The old albergue in Roncevalles had a role in The Way. It was a medieval monastery and had been hosting pilgrims for centuries. Martin Sheen's character stayed there his first night on his walk...on a top bunk, next to "Jost, from Amsterdam," there were about 100 beds in a single room, under a huge chandelier.
It closed recently, having been replaced by a spectacular renovation of another monastery in the tiny town. The new albergue has 3 floors. We were on the first, in bunks 151 and 152. It is clean and very well managed. Hospitaleros greeted us, registered us for 10€ each, gave us change to rent the key to our individual storage cupboard, and washed and dried clothes for us for less than 3€.
Many people begin their Camino in this town. All those who begin in St Jean Pied de Port come here on their 1st or 2nd night. Hundreds of beds are needed and there are only a few other accommodations in town.
Thus we shared our floor with at least 100, and our alcove with two others. There were 3 toilets and 3 showers per gender on our floo
At dinner we were at communal tables in a nearby restaurant. Our seating was at 7:00. At 8:00 we were rushed out to get ready for the next group. The meal was mediocre. But everyone was anticipatory and in good spirits. We were among the few for whom it was not the very beginning of the adventure.
We were in our sleep sacks by 9:30. It was cold. There was no bedding. I climbed down and put on my hiking pants and jacket, then slept pretty well.
At 6:00 music played, lights came on, a hospitalero walked the hall calling out good morning in many languages. Everyon laughed and got up. The spirit was wonderful.
I am glad this was not our first night on the Camino. But I have to say, it had its own kind of Camino charm. And the dawn was cool and welcoming.