Yesterday I achieved a milestone of sorts. A Wretched Stone milestone.
As I mentioned earlier, on this Camino I'd somehow managed to conquer the Wretched Stones of Galicia that had paralyzed me with fear on our last Camino.
That is to say, I'd conquered most of the Wretched Stones.
But I knew I stll had one more rock-monster challenge to face; This would be the bridge made of four rocks across a stream, the last two of which rocks are narrow, uneven, and somewhat wobbly and which so filled me with fear that I stood frozen in the middle of the bridge, unable to move forward despite the encouragment and extended hands of the pilgrims already on the other side. Finally a man with an artificial leg who was selling trinkets on the other side of the bridge got up from his little table, limped and pushed his way through the crowd, stepped onto the rock bridge, grabbed my arm and yanked me quickly across the rocks to the shore.
It was my most embarrassing Camino moment, but I had to admit the guy's method was effective.in getting me over the rocks and across the bridge.
But this time, having overcome my fear of all the other the Wretched Stones along the way, I believed that the danger of the rock bridge had been, likewise, all in my head and that when I again came to it this second time I'd simply breeze across.
Though I've had vague fleeting notions for the past few days that we'd soon be Yesterday morning I wasn't I really wasn't even much thinking about the rock bridge, though I had a vague notion that we'd cross it soon.
At one point yesterday morning while hiking through forest land we heard Celtic flute music off in the distance which got louder as we advanced until we came upon the forest flutist playing next to his donkey.
And the just a few steps beyond the flutist and donkey, there it was:
In retrospect I should have just kept walking, just marched across that bridge as I’d rehearsed in my mind, but I hesitated, backed up a little to get a good walking start, hesitated again just to make sure I was ready, took a moment to summon up my courage, then quickly set out across the four rocks. And stopped dead when I reached the end of the second one. I couldn’t make myself set foot upon the third.
Tom, who was already on the other side, started back to fetch me but I didn’t want to be fetched, I was afraid of losing my balance and pulling us both into the rocky stream below.
“Just give me I minute,” I said. I can’t do this, I thought.
“Put your sticks down one at a time on the middle of the rock, then you won’t fall,” Tom called.
Now, I don’t know whether putting my sticks down on the middle of the rock kept me from falling any more than holding a feather in his trunk made Dumbo able to fly, but in that moment being told by Tom that I wouldn’t fall if I just kept my sticks centered made me believe it and, keeping my sticks centered, I ventured onto the bad rocks, kept moving and was across in about three seconds.
While I was still doing a victory dance for having made it across the rock bridge in, really, less than two minutes and without having made a major scene, Tom and I noticed another pilgrim now frozen on the spot on the bridge that had stopped me.
Tom went out to her and helped her across,
...and then she helped the next fearful pilgrim across.
Pilgrims three, rock bridge zero
Then the next pilgrim to cross the bridge was a young Israeli girl who perched on the bad rocks casually snapping photos of the stream.
“My goodness, weren’t you scared out there on those rocks?” I asked her.
Besides crossing the wretched rock bridge, we also walked through a fragrant eucalyptus forest,
….saw a cow-pilgrim mixer,
...and stopped at a little bar for our current favorite lunch, tomato, cheese, and olive oil bocadillos....
We walked probably 8 or 9 kilometers yesterday
…..though we’re not exactly sure, as the place we stopped at, a hostel called Casa Mila, was a little off the map.
We’d found this place rather by accident on our last Camino when, walking through a forest late in the day and having already passed two albergues that were full and the next town several kilometers away, we came upon this sign, pointing to a narrow path that veered off the Camino.
Wondering whether we were as foolish as Hansel and Gretel to be following a sign through the forest, we followed it anyway as it was getting dark and we were getting desperate.
We came to another sign,
...that led us to one more sign,
Then we were in front of a big stone house that looked empty.
“I don’t think there’s anyone here,” I told Tom, but he strode up to the door, me following behind him, and knocked.
We weren’t exactly expecting a wicked witch to answer the door, but neither were we expecting the cute little grandmotherly lady wearing a kitten apron who answered the door and seemed as happy to see us as if she’d been expecting us.
We ended up loving the place.
And so yesterday we decided that, to make up for the nasty albergue we’d ended up in the night before, we just had to go back to the lovely Casa Milia, even though it meant walking a short day.
So we made our way through the forest back to the lovely Casa Milia.
View from the front door
..... Where we were warmly welcomed by the same sweet hospitaliera and her friendly grandson who helps her run the hostel.
