed my plans, and continued on the CF.

By not taking the other route, I had plenty of time to slow my pace, take short days, and enjoy the long Spanish afternoons writing in my journal and watching the world go by. And I found so. much solitude. Except for the few days after Sarria. And even then, much of most days, I was able to see no one ahead and no one behind me. I walked into Santiago about ten a.m. and there were only three other pilgrims in sight!

So for me, there is a real distinction between hiking and walking. I allowed the Camino to show me how to let it all unfold and let go of my preconceived plans, and that has made all the difference.
 
Some nice, positive responses to mine, thank you. It's good to hear the other side. I have plenty of time to make up my mind so will continue to read and 'listen'; I suppose a salutory lesson is that, back in the day, the Everest trek was nicknamed by some as the 'toilet paper trail' and, after doing it many times now I still wonder if the authors walked an entirely different route to me.
 
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I would not change much as I think also the bad and the "ugly" are part of the overall experience. And as one is on the road for 3 / 4 weeks at least, the less nice parts dilute to very little in fact. Also, you appreciate the good things more if you have at least some contrasting things ...

However, it would be cool to have sort of 3 or 4 alternative routes for the last 100 k, so each of them would be less crowded as folk spread out on the alternatives.

Also I would appreciate if some albergues had more wall plugs. I remember sitting on the floor in the hallway while charging some device more than on one occasion 😂
 
Amtrak has “quiet cars” and, trust me, they are very self-policing.
Currently on an Amtrak train. Busy carriage but so quiet and respectful, and it’s quite an eclectic group of folks! I felt very self conscious eating a bag of crisps! The quieter you try to be….! One guy is an Olympic snorer in the next carriage (louder than anything I have heard in an albergue!), but no outbreak of hostilities!
 
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Currently on an Amtrak train. Busy carriage but so quiet and respectful, and it’s quite an eclectic group of folks! I felt very self conscious eating a bag of crisps! The quieter you try to be….! One guy is an Olympic snorer in the next carriage (louder than anything I have heard in an albergue!), but no outbreak of hostilities!
Where are you headed? Right about now is "rush hour" on the NE corridor (essentially, the train line that runs from Boston to DC) -- people heading home after a busy day or week. They are too tired to talk!
 
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Ah
Where are you headed? Right about now is "rush hour" on the NE corridor (essentially, the train line that runs from Boston to DC) -- people heading home after a busy day or week. They are too tired to talk!

Ah opposite coast so SF down to LA! so 3 hrs behind I guess. Three hours late but apparently will ‘make up’ two hours. Quite a mix of folks but don’t sense too many of the Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 brigade!!!
 
Currently on an Amtrak train. Busy carriage but so quiet and respectful, and it’s quite an eclectic group of folks! I felt very self conscious eating a bag of crisps! The quieter you try to be….! One guy is an Olympic snorer in the next carriage (louder than anything I have heard in an albergue!), but no outbreak of hostilities!
A month ago you were in Cambodia and now you are apparently in the US...you are def a traveling man!
 
Ah


Ah opposite coast so SF down to LA! so 3 hrs behind I guess. Three hours late but apparently will ‘make up’ two hours. Quite a mix of folks but don’t sense too many of the Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 brigade!!!
No, Californians aren't like that. They are still in denial that there are now subway/light rail lines in Los Angeles and insist on idling on the 405 for an hour every morning instead of taking it.

OTOH, there are a lot of people who use Amtrak on the east coast to do a daily commute from Philly to NYC, or do a weekly commute between DC and Philly or DC and NYC.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
No, Californians aren't like that. They are still in denial that there are now subway/light rail lines in Los Angeles and insist on idling on the 405 for an hour every morning instead of taking it.

OTOH, there are a lot of people who use Amtrak on the east coast to do a daily commute from Philly to NYC, or do a weekly commute between DC and Philly or DC and NYC.
Indeed. It’s a mix of railroad enthusiasts, folks who are maybe non-conformist, and adventure seekers!! Certainly everyone looks like they have a story to tell! Very different from East Coast commuters!!
 
A month ago you were in Cambodia and now you are apparently in the US...you are def a traveling man!
Thank you! A moving target and all that…..! A few miles and time zones west of you but USA always lifts the spirit immediately and immeasurably (not that they needing lifting especially!
 
Wouldn’t change a thing. I walked on sacred ground, walked by millions of feet for well over a thousand years. I am but a humbled visitor to that historic path.
I would try and get the walk from Sarria sorted out, having done the Frances twice, I found from Sarria thats the worst section, it seems to get packed with Pilgrims, it gets noisy with Music from Mobiles , its harder finding a Bunk, etc, but then again this is just my apinion
 
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I would make 200 km the minimum requirement for getting that diploma certificate thing.
See this is interesting. I wonder how many would still do it if this were the case. It would certainly make it more of a demand on people than a one week party with a bit of walking thrown in as some treat it. Maybe with reduced requirements for those over a certain age or with disabilities.

And in fact in today's world of pc and anti-discrimination minefields you have to wonder to the validity of such a requirement at all, and how someone can make up a figure today that apparently has some religious repercussions for some people.
 
On my first Camino in 2006 I stayed at the albergue right past the bridge going into Trinidad de Arre.
WONDERFUL place, btw.
They had a separate snoring room - honor system - and for us, it worked.
We had a very peaceful, restful, snore-free night.
I tried to stay there in October 2022 because I remembered it as a wonderful, welcoming albergue. That late in the season I was the only pilgrim and was put up in the biggest room with no heat. After a brief attempt to take a nap and finding out the shower room was also too cold, I left (not asking for a refund) and hoofed it the rest of the way to Pamplona. Sad, but true. There were smaller rooms in the albergue which could have been heated but they didn’t bother. Disappointing. On the subject of snoring: some albergues have rooms for women only. As women are less apt to snore (sorry guys, it’s true) these are much quieter than mixed rooms.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Currently on an Amtrak train. Busy carriage but so quiet and respectful, and it’s quite an eclectic group of folks! I felt very self conscious eating a bag of crisps! The quieter you try to be….! One guy is an Olympic snorer in the next carriage (louder than anything I have heard in an albergue!), but no outbreak of hostilities!
You in a “quiet car?” On the east coast, Amtrak trains have at least one car where you aren’t even permitted a conversation. Heaven!!
 
Wouldn't that just mean that the "crowds" would start at the 200km mark instead of 100km? It would probably be better to get rid of the requirement altogether.
Perhaps. But fewer people would consider 200 km an easy walk. So there would be fewer people walking it.
 
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i wish more albergues and cafes were open along the Camino in December and January. I wonder if that would draw more pilgrims that time of year and take some of the pressure/crowd off of the other seasons. The weather can be a little tricky but not that bad IMO except in the mountains I suppose. we had a wonderful experience in December and January seeing the Christmas lights and happy new year. It’s shocking how a few people were out there when I hear about the crowds during the other times of year. Maybe if “off season” were made more welcoming more people would do it then versus other times. You just need the right gear - but that’s true no matter when you go.
 

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