19.07.14 Saturday SANTIAGO.
Post by Geof and Ray .Tim rebelled at the last.
The weather gods had one last try to remind us why this is Green Spain, thunder & lightening overnight and steady rain for the last few kilometres into Santiago. We passed the enormous sculpture on Monto Gozo celebrating the Pope’s visitation and then traipsed through town to queue for our tickets to heaven, our certificates our compostelas to commemorate our pilgrimage. Choice of Catholic, spiritual or secular but all now in full colour and for a small additional donativo or donation, they include the total distance (1741 km) for four out of five. We joined the queues to see the silver coffin containing St James’ bones, Ray to fondle his statue and deposit his (shared) stone representing his earthly sins but between us we have killed more between us than James Bond; hopefully motive will count at those pearly gates……
Manolo’s restaurant provided an excellent if speedy lunch and we were soon out on the historic streets of Santiago awash with pilgrims, sticks, rucksacks and waterproofs. This is clearly a city that has become rich through its association with St James with its old buildings covered in bling.
A visit to the life size ststues of 2 ladies in the park (Doris and Ethel), an ice cream on the long walk back to the campsite under the trees with the smell of eucalyptus.
No more walking with a heavy pack, we have completed our walk and there is a slightly silly end of term feel, and of course we have our Pilgrim graduation certificates to take home. We anticipate the novelty of clean underwear each week and only a modest alcohol intake to give our livers chance to recover.
One more day here, planning to tour the cathedral roof if weather clement then off to A Coruna and the flight home on Monday. Have to relearn that the traffic is from the left when we cross the road.
Geoff & Ray
18.07.14 Friday. Arzua to Vilamaior.
A quiet night and reasonable sleep in the Milky Way see s us up and breakfast in a cafe in town and off across the Gallician countryside. We are no longer alone or with the few we have met and are used to. We have the hordes from the Camino Francais some from long distance such as the fellow English chap who started in Narbonne, others who have done less and some with limited time starting fron St Jean pied de Porte andissing bits with buses etc. All this means that bars are plentiful and we can forsake our rule of never passing an open bar. The route is extremely well marked and the waymarks defaced with most of the distance markers removed. Many graffiti artists as well as the lover of John Lennon’s songs who has been adding words to the way since we entered Gallicia have added their usually banal comments on many flat surfaces.
We have agreed to split the 40 km walking left over two days fairly equally but on arrival before 1200 in O Pedruzo the helpful man at the tourist office convinces us that another 10km is not far and there is a very nice Casa Rural. So we have lunch. The waitress in the cafe recognisers Betsy and Tony from last year when they did the camino with Jane from O Cebriero. It is surprising Tony says they are not recognised in all of them as frequent pauses were the order of the day on that trip.
We cross the end of the airport and non too soon arrive at this very nice quiet hotel. We have come far enough today but only about 10km remain.
32km maybe as much as 800m up and down the rolling Gallician countryside
17.07.14 Thursday Sobrado to Arzua.
Arzua where the Camino del Norte meets the Camino Francais is where things heat up there are many times more people travelling the main camino than are walking thee coadtal northerm route. We expect an average day in terms of distance and interest. In the event we have a pleasant walk if a bit too much tarmac in the later part and find a salamander walking across the road and after a full photo call set him to one side hoping it was the one he wanted. He is out because the mists of Gallicia were in full flood with a small complec front coming in from the atlantic and a hot day yesterday the air is saturated with water and we experience the phenomenon of rain only under the trees as dew condenses on their cooler upper leaves.
We also find a small village church which claims to have 12 thC murals of iconographic importance. Betsy talks to the man in the kiosk opposite who unlocks for us. It is the last supper on the wall round behind the altar. We wonder how many times it hss been restored ovre yhe 8-9 centiries since its lorigin. So after an average day of 23km with 500m hained 300m lost we enter Arzua and pass the municipal albergue with in excess of 30 peole waiting for it to open and reach The Milky Way or Via Lactea a very nice comercial albergue at 10 € per night.
