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Self- catering - no utensils in Galicia

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
In 2019, we discovered that all the cooking utensils had been removed from all the municipal albergues in Galicia. No-one seemed to know why. Could be cost-cutting or could be pressure from local businesses, who knows. I'd be interested to hear any explanations (one hospi told it was because pilgrims kept nicking it - as if someone has walked 1000kms across Spain solely for the purpose of helping themselves to a 4 litre cooking pot). The microwaves and stoves are still there. So, if you want to self-cater, you'll need a billy + mug and spoon/fork. Total weight, if you buy from Decathlon, 375 grammes.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I noticed that the Xunta municipals did not have any cooking utensils available ever since my first Camino in 2015...I never knew why.
(Edited for typo.)
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
In 2019, we discovered that all the cooking utensils had been removed from all the municipal albergues in Galicia. No-one seemed to know why. Could be cost-cutting or could be pressure from local businesses, who knows. I'd be interested to hear any explanations (one hospi told it was because pilgrims kept nicking it - as if someone has walked 1000kms across Spain solely for the purpose of helping themselves to a 4 litre cooking pot). The microwaves and stoves are still there. So, if you want to self-cater, you'll need a billy + mug and spoon/fork. Total weight, if you buy from Decathlon, 375 grammes.
My experience of Xunta albergue kitchens in Galicia (Sept. 2019 Camino Sanabres) was mixed. For example:
Xunqueira de Ambía (municipal) - Barely adequate - A couple of pans. No cooking knife. Bowls but not plates etc..
Ourense (municipal) - Nothing. Nada.

It's particularly telling that there are comments on Gronze about the lack of equipment in Ourense dating back to the time when the albergue was newly opened. (Complaints also about the attitude of the hospitalero - and there's a whole nother discussion to be had about public sector employees etc. but that's for another forum).

It's inevitable that there is a loss of inventory in albergue kitchens over time - whether due to people taking items for their own use, or damaging them and throwing them away. There may be a grain of truth in the popular "blame" narratives - "thieving pilgrims" or "local businesses protecting themselves." But I suspect that these are isolated or localized problems, while there is a systematic problem with the way budgets work. There are strong lobbies to secure budgets for different kinds of construction (e.g. building conversions, new builds, path maintenance etc.), but there's no forcing factor to make money available to keep kitchens appropriately equipped.

By contrast, in a well run private hostel, loss of inventory is a cost of doing business. Owners budget for having to replace a few broken plates, damaged pans, and items that "disappear" over time and they keep facilities and equipment up to a standard to ensure that they receive positive reviews and repeat business.

What would act as a "forcing factor" to give the Xunta an incentive to address the issue of inadequate kitchen equipment? It's a good question. My old boss used to say "the people who feel the pain will find the solution," but right now the Xunta's main pain is probably how to keep albergues afloat with very low costs.

I think there might be some hints for solutions in the fact that the Xunta does a pretty good job of ensuring that every albergue has an adequate inventory of disposable sheets. I think there are a few things to think about -
- Hygiene regulations are a "forcing factor"
- The sheets are often provided by the hospitalero/a when the albergue fee is paid, so costs are covered and supply is controlled

There's more than one way to solve the issue, but every approach will have pros and cons.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
If the kitchens were ever stocked with utensils, etc., it was probably done on the capital budget that went into the creation of the albergues. Over time, yes, those items would disappear. Without more operating budget, they cannot be replaced.

How to get more operating budget? Well, they could significantly raise the prices for pilgrims. They would have to include enough to cover the additional costs of management and cleaning, as well.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
So not a new problem then. From what someone told me, I had the impression it was a new directive. Re costs, I read a Voz de Galicia article about the same time about the budget for albergues. If my mental arithmetic is correct, costs were working out at about 8 euros per pilgrim per stay at a time when the standing charge was 5 euros a night. I think they have just put it up to 8 euros (for when they actually have pilgrims). It just seemed odd that they have these elaborate albergues with all facilities and no basic utensils but the capital investment explanation is logical. I always wondered also why some Galician albergues were sited in such odd places - kilometres out of town and well away from shops and restaurants.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Yes, they get nicked.
Pilgrims are not the only residents of municipals tho I wouldn't put it past some pilgrims I've met. In fact I'd bet on it.
Knives, forks, corkscrews etc, but a cooking pot? But yeah, I've seen a few pretty shady characters in the municipales.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I thought part of the reason to remove cooking implements was because too many people weren't cleaning up after themselves, and the Xunta doesn't have enough staff to add kitchen cleaning to their duties.
No cooking implements = no cooking = no messy kitchen.
 
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I've been thinking of carrying an Ultra Lite pot on my next, more remote Camino, but gave up the idea.
I'd probably only use it 2 or 3 times, where here were either no pots/pans or nowhere that provided a meal.

And those times I can eat cold food out of a tin/packet if need be.

