We expect pilgrims to favour quieter routes over busy trails. The idea of less people around us will make us feel safer and it will also mean that it is easier to maintain social distancing. Although this will not be an issue while on the Camino itself, it will play a role when choosing our coffee stops and restaurants for the tasty ‘menu del dia’ or pilgrim’s menu. Large towns along popular Camino routes usually attract high numbers of pilgrims for rest breaks. It could mean hikers choose to stop outside of the traditional lunch stops, or in cafes and restaurants that have better social distancing measures in place.
We anticipate an increase in self-guided trips as opposed to guided group trips as pilgrims will feel safer walking in small numbers with their family or close friends rather than a large group of 20 people. People are also keen to reconnect and embark on reunion breaks with relatives where they can finally spend quality time together instead of talking through computer screens.
We expect a shift in demand towards private room accommodation with ensuite bathrooms (Hotels, rural houses and pensiones) over albergues which provide bunkbeds in dorms and shared bathroom facilities. All accommodation providers in Spain have introduced changes to reduce the spread of Covid19 as per the Spanish Government guidelines.
Food and Drink
Along the way, the indoors sections of small cafes and restaurants will remain closed in the early stages after the restrictions are lifted as social distancing measures are harder to implement in small properties. However outdoor terraces and courtyards, an important part of the Spanish culture and lifestyle, will remain open. These outdoor areas will need to adhere to new social distancing rules and we expect to see smaller crowds in them.
Who knows, take away coffee on the Camino may become an option in bigger towns even though it goes against the idea of slowing down and taking time to enjoy your drink and views with fellow walkers. Like in many other areas of life right now, we are experiencing unprecedented behavioural change and we will have to get used to some new ways of doing things. It will take a long time until we can shake hands or hug a fellow pilgrim on the Camino but a new way of expressing the special camaraderie will surely emerge such as singing or elbow bumping!
What it will not change in the future is the excitement and happiness the Camino experience brings to us and that unique way of greeting fellow travellers along the way with those two magic words that keep us going: “Buen Camino”.