At the bus stops in the bowels of Madid Bajaras Airport, I hugged my family goodbye, promising to keep them informed of my progress, reassuring them that I would take care and that they should not worry about me. I looked and felt ridiculously conspicuous in the modern structure of Barajas Airport, dressed in ragged travel clothes, surrounded by panniers, and racks, and a large bike box I had begged from a local bike shop.
A 9 hour overnight journey to Santiago awaited me. I settled into my seat on the bus, and felt buzz of excitement and anticipation. As the bus pulled through Madrid at dusk I was reminded of the sense of freedom and adventure that long distance bus journeys had given me as a teenager in the late 80s and early 90s, when low-cost travel meant Eurolines rather than Easyjet. I spent several summers travelling through France on 20 hour bus trips to le Pays Basque, entertained by a good book, a Walkman and 3 C90’s.
Once on the motorway heading north west, I soon dozed off, my mixtapes replaced by the podcast app on my iPhone. I slept through the night, waking to a misty, cloudy Galician dawn as we approached Santiago through lush green forests.