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Beds in First Stage Albergues - Current Situation, late May 2024

Rold Gold

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2024
Hi Forum!
Just to reassure those starting now and the next week, but I was in Roncesvalles last night and, though full and busy, I talked to the hospitalero who told me, there were still 27 empty beds, so everyone walking or starting from there got one with more to spare. It was a Monday, so I’m sure that made a difference. It’s crowdedish on the trail but not overwhelming, and we’re all getting beds in the towns in all the albergues (municipal and private) before Pamplona, too.
I booked Roncesvalles but am not going to going forward if crowds stay at this level.
Good luck and buen camino!
 
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Hello and thank you
3 days ago 2 of my friends had to hoof it up from SJ all the way to Espinal (via Napoleon Route) as absolutely every single bed in-between was taken.
I don't mean to sound flippy and I guess we all appreciate the good intentions but ... there cannot be any 'reassurances'. The Camino, as we all know it. has a life and rhythm of its own and while one can show up at any given albergue and have 27 empty beds "at that particular moment" - while they went to take a shower those beds were snapped up and now everyone coming up is being turned away (and no knowledge of it while in the shower)

I don't want to start another panic attack by stating that, but again IMHO it almost matters not what someone else saw, did, said, etc. in this particular topic. You going to walk up to albergue and at that moment they either will have a bed or they wont. If you feel 'unsafe and unsure' to wing it - then book ahead. be prepared to use other resources than just relying on Booking-dot-com and be prepared to perhaps throwm money on it by possibly staying in private albergues, AirB&Bs, regular B&Bs, hotels, motels and anything and everything in between.

it would be extremely nice if we never had to worry about the beds but sadly it is one of aspects of Camino.
Just be prepared!

Sorry if i rained on anyone's parade. ☮️
 
Hi Forum!
Just to reassure those starting now and the next week, but I was in Roncesvalles last night and, though full and busy, I talked to the hospitalero who told me, there were still 27 empty beds, so everyone walking or starting from there got one with more to spare. It was a Monday, so I’m sure that made a difference. It’s crowdedish on the trail but not overwhelming, and we’re all getting beds in the towns in all the albergues (municipal and private) before Pamplona, too.
I booked Roncesvalles but am not going to going forward if crowds stay at this level.
Good luck and buen camino!
Glad to hear that you had no difficulty getting a bed in Roncesvalles. Hopefully, that will continue for you. A lot has been written this spring regarding the large number of pilgrims particularly in the first stages of the CF and some difficulty finding accommodations.

The advice that I follow and offer others is to try to arrive in the early afternoon to your destination during busy times if you don’t have a bed reserved. The day I left SJPP in late April that year, some 300 other pilgrims were doing the same thing. I arrived in Roncesvalles by 1 pm and there were still plenty of beds available to those having just crossed the Pyrenees. However, that situation changed later in the day. In general, but not always, arriving early in the afternoon gave me a very good chance of getting a bed at almost any albergue in town. If I knew I was going to have a late arrival, say 4ish in the afternoon, I’d call ahead to reserve a bed.

As I know we all walk differently and want to walk our own Caminos, an early arrival or a reservation can help reduce the stress of the bed rush during particularly busy times, Buen Camino!
 
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Hello again!
Yes, perhaps reassure was premature and the wrong word to use. I don’t have much experience and will defer to those with more. Mostly, I just wanted to relay my own experience finding a bed which has been without drama. I hope those of you coming after me have the same experience. And hope I continue to find beds easily going forward, too.
Buen Camino!
 
I talked to the hospitalero who told me, there were still 27 empty beds, so everyone walking or starting from there got one with more to spare. It was a Monday, so I’m sure that made a difference
Thank you for your feedback. All too often, we hear mainly when there are no beds left in Roncesvalles but it is not the norm. Buen Camino!

3 days ago 2 of my friends had to hoof it up from SJ all the way to Espinal (via Napoleon Route) as absolutely every single bed in-between was taken.
Sure. 3 days ago was the Friday or Saturday of the long Whitsun weekend - a very popular weekend to start a Camino for many Camino pilgrims from those countries where Whitsun Monday is a public holiday. Every year again. And again. ☺️
 
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Beds are like the weather. Except even more so. You can't predict what the weather was like today because it was hot or cold or rainy or sunny today and you are walking in that same area in 3 days. Because there are 50 beds available one day it doesn't mean there will be 50 available beds the next day. Just follow advice which seems to be that there is a logjam to Pamplona and then it opens up, or just wing it. Or you could walk another camino. I bet the Vasco and the Mozarabe have beds! ;) ;) :)
 
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Hi Forum!
Just to reassure those starting now and the next week, but I was in Roncesvalles last night and, though full and busy, I talked to the hospitalero who told me, there were still 27 empty beds, so everyone walking or starting from there got one with more to spare. It was a Monday, so I’m sure that made a difference. It’s crowdedish on the trail but not overwhelming, and we’re all getting beds in the towns in all the albergues (municipal and private) before Pamplona, too.
I booked Roncesvalles but am not going to going forward if crowds stay at this level.
Good luck and buen camino!
Thanks! Be there in 5 days!
 
