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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The (Wrong) Train to Vigo: Annie's Big Adventure

Toward the end of September in 2009, 
while walking in Spain,
I caught a nasty flu. 
The weather in Santiago was cold and wet, 
and so I decided to take a short vacation in Rome, 
where the sun was shining and the weather was still warm.
Photo by Key to Italy

I found an inexpensive place to stay near Rome called Tiber Camping. 
The ad stated, 
"Situated just outside Prima Porta, 
on the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, 
Camping Tiber combines all of the services today's traveller expects, 
with an excellent location, 
and a warm and friendly atmosphere. 
It's an unbeatable combination, 
that will ensure your stay in the Eternal city is a pleasant one" 

The photos looked inviting; full of sunshine! 
Just what the doctor ordered...


 A round-trip ticket to Rome was only 220 Euros. 

So I hopped on the plane and took off for Rome.
I knew the metro was fairly easy to navigate in Rome. The website gave great directions:

If you are in the city itself, and are looking to reach Camping Tiber, just hop on the underground metro and head toward the Flaminio metro stop, on the A Line.
Exit the stop itself, and change to the aboveground metro, F line, Ferrovia-Viterbo. Get off at Prima Porta which is where our bus picks up every half hour.

No problem!  I arrived just fine at a very nondescript metro stop and waited for the bus to pick me up. It was right on time. I had paid only 10 Euro per night for my stay and planned on being there a week while I recovered from my cold.  When we drove up, the place looked fairly deserted. It was the end of the season and they were getting ready to close for the winter. I was sad to find the pool was closed, and the restaurant staff was small. But the receptionist was nice and gave us a key to our cabin.

The cabins are small. Ours was just large enough to hold two beds. We chose to use the camp showers to save money.  We got into our room, checked the beds out of habit, and guess what!??

 
 BED BUGS!

Knowing this would not work for me, I tromped back to the receptionist, told her there were bedbugs in the cabin beds, and got the key to another cabin.

More bedbugs.
This time, she gave me a key that fit ALL the cabin doors (scary) and we checked cabins until we found one with no sign of the pesky critters.  Uneasily, we settled in and had no problems with bedbugs during our stay.

The campsite was really quite a nice place to stay. It was out of the busy city, yet only a short metro trip into Rome. The cost was not much, and the bus from Tiber Camping went regularly to the metro station to take and pick up passengers.  
Tiber Camping had laundry facilities and nice showers.
The food was good at the bar and restaurant and the staff was friendly.
Despite the bedbugs, I would stay there again.
Photo from Trip Advisor
We had a nice visit in Rome and I got a lot of rest.
On October 5, I planned to return to Santiago
and take a train to Moratiños to visit Rebecca
and to decide where I'd walk the last few weeks of my trip.

I finally felt like I was recovering from the flu.
Joe wanted to visit friends in the Netherlands,
but I wanted to walk some more,
so we parted company in Rome
and I flew back to Santiago.

Once there, I found the train from Santiago to Sahagun left at 9:15 am
and I bought a ticket and made plans to arrive at the station early.
I had 35 days left to walk,
and was thinking I'd like to try walking the Aragones Route.
But I wanted to talk to Rebecca before making that decision.
It was raining cats and dogs in Santiago,
and I was still tired from the flu,
but was excited to visit the Peaceable Kingdom.

It was a nice walk to the Santiago train station.
I arrived an hour early, had a coffee, and relaxed.
Plenty of time! Plenty of time!
My Spanish is good, but not perfect, so I asked the attendant,
"Where do I stand to catch the correct car to Sahagun?"

She pointed to a spot and said,
"Right there! If you stand there, the door will open
and you'll be in the correct car."

The train station in Santiago is not large and confusing,
like in some of the larger cities.
There are only a few tracks.
So happily, I planted myself on the spot and waited.
My train was to arrive at 9:15 am, remember?

At 9:13 am, a train rolled in, and a door opened in front of me.  
I stepped into the train and found a seat.
And the minute the train began to move, I was horrified!
We were going in the wrong direction!

