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Question about Albergue in San Juan de Ortega

#1
In 2000, when the garlic soup-making priest was still in San Juan de Ortega, I stopped with my walking partner in San Juan. We went up and put our packs on the bed, etc, and after about 4 minutes, my pal told me she was having trouble breathing. A quick look around showed there was mold on all the walls, and we just couldn´t stay there. So I had to miss the garlic soup, which I’m sure was a very nice tradition.

Since then I think I have read somewhere that there were going to be serious reforms and repairs in the albergue. I know that the amazing church underwent a lot of renovation thanks to a huge EU grant, and I thought I saw that the albergue was going to be redone as well. On the website, the monastery says that the albergue has all the amenities a pilgrim needs and that the place has been modernized. So has it been redone and the mold banished? I’m sure there must be a lot of forum members who stay there, and I haven’t seen complaints like I used to see on the forum, so maybe there have been changes.

Thanks, peregrinos. Buen camino, Laurie
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#3
...
Dinner was brought in from elsewhere. No soup.
I think no garlic soup because (sorry don't remember the name of the priest) no one carried the tradition on. As I remember the priest died in 2012/2013???
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#4
I stayed there in 2015, so not recently.
Once was enough.
I don't remember the mold so much, but it was freezing cold and the 'facilities' were more than basic - which would have been fine had they worked, but they didn't completely work, which wasn't fine.
And there was no feeling of hospitality at all. We pilgrims were just walking purses.
They were restoring the church at the time, but the albergue did not look like it had had any attention for a long long time.
Hopefully there has been some change.
 
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JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
The Frances from Pamplona and part VF, first-aid helper and hospitalera
#5
Hi Laurie and Forum members -

When I stayed there in early July this year it was very basic and a little grubby - a bit tired and 'unloved'. John Brierley quotes in his guidebook that the maintenance there is spartan and he's correct. I didn't notice any mould anywhere though the bathroom floor was a bit sticky. I imagine that the profits from running this historic monastery as an albergue wouldn't be much and I felt sorry for the owners/managers who seemed weary and overworked.

It's large (sleeps 70) and the first dorm was really crowded. I stayed in the second dorm which was a little more spacious. The shared pilgrim dinner (9 or 10 euro) was served buffet-style and the food was plentiful but average. The garlic soup which formed part of the meal was fine but most pilgrims passed on having 'seconds'. It was lovely though to have stayed in the old monastery and to experience the tradition of the eating of the garlic soup, plus to experience the Mass and the pilgrims blessing.

Cheers from Oz -

Jenny
 
#7
Thanks, everyone. Looking at pictures on gronze and doing some googling, I can see that the place definitely has been updated. And it looks like the updates happened about 4 or 5 years ago. The bathrooms shown in Gronze’s fotos are centuries newer than the ones I remember. And I’m glad to hear there is no mold! But the commentaries on Eroski and Gronze continue to be negative, with more than a few commenting on how they see that the new management really doesn’t create the ambiente that the place desrves and how it is just a profit making enterprise. So I wonder if the church has leased it out. But the garlic soup is still being served!

So I guess the renovations I read about have happened but that improvement is not so great. Too bad.
 
Camino(s) past & future
----
#8
I chatted with two pilgrims this spring (2018) who didn't look like the particularly fussy types and they called the albergue in San Juan de Ortega "versifft" and said they had one look and left immediately. I'm not very familiar with the word, it's something like "not well cared for" and "yucky".
 
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SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#9
2011 was the year that I stayed there so also outdated info.
Together with the muni in Viladangos del Paramo my only bad albergue experiences in terms of hygiene and general maintenance.
The bad air and overall mould were very uncomfortable. I remember that in San Juan de Ortega I did not bother to shower because of the dirty installations. The prensence of the hospitalera that day was almost non existent.
 
#10
Well, based on everyone’s comments it looks like the San Juan de Ortega albergue has improved from awful-moldy-unsanitary to dirty-yucky-indifferent

That is such a shame, because it could be another place like Sobrado! And even if the albergue is yucky, the church is absolutely not to be missed. I think @VNwalking has posted some gorgeous pictures of that place, really a treasure. Thanks to all.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#11
Thanks, everyone. Looking at pictures on gronze and doing some googling, I can see that the place definitely has been updated. And it looks like the updates happened about 4 or 5 years ago. The bathrooms shown in Gronze’s fotos are centuries newer than the ones I remember. And I’m glad to hear there is no mold! But the commentaries on Eroski and Gronze continue to be negative, with more than a few commenting on how they see that the new management really doesn’t create the ambiente that the place desrves and how it is just a profit making enterprise. So I wonder if the church has leased it out. But the garlic soup is still being served!

