Camino del Norte – Part I

Day 1 – Let’s get started!

My first day started already terrible, I looked outside the window and it rained! I haven’t seen the sun for several days, but it didn’t rain so far, so this was something new. Fortunately I had my raining jacket with me, but still, starting the camino with rain? Not the best thing to do.

After breakfast I overcame my anger and started the walk. I have to walk 30 kilometers to arrive at my destination. I never did this in my life before, so this was something quite new. On my way I saw many pilgrims, but none of them really liked to talk, instead everybody kept silent, like in church. After a few kilometers the rain finally stopped. I also had to walk uphill and downhill all the time – it just didn’t stop! As it was my first time I also had to take several breaks in between, every 5 kilometers. After 20 kilometers and 4 hours walking I arrived at a pilgrim’s cafe.

There I saw all the pilgrims again who passed by me while I took my breaks and there was a nice Spanish lady who explained the way to Lourenza to me and told me it is only 10 more kilometers to walk. On my walk after the break it started to rain again, this time way heavier than before and I got soaking wet! But the albergue wasn’t too far away and I was able to have a nice hot shower there.

Also my whole body just hurt and I couldn’t walk anymore, but I felt proud after my first day and my first 30 km. Only 160 to go! In the evening I also met Sabrina, a German girl who was walking the camino for a good 5 weeks and she also got quite shocked when she saw my backpack and what I had in there. Her backpack was just half the size.

 

Day 2 – Dying on the way

This morning I had a very nice and huge breakfast with lots of cereals, cookies, fruits, etc. I also took my time to pack everything in the correct way and started as last one. Which was not a problem at all, as I knew they would be quicker than me anyway. My backpack also felt very heavy and I feel already sorry for myself.

When I started the walk, it was already difficult after a while to maintain my strength and while I walked through those beautiful mountains, towards Montoneño, it was still very difficult to enjoy the landscape.

When I arrived in Montoneño, I first got rid of this heavy backpack and had a look inside the cathedral they had. Unfortunately you had to pay an entrance fee to get in, which I refused, but at least I got their stamp. Not just the stamp, they told me that the stamp they are giving me is over 200 years old. Quite impressive!

Right in front of the cathedral was a cute small bar in which I had a salad and a cup of hot chocolate. I also met Sabrina again who was already on her way to the next destination.

I also started soon afterwards but went to the Camino Continentale, which was a bit longer but easier way to walk, as the original camino del norte is going over the mountains, while the Continentale goes around them more or less.

On the way I met a woman from Hungary and I decided to join her. She was as slow as me, as she was already a bit older and couldn’t walk that fast anymore. While we walked she told me a lot about the countries she has seen and the journeys she made. She went to New Zealand 3 times already and told me about the beauty of that country and how she fell in love with it. For example she told me about Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings) and what it looks like. Not only that! She also already did most of the camino walks and saw so many countries. It was really fascinating for me!

While she told me about her journeys we walked up and down the hills and my backpack killed me. The talking with her helped against my pain though and we also took a lot of breaks to breathe again, as there were quite a few hills we had to walk up.

While we walked we also met other pilgrims but without backpacks. They explained to me they also had a lot of stuff in their backpacks and could not walk with them. Instead they sent it via post. They explained to me that the post in Spain (Correos) had a service which allows them to get the backpack sent from one destination to another while they walk the camino. This was such a great idea! I just had to do it! With this in mind I got new energy and we arrived after 26km and a few hours of walking in Abadin.

After checking in at the public Albergue for pilgrims, I checked how the postal service works. Basically you have to call them or write them a message on Whats app on the day before until 9pm and tell them where you want to have it sent to and leave your backpack the next morning at a certain address (mostly a pub or private hostel) and write your next destination on a paper that they put on your backpack. They also have several options for the payment. You can leave the money with the backpack, or pay it online, both is working just fine. So far so good!

Unfortunately it was already 8pm when they explained it to me and I tried to call them, but nobody picked up, instead they hung up on me all the time. I also did not know at the time that they do have Whatsapp, so I got totally stressed and went to the guy at the reception in the hostel and asked him if he can help me. He basically called the same number and got through it and managed everything. I was happy and upset at the same time, as he helped me a lot, but didn’t understand why they hung up on me.

Anyway, after everything got sorted I went with Sabrina and the Hungarian lady to have a typical pilgrim meal. I did not expect much, as the price was only 10€ but we got quite a lot.

First of all we got a bottle of red wine for the table. After that, I got a huge amount of Spaghetti and tuna in tomato sauce as first course. The second course was a huge piece of chicken with fries and as dessert we got a typical pudding and an espresso. It was so much I just couldn’t eat it all and I was fascinated by the actual price of it. It was the best meal I had for a while and for such a low price! As amazing and good and tasty as it was, I knew I would never order it again, as it was simply too much for me.

During the night I got a huge fever and could barely sleep, but survived somehow.

 

Day 3 – Goodbye heavy backpack and hello new friends!

This morning I left my backpack at the hostel with a bit of a bad feeling, as I was afraid the backpack could get lost on the way. But sometimes you need to have trust!

The feeling of not walking with such a heavy backpack was so great, I just wanted to run around, but it also distracted me and I walked the wrong way. Fortunately 2 pilgrims, Rudiger and Erika saw me and yelled at me to get my attention. Seeing my mistake, I went to them and decided to walk the next couple of kilometers with them.

With Rudiger I had a lot of nice deep conversations about old civilizations and how little we actually know about them. Actually we changed the topics quite a lot and went from ‘How Muslims will affect Europe’ to ‘Was it the best thing to do for Angela Merkel to let everybody in during the refugee crisis’. Even though we had difficult topics and were not always the same opinion I enjoyed it quite a lot.

albergue camino del norteWe then found a private hostel in the middle of the mountains and had breakfast there. We also met Sabrina again and she joined us. The breakfast was quite a lot. Bread, marmalade, butter, milk rice, cake, fruits, coffee, orange juice, everything you needed! And only for 3€. Again a great price and everything tasted fresh! Also the hostel itself looked just lovely, as it was a little old cottage in the woods and you just fell in love with it when you saw it.

But we had to go further. The next 10km were quite easy to walk and we also stopped for some beer until we arrived in Vilalba, where I needed to find my backpack. We had to split up, as the others wanted to go to a private hostel but I wanted to stay in the public one, as it was simply cheaper.

Arriving at the public one, I first went to the pub beside of it, to see if they had my backpack and they had it! I was so happy about it!

Inside the hostel was nobody, so I decided to take a bed and leave my stuff there and go shopping for dinner. I also went to the pharmacy, as I was still not feeling well.

In the evening somebody finally arrived at the reception and we all payed and I also booked my next delivery with Correos.

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