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Research 2011 - EROSKI CONSUMER updates its guide to the Camino de Santiago
Last Holy Year 2010 they arrived in Santiago and received the Compostela a total of 272,135 pilgrims, according to the Pilgrim's Office of Santiago. A figure that far exceeded the most optimistic forecasts estimated at about 200,000 walkers. A record that will probably not be exceeded until the coming Holy Year of 2021. At the moment, the influx data recorded by the Pilgrim’s Office in 2011 are better than in 2009, which has the best figures of a non-holy year since the counting. From January to April of this year a total of 18,634 people have already collected the Compostela in Santiago, compared to 13,253 of the same period in 2009.
The French Way gained the greatest prominence and was travelled by 189,212 pilgrims versus the 113,004 who did so in 2009, an increase of 67%. However, while in 2010 it was followed by 69% of walkers, in 2009 it was the option chosen by 77%. This fact was due to the greater influx of other itineraries such as Portuguese, Camino del Norte, Vía de la Plata, Primitivo and English.
The overcrowding of the last Holy Year was particularly felt in Galicia. Half of the pilgrims of the French Way left the Lucense populations of O Cebreiro, Triacastela and Sarria, so that the rest of the communities did not experience such an influx. Do the hospitals and hostel owners of Navarra and La Rioja, to a greater extent, and of Castilla y León coincide when cataloging ?flojas? last summer, even poorer than in 2009. The fear of massification and the desire to complete the road over several years makes that a percentage of those who arrived in Santiago in 2010 were the people who already made the first part of the pilgrimage in 2009 and in previous years.
EROSKI CONSUMER has contacted by telephone, between February and May 2011, the hostels of pilgrims existing on the French Way in the section between Roncesvalles and Valcarlos and Santiago de Compostela. Over the 759 kilometers there are 267 hostels, 25 more accommodations than those registered in February 2010, which is an increase of 10% thanks to the Holy Year. In Galicia the network of hostels has increased by 26%, in Navarra and La Rioja by 7% and in Castilla y León by 2%. All have 12,063 seats as against 10,645 at the beginning of 2010, an additional 13%.
The number of seats per kilometre increases from 14 to 16. Navarra offer 2,066 in 142 kilometers (14.5 places per kilometer vs. 12.2 of 2010); La Rioja has 808 in 63.5 kilometers (12.7 places vs. 12.2 of 2010); Castilla y León offer 5,278 in 397.2 kilometers (13.3 places per kilometer vs. 13.1) and Galicia continues to offer the highest density: 3,911 places in 156.1 kilometers (up from 18.9 places per kilometre to 25). Of the 267 hostels, 79 are public (30%), 156 are private (58%) and 32 are parish, religious orders, associations, etc. (12%). Of all places, 4,383 are public (36%), 5,520 private (46%) and 2,160 are parochial, religious orders, etc.
The average price for sleeping in bunk beds at a Camino Francés hostel in May 2011 is €7.1, 9% more than in 2010. Although there are differences and not all hostels can be compared in terms of equipment and facilities, the highest average price corresponds to Galicia with 8.6 euros and the lowest to Castilla y León with 6 euros. The average cost of staying in private hostels on the French Way is 8.3 euros, also 60 cents more than in 2010, and public hostels cost an average of 5.5 euros. One in ten hostels requests a voluntary donation, which EROSKI CONSUMER has set at 5 euros to find the average; 4% costs less than 5 euros; 55% charges between 5 and 8 euros and 28% costs between 9 and 16 euros.
Half of the hostels open throughout the year or just close a couple of weeks or three during the Christmas dates. In practice this is not the case and since the opening and closing dates are not regulated, some accommodation will close from November in the light of the small influx of pilgrims or only open for groups. 55% of the hostels allow the reservation of a place and it is already common, especially during the summer, to call in advance to ensure a bed. Almost all public, parish or religious establishments do not allow reservation and pilgrims access by order of arrival.
Making the French Way means an average daily disbursement of about 30 euros if you add the basic expenses: price of hostels (alternating between public and private); cost of breakfast, food and dinner (varying two daily menus and a single menu and a sandwich); expenses of drink, fruit and some snack to drink during the stage; cost of washer and dryer every four days and the varied expenses such as visits to monuments and unforeseen expenses. This expenditure of EUR 30 can be reduced if you only sleep in public hostels, eat a sandwich or prepare food in hostels and wash it hand in hand. From Roncesvalles you can reach Santiago comfortably in 30 days, so the expenditure by stages would amount to 900 euros. To this figure we have to add the costs of returning home and those incurred in Santiago. Average total expenditure is around €1,050.
More equipment in hostels. Continued private initiative has generally led to improvements in the equipment and services provided by hostels. Among the facilities of the shelters is laundry, in 88% of cases. Of the 267 hostels, a total of 213 have a washing machine, 8% more than in 2010. Up to 183 hostels have tumble dryer, also 8% more than last year. The average price for washing is 3.2 euros and for drying 2.9 euros. Four out of ten hostels have one water machine and soft drinks and three out of ten have coffee. One-third of hostels have individual lockers with key to leave backpacks or store personal items. If the facilities have space to house them, they help to decongest the rooms and the beds themselves, as they usually leave their belongings on the beds. One element to improve is the height of the bunk beds. Usually the space between the bed below and the one above is not enough and a sitting person gives his head on the mattress of the upper bed.
Six out of ten hostels have a kitchen and a refrigerator for the use of pilgrims, similar to last year’s rate, and increase by 7% hostels serving meals at a property establishment or hostel. In 2011 there are 106 hostels. 86% of hostels, 6% more than in 2010, make it possible to store bicycles indoors or in a warehouse or closed space. Half of the hostels have a public phone in the premises and up 10% of the hostels (170) offer Wi-Fi or Internet connection through private computers or currency payment equipment. Access to the Internet in many rural areas without coverage in Galicia will be possible thanks to a telecommunications company of Melide, which has deployed the necessary infrastructure in each of the Galician councils through which the most popular route runs.
A locality with hostel every 5.7 kilometers. The hostels are located in 145 towns and places of the French Way present both on the official route and in the various variants existing in the province of León and in the Lucense option by Samos and San Xil. An average of the distances between the populations with shelter of the official itinerary (the San Xil option has been taken as a reference) establishes that the pilgrim finds accommodation every 5.7 kilometres. The distance is smaller in 2010 due to the opening of hostels in populations where previously there were no such as Villava, Mañeru, Moratinos, Villares de Órbigo, Valdeviejo, Pieros, Lusío, Salceda, etc.