So I guess the renovations I read about have happened but that improvement is not so great. Too bad.
Laurie, we entered in 2015...and left! ...Unfortunately, the private accommodation we stayed in Ages is where I got attacked by a clear infestation of bed bugs... others too, have also repeatedly reported bed bugs in accommodations in that town. So would pass by these two locations when I get to this area....
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#12
San Juan de Ortega was the setting of one of the most memorable events of my first Camino in 1990 though for certain reasons I have very little memory of how the place looked.

I arrived at San Juan de Ortega in late afternoon on a hot August day having walked from Belorado. For most of the afternoon I had been throwing up violently - probably food poisoning though it may have been sunstroke. Two French couples I had shared an albergue with the previous night saw my dreadful state and called the priest - probably with the last rites in the back of their minds :) He led me off to his cool dark kitchen and poured me a huge tumbler of neat Spanish gin. "Drink that!" "No food, no water, just gin". I expressed some doubt at the plan and asked the priest to bury me if it proved fatal and then write to tell my wife. "Don't worry about her - she's young, she'll marry again!" So I downed the gin in one gulp. For about 20 seconds I was in agony as my mistreated innards were cauterized. Then a wonderful warm feeling replaced it. The priest led me to a bed where I promptly fell asleep. He came by several times that night to check I was OK. By morning I was miraculously recovered and well enough to walk on to Burgos. I vaguely remember that the old monastery complex was basically a building site - work in progress. I remember very little in detail about the building itself. But the generous welcome and compassion from my fellow pilgrims and especially the parish priest have stayed with me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked CF September/October 2015
#13
I too had an incredibly moving experience in San Juan de Ortega. I had a very difficult walking day. I had been walking with an incredible amount of pain in both my knees. I had actually sat down at the 2km sign before San Juan, unsure if I could make it another 2k. I did manage to make it those next two kilometers, and after I arrived and got checked in, I decided to go to mass that evening. The priest blessed beautiful cross necklaces and presented them to all the pilgrims. Back at the albergue after mass, a pilgrim named Walt began to sing and play guitar for everyone in the dining room. My broken body and my soaring spirit began to diverge. It was absolutely one of my favorite memories that I brought home from the Camino. The albergue was nothing impressive. I don’t remember seeing mold, but yes, it was among the shabbier ones I stayed in (in 2015). But I wouldn’t trade that memory for anything.
 

TaijiPilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011), Camino Frances (2015), Camino Ingles (2017), Camino Muxia (2017)
#14
In 2000, when the garlic soup-making priest was still in San Juan de Ortega, I stopped with my walking partner in San Juan. We went up and put our packs on the bed, etc, and after about 4 minutes, my pal told me she was having trouble breathing. A quick look around showed there was mold on all the walls, and we just couldn´t stay there. So I had to miss the garlic soup, which I’m sure was a very nice tradition.

Since then I think I have read somewhere that there were going to be serious reforms and repairs in the albergue. I know that the amazing church underwent a lot of renovation thanks to a huge EU grant, and I thought I saw that the albergue was going to be redone as well. On the website, the monastery says that the albergue has all the amenities a pilgrim needs and that the place has been modernized. So has it been redone and the mold banished? I’m sure there must be a lot of forum members who stay there, and I haven’t seen complaints like I used to see on the forum, so maybe there have been changes.

