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Hospitaleros with unprofessional attitudes.

2020 Camino Guides
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Portugues 2019
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?

I'm currently walking my Camino, starting April 8 in St Jean PdP. I'm now about 2 days from Santiago in Portela. So I've been walking awhile and been to a wide range of facilities. Many very good for what it is and the price I'm paying. A few exceptional places too. And unfortunately a few bad ones. As I look back I think what makes the biggest difference are the hospitalero's.

After a long day of walking I'm tired, I want a nice hot (or I'll settle for warm :) )shower, and a clean place to sleep. I want a place where I can be rejuvenated, refreshed and maybe a little reinspired to continue my journey.

Someone who stands out as a hospitalero who truly loves his job AND understands the meaning of hospitality is Ramon at San Javier in Astorga. He was just amazing. Very welcoming, took care of things, and just let me relax. Now there are many other great hospitalero's like Ramon, but I wish there were a few more Ramon's.

A few weeks ago I was in Santo Domingo. It was a very long, very hard day for me. My feet where in soon much pain. I was very much rethinking the Camino and seriously considering quitting. I ended I'll going to the albergue Casa del Santo. Well right off the bat when I walk in the young man working the front counter was just a jerk. I really felt like I was intruding on his time and was a huge burden to him. Not welcoming at all. At that very moment if I wasn't so tired, I would have found a taxi and gone home. For whatever crazy reason they don't turn the heat on. It was absolutely freezing on the shower room. Not long after I did some laundry. The washers are in a different building which was colder then the albergue, so I went back to the albergue lobby to read my guide book. Well I guess the young guy at the desk didn't like that so he turns off the lights above the sofas. Hmmm?? Why? I asked about the heat and he just blew me off.

So in the past 5 weeks or so I've had a few other less the hospitable hospitalero's. Today I encountered another one. This time I asked for my money back and left.

So to bring my long post to a close, I why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims. Now I'm not looking for 5star treatment, but I do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?

Thanks for your time and thoughts.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Sounds like you've had a really bad day and I hope you feel better now that you've got all that off your chest. Still, I can't help but think that your expectations of hospitaleros, and albergues too, are a bit on the high side. Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed. :)
 

Arn

Veteran Member
The DR is IN: Poor customer service, I have found, is directly proportional to the situation in question. When an individual's belief is they are the only game in town and their job is not dependent on satisfying your expectations...poor service can happen. In a for-profit situation, the owner's tolerance of such behavior will affect the bottom line. As you leave the premises the offending individual may be leaving right behind you. You opined that "I (you) do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?" I would offer that this comment is more situational dependent than universally true.
There are many factors to be taken into consideration that can lead to a less than cordial exchange between individuals: time of day, outside/inside temperature, mom packed another Spam sandwich, your expectations and their willingness or authority to satisfy them. You also mentioned: that you had more positive experiences than bad ones with the deciding factor being the Hospitalero. May I suggest you cherish the buoyancy your spirit is receiving from the Camino. Holding on to the negative will only drag you down.

Arn
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Some of my random and very personal thoughts...

"A tourist demands , a pilgrim asks".

Even in more upmarket spanish hostals I noticed the absence of a heating system. I just wore my fleece and jacket and survived fine.

Hospitaleros are just human beings and like all human beings they can become cranky or have an off day.

I can relate to the fact that a minority of staff at bars/ restaurants are sometimes impolite. I must stress that this is really a minority because throughout all my visits to Spain in the last twenty years I mostly encountered friendly people. BUT do not underestimate the huge stress the hospis, personnel and shopowners sometimes have to endure.

The OP speaks of " Camino hospitality industry ". I know it is a question of semantics but I do not want the Camino to become " an industry ". It is commercialised enough as it is.

So give me a cranky hospitalero anytime over a slick smooth operator. But hey that is just me.
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
Sounds like you've had a really bad day and I hope you feel better now that you've got all that off your chest. Still, I can't help but think that your expectations of hospitaleros, and albergues too, are a bit on the high side. Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed. :)
I don't know if it is possible as a human being to have no expectations of other human beings. Our expectations are formed by our own previous experiences, by what others have told us, and in this case perhaps by a sense of natural justice. And of course, those of us who have shared our experiences of the many wonderful hospitaleros on the camono have helped to raise the expectations of other pilgrims. I find it helps me to remember that my experiences of albergues are inevitably episodic - I am there for one night only. And often the hospitalero is there for only a couple of weeks. But still, when I walk the camino again, I will go back to the places where my needs were filled and avoid the others if I can. I get grumpy, so I will try to accept other's moods when I must.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Hi @SF-Pilgrim, an obviously heart-felt post. I probably don't need to remind you, but I will state for the benefit of others, most Hospitaleros are not professionals. They are volunteers. They may well be feeling as tired as you. A day that starts at 5am and finishes around 10:30pm can be a bit punishing. While I agree that standards in the Camino Hospitality Industry should be at least as good as those in New York or Helsinki I remain relieved that most of the Camino has not yet been industrialised.

I wish you a better day tomorrow and for all your tomorrows.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Hi @SF-Pilgrim, an obviously heart-felt post. I probably don't need to remind you, but I will state for the benefit of others, most Hospitaleros are not professionals. They are volunteers.
That's certainly true. I would add that virtually all the volunteer ones I've met have been delightful - priests, nuns, monks, a mayoress, a chief of police, a crown prosecutor, students, retirees, a wine-maker, a writer etc: all in all, a great body of charming welcoming people happy to help and to share their knowledge of their area.

The only unpleasant hospitaleros I've ever encountered were paid ones: professionals, in theory. Mostly they were in the Galician xunta albergues - three times I've stayed in Ourense's beautiful albergue, and each time the hospitalero was a je m'en foutiste who left a bit of a nasty memory. In my experience it's still a rare exception; but then I've only ever stayed in one Camino Francés albergue, the one in Burgos, and the hospitalero there was brisk and efficient and clearly entirely uninterested in his "customers" - but then he had so many of them.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
I'd just chalk it up to human beings being human beings - some are rude and grumpy. And sometimes you just catch people at the wrong time. It happens. I have also noticed with myself that if I am particularly grumpy or tired, I seem to run into more rude and grumpy people than when I am relaxed and happy. I know it is partly my fault - the energy that I put out into the world affects other people and colors how they react to me, and my internal struggles affect how I see other people and interpret their actions. So when I am having a tough time, I try (try - its not easy and I don't always succeed) to cut other people extra slack. We all have bad days.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
@alansykes took the words out of my mouth. I concur totally after 12+ Caminos over the past 6 years. In fact, it is due to the selfless caring of volunteer hospitaler@s that I decided to volunteer myself. It is definitely a calling, not a job for most. And I am grateful to them all.

Some may disagree but IMHO the Camino is not an "industry" and a pilgrim not a "customer". Sadly enough the Francés seems to be heading in that direction.

It is my experience that being thankful can go a long way, especially in difficult situations.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Hopefully Via de Bayona/Burgos to Ponferrada/Camino de Invierno
The only unpleasant hospitaleros I've ever encountered were paid ones: professionals, in theory. Mostly they were in the Galician xunta albergues - three times I've stayed in Ourense's beautiful albergue, and each time the hospitalero was a je m'en foutiste who left a bit of a nasty memory.
Yup, met him! His attitude was soooo unnecessary!
 

Bhirc

Bhirc
Camino(s) past & future
Cruz de ferro to Santiago(2012)
SJPP to Ponferrada(2013)
SJPP to Santiago, (May/Jun2016)
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?

I'm currently walking my Camino, starting April 8 in St Jean PdP. I'm now about 2 days from Santiago in Portela. So I've been walking awhile and been to a wide range of facilities. Many very good for what it is and the price I'm paying. A few exceptional places too. And unfortunately a few bad ones. As I look back I think what makes the biggest difference are the hospitalero's.

After a long day of walking I'm tired, I want a nice hot (or I'll settle for warm :) )shower, and a clean place to sleep. I want a place where I can be rejuvenated, refreshed and maybe a little reinspired to continue my journey.

Someone who stands out as a hospitalero who truly loves his job AND understands the meaning of hospitality is Ramon at San Javier in Astorga. He was just amazing. Very welcoming, took care of things, and just let me relax. Now there are many other great hospitalero's like Ramon, but I wish there were a few more Ramon's.

A few weeks ago I was in Santo Domingo. It was a very long, very hard day for me. My feet where in soon much pain. I was very much rethinking the Camino and seriously considering quitting. I ended I'll going to the albergue Casa del Santo. Well right off the bat when I walk in the young man working the front counter was just a jerk. I really felt like I was intruding on his time and was a huge burden to him. Not welcoming at all. At that very moment if I wasn't so tired, I would have found a taxi and gone home. For whatever crazy reason they don't turn the heat on. It was absolutely freezing on the shower room. Not long after I did some laundry. The washers are in a different building which was colder then the albergue, so I went back to the albergue lobby to read my guide book. Well I guess the young guy at the desk didn't like that so he turns off the lights above the sofas. Hmmm?? Why? I asked about the heat and he just blew me off.

So in the past 5 weeks or so I've had a few other less the hospitable hospitalero's. Today I encountered another one. This time I asked for my money back and left.

So to bring my long post to a close, I why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims. Now I'm not looking for 5star treatment, but I do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?

Thanks for your time and thoughts.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Pilgrims might want all kinds of things, but they are entitled to nothing.
This is a pilgrimage, not a holiday excursion. Nobody owes you a smile or a nice attitude and a warm fuzzy. That's why it's so nice when you get one.
The problem here is not about getting what you pay for, or professional behavior of others, or goodwill. The problem is you, and your demanding attitude.
Get over yourself and your expectations.
Walk, pilgrim.
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
Learn from the experience, as I had to learn patience with humanity, anger control for those that threaten, yet I also learned to truly love those around me, & forgive myself of my past. There is a good reason to remind why it is a pilgrimage.
I wish you the best
Keith
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
The ONLY nasty Hospitalero I met was at the large Albergue at O´Cerebreio. It turned out, it was full and I was unable to go any further in the rain....
For some reason, he´d had the top floor closed off, offered no explamnation why. I asked for mercy in the form of being able to sleep in a hallway, anywhere , but no. He got more and more boisterous, and it attracted a small crowd, and they told me they had noticed there was a top floor vacant.
I the end I had to take an icy room at a cost that left me no option but to borrow from some other traveller as they took no credit cards in the private hostels... which turned out to belong to his wife, so I did the math.
But I had a nice hot steaming Caldo Gallego in the restaurant nearby, which was what I could afford in the circumstances.
I hope he got wet socks and ensuing cold, the daft pillock, I saw the waitress snubbed him and all, so he got his desserts, in my mind....

