Well, the decision was made – not easily – but I decided to walk the route I would have taken without any outside influence, and said goodbye to a rather dejected looking Olivier not long after 06:00. I hope we will catch up further along the line, but it is impossible to say.
I was away well before 07:00 and the first part of the walk was quite pleasant. There is a big body of water here, which I was in sight of from time to time, but the walking was on wide tracks which became less pleasant as the walk progressed (with a few brief delightful stretches) as I criss-crossed construction areas, with lots of walking on compacted gravel roads which is quite hard on the feet.
There were times during the walk when I considered that I might have made a mistake by not walking with Olivier, as walking on a firm road surface would have been easier. But there were compensations like sitting on a rock overlooking the lake, and walking past the ruins of a castle.
There were two very confusing areas today, both of which had arrows going both to the left and the right. It must have been my lucky day because I seem to have made the right choice on both occasions (both times taking the right-hand option), whereas other pilgrims didn’t do so well.
I saw one of the young women about a quarter way through the the walk (and I guess she then opted left) and thereafter I didn’t see a soul. This is always a bit disconcerting, especially when I know there are fast walkers (Paul) behind me and I expect to be overtaken. But the signage was good around the construction area so I felt quite secure.
I stopped at a bar for a cold drink in the village of Riego del Camino (Pepe’s). I can only advise anyone else to avoid the place. It was most unwelcoming and dingy and I couldn’t bring myself to make use of the toilet facilities, they were so disgusting. I couldn’t wait to get out.
The last section was a real trudge along a track that was being compacted, so that I had to dodge between lorries and a steam roller, and then along an unmade service road by the side of the highway, with a steep camber from the middle towards both sides (a big strain on the ankles) with stones the size of ping-pong balls. I was glad to reach Granja and find myself the first pilgrim to arrive at the Albergue at just after noon. A couple of older German guys (who I haven’t seen before) arrived some time later, and speedy Paul not for another hour and a half, followed by F/C Diane and the new Dutch couple who I met for the first time in Zamora.
So we are seven at the moment in a room with eight places. There is a locked room upstairs, so I guess if necessary that will be unlocked to reveal the other 12 places my guide tells me are here. Lovely showers, not any outdoor space and no kitchen. 5€.
It has been very hot today and due to heat up even more over the next couple of days – more early starts are on the cards.