We got up at 06.00 and helped with preparing the breakfast. Some of the gang wanted to book another private albergue for tonight in the next town, Najera, which is 17km away but we declined as we wanted to walk a bit further, and we wanted the freedom to stop where we wanted.
We stopped in Najera for lunch and decided to keep going as it was so wet and the place was not very appealing . The girl in the cafe rang ahead for me to the albergue in Ciruena, which we had seen advertised all over the place, and booked two lower bunks for us. Man did this decision come back to bite us in the butt. We arrived at the albergue Virgin de Guadalupe at 16.00 after walking 33km in very wet and muddy conditions.
The very minute I met the owner of the albergue the hair prickled up on the back of my neck and I knew we had made a big mistake, but we were too exhausted to carry on. He started by giving us a tour of the albergue.
He pointed out the shower room and toilet down stairs and said “showa, pee pee poo poo” then the so called drying room which was a damp garage with a few over crowded lines strung across it.
Then upstairs and showed us the kitchen to which he added “no use” then down the corridor and pointed out a toilet and said “no showa, pee pee poo poo only”. While this was going on we could hear tittering and giggling in the rooms around us. He then showed us our beds which were top bunks, and when I said we had booked lower ones he just shrugged and left.
The place was really cold and smelled of damp. We shared a room with three Finnish ladies, two of them had to share one of the lower bunks, they were very nice ladies. They told us that they had been listening to the Pee Pee Poo Poo tour all afternoon and found it very funny. As we were sorting out somewhat dry clothes to change into we heard him give the Pee Pee Poo Poo tour to someone else and it was indeed funny, the people in the room across the hall even gave a muted round of applause.
Only one of the showers worked as it turned out and the water was just about warm. No point in washing clothes as they would not dry so we just hung them anywhere we could in the room. One of the Finnish ladies told me that when they did their national service they would take their damp clothes to bed with them and they would be nearly dry by morning and also warm to put on. Well someone must have been doing this for a long time at this albergue because when we got into bed later, the beds, pillows, sheets and blankets were really damp. If we escape without getting pneumonia it will be a miracle.
I also noticed that the shower rooms and toilets were heavily stocked with ladies pantie liners and tampons, there were boxes and boxes of them everywhere. He must have been expecting an onslaught of menstruating female pilgrims. Weird.
Dinner was served at 19.00 and consisted of a bowl of vegetable soup/stew with a few pieces of chorito thrown in, but not enough for the stew to loose its vegetarian status. I took this to be the starter, but it was the main and only course, this was followed by an apple or a yoghurt for desert. This “meal” cost €7.00.
The owner, who pretended he had no English when we met him, sat at table with us while we ate and stared intently at everyone who spoke. Turns out he had plenty English and told us that he lives in San Sebastian in a house by the sea and opens his albergue for six months in the summer for the pilgrims, also that he walked the Camino three times in one year. He obviously learned nothing from that experience except how to fleece other pilgrims.
A few times when we spoke amongst ourselves and had a laugh he held up both hands facing each other and using the sign for someone chattering would say “blagh blagh blagh blagh”, well that finished all conversation at the table. We knew we were in the presence of madness.
I tried the trick of bringing my clothes to bed and it did work, in the morning my clothes were dryer but more importantly warm to put on. Breakfast consisted of burnt toast made from very stale bread with jam, and coffee from a large Thermos which he had brought with him. He didn’t even use the cooker to make the coffee, no wonder he can afford his house by the sea.
The charges for this albergue are €10.00 to stay, €7.00 for “dinner”, and €3.00 for breakfast, but I learned later that if you opted not to have dinner or breakfast he still charged €20.00. He was the only game in town so he could. He also had a hand painted sign out side proclaiming the albergue to be a three star.
Despair all ye who enter here.