Crocs ‘n’ Socks

I know, I know – it’s not so much a crime against fashion as a crime against humanity.

But I’ve got to tell you, I’ve walked 60km over the last two days in these little beauties, and my feet want to buy me a drink.

A couple of days ago I made the hiking schoolboy error of assuming that after all this time my feet could happily endure a nuclear onslaught and stopped my daily blister-prevention routine.

And got two blisters.

It became so painful to walk in boots that the only option was to morph into a hybrid of Tom out of The Rise And Fall of Reginald Perrin and the male character out of that 70′s classic ‘The Joy of Sex’ (although I stopped short of the straggly beard).

But who cares. It worked. And the last two days have been a joy.

Mostly.

Yesterday’s planned 20.7km walk out of Vilabla to Baamonde did not start too auspiciously; let’s just say I stuck with coffee for breakfast….

…but things soon soon improved, despite any obvious aesthetic attractions, with some evidence of just how far I’ve come..

…but more excitingly, how far I’ve got to go…

The shell markers are now appearing with increasing frequency and for the last couple of hundred kilometres have started a kind of Santiago countdown, featuring the distance yet to travel on little brass plaques indented into the concrete.

However, as you can see from the picture above, a lot of these seemed to have been nicked by the less scrupulous peregrinos along the way, presumably as mementos of their journeys. And of all of them, I guess the 100km one never had much chance of lasting very long.

As for me, I decided to give The Luxury Peregrino a bit of an outing again in celebration.

Be honest. If you wanted to mark the occasion and had the option of sleeping here…

…or here…

…which would you choose?

Precisely.

I think I had the best night’s sleep in the whole month I’ve been walking, which made today’s 34km walk (which was supposed to be 41km – the Crocs ‘n’ Socks combo meant that I walked a further 7km yesterday than planned, so sod fashion), an absolute joy.

Starting out under a light mist, I soon found myself in rural villages that evoked a way of life long since lost…

…and this part of the journey seems to evoke the past every step of the way.

From the woodland paths bordered by dry stone walls…

…to the remnants of buildings on which the Camino waymarkers are posted…

To walkways which feel like they can’t have changed much since the ancient pilgrimages.

And as in previous parts of Galicia, the opportunities for refreshment are few and far between in sparsely populated villages. So when I saw this one, I jumped at the chance…

…and found myself sitting in a farmhouse kitchen being given great big slices of homemade cheese, hunks of bread and the local beer by the farmer’s wife. For 3 Euros.

After which, the final stretch to Sobrado dos Monxes felt like a breeze.

As you walk into Sobrado, one of the first things you see are the turrets of the huge monastery to which the towns name refers.

Which also, rather impressively, turns out to be where I was destined to spend the night.

And you have to admit that the opportunity to stay here for 5 Euros is a pretty good deal.

The only downside to the whole experience was that I was treated to an absolutely virtuoso performance of snoring in the dormitory last night. In fact, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that it might have been God.

But even a interrupted night’s sleep can’t take the edge off the almost palpable sense of excitement that I’ve only got 60km to go before I reach Santiago.

For those of you that have been kind enough to follow this blog closely, apologies for the infrequent posts over the last few days.

Blame Galicia.

But I’ve finally found a cafe with WiFi and I’m posting this on my way to Arzua, which is the official final stop before Santiago and which is where the Camino del Norte joins The Camino Frances, the most famous route and the most popular. If I tell you that the final Albergue before Santiago has the capacity to sleep 1,500 peregrinos, you’ll have an idea of just how popular.

And I think I’ll walk past Arzua today – it’s 40km from there to Santiago and I’m planning to walk about 10 of that today, 25 tomorrow, and then do a real Spanish Stroll of 5km into Santiago at daybreak on Friday.

I’ll try and do an update tomorrow, but if not, I’ll tell you all about it when I get there.

(I’ve just noticed there’s a fly on my Credencial – as well as falling apart it’s obviously starting to smell…)

Filed under: On The Road Tagged: Baamonde, Peregrino, Rethink Mental Illness, Santiago, Sobrado do Monxes, Vilalba, Walking

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