My only bad experince...

Turned out I met Jimmy in the cafe next door, who was a sentimental traveller from the States, just starting his pensioners life on the road around Europe and the tales started coming & the warmth of humanity decended upon me again !!
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
Well, actually the "Camino hospitality industry" arrived some time ago. The Xunta de Galicia opens public biddings since 2008 for companies interested in the administration of 70 albergues with 3.308 beds and an estimated amount of 335.000 "customers" ("clientela", that was the word) per year. The past concessionaire resigned after a while, because of lack of profitability (this was discussed here in the forum). I read about a similar situation in Extremadura, Via de la Plata, and the talk in city councils was all about investments, commercial profitability and viability. It is as it is, and as many things in life, it may have good, indifferent or bad sides. "Hospitaleros" in this kind of establishments are evidently employees, and their attitude probably reflects their training and work conditions, as in any hotel or hostal.

I don't know if the situation reported by the OP happened in this type of albergues, but in this new context, we are pilgrims but also "customers", and we have the right to complain when the treatment or services are not proper. I suppose that city councils expect that companies administering public properties give a good service.
Obviously, the old tradition survives in many albergues run by the "Asociación de amigos" and parishes, and to a degree, in some private local albergues.
 
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fraluchi

RIP 2019
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?[...]why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims.
For the same reasons as to why there are hostels, hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. which have 5, 4, 3 2, and 1 star ratings, where others fail: education and training. Camino Associations train their hospitalero(a)s before taking up their voluntary work. Private albergues, if not run by their owners, may face inconsistent situations.:confused:
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?

I'm currently walking my Camino, starting April 8 in St Jean PdP. I'm now about 2 days from Santiago in Portela. So I've been walking awhile and been to a wide range of facilities. Many very good for what it is and the price I'm paying. A few exceptional places too. And unfortunately a few bad ones. As I look back I think what makes the biggest difference are the hospitalero's.

After a long day of walking I'm tired, I want a nice hot (or I'll settle for warm :) )shower, and a clean place to sleep. I want a place where I can be rejuvenated, refreshed and maybe a little reinspired to continue my journey.

Someone who stands out as a hospitalero who truly loves his job AND understands the meaning of hospitality is Ramon at San Javier in Astorga. He was just amazing. Very welcoming, took care of things, and just let me relax. Now there are many other great hospitalero's like Ramon, but I wish there were a few more Ramon's.

A few weeks ago I was in Santo Domingo. It was a very long, very hard day for me. My feet where in soon much pain. I was very much rethinking the Camino and seriously considering quitting. I ended I'll going to the albergue Casa del Santo. Well right off the bat when I walk in the young man working the front counter was just a jerk. I really felt like I was intruding on his time and was a huge burden to him. Not welcoming at all. At that very moment if I wasn't so tired, I would have found a taxi and gone home. For whatever crazy reason they don't turn the heat on. It was absolutely freezing on the shower room. Not long after I did some laundry. The washers are in a different building which was colder then the albergue, so I went back to the albergue lobby to read my guide book. Well I guess the young guy at the desk didn't like that so he turns off the lights above the sofas. Hmmm?? Why? I asked about the heat and he just blew me off.

So in the past 5 weeks or so I've had a few other less the hospitable hospitalero's. Today I encountered another one. This time I asked for my money back and left.

So to bring my long post to a close, I why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims. Now I'm not looking for 5star treatment, but I do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?

Thanks for your time and thoughts.
Dear Pilgrim,
There are so many ways to answer your post. You are not the first to feel the sting of an individual who is not in a good mood or who does not appear to enjoy their work. None of us are in control of their lives; we are only in control of our lives, our actions, and our words. I am reminded of Mother Teresa's oft quoted counsel:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.


A pilgrimage is all about the pilgrim; it has nothing to do with anyone else you meet. The spiritual pilgrim earnestly opens herself to God and asks for his hand to intercede in her life. In doing so, the pilgrim becomes the instrument to bless others. When you are faced with those who seemingly don't care, be gentle with them; be source of joy in their rather lives that cause them so much unhappiness.

You mentioned an action that I think is also excellent advice on those days when we have little left to give, say upon second thought, please give me my money back. I still need to walk a little bit more and quietly leave without ever an unkind word being said. That is an acceptable choice.

It is your camino. You make it great by being that source of happiness, peace, and joy for others. It is not surprising that you attract the same in return.

You are so close to enter the city. Great joy is yours and may your Camino never end.
 
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M

Mark Lee

Guest
Never had a beef with any hospitaleros on any of my Caminos. In fact, I even played hospitalero for about three hours while the young lady who was doing it went to lunch and siesta. That was a cool little experience.
Honestly, if I'm only dropping 5-10 Euros for a bunk and a shower, I don't expect much in the way of ambiance or cheerful, grinning people kissing me six. ;)
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Camino Hospitality Industry.....Horror of horrors!
But thinking about it, seriously, that is what the Camino is becoming!☹
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?

I'm currently walking my Camino, starting April 8 in St Jean PdP. I'm now about 2 days from Santiago in Portela. So I've been walking awhile and been to a wide range of facilities. Many very good for what it is and the price I'm paying. A few exceptional places too. And unfortunately a few bad ones. As I look back I think what makes the biggest difference are the hospitalero's.

After a long day of walking I'm tired, I want a nice hot (or I'll settle for warm :) )shower, and a clean place to sleep. I want a place where I can be rejuvenated, refreshed and maybe a little reinspired to continue my journey.

Someone who stands out as a hospitalero who truly loves his job AND understands the meaning of hospitality is Ramon at San Javier in Astorga. He was just amazing. Very welcoming, took care of things, and just let me relax. Now there are many other great hospitalero's like Ramon, but I wish there were a few more Ramon's.

A few weeks ago I was in Santo Domingo. It was a very long, very hard day for me. My feet where in soon much pain. I was very much rethinking the Camino and seriously considering quitting. I ended I'll going to the albergue Casa del Santo. Well right off the bat when I walk in the young man working the front counter was just a jerk. I really felt like I was intruding on his time and was a huge burden to him. Not welcoming at all. At that very moment if I wasn't so tired, I would have found a taxi and gone home. For whatever crazy reason they don't turn the heat on. It was absolutely freezing on the shower room. Not long after I did some laundry. The washers are in a different building which was colder then the albergue, so I went back to the albergue lobby to read my guide book. Well I guess the young guy at the desk didn't like that so he turns off the lights above the sofas. Hmmm?? Why? I asked about the heat and he just blew me off.

So in the past 5 weeks or so I've had a few other less the hospitable hospitalero's. Today I encountered another one. This time I asked for my money back and left.

So to bring my long post to a close, I why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims. Now I'm not looking for 5star treatment, but I do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?

Thanks for your time and thoughts.
Hola!

So sorry to hear that although I've had "bad" experience in Sto.Domingo albergue in 2011 too. I won't go into that. You mentioned that you didn't expecting 5star experience. OK! What is a usual CF albergue experience rate? 3 star? 1 star? OK, maybe 1 star (although obviously not). And what did you paid for that (sic) 1 star? Ahm...

Do you know how to rate sleeping under the porch of a church or the tree? With how many stars? I guess it's 0. But I can tell you it's rated in zillions. And without any nasty and grumpy hospitaleros :D

Few more days and you're back home for your 2016stars apartment hopefully ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino Frances SJPP / 2014 Camino Portugues / 2015 Camino Ingles / 2015 Hospitalero Training
2016 (fall) Camino Sanabre / Hospitalero?
Soon I will be a Hospitalero in Salamanca (September 2016) have mercy. I'll try to do my best and help where needed, be cheerful and learn from pilgrims staying in another simple shelter...... Ultreya...... Willy/Utah/USA
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
There is an experience which I would like to share, I guess because it in some way relates to the topic at hand.

In March I walked the Rota Vicentina and since I had a few days over, I jumped up to Porto and walked the Central route to Tui.
I had heard about Fernanda, the wonderful hospitalera owner of Casa Fernanda, and so walked a long stage to stay with her. As this was a last minute decision I only had basic information from the Gronze site and didn't realize that she only has 10 beds and that most reserve. She was surprised to hear that I had walked so far and told me that all the beds were taken. Disappointed, as I had heard so much about her and her home. "Well, if you don't mind sleeping on the sofa you are welcome to stay. Come, what would you like to drink?". Of course I accepted her offer. I spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with her and helping her with dinner preparations. She has been inviting pilgrims into her home for years - on a donation only basis.

After a lovely dinner prepared by Fernanda everyone headed back to the dorm to sleep. At that point I still didn't know where I would sleep but saw that there was a sofa outside and headed out too. "Wait a moment" she said, "but don't tell the others". She then led me to a private room with a bathroom which is for friends. She gave me that room rather than having me sleep on a sofa - a sofa that I was glad to accept. I may be wrong but I don't think that this would have ever happened if I had made a fuss about sleeping on the sofa.

It was a wonderful afternoon and evening with her and her family - not because she offered me a private room and bath but for her kindness because she could have just said "sorry, I am fully booked".
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I happily echo what LTfit posted above.

On the camino there is little certainty; what may once have been need not always be. That's the charm of surprise. Upon arrival in the frigid mountain town Rabanal del Camino November 2014 I had planned as usual to stay in the large private Albergue de Pilar.

However, the albergue was closed since Isabel, who runs it with her mother, was taking a late autumn break. Nevertheless when at the door Isabel's mother, who is my age, spotted and hugged me as if a family friend and most kindly offered a tiny WARM room within their main house with FLANNEL sheets and private bath. What unplanned cozy luxury it was!! Every moment spent resting there was double pleasure! ...Her special kindness is another example of camino serendipity.
.
 
