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Miraz Albergue. 4pm opening


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Let me say up front that the Albergue at Mirza is probably the best, most welcoming albergue on the Notre, the facilities are second to none, but can anyone please explain the opening hours policy. I arrived after a fairly long walk from Vilalba to be faced with a choice of a couple of hours wait, or walk on and l was not on my own. I know that the hospilarios are volunteers and must work dammed hard to keep the Albergue up to the standard that it has ...but....the opening hours policy does nothing to enhance the reputation of the CSJ
I have not placed this post to start a michevious row, simply to get an explanation of policy, it would seem to me that 2pm would be more reasonable.


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Had the same problem last year. Arrived wet and cold and had to wait 2 hours for them to open. the staff were there and the place was clean and ready they just don’t open until 4pm! Given how short the stage before Miraz is its a pity they open so late.
It is the Spanish business model. An establishment presents an offering, and you take it or leave it. Customer service comes into play only within that framework.
Ref the first two replays, I don't think I can accept that it's just the way it is. If it was the same last year it suggests that it's an instruction from a higher authority, if it's the CSJ'S mission to support pilgrims then perhap's it's time for a more "customer" focus.
Given that I am no l am no longer a member, but did donitivo at the at the albergue.
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If its still only two hospitaleros then I would say even though its a short stint of usually 2 weeks it can be pretty full on, so even they need a break in the afternoons, if pilgrims are coming in they wont get this break. An another option is to have some place you can register your name for the day and/or store your bag, then turn back up at 4.

I dont like using the word customer with the CSJ albergue in Miraz, it implies all the contempary values of efficient, standard( mechanical) service given from only one side, in this case it needs the less popular concept of service which includes patience on all sides.
Hi Mike,
I think I agree with you re the word "customer" but never the less the albergue does exist to support pilgrims. I in no way want to sound critical of the people running the albergue, they could not have been nicer, even to the extent of providing a breakfast at an ungodly hour. They do a job I would probably not want to do and I am sure they do not like to make people wait to get in who are perhaps wet and cold and tired. I as I initially posted would like a response from the policy maker that would help me understand the reasoning behind what seems to be a decision made at "central office" and as Mr Walker reports I'm not the first to raise this issue.
I think it depends on the hospitaleros and what kinda day or week they are having. I arrived at 10.45am and was first to get there, initally they said i would have to wait which wasnt so bad because it was a glorious day. They had plans to visit a nearby swiss woman and have a meal with her but in the end without any prompting they relented and let me and the other early arrivers in, another day and i would have been out on the porch for about 5 hours. I think CSJ has said to the h ospitaleros that they can not exceed the official capacity anymore, 33 stayed the night i was there,the capacity was 16 but i am sure they are flexible with other situations.

I know what its like to be in the pouring rain on the Norte and the hospitalero is sticking to his opening time, its feels such a big pain, i am not trying to take away from the situation but it what makes up the camino is the range of experiences you have to go through.

All the best Mike.
OK - I recently became a trustee with CSJ. As the two people with the closest involvement with managing Miraz are away at the moment, I'm going to respond.
The Confraternity of St James (CSJ) is a UK charity, so it is governed by elected volunteers. CSJ runs two albergues, at Miraz on the Norte and Gaucelmo at Rabanal in the Frances. These are entirely staffed by volunteers who are vetted and trained by the CSJ team (volunteers themselves).
Miraz is a more difficult albergue to run, for a number of reasons, including the fact that it now provides the only pilgrim accommodation in the village and that it is within 100km of Santiago. So a larger, more diverse set of pilgrims arriving in a small village with no other options places pressure on our ability to run an excellent albergue. The situation at Gaucelmo is easier, so let's be clear that the late afternoon opening does not apply there.
Our albergues each have their own working groups (of volunteers) who look after all matters of the running of the albergue (which are many!). They monitor not only the feedback from pilgrims, but also from the volunteers. These volunteers are ex-pilgrims all dedicated to giving up their time to run an albergue to support other pilgrims. The Miraz working group has found that there has been a lot of strain placed on the volunteers recently by a number of factors related to the situation outlined above. Without volunteers we have no albergue at all so we must listen to them and respond to their needs and concerns. Opening at four o'clock is a strategy that (as I understand it) has only been adopted as a test policy this year - although it may have been tested occasionally, informally, last year.
Your feedback - pilgrim feedback - is essential. But we still have to balance this against whether we are able to staff an albergue at all.. whether volunteers will feel they are sufficiently supported to come back and keep the place open next year and the year after.
So I can assure you that we are acutely aware that this is not ideal. The working group and the board of trustees are studying all aspects of the situation. But at the time of writing this is the best trade-off (in combination with other actions) we have come up with for now.
Mike's idea of being able to at least leave a pack earlier in the day is a good one and I'll take this back to the working group.
regards, tom
Hi perigrino Tom,
Thanks for the reply, I now understand and see the reasoning, I guess the actual position of the albergue presents its own problem.
I have got to say that the albergue is simply the best, and the people running it while i was there were great, and like I said got up at a ungodly hour to send everyone down the camino with a breakfast. thanks
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George - nice one. It's reassuring to hear the rest of your stay was so good. I'll post back here if CSJ makes any changes. I hope to pass through Miraz later in the year and experience it all myself!
cheers, tom
I have just returned from completing the Norte. What a shame you never learnt to relax and enjoy the camino. I also arrived early to find it closed. God bless the hospitalerios for giving up there time for us pilgrims. Let them enjoy a few hours relaxation. Their day started at 6.00 a.m. and finished at 10.30 p.m A few hours off in the afternoon was well deserved. I enjoyed arriving at 2.30 p.m. with an hour and a half to spend in the beautiful garden sharing the pilgrimage with fellow pilgrims. A short time spent in the bar talking to locals and keeping the local economy thriving. If I had wanted to find everything open all hours I would have had an all inclusive holiday in Majorca, instead I chose to walk a Camino. My biggest regret of the camino was the 'pilgrims' who did not get it.