Hello and thank you
3 days ago 2 of my friends had to hoof it up from SJ all the way to Espinal (via Napoleon Route) as absolutely every single bed in-between was taken.
I don't mean to sound flippy and I guess we all appreciate the good intentions but ... there cannot be any 'reassurances'. The Camino, as we all know it. has a life and rhythm of its own and while one can show up at any given albergue and have 27 empty beds "at that particular moment" - while they went to take a shower those beds were snapped up and now everyone coming up is being turned away (and no knowledge of it while in the shower)

I don't want to start another panic attack by stating that, but again IMHO it almost matters not what someone else saw, did, said, etc. in this particular topic. You going to walk up to albergue and at that moment they either will have a bed or they wont. If you feel 'unsafe and unsure' to wing it - then book ahead. be prepared to use other resources than just relying on Booking-dot-com and be prepared to perhaps throwm money on it by possibly staying in private albergues, AirB&Bs, regular B&Bs, hotels, motels and anything and everything in between.

it would be extremely nice if we never had to worry about the beds but sadly it is one of aspects of Camino.
Just be prepared!

Sorry if i rained on anyone's parade. ☮️
I agree. It varies day to day. I did the Frances late May of last year, and despite having a reservation, the Roncesvalle albergue was so overwhelmed that we had to wait 1 hour, 45 min in a queue, to sign in. That night, according to the albergue, all hotel beds were also full. and all beds between there and Pamplona had filled.
 
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Hi Forum!
Just to reassure those starting now and the next week, but I was in Roncesvalles last night and, though full and busy, I talked to the hospitalero who told me, there were still 27 empty beds, so everyone walking or starting from there got one with more to spare. It was a Monday, so I’m sure that made a difference. It’s crowdedish on the trail but not overwhelming, and we’re all getting beds in the towns in all the albergues (municipal and private) before Pamplona, too.
I booked Roncesvalles but am not going to going forward if crowds stay at this level.
Good luck and buen camino!
Sorry people. I can’t understand this obsession about beds. This has been a pilgrimage now for around 1,200 years and I’m sure that even with very heavy traffic even in the early times there wasn’t an issue. I understand that early pilgrims may even have slept and cooked in the Cathedral. As one who has slept out often even in mid-winter snow conditions what’s the issue? It’s now getting on for summer, so if you’re worried just pack a sleeping mat, a bivvy bag, and perhaps a lightweight tent fly. And don’t start me off about lightweight packs.

De Colores

Bogong
 
Beds are like the weather. Except even more so. You can't predict what the weather was like today because it was hot or cold or rainy or sunny today and you are walking in that same area in 3 days. Because there are 50 beds available one day it doesn't mean there will be 50 available beds the next day. Just follow advice which seems to be that there is a logjam to Pamplona and then it opens up, or just wing it. Or you could walk another camino. I bet the Vasco and the Mozarabe have beds! ;) ;) :)
Don't you just hate a wet bed! Warm or cold! 🤭
 
Thank you @Rold Gold for bringing the current (and most common) situation back to the attention of pilgrims.

Your posts are a pleasant antidote to the bursts of doom and gloom that we get reported by some others during these brief busy periods.

It is worth noting that there is still no evidence that there are more pilgrims than usual on the St. Jean segment of the Camino Frances. The factor that seems to be varying is when the large waves of pilgrims occur.

The same excellent methods for finding a bed during one of these brief busy periods still apply now as they applied five to seven years ago.
 
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I enjoy a good joke 😂

One of the things that most people should have realised by now is that it is possible to say anything on the Internet.

Show us the proof
I don’t have to prove anything to you. The proof to me was finding lots of crying people trying to check in at Roncesvalles and offering two girls a bed in my apartment at Beneficiados. And seeing it again in Zubiri. And again as far up as Portomarin.

People who want to take a chance will reap the consequences.

What I do know is there was a lot of cussing about people saying “Really, just go! You’ll find a bed! The Camino will provide”.

Um. No.

We walked through rain, sleet, snow, and winds that would knock you off your feet. When you arrive wet and frozen to the bone to find there’s no bed, you question the responsibility of telling people not to book.
 