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John MLT

Not all those who wander are lost!
Camino(s) past & future
2019: Sanabres; Primitivo; 2018: SdC-Muxia-Finisterre; 2017: 2014-2017 SJPdP-SdC; 2015: Tui-SdC;
I need to remind myself to come here and read what you have to say more often. I too have in the past felt that I deserved some decent 'customer service' upon entering, tired, into an Albergue's reception. It is a sobering thought that on the Camino, as pilgrims like in the days gone by, I should remember that I am not entitled to much, so whatever comes my way should be received with gratitude and understanding. It is time to go through once more that 'Spiritual preparation' section in Brierely...
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
I would love to be a fly (not bedbug) on the wall and hear what Hospitaleros have to say about some pilgrims?? I saw some very questionable behaviour of Pilgrims. Some, shocking in fact. Hospitaleros work extremely hard over long hours - mostly I found a warm and welcoming attitude. Don't remember what Albergue, but one hospitalero was woken up having to clean up the innards of what one drunken pilgrim had left on the floor. Disgusting to say the least. Did the hospitalero complain? No.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
I would love to be a fly (not bedbug) on the wall and hear what Hospitaleros have to say about some pilgrims?? I saw some very questionable behaviour of Pilgrims. Some, shocking in fact. Hospitaleros work extremely hard over long hours - mostly I found a warm and welcoming attitude. Don't remember what Albergue, but one hospitalero was woken up having to clean up the innards of what one drunken pilgrim had left on the floor. Disgusting to say the least. Did the hospitalero complain? No.
That's just plain gross and quite rude and immature. The hospitalero went above and beyond on that one.
To any prospective pilgrims reading this...don't be that guy (or girl) that get's overboard on a bender while on the Camino and acts the fool at an albergue. Believe me, nobody else is amused. Not even old beer hounds like myself.
You want to do that stuff, get a room.
 

GreatDane

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF to Burgos Sept/Oct 2014, Burgos to Astorga April 2016, Astorga to SdC 2017
Those of us of a certain age will remember the quote "live it or live with it". It has been one of my life philosophies for the past 45+ years. So the few times on my 2 caminos that I did encounter "conditions" that in NORMAL life would be unacceptable, I'd remind myself that the camino is not normal life and either see what I could do to improve the condition or "live with it".

Whether it be a Hospitalero being surly (maybe they haven't slept in 36 hours due to having to do extra cleanup after pilgrims) or no toilet paper in any of the stalls (just go ask where the TP stash is and fill them yourself) or no hot water (scheduling yourself for a shower right after dinner long after the hot water has had a chance to re-heat in the hot water heater might help - unless of course they don't supply hot water at all~), see what you can do. And it gives you something to giggle about the next day over a glass of sangria with your camino family.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
After four pilgrimages, I have not had any problems with hospitaleros. They do their job, apply their rules, are polite and helpful –in various degrees, but tending to the good. Some of them I have found even inspiring, and I have had occassionally interesting talks about history, spirituality, human condition –and, evidently, weather, local wines and places to visit.
On the other side, I avoid a few -just a few- albergues that I call “extremes”: comments about hospitaleros are either very enthusiastic or very indignant, without middle grounds. I don’t open judgment, but I frankly pass...I am always looking for a calm, uneventful rest. Being a late winter or early spring walker, I have enough with extreme, unpredictable weather.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (2020)
I would love to be a fly (not bedbug) on the wall and hear what Hospitaleros have to say about some pilgrims??
My first experience as a hospitalero was a recent solo stint of a week at San Anton. It is a wonderful place to rest a while on a sunny day, or to stay if you are prepared to do without hot water and electricity for one night on your camino. 31 pilgrims stayed while I was there:
  • two were thieves - donation money disappeared on the first night and a blanket on the last. I am not sure who steals from a donativo alburgue staffed by volunteers, but it certainly made me pretty low that such people abused the privilege of staying.
  • four arrived just as the communal dinner was being served, and expected to be served. They were, but all seemed oblivious to the effort that entailed when the sole hospitalero is also the cook.
  • one gave me a lecture about how I was ruining his camino by insisting he leave in the morning - it was after 8.30 before he was gone, along with my opportunity to get to the mass at Santa Clara Convent before it was over.
  • two felt that the simple candle lighting of breakfast was inadequate, and flooded the kitchen with their headlamps with the same level of control as (insert really annoying people of your choice). EDITED BY MODERATOR
And the rest were simply wonderful, and made up for most of the bad behaviour. I would rather not have had the thieves, but the rest got chalked up to the vagaries of human nature.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (2020)
Doug, thanks for checking in to this thread. Reportage from the coal-face puts us all in our places. By my simple maths you had 22 Pilgrims and 9 @rsoles passed through in your week. Thank you for treating them all with grace.
Not quite. I accepted the challenge of feeding those who arrived later and ensuring everyone was treated equally in that respect. And of course, some might have been responsible for more than one thing.
While it was very upsetting to have the thefts, I was reminded not to see these things in purely black and white terms. I think there were 31 people who needed a meal and a bed, and I helped them get those things.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
I am betting that we could turn all the hospitaleros into surly grouches by starting sentences with "I want" or "I deserve" or "You should".
Like, like like!!
It has just occurred to me the same......"I want". "I deserve" "you should"!
To quote Rebekkah, you are on a Pilgrimage, not an excursion.
A tourist demands, a Pilgrim asks ( and hopefully, thanks)!
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
...Hospitaleros are just human beings and like all human beings they can become cranky or have an off day..
..and many come with their own set of expectations and day dreams. Put a bunch of volunteer hospitaleros together in a donativo albergue which doesn't follow 'the Assoc. rules' and watch the see-sawing between hospitaleros as they vie to achieve their personal visions...creativity, freedom, blind passion, petty squabbles, power struggles...Hospitaleros serving the pilgrims and local community, hospitaleros serving themselves. And then there are the pilgrims....
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I am a grizzled veteran hospitalera. I was rather surly with the OP up above. I want to add that 99% of the pilgrims I deal with are really good and decent people, doing something really really demanding. They are not all self-absorbed knuckleheads. They have bad days, and a well-rested and on-the-ball hospi can usually roll with whatever nastiness the pilgrim throws at her/him.
Unless of course the hospi is a self-absorbed knucklehead, or having a bad day.
The pilgrim needs to realize that the hospi, too, is doing something really really demanding.
We all just need to remember to treat one another with respect and dignity. Which is usually how it turns out.
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
I am a grizzled veteran hospitalera. I was rather surly with the OP up above. I want to add that 99% of the pilgrims I deal with are really good and decent people, doing something really really demanding. They are not all self-absorbed knuckleheads. They have bad days, and a well-rested and on-the-ball hospi can usually roll with whatever nastiness the pilgrim throws at her/him.
Unless of course the hospi is a self-absorbed knucklehead, or having a bad day.
The pilgrim needs to realize that the hospi, too, is doing something really really demanding.
We all just need to remember to treat one another with respect and dignity. Which is usually how it turns out.
Grizzled veteran hospitalera (with a huge heart)…..my kind of lady!
 
C

Castilian

Guest
44 replies later and the OP has nothing to say about the answers he got to his question(s). Looking at his posting historial, I can see the same happened with the other 2 threads he opened to ask questions. He got 34 replies in one of them and 7 in the other one but he didn't provide any feedback (no reply, no likes, no thank you, nothing). Could we be in front of a you can see a mote in another's eye but can't see a beam in your own (eye) case?

Anway, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this interesting thread.

P.S.: Edited by Castilian who overlooked that you have to substract one to the number of the last post on a thread to get the number of replies to that thread because the first post of a thread isn't numbered as zero but as one so post number one isn't a reply (as I considered it before I edited the post) but the original post. Now, I think the quoted number of replies is the right one (unless I overlooked something else, i.e.). My apologies for the (minor) mistake.
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
45 replies later and the OP has nothing to say about the answers he got to his question(s). Looking at his posting historial, I can see the same happened with the other 2 threads he opened to ask questions. He got 35 replies in one of them and 8 in the other one but he didn't provide any feedback (no reply, no likes, no thank you, nothing). Could we be in front of a you can see a mote in another's eye but can't see a beam in your own (eye) case?

Anway, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this interesting thread.
It seems to me that there was a lot of negative response to the original post. In that situation, I would probably have run away, or decided that no one was really listening to my point of view. Frankly, I have been reluctant to express support for this point of view for fear that I would get dumped on too. I apologize for cowardice.
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
Perhaps it was my post about pilgrim behaviour that might have been a bit provocative, so a bit regretful about that. Think I was being a tad defensive of the hospitaleras, although I don't wish to dwell on the negative….
 

soozansings

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2nd (2016)
It seems to me that there was a lot of negative response to the original post. In that situation, I would probably have run away, or decided that no one was really listening to my point of view. Frankly, I have been reluctant to express support for this point of view for fear that I would get dumped on too. I apologize for cowardice.
Here here, Albertagirl! Sometimes I find it easier to just keep quiet and sign out every once in awhile for just that reason. So many wonderful, kind and helpful souls here who gently explain and inform, but those other few...
 

Pi Wakawaka

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plans are set April 2016 Camino Frances
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?

I'm currently walking my Camino, starting April 8 in St Jean PdP. I'm now about 2 days from Santiago in Portela. So I've been walking awhile and been to a wide range of facilities. Many very good for what it is and the price I'm paying. A few exceptional places too. And unfortunately a few bad ones. As I look back I think what makes the biggest difference are the hospitalero's.

After a long day of walking I'm tired, I want a nice hot (or I'll settle for warm :) )shower, and a clean place to sleep. I want a place where I can be rejuvenated, refreshed and maybe a little reinspired to continue my journey.

Someone who stands out as a hospitalero who truly loves his job AND understands the meaning of hospitality is Ramon at San Javier in Astorga. He was just amazing. Very welcoming, took care of things, and just let me relax. Now there are many other great hospitalero's like Ramon, but I wish there were a few more Ramon's.

A few weeks ago I was in Santo Domingo. It was a very long, very hard day for me. My feet where in soon much pain. I was very much rethinking the Camino and seriously considering quitting. I ended I'll going to the albergue Casa del Santo. Well right off the bat when I walk in the young man working the front counter was just a jerk. I really felt like I was intruding on his time and was a huge burden to him. Not welcoming at all. At that very moment if I wasn't so tired, I would have found a taxi and gone home. For whatever crazy reason they don't turn the heat on. It was absolutely freezing on the shower room. Not long after I did some laundry. The washers are in a different building which was colder then the albergue, so I went back to the albergue lobby to read my guide book. Well I guess the young guy at the desk didn't like that so he turns off the lights above the sofas. Hmmm?? Why? I asked about the heat and he just blew me off.