God bless all the volunteers who made my camino so special. Thank you all.
I was hospitalera at least three times at Miraz. Like Tom says above, it is a tough place to run, mostly due to its isolation and lack of transportation options.

In the morning, once the cleaning is done, hospitaleros like to take hikes, naps, or an expedition to shop in one of the two market towns nearby. This requires a 20-euro cab fare or a two-hour hike or bike-ride. A nice Menu del Dia is an hour's walk away, or at least it was three years ago, when I last served there.

Hospitaleros often cannot be back at the House til opening time, and after that the day is often non-stop.

Miraz is a small town, but it's not lacking in welcoming places to while away an hour or two. Given the several challenges hospitaleros face there, as well as its increasingly rare Donativo stance, it is not asking too much of the pilgrims to wait til 4 p.m. to get in.

Being a pilgrim is a give-and-take proposition, after all, and a pilgrim albergue is not an "at your service" hotel.
But what the 2 previous posters seem to miss is what its like when you arrive in the wet and very cold to find you have to wait outside for 2 hours! It does not need all of the hospitalerios to be there tolet the early people in on a cold day.
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Hi Hughb,
I was going to reply to your comment about it not learning to relax and enjoy my fourth camino in an angry way but I can't be bothered, by the way, my biggest regret is letting judgemental posts annoy me!
I was there about 10 days ago and can't speak highly enough about the albuerge and the volunteers who staffed it. Thanks guys. The opening time is a bit of quandary.It's between 2 big albuerges.Baamonde and Sobrado. These 2 albergues are 40kms apart which is a bit of a daunting distance for some people, hence the bottle neck at Miraz. I arrived from Vialba (I'm a quick walker)at 2.45pm and was surpised to see the queue of people already there. Some folks had been there from 10am having spent the previous night at Baamonde 14.5km. I don't like to judge other people's caminos but, for me,I wouldn't feel very fulfilled only walking 3 hours a day.
Many of the crowd arriving from Vilalba couldn't get a bed and I know it's tough on the hospitaleros turning people away.Hopefully they will be able to extend- maybe a bunkhouse in the lovely garden. There may also be someone else in the village who can open up a privado. Some of the people from Vilalba decided to sleep in the park. They were quite happy to sleep under the stars.The local church warden must have pitied them as she gave them the keys to the church.Such is the Camino.
Just realised I'm off-topic. 4pm is not an unreasonable time. As a previous poster said these guys are up at 6am organising brekkie for the pilgrims.Pilgrims can sit in the garden or go the bar.No one who stayed there the same night as me had a grumble about the scenario. They were a nice bunch.Once again thanks for a lovely stay.
We are starting to walk from Ribadeo om Monday from what you are saying the route is busy? I am in a qundry as do not want to spend time waiting for a refuge to open but we will see how it goes
Wow is this the same albergue which was the talk of the Norte when I passed through in mid-July?
Many people were shocked at how abusive the English hospitalero was to pilgrims; shouting and screaming at people and throwing them out.
Many of the albergues on the early stages of the del Norte also had 4pm openings. It's tedious waiting if you hang around in front of the albergue but not so bad if you meet up with others, have a coffee or a beer/wine and take the time to write your daily journal or just be still for a while.

We make a choice about the time we leave the albergue in the morning and therefore our anticipated arrival time at the next one. If we're going to arrive early, we have to be prepared to wait. It's certainly not on to take our lack of patience out on the hospitalero.
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It's tedious waiting
I learned to wait on the camino. I now can sit on an airplane for hours doing nothing. I can babysit, and just sit with the TV off and the grandson playing by himself. I remind myself of Puddy from Seinfeld. He made Elaine crazy by just sitting on the plane doing nothing.

