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Favourite? And not so favourite?

Discussion in 'Albergues - Hostels' started by clearer_skies, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. clearer_skies

    clearer_skies Member

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    Hi guys
    I just thought I'd share with you my favourite albergue from my time in May..and also my not so favourite.
    Favourite would be Albergue Santa Marina in Molinaseca. Spacious rooms, great meal and outside patio too.
    Least favourite would be Albergue San Javier in Astorga. I got 0 hours sleep with the sound of creeking floorboards. Although it is right beside the cathedral so that is a good thing..

    D.
     
  2. grayland

    grayland Member

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    There are lots of negative posts about the San Javier albergue including bed bug problems that seem to crop up very frequently there every year. Astorga is one of my favorite stops...but not the albergue. I usually stay at a hotel on the main square by the town hall with the great animated clock.
     
  3. clearer_skies

    clearer_skies Member

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    I plan to the do the same when I return. Astorga is a fab town with many places to see and that albergue kind of ruined it for me. I've heard good things though about the albergue at the hot of the hilltop as you enter Astorga.
     
  4. grayland

    grayland Member

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    I think the one right at the top of the hill is Siervas de Maria that is run by the local Pilgrim Association. It is kind of new (2008-2009?).
    Always a lot of pilgrims laying about outside when I have struggled up the hill.:)
    I stay at the Astvr Plaza Hotel on the Plaza Mejor. Expensive (3 star)in comparison with others and albergues, but often not too bad. If you can get a room (ask) on the plaza side you will have small balcony overlooking the plaza and can watch Pilgrims coming and going. Often, I spot people I know and have been able to shout down and then go and have a coffee and get back together.
    Lots of nice cafes around the plaza with outdoor seating. Nice place to hang out.
    Everything in Astorga is close and easy walking distance. Nice size town with everything available.
     
  5. BoxOfFrogs

    BoxOfFrogs Member

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    I am laid on the top bunk in a 4 person room in siervias de Maria as I type this. Decent wifi, large kitchen right next to a lovely little park with great views of the mountains. For 5 euros its a steal. There was no evidence of bugs in our room but the wooden slats had been dusted with an anti bug powder. I'm happy to think its preventative rather than curative! Shame I was in Astorga on a Sunday as everything was closed. We did however manage to get a great meal at casa maragata. It was delicious, a four course treat!
     
  6. sean

    sean Active Member

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    Hi BoxOfFrogs,
    I agree with you on the Maragata. I was introduced to it by my two Spanish walking partners last year at the end of the Via de la Plata route I walked to Astorga. It was an afternoon of royal feasting, even though I did have second looks at some of the pieces of meat being served up. Lots of ears and foot stuff. Other than that, I do not have happy memories of Astorga. I was holed up there for a few days in April 2009, as I had serious tendonitis problems. I stayed in the large Refugio as you enter the town and it broke my heart to see my friends leave each morning, as I lay in bed unable to put my feet on the ground. Their choice of daytime listening also took a bit of getting used to. Monks chanting their greatest hits all day long.
    You seem to be enjoying your Camino and I look forward to reading of your adventures upon your return.

    Kind regards,
    Sean
    Dublin
     
  7. Say Simba

    Say Simba New Member

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    The only albergue I did not care for was The Cluny, the municipal albergue in Sahagun. You stayed in the rafters of an old church that looked like was ready to implode from shoddy workmanship and age. It also ran shows in the downstairs theater that played until late at night. Other than that I enjoyed most of the albegues I stayed in. I think the San Antonio de Pedua in Villar de Mazariffe was my favorite, not the least of which because the staff was so nice, the grounds so well taken care of, and the countryside beautiful. It came at just the right time, as well.
     
  8. clearer_skies

    clearer_skies Member

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    I just want to add to this old thread rather than create a new one.
    During my recent 2 weeks on the Camino I stayed in many good and not so good albergues.
    My favourites would be the large new monastery in Roncesvalles, Albergue Zaldiko in Zubiri, Albergue Casa Mariela in Torres del Rio and Cuatro Cantones in Belorado.
    The owner seemed to remember me from my stay there in May 2013...I'm not sure I believe her though ha!

