“What Day is Today?” Grado to Salas

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Camino Primitivo
Day 21 of our Adventure: WALK!!
Friday September 22, 2017

Expected: 19km / 13.7 miles / 5 hour
Actual: 15 miles, 6 hour
Total Ascent: 1500 ft.
Total Descent: 1100 ft.
Difficulty Rating: Terrain 4; Waymarking: 3
Scenery Rating: 3

Grado to Salas

Today marks the half-way point of our walk! Day 13 of 25. We expected rain, but we lucked out. A lot of fog, but that kept us cool. Now that we’ve switched from the Camino del Norte to the Camino Primitivo, there are a lot more people. It seemed that everyone we met was walking from Grado to Salas. We saw many of them in town when we arrived.

We met a very friendly Irishman named Garrett who I had a nice chat with for a bit. He made the observation that American films seemed to go through this phase where all of a sudden, and for no apparent reason, someone would start playing the accordion in the middle of the film. “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and “The Quiet Man” are two that he mentioned. I’ll have to pay closer attention now that I’m aware of this oddity. I’d have enjoyed walking with him for a while longer if Mike weren’t about a half mile ahead. I finally told Garrett that we’d see him at one of our stops (and we did!), and I rushed to catch up with the Big Guy.

Mike asked me at one point what day it was. He likes Fridays, because it’s the one day per week that I “let him” be in charge. He becomes a little power-hungry if you ask me. But it’s so typical on this journey, not knowing what day it is. We wake up, get our things packed up, get dressed and ready to walk, eat a protein bar and have some water, and off we go. We usually leave earlier than breakfast (or coffee) is served in our hotel or in any restaurant.

This morning our walk started with a very steep climb out of Grado. It seemed like it would never end! Mike’s a “stats” guy – loves statistics. He pointed out that today had one of the highest ascents in one of the shortest distances so far. At one point I was so tired, and I asked him if maybe the village at the top of a hill that we passed could have been Salas. It seemed like we should have been there already. That wasn’t the case, and we finally reached our destination after a treacherous climb down a hill filled with slippery rocks covered with leaves… and another few uphill climbs.

Our hotel, the Hotel Castillo de Valdes, is a historical building, very charming. I’m surprised it’s not a Parador. It is a “Rural Casa”, but nothing like the one we stayed in last night. Worth a look at the web site if you have time!

We had lunch at this bar across the street from our hotel. It’s not like they even offered us a menu. No. We were given the choice of what to drink, and served a basket of bread. And then they gave us a plate and a bowl, and proceeded to bring out huge serving bowls: first course, a sort of broth (probably chicken broth and fish, not really sure), and then in the same bowl, a garbanzo stew with 2 pieces of chorizo sausage, followed by some kind of meat stew (same bowl again) with vegetables. They cleared our bowls and brought out a huge platter of spaghetti with tomato sauce. We figured “okay, that was fun”… but then our waiter asked us if we wanted meat or fish. He thought that we didn’t understand (we were dumbfounded with the thought of more food), so he asked someone to explain that we were to choose either meat or fish for the entrée. We said that we were full, so we passed. We paid 20€ ($23.90 US) for the 2 of us, plus 8.50€ ($10 US) for our sodas and a café con leche.

Tomorrow is a very special day. My family in NJ is walking in the Alzheimer’s Walk in Point Pleasant Beach to raise money for Alzheimer’s Awareness and to find a cure. Last year we had a cousins’ reunion, our first ever, in honor of my Dad and all of his sisters who were afflicted with the debilitating disease. We’ll be walking in unity with my sisters, nieces and nephews, and my Mom in memory of my Aunts and my Dad tomorrow. We may be going from Salas to Tineo, and walking more miles and climbing more hills. But in our hearts we will be in New Jersey.

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