Thanks, peregrinos. Buen camino, Laurie
My experience of the albergue at San Juan de Ortega dates back to May 2015. I remember it as not being very friendly while designed to fit in as many bodies as possible. Perhaps the sense of unwelcome was amplified because I had spent the night before in the warm and intimate Tosantos. My journal remarks include " lots of bunks, not great lavatory facilities, lukewarm showers." I also noted reconstruction of the entire complex was under way. More of my entry was devoted to the sparsely attended pilgrims mass and the gift of the cross of San Juan. Oh, the cafeteria style pilgrims meal was forgettable as was what they called garlic soup.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#15
My experience of the albergue at San Juan de Ortega dates back to May 2015. I remember it as not being very friendly while designed to fit in as many bodies as possible. Perhaps the sense of unwelcome was amplified because I had spent the night before in the warm and intimate Tosantos. My journal remarks include " lots of bunks, not great lavatory facilities, lukewarm showers." I also noted reconstruction of the entire complex was under way. More of my entry was devoted to the sparsely attended pilgrims mass and the gift of the cross of San Juan. Oh, the cafeteria style pilgrims meal was forgettable as was what they called garlic soup.
Tosantos will be forever in my heart!
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes, Aragones-Frances-Finisterre, Operation Sabre, Marin Ramble
#16
Stayed there in May, 2018 - perfectly fine as a low-cost albergue, so I suppose it all depends on what accommodations one typically sleeps in on the rest of the Camino. Large bunk rooms, adequate showers, enjoyable buffet-style dinner (with the garlic soup) - wasn’t disappointed for what I paid.

The highlight was mass in the adjacent church which contains the remains of Saint Juan himself! A local gave us a private tour while we waited for the service to start, so that was a nice bonus. The entire area was flooded by bus tourists and school groups during the afternoon, but silent by evening (except several groups of “party van pilgrims” who insisted on talkungvin their cell phoned until late and then setting individual music alarms to wake up before sunrise so they could be the first ones on the trail...
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#18
Absolutely. And it being the equinox, today was the day to see the miraculous illumination of the annunciation.
We walked into San Juan on the equinox in 2009...with no knowledge that it was the equinox or that the "Miraculous Illumination of the Annunciation" was to happen that day. It took a little while for us to understand what it was all about as there were no English speakers there when we got there.

We took one look at the albergue and opted to go to the very nice Casa Rural (then brand new) a block away. The bar next door to the albergue was actually one of our favorites. The owners also owned (or managed) the Casa Rural.

Just before the actual illumination started the parking lot became full of cars and some buses with people who had come to see the event. I also have a lot of pictures (somewhere).

The albergue was as bad as it gets when we walked through it. We would have walked on if the Casa Rural was not there....and we were really tired having walked 25 km and running out of water due to miscalculation.
I am surprised no one else in this thread mentioned the Casa Rural.

The next time I walked through to Ages without stopping. Another time, in January, everything was closed including the church and bar.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#19
We walked into San Juan on the equinox in 2009...with no knowledge that it was the equinox or that the "Miraculous Illumination of the Annunciation" was to happen that day.
same here in 2015.
But alas it was a rainy day. It was sleeting, actually, but that is another story.
I am surprised no one else in this thread mentioned the Casa Rural.
I had no idea it was there.:oops:
The bar certainly had a nice vibe.
Too bad....That is such a shame, because it could be another place like Sobrado!
Way too bad. It could be a gem, in loving hands (and with some financial backing).
Unfortunately, the private accommodation we stayed in Ages is where I got attacked by a clear infestation of bed bugs... others too, have also repeatedly reported bed bugs in accommodations in that town. So would pass by these two locations when I get to this area....
I wouldn't dismiss Ages accommodation because of one (or even several) reports of bedbugs. They can happen anywhere anytime, as they travel with peregrinos. Always check first....Ages is a highlight for me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2014,2015,2016.
March 2017 Oct 2018
#20
We had heard bad reports so walked from Belorado to Atapuerca. We were delighted when our fellow pilgrims from Belorado all arrived at hotel rural parasol for a great dinner
 

Ron

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2013/2014
Camino Portuguese 2015/2016
Camino Norte 2016/2017
Camino Primativo 2017/20
#21
San Juan de Ortega was the setting of one of the most memorable events of my first Camino in 1990 though for certain reasons I have very little memory of how the place looked.

I arrived at San Juan de Ortega in late afternoon on a hot August day having walked from Belorado. For most of the afternoon I had been throwing up violently - probably food poisoning though it may have been sunstroke. Two French couples I had shared an albergue with the previous night saw my dreadful state and called the priest - probably with the last rites in the back of their minds :) He led me off to his cool dark kitchen and poured me a huge tumbler of neat Spanish gin. "Drink that!" "No food, no water, just gin". I expressed some doubt at the plan and asked the priest to bury me if it proved fatal and then write to tell my wife. "Don't worry about her - she's young, she'll marry again!" So I downed the gin in one gulp. For about 20 seconds I was in agony as my mistreated innards were cauterized. Then a wonderful warm feeling replaced it. The priest led me to a bed where I promptly fell asleep. He came by several times that night to check I was OK. By morning I was miraculously recovered and well enough to walk on to Burgos. I vaguely remember that the old monastery complex was basically a building site - work in progress. I remember very little in detail about the building itself. But the generous welcome and compassion from my fellow pilgrims and especially the parish priest have stayed with me.
I also have to tell about San Juan de Ortega. I hope you enjoy it. It was in January 2015. I also began from Belorado. I remember stopping for lunch, and then the long hill, stopping at a war monument, and then carrying on.

