I supposed I should have known this day was going to be different. First sign was when I was passed on the looong flaaat boooring path by – wait for it – a man on a segway! Yes – a segway! No handle, just a wheel with a platform for your feet on each side. I scrambled to get my mobile and thanks to the very good camera even this distance shot shows him balancing on his little wheeled contraption. That baffled me for a good half hour – how do you charge it? How heavy is it in case you have to carry it? Can you claim a compostela? And the best one: Why would you?
Apart from that the morning walk was pretty unremarkable. Just looong, flaaat, booring trail with a good smatter of pilgrims, each walking alone.
Up ahead is a hill which looks much gentler than it is, and at the top is the golf/ghost town of Cirueña. The golf club bar is open to pilgrims, and the next stop is a good distance away (and off trail) so stop, rest and refuel even though it’s not going to be your all time favourite camino bar.
Then there’s more of this. A lot more. At least someone has taken pity on weary pilgrims and provided seating.
Ah, Santo Domingo de la Calzada! Yes, that does mean Saint Dominic in the road, because he was buried in a church which later crumbled and why not put the road through it and build up the two remaining bits either side. Also – the current church doubles as a chicken coop! Consult your guidebook for the rest of the story.
My firm plan for this day was to overshoot San Dom and head to Gráñon, a firm pilgrim favourite which I have never stayed in. I have been in San Dom several times and thought it was time for a change. But when I got there, and saw the pilgrims, and the bars, and shops, and pilgrims, and bars … I just really didn’t fancy seven more kms on the flat. So I stopped for lunch at a tapas bar I quite like, listened to some good tunes, had some good food, a clara for refreshment and courage, and then I swiftly and determinedly went … to find a room.
I asked at a Brazilian albergue, where the man had a four bed room which was waaay to expensive for just me, but then he called his mate who had just started a new place and who had a room with a not-currently-working basin in the room. It was still free, and I got it cheap, so I jumped at the chance! The place was lovely, the bed was huuuge, there were even hangers for my clothes! The shared toilet and bathroom were straight down the hall, and with a working basin in your room you can top up your water bottle and brush teeth, or even hand wash clothes at leisure. All modern and freshly decorated too. I was very pleased with the room, and with myself for treating me to it and letting me stop when I felt so tired. So I invited myself out for a drink to say thank you and gratefully accepted.
After a short sightseeing saunter I went first into the Parador to marvel at it, and then sat down outside with a drink, church and pilgrim watching.
Then back to my favourite bar for more tapas and more good music. And so it was that I was sitting there, facing the door, just as our Canadian lady from Orisson walked past! I hadn’t seen her for ages and called her in to tell me all about it. And there we stayed, talking, eating, drinking, sharing news and impressions and tips and photos, until she had to get to her albergue bed.
Well, we don’t want to do that when we have a room, do we? So I stayed a little longer just because I could, and ended up talking to more pilgrims and thoroughly enjoying my unplanned stop in Santo Domingo-in-the-road.