When you think of a country, you always think about certain things that are associated with it. For example, when it comes to Australia it is a kangaroo, crocodiles and the Opera House; Russia – vodka, bears and snow; Paris – love, Eiffel tower and Notre Dame de Paris. When it comes to Spain, the first things that would come to my mind would be wine, grapes, olives, bulls and hot guys.
After our ordeal that is mentioned in my Post #3, we decided to take things slow, and there was a reason for it. We had to work through vineries, and it was just mud-mud-mud. It was also raining, so we had to walk very slowly, and would come to albergios (hostels for pilgrims) exhausted after a long day of walking, but the Spanish knew how to cheer up the pilgrims.
We tried to stay in private albergios, because it felt more like home. The private albergio is run by a family, and usually it would be just a part of a house. Sometimes you can even get a spare room for an extra charge. What I also love about it is that you can always get a home-cooked meal, home-made wine and freshly baked bread. I particularly remember an albergio we stayed at in our first week. As soon as we walked in we got offered red wine with bread and olives, that we accepted with pleasure. Next we sat down in a cafe-like place downstairs, and while our hostess was cooking a delicious meal, we were trying to have a conversation with about 15 other people, all from different countries that all spoke different languages. After a few glasses of wine it had become much more easier, I must admit, and for some reason we ended up at the table with about 6 Frenchmen. I had no idea what they were talking about, I just remember how they all were laughing at me when I asked for the second plate of spaghetti.
I know I talk a lot about food, wine and coffee here, but it is hard to overestimate the importance of a good meal, a glass of wine or a hot cup of coffee when you walk 30-40 Km a day, hot or cold, rain or sun. I think the Spanish people understand pilgrims very well, that is why they were always trying to feed us well, even in cafes. I think they felt really sorry for us, tired and covered in mud :).
Another great thing to be thankful for: only in Spain you could find fountains along the Santiago walk where you could drink water and wine free of charge.
This is the most considerable idea I have ever heard of :)
In conclusion, after spending almost a month there, I still think of Spain as a country with beautiful local cuisine, the most delicious wine and coffee and the hospitality of the lovely local people. Thank you, I can’t wait to see you all again.