Conmen of the Camino de Santiago hold up pilgrims’ progress

Yellow scallop signs marking out the Camino de Santiago route are being tampered with according to authorities in Spain

Pilgrims are being lead into temptation along the Camino de Santiago, as unscrupulous bar owners switch signs and tamper with markings to divert them to their establishments.

Spanish tourism authorities say that yellow scallop signs, the symbol marking out the route, are being tampered with to deliberately lead pilgrims astray.

In some cases, yellow arrows have been sprayed on roads that take some of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims walkers off the strait and narrow and onto long detours that may get them lost.

The worst “black spot” is in Ponferrada, in northwest Spain near the end of the route in Santiago de Compostela.

At one junction on the outskirts of the city, yellow arrow marks and fake scallop paintings have been found directing walkers away from the official route and into the path of bars.

“The problem is the bad image that this gives to the pilgrimage as well as the city of Ponferrada,” Roger de la Cruz, president of the Friends of the Camino de Santiago, said. “The signs on the Camino are sacred and they cannot modify it for commercial or personal interests.”

Efforts are being made by cities on the route to bring in a standard yellow symbol to stop walkers being tricked. At present there is a scallop symbol but in some areas arrows direct walkers.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people cross northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the apostle St James are said be.

The route has grown in popularity thanks to a publicity push by the Galician regional government — the number of participants has grown from 99,000 in 1993 to 301,000 last year.

(Story courtesy The Times of London July 16th, 2018)

 

New Albergues and Hotels 2018 on the Camino

El Encanto

El Rincón de Pin

Via Avis

Though its is ancient, the camino is not static. The continuing increase in pilgrims means new lodgings appear every year. Here are six new establishments looking to give you comfort at the end of a long day’s walk. In Villares de Órbigo, a new albergue has received many positive reviews. Albergue El Encanto is the vision of it’s owner Marta. The next lodging is in Santa Catalina de Somoza. Lying in the heart of the Margatería, past Astorga, and heading toward Foncebadón, this Hotel Rural has been beautifully restored by owners Daina and Carlos with breathtaking views of the mountains of León. A small piece of luxury on the camino. In Ruitelán, a former albergue has been given new life and renovations by it new owner, Pin. Look for El rincón de Pin where you will be most heartily welcomed. Just past Astorga, in the beautiful stone village of Castrillo de los Polvazares, a small hotel cum artist’s retreat has opened it’s doors. Called Flores Del Camino, it is the inspired vision of Basia and Bertrand Goodwin. The owners of Meson O Tapas on Rúa Maior in Sarria have added badly needed rooms with their new lodging, Hotel Novoa. Finally, in Melide, on the busy Sarria to Santiago stretch, a newly built albergue, O Candil, has arisen on the Rúa Principal. All this growth signifies that the Camino remains an adventure many want to undertake. And a place where are people are willing to invest their time, energy and money to make their camino dreams come alive.

mycaminobed now available as a Mobile app in the App Store and Google Play Store !

We are pleased to announce that the new mycaminobed mobile app is now available for iPhone and Android phones. Starting today, current mycaminobed users can use this app to quickly access their lodging needs as they walk along the Camino Francés to Santiago de Compostela. The same ability to quickly book your room in three easy steps is now just a click away on your mobile device. Using Google Maps, GPS and Booking.com, the pilgrim has all the tools to ensure a good night’s rest while making their way along the camino. Download today for free from the App Store or Google Play Store and start planning your next adventure.

 

The biggest pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago…you may never see

Pilgrim statue at Villabilla de BurgosAs the path winds its way westward through the suburbs of Burgos, the last small town of Villalbilla de Burgos lies sandwiched between the industrial zone Los Brezos and the Madrid-Irun railway corridor. The name seems to be a corruption of its ancient name of Villa Alba (White Palace). Historically, it has always formed part of the camino’s passage through the lands of Burgos. In medieval times, the town hosted a pilgrim hospital and lodgings. However, the construction of the rail line in the 19th century as well as other building projects moved the camino route closer to the river Arlanzón and its irrigation ditches. The town council allowed the municipal albergue to close and the camino played a less crucial role in the village. Not wishing to completely let go of their historic position, the town (without official permission) erected a giant bronze statue of a pilgrim striding forward. They placed it in a roundabout on the N-120  as it heads toward Tardajos. Now it is the swirl of traffic that keeps this pilgrim company on the way to his goal.

