We tend to stop at bars quite often. It is not that we are always seeking alcoholic beverages but rather that bars serve as a central focus for peregrinos. They are the major source of food and bathrooms, not necessarily in that order. The pilgrim schedule does not match well with that of the rest of the population of Spain. Pilgrims begin their walk early in the day when everything is closed, except bars. They eat lunch before comida (the main meal of the day in Spain) which means before restaurants are open but bars are open. They eat dinner before cena, the evening meal of the day and, again, before restaurants open at 8:00 or later in the evening. So we buy bocadillas (sandwiches) for the road. We buy coffee, juice, or beer (depending on the time of day). And we use their restrooms (servicios). And maybe have a slice of tortilla español just because they taste so good. Many bars offer pilgrim menus in the evening consisting of three courses plus bread and wine for about 8€. It’s not that we never seek alcoholic refreshment. We began a evening tradition with our friends from Sweden, Eva and Per, of after cleaning up at the albergue going out to a bar before dinner for beer and potato chips (interesting because none of us are in the habit of eating potato chips) and conversation. We like supporting the bars because they provide an essential function for walkers of the Camino.
They are an essential part of the Camino for food, drink, relief and for connecting and reconnecting with fellow pilgrims. We are always encountering people that we have met before and who have come or gone on different schedules and whom we have never been certain that we would see again. We are also meeting new people with new stories that we may or may not see again. The stops at bars tend to be longer than they need to be as we sit and rest and eat and drink and share stories over the table. Then we we visit the servicio one more time, hoist our packs, and continue our walk along the the Camino and to the next bar.
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