Tag Archives: Trekking

A Walk in the Park

Ruitelan to Triacastela
Friday 28 November

Rain. Wetting rain as my mother would say. That constant light drizzle that wets to the bone. I walked with my American friend in the cold and wet until O’Cebreiro where she wanted to stay the night. We stopped at the historic ninth century church, then went for a hot chocolate. I said goodbye and wished her Buen Camino. I had enjoyed her company for the last few days, particularly our little detour, but I needed to be moving on a little more quickly. Unfortunately my flight back to Indonesia isn’t changeable.

I continued along the way, the drizzle cleared, and the fog moved in. Eventually the sun began to shine, and the landscape opened to rolling hills. I still can’t get over how rugged and rural this part of Spain is. I was enjoying the quicker pace, as I was feeling the lack of exercise of the last few days. It’s nice to move everyday. I feel I have gained physical strength doing the camino (and perhaps mental strength). I won’t be running any marathons soon, but walking thirty kilometers is a walk in the park. A long park.

Still wishing for snow, I was looking hopefully at the grey clouds in the distance, but to my disappointment, the temperature seemed to get warmer.

The final six kilometers into Triacastela were muddy and earthy. There was a small grader clearing the path, and the smell of freshly turned soil permeated the air. The ground was soft under foot and, although still light, the moon had risen. The path ran between green fields. I was keen to get to my destination, but slowed my pace to enjoy the surroundings, and inhale the cool earthy aroma.

I was tired and hungry when I arrived in Triacastela, so showered and headed out to a bar to eat.

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Camino Family Update

Villafranca del Bierzo to Ruitelan
Thursday 27 November

The heating was turned up high overnight in our little hotel, I woke in an almost tropical sweat. Outside it wasn’t so steamy. However, it wasn’t as cold as it had been a few days previously. It seems my dreams of snow on the Camino my be thwarted.

I was pleased to be walking again today, as felt a little slothenly having had a couple of detour days. I was enjoying the company of my American friend, but her timeline is longer than mine. I was starting to feel I need to move on, but was happy to walk with her today and spend another evening together. I think tomorrow I will try and speed up a little.

The walk today followed the river out of Villafranca, twisting through a carpet of autumn leaves. It’s getting later in the season now, and most of the trees are now bare. The sun was shinning. The sky was blue. We shared anecdotes, and laughed the day away.

At our first coffee stop, we met a young American girl who had news of my Brazilian friend. She had walked with him for a few days, and was planning to meet up with him again this evening, in a town past the one we had planned to stay at. I also had had news from my older Canadian friend, unfortunately he had fallen ill, and had returned to Canada. He was recovering. My Dutch friend had stayed in the same alburgue I was in tonight the previous evening, he was now one day ahead of me. My Camino angel is two days ahead. My Irish, and Italian friends are speeding ahead, almost in Santiago more than seventy kilometers ahead of me.

I passed a sign today saying I was only 190 kilometers to Santiago. It seems too close. But I have now planned to walk on to Muxia if I have time, another day past Finisterra. This walking thing is certainly addictive.

There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills

Salas de Barrios to Villafranca del Bierzo
Wednesday 26 November

Rising from a comfortable sleep in our fifteenth century mansion alburgue, our charming and passionate host was preparing breakfast in the warm and ancient kitchen. Fruit smoothies, wholesome bread with homemade conserves, coffee. Conversation flowed, we could have stayed all day, but we had sights to see.

We first toured several small mountain villages. Our host had grown up in the area, and knew the ancient history as well as telling stories of his personal history. I was born here, my uncle lives there, a king owned this, this family is famous for that. He is an architect by trade, so could explain some of the ancient building techniques, illustrating the colourful stories from the area. Fascinating.

We ventured down to Ponferrada, walking around the twelfth century Templar castle. It looked like something Walt Disney would have dreamt up, the stuff of fairy tales. I searched for dragons. Our host pointed out a small hole and told tales of when he was a child crawling through that very hole to explore. I suddenly realised my necklace had broken, and I had lost my pendant. It’s a Balinese Hindu symbol, that I’ve had for several years, and am very fond of. I had recently added a small Camino symbol to the chain, however that had remained. I didn’t feel panicky or particularly upset, as I thought I might, but felt I would find it. We searched the surrounding area, and retraced our steps, then searched the car, but it was not to be found. I thought perhaps it had fallen off back at the alburgue. I was almost pleased that I would have an excuse or visit our host again.

