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Reopening: yes, we will be on the Camino this summer!

As we approach the end of the “state of alarm” in Spain and we come back to a (relative) normal state of affairs, we have been getting questions from pilgrims interested in walking the Camino this summer. We want to confirm to our friends that yes, we will be providing service as usual in all Caminos, both with luggage transfer and passenger transportation.

Clients that already had confirmed bookings with us can modify their starting date using our website, which is open 24/7. They can also make bookings through it as usual. We want to remind our customers that, if you change your mind, you can change dates later at no cost and also cancel your booking.

Obviously luggage transfer isn’t everything, and the posibility of walking the Camino also depends on the availability of albergues and hotels. We will try our best to share news in that regard through our social media.

Given the current situation, we at Caminofácil have also adopted strict measures to ensure the safety of our services, with protocols such as the use of masks and gloves, as well as using alcohol and ozone machines to clean our passenger cars after each trip.

Despite these difficult times, we hope we’ll be able to see you this summer and autumn on the Camino de Santiago, enjoying the nature and sights that our country has to offer.

Regarding the current situation in Spain and the Camino de Santiago

As you know, the Spanish Government announced yesterday (March 14) the “state of alarm” in the spanish territory, which among other things bans people’s movements without just cause. This obviously means that our luggage transfer service is suspended as long as said state remains in place.

Those of our clients who have bookings with us can switch them free of charge to a later date. If you wish to cancel your booking, you can do so by logging into our website or emailing us at contacto@caminofacil.net.

If you are on the Camino right now, you can get information at these points (info vía A survival guide to the Camino de Santiago in Galicia):

We hope that all our clients are well and take care of themselves and their loved ones through the social distancing measures explained by health authorities, and we hope that we’ll be able to see each other soon on the Camino.

2021, “Año Jacobeo”

Official logo for the 2021 “Año Xacobeo”

Many of our readers, as they prepare their future Camino, must have heard that the year 2021 is a special one, since it’s a Jubilee Year or “Año Jacobeo” (“Año Xacobeo” in galician). What does this mean?

According to the Catholic Church, a Jubilee Year is celebrated in Santiago de Compostela whenever July 25th (the day of Santiago the elder) falls on a Sunday. And indeed, the next time this will happen will be on 2021 (and then in 2027). For catholic christians, this means that they can attain a plenary indulgence (full forgiveness of their sins) if they:

  • Visit the Santiago cathedral. (Strictly speaking, one doesn’t need to have made the full pilgrimage; it’s enough to have visited Santiago).
  • Pray for the pope (at least the Lord’s Prayer or the Creed).
  • Receive the Sacraments of Penance and Communion.

The Jubilee Year is also special because it’s only on those occasions when the cathedral’s Holy Door is open.

Indulgence can also be gained, for those pilgrims who haven’t been able to reach Santiago due to accident or illness, if you reach Villafranca del Bierzo and cross the Forgiveness Gate at its church.

This tradition was created by pope Calixtus II in 1120, and it was a big factor in the increase of pilgrimages to Santiago during the Middle Ages. (For those readers knowledgeable about the History of the Camino and who might find Calixtus II’s name familiar, the “Codex Calixtinus” takes its name from a supposed letter by this pope attached to the beginning of the document).

From a practical point of view, on jubilee years there is a considerable increase in the number of pilgrims, so it’s convenient to plan in advance and make reservations for your lodgings, specially in Santiago. Of course, one can also avoid such hassle by walking the Camino on a non-Jacobean year, such as 2020 itself…

 

Caminofácil: now on the Camino Inglés!

Puerto del Ferrol

We have some great news to share: starting today, Caminofácil provides luggae transfer services on the Camino Inglés, starting from Ferrol. Pilgrims who wish to experience the Camino in a (up to now) less known route will enjoy now the comfort of having their luggage waiting for them at the lodgings at the end of the stage, thanks to our service.

What is the Camino Inglés?

The Camino Inglés has its origins in the Middle Ages, when it was the route used by english and irish pilgrims who arrive by boat to Galicia. Their boats desembarked them at Coruña o Ferrol, and from there they walked to Santiago. Despite its name, it wasn’t used solely by english people; there is a case of an icelandic pilgrim who arrived in 1154.

The modern Camino Inglés, which Caminofácil starts to cover now, has its origin in Ferrol, and it has a length of 112 km., enough to get the compostela at the pilgrim’s arrival at Santiago. Along the route, the pilgrim crosses towns like Pontedeume or Betanzos, and can enjoy the beautiful galician scenery and coasts.

The battle of Atapuerca

Foto gentileza de www.batalladeatapuerca.com

Atapuerca is one of the best known villages through which the Camino de Santiago passes. Known today mostly thanks to its archeological site, it is also relevant though for the yearly reenactment of the historical battle that took place in the town in the Middle Ages.

