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More current refugio information - Burgos to Astorga, live.


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Hi pilgrims again - we have some more updates for those loco enough to be doing the Frances in winter. Like me :D

Okay, firstly, Burgos´albergue is a dream - clean, with semi-private bunks, new building ... We stayed two nights without too much fuss (in winter, they are more sympathetic to all those aches and pains I think!).

From Burgos, things have been interesting. You can pick up an updated list of albergues for Castilla Leon from the Burgos albergue, which is useful for phone numbers but should not be relied on for current information. Please CALL AHEAD so you don´t get stranded without a bed! I would recommend asking what shops/bars are open and also whether the albergue has heating. We have had some very chilly nights on the meseta with little or no heating in albergues in zero degree temps. Not recommended!

The refugio in Tardajos appeared to be open, but I did not check for sure. Incidentally, I would recommend stocking up on food here if you plan to stay in either Hornillos del Camino or Hontanas.

Hornillos was OPEN but there were no shops or bars open. The hospitalera also owns a bar just opposite the rooster statue which she will open for pilgrims solely to re-sell whatever foods she has bought from a larger town. There is only a microwave in the albergue, as well as a coffee machine and drinks machine. Do yourself a favour and buy some fresh vegetables beforehand - those microwaveable veges are truly awful!

Hontanas was also OPEN but suffered from a similar problem. I´m not sure what pilgrims did there for food, but I seem to recall it came from vending machines. You have been warned!

Despite the heavy-handed graffiti on camino signs, the refugio at San Bol is well and truly CLOSED.

At least one albergue in Castrojeriz is open. There is a very useful shop in the main square of Castrojeriz that sells a mind-blowing range of trekking gear (lightweight sleeping bags, liners, you name it) for such a tiny tienda.

Itero de la Vega has two options for pilgrims. We opted to stay at La Mochila, the private albergue, but I would warn others away. The hospitalero seemed to resent our intrusion and put the heating on in the two storey building for about two hours, which was enough to raise the room temperature by about half a degree. The kitchen was, to be frank, filthy. Better I suspect to stay at the municipal albergue, just off the camino by the church. There is one tiny tienda in town if you choose to cook.

Boadilla del Camino was OPEN, but I have no further information. The town had no bars open when we passed by in the morning.

Fromista has a private albergue open. We did not see it, but have since met several pilgrims who intended to stay there, all of whom opted to continue walking on to Poblacion de Campos, 4km further, rather than stay. Beds are, I think, 10 euro, but the albergue may be, as one Spanish pilgrim said, "a shit". Be prepared perhaps to walk a bit further.

Poblacion is of course open, but lacks any heating. My understanding is that a bed costs 3 euro and you can get a meal for 6 euro.

Villalacazar de Sirga ("Villasirga") was reportedly open, though I know of no one who has stayed there.

Carrion de los Condes has only one albergue OPEN ("Espiritu Santo"). The albergue is just off the camino and you will probably have to beg directions from several locals. The albergue is run by nuns, costs 8 euros, and has some very comfortable beds in a clean dorm. It also has a kitchen. There is a blessed miracle of a large supermarket in town with things like fresh prawns and vegetables, which you might inspire you to cook. We chose to eat out but had a lot of trouble finding a pilgrim´s menu. The only place anyone could suggest was Él Doblon. Again accost a local - the food was hearty and the wine took away the pain ...

After the 17km stretch of nothingness surrounded by windy nothingness, the albergue at Calzadilla de la Cueza is open, as was the bar, in which the locals from several towns seemed to have congregated.

Terradillos de los Templarios has one albergue open ("Jacques de Molay"). We didn´t stay there, but one pilgrim reported the only option for food was to eat the menu at the albergue, and - almost unbelievably from a pilgrim´s menu - he was left hungry after it. Carry snacks if you´re a hearty eater!

We didn´t pass an open albergue in Sahagun, so phone and check. We DID however have the misfortune to encounter a flasher (!) on the road between Sahagun and Calzada del Coto. Women walking alone might want to pair up with someone on this stretch of road. (The man had parked his car beside a silo on the other side of the road, so beware if you see a car there.) I picked up a stone or two to ditch at the offender, but he was actually too far away. Feel free to pitch one at his bare bits for me! (Actually, best to put your head down and walk on, of course.)

Bercianos is CLOSED.

Domenico Laffi in El Burgo Ranero is OPEN. Follow the signs at the entrance to the town that say albergue. The building is poorly marked but is opposite the Hostal Peregrino. You may need to get the key from the hospitalera who runs the small tienda just a little further down the road. You´ll need to ring the bell. There was only a single woodfire for the two storey adobe building - it´s rather charming, but I would warn against getting too cosy with the blankets provided. One pilgrim who neglected to carry a sleeping bag used only the blankets and ended up being bitten quite badly by chinches (bedbugs!).

