Melide - Boente - Castaneda - Ribadiso - Arzua - A Calzada - A Calle - Salceda - Santa Irene - A Rua (collection of houses about a kilometre before O Pedrouzo)
This morning we set out around 7.30, all rugged up (including rain ponchos) as the temperature was 1 degree and the grey skies were ominous. Less than an hour in, ponchos were off and, by our breakfast stop, we were one layer down, top and bottom. And that's pretty much as it remained for the rest of the day. A cold day but plenty of blue sky emerged between the clouds and no rain. Our Camino angel is still smiling on us.
It was a long day, but the terrain was varied and the countryside peaceful, which made for a fairly relaxing walk - even after 750 kms. We saw more pilgrims on the path today than we have seen on most days - many walking the last 100 or 150 kms to Santiago, and some carrying day packs with their accommodation pre-booked and luggage being taken ahead. There are many ways to walk the Camino - you don't have to be quite as crazy as we two!
We wanted to stop tonight within about 20 kms of Santiago, but were on the lookout for a Casa Rural, rather than the 'usual' stop at the town of O Pedrouzo suggested in the guidebooks. We are thrilled to have come across O Acivro, a delightful Casa set in lovely gardens with an adjoining restaurant. We have a quirky little stone-walled twin room con bano (with bathroom), a perfect place to spend our final night en Camino. We've just come back to our room after a delicious dinner and lively chat with some peregrinos from Perth.
While on the topic of food, better late than never a little about the food and drinks that we've been enjoying and have been sustaining us along The Way:
We usually start the day with caffe con leche - equivalent to a latte and typically quite a strong brew. The coffee has been great. We sometimes buy nuts or a banana or two the night before and carry those in our packs to snack as we make our way.
Breakfast (and another coffee) is often after 5 or 10 kms depending on the distance between villages. Our preference is tortilla potatas (think thick omelette with potato). It's great hikers' food - carbs and protein - and always comes with pan (bread). If the tortilla potatas has not been made or has run out, we will often ask for a traditional omelette and most cafes will whip this up in no time with choice of cheese, ham, chorizo etc.
All the bread we have had on The Camino would be described as Artisan bread at home, and priced accordingly. Here it comes free with everything! So we get bread with our tortilla potatas and ask for mantequilla (butter) and mermelada (jam), to have something sweet to finish with. Yum.
Lunch might be a shared bocadillos (baguette) with ham, cheese etc or, if available, an ensalata mixta - a mixed salad - which usually comes with white asparagus and tuna and the servings are huge. We may get a salad and an omelette or fried calamari between us and it's more than enough even for two hungry peregrinos. Calamari is on most menus on The Camino and the quality has been great. Speaking of octopus, see Pulpo below.
Dinner: All cafes and restaurants along The Way offer a menu del peregrino or menu del dia - 3 courses (with three or four dishes to choose from for each course) with wine, water and bread included for between 9 and 12 euros. The pilgrims' menu is usually on offer at lunchtime too.
For the past 4 or 5 days we've been walking through the region of Galicia. Galician specialties include Galicia soup (which we wrote about in an earlier update) and Pulpo (octopus). The town we were in last night, Melide, is the Pulpo capital of Galicia. But you can't order Pulpo in every restaurant, even in Melide - best to go to a Pulperia, as we did last night. We ordered just a small dish to share along with our ensalata mixta. While we both enjoyed it, we thought it best as a tapas dish rather than a main meal, but a must to try if you are visiting this region.
The wine. Neither of us would claim to be wine buffs, so the simple 'colour' choice of vino tinto or vino blanco suits just fine. We've enjoyed all the wine we've had and it seems the peregrinos we've dined with agree, even those who know a lot more about wine than we do. As with the food, the Spanish are generous (even to those choosing the menu del dia or menu del perregrinos). Wine is always included and it's usually a bottle or carafe that comes to the table, rarely just a glass.
Orujo. Orujo has been described to us as a Spanish grappa. It's a brandy, a transparent spirit with an alcohol content of over 50% - a popular beverage in Northern Spain, especially in Galicia. We've been given a complimentary shot glass of Orujo a number of times in the Casas we've stayed in. Hard to refuse the kind hospitality, but one shot is definitely enough!
Queimada. From Orujo, Galicians make a traditional drink called queimada. The spirit is poured over bits of lemon peel, sugar, and ground coffee or coffee beans into clay pot. The pot is then lit on fire until the flame turns blue. We were offered a glass a few nights ago in Hospital. It was a little like gluhwein, and delicious!
It's getting late, and we did walk over 30 kms today, so time to sign off until mañana. Thank you to Kat, Lindy, David, Helen, Marian, Gemma, Dev, Luise, Rose, Jan and Nina for your emails and comments. Great to hear from you.
We have a little over 20 kms to walk tomorrow to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the reputed burial place of St James the Greater (one of the apostles) and the destination of The Way of St James. We aim to arrive in the early afternoon to give Coach / Martin time to get from Paris to Santiago, settle in to the hotel and make his way to the square in front of the Church. What fun that will be.
In the meantime, we will take our time tomorrow and enjoy every step of our final day on The Way.
Love and best wishes
Jenny xx and Jill xx