Our grand plan of waking up early to walk fell by the wayside. Peering at the still dark sky, it felt too cold to walk. That’s just an excuse, of course. So was the reason that I didn’t know what time it was because the clicks had gone back. Excuses are easy to find when you don’t want to walk up.
In the end, it was the sounds of packing from the next room that finally roused me. That and a strong desire for the toilet. I crept past the other 2 guests in the room. One of them had been talking in her sleep. She was having a one-way conversation with all the intonations of a 2-way conversation. Maybe she was talking to a ghost. My over active imagination in overdrive, I shut my eyes tighter.
We left the albergue about 8.15 am, after the obligatory cafe con leche to start the engines. Packing was awkward as both of us were still not used to our packs. But we got there in the end. It felt like we were alone as we left. I looked up and saw the spires of the cathedral with the red of the rising sun in the background. The air was cool to the touch. The streets quiet. There is something (now) so familiar with these sensations. I do love the start of the day.
We felt like we were the only ones up, when suddenly a whole bunch of pilgrims descended on us from behind. They were the first of many to bypass us. After a while, Son said the we were the last of the group. I knowingly replied, “Don’t worry. There’ll be more to follow. At worst, we’re the first of tomorrow’s group.”
Fortunately, the weather was a lot better than expected. It was even hot. We rested frequently, taking sips of drink, mainly to reduce pack weight. The way to Negreira involved a lot of road walking, with some dirt track, so it was very hot work. Still, we passed some small cute towns, but most did not offer accommodations, or offered it too early in the walk.
It was to be the only sunny day of our trip. Though I enjoyed it, it started to get quite hot, especially after 1 pm. We started to climb quite a steep hill through farmland and Son was beginning to feel the intensity of the walk. Though he might have done the Duke of Edinburgh, often the boys would take a break every 2 km instead of every 2 and a half hours. It was quite different from the farmland walks through Surrey that he’s used to.
Throughout the day, we were overtaken by pilgrims and day trippers out for their Sunday troll. No, I am not a fast walker. As in the rest of Spain, we passed many abandoned houses. Yet in the midst of these were very large mini stone palaces. As many poor people there are in Spain, there are some very wealthy folks as well.
Tired from road walking. We stopped in the driveway of a factory to rest. We were in the outskirts of Negreira. But you know how outskirts work- you’re still another 3 km from your destination. My feet were hot and I had to release them from the prison of my boots. Another pilgrim walks up and we chat for a while. He is aiming for Vilesario, another 12 km beyond Negreira. I look at Son who shakes his head. He can’t go much further even though the day is still young at around 2.30 pm.
We trudge through the urban streets. Negreira is an ugly town. It reminded me of Colunga on the del Norte. Functional, but ugly. Time to start looking out for albergues. We pass Albergue Alacrin, but walk straight past. On the main highway, it looked pokey and like it’d be stuffed full of bunk beds. Alacringe, more like it. We walk past the Hotel Mellon but it had a bus load of tourists in the doorway. We give it a miss.
I check the map on a large billboard and aim for the most remote Albergue I could find. I settled on Albergue San Jose. Set back 2 streets from the main road, it is in a new building. The whole place smelt clean and empty, with pillows being summed and blankets being washed. The hospitalero was welcoming and helped us to find 2 lower bunk beds in this vast place. We were also given sheets and a towel. No doubt in summer it is heaving with pilgrims. Today, there’s only 5 of us. It is quiet and dark and gives us a break from the hot sun. We love it here. So much so we decided to cook dinner in the well equipped kitchen. Nothing fancy. Just soup and spaghetti for dinner but we were satiated. We were also glad not to have to wait till 8 pm for dinner and for the early night. At 7.30 pm, we were ready to wind down for the night. Already, a papa bear is snoring – since 5.30 pm. Fortunately, his is if the intermittent kind.
Highly recommend Albergue San Jose. Feedback on Albergue Lua is that it is kinda 70s hippy. Bright, lurid colours and incense. Albergue Carmen looks pretty standard. There is a Michelin finalist restaurant in town (near the supermarket on the bend of the main camino street) but this opens late – at 8 or 8.30 pm.