The albergue was silent last night and we slept amazingly well. We woke up to grey skies and enjoyed a hot coffee at a café before setting out. The markings out of town were quite confusing and we ended up following shell markers for about 2 kilometers, in what felt like totally the wrong way according to the GPS and maps. Finally, a local woman stopped in our car to tell us this was a poorly marked route that goes very far out of the way and offered to drive us back to Tapia to start over. We gratefully accepted and began on the more popular and shorter way, which begins along the highway but soon gets off into beautiful footpaths near the sea.
The weather continued to be grey and drizzly, but the stormy, rocky coast was amazing to behold. We relished some of our last glimpses of the sea, as we will soon be in Galicia heading south toward Santiago de Compostela. We enjoyed a snack break at a little hermitage overlooking the sea. The markings became confusing once again after the Penarronda beach. We followed arrows on a road route, but were disappointed that the camino route does not follow the coast more, where there is a local marked path already.
The rain became steadier and harder as we approached Ribadeo, which is at the far end of a 600m bridge. The pedestrian lane had only a low barrier separating the path from a plunge of several hundred feet into the river below. The wind and rain did not help with the feeling of being on a ledge over an abyss! We happily arrived at the Ribaseo albergue just as the rain became a deluge. We were the first to arrive to this sweet little albergue, the first of the Galician Xunta albergues on the Camino del Norte. The Xunta albergues are administrated by the government of the autonomous region of Galicia. They are mostly purpose-built with kitchens and all cost a flat fee of €5. They tend to be nice but sometimes lacking in character. This one, however, with a view down to the river, has quite a bit of character! There are only 12 beds here, but it is almost 6pm and there are only 6 of us here: 2 from Spain, 2 from Czech Republic, and we two Americans. There is a nice little sitting rooms with small tables and a couch, and a lot of brochures, maps and advertisements for services in the town.
While there were some tempting restaurants with €8 menus, we decided to utilize the kitchen, so Dave braved the elements to get some groceries and is now cooking up pasta with meat and chickpea sauce and peas. He also finally found some instant coffee packets that are not decaf! Every grocery store seems to only have instant coffee packets in decaf, so we stocked up when we finally found some with caffeine! Of course, a real café con leche is preferable, but this is cheaper and we don’t have to rely on finding a café open.
Looking forward to the hills of Galicia tomorrow, and hoping that the rain will be finished by then. My mom started walking today from Astorga on the Camino Francés and is sleeping in Rabanal tonight at one of our favorite albergues, Albergue Guacelmo, run by the British Cofraternity. We are looking forward to meeting up with her in about a week to walk to Santiago together.