Santiago to Vilaserio, 34km
Johannes banged on our door at 7:30. I groaned and pulled on my pack, which had magically grown heavier overnight. I admit that this whole “getting started” thing would have been much less difficult had I not been massively hung over. This is what happens when you have dinner with three German guys who keep refilling your wine glass, and then end the night by pouring endless shots of mystery liquor (given to us on the house by the restaurant. I think they were impressed by the amount of seafood that Johannes and Guido put away!). Urgh.
The first half of the day was pretty miserable, physically, even after some great coffee and a croissant, and a beautiful sunrise. I was just not feeling the camino love. Then Johannes reminded us of a pact that he and Drew made the night before, which was to stop and have a beer at every open bar we passed. Double urgh. SO not happening today. But it was great to be walking with Johannes again. He’s funny and easygoing to travel with. No issues of who walks first or with whom. Sometimes we talk and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes Drew stops for pictures. Sometimes we wait for him, but sometimes not. It’s all cool and very relaxed. I like that. Johannes is a very speedy walker though, and sometimes I have to work really hard to keep up. But I’m getting better and feeling stronger every day.
Full disclosure, we ended up having multiple beers today, but nowhere close to at every bar. There’s no way we could keep up with Johannes’ beer consumption (because German. Duh.), and because I am such a lightweight. Even with my girly beer (cerveza con limon aka Fanta is a big thing here. Lots of locals have it, and I’m totally loving it), I get tipsy after two!
Ended up at a pretty nice private albergue with a restaurant. Had a long conversation with a woman from Vancouver who just finished the Frances. It is always interesting to compare notes with pilgrims who did other routes. Not only did they go through different towns, but the terrain they walked over was vastly different. The Frances sounds like gently rolling countryside through small villages. The Primitivo sounds like it went over desolate high high mountains, with fewer towns and services along the way. And the Norte is mostly rugged coastline, cliffs and fishing villages. All unique, all wonderful.
And not to make sweeping generalizations, but it seems like the people who decide to do each route seem to also be very different. Everyone I met who did the Primitivo was pretty young and hard-core. People like tall tall Albert from Washington, Jonathan, who is small but wiry and strong, and Juliana, who eats up the trail (with just cider to sustain her!) without ever seeming to getting tired.
We found the Norte to have lots of experienced hikers and backpackers, unafraid of a little weather or elevation gain. Few couples, mostly singletons who clump into small groups.
The Frances seemed to be the default route for everyone else, so you see the entire spectrum of humanity, from children & families and those who have never hiked before to people with disabilities and senior citizen church groups. It’s great to see the breadth and range of walkers–you realize that anyone can do this. As long as they just take their time. Hmmm…there’s a lesson in there somewhere.