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Telluridewalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (1988)
I was wondering if anyone could explain the difference between a refugio, an alburque and a hospital. In '88, I only heard the word refugio, but it seems that alburque is the accepted title lately. When I went to look up alburque in Google, it wanted to tell me all about Albuquerque,New Mexico (where Bugs Bunny always took the wrong turn).

My sense of a hospital (and its derivative, hospitalero/a) is of a Middle Ages place to leave the dying/wounded members of your party for a longer stay while you continued on the Camino (maybe they'd even be alive on your return trip!).
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Interesting - I asked the same thing. From what I can tell in the 1970's and 80's shelters used by pilgrims were generally referred to as refugios - my Spanish friends say that this was because there really weren't facilities dedicated to pilgrims at that time. The refugio or refuge in English is the term they use for a shelter for homeless people etc. However as the number of pilgrims grew the terms albergue came into common use to describe pilgrim accomodation. The dictionary confirms albergue = alojamiento = accomodation/lodgings. Refugio = refuge or shelter.

I suspect you are right about the term Hospital - as in Hosptial de Bruma on the Camino Ingles. But others better versed in medieval history will comment, I'm sure.
 

Portia1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2009, Portuguese 2012
Frances 2016, (Frances 2019)
And how does one pronouce alberque?
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Al - ber' - gay

Here is my understanding from my own travels and from Brierley's book:

Albergue - This is a fairly generic term used to mean a pilgrim's hostel provided throughout the route, generally at about 10-20 km intervals. . . There are different types of "albergues"

Municipals are owned and maintained by the local authority. The warden or hospitalero is usually a local resident, often living next door. Most offer basic facilities and are cheap.

Parroquias (which I also heard referred to as refugios) are generally owned by the local diocese and run by the parish priest. Some offer a regular pilgrim mass. Tend to be more informal than municipal hostels. Many are by donation. Often offer a mat on the floor and a simple meal (soup, bread, wine).

Monasterio or covento - In Pilgrim language, Monasterio is a monastery run by monks while Convento usually is a convent run by nuns. Usually more spiritual feeling, often with silent hours, sometimes offer food, sometimes do not. Most offer showers, although sometimes they are COLD! Brrrrr!

Confraternity hostels are owned and run by local Spanish or other national confraternities, sometimes with the local authority. They tend to be particularly well-equipped for the needs of the pilgrim and are often tended by former pilgrims.

Private hostels (albergues privado) are privately owned hostels, sometimes in a loose federation, sometimes not. They tend to be a bit more expensive, but also often offer more niceties.

In all of these places you can count on a bed or a mattress on the floor.
99% of them have showers.. most are hot... some, however, are not. If that's important, you'd better ask. Some serve a meal, especially if they're in a place with no restaurant. Some do not, so plan ahead. All that I stayed in had at least a sink for washing clothes by hand. Very few had automatic washers. All had clotheslines. Some had spinners and very few had automatic dryers. Some were clean and well attended. Some were dirty and abused or ignored.

It's nice if you can spend an hour cleaning a dirty place -- the next pilgrims will be blessed by your kindness.

Also, if you get stuck in a town, you can often request to sleep in the Church or at least on the covered porch or in the yard of the Church, which is not always a bad thing, especially in nice weather. Gives you the chance to experience the Milky Way!
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
There are still some "refugio" around according to the Miam Miam Dodo. They use the term for more 'primitive' accommodation, where there might only be cold water and other quite limited facilities. For example, MMD used 'refugio' to describe the accommodation at San Juan de Ortega, which according to some friends who stayed there was cold and damp and they would never stay there again..... (and these are people who had walked a long way in France already before they reached there, and didn't usually complain!)
Margaret
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Telluridewalker said:
When I went to look up alburque in Google, it wanted to tell me all about Albuquerque,New Mexico (where Bugs Bunny always took the wrong turn).
It is usually spelled with a 'g' rather than a 'q' on the end..... so if you google 'albergue' you'll get oodles of entries. You might even end up in South America of course.....
Margaret
 

Telluridewalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (1988)
[/quote]
It is usually spelled with a 'g' rather than a 'q' on the end..... so if you google 'albergue' you'll get oodles of entries. You might even end up in South America of course.....
Margaret[/quote]

Thanks. I picked up the wrong spelling before I posted. Sorry.

Back in '88, things were definitely more primitive than I'm reading about today's albergues. Hot shower? About 20% of the time. Bed? Maybe 50% of the time. For the most part, the refugios were run by religious organizations, perhaps more out of doctrinal obligation than true enthusiasm, and by the local governments. If I remember correctly, those were called ayuntamientos and often doubled as a teen center or a gymnasium: polideportivos. I remember sleeping in more than a few basements. There were also a handful run privately by crazy people- not dangerous crazy but definitely certifiable (but they were certainly enthusiastic about their work!).

But, to pick up on another thread, the majority were free of cost. I tended to drop some coins in the church's offering box on my way out, and those few that had showers sometime cost about $1.00/100 pesetas. (There's another question: are pesetas still in use in Spain or has the Euro taken over as the currency of choice?)

I'd say I slept outside about 25% of the time- church courtyards and cimcumspectly in parks worked well.

Thanks for the elucidation, all.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Telluridewalker said:
There's another question: are pesetas still in use in Spain or has the Euro taken over as the currency of choice?)
The Euro has taken over as the normal currency in Spain.....
Margaret
 

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