Camino 2016 – Day 1 – Santiago de Compostela to Negreira – September 2nd
Up, up, down and up!
I woke just after 6am eager to get going. The Cathedral’s bells served as my alarm clock. Nice one. I had my rucksack packed from the night before save for the clothes I was wearing and a few snacks. I filled up my water canister and headed out. There was no movement in San Martin so I made sure to keep quiet. I was in room 450 which was on the 4th floor. No lift working didn’t help matters either, so I was getting a healthy work-out before even leaving the building. I left the key behind the desk and moved on.
To find the start of the Camino Finisterre, you need to enter the Praza de Obradoiro through the archway at Praza da Inmaculada and carry on down the slope beside the Parador. Before setting off, I stood in the Praza and took a breath in. It was pitch black, and quiet. I saw two other pilgrims. The Cathedral stood tall in front of me, still in a state of disarray. Hopefully, the works will be completed soon.
The street winds down to the main road and Cafe Tertulia, which I had hoped would be open. I was in two minds to stay for a morning cafe con leche but moved on regardless. A morning breakfast bar and chocolate would do me until the next town. It isn’t long before you leave the city and you enter a dirt track. I was delighted to be met by my first distance marker showing 88km to Finisterre, shortly followed by a “Fisterra” sign and arrow marked on a bridge over the River Sarela. I was for sure going the right way, however, there was a distinct lack of peregrinos. It was by no means the Camino Frances. Maybe it was too early, I thought to myself. It was very dark and I found myself using the light on my phone to look for arrows or distance markers. The sun started to rear her head shortly before 8am and at that stage I had 6km walked. The nearest town with a cafe is Augapeseda which is another 6km, and I had breakfast bars and water. Anyway, my feet were strong and I reached Augapeseda shortly.
Boom! Hot spot number 1 felt on my left foot. Down with the bag, out with the compeed and off with the shoe! I was glad to have caught it as I was in no mood to have a blister so soon into a Camino.
The temperatures were increasing with the sun and before long, it was 28c. I wanted to reach Negreira by midday as I had a feeling it would get hotter and I was right. I passed an amazing little town called Ponte Maceira on the Rio Tambre, with it’s own waterfall. It was perfect to stay but I had only covered 16km. Maybe another day. Just another 4kms to Negreira. Boy, but what a 4km! It was all uphill and I raced for the nearest albergue – Albergue Alecrin, to avoid any further climbs. I had only covered 21kms on this day but the heat had knocked me for six. I was a pale shade of pink. It was a fairly lonely day also, despite the scenery. I didn’t come across any other people with a good grasp of English. Mostly Spanish, Italians, and Germans and despite my best efforts, I tended to keep in the shade and to myself.
I had a lovely menu del dia in the Imperial Bar, which has an English owner. They provide a 3 course meal for €8.50. There is nothing wrong with that! Negreira also was celebrating a medieval festival on this day and night, which I missed altogether. This would be the largest town I would pass through before I reached Finisterre. It has all facilities with a number of supermarkets and if you wanted to cook yourself in an albergue, you could do so.
It was at this stage that I decided to think ahead. The following day, I was aiming for Olveiroa and 34km. The forecast was for much of the same, and with painful ankles from the day’s climbs, I decided to sleep on it.