Distance: 15.6km, Steps: 21,781, Time total: 5.5hrs
We enjoyed an extra sleep in, leaving our cosy warm room & straight into Melides chilly 2 degree morning, heavy mists enveloping the town. We had checked the weather that said rain was likely early. So we pulled on all our rain gear. But there were no rain clouds at all! Blue skies in fact. The lovely Pension lady gave us a big smile & wished us a hearty Buen Camino on our way out the door. We had ourselves the usual toast for breakfast & George came in to order as we were almost finished. He was saying one morning when he got his plain crossiant, he asked for some butter & jam to go with it & they charged him 3€ extra – more than the cost of the crossiant! We said farewell & were on our way, leaving late at almost 9am.
Onwards we walked through more woodlands, but the mists had already lifted by then. It was pleasant nevertheless & still very cold as I felt the chill through my clothes. We meandered slowly through to Boente cafe where we stopped for late morning tea. George had caught up to us & was in there having morning tea as well when we left. He complains about the tracks & prefers to walk on the road as he has a problem with one of his legs due to an earlier incident on the Camino. He actually straps up one lower leg as he gets shin splint pain & says the strapping tape makes a huge difference.
Onwards we went, now walking up a steep incline hill & getting sweaty & hot in the jacket. The Camino sometimes puts in two markers indicating to go right & left as they put in alternate scenic routes. So we came to another one of these where we stop & think which direction to take. These aren’t always mentioned in the Camino guide book either. So I wanted to try the alternative route instead of the Camino route. It had better views away from the road & I think it was a shortcut, cutting back into the next town of Castaneda, weaving through the lush green hills & farms. After another long ascent up a hill, the rain was starting to drizzle in just as we came into Ribadiso de Baixo. This is a lovely & nice looking small town by the river. As it was after midday & we only had another 4kms to go, we stopped in at the Albergue restaurant.
We were the first ones there & ordered our paellas that came in a deal with wine, bread & dessert! We had half a bottle of wine each! Mr D was being adventurous today! The restaurant was lovely inside as we watched the rain fall harder & Pilgrims go by with their oversized ponchos. The couple from Darwin came in & ordered just a Coke each before their big climb up to the next town. We had our Cream Carmel dessert & finished off our wine before we readied ourselves with the rain. Just as we left, David & Sioux turned up. So we walked with them most of the way, uphill in the light persistent rain chattering away. Mr D kept hearing a bell noise & thought it was something in his backpack, however it was a bell hanging off David’s backpack under the rain cover. He had purposely attached a bell to his backpack & Sioux said, “So you hear him coming up behind you – you know it’s David!”
They branched off as they had not eaten lunch yet. In fact, we notice they tend to eat their meals late! We went looking for a nice place to stay. Arzua is the last big town before Santiago with a population of 6,900. It sits on the main roadway which is busy & noisy with cars & trucks tooting along. We bumped into George whom was on his way out to get some hot soup. He recommended the Albergue Pension Arzua he was in saying it is nice & clean. And it was off the busy road set back a bit which was good. So we went with him as only people staying there get a key to open the front door, so good security. It had upstairs private rooms that looked nice enough so we settled in – thanks George!
We went out for a walk around but it is freezing cold outside. Even our Pension room is so cold. Not spoilt like we were last night. Of course, Spain being Spain, the supermercado & other shops were all closed until 4.30 / 5pm. It felt like a Sunday. The supermercado opens to 2pm. Closes for 2.5 hours. Hard to understand why! Mr D was feeling sleepy so we had a hot drink in a local cafe where the young man behind the counter didn’t smile once. But we scored a complimentary sweet cake each with our drinks. Mr D then tried the supermercado once opened, to buy a small bottle of liquor but they don’t stock tiny liquor bottles & there’s no liquor bottle shops in Spain. So he reluctantly brought a half bottle of red wine instead to drink in the bedroom. Again like Melide, the Camino goes down a laneway that should be the main hustle & bustle with bars & restaurants. A lot of Albergues & accommodation is around this part & meant to be the chore Pilgrim hub. But there was nothing, no shops, no people, no nothing. George loves to chat & when we returned, he was leaning against the heater for warmth in the foyer & started chatting away to us. Funny how we tried to avoid him earlier on & now we follow him to the same accommodation!
David & Sioux had decided to walk on further today, knowing they might have to walk another 12kms if the one Albergue in between has closed for the season. So Mr D invited George to join us for dinner at another Albergue restaurant. We had a very nice meal there, the waitress spoke English well & was very friendly. George is a very funny man as he told us story after story & how his Camino has been. The Darwin couple were there as George commented, “That lady struggles so much walking uphill!” The American that ignored us yesterday was there at another table with his wife whom from what George says, she is having great difficulty with the walk & is having knee problems. She actually catches the taxi a lot. The American man is called John as he introduced himself to us as if he never met us. George said John is a strange fellow & did the same to him, friendly one day, ignored the next then all buddy buddy again. Yes, the diversity you meet on the Camino. We had to race back to our Albergue – Pension as it was so damn chilly outside. And it isn’t much warmer inside as our little room heater had already turned off! It has been nice to meet these new people in our last days on the Camino, as these are the people we are likely to see & celebrate at the end with. I do still miss those I met at the beginning of the walk.