    I didn't warm to the albergue at the far end of Puente la Reina however. It is like a large camp..but it does have a swimming pool, which is a good thing :)
     
  9. Bertie01

    Bertie01 New Member

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    Greetings, all! Finished my first camino October 31--still processing the experience. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I actually walked nearly 500 miles. One thing I am sure of is there were four Albergues I resolved to stay as I planned my camino: Granon, Tosantos, La Piedra in Villafranca and Guacelmo in Rabanal. All four of these were outstanding for their hospitality, their openness and welcoming attitude. I heartily recommend each one of those. Not the biggest, not the newest, but the most genuine, the most welcoming. I had no bedbugs at any point of the camino, but the place in Ledigos was disappointing in that it was run down and depressing. I didn't feel welcome. The place seemed tired. All the others were fine-- life in an albergue is pretty standard, and they are simply provide a bed, toilet and shower. But hospitality is also a verb. It is something you do. Also, I found the "Route and Boot" (I think it was called) in Santiago itself to be delightful.
     
  10. Followtheyellowarrows

    Followtheyellowarrows New Member

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    I walked the camino this year from the end of August to the end of September with 5 others and these were some of our favourite albergues:
    - Hogar Monjardin in Villamayor de Monjardin - beautiful spot up on a hill, spent the afternoon playing guitar with a group of pilgrims on the front patio overlooking the gorgeous landscape and had an excellent shared meal prepared by the hospitaleras
    - San Saturnino in Ventosa - my personal favourite - lots of common space - a kitchen, large dining room with board games and a beautiful back garden. The nicest bathrooms I encountered in an albergue and very friendly hospitaleros
    - En el Camino in Boadilla del Camino - gorgeous courtyard with a pool, enthusiastic hospitaleros and a great shared meal. Did find a dead bed bug on one of our beds though.
    - Albergue La Encina in Hospital de Orbigo - in general an above average albergue but made the favourites list because of the owner. We arrived there on a hot hot day after walking further than usual for us and the man could tell we were exhausted waiting to sign in. He brought us all a piece of fresh tortilla for no cost. Later in the evening we were eating supper in the albergue restaurant and just when we were about to get up after finishing he motioned for us to stay and he came back with shot glasses for all 8 of us who were there and poured us some homemade alcohol, again for no cost. You could tell he really enjoyed serving others and spreading happiness!
    - Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal - another place with a beautiful outdoor area and a guitar. The hospitaleras were the most caring ladies and assisted in fixing the bed bug issues of one of my travel mates. We also had a shared afternoon tea time with all the pilgrims staying there and cooked a nice meal in the kitchen with the addition of fresh herbs from their garden
    - Albergue Leo in Villafranca del Bierzo - just opened in August 2014, very nice facilities run by a friendly and caring family. Especially memorable because of the circumstances. While there one of my travel companions got the flu. They allowed her and one other pilgrim to stay there all day and an extra night in a 6 person room with adjoining bathroom for no additional charge and did all they could with providing tea or anything else she needed. The pilgrim who stayed with the one who was ill was invited to eat dinner with the family and they helped to make arrangements for a taxi and bus for them to go ahead to Sarria to recuperate.

    I think everyone who has walked the camino comes to realize that their favourite albergues are usually the ones where they had positive interactions with other pilgrims or hospitaleros. Good facilities are nice, but it's the other stuff that you will remember!
     
  11. highlander

    highlander Donating Member Donating Member

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    Too many great-good-acceptable albergues to mention..The one that stands out as not acceptable especially in winter is the municipal in Larrasoana.....searching back this had positive reviews and sadly has been on the decline for some time.

    when I did a camino Fancas early Februry 2013(did several that year) (snow was around,quite considerable amount) staying in the smaller section of the albergue in Roncesvalles(main part shut)with three others who asked to walk with me.....so I mention the considerable feedback on the muni in Larrasoana...and the German man said "that's just your own view"(which it was not) after ten minutes he came back with his guide book and said. it reads in his German guide book to avoid the place and he was surprised to see that....so they asked me where shall we stay the next evening (snow around travel was slower)...so I said just to show I am not bias lets find out for ourselves, and we stayed there.....I slept on the table again (twice now in that place).the USA guy slept toe to tail with the girl from Norway. the German man could not sleep so I made him tea and we chatted in the other room,about checking first each albergue and making allowances that some albergues can improve fast ......bedbug free one day infected the next. and owners change.