So in the past 5 weeks or so I've had a few other less the hospitable hospitalero's. Today I encountered another one. This time I asked for my money back and left.

So to bring my long post to a close, I why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims. Now I'm not looking for 5star treatment, but I do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?

Thanks for your time and thoughts.
I am also 2 days from Santiago and started from SJPDP on 8 April. Hola!
I have experienced disgruntled hospitaleros and cafe staff also. Very unwelcoming and upsetting at times. I don't know what to make of it. Spain is Spain. The Spanish are quite serious people, straight faced and direct. Yet many have been outstanding in their service also.
See you in Santiago... buen Camino!
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
If I had to work - serving all those carefree (and sometimes demanding) souls on extended holidays heading to Santiago - day after day after day after day, with no end in sight, I'd be disgruntled too.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Sounds like you've had a really bad day and I hope you feel better now that you've got all that off your chest. Still, I can't help but think that your expectations of hospitaleros, and albergues too, are a bit on the high side. Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed. :)
I am unaware of your camino experiences, so not quite sure of "where you are coming from". However I think your comments are most unappreciative of our OP position. At a donativo alberque the "expect nothing ... won't be disappointed" might apply. But if I (or any pilgrim) pays 8-10-12 Euros for accommodation then yes you would expect the hospitaleros to at least have a smile (it costs nothing).
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
If I had to work - serving all those carefree (and sometimes demanding) souls on extended holidays heading to Santiago - day after day after day after day, with no end in sight, I'd be disgruntled too.
That's why most volunteer hospitaleros work for only two weeks with no days off, I'd burn out if I had to do this day in day out for a living and I'm not sure if I could be compassionate after a while.
I have to hand it to those those hospitaleros who remain compassionate on a daily basis, they are saints in my book.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
I am unaware of your camino experiences, so not quite sure of "where you are coming from". However I think your comments are most unappreciative of our OP position. At a donativo alberque the "expect nothing ... won't be disappointed" might apply. But if I (or any pilgrim) pays 8-10-12 Euros for accommodation then yes you would expect the hospitaleros to at least have a smile (it costs nothing).
I'm not quite sure why you have singled me out to say "your comments are most unappreciative of our OP position." Without re-reading the entire thread, I believe most of the other posts were along the same lines. (Quite frankly, I get tired of reading posts from people who seem to want to be coddled while on camino.)

On the other hand, you are quite right when you say you are unaware of my camino experiences, so are not quite sure where I am coming from. To be quite honest, when I was on camino, I don't know if I would have noticed if I hadn't received a smile from anyone; I was so darned happy just to be there........and not where I came from.
 
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bunnymac

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012 SJPP-Logrono, 2013 Logrono-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon
CF August/September 2016 SJPP- Santiago
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?

I'm currently walking my Camino, starting April 8 in St Jean PdP. I'm now about 2 days from Santiago in Portela. So I've been walking awhile and been to a wide range of facilities. Many very good for what it is and the price I'm paying. A few exceptional places too. And unfortunately a few bad ones. As I look back I think what makes the biggest difference are the hospitalero's.

After a long day of walking I'm tired, I want a nice hot (or I'll settle for warm :) )shower, and a clean place to sleep. I want a place where I can be rejuvenated, refreshed and maybe a little reinspired to continue my journey.

Someone who stands out as a hospitalero who truly loves his job AND understands the meaning of hospitality is Ramon at San Javier in Astorga. He was just amazing. Very welcoming, took care of things, and just let me relax. Now there are many other great hospitalero's like Ramon, but I wish there were a few more Ramon's.

A few weeks ago I was in Santo Domingo. It was a very long, very hard day for me. My feet where in soon much pain. I was very much rethinking the Camino and seriously considering quitting. I ended I'll going to the albergue Casa del Santo. Well right off the bat when I walk in the young man working the front counter was just a jerk. I really felt like I was intruding on his time and was a huge burden to him. Not welcoming at all. At that very moment if I wasn't so tired, I would have found a taxi and gone home. For whatever crazy reason they don't turn the heat on. It was absolutely freezing on the shower room. Not long after I did some laundry. The washers are in a different building which was colder then the albergue, so I went back to the albergue lobby to read my guide book. Well I guess the young guy at the desk didn't like that so he turns off the lights above the sofas. Hmmm?? Why? I asked about the heat and he just blew me off.

So in the past 5 weeks or so I've had a few other less the hospitable hospitalero's. Today I encountered another one. This time I asked for my money back and left.

So to bring my long post to a close, I why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims. Now I'm not looking for 5star treatment, but I do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?

Thanks for your time and thoughts.
There's not a lot can be done about poor manners. Most hospitaleros are wonderful in my experience. As for the lack of hot water, might I suggest that it was other peregrinos who used all the hot water due to taking extra long showers. I knocked on the door of a shower in one albergue (80 beds) as the shower occupant had it running for 10 minutes! If we all did that the shower would have been running constantly for half a day. Many a small hotels' water systems would have trouble keeping up with that kind of demand.
 

BrienC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Via de la Plata, 2016
Camino del Norte, 2019
Portuguese, 2021
An excerpt:
" Thoughts are things. Whether we appreciate that fact or not, our thoughts set the intention and, therefore, the landscape or at least how we perceive that setting. People, shopkeepers, and bartenders in the central Camino’s sections (the vast wheat fields and the hot, dry, almost barren land of the meseta) seem a little bit peeved by the pilgrim’s presence. Or, maybe it is our attitude towards the heat, our efforts, and our suffering, that sets this tone: a self-fulfilling prophecy made by our very own thoughts?"

Something more to ponder.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
My first experience as a hospitalero was a recent solo stint of a week at San Anton. It is a wonderful place to rest a while on a sunny day, or to stay if you are prepared to do without hot water and electricity for one night on your camino. 31 pilgrims stayed while I was there:
  • two were thieves - donation money disappeared on the first night and a blanket on the last. I am not sure who steals from a donativo alburgue staffed by volunteers, but it certainly made me pretty low that such people abused the privilege of staying.
  • four arrived just as the communal dinner was being served, and expected to be served. They were, but all seemed oblivious to the effort that entailed when the sole hospitalero is also the cook.
  • one gave me a lecture about how I was ruining his camino by insisting he leave in the morning - it was after 8.30 before he was gone, along with my opportunity to get to the mass at Santa Clara Convent before it was over.
  • two felt that the simple candle lighting of breakfast was inadequate, and flooded the kitchen with their headlamps with the same level of control as their nation's blanket bombing of parts of SE Asia.
And the rest were simply wonderful, and made up for most of the bad behaviour. I would rather not have had the thieves, but the rest got chalked up to the vagaries of human nature.
Doug, I guess I was luckier than you when I was there last year. No thieves that I know of, luckily I was not a sole hospitalero because I had Ollie to train me, our biggest problem was explaining to earlier risers that a depart before sunrise rendered them no water, food or cafe until Itero de Vega, yeah and what's wrong with a candle light breakfast. You are now dubbed Saint Doug.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I am also 2 days from Santiago and started from SJPDP on 8 April. Hola!
I have experienced disgruntled hospitaleros and cafe staff also. Very unwelcoming and upsetting at times. I don't know what to make of it. Spain is Spain. The Spanish are quite serious people, straight faced and direct. Yet many have been outstanding in their service also.
See you in Santiago... buen Camino!
That's great. And you can pay the visit to our Fourm meeting place in Cafe Tertulia.
Keep on!
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
  • one gave me a lecture about how I was ruining his camino by insisting he leave in the morning - it was after 8.30 before he was gone, along with my opportunity to get to the mass at Santa Clara Convent before it was over.
  • .

This is inconsiderate of the ones who think they should be able to sleep in and leave later. I think about it this way, a hospitalero has a window of less than five hours (8:00am to 1:00pm) to get the albergue cleaned up, laundry of all the sheets, (worse if you have no washing machine) maintenance, repairs, errands such as buying food, cooking gas. Even when it's 10:00pm lights out, the hospitalero still has the books to take care of and see how much cash is on hand to fund the next days group of pilgrims that arrive.
Now imagine if there was only a sole hospitalero that has to do all of this.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
... I think about it this way, a hospitalero has a window of less than five hours (8:00am to 1:00pm) to get the albergue cleaned up, laundry of all the sheets, (worse if you have no washing machine) maintenance, repairs, errands such as buying food, cooking gas. Even when it's 10:00pm lights out, the hospitalero still has the books to take care of and see how much cash is on hand to fund the next days group of pilgrims that arrive.
Now imagine if there was only a sole hospitalero that has to do all of this.
How every true! Your comment and most of those above started me thinking, maybe one of the more experienced hospitaleros could post a summary of an "average day" (that is if there is an "average day"). This might help me and out OP understand them, although I might add that I think I only had one albergue where (imho) the hospitalero "could have done better". Cheers
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
How every true! Your comment and most of those above started me thinking, maybe one of the more experienced hospitaleros could post a summary of an "average day" (that is if there is an "average day"). This might help me and out OP understand them, although I might add that I think I only had one albergue where (imho) the hospitalero "could have done better". Cheers
...that would be tricky, indeed. An average day on which Camino and in which season? Almost anything might be the 'norm' in some places. Consider the albergues, there is such variety:

General types of albergue: a brief attempt at "average"

Donativ0 albergue: with Rules/without Rules; with/without volunteer hospitaleros and/or locals...

Municipal albergue:
with/ without Rules.
with/without trained (eg Assoc. )/untrained volunteers/employees/locals hospitaleros

Private albergue: with/without rules; with/without volunteers trained or otherwise; owner managed or other possibilities....

Other types of albergue....
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
In my experience:
5 a.m., wake up and tell the people bashing on the doors and crashing around the kitchen that you'll open the doors at 6, as posted everywhere. Meantime, they need to shut the hell up. Try to go back to sleep while they complain and moan about your awful, un-spiritual attitude.

6 a.m., open the doors, start the coffee and tea, and put out the bread for breakfast. Re-set the table the early risers have trashed. Put the donativo box somewhere in pilgrims' line of sight, so it's not so easily "forgotten."

7.30 a.m., make the dormitory rounds, wake up people who can sleep through the racket. Hope none of them is ill, or worse.
Until 8 a.m., help pilgrims find lost things, replace toilet paper rolls, keep bread and jam on the table. Be sunny and nice to everyone. Grab some coffee and bread for your own breakfast.