We got a double room with the most heavenly comfortable beds.
It turned out that Tom and I were the only guests in the hostel, but the grandson told us that starting the following day the place was booked solid through the weekend with pilgrim tour groups.
Camino Karma, thank you again.
Remembering the amazingly delicious food we’d had on our last stay at Casa Mila, we were especially anticipating dinner.
….which even better than we’d remembered.
The first course was a pot of fantastic vegetable soup, all the ingredients of which came from the hospitaliera’s garden.
The next course was rabbit, raised and prepared by the hospitaliera, and served in the most unbelievable sauce, every bit of which we soaked up from the platter with bread and the delicious roasted potatoes served on the side.
For dessert I had home-made flan and Tom, encouraged by the hospitaliera’s grandson to try this local delicacy, had cheese and quince, which he declared delicious.
Along with our coffee and tea the hospitaliera brought out a bottle of a strong raspberry liqueur that she made herself and poured a shot for Tom – I declined - into a tiny iced glass.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Tom.
And for the 81€ we paid for our room, dinners, laundry service and delightful breakfast this morning,
...it probably doesn't.
Tom and I can usually pull our two-headed turtle act together enough to decide each evening how far we want to walk the following day and where we want to spend the night.
It's not unusual, however, for us to have great ambition about how far we'll walk in a day - 20, 21, 23 kilometers - and then by the end of the day fall several - or sometimes quite a few - kilometers short of our original goal.
It's not necessarily because we're too tired to walk any further - though sometimes we in fact are - that we stop shorter than we'd planned; we usually stop because it's gotten too late for us to go on.
Our philosophy on the Camino is that you don't want to arrive at your albergue much later than 5 pm or else you risk the albergue being full, and also the hospitalieros don't appreciate you to handing them your laundry to wash when they're bustling around trying to get dinner together.
In any case,it always seem to take us most of the day to get wherever we end up staying for the night. Part of the reason is that I'm a slow, slow walker, always stopping to look at things, to turn around and look at the view behind me, to gaze at the cloud islands, to snap picture after picture.
But the other reason it generally takes us so long every day to get to wherever we end up is because we blow so much time during the day chatting with our fellow pilgrims. We can easily blow an hour in a bar talking. Especially Tom. Tom loves to talk to people and people love to talk to him.
And so we've decided that even though we're the slowest pilgrims on the Camino, interacting with our fellow pilgrims is for us an important part of our Camino.
Of course, we can never participate in kilometer braging.
Yesterday we'd grandiously planned to walk 23 kilometers from Palas de Rei to Portela, but, per usual, we stopped after 15 k's in the city of Melide.
It rained all day yesterday so the Camino Tortoises and Camino Rocket Men and Women came out:
But we were mostly happy trampers, anyway.
Along with the Tortoise and Rocket People we also saw along the way:
A giant Camino scallop shell,
....a troll bridge,
....and several sightings of the little pilgrim xunta guy:
When we arrived at Melide we decided to stay at an albergue called O Cruceiro that we'd seen advertised along the way. It looked nice from the outside and its ads claimed that it was a brand new albergue.
Once we got a look at the dorms, expensive at 10€ per bed, we concluded that this place probably was brand new a hundred years ago. The dorm rooms were dark and dreary and smelled not great, the WIFI didn't work, the bathrooms also smelled and the showers leaked so that the bathroom floor was a pool, the washer and dryer didn't function well - and there was only one of each for 40 pilgrims with wet, muddy clothes, which caused such an atmosphere of laundry anxiety in the dorm that I finally pulled our laundry from its spot in the queue and just washed a couple pieces by hand and hung them up in the drying area where there was water dripping from above, probably from a hole in the roof.
After we hung up our wet clothes in the wet drying room we felt like we had to get away from the laundry drama and general dreariness of the place, so we left and sought out someplace else to be. Down the block from our loser albergue we happened upon a cute restaurant called Chaplin,
....where we had a great meal and then sat around and chatting with other pilgrims, then just sat around more until we really had to return to our albergue. The gracious, friendly server not only didn't mind us hanging out all night but took our photo.
In the course of our evening at the restaurant we ran into one group of pilgrims, middle-aged American ladies, whom we’d been “Buen Camino-ing” along the Camino for weeks but with whom we’d never really stopped to speak. This time we did chat for a moment, mostly about how good the food at this restaurant was.
