The albergue was a ramshackle house with an entrance patio, an entrance hallway stuffed with a beer fridge, a bench for taking off shoes, a wall of shoes, a corner of walking sticks, three doorways, a podium and people entering and leaving. One door led to a dining room with a massage table. This room, in turn, led to a bedroom with numerous bunks. Another door off the dining room led to a crowded courtyard with a foot bath, drying racks for clothes, a few tables and a tired dog. Another door from the entrance led to the W.C.s another to a crowded bedroom, and a staircase that led up to two more bedrooms with a dozen bunks each, a kitchen and a balcony.
The highlight was massages by donation given by a young woman from Brazil. She asked where I wanted her to focus. ‘Back?’
‘ No. Legs and feet.’
She looked at my feet and with raised eyebrows ‘I cannot do your feet. They are not clean.’
And this was after my shower!
She told me I had rocks in my calves and I needed to do stretches in the morning and night, and I would need another massage tomorrow.
They had raved about the homemade bread that would be served at breakfast. It may have been homemade, but it was made in a bread machine. Bread and jam and weak coffee for €3 -€5 ($4.50 – $7.50) was getting a little tired when we knew we could get an excellent cafécon leche and croissant for around €2.
Ollie from Finland, his wife and her sisters were there as was tall, gaunt Matt. After breakfast, we were off to find a good café con leche.
Linda and I had sent our garbage bag of excess gear ahead to the municipal albergue in Viana, our destination. But when we got to Viana, we found Mats, Lisa, Emily and a Brazilian woman we had shared a room with a few nights before. They were sipping beers and said come with us to Logroño. ‘We are catching a bus in 10 minutes’.
It was only 10km to Logronó, but we wanted to be with them, so we flew to the municipal albergue to pick up our shipped garbage bag with our 10 pounds of gear, only to be told the luggage was not there. Apparently, municipal albergues do not store luggage as they do not want to be responsible for it. However, this albergue had a hotel nearby accept and store the luggage. Back into the streets, up the hill to the hotel where we grabbed the bag and raced down the hill to where they said the bus stop was. We couldn’t see the bus stop, but we did manage to find Mats who was looking for us, and he took us to where they waited.
We felt very guilty about taking a bus when we could have walked but soon got over that. Emily and Lisa had already reserved a hotel, so Linda, Mats and I found a municipal albergue and found ourselves in a stuffy room with 36 others.
We met Aiden from Ireland in the kitchen. He seemed to hold some inner anger. Someone who was used to having the final word. Maybe even a priest. One if the Fighting Irish.
We decided to go for a drink, and Linda and I would shop for real luggage or at least a strong bag. Our garbage bag wouldn’t hold up for much longer, and we really liked this luggage transport service. Too bad we didn’t use it when we crossed over the Pyrenees.
In the town square, we heard someone call us, and there was Steffen sipping wine with some others at an outdoor café. He waved them goodbye and joined us. Mats had spent three days in this town a couple of years ago when he was trying to recover from his foot infection and took us to the street with the best tapas bars. Mats seemed to know where everything was along the Camino.
When we got back to the albergue, Aiden was fast asleep across from us. Linda found a note in her bed from him. ‘Linda, there is a young boy at the end of the aisle, by the wall. He seems a bit lost. Can you say hello to him’? Perhaps I judged Aiden too quickly – he was not so fierce. He certainly had a good heart.
In the middle of the night, Aiden snorted so loudly it woke Linda up. But not me. She told me later; she poked him ‘Aiden, you’re snoring. Turn over.’ And he meekly did. In the morning we woke up and Aiden was long gone, but the young man was there, and we chatted with him briefly.
Time on trail: 6hrs walking 10 minutes on a bus.
Weather: perfect. Sun and clouds with a high of 21 and a nice breeze.
Distance travelled: 25km. Okay, we cheated and rode a bus for 10 of that.
Distance to go: 613k
Food: half a piece of rye bread, weak coffee, cafe con leche, salami and cheese in a baguette known as a bocadillo , poached egg on minced meat tapa and a stuffed pepper tapa, almond and!
Lesson learned: Don’t judge too quickly or don’t judge at all.
Feeling: It’s good to have friends.
Aches and pains: blisters are settling in. Ankles sore. Hips sore.