Posted by: knitknigel | June 2, 2009

El Camino del Tren

I did it. I managed to get up at 4:30 am without Geordie to wake me. I have an alarm clock which I´ve been carrying for just this purpose and it has a really good and very annoying alarm, so I really work to turn it off fast, which gets me awake too.

I was out and down at the train station by 4:50, and yes, I did shave and brush my teeth first. But of course this being the non-AVE train, it was running late, scheduled to arrive at 5:34 instead of 5:14. But it pulled in at 5:28 and boy did I have to scramble. The coach numbers are not very big and they change, so I missed Coche 19 and walked to 21. When I got on, I realized it was closed up ahead, because that train was actually going to Vigo and not A Coruña, the direction I needed, so I had to jump off and run back up the platform and jump on the next car which was indeed the right one.

I was supposed to be in seat 4C, but that was taken up by someone else who had seen an opportunity wherever she got on, so I took seat 5A which was empty. Nobody came to claim it throughout the journey of which I was glad since I managed to have two sleeps while I sat in it.

Nice and plush this train. It had amazing reclining seats that slid out a long way, so one could really stretch out – of course this is the TrenHotel, because it is long distance and overnight, so there are even plusher accomodations. There was a cafeteria and a dining car, which I took advantage of twice too.

The train followed the camino for part of the way, starting with Astorga, a town I was looking forward to staying in, since it was the place from where I walked my single day of the Camino when I went to Spain to join Geordie after his first Camino. But today, it was still dark so I didn´t see anything at all. And when I reached Ponferrada, (Iron Bridge) I didn´t see any bridge although by how it was daylight. But no matter, I got to Sarria, only a half hour or so late, and even though it was foggy I was glad to be here to begin my Camino anew.

I found a great Pension, very clean, very bright, very comfortable, with my own bathroom for the same price as last night´s rabbit hutch. I paid the rate happily, and then went exploring, looking for signs of the Camino. When I saw the church spire high in the sky, I realized that of course I needed to go up hill – that´s where they put all those medieval villages. I climbed up and found the yellow arrows, and the albergues I suppose I could have stayed in, instead of hanging out in the new town.

In the Praza del Constitution I found a statue memorializing Alfonso IX who founded this town a few hundred years ago. He died while on Pilgrimage to Santiago himself – let´s hope it wasn´t from blisters. That´s where I also found lunch – the menu del dia. And after my conversation with Geordie on the phone I was glad to see that they were serving Caldo Gallego – the wonderful bean, kale and potato soup that is one of Galicia´s contributions to world cuisine. It´s delicious, never mind that it is listed as a vegetarian option even though it has meat in it.

I´m off to rest now. I´ve been up much too long and I have a lovely room to go back to, and an elevator so I don´t have to climb the steps. Yay! I´m looking forward to a nice nap and then an exploration of the lower town this evening. I don´t think I need to climb the hill again.

I´m off early tomorrow to continue my camino on foot. I´ve got lots of Vaseline, slick gels, foot spray and bandages, and I even have a walking stick now. Geordie and I found cheap ones in Torremolinos of all places, with shock absorbing springs, tungsten tips and rubber covering those so we don´t make those horrible tapping noises on the stones and pavements of the towns.

I´ll keep you up to date. I know you all want to know how my feet are doing. I´m going to take really good care of them – I´ve had lots of suggestions from folks reading this blog as well as from other Peregrinos. I didn´t buy the boots, but I did get the stick, and I will change socks on the hour, letting the other pair dry as I walk. And I´ll walk less distance per day on several of my days on the path.

Ultreia, my friends, Ultreia!

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