I am never overly sure how to start post’s like this one, I often find I write them as if I were telling the story to a friend over a beer or a coffee and then realise its less writing and more conversational. Anyway I have now digressed before even starting.

 

A few months ago I agreed to do something that to some may have seemed a little mad but after a few days thought and not a little cajoling from friends I realised was completely normal (at least for me). I was invited to walk the Camino De Santiago (an ancient catholic pilgrimage in Spain) by someone I had “met”, coincidently, through wordpress. We had never at that stage met in person, we live in different countries, hell I didn’t even know her name, I am not religious in the slightest and yet I found myself booking tickets and hotels.

So on the 2nd of August I found myself flying to Vigo to start a 107km trek to the compestela. Not normally a nervous individual  it would be a lie to say that I wasn’t a little on edge at the thought of meeting my walking partner for the first time. Due to delays at both Edinburgh and Barcelona (gotta love flight delays) I arrived in Vigo after midnight and so would be meeting Alex in the morning.  Sleep was a luxury that night and I got only a few hours (that was a theme throughout the trip). So at 6am I was up and getting ready, then downstairs for breakfast. Not long after 9:30am we met in the lobby of the hotel and to be honest it wasn’t any different than meeting any of my friends, a hello, a quick hug and then off and talking as if we had met many times before.

On the first day we took a bus to Tui, an absolutely stunning little town in Galicia, from there we would walk to Porrino (a far less stunning town). As Porrino is not a great place we then went back to Tui to spend the night there, this gave us the chance to spend time in Tui and also meet an old friend of Alex’s for dinner. The walk itself was amazing, a mix of rolling green hills, a beautiful river, woodland and small townships.

We soon learned that yellow shells and yellow arrows were to be our greatest friends throughout the trip. Scattered along the route they guide pilgrims to their goal and ensure no need for a map (though once or twice you had to go on faith). I think in a lot of ways the first day was my favourite. Barring a few wrong turns and getting to grips with the weight of my pack (totally over packed!) it was a simple case of walk and talk. I am not sure I have found a better way to get to know someone than walk miles with them.

After a long time walking we came across a great little restaurant with a huge garden and one of the most friendly owners you are ever likely to meet. A simple lunch of prawns and local peppers so simple yet soooooooo good. We did however have to relocate inside so as to avoid the attentions of some overly friendly wasps, they couldn’t seem to understand that the food was ours not theirs. Oh and I will never forget the local fire water, being a Scotsman I am not a stranger to strong spirits but this was just nasty!! (would be a great weed killer though).

Back on the walk we were soon confronted with what can only be described as the road from hell. Long, straight and on both sides nothing but commercial factories. It seemed that this road would never end and just when it finally did there was another carbon copy of it to contend with. Ipods came out, music went on and eventually the road got less deserted and miserable. We reached Porrino and got our passports stamped (you need a pilgrimage passport fully stamped to be able to get your certificate at the compestela). With that the first days walk was done, we grabbed a taxi back to Tui and chilled in the hotel for a little while.

That night we went to a restaurant at the top of Tui for dinner and drinks with Pepe, a family friend of Alex’s. It’s worth noting here that I don’t speak a word of Spanish, in fact I often decided to speak Italian (another language I don’t speak)  much to everyone’s amusement. Thankfully though in Alex I had my very own translator (I am sure constantly having to translate was a drain but I am very grateful she did).  For my part, I may not have understood what was being said but I definitely enjoyed listening. Its a wonderful language and flows in a way very few others do. I also had a plate of meat and white wine to die for so I ways as happy as a pig in shit.

 

Am not sure how many parts this will be in but I think for now that’ll do for part one.

 

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