A week near the end of the Camino Santiago
On Monday, Sept 23, We left a town named Villafranca del Bierzo to continue our Camino. We had gained a 3rd to our group. A nice Aussie friend who will hopefully be with us until the end of the trip (names are hidden to protect the innocents)
Vaga de Valcarce
We had a very tough climb up a hill and for me, a very hard down the hill. Over 300 meters both ways. Once down we could not find a resting place for food since here a lot of places are closed on Mondays. We ended up at a supermarket ( we would call it a corner store) and I bought and ate a package of sliced meat and a bag of breadsticks.
We walked a few hours more and we ended up at our Albergue for the night in a place called Vaga de Valcarce (17 km). This was one of the best with only 10 bunks and a nice restaurant built in.
Of course, I was the last to bed and was talking to the owner/barman who gave me a free shot after a funny Spanish exchange. But I did really try.
Tuesday we left and headed to O’Cebreiro (12 km) with another Aussie in tow. This was another tough day of 700 meters up. The Albergue had a bed that was very close together and we decided on a hotel. Our new Aussie decides to carry on past. The room here wand kinda shady and the town very touristy. Didn’t really enjoy my time here.
On Wednesday the three of us set out in the dark the next morning for Triacastela (20 km) after some coffee. Mostly a flat day (which is not really flat) but a 600 m decent at the end. We had our iPods going and this is the day I wrote my reflections post.
In Triacastela we booked into a purpose-built Albergue in twin stone buildings. 4 bunks to a room but we ended up split between the two buildings. Michelle and I shared with a very touchy Spanish couple who shares a bunk most of the day AND night. Kinda uncomfortable.
We ate (I had ketchup with a side of French Fries), did laundry, showered and other pilgrim duties the ate a late dinner. I had a great steak with two nice and spicy salsas to go with it.
Thursday I was up and packing at 6 ’cause the loving couple has some weird snoring thing going on.
We went for the usual toast and coffee and set off for Sarria (20 km) The last place to start the Camino to earn your Compostela. We had a choice of two routes and chose the shorter and wooded but harder (with more hills).
In Sarria we ended up and a very nice Albergue. We went looking for a new credential for our Aussie girl while Michelle had a nap. We also had to find me a new power adapter to charge my devices. I left my other one a few towns back.
We had a quick snack and a few drinks before doing our nightly chores. Then we had the best dinner so far of the entire trip. I had Pollo (chicken) in a wonderful sauce, Mich had great pasta and Aussie had stuffed peppers. Of course, I tried everyone’s meal. They were all good. The waitress laughed when I said I wanted a second main as dessert. (But I wasn’t joking).
Friday: We were at the coffee shop for 7:30 and we have noticed the sun is coming up later each day now. We headed out for Portomarin (23 km) and half an hour into the walk it started to rain. And it rained all the way. And our rain gear was not up to the task. We were drowning rats. It was not A fun or good day. I can’t stress that part enough.
Entering Galicia on the Camino
We had heard the region of Galicia was wet but we were thinking mists and the like. My water proof shoes just became buckets that held the water in. My rain jacket just let the water pass through and my waterproof pack let my sleeping bag get wet. You get the picture …
In Portomarin we booked into the last 3 bunks. All upper. Mainly we chose the place because Michelle’s pack was shipped there and the had washers and driers. All our stuff went in including my sleeping bag.
After showers and warm clothing we went looking for ponchos. Once propery equipped we had a very nice dinner with some Aussies from Melbourne.
Saturday we had coffee in the nice restaurant in the Alburgue then set out with our new ponchos in a light drizzle. It seems true what they said about this stage of the trip. All these new pilgrims are crowding our Camino. There were dozens of people walking with us all day long. The good news is it didn’t rain all day. The bad news is my camera spent most if not all day in my bag.
So, we were off to a little town called Eirexe (17 km). Talk about a small town. There was an Alburgue, a Hostel (which was full), a bar (where is spent most of the day) and a restaurant wayyyyyy down the road. On the restaurant had wifi and I couldn’t even use my cell data package or phone out for lack of service. Dinner was ok. Not as wonderful as some recently but good enough.
Sunday: We set out from Eirexe with out usual morning stop to fuel up. Today we headed to Melide (23 km). It rained off and on with the ponchos off and on. Not a hard walk and nicely forested. At one point we joked that it looked a bit like the trees could just get up and walk around like in Lord of the Rings. There were a few rough areas made slick by the rain but the mud was to a minimum and over all a good day.
To top it off. We chose a place in the book to have Michelle’s bag delivered and booked a room. It’s the nicest place we have stayed in and only cost 50 euros split 3 ways. I had a nice long shower and look forward to soft sheets instead of a sleeping bag.
That has been a week near the end of our Camino. I think we have 3 or 4 days left. Another reflection is soon and the experience as we walk into Santiago and the Cathedral.
Cheers and Buen Camino!!!