Camino de Frances, Days 17 – 18

I sleep in this morning and lounge in bed for a while after I’m awake. I go online and book myself a private room in Santiago, the end of the Camino. I do the math and realize I’ll be there in just 4 days! I have to admit, I’m ready to be done and I think a room to myself will be a well-deserved reward for all this walking.

Breakfast is almost as good as dinner—an omelette with tomatoes and peppers, bacon, toast, juice, and fresh-ground coffee. I say goodbye to everyone and head out. The place is so comfortable and welcoming I don’t want to leave. The owners seem so happy to be doing what they’re doing and it gets me to thinking maybe I’d like to own a place like this and be able to provide hikers with a comfortable space to rest and recharge during their journey. This idea occupies my thoughts this morning as I walk. I wonder where I’d want to live, what kind of place I’d like to have, who I’d like my guests to be, what kind of food I’d cook for them. It gets the wheels turning and I think maybe I’ll look into volunteering at an inn or bed and breakfast to learn a bit about the business.

Today there is a pretty decent climb up over some mountains to a village called O Cebreiro. The ascent takes a couple hours and there are fantastic views of the rolling hills and fall colors. When I reach the top it’s super crowded, tour buses parked everywhere, people milling around with cameras, tacky souvenir shops. I find a quiet spot near a church to sit down and have a snack—rice cakes and peanut butter.

I feel tired and bored after my break so I listen to my audiobook, “The Alchemist” for most of the afternoon. It helps pass the time and before I know it I’m descending down into Triacastela where I’ve booked a bunk at an albergue for the night. The albergue turns out to be really nice, it feels more like a boutique hotel than hostel. There’s only four of us per room and they even provide fresh sheets. I eat dinner by myself at a small bar filled with rowdy locals then head back to the albergue to read and go to sleep.

I wake up early due to some thunderous snoring happening in the bunk below. Today I’ll be passing through Sarria, the last town a pilgrim can hike to Santiago from and still get their official Compostela, which is basically a document proving you walked at least 100 km to reach the cathedral in Santiago. After Sarria I hear the trail becomes even more crowded since lots of people only have the time and/or ability to walk 100 km instead of the entire Camino route. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the crowds.

I hike in the dark for about an hour until the sun begins to rise. There’s not many people out walking this early. This is my favorite time on the trail. I love the calm and watching the world change color with the sunrise. Today is especially beautiful, there’s fog swirling around and it’s turning all sorts of cool colors as the sun tries to penetrate it.

In a few hours I’m already in Sarria. It’s a fairly big town in comparison to the small villages I’ve been passing through the last few days. I haven’t had coffee yet so I stop at a cafe for a little break. As I’m leaving the cafe I run into a girl who’s also walking the Camino. She says hi and we start talking as we walk together. Her name is Adele and she’s from Toronto but has been living in Barcelona for the past few years. I’m excited to talk to her because I’ll be housesitting in Barcelona soon for a month and don’t know anyone there.

We stop at another cafe for a drink and since she speaks Spanish, she makes some phone calls and helps me to sort out an issue I’m having with a package at the post office. We hang out for a hour or so, stop by the grocery store, then part ways. Unfortunately she has really bad shin splints so can’t walk very fast or very far. But it turns out she’s celebrating her birthday in Santiago on the day I’ll be arriving there, so we exchange contact info and make plans to meet up again in a few days when I finish the trail.

I walk for just a few more hours to an albergue in Ferreios. The albergue is nice, a super modern building, and I’m the only one there for a few hours. I’m happy I bought groceries in Sarria because there’s nothing in this village. I eat a baguette with tuna, cheese, arugula, and tomato sauce, enjoy the nice views, and watch the pilgrims slowly hobble in as the sun begins to set.

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