I awoke to my empty hostel room, at 6:30 am. Many poeple leave the Camino with a change in their perspective on life. It would be one heck of a lifestyle change to become a morning person.
This morning I first needed to obtain my Compostela. I walked to the cathedral, followed the yellow arrows of the Camino a short distance beyond, and decided this is not the Way. I walked into a nearby hotel to ask the concierge for directions. Which I then failed to understand. By the time I decided I had walked too far, I started to encounter signs for the Camino Finisterra. So back to the square at the catheral, where I asked someone else for directions. Following those, I walked in a completely different circle still failing to find where I searched for. I Googled for the right location, and found the website for the Pilgrim’s Office, only to find ithe office recently moved, with a confusing map pointing out the old and new locations (not relative to much of anything else). A final query finally located the office, with the entrance tucked around the corner from the street address. While other peligrinos had warned of long lines, I had to wait only a few seconds. They also sold me a protective case – very helpful.
I followed the Camino yellow arrows for over 400 km, and couldn’t find the office 100 meters off the path. It’s strange. I only followed the Camino for seven days. Initially the Camino was just a convenient guideline for a cycle path, but each day I became more invested in walking (riding) the Camino. I can only image what it’s like for those who walked for 30+ days to get to Santiago.
The Compostela task complete, I walked to the other side of the city to Tourist Information (for which there are separate city and regional offices) to ask how to get myself (and, of more relevance, the bicycle) back to Lisbon. She told me she thought I could just put the bicycle on the bus to Lisbon, but that I should ask at an ALSA (bus company) office. She pointed to one on the map, right next to the Pilgrim’s Office! Sigh.
I walked back, and briefly waited for the office to open (which also looked to support tickets by train or plane). Inquiring within, they told me that I could not put a bicycle on the international bus, but that they could not purchase the ticket, because they were only a travel office. Walking across the street, located within the Pilgrim’s Office, I found the ALSA office, where they told me “no problem.” I could put the bicycle on the bus for a 10 euro fee. The bus would only hold four bicycles, but if I purchased the ticket a day in advance I should have no problem. Perfect.
I headed back to the hostel to pack, and managed to meet up with Sam for lunch on his way into town. Given the trouble I had finding the Pilgrim’s Office, I cycled there with Sam, completing the Camino Frances today with Sam. I wished him good luck with the rest of his trip, and headed forth.
I decided to cycle partway to Finisterra. I could find at a convenient alburgue whenever I wanted to stop for the day. Tomorrow I could cycle to Finisterre and partway back, and decide from there whether to head to Porto or return to Santiago. I again have options and thus (theoretically) flexibility.
I followed the Camino directly all day, and climbed most of the day. I could barely walk the bicycle on long parts of the trail, and by the time I reached 30 km, with the heat back to normal, I called it a day in Negreira. After two full alburgues I started to wonder if I had another 15 km to the next city, but third time’s the charm.
The crowd in the alburgue comes from the different caminos. I spent the evening talking with Gabriella from Germany, while she struggled with the laundry machines. Unlike hostels, every alburgue offers a laundry service, or a place to wash your own, or both.
Tomorrow the earlier alburgue start will mean cooler temperatures. Likely I’ll ride to Finisterra and decide where to go from there.