It´s warm and it´s wet and it´s just getting dark  in the middle of the Meseta. We arrived by train just after 6 and immediately met a young  German girl named Stefanie who was looking for the same hotel we were, and made the first of those connections that happen on the Camino on a daily if not hourly basis. We wandered aimlessly around this rough and ready little working town for a bit, and my usual Northern Hemisphere syndrome was operating, where, for the life of me, I cannot tell East from West. With a cursory perusal of a map, and with a great deal of confidence I was heading off in entirely the wrong direction with Clemency and Stefanie in tow when we had  our next reminder that we were on the Camino. A few very old men were shooting the breeze by the roadside. One of them, who spoke absolutely no English and no German, decided that we were peregrinos, we were lost, and with no further ado detached himself from his mates, looked at our map and then led us perhaps a kilometre  through the back streets of  Sahagun to our hotel.

We have a nice clean room with a little balcony overlooking someone´s vege garden, much to Clemency´s delight. We have just had a meal:  a salad, fish steaks, yoghurt and all the wine we cared to drink for 10 Euros each, and we´re ready for bed. We haven`t slept much in the last 30 or so hours.

We flew Air Singapore to Singapore: the food and service were fantastic and the seats were as good as you could ever wish for in economy class. Then we flew Air France the rest of the way. Being French, the movies were superb and the food pretty good. But the seats! The cunning French had realised they could fit more people into their 777 ER300s, if instead of using regular aircraft seats they covered smallish kitchen chairs in thin material and stuck them together into rows with aisles so small you had to sort of sidle sideways down them. They were comfy for about, oh, lets see... 10 minutes. The screens were about the size of 2 iPhones side by side and the crew, while friendly enough, were not exactly thick on the ground. And the flight to Paris lasted 13 hours.

At Paris  we arrived haggard and bleary eyed at precisely the same time as half the commercial aircraft in the Western Hemisphere. A huge, massing throng gathered before the processing place,with women shouting orders in French and heavily accented English. I gathered that we, all two hundred and thirty seven thousand of us, were to organise ourselves into lines depending on whether we were picking up luggage or not and whether we had EU passports or not. About 4 ish lines formed, though no one exactly knew which one was which, and we all shuffled forward. To the great credit of the staff at Charles de Gaulle, we queued for only 40 minutes, then we were allowed into the European Union with a customs check which lasted precisely 1.857 seconds. Clemency´s check, as she is British, lasted less than that.  Then we sprinted through the not entirely obvious labyrinth of corridors from Terminal 2E to Terminal 2F and boarded our plane for Madrid just as the hostesses were going up the aisle with a clipboard, seeing who was missing (IE us) in order to take their luggage out of the hold.

After that it was easy peasy lemon squeezee. A leisurely train ride to Chamartin station. A walk through some Madrid suburbs so we could get Clemency´s pack adjusted. Then a train ride here, through a parched brown countryside replete with villages, ancient churches, the odd castle or two, hundreds of ugly apartment blocks and mile after mile of olive green and grey plains basking in the early Autumnal drought. And so to bed. I´ll try and catch up again tomorrow, God and Internet access willing.


Anonymous said…
Fare forward, travellers! Will pray for you both.

Graham Young said…
Buen camino peregrinos (hope thats right - not sure of the plural). looking forward to reading your posts and hearing of your experiences. May God who loves, go with both of you. Graham Y
Elaine Dent said…
Grace and peace to you...and a good night's sleep.
John said…
Ah planes, airports, crowds... Saw you fly over Mosgiel with Air NZ on Monday morning, and a few planes later, you are there! But now travel by feet. Been around longer than planes. Consumer reports over the millennia indicate they are very reliable. All power to them!