Mooney reporter Katriona McFadden is walking the Camino De Santiago in Spain this week and is sending us back ‘Audio Diary’ reports. She is walking it with her fiancé, JP. One of JP’s jobs is to give Katriona a boiled sweet before she has to walk up a hill. Otherwise she gets cranky apparently!
Katriona is travelling courtesy of caminoways.com, an Irish company specialising in accommodation, transport & luggage transfer along the Camino.
DAY THREE – PALAS DE REI TO MELIDE (15 KM)
Because it is Easter week and the schools are out, many families are choosing to walk the Camino. At breakfast we met Michelle Sparks from Johannesburg and her two daughters Cassidy (13) and Tanika (12 - pictured below).
Cassidy (13) and Tanika (12) Sparks from Johannesburg. They were walking the last 220km of the Camino with their Mum, Michelle. Michelle walked the entire French Way last year (800km) and vowed afterwards she would never do the Camino again! After a couple of months she missed the Camino and saved up enough money to bring her two girls along this year on their Easter Holidays.
Michelle walked the entire French Way last year (800km) and decided to bring her girls with her this year to walk the last 200km. Tanika thinks the Camino is a great way of ‘getting to know your inner self and deciding if there is anything you would like to change about yourself’ – wise words from a 12 year old!
It was raining again this morning when we said goodbye to the Sparks and started on our merry way. Palas De Rei didn’t have an outdoor shop after all but the raincoat problem was solved by a newsagent who sold giant plastic ponchos for €4. Happy days!
His and hers rain ponchos!
Today’s walk was a lot prettier than yesterday’s, lots of forest and farmyard and very little main road. It was also the most challenging, mud-wise. We encountered lake-like puddles and took our time finding the best way around them.
We also past the halfway mark (pictured below). We took a photo of the 55km milestone to remind ourselves that we are getting closer and closer to Santiago.
Halfway to Santiago - yay!
Melide is a charming little town, the sun came out as we approached it and we were here in time to explore and eat some delicious ‘Pulpo’ (pictured below). Pulpo is Galician octopus, it is on every menu we have encountered, and we were told that Melide is one of the best towns to eat it in.
Pulpo or Galician octopus
As we walked in the door of ‘Pulperia Garnacha’ we could see an old lady standing at a counter furiously chopping up an octopus with a knife. It is then drizzled with oil and sprinkled in paprika and sea salt and it tastes... Yum!
We shared a bench with a Spanish couple and told them (in broken Spanish) that we are from Ireland and are walking the Camino de Santiago. They congratulated us on finding the best Pulperia in Melide! We are staying in the Hotel Carlos 96. The manager, Luis Castro, lived in London until he was 20. His family then moved back to Melide to pursue their dream of opening a hotel.
The best Pulperia in Melide!
He tells me that people travel for miles to eat Pulpo in Melide. When he hears we are interested in food he brings us a cheese tasting plate. Arzua (our next stop on the Camino) is famous for cheese he says. “The second-best-selling cheese in Spain after Manchego” He also offers us some local wine. The region is known for its white wine but they’ve started making some good reds he says. Winemakers had all but given up on trying to produce red wine. Temperatures in the valley were warm by day but cold by night. Totally unsuitable conditions for red wine production. Local monks persevered however and discovered the key to growing grapes for red wine was to place large stones in the soil. The stones absorb heat from the sun during the day and slowly release it at night when it is colder. Another local delicacy are the ‘Pimientos de Padron’ (pictured), little green peppers cooked and rolled in salt.
Pimientos de Padron - delicious!
My left hip started to hurt today, walking up and down stairs wasn’t easy. JP says I am turning into an old woman. But no blisters and another easy walking day tomorrow, only 13km to Arzua.
Here’s hoping that the sun will still be shining tomorrow!
DAY FOUR – MELIDE TO ARZUA (13KM)
The sun has got his hat on. Hip hip hip hooray! Today’s walk was the prettiest yet, market traders were setting up their stalls as we left pretty Melide and we encountered lots of quiet country roads, footbridges and forest paths.
Bright yellow butterflies fluttered along beside us as we walked. We came across a little unmanned ‘honour shop’ en route (pictured). Pilgrims were free to buy a punnet of strawberries or a slice of cake from the stall and leave the correct amount in the money tin.
An unmanned 'honour shop' at the side of the road - take what you want and leave the correct amount in the money tin.
Because we only had 13km to walk today we decided against stopping for lunch and pushed on to Arzua instead. We made only one short stop, to have a Coke in the newly-opened ‘German Cafe’. The owner told me he opened it last year and is delighted with how business has been so far. The last time we walked the Camino (2010) we couldn’t get accommodation in Arzua. We felt like Mary and Joseph getting turned away from every ‘albergue’ and hotel we tried.
In the end-up we slept on a basketball court inside a sports centre with a hundred or so Spanish secondary school students who insisted on playing football all night long.
Pretty countryside en route to Arzua
Today it is nice to know that our accommodation is pre-booked for us. The Pension El Retiro is our guesthouse and is the first building we see on the left as we enter Arzua. On Luis’ instruction, we will try some more cheese tonight. A big walking day tomorrow. 23km to Amenal.