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Research 2010 - EROSKI CONSUMER updates its guide to the Camino de Santiago
The Camino del Norte (which is part of the Gipuzkoan town of Irún and ends in Santiago after bordering the Cantabrian coast) and the Camino Primitivo (which is part of Oviedo) are harvesting this Holy Year of 2010, like the other pilgrimage itineraries, the highest influx figures since there are statistics. If you take the data collected at the pilgrim's office of the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, between January and June 2010 they traveled the Northern and Primitive Roads and arrived in Santiago 6,935 pilgrims (4,683 North and 2,252 Primitive), more than double the 3,214 registered in the same period of 2009. If these figures continue to double during the remainder of the year - let us not forget that June, July and August are the best months - these itineraries could exceed 20,000 pilgrims in 2010. The Camino del Norte and the Primitivo, with spectacular sea and mountain landscapes, are one of the reference alternatives to the Camino Francés and one of the routes with a more promising future.
On the coastal route of the North, the network of public hostels for pilgrims, although it has been improved for this Holy Year, still needs a boost. In the Basque Country, whose public shelters are successfully managed by the Associations of Friends of the Camino, the vast majority only opens in season or during summer and some are overwhelmed by the days of the greatest influx. In Cantabria, except in several cases, more places are required per hostel and some signatory locality does not have any accommodation dedicated to pilgrims. In Asturias, especially between Colombres (with reception in sports) and Ribadesella, there are no municipal hostels for the walkers to Santiago. In addition, the section between Avilés and Soto de Luiña demands a hostel halfway. Fortunately, since the Camino del Norte passes through a very touristic coastal area, there is no shortage of youth hostels, private hostels, pensions, hostels and hotels that fill the possible gaps in the Jacobean public hostel network.
Throughout the months of April, May and June, EROSKI CONSUMER has contacted the hostels of these routes by telephone. In the 1,130 kilometers that add up these journeys there are 98 hostels, exclusive of pilgrims or that lodge them regularly, offering 2,952 places. If we disregard the places of youth hostels, reserved largely by groups or young tourists, total 2,366. The 98 hostels are still far from competing with the 242 on the Camino de Santiago Francés, although it is true that the differences in influx between them are significant (77% of pilgrims in 2009 traveled the French Way).
The number of places per kilometre is 2.6 and if we do not count youth hostels it falls to 2 places per kilometre, a more real figure. Of the total of 98 hostels, 69 are publicly owned (70%), 21 are private (21%) and the remaining 8 are religious. Of the total number of places, 2,074 out of 2,952 are public (70 per cent), 664 private (22 per cent) and 214 religious entities.
The average price per litera accommodation in the Camino del Norte and the Camino Primitivo in mid-2010 is 7.1 euros, sixty cents more expensive than in the Camino Francés, where the average price is 6.5 euros. Private hostels are well above average with a price of €11.4 and public hostels cost an average of €5.9. Of the 98 accommodations, up to 28 hostels (including two private ones), 28% of the total, charge a voluntary donation that we have set at EUR 5 to find the average. 44 hostels (45%) cost between 2 and 8 euros and the remaining 25 range between 9 and 17.5 euros. One hostel did not provide the price.
The daily expenditure of a pilgrim in the Cantabrian coast ranges from 30 to 35 euros. Thus the total cost of walking from Irun to Santiago on the Camino del Norte, making the journey in comfort in 34 days, can exceed 1,200 euros. A disbursement without great luxuries that adds accommodation in hostels (alternating between public and private), the cost of breakfast, food and dinner (varying between two daily menus and a single menu and snack), the price for using the washer and dryer in the hostels, various and unforeseen expenses during the stages and the displacement to Irún and return from Santiago de Compostela. The Camino Primitivo from Oviedo to Santiago can be visited in 13 days, and given that the hostels are cheaper it is possible to do so with a budget of 450 euros.
74 hostels (75%) on the Northern and Primitive Roads are exclusive to pilgrims and 79% of hostels remain open throughout the year. On the lower end is El País Vasco, where only half of its hostels are opened year-round, and on the contrary Cantabria and Galicia, with 94% and 100% availability respectively. 71% of the hostels do not allow the reservation of plaza, thus favoring lodging in order of arrival.
Low percentages of hostels with washer and dryer. As for equipment, only one third of the hostels have a washing machine. In some hostels they allow free washing but in the vast majority it costs between one euro and 5.5 euros, being the most repeated price of 3 euros. Fewer hostels are drilled, only 28 out of 98 (29%). More than half, 55 percent, have a laundry room to hand wash. 32% of the hostels are equipped with individual lockers designed to store personal objects.
40% of the hostels have a kitchen for the use of pilgrims and 23% serve meals in an establishment of their property or in the hostel itself. 41% do not have a kitchen or meals. In 17% there is water machine and soft drinks and 15% have coffee machine. Only 13% of the lodgings make available to the pilgrim a public telephone and the network connection offer does not abound in the hostels of the Camino del Norte and Primitivo, as only 24% of them offer Internet in the facilities themselves (Wi-Fi, private computer or coin payment equipment). Up to 75% of the hostels allow the bike to be stored indoors or in a closed space enabled for this purpose, although there are hostels that have bicycle parking on the outside.
A population with hostel every 14.2 kilometers on the Camino del Norte and every 13.2 in the Primitivo. The average distance between the localities provided with shelter in the Camino del Norte is 14.2 kilometers and in the Camino Primitivo is 13.4 kilometers. In this way the pilgrim finds a hostel every 3.5 hours of walking and 3.3 hours respectively (establishing an average speed of 4 km/h, which is usual if we take into account the time spent on breaks). Although the influx of pilgrims is not comparable, in the French Way there is a population with hostel every 6.3 kilometers.
EROSKI CONSUMER Guide, also on iPhone or mobile
The EROSKI CONSUMER Guide to the Camino de Santiago, available on the Internet at www.caminodesantiago.consumer.es, has been available since the end of June 2010 via iPhone and mobile phone. The iPhone app can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple Store and the guide can also be accessed from any mobile via the www.caminodesantiago.consumer.es/mobile/ url. The user can view all detailed information on the most important Santiago Roads, the nearly 500 existing hostels and the characteristics and history of the main monuments. In addition, the application is updated daily with the most recent web data.