Now the restaurants are busy, I have to phone ahead to book a place at the albergues. But don’t let this put you off. If the Camino Francais sounds too busy, then the Camino Norte is quieter and just as beautiful. There are also routes starting in Seville, Barcelona and Madrid in Spain, plus Lisbon and Porto in Portugal.
As well as route options, here’s more advice I can offer. Number one – when your partner asks if they look OK in an item of clothing, always say yes. Second, never buy French cars and finally, when in the town of Melide, eat octopus.
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Octopus, or pulpo as it’s known out here, is an excellent dish. Sliced into bite-sized pieces and boiled, it is served on a wooden platter with a sprinkling of paprika. Cooked well it melts in the mouth, just don’t let the suckers deter you.
I stop in Melide at a Pulpeira – the name given to the establishments serving this delicacy – and partake in one of my favourite Spanish dishes with a little vino tinto. It’s as good as ever. Now 2pm, the trail is much quieter than usual. Most pilgrims stop around early afternoon to escape the heat and the way is empty. Ribadiso da Baixo is eight miles away, a leisurely three hours walk. I pass the occasional walker resting in the shade but revel in the solitude offered by this time of day.
The Xunta Hostel heralds my arrival in Ribadiso. Sitting by the banks of a quiet river it is one of the most popular places to stay on the entire Camino Francais and it’s easy to see why.