We next drove to Las Medulas, the ancient Roman, UNESCO listed gold mines, and the reason for our Camino detour. We parked near a wooden platform on the edge of the cliff. Our view was obscured, until we climbed the platform. My jaw dropped. Giant red ancient anthills. A once towering mountain, now desolate, almost completely carved away. Spectacular barren landscape. We were then able to enter one of the Roman tunnels, but first we had to don hard hats. We descended into the dimly lit red passage. The first few meters were wide, but not very tall, so we had to duck. It then opened up, and we were able to stand. The shaft branched out into several tunnels, we followed one until the end, then backtracked along another. I marveled at the centuries old technology that had managed to carve out this mountain. Continuing through the tunnel system, it opened to a large abyss on the side of the mountain, through which we could view the anthill-like forms. My jaw dropped again.

It was time to go, and we were all a little hungry. We drove to Villafranca to look for a resturant. As I was getting out of the car, I saw something shinny wedged between the seats, it was my pendant! I will have to find another excuse to visit Salas de Barrios again. My American friend and I had planned to walk from near Ponferrada to Villafranca today, but as we were already there, we decided to forgo our Camino for another day it was getting late. She said the municipal Albergue would be too much of a shock for us after our luxurious mansion, so suggested a small hotel she knew. It was very reasonable and included breakfast in the price, so basically the cost of an alburgue, as we split the cost of a room.

A Change of Plans

Foncebadon to El Acebo
Monday 24 November

I awoke and noticed there was no one in the next bed. I sat up, and saw that there was no one in any bed. I looked at the time – eight fourty five! I had slept in. I had had the best nights sleep on the Camino. No one had woken me to ask me to leave. I packed up, and went downstairs. There were still a couple of stragglers having breakfast, so I joined them. I was only planing on about twenty kilometers today, so no need to rush. I didn’t have to leave until eleven.

People started to arrive for coffee who had walked from the last village. The English musician arrive, and someone handed him a ukulele and he sung a lovely little ditty that he had written. I was getting ready to leave when an older American woman arrived. We chatted and I found her very interesting. She was seventy five, was an architect, had worked for UNESCO, and now ran a B & B in the Champagne region of France. She asked if I would like to walk with her for a while. I would. This was her tenth Camino. I asked if she had ever met our older Canadian friend, also on his tenth Camino, but she hadn’t. She told me that she was going to divert from the Camino for the next couple of days to visit an ancient Roman gold mine that was nearby and was a UNESCO World Heritage site. I thought that sounded interesting, and she said she would really like some company, so I agreed to join her. She was only walking to the next village today where she planned to stay the night. I was happy to shorten my planned walk to prolong my stay in this beautiful mountain area.

Today was the day we passed the Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross, an important landmark on the Camino. I had carefully chosen, and bought from home a small stone from Mt Batur, a holy mountainin Bail, with the intention of leaving it here, alongside many others who had done the same. The pile of stones reached several meters. Thousands of hopes, wishes, dreams, abandoned and discarded anguish, heartache and fears. I contemplated for a moment what my stone meant to me before casting it high, adding to mound.

I continued along the way chatting together with my older American friend for a while, then she pointed me in the direction along the Camino, as she found it easier to walk along the road.

I arrived at the bar we had arranged to meet, and she soon joined me. We ordered the menu del dia, and booked into the alburgue upstairs. It was warm, but the wifi was only available in the downstairs bar. So after showers and laundry, we retired there for the evening, both to write.

Not long later, my Dutch friend arrived. I was surprised to see him, and he me. He was staying in the other alburgue, but had come for a drink and dinner. He looked much happier than the last few days, and I was glad to learn he was feeling a lot better.

A couple of Spanish men and a Dutch girl arrived. My American friend chatted to the Spaniards, and the Dutch chatted. I was happily antisocial, writing. My American friend reported that one of the Spanish men owned an alburgue on our planned detour, and she had arrange that we stay there. The Dutch girl worked there doing massage. The Dutch girl and Spaniards left, and my American friend retired to bed. I stayed for a while conversing with my friend before we bid each other good night.

