Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Day 13. October 12, 2016. Cornellana to La Espina. 17 kms.

I slept as snug as a bug in a rug

And awoke with my mug in a fug like a pug.

 I slept like a sodden log, not waking up until 7:40, so decided to forego breakfast in town and set out straight away. Cornellas, like most towns in hilly country is on a river in the valley, so the day began with a very long climb up the road. 

A field of sheep baaed at me in unison as I passed. Were they waiting to be milked? And what I thought was a train rattling around a bend was a tractor chomping something in a field below. Was it corn for silage?

Within a few yards of the top of the hill, a car stopped beside me, and the driver said, "Mal, mal, mal!" I had missed a turning half way up the hill. I was to go back and turn off at the first house. So it was down again, and then off on a difficult, slippery stony track which continued for nine kilometres into Salas.

As I sit in a bar, drinking coffee and writing this, a girl comes around bringing complimentary tapas, first a bowl of chips, then pieces of bread and cheese. And I notice more plates on the bar. Delightful practice, this, in Spain. It varies, of course, from bar to bar. This is the most generous I have known. And there was a fellow in Ribadesella who favoured his regulars while ignoring us altogether. She comes around again with hot mushrooms on bread. But as we leave, we upset the bowl of potato chips on the floor, so she may be glad to see us go. But I recommend the Bar Uruguay in Salas. 

Then it was up again, along a wide stony track in a fairly gentle climb (the best kind) following the contours along the valley, but edging gradually upwards. Just as I was thinking that this was an easy climb, the track started tacking back and forth up the hill, and gaining height very rapidly. But finally it levelled out and we arrived at Bodenaya, and then La Espina. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a half litre of Estella Galicia so much.

We could have gone on, and some did, but we had started late and climbed well over a thousand feet, so we stayed at the excellent Albergue El Texu in La Espina.

There are albergues and albergues. There are cold stony places, with little room and three decker bunks, and squashed, bloody flies (or are they bed bugs?) on the mattress, and no pillow slips so you have to use your shirt, and nowhere to put your stuff, and no wifi, and one plug for many devices, and a shower which you have to use with one hand in a stall with nowhere to hang your clothes where anything you leave on the floor gets drowned in the flood. And then there's the Albergue El Texu in La Espina which is everything the others aren't, where you can get a place in the dorm for €10, or a double room for €12 each, and laundry for an extra €2, and a bathroom with shampoo and Q tips, and a hospitalier who is kind and helpful and speaks English, along with other languages, I imagine. The bar in town recommended this albergue over the hotel.

Mind you I'm not knocking the basic albergues. They are manned by volunteers, and they beat sleeping outside. And most are between the two extremes I have mentioned.

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