After a day of happily mooching around A Coruña, here I was at the Estacion de Autobuses wondering how to buy my bus ticket to Ferrol, where the Camino Inglés has its official starting point.
Naturally, a Camino Angel stepped forward to assist me. That’s what always seems to happen when you need a hand.
Carmen was heading my way too, so she made sure I got on the right bus, and gave me a helpful tip for Pontedeume, a place I’ll arrive at tomorrow.
I’d spent the morning until then stupidly wondering about the weight of my waterproof trousers, now that they were in my rucksack instead of actually being worn.
We don’t think about the weight of our clothes when we’re wearing them, but we certainly notice when they’re being carried on our backs.
That’s weird, isn’t it?
The bus journey was a delight, offering previews of the towns and villages I’ll be walking through over the next few days, clinging to verdant hills, the dark green trees and ploughed brown fields contrasting vividly with the bright blue skies.
So, the theme of the day was established.
Back and forth.
Technically, I’d paid good money to take me further away from Santiago de Compostela by catching this bus to Ferrol.
The reason for that is you need to walk at least 100km for it to “count” as a Camino and earn a Compostela when you arrive in Santiago.
Ferrol qualifies, while A Coruña does not.
However, whoever planned the location of the Estacion de Autobuses in Ferrol was not thinking of the pilgrims, who are obliged to begin their walk from the harbour steps.
That’s all good – I’m happy to do things properly.
Instead, this thoughtless person had built the bus station three kilometres away.
Even worse, most of that distance was en route, so that meant I was going to see these streets twice.
And some of these sights I could maybe have done without seeing at all.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition to be that short.
When you’re hoping to walk 15km with all your stuff on your back, these things matter quite a lot.
Nevertheless, boosted by an enormous breakfast bocadillo, I ambled my way along the estuary path, enjoying the extraordinary views on the Way to Neda.
Starting later than usual for a Camino at 11am, at first I saw no other pilgrims at all, so the first “Buen Camino” greeting came at 1pm from an excessively cheerful jogger.
Not long after that, I finally spotted two other Peregrinos, passing me as I took in the sweeping views from a picnic table.
That was it for the establishment of a new Camino family – a brief hello and nod of acknowledgment that we were going the same way.
There were potential shortcuts on this route, but I was determined to ignore the two bridges that would have sliced a few kilometres off the total, and felt mildly satisfied about my choice.
After all, why rush when the scenery looks like this?
Finally, on the approach to Neda itself, the first Camino conversation occurred, as Jonay and his friend Gonzalo caught up to me again, having passed me earlier, but obliged to divert off route for supplies.
It was great to have a chat with fellow pilgrims, and it turned out that Jonay was Spanish and had lived in the U.K. for many years, teaching maths and more.
Small world, as ever.
After celebrating the small victory of already reaching the 100km marker, Jonay and Gonzalo bade me farewell, intending to walk closer to Pontedeume.
I was done for the day, looking forward to spending the evening with fellow pilgrims at the municipal albergue by this extraordinary bridge.
But there was absolutely nobody at home, and nobody answered the phone either.
Booking.com came to the rescue, but with the irony dialled up to 11, as I was once again obliged to walk back some of the way I had come, to check in at Hotel Kensington.
An Englishman, walking the English Way, spending his first night on the Camino at Hotel Kensington.
As Alanis might say….
Ferrol to Neda:
Stage distance: 15km
Actual distance walked, due to thoughtless town planning: 20km
Slips, trips and falls: 1 – a poorly laid pavement slab nearly had me over.
Bocadillos consumed: 0.5. They’re just too big.
Galician bagpipes heard: Four, actually in harmony, which was a minor miracle.
Masks mislaid: 1, which reduces my supply by 50%. Galicians are good at wearing their masks.
Buen Camino greetings: 3, the lowest number I’ve ever heard. Perhaps if I get going at a proper hour tomorrow, there’ll be more of these.
Hotel Kensington, Xuvia
Very comfortable, equipped with an actual bath, which was most welcome. Friendly staff, including María who recommended a good restaurant down the road. Further back the way I had come, naturally…