But it was tempting...
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I thought part of the reason to remove cooking implements was because too many people weren't cleaning up after themselves, and the Xunta doesn't have enough staff to add kitchen cleaning to their duties.
No cooking implements = no cooking = no messy kitchen.
I am not sure why, but I cannot see theft as the reason that most of the Xunta albergues have no kitchen utensils, as it is so close to universal that I suspect it is due to a decision made by the central administration at one time. I wonder if anyone remembers why. I do remember staying at a private albergue where I found in the kitchen a large pot left full of water to soak after cooking and I decided to do a good deed and scrub it out so someone else could cook. Someone did, possible the same group, as I found it in the morning again dirty and full of water, and decided to go on withut scrubbing it again.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
They would have to include enough to cover the additional costs of management and cleaning, as well.
Cleaning seems to be budgeted for. At least, in my experience, the municipal albergues are kept clean. I understand that the pandemic has brought about additional cleaning regulations. Perhaps accommodation fees will need to increase to help offset the additional cost.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Cleaning seems to be budgeted for. At least, in my experience, the municipal albergues are kept clean. I understand that the pandemic has brought about additional cleaning regulations. Perhaps accommodation fees will need to increase to help offset the additional cost.
The municipal albergues are certainly well-kept, but I wonder who pays for it? Is it the local ayuntamiento or the Xunta? As I mentioned, I am pretty sure the Xunta plans to increase fees to 8 euros a night which should just cover costs.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I was just thinking that if the kitchens were more fully used, there would be additional cleaning needs.
I just didn't understand why the other municipals all along the Camino had kitchens with utensils, but it seemed as soon as you set foot in Galacia there were none.
 
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Geodoc

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2018 (across Pyrenees, then Sarria to SdC), CF 2019 (SJPdP to Finisterra & Muxia), CI 2019
I've been thinking of carrying an Ultra Lite pot on my next, more remote Camino, but gave up the idea.
I'd probably only use it 2 or 3 times, where here were either no pots/pans or nowhere that provided a meal.

And those times I can eat cold food out of a tin/packet if need be.

But it was tempting...
Robo, check out my cookbook. I wound up using my pot and cup a lot (works well with wine and scotch)
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I just didn't understand why the other municipals all along the Camino had kitchens with utensils, but it seemed as soon as you set foot in Galacia there were none.
Especially since some of them have really beautiful kitchens like the one on O Cebreiro
Screenshot_20210309-210908_Firefox.jpg
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Especially since some of them have really beautiful kitchens like the one on O Cebreiro
View attachment 95026
I know! It was so weird. They were all so modern and sparkling with stainless steel...kind'a like being "all dressed up, but nowhere to go."
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
the other municipals all along the Camino had kitchens with utensils, but it seemed as soon as you set foot in Galacia there were none.
I really don't know the answer, but each province/region/municipality would provide heir own funding, and Galicia has decided not to fund kitchen maintenance. Their prices are on the low side. Galicia has many more pilgrims, so I wonder if that is a factor.

It seems that when they created all the new albergues a few years ago, the design contract was done completely separately from the operational planning, so now we see the disparity between the fancy built kitchens and the absence of small equipment to make them functional!
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Carry a titanium spork, it covers every situation 😊 As to some people not washing up after themselves, I have seen this as far back as the 70's in youth hostels and also more recently on camino, some people are great and some are just lazy/selfish, its the way of the world. Slightly off topic, don't obsess too much about pack weight when making decisions about what you would like to bring re utinsils etc, that decision should be made on if or how much you will use them rather than how many ounces or grams they weigh IMO.
BTW a shady looking character does not a shady character make, we can all look shady after a few days/weeks on camino. 😁
 
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Marc S.

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
I was told that kitchen utensils kept being removed by local restaurant and bar owners in order to force / mildly encourage pilgrims to eat out. Whether this is true, or whether this the camino equivalent of an urban myth, I do not know ...
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
I was told that kitchen utensils kept being removed by local restaurant and bar owners in order to force / mildly encourage pilgrims to eat out. Whether this is true, or whether this the camino equivalent of an urban myth, I do not know ...
Please ask the person who told you this how the restaurateurs manage to systematically remove the utensils from the municipal albergues across the length and breadth of Galicia. And then ask why these highly organized criminals leave the private albergues alone. And then ask why they haven't managed to recruit any restaurateurs beyond the borders of Galicia to join their crime syndicate. And then ask why these nefarious bar owners and restaurateurs very rarely engage in any sharp practices when we are drinking and dining in their establishments.

At the end of that conversation, let us know whether you think this is mostly true or just a bunch of malarky.

