Lunes, El Trigésimo de Septiembre
I landed in Madrid on Monday, September 30th, at about 6:20 am local time. Then I had to catch a 7:25 am Iberia Airlines flight from Madrid, which landed in Santiago de Compostela at about 8:40 am. The flight was great, but then I went down to Iberia Baggage Claim, but my roller bag containing my clothes, hiking sticks, back brace, and other things didn’t show up. If I understand things correctly now, when I landed in Madrid, I was supposed to have gone to Madrid Baggage Claim, collected my bag, and then submitted it back through security for my connecting flight to Santiago de Compostela. This must have been a change since the last time I traveled internationally 2 years ago.
In any case, the lady at Iberia Baggage Claim was very nice. But unfortunately, all she could do is open a claim. So, I decided to hang around the airport and check back in a couple of hours to see if my bag would show up.
At about 11:30 am, I was texting with Patty to let her know my status, and she reminded me that I had put a Tile Bluetooth tracking device in my suitcase. So, I pulled up the Tile app, and reported it as lost, and sure enough, it showed the track of my suitcase as I approached Newark Liberty Airport by train the day before, and the track stopped at the JetBlue counter at Newark where I had left it, and it disappeared about 30 minutes before my my flight was supposed to board. I immediately went to tell the lady at Iberia baggage claim of this discovery, but all she said was that there was no new information in their system about it, and that I would just have to wait.
Not being satisfied fixed with that, I decided to Google JetBlue Baggage Claim and call them on my own. I started with JetBlue at Newark, but all I got was recorded messages. So, I called Boston Logan, and I got someone to answer the phone. Stephanie was new, and she probably wasn’t supposed to be doing this, but she was able to tell me that my suitcase had indeed made my flight from Newark to Boston, and it had been transferred to Iberia.
I quickly passed this information to the lady at Iberia Baggage Claim, but she said that I should just wait. So, I dashed off to catch the 1:00 pm bus to the village of Palas de Rei. This saga would continue.
The weather in Santiago de Compostela was cool and clear. The bus trip to Palas de Rei took about an hour. From the bus stop, I walked over to a cafe to get something to eat. There was one table left outside, and as I approached it, another gentleman was already sitting down there, but upon seeing me, he asked if I would like to join him. I agreed, and we ended up having a wonderful lunch. He recommended the Pimientos de Padrone, a specialty of the area, which I had with fresh bread and my first Estrella Galicia of the trip.
It turns out that David was Canadian, and this was his eigth time walking some branch of the Caminio de Santiago. During our discussion, we discovered that were probably both working on a project to perform robotic servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope back in 2006, myself at NASA, and he at MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) in Toronto.
After lunch, we wished each other “Buen Camino”, and we parted ways.
I was a couple of hours behind my schedule for the day, so I figured that I would have to skip taking a taxi to take photographs of Iglesia de Vilar de Donas, a local 12th century church which I had planned to visit, and which it turns out that David would recommend as well. Instead, I would take a taxi directly to Casa Blanco, a 19th century farm house in the village of Sambreixo, where I would stay for the night, and from where I planned to borrow a bicycle to go photograph Castillo de Pambre, a 14th century castle that was a little over a mile away.
As the taxi was dropping me off at Casa Blanco, an Australian couple, Neil and Vanessa, who were also staying there, were just coming out of the house with glasses of wine, and they invited me to join them on the patio. I checked in with Maria, who was our host for the evening, I took a couple of photos of our room (below), and then I quickly found the honor bar and headed out to join Neil and Vanessa on the patio with my second Estrella Galicia.
Neil and Vanessa were charming, and we had a lovely time talking about our collective Camino and other experiences. But when two more pilgrim guests arrived, I felt that I should excuse myself and head over to the castle while there was still an opportunity.
The ride to the castle was lovely. The location is very strategic. It sits on a bluff overlooking the Pambre River, and there are obviously springs on that hillside. The castle was built in the time of the Irmandiña Revolts of peasants over the Feudal Class. In the photo below, many centuries ago the hill to the right of the castle, Monte do Castro, was used as a fortified “castro“, or hill fort.
I got back from the ride with just enough time to take a shower and dress (in the same clothes) for the scheduled 7:30 pm dinner seating.
Also joining us for dinner were another couple from Northern Virginia, Arnel and Ginny, who were walking the Camino de Santiago from Sarria for the first time, and two women from California who were traveling together, but who unfortunately I did not get to meet.
The food served at Casa Blanco was great. Our dinner started with bread and some local Arzúa-Ulloa cheese. Then I had a Casa Blanco Salad, ratatouille (French vegetable stew), and a we split a bottle of vino tinto (red wine).
The conversation at dinner was wonderful, and it wasn’t until 9:15 pm that I checked my watch and realized, “Oh my gosh! My bride of 36 years who I haven’t seen for 2 weeks should be arriving at any moment!”. I texted Patty, and she said that she was 2 minutes out. So, I went outside and down the lane just in time to catch her taxi making the last turn.
Patty came inside. She was spent from her bus ride from Ponferrada to Lugo, and then her taxi ride to Casa Blanco. So she just had some tea and cookies before we retired to bed.