Then one of the ladies said to me, “Aren’t you the couple who loves pastries? It seems like every town we pass you in you’re going into a pastry shop. And weren’t you the ones who were leading pilgrims off the Camino into a pastry shop in that one little town that was supposed to have the best pastries on the Camino?"
Sigh. Guilty as charged.
Something strange has happened to the Wretched Stones of Galicia.
They're not there anymore.
Not that there are no tricky spots now and then
...but we're halfway though Galicia and I have yet to meet up any of the terrible, terrifying patches of giant jagged rocks that on our last Camino left me paralyzed with fear, unable to move without the group encouragement of Tom and every other pilgrim who happened to be around me.
I remember the Wretched Stones being everywhere last time. Now they're nowhere.
Now, I'm wondering whether all the hundreds of thousands of pilgrim boots that have walked over those stones in the two years since I last walked the Camino have worn them away, or could it be that something inside my head has changed? Or did I just build these rocks up to be such huge monsters in my memory that the reality now makes them seem insignificant?
Or maybe they'll spring up on the path before me tomorrow.
Yesterday we walked about 17 kilometers from Gonzor to Palais de Rei.
It was another morning of walking alongside cloud islands.
I love the cloud islands. I can't resist stopping to gaze at them, then I can't stop gazing at them. I feel like I want to keep looking at them forever, mesmerized by the illusion of islands and oceans.
But then by late morning the clouds have drifted off and the mountain tops are no longer islands, but mountain tops once again.
We hit a brief spell of rain in the afternoon, and so I transformed into a Camino tortoise,
....and on we walked,
....and saw the little pilgrim Xunta guy a few times. I love him, too.
In the city of Palais de Rei we stayed at the albergue Castro, a beautiful modern new building with a bar on the first floor, a restaurant in the basement and elevators to the bright, spacious dorms on the second and third floors where the beds were 9€ each..
The internet was lightening-fast - it's been a bit of a challenge finding working WIFI lately - and the bathrooms were gender-segregated and spotless, with soap dispensers, paper towels - almost unheard of in the albergues - and plenty of lovely hot water
We had a delicious 9€ pilgrim meal - complete with the standard bottle of vino tinto - red wine - in the cozy basement restaurant:
As we were finishing the last bites of our dessert a bus full of French tourgrims came piling into then restaurant and the hassled server was bustling around trying to find seats for them all. Tom and I quickly got up from our seats and offered them to the group. When we went up to the bar to pay for our meal the grateful server as a thank-you poured Tom - I declined - a shot glass full of a strong local liqueur typical to Galicia, on the house. And everybody was happy.
The word "turigrino" - "tourgrim" in English - is now part of the lexicon.
The term refers to pilgrims - pergrinos in Spanish - who do the Camino with a tour group. I saw the word on the back of a van of a Camino tour company called Viajes Tourigrino - Tourgrims Trips.
Yesterday we walked about 18 kilometers from Morgade to Gonzar.
.....passing now and then along the way the little pilgrim guy who's the symbol of the Xuntas, as the municipal albergues are called in Galicia,
....and who people can't resist covering in grafitti.
Once again we started out before 8 am and walked in the dark by the light of our flashlights. As our albergue in Morgade had no internet connection we were out on an early-morning WIFI hunt.
After walking about 4 ½ kilometers we found some WIFI along the way in a lovely little albergue bar called Mercadoiro,
…where we had a yummy breakfast of tostadas and slices of almond tart.
Later out on the terrace the Scoutmaster pow-wowed with some of the pilgrims over the guidebook map,
...and we met up with some Camino friends, Shirley, Alex, Fery and Saravandin from Java, Indonesia,
….who had started walking the Camino the day before, the day we met them, in Sarria.
Throughout the day we met up with our four Indonesian friends from time to time along the Camino, and a few kilometers before we reached Gonzar, our common destination, I was walking and talking with a couple of members of the group. During the course of our conversation I learned that all four worked together for an environmental awareness group in Java, that Alex and Shirley were married and that Fery and Saravandin were Catholic priests.
We arrived together at Gonzar where we all stayed the charming albergue Casa Garcia,.
with its lovely courtyard,
....and stone dorm rooms.
Shirley and Saravandin.
In moment of unmindfulness , also known as Camino Brain, I left my watch and my little Spanish-English dictionary in my pants pocket when I handed our clothes over to the laundry service. The kind hospitaliera retrieved my things from my pocket before they hit the dryer, but not befor they cycled through the washer. My dictionary was kaput, but my $9 Walmart watchwatch, miraculously, still works like new. I must have good Camino watch Karma.
