Walking the Camino - Palas de Rei to Ribadiso and Arzua

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Walking the Camino - Palas de Rei to Ribadiso and Arzua

Camino de Santiago Through Woods Past Palas de Rei
Camino de Santiago Through Woods Past Palas de Rei. Wendy Bumgardner ©

This walking leg of the Camino de Santiago, from Palas de Rei to Ribadiso is classically done in a single day of 25.6 kilometers (16 miles). But I am walking "the easy way" and split it into two days of 14 kilometers (8.7 miles), with an overnight at Melide and ending a little farther along in Arzua. My lodgings were pre-booked by Camino Ways, with bag transport.

It started off rainy but the rain poncho worked well. It was warmer than the previous day. I stopped for coffee after an hour to reconfigure what I was wearing. I was wearing a long-sleeved top over my short sleeved shirt and I didn’t need the layers. I removed the long sleeves. The rain let up and wasn’t bad till the end of the walk, which was around 12K (7.5 miles) for me.

I often was walking with or in the vicinity of my Australian companions from dinner the previous night and breakfast in the morning, Anne and Jonette.

There were a lot of pilgrims on this section, a lot of passing people and being passed. There were no worries about ever being alone! In that way, it was more like my experience on a half marathon more than a hike.

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Cafe Stop at San Xiao

Camino - Pilgrims Pass Cows in San Xiao
Camino - Pilgrims Pass Cows in San Xiao. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Bars and cafes in Spain both offer coffee, water, beer and wine. Everything seemed to be about the same price - 1 euro to 1.50 for coffee, beer, wine, water.

The restrooms are free for customers. Some have signs noting that a fee is requested (usually 50 cents) if you are not a customer.

I never had to resort to using the bushes for a "natural break" along the Camino, although that is always a concern. There seemed to be cafe handy whenever I needed a rest stop. I only had to use my own small roll of toilet paper once.

I love walking through the countryside as well as the woods. I never get enough of these stone buildings and I love seeing cows, sheep and chickens. I don't even mind the "dairy-air" odor or having to dodge cow pies at times.

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Medieval Bridge - Rio Seco

Medieval Bridge - Rio Seco
Medieval Bridge - Rio Seco. Wendy Bumgardner ©

The paths through the woods had good footing even on downhills. While I used trekking poles for additional stability, I didn't really need them on these legs of the Camino.

You need to take care in the adorable villages as the local drivers drive very fast and you encounter them on the tiniest of roads. At times I thought I was on a path, but it also turned out to be a road.

This medieval bridge crossed the Rio Seco, which true to its name was dry. Later I crossed a larger stone bridge at Furelos, over the river of the same name.

The guidebook I kept handy on my iPhone Kindle app had many fun stories about the history and legends of the area and sites to seek out.
A Survival Guide to the Camino de Santiago in Galicia by Jeffery Barrera.
Buy at Amazon

It also pointed out "the ugliest two kilometers on the Camino in Galicia," as the route passed by an industrial park on the left and a highway on the right. While it wasn't especially scenic, it would have been pleasant walking for most suburbs back home. You can't always be walking through woods and cute towns, but the Camino Frances in Galicia is over 90% just that.

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Pulpo Gallego - Octopus

Pulpo - Octopus
Pulpo - Octopus. Wendy Bumgardner ©

My destination for the day was the town of Melide, and my lodgings were at the Hotel Carlos 96. I got swept in by a rainstorm and was glad I was finishing at that time. I discovered my Australian friends from the morning had a room on one side of me while my Australian friend from my first walking day was on the other side!

Melide is known for its pulpo Gallego - octopus Galician style. The first two gals stopped for pulpo before checking in, and I decided to venture out into the rain to give it a try based on their recommendation.

I didn't locate the same pulperia they did, but I enjoyed my culinary adventure. I had the octopus - pulpo, accompanied as usual with boiled potatoes. While I don't usually want to see the tentacle shape and the suckers, I enjoyed the somewhat-chewy pulpo.

My meal came with a second course and I chose squid. These were tiny whole squids, which were tastier than the octopus and also came with boiled potatoes. But none of this was a meal for those squeamish about seeing tentacles.