8 a.m., say goodbye to the final pilg. Depending on size of albergue, season, weather, traffic, and whether there's a partner serving with you, you can:
Open all the windows.
Scan the dorm for items left behind, trash on the floors, spilled liquids, etc. Check beds for spots, smears, other signs of unpleasantness. Change sheets or bedcovers as needed. Start laundry. Hose down the shower stalls, swab the toilets, wipe spotty walls and fixtures, check for burned-out bulbs and leaks. Get a shower of your own while everything is neat and clean.
Clean up the kitchen. Put away everything. Perhaps start on a soup for lunch.
Sweep all the floors. Mop all the floors. Check levels on the propane bottles. Call the gas man if needed. Hang out the laundry.
10 a.m., make up a grocery list. Go into town to shop, being sure to shop at a different store each day. Go to Mass, if that's an option. Sit by the river and relax, if that's an option. Have a coffee in the local bar, catch up on the gossip.
12 noon, back to the albergue, send the other hospitalero out for some air. Bring in the laundry. Take a nap, or write a note home. Tell the people banging on the door that you don't open til 2 p.m., as clearly posted.
1:30 p.m., grab some lunch. Make sure there's toilet paper in all the stalls. Set out the sello, book, and donativo box.
2 p.m., open the doors. Be cheerful and welcoming. Register everyone. Scan each pilgrim for damage. Be sure there are lower bunks for injured, ill, or infirm people. Offer seats to the tired, drinks to the thirsty, bandages to the injured. Start organizing the communal dinner, if there is one. Have volunteers do shopping, chopping, table-setting, etc. Include the shy and retiring in the activity. Try to keep peace in the dormitory. Once the place is full, hang a "completo" sign on the door. Call cabs and other albergues for those unable/unwilling to do it for themselves. Put a "Averiada/Broken" sign on the toilet stall that's forever malfunctioning, and pray it doesn't overflow again. Call the &^%% plumber again. (This is about the moment the gas cylinder delivery arrives.)
6 p.m., listen to the screams of anguish when the wifi goes down.
7 p.m., Oversee the dinner, if there is one. Scan the dorm, make sure no one is having his dinner on his bed (yes, this happens!). Have something to eat yourself. Have the pilgrims do the dish-washing. Tell the people smoking in the bathroom they've gotta do that outside. Tell the love-struck couple they need to get a hotel room if they want to share a bed. Tell the busted pilgrim to not book a train home yet -- to sleep on his decision to quit. Find someone who can translate a Polish guidebook into Korean. Take a close look at the bedbug found in the dorm, and explain to the hysterical pilgrim that bedbugs have legs and bodies, and this "bedbug" is a bit of lint. Tell the angry pilgrims gathered around they are welcome to sleep somewhere else if they will not share a dormitory with a bit of lint. Show them the "bedbug." Try to remember the German word for "lint."
9 p.m., Many pilgrims will be tucking into bed. Others will be rolling in from the bar. Try to quiet them. Lower the lights in the public areas. Mop up the bathroom floors. Put out more toilet paper. Sweep up outside. Take out the trash. Wipe down the tabletops and counters, put away dishes.
10 p.m., close the doors. Turn off the dormitory lights. Lay the table for breakfast. (One of you may go round the outdoor perimeter and call in any lingering pilgrims.)
11 p.m., finish up the bookkeeping. Sit in the quiet for a little while. Chat a bit with your companion, review the day. Discuss what needs to be done in the morning. Go to bed.
Repeat, with variations, for 14 days.
 

bunnymac

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012 SJPP-Logrono, 2013 Logrono-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon
CF August/September 2016 SJPP- Santiago
In my experience:
5 a.m., wake up and tell the people bashing on the doors and crashing around the kitchen that you'll open the doors at 6, as posted everywhere. Meantime, they need to shut the hell up. Try to go back to sleep while they complain and moan about your awful, un-spiritual attitude.

6 a.m., open the doors, start the coffee and tea, and put out the bread for breakfast. Re-set the table the early risers have trashed. Put the donativo box somewhere in pilgrims' line of sight, so it's not so easily "forgotten."

7.30 a.m., make the dormitory rounds, wake up people who can sleep through the racket. Hope none of them is ill, or worse.
Until 8 a.m., help pilgrims find lost things, replace toilet paper rolls, keep bread and jam on the table. Be sunny and nice to everyone. Grab some coffee and bread for your own breakfast.

8 a.m., say goodbye to the final pilg. Depending on size of albergue, season, weather, traffic, and whether there's a partner serving with you, you can:
Open all the windows.
Scan the dorm for items left behind, trash on the floors, spilled liquids, etc. Check beds for spots, smears, other signs of unpleasantness. Change sheets or bedcovers as needed. Start laundry. Hose down the shower stalls, swab the toilets, wipe spotty walls and fixtures, check for burned-out bulbs and leaks. Get a shower of your own while everything is neat and clean.
Clean up the kitchen. Put away everything. Perhaps start on a soup for lunch.
Sweep all the floors. Mop all the floors. Check levels on the propane bottles. Call the gas man if needed. Hang out the laundry.
10 a.m., make up a grocery list. Go into town to shop, being sure to shop at a different store each day. Go to Mass, if that's an option. Sit by the river and relax, if that's an option. Have a coffee in the local bar, catch up on the gossip.
12 noon, back to the albergue, send the other hospitalero out for some air. Bring in the laundry. Take a nap, or write a note home. Tell the people banging on the door that you don't open til 2 p.m., as clearly posted.
1:30 p.m., grab some lunch. Make sure there's toilet paper in all the stalls. Set out the sello, book, and donativo box.
2 p.m., open the doors. Be cheerful and welcoming. Register everyone. Scan each pilgrim for damage. Be sure there are lower bunks for injured, ill, or infirm people. Offer seats to the tired, drinks to the thirsty, bandages to the injured. Start organizing the communal dinner, if there is one. Have volunteers do shopping, chopping, table-setting, etc. Include the shy and retiring in the activity. Try to keep peace in the dormitory. Once the place is full, hang a "completo" sign on the door. Call cabs and other albergues for those unable/unwilling to do it for themselves. Put a "Averiada/Broken" sign on the toilet stall that's forever malfunctioning, and pray it doesn't overflow again. Call the &^%% plumber again. (This is about the moment the gas cylinder delivery arrives.)
6 p.m., listen to the screams of anguish when the wifi goes down.
7 p.m., Oversee the dinner, if there is one. Scan the dorm, make sure no one is having his dinner on his bed (yes, this happens!). Have something to eat yourself. Have the pilgrims do the dish-washing. Tell the people smoking in the bathroom they've gotta do that outside. Tell the love-struck couple they need to get a hotel room if they want to share a bed. Tell the busted pilgrim to not book a train home yet -- to sleep on his decision to quit. Find someone who can translate a Polish guidebook into Korean. Take a close look at the bedbug found in the dorm, and explain to the hysterical pilgrim that bedbugs have legs and bodies, and this "bedbug" is a bit of lint. Tell the angry pilgrims gathered around they are welcome to sleep somewhere else if they will not share a dormitory with a bit of lint. Show them the "bedbug." Try to remember the German word for "lint."
9 p.m., Many pilgrims will be tucking into bed. Others will be rolling in from the bar. Try to quiet them. Lower the lights in the public areas. Mop up the bathroom floors. Put out more toilet paper. Sweep up outside. Take out the trash. Wipe down the tabletops and counters, put away dishes.
10 p.m., close the doors. Turn off the dormitory lights. Lay the table for breakfast. (One of you may go round the outdoor perimeter and call in any lingering pilgrims.)
11 p.m., finish up the bookkeeping. Sit in the quiet for a little while. Chat a bit with your companion, review the day. Discuss what needs to be done in the morning. Go to bed.
Repeat, with variations, for 14 days.
They have it easy :))) Great post.
 

canis_major

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Did 200km in 2012. Did some more kms in 2014! and also volunteered as a hospitalero at an albergue for 2 weeks!
I’d like to add my “penny worth” of thoughts to this debate and the related Logrono episode where a hospi said “Leave, leave” to a pilgrim. @The Anacortesians.

First, I’d like to thank those of you who responded to the OPs by using the “praise sandwich” model of 1) Praise 2) Correction/Different Opinion 3) Praise. It exhibited respect for the OPs and at the same time allowed respectful disagreement, debate and balance.

However, a few others have used a different kind of “sandwich” consisting of a top layer of criticism, followed by a hard centre of rebuke, and finally finished off nicely with an under cut to the jaw that would make Muhammad Ali proud :) o_O :confused: .

If we can step back a little and look at the bigger picture. The Camino is a wonderful medieval tradition steeped in history, hardship and spirituality, but which is now firmly planted and baptised into the 21st century where industry, commerce, customer service, the “bottom line”, tourism, and mod cons are the distinguishing features! It’s an anachronism, a paradox, a clash of cultures...even of civilisations.

All of us who love the Camino do so for a variety of reasons, but one is that it is an oasis located in a different world separated in miles and years from this furiously changing geopolitical world around us. But while we may have an ideal-world view of the Camino, it is not utopia….because people are involved. And where people are involved you will have good and bad. The majority tend to be good decent people. The majority of hospis are wonderful souls. Some, sadly, are not.

Also, the majority of pilgrims have their dreams, hopes and aspirations. I think it is fair to say that all people who walk the Camino can be classed as “pilgrims”, whether they are doing it for religious/spiritual reasons, to get over the grief of the loss of a loved one, or to have a place where they can find some peace for a troubled mind. They are on a journey. Others are “just on a long walk”, to quote the movie The Way. But that’s just fine too. Also, pilgrims come in all different personalities: extrovert and introvert, loud and quiet, sensitive and tough, good….and few not so good!

I do not feel or believe that the two OPs came across with an arrogant attitude. They were just probably expressing their shock and disappointment that the Camino is not the ideal place they thought it was, or may have been led to believe. So, I think there is a way to respectfully enlighten them or correct their possible innocence (no disrespect intended), and disappointment, if that is what people think about their posts.

I know we like to think that we all have a share in this "global" treasure called the Camino. But if we boil it all down we would see that the principal stakeholders in the Camino are the Spanish government, the Spanish people, and perhaps the Catholic Church (Spanish and Vatican). But even if you are a Catholic and feel that it is OK to harshly criticise the OPs for sharing their bad experiences with hospis, I think that most of the spiritual stalwarts of the historic Catholic church might disagree with you.

