Distance to go: 53.4 Kms.
We had dinner in the San Anton albergue last night. There are no nice cafes in this town so we shopped at the local supermarket and had a really nice home made dinner. It looked like many other pilgrims were doing the same thing.
We had another disturbed night unfortunately which took the shine of this lovely place. A group of young Spaniards turned up at 9PM and checked into our dorm and started chatting on their mobile phones and left the room about 21:30. Thats ok. We did not book the whole room and we need to share it. Lights out in most of these albergues is 10pm. They came back at 11PM and put the lights on and started again. Thats not OK. I complained and said lets all get some sleep. Another 2 turned up at 1:45 in the morning and thats really not ok. It is hard to be ‘nice’ to other pilgrims when they behave like that. Feeling a little tired we got up, had breakfast and left around 06:45. It was a stunning morning. Cool and fresh with clear skies. Perfect for taking a stroll.
Just outside Melide we paused at a significant milestone. The 50 Kms to go mark and had a photo taken. Were we really that close now? We could almost hear the noise of Santiago in the distance. For the first hour we were alone with our thoughts. It was lovely but the chattering line of pilgrims soon caught up.
This was a long and quite a tough day. We wanted to be able to walk into Santiago on Sunday morning with around 10 Kms to go so working back we needed to push on today to leave us a reasonable walk tomorrow and around 10 Kms on Sunday. The terrain was undulating with some steep ascents and descents into and out of shallow valleys through which small streams ran. Once the sun got up the temperatures rose into the high 20s. Much of the path was on woodland tracks or on minor roads.
First break of the day was at the hamlet of Boente where a new Cafe run by a German family provided great hospitality and a stamp for our pilgrim passport. We need to keep collecting a minimum of two of these stamps a day now from Sarria according to the rules to be sure we get our ‘Compostela’, our certificate of completion in Santiago.
Down into the next valley. Cross the stream and climb up again. We passed through Casteñada. Cafe closed. Missed opportunity as the snake of pilgrims pass by. Next village was Ribadiso. Cafe open and heaving with pilgrims. Cafe con leche for me and a tea con leche for Debbie. The village of Ribadiso is absolutely delightful. Its albergue has recently won awards for its renovation and sitting by a roman bridge on the river the location was exquisite. If I had known I would definitely liked to have stayed there. We saw two pilgrims on horseback doing the Camino. They looked just like something out of a western.
The climb out of Ribadiso went on and on only to be rewarded with the rather sprawling and dull town of Arzúa. Other than a supermarket or two it really had nothing to offer. The pilgrims walked on through it. The camera stayed in my pocket.
The next stretch of the way of some 10 Kms was wonderful walking. There were more ups and downs through rolling hills on woodland paths offering lots of cool shade from the sun. Eucalyptus trees so prevalent in New Zealand filled the air with their wonderful scent and littered the path with their strips of paper like bark. It was tough going but delightful. Then, when the throat is parched and the heart is pumping and the knees are complaining the Cafe Calzada suddenly appears from nowhere. It too was packed. We had to wait for a table to come free. Debbie had tea and a slice of meat and veg pie. I had coffee and a bacon and cheese bocadillo. We earned it. Food of the Gods this stuff.
This gave us the fuel for the final push of 5.1 Kms to Salceda and our albergue where we treated ourselves to a private room.
This albergue used to be known as the albergue Pousada de Salceda but under its new owner, Santiago (yes really) it has been totally revamped and is now the Albergue Touristica. Santiago is a rather rotund Spaniard who shares the cooking and gives out the warmest of welcomes. He speaks good English and I liked him as soon as I saw and heard him. I booked this place last night on booking.com and I am glad I did. I usually dont like to book ahead as it ties you into a place and a destination which you must reach come hail, rain or shine but with this number of people and the problems we have had since Sarria with the volume and often the kind of pilgrim, booking is essential. I dont mean that unkindly but the pilgrims we are meeting since Sarria are very different from those we have walked with since St Jean.
Our room did not disappoint. Room 107 is just delightful and peaceful and cool and calm with a fabulous shower. We unpacked, took a shower, snoozed and just relaxed. This place is around 200 metres off the Camino which initially deterred us. 200 metres is nothing but when your legs, knees and feet are aching it is a big deal! We both love the place and recommend it for a stop if needed. It is clean and tidy and so quiet.
We will walk around 16 kms tomorrow so we may even get a lie in until 7am. Hope springs eternal.
Distance walked today: 25.4 Kms.