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Should We Stay or Should We Go?

Pilgrim Friends in Melide
Pilgrim Friends in Melide. Wendy Bumgardner ©

The Hotel Carlos 96 is a good family-run place. I was able to get a hair dryer (I hadn't had one for three days) and also they have laundry service for 10 euros. I dropped off a bag of laundry and settled in for a good glass of Mencia red wine at the bar for the rainy, rainy afternoon.

The weather prediction was for a storm with high winds the next day, with gusts over 40 mph and drenching rain. I hate walking in wind and I have a valid fear of being hit by falling tree limbs in a wind storm.

Joanne decided she was going to wait a day rather than walking the next day. I contemplated cabbing to my next hotel, then spending the next few days either doubling up my walking distance or cabbing to lodgings and back to my proper starting point each day.

I joined Jonette and Ann from Australia, who I ate with last night, and had two glasses of Mencia while we awaited the dinner hour. Lisa and Michael Pagotto of Crooked Compass also were there. We had a merry time talking. They all thought it would be fine to walk in the storm. I still wasn’t sure.

We went in to dinner a little after 8 p.m. and the three of us from Camino Ways had our own special menu - salad, bread, tuna empanada (good), soup (lentil or chicken noodle), main plate (I skipped that) and dessert (cake). We shared with Lisa and Michael, and eventually Joanne joined us. The vino tinto (red table wine) was also very good.

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Bridge of Stones

Camino - Bridge of Stones
Camino - Bridge of Stones. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Because my peers (except Joann) were determined to walk despite the storm prediction, I decided to give it a go. I headed off with no rain for three blocks, then got hit with wind-blown sideways rain for a couple of kilometers until leaving town.

I passed the 50 kilometer stone marker - I was offically half way on my journey from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela.

The wind and rain slackened and there were bursts of sun and long periods without rain. The wind was only gusting in a few areas. The eucalyptus trees weren’t dropping any big limbs.

The 14 kilometers today feature four steep hills, both up and down. The first, and thankfully only, real obstacle was the Bridge of Stones. In dry weather I would have felt more confident, but with rain I was more tenuous. I stopped and assisted the lady seen crossing as her glasses were covered with raindrops, making it a little treacherous.

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Eucalyptus Forest

Eucalyptus Forest in Galicia
Eucalyptus Forest in Galicia. Wendy Bumgardner ©

I was really happy that the path was wide and well packed and didn’t present any real slipping hazards, which was my main worry (besides being brained by a falling limb). The route was 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) with what they called steep uphills and downhills, but they weren’t bad at all for me. It helps to have trained for the Camino with hills.

I loved the scent of the eucalyptus forest lining the paths. This tree was imported from Australia to use to make paper. I didn't see any downed trees and very few downed limbs. My path seemed to be out of the brunt of the windstorm.

Alarmingly, my Australian friends said the real danger continues from widow-maker branches that fall days after the storm.

I stopped twice at bars to use the restroom, always before I was in urgent need.

There seemed to be fewer walkers, but still always in sight. Over all, the weather was no different from the previous two days. My poncho worked well. My feet were wet, but that’s not a problem.

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Roman - Medieval Bridge over Iso River

Roman Bridge over Iso - Ribadiso da Baixo
Roman Bridge over Iso - Ribadiso da Baixo. Wendy Bumgardner ©

I started at 8:30 a.m. and was in Arzua by 12:05 p.m. The rain had held off and I enjoyed crossing the Roman/Medieval bridge over the Iso at Ribadiso da Baixo.

I found my pension and was let in. My bag hadn’t arrived, but it came within a few minutes. My Australian friends Jonette and Anne also arrived but had already had lunch.

I wandered around looking for a good lunch spot but the only one that looked to be doing any business was where we were scheduled for dinner. So, I went in there and had the caldo gallego, which was mainly cabbage and seemed not to have any beans. I had a glass of their vino tinto, which wasn’t very good.

I showered and wrote. I went to dinner with the gals and had a chicken empanada and roast chicken (which was good). It was fun to have dining companions and I knew I would miss them once their walking legs took them farther than mine would at the end of the next day.

Next: Walking from Ribadiso/Arzua to Rua/Pedrouzo

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