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Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pilgrim Lodgings - What Are They Like?

Hola Peregrinos!

This will be another photo-heavy blog about lodgings on the Camino, so you have an idea what you can expect.  There is a wide range when it comes to places to sleep. 

Parochials are run by the Catholic Church. They are often "donativo" and you often will sleep on mats on the floor. Please don't let that put you off. The mats are amazingly comfortable; sometimes more comfortable than lumpy beds! And they almost always will feed you dinner and breakfast. Remember, please, that "donativo" means donation, and YOUR donation feeds the pilgrims that come by tomorrow, so be generous.  If they give me only a bed, I usually leave at least €5. If they feed me, I leave €8 to €10. 

Municipal albergues are run by the local government. Hospitaleros may or may not have walked the Camino. Prices are generally set.

Associated albergues are sponsored by religious institutions (like confraternaties) or by pilgrim groups from different countries around the world (like the American Pilgrims on the Camino).  They can be donativo, but usually ask for a nominal fee. They are staffed by volunteers who almost always have walked the Camino themselves. 

In parochial, municipal, and associated albergues, you will almost never get clean sheets each day, although some have gone to using paper bed covers, which are nice. Most will provide a pillow, but no clean pillowcase. Most will provide blankets, though this is being stopped in some albergues due to the bedbug issue.

Privates are owned by private parties. They are (in my opinion) often cleaner, but you will also pay more. Most privates give you linens, including a towel. Most change the sheets and pillowcases each day. Every private I've used supplies blankets. Most are very clean and upscale as they are in competition with other privates in the area and depend on good reviews. They generally have fewer beds per room, often 2 to 6. I expect to pay €10-€18 for a private albergue.

Any of these places may have 1 bed or may have 100 beds, however. The beds may be split up into separate rooms, or they may all be in one room. 

Men and women are almost always in the same room. There are some, usually run by religious organizations, where men and women have separate bedrooms and bathrooms. But often both bedrooms and bathrooms are coed.

Many albergues listed above will have a common space kitchen, or at least a place to boil water (microwave). Most with a kitchen will provide cutlery, cooking pots, refrigerator, etc.  Some, especially in Galicia, will have a beautiful kitchen with not one pot or plate or piece of silverware. I asked about this once, and was told that pilgrims stole it all, and they refused to replace it. 

Hostels exist all along the route. A hostel might have several beds in one room for one price (€10-18) or they may offer a few private rooms for singles or dobles (€18-50). Hostels often have a common kitchen. The private rooms almost always include linens. The dorm rooms may not - just ask.  The price may or may not include breakfast next morning. 

Casa Rurals are all along the route. These are regular houses. Sometimes the host family lives in them. Sometimes not. For me, these are a treat that I really enjoy.  Prices for a room usually start around €25 for a single and go up, depending on how fancy the place is. You generally have use of the kitchen.

Apartamentos Touristicos are apartments that are rented for one or more nights. This can really be a value if you're traveling in a group. I usually can expect to pay €100 for an apartment that will sleep up to 8 people, depending on if they need twin beds or not. 

Hotels are just that - hotels. 

DOBLE vs. MATRIMONIAL.  It's important to know, if you are booking lodging ahead for two pilgrims who are not related, that a DOBLE is often what we would call a single double bed in the USA.  It is one bed meant for 2 people to sleep in.  If you need TWO beds, you must be sure to ask for "dos camas individuales." A single double bed is also referred to as a "matrimonial." A bunkbed is called a "litera."

Booking ahead.  Parochials and Municipals generally will NOT allow you to book ahead. First come, first serve is the way they operate.  However, privates, hostels, casa rurals, apartments, and hotels will all allow you to book ahead. 

PASSPORTS.  Do not worry if the hostelier asks you to surrender your passport. It is the law that they must record it and is common. They will return it either that night or in the morning. 

Ok.. if you have questions or comments, please leave them at the bottom of the blog or go to my Facebook page, Pilgrims Helping Pilgrims. Now I'll post some photos for you, so you can get an idea of what to expect.  These will be in no particular order.  I think you can click on the photos to make them larger. 
Private - Seville?

Roncesvalles - Old Albergue
Zubiri Municipal
Trinidad de Arre
Trinidad de Arre has a nice sala
Trinidad de Arre dorm
Two-bed albergue at Uterga - closed now  :(
Dinner with Priest at Parochial in Viana
Sahagun Albergue
Old Burgos Albergue
Casa Morgade Private
Not my photo - but this is what it's like!  lol!
My breakfast in bed at the Parador in Sto. Domingo del Calzada!

San Anton Dorm
Private in Espinoza
Family Style Dinner at San Anton
Logroño Municipal

Guillena Albergue - VDLP

Castilblanco - VDLP
Sleeping out - VDLP
Sometimes a wee bathtub makes a Private worth the cash!
Albergue Refugio de Jesus - Vilar de Mazariffe
Sleeping outside at Municipal in Molinaseca b/c I found bedbugs inside!
Nice kitchen at Guacelmo in Rabanal del Camino
Manjarin - one of my favorites!

Sometimes a private is just what the doctor ordered - I was sick 
Quad room at Casa Morgade
Cacabelos Municipal - 2 beds to a room - but check for bedbugs and don't be afraid to ask for a different room if you find them! 
VERY crowded Municipal at Sarria - so many other great places to stay there
Nice new kitchen in Portomarin Municipal
I believe this is El Real de la Jara Municipal - VDLP - cool little hobbit house!
Obanos - never again - this was the rudest damned guy 
Some places just leave a bad taste in your mouth, and this Usda place at Obanos was one of them. The hospitalero (Priest?) was mean as a snake. The pilgrims came into the place in FREEZING wind, and he refused to issue blankets. He told us we should have a sleeping bag. Well, we DID, but we were frozen to the bone. He finally, after about 20 people begged, gave us blankets, but begrudgingly and with nasty looks. When I tried to use the kitchen to heat water for cocoa, he followed me in and GLARED at me as though I was going to steal something. I believe this was the worst night I've ever spent on the Camino and I will never darken this door again. Perhaps he was just having an off day, but I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this place.

Here is a photo of "Mr. Friendly."
The next 3 photos are of an albergue I passed after leaving Obanos. 
I believe it is of Albergue Lur Gorri, a private albergue in Maneru. 
I will stay here sometime as it looks wonderful!

Another wonderful family style dinner at Viana Parochial
Privacy Screen at Casa de la Abuela in Los Arcos
Triple room at Convent in Sto. Domingo del Calzada
Wonderful Albergue Peregrino in Navarette
San Nicholas - I love this place!
San Nicholas - Confraternity member serving pilgrims
We had a wonderful dinner by candlelight in 2009
After dinner, entertainment - only 12 beds so you must arrive early

La Escuela Albergue - Laguna de Castilla
Below is what you can expect in a Parochial Refuge 
where you sleep on  mats on the floor. 
This would be like the one in Grañon or Viana. 
This is not my photo. I nabbed it from the internet.
 I suggest you give these places a try. 
They can be the sweetest experiences on the Camino:

Here are some photos of the range of what you can expect in a private albergue:

Pension Sarasate - Pamplona
Pension Arca Piño - Pedrouzo
San Martin Pinario - Santiago - pilgrim room
Albergue Piedra in Villafranca - private room
Casa Calleja in Castañeda
Apartamentos Touristicos Guillermo - Palas de Rei
Apartamentos Andia in Estella - Most apartment will have a washing machine
So there you go. 
Now you should have a good idea of what to expect.
Feel free to ask questions.

Buen Camino!