Camino Del Norte Day 16: Santander to Boo de Piélagos, 14 km

We were still tired and recovering this morning, so we slept in a bit in our private room in a pension. We utilized the wifi to finish catching up on emails and other research, then had a late breakfast at a nearby café (café con leche and a big hunk of potato tortilla with bread for €2.20, delicious and filling).

We set out quite late, around 1pm. Most guidebooks have Santander to Santillana del Mar as their next stage, a whopping 40 km. Luckily, we learned that there is a new albergue along the way in Bóo de Piélagos. Walking through Santander was pleasant, and we had perfect weather today. Leaving the city there was some more unpleasant industrial areas, but then the trail weaves in and out of small villages and becomes more rural with lush green farms. We also saw a lot of evidence of Spain’s housing market crash, as there are many half-finished housing developments, or finished developments that appear as ghost towns with a “for sale” sign on every door.

Bóo is a sweet little town surrounded by farm land, which is also on the commuter trainline to Santander. The new albergue here is exquisite! Highly recommended. It is run by a very sweet family in several apartments above their house, with 28 beds.  Each apartment has its own kitchen and there is even a washing machine that can be used for free. There’s also a little sunny terrace with washlines for drying clothes. The beds have clean sheets, the bathroom has shampoo and conditioner and clean towels, there’s milk in the fridge and tea and coffee available — these are the little luxuries that mean so much to someone on the road. The owner, Piedad, is so nice and also offers to prepare dinner for pilgrims for very reasonable prices.

The price of the albergue, €12 per person (about $15) is a little more than many albergues (which are often supported by organizations or local governments), but the facilities are so much nicer and it includes breakfast.  I hope more albergues like this open and are able to be sustained, as they are so pleasant for pilgrims and ideally can provide a decent income for the owners.  Some people are concerned that the Camino becomes too “commercial” with businesses catering to pilgrims, but I think it is so important that the Camino benefits local people and businesses!

The best part of the albergue (for us at least) is that we are the only ones staying here. I guess since it is so new many people do not know about it yet. We are enjoying the luxury of having it to ourselves, but we hope for the sake of the very nice owners that the place becomes better known and full every night! There is a little shop up the street, so we just came back from getting pasta, meat, vegetables, and fruit for dinner as well as some bacon and eggs for breakfast (yes, breakfast is provided, but Dave likes to eat bacon and eggs every possible chance).