La Casa Magica in Villatuerta is old. Camino de Santiago pilgrims have been pulling off their boots and hobbling across its rough stone floor for over 500 years.
Now the old albergue is on Facebook and has a website and guest wi-fi.
A bed costs ten euros and breakfast an additional four.
‘I’m sorry if we’re a little more expensive than some albergues,’ says our hostess Simone. Expensive? 14 euros for B&B?? We’ve paid that much for coffee and a croissant in other countries, and bad coffee at that.
Most people spending a month or so walking to Santiago will be doing it on a budget but this is ridiculous. We’ve never found any travel in Europe as cheap as this.
Of course it’s not luxurious. The dormitory in our albergue in Obanos has about twenty bunk beds, so naturally on any given night three of them are occupied by large snoring Germans.
Rooms in the House of Magic, Villatuerta, are more intimate, but still communal.
The communal living is a plus for most of us. It means we meet our fellow peregrinos over meals and massages, and can swap travellers’ tales and advice.
Villatuerta has no Michelin-hatted restaurants. Instead it has the club for old people, with laminex tables and a television playing a Spanish soap opera.
Everybody is welcome, and I don’t need to flash my Australian seniors card, which tells the world, ‘The holder is a valued member of our community. Please extend every courtesy and assistance.’
They have a lunchtime ‘menu’ – a three course meal with bread, water and bottles of red wine, all for nine euros. Nine euros?? The cheapest house wine in our local Amsterdam cafe is 19 euros a bottle. And this Rioja wine is perfectly acceptable.
Their coffee is good too.
Next morning we eat the hearty four euro breakfast – bread, coffee, cereal, yoghurt, juice – shoulder our loads and hike on.
To maintain my credibility as a serious, critical blogger, I should inform my readers that the path of the Camino is not all beautiful…
…though there are regularly sights worth stopping for…
…and food worth stopping for too.
And when we’ve had enough walking, a bus will be along to pick us up.