Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Camino del Madrid - Day 1 - Colmenar Viejo

After breakfast I got on the metro and started walking from the suburbs of Fuencarral. Estimated that I cut down journey to Colmenar Viejo to around 30 km, which is okay for my first day. Happy to see my first yellow arrow when I join the route. A bit of suburb walking then open fields after crossing two ring highway of the city.

Saw my first and only pilgrim today. Son from South Korea. Brave young man, his first day on his first Camino. As usual he carried too much and now in the evening body arching and blisters on the feet. He says he stayed in a Korean albergue in the north of Madrid (imagine that) run by a Korean couple who is working in Spain. Says he is stopping early in Tres Canto. I told him Colmenar Viejo for me and he followed me here since when we got to Tres Canto it was only 11 am. He brought no provisions so I shared some of my fruits and biscuit with him during a break. I suddenly become a mentor to him. Imagine that too. Things such as basic names of food, local norms, etc. I stop from time to time so he can catch up. There are no albergue on the first stage (Tres Canto or Colmenar Viejo) and the hostal in Colmenar Viejo is pretty expensive at 45 euros. So I guess my reason for sticking with him is that we might be able to share a room together and save some money. Yes, I admit I have an ulterior motive to stop and wait for him. Not sure if I can keep this up further down the road or if he can keep up with me. He is still young (fresh graduated) but not the best fitness and on his first Camino. In any case it paid off. The double room at the hostel is 48 euros so it's only 24 each. đŸ¤—

We got into Colmenar Viejo at 2 pm, just in time for lunch. After lunch as I was to asking around for the way to the hostal, a guy came up and told me there is a new albergue in a colegio (school). It is not unusual for some of the less walked Camino using a school as a makeshift albergue. Just follow the arrow and you will see it he says. We did and when I saw something that looks like a school I told Son (who is just so tired and barely following me) that if that guy is wrong I am going to look like an idiot asking the school if there is lodging for pilgrim. True enough, not! Arghhh!!! As least I got directions to the hostal from one of the school's staff. Son was clearly very tired and sad we spend nearly an hour finding the school and then to the hostal. I told him when he join the Camino Frances in Sahagun things will be much much easier. I guess he realized by now that we need to ask for directions, sometimes even call for albergues/hostals on these tier 3 Caminos (for tier 1 - Frances and tier 2 like via de la Plata/Norte/Primitivo one does not have to worry about it).

Son is also worried about the big climb the day before Segovia, especially after his tough initiation on his first day today. The snow capped mountains behind Colmenar Viejo increased his fear. I told him the mountain pass wouldn't be that high and definitely wouldn't go over the snow line, only 1600 meters on the map. He then said 'Santiago is here!', implying himself. Funny guy. I said no, Santiago is over 630 km away.

Anyway, we shall see if tomorrow he would follow me 33 km to Cercedilla or stop after 22 km in Mataelpino. Normally 22 km is okay for me. But there is nothing after that for another 32 km to Segovia from Cercedilla, so it means only 11 km following day if one made a stop in Mataelpino. That's too short a day. I know there is detour to a small town with a hostal mid point to Segovia but I don't want to either stay in another hostal again so soon and/or a short day. Ah, such is the joy and pain of navigating these tier 3 Caminos.

Till tomorrow.....

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