Friday, May 27, 2022

Day 34 - 26 May - Os Valos to Arzua

As Blood, Sweat and Tears famously sang:

What goes up must come down
Unless you’re in Galicia it’s the other way around
Your feet are having troubles
It's a cryin' sin
Ride a painted pony                                                     

Let the spinning wheel spin

Our early starts are becoming second nature to us by now. Six o’clock alarm. Up. Wash. Pack. Out. We hit the path at six forty five. It was misty and cold. I wasn’t expecting that. Anyway, by seven thirty we were enjoying a coffee and tostada in the town of Palas de Rei. Through the bar window, we saw Fran (UK) and Rosa (Canada) pass by on their way out of town and we were soon on our way too as we had a total near twenty mile day ahead of us.

As has been the case through Galicia, the pathways and roads made for comfortable walking conditions, aided by an initial freshness in the air once the sun broke through the mist. But, the whole eighteen miles between Palas de Rei and Arzua was all up and down. I think they must have re-written the rules of gravity here to read what comes down must go up again. 

The villages we pass through seem to get more quaint, more beautifully restored with less dereliction the nearer we get to Santiago. This has been quite marked since Sarria and you suspect that this busiest part of the Camino has allowed the local economies to flourish.

We passed through the villages of Carballal, San Xulian and Casanova before stopping at Bar Campanilla for another coffee and some cake, the ambience slightly tainted by the waft of the muck-spreading taking place a quarter of a mile down the road. Then on through Cornixa, Lobreiro and Desicabo before we passed through the town of Melide, By now it was beginning to get hot and the ups and downs were making me thirsty. We decided to stop at the first bar out of Melide which was a good decision in that Taberna de Parabispo was lovely. But it was another two miles of thirstyness. I could barely muster a smile by the time we found Harriet in the same bar.

From there we had another four and a half miles to go. Ninety minutes in theory but what with continued ups (far more ups than downs), water stops, navigation stops and fatigue, it took us nearly sixty minutes longer. La Puerta de Arzua, our accommodation for the night, was indeed a welcome sight.

Accommodation has been somewhat hit and miss over these last four and a bit weeks and we weren’t expecting a great deal from tonight’s choice but, as it transpired, it is all fairly new and our room was comfortable and spotlessly clean. However, with no food offering, we thought we should venture into the town of Arzua and explore. The kindly owner insisted on driving us into town and, as the miles passed, we were wondering how we could (eventually) walk back without picking up any blisters, now that we were sporting flip flops and crocs between us. All we really wanted to do was sit in the sunshine but he took us into a bar, introduced us to the bar staff, then left. All well and good but they had no outside seating. Anyway we consoled ourselves with a bottle each of Estrella’s Camino del Santiago beer which is the tastiest beer we have had these last few weeks. Thereafter we determined that we should undertake a slow bar crawl home - to protect our feet obviously.

Bar no. 1 we saw Fran and Angela and sat with them discussing how tough today’s ups and downs had been. Bar no. 2 - we were back at base! The three mile drive into town hadn’t even been a mile. That’s what four and a bit weeks walking does for you. We were clueless.

Base actually meant the bar next door to our accommodation. We ate, drank beer and wine whilst sat in the sun. Okay, it was pretty much roadside and the nice views were behind us but we sat in the sun. At nine o’clock we called it a night and retired to our nice, comfortable, clean room. 

In my mind, tomorrow is our last proper day walking before Santiago and, having checked the guide, we have another day of ups and downs then more ups. Ahh sod it, let that spinning wheel spin.

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