Tuesday, 1 April 2014

All the pilgrim number for the first three months of 2014


Hola
After the long winter months Santiago is slowly waking up. The streets are still quiet with the students studying for their exams but little by little the pilgrims are returning. Soon the city will be alive with the processions of Holy Week and the new dawn of Easter.

I am pleased to give you the analysis of pilgrims who registered at the Pilgrims’ Office in the first three months of the year. They make for interesting reading and no doubt will give rise to much discussion.

Is the Camino becoming less popular? Some Camino pundits have been speculating about this because numbers appear to be down in the first three months of the year. In fact there appears to be 4391 pilgrims less this year than last:

Total number registered at the Pilgrims’ Office  1 January – 31 March 2014 was 5,026

In the same period last year 1 January - 31 March 2013 that number was  9,417

The reason however is not the Camino diminishing in popularity but rather when Holy Week and Easter falls. This year it is late and outside of the 3 month period whereas last year it was before the end of March. This year Vierenes de Dolores (what used to be called the start of Passiontide) occurs on 11 April with Easter Sunday being celebrated on 20 April.

In those same days in the religious calendar last year 5,833 pilgrims arrived.

Therefore any patterns emerging will really only been seen when the statistics for the first 4 months of the year are available at the end of April.

How the great number of pilgrims who arrive in Holy Week affect the figures can be seen by looking at the usual chart of pilgrim numbers from the English speaking countries:

January – March 

Country
 2012
2013
 2014
Growth %
Australia
45
57
  48
Canada
54
56
  37
Ireland
106
151
 93
South Africa
9
15
 3
United Kingdom
100
131
 83
USA
167
301
 200
New Zealand
9
4
 7

There are however anomalies. Just the other day a colleague in the office remarked that there were a lot of Korean pilgrims arriving – through hail, rain and snow! This is one country which has bucked the trend. No doubt there will be much discussion about the reason for this:

Korean pilgrims arriving from 1 January – 31 March
2014
283
2013
283
2012
207

The full analysis for the 3 months to 31 March 2014

5,026 pilgrims arrived:

Routes                      Number of pilgrims
Camino Francés        3375 (67,15%)
Camino Portugués     860 (17,11%)
Via de la Plata          262 (5,21%)
Camino del Norte     180 (3,58%)
Camino Inglés           175 (3,48%)
Camino Primitivo     152 (3,02%)
Muxia-Finisterre       12 (0,24%)
Otros caminos           10 (0,20%)

Gender                Number of pilgrims
Males                   3178 (63,23%)
Females               1848 (36,77%)

Mode of travel    Number of pilgrims
On foot                 4684 (93,20%)
Bicycle                 335 (6,67%)
Horseback            5 (0,10%)
Wheelchair           2 (0,04%)

Reasons for making the pilgrimage
Reason                                 Number of pilgrims
Religious and other              2795 (55,61%)
Religious                             1949 (38,78%)
Not religious                       282 (5,61%)

Status                   Number of pilgrims
Students                1363 (27,12%)
Employed             971 (19,32%)
Self employed      612 (12,18%)
Technicians         482 (9,59%)
Public sector       368 (7,32%)
Retired                321 (6,39%)
Teachers             215 (4,28%)
Manual                202 (4,02%)
Unemployed        168 (3,34%)
Directors              89 (1,77%)
House people       83 (1,65%)
Artists                  48 (0,96%)
Priests                  35 (0,70%)
Religious              28 (0,56%)
Farm workers       23 (0,46%)
Sailors                  16 (0,32%)
Sports                   1 (0,02%)
Oikoten                 1 (0,02%)

Ages
30 - 60    2676 (53,24%)
< 30        1900 (37,80%)
> 60        450 (8,95%)
            
