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Susan Blogs About Our Camino To Santiago De Compostela (again!)

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Tuesday 2nd June 2009 - 3:21pm
Santiago De Compostela (again!) by Susan
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So i nipped back down three days worth of camino to finish off our portugese route alone. Took the train down to pontevedra early the other morning and started from the train station which is where we stopped.

Its gone very quiet since we were on the route, when we left there were about 20-50 people in the albergues and the past two nights thereve been about 6! So Ive pretty much walked alone the whole day for 3 days. Been seriously regretting not speaking spanish, apart from a couple of nice Korean girls and a spanish guy i walked with for part of yesterday morning my sole converstation for days has invloved me very badly pronouncing "tiene tortilla?" which is a little isolating...

it has made me rethink taking the north route alone tho, i mean if im feeling a little strange after 3 days not speaking to anyone what will i be like after 3 or 4 weeks? its possible i will be a little crazy, mind its possible that im already crazy and thats the only reason im contemplating it...

which reminds me about the reason im so tired today, but well get to that...

so the first day i stopped in this totally out of the way place called Briallos, there was truly nothing there, cept an albergue... Plus for some reason the locals were having some kind of childrens party in the albergue all night!! It was pretty weird when i went in cos there was this waiter guy in a tux wondering around and a huge spread of food and drink laid out and i thought id wondered into the wrong place! Of course the food was not for us... which was a little mean i think as there was no shop or food place around, luckily i had privisions with me but it was a bit mean them having an all night party in front of starving pilgrims that they were keeping awake and not offering us anything i think!!

So anyway the showers were the sort of communal type, you know with no doors! And i figure well id best go in there quick (before the party started) as its clear a load of people are going to appear soon... Well anyway as you can imagine i had just got in there and took all my clothes off when about a million small children in party frocks and women in even nicer clothes descended on the bathrooms!

As you can imagine it was a pretty quick shower! I then i had to scoot out past all the party goers to grab my clothes and scoot back to get changed in the wet showers with all the mums and kids looking completely horrified and whispering to each other (presumably the spanish for "theres a naked lady in the toilets...")

After that i figured i, the naked lady in the toilets, had better hide upstairs in the dorms for the next 7 hours listening to all the spanish folks shouting at each other... If youve ever heard a spanish kids party youll know that earplugs are nowhere near good enough to sleep through it... also spanish children NEVER go to bed!!!

Every so often small children would run up to look at the pilgrims to giggle. The Korean girls seemed to take it quite personally (though they werent having any showers! - "why are there no doors?" they asked me, why indeed, what is that about???) apparently they have been getting the impression that in rural spain asians are a bit of a rarity... Its quite possible I should think considering that my slightly light not quite blond hair is exotic to cause a reaction (some lady actually grabbed hold of a bit of it the other day for gods sake!!) then goodness knows how exotic koreans are!

Yesterday I walked to Padron. the walking to Briallos and to Padron was all very lovely, lots of nice countryside and forests, although by about 8.30am i am far too hot and by 12 im virtually cooked with heat exhaustion.. I got really lost yesterday going through Caldas but it was good as I found a really cheap place for breakfast. The lady was lovely even though i proudly asked for a "cafe con leche" and then added "please" in english instead of "por favor" she was pretty patient with me, maybe she figured it was early and i needed the coffee...

Padron was nice enough, though i was surprised to sse some other pilgrims that i hadnt seen since the first albergue at Rates! I mean Ive had five days off! What have they been doing?? of course they might be wondering the same thing as me, maybe theyve had days off too, or theyve just walked REALLY slowly!!

SO anyway last nights madness. I actually forgot this until about 12km into my walk this morning when i was wondering why im so tired!! Most of these albergues have been pretty new buildings but a few are really old converted buildings and last nights in Padron was this old building next to a huge monastery. I actually didnt think all that much about it in history terms, until about 2am when i was woken up suddenly with the distinct feeling a had a ghost!

So the first thing that happened was a kept seeing this lady in a black jacket taking photographs, but she didnt look particularly historic or scary, then she disappeared but im quite willing to believe i was actually still asleep and dreaming at that point... but then what happened next was pretty weird..I was almost certian that there was a presence at the end of the bed but every time i looked at it it vanished and THEN a dog appeared at the window at the end of my bed and started barking very loudly through the window staring at where i kept half seeing this thing!!! The dog was going mad on the other side of the glass!!

Now it wasnt a ghost dog id seen it in the day wondering around the gardens of the monastery, but it never came near the albergue or barked much or anything so its weird it suddenly appeared and started barking at this thing that was freaking me out!! I basically hid under the covers for a while and the dog followed whatever it was (noone else seemed to wake up btw!) all along the windows to the other end of the room barking, then it came back! barked at the end of my bed for ages and eventually went away!! So i dunno what that was all about, but there was no way i was getting up to go to the toilet in the dark after that so it took me forever to get back to sleep...

Creepy eh? I once woke up and saw three ghosts on the camino in france with my mum actually. well im pretty sure she didnt wake up or see them and i thought id best not mention it since she tends to look a little like she wants to pack me off to a mental asylum at times but anyway THEY were very nice aand friendly ghosts and i was pleased to see them not like this freaky thing last night!!!

