Let’s get to the point with this one. Rumour had it this was the easiest day of the Ingles. Rumour was wrong. Definitely wrong.
I started the day with a chocolate churro and a coffee exactly where I had finished last night. After I had finished the churro I tipped the hot chocolate in my coffee and had a mocha. The spanish men from the albergue were there eating breakfast and they said the fiesta last night had echoed through the albergue building. All in all i was pleased to have relocated to a hotel room facing away from town and across from the famous chocolate churro shop. (Or at least famous in the German guide book).
The camino here starts with one big up. And I mean up. Ill be honest I also thought I must have made a bit of a mistake in my up. There were no other pilgrims, I could barely find an arrow and I really wasnt enjoying the up.
After quite some time I reached an area with a concrete fence and a view back down and across the water. I thought I’d stop here and call my beloved and say hello. Whilst stopped a car came up the hill beside me and then did a 5 point turn to be facing down. Out jumped the 4 spanish people who had led me across the hypotenuse bridge yesterday. Well clearly they knew there was more than one way to skin a cat! Up to them was not nearly as exhausting as up for me was!
I continued on my merry way and agree there were some wonderful views – but to me they weren’t quite as spectacular as the Pyrenees or the Meseta. Nevertheless I was enjoying meeting a whole new bunch of people – some often slowed down long enough to have conversation!
Finally reached Mina where I hoped to buy my requirements but when an old man pointed downhill and tried to explain where the shop was I thought Ill wait until Betanzos! There’s no way I was going downhill and back up again unless it was an emergency!
So my guidebook in this instance suggested a small beach and cafe were just down ahead on the camino so I continued on until I arrived at the beach. Well sort of beach. Actually I’m sure its a very nice beach at times. But it had no cafe and I was quite peckish actually.
Well I wandered on and on and on and my peckishness grew into a deep hunger and immediate need for sustenance. I ate pieces of my dark chocolate from roncesvalles, I ate walnuts from Najera and I ate a energy salt tablets from Brisbane. I contemplated whether there were edible parts of my backpack! On the Frances I usually start the day with a banana I’d buy the night before but the fiesta in Pontedeume meant the shops were all closed. A backpack is not quite the same as a meal or a sandwich so I decided to soldier on. The day was hot and I was completely ill prepared for a day without shops or cafes or donativo boxes like yesterday.
I did see some beautiful sights on the way including a horse leading the way for some pilgrims.
I finally came up to a town that had a cafe closed for the week while the owner was on holidays. There were so many signs like this along the Ingles. I thought I was close to Betanzos but little did I know the down to finish the day was going to be as bad as the up that started the day. Actually it was going to be much much worse. For my knees that is!
I arrived at the hotel we had booked and was almost catatonic! It reminded me of a day on the Meseta last year when the singing Germans suggested we share a taxi and I stupidly declined insisting on walking in the heat in order to reach Mansilla de la Mulas with moments to spare before I’m sure I would have expired. As I crept down hill I was asking myself whether catching a bus tomorrow would really matter to anyone but me.
By the time I arrived my good knee was swollen and stiff and I could barely bend it. Thankfully the hotel had a great shower and I could run cold water over the swelling and then lie with my legs up the wall for a while. I was still starving and the need for food far outweighed the need to rest. I’d basically walked 23 kilometres on a churro and a coffee! (Ok i had some walnuts and a piece of chocolate too).
I was informed by the hotel manager that the food typical of the town was potata tortilla. That was odd – I thought that was typical of every town in Spain !
Anyway I found the little alleyways he recommended that served the food but most of the restaurants and bars had already closed for siestas. I ate the last remaining tortilla patata for the day and it was good – it was damned good.
I also had a quick drink with my new German friends and caught up with a few other new friends that I had bumped into throughout the day. I also visited the supermarket to buy some food for tomorrow.
After all this activity I looked forward to the next day while others were trembling in fear. It was rumoured to be the most difficult day on the camino because it was up up up. For me the worst was over and that was the arrival in Betanzos with a down down down.