Yesterday I arrived in chilly and rainy Frankfurt/Hahn, Germany. I had to sleep over, since there is no other connection to Santiago from Croatia. Catched RyanAir flights from Zadar via Frankfurt/Hahn to Santiago de Compostela. Low cost carrier may be relative, the ticket might be cheap but everything that comes with it ain't. Baggage 30 €, the food and drinks at the airports, too pricey. A half-litre-bottle of water costs in Zadar 14 kunas (2 €), in Frankfurt 2,50 €. As if they were imports from the Antarctic. During the flight the cabin crew tries to sell you something all the time, even scratch & win lottery tickets. And cigarettes that may be smoked even in the plane since they cannot be lit and therefore don't smoke. 10 pieces for 6 €. I don't get it.
From Frankfurt/Hahn airport I was picked up by Garni Hotel Victoria's shuttle.
Which was great since in Frankfurt it was raining and freezing. I had the whole afternoon off, and took off to have some lunch. Well, the small town SOHREN were I was staying turned out to be less than a small town. It took a while to find a place to have something to eat, and finding a cafe to have a cup of tea was even harder to find. It seemed the whole place was just residential area with a couple of shops. Finally, chilled to the bone, I found a small, cosy and warm Gasthaus
, a typical german pub with a working-class-living-room feel to it were I could enjoy a cup of tea and the newspaper.
My hotel was very nice. The landlord gave me the key which not only opened my room but also the front door, so I was completely independent. I took a hot shower to warm up, watched an episode of Supernatural which happened to be on tv that evening :) and spent a restless night (new bed, you know).
This morning rise and shine at 4:30 a.m. The hotel's shuttle took me to the airport again and after a 2,5-hour-flight we landed in sunny Santiago de Compostela. I was happy! My plan was to take the bus down to Triacastela and start from where I had stopped last time. But first I had to wait an hour for the airport-bus to Santiago. After half an hour we were at la estacion de autobuses
, and just 10 minutes later I catched the bus to Lugo
. There a disappointment: there was no bus to Triacastela but to Sarria
and then a connecting one to Triacastela at 6 p.m. I settled for that, and while I was waiting for the bus to come I met my first fellow pilgrims.
A pilgrim's waymark, the scallop.
No doubt we recognize each other. Two Germans who remembered seeing me in the plane, were joking about looking for women who wore blue socks. They explained that one of them was thinking about carrying Axe deodorant along, and his friend was teasing him that he'd be kidnapped by some elder blue sock
librarian from the US-midwest - they were reffering to the Axe-effect commercial. I left them laughing and hurried to catch my bus. As we were travelling 1,5 hours to Lugo, I thought I might walk the 15 km "back" to Samos for I wanted to visit the monastery. But after reaching Sarria I changed my mind for I really didn't feel like walking today anymore. I met here new pilgrim-friends, Kate from England and Pieter from Belgium and together we went to find an albergue. Kate spoke Spanish and after asking around we got to the old town and settled at the Albergue Don Alvaro.
What a beautiful place! We were really lucky. I felt my stomach grumble and knew it was time for lunch. Sarria's old town has several albergues and restaurants, and I went to Meson o Tapas and had a Caldo Galego
- a traditional Galician soup with potatoes, cabbage, white beans and ham, then some fish and the Santiago almond cake. Every restaurant offers pilgrim-3-course-menus, but if you're not very hungry a normal dish will do and be cheaper. The menus are supersize and you can almost always get refill. Before lunch I went for a little stroll and to find a grocery store to get some fruit. Well, it wasn't easy to find one, had to walk quite a bit, and then it was closed. It seems that all the grocery stores close by 3 p.m.
After taking a shower I joined Kate and Pieter at the terrace.
Pieter, Kate and me enjoying the landlords homemade chocolate liquer
We sat in the sunshine and chatted. Kate had a bad foot and was at the doctor's who told her to take a rest. Pieter wanted to get to Santiago in 4 days making 40 km per day. He said that's no problem for him. Well, he's young ;) Later we went for dinner at Meson o Tapas nextdoor, and the landlord greeted me like an old friend :) In the small dining room there were other pilgrims and locals, and soon a chat started. Anyway, everywhere I came on the Camino the locals were very friendly and helpful. Kate, Pieter and me stayed a while, the landlord treated everybody with home made chocolate liquer, making everybody pretty jolly. We returned to the albergue where the landlord had made a fire in the fireplace and offered drinks, but we were too tired and went to bed. There was no curfew in the morning to move out, something that almost every private albergue has. "It's open" the landlord said gesturing to the front door.
Pieter left early in the morning, and we had said good bye the evening before. Kate was to stay the day here to take care of her sick foot. And late at 9:30 I took off into my first day on the Camino.