The early-birds are up at 5am; it's pitch black outside so I'm not sure how they're going to walk? The lights are programmed to come on at 7am and I leave at 7.30am under a glorious pale blue sky traversed with a silver jet trail.
I have the first hour alone and enjoy the solitude of the woods and the unfolding path ahead. I come across several memorials and pilgrim cairns. I pass Santiago airport and hear planes for the first time in two month.
I stop for a coffee at 11.30ish and there in the queue ahead of me is Morris and Susy is sitting outside; the couple from London. An other lovely Camino moment.
We walk together until we come to the outer suburbs of Santiago and the juxtaposition of two realities: the fast, bustling modern city and the hundreds of pilgrims slowly threading their way towards the Cathedral.
We stop for lunch in a bar and I'm kindly treated to squid and chips. Morris and Susy head for the centre and I retrace my steps slightly to the Residencia de Peregrinos San Lázar.
It's a very nice modern albergue. The Galician authorities have really invested in their pilgrim accommodation and they are well designed and run by the municipal authorities. Unlike other municipal albergues I can stay here for three nights and it costs 10€ with paper sheets and REAL towel! Luxury!
A siesta and shower and I'm ready to resurface after a couple of hours. I realise I'm tired! I want to pace my walk into Santiago; to arrive slowly and fresh. I will walk into town tomorrow morning and head for the Pilgrims Office and visit the Cathedral. Having time is a real privilege.
I set out to buy some ingredients to make supper and am directed to the local shopping centre and giant Carrefour super-store.
It's a terrible culture shock. I manage to put one tomato in a bag and then have to flee. The mind-numbing grossness of mass-consumption is bewildering and grotesque. Stacks of garden chairs, huge areas of baby wear, aisles of cosmetics, so much food.
So to console myself, I find a small old fashioned restaurant and order a very delicious gazpacho, salads mixte and una cuppa vino tinto. Delicious.