June 14, 2011 Melide to Arzua

Alexa and Addison of Seattle, surprise Americans discovered in Arzua.

Agreed last night with pilgrim family to meet them at 11:00 in Melide. Relaxed at hotel, recharged phone with money, went to cash machine. Arrived at restaurant and waited only 10-15 minutes. Group arrived, many pictures, much conversation. Catia only one to order pulpo.

Left restaurant and began short walk to Arzua. Long talks with Catia and Sebastian. Said goodbye to Catia at Ribadiso. She will wait there for Bea and they will walk together into Santiago. Sad to say goodbye as may not see her again.

Walked into Arzua and found albergue after albergue “completo.” Finally found “Albergue Via Lactea” with room for all of us and kitchen. There met Addison and Alexa of Seattle — a very big surprise to find Seattleites here on the camino. They work at Nilson’s Bakery on Lower Queen Anne Hill, perhaps 1/4 mile from my office.

Andreas and Annina cooked rice/veg dinner and we ate together in front room of albergue with wine, laughter and storytelling. Jacqueline and I both decided to walk full distance to Santiago next day and I arranged to have my pack sent ahead. This will allow us a rest day in Santiago and I can stay in my favorite hotel an extra night.

August 24, 2008 Melide to Arzua

Today’s walk would take us only 14 km to the town of Arzua, which would give plenty of time to relax and rest. Our guidebook mentioned an ancient church at Donas de Vilar and a medieval castle at Pambre that was off the camino near Palas de Rei, so we decided for reward ourselves with a taxi ride and church/castle tour if we could get to Arzua at a decent hour.

The thought of only a 3 hour walk gave Gail great hope, so we made it to Arzua by lunchtime and found a room at a hotel right on the camino in the heart of town. We left our things, found a taxi, and enjoyed a long ride to Castillo Pambre, a very scenic and deserted castle between woods and farms off the camino. Unfortunately there was no way to go inside the castle, so we walked down into a horse pasture to get the full effect of the building’s architecture and shared the space with a huge white stallion. We then headed to Vilar de Donas, and after finding the keeper of the key, studied every aspect of this nearly 1000 year old church.

Today was a nice day of gentle walking and car touring. This quiet and interesting day gave us both the sense that we were now starting to have fun, even as the end of our walk drew near.

August 23, 2008 Eirexe to Melide

Even to make it to Santiago on a relaxed schedule would require us to walk 22 km today, so I hoped that Gail’s foot pain would be better today and we could make it to Melide.

We set out with no sign of Christian, but we saw Carol and Jake on and off through the day. Jake, at 20ish years old, was a camino jackrabbit. He was in great shape and able to walk back and forth between us and his mom as though each step was effortless. Carol had a slower pace and we often saw the two catching another cup of coffee (or an ice cream bar) along the path.

We walked downhill through the town of Palas de Rei, stopping only to look for an ATM and lunch. We nabbed a few additional stamps for our credentials at churches along the way, including one at which the priest ran out of his building, waved and shouted at us to come in and see his amazing church, then asked for a 5€ donation for the privilege. The stop was worth it mostly to admire the chutzpah of this entrepreneurial servant of God.

As the day wore on Gail began to reach the limits of her endurance. We finally arrived at Melide, where we’d arranged a rendezvous with Jake and Carol, but we couldn’t locate the hotel they’d mentioned and Gail was desperate to get off her feet. I left her in the main plaza and ran off to find any hotel, securing a great room in the Pousada Chiquitin. Something about this hotel’s combination of location, simplicity and chic modern made me really like it. I ran back to get Gail and settled her into the room while I went across the street to the albergue to do our laundry.

While Gail rested I enjoyed stepping back into albergue life, if only for an hour or so. Even though I was staying at a nearby hotel I was welcomed into the albergue by the kind hospitalera and allowed to use the coin-op washer and dryer. The washer ate my coins and then stopped partway through its cycle, which led the hospitalera and me to get put our arms around it and shake it back to its senses. Sure enough it began to work again and my laundry proceeded to get cleaned.

While I waited for the cycle to complete I went to the albergue kitchen and enjoyed some of the usual enjoyable pilgrim company. As always, pilgrims from all over the world were in attendance and I had a long conversation with a young female Australian veterinarian who was walking the camino from St. Jean Pied de Port. When the laundry was done I walked over to Gail with our clean clothes. She was asleep, so I headed out for a haircut and after she woke up we had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant before calling it a day.