The battle

The battle of Atapuerca took place on September 1st of 1054, between kings Fernando I of León and Count of Castile, and García Sánchez III of Pamplona. Both of them were sons of king Sancho III of Navarre, who divided his kingdom at death between them.

A series of personal conflicts among both brothers, that had roots in part in king Bermudo III of León’s attempt to wage war against Fernando and García’s help to the latter, provoked the battle between both kings on the plain in the valley of Atapuerca.

The battle concluded with the death of García Sanchez, but Navarre’s army managed to keep calm and recover the king’s body in order to bring it back to the pantheon in Nájera. García’s son, Sancho Garcés IV, was named king on the battlefield itself.

The event

(Pictures courtesy of www.batalladeatapuerca.com).

The current reenactment began in 1996, as an initiative of a group of neighbours organised in the association “Amigos de Atapuerca”. It has now been declared an Event of Touristic Interest by the Castilla-León regional government, and it has a medieval market that takes place during the day. All the elements used in the reenactment (shields, tents, historical clothing…) are made by the village’s inhabitants.

This year (2019) the reenactment will take place on August 24 and 25. If you are interested, you can get more information at www.batalladeatapuerca.com.

Proyecto Ultreya: a pioneering study on the efects of the Camino on mental health

We would like to highlight today a pioneering study in the field of psychology and mental health. We have often heard from pilgrims sharing their experience about the effects that walking the Camino de Santiago has had on their daily life, from the philosophical aspects to the added self-knowledge, and even from the psychological point of view. A group of researchers from the San Joan de Déu Hospital in Barcelona have decided, for the first time, to study scientifically those beneficial effects.

The study, called Proyecto Ultreya, is an online questionnaire that pilgrims can fill out in a voluntary way. In order to measure the psychological effects of walking the Camino, participants are asked to fill out said question three time: before their pilgrimage, right after finishing it and three months later.

The study, leaded by Dr. Albert Feliu, will be active for the remainder of this year and also (most likely) during 2020. Pilgrims who wish to participate can do so at their website, https://www.estudiocamino.org/

What’s going on with the restoration works in Santiago cathedral

Traditionally, one of the highlights for any pilgrim that manages to finish the Camino is the visit to the Santiago cathedral: hugging the saint’s statue, assist the Pilgrim Mass and, perhaps, if one is lucky, watch the botafumeiro fly.

However, pilgrims who walk the Camino during these months should be advised that, due to the restoration works in the cathedral, some of these experiences won’t be taking place.

Since last January 28th, the masses and religious services that used to take place at the cathedral have been move to other churches in town. The Pilgrim’s Mass, for example, takes place now at the St. Francis Church, close to Plaza de Obradoiro (about 300 m. further). This also means that the botafumeiro will not be working during these months.

Please note that this doesn’t mean that the cathedral is closed. It still can be visited, and the pilgrims will still be able to enter it, visit the Saint’s crypt and the museum and admire the Pórtico de la Gloria. The only visit that remains closed is the one of the rooftops. The entrance to the cathedral should be done through the Puerta de Platerías, in the southern facade (next to the Fonte dos Cabalos).

Cathedral authorities say that this situation is expected to last about 12 months. For further information:

 

Virtual tours to the Camino de Santiago by Baidu

Baidu, the most popular Chinese search engine, has announced new alliances to offer virtual tours to the Camino de Santiago (and El Prado Museum and the route of Don Quixote) to Chinese users.
In this way, after their first digital museum success, dedicated to the architect Antonio Gaudi (with more than 3.5 million visitors), they stand up for the Camino as a tourist attraction for their users, putting at their fingertips the possibility to become a virtual pilgrim.
Thus, Baidu wants to go a step further, and has reached some agreements with the objective of creating additional virtual tours, among them the Camino de Santiago.
How will the Camino de Santiago tour be like?
We understand that, the same way that Chinese Internet users can visit today the digital museum dedicated to the architect Antonio Gaudi, it will be done through an application developed by Baidu Baike, an online encyclopedia owned by the big Chinese search engine.
This way they will be able to travel different routes with 360º panoramas and photos with 20 billion pixel resolution.
A possible addition will be a virtual tour with VR goggles (the same way the Sagrada Familia cathedral can be seen to the smallest feature today).
A different pilgrimage.
It’s true, this way of peregrinating to the Holy Door of Santiago de Compostela has nothing to do with the real thing. First, because it’s always better living it in person than seeing photos. And because, as good as the image quality could be, you will always feel there’s something missing. And second, because it lacks those real world experiences that enrich the Camino so much.
However, in case traveling the Camino and coming close to the magic places that make it up is something inaccessible to you, the best option is a virtual tour featuring the smallest details.
We impatiently look forward to its presentation, and the visitor numbers it could reach…