Last night we had dinner at our albergue and our husband and wife hosts did a great job. After dinner they explained how the old wine press above the dining room table worked. It was pretty simple, yet ingenuous. A huge, long and round timber log was controlled up and down by an equally huge wooden screw. When a poke was placed through it, two people could turn the screw. The turning screw caused the pole to be raised and lowered. The press was used on grapes and/or olives and effectively pressed the juice/oil out. Gravity then caused the juice to flow down to the basement into huge barrels. Turn the screw the other way and the pole was raised and leftover product was removed.
Later, he showed us his copper still for making whole grain alcohol. Sandy got an opportunity to sample some of the home made alcohol.
With albergues in mind, I thought I would talk today about the whoke process of sleeping in an albergue. First of all, when you are in an albergue, it is often one or more large rooms filled with bunk beds. Some times the capacity is over 100 pilgrims. Most times they house between 16-50 peregrinos. Everyone who stays in one has their own individual process. But, it generally goes like this:
First, check it out to see if the place is halfway decent. If so, show your peregrino passport, pay your 5€ (per person) get your passport stamped and get officially checked in. Then, immediately take off your hiking boots. Everyone must leave their stinky boots outside on the boot rack. Now, time to go inside to select your beds. If you reach your albergue early, you have your choice. If you get in late, you get the bad beds by the restroom or next to the door that constantly opens and closes as peregrinos come and go to the restroom all night long. Worse yet, you may get stuck over or next to a known human snoring machine. Peregrinos know who the loud snorers are and share this info with others. Then, unpack a bit and throw a few things on your bed, so someone else doesn’t mistakenly take it. Next, time to hit the showers. It will likely be warm or cold. Very seldom hot. The shower head will be either broken or will not be aimed properly. The floor sometimes will look like the local farmer just washed his pigs there. Remember to try to use the proper gender shower, but that does not always work out (long story). Then, wash your dirty clothes and hang them outside to dry. Finally you have some down time to relax. Some folks sleep, more people just sit around and talk, some go to the kitchen, others blog, some have their guide books out planning their upcoming day.
Overall our albergue experience has been pretty positive. There were those two (and only) terrible albergues in Grannon, Annie from Spain got everyone sick in a small albergue, but most experiences have generally been OK. Understand though that sound sleeping is something which rarely if ever happens. So, if you were to ask us which would we prefer, a great albergue or a average hostel room, we’d take the hostel.
Up until this point, we have actually stayed in more albergues than hostels or rented rooms. But we are physically pushing our bodies to the max and the lack of sleep is wearing a bit on both of us. We talked today about staying in more rented rooms for the remainder of our camino.
We started out on the camino at daybreak again. Here we are leaving our albergue after being kept awake most of the night by the Spanish snorer from hell.
Right away we had a very steep hill to tackle. We rode as far as we could then pushed the bikes to the top. I felt better when I noticed that all of the mountain bikers were doing the same.
Once on top we were faced with a long, steep and bumpy decent. I have to give Sandy credit. This was very intimidating but she is a real trooper.
Down the trail a ways we left Burgos and entered the province of Palencia as we move closer to the halfway point on the camino.
We rode alongside the castillo canal. It was originally constructed to bring water to farmers, but ended up being used to transport people, grain and produce.
There are locks all along the length of the canal. We rode by one set and it was pretty neat imagining boats working their way through them. Nowadays, the canal is only used to move water to the farmers but some locals are trying to restore the locks so boats could once again go through them.
At our stopping point we met up with some friends who we hiked a lot of miles with but who were a bit ahead of us. Pictured with us is Steve from Seattle, and Jorgen and Lene from Denmark. It was great to see them and share our experiences since we last met up.
We biked for 49km today and are within just 10 k of the halfway point on the camino.