Reliegos is OPEN - we met the friendly hospitalero in a bar, but know no other details. A note on the bars in Reliegos - there is a very obvious bar as you approach the town, covered in pilgrim graffiti and seeming to have a face. It´s a fascinating place, but a fellow pilgrim ducked into the toilets and judging on their appearance we can´t recommend that you eat there unless you have an iron stomach. Ignore the graffiti on the road outside the bar that suggests the road to Mansilla is off to the left. The camino actually goes to the right of the bar and soon passes another, cleaner, bar, where we had a particularly delicious bocadillo de tortilla. Bar wars on the camino?

Sadly, Mansilla de las Mulas just closed for the season, (the day after we stayed there) - which is a shame because it had heating and a truly lovely hospitalero.

Puente de Vilarente, 6km on, is reportedly OPEN.

From the reports of other pilgrims, the Benedictine albergue in Leon is OPEN. They don´t supply pillows. After one too many nights in chilly accommodation (having the hot water fail midway through a shampoo in Mansilla was the last straw for me!), we elected to stay in the clean, safe and central Hostal Guzman el Bueno, which cost 45 euro for a double and was worth every cent to warm our poor bones.

A note on Leon:
Most of the bars in Leon will give you free tapas if you buy a drink (awesome!), but if you´re famished it might serve only to leave you drunk and still hungry. We wanted to eat early but had to wait until 8 when bars began to serve ´real´ food.
Also, the tourist information centre has MOVED, at least temporarily, to a new location. After you exit Calle de Rua and turn right, following the camino, take the first left for the tourist centre. It is marked only by a temporary sign outside its large door, but the women there were incredibly helpful.
And be sure to visit the cathedral. Wow.

There are two routes from Leon to Hospital de Orbigo. We elected to follow the road, but it´s a pretty nasty stretch of camino, and it might be worthwhile to take the alternate route, stopping in Villar de Mazarife, which is OPEN and had some good reports.

On the N120 stretch, there appeared to be an albergue open in Villadangos del Paramo. We stayed in San Martin del Camino at the only open albergue, the private Santa Ana. Once again it should be noted that the albergue has NO heating in the rooms. A stay will cost you 7 euro for a (icy) private room or 5 for a dorm, but it is "obligatory" to also buy either breakfast for 3 euro (which was toast and jam, croissants, lots of coffee and madalenas) or the 9 euro menu. We elected to cook dinner in the kitchen, but if you also choose to do so, you´ll need to bring coins for the oven, which only has two operating elements, and will cost you 20 cents for 8 minutes of cooking time. Showers there were hot.

Hospital de Orbigo is OPEN and one pilgrim I just spoke to said it was her favourite of the camino!
Be sure to turn right after Hospital de Orbigo to stay on the nicer stretch to Astorga. There´s a man called David who has a little stand of juice, fruit, coffee and snacks on one of the hilltops (donativo), and who also has a quirky heartshaped stamp for your credencial.

Despite, once again, the large signs to the contrary, the only albergue in Astorga that is open is the municipal, which you encounter early upon entering the city. It has warm enough showers and plenty of heating and FREE internet, which is why this post is so long! San Javier is closed for renovation, so save your poor feet the walk to the other side of town.

Tomorrow we go to Foncebadon, where Monte Irago is open. I´m so excited to be hitting some mountains after all that meseta! Send a little prayer to St James that the snow holds off long enough for us to make the crossing! And hi out there to all those following. Buen camino! :D
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Thanks heaps!! Will be very useful for us, as we will be in Burgos tomorrow. What's the weather like, snow anywhere on the meseta?

Jo, Ariel and Rachel, the three young Australian girls who have a reputation on the camino by now! It's actually really funny: whenever we meet anyone they already know about us!
No worries Jo! Glad you guys are going so well!

There was some very light snow on the meseta and just a few snowdrifts on the mountain pass from Foncebadon. We have been so lucky with the weather - I hope it holds out for those following!

By the way, Rabanal is open.

Monte Irago in Foncebadon is open and warm and to be recommended!

Manjarin is open, but I´m not sure it´s to everyone´s taste. It´s definitely worth a look at even if you don´t stay there.

I believe there was at least one albergue in El Acebo open.

Riego de Ambros is CLOSED.

Molinaseca is OPEN but you might need to do some ringing around to find Alfredo the hospitalero. Check first at Santa Marina, on the right side of the road, outside of the old town, before heading down to the municipal, further down the road on the left. Alfredo, it must be said, is a kind and patient man who has been a hospitalero for 18 (!) years!

Ponferrada is OPEN, but the doors don´t open til 3pm, or perhaps a little later! Lovely, though.

That´s all for now. Greetings from Ponferrada!
Thanks for the great and priceless info. I'm planning to rejoin the Camino on 22-dec and walk till I reach V.ilafranca del Bierzo. I've been more concerned about the availability of albergues than with the bad weather
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