Despite today being a short day, I still got to have new experiences!
We got up later than usual since we weren’t in any rush, so there was actually some light outside when we left the albergue after breakfast. The morning was cold and we were all grateful for long sleeves.
We walked with Sandra all of today, and at one point I entertained us both with my shirt shenanigans. I’d taken off my long sleeved shirt after a hill, only to decide later I still wanted it. I managed to put it back on the under my short sleeves shirt, while walking and wearing my backpack. I felt quite skilled.
Like yesterday, we walked along hard dirt paths among trees, many of them eucalyptus. We quickly reached the first town and chose to keep going before taking a break, but not before stopping in the small church for a stamp, or sello, for our credenciales. At the second town, we sat down for some Cola Cao/café con leche and got some complimentary coffee cake. We lingered there for about half an hour, killing time to make our arrival in Arzúa a bit later.
The walk into Arzúa took us through a small, picturesque village on a river before dumping us on the main road to walk through suburbs. Our albergue is in those suburbs, but despite our best efforts at wasting time we still arrived before it opened. The restaurant next door was open, however, so we sat down for lunch.
We ordered some raciones to share, and two of them were things I had no intention of eating: pulpo (octopus) and pimientos de padrón (fried peppers, some potentially spicy). I got my usual croquetas, only to find out once they arrived that they were fish croquetas, not the usual ham or chicken! Fortunately, we also had some pork and bread so I didn’t go hungry. And I got very brave, and tried a pepper (okay, but still too pepper-flavored) and some pulpo (does not taste like seafood and wasn’t half bad—I ate a couple pieces!). I’m feeling very proud of myself right now.
Our albergue was open after lunch so we checked into our room. We have a view of the countryside instead of the street and are in a room with 10 beds and a private bath. I have an upper bunk for the first time in weeks.
Once we all showered, I brought down our laundry for washing, and received gummy bears when I paid! Sometimes being the Spanish speaker in the family has its perks. Then I sat in the lobby/lounge area reading and watching well over a dozen people show up, and only three of them with backpacks. The pile of backpacks and full luggage that had been sent ahead slowly diminished as people checked in. It’s so strange to see so few people carrying their bags; before only a handful sent their bags, usually because of the weather or health issues. It seems to be the standard for many starting in Sarria to send suitcases ahead of them. I have to work hard not to judge them for having a completely different approach to the Camino than I have encountered before.
Around 3:30 we decided to explore the town. While Andy and I waited for Dad outside, we saw Nina and Maura! They still had 4 kilometers to go, and were quite tired, but they’ll have a short day tomorrow to make up for it.
There’s not a lot to see in the old areas of Arzúa—it lacks some of the old city charm of other places we’ve stayed—but we did find some potential dinner spots and a place that sells the local cheese. We chose not to get any since the plate they advertised would require us and all our closest friends to eat it. At the grocery store we bought breakfast, then came back to the albergue to bring in our laundry.
Our dinner was typical fare for a pilgrim meal, although in ridiculous quantities. The best part about the restaurant, however, was the bathroom. They had spectacular stone sinks and…a toothbrush vending machine. For that last minute garlic breath, we assumed.
Tomorrow we’ll get up early again as we have no reservation and places will fill up quickly. That means it must be time for bed now!