Sunday, 15 December 2019

Day 3 On The Camino: Palas De Rei To Arzua


Morning Has Broken


It is still dark at 7:20am when I join Jorge for breakfast. My night as the only guest at the villa went well, no Japanese spirits tried to kill me and I feel refreshed and ready for food.

This is my first breakfast since I left home and, for a pilgrim, this is a feast: there are different jams, fruit, cakes, orange juice, fresh hot croissants, hot chocolate, a whole cheese and meat platter and more. Will I manage to eat all of this? Have to!

Jorge joins me and shares his stories from the Camino including his own pilgrimages to Santiago. He's done it three times so far! I'm impressed and admire his pilgrim passports which are full of colourful sellos. Of course, Jorge stamps my passport to document my stay at his guesthouse.

I really enjoy breakfast and have a great view over the Camino which passes the villa and the first people are already on the hike! Sometimes this hike feels like a race. Before I leave the villa, Jorge has kindly organised a local luggage transfer for me. A bit skeptical, I leave my backpack behind. Fed, well-rested and a couple of kilos lighter I can start my day.  

With the sunrise at 8:30am, I'm ready to leave and as the day before, the Camino is busy. I join straight into a pack of chatty pilgrims and get carried away with them. The next two hours are very productive and I make great progress as the landscape is flat and allows a smooth hike.

camino frances pilgrim statue between palas de rei and arzua
camino frances outside melide

 Melide Calling


I pass through medieval villages, local chapels and cross arched stone bridges. After a hike through an autumnal forest, I take my first break in the outskirts of Melide. I help pilgrims with their pictures in front of the picturesque stone bridge in Furelos and meet a friendly Columbian, who travels with me for a short while.

pilgrim outside chapel on the camino frances
furelos bridge outside melide camino frances
furelos village on the camino frances

Furelos goes over into Melide which turns out to be a large town! It has to be as two routes, the Camino Frances (the busiest) and Camino Primitivo (the oldest), join together so the place is packed with pilgrims. The Camino leads straight into the centre past a Galician restaurant on the corner with a bald-headed guy who tries to sell me Octopus. I tell him politely that I can't have any seafood and could end up in hospital. Besides, I'm on a mission and need to keep going. I do see the Columbian and some other familiar pilgrim faces resting at the restaurant so his selling strategy does work. I could do with a little snack so for "lunch" I drop into a small supermarket and get some Mikado. The sugar from the chocolate is nice and I head straight to the church of St Peter. 

The church is open but there's no one to stamp my passport. Anyway, just when I enter the building, it starts pouring. It was forecasted, so I'm prepared and get my raincoat and trousers out of my tote bag. The church is quiet and warm, so I take a longer break in the hope the rain might stop. It doesn't and shortly after 12pm, I get restless and want to get moving.

Oh, It's A Rainy Day!


I leave Melide behind and the rain is a constant and even drizzle. The kind of drizzle you know won't stop for the rest of the day. It's ok, I've dressed appropriately and I march ahead. Outside of town the Camino splits and there's the choice between a shorter, but uphill route (Primitivo) or a longer but flat route (Frances). I decide for the first as it leads through the forest of Ficheiro and the highlight is to cross a stone bridge over the stream Catasol. Two Germans have been around me for a while - mother and daughter. We talk for a bit but I can sense they aren't to keen on having me around. They hike ahead fast and ditch me at the next opportunity.

forest of ficheiro and stone bridge over catasol camino frances

For the rest of the day, I travel alone. It rains silently and gradually. The Camino goes through leafy forests, and there are long periods in which I meet absolutely no one. Even the villages seem to be dead. There are a few hills up and down but not as challenging as the days before, or maybe I have the impression because I travel without a backpack and Carole's walking stick is a blessing. 

