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This morning in Salceda I had the best tostada con tomate of my life – the bar owner told me he added garlic and “his own special mix” to the olive oil/tomato topping. I don’t know what it was but it was amazing. The bar was called Casa Tía Teresa if you want to look it up.

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A cross in O Pino, early in the morning.

The moon was still in the sky as we left the albergue – we’ve been getting better at getting up early. We were both in good spirits for the final day’s walk, which were dampened only slightly by the number of pilgrims’ memorials dotted along the very last section of the route. Carlos wondered: did these unfortunate pilgrims die so close to their goal, or further back along the camino, with their friends or families putting their memorials closer to Santiago? There was no real way of knowing. We decided to leave the pebbles we’d brought from our back garden at the monument to Guillermo Watt.

It was annoying that people have had the habit of stealing the wayside markers, because for the first time in this (very) well-marked walk we had a moment of genuine confusion at Santa Irene. We ended up taking the camino complementario not entirely by choice, and, as most of these “complementary” routes do, it passed by the church – sadly closed.

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The morning was quiet.

We stopped for a coffee (and my now-customary second breakfast) in O Pedrouzo, and we caught up with the Nicaraguan women who we met on the first day in Sarria. They’d come with plenty of luggage which they had sent on ahead, and it was clear that a couple of members of the party were really struggling with the walk and had fallen behind the rest. One of them confided in us that they’d resorted to taking taxis on a couple of occasions in order to make it to their pre-booked accommodation.

I’ve been feeling much more confident about my Spanish, as I haven’t spoken anything else all week and I haven’t had problems making myself understood. I feel like I’m finally getting the subjunctive (the present subjunctive, the aptly-named imperfect one still needs work) – let’s see how it holds up once we’re back in Britain.

It was a bit of a pull out of O Pedrouzo, and San Antón passed by without me really noticing it. We passed Santiago airport, where we flew in, and finally reached Lavacolla where we had a lunch and a minor argument in a bad bar that made me feel a bit sick.

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This pretty church at Lavacolla is just metres from the airport boundary fence.

Carlos especially was keen to press on without much of a break, being concerned about lodging for the night given the slight difficulty we had yesterday. We needn’t have worried though – Monte do Gozo has a massive 400+ bed municipal albergue complete with bars and shops (all closed) which has been rather unkindly likened to a concentration camp. It’s true it’s not a beautiful medieval or otherwise historic building as many pilgrims’ hostels are, but it’s in a very convenient location and cost just 6 euros for the night. When we arrived, only one of the dorm buildings was open but we got a spot easily, sharing with some Italian erasmus students. It was our only stay in a municipal albergue, but everything seemed clean and in good order.

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An old wayside marker.

We had dinner in the only other albergue, in Monte do Gozo, a Polish catholic youth hostel. The food was simple and the wine came in a small carafe rather than a full bottle, but at 8 euros each for a 3-course meal we could hardly complain.

There not being much else to do, we headed back to the hostel to get an early night, intending to leave first thing to get into Santiago early in the morning – it’s just 6km away as Monte do Gozo is essentially a suburb of the city.