Tuesday, September 17th

Leaving, just having the orange juice and yoghurt. All a pilgrim really needs, actually.

San Cristobo do Real
And, I hope, off the road, finally. Chris is drawing the old church.

In the village, on the bridge over the Oribio, there's stone buildings that are described in the 'Pilgrimage Road' as "massive", well, they're .. biggish.

So far, in all this walk, the villages of Galicia are the best. They're real, right down to the cowshit. They're romantic, they have a sense of not ever changing, of not striving to be 'modern', they just are.

The bar gave bad vibes, so we didn't stop.

Next town, I'm not sure what it's called. It might be Tredezin. There's no bar, but it doesn't matter, as the walk to here has been idyllic. A stone wall on one side, the river on the other.

If the last village wasn't Tredezin, this this one might be. A farmer's wife out, in her checked apron, ready to 'Ola, Buenas Dias' us. Mr Farmer himself is out in the paddocks near the house, looking at his cows.

And I'm certain that this village is San Martino. A nice, welcoming stone seat, but unfortunately, the bar's only open in summer.

Had a cuppa at the Cafe Bar Espagnol, and Chris is filling me in about World Events, I've been out of touch, and the news that George W Bush is calling for a First Strike against Iraq I find somewhat disquieting.

Chris is on the Samos Monastery guided tour. I'm just about monasteried out. Had the passports stamped.

And I suspect sending a parcel to Australia gave the Post Office guy here heart palpitations. Seemed to require an awful lot of computer clicks. Same price, 17 euros. Seems it doesn't matter what you might send, it's always 17 euros.
Not sure if it's 7 or 13kms to Sarria, there's some discrepancies between my guide book, and what's written on the road signs. I'm hoping the guidebook is right, but I deeply suspect it's wrong.

Nope, not even a church of it's own warrants giving that town a name. It might have be Tequin, and it's a good thing that the body cannot recall physical pain as the climb after that was a tad steep.

The village is called Hospital. Bejaysus, don't bother. Just dig me a grave and roll me in.

Finally made it. Okay, it was a long walk, but the last section was just the pits, through the suburbs of Sarria, the yellow arrows leading you in what seems like a huge circle around the Hotel Alfonso IX, whoever he might have been, then up flights of stone steps. To the refugio, and it's complete. It's full of first-day 'pilgrims'. As things stand, Chris and I have been allocated a mattress on the landing at the top of the stairwell. Okay, I'm a pilgrim, let's keep focused here, I just accept, but sometimes it's very, very hard.

a note: to obtain the Credentiale at the end, the Passport to Heaven itself, you have to produce evidence that you've walked at least 100kms of the Camino. Sarria is the closest refugio, in a town accessible by public transport, to the 100km mark, so many 'pilgrims' begin from here.


Cafeteria Central, or at least that's what's written on the menu in this restaurant. Having a real dinner rather than the Menu de Peregrino. I'm trying to explain to the waitress chick that she looks like a student of mine, but she's totally non comprendez-vous. Looking a second time, she didn't look that much like Kylie anyway.
Minor amusement, as a minor fracas at the bar develops into a punch-up between two male patrons. Pathetic.

Refugio. On the stairwell landing.
Trying to sleep here might be 'cool', as I'm told by some first-day pilgrim tart who's borrowed by bed-roll. Cool? What would be really cool is if some firstday or buspilgrim tripped on the slightly overhanging part of this mattress, went flying down the stairs headfirst, and did themselves a really serious damage. This first-day pilgrim doesn't bring a bedroll, but she does bring pyjamas, red and white striped ones. I just don't get it.

much later
Every weak-bladdered male seems to have a bed on the third floor and every five minutes seems to have to go down to the Men's on the second floor, while every farty female seems to have waited until after lights out to take the trip up to the Women's on the third floor. All of them via us on the landing.
Maybe, as Springsteen said, someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny. But not now.