Country                Number of pilgrims
Spain                     2440 (48,55%)
Germany                466 (9,27%)
Portugal                 349 (6,94%)
Korea                    283 (5,63%)
United States         200 (3,98%)
Italy                       198 (3,94%)
France                   97 (1,93%)
Ireland                   93 (1,85%)
Brazil                    85 (1,69%)
UK                        83 (1,65%)
Japan                     78 (1,55%)
Argentina               54 (1,07%)
México                  49 (0,97%)
Australia               48 (0,96%)
Holland                 42 (0,84%)
Canadá                  37 (0,74%)
Polonia                  34 (0,68%)
Belgica                  27 (0,54%)
China                     25 (0,50%)
Suiza                      24 (0,48%)
Austria                  22 (0,44%)
Venezuela              21 (0,42%)
Dinamarca            19 (0,38%)
Rusia                     18 (0,36%)
Hungría                 17 (0,34%)
Colombia              17 (0,34%)
Rep Checa            17 (0,34%)
Norway                13 (0,26%)
Chile                    13 (0,26%)
Lituania                12 (0,24%)
Uruguay                12 (0,24%)
Rumania               10 (0,20%)
Finlandia              10 (0,20%)
Letonia                  9 (0,18%)
Ecuador                 9 (0,18%)
Suecia                   7 (0,14%)
Filipinas               7 (0,14%)
Nueva Zelanda      7 (0,14%)
Grecia                   6 (0,12%)
Ucrania                 6 (0,12%)
Eslovaquia            6 (0,12%)
Croacia                 5 (0,10%)
Andorra                5 (0,10%)
Perú                      5 (0,10%)
Guatemala            4 (0,08%)
Costa Rica            3 (0,06%)
Singapur               3 (0,06%)
Sudáfrica              3 (0,06%)
Eslovenia              3 (0,06%)
Paraguay               3 (0,06%)
Puerto Rico           3 (0,06%)
Bielorrusia            2 (0,04%)
Bulgaria                2 (0,04%)
Cuba                      1 (0,02%)
Sudán                     1 (0,02%)
Kazajistán              1 (0,02%)
Indonesia               1 (0,02%)
India                      1 (0,02%)
Bolivia                  1 (0,02%)
Angola                   1 (0,02%)
Luxemburgo           1 (0,02%)
Taiwán                  1 (0,02%)
Siria                      1 (0,02%)
Pakistán                 1 (0,02%)
Armenia                1 (0,02%)
Marruecos             1 (0,02%)
Estonia                  1 (0,02%)
Egipto                    1 (0,02%)

Starting point    Number of pilgrims
Sarria                    1326 (26,38%)
S. Jean P. Port       474 (9,43%)
Oporto                   333 (6,63%)
León                      263 (5,23%)
Ponferrada             197 (3,92%)
Tui                         190 (3,78%)
Ferrol                    175 (3,48%)
Cebreiro                171 (3,40%)
Roncesvalles         168 (3,34%)
Valença                  135 (2,69%)
Pamplona               117 (2,33%)
Nájera                    107 (2,13%)
Astorga                   89 (1,77%)
Samos                     79 (1,57%)
Ourense                  77 (1,53%)
Sevilla                   75 (1,49%)
Oviedo - C.P.         73 (1,45%)
Burgos                   63 (1,25%)
Vilafranca              57 (1,13%)
Ribadeo                 48 (0,96%)
Ponte de Lima        48 (0,96%)
Lisboa                    42 (0,84%)
Triacastela             41 (0,82%)
Lugo - C.P.             40 (0,80%)
Irún                        31 (0,62%)
Logroño                 28 (0,56%)
Resto Portugal       26 (0,52%)
Francia - C.F.        25 (0,50%)
Rates, S. Pedro      25 (0,50%)
Chaves                   21 (0,42%)
Sahagún                 20 (0,40%)
Vilalba                  18 (0,36%)
Zamora                  17 (0,34%)
Salamanca             17 (0,34%)
Fonsagrada            16 (0,32%)
Resto Asturia         16 (0,32%)
Barcelos                14 (0,28%)
Braga                     14 (0,28%)
Porriño                  13 (0,26%)
Avilés                    13 (0,26%)
Molinaseca            12 (0,24%)
Le Puy                   12 (0,24%)
Resto Asturias       12 (0,24%)
Rabanal                 11 (0,22%)
Somport                 11 (0,22%)
Pueb Sanabria       10 (0,20%)
Bilbao                   10 (0,20%)
Resto C. León       10 (0,20%)
Allariz                   8 (0,16%)
Oviedo                  8 (0,16%)
Madrid                  8 (0,16%)
San Sebastián        8 (0,16%)
Tineo - C.P.          8 (0,16%)
A Guarda              7 (0,14%)
País Vasco            7 (0,14%)
Finisterra              6 (0,12%)
Santander              6 (0,12%)
Madrid - V.P.       6 (0,12%)
Muxia                   6 (0,12%)
Vigo                      5 (0,10%)
Alemania              5 (0,10%)
Jaca                      5 (0,10%)
Cataluña - C.F.     5 (0,10%)
Sto. Domingo       4 (0,08%)
Montserrat            4 (0,08%)
Lourdes                4 (0,08%)
Hosp Orbigo        4 (0,08%)
Moreruela            4 (0,08%)
Bélgica                4 (0,08%)
Cantabria             4 (0,08%)
Fatima                  4 (0,08%)
Barcelona             4 (0,08%)
Vezelay                4 (0,08%)
París                     4 (0,08%)
Valenciana            3 (0,06%)
Córdoba                3 (0,06%)
La Bañeza             3 (0,06%)
Francia - C.N        3 (0,06%)
Navarra                 3 (0,06%)
Frómista                3 (0,06%)
Cast la Mancha      3 (0,06%)
Hendaya                3 (0,06%)
Estella                   3 (0,06%)
Resto C. León        3 (0,06%)
Extremadura          3 (0,06%)
Laza                      2 (0,04%)
Resto Europa        2 (0,04%)
Granada                2 (0,04%)
Eslovaquia            2 (0,04%)
Povoa                    2 (0,04%)
Canfranc                2 (0,04%)
Andalucia              2 (0,04%)
Arles                     2 (0,04%)
Zaragoza               2 (0,04%)
Mérida                  2 (0,04%)
Resto Galicia        2 (0,04%)
Xunqueira             2 (0,04%)
Puente la Reina     2 (0,04%)
Cadavo                  2 (0,04%)
Jerusalem              2 (0,04%)
Pais Vasco            2 (0,04%)
Gudiña                  2 (0,04%)
Irlanda C.F.           1 (0,02%)
Italia                      1 (0,02%)
Ponferrada             1 (0,02%)
Suiza                      1 (0,02%)
Badajoz                  1 (0,02%)
La Rioja                 1 (0,02%)
Lourenzá                 1 (0,02%)
Roma                      1 (0,02%)
Carrión                   1 (0,02%)
Malaga                   1 (0,02%)
Guimaraes              1 (0,02%)
Mondoñedo            1 (0,02%)
Gijón                      1 (0,02%)
Viana                      1 (0,02%)
Castrojeriz              1 (0,02%)
Finlandia                1 (0,02%)
Vegadeo                 1 (0,02%)
Baamonde              1 (0,02%)
Valencia O.C.        1 (0,02%)
Cataluña - O.C.      1 (0,02%)


