Had a really good walk this am to Samos. Left the albergue just at sunrise a bit after 8, in town ran into Lilo and Irene the Swiss girls and had tea and yogurt with them. Walked alone to the city/monastery of Samos, stopping every 5 feet for photos, even though it was overcast and the light was not that great and the narrow path again between a river far below and the road. Dramatic outcropping of rocky cliffs. And the river ocassionally in narrow rock canyon, though the canyon was not ever deep or long. You could constantly hear the flow of water, and once a pretty good water fall. I found a path down to the river through some old apple trees, so picked a crisp tartish apple and sat at the falls and snacked on it and raw castaña chestnuts. Put three more apples in my seemingly endless vest pockets on the way back up to the road to eat while walking. Crushed mint while climbing up.
The way wound up and down through tiny wet valleys, farms and hamlets. Everything very green. Fences marking fields now made of slabs of slate, somewhat resembling headstones. (I was intrigued, photos, photos, photos)
No hamlet large enough for even a bar.
So after an extemely satisfying walk I expected, when I reached Samos to the ringing of the noon bells, to find lots of pilgrims I knew to be hanging out at cafes eating lunch. There was not a pilgrim to be seen anywhere. An Australian woman I didn’t know, Anastasia wandered into town. We did a tour around the outside of the monastery, then of the town, still no one, so we plopped ourselves at a bar with a great view of the monastery, ordered huge tortilla francés (aka cheese omlet) sandwiches and coffee. After a while an unknown French woman sat at the next table. She proved to be Natalie an artist keeping a daily journal by making collages from the brochures she picks up at the tourist office for each city. She shared it with us. Very interesting! She lives on one of the many caminos across Europe that feed into the Camino Francés (the branch I am on) and just walked out her front door to walk to Santiago. Meaning she had already done several hundred k by the time she reached St Jean Pied de Port. We sat talking for over an hour because about 1:30 pilgrims starting walking by who had just left off touring inside the monastery as it was closing for the siesta! We had not even seen a possible public entrance! Nando was one of the passers by, so I said “buen camino!” to Anastasia & Natalie and left Samos with him. The afternoon walk was notable because the birds, which up to this point I have heard but rarely seen clearly, decided to perch on nearby leafless branches for a change. And since there was no heat of the day today they were pretty much continuously vocal. I had visions of the “Guide to European Birds” that David, the tea dispensing Englishman had in his tent eons ago outside Logrono.
The walk was not as dramatic as in the morning (no rock cliffs),”‘just” strolling on pleasant country lanes through small valleys with cows and sheep and newly tilled fields, crunching fallen acorns and castañas, made more pleasant by Nando’s restful company.
Nevertheless I was very tired (read getting grouchy) when I arrived at 5:30 in Sarria (much more tiring to walk into larger towns that seem to take forever to actually reach once you see them). I wanted an albergue that had a communal meal and a hospitalero who didn’t disappear the moment the albergue was full, so after climbing the famous, steep Sarria staircase, I left Nando at the municipal albergue to check out the others in town.
Seconds later ran into Jonathan who couldn’t offer me a communal meal but said the albergue he was at had a BATHTUB! Sold.
Veera was also staying there, greeted me with a big hug, and while I was checking in she drew a warm bath for me. Minutes later I was contentedly in the tub, and when done and the water was running out I left my feet in soaking as long as possible.
The albergue has other amenities, such as a restful garden with a fountain, a comfortable glassed in garden room for rainy Galician days, and a windowless stone room with a fireplace, where after dinner a fire was lit and we settled in with tiny glasses of sweet liqueurs and chatted. Also there were Yuni, Seo-yeon and Sean who I hadn’t seen for days and Nando hadn’t seen since the day of the lobster races en route to San Bol.
Very tired, but happy.
19 Oct 2009