As the following day would be Sunday, Fathers Fery and Saravandin hoped to be able to find a way to say a Mass in the albergue.
Since I had the most Spanish among us I volunteered to ask the hospitaliera if we could use a spot in the albergue for Mass.
The same kind young hospitaliera who saved my watch from the dryer was totally receptive to the idea of a Mass in the albergue and told me we could use the dining room. I then went around the albergue announcing in English and Spanish that there would be a Mass the following morning in the dining room.
And so this morning, Sunday morning, at 7:30 am a dozen pilgrims of a variety of nationalities gathered in the albergue dining room for a Mass part in English, part in Indonesian, celebrated with the simplest of elements on a wooden table.
And I though to myself, Maybe this is how the first Christians worshiped together.. Maybe this is how it was meant to be.
For the past two days there's been no WIFI in the hostels we've stayed at so we've been stopping at bars searching out some internet, Still even at the bars the connection can be patchy, so if a day or two goes by without a post it'll be because of internet issues.
Yesterday we passed the 100 kilometers-to-Santiago marker.
I sometimes wonder if many pilgrims carry markers with them for the specific purpose of leaving graffiti along the Camino or if the Camino graffiti is mostly the work of local youth. In any case, the kilometer markers seem to be especially irresistible graffiti magnets .
Yesterday we walked 12 kilometers from Sarria to Morgade through more enchanted landscapes.
.....and a cow traffic jam.
In the tiny village of Morgade we stayed at the beautiful little albergue Casa Morgade, which we'd really liked last time when we stayed there.
We decided to spring 29€ for a private room with a shared bathroom.
We had a typically delicious 10€ pilgrim meal in the albergue dining room. One of our dinner partners happened to be a young pilgrim from the west of Ireland who agreed that Galicia did strongly resemble his homeland down to the same bright shade of green landscape and the Celtic bagpipe and drum music we sometimes hear wafting from inside the touristy shops in the towns, only lacking the high mountains of Galicia
I also mentioned the "O' " one sometimes sees before words here: the town of O'Ceibro, our albergue in Sarria was called O'durmiendo, and the names we've seen on signs along the way:
I've never been to Western Ireland but I know it must be a beautiful place.
My friend Bob commented on Facebook that he thought he had Celtic ancestors who once lived in Galicia and that a form of Gaelic was still spoken here. Yes, Galicia does have its own language, called Galega, still spoken by many Galicians. And it says in our gúdebook that "Galicia shares many historical and physical similarities with other Celtic regions, particularly the west of Ireland."
Though Ive never been to Ireland, Galicia looks to me like what I imagine the Irish countryside to look like: green and verdant, narrow lanes along ancient stone walls and crumbling stone barns, rugged and magically beautiful.
We've met Irish pilgrims along the way who've told us that Galicia does, indeed, remind them of Ireland - right down to the pervasive smell of manure in the air. I'd say there are almost as many farm animals in Galicia as people. Maybe more.
Yesterday we walked 14 kilometers from Samos to the city of Sarria.
From here to Santiago we can expect the Camino to be crowded with day-tripping, backpack-free pilgrims who've come with tour groups to walk the last 100 kilometers to Santiago, as 100 kilometers is the minimum distance required of a pilgrim to walk in order to receive the Compostela, or certificate of completion of the Camino.
In Sarria We found a really lovely 9€-per -bed albergue called O'Durmiñento, where the friendly, helpful hospitaliero's little poochie had his own spot on the livingroom couch.
We shared with three Italian pilgrims a wonderful 10€ community dinner cooked by the hospitaliero's mother.
This morning when we stopped at a bar for breakfast it was clear that the last-100-k crowds had already descended upon the Camino when 15 people at once pour into the bar.
Now we're off to join our fellow-pilgrim herd, on to Santiago.
Yesterday we came across a couple more messages left along the Camino for the pilgrims.
And this one on a post next to a field:
For the second time a hospitalara has recognized Tom and me from our last stay at her albergue. The second time was the other day at the albergue La Reboleira at Fonfria where the hospitaliera told us our faces looked familiar and was very happy when she learned that we had indeed been to her albergue before and had now returned. When I asked her how she remembered us from among all the pilgrims she'd seen over the past two years she said there was something about our faces.
