It’s been a sad week. I know we’re setting off on new adventures, but the thought of leaving A Coruna has eclipsed my excitement. We’ve had a fantastic four months here, full of events, time at the beach, and time with people — both our local friends and visitors.
The week was neatly divided into three parts. Craig’s mum and sister were here until Wednesday, so we spent the first part of the week hanging out with them. We spent Thursday and Friday trying to pack up our life, and on Saturday we started walking the Camino Inglés — a 75km route to Santiago, which we finished on Monday.
Monday 27/8: I couldn’t go, since I had to work, but Craig, Mary and Christina spent the day in Santiago de Compostela. They ended up having to catch a taxi to the train station instead of a bus, since they left the house a good 15 minutes behind schedule, but they caught the train on time and made it to Santiago without any other problems. After dropping into the cathedral and having a good look around, they had a menú del día lunch on a pleasant terrace then spent the rest of the day shopping.
I had the afternoon free, so used the time to get some errands done and to watch a documentary about what influences our purchasing decisions. So shopping was certainly the theme of the day.
Tuesday 28/8: Since he’d spent the previous three days sight-seeing, Craig really needed to get some work done, so he sent Christina and Mary off on their own to do some more shopping. They said they’d be home for lunch, but when they weren’t back by 2pm we called them — they’d gotten lost within three minutes of our place! Luckily they found themselves again and managed to get their shopping done.
In the evening we headed out for tapas, and visited all our favourite places like O Recuncho de Maite and La Bombilla. We also introduced Mary and Christina to Asturian cider at the sidería we’d been meaning to visit for ages — but they weren’t too enamoured with the flavour.
Wednesday 29/8: While I worked in the morning, Craig took the others to Calle Real to do some souvenir shopping. Pretty much as soon as I got home, we had to head out the door to take Mary and Christina to the airport, where they got away without any problems.
Back at home, we had a light lunch then did absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. Well, not nothing — I read an entire book cover to cover, and Craig got through a fair chunk of his own book.
Thursday 30/8: My last day of work! It was sad to say goodbye to my students, who have all been lovely. Classes went well, but when I came back in after lunch the whole place smelled like poo — the drains had gotten blocked up. Luckily they got fixed quickly and the air freshener and bleach got rid of the smell admirably.
Friday 31/8: It’s amazing how much there was to do on Friday. In the morning I had to drop my books back at the library, drop my keys back at work, pick up a few things at the supermarket, get some stamps from the post office, and check if my final pay had gone through. It hadn’t, but when I updated my bankbook I saw that I’d been charged €15 for my replacement ATM card — the one that I spent several hours getting and activating after they cancelled my previous one for no good reason; I should have known I couldn’t get away from A Coruna without another problem with the bank. I headed down to my branch (far far away), where my friendly inept customer services person told me that they’d have to cancel the card if I wanted my money back. So I cancelled the card — wasting about five hours of my time but gaining €15. Well, actually they only refunded €14.18 (don’t ask me why) but at least it was something. A recommendation: do not use Santander.
After I got home and did about ten small tasks, we went to the Rectorado for lunch. Craig had lamb and I had a delicious piece of fish — it was probably our best meal there to date. In the afternoon we both got haircuts, then spent several hours packing, cleaning, organising and throwing things away. It’s amazing how many pieces of paper we’ve accumulated in four months! It made us appreciate again how much you have to do to pack down a house and go travelling.
In the evening we met up with Oliva and Guille (who’d been in Mallorca for the last week or so) for tapas — our last visit to O Recuncho de Maite. Alba joined us just after we arrived and told us she’d hurt her leg, which didn’t bode well for the 75km hike we were going to start the next day. After Recuncho, we went to the Asturian cider place, where Craig and I were welcomed enthusiastically by the owner we’d talked with earlier in the week. We finished the night with a very tasty hot chocolate in the mall by the port.
Saturday 1/9: For a day that started at 7am, Saturday went quite well. After a coffee, we finished the cleaning we couldn’t do the day before, then I dropped off our extra bags at Oliva’s. Back at home, the (extremely trusting) landlords didn’t even want to come up to check for any damage we might have done to the house. They said they trusted us, that we’d been great tenants, and that they appreciated that we’d left windows open to keep the place aired. And Lola told me I shouldn’t keep onions in the fridge.
We met Alba on the steps of the church of Santiago and ate the pastry Oliva had given us as a present the day before — a very tasty start to our walk. The way wasn’t very well marked out of A Coruna, but we had a list of landmarks that we needed to pass, and Alba directed us perfectly. On the outskirts of town we met up with our other walking companion, Lucía, who had started from near her house, and we went on together.
We’d severely underestimated how long the walk was going to be, because the information online and in the brochures we’d picked up was contradictory, but we finally made it to Yolanda’s place in Hervés at around 8pm. It hadn’t been the most interesting walk, mostly city streets and alongside highways, but we’d seen some gorgeous churches and crosses.
Lucía took a dip in the pool and Yoli showed Craig and me around the garden before a very tasty dinner that Yoli and her mum had prepared for us: tortilla, tomato and onion salad, and croquettes, as well as home-made wine and a variety of liqueurs.
Sunday 2/9: We headed off at around 9.30am, and stopped in at a bakery to get a zorza empanada for lunch. We had to walk along the highway for a while, then turned left to try to join the camino again; we found it, but then promptly followed a misleading arrow down a farm track that dwindled into nothing. When we got back to the road, Alba said that she’d have to throw in the towel. She was going to have to leave us at the end of the day anyway, since her nasty boss wouldn’t give her Monday off, but she was exhausted and her sore leg wasn’t helping. So we headed to Mesón do Viento to meet her dad, who kindly invited us for a drink in a local bar.
After a sad goodbye to Alba, we re-joined the camino and walked past a lot of cornfields and along forest access roads, until we arrived in Sigüeiro — a 36km day! Dinner was in the restaurant under the hotel where we were staying, and we turned in pretty early.
Monday 3/9: Somehow we managed to get up, have breakfast, and head out the door by 9am — it was amazing. The walk was the best so far. In addition to being only 17km (a relief after the previous two long days), the route passed through shady groves of trees and the wide paths made it easy to talk or just wander along in companionable silence. After our break at kilometre 11, we entered the city limits and immediately noticed the change, as our feet complained about being on asphalt rather than a soft bed of pine needles.
We made it to Santiago at 12.45, and hoped to catch the end of mass but just missed it. At the pilgrim office we got our final stamps in our credenciales but didn’t get a certificate as we hadn’t walked 100km. Lucía’s boyfriend Jorge met us and walked with us back to the cathedral so we could hug St James’ statue and visit his tomb, then we had a nice lunch at Monolo’s. After that, we picked up Lucía’s sister Marta, and Jorge drove us all back to A Coruna.
After checking into our hotel, we visited Oliva to pick up our bags. We’d planned to go out for tapas, but she was sick and couldn’t go out, so we had to say our final goodbyes early — it was very sad! Well, it wasn’t that sad, because we plan to keep talking on Skype once a week or so, and apparently we have to come back to A Coruna in the next six months or else.
In the afternoon, we wrangled our possessions into our backpacks and did a few errands, then headed to La Bombilla to meet Alba for tapas. We ate at La Bombilla then tried to go to the Asturian cider place again, but couldn’t find it. When we retraced our steps, we realised that this was because it was closed. Instead, we had a drink in a nice bar before saying one more goodbye to Alba — who we’ll also see again soon.
We’ve really had a great time in A Coruna, and the wonderful people here have had a lot to do with that: thanks to Oliva, Guille, Alba, Yoli, and all our other awesome friends.