Camino de Santiago: Day 8, 9 and 10

In an effort to get the entire camino written up I will start writing up multiple days in one post… making this statement is mainly to push myself to keep to it rather than informing you guys about it…

Day 8: Logroño to Najera

My stay in Logroño had been quite nice, despite the cramped space in the dormitories. The new blisters which I had trimmed and treated the previous day seemed to have settled down and not cause too many problems. The walk to Najera was pretty much the same, I walked most of the day by myself with a few run-ins with Jørgen and other pilgrims and just standard small talk. I had slowed my pace a bit just to make sure that I did not aggravate my blisters.. which I apparently should have named according to camino tradition .. I did not do so… but in retrospect I can think of a few choice names for them.

And this day has a rare “treat” … a video…

 

We arrived at the edge of town just after the heat had really set in and I was ready to rejoice and find a place to stay and cool down… not so fast… was a very narrow oval shaped town… and the albergues was of course located at the “far end” of it.. int he old part of town… and it was slightly downhill, on pavement … my feet became more annoyed during these final 2-3km (I think it was that far) than they had the rest of the day…

The reason for this is the spanish sidewalks … the sidewalks are covered in tiles, not flat ones but ones with patterns that are about 5mm high, presumably to provide grip when they are wet.. and if you just happen to walk a short distance on them with “fresh” feet.. no problem… with a 13kg backpack after a full day of walking… the same tiles becomes something resembling a torture device.

After I got to into town I looked around for the municipal albergue but after awhile I gave in to temptation and booked myself into a private one that seemed very nice, and it was… apart from the somewhat short beds, which for me was not a problem.. for Jørgen the tall swede however.. he ended up putting the mattress on the floor and sleeping there. Before that happened however I went out in search of something to quench my thirst and perhaps scout a place to eat later… it was now scorching hot, so I almost leaped from shadow to shadow… after a small stroll I found Tony sitting under a parasol enjoying a beer. It looked so refreshing that I joined him for a beer and a chat.. we talked about everything, two strangers sharing stories and experiences that I myself would not have told anyone unless they had been my friend for a long time.. But this, for me and many others is part of the magic of the camino. Everyone walks it for their own  reasons and the trust you put in your fellow pilgrims I think stems from the fact that you know there is a reason they are walking it as well… there is no feeling of judgement or condescension… it builds over time…

After the beers had been drunk, I continued to search for a shop to get some fruit and a cold (non-alcoholic drink) I found a shop and got my usual bottle of Aquarius (I think I developed a borderline addiction to the stuff) and some fruit.

I went back to the albergue and took a siesta, on the way back I spotted a string of restaurants by the river.. I made a mental note of it as I passed.. as soon as my head hit the pillow I could almost hear my feet sigh with relief …

After a second shower I headed out in search for dinner, I ran into the Danish boys again and we combined forces in the hunt for a decent meal… they found a place and as we sat down I looked over the menu… in the section over Jørgen and some others had sat down.. I politely made my excuses to the Danish boys… I had decided to see if the grass was greener on the other side… also perhaps there was something other than seafood on the menu there.

It was, a simple pilgrim menu with a beer included. Food was had, beer drunk and some nonsense conversations … as it had grown less hot.. Jørgen had promised Viggo to take him swimming in the river before bedtime… so he left to do that… I sat down in the common area of the albergue and wrote in my journal and wrote some postcards as well…

Once that was done, I decided it was late enough to go to bed and get a good nights sleep.

 

Day 9: Najera to Santo Domingo del Calzada

 

The walk started out nice, the blisters did not bother me much and seemed to be on the mend as a result I walked close to my normal pace again which felt liberating. After a short while I ran into Cory, Nick and Prue.. all people I have previously met and got along splendidly with… we walked together for a while catching up on all our camino experiences and stories… and after a while I continued on ahead of them at my own pace… as I approached the destination for the day I ran into Martha, I slowed a bit which was probably a good idea at the time because the blisters, while not painful was quite happy to let me know that they were not gone yet. As we walked I spotted Nicole again taking a break by the side of the trail about half way up a small hill… I joined her in taking a break and Martha continued on… I dug out some snacks and used the break to air out my feet and let them dry. Me and Nicole chatted and walked together into Santo Domingo del Calzada together…

The albergue was a big one, it seemed to be a converted school or a combination. The reception was great. Everyone was offered wine and a snack during check-in there were couches and chairs everywhere … and best of all.. the common room in addition to dining tables  had couches, big comfy couches … and they had a small medical area with supplies, I used it to do some blister care, they had not given me much trouble today so best to keep them treated. Iodine is good for blisters that have been “de-roofed” .. I treated them and then went out to do some shopping for dinner, I also bought a 5L bottle (if you can still call a 5L container a bottle) of water since the tap water tasted like pool water … heavy on the chlorine. I also had the foresight to fill my Camelbak and put in the fridge so that I would have cold fresh water for the next day.

