Camino de Santiago: Day 7

Stage: Los Arcos – Logroño

Day seven started with the two danish boys getting up and that woke me up as well… It was 04:30 in the morning, despite my good nights sleep I was still not fully coherent I think.. but my routine of pre-packing my backpack before going to bed meant that I only needed to stuff my sleeping bag in its bag and pack it and put on the clothes that I had set aside for the day ahead.

I was the third one out the front door, right after the danish boys. Shortly after there were a small group of us there… prepping for the day, putting on boots and checking backpacks. It is the polite way of doing things as doing this inside would be more noisy and might wake people up. I checked that I had the essentials, wallet, phone, headphones and Donut and then spent a few euros at the vending machine getting a drink and some light snacks just in case. Fifteen minutes after I got up I was walking out of Los Arcos .. it was refreshingly cool .. so much so that for the first time I had to put on my fleece sweater, dark too.. I had to use my headlamp too. Which made me feel justified in bringing it, I had at times gotten a bit conscious about the weight of my backpack (it wasn’t bothering me, nor did it feel heavy) but all the same it was about 13~15kg .. about double the average.. so every time I needed an item that I had previously considered to leave behind I felt justified in my planning and packing skills.

For most of the day I walked by myself, an early start combined with a quick pace… I did stay longer at the cafe I had breakfast and lunch… I started running into people again… but the solitude on the first part felt good …

As I continued to walk, I saw these two stones along the road, with names and faces on them… there was a third one as well with an email address on it and instructions to e-mail them if I’d taken a picture with Emma & Wilson. I did and shortly after I got a reply… it was from the Hungarians I’d walked with when I ended up Villatuerta … ..

 

On the last part of the walk into Logroño I met up with Jørgen again.. we had some brief conversations and then parted but it was clear that both of us planned to stop in Logroño, Anniken and Viggo had planned similarly he told me during our chats… but not where they planned to stay… I found a place, it had yet too open.. so people had started “camping” out in front just relaxing and staying in the shadows .. after a bit the people running the place opened up the main gate and let us hang out in the porch area… which had a nice shallow pool for cooling you feet… We did the usual of lining up our backpacks for the queue and waited.. there was not much for me to do and it was too hot to even think about going out into the town to do sightseeing or shopping for that matter, those that were used to 40C weather ventured out, but for a Scandinavian who was just beginning to acclimatize to this new and unusual thing called “heat” it was not an option.

So after getting my passport stamped, I navigated to my assigned bed… now this was the most claustrophobic albergue I’d been in so far. It was verging on impractical, with just enough room for one person to walk between the beds… But I decided I’d do my laundry first and then get on with getting a shower and eventually some food.

At the washing basins I met Nicole and we had a brief chat, what you could call the camino standard questionnaire… name, where you are from, starting point … and some idle chat after that… As I gotten my laundry done I plonked my butt down on a chair and started writing some postcards.. and a bit in my journal … I presumably found a place to eat some dinner as well but I have no current memory of this nor did I make a note of it in my journal.

Before long it was time to sort the now dried laundry and pack my backpack once again, for me it is a nice routine to have since I can be quite forgetful, and packing my back in the evening when everyone is awake still, and with lights on is a lot more practical than by a small led torch in the morning whilst trying not to wake everyone.

I was by now well and truly on the camino…..

 

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Camino de Santiago: Day Six, continued. My stay in Los Arcos.

My early arrival in Los Arcos gave me the opportunity to explore, take in the sights more so than I had been able to at any other place so far on my camino. Before any of this however I had to find an albergue. I consulted my guide, selected one that I thought both looked nice and had an OK description.

It was, however since I had arrived early it was not yet open, so I placed my backpack in the queue… I don’t think I have explained this before so I might do so now.. with a small digression;

If you arrive before the albergue opens, instead of standing in the queue yourself you, and other pilgrims, place your backpack in a queue. Since the opening times are posted at the entrance or door of the albergue you are then free to roam around a bit … or just find a nice place to sit / lay down while you wait for the albergue to open. Return a bit before it opens and everyone just hangs around and then when the backpack in front of yours gets picked up… you walk over to it, pick it up and wait for the people that do the check in to wave you to them….

So when you arrive at say 11 or so and the albergue does not open until 13:00 you can use that time to walk around, look at things, grab something from the shops to drink or eat etc. etc.

I did just this, walked around town a bit.. and then the heat rose and I headed back to the albergue and sat down on the picnic table outside and just hung out with the crowd. This was the first time I ran into the Danish Boys (two brothers) and another swedish girl.. It would be the only time I would meet her, because while she was not exactly running the camino, it was not far from it. Before she had started her camino she had gotten a friend of hers to look after her dog and told her that it would be “probably just three weeks or so”… So she wanted to get to Santiago as fast as she could.

It was also a conversation with her I discovered some news, We talked about where and when we started the camino, why we wanted to walk it.. These conversations happen all the time especially when you meet new pilgrims. Strangely enough thought the conversations never seem repetitive, nor did I seem to get exasperated by recounting the story… But when I told her about M&F and G&T .. She had either met them or heard news of them through others and when I told her about leaving them behind and that they had a pace that was slower than mine and had had some issues, she then told me ” No, no they had quit last she heard… they were going to Barcelona” at first I thought that she meant G&T… But later on when I finally got in touch with M&F it turned out it was them who had called it quits.

After some check-in confusion regarding the bed numbers, I settled in and was opposite the Danish Boys and in the bed under me was a woman from south america (which country I forget) Jørgen, Anniken and Viggo where in the next room over. After making hte bed and unpacking it was time to do the laundry. The clothes-lines was in direct sunlight and it was close to 40C outside so I washed everything including my sleeping bag and hung it up to dry after running it through one of those oldtime machines that has two rollers that squeezes the water out of your clothes as you crank it.

I then visited the church while waiting for the restaurants to open…

It was absolutely stunning, while waiting I also attended holy communion, not as a participant however just as an observer. I am not a religious person, but the sense of coming-togetherness and belonging was something that moved me. It was a stark contrast to the almost clinical services held in Norwegian churches (the ones I have attended, not applicable to all I am sure) but this is probably in part also due to Norwegian social norms and not just the church. Norwegians are typically not prone to talk to or interact with strangers unless it happens to be a bus-driver, a cashier or other known situations… unless there is alcohol involved. It is almost a miracle that we as an ethnic group have not died out yet…. (a joke, but with a grain of truth in it) … in this regard I am a rather an atypical Norwegian…

After this I went on the hunt for a suitable place to eat dinner along with the Danish Boys, we queried the local restaurants… which was made that much easier since they spoke Spanish We found a place and sat down with the menus… I did not find anything that tempted me, and then I spotted Jørgen sitting along with two others at the section for the next restaurants over. I make my apologies to the Danish Boys and joined Jørgen at their table and ordered something that seemed a bit more agreeable, a three course menu, salad, pork chop w/ chips (fries) and a dessert. We ate, talked and ordered a beer or two… it was getting close to eight o’clock and I was heading back to the albergue and Jørgen had promised Viggo (Annikens 8 yo. son) that they’d take a swim in the river before bedtime….

As I headed back, I was quite content with the day. I got back and picked up my, by now dry, laundry .. packed my backpack getting ready.. I asked the people in the room when they planned to get up, the Danish Boys planned on getting up at 4:30 … I was glad that it was just 21:40 when I went to bed, because I wanted to get some sleep just in case I should happen to wake up due to their rustling noises.. even with earplugs… but they asked if it was OK and nobody objected …. I drifted off to sleep and had an excellent night of sleep…

 

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