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I can’t understand this obsession about beds.
I don't detect an obsession about beds. Just a desire to inform other pilgrims, especially first-time new pilgrims on their first ever Camino, about the current (end of May) situation on a Monday between SJPP and Pamplona and in Pamplona itself on a Wednesday in late May 2024.
This has been a pilgrimage now for around 1,200 years and I’m sure that even with very heavy traffic even in the early times there wasn’t an issue. I understand that early pilgrims may even have slept and cooked in the Cathedral.
Oh dear, yet another comparison with an imagined situation in the Middle Ages. I am trying to rein myself in and won't comment in this for now. 😇
 
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As one who has slept out often even in mid-winter snow conditions what’s the issue? It’s now getting on for summer, so if you’re worried just pack a sleeping mat, a bivvy bag, and perhaps a lightweight tent fly.
I always like to know a bit about the hiking and long-distance walking background of a forum member before I reply on this topic. So I read just now that you did the Camino Francés in your 70th year in late winter from St J p de P. The weather was vile most of the way and it took you 26 days and you then toddled off to Muxia. And you had knocked your body around quite a lot in the years before then. Respect.

I imagine that there is a reason why you don't get that there is an issue. A large part of the Camino Frances population starts in SJPP for the first time in their lives. And more and more pilgrims are in the 60+ age group when they start such an endeavour for the first time. About 50% of them are female pilgrims which is already a factor concerning how many of them are feeling about sleeping on their own and by themselves on the ground outdoors or on a porch in a town say in Pamplona. Of course I am just extrapolating from my own feelings where it does not help when someone tells me not to worry. I would worry, I would sleep badly if at all and, at my age, I know that a good night's sleep is a lot more essential for my wellbeing and for being able to walk safely the next day, without falling over for sheer tiredness and due to a poorer sense of balance, than it used to be when I was twenty years younger.

A large part of these first-timers did not go backpacking in the wide outdoors from age 7 or so. They may never have been on a multi-day hiking trip before in their lives. Nobody had told them to just pack a bivvy bag; in fact they are usually advised that they don't even need a sleeping bag for the Camino Francés and that they must not pack their fears, just put one step in front of the other and accommodation will be provided for them everywhere anytime. Then they arrive in Roncesvalles, too tired to put one foot in front of their other foot for another few kilometres or for some 20+ km and there are no beds left for them.

And even if, on very busy days, all 400+ or 300+ pilgrims would set out early from SJPP and they all would arrive by 1 pm in Roncesvalles, there would still not be enough beds left for all of them. Because the Roncesvalles volunteer hospitaleros cannot magic more beds out of thin air than they have (total number is less than 250). That's why some of us forum members, including those currently walking, try to provide up to date and helpful advice of the sort that the OP posted in the first comment of this thread (title: "Beds in First Stage Albergues - Current Situation"). Especially in May and September ... ☺️
 
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Sorry people. I can’t understand this obsession about beds. This has been a pilgrimage now for around 1,200 years and I’m sure that even with very heavy traffic even in the early times there wasn’t an issue. I understand that early pilgrims may even have slept and cooked in the Cathedral. As one who has slept out often even in mid-winter snow conditions what’s the issue? It’s now getting on for summer, so if you’re worried just pack a sleeping mat, a bivvy bag, and perhaps a lightweight tent fly. And don’t start me off about lightweight packs.

De Colores

Bogong
I was thinking that too, reading these posts. Bringing an insulation pad to sleep on and maybe a tarp/poncho to cover in case of rain, (tho I bet there are awnings to sleep under most places) seems like a good idea. Wild camping is not the end of the world. And if you ask around to the locals, I bet they'll let you camp somewhere. Just wanted to mention here that walking the Camino ALONE, one is MUCH more likely to find a single bed available, compared to two or more.
 
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I fail to understand why people are NOT booking those first few nights. They KNOW they will be stopping there. Why leave it to chance? Book the best place you know that suits your style. When I arrive at a town, I want the albergue making a communal meal rather than the municipal. I want the place with curtains on the bed and linens, or maybe single beds rather than bunk beds. Maybe it is my age, but pretty sure I do not (cannot) want to walk another 5km. to find a place to sleep. Sorry, if being comfortable is seen as a bad thing. At 68, it is called knowing what is best for me.
If you know you are going to start in SJPDP, why would you not book there? I simply cannot believe people arrive there with no reservation. Why? What is the reason?
You know you will be stopping at Roncesvalles, then Zubiri, then Pamplona, so book your beds. If you know those places are too far from each other, book in towns that are only 15km from each other instead.
This was never a tough decision for me. Keep your freedom to walk and find a bed for later on if you like, but to not do it the first few days seems rather silly and I guess I don't get it.
 
Ha ha I believe in the system ... which is simple ... you do not book and have no problems to find a bed or may have to walk further or take a taxi ... or getting up at 4.45 am race ahead to get a bed at a donativo ... or you book ahead all fine get sick or a dreaded blister than you have to cancel and re-shuffle ... or everything goes according to plan ... in any way its all part of this amazing experience ... and never forget that we are all privileged to walk this path coming from near and afar. (Ps my booking system collapsed due to blister ... lol nothing is ever fool-proof) Buen Camino
 

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