For example, the rule of St Benedict is at pains to make all pilgrims feel welcome. And I think many such spiritual leaders would take aside the few hospis who are rude and abusive and would have a good talk with them to see where their heart really is on their own “spiritual pilgrimage”. I am certain that some spiritual leaders would give them a copy of the a Kempis’ “The Imitation of Christ” to calm their troubled souls (after two long weeks of serving!), and then send them on the Camino from Malaga for a year with no money, a staff, a dumb bell hat, and a ball of cheese!

We all have our off days but most hospis are only on duty for two or three weeks. If they can’t handle the heat of that kitchen by simply not expressing extreme rudeness to a pilgrim then I feel they ought not to be invited back next year (at least until they have walked from Malaga!). Thousands of others are waiting in line to volunteer! Volunteering as a hospitalero is a unique privilege. They could be venting their bad attitude on a pilgrim who is doing the Camino because they have emotional wounds from the past, mental problems, or have recently lost a loved one. Or they have a broken heart. And neither is there any excuse for allowing the longer term “professional” paid hospis to get away with giving abuse and rudeness without a challenge.

And I don’t agree with the theory that “Leave, leave” was some of the only English the hospi at Logrono may have known. I am a teacher of English as a foreign language, and the imperative “leave” is not the first thing I teach my students. The first thing they learn is “Hello”, “How are you today today”, “Welcome”, “No”, “On”, “Beds”, “Backpacks”...stuff like that! And if they don’t understand Spanish or English, then modelling the meaning goes a long way to getting the message across. It only takes a minute to communicate by acting the message out, or demonstrating it.

So, to the two OPs, I would like to say “I hear ya”. I would like to box such rude hopis across the right ear...in love of course! But look at the bigger picture. You haven’t had to endure the hardship of the medieval times when pilgrims were often penniless, were subject to ravages of disease, hunger, cold and wet, while the loving, warm, welcoming hospitals/albergues were few and far between. They depended on the kindness of strangers. The modern Camino is not an ideal world. But we still have it to escape to as a great medieval spiritual tradition and retreat from this crazy and seemingly out of control world around us, but we are still sure to come across the odd disappointment or two. That’s all part of The Way.

On the other hand, looking at it from a 21st century post-modern, industrial society, we are paying money for a bed (excepting donativos) and we do kind of expect not to be abused after paying money for a bed! Do you get my drift? At the reception desk, we hand over money for a cama, a bed, but we never see where it says “verbal abuse included free in the price”.

But joking aside, how will an albergue improve its service to pilgrims and know to give their misbehaving hospis a copy of “The Imitation of Christ”, if we never feedback our comments, experiences and suggestions to the managers/owners? You can still vote with your feet by not returning to that albergue, but if we pay money, as part of this commercial world that we live in, then we do have a right to suggest improvements and to comment on the service we received.

Otherwise the Camino could tend towards a dual-class society: one subjugated class consisting of the voiceless, eternally suffering pilgrim martyr, and the other elite class comprising the hospis and albergue owners who must not be criticised as they dwell in their “castles”. I don’t need to point out how unspiritual and immoral that would be! And thank the Lord it is not the case today.

Given this clash of two eras, cultures, and civilisations, I think the modern pilgrim on the ancient Camino has two choices.

I) Use the 21st Century “customer service” method - only where money has been paid for a bed of course - and report very rude and abusive hospis to their superior. The temporal pay off here is short term emotional gratification, but, more importantly, the knowledge that a supervisor can take a troubled hospi aside to get to the root of their problem that they too may be suffering, or else correct them or re-train them. But understand that albergue managers will have to filter out justified criticism from the more than a few complaints of some very fussy ill-tempered pilgrims, and that’s not always easy.

2) Use the ancient spiritual Way and ask yourself “Why does this one ill-trained, rude, abusive person bother me so much and why am I allowing their obviously bad behaviour to steal my joy and peace on my journey? Then rise above it on the inside and learn spiritually about yourself without complaining to him/her or his/her supervisor. The pay off here is long term spiritual fortification of the soul and of character, and an ability to get on with life despite external difficulties. Keep your peace, no matter what, and keep looking forward on the way independently of the bad behaviour of others. This further helps us to be more open and sensitive to the many mini miracles (good behaviour) that come our way through good people. And all of these benefits come for just 5 or 10 euro for a bed. Well worth the price!

Finally. I do not post often to this forum and haven’t done so for a long while. I like to walk the Camino alone, but with access to people when I need moral support. I guess my long post here is in part down to my recent introduction to the work of Susan Cain who wrote the book “Quiet”, in which she maintains that introverts have been neglected in the industrial world made for thriving, often loud, extroverts, whereas modern industry itself has experienced some of the greatest innovations from introverts and sensitive souls. But open plan offices, the highjacking of “brainstorming” sessions by extroverts etc. all tend to mitigate against the creativity and productivity and valuable contributions of introverts. You can see a good TED talk presented by her on YouTube.

I’m no innovator, but I dare say that a fair share of the ancient meditative, contemplative, spiritual introverts (monks et al) have all contributed to making the Camino what it is today. So here’s to all introverts both ancient and modern, to their expressed voices down the centuries whether that be orally, written, or through practical innovation, and to their valuable contributions to The Way...whether they were right or wrong.

Sorry for the lengthy post. Not a penny worth in the end, but maybe a few pounds/euro! I think I may have expressed all that I have to express for the next year now. So till then, I’ll be hibernating to recover my energy...or else on a long walk somewhere along The Way!

Gerry

PS. I have just thought of a motto for a new albergue “Bed 8 Euro. Verbal abuse, leaping bed bugs, and other benefits included free in the price, all to make you a better, more spiritual person. NO (NO!) BACKPACKS (MOCHILAS) AlLLOWED (PERMITIDOS) ON THE BEDS (EN LAS CAMAS)!! GOT THAT PILGRIM? GOOD! Welcome to the ancient Way and to true Camino experiences that will last you a lifetime!!!”

PPS My own background is Catholic, though I left the Catholic Church years ago. I do the Camino for spiritual reasons (four times now) and I have served as a hospi three times at an albergue where they emphasise serving people in love, but also being firm, though not rude, with abusive or unreasonable or very fussy pilgrims. They give two or three days off at a time so that you can recharge and be refreshed. A number of times I witnessed pilgrims in the morning with tears in their eyes reluctant to leave, as they linger over breakfast because of the special atmosphere in the place. I have experienced only two pilgrims who were very very rude to me and I passed them on to more experienced hospis or the manager. I have met about four hopis in my Camino walks who were very rude and even abusive, but possibly hundreds who were very good, and more than a few who were great. Last year I recorded some 5 or 6 mini miracles that came my way while walking…. all of which came through people: pilgrims and hospis.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
I agree with Canis Major, except on the "thousands waiting in line to be hospitaleros" part.
I staff only two albergues that are open only part of the year, and I'm beating the bushes for volunteers for the shiny new one!
Some honourable members here suggested I could be hospi material. I beg to differ. I'm much too volatile and cranky to keep up with some of the pilgrim attitude ....:)
Again praise to all the volunteers!!!
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Been there, done that; and thanks to Reb's kind urging I've served at San Anton.
She left out one of my major peeves as a hospitalero at San Anton:
Late in the day just after preparing dinner and setting the table for 10 people, 3 people show up to take the remaining 2 beds and want to eat dinner. Kindness, kindness, kindness is truly a blessing to most of us at that moment.
BTW, for those who know me, I was going to begin my 6th Camino from Barcelona on 23 May and spend 10 days serving at San Anton in June. However, this week my doctor said, "No way, Jose!"
I will not get into the details because I don't know what they are but understandably I am extremely disappointed.
I thought this was a better thread to announce my change of plans than a "woe is me" thread.
Ultreia!
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
... I was going to begin my 6th Camino from Barcelona on 23 May and spend 10 days serving at San Anton in June. However, this week my doctor said, "No way, Jose!"
I will not get into the details because I don't know what they are but understandably I am extremely disappointed.
I thought this was a better thread to announce my change of plans than a "whoa is me" thread.
Ultreia!
...commiserations, @biarritzdon
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Just for the record, Biarritzdon is a great example of what makes a hospitalero great, at least at a laid-back albergue like San Anton: a sense of humor, a real awareness of the need for kindness in all situations; flexibility; no overwhelming regard for order, cleanliness, or social status; ability to laugh at one's self; a tender heart; well-developed personal boundaries; and an appreciation for the absurd.
Oh, and a sense of humor. Did I mention that?
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
Been there, done that; and thanks to Reb's kind urging I've served at San Anton.
She left out one of my major peeves as a hospitalero at San Anton:
Late in the day just after preparing dinner and setting the table for 10 people, 3 people show up to take the remaining 2 beds and want to eat dinner. Kindness, kindness, kindness is truly a blessing to most of us at that moment.
BTW, for those who know me, I was going to begin my 6th Camino from Barcelona on 23 May and spend 10 days serving at San Anton in June. However, this week my doctor said, "No way, Jose!"
I will not get into the details because I don't know what they are but understandably I am extremely disappointed.
I thought this was a better thread to announce my change of plans than a "woe is me" thread.
Ultreia!
Damn, sorry to hear that Don. Here's hoping that changes back to walking #6...
 

soozansings

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2nd (2016)
Been there, done that; and thanks to Reb's kind urging I've served at San Anton.
She left out one of my major peeves as a hospitalero at San Anton:
Late in the day just after preparing dinner and setting the table for 10 people, 3 people show up to take the remaining 2 beds and want to eat dinner. Kindness, kindness, kindness is truly a blessing to most of us at that moment.
BTW, for those who know me, I was going to begin my 6th Camino from Barcelona on 23 May and spend 10 days serving at San Anton in June. However, this week my doctor said, "No way, Jose!"
I will not get into the details because I don't know what they are but understandably I am extremely disappointed.
I thought this was a better thread to announce my change of plans than a "woe is me" thread.
Ultreia!
Ok. Fine. I'll just say "hugs" to a pilgrim I have not yet met. Be well.
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
Just for the record, Biarritzdon is a great example of what makes a hospitalero great, at least at a laid-back albergue like San Anton: a sense of humor, a real awareness of the need for kindness in all situations; flexibility; no overwhelming regard for order, cleanliness, or social status; ability to laugh at one's self; a tender heart; well-developed personal boundaries; and an appreciation for the absurd.
Oh, and a sense of humor. Did I mention that?
...he sounds amazing!
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola Rebekah (& Canis) - thanks for the very, very complete responses to my "suggestion". I did know some of what was involved but I am sure that I and a few less experienced pilgrims will take your comments on board and be as understanding of our "hospitalero" and give them one of our smiles!!:):cool:o_O
 

