Day 29 San Mamede to Vilacha 23 km
Today I am staying at another favourite albergue, Casa Banderas. www.casabanderas.com
Gordon Bell, a South African, owns and operates it with his partner Ana Marie. Gordon walked the Camino the first time in 2003, then in 2004, then twice in 2005, as he decided he wanted to operate an albergue, so he walked the second time between Sarria and Santiago, and found this place in Vilacha. It was a tumble down ruin, and had been empty for 30 years, but what sold it to Gordon was the staircase to the second floor. When I met him in 2007, he was mired in red tape and rubble. He had to live elsewhere for the first month of repair, then he was able to sleep in the kitchen.He had help from his sons and family, and lots of Camino friends, and finally he was able to open it for the 2012 season. He is open from April to October, and on duty 24/7, with help from Anne-Marie. It is lovely to sit in the salon, around the fire, and chat or read or catch up on emails.
They ate with us, and the meal was great: pea soup, as it was a cold rainy day, curried chicken on rice, and ice cream for dessert, with lots of hot bread and wine.
Breakfast was the best yet: soft boiled egg ( a first) yogurt, rice cakes for me with butter ( another first) and peach jam, plus coffee. A great set up for a great day.
Gordon says the Camino is busier than ever. He estimates that 1000 people walk by his door every day.
His bathroom is unique - a shower with jets. Another unique experience here.