Day one…

So, I’m sitting in a stunning farmhouse in the middle of nowhere Paradela, Galicia (where we are staying for the night) having walked close on 30km today (the guide said 23… Lies, all lies!) It was 3km to the first marker outside Sarria, and then 26km from there to the marker outside Portomarin, and about 1km more into town.

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The couch with a view

But how we got to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere is a fun story.

Our plane out of CDG was delayed by an hour, and yet we still made it to Santiago de Compostela only 25 min later than scheduled. Then, there was the nervous hour waiting at the airport for our transfer when none of the contact numbers worked, and finally, there was somebody and we were on our way.

The drive to Sarria took 2 hours along very winding roads. The most amazing moonrise greeted us at about 9pm as we sped through north-west Spain.

It was during the leg from Paris to Sarria that I have observed this about James: he is not an adrenalin junkie like me. He does not enjoy take off, turbulence, or landing (the best parts of flying) nor does he enjoy rallyesque driving in a Peugeot shuttle at 10pm in the wrong side of the road in Spain. I was worried I may need to prise his fingers from the hand rest for a while there.

I have also learnt that we at both very grouchy with low blood sugar and jet lag.

Still, we were both up bright and early and out on the road just after 8.

After wandering aimlessly around Sarria, we finally find the first of the yellow arrows which led us to the 115km mark. It was going to be a long day. There were hills to climb, wind turbines to admire, incredible vistas to marvel at, and other pilgrims to “Buen Camino”.

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In the land of Don Quixote, windmills are everywhere.

My default amble, as those who have walked with me will know, is to open the throttle and go. Slower causes me pain, so a smooth cruise setting had me leave poor Diego in the dust on several occasions. Just as long as I let him catch up before we hit the towns, we’ll be fine.

I’m loving the ability to just hit my stride and go. There’s a freedom in that, much like when you get your rhythm in the water – it’s like flying. Almost. That’s a completely different feeling of freedom again.

Anyway. The 100km marker passed (remember, we started at around 118km and the guide said day 1 was a  23km day), and we were still in the middle of a mountain trail of dirt tracks and cattle ways. The scene at the 95km mark wasn’t much different. Mentally, I start adding extra kilometres to the next stage. We pass the 90km to go marker and Portomarin is still on the other side of the river… Right. We reach the stairs to the Chapel in the Clouds at 89km, and hit the central plaza slap bang in the middle of a fiesta of the Blessed Virgin, and discover our hotel is 9km away.

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That's a lot of stairs after 28km on the road

So, our Portomarin stamp will have to wait until tomorrow, and I’m in the middle of nowhere in a picture postcard setting, enjoying the quiet, the sun, and the view.

James has fallen for the charms of the hotelier’s daughter (who is running the show), and finished 7/8ths of a bottle of wine, 2 shots of local liqueur, and a shot of Galician tequila. He is currently passed out on the couch opposite me after dancing on tables and building a very impressive card tower. Hey, our Camino is all about celebrating our successes, so why not?

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Yes. It happened.

I, however, am nursing a burst right Achilles bursa. Luckily, this time I know what to do, and I have the training to do it. I can’t afford to think about the next 89km or 2 weeks though. It’s just one foot in front of the other.

It’s Portomarin to Palas de Rei tomorrow (allegedly 25km), and we’ll be on the road at 8:15am.

The route notes call this a difficult stage – much climbing and semi-mountainous terrain. I can only hope the strapping, voltaren, and deep heat with be enough. (my left foot and leg, btw, are fantastic. Go figure.)

It’s nearly 9:20pm. Time for bed, methinks. I wonder if James is light enough for me to carry him…

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