I started yesterday in Triacastela. The plan was to hike only 11.5 miles to Sarria. I started out the day feeling pretty good. Nothing terribly sore for a change. The hiking was typical of the Galicia region. Many small villages with farms and cattle ranches fill the vast rolling countryside. The cattle here are seemingly all light-colored. Blonde with light eyes it seems. Very beautiful.
I stopped for a quick bite to eat about midway to Sarria. The air was cool. I decided down a hill-side and into fog. Fog turned into cloud cover as I descended even further down. I arrived in Sarria around 11am. I stopped at a cafe to have a snack, and decide what to do. It was too early to stop walking, and the weather was great. I was also feeling pretty good.
After my snack I threw on my pack and decided to walk until I was tired and then find a place to stay. There was only one challenge. Sarria is the official starting point for those pilgrims wanting their Compostela but not having time to do the whole Camino. You must complete 100km to get your certificate. So the trail becomes crazy busy and accommodations fill up quickly. THe only hole in my plan was the potential of where ever I stopped being sold out and having to walk further. I figured I would chance it.
As the morning cloud deck burned off, the temperature quickly rose. It was soon in the low 90s and very humid. I made it as far as Morgade before calling it a day. Fortunately they had a small Casa Rural that had a room available. The accommodations were great, and literally right off the dining room. I didn’t have to walk far to eat. The hotel had no wifi, so I read a bit to pass the evening hours and chatted with the boys back home. It was a nice way to unwind.
In all I hiked about 18.5 miles yesterday.
This morning, I awoke early. The funny thing about cafes in Spain, nothing opens early. Most pilgrims appear to be early risers, it would serve the business owners to have early hours. I have a notion they would make a killing. However, I have finally out-smarted the system. Last night before retiring for the night, I went to the bar and ordered a cafe americano. Espresso with water essentially. Always served on a saucer, I took the cup back to my room and placed the saucer on top of the cup. This morning, I had a cup of coffee first thing. Granted it was cold, but it was delightful not to have to wait several hours to get a cup of coffee. I think I sprained my elbow from patting myself on the back this morning.
I was on the trail by 5:45, I was planning for a longer day today, so i wanted to get started early. The temperature has been steadily rising each day, so I expected today to be warmer than yesterday. My assumption proved correct. By 6:30, it felt to be in the high 70s with no clouds to keep the temperatures at bay.
By 7:00 I had met someone new and had a hiking companion, Mark from Albuquerque. Originally from Texas, he has lived in Albuquerque close to 20 years. He owns his own business and travels frequently. He told me about a program called home swap. Basically you swap homes with someone from somewhere you would like to visit. I will have to check it out. He has been in Europe about 6 weeks and stayed in someone elses home with no expense. And they are staying in his home in Albuquerque. Pretty cool!
Considering I had completed more mileage than necessary yesterday, my plan for the day had changed. Instead of the original plan of 13 miles, with the additional miles I completed yesterday, I only had to hike 6 miles this morning. Not really feeling like stopping by 8 am, I pushed on to complete the next segment of the trail. I completed 21 miles today.
The trail became increasingly crowded today. The masses have arrived. I stopped at 2 cafes today while walking with Mark. Both were swamped with pilgrims. More people were in these cafes than I the total number of people I have seen on the camino since St Jean. As I said, it is BUSY. The second cafe we stopped at had a rather frazzled bartender. You could tell he hadexperienced a very hectic day.
Mark and I arrived in Palas De Rei shortly before 2 and make haste in locating a place to stay. We found a quaint new hotel which had a room for each of us…. with AC! Talk about a luxury! Very few places have had AC to this point. I feel spoiled!
Mark headed off to his room, and I hopped in the shower. We agreed to meet up for dinner around 7.
Based on the increased traffic, I am going to start earlier tomorrow. My previous plan of finishing on the 4th has changed. I have essentially made up 1 day of hiking in the last two days. I’m 42.4 miles from Santiago. The way I currently feel, I could do two 21 mile days and be done. I would be two days ahead of schedule. Perhaps I could use the extra time to make my way leisurely to Finisterre. Or perhaps spend a down day or two in Santiago before heading out.
I will take it one day at a time and see where the wind takes me.
Buen Camino, Santiago is in sight.