Todays walkign was pretty gruelling, very hot and lots fo roads, ive actually not even bothered to go to the cathedral yet (i dont think theyll give me a compostella anyway after stopping for five days at pontevedra) - i just walked around the outside of the town and got a bed in the big huge albergue that was surprisingly hard to find...

The guy said "how long do you want to stay?" and i was like "well how long can I stay?" and he said "as long as you like!" and i almost asked for 3 months, I mean eh?, at ten euros a night i could stay here for a while yet!!!

Still ive plumped for 3 nights...which should give me just enough time NOT to decide what to do next and for my walking boots (another long story) to NOT quite arrive....

Must go running out of net time, not too bad here in this huge albergue, i seem to be sleeping near to a lot of potentially large snoring men but at least they have internet in here eh!


So they DID give me a compostela! Yay! I dunno whether they just didnt notice the date discrepancy or whether a few days gone astray when you have walked the lot in order dont matter too much! :)

I was pretty chuffed actually cos I had pretty much resigned myself to not getting one and not being all that bothered...

So today was very tough, the last two days walking, apart from the heat has been pretty nice, but today was very long an hot with lots of dangerous road crossings, road walkings and more dangerous run-across-the-railway-lines than youd believe they could fit into one camino day!!!

I was ehausted when i got to santiago, and i ran out of water way back about 5km beofre i got there. There was only one open bar that i passed all day and i didnt much like the look of it to that only added to the drought.

I actually skipped around the city and the cathedral but, and get this, I found out that the "camino portugese" actually runs past the incredbly overpriced 4 star hotel on the outskirts of town that me and tim found ourselves in the ohter night! How funny is that, we were actually staying on the route and didnt realise!

This also makes sense of another incident that when i was walking to the train station from the hotel with all my gear onthe other morning a car went past tooting and yelling the spanish version of congratulations and stuff and i was thinking, what are they on about im not on the route into town, but yes I was! I was on the Route of the Camino Portugese into Santiago without even knowing it, a route i walked again for real just today! How weird. Also it helped me orientate myself cos the arrows completely disappeared about that point...

Like i said i skipped the cathedral but a couple of nice things happened this afternoon, firstly ive been parched thirsty for days, i can never seem to get enough water and today i ran out completely en-route and resorted to some slightly dodgy drinking fountain water that tasty a bit funny and disagreed with me a little. Anyhow then today in the albergue the drinks machine gave me two bottles of water instead of one by accident! :)

Also later I was sitting in the park and my cheese wrapper blew away, and i was thinking "well i dont want to litter but seriously my blisters are way to bad to limp over there and pick it up" and then, by magic, the wind changed and clew it back to me! :)

Then, about 6pm i was gripped with a desire to visit the cathedral that i bypassed earlier, when i got in there the botafumeiro was up and i figured maybe its a sign adn ill go ask for a compostela! and they gave me one! :) then i sat on the steps for ages in the sun and then i figured what the heck im not doing anything else ill go to mass (the evening one) and i got to see the botafumerio thingy swing! yay! :)

so things not too bad, still dunno what im gonna do, im feeling a bit tired and bad at spanish generally so if i dont get to sort the boots out then there is a serious chance i may be tired enough to come home... then again... :s

[Add A Comment To This Blog]

Comment Added: Tuesday 2nd June 2009 - 8:53pm
"Whereabouts in France were the friendly ghosts?

p.s. Congrats on your second compostella! How many are you planning to collect?"
by Mum

Comment Added: Tuesday 2nd June 2009 - 9:08pm
"Mam says: "You worked very hard for your second compostella! Well done!" And she wants photographic evidence.

Congratulations! Now go put your feet up (literally)."
by Keith & Mam

Comment Added: Tuesday 2nd June 2009 - 10:24pm
"Glad they gave you a certificate, maybe they read yr blog and realised whingy godless boyfriends are enough of a punishment and so you deserve time off purgatory in leiu!

was it the over priced hotel with the small time gangsters and the big breakfast that was on the route?

might have found an arthritic art therapist who wants an artistic assistant...

sadly still in north east.

hope you get a nice couple of days for painting

and hope theres no more undercover ghost papperazi shenanegans

x x"
by tim

Comment Added: Wednesday 3rd June 2009 - 12:51pm
"Mum: Cant remember - somewhere in the middle of nowhere, very flat with lots of sweetcorn fields and a distant view of the pyrenees..

Keith & Marie: Thanks and dont worry there is many, many photographs... :)

Tim: The hotel where the receptionist gave us the bill and we both almost fainted...! And I didnt see the breakfast so I cant comment :(
Art therapist assistant sounds good! Do they fancy moving to Fisterra by any chance...?

Its gone very misty and cold here now as soon as Ive stopped walking!! Painted the cathedral this morning, but not very well...
I am almost formulating a plan... but probably not the Norte, I might need to learn spanish!"
by Susan

Comment Added: Thursday 4th June 2009 - 12:02pm
""very flat"!?

Are you sure you got the right camino? Don't remember anywhere flat in the whole 500 miles!"
by Mum

Comment Added: Monday 20th July 2009 - 5:28pm
"Congratulations Susan. I walked the Camino Frances Autumn 2008. I see you live in Newcastle a place I often visit to do "Granny duty". I find everyone very friendly so I feel I can ask you something. Do you know where I could get some of those cards like the ones they ask you to pick at the albergue in Mansilla de las Mulas?
Buen camino"
by Judith

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