The Albergue at Pedron was a nice stone and wood stucture. The dorm room was a loft on the 2nd floor and it was a very hot day, so I was glad to see big windows on all sides, The bunk beds were pushed together tight, but they were built in such a way that there was a separation between the bunks so it didn't feel as close. Given that we were 1 or at most 2 days from Santiago and a mere 25 kilometres, there was an excitement in the air.
I woke at 5:00 to the sound of the morning rustling from the very early risers. Since I had gone to sleep fairly early last night I felt rested and ready to get up and get going. By 6:00 I was on the road, but it was still dark and I could't see the arrows so I decided to go into the cafe where I saw some other pilgrims, have a coffee and perhaps follow the others out of town. With my recent experience of missing arrows and getting lost I was reluctant to go through with that again.
None the less, somehow I did manage to leave on my own and take a wrong turn. This time I turned around and back tracked as soon as I saw there were no arrows, and then found another pilgrim who seemed to know the way. So I was good.
After that I was in good walking form, the early morning was nice and cool and I made good time. I stopped for coffee at the village of Teo, which is where I may have otherwise decided to stay the night - but it was only 10:30 when I got there and certainly enough time to go to Santiago.
|The sun was just coming up|
Anyway, I am not going to bore you with a bunch of pictures that could have been taken anywhere along the camino. The route was pretty ordinary, rural with small villages for the most part even until we were almost into Santiago. It was pretty much uphill, mostly gently sloping upward hills, not bad at all.
There was a family group who were walking the route. There were 3 adults and 6 children - a sweet looking girl who looked to be about 6 years old, a couple others who were certainly under 10 and one or two who were teen or pre teens. What an adventure for the kids but what a lot of work for the adults. I saw them later in Santiago at the Pilgrim's Office collecting their Compostela, so they must have walked at least from Tui.
I was a approaching Santiago from a different direction than when I was last there and it surprised me how rural it was even 4 km from the end point. It is a nice alternative to the usual urban or worse yet industrial area that one can have to go through to get to the core of a larger city.
I took my time getting into the core of the City. It was 36 degrees Celsius in the shade so it was important not to push it, I stopped for a beer at a cafe and found the very first place with air conditioning I have encountered. I have gotten used to the heat, but today the A/C was welcome.
I made my grand entrance and walked through the old city to the Cathedral and then it was on to the Pilgrim's Office to collect my reward, a certificate known as a Compostela. It is inscribed with my name, in Latin and attests to my having travelled at least 100 km of Pilgrimage to Santiago. It has been redesigned from the last I came, now the design is more artistic and colourful. I also opted to also purchase a "Certificate of Distance for 3 EURs which documents the starting point, route taken and distance travelled (360 km from Porto).
I didn't bother taking a lot of pictures of Santiago or wandering about the town, as I have lots of pictures from my last trip when I spent quite a few days here sightseeing. I was happy to collect my compostela and head on to Madrid to see the sights.
I had booked a room in the "Roots and Boots Hostel, at 16.50 EUR for a bed in a dorm room for 4" and when I arrived, I discovered that it was the same room that Barb and I shared when in Santiago in 2013. This time though I had 2 young (20s) German boys as roomies, not perigrinos and not too friendly. My transition to the real world has begun.
Next I had to collect my parcel of stuff from the post office. I mailed my touristy stuff to Santiago so as to lighten my carrying load (still I think I was carrying about 10 or 12 kilos when water and food was added to my pack). Easy peasy, post office pickup complete then it was on to the train station to get my ticket to Madrid.
On the way I met a pilgrim from Scotland who told me about the "Tarjeta Dorado". You need one of the tickets to access the over 60 seniors discounts. The discount is significant, usually about 30% for train fares. As it happened the tourist class for the next morning's high speed train to Madrid was full so I did have to go 1st class if I wanted to maximize my time there. The regular price of 1st Class was 73 EUR but I was able to get it for 43 EUR with the discount. I was much happier going by train than plane anyway and if I had counted the cost of an airport transfers it would have cost me way more than even the Ryan Air bargain price. I think with the discount a tourist class train ticket would have been just under 20 EUR. Travel is quite a bargain in Spain.
Ticket secured, I wandered back to the hostel to change into some touristy clothes and set out to shop for souvenirs and find some dinner. Who did I run into but my Japanese Pilgrim friend Aoki, who I last saw at Viana do Castilo. He was booking a reservation for the next night when he would get back from a day trip to Muxia. If I had 3 days left I may have done something similar instead of heading to Madrid. Oh well, next time. We caught up with each other and traded stories of our different routes. Aoki was going to also take a 2 day trip to Zamora, based on my telling him about the town. I hope he enjoys it. He was flying back to Japan on the 7th.
I managed to find some small gifts for those at home and a meal of bacon and eggs. The Spanish don't eat a big meal at breakfast and you can often find fried eggs offered in the evening. I must admit, I will enjoy going back to my Canadian food, particularly breakfast. I am just going to have to remember to keep my portions small because I don't want to gain back all the weight I have lost on this trip.
So it was early to bed and early to rise to catch my 9 a.m. train. Not too early, fortunately, but I don't like to rush on a travel morning and planned to get up at 6:30 and wander over to the train station to find breakfast at about 7:30ish. I was exhausted from my long hot walk and while I started this blog before bed, I was too tired to finish it. No matter, I have 5.5 hours on the train tomorrow so can finish it then and upload it when I get to my Hostal.
I was going to cheap out, and could have found a pension (private room, shared bath), for about 20 EUR a night, instead I decided to spend a bit more (32.50 EUR) and get a single room with a private bath. It is located in the centre of Madrid, near all the sights, so I am quite looking forward to it. Particularly when I had a night last night with inconsiderate dorm mates. I woke up at 1:30 am quite disoriented. The guys were rustling around the room and I hadn't a clue what time it was and was thrown off by the bright street light which was blaring into the open window. For a moment I thought it was morning. I found my sleep mask and eventually the guys left the room and joined the party I heard going on upstairs (I guess) and I went back to sleep. I had no guilt in the morning as I rustled my things when packing.
|Calle Arenal where my hostal is located|
I am on Madrid now and settled into my hotel, quite near the Plaza de Sol and Plaza Mayor - in the centre of all the action. I will write my next and final trip blog tomorrow night after I have done my tour of Madrid and am getting ready for my flight on Thursday.
In the meantime I am going to get out and enjoy the heat and some sangria and the sights of the city, in that order. I understand that Ontario has a cool spell going, so I should enjoy the heat while I have it.