Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Via de la Plata - Day 44:  Ponte Ulla to Santiago de Compostela (22km on 6/01/17)

We left Ponte Ulla at 6:15am and immediately began climbing out of the river valley - perhaps 1000’ over the first 3 miles.  We were mostly on one lane tracks for the morning with a few small stretches along the two lane highway.  Lots of rolling hills but no more big climbs.  We had a nice omelette and cafe con leche at the half way point and continued on to enter Santiago de Compostela and the cathedral’s square after 22km.  The way into the city was mostly on quiet streets so quite nice compared to other routes.  The scene lin front of the cathedral was fun, with all the pilgrims arriving, getting their pictures taken, etc.  Of course almost all of those were arriving from the Camino Frances route rather from the via de la Plata.  We did not see anyone that we had walked with today.  Afterwards, we went back a bit and checked into Pension Hedrass.  After cleaning up we had lunch at Bar La Titas then out to the bus station to purchase tickets to Porto for the day after tomorrow.  In the evening we went out for a drink and snack and then had a nice dinner - pimientos del padron, chipirones a la plancha and a nice bottle of mencia wine from Ribeira Sacra.

Statistics:  Over 1000km or 620 miles in 43 days and with one rest day in Salamanca.  Averaging nearly 24km or 15 miles per day.

Ready to go on our last day of walking!

Morning mists

Fellow pilgrims walking just outide the city

First view of the cathedral in the distance

Glenn and I after 44 days on the camino!  What a nice walking partner and he always "had my back"!

with my backpack in the square

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Via de la Plata - Day 43:  Silleda to Ponte Ulla (21.9km on 5/31/17)

Up and out of albergue after breakfast by 6:15am.  Another nice morning for walking - I saw a meteor in the east before sunrise.  We mostly walked along one lane farm tracks or asphalt lanes and often through wooded areas.  At the half-way point we stopped for second breakfast in Bandeira and then continued on to reach Ponte Ulla just before noon.  Pension Juanito is small and nice - above a bar.  Ponte Ulla is a small village next to the bridge across the Ulla river.  Within a short distance are 4 bridges:  National highway (N-525), old road bridge into the village, AVE high speed railway, old single track rail bridge.  Each of them was probably a feat of engineering in their time.  There’s not too much to do in the village but we enjoyed sitting outside and drinking beer.  

Ponte Ulla is only about 20km from Santiago and everyone is excited about the end to their caminos!

Off we go - most of today was walkinng on one lane gravel or asphalt roads

Morning fog and the countryside

12th century church in a village

AVE high speed train bridge across the Ulla river

Picture of Ulla river bridge in foreground and AVE rail bridge in background.  Ponte Ulla village is on left bank

Monday, May 29, 2017

Via de la Plata - Day 42:  Castro Dozon to Silleda (29km on 5/30/17)

we were up at our usual 5:30am, grabbed our gear from the dormitory and prepared breakfast downstairs in the kitchen area.  We were on the road a bit before 6:30am.  The first hour was on or nearby the N-525 highway and the rest of the day was mostly on country lanes - some asphalt but most were dirt/gravel tracks and some were “paved” with large flat stones.  The fog over the countryside was quite picturesque.  After 12km we had second breakfast of tortilla Frances (omelette) and cafe con leche.  After about 20km we passed through Laxe and continued on another 9km to Silleda.  The weather was not too hot but we were glad that much of the later miles were on well shaded lanes.  Silleda is a small city (as compared to a village) and we settled into the Albergue Turistico Silleda.  It’s on the 4th floor of an apartment building, conveniently above a bar.  Rooms had two or three single beds and shared a bath.  Cost for pilgrims was 9 euros.  The view of the countryside was quite pleasant.  After the usual shower, etc. we had a menu del dia in the bar and then relaxed.  Late afternoon we wandered the town, shopped for breakfast and enjoyed the central city square.

Galician countryside in the morning fog

We walked near or along the N-525 highway for part of the morning

Countryside in the morning

Tunnel underneath old rail line

Beautiful "gardens"

Typical trail for day's walk

Glenn chatting with other pilgrim in front of bar in a small village

Galician countryside

View from our 4th floor albergue room in Silleda 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Via de la Plata - Day 41:  Cea to Oseira to Castro Dozon (22km on 5/29/17)