(I think it's mostly malarky, but I can easily understand that the lack of utensils in an albergue kitchen is not an issue that most hospitalero/as would go out of their way to fix - this is true of the less-than-dedicated hospitalero/as that one sometimes meets at Xunta albergues. They probably like to get the cleaning done quickly and hate to find that pilgrims left a dirty pan in the sink. It may also be true to some extent of a hospitalero/a who also manages a local restaurant).
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I was told that kitchen utensils kept being removed by local restaurant and bar owners in order to force / mildly encourage pilgrims to eat out. Whether this is true, or whether this the camino equivalent of an urban myth, I do not know ...
Definitely a myth. The kind that needs to be squashed very, very quickly. Can you really imagine this happening?
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Please ask the person who told you this

It was an explanation that was told and shared by many pilgrims when I was walking in both 2012 and 2013. I am not saying it is true, that's why I used the term urban myth. Or maybe it has happened occasionally, and the story has been blown out of proportion since. As tends to happen with urban myths.

If you do a quick search on this forum, you will find that this topic has been discussed before. The explanation mentioned by me has been mentioned by many other forum members in the past (including those much more knowledgable than me). Then again, that's what tends to happen with urban myths.
 
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Definitely a myth. The kind that needs to be squashed very, very quickly. Can you really imagine this happening?

Next they'll be painting their own yellow arrows to make Pilgrims walk past their cafe! ;)
 
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Marc S.

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Definitely a myth. The kind that needs to be squashed very, very quickly. Can you really imagine this happening?

In order to answer your question I need to speculate, as you ask me if I can imagine this happening. I can imagine this has happened, occassionaly, in some places. This was actually told to me by a local hospitalero in 2013. But I find it hard to imagine this has been happening in a structural way all over Galicia.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Next they'll be painting their own yellow arrows to make Pilgrims walk past their cafe! ;)
We know it is not an urban myth although I think it happens infrequently.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
It was an explanation that was told and shared by many pilgrims when I was walking in both 2012 and 2013. I am not saying it is true, that's why I used the term urban myth. Or maybe it has happened occasionally, and the story has been blown out of proportion since. As tends to happen with urban myths.

If you do a quick search on this forum, you will find that this topic has been discussed before. The explanation mentioned by me has been mentioned by many other forum members in the past (including those much more knowledgable than me). Then again, that's what tends to happen with urban myths.

Yes. You very clearly said that you don't know whether it's true or whether its an urban myth.
I offered an approach to assessing it through reasoned argument.
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Year of past OR future Camino
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
BTW a shady looking character does not a shady character make, we can all look shady after a few days/weeks on camino.
There are some advantages to looking as shady as I doubtless do when nearing the end of the journey: it's offered reliable protection from any pilfering pilgrims. No one has ever coveted my goat's cheese- perfumed clothing hung out to dry. Sadly, on the last occasion, the immunity did not survive a thorough scrubbing in the (non-pilgrim-specific) seminary in Santiago, where some unfriendly traveller drained my celebratory bottle of wine from the communal fridge, leaving me likewise hung out to dry, without so much as a taste of my own well-earned 'medicine'.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
There are some advantages to looking as shady as I doubtless do when nearing the end of the journey: it's offered reliable protection from any pilfering pilgrims. No one has ever coveted my goat's cheese- perfumed clothing hung out to dry. Sadly, on the last occasion, the immunity did not survive a thorough scrubbing in the (non-pilgrim-specific) seminary in Santiago, where some unfriendly traveller drained my celebratory bottle of wine from the communal fridge, leaving me likewise hung out to dry, without so much as a taste of my own well-earned 'medicine'.
I recommend decanting your wine to travel-sized, theft-deterrent containers before leaving it to cool.
 

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pelerine

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte 10, Primitivo 13, Plata 14+15, Salvador 16, Torres 17, Portugues 18, Mozarabe 19
I carry a titanium pot (700ml) and cup (450ml) with lids, along with a plastic spork and deep dish (€2 from Decathlon). Complete, lightweight cook and eating kit.

I have done, not the pot, but the other equipment and used the cup as a pot for one. Also useful when all the pots have gone to the tables and not come back to the kitchen. Or when some people “occupy” the only pots doing a lot of fancy cooking on the only two electric plates. Makes me independent....
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
I was told that kitchen utensils kept being removed by local restaurant and bar owners in order to force / mildly encourage pilgrims to eat out. Whether this is true, or whether this the camino equivalent of an urban myth, I do not know ...

I heard that myth in 2001.

I wonder.
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Year of past OR future Camino
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
I recommend decanting your wine to travel-sized, theft-deterrent containers before leaving it to cool.

I wonder which would prove the greater deterrent: fake blood or a ‘urine’ specimen. Either way, I’ll remember this device for the next camino, whenever or if ever it may be.
 
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Pingüigrino

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
If you ask former hospitaleros in Xunta´s albergues you´ll get the answer to that "mystery":
Being the last 100 kmts walked by so many pilgrims, some of them are not aware, or not respectuous of that simple rule:
"Clean what you use"
After day after day cleaning used pans, dirty plates, greasy forks etc, they simply started trowing to the trash can the dirty utensils.
Or hiding it.
 