Rob1122

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
planing camino de santiago
You should probably first look into yourself and not judge other people. I am afraid your 'good' attitude shines through your lines. If you expect to be treated better then pay for it book yourself a private hotel room and then complain as much as you like. The money you pay to the refugios is not for profit they are not getting dirty rich out of your money. The pilgrimage is supposed to be about hardship to experience the hardship physical and mental endured by Jesus and the saints. So stop complaining and enjoy your Camino
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
they are not getting dirty rich out of your money.
Actually, the owner of Albergue Ferramenteiro, Portomarín is getting rich, and may be the most disliked person in the town. They can tell you all about him if you stop in Vilacha. ;)
 

Stewarts Wandering

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently
We stayed at Albergue San Nicolas El Real on 1-5-2016. The woman manager was also unpleasant, and apparently annoyed by Peregrinos. When we entered, she order our boots off. We had barely got our sandals on when she commands us, Benga aqui". We are an older couple, with very large packs. As we struggled to follow her up 3 flights of stairs, she continued to yell at us to hurry up! During our stay she remained impatient and rude. The albergue is in a retired monastery, so it is huge and beautiful, but our stay was spoiled by this woman's behavior
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?

I'm currently walking my Camino, starting April 8 in St Jean PdP. I'm now about 2 days from Santiago in Portela. So I've been walking awhile and been to a wide range of facilities. Many very good for what it is and the price I'm paying. A few exceptional places too. And unfortunately a few bad ones. As I look back I think what makes the biggest difference are the hospitalero's.

After a long day of walking I'm tired, I want a nice hot (or I'll settle for warm :) )shower, and a clean place to sleep. I want a place where I can be rejuvenated, refreshed and maybe a little reinspired to continue my journey.

Someone who stands out as a hospitalero who truly loves his job AND understands the meaning of hospitality is Ramon at San Javier in Astorga. He was just amazing. Very welcoming, took care of things, and just let me relax. Now there are many other great hospitalero's like Ramon, but I wish there were a few more Ramon's.

A few weeks ago I was in Santo Domingo. It was a very long, very hard day for me. My feet where in soon much pain. I was very much rethinking the Camino and seriously considering quitting. I ended I'll going to the albergue Casa del Santo. Well right off the bat when I walk in the young man working the front counter was just a jerk. I really felt like I was intruding on his time and was a huge burden to him. Not welcoming at all. At that very moment if I wasn't so tired, I would have found a taxi and gone home. For whatever crazy reason they don't turn the heat on. It was absolutely freezing on the shower room. Not long after I did some laundry. The washers are in a different building which was colder then the albergue, so I went back to the albergue lobby to read my guide book. Well I guess the young guy at the desk didn't like that so he turns off the lights above the sofas. Hmmm?? Why? I asked about the heat and he just blew me off.

So in the past 5 weeks or so I've had a few other less the hospitable hospitalero's. Today I encountered another one. This time I asked for my money back and left.

So to bring my long post to a close, I why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims. Now I'm not looking for 5star treatment, but I do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?

Thanks for your time and thoughts.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Wow, you are elders and carrying very large packs and it was a grumpy employee that spoiled your day. And all that grief for €5 a night.

Sorry @Stewarts Wandering I don't intend to mock but are you sure thats how it was? Whenever we have foreign students staying I speak my english more emphatically than I do to the usual riff-raff. I may even shout occasionally "up here!", "this way!", "no sex!". I don't speak many languages so I usually rely on volume and emphasis. And really, in that fabulous building, so recently refurbished and with all its wonderful facilities Mrs Grumpy spoilt your stay?
 

Stewarts Wandering

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently
Wow, you are elders and carrying very large packs and it was a grumpy employee that spoiled your day. And all that grief for €5 a night.

Sorry @Stewarts Wandering I don't intend to mock but are you sure thats how it was? Whenever we have foreign students staying I speak my english more emphatically than I do to the usual riff-raff. I may even shout occasionally "up here!", "this way!", "no sex!". I don't speak many languages so I usually rely on volume and emphasis. And really, in that fabulous building, so recently refurbished and with all its wonderful facilities Mrs Grumpy spoilt your stay?
I also host foreign exchange. I don't yell at my guests. I find it more effective to slow my speech so they can pick out the words easier. Patience and kindness are not that difficult to muster if you choose to.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
a grumpy employee that spoiled your day
To me that strikes a better note on the issue here. "Unprofessional" may not be the most accurate term for describing a hospitalero, who may be a volunteer and hence not really a professional at all, providing dirt cheap accommodations to assist someone on a type of optional life-search where hardship should be an expected component. There is an implication in "professional" of owing something to the pilgrim. The Parador owes me service. The hospitalero does not.

Courtesy, on the other hand, is probably something that we owe everyone all the time, on the Camino or off it. Being greeted by anyone, pilgrim and hospitalero alike, with rudeness is not appropriate.

And it shouldn't ruin one's day! ;)
 
C

Castilian

Guest
A Spanish speaking South American told me once a ago that she thought a Spanish she knew was always angry/annoyed till she came to Spain and saw everyone spoke (tone, volumen...) like that Spanish. That's known as cultural differences and may mislead us in order to draw conclusions if we don't have them in mind.
 

canis_major

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Did 200km in 2012. Did some more kms in 2014! and also volunteered as a hospitalero at an albergue for 2 weeks!
I agree with Canis Major, except on the "thousands waiting in line to be hospitaleros" part.
I staff only two albergues that are open only part of the year, and I'm beating the bushes for volunteers for the shiny new one!
I agree it sounds like a ridiculous figure, and I was trying to remember where I got it from. I've now traced it back to an email I received from the Hospitaleros Voluntarios, in which the sender said "somos más de 5.000 personas y en 2015 trabajamos en los albergues más de 900 voluntarios-." I may have misinterpreted this but I think it means they have 5,000 members and they had 900 volunteers working in 2015, I assume on all Caminos in Spain.

But you are right, at any given albergue like the independent one I volunteered at they have to do a lot of work to try to get enough volunteers.

Gerry
 

Pacific NW pilgrim

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (fall 2015 and fall 2017)
But if I (or any pilgrim) pays 8-10-12 Euros for accommodation then yes you would expect the hospitaleros to at least have a smile (it costs nothing).
I respectfully but heartily disagree. I believe that all one is owed is simple politeness, not a smile. I assume you have never worked with the public. A smile can be extremely expensive in terms of emotional energy when it is demanded.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
I respectfully but heartily disagree. I believe that all one is owed is simple politeness, not a smile. I assume you have never worked with the public. A smile can be extremely expensive in terms of emotional energy when it is demanded.
Well you know what they say about "assume" (it makes an "ass (of) you & me"). So in this case you have made the mistake - I have had over 40 years of working with the public and yes I always "try" to greet my customers/clients/guests with a smile. (There is another saying - from China: "man without smile should not own shop").
Wishing you a happy day. Cheers
 

Pacific NW pilgrim

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (fall 2015 and fall 2017)
Well you know what they say about "assume" (it makes an "ass (of) you & me"). So in this case you have made the mistake - I have had over 40 years of working with the public and yes I always "try" to greet my customers/clients/guests with a smile. (There is another saying - from China: "man without smile should not own shop").
Wishing you a happy day. Cheers
Wow, I'm sorry you took offence. It was not meant the way you seem to have taken it, or maybe you're just having a bad day. I'm glad you try to greet the public with a smile, but I still stand by my statement that a smile can be emotionally expensive when it is demanded. That is very different from "offered." And I agree with many of the posters above that as pilgrims, and, in fact, as humans, we are not entitled to a smile from hardworking volunteer hospitaleros, almost none of whom own the "shop."
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
A Spanish speaking South American told me once a ago that she thought a Spanish she knew was always angry/annoyed till she came to Spain and saw everyone spoke (tone, volumen...) like that Spanish. That's known as cultural differences and may mislead us in order to draw conclusions if we don't have them in mind.
This is very true! The Spanish have a tendency to shout and can sound very brusque to our softer useage in Costa Rica. ( still today, I find the also speak fast....and I watch the Spanish national tv every day)!
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
I think those of us from "service with a smile" countries sometimes misread situations in other countries - we expect certain facial expressions and body language, but that may or may not be the norm in that country, so we sometimes misunderstand people's intentions and approach. And then, of course, people in those countries look at us and wonder why we walk around with these goofy grins on our faces all the time.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
I think those of us from "service with a smile" countries sometimes misread situations in other countries
The business model in Spain is completely different from that in the U.S. (and many other countries). If a transaction is viewed as having two nodes, the owner and the customer, in Spain it is much more focused on the owner. It is his life work. He has an offering, which he hopes will be what the customer wants. However, he does not change it for the customer. If the customer does not like it, there are other places he can go. Pilgrims are generally only a small part of a business' customer base, so service will be focused on local, repeat, 12-month customers. Pilgrims often will see locals served first. It irks them, but from the owner's viewpoint, the locals are more important. Once he has the pilgrims' money, he knows he will never see them again, so he sincerely does not care if he pleases them. It is all very logical and business-like, but very different from what many have come to expect in their home country. I suggest that no one take it personally. Those who think that they can change it have not paid attention to a quarter of a million transient customers who won't be coming back. New money will always be there to replace the old, and the Spanish small business has no reason to change. They are very comfortable in their niche. ;)
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
I'm an english woman living in France... my french friends laugh at me sometimes because they feel I am sooo Anglo-Saxon in my reactions and cultural responses... in short we're different.

However, even with these differences, I'm pretty confident that we would all recognise courtesy, service with a smile, kindness or politeness or whatever you prefer to call it… and we’d all recognise the reverse too.

When I walked there were a few occasions when I felt folks were quite a bit surly (there were also a lot who were pretty wonderful too). Maybe someone was having a bad day, we all have them... but equally I'm happy to accept there are just a few folks out there in the world who are just plain grumpy… and they might live and work in Spain, France, the UK, the US or anywhere else in the world.