I was conscious that I was behind time in getting to the next village where I would sleep the night. It was important to get there before dark. I had an anxious feeling. It was like a small cloud on an otherwise cloudless day. If I could mark it 1 to 10, it would be about a 3 – a low intensity sort of feeling.

I carried on, and on and on. It seemed these mountains would go on forever. There were still occasional way markers, which assured me that I was on the right track. The ground was muddy and uneven, ok for daylight but treacherous when the light began to fade. I needed to be careful. Finally it was becoming dark. The anxious feeling was now much stronger. It was like a storm that had been brewing all afternoon and which I knew I would be unlikely to escape. On a scale 1 to 10, it would have been a 7. An orange colour turning to red.

Finally, in the darkness I saw faint lights of the monastery town I was heading for. I reached it late at night. Everything was quite and still.

I heard noise coming from one house. I enquired as to where the monastery accommodation was. They told me it was closed for the winter (the monks had left 300 years before!). No accommodation. Four kilometres to the next town. Maybe accommodation there. My anxious feeling was now full blown. A 10 out of 10. I felt weak, helpless, like a baby pleading for help. Incapable of fending for myself anymore. Nowhere to sleep or find shelter. My anxious feeling was a red colour, like standing on a railway line frozen, with a train coming directly at me. It was like a storm was going to hit me any moment.

I met a couple who were working on the renovations to the Church / Monastery. It was hard to communicate. I knew no Spanish, and they no English. The could see I was agitated. They mentioned aubergue and hotel. I thought they were saying they were saying they owned a hotel and I could stay with them. In reality they were asking if I must stay in a aubergue, or if I would be prepared to stay in a hotel, where they were staying. I just wanted to get into their car! They agreed to take me. They were staying in a hotel and were happy to take me to that hotel, where I could see if I could stay. I remember thinking in their car "I don't care where we are going - north, south, east, west - I just need to get a bed for the night. We got to the hotel. I could afford it. I didn't asked where I was. Next morning I did enquire, and the Camino track ran past the hotel.

St John de Ortega taught me a lot. Ignatian Spirituality talks of desolation and consolation. My desolation was having no where to stay and almost blaming the world for that 9in my mind, not inactions). Irrational thinking of course. It showed that side of me. Soset on staying there that I could see no options.Quite wrong of course. But then the blessing - a couple helping (that happens so often on the Camino.) So St John de Ortega was a growth experience for me indeed.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017); Finisterre (2018)
#22
It was the one place where I wouldn’t take a shower Luckily it wasn’t a hot day-
The food was plunked on my plate and had no flavor. The front desk man sneered and wouldn’t speak to us. Internet was only in the lobby. The pilgrim mass was wonderful and the bar next door a winner. Couldn’t wait to get back on the road the next day.
All in all it rated as low as the Zuberi municipal.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#23
The Zubiri municipal was my least favorite experience on the Camino in 2015. I made sure I passed it up the 2nd time around.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
#24
The food was plunked on my plate ......
You had food served to you .... on a plate??!!o_O My gosh, you hit the big times! We were told by the front desk man that the only bar in town would not be open in the morning, but that we could get a hot drink and something to eat from the 'breakfast machine' in the lobby. The next morning the breakfast machine was not working......nothing, zip, nada. We trudged off in the freezing cold hoping to find something in the next village but, when we got to the little hamlet, there was only another breakfast machine, also not working. But, guess what......we survived.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF September (2018)
#25
I was there just two nights ago. I saw no mold and felt no reaction to mold, of which i too am allergic. Still, i wouldnt exactly call this albergue “renovated”, though i don’ t have a basis of comparison. It is a modest albergue with basic amenities. The garlic soup was delicious.
 