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I wonder which would prove the greater deterrent: fake blood or a ‘urine’ specimen. Either way, I’ll remember this device for the next camino, whenever or if ever it may be.

In my bureaucratic days, we would occasionally experience lunch-bag misappropriation from our communal refrigerator. Would I have but known of this ingenious ploy!

I first heard the purloined-utensils account in 2002, but I now see that it is even older. My local sources suggest that it was locals finagling. That it did not seem to be the case in other provinces would suggest a useful topic for a graduate dissertation as there is so much research being done about the Camino these days, that surely graduate students must be desperate for topics.
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Year of past OR future Camino
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
You could print up some labels to bring that say "Don't touch!" 😅

That might make the temptation irresistible! I’d have been perfectly happy to share the contents had the secret drinker been fairer in the division of the spoils.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
That might make the temptation irresistible! I’d have been perfectly happy to share the contents had the secret drinker been fairer in the division of the spoils.
Over the years, I don't think that I have put any food that I was carrying in a communal fridge more than once or twice. Maybe once in New Zealand, where I stayed a few times in city hostels. The identification of whose it is and how long it has been hiding out in that particular fridge is just too complicated for all the fridge users to follow it. And some, of course, consider the contents to be communal property. Single meal food purchases seem to me to be simpler, and can be just about as economical if purchased the same day and meals prepared in the communal kitchen.
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Year of past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
Being the last 100 kmts walked by so many pilgrims, some of them are not aware, or not respectuous of that simple rule:
"Clean what you use"
In my honest opinion this has nothing to do with it.
Whether you walk 100 or 800km people who do not clean up their mess or leave it on the road you have everywhere.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I do not remember ever seeing cooking supplies in Galician Xuntas since my first Camino but I could be wrong. You can always stay in private albergues especially on the CF. In December of 2019 when there were few albergues open there was a group of about 15 pilgrims who walked independently but most nights towards the end stayed in the same albergues. As a budget pilgrim who cooks in albergues alot and also loves albergue communal meals even though a private albergue is a little more money it costs alot less to share a meal that pilgrims prepare together and I end up saving money and having wonderful camino memories.
 

Pingüigrino

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
In my honest opinion this has nothing to do with it.
Whether you walk 100 or 800km people who do not clean up their mess or leave it on the road you have everywhere.
You are rigth. There are lots of people who do not clean up. But those people who start walking at Roncesvalles, or Irun, Sevilla etc are much more less than the 100 km walkers, and they learn all along the Way to clean their plates. (Many of then honestly belive the staff will do it)
Usually the hospitaleros in those albergues with kitchen all along the Camino lives in the albergue, being aware of warning the pilgrims to clean the mess they do. That do not happens in Xunta´s albergues, the workers find the s..t the next morning, when pilgrims have left.
And that makes the difference too, nowadays they are workers nor owners or volunteers, they have not been paid for cleaning the plates daily, if they do it, its a unpaid work what they are doing, but they are responsibles of the cleanliness of the alberge. And belive me, some people no used to cook, mainly youngers, can be like Attila for the kitchenware.
They ended up getting tired of doing all that unpaid clean daily, and end up throwing the burned pans away.
What I´m saying its not my personal opinion, but what three of those former hospitaleros told me in three diferent ocasions.
 
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Flog

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
You are rigth. There are lots of people who do not clean up. But those people who start walking at Roncesvalles, or Irun, Sevilla etc are much more less than the 100 km walkers, and they learn all along the Way to clean their plates. (Many of then honestly belive the staff will do it)
Usually the hospitaleros in those albergues with kitchen all along the Camino lives in the albergue, being aware of warning the pilgrims to clean the mess they do. That do not happens in Xunta´s albergues, the workers find the s..t the next morning, when pilgrims have left.
And that makes the difference too, nowadays they are workers nor owners or volunteers, they have not been paid for cleaning the plates daily, if they do it, its a unpaid work what they are doing, but they are responsibles of the cleanliness of the alberge. And belive me, some people no used to cook, mainly youngers, can be like Attila for the kitchenware.
They ended up getting tired of doing all that unpaid clean daily, and end up throwing the burned pans away.
What I´m saying its not my personal opinion, but what three of those former hospitaleros told me in three diferent ocasions.
That IMO is the most logical explanation, no co-ordinated conspiracies or underhand scheming needed, simply human nature taking it's course...
 

Flog

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Next they'll be painting their own yellow arrows to make Pilgrims walk past their cafe! ;)
The mess of diverted arrows plastered on the ground just before Porriño springs to mind. I cursed one particular cafe owner as I trudged in the heat through that industrial area in 2017...
 
