Several things are different this time. The most notable is that prices have increased significantly. In 2012 an Albergue was, on average, 7-10 euros. This was a bed and a pilgrim meal which is a three course meal with wine. Now, the bed is 7-10 and the meal is 10 euros and priced separately. That is essentially double.
The ubiquitous nature of the smart phone has resulted in fewer conversations with random people. It is noticeable that many pilgrims will now call friends or consult their phones instead of starting conversations with strangers. The conversations still occur, but with a lower frequency. Many people play video games that can be heard tinging and binging away.
The shortage of Albergues, or the influx of pilgrims, in 2012 left many of the owners frazzled and it was not unexpected to ask for a bed and have the frustrated manager become impatient when there were none available. Now there are multiple spots and the owners are advertising with flyers and posters and signs. I’ve only encountered a shortage once so far and everyone slept inside. This also means that many of the places are brand new with high quality beds, tile floors and good windows.
The percentage of pilgrims from Spain has noticeably increased. I noted in 2012 how strange it was that there were hardly any Spanish pilgrims. Now, at least thirty percent are travelling in their own country.
The final thing that I’ve noticed so far is that several companies actively advertise a carrier service for your pack. This was available in 2012, but it was not as common to have the front of an Albergue
I’m sure that the Camino has been evolving for hundreds of years and our experience, by its very nature, is simply a snap shot in time.