If the opportunity presents itself on your camino, contemplate the benefits of waiting without the "tedious" part. It is right up there with "pack light" in the category of lessons learned.
Wow is this the same albergue which was the talk of the Norte when I passed through in mid-July?
Many people were shocked at how abusive the English hospitalero was to pilgrims; shouting and screaming at people and throwing them out.

If that happened in Miraz and you are sure about it, you should report that happening directly to the CSJ in London. Such behavior is certainly not recommended in their "Hospitalero Handbook"! SY
I learned to wait on the camino. I now can sit on an airplane for hours doing nothing.
That was also one of my Camino lessons. On the first leg of the journey home (London - Singapore), there was a problem with the controls in my seat. I had no video, no light and also no option of moving because the plane was full (I did say that I was willing to be relocated to business class but that fell on deaf ears). All I could do was sit. It was surprisingly easy and definitely something that would have been unthinkable pre-Camino.
I stayed in Mizaz last year (May). We choose ( assorted group of 5) to walk a short day. I mistakenly read there was no bar in the village and thought also no food. We carried wine and food with us. We also stopped off and spent a very pleasant few hours in the previous "coffee shop/internet bar" a few kms before Miraz. When we arrived the alberque was closed. As before we lined up our bags and repaired to the "bar", we were delighted to find it there and open. Another couple arrived and the bar owner gave them bread and cheese and jamon, allowing them to make their own bocadillos. We then saw the hospitaleros walk up the road and realised they had walked into the previous town for the menu del dia and walked back (obviously). One of us walked over asking re opening. They said give us a "break", no rush, your bags are there etc. We did not rush them, delighted in their interest in us as a group and on previous Camino experiences etc. I felt bad next day as our group (as a group) behaved badly in leaving before the breakfast ...and upset the volunteers. I sent an e.mail of apology. I think if we are setting off at 6am and expecting to check in at 12pm we must ascertain if our destination provides that facility. In a very busy alberque on Camino Frances El Burgo opened on time ?-but the checking in took a long time and when I checked in I realised the hospitaleros were having a conversation with all walkers, I enjoyed this and even joined them later for further conversation re the Camino Madrid and why I was on it.
I was that "person" once giving out, tired and hungry , impatient. Now I wait and if there is no where to go I just wait...and express my gratitude to the volunteers who give us so much. Miraz was wonderful to me.
We arrived early at Miraz and were kindly let in by the volunteers David & Carol. We had interrupted their lunch and yet they kindly invited us in for tea. We had a wonderful stay there and it was a highlight of our Norte Camino.
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We arrived early at Miraz and were kindly let in by the volunteers David & Carol. We had interrupted their lunch and yet they kindly invited us in for tea. We had a wonderful stay there and it was a highlight of our Norte Camino.
Which shows, once again, that it mostly depends on the hospitaleros on duty! Buen Camino! SY
All valid points on a late opening for Miraz or any Albergue. My wife and I look at it a little differently as former hospitaleros. We served for 17 days at Albergue San Miguel in Estella in May 2011, also a donativo and we provided a dinner and breakfast. While we virtually had ZERO time for ourselves, the reason we volunteered in the first place was to serve pilgrims. The 'rules' of the Albergue were for a 1:00 PM opening however if we were ready to go before that then we opened instead of sitting around inside waiting for 1:00. We always had pilgrims before 'opening time'. The way we felt was that if you came all the way to Spain to volunteer you can surely suck it up for 2 weeks and be there as much as possible to serve the pilgrims. We worked from about 5:30 AM to 10:30 PM every day and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We adapted our schedules to meet the needs of the pilgrims. When you are a pilgrim it's all about 'me' feet, where do I sleep, where can I get some food, how can I get dry. As a hospitalero it's all about the you need something to eat/drink, can I help you with those blisters, let me show you where the pharmacia is, I will try to fix that for you.... Our overriding philosophy as hospitaleros focused on 3 things...we would greet you with a smile, we would have a clean Albergue and we will ALWAYS have toilet tissue. It worked and we're looking forward to serving again in the future. Dayton and Karen, London, Canada
Hi Dayton and Karen -
Exactly the wonderful approach you had when we walked briefly with you.!
What a wonderful Hospitale@ manifesto you have written. "the reason we volunteered in the first place was to serve pilgrims." - A beautiful summary!
Buen Albergue!, SY
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Simple solution: you arrived before 4pm and don't want to wait outside? Head right next door to the bar. The woman who runs it is lovely! I'm sad to say I forgot her name. Starts with a P I think......

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