The alarm was set for 05:45 and we were out of the house by 06:20 in order to get to Málaga to meet my walking partner, George, outside the church of Santiago at 07:30. I felt slightly unsure that he would be there, as I had sent a couple of unanswered messages during the previous week. But I felt comfortable with that possibility and I was ready to walk alone.
However, no worries, he was waiting as arranged. After greetings and introductions we went in search of an open cafe – which is seemingly a rare thing in Málaga at 07:30. But we eventually came up trumps and then returned to the church at opening time of 08:00, for me to get my first Mozárabe stamp in my credencial. I was quite surprised to find the church doors actually open at the allotted time and walked across to the office to find it unattended and to be told by the cleaning lady that it wouldn’t be open until 10:00, although I had previously been assured that I could obtain my stamp at 08:00. Oh well, not much I could do about it – and I have to say it was typical of the hit and miss way that things often happen here in Spain. Luckily George had obtained his stamp last evening and I can go back and get mine when I have finished my camino, so no big deal. But it would be a big deal to someone who had flown in from a different continent and wouldn’t be returning to Málaga.
I bade farewell to David and Roly and George and I set off on the long trek through Málaga, out of the old quarter and into the suburbs along the Carlos Haya road. There was no signage indicating ‘the way’ but we had both studied the route and were confident in our steps. Just before we reached the motorway at sbout 9 km we came across the first camino sign and from that point onwards the signage has been absolutely excellent. We found the underpass and were suddenly in rural Spain.
The route continued on tracks and side roads until we reached the village of Junta de Los Caminos at 12 km and went in search of refreshment that we found in an enormous bar/restaurant with pensión style accommodation.
Once we left Junta de Los Caminos we were heading into the mountains and slogging ever upwards for what seemed a very long time. It was quite a tough second half with a great deal of elevation. I was glad of my mountain hiking experience, but poor urban trekker George was suffering on his first day out and had to stop quite regularly.
It was a dull day with grey skies and a quite bitter gusty wind, but the effort of climbing for such a sustained period kept me more than warm.
The wild flowers are once again phenomenal such a riot of colour and of course I couldn’t resist snapping away, although the strong wind didn’t help my compositions, and this selection isn’t really up to standard.
We finally made it into Almogía at around 15:00 and called into the townhall to ask about the Albergue. The instructions told us it was a further 500 metres, but as usual this was an outright lie. It was at least another kilometre and probably further. When we arrived there was already a french guy here who had come from Córdoba (not in one day!) and was making his way to Granada, Málaga, Cadiz and Seville and then onto Santiago – and I thought I was walking a long way! He has a wheeled frame to carry his gear, which I presume he pulls along behind him. I can’t imagine that would be very easy on some of the tracks we have been walking on today.
The Albergue is alongside a school football pitch and has three bunk beds and a very nice bathroom, but no kitchen facilities. Payment is by donation which we are instructed to put in an envelope with our name written on it, which seems a bit strange. But there are electric radiators and plenty of hot water for a lovely refreshing shower, so I am happy to pay a reasonable amount.
The two guys are snoozing whilst I write this, and we are planning to walk to the cafe for a drink and bite to eat at around 19:30.
All in all, a very good first day. So different from that first day two years ago, crossing the Pyrenees. Although I don’t feel very fit at the moment I must have built up a lot of strength over the last couple of years, as I feel absolutely fine with no particular aches or stiffness (who said don’t speak too soon?) and I didn’t even remove my boots until about an hour after we arrived.
The official blurb tells me that our walk today should have been 21.7 km, but ‘mapmywalk’ told me it was over 26km and my new ‘fitbit’ toy reports 35,932 steps and 25.37 km.
The pace given above was not my pace, which was somewhat faster, but that of the person who uploaded this track to wikiloc.