A lovely walking day today through farmland and villages and the odd highway or two. We left late again, at 9.30 am after breakfast. I have to admit, I’d like to get out earlier before it gets too hot but there’s little incentive to get out of bed when you have a private room. Seems like the other pilgrims in the Casa have the same idea. Each waiting for the guests in the other room to stir.
We had breakfast in a bar just at the edge of Nueva, when the hospitalero comes running in to find us. He can’t find the keys. My friend goes back to check the room whilst I rifle through my backpack unable to find it. Turns out, my friend left the keys in the laundry when she went to pick up our clothes.
Cracking on, we walked through beautiful farmland and hamlets, with fields bordered by stone fencing overrun with wild grass. It was quiet on this Sunday with the odd tractor moving about. I practised my long strides, activating the stabiliser muscle in the inner thigh, and holding in my abs. It was quiet tiring though I noticed my pace improving with speed when I concentrated. Not sure whether it’s the exercise or whether I was concentrating.
My friend refers to her guidebook a lot. Me, I just either follow her or follow the yellow arrows. It’s amazing to me how conditioned I’ve become in automatically looking out for it at intersections. Or instinctively knowing which path to take when no signs are there.
At one point just outside Ribadesella, I lost my friend. I had followed the arrows into a stretch of highway where I was nearly runned down by an unobservant speedy cyclist in his headphones. Anyway, I made it to an area where I could finally take a rest at some steps. Farmland is great to walk through but there is no resting place. As I aired my feet, 2 French ladies came up to me and asked to take a photo of them. It is the 100 km mark of their current stage which started from santillana del mar. Little did I know then that I would keep bumping into them.
We had a lovely menu feel dia at a restaurant near the church – Gaspar, or something llike that he that. I never have wine at lunch but felt I would today, I have enjoyed the meals on the del Norte. It is way nicer than the menu peregrino that gets served in the Frances. And the same price too! Makes me think some of the hospitaleros are making a small killing off the pilgrims and their lack of choice of food.
After lunch we hike through Ribadesella. The beach there is simply gorgeous. I was so tempted to stay at the albergue, which is beach front and call it a day. The weather was hot, my feet were hot and the sun was hot. But my friend wanted to go to La Vega. Hiking at 2.30 pm – 3 pm even in September can be pretty tough. The sun is high in the sky, it is bright and glaring, and shade provides respite. We walked out of Ribadesella towards San Pedro. As we climbed up the hill, I spotted a bench and rested, the cool air refreshing my hot and sweaty feet which I had taken out of my boots to cool. Okay, it was a steep climb towards San Estaban. Either that or I’m not yet at the fitness level I was towards the end of my camino. I am getting tired. If ever you walk this route, the good news is that there are a couple of benches that you can rest on.
San Estaban is off route by about 1 km. I walk on towards La Vega up a hill. I stop to look down at San Estaban. It is a tiny hamlet – a church, and a couple of buildings, with the albergue tucked in there somewhere. Brown, stone-grey buildings against a green background.
Even though La Vega is only 3.2 km from San Pedro, it still felt like a long way, especially in the heat. There were a lot of people on the back roads of the woods. We worked out later that the engines backfiring, were probably hunters shooting pigs.
La Vega is a beautiful little seaside village. Perched on a hill, the streets cape follows the medieval and that are bits of housing tacked on together. The church is tiny. We find a Casa to stay at and the hospitalero is lovely. We feel we are invited into their homes. This Casa turns out bigger than is expected from the street. There are 4 to 5 rooms at 40€ each including breakfast. I am hot, sweaty and grumpy. My feet feel like it is about to explode in my boots. I want a shower and to feel clean again. We take the room. Thank goodness. I thought my friend was going to walk all over town looking at all the options for pensions. As it turns out, there are not a lot. There’s the Casa L’Arcu which we stayed at. A hotel located across Casa L’Arcu on the hill, that you can only get to by getting off the camino, going left at the T- junction at the bottom of the hill and climbing back up the hill. The third option is a beachfront Pension Superman. The sign said it was closed but I wasn’t sure whether it’s completely shut down or shut because summer is over.
Back at the Casa, the hospitalero brings up 2 complimentary ice cold beers. So good after such a hit walking day. We do the usual chores, and hang the clothes out the window like a Chinese laundry. Maybe a Spanish one too. The Casa also provides a lovely sitting room and balcony overlooking the views of hills and sea.
Later in the day, we wander down to the amazing beach. I want to put my feet in water. It’s much Warner than I expected and so I walk the length of this very flat beach. The water feels so good, and the waves quite gentle. I do see a surfer trying to catch a wave, so I assume that it could get quite rough depending on the tides. Today, it is perfect. A few families dot the beach.
There are 2 or 3 restaurants nearby and I am pleased they are open in the evening. We have a glass each with pizza and ham and goats’ cheese. It is relaxing to watch the orange hues of the setting sun in the distance. Life feels so simple.