|Date:||Monday, Oct 3, 2016|
|Start:||Santiago de Compostela|
|Stop:||Albergue La Mezquita, Negreira 👍|
|Distance (Day/Total):||22/656 km|
|High Temp:||21 C/70 F|
A single thumbs up or down is simply an indication of whether I would stay there again or not. It is not a recommendation. A double thumbs up or down indicates that the place was great and I highly recommend it or absolutely awful and stay away.
It’s a short day today and I don’t start until 9:30 am. I grab an empanada for breakfast. The previous day, I had scoped out where to pick up the blazes for the route out to Camino Finesterre. Picking the trail back up in large cities can sometimes be a frustrating exercise. But this wasn’t bad.
Out of town I ran into a Swiss pilgrim. She was a nurse for Mercy Ships, which is a Texas based charity that sends a hospital ship to the coast of Africa to treat people. I had actually seen a story on the local news about it. She had just done the del Norte and was now wrapping things up with Camino Finesterre. We were so absorbed in our conversation that we missed a turn. It was probably a km before we noticed that we hadn’t seen any yellow arrows in a while and turned around.
We came across this street with cookie cutter, modern homes, all painted the same red. This was in such a contrast to the houses you see most of the time. I wondered if this was one of the pre-2008 developments where banks were lending money to practically anyone in Spain and led to the great recession. I think the Swiss nurse was puzzled by me stopping to take this picture and then again, when the next street over had similar houses but in pink.
At the Ponte Maceira (also the feature picture), over the Rio Tambre, we had become a small, disorganized scrum of pilgrims and most decided to stop for a break at this picturesque spot. A guy from Barcelona and I, however, kept going. He talked about hikes around Barcelona and the differences between Catalan and Basque. We parted ways when I stopped to get water.
I thought I had stopped at a cafe but it turned out to be an albergue. It was on the outskirts of Negreira and looked new. There was no mention of it in my online guide. It looked very quaint. A nice backyard with seating and even a hammock. The owner had a new age, hippy chick aura about her and, as she talked about her place, I got the impression that this was more than a commercial endeavor. For the most part, the caminos in Spain are very commercialized. The albergues and cafes along the way are very much a business and you often got the impression of being on an assembly line being processed thru. This is in sharp contrast to the Le Puy route in France, where many of the gites (hostels) are very personal to the owners and not just a business. Hard to describe but a very different atmosphere. I like to support owners like her but had decided I wanted to be in the town center, so, went on.
Albergue La Mezquita was on the main road thru town, on the camino. The dorm was big, bright and airy. The bathroom was new and clean. It was a family run affair, with what looked like three generations helping run it. But, man, were they a glum bunch. Between check in, dinner and breakfast, I interacted with different members of the family and no one cracked a single smile. Not rude, just not very welcoming.
After showering, a short rest and a beer in the albergue bar, I headed out to run some errands; pharmacy for more butt cream and store for fruit and snacks. I walked around, scoping restaurants for dinner. There were a lot of bars in this town and they were hopping. Many of the restaurants, however, seemed closed. Not as in closed for siesta but out of business. That’s what stood out for me – lots of bars, very few restaurants. Many pilgrims in stores buying stuff for dinner and breakfast. Not unusual, much cheaper than restaurants. I ended up returning to the albergue and having a salad for dinner. Had the place to myself.