The blog about the Santiago de Compostela & the Way of Saint James
Author: Ultreya Tours
Ultreya Tours is a incoming Tour Operator specialized in organizing comprehensive and highly personalized walking tours for groups and solo travelers on the Camino de Santiago. Founded and based in Santiago de Compostela, we know the region of Galicia and the secrets of the Camino by heart. Let us introduce you to our vision of the Camino.
The Pilgrim community woke up in shock this morning as the Dean of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela announced there will be no Mass at all in the Cathedral in 2019 because of the ongoing restoration works. In this article, we would like to clarify what this means, why this should not impact your travel plans and detail where you will be able to attend Mass during this time.
For the first time since it was built, there will be no service in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela at all for 12 to 18 months, starting from next week, Monday, January 28th 2019.
The Cathedral & the Pilgrim Office did warn pilgrims and neighbours of Santiago for over a year that there might not be any use of the Botafumeiro during Pilgrim Mass for 6 months in 2019, but the latest news is much worst than expected:
After months of investigation and negotiation, the Dean of the Cathedral has announced today that due to the unexpected scope and magnitude of the essential works required in the interior it will be impossible to maintain the normal activity in the main altar, naves and in the chapels of the basilica.
So no Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral, no guided tour of the Cathedral, no visit of the rooftop and no Botafumeiro Ceremony until the end of the renovations!
But the Cathedral will remain open for visits in the areas not under construction, you will be able to see the newly repainted Portico de la Gloria and Pilgrim Mass will be moved to different churches around the City.
Tipping in Spain is not as customary as it is in the USA for example. Spain has a relatively high minimum wage (was just increased by 22%) and the staff members you will be in contact with are fairly paid for their services. A 10% service charge is always included in your invoice at restaurants. As part of our services, we take care of ensuring the restaurant, hotel, driver, guide is compensated correctly so no gratuity is requested.
But if you feel that a person has gone the extra mile for you, a tip is always appreciated.
Here are some places you might consider leaving a tip:
Bar / Coffee shop: We generally round up to the nearest €1 or leave 20 to 50c per couple
Restaurant: Depending on the price of the meal, either round up or add a couple to a few euros per table or 5 to 10% (remember you already paid 10% + about €3 per person to sit and be served bread / cutlery)
Hotel Porter: might expect a €1 tip per luggage in the more luxurious hotels
House Cleaning / Massage / Hairstylist / Taxi driver: It is not customary to tip, unless provided great service, if so add 10%. If we booked an extra service for you, please note we almost always work and pay that person directly without making a commission so 100% of their earnings go to them without any intermediaries.
Guide / Driver: Our guides and drivers are well paid, especially in Galicia but if the person has given you a good service it is quite common to give some €5 to €10 per day per person. Of course, no gratuity is ever expected and you won’t ever be put under pressure to tip, so please make your decision based on the quality of service you receive rather than feeling you have to.
One of the man difference you will find with your home country when traveling in Spain and on the Camino de Santiago is the extreme mealtimes that are followed and this is a concern for many of our clients. Spaniards are among those who eat lunch and dinner the latest in the world so we created this blog post to detail the different eating times customs you will encounter in Spain as well as the shop opening times.
The Timezones explanation
To understand, why Spaniards eat so late, you must know Spain goes by Central European Time (CET), putting it in sync with the Serbian capital Belgrade, more than 2,500 km East of Madrid, while it should be in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) like the UK and Portugal. So Galicia, which is the most Western region in continental Spain, is about 2h away from its normal sun time. This means the sun rises later and sets later, bestowing Spain with gloriously long summer evenings and 10 pm sunsets.
Consequences on the typical work-day in Spain
The typical Spanish work day begins at 9am and ends around 8 pm with a 2 to 3h lunch break (the vast majority of workers go home for lunch and enjoy a large meal with their family and rest for a while). Prime-time television doesn’t start until 10:30pm. Most people do not go to bed until midnight.
When pilgrims are walking the Camino and staying in municipal Albergues, they tend to get up very early (between 4 and 6 am) and go to bed early (by 9 pm). They do this to ensure they reach the next town and bed before the rest of the crowds but this means walking most of the distance in the dark.
Your room is booked and is not going anywhere so no need to rush. Just make sure your luggage is at the reception by 8:30 am for the luggage transfer.