Pretty quiet day today. Not from a people standpoint but from a “happenings” standpoint. I walked. I talked to a few people. I ate. I walked some more.
I was the first one out of the hostel this morning (the Spaniards we’ve added pushed the mean departure time later) despite having trouble getting to sleep. For some unkown reason, there were two Germans in the bunk above me. They both sounded female and I’m not sure if it was mother/daughter, lesbians or just friends. But the end result was that I was subjected to double the amount of creaking I was expecting.
The albergue was actually really nice. Only 16 bunks and it was above a cervezeria, my prime reason for picking it. The beds were comfortable – probably the softest mattress I’ve had on a trip where the beds are uniformly closer to wood slabs than traditional American mattresses. In a town overrun daily by pilgrims I got lucky and the cervezeria seemed to be where the locals hung out. Here they are huddled around what appeared to be a sports betting machine.
I had a decent dinner and got to try out some new beers, including a chestnut beer (passable but not something I’d order regularly). There are three major beer brands I’ve regularly run across on my trip: San Miguel, Mahou and Estrella Galicia. Of the three, San Miguel is the most watery and resembling an American beer, while Estrella Galicia is the tastiest. Estrella also makes a couple of specialty beers – a Belgian style lager called 1906 and red ale version – but the basic lager is my favorite. A 12 oz tap beer usually costs around $1.80 while a half liter (~16 oz) goes for $2.50. In the grocery store it’s about 1/3 to 1/2 that price while a decent bottle of wine can be had for $3 (in restaurants wine is usually included as part of the fixed menu price). It’s cheap to get drunk in Spain.
The trail has gotten pretty loud since Sarria. There are so many groups walking and talking that the only time you really have quiet is while going up hills. If you step off the trail, you can get quiet as well. Today, the trail passed within 30 yards of some ruins dating back to the 5th century BC. I took a break on top of the old wall and saw hundreds of people pass by in the 20 minutes I was there. Not a single soul stopped to look.
There are a few guidebooks and they all seem to break the Sarria to Santiago stretch into 5 stages with recommendations to stop at certain towns (including Portomarin yesterday). As soon as I passed through the stated end town, the trail was deserted.
Tonight I’m staying at a lovely farm out in the countryside. There are a few heads of cattle and a nice stream, part of which runs under the stone house where I’m sleeping. It’s very idyllic and much more appealing than the city. Tonight I’ll fall asleep to the sound of the stream rushing by outside as opposed to the bed creaking from the Germans above me.
July 20, 2017
Portomarin to Casa Domingo – 18 miles
Grain storage building – still in use