    of course when the big albergue is open in Roncesvalles your treated to the modern look and lovely hot showers. nice and clean and a promise of things to come hitting Larrasoana is the complete opposite...overall you can stay in a varied mix of places which to suit all.in winter months....Larrasoana had no redeeming features.....shower area inadequate...passable on a hot summers day..considering its the only place open there in winter, the restaurant in this tiny hamlet had a overworked lady who opened so we could all have a hot meal together.
    I played manservant and helped out where I could,she said to me I could sleep in a room above if I wanted where she lived,and stay some days to help out.I decided not too when she kept winking at me....her food was good and there was a modest section to buy some trail food...I would go back to Larrasoana if it improved...
     
  12. Devon Mike

    Devon Mike Well-Known Member

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    I agree Larrasoana is pretty basic but for one night it was acceptable. The nearby café bar was a good place to meet with other peregrinos and the dinner was good value.

    We all have our ideas about what is a good Albergue, but for me so long as I can get a bed and a shower nothing else matters.
     
  13. travellin' light

    travellin' light Member

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    After being drenched two days in a row we arrived in Larrasoana and booked into Pension Tau run by a lovely Basque lady. It was like home from home and the hospitality was outstanding. We asked if there was a laundry facility and she said to just give her our bag of washing. We handed over the stinking laundry and within two hours everything came back folded and "smelling of roses".
    We wandered down to the local restaurant bar to meet up with other peregrinos but decided to have our evening meal back at Pension Tau. - Wonderful home cooking shared with a couple from Reunion Island. OK it is not an albergue, as such, but it was a welcome break until we trudged again in the rain the next day.
    Can't wait to be on the Camino once more !
     
  14. dalebob

    dalebob Member

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    Hi
    I walked in 2013 so things can and will change however my favourite stay was as others have commented was at Gaucelmo Albergue at Rabanal del Camino it was well run and organised by excellent volunteers who treated us as well and gave of themselves. The feeling there that afternoon and night felt safe warm and well laid back, if ever Albergue staff needed role models this was what the standard should be. IMHO!
    My lease comfortable experience was my treat because the snoring and need for some privacy led me to seek a single room at Monasterio de Santa Cruz in Sahagun this was very well kept and a devout place but it was so cold even in May. As I booked in several Pilgrims asked for their fees to be returned! As they left they told me "do not stay here it's not good a good place" I just thought well young folks perhaps don't like the Religious feel? All I wanted was my own bed forget about the "vibes man!!" I slept poorly and the staff were ok except one member of staff was very irate and angry about most things with everyone. I also didn't enjoy my stay at the Muni Albergue at O'Cebereiro with 50 other Pilgrims in an open dorm, cold when we got there with no hot water, then by lights out most of the occupants who had not attempted to wash or even try to clean up added to the ever increasing dorm heat and smell of body odour, flatulence and mega snoring (really bad night for me) as you might imagine. But I got over it and lived to tell the tale but I always sought out small dorms after this.
     
  15. highlander

    highlander Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi dalebob

    I have stayed at that ALBERGUE you mention in the first part of your post, really nice..I camp further down as you come in to the village now

    Totally agree with you about the big albegues in one open space such as O'Cebereiro. when people make no effort to shower, flatulence and other sounds. akin to being in a ZOO......I once brought soap to hand out, and was told it was a offensive gesture, so is B,O drifting up from below and smelly feet.............something to be said about wild camping...I wash every thing when I camp so why do these people not wash.so uncomfortable being in a albergue with soap dodgers,


    or I share a twin room with a women...
     
  16. dalebob

    dalebob Member

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    Hey Highlander I like that "Soap Dodgers" ! We have all come across them without being personal about it, although some folk need a nudge with the personal hygiene at times. I agree just because your walking the Camino you don't have to join the great unwashed and "don't sit with them they honk crew"?
    Just a tip for you all on the Way this year if you want to be human and have friends along the Way, soap and water helps!! Or you could just become a "SD?"
     