We go out for a beer to the main square which eventually Tim regocnises from the first camino. Well it is 6years and Betsy and Tony have been more recently. Following lunch on the rear terrace of Via Lactea nothing is heard but the gentle sussuration associated with tired pilgrims. Siesta is here.
A good average day on the camino
16.07.14 Wednesday A Roxica to Sobrano
A short day is our reward after the extra 10km yesterday. We start sfter breakfast about 7.45 and the route climbs very gently by past standards to probably our highest point inn Gallicia about 700m using pleasant tracks and minor roads through country with occasional gritstone boulders. Remarkably soon after starting we see the lake made by the monks of the Sobrado monastry to supply fish and just after that we enter the town itself.
An early finish on a day forcast to reach 28deg C is very welcome. We plan to visit theonastry after lunch.
17km 300m up 400m down.
We visit the 10thC Cistercian monastry in town. This has a checkered history having fallen into disuse once by Royal decree and burnt partially once. Substsntial rebuilding occurred in 17th and 20th centuries it currently in its damp but impressive cloisters houses an alburgue which feeds pilgrims after vespers and accepts donativos. We go to the secular modern alburgue in town. But the monastry is worth a visit for the confusion of archetectural styles if nil else. The day cools slowly. With a large bacon sandwich for tea. Tomorrow is supposed tp be less hot
15.07.14 Tuesday Baamonde to A Roxica. Via Miraz.
We know this is a difficult stretch The total distance to the next town Sobrado is 40km a distance walked by some but not by us on this trip. It is across an area of Gallician upland with a fairly sparse population. We set off early in common with most of the alburgue and after coffee and totados next door (they open at 6.30) are soon bowling along farm tracks and small metalled roads. We cross several bridges non of particular antiquity. Strangely mid morning we find a cafe signposted 179m off route. Betsy reckons its 200 but we are not complaining about second breakfasts. We learn today of plans to alter the route of the csmino and its fierce local opposition by the local community along the Way. It would be a pity if this change missed out on this lovely and remote bit of Gallicia. We rise up slightly to Miraz where an alburgue is run by the British, Confraternity of St James. They are not yet open this is a short day st 18km but John and his two co hospitaleros open the door and chat about this very small alburgue we hope to stay in. John is clearly concerned that he will not have enough beds and hates turning away those who really need to stop there. He tells us of a small private alburgue a further 10km along the route who might allow camping and has 8 beds. We agree we are perfectly capable of reaching there and he rings to check and reserve beds. We are all very happy with this arrangement even though the temptation to stay talking with them all is great. The road soon becomes a track over gritstone upland like the dark peak south of Sheffield but with Gallician dry stone walls alternatinf large flat rocks set upright with small rocks to fill in.
This is a lovely stretch of countryside and all to spon we rejoin a minor road that leads past a few small farms and to A Roxica where the lady of the farmhouse has decided to take in pilgrims. There are two rooms with 4 bunks in each. New and clean and a little bar serving meals and drinks. We settle in and hang out washing in the afternoon sun. A bottle of wine is available with the lunch we have with us. The rooms are donativo. We probably identify Montagues Harrier wheeling above us and the young bitch who stole Tonys insole that was out to air comes to apologise and beg ham.
A very pleasant and less strenuous than advertised 26km and 500m up 400m down.
A lazy afternoon watching others go past with 16km to go in the afternoon heat, making friends with the 6mth old dog who Is a bit shy and looking at the black refstarts feeding their youg in the nest in the bar porch. Betsy’s blister is improving and the day slowly cools too a seven oclock meal of Caldo and meat stew with pototoes. Postres is a choice most have the very mild whey cheese with quince jelly. All comes from the farm
Wandering round to see the 12thC ish church. Which has a carved virgin caged in a tree! And a lot of old stone carvings. We find an open gate to a beautiful garden with a lot more carvings in wood and stone and various sculptures. There are also some great frogs in the pond. We are met by the sculptor and builder of the garden, Victor Coral Castro who has scultures all over Spain. He takes us in to his studio and shows us his various secular and religious works of many different sizes including the exquisitely small. It is a great time all the better for its unexpectedness. Such things happen on the Camino. Apparently there are moves to reroute the camino away from this little town which would be a great pity