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Isca-camigo

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Various ones.
This subject is so known and has been talked about on a regular basis since I at least started walking in 2010, that I feel unless someone is able to cover the costs of staff staying on to wash dirty items left by Peregrinos, or replace items that have gone walkabout then it is better to just move on ( from this subject) and be thankful for the roof over your head and the bed for you to lay on, 8 euros is not a lot of money.It is so widely known and written about that most Xunta Albergues lack kitchen equipment that I am surprised that anyone is surprised or feels it is unusual. An alternative solution of looking at it would be to offer a business model to the Xunta that would cover their and their partners costs, and keep kitchens well stocked.
 

Kathar1na

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This subject is so known and has been talked about on a regular basis since I at least started walking in 2010, that I feel unless someone is able to cover the costs of staff staying on to wash dirty items left by Peregrinos, or replace items that have gone walkabout then it is better to just move on ( from this subject
Well, this thread has some informative value: despite the often repeated anecdotal “evidence” to the contrary, it seems that neither pilgrims nor bar owners have removed cutlery and pots and pans from Xunta albergues.

Instead, there is a simple explanation: the kitchens had never been equipped with any of these items to start with and it’s been like that for at least a decade.

The official rules for the use of the Xunta albergues in Galicia from 2010 already state that the albergues have the following offer: bed with disposable (removable?) bed linen, use of the kitchen (without kitchenware), shower (with hot water).

SERVICIOS
* Cama con ropa de cama desechable
* Uso de la cocina (sin menaje)
* Ducha (con agua caliente)
 
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Isca-camigo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Various ones.
Instead, there is a simple explanation: the kitchens had never been equipped with any of these items to start with and it’s been like that for at least a decade.
I wouldn't go that far, I have come across 5 Xunta albergues which have had full kitchen utensils since 2010, however at least one of them on a later visit no longer stocked them. There is a rule, but what is the reason for the rule?
 
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Marc S.

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Instead, there is a simple explanation: the kitchens had never been equipped with any of these items to start with and it’s been like that for at least a decade.

You are probably right this has been the case for at least a decade. (On the other hand, it is also true that some Xunta albergues do have kitchen utensils)

In fact, Dietrich Hollhuber already writes in 2001 in his Camino guidebook Spaanse Jacobsroute (Dutch translation from Wandern auf dem Spanishen Jakobsweg) that the Xunta albergues have built modern kitchens but that these have not been equipped with any kitchen utensils. He does not mention if there is a particular reason for this.
 

Pingüigrino

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
Well, this thread has some informative value: despite the often repeated anecdotal “evidence” to the contrary, it seems that neither pilgrims nor bar owners have removed cutlery and pots and pans from Xunta albergues.

Instead, there is a simple explanation: the kitchens had never been equipped with any of these items to start with and it’s been like that for at least a decade.

The official rules for the use of the Xunta albergues in Galicia from 2010 already state that the albergues have the following offer: bed with disposable (removable?) bed linen, use of the kitchen (without kitchenware), shower (with hot water).

SERVICIOS
* Cama con ropa de cama desechable
* Uso de la cocina (sin menaje)
* Ducha (con agua caliente)
Well, there are some Xunta´s albergues equiped with some stuff.
All of them where equiped when were inaugurated.
Some or those that are "not equiped" nowadays, still have a few pans, plates etc that have been keeped away by the "hospitalero" (remember, many of them are not very well paid workers , nor true hospitaleros; not saying they are "bad " ,but they are only doing their work; but a few of them, on the other hand, are really exemplary); I know two of those albergues, in my own experience.
Please, be also aware that nowadays it´s not the Xunta itself who runs the albergues.
This service is offered to private companies to run it, under certain conditions. and obviously those conditions have been negotiated along the years. and now its not mandatory in many places to have kitchenware for the use of pilgrims.
But in some of them, for example Pedrouzo, they have enougth of it to serve many people.
Or like O Cebreiro´s one, which have some, or at least had some, twenty months ago, the last time I was there.
 
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Flog

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2020
Well, there are some Xunta´s albergues equiped with some stuff.
All of them where equiped when were inaugurated.
Some or those that are "not equiped" nowadays, still have a few pans, plates etc that have been keeped away by the "hospitalero" (remember, many of them are not very well paid workers , nor true hospitaleros; not saying they are "bad " ,but they are only doing their work; but a few of them, on the other hand, are really exemplary); I know two of those albergues, in my own experience.
Please, be also aware that nowadays it´s not the Xunta itself who runs the albergues.
This service is offered to private companies to run it, under certain conditions. and obviously those conditions have been negotiated along the years. and now its not mandatory in many places to have kitchenware for the use of pilgrims.
But in some of them, for example Pedrouzo, they have enougth of it to serve many people.
Or like O Cebreiro´s one, which have some, or at least had some, twenty months ago, the last time I was there.
The Xunta in A Laxe is an example or at least it was when I stayed in early May 2018..it had a well equipped kitchen.
 