  17. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Not to be too contrarian with regards to the Albergue Siervos de Maria in Astorga, my wife and I had a miserable hike that day, wandering off the camino trail by at least 3 km, then walked most of the day in pouring rain, including a portion of the so-called scenic route which was walking between streams of water and ankle deep mud. When we finally arrived in Astorga, we were welcomed at Alb Siervos de Maria. The hospitalera must have read our misery and placed us in a room with one bunk bed. We woke the next morning refreshed and ready to renew our camino.

    We have several albergues that were terrific. One that stands out is Cuatro Cantones in Belorado. During a long hike that day, I noticed a van approaching pilgrims along the senda. As he approached us, he rolled down his window and passed each of us a bottle of very cold water. A sign on his car noted Cuatro Cantones. When we arrived in Belorado, we walked past 3 or 4 albergues and stayed at Cuatro Cantones. Very nice family run place with a restaurant upstairs. We had a wonderful dinner, then a nice breakfast the next morning. We were pleasantly surprised about the large Albergue (casa de los cubos) in Burgos. Terrific location, very innovative layout of the sleeping areas, nice showers and baths.

    With regards to least liked, it is a tossup. After another very long day, entering Najera our first choice albergue was "completo". It was late afternoon, so we decided to stay at the albergue municipal. There is a single room with 46 bunks, or 92 beds. There were very few beds empty by bedtime. There were separate bathrooms for men and women. The men's bath had two showers, one of which was not working. The bunk room was very hot and stuffy and so many snorers, we got very little sleep. The other "least liked" was the albergue monesterio san juan in san juan de Ortega. The town's population is 20, so not any other options. The hospitalero was in a foul mood when we checked in, since we did not commit to having dinner there (poor menu). The rooms were dark and dreary and the bathrooms are in a critical need of updating.
     
  18. sean

    sean Active Member

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    Good evening Bob,
    I agree with you about Najera. I stayed there on my first Camino whilst suffering badly with tendinitis. The guy running the place was half priest/half monk and ended up accusing me (in front of all comers) of not paying my bill in the restaurant. He took me outside and continues in the same line of conversation, threatening to throw me out of the albergue. I was unable to walk back to the restaurant with my foot problems but told him I would wait in town until the restaurant opened for lunch the following day so he could accompany me and I would confirm that he was dealing with the wrong evader. He persisted in his argument for almost half an hour before allowing me inside, again under the eyes of the other Pilgrims. If I had the strength in my legs, that ****** would be the first Spaniard in space.
    Next morning, he came on all apologetic saying he had got the wrong information from the restaurant and the Irishman had left the biggest tip. The waitress remembered me.
    That albergue, of all I have ever stayed in on 11 Camino walks has left the bitterest taste.
    Sean,
    Dublin
     
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  19. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Sean, another negative memory of Najera. Cindi and I walked from the albergue to a nearby café/bar to grab breakfast before we began our morning hike. It was raining. We found a café open around 7 am and we were the first to arrive. I knew that most cafes don't allow pilgrims o bring their mochilas inside. So we placed our backpacks outside on chairs which obviously were not being used. Right after getting a very average breakfast, the waiter insisted that we remove our backpacks from the outside chairs and set them on the floor of the café. Then he charged us 9 euros for two cafés con leche, orange juice and stale croissants. I was so pissed (American pissed, not UK) I repeated this story to my wife for days. Next time we walk the camino frances, we will be sure to not stay in Najera!
     
  20. sean

    sean Active Member

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    Hi Bob,
    I am not UK. I am from Ireland.
    Have come upon some similar places when walking Camino routes. Near Guames, on the Northern Route, there is a bar/restaurant where I remember stopping in pissing rain. The owner would not allow me inside as he was afraid of whatever we carry. He served me my food and drink out through a type of horsebox window. I waited until he had placed everything on the windowsill, then something in me said. 'I am not a horse' I may be a mule when I walk, but I hate to be treated like this.
    I walked away.
    Sean,
    Dublin
     
  21. storme

    storme Guest

    Thank you all for your input...will be looking at each before making my first camino next year.
     

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