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Inside Santa María de Melide.

After a poor night’s sleep thanks to Jueves Santo partygoers, we get up early and rejoin the Camino through Melide’s picturesque old town, where we stop for breakfast in Hostal San Anton. I eat a massive croissant with jam. As we’re leaving town, and old man hands us a religious pamphlet.

It’s much cooler today, cloudy with a light drizzle that’s totally welcomed. Perfect for walking after all the heat. Just outside of town, a beautiful old Romaneque church, Santa María de Melide, is standing open so we go in for a stamp and a look around. The volunteer on the door is passionate about his subject and rattles off the church history at full speed as if from a memorised script, not letting us leave for a good 15 minutes (I catch about 10% of what he’s saying). After we leave the church and somewhat further along the road, we see a cyclist waiting for his friends. When they finally arrive, one of them says they’d been in the church too and habia un tío chapas que no nos dejaba irnos (there was a windbag who wouldn’t let us leave).

There were apparently processions for Semana Santa in Melide at 9am this morning, which I only find out about after reading a pamphlet I picked up in the church. It isn’t too late to go back to catch them, but on the Camino, as in life, there is no turning back, and regretfully I follow Carlos away from Melide.

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Along the way today.

We also meet a Hungarian man named Roland who speaks excellent Spanish and who is walking through Europe with his donkey, Rocinante. In exchange for donativos, he lets pilgrims feed carrots to Rocinante and gives stamps in credenciales. Apparently he’s walked all the way here from Turin.

There’s another open church in Boente, and we begin to see much older stone waymarkers by the edge of the Camino which led pilgrims before the days of the brightly-painted yellow arrows. Sadly, most of the modern waymarkers since the 100km point have had their distances or their scallop shell insignia stolen (or else they’ve fallen off, been taken away, and not replaced). It’s not really in the spirit of the Camino, but people behave badly everywhere, I suppose. (A much worse example: the arbeit macht frei sign got stolen from Dachau).

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A beautiful old waymarker in Boente.

After a tough climb, we stop for a coffee (and a slice of empanada for me – I’m eagerly embracing the daily second breakfast on the Camino) in a tiny place called Castañeda. This section of our route is described in the guide as rompepiernas (literally: leg-breaking), and so it is. Thankfully, without the heat of the past few days it’s much more manageable.

The next larger place along the way is Arzúa, which is fairly unremarkable except for some delicious local cheese which I sampled with membrillo (quince jelly) at a bar called A Queixeira. I’m a cheese fan but this soft, creamy dessert cheese is something else. I take a break from the usual Estrella Galicia and wash it down with a different Spanish beer, Alhambra. Carlos has a sandwich of cheese and membrillo too, but the cheese isn’t quite as tasty as mine.

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Cheeses in A Queixeira, Arzúa.

Due to the cooler weather, We decide to push on a little further today. We had been intending to stop in Burres, a little way off the Camino, but we go on around 7km further to Salceda, with a stop for an ice cream for me and a beer for Carlos at a bar called Casa Calzada on the way. Here, a blister on my toe is giving me so much trouble that I switch out of my boots and into my Birkenstock sandals, complete with hiking socks. I look ridiculous, but no-one cares and I finally feel comfortable.

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My sexy sock/sandal combination.

A few kilometres further up and we reach our goal for the day – the hamlet of Salceda, which has a few options for accommodation. It’s already 5pm though and the first place we try is already full, and the hospitalero warns us that we’re unlikely to find anything else within 4 kilometres of here. Worried, we try another place across the road. Their dormitory is full too, but they’ve got a triple room that they’ll charge us a 2-person rate for. It’s a little more than we’d like to spend, but it’s been a long day and we don’t fancy walking much further. We take it and enjoy an extra-hot shower each before heading out for dinner at a bar up the road.