"Where does this train go?"
I asked a passenger.

"To Vigo!" she replied.

Holy Moley!
I was on the wrong train!

I spoke to the conductor. 
No more stops until Vigo.
Not much could be done.
The only thing to do was sit back and enjoy it.
I chuckled.
My life is one big old adventure!

I arrived in Vigo and went to customer service.
The man working was very kind.
He laughed and told me, "You're not the only one!"
Apparently, they have at least one pilgrim each week
who makes this same mistake.
He wrote out a free ticket to Sahagun,
and told me to catch my train at 2:47 pm.
I had some time to waste,
so I went across the street to find a computer café
so I could let Rebecca know I´d be a day late.

Vigo is a great city and I'd like to go back sometime for a visit.
I found a computer, emailed Rebecca, then poked around town.

At 2:47 I caught the CORRECT train to Leon,
where I'd have to spend the night
and catch a morning train to Sahagun.

This new train did not go past Santiago,
but took another route through Galicia
which was simply spectacular!

I'd highly recommend taking the train to Vigo,
then BACK to Leon just for the scenic trip!
It was lovely.
It passed through Ourense and the beautiful Galician canyons and countryside.
It was lush, green, and so beautiful.
I'm really happy I made this mistake
and had the opportunity to take this train ride!

If you decide to do this, I will caution you. 
The train arrives in León at 9:45 pm, in the dark.
The stations are NOT announced and you cannot see the signs in the dark.
So you must pay attention to the stops and ask someone to help you.

I arrived in León at 10 pm and walked in the rain to the convent.
By the time I reached it, the doors were closed
and the windows were shuttered.
It was cold and dark and it was raining hard!

Oh no!

I rang the bell and waited.
I rang it again.
And again.
Finally, a very kind hospitalero,
after gently reminding me that the albergue closed at 22:30,
let me in.

He took my information,
stamped my credential and his wife showed me to my room.
I had slept here 5 weeks earlier in an empty room.
This time it was PACKED.
Photo by "Homers Travels"
I found squished bedbugs all over the bathroom floor!
It totally freaked me out,
but there was no place to go this late.
So I sprayed my bed and slept in my clothes,
not wantihg to chance bugs in my sleeping bag.
It was a little hot and stuffy
and another peregrina asked to have the window opened.
I was so happy!
"SURE!" I told her. 

The clean fresh air felt wonderful and I fell asleep in just a few minutes.

I woke up in the middle of the night, cold,
and used my ALTUS raincoat to keep off the chill.
It worked great!
I'll remember this; it will save taking one piece of clothing.
That raincoat was a great investment!
I bought mine from a peregrina on her way home for only 10 Euro.

I woke up at 6 am and had breakfast before the rush,
showered and was on the street by 7 am.
I grabbed a cup of coffee on the way to the train station
and caught the 9:27 to Sahagun.

Yesterday's mistake, although it made for a long day,
provided a wonderful "free" ride to Vigo.
It was absolutely stunning countryside!

My ticket from León to Sahagun cost 4.10 Euro ida solo (one way)
That and 1.10 Euro for the coffee put me at 5.20 Euro for the day.
Not bad.
I spent two lovely nights with Rebecca and Paddy at The Peaceable Kingdom.
Photo from the Web-my camera was broken


I tried to earn my keep by cleaning the art studio.
They were working on their bodega while I was there,
and I enjoyed long evening walks with Paddy.
They have a wonderful place there; be sure to stop if you can.  

After a short rest,
I was ready to continue to Jaca to begin walking the Aragones route.
But I will always be thankful that I took the wrong train 
and ended up in Vigo.

Sometimes, things happen for a reason.
One of the great lessons of the Camino
is to let go of the reins and just
ride the wave of life
and see where it takes you!

Oh yes, and remember,
the trains in Spain run ON TIME!

Buen Camino!
Annie


See my AnnieWalkersCamino website at 
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe

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