Lets not defend the grumpiness, or wrap it up into something nice and fluffy. It does exist and we're all capable of being grumpy at times... hopefully though all the other wonderful things that happen make up for it.

just my thoughts... :oops:
 

SallyGee

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Can someone explain to me why there are hospitalero's with unprofessional attitudes?

I'm currently walking my Camino, starting April 8 in St Jean PdP. I'm now about 2 days from Santiago in Portela. So I've been walking awhile and been to a wide range of facilities. Many very good for what it is and the price I'm paying. A few exceptional places too. And unfortunately a few bad ones. As I look back I think what makes the biggest difference are the hospitalero's.

After a long day of walking I'm tired, I want a nice hot (or I'll settle for warm :) )shower, and a clean place to sleep. I want a place where I can be rejuvenated, refreshed and maybe a little reinspired to continue my journey.

Someone who stands out as a hospitalero who truly loves his job AND understands the meaning of hospitality is Ramon at San Javier in Astorga. He was just amazing. Very welcoming, took care of things, and just let me relax. Now there are many other great hospitalero's like Ramon, but I wish there were a few more Ramon's.

A few weeks ago I was in Santo Domingo. It was a very long, very hard day for me. My feet where in soon much pain. I was very much rethinking the Camino and seriously considering quitting. I ended I'll going to the albergue Casa del Santo. Well right off the bat when I walk in the young man working the front counter was just a jerk. I really felt like I was intruding on his time and was a huge burden to him. Not welcoming at all. At that very moment if I wasn't so tired, I would have found a taxi and gone home. For whatever crazy reason they don't turn the heat on. It was absolutely freezing on the shower room. Not long after I did some laundry. The washers are in a different building which was colder then the albergue, so I went back to the albergue lobby to read my guide book. Well I guess the young guy at the desk didn't like that so he turns off the lights above the sofas. Hmmm?? Why? I asked about the heat and he just blew me off.

So in the past 5 weeks or so I've had a few other less the hospitable hospitalero's. Today I encountered another one. This time I asked for my money back and left.

So to bring my long post to a close, I why are there so many folks in the Camino hospitality industry, including bar/cafe staff, markets, etc, who clearly don't like their jobs or don't like pilgrims. Now I'm not looking for 5star treatment, but I do know bad customer service doesn't fly in other areas, why does it seem to be acceptable on the Camino?

Thanks for your time and thoughts.
I think your story accentuates how much we need positive human contact on the Camino - we are away from family and friends and we slowly build up a camaraderie with other peregrinos swirling round us. But you are tight the point of contact with the new hospitalero each night can be delightful and supportive, or can hit us badly when we are tired and down.
But in the end we can only change our own behaviour - keep strong, keep your smile and enjoy your Camino.
 

ShaLaw

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
When we were on our camino last year, we reserved a place called Sarracin in Vega de Valcarce. BAD CHOICE!!

When we got there the woman who owns the place was out doing yard work in her garden and her son got her for us. When she 'greeted' us, it was with a great scowl on her face, and it appears we interrupted her day. After some confusion, she told us they didn't have blankets but no biggie as we've been schlepping our own, all across Spain. When we asked if she had a pilgrims dinner and what time dinner was, she was extremely curt with us. After making us keep our boots outside in a cabinet and making us walk on her wet lawn in our sock feet, she assigned us a top and bottom bunk in the albergue, even though it was completely empty. The room has about 16 beds in it and are very close together. We decided to take a shower and at first the water was hot, but after a few minutes, the water completely shut off. Okaaaay, so I thought it was on a timer so soaped up and when I turned the water on again, it was freezing cold and went down to a trickle. We know a lot of hotels and albergues use timers for their lights and showers, but honestly, after one walks 25kms, one just wants a hot, 5 minute shower!! I told my fiancé what happened and that was it....we decided to leave the albergue without another word to the owner and didn't even bother to stop for a refund. In fact, we walked right by her as she was sweeping her precious driveway and even though she looked at us, she said nothing to us. We went down the street and checked into a pension, where the owners are warm and friendly. Do not give the owners of Sarracin your business!! We can't understand WHY they own an albergue if they don't want to deal with people. My fiancé wrote her an email and told her to take the twenty euros we paid her and go buy some manners!! Lol

I know part of the camino experience is to step outside of our comfort zone, but there is competition, not to mention the fact that pilgrims pump a lot of $$'s into the Spanish economy so they really should care about their customer service.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
When we were on our camino last year, we reserved a place called Sarracin in Vega de Valcarce. BAD CHOICE!!

When we got there the woman who owns the place was out doing yard work in her garden and her son got her for us. When she 'greeted' us, it was with a great scowl on her face, and it appears we interrupted her day. After some confusion, she told us they didn't have blankets but no biggie as we've been schlepping our own, all across Spain. When we asked if she had a pilgrims dinner and what time dinner was, she was extremely curt with us. After making us keep our boots outside in a cabinet and making us walk on her wet lawn in our sock feet, she assigned us a top and bottom bunk in the albergue, even though it was completely empty. The room has about 16 beds in it and are very close together. We decided to take a shower and at first the water was hot, but after a few minutes, the water completely shut off. Okaaaay, so I thought it was on a timer so soaped up and when I turned the water on again, it was freezing cold and went down to a trickle. We know a lot of hotels and albergues use timers for their lights and showers, but honestly, after one walks 25kms, one just wants a hot, 5 minute shower!! I told my fiancé what happened and that was it....we decided to leave the albergue without another word to the owner and didn't even bother to stop for a refund. In fact, we walked right by her as she was sweeping her precious driveway and even though she looked at us, she said nothing to us. We went down the street and checked into a pension, where the owners are warm and friendly. Do not give the owners of Sarracin your business!! We can't understand WHY they own an albergue if they don't want to deal with people. My fiancé wrote her an email and told her to take the twenty euros we paid her and go buy some manners!! Lol

I know part of the camino experience is to step outside of our comfort zone, but there is competition, not to mention the fact that pilgrims pump a lot of $$'s into the Spanish economy so they really should care about their customer service.

You had :

1. A bed.
2. Lukewarm water.
3. The lady was " curt " but there WAS dinner served.
4. The boots were outside in a cabinet : so hygiene was high on the agenda.

I really give up here... When I read your post I feel a sadness coming up and I do not want to feel that.
 

ShaLaw

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
You had :

1. A bed.
2. Lukewarm water.
3. The lady was " curt " but there WAS dinner served.
4. The boots were outside in a cabinet : so hygiene was high on the agenda.

I really give up here... When I read your post I feel a sadness coming up and I do not want to feel that.
Hi SabineP. Don't be sad!! Don't get me wrong; we were truly grateful for everything we did have on the camino, no matter how small. This lady was truly mean and did not have a kind bone in her body, yet the proprietors of the pension down the street where we stayed were very kind. All things being equal but having a choice, wouldn't you rather stay where you are treated with kindness??
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I think you should clarify what the word "hospitalero" means. I see it translated as innkeeper but I don't think that covers the actual or intended meaning.

PS: I did check the entry in Xacopedia .
 
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SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Hi SabineP. Don't be sad!! Don't get me wrong; we were truly grateful for everything we did have on the camino, no matter how small. This lady was truly mean and did not have a kind bone in her body, yet the proprietors of the pension down the street where we stayed were very kind. All things being equal but having a choice, wouldn't you rather stay where you are treated with kindness??
Kindness is indeed "the cherry on the pie" and of course always appreciated when on the receiving end.
Then again " truly mean " and " being curt " are such subjective perceptions.
And I will repeat what I wrote above and many other people posted here too on different occasions : " A tourist demands, a pilgrim asks ".
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Gently Pilgrims, gently please. There seem to be two parallel stress points on the Camino and on the Forum at present. Reports from the Camino of high numbers of pilgrims testing the infrastructure of the Camino Frances and past Pilgrims perhaps tested by the demands of those on their Way today. Publicity, Movies and our enthusiasms have brought more and more seekers to the road. Perhaps they are seeking something different. Persil didn't actually wash whiter than any other detergent but people bought it just the same.

For those for whom a hot shower isn't the be-all-and-end-all of their needs I recommend John Hillaby's standard procedure. "Find yourself a dew-soaked meadow, out of sight of the curious. Remove all your clothes. Roll around until refreshed. Towel dry; or rely on sun and breeze if you prefer."
 

ShaLaw

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
Kindness is indeed "the cherry on the pie" and of course always appreciated when on the receiving end.
Then again " truly mean " and " being curt " are such subjective perceptions.
And I will repeat what I wrote above and many other people posted here too on different occasions : " A tourist demands, a pilgrim asks ".
Hi SabineP. We didn't demand anything. We didn't stay for dinner. We didn't ask for a refund. We just went on our way, thankful to be out of her toxic environment. Sorry if I've caused offence, but the topic of this thread is unprofessional hospitaleros and their attitudes....and this was our experience with one.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Perhaps it is also the time to ask yourself (yourself as in general, nobody personally meant) how you acted towards the hospitaler@? Did you make an effort to make his/her day better? In my native tongue we have a saying "how you call out defines the echo you'll receive". As pilgrims shouldn't we strive to make the world around us a wee bit better instead of demanding that the world/camino is made better for us pilgrims? If the goal of your pilgrimage is a bed, a hot shower, good food - you don't need to go on a pilgrimage, you hopefully have all this already at home ... Buen Camino, SY
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
I just witnessed the most embarassing 40 minutes of a group Of 5 who could not make up,their mind about staying in a most wonderful albergue they had a reservation for as they wanted to first shop,around, and expected the hospitalera to make calls for them and drive them from place to place. Truly shameful. The poor girl just wanted them out of her home, and rightly so.

And a 5 minute hot shower in an albergue is disrespecful of pilgrims coming after you who will get cold water, and for the economics of the albergue. Who even takes 5 minute showers at home these days?
 

mralisn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SdC (2005), Camino Norte-Fisterra (2010), SJPdP-Muxia-Fisterra (2012), Camino Norte w/Primitivo-Muxia-Fisterra (2014), Camino Portuguese (2016)
In all of this, my same view comes to mind. Have spent over 120 days on 4 walks. This still holds true:

My worst day on the Camino is better than my best day at home.
 
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