Day Eight- San Miguel De Meruelo to Somo 24.5km (walking).
Ferry-Somo to Santander.
Train- Santander to Requejada 27km.
Requejada to Polanco 1km (walking the wrong direction).
Sometimes the closer you get to your destination, the further away it seems. Today was one of those days.
Unfortunately, but surprisingly, we were not alone in our Albergue last night. A taxi pulled up to this isolated guest house at 8pm and out fell two German girls that we had briefly met the night before in Larado. Julia and Mikka are fun-loving, easy-going, vegetarian, animal lovers who travel on the beat of their tambourine. They had been swimming off one of the beaches and lost all track of time. Not liking the vibe of the accommodation available in the next two villages, they followed their guide book to our little haven. All wasn’t too bad though, as they were great company until “lights out” 10pm. They plan to swim at each beach they stumble upon. Judging by all the beaches we passed today, we won’t be seeing them again.
We woke to a cloudless pre-dawn sky and strode up the first hill, out of our valley, and into Bareyo. I don’t know how we did it but by the 1.5km mark, we were lost. We ended up lapping this small blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town adding an extra twenty minutes to our day. The arrows on this Camino can be somewhat confusing. Anyway by the next hour we passed the turnoff for the famous Guemes Albergue and we both wholeheartedly agreed that we would have never made this extra seven kilometres yesterday and still been able to walk today.
After a week of walking, and 147km covered, you’d be incorrect in thinking that we are improving by the kilometre. We still wake up a bit sore and sorry for our aching limbs. By the first half hour we are enjoying the day; by the first hill, we are not; after a beer and tortilla patata, we are ready to conquer the world; by 2pm we want to sleep. As you can see our day is on an ever spinning spectrum of delight and torture. I wonder how we will be by our last day.
Anyhow, the delight-ometer was on full tilt as we made the decision to take the longer coastal route to Somo before catching the ferry to Santander. This 12km stretch, first through Galizano, then bee-lining to the coast, was absolutely spectacular. The dirt paths rimmed the sheer drop cliffs, with the crystal clear ocean occasionally broken by small stretches of pristine beaches. Not a fence or guard rail protected the many people out enjoying this sunny day. We could see Santander from a distance for most of the day. A very frustrating phenomenon, however we really did enjoy this cliff side walk. The Camino path ended up leaving the cliffs and lead down to the beach. We walked for a while feeling the sand fill our shoes before returning to the road that lead us into Somo. By now it was 2pm (our nap time) and we had walked 24.5km. We were exhausted.
The decision was made last night after much research and many hours of walking/talking, to miss the bright lights of Santander and train on ahead, bypassing the much written, boring outskirts of this sprawling city. We chose a very cheap albergue in Requejada that was advertised as being open all year. (Many albergues close after the summer Camino rush). By 4.15pm we boarded the train for the twenty minute journey that saved our legs six hours of pavement walking, and arrived to find the albergue closed! We were directed to walk one kilometre back towards Santander to another albergue that we eventually and unbelievably stumbled upon. So here we sit alone in our bus shelter designed albergue; two rooms just large enough for their triple decked bunk beds to squeeze into, a bathroom and a foyer big enough for a bench. The matresses, about an inch in thickness, lie over thin wooden slats that screech on any movement. The very top bunk is out of the question as someone has put their leg through and broken a slat. It all looks like a bed bug haven, which will test the limits of our bedbug guard. This is also the first day that we will use our sleeping bags as the one blanket provided has definitely seen better days.
The key keeper of this albergue, a lovely elderly lady who lives up the road, speaks to us in fast-paced Spanish as if we understand her, occasionally throwing in an ok so we can agree with her instructions, however not knowing exactly what she is talking about. Luckily there is a supermarket down the road to buy something for dinner as there isn’t a restaurant around but we don’t have a fridge or even plates to use. There is electricity and lights but as you can now probably imagine, no wifi, hence the lateness of this blog post. All is not so grim though- we have each other.
The highs and lows of a pilgrims life.