Thursday, September 12th

Leaving El Acebo.
Already had a coffee, so everything's alright with the world. Made by an old guy at the bar, who looked as though he would've enjoyed a conversation.

And breakfast, supplemented by the blackberries picked from the bushes by the track. Walking by the enormous chestnut trees, using conveniently placed rocks to cross a stream, passing three pilgrim girls, also blackberrying. The three of them would have made a great Renoir painting. All the while descending the ring down into the valley. The mountains like layered backdrops, slowly disappearing. Chris thought one looked like a cowled monk, I thought it could be a Bryce masterwork. Pale shades, greens, blues, greys.

Then walking on the main road, then off it, onto a track, through scrub, and eventually paths of slate, slippery underneath, finally through forests, and under a bridge of fallen trees.

Reiga deAmbrós
A slightly bigger town than El Acebo. If we'd stayed at the refugio here, there might have been slightly more to do in the afternoon. But then, we wouldn't have seen the mountains in the morning.

Passing the church. No need to wonder any more if it's open, crossing the river, and it's a charming town. Although, I'm wondering why, if it's Thursday, and after 10, why aren't things happening here. Even the Tourist Office is closed, and most of the bars are still closed, except the La Posada de Muriel.

Cafe Grande y un Tea y dos Magdalena Reina cakes. Which impress Chris so much, she's gone off to buy more.

Leaving, crossing the main road, and the path runs behind houses. Getting stressed, thought I'd managed to get us lost. The yellow arrows are just a tad sparse, in fact since Campo, almost zip. Didn't feel confident 'til I saw the railway bridge.

Calle Hospital and the Castle. Tourist Office, and directions to the Albergue, and it's a 5-star albergue, and I believe we deserve it.

The albergue is good, kind of.
Waiting in the queue, and being offered glasses of apple juice or cordial by Spanishguy. Taking ages to register, for the queue to shuffle forward, then Spanishguy carries my backpack for me to the room. I think it's their way of helping the pilgrims, and I'm sure they're genuine, but I find this gesture patronizing. I've carried it 1296kms so far, it contains all I own, and I don't feel comfortable handing it over to anybody else.

Anyway, washing done, then out to the courtyard which has a small pool. And, over there, a marker telling us it's 202.5kms to Santiago. Raju says 199.5, so there's three kilometres either just appeared, or disappeared.

Tano Cafe Bar, with a croissant. Done the shopping, and God bless the El Arbol chain for deciding that Siesta is a waste of time. The street has overhanging lights in the shapes of crowns and crosses. Next to the bar is a bus stop, and the bus that just pulled out is heading for San Lorenzo, wherever that might be.

Wanders. Along the more interesting cobblestoned streets, although construction workers have cordoned off an entire Plaza, having to find backstreets and alleyways, ending up at the Castle. Sitting outside a bar, having ice-creams, the Magnum Sandwich. On the other side of the street, we're watching a forklift driver absolutely stuff-up picking up a palette of marble slabs, dropped it, cracked them.
Deciding that if the Castle had an entrance fee then we wouldn't bother with it.
Well, they do, 2 euros, so we don't bother. Far more entertaining, though, was watching a semi-trailer jack-knifing while attempting to make a turn, and trying to reverse back into the main street. Difficult maneuver, and took a couple of attempts to manage it. Eventually, as the traffic is banked up for quite some distance, the police arrive, and there's not much they can do except watch. But, for some reason, Spanish drivers imagine that if they keep their carhorns sounding continuously, it'll help the semi driver think more clearly. Must be Spanish thing.

Second bar, the Espolon. On the Plaza Major. Coffee and tea.

Yeah, great albergue. They'll carry your bags, but you can't cook here. Despite having two late model bourgeois-type stoves, and even the microwave is taped shut.

The three blackberry girls are here. Spanishguy deems it appropriate to give their souls lots of attention. I'm wondering why the souls of the pretty ones are always deemed by hospitalero's to be the most needy ones.

Mass, at the albergue iglise. The pilgrims take it in turns to read the selected psalms in their own language. We get the English one. Then, we're all asked to move forward so the 'dome' mural can be explained. English 'translations' were given out, but the Spanish got the better deal. And, I could've lived without the lecture on how good peregrino's always put their litter in bins. It's not necessary, and patronizing.

Maybe it's just me, but when the scowling guy banged his head on the bunk ladder as Chris and I got back to room, well, I was glad. He didn't go to Mass, like us real peregrinos.