14.07.14 Monday Vilalba to Baamonde.
A very good nights sleep inspite of the world cup final. Those who returned from watching . The bar café next door was of course open at 7am it is geared to the industrial estate. Several bars were open in town and so wr were well breakfasted by the time we left the last one. We have been watching the bull running in Pamplona on tv oin the various bars along the way. Those who knew of it believed it was s one or two day affair, but no there is s full week of machismo lunacy. Still the bulls seem to br doing well this year. The really mad bit is the police wanting to question someone filmed taking a selfie in front of the bulls running. Obviously it is perfectly readonable behaviour to run along wet cobbled streets infront of a dozen or so aggravated bulls but not to stop and take your photo while doing it. Still great street theatre.
We meet storks prowling the fields for the first time this trip and Ray and Geof get to hear the beak clacking display guarding a nest. There are a lot pf unpleasant dogs fortunately all chained on this section along farm tracks and minor roads. Many farm tracks and some bioldings are built or walled with local slate slabs. We cross the motorway seversal times one reminds us just how far we have come and the alburgue tonight leavrs us with just over 100km to go, probably 5 more days till Santiago.
A good lunch in a local long established restaurant is finished with coffee with some sort of spirit mixed in from a mysterious bottle. Betsy declines and warns she will leave us tomorrow if we are incapable. Sadly this is unlikely as she is suffering from a nasty blister. Suprising after all these weeks.
24km 350m up 400m down.
13.07.14 Domingo Sunday. Abadin to Vilalba..
Well! It was as bad as expected. The disco started about 11 pm and finished 3.30 am. The real problem was the bass line that produced a curious resonance with the screwed shut windows. We did get breakfast unexpectedly all in at 15 € per room, mouse droppings included. Five dazed pilgrims wondered across the countryside to a bridge over a pleasant stream where we failed to set light to anything, surprisingly, while making more coffee and eating the Magdelanas and orange juice we bought yesterday.
There is supposedly little of interest today. Maybe an old bridge or two and a few churches, it is classic Gallician country but strangely flat. This after yesterday is good and a short day to boot. First photo from yesterday the cathedral at Montenedo.
The bridges of all sizes materialise. One is 17 C. Others may originally be older but are lost in antiquity. The whole route reaks of age. A very well preserved double sided cross is probably a few hundred years old.Finally a fine graveyard or ossuary catches our eye on the outskirts of Vilalba and we sopn find the modern alburgue on the edge of the industrial estate. It is open the restaurant next door is not so another 4km in and out of town for food.
23 km not including lunch and less than 400m up and down. We also have the event today that the group has completed 1000miles today on the walk since starting oin Le Puy En Velay.
We found out later today that the all Spain soap box derby is taking place at the back of our rooms. Seriously there were some very sophisticated craft hurtling at up to 60 km per hour down the hill st the back. Ray and Tony chat to a possible winner tomorrow. He won three years ago and has done well today. Sadly there is a disco out the front tonight. Well we are used to a poor nights sleep.
12.07.14 Saturday. San Xusto de Cabarcos to Abadin.
We are fairly snug in the little donativo alburgue. The young ladies from Madrid are very quiet. We hope we repay that first thing in the morning when we are away before 7am. Through lots of ecalyptus forest mixed with chestnut and occasional pine.
We go through Villanova (Lourenza) a nondescript small town but it does have an open bar for breakfast and a monastry, closed. A hill and more roads and tracks some of which have had heavy forestry vehicles along (thankfully it is dry) we arrive in Montenedo, a cathedral town of significant age 13th C. The cathedral apart from a feeling of age is not very special though Betsy asks and is shown the wood carving on the choir stalls and miserichords. A interst she has cultivated since seeing some particularly fine ones in a church at Enville near home. We also manage more food as we now head off up or biggest ascent since the Pyrenees about 400m plus steadily up to A Xesta where we finally descend a little to the town of Abadin where the first Alburge is full! A little further and we get a small pension with rooms and they are still doing the daily menu.
We then collapse after 30km and 1300m of up and not as much down