Having prepared for the Camino largely by walking along pleasingly flat local canal routes, I was somewhat apprehensive as I left Neda this morning.
Listening to other pilgrims who had walked the Inglés, this second stage had been described in breathless terms, with some serious hills to navigate.
The first day had been pretty canal-like in its lack of elevation, so the promise of 350 metres up and down was going to be a slightly tougher challenge.
The morning was crisp and cool, with frost-capped lawns and slippery boardwalks combining to get the blood pumping.
Neda is apparently famous for its bread makers, who fuelled the Spanish navy on their nautical adventures.
But for me, there was no sign of an open bakery as I made my way through the town. I suppose it was highly ambitious to expect anyone else to be up this early on a Sunday morning.
On the other hand, I did get a lot more verbal encouragement from the locals as I strolled through Neda and Fene, with a much higher “Buen Camino” count today. The old man here put me to shame with his bold walking pace.
At the top of one hill, here came Natalie and Regina from Bremen, first-time pilgrims and bright-eyed with the thrill of this new experience.
After the early morning exertions, it was a relief to finally find a café open in Fene, where I devoured a spinach omelette and fired down a rich black coffee.
Yesterday, Jonay had recommended the runny omelettes of this region, but this was firm in texture and just what I needed!
As ever, my mind filled itself with nonsense, with only birdsong and the crunch of my boots as sensory inputs.
Walking through Mundin, I decided that sounded like a bit like Mundane, and then wondered about how far it was to the shops for a pint of milk.
A productive morning’s thinking, as always on the Camino.
The route swiftly ascended through eucalyptus forests, which concentrated the mind and cleared the nostrils.
At the top, I met three Americans from Miami who mentioned that the Australian guidebook hadn’t warned them adequately about the hills.
There was very little I could say in response.
Having reached the alto for the day, I treated myself to an orange juice, which required another stilted exchange at a café.
I’d like to suggest that the mask-wearing etiquette that is firmly observed in Galicia was the reason for the lack of comprehension of my request for OJ.
But I think we all know the real reason. An Englishman abroad, still incomprehensible in all other languages…
Clouds were scudding across the sky, and it seemed that my sunny streak in Galicia would come to an end today.
Sure enough, there was a twenty-second hailstorm just as I began my descent into Pontedeume.
And that was it – all over in no time.
It’s supposed to rain every three days in Galicia, so hopefully that means I’m safe until Wednesday. We’ll see.
Arriving in Pontedeume, I made my way to a recommended albergue, only to find it was closed. That’s 0/2 on that front so far.
More happily, I found the recommended bar and a pension quite adjacent, which led to a splendid evening in the company of Alexandra and Marie from Germany.
We set the world to rights, agreed on the excellence of Frank Turner and had one more drink than we probably should have.
Neda to Pontedeume:
Stage distance: 15km
Actual distance walked: 17km, largely due to the pointless stroll to another closed albergue.
Slips, trips and falls: 1 (2) – another stumble, this time over an unhelpfully prominent tree root. Dignity maintained in the absence of witnesses.
Omelettes consumed: 1. The ideal Camino breakfast.
Number of times Buen Camino was said: At least twenty, back up to normal levels.
Unexpected Song Played In My Head All Day: Tolerate It by Taylor Swift.
Hospedaje Norte, Pontedeume
Lovely little pension just off a tiny square in the centre. Extremely friendly staff, very comfortable beds. Also scores points for being less than 50 metres from The Beer’s Club. On the other hand, a church clock strikes throughout the night, and a delivery driver arrived at 4am playing an operatic solo on his car radio. That was unexpected. I’m in Room 101 too, but no horrors here.
The socks and Vaseline are working well, no blisters, hot spots or chafing to report. All other departments are on song, although I am undoubtedly slower than most other pilgrims. But that’s cool – I’m in no rush.