Following my last blog I had a few people ask for an explanation about what an Albergue was. So I thought as we approach the two-week mark it might be a good idea to talk about sleeping along “the way”.
First of all Albergue’s are like hostels, communal sleeping facilities geared to the pilgrims. Many
towns offer a “municipal” Albergue, often a pay what you can place. Historical pilgrims may have stayed in churches and monasteries, and many of today’s Albergues are still housed today in these facilities, formally called hospitals. We have seen some of these original hospitals along the path and in the small villages.
Today with increased demand many privately owned and operated Albergues have emerged. Some, like the one in Orisson, are so remote that both dinner and breakfast are included. Others like
the one in the large city of Logrono was a bunk and communal bath – no food.
Something for every budget.
So far for us on Day 11 we have stayed in four Albergues. Two we enjoyed, two not so much. Although I want to have a somewhat authentic experience on the Camino- I also want a good night’s sleep. Even with my earplugs and eye-mask it’s not so easy to sleep restfully in a room full of strangers snoring, farting, tossing and turning.
We gave it a try. But unless we have no alternative I think for the rest of the walk we will look at other accommodations. For instance we have stayed in two apartments, three hotels and two bed-and-breakfast/pensions so far. Some of these weren’t so great either, but at least I had a private room.
Other than the apartments and one of the Albergues, breakfast has been served each day. Our first two nights while we were still in France we only
got dry baguette, jam and coffee. But since arriving in Spain breakfast has been bread/croissant with ham and cheese and sometimes other sliced meat. Some places have also included fruit or yogurt and maybe cereal and milk. There is always coffee and tea.
I desperately need protein in the morning to tackle the physical endurance. Bread and jam or sweet
rolls don’t do it for me. So if I can’t get an omelette or one of Spain’s famous egg torta then I’m grateful for some ham and cheese.
So far the mattresses have been good in all but one of the hotels. I always pull back the sheets and check for bedbugs before settling in. Sounds gross but honestly bed bugs can be in even the finest hotels so I am cautious. You should be too.
Our least expensive accommodation so far was the Albergue in Logrono- bunks for two and no breakfast $28. The most expensive so far was hotel in Roncesvalles – private room and bath (although this was the uncomfortable mattress) with hot dinner and cold breakfast $120. Our average is about $75.
If we are disappointed about anything so far it’s the
fact that the Camino is so popular this month finding accommodations of any kind means planning ahead. Our fantasies of wandering into a quaint little village and finding a room just isn’t reality. Arne has now been planning ahead about 5 nights. And because the final 100km is the most popular (MANY people only walk this much) those last days as we approach Santiago will be even harder to find rooms. So we are booking that now too.
There are many people whose Camino means only Albergues. There are many people whose Camino
means only hotels. There are people who do the Camino on a tour bus. Yes really. Not everyone has the physical ability but they still want the experience. These people will walk sections of the Camino over a period of time, starting and ending their day with the bus taking them to major hotels. Many walkers carry sleeping bags and mats,
prepared to sleep outdoors if necessary. And many walkers just join the path 100km (about four days) outside of Santiago.
So as you can see the Camino is something different for everyone. As we find what works best FOR US, we settle in to the walk. We expect now to arrive in Santiago about October 11th – with some added days off now planned.
Day 11. Total walked 133. 356 to go.