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

New services offered by the Pilgrims' Office in Santiago


Certificate of Distance

In addition to the traditional Compostela and Certificate of Welcome which are still issued on a donativo basis the Pilgrims' Office is now offering a Certificate of Distance.

This new certificate has been produced in response to requests from pilgrims. It records the route which the pilgrim walked, the starting point, the amount of kilometres and the date of arrival in Santiago. The cost is 3€.



New Service for Organised Groups of Pilgrims

The Pilgrims' Office is offering to prepare Compostelas and Certificates in advance for organised groups so that they can avoid waiting in the queue at the Pilgrims' Office.

If anyone wishes to use this service the group leader should email the Pilgrims' Office and they will be sent a form to fill in on behalf of the pilgrims in the group. The Compostelas/Certificates will be ready for them on arrival.

In addition to this the Pilgrims' Office will also issue a certificate in the name of the group as a whole and will arrange to have the group welcomed by name at the beginning of the Pilgrims' Mass.

This is a free service and donations are invited for the Compostela/Certificates. 


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Camino Portuguese by the coast - a most helpful itinerary

 
With thanks to Rosemary Hillard who set out on her birthday in October 2013

Porto Cathedral > Matosinhos

along the Duoro
always water on our left
the sound of sea gulls

A beautiful walk ... following the river until it meets the sea.
                       
Senhor de Matosinhos Pensão-Residencial


Matosinhos > Vila do Conde
We made a few wrong turns on this stretch (markings are contradictory at a few points but helpful locals finally got us on the right path). It was raining hard when we arrived in Vila do Conde and we were pleased that our room had a nice big bath tub and a family run restaurant right downstairs. Facilities were somewhat dated and basic, but very clean and comfortable. Good food and plenty of it.
                       
                        Pensão Patarata
                        Lavandeiras Pier 18, Vila do Conde  
                        252 631 894



Vila do Conde > Viana do Castelo
The weather was not much better the next morning so we took the bus to Viana do Castelo to rest and reevaluate our plans (at this point we were seriously considering ditching the caminho and taking a train from Viana to somewhere/anywhere it wasn’t raining).

Pensão o Laranjeira
                        http://www.olaranjeira.com/index.php/en/quartos
                                    http://www.olaranjeira.com/index.php/en/o-restaurante


Viana do Castelo is a lovely town and Laranjeira a wonderful place to stay. We had dinner in the restaurant downstairs from the Pensão (both run by the same family) and it was truly extraordinary. This was the only “breakfast included” place we stayed in that wasn’t just coffee, juice and toast or a buffet ... this was a beautiful breakfast, served at a table with a white linen cloth. Juice, cheese, pastries, eggs, fruit ... delicious. Thus fortified (and with our spirits renewed) we decided to continue on the caminho despite the continuing threat of rain.


Viana do Castelo > Vila Praia de Ãncora
Another beautiful walk over Roman roads, woodland paths and rural roads ... marred only by a couple of very scary snarling farmyard dogs just a few miles from our final destination. I used my smartphone and a local sim card to make most of our reservations through http://www.booking.com on day of arrival or night before. If you set up an account with them you can store your credit card info. and contact information making it very easy to book a room... and it also makes you privy to special deals. Hotel Meira popped up as a “secret deal” for 24.50€ (for a nice room for 2 and a huge buffet breakfast the next morning). Granted this is a beach town and it was very off season but it was still a fabulous deal ... generally we averaged about 35€ a night for a double.