The first time a hospitaliera asked us if' we'd been to her albergue before was a few days ago. That hospitaliera didn't charge us for our beds, only charged us half for our breakfast, gave us a big candy bar for the road and refused a tip, saying we should instead say a prayer for her her and family when we get to Santiago. We will.
Yestéday we walked 19 kilometers from Fonfria to Samos among the cloud islands,
.....along mountain paths and highways and through small towns.
In the town of Samos is located the oldest monastery in Spain, built in the 6th century A.D.
The monastery has a very basic albergue - a bed and a shower, but no heat or aything else. Most of the pilgrims we talked to who were staying in Samos were staying in the monastery for the experience, but Tom and I decided to skip the experience and stayed at an albergue across the street from the monastery,
...the albergue Val de Samosa. It was a lovely place, 9€ per bed,
...and we were the only pilgrims staying there -seems everybody else was at the monastery - so we had the whole albergue, plus the bathroom and laundry service, all to ourselves. It was great. At least at first.
Our hospitaliera told us to go to the bar next door to our albergue for dinner, but when we did the poor distressed barkeeper told us that the cook didn't show up, something about an issue with her children, and so there was no one to fix us any food. The barkeeper told us to try the hotel down the road.
So we walked about a kilometer down the road to the hotel, where the server very apologetically told us that dinner wasn't served until 8:30 - our albergue closed at 9 - and it was only 7:30. But he offered to rustle us up something from the kitchen, and we gladly accepted his offer.
He brought us a big pot of delicious caldo gallido, a spinach and potato soup that's a specialty of Galicia,
...followed by a huge platter of equally delicious stew,
....with home-made flan for dessert. Our dinners, bottle of wine included, were 11€ each.
By the time we were finished with dinner it was already dark outside - the sun rises at 8 am here and by 8 pm it's dark again - so we walked back to our albergue in the dark, empty streets of the town.
When we returned to the albergue the place was only dimly lit inside. Soon after we returned our hospitaliera left the albergue to go home, so we were all alone in this rather dark stone-walled albergue which in daylight seemed cute and rustic but now seemed kind of creepy. It occurred to us that two pilgrims alone in a dark, creepy albergue would make a great scenario for a horror flick.
However we woke up this morning safe in our bunks with all our body parts intact, and as soon as the sun came up we were back out on the Camino with our brethren pilgrims, so it was all good.
Yesterday we crossed over from the region of Castilla Y Leon to Galicia,
cold, windy, rugged, beautiful mountain kingdom of the Wretched Stones and last section of the Camino de Santiago. Though maybe the name should be changed from the Camino de Santiago to The Race To Santiago, since that's what this journey seems to become for many pilgrims.
Now, not every pilgrim walks the whole Camino Francés from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Santiago; many walk a shorter Camino, starting at a point closer to Santiago, and many Europeans do the Camino over a number of years, walking a section a year until they've completed the whole Way.
But for those waking the whole Camino Francés, the one Tom and I are walking, our guide book lays out a 33-day schedule for finishing the 774-kilometer route from St. Jean-Pied-Port to Santiago. Walking that distance in 33 days requires walking at a fast pace and completing many 26-to-30-kilometer days. And yet I'd venture to say that most pilgrims walking the whole Camino Francés are doing so, or attempting to do so in 30 days or less. This is because many people have only so much vacation time and/or expendable income..
However there are also pilgrims for whom time and money are not an issue but who just like to walk fast. In any case, there is a lot of - especially among the male pilgrims of all ages - "kilometer bragging" about who does how many kilometers every day.
And so these pilgrims whizz along the Camino, burning up the kilometers, 30, 34, 40 k's a day,. "No time for sight-seeing," quipped one middle-aged pilgrim when I asked him how he managed his 40 kilometers a day. Then at night in the albergues they all, young and old, nurse their hurting feet, ankles, and knees, their achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and blisters the size of twinkies.
"Why don't you take a few days off,". I suggested to a young American pilgrim who had only 22 days to complete the Camino and whose feet were killing him, "stay in a hostel, give your feet a few days to heal," I said, " then take a bus to a town closer to Santiago and do a shorter, slower Camino."
But he was determed to walk every step of the Camino in his short alloted time, no matter the cost to his feet.
One boy whose feet were a mess of blisters lamented, "I ought to slow down but I can't; I'm German and I need to achieve."
Then there was the middle-aged American man walking the Camino who held that pain was a necessary part of the repentance process.
To each their.own Camino.
Yesterday we walked 14.4 kilometers from Laguna de Castilla to Fonfria over some steep. rocky paths but also along side some beautiful mountain views.