Mary Ward

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2018
#26
In 2000, when the garlic soup-making priest was still in San Juan de Ortega, I stopped with my walking partner in San Juan. We went up and put our packs on the bed, etc, and after about 4 minutes, my pal told me she was having trouble breathing. A quick look around showed there was mold on all the walls, and we just couldn´t stay there. So I had to miss the garlic soup, which I’m sure was a very nice tradition.

Since then I think I have read somewhere that there were going to be serious reforms and repairs in the albergue. I know that the amazing church underwent a lot of renovation thanks to a huge EU grant, and I thought I saw that the albergue was going to be redone as well. On the website, the monastery says that the albergue has all the amenities a pilgrim needs and that the place has been modernized. So has it been redone and the mold banished? I’m sure there must be a lot of forum members who stay there, and I haven’t seen complaints like I used to see on the forum, so maybe there have been changes.

Thanks, peregrinos. Buen camino, Laurie
Hi We stayed there just earlier this month. Personally I found it seriously lacking even for the small price charged. Bunk beds crammed into the rooms, no toilet paper and pasta with warm tomato sauce. No place to sit but out side in the heat.
It was a place to sleep that's about all.
Juat thought I would share.
Thanks
 

Tazz

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances/Finisterre (2016/5)
San Salvador/Primitivo (2017/5)
Frances/Finisterre (2018/5)
#27
I stayed in San Juan in mid May of this year, however elected to stay 200 meters before the Albergue in the Casa Rural. I tried to get in on the communal dinner however no one was in the reception to help me. I did go to the mass which was nice.
In the end I am glad I did not stay in the Albergue as it was terribly cold that night such that the puddles were frozen in the morning. The Albergue was so cold when I peeked in that I don’t think my three season sleeping bag would have been enough.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#28
Bunk beds crammed into the rooms, no toilet paper and pasta with warm tomato sauce. No place to sit but out side in the heat.
It was a place to sleep that's about all.
That was the standard ten to fifteen years ago! It was a different experience...
 

Dancing Rain

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Salvado (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
#29
Loved the church and the mass, loved the old building and courtyard, loved the sense of history, but the shower/toilets, which much of the time had 2 inches of water to walk through all afternoon, evening and night, despite regular mopping, - - yuck!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#30
The Albergue was so cold when I peeked in that I don’t think my three season sleeping bag would have been enough.
I walked in from walking in snow and sleet. The albergue was not a whole lot warmer than outside. Believe me, Tazz...you're right. Mine wasn't and I was wearing several layers of clothes as well.
That was the standard ten to fifteen years ago! It was a different experience...
Well, yes, but there was hospitality. It's not the crowded dorm that got me, it was the grungy bathroom [edit - understatement - it was disgusting] and the lack of basic kindness.
I so wish this place could get an infusion of care, and new management - it could be basic but truly special.
 
Last edited:

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#31
...
Well, yes, but there was hospitality. It's not the crowded dorm that got me, it was the grungy bathroom and the lack of basic kindness.
I so wish this place could get an infusion of care, and new management - it could be basic but truly special.
So true. I slept in many odd places on different Caminos (polideportivos, swimming pool changing rooms, infirmary at bull ring arena, hairdressers classroom, on the porch of Ayto. etc.) but the people were very welcoming and kind. That makes a place special. People.
 

Stacyv

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminó francés (2017)
Planning Caminó portugués (2018)
Planning Lycian Way (2018)
#32
Some many replies! I’ll always remember this albergue as a highlight. It had a special feeling as I arrived and looked upon it that I could never understand. Looks lovely from the outside....however I got bitten by bed bugs and the bathrooms were very basic and poorly looked after. A place I’ll always remember, which is part of the Camino experience:)
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
#33
Stayed there in May of 2007. Memorable for the church, the priest and his garlic soup, the bar, and witnessing a bedbug dive bombing a companion from the top bunk to his bottom bunk!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-SdeC(2010) Newark,UK-Portsmouth(2014-2015);ferry-Santander-El Pito(2016); El Pito-SdeC(2017).
#34
Stayed there in May of 2007. Memorable for the church, the priest and his garlic soup, the bar, and witnessing a bedbug dive bombing a companion from the top bunk to his bottom bunk!
Stayed there this August 2018. Bunks were comfy enough and the facilities OK but in general the building is pretty run down. My real criticism however was of a very poor pilgrim meal at 10 euros (about the same cost as other albergues that serve a meal) and no real postre or (horrors!) even a glass wine.
 



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