Here is an excerpt from the American Pilgrims Newsletter La Concha.

From April to October, it’s common for more than 1,000 or even 2,000 pilgrims to arrive daily in Santiago seeking a Compostela. In the last year alone, 327,378 Compostelas were issued. Early estimates for the 2021 Holy Year are that more than 500,000 pilgrims will flock to Santiago. Previously, pilgrims stood in line awaiting their turn at the counter. This system simply cannot accommodate the expected crowds.

The new procedure requires a visit to the Pilgrim’s Office for a ticket with a number with a QR code. Scan the code with a QR reader app on your phone to see in real time (via the Cathedral’s server: which number is being served. You can go enjoy Santiago or wait in a comfortable downstairs lounge until your number is called. When your number is within 50 of the number being served, get to the Pilgrim’s Office hallway so you’ll be ready to go to the counter. If you are not present when your number is called, you’ll need a new ticket. If there are no more tickets, you’ll be turned away.

The good news is you no longer need to stand in line. The bad news is the office issues a certain number of tickets each day, which varies based on staffing.

I volunteered in the Pilgrim’s Office from October 7 to 21, 2019. The maximum number of tickets given out per day was 1,200. Anyone unable to get a ticket had to come back the next day. Most days all tickets were distributed by 2 p.m. The office opened at 8 a.m. and a line was forming by 7 a.m.

Following these rules will make the process easier:

• Each pilgrim must have a number. If you are a couple or a family, each person must have a separate ticket.

• If you’re not there when your number is called, you’ll need a new ticket and may need to come back the next day. Do not miss your turn.

• Each pilgrim, no matter the starting location, must get two stamps per day for the last 100 kilometers if walking or 200 kilometers if biking. Each stamp must be dated (either stamped or written).

I suggest you allow a few days in Santiago or plan to arrive early in the morning for a good chance to get a ticket (and your Compostela) that day. ¡Buen Camino!

Each pilgrim must now obtain a ticket with a number and QR code at the Pilgrim’s Office.

Each pilgrim must now obtain a ticket with a number and QR code at the Pilgrim’s Office.

The Australian Friends of the Camino

Greetings from Australia to Camino Friends everywhere, I’m writing to let you know that Australian Friends of the Camino (AFOTC) is planning a national conference, entitled “El Camino – The Way Ahead”, over the weekend 11-13 October, 2019. The venue will be Nunyara Conference Centre in Belair, South Australia. AFOTC will be close to completing its first decade of promoting the Camino at the end of this year. Therefore, the goals of this first national conference will be: Read More

Pilgrims Office Queuing System

To access the queue number NOW being served at the Pilgrim Office queue, you can paste this into a browser address window AFTER you make THREE changes to the link. View Link

Where 221 is YOUR ticket number, and change the date to today… REMEMBER to use the European date format (YYYY-MO-DA).

So to use the URL directly, you have to:
Change the ticket number to yours
Change the date to the current date
Change the desired language number, presently 2 for Spanish and 5 for English
Using an iPhone to scan YOUR ticket.

Also, you can turn on the “scan QR code” function of an iPhone. Doing so allows you to see your number AND the current queue number being served. This is a HUGE improvement in only 48-hours.

To do this:
Scan down in the camera settings…
Toggle ON “Scan QR codes”
Back out…
Scan down…
Add Scan QR Codes”
Swipe down on any page, from the top of the screen, to see your shortcuts.
A new shortcut that looks like a QR icon is there.
To read a QR Code, press this icon, this brings up the camera in ‘scan QR code’ mode. Place the QR code in the yellow brackets and take a photo.
iOS will ask at the top of this screen if you want to open the scanned link in Safari.
Click on the Safari icon…
Your ticket number, along with the number presently being seen is shown in a Safari browser.
Once you do this scan, you can pull down to refresh the screen as desired.

The First Circumnavigation
of the World

Circumnavigation of the World

The CSJofSA is commemorating the 500 year anniversary of the First Circumnavigation of the World. We are including a limited number of inserts about the expedition into the CSJ Pilgrim Packs.

The voyage was sanctioned by the Spanish King, Charles I. The Crown Fleet consisted of 250 crew members from several countries on five ships, the San Antonio, Concepción, Trinidad, Victoria and Santiago under the command of Fernando de Magellan. The fleet was equipped with the best navigational instruments and set sail West from the harbour of Las Muelas, Seville on the 10 August 1519. Two years into the expedition, Magellan died in the Phillipines during a skirmish, leaving his second in command Juan Sebastian Elcano to complete the three-year trip. Elcano succeeded in reaching the Spice Islands where they purchased vast quantities of spices.

