Day 48: Santiago de Compostela - Day One - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 25, 2024

Day 48: Santiago de Compostela - Day One

I watched a Youtube last night with one person's account of their Camino, from France to here. Their account was full of the people they had met along the way. The forming of friendships along the route is a well known Camino thing. But for us as solitary cyclists, that does not really apply. Still, in the breakfast room of our hotel (a nice 7 jammer, by the way) everyone was polite and silent. Until one person said something to another, and soon we were learning where everyone was from, where they had walked, how many kms they had done per day, their highest climbing day, and so forth.  And yes, it did add to the fun.

I also went to the front desk staff and thanked them for the wonderful hotel, and for being so nice about the bikes. I then took my camera to photograph the bikes' ceiling, which is nicer than ours, though we do have rough hewn beams. I said to Dodie, "I think I'll also use the bikes' washroom while I'm there"  "The bikes have a washroom?" "Well, duh!"

We then went out into our street (Rua Vila) and did the very short walk to Correos. What we found was more than we could have wished for. A clean uncrowded place with scads of bike boxes, other boxes, cool Camino gear - like tee shirts and stickers, and Alberto, a young man who like the calm Daniel of "Taxi Boat Peregrinos" projected no anxiety about Correos' ability to pack the bikes and get them to Irun for us on time. I am writing this back at the hotel, where Dodie is splitting out stuff into what we will ship and what we will schlep, onto the train, first to Leon, then to Pamplona, and then to Irun.  We could in principle hang out here in Santiago for a few days and then hop to Irun (the spot from which we will carry on cycling) , but this way we will get to see two extra cities.

Our quick visit to Correos was great, but soon we will see how the packing goes - like can we really fit the bikes in the boxes?

The bikes' ceiling.
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It's a short walk along our street and a quick right, to the large Correos office.
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Lots of quite big bike boxes at Correos.
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Dodie is a little worried. Alberto is not.
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Will we also be able to ship all this junk?
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We were ready to set off back to Correos with the bikes and other gear, but stopped for some UQs, with these two walkers from Australia. They had just speed walked in, and would be in time for the noon mass. After resting in our hotel for a couple of days, they will head to Finisterre. One way, that tacks 80 km on to their journey, and 1000 meters of climbing!

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Back at Correos, Alberto displays the wide range of available boxes for our other gear..

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We had stopped some days ago and bought the necessary pedal wrench, and also checked on the headset bolt, for turning the handlebars. There was no need, because Alberto had a wide range of tools.

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Alberto said that his instructions are not to touch the bikes. But in practical terms, most clients will need some assistance. Alberto dove right in to give us a hand, and he was invaluable. I checked to make sure that revealing this would not get him in hot water.

To get the bikes into the boxes, the handlebars needed to not just turn, but to come entirely out. The front wheels came off, which in our case requires partly disassembling the brakes. Also the front fender had to come off. One of the attaching bolts for this on Dodie's bike would not budge. I grabbed the tool from Alberto, and applied a lot of force. If anyone was going to strip  the dropout, it should be me. On the other hand, I am so powerful (!) that Alberto's tool was at risk. I did get the bolt out, but I am not sure how healthy it or the dropout are now. We'll see in Irun!

Alberto is taking care to wrap the bar.
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More cyclists have arrived. The fellows in the background are shipping to the Canary Islands. Their cost will be about twice ours, 100 euros vs 50 euros.
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OK, now it fits.
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Alberto is already helping the other fellows.
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Our bikes are ready to go!
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Meanwhile,  Dodie is charged with the paperwork for the shipment. The first glitch was that the lady said we could only ship to home, and not to a post office. This was mostly a language misunderstanding. Correos will ship to one of its own offices in Spain. Next the Correos office to which the bikes would go was different from what we had been told in an email. It was an important technicality, not only for finding the bikes at the other end, but because we had chosen a hotel close to the other address. The lady shown below kindly help smooth out the language difficulties surrounding this one.

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All this left me to look at merch! I immediately grabbed two "pegatinas" (stickers), one for my handlebar bag, since I have been jealous of Dodie's for the last seven years, and one to refurbish her now well worn one. So we should be good for another seven years?

