We left Melida just before 7 am to walk the 14k to Aruza; despite the short distance we aheaded out early as the days are getting hot, temperatures of 31C were expected.
We walked down beautiful country lanes.
Crossed small creeks on stone bridges.
But most magical of all was passing through the eucalyptus forest. As the trees grow it sheds a layer of bark, ribbons of bark fall away revealing the smooth new layer below, and the soft smell of eucalyptus hung in the air.
We left Portomarin about 7:15 am it was about 15C and foggy. We arrived in Palas de Rei just hefore 2 pm. In just under 7 hrs we walked 24 k. 36770 steps. By noon it was 27C – 74% humidity, just a little muggy! Galicia is not flat, all day we were either going up hill or down! Soooo tired!
A tougher stretch of road then we have had for a while. While the guide books suggest this section can be walked in two days we planned on a three days to complete it, and we were happy we did!
This section is characterized by the wild and rocky Cantabrian Mountains tiny stone villages nestled in the mountains.
We climb to the historic site of the Cruz Ferro and the high point of the Irago Mountains before the steep descent down to Ponferrada. Typical Maragato mountain villages with slate-roofed houses like El Acebo. On a clear day, the mountain views are superb. The guide books all warn to be prepared for the possibility of cold, rain and wind, one day our day began with fog.
We have left Astotga and walked on to Ponferrada, I will write more about that paŕt of the Camino and our journey little later.
For now I wanted to show you some photos from our visit to Astorga.
First the 15th century Catedral de Santa María de Astorga, with a Baroque façade and a Renaissance retablos completed by a disciple of Michelangelo and Raphael (Gaspar Becerra). While it is not as elaborate or as large as the Burgos Cathedral, nor does it have the magnificent stained glass of the Leon Cathedral but it is one of the oldest cathedrals in Spain. Once inside our eyes are drawn up and there is an amazing sense of height, and it is inspiring in its simplicity as the columns and pillars are designed without ornamentation.
Our next stop was the Plaza Mayor, Tuesday is market day and the plaza along with many of the side streets were filled with market stalls. The vendors each seemed to have their specialty, fruits and veggies, plants, flowers, bread, cheese, food trucks, stalls of cloths, shoes, toys, books, stationary, purses, bags. I did not see any antique or junk dealers, so no old cameras for me, probably a good thing since the backpack is full!
Confusing and almost miss directed…..those who walk the camino follow the yellow arrows with a certain faith/knowledge that we will get to the next place on the map by following the yellow arrows. Walking into Hospital de Orbigo we were faced with arrows pointing in two different directions. In 2012 when we walked the Camino Francis the first time, we made the choice to go left rather than straight through, thus was a mistake, we knew that turning left would take us out to the highway not into town where we wanted to go.
It is clear that some of the arrows have been painted out and there has been an effort to misdirect walkers. Following the arrows to your left and you will, as we did in 2012 walk through an industrial section, along the highway, walking this direction will add an hour to your travel time to get into the town.
On other sections of the Camino we have been able to trust the arrows, this one is confusing and a guide book or a good map is essential. I use the kindle app on my phone to access two different books for information. Using a digital copies if the two books means the information is always available with no extra weight. We also use the Mapme app on the smartphone, it uses GPS and the information we need is accessible when when we are off line.
The Cathedral is a magnificent building, with such a rich history, I highly recommend visiting the cathedral if you are in the city, and allow a couple of hours to listen to the audio tour and view all the details.
The Way of St. James is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. It ranks along with Rome and Jerusalem as one of Christendom’s great pilgrim destinations.
By the 12th century, the Camino had become a rather organized affair and what is widely regarded as the world’s first travel guide, the Codex Calixtinus from around 1140, provided the would-be pilgrim with the rudiments of what he or she would need to know while en route; advice for pilgrims, informing them where they should stop, relics and sanctuaries they should visit, bad food they should be wary of and commercial scams, including in the author’s opinion, other churches who claimed to hold relics of St. James. The book provides a valuable insight into the life of the 12th-century pilgrim.
By the 12th and 13th centuries, half a million pilgrims made their way to and across northern Spain and back each year. Local kings and clergy built hospitals, hostels, roads and bridges to accommodate them. The Knights Templar patrolled the Camino, providing protection, places of hospitality, healing and worship, as well as a banking system that became one source of their fabled wealth.
There is evidence of a pre-christian route, the celts used this route across northern Spain, to Finisterre, the end of the world. For them, watching the sun set over the endless waters was a spiritual experience.
Some of it winds its way over the remains of pavement laid down by the Romans two millennia ago, they built infrastructure, including a road from Bordeaux in modern France to Astorga in northwest Spain, to mine the area’s gold and silver. Some of the original road remains on today’s Camino.
A combination of the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther around 1520, the Enlightenment and European wars gradually suppressed the Camino. In the 17th century Louis XIV of France forbade his subjects from going to Santiago in order to stop trade with Spain. The Camino fell into disfavour but was never abandoned.
The European Union has designated a network of four pilgrimage routes in northern Spain in 1993. The network of routes represent 1500 kilometres, and includes historical sites, cathedrals, churches, monasteries, hostels, bridges and natural landscapes. Pilgrimages were an essential part of European culture and spiritual life during the Middle Ages. Along the route pilgrims were provided with everything they needed to ensure their physical and spiritual well-being. The route contributed to the economic and social development of the towns along the way, and the movement of large numbers of visitors contributed to the two-way exchange of cultural advances between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe.
Now, after centuries of slumber, the Camino is alive with upward of 250,000 pilgrims—and growing—yearly.
After spending a little more than a year living out of a suitcase, enjoying the foot loose and fancy free lifestyle, we arrived home to Calgary in late February. Then, in mid April we moved back into our townhouse, we started to unpack the boxes, re-hang art work and filled the closets. We stocked shelves with some of our favourite food, and most importantly are now sleeping in our own very comfortable bed. We enjoyed our time away, but we seeing, and more importantly, visiting with family and friends.
During the last month I have also started a new job! Back into the insurance world with exciting new challenges, unfortuately it is all leaving very little time for photography. I think once I get use to the routine, and the home gets settled I will have more time, but for now photography has once again taken the back seat to work.
I do have a few images listed with Alamy, a stock photography website, and recently this image of the Puenta la Reina was purchased. While I won’t be getting rich with the sale, I am happy to say that it sold for more than the $1.00 per image that some sites are offering images for. I have been a regular contributor to the stock agency for a while and periodically sell and images, so the sale isn’t unusal, as I don’t have a lot of photography news to share with you, this seemed like a good opportunity to feature my Alamy home page.
I will continue to process images, adding them to the stock site when I can, I am hoping to starting doing more family portraits on the weekend again and I will continue blogging, once I get a new routine established.
I wander around with my camera almost all of the time, and sometimes you will find me laying on the ground, climbing into a tree, hanging over a fence railing just to get the picture. I have gotten use to the idea that people will stop and stare I am sure they are trying to figure out what the heck am I taking a picture of. But when I got down really low to take this picture of the horse and carriage and the horse looked at me like I was crazy I knew it would be a great photo. It makes me smile!
How about you any memorable photos with crazy stories, share them on your blog and send us a link.