After the cold, wet evening the clothes I washed the previous day still weren’t dry when I got up in the morning. It was €5 to use the dryer, which I did not want to pay. I hooked my clothes to my backpack so they could dry while I was walking and set out on my way.
I felt really good on the 4 km stretch from Murias de Rechivaldo to Santa Catalina de Somoza. What a difference from the way my morning started the day before.
In Santa Catalina I stopped to eat at El Caminante and had the best breakfast of the whole Camino. It was just a bacon sandwich, fresh-squeezed OJ, and a banana; but boy oh boy. I’ve never had bacon like that. Everything was so fresh and so flavorful.
While I was eating a Russian couple who was in my room in Murias sat down next to me. The guy had a question about Americans. Cultural exchange is my favorite part of travel, so I was curious about what he wanted to know.
He said he noticed the night before that I picked the top bunk even thought there were lower bunks available. And the other American picked the top bunk too. He wanted to know why Americans like the top bunk.
So interesting. I thought maybe it’s because Americans are arrogant, and we like to look down on the rest of the world? I kid, I kid.
I like the top bunk because I feel like I have more space, and I can sit up without getting scrunched. I thought most people preferred the top bunk for the same reason, but I learned that’s not the case.
Help me out though. Is a preference for the top bunk an American thing?
As I was leaving El Caminante to continue my walk I ran into Hank. What a welcome surprise! I thought I’d lost him and the rest of the group from the first day when I decided to spend the night in Santibáñez on Day 2.
He said they decided to take a rest day in Astorga, so they were all just getting back on the road now. He also said I made the right choice to stop in Santibáñez instead of trying to finish the day by walking to Astorga.
I told Hank about how much I struggled on Day 3, and he said the third day of any kind of new physical activity/training is usually the toughest. I hadn’t heard this before, but I was willing to go with it. Have you experienced that before?
We walked together to the next town, El Ganso, while Hank told me about life in Holland. We stopped at the aptly named Cowboy Bar.
This is another example of when you have to take the advice in the guidebook, and travel advice in general, with a grain of salt. Brierley describes El Ganso as run down and decrepit, but I didn’t find that to be the case. And Cowboy Bar was better in reality than described in the book.
I was ready to keep my good feeling and momentum and keep walking. As I walked out of Cowboy Bar we saw Jim! He had joined up with a friend who started the Camino in Astorga.
It was nice to catch up with them. They were going to hang around Cowboy Bar a little longer, so I said my goodbyes and continued walking.
I was amazed at how good I was feeling and how fast I was moving. It was wonderful. If I said I felt like I was floating on a cloud that would be exaggerating, but it was close! This was really exciting considering how bad I felt the day before.
The next stop was Rabanal del Camino for lunch.
Based on the distances between the next few towns I decided I would stop for the day in Foncebadón.
When I got to Foncebadón I once again felt like Goldilocks. I didn’t like the setup of the first albergue I visited. The second albergue didn’t have any beds available. The last one I visited seemed okay, but at that point I didn’t have much of a choice.
I hadn’t been booking my albergues ahead of time and got a bed as I walked up. Foncebadón was the first place where I came upon an albergue that was totally full.
The albergue I picked, Albergue La Cruz de Fierro, didn’t have a restaurant/bar, so I went to the restaurant of the full albergue for dinner. I saw Gary and Lou there. They always book ahead, so they were able to get a room.
After dinner I went back to my albergue to get myself ready for bed. When I got there I saw the Russian couple from the night before (yes, I took the top bunk again) as well as a Canadian couple I met the first day.
I didn’t go to bed right away because one of the other pilgrims staying there played music for us. It was beautiful. A Camino moment I will always treasure.