↑ The author in front of a fountain that dispenses wine near Estella.
It has been over a week on the Camino, I am over one third of the way in. My legs hurt no more, while my liver is a whole different story. The wine here is cheap, sometimes a little over €1 a bottle (about $1.20), while the social aspect of the trail lends itself to sharing that wine with fellow pilgrims. A lot.
By now, day nine on the trail, I have figured out the routine. You should wake up early, which is not a problem, as most albergue inhabitants start getting out of bed around 5:30 AM, making all kinds of noise. I have to get my endorphine rush from exercise (those of you that know me have seen my dopamine/norepinephrine tattoos), so I hike hard, covering between 30 and 40 kilometers per day (about 18–25 miles).
You have to finish early, otherwise, you won’t get a bed. My 50k effort a few days back was fueled mainly by the desire to not sleep in a field—I kept arriving at albergues with no vacancy.
After arriving at the day’s destination, all hell breaks loose: The albergues are stuffed to the gills with pilgrims of diverse countries of origin, ready to raise a glass or two of affordable vino tinto to celebrate the day’s achievements. The food is cheap, too: Albergues usually serve meals, while restaurants adjacent to the Camino offer a pilgrim’s menu: first, second, and dessert courses, accompanied by wine, all for €10-12 ($12–$14).
By now, I have gotten used to going fast on the easy, flat, or rolling hill terrain between the towns, then strutting through ancient and narrow cobblestone town streets with my mouth agape, staring at the castles, churches, ruins along the way. Sitting down at a cafe along the way to enjoy a brunch of tortilla (more of an omelette with chopped boiled potatoes than a flatbread), baguette and caffe con leche along the way.
Today, I am going to give both my legs and my liver a break. Hiking only 24 kilometers into Burgos, staying at a Catholic convent that does not allow adult beverages, and has a strict 10 PM bed time. Going to get plenty of sleep to prepare to crush miles tomorrow.