Lodging on the Camino

Along the Camino, Pilgrims who have a Credencial, the official Pilgrim Passport, may stay in Albergues.  Albergues fit into one of six categories:  Municipal, a basic hostel with limited facilities owned and operated by the local authority with an average cost of 6 Euros; Parish hostel, albergue parroquia, owned by the local diocese and run by the parish priest and costing about 5 Euros or a donation (donativo) and offering a regular pilgrim Mass and a communal meal; Convent or Monastery, owned by monks or sisters with an average cost of 5 Euros or donativo, with some going back to the 15th Century; Association hostels owned by the local Spanish or other national confraternities, usually well equiped and staffed by former pilgrim volunteers; Network hostels which are private and have formed themselves into a loose association providing additional facilities such as washing/drying machines, internet access and a cost of 8 to 10 Euros; Private hostels with all facilities but with no code or regulations for a cost of 8 to 12 Euros.

In general, albergues are clean, providing bunk beds and mattresses, and some with kitchen facilities for preparing communal meals.  When arriving at the day´s destination, I would often go to the market for food, and prepare a meal for up to 8 companions – each sharing the total cost.  Also, I would wash my clothes at the albergue, and hang them out to dry for the next day.  Most albergues opened at 1 or 2 o´clock in the afternoon; lights out usually at 10pm (with the doors locked), and you had to leave the next morning by 8am.

Here are some photos of albergues that I have stayed in:

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Sleeping Quarters (first photo is Juna from Korea and Chu from Taiwan, companions I traveled with):

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My bunk at one of the albergues with my green jacket hanging on the post:

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Outdoor patios where we would hang our laundry:

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Some of the albergue kitchens:

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And an albergue in Zubiria with a poster of Shirley MacLane´s memoir of her Camino walk in 1999, translated in Spanish.

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No matter the size, facilities offered, or the number of bunk beds, albergues were heaven at the end of a long day of walking.

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