Today we walked 14.3 miles (23.0 km) in 7.25 hours with breaks.
It was overcast today, but we only got about ten drops of rain so we lucked out on the weather again — plus it was a bit cooler. We spent most of the day in and out of the forest on dirt paths with a few rocks. It’s the kind of dirt path in the forest that’s perfect to walk on when it’s dry, but Kathey and I remember all too well how quickly it turns into a mud swamp when it rains. What a difference good weather makes.
Near the end of the day, we passed through the town of Sarria, which is another major landmark. Sarria is about 100 km (62 miles) from Santiago, and that happens to be the minimum distance required in order to receive the Compostela, the certificate that says you completed the Camino. (Although if you bike the Camino, the minimum is 200 km.) So not coincidentally, Sarria is the most popular starting point of all of the various Camino paths (the second most being Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, where Kathey and I started.)
Everyone says things change after Sarria. Apparently all the new people are too loud, too happy, too clean, too inexperienced, and there are just way too many of them. Even our guide book makes note of the phenomenon, saying that “this can drastically change the character of your experience.” We’re basically envisioning our tranquil, peaceful, walks completely alone in the Spanish countryside being transformed into the six o’clock parade at Disneyland. ;-)
The book even went so far as to recommend walking past Sarria and staying in Barbadelo, so we changed our plans and did exactly that. And what a great decision that was. We’re staying at Casa Barbadelo, which we all agree is the best albergue of the Camino so far. I’d read several good comments about it online, and it lives up to all of them and more. Fantastic shower, great food, and there’s even a swimming pool.
Unfortunately the one negative about this albergue is that it has really slow WiFi, so I’m afraid there are no photos today. I should be able to include them in tomorrow’s post.
We’re only a couple of miles ahead of Sarria, so tomorrow the screaming horde will no-doubt catch up to us. Not that we’re judging anyone. ;-)