The Victoria passed around the Cape of Good Hope mid-May of 1522 in very stormy weather and was the only surviving vessel of the circumnavigation that travelled East to arrive back in the harbour of Las Muelas, Seville on Monday, 8 September 1522.

The Voyage had a significant impact on the World, as Magellan’s achievements were a landmark in the history of exploration:

  • Proof that the World was in fact Round.
  • Greater Knowledge of the size of the earth and the oceans.
  • Confirmation of the Antipodes.
  • Awareness of Time Zones & Days moving East or West.
  • Opening the first International Relations and Trade with other countries.
  • Magallan’s voyage rewrote maps and geography books.
  • The voyage contributed to knowledge of astronomy, two galaxies were observed that were visible to the naked eye from the southern hemisphere, now known as the Magellanic Clouds.
  • The most important passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was named The Strait of Magellan.



Camino Society Ireland

Camino Society Ireland is a voluntary organisation founded in 1992 by pilgrims. The aim is to ‘give something back’ to future pilgrims in gratitude for the fellowship and spiritual renewal they had each experienced on their own Camino. It fosters an understanding and appreciation of the Camino’s related history, art, architecture and music.

It issues the Pilgrim Passport and offers an opportunity to all those interested in the Camino to meet and share practical information and experiences, especially with those intending to travel by foot or by bicycle.

The Society is non-political and non-denominational, encompassing all of Ireland and is open to all.

The Pilgrim Passport and Compostela:

To stay in pilgrim hostels (albergues), a Pilgrim Passport is required. To claim a Compostela, the traditional certificate of pilgrimage granted by the Cathedral authorities in Santiago, a Pilgrim Passport stamped for each day traveled will be required as proof of your journey. Pilgrims starting in Galicia require two stamps per day.

Read More 

Opening of Camino Spanish School

camino spanish school, María VázquezTeacher: María Vázquez Guisán
Cell Phone (WhatsApp): +34 657 689 433

The first online Spanish school catering to the specific needs of people doing the Camino de Santiago:

I also want to let you know that all my courses have been developed based on interviews that I have conducted with pilgrims from Canada, Australia, the UK, and the USA. Through these interviews, coupled with my local knowledge as a native from Santiago de Compostela, I have created a Spanish course to meet the unique needs of people doing the Camino de Santiago.

Camino Spanish offers private online classes, so it’s flexible and completely adaptable to all students. I also welcome all new students with a free trial lesson. Apart from that, I’d like to offer all students that you recommend me before the end of September one bonus lesson when they sign up for a five lesson package, or two bonus lessons when they sign up for ten. 

Please follow me on Facebook or Pinterest.



Cecilia Russell has been appointed as the editor of Amigos. We require articles about your Camino Experiences and some shorter snippets, 2 to 5 lines or so of funny events and best experiences. Articles can be about people you met, albergue’s, churches, and other matters that may have spoken to your heart. Please send to


BLS International, Visa Applications, Schengen Visa

Visa Applications
1st Floor, Block B, North Park, Black River Park,
2 Fir Street, Observatory, Western Cape,
Cape Town, 7925, South Africa

Opening Hours
Passport Collection Time
12:30 to 16:00 Hrs (Monday to Friday)
Submission Time
09:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 15:00 hrs (Monday to Friday)
+021 003 8050

Here is the link for Spanish Visa Applications: BLS International

Application Procedures

There is information available about:

When you apply for a visa the “Application for Schengen Visa” and the “Application for Schengen Visa, Supplementary Information” forms must be submitted together.

Spanish Teachers:

If you teach Spanish and would like to register your details with us, we would be delighted to recommend you to our members. Please send us your name, email, region and telephone no to place on record. Contact:

No previous knowledge of Spanish would be required. If you know someone who may be interested, please let me know or just invite them to contact me. Thanks in advance for your help and Buen Camino!