The Bare Necessities

Astroga to Foncebadon
Sunday 23 November

We had to leave early from the alburgue. I was hungry, and wandered the town looking for an open bar. There were not a lot of options, as it was early Sunday morning, but the first one open served churros and chocolate, which I had not yet had in Spain. It has been years since I’d eaten this, and soon remembered why… I didn’t really like it. Too sweet and greasy for breakfast. I felt a little ill.

My Dutch friend walked ahead and my Camino Angel also wanted to walk alone. I wanted to visit the Cathedral and the Gaudi Museum, but didn’t want to wait until twelve when they opened. My Camino Angel had told me about a church she had visited that had a female on the crucifix, and another pregnant virgin. I was keen to see this and wondered had it anything to do with a Mary Magdalen cult I had read about? Unfortunately the church was locked. I sat by the cathedral and contemplated where I would walk to today. A group of men I had recently met walked past, so I decided to join them and walk. One, a young German was whistling a familiar tune, Redemption Song by Bob Marley. On the essential Camino playlist. His friend, a young Israeli, said he only has two songs. That and ‘The Bear Necessities’ from the Jungle Book. The bare necessities.

I chatted to the young German. He had just left school, unsure of what to study. He was smart and charming, but worried about making the wrong decision and studding something he would be stuck doing for the rest of his life. He was interested to hear I had changed careers several times, and that I knew of several people who had successfully also changed professions, usually with better outcomes. I thought about my friends kids who are the same age. I haven’t seen most of them for a few years. I guess they too, have grown to confident young adults. We parted, as I stopped for a coffee, as he wanted to continue.

The next village I again stopped for a coffee and snack, and ran into my Dutch friend. He wasn’t having a good time. It seemed he was feeling trapped, as if he was no longer on his own journey. He wanted to reclaim his Camino. I suggested he stop for a day or two, maybe stay in some smaller towns with no one else. The bare necessities. I left continuing onto Rabanal del Camino where I had planned to spend the night.

What a wonderful walk. Fog. I love fog. I arrived in Rabanal del Camino. Indeed it was a lovely village, but I wasn’t done with walking today. I was having such a lovely time. My new shoes were comfortable and my painful blisters had started to heal. I would walk onto the next village. I was stopped by a group of three elderly women who were very interested in my journey. One had a little English, and we chatted for a while. They were from Madrid, and her son lived in Japan, sort of near Indonesia. They bid me Buen Camino, and I walked on in the fog.

The alburgue in Foncebadon had a reputation for having a wonderful atmosphere. They had food and yoga. Yoga, that would be good. I’d only done a few stretches here and there, not my usual twenty minutes a day. A class would be good. I entered the alburgue, and the hospitaliro was also an Australian. She asked did I live in Indonesia?, apparently my reputation had preceded me. The two dorms were very full, perhaps I should have stayed in the last town. There was only one shower, so I had to wait. The yoga class was starting, but I really wanted a shower, perhaps I could join later. I showered, went downstairs, but felt uncomfortable disturbing the class halfway through. I mentioned to the Australian girl that I would just go and do my own. She offered a room that I could do some yoga in, so I set up my IPad with a class, and had forty good minutes of yoga before dinner. I was sore after along days walk, but it was just what I needed.

I joined the others for dinner. A hearty paella. The wine flowed. I met new people. It was an enjoyable evening. By nine fifteen I was finding it hard to keep my eyelids from closing. I excused myself and went upstairs for an early night.

Dinner Date Disaster

Villar de Mazarife to Astroga
Saturday 22 November

After breakfast in the downstairs bar, my Dutch friend and I continued our Camino towards Astroga. We had a fairly long walk today, more than thirty kilometers. Our first coffee stop wasn’t the best, and there was no food available. We were a little peckish, but a nearby shop provided us with some very tasty homemade tuna pastry things. The landscape was improving, but the weather was not. It was rainy, but not too cool, which mean a little sweaty in our rain gear.

Our next stop was nearing lunchtime. I wanted a snack, but wasn’t that hungry. We stopped in a bar. I wanted something cold, not sweet and not alcoholic, so thought I would try the local non alcoholic beer. It wasn’t bad, and came with tapas, as drinks in this part of Spain do. A small plate of paella. Wonderful! The best paella I’d had so far. Spicy, lots of seafood, even in the tiny tapas dish, and just the right balance of flavours. I asked if I could order a whole plate. Alas, it was only available as tapas – so I ordered another drink. My Dutch friend was still sorting out his existential crisis, and wanted more space, so left me to walk alone.

