The albergue in Obanos was less than half full when I checked in around 3 pm. I thought this was odd because I expected beds to be hard to come by in August. I took a shower and did my laundry and headed down the street to have a beer. They offered a pilgrim menu at the bar where I stopped but the vibe didn’t suit me so I decided to check out the other restaurant in town. The place was closed but the sign outside said they offered a pilgrim menu at 7 pm.
Shortly before 7 another pilgrim showed up for the meal and he joined me at my table. His name was Carlos and he was just finishing his camino from Arles. Arles is the southern route through France that crosses the Somport Pass and joins the Camino Frances at the church in Obanos (see photo in previous post). Carlos was born in Chile but moved to Canada at an earlier age. He was ex-military and a veteran of many caminos.
The restaurant owner showed up after 7 and offered us a beer while we waited for dinner. I turned out we were the only pilgrims so we spent a lot of time shooting the breeze with the owner as he cooked. After a few beers and a plate of local olives, our dinner was served. It was definitely not the typical pilgrim fare. First a huge tomato, cucumber and onion salad with an excellent oil and vinegar dressing. Then came a fresh local trout, well prepared with pommes frites. A nice bottle of red wine and Carlos and I were soon talking about religion and politics like old buddies.
The curfew at the albergue was 10 pm so about 9:45 Carlos and I paid our bill and headed back. When we walked in we saw that almost every bed had been filled but no other pilgrims were in sight. A few minutes later, they all showed up at the same time as they had all been at dinner together at the first bar I went to. I hit the sack and was sound asleep before the lights went out.
Looking back on first albergue experience, it was pretty good. The place was clean but very simple – one shower and one toilet for each sex. They kept the windows shut at night so it got very warm quickly. Folks started moving around 6:30 which was fine with me because I was up too. I was ready to go by 7:30 but ended up hanging around a bit longer to upload my previous post.