We stopped for lunch at a bar in the village of Hospital de la Condesa.
I asked the bar keeper what she had to eat and she said they had potato soup and sandwiches, so we had huge bowls of potato soup and cheese sandwiches.
The soup was okay, warm and filling though, truthfully, not as good as my potato soup.
Later in the afternoon we had a quite steep and rocky climb to conquer.
Some clever entrepreneur built his cafe right at the summit,
...so all of us pilgrims were all huffing and puffing away, eyes upward, drawn like moths to a flame to the refreshment promised by those umbrellas and chairs.
In the village of Fonfria,
We stayed at the beautiful albergue A Reboleira, where we had the option, which we took, of having for 29€ our own 2-bed dorm with our own bathroom.
...which we really liked and from where we had a fine view of the town's activities.
The evening's 9€ pilgrim meal was served in community at a building down the path from the albergue..
The food was wonderful, as was the companionship.
After dinner, all warm inside, we headed back to the albergue, crawled into bed and tucked ourselves in for the night.
It's not ucommon on the Camino to see messages of encouragement to pilgrims written on stones, walls and posts along the way. But yesterday I saw this one:
Yesterday we walked 16 kilometers from Trabadelo to Laguna de Castilla. We walked along the valley though villages and meadows,
....until we reached the town of Hererías,
....which is at the foot the steep, rocky mountain that rises up 4265 feet and leads to the region of Galicia.
Hererías is also where pilgrims who would like to ride the Camino on horseback can rent a horse. Theoretically a pilgrim can do the whole Camino on horseback - on foot, bike, or horseback are the three permissible ways to do the Camino - but, thankfully, nobody does the whole thing on a horse. Those pilgrims who would like to experience the Camino on horseback can, for 20€, rent a horse and ride in a group with a guide the two-hour trip from Hererías up to the mountain-top town of O'Cebreiro, while the rest of us foot-pilgrims have to slog up the steep path that's been transformed by the horses' hooves into a muddy, rutted, horse poopy, fly-possessed mess
Real pilgrims don't ride horses on the Camino.
Except that sometimes they do.
But anyway, we made it over the rocks and the horse mess to the tiny village of Laguna de Castilla where we stayed in the town's only albergue, La Escuela
.....a lovely albergue where the dorm rooms have been completely rebuilt and modernized since we were there two years ago..
Our nice, spacious room. and the modern new bathroom.
But the very best improvement to the Albergue La Escuela was that the steep, steep concrete hill we had to climb last time to get to the dorm,
....has been replaced with:
And our best moment in La Escuela came during dinner when we looked out the window and saw
....the cattle being herded up the street.
My friend Marianne wondered if the young pilgrim who is doing the Camino in silence is missing a good part of the Camino experience.
I would venture to say no, she isn't. I would venture to say that there is no one Camino Experience, that not everyone is looking for the same thing, that everyone walks their own Camino and that everyone's experience is unique unto themselves.
One day back on the Meseta I walked and talked for a while with a young Australian pilgrim who was on the verge of making a major life change and had come to the Camino for some deep thinking and soul-searching. I met up with her again a few days later and she was now walking in silence, which I expect better suited her purpose. As I mentioned before, on the Camino one can find as much sociability or solitude as one desires.
Yesterday we walked about 19 kilometers - about 11.5 miles - from Cacabelos to Trabadelo. In the morning we again saw the lovely illusion of cloud islands that's created when the clouds float below the mountain tops, which look like islands in a white-capped sea.
We walked for about 9.5 k's across the countryside and through small towns,
...until we reached Villafranca de Bierzo, where we stopped for lunch.
Villafranca de Bierzo is a pretty tourist town,
...where people come to stroll through the streets or along the river and sit on the cafe terraces to have tapas and drinks,
We had lunch at a little kebab shop that advertised a special of a kebab, fries and a drink for 5€..
In fact we weren't quite sure what a kebab was, but it turned out to be like a pita except that the bread was more the consistency of a hamburger bun, soft and warm and filled with shaved chicken and beef, lettuce, onions,and tomatoes and topped with a tasty white dressing.
It was really good and and the fries were hot and crispy.
After lunch we walked another 9.5 k's along a highway around a mountain,
A water fountain, always a welcome sight.
...until we reached the town of Trabadelo
....where we stayed at the albergue La Crispeta and had a nice, roomy dorm room and, thankfully, bottom bunks.
And where Tom made a friend.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
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