Teacher: María Vázquez Guisán
Cell Phone (WhatsApp): +34 657 689 433

Teacher: Julia de Jesus Galan
Cell: 0747453813
Fee: R250 for 90 MINUTES
Available 7 days a week
Reference available

Teacher: Maite Echeburua
Nationality: Spanish
Phone number +27 764 861 797 | Whatsapp +34 607 829 857
Current location: Cape Town
Drivers license

Teacher: Maria M Romo Escudero
Phone in South Africa (00 27) 0780149907   

Links to other Camino Organisations:

Amazon, Johnnie Walker Guide Books, Camino, Spiritual Guide Books

Johnnie Walker-Santiago has walked thousands of kilometers on pilgrim routes in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan. He writes guidebooks to Camino routes on a voluntary basis so that they can be provided at low cost to pilgrims. All proceeds are donated to the Confraternity of Saint James UK so that they can continue to provide help, information and support for pilgrims He has also written two Spiritual Companions for pilgrims: 

Other guidebooks available on Kindle: A Pilgrim Guide to The Caminho Português (Part One Lisbon to Porto)

Read More about Johnnie Walker alias  Rafferty

Religious Festivals and Public Holidays 2018

These feasts and holidays are observed in both countries except where otherwise indicated. Where the languages are different the names are given first in Portuguese then Spanish.

1 January: New Year’s Day and the Feast of Mary, Mother of God Santa Maria, Mãe de Deus/Santa María, Madre de Dios. 
6 January: The Epiphany Dia de Reis/ Día del Reyes. In Spain this feast is celebrated as much as Christmas, and presents are often given on this day. There are street processions and celebrations.

Carnaval: This is the period before the start of Lent and is a time of partying and over indulgence.

14 February: Ash WednesdayQuarta feira de cinza/Miércoles de Ceniza, and the start of Lent – Quaresma/Cuaresma
19 March: The Feast of Saint Joseph – São José/San José. This is when Father’s Day is celebrated in both countries.
25 March – 1 April: Holy WeekSemana Santa, when there will be many religious services and street processions.
25 March: Palm SundayDomingo de Ramos 
29 March: Holy ThursdayJueves Santo 
30 March: Good Friday Sexta-feira Santa/Viernes Santo
1 April: Easter SundayDomingo de Páscoa/Domingo de Resurrección
25 April, in Portugal: Freedom Day Dia da Liberdade, celebrates the 1974 coup d’état that ended the oppressive Estado Nuevo government and established the Portuguese Third Republic. 
1 May: Labour Day – Dia do Trabalhador/ Fiesta del Trabajo.
6 May: Mother’s Day – Dia da Mãe/Día de la Madre.
May/June (moveable dates):
10 May: Ascension ThursdayAscensáo do Senhor/Ascensión del Señor (may be celebrated on Sunday 13 May)
20 May: PentecostPentecostés 
31 May: Corpus Christi (may be celebrated on Sunday 3 June), with religious street processions in many places
10 June, in Portugal: Portugal DayDia de Portugal
25 July: Feast of Saint JamesSantiago Apóstol, Patrón de España, Spanish National Holiday
15 August: Feast of the Assumption – Assunção da Bem-Aventurada Virgem Maria/Asunción de la Virgen
5 October, Portugal: Republic DayImplantação da República, celebrates the end of Monarchy and the beginning of the Portuguese Republic
12 October:  Día del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar) – Fiesta Nacional de España|Día de la Hispanidad (National Day|Hispanic Day)
1 November: All SaintsTodos os Santos/Todos los Santos
2 November: All SoulsDia de Finados/Todos los Difuntos.

Around these dates there may be local church services for those who have died in the community in the last year.

1 December: Portugal Restoration of Independence Day
6 December: Spain Constitution Day – Día de la Constitución
8 December: Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Imaculada Conceição da Bem-Aventurada Virgem Maria/La Inmaculada Concepción
24 December: Christmas Eve Véspera de Natal/Noche Buena, when traditionally Spanish families gather together at home for a meal. Many restaurants close
25 December: Christmas Day – Natal do Senhor/Natividad del Señor
31 December: New Year’s Eve|HogmanayNoite de Ano Novo/Noche Vieja

Local Festivals and holidays in Portugal and Spain

Almost every village seems to have their own Feast or Feria, for example, the Feast of the Ascension, which is the annual festival in Santiago de Compostela with street theatre, bands, orchestras and the circus comes to town.

