Palas de Rei to Arzua.
Out of town at 0630 and strolling over the Galician countryside in the dark as usual a slower pace than usual gets us to Melide a pleasant looking large town with a museum in an old pilgrim hospital by 1000. Unfortunately as the museum does not open for several hours we press on with our usual coffee stops at the now relatively common bar/coffee shop/albergues along the way. This is a part of the route that is well travelled, even crowded at this time of year, though the bike pilgrims do not hit the road as early as the foot sloggers.
The way is still very rural although often within earshot of a main road although this is not yet obtrusive. We move easily along green lanes many lined with eucalyptus trees. There are quite a lot of cows about and one feature of the area not mentioned before are the horreos. These are maize and potato storage buildings. Most of these are small, typically less than 5m by 2m but may be found up to 20m long. They are raised up on legs often above walls or gateways with anti rat overhangs on the legs to prevent the precious cattle feed for the winter being consumed before use. These are very largely obsolete but seem to have become essential features of some houses in the area.
We gain an additional stamp for our passports as we are invited into the small village church in Boente (dedicated to St James naturally) by the padre as we cross the road next to it. Impossible to refuse, it has a full set of statues of ‘the man’ in his various guises.
Coming through Ribadiso there is a lovely refugio down by the river that has been converted from the old pilgrim hospice, but we have still got a few kilometres to go so we press on.
We climb the final hill and arrive in the long main street of Arzua just after 1200 with storm clouds gathering and occasional distant lightening flashes. We place our rucksacks at the end of a lengthening queue for the 40odd places in the Municipal albergue. At the last minute just before doors open at 1300 the cloud burst starts causing a flurry of waterproofs and umbrellas. When our turn arrives Tony is delighted to discover that well over half of the pilgrims before us are older than him, the municipals collect age data of pilgrim users for some reason.
There are many shops and café/bar restaurants in town. We must be nearing the coast as octopus (Pulpo) features on many menus. We have a good lunch and the customary siesta away from the heat that has returned with force after the cooling shower.
Only two days (40k) to go to Santiago.