People woke extremely early in the Albergue again this morning, some at 5.00pm! I guess they are planning to walk all the way to Santiago today – about 40 km. I too got up earlier than usual, ate my banana and found a cafe that was open. It was still so dark when I started walking that I needed my torch. I was joined by Ailena a student from Germany that I have traveled with on and off for about the past week. She is faster and fitter than me, so soon began to move ahead.

The sunrise this morning was spectacular. I stood on the hills above Azura and marveled at the dawn for about 15 or 20 minutes. As I did so, streams of pilgrims came past me on the road. Whereas, for the past few weeks I have often been alone on the road and part of a small little community of pilgrims, now I am very definitely one of many. There are hundreds of us walking today. It is a very different experience. It is a bit like that first day when you move from your small primary school, where everyone knows everyone else, to large secondary school where you feel a little lost in the crowd. Those of us who have walked together for the past few weeks nervously seek each other out and smile encouragingly. Also, there is a cafe and bar every couple of kilometres. The Camino is business round here.

I passed Antonio on the road again. ‘Piano, piano’ he said to me. There is no precise English translation to the modern Italian usage of this phrase, but it kind of means ‘gently, gently, softly, softly, slowly, slowly, step by step.’ We are getting there.

In the middle of the morning it started to drizzle,so the blue chasuble made a second appearance. My right ankle is hurting. Nothing serious, but it aches and just wants a rest.

By 1.30 I was at Pedrouzo, my last stop before Santiago.

The Albergue is another huge one: 120 beds. I snoozed and read through the afternoon which was nice, drank some sangria, and also played some guitar thanks to James, a young English guy I met the other day who is walking with his small guitar. We sat outside the Albergue and played and sang – and didn’t upset too many people. Dinner was a very average paella. It suddenly all feels more touristy as we approach Santiago and that, sadly, is reflected in the food and its price. Worst meal I’ve had for three weeks, and twice as expensive.

It will be funny getting up in the dark and dressing by torchlight and walking for the last time tomorrow. But the journey is near its end.