Thanks sticker, you've attracted a lot of interest over the years.
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The new kids on the block.
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The other stuff they had was nice, but enough is enough (sort of - I still am after yet another keychain!).

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This shirt is actually pretty lame. There is no way that bike is going to make it anywhere!
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Any further souvenirs will have to be super compact, unlike these. We will hang on to our shells, though.
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With the bikes on their way to Irun, we walked down to the train station to see about our plan to train just ourselves to Leon, then Pamplona, and then Irun. We got an English speaking ticket agent, and the trip was easily arranged. The total cost was under 100 euros each.  And for the record, the cost of sending both bikes and the large box to Irun  was 133 euros.

The train station is 1 km from the cathedral. At that kind of distance, you are no longer in the old city at all! And the rest of Santiago is just dull boring standard city.
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We also asked the agent if we had had any chance of taking the bikes with us, and the answer was no, because the distances were long and not media. The followup was whether there was any itinerary that would have gotten us to Irun with the bikes by train, and the answer was not really. Wow, do we ever feel good about Correos!

Th only slight glitch in the plan is that our train leaves at 8:40 a.m. on Wednesday, and breakfast here only starts at 8.  We told the people here that we will stash some stuff from tomorrow's breakfast and have it on Wednesday, and they were fine with that. But there could be some coffee withdrawal involved in the deal!

p.s. We were in a grocery, and I fell for some strawberries that looked really good. Dodie warned that they could be the white cored tasteless California variety. She was wrong. They were red cored, and if possible even more lacking in flavour than California's best effort at tastelessness. I am not sure what the producers thought they were doing. These berries certainly were not more durable than real strawberries. But they did look great. Maybe their claim to fame is that they can grow in all those wind blown greenhouses we saw, and also look great. But hey, can you imagine a bowl of strawberries that you might not eat at all, because they taste like absolutely nothing? This was it.

If you think these are strawberries, you are mostly wrong.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI have come to the conclusion that there is only so much flavor in each strawberry... Therefore, the bigger they are, the more bland.

Wild tiny ones ripe to past peak eye appeal have always been the absolute best!
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltYou might be on to something. We find that the small berries from our home garden taste wonderful, especially when picked and eaten while still sun warmed.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltFurther thoughts: plant breeders need to balance many traits, like size, appearance, yield, disease resistance, shipability, and flavour. Lots of these are probably tradeoffs, and a great variety somehow pushes the curve, but can not get away from it. Whoever "designed" the berries we got today obviously was shooting to attract the gormless tourist or casual customer. And boy, that was ME!
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3 weeks ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Steve Miller/GrampiesToo often me too... Even knowing the genetically manipulated ones will lack both nutrition and flavor.
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3 weeks ago
Karen PoretThe mantra here in CA ( I live in Santa Cruz where strawberries are grown) is the larger ones are 1) for show or 2) meant to be dipped in white, dark, or milk chocolate. The only really good tasting strawberries are from the local farmers markets sold loosely and not in the basket ( where the “eye candy” is on the top) and, yes, the smaller ones are much sweeter. The other clue is to look at the bottom of the berry itself and if it is firm, it is usually good. If it is too soft, it is too old.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretGood info to have. We are heading to the Market later today and will try to apply some of your tips.
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3 weeks ago
Karen PoretSo.. how did my tip “taste”? ;)
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3 weeks ago
The Correos and train odyssey
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Today's ride: 5 km (3 miles)
Total: 2,342 km (1,454 miles)

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Scott AndersonGlad the bike shipment option worked out, and at such a reasonable rate. It’s a solution that never occurred to me. I wonder if it’s available in other major Spanish cities.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonApparently this is an option from anywhere in Spain but one would need to confirm for a specific place. The transfer takes 2-3 days and pickup is only on weekdays. All the tools and packing materials were at the Correos office. They hold your boxes at the end point for 15 days apparently. We will let our readers know how it goes on Friday when we (hopefully) pick up the bikes in Irun.
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3 weeks ago