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Hospitalera from Hell, another tale from a pilgrim...

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I also met with the infamous Michelle during my Camino in April. I also encountered the bed bug interrogation and Michelle culd be quite frightening. I thought if it went so far as a strip down I would be out of there. Luckily it didn't go that far.

My endearment term for her became 'The Mother Superior of the Camino'.

Yes, while it could be said she is 'controlling' she also has important experience and wisdom and it seems her care and concern is for the wellbeing of the pilgrim.

But I did have mixed feelings about my stay there. Thought is was a bit expensive even though it included dinner and breakfast. However, food very nice and accomodation good. And I appreciated the atmosphere of quiet and rest.

Yet another character of many along the way to Santiago.

rabe de la calzadas


I stayed at the other albergue when I was there, the hospitelaro (Michelle?-I met other people who had stayed there and they liked it alright, they liked the museum inside- the musica one seems like it opens later that it says, we waited a long time) had gotten annoyed at my companion. But was it really 25 euros to stay there? I think the most I ever had to pay anywhere, including dinner and breakfast was 11 or maybe 15 euros, has it gotten that much more to stay places? Might need to rethink the trip.

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I've been on the receiving end of this problem, when a group of five of us were probably dubbed as "peregrinas from hell" by the hospitalero in San Vicente de la Barquera on the Camino del Norte. We had heard good reports about this place, and indeed the hospitalero is very much "into" all things Camino. It's a nice place, has a good Camino feel, but somehow things went wrong.....

Our first mistake seemed to have been when we (politely, we thought) declined to eat lunch and dinner with the group. This is one of those albergues where people pitch in to help out and eat together, an experience we have enjoyed on other occasions. But not today -- no lunch, because we had already eaten our sandwiches/fruit/etc right before arriving in town, and no dinner because we had planned a special goodbye meal since one of our group had to return home to Switzerland on the bus the next day.

The hospitalero promptly started to grumble about how some walkers just abuse the system, don't really want to be a part of the camino, just want to use it as a place to sleep, etc. As the primary Spanish speaker in the group, I tried to change the topic, and we promptly left the building for the rest of the day, returning only after dinner that evening.

The next morning, the hospitalero started in on me again, saying I looked very sad and maybe it's because people like us are never happy no matter where we are. I tried to be polite, said that if I looked sad it must be beause one of our group had to go home. And then, out of the blue, or so it seemed to me, he told me he had always thought that we Americans were incredibly arrogant, but that it wasn't our fault, but rather due to the hegemony of the American empire, etc., etc. Now, I've been criticized as having many faults, but arrogance has never made it onto the list. I really didn't want to have a fight, so I just said that I was very sorry if our behavior had led him to label us as arrogant. He seemed maybe a bit disappointed that he couldn't get me to react (or maybe I'm just imagining that because I was feelilng so unjustly accused!). I was tempted to respond but finally thought it just wouldn't accomplish anything. But I left very confused and not sure exactly how we had gotten to this.

So my point here is only to say that those people who dedicate their lives, or at least a large part of their lives, to providing for pilgrims, like all of us have their own personality quirks. And who knows what it is that sets some of them off. I'm not trying to say that the criticism of Michelle (whom I've never met) is unwarranted or warranted. Just that personalities have a way of combining/conflicting in strange ways and that is probably what accounts for the variety of opinons expressed here about Michelle and her albergue. I'll bet a lot of people have a very good opinion of my friend in San Vicente de la Barquera, and maybe the next time I walk I'll try it again, but it certainly was an unpleasant experience in an otherwise beautiful little place.

The term 'hospitalera from hell' didn't come from me. It was already used in a previous thread before I started this one.

We do not mean to judge this lady, esp. those of us who do not have first had experience of the place, but let this forum serve as a venue for sharing information that may be useful for future (and repeat) pilgrims.


(Javier, I'm sending you a PM.)
Rabe albergue

I stayed in this albergue 3 weeks ago. It was extremely nice. For sure, the hospitalera was particular about bed bugs, and indeed turned away a couple of people who had previously stayed in an albergue where she suggested there was a problem. Nevertheless, I found her quite welcoming and the albergue itself was really nice. The charge was 20 euros for bed and dinner which, given the excellent dinner, was pretty good value comparing the home cooking with some of the 8 or 9 euro pilgrim menus I´ve experienced. Furthermore, it was the only place I found in all the places along the route where we had prayer to St James before dinner, which was a nice touch. So, just another experience to add to the perspective.

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