CAMINO DE SANTIAGO – of food and drink and beds

Casa Magica, Villatuerta. It’s not five star; the magic is in the charm and the warm welcome.

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.

Not flash, but hot showers are around the corner and there’s a nice view of the courtyard, with hammocks.

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.

Ooh, if you want to get to there, I wouldn’t start from here.

Lentils and sausage always taste better than they look. And this is just the starter.

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.

There’s no organised entertainment in Villatuerta, so we watch the local kids playing their version of ‘pelota’ in the village fronton – a sort of fives court.

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…

This is an industrial alcohol factory.

…though there are regularly sights worth stopping for…

The 12th century church in Estella.

…and food worth stopping for too.

An excellent cafe con leche and croissante.

And when we’ve had enough walking, a bus will be along to pick us up.


Filed under Budget travel, Hiking, Spain

12 responses to “CAMINO DE SANTIAGO – of food and drink and beds

  1. I am really enjoying your posts about the Camino, Richard. Thank you for your insights and advice. I hope there’ll be more?! 🙂

  2. Love it! So cheap and ear plugs will fix the Germans. Keep em coming.

  3. This is a really fantastic post! I felt like I was on the journey with you. Thanks for taking me along. 🙂

  4. JF

    Richard. Love the write up, especially the honesty of it not always being beautiful. some of the suburbia streches ahead are just that suburbia… met too many people along the way doing the camino as a treck who were not impressed. time for another medialuna y cafe con leche…
    buen camino!

    • Gracias, JF. The Camino is too long not to have unattractive sections, and all towns have their outer suburbs surrounding the old preserved or restored centres.

      It’s the history and the people that make this walk worth doing. Oh, and the food, wine and cafe con leche.

  5. Enjoying your humour…and the information. Thanks.

  6. Pingback: CAN THE MAGIC HOUSE BE SAVED? | Richard Tulloch's LIFE ON THE ROAD

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