Leaving the small town, an elderly gentleman stopped me in the street and asked me to wait. He went into his house, and returned with a handful of homemade biscuits for me, wishing me Buen Camino. I love the kindness I have encountered on my way.

It was still drizzling, but I was enjoying the walk. Rocky, craggy stunted trees, we were climbing in altitude, heading into more mountainous regions. A few hours later I caught up with my friend, and we walked into Astroga together.

The Municipal alburgue at the beginning of town looked nice, but again we wanted to avoid the crowds, so walked to the other end, unsure if the other alburgue was open. It was closed. We considered sharing a hotel room, and went to the Gaudi Hotel opposite the Cathedral to enquire. They had a room, the price was reasonable. We went outside to discuss. My Camino Angel was there. She said the Municipal Alburge was nice, and she was in a room with only four people. We thought that sounded fine, and we really didn’t need to spend the money on a hotel. Walking towards the alburgue, we met some other pilgrims, who we also staying there. They said they were in a room of twelve. Mmmm, not so good. We would see.

We arrived and asked if we could have a small room. We were asked if we were a couple, then we could have a room for two. We said no, but did this room have one ore two beds? It had two. We could be a couple for tonight! Please? I promised I wouldn’t touch him. The hospitaliro opened my credential, and was very impressed that I had started my Camino in Paris. I said it wasn’t as impressive as my friend who had started in Amsterdam. She was even more impressed, then led us to our room… The room with two beds! We high fived, and I did a little jig. No snorers. Well, for me anyway, my Dutch friend informed me I do snore. Just a little.

As we had saved on the temptation of a hotel room, we decided to celebrate with a nice dinner. We wandered the town in search of a resturant. There were several, but nothing appealed. I wasn’t that fussy, but my friend was getting hungry and a cranky that we hadn’t made a decision. We thought the hotel we had visited earlier may have a nice resturant, so walked in that direction. We passed another four star hotel, and settled on that. Bad decision. We had one of the worst meals, with bad service, for the highest price yet. We resolved that later in the Camino, if we meet again we would splash out on a very nice meal together.

Bursting at the Seams

Leon to Villar de Mazarife
Friday 21 November

I rose late, thanking the Franciscans for the ten o’clock check out. I needed it, I was felling a little seedy from the previous evenings indulgence. I crossed the road for breakfast and sent messages to my friends who had stayed longer in Leon, as I was looking forward to walking with someone today. My Camino Angel was already in the next town, and my Dutch friend didn’t reply. Although I would have enjoyed the company, I has happy to walk alone. As I was leaving Leon my Dutch friend sent me a message to join him for breakfast. I said I would wait for him in the next town.

I enjoyed walking out of Leon, it is a very beautiful city, even the ugly outer suburbs I found interesting. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with joy for seemingly no reason. I’m sure it’s some sort of brain imbalance. The endorphins were working overtime. Bursting at the seams. If I was a cartoon, flowers and hearts would be floating around my head. I noticed a heart shaped puddle on the footpath, then all the graffiti included hearts too, they jumped out at me. Busting at the seams.

My good mood had me arriving in the next town in seemingly no time at all. I visited the important church there, a sixties modern box. Impressive, but extremely cold, both in atmosphere and temperature. I quickly left to find a cafe to wait for my friend. I ordered a menu as it was getting close to lunchtime. He soon arrived and we were shortly walking again.

There was an alternative route today. We had wanted to walk the slightly longer one through the countryside, rather than alongside the highway. It was a little difficult to distinguish the correct path, and we were not sure we had arrived at the turnoff, when out of nowhere on our small deserted road a car turned up and pointed us in the right direction. The Camino magic continues. I enjoyed our conversation. I enjoyed the landscape. The weather was sunny and warm. Life is good.

We were both looking for a break from the ‘Summer Camp’ mentality, so decided we would stop in one of the smaller towns, and hopefully stay in a less crowded alburgue. Villar de Mazarife had three alburgues open, so settled on the one at the far end of town, in the hope that the other two would fill up sooner. Happily, we were the only guests. We enjoyed dinner in the bar, then settled down for a quiet night of watching comedy shows on YouTube, in our private alburgue.

