Buenos Dias, one and all. I have finished for the day and as I type I’m in one of the nicer albergues of the Camino – Casa del Santo in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. It is modern, and large, it holds close to 180 people. So there is no chance of you not finding a place. There is a strong Irish contingent here, a few Germans, Spanish but I didn’t meet any of the people I met yesterday. But I have to say that the German pilgrims are loud!
Anyway, today was tough going. Not because of the length of the day, it was only 20km in distance which was less than yesterday. The return of the wet weather made it difficult to walk and for a time I was walking through piles of mud. But eventually the paths got more easy on the foot after 5-10km.
I woke at 4am in Najera in the pension I had booked earlier. I had little sleep again last night and save for a few cereal bars, I had no breakfast. I decided to get ready and head out in the rain that had started not long beforehand. I put on my rain jacket and poncho and covered my backpack. There was no sun today, just cloud and rain. I left Najera with a elderly German man. I met him walking through the park in Logrono yesterday. He is a nice chap with a few words of English. He is walking to Burgos and staying in more plush accommodation. Sure why not? I moved on soon after. I may even meet him tomorrow.
After setting a good pace at the start, I met a lady called Angie who was walking with her family from the States. They commented that they had met plenty of Irish since they started in St Jean. Their daughter walked ahead listening to music. Angie smiled and said she was still asleep. She also commented on my boots and that they may give me some difficulty later on. Meh!
The conversation made the morning seem a little better, the rain was annoying but the views were amazing. A red path filled with pilgrims divided fields upon fiends of green. W arrived at a small village called Azofra soon after. This has a well known albergue, one of the best I have read. I stopped here and had a coffee con leche and croissant, while watching the rain fall heavily from the cafe’s window. It was really filling but eventually I put on the poncho and moved on.
I’ve met a good few people today, and some I’ve bumped into numerous times. Apart from Angie and her family, I met Louisa from Italy, a trio of French sisters whose names are lost on me and I also met a large amount of people from Ireland. UCD has one of its societies staying in the same Albergue tonight while they are walking to Burgos. I also met Christine and Jimmy from Limerick and Tipperary respectively. They were walking together and it was fun chatting to them. I hope to meet them again.
After Azofra, I walked through a ghost town. Ciruena. It is a large estate built by the owners of a local golf course with the hope of attracting folks from urban areas. It was kind of eerie walking through it with no sign of life. All its’ windows were shut and there were no signs of life save for the local Albergue.
Onwards we go and at this stage, the rain had gotten heavier. The silt red clay had turned into thick mud and was sticking to everyone’s shoes. I didn’t own a stick and it was very hard to keep my balance. I got through it in the end. It was a long way yet to Santo Domingo but meeting Louisa made the hours quicker. She didn’t want to stay in this town and moved on further.
On reaching Santo Domingo, the sun came out and it made for a nice evening. It is a small tourist town built around a large cathedral and many many shops and restaurants litter the main road. But the Albergue is top of the class. One of the volunteers spoke a few words of Irish and seemed to know where Raheny is. Small world. I had dinner with the group from UCD this evening. It was fun chatting to them all.
Anyway I’ll finish off now. I hope to walk to Belorado tomorrow. I’ve heard lots about one of its’ albergues.