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Roland in Azofra


With Ivar's poll about albergues I remembered that I always wanted to find out what happened to Roland and his albergue in Azofra.
In 2002, we walked together for a few days until Belorado, he then had to go back to organize the builders.
When some friends came through Azofra last May they were told that Roland's albergue had been open for a few years but has now closed. I read the other day on a German pilgrim website that he is due to re-open this spring.
I wondered if anyone has heard anything about him and his project; did anyone hear some comments or even stay in his albergue?
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I stayed in Roland's albergue in 2003, I think it was. It had several very nice bedrooms, more of a B&B than an albergue flavor. I was sad to see that it was closed last year when I went through. I had thought that perhaps the municipal albuergue across the street had put him out of business. I've stayed in that albergue twice, once soon after it opened and once last year, and I have to say the town is just letting it go down the drain. Upkeep is minimal, cleaning standards less than that, in my opinion (especially in the bathrooms). It's a shame to watch this municipal investment waste away, and maybe if Roland re-opens his albergue he'll give them some competition and make them pay attention to the quality of the facility once again.
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Hello to all,

I am new to this forum and am hopeful that someone will be able to reply to this post from a few years ago. My husband and I are planning to do part of the camino in October and I had met Roland (along with Rolf :D ) in 2002.

Thanks for your help!

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This one is open according to Mundicamino:
Albergue de peregrinos Herbet Simón

Town: Azofra - (La Rioja)

Description: It is never close Address: C/ del Sol (next to the church).
Contact: 941 379 057. María Tobia
Availability: It is open all the year
Prize: The price is 3 €
Seats: 20 seats in bunk beds
Category: Parochial refuge very well equiped
Observaciones: This shelter was constructed and it maintains an association of friends of the way of Santiago in Colony (Germany). A stone placed in the facade, to the right of the door, says that it is of the Cathedral of Colony.
There is no reference to a Roland, though, just a German connection.
I stayed with my friend Brian in Roland's albergue in Azofra in June 2003.

We entered the door, and seeing no one in sight, hollered up the stairs "Ola! Buenos Dias!". A big bearded man came lolloping down the stairs to greet us. Upon discovering our nationality he exclaimed "Begorrah! Bejaysus! It's a couple of Irish pilgrims!" It turns out he used to live in Crosshaven, not a million miles away from where we're from and could relate some dramatic tales of his romantic dalliances there.

He gave us a tour of his albergue, which as noted above, was like a beautifully appointed antique B&B. He recommended that we enjoy leisurely ablutions in his elegant bathrooms as he whisked our socks, which he compared to rare fungi, away to be washed in a real washing machine, which I believe was an unusual and welcome sight in those days of the Camino.

Once refreshed, he dispatched Brian to the local shop to pick up some lamb chops for our supper, ordering him not to accept anything less than the finest grade of meat from the notoriously canny shopkeeper. Of course, he was to be disappointed in this request and lambasted Brian for his timidity in the most good natured manner.

We enjoyed a delicious repaste of tomato salad and lamb chops. Then Roland bundled us into the his van and took us on a mini wine tasting tour of the local villages. I remember tumbling around in the back of the vehicle as a result of his exuberant cornering technique, but felt assured that he knew what he was doing.

In each bar we visited, Roland would order the wine, knowing the best choice to slake our pilgrim thirst and always demanding that a fresh bottle be opened for us. I think it was around 75 cents per glass and it was my introduction to the Joven wines of La Rioja. It was also my introduction to the very liberating Spanish practice of dumping paper napkins and cigarrete ash onto the sawdust floor, which would be swept later that evening, Roland assured us.

We swerved back to Azofra very late at night, but still in time for a nightcap at the local, where the commissioner of the peace and his ten or so cronies sent us over a round of drinks to welcome us to the village. We were obliged to return the compliment of course.

The next morning, all three of us had sore heads. After a substantial breakfast, Roland was in the middle of packing some hard boiled eggs and other goodies for our packed lunch when he spotted something outside the window.

"Quick!" he exclaimed, "There are four girls filling their bottles at the fountain. If you leave now you just might catch them!"

This final exhortation brought to a close one of the best adventures of our Camino, and marked the beginning of another.

I miss Roland.
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