Arzúa Cheese Festival – February/March
Bread and Cheese festival in Sahagún – April
Fire water festival in Portomarín – early April
O Cebreiro cheese festival – April
May Festival – Festa do Maio in Villafranca del Bierzo – May
San Fermin running of the bulls and the city’s most famous festival in Pamplona – July
San Cristobo Festival in Palas de Rei – July
Estella festival – Estella/Lizarra – early August
Santa Marta festival in Astorga – end of August
San Zoilo festival in Carrión de los Condes – end of August
Rioja Harvest Festival in Logroño – September
Romaria Virxe do Cebreiro dedicated to the patron saint of O Cebreiro – early September
Fiestas de la Encina in Ponferrada, the city’s biggest annual festival – September
Music Week in Melide – November

Contact the CSJofSA


compostela certificate, Camino, Santiago, Spain, camino shell

Camino Calendar 2021


Camino Workshops

Cancelled until Further Notice

Receive Newsletters &
Purchase Pilgrim Credentials!



Coming Soon
Camino Workshops

Presenter: Pam Langley
Pam is a Pilgrim, Hospitalera, and member of the CSJ.


In towns and villages all along the Camino Francés, you may encounter a local festival such as:

Running of the bulls in Pamplona, camino

The running of the bulls in Pamplona

And finally

The Tomatina

If you are walking the Camino Levante and find yourself in Valencia at the end of August head for the town of Buñol to take part in the world’s largest tomato fight. If it is a choice between running with the bulls or fighting with tomatoes, I know which I’d choose!

The Tomatina, Tomatoe Festival, camino


camino, confraternity of st jamesThe Confraternity of Saint James, England: 
The British Confraternity is a UK-based charity established to promote the pilgrimage to the shrine of St James in Santiago de Compostela.  They provide a range of information services to assist prospective pilgrims, of all religions or none, who are planning a walking, cycling or horseback journey along one of the many Camino de Santiago routes.



Santiago Pilgrim’s Office, address
Pilgrim Office Website 
Pilgrims’ Office
Rúa das Carretas, 
Santiago de Compostela
Telephone: (+34) 981 568 846
Fax: (+34) 981 563 924
Email: or


camino, pilgrims office santiago

The office is open from Monday to Sunday 8.00 – 21.00 (In Easter Time and Summer from 1st April to 30th October). Monday to Sunday 10.00 – 19.00: In winter: from 1st November to 30th March. The Pilgrims’ Office is open during these hours every day of the year with the EXCEPTION of Christmas Day – 25 December, and New Year’s Day – 1 January. If you complete your pilgrimage on these days your Compostela Certificate can be obtained in the Cathedral.

Camino Forum
The Camino Forum has been operational for over 10 years. Trending Topics, Announcements and Frequently asked Questions and other useful information submitted by pilgrims. Sign Up to this forum is free!

Camino, FCJ

Camino Companions Santiago fcjsisters (Visited, June 2015 & 2016 by Chairman of CSJofSA, Andrée Lombard)
(above the Correo (Post Office and left corner Pilgrim’s Office Courtyard)
Meet Marion fcJ/Katherine fcJ
‘God of life and love, thank you for the companionship, beauty, mystery and the kindness of strangers we experienced along the Camino. You have filled our hearts with wonder, joy and gladness! May we take the Camino to the World!’

Terranova Pilgrim house in Santiago & facebook page, a lovely meeting place for pilgrims with useful services.
Rúa Nova, 19, Bajo
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
+34 981 58 57 88
Friends of Pilgrim House play a vital role in the sustainability and operation of the welcome center. Every annual gift provides support towards continuing the Camino spirit through conversation, community, and prayer. We welcome everyone who has an interest in providing a welcoming space for pilgrims when they arrive in Santiago to become a Friend of Pilgrim House.

Services offered:
– Free WiFi
– A living room
– A kitchenette with microwave and refrigerator
– Message board
– Quiet spaces: reflection room and patio

We also offer the following services for a suggested donation:
– Printing/ photocopying: 0,20€ per page
– Backpack storage: 1,50€ per pack, per day; 0,50€ walking sticks only
– Laundry: 5€
– Coffee, tea, or Cola Cao: 1€ per cup

American Pilgrims on the Camino
American Pilgrims on the Camino is a non-profit organization whose objective is to facilitate communication within the community of North American pilgrims, particularly those in the United States. American Pilgrims continually seeks meaningful ways to support the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

The Canadian Company of Pilgrims:
The Canadian Company of Pilgrims (CCoP) is a non-denominational volunteer-run association that supports Canadians planning the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We share the Canadian representation with l’Association québécoise des pèlerins et amis du Chemin de Saint-Jacques

Buddy System for Women on the Camino
The Buddy System is a Facebook page for women travelling the Camino.
Here is the CSJofSA pdf for safety tip for camino with useful and important telephone numbers, and the South African Embassy details for Spain, France and Portugal.