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Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Some Places to Sleep on the Camino Frances

I was recently asked by the producers of the Documentary "Walking the Camino" if I could provide some photos for a new App they're working on.  In going through my thousands of photos, I thought it might be helpful not to blog, but to simply post photos of places you might expect to sleep on the Camino, food you might expect to eat, etc.

So, I'll begin with Places to Sleep. Following are photos of places I've stayed on the Camino Frances.
I apologize but these are NOT in any particular order. I will give my own personal review of each. And while I realize bedbugs are a difficult thing to control on the Camino, I will mention the places I found them. Please read my blog on bedbugs - it is possible to get to Santiago without getting bugs if you are informed and careful.

Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui. This was a very clean and pilgrim friendly place. They offered a wonderful dinner. I hear this place is up for sale!

 San Anton. This albergue is set in the ruins of an old Cathedral. It's a beautiful place. You sleep inside a dorm with only three walls. They drop a heavy clear plastic "door" down for the night. Dinner is included here, and is family style.

San Anton; the albergue in the ruins.

On my first Camino, I stayed at the municipal albergue in Sahagun. It is nice, but large and can be noisy. The night we stayed, 4 drunk German boys kept everyone awake and vomited all over the bathrooms. After that, I decided to stay in private albergues here, but that was one night and one experience. I'm sure others have had better luck. The beds were comfortable in private little cubes of 2, and the place was clean before the boys slimed it.

Dorm in Municipal at Sahagun
 I love the Benedictine Monastery at Leon. It has large dorms. Men are in one. Women in the other. They serve a nice little breakfast in the morning. The showers are not coed. If you tend to sleep hot, get a bed by the window.  I've stayed here several times and found it very clean and friendly. When I was there in 2006, they were having a chincha (bedbug) issue, so the nuns were stopping every pilgrim, making them dump and spray their belongings. I have happily stayed here several times since then, with no bedbugs to be seen.

I slept on the TOP bunk and didn't see one bedbug.
This man slept on the BOTTOM and fought them all night long.
 He's pointing to a pile of bugs he killed during the night.  :)

Albergue Casa de Jesus at Vilar de Mazarife is one of my favorite places. I love sleeping out on the balcony when it's warm. They also have rooms with 4-6-8 beds and possibly a private or two. The bathrooms are both coed and they have locking door bathrooms. They have a nice kitchen where you can cook.

Casa de Jesus Courtyard

Guacelmo Albergue is run by a private confraternity in the village of Rabanal del Camino. I have stayed there several times. It is clean and friendly. They have a nice big kitchen where you can cook. You can also find really good food across the road at El Refugio. They serve a meet&greet tea in the afternoons. A good place.
Afternoon Tea at Guacelmo

Guacelmo Kitchen

If you are adventurous, don't walk past Manjarin without spending the night. This is a very basic refuge run by Tomas the Templar. There is no running water - it is brought in by the volunteers. There are no showers. There is a pit toilet. Included in the price is your dinner, and a good-sized breakfast, both very good when I stayed. Since there is no water, the sheets are often very soiled so this is not for the weak-hearted. Having said that, it was one of the best experiences in hospitality and love in all my many treks on the Camino. Give it a try and be grateful for the experience!

Beds are mattresses on the attic floor.

The Majarin Kitchen storage

Annie with Tomas the Templar

Molinaseca Municipal Albergue. I stayed here in 2006. After seeing signs of bedbugs inside, I chose a bed out on the patio. I enjoy sleeping outside whenever possible.  The inside is dark and not always clean. I probably wouldn't stay here if I couldn't sleep outdoors. They do have a nice yard where you could maybe put your bedroll with permission also. There is actually a nice private albergue run by a German group across the street. Frankly, I'd choose to stay there or rent a private room.

That's my bed on the top bunk!

The Municipal Albergue at Cacabelos, Las Augustias, is interesting because it is built AROUND the church. There are two beds in each little room. The one time I stayed here, I tried 3 rooms before I found one without bedbugs. I would probably not stay here again - I didn't find the staff very friendly (maybe because I refused a bed with bugs?). But some people really like it.


I love the Municipal Albergue at Vega de Valcarce. 
It was spartan, but clean and friendly.

Vega de Valcarce

Casa Morgade is between Sarria and Portomarin. You will recognize it by the hoardes of pilgrims stopping here for lunch. You must book your rooms ahead here, and it is worth it. It is clean, friendly, and the food is awesome.

The Sala at Casa Morgade

Beds in Casa Morgade

The new Municipal at Portomarin is quite nice. It is HUGE with lots of beds in one or two big rooms, but it was clean and had a good kitchen.