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Kathar1na

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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
My understanding of the official set of rules for the use of Xunta albergues of which there are now 70 in Galicia I think was that what a pilgrim can expect for his or her contribution in €'s is a bed with a disposable bed linen, the use of a kitchen (presence of kitchenware not guaranteed, pleasant surprise to the contrary not excluded) and a shower space with hot water.

I think we have now established that this arrangement was more common than not during the twenty years between 2021 and 2001. Now all we have to do is explore what the situation was like during the eight years between 2001 and 1993 when the government of Galicia first established their net of public pilgrim albergues. ☺️
 
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Marc S.

Active Member
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Now all we have to do is explore what the situation was like during the eight years between 2001 and 1993 when the government of Galicia first established their net of public pilgrim albergues. ☺️

Work in progress.....

Apparently (according to this post) the situation was already similar in 1998.

I walked the Frances in 1998 & when we reached Galicia the new Junta alberues had no kitchen utensils. As we had all walked from France we were puzzled by this? I don't think any Pilgrims were stealing the crockery, we felt it was a conscious decision by Galicia to make Pilgrims spend more in local establishments.
By the way, the Camino was not a tourist walk in those days. All the people I met treated the Alberues with great respect.
JR
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
If you ask former hospitaleros in Xunta´s albergues you´ll get the answer to that "mystery":
Being the last 100 kmts walked by so many pilgrims, some of them are not aware, or not respectuous of that simple rule:
"Clean what you use"
After day after day cleaning used pans, dirty plates, greasy forks etc, they simply started trowing to the trash can the dirty utensils.
Or hiding it.
I'm not sure if that can account for the lack of pots, pans, utensils, etc. in O Cebreiro which, I believe, is situated a few days before the huge influx of pilgrims in Sarria.
 
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trecile

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We will soon have objective evidence about the policy on cooking utensils in Xunta albergues. The Xunta albergue in Diomondi on the Camino de Invierno is scheduled to open soon. Brierley reports it will have a kitchen, but the key unknown is whether that kitchen will be stocked with cooking utensils. My guess is that it will not be.
It seems ridiculous to go to the expense of putting in a kitchen that won't really be used. Not to mention that the space could be put to another use.
 

Albertagirl

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It seems ridiculous to go to the expense of putting in a kitchen that won't really be used. Not to mention that the space could be put to another use.
Also the Diomondi albergue, like a few othe Xunta albergues, is a fairly long way from any town with restaurants or any food shops. So pilgrims may need to carry food for at least supper and breakfast for some distance: and it had better not need to be cooked. Lunch could be eaten at Torre Vilarino, on the way past.
 

camino.ninja

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In 2019, we discovered that all the cooking utensils had been removed from all the municipal albergues in Galicia. No-one seemed to know why. Could be cost-cutting or could be pressure from local businesses, who knows. I'd be interested to hear any explanations (one hospi told it was because pilgrims kept nicking it - as if someone has walked 1000kms across Spain solely for the purpose of helping themselves to a 4 litre cooking pot). The microwaves and stoves are still there. So, if you want to self-cater, you'll need a billy + mug and spoon/fork. Total weight, if you buy from Decathlon, 375 grammes.

They do not want to clean up after the pilgrims :)
 
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They do not want to clean up after the pilgrims :)
I just don't understand why "only Galacia" has an issue...and yet their Xuntas have the most beautiful kitchens of all (from my limited experiences)? It seems to make no sense.
 
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trecile

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I just don't understand why "only Galacia" has an issue...and yet their Xuntas have the most beautiful kitchens of all (from my limited experiences)? It seems to make no sense.
I'm sure that it has to do with how each locality funds and staffs their albergues.
 

Flog

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
I just don't understand why "only Galacia" has an issue...and yet their Xuntas have the most beautiful kitchens of all (from my limited experiences)? It seems to make no sense.
Without wishing to generalise or pigeon-hole folk and it has already been alluded to....and at the risk of being shot down for it:

Galicia only...Might it have anything to do with the difference in mindset and attitude between a typical, or perhaps stereotypical 5 day pilgrim and one who has walked for 5 weeks or more? That Sarria, Lugo, Ferrol, Tui and Ourense are all starting points within Galicia and that the municipal albergues here see far more pilgrim traffic than every other region of Spain? I also know there are some exceptions to this rule, I've found more than one equipped Xunta kitchen in Galicia...
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
THis is not a Galicia-only problem.
The OP's question has several answers.
The missing cutlery, knives, kitchen tools were taken by pilgrims. "One little spoon, who's gonna miss it? I need a spoon."
Missing cups and glasses went the same way.
The missing plates and bowls were broken, or chipped badly enough that someone threw them away.

