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There's still room in the garage *)

On my big pilgrimage by bike on the occasion of my retirement in 2004, I spent the night in Belorado with my fellow pilgrim Hans. The day before we had been in Viana, a town in the province of Navarre. To my great surprise, there were no beds in the hostel in Viana's main square and we lay on thin mats on the floor. I deliberately wrote "lay" because I couldn't sleep.

The next day, in glorious weather but with lead in our bones, we crossed the Rioja region and arrived in Belorado via Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We cycled partly on the Camino, but mainly on the tarmac N-120 with its many climbs. Curious about the hostel run by Swiss helpers, we finally reached Belorado in the late afternoon. As a cyclist, you don't automatically pass the hostel. We first had to ask our way there. It took several attempts before we finally found someone who understood our Spanish. But then we found ourselves in front of the church described to us and the hostel next to it. Our first impression was somewhat disappointing. The entrance to the hostel looked as if it led into the sacristy. But a shell sign, a yellow arrow and the inscription "Albergue de peregrinos" gave us certainty: we were there!

church and hostel in Belorado

Hostel next to the church

The welcome was very warm and we were able to communicate in German - what a relief! There we were, standing in the middle of the hostel, looking at the large, cosy table and the small kitchen, where people were already busy cooking. But we rejoiced too soon, because the hostel had long been overcrowded and there was no more room for us. In a rollercoaster of emotions, however, things quickly picked up again when we were told: "There's still room in the garage". This emergency accommodation was very close by. It was actually a garage with a proper garage door. Instead of cars, there were lots of bunk beds inside. As poor as it looked and as primitive as the accommodation was, I was delighted to have a real bed after the last night. I found the pillow a special luxury.

On the recommendation of the hostel warden, we treated ourselves to a well-earned beer in the restaurant on the main square. On the first floor there was an excellent pilgrim's menu for us pilgrims. In the evening, we climbed the hill behind the hostel and I took photos of the storks nesting on the church. I slept soundly through the night in a real bed with a pillow. Heart, what more could you want! I didn't need earplugs either, I had already got used to pilgrim life. Was there snoring all around me? I don't know.

in the garage

In the garage

*) Article "There's still room in the garage" in the Swiss magazine Ultreďa No 45 - May 2010, of the Friends of the Way of St James