Thursday, May 2, 2024

Spain's Camino Primitivo: Day 2 - Grado to Salas

 On the second day of my Camino journey, I set off early with Antonio into a sleepy, foggy town, leaving at 7:45AM. Below, Antonio works on his pack just outside of our hostel, and then we walked through Grado and into a foggy countryside.

The walk this day started out with a 1000 foot ascent over the first 3.4 miles before descending 1150 feet over the next 2.8 miles.  Because it was early in the day and we were fresh, the ascent was not a problem.  And, although this kind of elevation change is one reason many pilgrims are scared to take the Primitivo route, this would not be an unusual event on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.  So it really wasn't a big deal.

We had one intersection where we went in the wrong direction during the first ascent, but we quickly determined our error and corrected our route.  We were still learning to look for markers at every intersection and never assume which way the camino goes!

During the descent, we passed through a very beautiful small town, descending through the clowds.  It was stunning!

After that town, the route directed us onto a trail and a passed a minor landmark for me.  I have a Kindle version guide to the Primitivo loaded on my phone.  Below is a screenshot of the page covering our route for this day.  The photo shows an abandoned hut with a trail along it.  I recognized this spot when we passed by, and stopped to get my picture at that same spot.  The guidebook was very helpful (and current) - I recommend it.

Our descent continued until we crossed the Narcea River and entered into the town of Cornellana, population 800.  

There is an old monestary here that we passed, the Monasteria de San Salvador de Cornellana.  There is a hostel that is part of the monestary that had very good reviews.  I had originally planned to take a short day so I could stay there, but we passed by there at 10:45AM - too early to stay.  And I wasn't sure the monestary's hostel was even open, because the entire complex looked to be under renovation.  Here we caught up with Nagore, a woman who had slept in the same hostel as us the night before.  We hadn't seen much of her before now, because she slept so much the night before.  But she stayed with us for the rest of the day, and hiked with me for the net 150 kilometers - all the way to Lugo, where she took a bus home.

Nagore and Antonio are both from the same region - "not Spain!  Basque!"  And Nagore told me that she didn't even speak Spanish until she was 7 or 8 - only Basque.  I had always wanted to meet a Basque, because the Basque language has such an unusual and interesting history (Link).  Now I was hiking with two!  

For the next several miles the two of them spoke non-stop.  I'm not sure if they spoke in Spanish or Basque, but I think that Antonio's command of the Basque language was not good enough, so they probably spoke in Spanish.

Along the way, we would pass small billboards directed at peregrinos, advertising places to stay or eat. I saw these often along my route, and they always struck me as kind of curious.  Eventually, I quit taking pictures of them.

The first photo above advertises the Casa Sueno, which was our destination for the night.  Casa Sueno is located on the western edge of the town of Salas, population 1600.

Although the private albergue where we stayed was not anything special - it seemed a little sterile and corporate following the community feel of the night before - the town was delightful, with its own midieval castle and wall.  

After checking in at the hostel a little after 2:30 PM, Antonio and I walked back into town to shop at the grocery store, where we picked up our dinners.  Along the way we stumbled into a small municipal museum, where I could get another stamp for my passport and we could climb to the top of the stone tower you see in the photo above for some great views of the town and surrounding countryside.

After we returned to the albergue, Nagore joined us for dinner and drinks on the lawn in front of our hostel.

Salas remains one of my favorite places on my Camino!  I think it should not be missed.  Below are a couple of photos of the albergue.  For much of the evening, the four people from the hostel in Grado were the only ones in this hostel, but a couple showed up late and slept in the bunk next to mine.  I only saw them again once - two days later in a restaurant - and the woman gave me my earbuds that I had left the morning after the photo above was taken.  There is a saying that "the Camino provides," and it definitely did so in this case.

Day 2 Camino stats:

Date: March 21, 2024
Distance: 14.9 miles
Time: 6 hours, 54 minutes
Start time: 7:43AM
End time: 2:37PM
Total daily steps: 39,406

Day three on the Camino Primitivo is found on the next posting.  Link.

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