Today Was Brought to You By the Letter i (ibuprofen)

Last night, Brian took us to Casa de Fidel O’Pulpeiri which is an octopus joint and one of the best rated seafood restaurants in the entire country of Spain. We ordered several plates of octopus, squid, some fried octopus balls, scallops, and Pedrone peppers. It was all SO amazing. It melted in our mouths. Then we finished off with dessert. 

At dinner, they were comparing our Camino experiences and Brian and I were talking about how the cities, people party all night but Vegemite said he never experienced that. Unfortunately and ironically, our Airbnb last night, was perfectly located at party central. It didn’t look like that. We appeared to be on a residential street with some restaurants and bars on the lower levels of apartments. The locals partied all night long. They sang, they danced in the street, they screamed for no reason. The poor guys didn’t sleep at all. I slept through it but all the noise permeated my sleep and I had the wildest dreams. 

Last night we also went to the Basilica and scored some great night time pictures. We went inside and they were holding some kind of service and praying for a lot of people. We didn’t want to interfere so we left right away.

I reviewed our map this morning and today’s looked quite dreadful. The first 6 miles were a climb to the top of the mountain and there were no places to stop so we knew we needed breakfast before we exited in town. 

But first, we had to get out of our building! There was a small elevator from our 5th floor apartment and when we are in hiker mode, we minimize walking as much as possible. We all tried to squeeze into the tiny elevator with our massive packs but it just wouldn’t work. Brian decided to take the five flights of stairs down. By the time Vegemite and I got downstairs, I wish I had done the same. He managed to stink up the entire elevator with his moldy pack!

My breakfast this morning was not amazing but I loaded up on carbs and caffeine knowing I would need it for the climb. I also got a croissant with ham and cheese to go since there are no stops until after the climb. I popped 3 more ibuprofen and we got started.

We began surrounded by pilgrims, some carrying their packs, some with little day packs. Vegemite slowly surpassed the whole group taking on one pilgrim at a time, working his way to the front of the pack. In the beginning, I tried to keep up but the problem with that strategy is once you get in front of everyone, you have to stay in front of them and you feel like you’re being chased by a herd of spoiled tourists. I prefer to slow down, let everyone pass me, and I can enjoy the day at my own pace. Taking one day off, takes a bit of a toll on your body. It took me a solid hour to get warmed up but after that, I was feeling pretty good. It wasn’t raining for the first time in five days. Brian became very superstitious and believed if he put his umbrella back on his pack, it would start raining again so he and I agreed to carry our umbrellas the entire way.

The hike itself was fairly pleasant. We spent most of the time on a muddy path by a stream in the woods. For the first several miles, the hills were fairly gentle but I kept waiting for that big push to the top. It never came. I felt great. Apparently, being conditioned, rested, properly fed and hydrated and pumped full of ibuprofen really has an impact on your day. The break from rain was also a huge relief.

We reached the 2-3 cafes at the stop of the climb. The woman behind the counter refused to serve Brian and he was pretty angry about it. Here in Spain, if they decide they don’t like you, they’ll just ignore you. There’s no such thing as customer service outside of the US. So I said “don’t worry babe, I got you.”  I walked up to the bar and barked “espresso!” and I tossed a euro at her. She responded appropriately and Brian got his drink. Lol. I ate my croissant with ham and cheese I carried from the cafe this morning. Brian was right. The second I put my umbrella and my jacket away, it started to rain. “Theresa! You’re going to ruin the hike!”  So of course I pulled out my umbrella again but I didn’t mind the rain because it was just a light drizzle and it kept the air cool which kept me walking in a brisk pace. It also didn’t rain for long. The guys walked only slightly ahead of me for a while which was nice but as the day wore on, Vegemite picked up his pace.

We were also walking in a beautiful area. We passed many small vineyards, cornfields, and large gardens alongside cozy Spanish cottages. We also saw many very large dogs in the yards. Most of them seemed to be some kind of St. Bernard mix. I was happy to see most of them were happy dogs.When we stopped for lunch, it was literally out of a lady’s garage next to her vineyard. She made fresh empanadas and had them sitting out on a table. They looked great but there were flies everywhere so I made a judgement call and decided to buy prepackaged food. All they had were KitKats! So I had a KitKat and ordered a vino tinto which came out in a big white bowl. I would think this was weird except I’ve seen wine served like this in restaurants too. I’m not sure why. The wine was homemade and really tasty but I didn’t enjoy drinking from a bowl. The flies were vicious. One bit Brian’s leg and he began to bleed. It wasn’t the most restful stop so we moved on quickly. 

With only a couple miles to go, my Advil had worn off and I was limping pretty badly. There was another cafe which Brian and I both liked the most. It was a really big barn modernized on the inside. Spacious, clean, and only shared by a few pilgrims. I popped a few more Advil and we enjoyed our drinks, letting our feet rest. Vegemite texted us from town. Brian and I finished off the hike together. My body began rejecting the Advil as nothing could alleviate the pain by the end of my hike. It wasn’t too severe though, just a persistent sting. 

We caught up to Vegemite and checked into our beautiful 4 bedroom Airbnb. I sat on the chair by the massive windows overlooking the town and passed out for almost an hour. After showers, it was only 5pm when most restaurants weren’t open yet. So we decided we’d just have to have dinner twice.

As we strolled around aimlessly for food, I told Brian that my driver yesterday explained that cafeterias are bakeries and coffee shops which are usually open in the morning and early afternoon, while restaurantes are sit down food restaurants that generally open in late afternoon or at night. Even searching for cafes, we couldn’t find anything open at this weird hour. We walked back along the Camino in the opposite direction and stopped at a pilgrim’s cafe for some frozen treats. I was starving though and the restaurant recommended by the Airbnb owner didn’t open until 7. So we sat around playing on our phones and drinking for almost two hours. 

We talked about how no one seems to want to be a part of Spain. The Catalans are revolting, the basque are still pissed and we see lots of “Galicia is not a spain” graffiti. Not sure why everyone wants to be their own country but it’s pretty short sighted. 

Two of the restaurants we attempted to go to were closed for some reason so we played around in a children’s park for a while before more restaurants opened. We found a fantastic little place with the BEST sandwiches. We ordered more wine and beer, calamari, sandwiches and more. It’s amazing that despite my over exertion I’m probably not actually losing any weight because I’m always starving. 

This restaurant had no WiFi and we were joking that suddenly we need Internet access for all kinds of probing questions that came up like, why do Galicians want independence from Spain so bad and what was the name the little boy in the Neverending Story shouted to bring fantasy back? How did these pressing questions strike us right when we have no signal??

I’m pretty sure we were hanging out in a rough part of the separatist center because our waiter kept yelling at me for speaking Spanish. I’d ask how to say things in Galician but we couldn’t understand each other. He was nice but didn’t speak a lick of English and wasn’t interested in Spanish. 

So, all in all we hiked 12 miles today. Not a bad day at all.

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