At around 1:30ish, I pass through Boente, a little village, and get told Arzua is only 8km - a 2h hike- away. Excellent! After that, the rain gets heavier though. I keep walking through the settlement Ribadiso which has a lovely Roman bridge. After that, it's uphill again.

village boente with chapel on the camino frances
Ribadiso with roman stone bridge on the camino frances

About an hour later, after managing that steep hill, I make a stop at a horrible cafe. There weren't many cafes around today so I make a very quick stop to have some ice cream. The place is a bit shabby, unfriendly and there's a loud group of pilgrims getting hammered on wine. As soon as I sit down I can feel it. I'm damp. My rain trousers are non-breathable so they've created this horrible sweaty climate in between my running leggings. I feel very uncomfortable.

The Low Point Is Here


Grumpy, I continue my hike. Unfortunately from here, it is pretty much all downhill for me. I can deal with rain, I can deal with challenging hills, I can survive my feet which have gone into stiff mode again - BUT there's nothing more in the world that I despise than being soaked. It gets worse with every step I move forward. I sly through a forest and I'm on the lookout for somewhere to sit. There's no stone fence or any other opportunity so at one point I sit down on the side of the forest ground which looks reasonably dry. Within seconds the rain trousers soak up the water and I'm wet through the trousers, my leggings, and my underwear. GREAT!

camino frances hike from palas de rei to arzua

Wet and cold, I drag myself along the final kilometers to Arzua. It is horrible. I'm so fed up it is best if I don't talk to anyone and end the day pretty much as soon as. Arzua is a long stretched settlement and it takes forever to reach the small tourist information in the centre. A few days ago I received a message on Expedia from my host tonight, but it's in Spanish and I really don't fancy to sort this out right now. Luckily the girl at the Tourist Information is super helpful and she translates for me and calls my host as instructed per his message.

Ending The Day At Casa Lucas


At 4pm, I get picked up by an elderly man called Lucas and he's very friendly. I try hard to get a conversation going but it doesn't help that I'm still soaked and cold. Lucas takes me to his guesthouse, again a beautiful converted Galician villa in the middle of nowhere, located by a lake with spectacular views. His guesthouse is a family-run business and his daughter deals with all the admin side. I'd say she's in her early 20s, super nice and she speaks fluent English. She checks me in and allocates a beautiful little room across the courtyard. Their dog, a huge shepherds mix, follows me around. I feel instantly safe and a bit better after having a cuddle. My backpack has also arrived and is waiting for me in my room.

casa lucas arzua camino de frances lakeside pension

I head straight for the shower and let the hot steaming water run over me for a good 20 minutes. It is sooo good. Afterward, I lie on my bed. It's only 5pm! The room is small but very pretty with lovely features that make the place homey. Lucas will drop me off in the morning in Arzua and I'm happy I'm staying again with friendly locals. A group of hikers which I've seen a few times on the Camino has also just arrived. They will join me in the morning for the trip back to Arzua.

I prepare for tomorrow's route and text Carole & Denise to check in if they are ok. Carole replies back they made it to Arzua and stay at the modern San Fransisco Albergue. We agree to meet up in the morning and travel together, which makes me happy and looking forward to tomorrow. It is early evening but I'm glad I'm no longer out on the Camino. It still pours down and will do so for the rest of the night. I'm warm and comfy, and feeling myself again, although earlier I had massive doubts about myself.

casa lucas arzua camino frances grounds

Back on the Camino when I was wet and grumpy, I felt this hike was a challenge too big for me, I was that fed up. I'm not trained in hiking at all. Sure, I do my occasional 10km runs in London and try to pick up ice skating again, but in general, I've never been a sporty girl so doing this pilgrimage is quite intense. 

Luckily I'm warm now and even my emergency pasta pot tastes rather nice. I hiked another 26km - well it was supposed to be 33km today if I hadn't "cheated" with yesterday's taxi ride to Jorge's guesthouse.

I have it comfy and I will see Carole & Denise tomorrow. 

I'm good now.

Thanks so much for reading.
Till next time,
Carolin
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