We almost had a drama on our hands tonight after getting back to the albergue from a restaurant at 10.30pm only to find the front door locked. It only took a few minutes to rouse one of the pilgrims who came down stairs and let us in. I had been to dinner with three other pilgrims, all women, one from Switzerland, one from Belgium and the third from the Chech Republic. There is only one restaurant in the village which didn’t start serving food until 9.00pm, the time when Spanish people are just coming out to eat. It’s a matter of getting used to an aspect of Spanish culture. However, in a lot of places there are restaurants which cater for pilgrims by serving food much earlier.

If you walked the road today, and some pilgrims did, it was just 13km from Castro Urdiales to Liendo, but if you took the pilgrim’s path it was 25km. I took the pilgrim’s path. I didn’t consider the alternative because I’ve done so much road walking in Italy and France and wanted to keep away from it as much as possible. This morning’s walk took us close to the sea. It was quite pleasant with a cooling breeze coming off the ocean. After Islares, about 6km from the start, the path headed inland where we did some road walking.

I had an exceptionally long break, nearly two hours, in a tiny park where I sat on the grass and ate a meal. I love the idea of not being constrained by time to be at the next albergue at a particular time. I prefer to spend these hours by the side of the road in a pleasant location rather than sitting at an an albeergue table, although I did both today. Today’s walk eventually took me into the hills along a 4WD track through eucalypt forests. I saw at least three varieties of eucalyptus trees. All looked young and spindly. As always, the smell remind me of the Australian bush. At the edge of the forest the land opened up into a deep valley with a gorge-like face to one of it’s
sides. It then seemed to take forever for me to reach Liendo.

I actually walked past the Liendobalbergue and was on the road to Laredo when I thought I’d ask for some directions from a group of people by the side of the road. One of the women, Kimberley, was from California. She and her husband have a house in Liendo where they spend the Spanish summer. I told the group about my
journey from Rome and handed them a flyer. I made my way back to find the albergue door open. One of the pilgrims who’d arrived much earlier than me had gone to the municipal building to get the key. There was no hospitalero at this albergue. Kimberley, thinking the albergue didn’t open until 5.00pm, and thinking I’d be waiting in the sun, came over to invite me to her home to shower and rest. Of course this was unnecessary, but this type of kindness is what happens on the Camino.

I found this afternoon’s walk tough going. It’s unusual for me to walk more than three hours without a break, but I did. It was a little hotter than usual which added
to the difficulty. This albergue was like finding an oasis. It’s just 12 months old with very good facilities but just 10 beds, not all of which are occupied tonight. I’m told that there are more and more of these facilities being made avaiable to those who walk the northern route. A lot of people are being put off walking the Camino Frances because of the overcrowding. The secret is to do that walk in Spring or Autumn when the numbers are down.

Tomorrow I’m off to Santona, a 21km walk, and another early finish.

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