 

 

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…along the Camino de Santiago

 

Magosto poster cacabelos camino de SantiagoAs autumn extends its grip along the camino, the presence of pilgrims begin to fade like the colors in the landscape. The numbers arriving in Santiago de Compostela drop dramatically in November. But there is still plenty of life in the villages, towns and cities that line the way. The magosto is a typical celebration in many places in northern Spain, so it is very likely that you’ll discover one if late fall finds you walking along the route. It is celebrated close to All Souls’ Day (early November) in most places. The festival’s origin is the harvest celebration and the chestnut is the star along with new wines and cured meats such as chorizo. Rituals may include blackening one’s face with soot, jumping the bonfires to insure good luck, playing traditional games, telling stories and singing popular songs. But no matter where you attend magosto, chestnuts and bonfires will always be at the heart of the fiesta.

 

 

 

magosto fiesta Camino de Santiago

 

Bridges in the burbs… along the Camino de Santiago in Pamplona

 bridge at Trinidad de Arre Villava Pamplona Camino de Santiago

Bridge at Trinidad de Arre

Molino de San Andrés

As the Pyrenees fall behind you, you come to the hard streetscape of your first major city on the camino – Pamplona. Continuing along the main walking route from Zabaldika, you enter the barrio of Villava. Here the Río Ulzama wends its way towards an eventual meeting with the Río Arga. But the camino presents two choices. When you reach the medieval bridge at Trinidad de Arre, you can cross and pass the Basilica de la Sanctissima Trinidada, the site of a small pilgrim hospital in the old days. From here the route follows the busy streets into the heart of the city through the suburb of Burlada. Or you can pass the bridge, keeping the river on your right. The city of Pamplona has a beautiful linear park system that traces the Río Arga’s path. Your next signpost is the Molino de San Andrés, a restored 16th century mill. At this point the two rivers join together and are spanned by another ancient bridge. Now it is just a leisurely stroll along the riverbanks, free from traffic, until the ancient city begins to fill your vision.

 

 

 

Always vino on the Camino… in La Rioja!

Bodegas Alvia Ventosa Camino de Santiagocamino de santiago in la riojaSpain is very proud of its indigenous tempranillo grape because they have been making it into wine for over 2,000 years. Unlike other countries who have adopted grapes that were originally indigenous to France or Italy, tempranillo was born and cultivated in Spain, and there is no region for which they are more proud, and taken more seriously, than La Rioja. As the camino winds its way to the west of the capital of La Rioja, Logroño, it passes through places like Navarette and Ventosa. These villages are located in the Rioja Alta, a wine making district on the western edge of the La Rioja and at higher elevations than the other areas. This equates to a shorter growing season, which in turn produces brighter fruit flavors and a wine that is lighter on the palate. Tasty white and pink wines are also produced here, but are less well known internationally. If you are planning a night’s stay in Ventosa, you can take the opportunity to visit the Bodegas Alvia and sample their carefully crafted products. Drink your fill of these fabulous vintages. Tasting that Riojan wine you purchased at home after your return will fill you with memories of your time on the camino.

 

Top Right -Bodegas Alvia Ventosa

 

 

Sitting on the front porch… on the Camino de Santiago

Soportales CastrojerizThey can appear everywhere along the camino, in big cities or small towns and villages. Covered walkways giving protection from the noon day sun, the rain or the cold wind. The soportale or porch is a reflection of its origin in the monastic cloisters (who themselves took inspiration from the courtyards of the Moorish mosques). These church porticos served a civic as well as religious purpose, acting as a gathering spot before mass or for public meetings. As the towns and cities of the Spanish Middle Ages grew, these covered porches evolved to form a part of the fabric of rural Spanish architecture. They became part of the main commercial street (Calle Mayor) and helped to protect goods from the weather as well as conduct the flow of pedestrians (Calle Portales Logroño). Sometimes, in the large public areas (Plaza Mayor) of cities, these covered arcades were built around the square in an consistent style (Burgos).  But, not everything was the result of planning. Often, the soportales were a spontaneous response to a need and grew organically over the generations without unity in their size or appearance, mixing columns, pillars and arch designs. Look for the grand porches in Santiago de Compostela in the Palacio de Rajoy on the Praza de Obradoiro or Rúa do Villar. Wherever they appear, you will be grateful to be sheltered while you make your way along the camino.