Laza to Vilar de Barrio 

Thursday 28/5/15

The 23km from Laza to Vila de Barrio were a lot longer this year than when I first walked them in 2013. And, the 23 km then was just the first section for a 35 or so km day. This year? A day in themselves! I’m not as fit as I was then after walking the 600 or 700km from Sevilla. 

Laza and its Albergue

Our roommates last night were an older French couple and a young Pole. All were very nice. The Polish guy has a damaged knee and is doing shorter stretches and some buses while his wife and friends walk. 

I passed out at 9.30, the first to bed in our room. Lights were all out when I went to the loo at about 11pm. Well, getting back into the sleeping sheet in the sleeping bag in total darkness was interesting! I’d left the bag carefully arranged so I could just slip in. Ha! Couldn’t find an opening in it anywhere. Pulled it out. Felt around it. Turned it around and around. Eventually found an existing opening and got in. Everyone seemed to be still asleep despite my rustling. 

In the morning, all of us were up at about 6.30. Some left much earlier than us at 7am.

The town has some fascinating aspects such as the clothing worn for a festival here

  
And our bar and some of the houses:

   
       My big hope was the bar I remembered out on the main road as we left town. Sure enough. The bar was there and open. But, unbelievably, it had no bread! So, coffee only. No toast with tomato. Jane had a croissant with hot milk and she was happy. At that stage she didn’t know what was to come! 

Track to Vila de Barrio

Out along the road, through a cute village, assorted farming areas, and then up a hill. A long hill. Covered in shale and rocks with pines and scrubby growth to the sides. At the top is the town of Albergue. Once, there was a pilgrim hospital there. Last time I was here I was sure the hospital was there because most pilgrims were dying of exposure on the hill by that time they reached it. The weather then was horrible: very cold, windy and with a touch of snow in the air. And wet underfoot with slippery rocks and muddy ground. Hard walking.

This time? Today? So very different! Warm to hot sun. No clouds. No water underfoot anywhere. Not totally dry as we still needed the stepping stones besides some little permanent creeks. But not once did we risk mud or water in our shoes. Not once. So much better. Nor did we have to contend with wind or be aware of possible snow. No. 

Another difference is that last time when I left Laza it was dark. Cold, dark and miserable. Funny thing is that it was only a few weeks earlier in may than now. What a difference that makes. We need to carry more water now than I usually do. We just use old coke or water bottles with the nice drinking tops.

   
       Walking the same track differently

Strange going back to a town and along the same track a few years later. I remembered Laza very well and many stretches of today’s walk. I previously just passed through the town we are in tonight, not even stopping for a drink. Same with Albuergia, where we stopped for a drink on the way today. The very smart owner of the pilgrim bar there gives people who stop there a scallop shell to name and date. Yes, we named and dated one.

   

  

  


He sells simple snacks including one I’d not seen sold here before: a hard boiled egg and bread. Very nice with coffee. And altogether great after climbing the hills described earlier.

As we left town we could see one of the ubiquitous little old ladies who sit in the sun, lizard like. I said hullo as I passed and got a weird loud grumbling eruption! What had I done? Must have said something very very wrong for that noise. I turned around to look at her and she was gesturing vigorously. Yes, we should have turned left just before her. So we thanked her and duly back tracked and turned left.  😊

   
Vila de Barrio

Our place for the night, one I walked through previously and so had not seen this albuerge. It’s the usual Galician albuerge: a couple of rooms of bunks, 5 in ours. Women’s and men’s bathrooms with open showers and a couple of loos. Downstairs is a washing basin and up the stairs beside it, at the back, is a jumble of lines for drying things. €6 each for the night. We get a bed, paper bed cover and bathroom access for this. 

Then, lunch, as it was about 3pm. The alburgue woman said #17, over the road. Spot the restaurant! Well, first find the photo. I can’t.  

 Very unprepossessing. Run by a much older woman who clearly takes pride in her place. No menu. Not much choice. We both had salad followed by dead, salted shoe leather with chips and a fried egg floating in oil. Bread was served too. Then deserts: a flan which was closer to a very thick packet custard floating on a caramel sauce. Very nice but not what most call flan. 
I don’t know how we’d have managed without some Spanish. The owner/cook asked us a few times about the food. Except for the salt on the meat it was fine. 
We were the first checked in here today so have plenty of line space available for our freshly washed socks and undies. 

Tomorrow: Xunquiera

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