Walking El Camino de Santiago

Former nzherald.co.nz news editor Simon Winter takes on the 775-kilometre Spanish Pilgrim Trail

Spain: A broken night's sleep

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A shop sign in Viana points the way to journey's end at Santiago. Photo / Simon Winter
A shop sign in Viana points the way to journey's end at Santiago. Photo / Simon Winter

We finally stayed in a six-person albergue with four French people the other night, and I quickly apologised for knocking them over in the World Cup final.

They laughed. But they never apologised for going to bed and snoring all night.

I mentioned in a previous blog how we were trying to stay in private rooms. It's because I simply can't stand snoring, in fact, I detest it.

I'm not joking. What kind of self-centred git stays in a dorm if they know they'll snore their head off?

Picture this: we're in a beautiful albergue in a small north-Spanish village called Los Arcos, it's been a wonderful night of food and wine and we're settling down for a wonderful sleep - then off goes Poppa Bear. Five minutes into a nine-and-a-half-hour sleep and it's a disaster. Earplugs are hopeless.

Then the other French couple get going. In unison, husband and wife, making sounds I've never heard before.

And Poppa Bear's wife just rolls over and ignores it. Excuse me? She's supposed to be the insurance!

So it was a rough night and the next day I took this up with Elwyn (60ish), an Aussie from west-Sydney's Hawkesbury River, who's doing the Camino with wife Denise.

At least Elwyn's honest, he admits he's a snorer - but he wears a snore-guard. I'm not entirely sure what that is, but his wife has the right idea. She gives him a kick every time he gets going.

There are always ways to confront the problem. Apparently whistling in the snorer's vicinity can be a successful, non-invasive way of breaking the deadlock.

And two years ago, in a dorm at Lake Waikaremoana, I went around the room shaking and waking all the snorers up. But it's not ideal.

I will confess to occasionally snoring, but it's for minutes at a time. I do it when I'm exhausted, and when I hear about it the next day it's mortifying.

So it's back to the €30 private rooms for me. I rolled the dice and my worst fears came true.

I'll live with that, but this is a bigger issue than just my nine or 10 hours.

If you're a snorer, do everyone a favour. Tape your mouth-up, go to breathing classes, use a snore-guard or a clothes peg or take hypnotherapy - whatever it takes. But don't inflict it on strangers, or even worse, your nearest and dearest.

And don't even think about setting foot in any shared hostel in the meantime!

Route marker: 155km down, 620 to go.

* Simon Winter is a former nzherald.co.nz news editor. He and partner Lisa are following the sun through Europe. They're finding the weather somewhat colder than expected.

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