Temples of the Soul

Leon
Thursday 20 November

We had to rise early, as breakfast was served at seven fifteen, and we had to be out the door by eight. Very efficient those Benedictines. I had arranged to meet my Irish and Italian friend for second breakfast, as they were walking today. We will catch up later in the Camino. I was still undecided whether I wanted a hotel or to stay in the other alburgue. My Camino angel was thinking of staying, perhaps I would share a hotel with her. I had several coffees, then thought it best to make a move. I stopped by the tourist office, and asked for a hotel recommendation, but they are unable to give recommendations. I left, and a Spainsh woman came after me to say she had done the Camino, and told me of another highly recommended alburgue. I went, and it looked great, but it was closed for winter.

I went to visit the Cathedral, as it was nearby. I could decide later. The Leon Cathedral was a mastery of Gothic architecture, beautifully light filled, I could hear the angels singing. I enjoyed the space, and was interested to see a statue of the pregnant virgin, not something I’ve seen before. The audio tour was interesting and informative.

I had decided that the alburgue would be fine. I wasn’t desperate for a hotel, I had actually had a reasonable sleep the previous night. Perhaps later in the trip. The San Franciscan alburgue was in a modern ugly building, and was set up like a hotel. Four beds per room with an adjoining bathroom. It was warm, and the host was friendly. They had a free laundry, so I went to wash my clothes before further exploring the city.

I was hungry, so sent a message to my Dutch friend to see if he wanted lunch. I hadn’t spoken to him for a few days, and enjoyed his company. He wasn’t far away, so we went in search of a menu. He had been after a day of solitude, but it seemed we had similar plans for the afternoon, as we had both wanted to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, and perhaps see some music this evening. We decided we may meet later at the gallery, but would go to out to see a ballet performance of Carmen later. A day of culture, a break from churches, an opportunity to feed my true spiritual soul.

I subscribe to a dictionary word of the day. Every morning at 8am a word pops up on my phone. Sometimes I take notice, mostly I ignore it. Today’s word was ‘apocryphal’ – I took notice, and wondered why that word had been presented to me today. Later at the gallery the main exhibition was titled Colonial Apocrypha – images of colonial Spain. It was a collection of interesting juxtaposed images of religious colonialism, violence, anthropology and orientalism. I found it absorbing and thought provoking.

Later my Dutch friend arrived and we went in search of the concert hall to buy tickets to the ballet, as we had arranged. I was looking forward to it, I don’t get the opportunity where I live to see ballet. We arrived at the box office to find the performance had been cancelled. The other music options had already started, so we decided another evening of wine and tapas would fit the bill.

As we walked back towards the city centre, we saw the luxury Parador Hotel, a former pilgrims hospital which had been converted into a five star hotel. A perfect place to drown our sorrows. Unfortunately, being a five star hotel our budgets were only enough to dampen them, so me moved back into the city centre to finish the task. The clock was close to striking midnight, my generous curfew for tonight. Rushing back to my alburgue. I was happy to discover I had the room to myself. Five euros for a private room, not bad.

The Destination, Not the Journey

Reliegos to Leon
Wednesday 19 November

There was nothing open when I left the albergue today. I didn’t feel like emergency cheese for breakfast, and it was only six kilometers to the next town. I would find a bar for breakfast soon. The way markers weren’t as clear today as they had been, and I had to keep an eye out for the usually obliquitous yellow arrows. I could see the town ahead, and was following the path, but it seemed to veer left and go alongside the town, instead of through it. I continued, but soon realised I was going the wrong way. I backtracked and found an arrow on the road, I was supposed to go over the bridge. That coffee was getting nearer. I entered the town, found a bar, and sat down for a long breakfast.

It was drizzling. I was wearing my slippers, but they are not really weatherproof, but then it wasn’t really raining either. The walk was mostly alongside a major road, passing car yards, and outer suburbia. Not interesting at all. I was keen to arrive in Leon, and looking forward to seeing my friends, and the town. I plodded on. I had developed yet another blister, this time under one that had already healed on the sole of my foot. I tried to walk on the asphalt of the road edge, it’s softer than the hard cement footpath. I was becoming very aware of every surface I trod on. My poor sore feet can now distinguish between all sorts of paths. Mud is my favourite. Buying some soft comfortable waterproof shoes is high on my list of priorities when I arrive in Leon.

