Well, the rain got itself out of the way last night and it is now a beautiful bright sunny day. After exiting the albergue I took a route across the beach, whereas everyone else (other than Paul who was a long way behind me) took a path alongside. It was good to start the day alone with only my footsteps in the sand to show I was there.
There followed a variety of tracks until we reached the village of Berbes at around 2.5 km, where I came across a garden full of place names from around the world. I was invited by the owner to enter his workshop to paint a wooden plaque with the name of my home town. And no sooner was it done than he nailed it to a pole and placed it with the hundreds of others that pilgrims had painted for years past. And so I put Bristol on the camino map.
On previous caminos foxgloves have always been the prevalent flower. So far I have only seen one bunch of foxgloves growing, whereas the aquilegia is abundant everywhere – so pretty.
And as sod’s law would have it, immediately I finished dictating that sentence I came across some foxgloves. But the aquilegia is definitely queen of the wild flowers in this area.
I passed a field full of black ponies with several foals. One very recent newborn was still learning how to use its legs.
This is the sort of morning where you just have to keep stopping and looking around and thinking how lucky you are to be here, right now, with this beautiful weather – just perfect!
We were close to the coast with views of the ocean until we reached La Isla at 9km where I stopped for an ice cream.
Throughout the day it gets hotter and hotter there are a lot of steep climbs and downhill walking with no shade and no facilities. Paul and I eventually find a shaded church porch to sit for a while. And thank goodness there are some stretches of shady woodland to walk through. But I get very low on water and save my last couple of mouthfuls for as long as possible. I wrap my scarf around my head and shoulders for protection, but I eventually give in and drain my water bottle when we have 4 km still to walk. And then a miracle happens – there is a house with a sign saying cold drinks are available, and I instantly remember this place from when we appreciated it equally in 2016. Such kindness that this family show to strangers, providing refreshments, fresh water and comfort to all who pass. Never did a Fanta naranja taste so good and when that was gone I doused my scarf in cold water and rewrapped it around my head. There are few better experiences on a hot day!
So folks who are planning this long stage – take plenty of water.
We are staying in hostel/albergue Congreso in Villaviciosa. It is surprisingly comfortable with rooms of two bunk beds and bathroom. I offered to take the short straw in view of Paul’s great age (greater than mine at any rate!) and took the upstairs bunk. Not done that for a long time, but I guess it had to happen sooner or later. The hostal offers use of a kitchen and dining areas and we can use the washer and dryer for a charge. Helpful staff and altogether a good experience.
We are sharing the room with a guy who, when I asked if he was Spanish, indignantly replied ‘no, Catalonian’ and there followed an extremely interesting political discussion.
Villaviciosa is famous for its cider. There are many apple orchards lining the way. It also has a very beautiful and extensive old quarter which I didn’t even notice when I walked straight through last time.