50 Days of Camino

Kevin Soltysiak's travel log of the way of St. James, the "Camino de Santiago"


O Cebreiro — Triacastela

On that morning, I didn’t to check the weather on the phone or look through the window: all I had to do was to open my ears and listen to the sound of rain falling hard against the windows and the noise of the trees struggling against the wind. It was shitty. Everybody took their time that morning and stuck around as long as they could. The cafe was so crowded that Loïc and Gaby gave up and started walking right away, but I was in no such hurry.

And once I started walking, It was so cold that I stopped at every cafe/albergue on my way. I was far from the only one who had adopted that strategy, since I was seeing the same people at every turn! I had one of the best sandwiches of my whole life at the albergue poio; I definitely recommand going there if you have the chance. Although it was barely noon, I considered stopping there for the day. But after a break of half an hour I was feeling restless again, so I moved on.

Yours truly, up against the elements

Loïc had told me that Galicia was to spain what Brittany is to France: a region known for its bad weather. So far, it was proving to be true. It made for a hard walk climbing down the mountain, to the point that I ended up hurting myself. It felt like a stress fracture, though I wouldn’t have sworn upon it.

I took it slow for the rest of the day until I reached Triacastela. I would have stopped earlier but all the albergues on the road were already closed for the season. It was the opposite in Triacastela, the place having three or four open albergues.

I had dinner with Jem, Elena, Lukas and Paul (another one, from Ireland). I knew that I was sleeping above a loud snorer so I indulged in lots of wine, hoping it would help me through the night. We even allowed ourselves a glass of Brandy, fancy pilgrims that we were.

He was better prepared than I was

Triacastela — Sarria

I hadn’t enought to drink to make it through the night unbothered… The road through the first cafe made it clear that the pain in my leg was still present: I would have to make it a short day if I hoped to feel better. I walked alone that day and ended up in Sarria early in the afternoon.

I was on my own that day, Loïc being ahead of me. I booked myself a single room for once: I needed the rest and wanted some privacy. I had gone out only to eat and spent the rest of the day in bed, watching tv shows on my phone. I also felt that I might have been falling sick so I took no chances, even though I could hear the two irishmen I had met earlier having quite the night downstairs.

The absence of people and the long break left me without distractions and I found myself face to face with my thoughts again. I was still hesitating about my next moves, and with Santiago so close it felt like it was time to make up my mind. Two days earlier, I would have kept walking without hesitation, but now with the weather degrading and the pain in my leg, I wasn’t sure about anything.

I was also in touch with some friends in Strasbourg and talking with them only made me want to go back as soon as possible… I was discovering my limits, and it seemed that one of them was the bad weather. But no matter what, I had to reach Santiago first.

Sarria — Barbadelo

I cannot overstate how good it feels not to have to wake up early. Most of the albergue make you leave before 8h, but since I was in a hotel room I had no such restriction, and I took all the time in the world that morning. I still felt a little bit of pain in my leg and I was a little bit sick, so I was set on staying there the whole day to rest and not let myself fall sick once more, especially so close to the end.

Jenny was with the irishmen as well. I had met her first right before León then saw her every now and then. Turns out it was her birthday that morning, so I had a glass of wine right after breakfast! It could only help me feel better and fight my cold, after all.

At some point I left the hotel and wandered around town until I ran into Christian, and then Saula and Krista. We had finally caught up for the first time since I left them after the Brice drama. It seemed that Krista wasn’t feeling much better, at least not that day: she was once again tired of waiting on people and wanted to move on.

So I walked with her to the next place, Barbadelo. She wanted to go further but with the night falling and the rain starting again we stopped there. She really seemed on edge that day, annoyed by everything and everyone. Not the upbeat girl I remembered, but I guessed that she was having a bad couple of days and decided not to add up to her annoyance.

Anyway, we were only 108Km away from Santiago. A little voice inside my head told me that it could be done in three days if I didn’t slack off…

Barbadelo — Palas de Rei

I woke up and left early, around the same time as Krista’s, but we didn’t stay together long. I was happy being on my own that day since I had planned a long one, around 42km. I ran into the irishmen and Jenny: they hadn’t gone far after they left the hotel, it seemed!

I reached Portomarín around 11 and took an early lunch there, then I kept walking almost non-stop to Palas de Rei.

I didn’t meet anyone I knew on the road which suited my plans just fine. I reached the city shortly before the end of the afternoon, as it was starting raining. I couldn’t find the albergue I was looking for so I checked into a fancier one for once. No restrictions once again !

And it turned out that Krista had also made it to Palas de Rei, though she stayed in another albergue; she finally had decided to walk without waiting for the others for once. We grabbed a quick beer before going to bed and she did seem to feel better and cheerful again!

Less than a hundred remaining

Palas de Rei — Arzúa

I woke up with a figurative slap in the face that morning: the result of the US elections were in and Trump was actually winning. I had talked about that topic with many americans I had met and all of them seemed confident that he would never get the job, but I guess everybody underestimated how voters mistrusted Clinton and how little they cared about all of Trump’s awful behavior and declarations. The whole day was quite depressing.

I walked with Krista until Melide but we didn’t talk much. I was still under the shock, I think. I must have spent the whole day lost in my thoughts since I took almost no notes.

We ate a large pizza and walked again… and it was a mistake! We had had too much to eat and we were both feeling tired and in need of a nap… We managed to drag ourselves to Arzúa and once there, didn’t really do anything except rest.

Previously: Ponferrada

Next: Santiago