After my 67-km-record yesterday, I aim for comfortable 30 today. But then I use the momentum and at 10:30 p.m. I cross another 66 km off my list :). With no desire to arrive in Santiago de Compostela in the middle of the night, I stay in the huge hostel on Monte do Gozo, sharing stories late into the night with other pilgrims. The atmosphere is fantastic: Everybody is highly relaxed and excitedly looking forward to embarking on the remaining 5 km to Santiago tomorrow 🙂
Only 138 km left to Santiago de Compostela - warm-up completed ;). After a relaxed start, I push through the Spanish heat, passing the last-100-km mark in the afternoon. I rehydrate in Portomarín, watch the sun set, and keep on walking - reaching 67 km when I run out of daylight at 10:30 p.m. in Palas de Rei. At this late hour, I'm really lucky to find accommodation right away. And I'm even luckier that a nice British girl shares her dinner with me, as it's impossible to buy food this late anywhere close. Thank you, Demelza!
What a beautiful morning! Like most days, I had breakfast on the go when I stumbled upon this magnificent vista. Being in nature every day, far away from the usual, insignificant worries is an awesome experience! Looking at my Amazon shopping cart makes me laugh: Really, those things mattered to me once? And since the people you meet on the Camino are not involved in your life back home, conversations become personal very quickly. Today e.g. with Martha from Linz, who I get to know on my way to Triacastela. Nice to talk to an Austrian again :).
We are getting closer to Santiago de Compostela and it's getting crowded. After another dusty 30+ km day with horses, donkeys, cows, and busloads of Camino tourists crossing our way, we reach picturesque O Cebreiro. Tiny, very touristy - but one of my most beautiful evenings on the Camino. This feeling of freedom - a world full of possibilities!
Not everybody walks the Camino in one go. Today, I accompany Elaine and Felicidad, two lovely French women, who walk a week every year. They certainly won't face my current issue: I'm running short on test sensors for my blood glucose meter. After a few inquiries, a very helpful lady in a pharmacy in Ponferrada informs me that my sensors aren't available in Spain. Will the parcel from home reach me in time? More importantly, will the river in Villafranca del Bierzo be cold enough after this hot and dusty day? 😉
This is it, the moment we've been waiting for: On our way to Molinaseca we reach the Cruz de Ferro. On their journey, every pilgrim brings a stone from home as a symbol for what you want to leave behind, and places it in front of the cross. Mine is beautifully painted by my cousin. You can't help but feel sentimental in that special moment.
Another wonderful day on our way to Rabanal del Camino. Now that I decided to stay with Kathi and Torsten, and to book a later flight home, I am much more relaxed. Less focused on myself, more on supporting the group. Walking the Camino in company doesn't mean we stick together all the time - often we hike a few meters apart and get lost in our thoughts. Best of both worlds, I'd say ;).
As much as I enjoyed the solitude on the three days before León, it also made me realize that hurrying through Spain isn't what I'm looking for: I want to create memories with friends and spend time in the lovely places I'm walking through. So, today I decided to stay with my favorite German pilgrims, and the magnificent view from our hotel room in Astorga alone is worth it! I could stare at the Palacio de Gaudí all night long :).
León is worth staying another day, so in lack of exciting news from the road, here are some facts about my backpack ;). My entire gear weighs only 7.6 kg - the selection process would have made any geek proud :D. Included is the backpack itself, everything I wear during the day, the trekking poles, my running shoes, and a sleeping bag. Furthermore, all my diabetes related stuff as well as absolute necessities like a power bank and a small tripod for my phone ;). Add up to 2 liters of water and enough carbs to keep my blood glucose level up under all circumstances, and I'm good to go :).
A surprisingly tough decision, but I decide that I do want a replacement phone for the rest of the trip. I love taking photos and I want to connect with my friends again. To reach a proper shop before the weekend, I speed things up and take the train to León (57 km). To my surprise, being on the train feels just right. Eventually, after a mere 15,000 steps around various (repair) stores, I settle on a used Sony Z3. Main feature: it's waterproof :D.