Missing pots and pans went out the door the same day they arrived. The person paid to register pilgrims and clean the place needed them more than the pilgrims did... I actually met a Xunta albergue lady who considered the annual kitchen pots and pans set to be a personal bonus gift.

Albergue kitchenware is terribly abused, cheap items can't take the wear and tear, and expensive items disappear first. Pilgrims often burn the bottoms out of the pans, scrape surfaces with sharp instruments, and leave the remains behind for the fairies to clean.

I am sure the local restaurateurs may have something to do with some of the above, especially in towns where everyone is related to one another.
 

Flog

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2020
Some valid points, and the last one about small villages where one extended family runs the show: the private albergue, the bar, the restaurant and the tienda is worth noting. But it is widespread in Galicia munis. While it may occur elsewhere, it isnt so widespread....
is it?
 

Rebekah Scott

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Many, various, and continuing.
Some valid points, and the last one about small villages where one extended family runs the show: the private albergue, the bar, the restaurant and the tienda is worth noting. But it is widespread in Galicia munis. While it may occur elsewhere, it isnt so widespread....
is it?
The big difference is the xunta albergues are managed by local minimum-wage employees, while many of the more basic albergues outside Galicia are overseen by volunteer hospitaleros... or they're on a "pick up the key at the bar" status. The ones overseen by volunteers usually do not suffer this fate, as someone is there to keep an eye on things. The Xunta employees often only show up to take down passport info, stamp credentials, and collect money; they return in the morning to clean up.
Volunteer hospitaleros are the heartbeat of the Caminos. Remove them, and this is the kind of thing that happens.
 
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NorthernLight

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It seems ridiculous to go to the expense of putting in a kitchen that won't really be used. Not to mention that the space could be put to another use.
Having a nice kitchen will help with the value for any future sale of the building.
 

Flog

Active Member
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2020
The big difference is the xunta albergues are managed by local minimum-wage employees, while many of the more basic albergues outside Galicia are overseen by volunteer hospitaleros... or they're on a "pick up the key at the bar" status. The ones overseen by volunteers usually do not suffer this fate, as someone is there to keep an eye on things. The Xunta employees often only show up to take down passport info, stamp credentials, and collect money; they return in the morning to clean up.
Volunteer hospitaleros are the heartbeat of the Caminos. Remove them, and this is the kind of thing that happens.
Yes, then perhaps it is simply down to circumstances and human nature after all...a pity on both counts..
 
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trecile

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Volunteer hospitaleros are the heartbeat of the Caminos. Remove them, and this is the kind of thing that happens.
Is it hard to recruit volunteer hospitaleros? It seems that there are always people on the forum who are interested in volunteering, but I realize that staffing 70 albergues in Galicia would be quite an undertaking.
 

Frank Wortley

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In 2019, we discovered that all the cooking utensils had been removed from all the municipal albergues in Galicia. No-one seemed to know why. Could be cost-cutting or could be pressure from local businesses, who knows. I'd be interested to hear any explanations (one hospi told it was because pilgrims kept nicking it - as if someone has walked 1000kms across Spain solely for the purpose of helping themselves to a 4 litre cooking pot). The microwaves and stoves are still there. So, if you want to self-cater, you'll need a billy + mug and spoon/fork. Total weight, if you buy from Decathlon, 375 grammes.
I was told at one albergue the resaon was due to the state in which the kitchens were left in and the huge amount of work this caused for the hospitaleros. I can understand how this may be as many on the last 100km are "tourists' and as on one poster I saw said "tourists are demanding, pilgrims are grateful". I appreciate this is probably unfair to many who may be "tourists". It does however gell with the apparent experience of the hospitaleros. I have taken to including a lightweigth pot. plastic cutlery and micowave safe folding plate and this allows me to still prepare my own meals if needed.
 
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trecile

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I can understand how this may be as many on the last 100km are "tourists'
Sorry, but that statement is getting into "true pilgrim" territory. It's not for me to say what someone's motivation is to walk any part of the Camino.
 

Lynnhardy

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I carry a titanium pot (700ml) and cup (450ml) with lids, along with a plastic spork and deep dish (€2 from Decathlon). Complete, lightweight cook and eating kit.
That’s my usual camp equipment but when I walked the Caminos I didn’t take any....,I had to fashion cardboard as a dish and spoon scoops !
 

peregrino_tom

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Year of past OR future Camino
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Interesting to see this one come back after a while. I remember commenting a few times in 2010/11 after feeling exasperated and bemused by the Galician albergues on the Sanabres. In particular the state-of-the-art newish albergue at Laza (outwith the last 100km) that had the sign – ‘not tested for drinking’ above the main tap in the shiny new kitchen. Also at A Laxe the much vaunted architect award-winning albergue with a giant basement kitchen which had a row of cookers - and no pots or pans.

