A good night's rest. Ron is the perfect gent and knocks on the door and doesn't snore. It's nice to be in a domestic setting after the rather brutal utilitarian surroundings of the albergues. There is a certain comfort in the domesticity of things: porcelain knick-knacks, flowery sheets and tasselled-satin curtains.
Ron walks 30km/day so we say 'Buen Camino' and I spend the next hour collecting Annie's scarf from the Pension and trying to top-up my mobile phone at various cash machines; a frustrating business. It eventually works on my third attempt.
Pop into the supermarket to buy my picnic lunch and there's Christine! So we set off together and re-meet again for breakfast in a village square a few km away. Most people walk separately and alone; even couples tend to have different walking rhythms. You meet up with other Pilgrims as you come across them! Exchange a few words perhaps, but the typical Camino day is quite quiet and introspective. Evenings are social and when you part the next morning you've often shared a special evening together.
Today is a wonderful watery day. Hot with a blue sky; the Camino passes through a nature reserve at Oyambre. At 10ish I reach a glassy green river that turns into a vast estuary that cuts through white sand dunes to get to the sea. The water is controlled with sluices and there's an eery lake with a drowned Eucalyptus wood.
The official route then turns inland, but a new diversion hugs the coast; the road undulates until it dawns that I can walk on the beach instead and it's flat! It's a vast stretch of golden sand with a blue sea out in the distance. Wonderful. I decide not to paddle though - it's tricky getting sand off your feet.
A cold lemon drink by the beach at Braña; I obviously look hot and tired as the barman kindly supplies a bowl of olives and pickled onions to revive me.
About 1.30pm I cross the stone bridge across the Rio that leads into San Vincente de la Barquera. It's quite a big town and popular with tourists in the summer. The Municipal Albergue is on top of a hill by the castle and the church of Santa Maria de Los Angeles. It doesn't open until 4pm, but the Hospitalera allows early-birds to store their packs inside. As I set off Christine arrives and the little albergue dog joins us- so we have a late lunch in a shady, grassy area overlooking the estuary.
The albergue is pretty basic but clean, with 25 bunk beds in the dorm. Lots of French people. The Hospitalera is a jolly Spanish lady with bright red dyed hair and her husband tries to keep things ship shape!
In the evening we meet up with Annie in a very nice local bar. The Menu del Dia is €9 for perigrenos - we must look the part because she didn't ask for our Credencials. The lean hungry look! Bean stew, followed by Bacalau (dried cod) in red pimento sauce and Flam to finish, with a nice bottle of white wine included. Hard life being a pilgrim!
Annie is travelling east by bus tomorrow and has bought a very nice sequinned top to swap for her pilgrim tee-shirt!