We left the albergue before 6:30am and enjoyed the pre-sunrise view of the clock/belltower in the main village square.  Today we are doing a “detour” off of the main camino route to visit the historic monastery of Oseira.  We walked on narrow roads or dirt/gravel tracks through the forests for ~10km to Osteira.  The old monastery is huge!  Unfortunately, it was closed when we arrived and we could only peek inside the albergue.  Even worse, neither of the town’s bars was open so we did not get second breakfast either.  In any event, the monastery was large and impressive.  We left Oseira and climbed steeply for ~300m elevation gain - mostly on narrow stone lined tracks.  After that we were on rolling hills on a combination of paths and tracks.  Unexpectedly, we found a bar in a small village so enjoyed an omelet and cafe con leche.  After 22km we reached the village of Dozon and checked into the municipal albergue.  It’s quite nice and with kitchen downstairs.  After showers and laundry we walked back to the village for a menu del dia at the cafe and shopped at the attached mini-market.  Dinner was soup back in the albergue.  We called ahead and made reservations for the last two nights on the camino (Silleda and Ponte Ulla) as well as for two nights in Santiago.  Only three days walking remain.  Tomorrow will be our last long day and nearly 30km to Silleda.

Pre-sunrise view of Clock/bell tower in central square of Cea village

Walking on dirt/stone track in early morning

Galician countryside

Historic Oseira monastery

Albergue inside the monastery - everyone has already left.

After we left the monastery we climbed steeply

And climbed and climbed

More walking through the forests.

Municipal Albergue in Dozon - ~$7 per person.  It was less than half full so we all got bottom bunks

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Via de la Plata - Day 40:  Ourense to Cea (22.5km on 5/28/17)

We had a nice breakfast in our apartment - yoghurt, melon, pastry and brewed coffee, a very nice change from instant!  We left ~6:15am and crossed the Roman bridge across the Minho river.  It’s a long and very highly arched bridge but we could not get any good photos in the dark (sunrise is around 7am).  The pathway climbed steeply for 5 or 6 kilometers and then proceeded through mostly forested areas, mostly on lanes with some wide trails.  The weather was cool and with only an hour or so of intermittent light rain.  We passed through 5 or 6 villages and the stone buildings were interesting.  We took a break in a quiet square and had a snack.  Then we continued on reaching Cea shortly after noon and 22.5km.  The albergue is in a very old stone building but quite modern inside.  The village is not very big but has an old, almost museum like section as well as a more modern section.  Some of the old stone buildings are in disrepair with fallen roofs but others are still in use.  We had a menu del dia lunch near the main city square - in a pulperia (octopus restaurant).  I had Galician peasant soup (Caldo Gallego) and pulpo Gallego (octopus Galician style) and a nice bottle of Galician white wine.  After a well deserved nap we visited with camino friends in the albergue and wandered around the village a bit more.  

Leaving town in the dark via the Roman bridge across the Minho river.  Too bad we could not get a photo!  It is a long and very highly arched bridge.

Looking back towards Ourense

An old church in a village

Vineyard, hills and fogs.  By now we had climbed a thousand feet or more above the Minho river valley.  

Mid morning snack was in a nice little square in a village

A well, stone watering trough, etc. outside of a nice stone house.

Manikins and what looks like a homemade mini-golf course in someone's front yard - strange!

Morning pathway through the fields

First course of lunch was a peasant soup called "Caldo Gallego"

Main course was Pulpo Gallego (octopus Galician style) and a nice local white wine

The main city square in the village of Cea

Stone buildings in Cea

Narrow alley in Cea

We are staying in the provincial (aka Xunta) albergue in Cea. Inside is very modern but the stone exterior is very old.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Via de la Plata - Day 39:  Xunqueira de Ambia to Ourense (24km on 5/27/17)

We had breakfast in the albergue and were on the trail before 6:30.  The first ~5km was mostly on small tracks or trails.  After that we walked almost entirely on the small provincial road.  After an initial small climb the rest of the day's hike was generally downhill. The view is much more like we expect of Galicia (hills, fog, very green) than we had been seeing at higher elevations.  Although our books said the first bar would be after ~12km we found bars in many of the small villages.  We had cafe con leche in one and then continued, having cafe and a large wedge of tortilla after ~12km.  We continued and entered the suburbs of Ourense, walking on some paths but mostly on roads.  We checked in to Casa Habana ~5 minute walk from the cathedral on the third floor of Avenida Habana 43.  It’s a 2 bedroom apartment with two twin beds in each room.  The only occupants are Hans, Glenn and me.  We did laundry, showered and then had a light lunch and then toured the 12th//13th century cathedral after it opened at 4pm.  Then we returned to the apartment after picking up groceries at the nearby market.  Dinner was a mixed salad, chorizo, cheese and a nice bottle of Rioja.

Early morning view - fog in the distance

Sunrise view - countryside and fog in the distance

Pathway in the morning

Second breakfast - a huge chunk of tortiall espanja and cafe con leche - ~$3.50

Pedrestrian street in Ourense

Doorway to the 12/13th century cathedral in Ourense

Statue in one of the cathedral's chapels

Alterpiece in one of the cathedral's chapels