Hospital - Ventas de Naron - Ligonde - Eirexe - Palas de Rei - San Xulian - Mato Casanova - Furelos - Melide
For those receiving updates by email, sorry you didn't receive the Day 26 update on Saturday morning your time. Once again we were in a very small village, with no Internet connection. So your email will include Day 26 and Day 27. If you'd like to read in order, just scroll down.
By late yesterday afternoon, after we had settled in Hospital, a chill wind came our way and it felt as though the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees. As we had only reached a high in the low teens during the day, it made for a cold evening.
We joined the two French couples for dinner, along with Marcos from Italy. As our French was basic, our Italian even more basic - and their English limited - it made for a funny and enjoyable evening. It's amazing how much can be communicated with the odd word here and there, a few nods and gestures, lots of smiles and a sense of humour!
While we were dining, the TV was on (as is always the case in the bars and cafes here). We saw a news story with the reporter interviewing peregrinos at O'Cerebrio (the top of the big hill) where the temperature had plummeted and snow was on the way. We had been there just 3 nights ago, and getting around in skirts and bare legs in the afternoon. Then 2 days later, we were 'sun bathing' in the garden of Casa Carmen, putting the sunscreen on for fear of sunburn.
So, we went to bed last night anticipating a cold day today. And it was, especially as we set out at 7.15, with a full moon lighting our path. We reached a maximum of around 7 degrees though for most of the day that was quite comfortable. It just meant we didn't do the usual de-layering as the day progressed. We were on The Way for about 7 hours today and for all but 20 minutes, we were dry. Just a few lapses - a 5 minute snow flutter about an hour in, a 5 minute rain shower just before midday, and 10 minutes of driving, icy wind and hail about half an hour from Melide! The wet weather gear is always handy at the top of our packs, so we managed to prevent a soaking from the rain and hail 'incidents', and we arrived happily in Melide around 2pm, none the worse for wear.
As we are little more than 50 kms from Santiago, and our Camino is coming to an end, we thought we might share some things you may not know (or even want to know) about the practicalities of our adventure.
1. Life on the Camino need not be expensive, even though you stay in a new place every night and eat out at least 3 times a day, sometimes more.
2. Albergues (think youth hostel): Albergues on the Camino are for pilgrims only. Most do not open before 1pm and everyone usually has to be out by 8 in the morning. Unless ill or injured, pilgrims can only stay one night in a municipal albergue, while private albergues are more relaxed about 'the rules'. A bed in a dormitory room in an albergue can cost from 5 to 15 euros; the number of beds in one room can range from 2 to 50 or more. Some private albergues also have private twin or double rooms, and we've been lucky enough to secure these a couple of times.
The standard and facilities of albergues vary, but some are outstanding, as was the case for us at Casa Carmen. The Casa has both private rooms in the main house and a beautiful modern albergue, where we were in a room with 4 bunk beds. There were 3 dorm rooms, with a total of 24 beds, separated by walls and sliding doors. Though the were only 8 peregrinos staying in the albergue that night, the family kindly opened up all three rooms, so that everyone had plenty of space and a lower bunk with no-one sleeping above them. We have not stayed in many albergues but if you're going to do it, Casa Carmen is a perfect choice, as was the delightful private albergue in Hontanas where we had a twin room still for just 10 euros each.
At the other end of the scale, size wise is the municipal albergue in Melide, the town we are in tonight. There is usually plenty of accommodation here but we discovered on arrival there is some sort of festival today (and it's Saturday night) - the first 3 places we approached were full. The municipal albergue had a few spots in a dorm room of 56 beds - we decided that was about 50 too many! Thankfully, we secured a lovely twin room in the hotel I treated myself to in 2011 when I hobbled in with a shin splint, also on Day 27! We are very happy with our cosy room.
3. Casas (think B&B). Casas provide accommodation in or adjacent to a family home. Some Casas provide dinner, as with the Mill House and Casa Carmen, as they are in a remote area or outside the village, so there may be no other options for dinner. We have stayed in some lovely Casas and small hotels, with twin room ranging from 35 to 60 euros, but usually around 45.
4. All our finances are managed via Kitty. Jill is in charge of kitty, she carries the kitty purse. We both put in an equal amount, say 100 euros at a time, and all our expenses come out of kitty. Saves such a lot of time and money changing hands. This system works really well, and we are used to it. In fact, we meet for coffee / walk together so often at home that we have had a Sydney kitty going for ages. Saves the whole 'my turn, your turn' discussion.
5. Post script re kitty. An ATM in Leon swallowed my cash card. This has not affected the kitty system. Jill is 'funding' me until a new card is sorted back in Crows Nest, so I still contribute the same amount to Kitty, but using Jill's money!
6. When we arrived in St Jean Pied de Port we visited the pilgrims office to get our pilgrims passport (credenciale) which we carry with us, as well as a scallop shell which is tied to our backpack. When we settle on our accommodation each night, we produce our pilgrims passports and the hospitalero affixes an ink stamp (sela) and date mark as evidence that we have stayed there. When we arrive in Santiago, we will present the credenciale to the pilgrims office, when asking for our Compostela, but more on that in a few days time.
Tomorrow, a little about the food and wine!
In the meantime, thank you to Audrey, Kev and Elaine, Georgia, Libby, Nicole, Katrina, and Ed and Steph for your emails and comments.
With many thanks for your support and enthusiasm for our adventure
Jenny xx and Jill xx
Melide, about 50 kms from Santiago de Compostela