Hotel Meira


Vila Praia de Ãncora > A Guarda
Good signage on the camino makes it easy to find Hotel Bruselas. The hotel is a bit dated but our room was clean and comfortable and the place is well located ... an easy walk down to the waterfront. Halfway down the hill to the harbor (as directed by the hotel clerk) I stopped in a vodaphone shop to pick up a Spanish sim card for my phone ... ready to go. Took a great walk around town and later had a fabulous (fried little fishes, garlic shrimp, padron peppers) and inexpensive meal at the Porto Guardés Restaurante ... a very low-key local place right on the harborfront (I highly recommend).

Hotel Bruselas

A Guarda > Santa Maria de Oia
A beautiful walk along the coast to our next stop (I believe Hotel A Raiña was recommended by JohnnieWalker). This is a family-run place, very friendly and helpful people and the restaurant downstairs serves excellent food. The family also operates a taxi service and since they were already contracted to take someone into Baiona the following morning, the proprietress insisted on taking our packs along and dropping them off at our next hotel (she would not accept payment  for this). In the morning, before she left, she directed us to a short-cut to pick up the path. The owner’s son and daughter-in-law work at the hotel and restaurant too and both are deaf. If you know even a few signs you’ll get an extra big smile (I thank my deaf friends for teaching me a bit of ASL).

Hotel A Raiña

Santa Maria de Oia > Baiona
A gorgeous walk but the last hour into Baiona the sky opened up and it poured ... our shoes were wet and our coats dripping when we arrived. The kind clerk at Pinzon put our boots and coats in the boiler room to dry out and gave us the choice of 2 rooms (we took the attic room which was fairly large and had a skylight ... not to mention a nice deep bathtub and lots of hot water!).  The streets of the old city were right around the corner ... many affordable bars and restaurants and a lively evening scene. We liked Baiona and the Pinzon so much we stayed another night and were treated to a fireworks display over the harbor (all visible through the skylight in our room).

Hotel R. Pinzon


Baiona > Vigo
From Baiona the way follows the ocean for miles on a shared bike/pedestrian way. It's gorgeous ... you can see the Cies islands in the distance all day. Surfers were out at Playa America which goes on for quite a distance. Once you leave town you walk the pedestrian path on the highway for some miles until the path turn off using secondary roads then a nature pathway on the outskirts of Vigo. The waymarks are sometimes easy to miss, so if you seem off course, just regularly ask ... we found everyone to be approachable and helpful (it will help if you speak some Spanish).
                       
Hotel R. Ogalia


Vigo > Redondela
From Vigo to Redondela (10.7 miles) you spend most of the day going uphill but you're treated to incredible views of the city, the ocean, and the harbor dotted with rafts supporting oyster farms. It was raining hard when we did the last stretch into Redondela and we did make a few wrong turns but finally arrived at the Albergue where we spent the night.

In Redondela you join the main Portuguese camino route to Santiago ... very well marked and with ample lodging at all levels from municipal albergues to paradors. 

Redondela > Pontevedra
We completed the camino from Barcelos to Santiago in 2012 so we were familiar with this stage. In May of 2012 we stayed in the municipal albergue which is very nice but a bit of a walk into town. Pontevedra’s a wonderful little city and we wanted to be able to enjoy the night life a bit more so we stayed at the Hotel Comercio, inexpensive and well located. Staying in town will also save you a bit of walking the next morning!

Hotel  Comercio

Pontevedra > Caldas de Reis
We knew this would be a long day (and we felt like indulging ourselves) so we had our packs transported by taxi to our next stop, Hotel O’Cruceiro in Caldas de Reis. It rained off and on for most of the day but a generally pleasant walk. Nice woodland paths and some through grape arbors and farmland. A few slightly scary highway stretches, but easy to forget once they are done.

Hotel  O’Cruceiro

O’Cruceiro also operates an albergue in the same building as the hotel (different floor) and word is that it’s very nice, like the hotel, clean and well cared for. Another plus is the lively bar on the ground level and a very good supermarket right across the street.

Caldas de Reis > Padron
Unrelenting rain! I obviously hadn’t rinsed all the soap out of my socks on their last washing as I had soapsuds oozing out of my boot laces! Pension Jardin was well located (in a beautiful old house across from a park, just a short walk from the cathedral) and the downstairs was rather lavishly decorated with antiques (probably original to the house). Rooms, except for one, were less lavish but very comfortable and clean.

Pension Jardin

Padron > Santiago
Overlooking the Plaza Galicia. Great location and value. It is located right next to the old town, less than 10 mins from the cathedral and less than 15 mins from the train station. The rooms are well equipped, the WiFi signal is very good, and the staff is friendly and helpful.

Residencia Fornos