As I neared I thought I would pop into a small convenience store. I was hungry, but wanted to wait until I arrived in Leon for lunch. I bought a gooey chocolate bar, something I haven’t had for years. Two million calories. It was great, and perked me up to continue the journey. I followed the Camino until the Cathedral, then sent a message to my friends to see where they were staying. My Dutch friend, and my Irish friend we staying in two different albergues one run by the Benedictines, the other by the San Franciscans. I considered booking into a hotel, so I could have a sleep in, but wanted to see the others. I went to find the hostels, and on the way saw a few of them sitting in a bar – my Dutch friend, one of my Italian friends, and my Camino Angel. How did she get here so fast? I joined them for a late lunch, and they convinced me to say in the Benedictine alburgue they were in, as it was nearby, and they said they were the only guests.

I checked into the alburgue, then went in search of shoes. Hopefully they are an improvement. I met my Irish and other Italian friend in the city, and we went for wine and tapas, later joined by our other friends. We had to rush back for our ten o’clock curfew, our friends staying with San Franciscans didn’t have to be back until midnight, and could sleep in too. I had made the wrong choice. When we returned the place was packed. There would be a snoring symphony.

I hadn’t seen any of the city, so decided I would stay another day to explore. I was considering a hotel, but had heard good things about the San Franciscan alburgue. I would decide in the morning.

The Magical Camino

Sahagun to Reliegos
Tuesday 18 November

My Camino angel was keen to visit the monastery that had a statue of Mary as a pilgrim, but it didn’t open until ten. I wanted to get on the road, as we had wanted to walk thirty kilometers today so we could meet up with our other friends, perhaps in Leon. I said I would have a long lunch, so we would probably walk together in the afternoon.

The day was clear, and I couldn’t bring myself to put on my boots, so thought I would try and walk in my slippers. What a good decision. I was walking on clouds. There was an alternative route today. I came to the direction sign and was trying to work out which path I wanted to take, when a little old lady appeared out of nowhere and showed my the way. This happens a lot on the Camino.

My pace was fast and I soon caught up with an Australian couple I had met the previous evening. I hadn’t met any other Australians on the Camino, and neither had they, the conversation flowed. It was relaxing to not have to explain every little colloquialism. We laughed and joked the morning away. They had cycled from England to Bordeaux in France, then had started the Camino in Saint Jean. They were going slower than I, were having shorter days and longer stops. We soon arrived in El Burgos Ranero, where they were stopping for the night. I had another twelve kilometers for my planned destination, but decide to continue our conversation over a long lunch.

I walked on to Reliegos, and received a message from my Camino Angel – she had met up with our Italian friend, and some others and would be staying in El Burgos Ranero. I had somehow lost Miss Venezuela, and wasn’t sure if she had stopped there also. I happily walked alone, looking forward to a quiet night. I love company, but sometimes a night of solitude is perfect.

Along the path I began to think about all the coincidences and magic that had happened to me on this journey so far. When I need something, it appears. When I get lost, someone shows me the correct path. I thought about all the feet over all the centuries that had carried their wishes, their prayers, their joys, their sorrows, their longing, their questions and wondered had the spiritual path somehow transplanted itself on the physical path. Had it created magic? I am an old hippy sometimes, but I do hope those that are sharing the Camino with me find the answer, the truth or some peace.

There were two alburgues open in town. The first one I came to was a private one, which I usually prefer as they don’t have the curfews of the municipal ones, but I didn’t have a good feeling when I walked in, so went to find the municipal. There was no one at the desk, so I went inside. There was only one other person staying, a Korean girl with very little English. I asked where we paid, and she took me to a house in the next street where the caretaker lived. I paid, and returned to the hostel. She said the shower was good. I took her good advice, and when I returned, she was asleep.

I wasn’t that hungry after my big lunch, but it was cold in the alburgue, so went to find a warm bar. I stumbled upon another relic from the hippy traveller generation, again covered in graffiti. The host was friendly, and played great music. I ordered a vino, which was accompanied with a hunk of cheese, the next one had bread and cheese, and the next a slice of homemade pizza. I didn’t need dinner. The music included all my favorites, and I was enjoying my night alone, but had to get back to the alburgue by the ten o’clock curfew. I returned but the door was already locked. Oh oh. I went to the caretaker’s house, and luckily they still had the lights on, and happily unlocked the door for me.