The little schoolhouse albergue at Ligonde is sweet, with only about a dozen bunkbeds. When I stayed, we had to walk into Eirexe for dinner, but I think there is a restaurant there now. The albergue had a tiny kitchen, but I recall there were no pots/pans to cook with. Here I am trying to warm up after a cold walk from Morgade.

I have my feet in hot water trying to get warm!

This photo should be at the very top but I couldn't figure out how to move it. This is one of the rooms at L'esprit de Chemin in St. Jean Pied de Port. This was a wonderful albergue and I stayed there my first Camino. You MUST make reservations. Choose to have dinner there and make some new friends. Don't let them talk you into walking all the way to Roncesvalles! Stop in Orisson. Make reservations THERE also.

The Municipal Albergue at Zubiri, was to me, very dirty and unfriendly. The showers were nasty and in a trailer outside. The staff was not very friendly. Instead, consider booking at El Palo de Avellano, closer to town, or booking a private room and sharing with another pilgrim.

When I walk the Camino, I often try to walk "between the waves" of pilgrims following the guidebooks. Instead of staying in Pamplona, for instance, I will stop at Trinidad de Arre and sleep at the convent Hermanos Maristas, right across the bridge. This is a sweet albergue, with a private room of 4 beds for married couples and a room for snorers, in addition to their dorm. They have a nice backyard to relax in and it is close enough to Pamplona to take a city bus or taxi if you felt like touristing about. 

Trinidad de Arre - Hermanos Maristas Convent

The Bridge at Trinidad de Arre

One secret place along the Camino is the tiny ONE-bedroom, TWO bed municipal albergue at Uterga. I'm not sure if it's still open, but I stayed there with Joe and this Mexican peregrina in 2006 and it was quite sweet!

Notice there is no sign

Just a room with 2 beds. Joe slept on a mattress on the floor.

The Albergue at Estella was very noisy, but otherwise comfortable and clean. I no longer stay there, preferring a private room. There is also a new albergue advertised lately.

The first time I walked, we stayed at the municipal albergue in Logroño, and I've stayed there several times since. The place is huge, but it was very clean and friendly. I would stay there again.

Bags are lined up waiting to get in.

Dorms in Logroño

I just had to toss this in. In 2006, after getting frozen and wet on the Meseta walking into Santo Domingo del Calzada, I broke down and booked a room in the Parador. It was worth every penny to get a good night's sleep, THREE hot baths, and this breakfast in bed next morning!


In Espinoza, we stayed with Pepe in 2006. He has several rooms with 2-3 beds in each. He cooked paella for dinner!  We loved his place!

Espinoza - Pepe's place

Dinner with Pepe
 I don't like to tell people NOT to stay at a place because of bedbugs, because it's a crap shoot. The owners can fumigate, clean every bed, and the very next day a pilgrim brings in bugs. But there is one place I WILL tell you not to stay and that is Hornillos. I have never been there when there were  NOT bedbugs and not just a bite or two. People get eaten alive there then spread the bugs along the route. I don't know who is in charge, but someone needs to crack down. Anyway, stop there and visit the little Church and bell tower - it's lovely - but don't put your bag on the bed unless you've sprayed everything with permethrin!

If you're looking for a good place to stay in Logroño, and need a place away from the hoardes, consider getting a few people together and renting an apartment. It can cost just about the same amount of cash and it's nice to have a break, especially in Logroño where you might want to stay out late for tapas.  Here is one place we've stayed, Apartamentos Calfred. They also have a dorm, I believe, but I have not stayed there.

Room at CalFred

Terrace at CalFred, Logroño

In Molinaseca, I love staying at Casa Reloj. It's good for a group. They serve a nice breakfast next morning as well.

Casa Reloj

In the time we've been operating Anniewalkers, I have had one negative review.  The woman had paid for DOUBLE room lodging with another pilgrim. I had this sweet little extra room in Viana and thought she might like a break from her roommate. She writes in her review that I put her in "a child's room." It was a private room with a single bed and a kitchen and bathroom, and I suppose you could look at this bedspread and think it might be a child's room. Here is a photo of that room. I thought it was lovely, when compared to a pilgrim dorm? When walking the Camino, you have to be ready for surprises...

Room at Viana

Kitchen in Viana

 I love staying at Albergue Ultreia in Portomarin. It is spotless, with a nice kitchen and shared bathrooms/showers.  They have dorms, and also have private rooms upstairs. I like the privates these days  :)


 This is the HUGE OLD dorm at Roncesvalles. They now have a new one, but still put pilgrims in this one when they need overflow room. I was assigned a top bunk and I remember crying when I had to use the toilet in the middle of the night and my feet painfully hit that floor!

Old Albergue Roncesvalles
 I'm unable to add more photos to this posting, so I'll continue tomorrow in a new post.
Buen Camino!

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