Well, breaking all personal records I'm on the road at 6.30am; it's still misty and dark and I'm alone. This is the last stretch of the Camino del Norte and I'm savouring the peace and tranquility; a walk through mossy woods and flowing water; on the edge of the village I come across a spring issuing out of three stone spouts.
My tummy is not feeling great and I need to ask a farmer to use his loo. He's just finishing milking his cows and his wife is cleaning the yard. I try my best Spanish, but it's met with total incomprehension and I resort to my app. Very kindly I'm shown into their yard bathroom and then met by their farmyard pets: four dogs, two cats and a terrapin.
At Arzúa I stop for my picnic breakfast on a bench in a back street- it's my goodbye to the Camino del Norte. In a few yards I enter the Camino Frances; it's 9.30am.
Ola. I was expecting Oxford Street at Christmas but no; the Camino graciously gives me a few more hours of quiet. I soon notice some differences. Lots more bars, coffee shops and hotel signs. And a much broader age range and levels of fitness. For many it's a gentle stroll rather than a walk and for some it looks extremely painful. It's good to see families with young children with day-packs, with teenage children and grannies with dogs (one woman was carrying a small dog basket.) Groups of young people sit chatting in the cafes; it's a much more social affair. This mix would have been impossible on the del Norte; it's too demanding and demands a certain resolve.
I realise that 'del Norte' has gifted me a strong gaite and a good speed and that I've learnt how to use walking-poles! There's a lot of ineffectual pole-wafting going on!
I'm now 34km away from Santiago and part of me wants to arrive there and another wants it to be days away.
I've chosen to stay at Santa Irene because I liked the look of the albergue but it's a long 18 mile stretch with quite a few ups and downs and I'm very tired when I arrive there at 2pm. Time for a shower and siesta.
I have a snack lunch at the local bar and return there in the evening for an omelette sandwich and a canned peach - I couldn't face the 1.5km walk to a restaurant!
It's a full dorm of 25 people but I'm fast asleep by 10pm.