I think if I lived along the last 100km of the Frances it wouldn’t take me very long to fall out of love with pilgrims (but particularly groups). And ultimately you try and make the necessary adaptations that allow you to get on with every day life. How many times will you replace burnt-out pots and pans or missing cutlery, especially when you know others in your community might benefit from providing pilgrims meals and particularly in the out-of-season months?

Having said that, there are exceptions. You have between-stages albergues like Calvor which last time I stayed in 2018 had a well stocked and immaculate cocina (just no nearby shop!).
Also the big one at O Pedrouzo/O Pino only 19km from Santiago – many a time we have splurged out on groceries in the next door Supermercado Claudio and cooked and shared a ‘last supper’ in the dining room - and there were always enough pots, pans, plates and utensils.

The Xunta albergue in Diomondi on the Camino de Invierno is scheduled to open soon. Brierley reports it will have a kitchen, but the key unknown is whether that kitchen will be stocked with cooking utensils. My guess is that it will not be.
The last freshly opened Galician Municipal I stayed in was Betanzos (2015?) - lots of modern features set in a sympathetic restoration of the old stone walls. The 'kitchen' was a sink and a microwave. I'd be very surprised if the new one at Diomondi was any different - utensil-stocking issues will have been circumnavigated.

PS last time on the camino I bought a wide and deep pan from the local hardware store in Negreira for the Municipal, for about the cost of staying in a smart private albergue. I have no idea whether it lasted a week, a month – or even til the next night. But for the value of sharing a cooked meal (and seeing the group after us use it too) it was worth it. And most of us here can afford that option if we choose.
 

biarritzdon

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I don't think this issue is isolated to Galicia. I remember staying at the muni in Logrono one time and several thoughtless pilgrims had left dirty pots in the sink and dishes on the tables, expecting "mommy" to clean up after them. A year later the cupboards were bare of cookware, etc. and the cooktop had been disabled.
 

Albertagirl

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I had a thought and I wonder how this might be a small way to respond to this situation. I have stayed at Monte de Gozo twice, on my way in to Santiago. While a Xunta albergue, it is better staffed than most, and has always had someone on duty when I arrived, with helpful staff. And of course, the kitchen always had a mixture of aged, but useful, kitchen gear. The staffing may be the critical element in keeping these things in stock. Could we experienced pilgrims possibly take the effort of gently suggesting to persons who leave dirty dishes on tables and unwashed pots by the sinks that this is not helpful for the next person who wants to cook? Personally, I find this a horrifying thought, but I may try it anyway. The biggest problem is that one must see the person leaving dirty dishes and pots, and they may just be indignant, insisting that they were about to clean up. But it is an effort at a response to a situation where "just passing through" can easily become an excuse for making communal living worse for later arrivals.
 
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David Tallan

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2018
Having read the whole thread, I'm inclined to think that the main reason for the difference in kitchen equipment between the Xunta albergues and those on the rest of the route(s) is not in the pilgrims but in the management and staffing of the albergues.

Some say that the pilgrims haven't "learned the etiquette" or "are mostly just tourigrinos". These arguments aren't very persuasive with me. On the one hand, if it was a matter of the percentage of pilgrims knowing the etiquette, we'd find the same situation in the first 100 km or so after SJPP. On the other hand, I've known pilgrims who walked just the last 100 kms who had every bit as much as sincere intention and received every bit as much life-changing impact as those who walked much longer distances. The distinction doesn't hold as much water for me as it seems to hold for others.

On the other hand, the arguments that the difference is due to the practice of using hospitaleros who don't stay in the albergue and for whom it is merely a job (potentially one where some free kitchen wares are a fringe benefit) seems more persuasive. If your primary motivation is not support of the pilgrims but rather it is just something you happen to do to earn a paycheque, you are less likely to be forgiving of the mess pilgrims leave and wanting to support them with a useful kitchen. This is especially true if you are not staying there and getting to know them at all. And if you are not staying there, you can't prevent their leaving the mess, as other hospitaleros may be able to do ("Hey! Go back and clean up that mess you made."). The combination of more mess made and less patience with it could easily lead to unstocked kitchens.

It just goes to show the value of "live in" hospitaleros.
 
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One only has to check out the tea room at your workplace to be reminded that some people do not believe in cleaning up after themselves despite the numerous notices stuck to the wall above the sink! Even if they actually manage to wash their cup/plate etc they still think it is someone else's job to put them away. At least that's how it is at my work place - and that's a hospital where I've worked for 33 years! Can't see why people with the same mindset would be any different on Camino sadly.
 

dick bird

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In order to answer your question I need to speculate, as you ask me if I can imagine this happening. I can imagine this has happened, occassionaly, in some places. This was actually told to me by a local hospitalero in 2013. But I find it hard to imagine this has been happening in a structural way all over Galicia.
That was actually a rhetorical question. Why would they bother? I am pretty sure no self-respecting café owner owner would commit petty theft (and risk getting caught) for the sake of a few extra euros.
 

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