The rest of the day was spent talking to Jørgen which had arrived shortly after me and Nicole we got talking about things and I think the subject of Donut brought us to Amanda Palmer and the Art of Asking… after the conversation I made up my mind to get her a copy of the book for her Kindle. I asked the the AFP Patreon group if they could send a gift certificate my way so I could give it to her.. and the group delivered… I gave her the certificate as a hand written note with my additional contact info on it in case she wanted to stay in touch if we didn’t see each other on the camino after this, after this I headed out to do some sightseeing in the evening… it had cooled down sufficiently so that it was now possible to go outside without feeling that you were turning more pinkish-red like a lobster by the second…

Evening became late evening and I headed back to albergue and pre-packed and took a second shower and prepped for the next day…

Me and Nicole emailed each other back and forth when when we were on the camino (and after) sharing funny stories about who we met and what we were doing.. it was also not the last time we met each other on the camino… but more on this later.

Nicole is probably reading this, Hi Nicole … 😀 Hope you have a nice day when you are reading this..

Day 10 Santo Domingo del Calzada to Tosantos

The first half of the day passed by without anything out of the ordinary (other than the awesome fact that I was on the camino) I ran into some of the usual crowd including Jørgen, Anniken and Viggo.. this day however I walked mostly by myself.. exchanging pleasantries and “Buen Camino” with fellow pilgrims … upon reaching Belorado .. I sat down outside an albergue .. Jørgen was there as well… I was contemplating making it my stop for the day… but before I had made my decision Simon and Matteo (Italians) walked by and stopped… I’d only met them briefly a few times before this.. they were headed to Tosantos.. supposedly only 5km from Belorado. I joined them in their walk there, by now the temperature was up to about 35… and the 5km to Tosantos seemed like a lot more.

We started calling the town, trying to will it into existence just around the next bend in the trail… all of us running low on water and not a fountain in sight. I questioned my wisdom in joining the quest to find Tosantos with these Italians … however I would not regret it.

After what seemed like an eternity we arrived in Tosantos and the first thing we saw was a fountain…. we drank, filled everything and I drenched my hat in water to cool down, and then after a short break in the shade we continued into the village. The first albergue we saw was a parochial one… I had seen it in my guide and wanted to stay there just so I could have the experience of having stayed in one.. Simon and Matteo wanted to find another one, however the only other albergue was full… so we all headed back and stayed in the parochial one.

It was a small, rustic one. We were greeted by the door and sat down on a old couch as we got the information about the albergue, when we were cooking dinner.. it was a communal dinner and everyone had to help out, then there was an optional trip to the old village church, followed by cooking the dinner.. eating it and a church service for those that wanted to attend … at the albergue I met up with Sam, Nicole and a few others as well.. we all had a good time helping out making a basic but very hearty.

The trip to the church was enjoyable and the church itself was carved out of the mountain with a simple entrance.. before we were allowed to enter “No photos” the guide explained that this was for ourselves as much as it was for respecting the church… we needed to be in the moment and take it in rather than focusing on taking pictures.

After that, we came back to the albergue and started making dinner, some helped (including) cutting and while cutting we happened to drink some wine…  others set the dining table.. it was very social and fun… conversations flying and as dinner was winding down someone dug out an acoustic guitar and singing started… people were asked to volunteer to sing a song in their native language… I was quite happy when we moved on to other things and I had not yet been called on. There were quite a few Italians and some of them had not yet heard the story behind Donut the sloth so I retold that story, not for the last time.

As dinner was cleared away all us pilgrims were told that no one should get up before 0630-7 and that we should not fear the heat tomorrow as the forecast was low temperatures and we would be going up and gaining altitude in addition to walking in shade for most of the day… everyone perked up at the thought of sleeping in…

and with that we did the dishes, cleaned the dining room and promptly went to bed … looking forward to a new day on the camino…

 

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