Day Nine: Azofra to Grañon aka Pilgrim or Tourist?

We woke up to a cold and damp day, and decided not to cook the food we had, and instead start the day early. We grabbed some coffee at a nearby cafe (€4) and walked 10k to the first town on today's Camino, Curueña, where there was a random golf course (first one I’ve seen). There we ate some breakfast at the golf club, where we met Gregory from Ireland and discussed the Syrian immigration situation. As we moved forward, it started to feel like Vegas, hot and dry. Before we knew it, we spotted Santo Domingo de la Calzada, which truly looked like the Vegas strip… A pyramid shaped mountain behind an oasis of a city. Luxor? On this road, we met a Latvian girl, who I’d seen before, that appeared to have a chip on her shoulder. Amongst other negative things she said, she mentioned that anyone who uses the backpack service isn’t a true ‘pilgrim,’ but better yet, just a tourist. Meanwhile, I’ve seen her using her smart phone at various cafes.

So, are we pilgrims or just tourists? By definition, we are on a pilgrimage to visit a sacred place, which means we are pilgrims. Luckily, this is only the second person who has kind of sucked on this pilgrimage. Could be worse. In Santo Domingo de la Calzada, we ate a mediocre meal for €15 and regrettably didn’t visit the church where the story of the young boy who was hung for supposedly stealing, but actually framed by a girl he had no love interest in him, was then saved by Santo Domingo. The noose is still in the church, I guess ? I got to visit the public library, which was to my surprise really clean and pretty, but only for a hot minute. They allow pilgrims to utilize the library (with proof of credenciales), without a library card and use the interwebz. At this specific library, you are limited to being on the computer for 15 minutes. It was nice to take care of some e-mails while there.

Upon arriving to our final destination, Grañon, we were exhausted, but knew we had another kilometer or so to make it to the Alberque that was recommended by this new app I spoke of yesterday- Albergue Ermita Nuestra Señora De Carrasquedo. It was hidden in the woods, and outside of the center of town, but definitely worth the extra hike (my mom nearly made us give up because it seemed like it was forever away). The hospitalera, Ana amongst some locals hanging out greeted us, and we were charged only €40 to stay in a private room with a private bath, also for breakfast, dinner and also to wash our clothes. It is such a steal, that I was surprised we were the only guests at that point in time. I asked her why she didn’t have more signs in town, and she said it is because they are always being taken down. She is on Air B&B however, which is how this random S. Korean guy found this gem. And guess who came to dinner and decided to also stay the night there ? Good ol’ Klaus ! Apparently the municipal albergue in town was donation-only, but with that, not the cleanest and only hosted one bathroom/bath to share amongst EVERYONE. We were so happy to see him. The dinner was decent, but the best part was the baked gluten free Schar baguette she gave me. Holy celiac gods, it was so good. Exhausted and it’s 17 km to Belorado tomorrow.

<Found this albergue accidentally, and I am stoked we did. It used to be a monastery, and still has the church attached with all original paintings (the owner gave us a tour), which apparently holds services once or twice a year. This albergue is only two of three kilometers inland from the town of Grañon. €10 for a room with a private bath, and dinner AND breakfast + only €3 for laundry service. There were a total of four us staying in the 20 room guest house. Meanwhile, the donation based albergue municipal in town only had one bathroom for the 15 pilgrims staying there. Def opt for the extra walk if you’re in town! (at Albergue de Carrasquedo)>

A quick observation: I’m noticing a lot more stray cats as we move further East. Meow.