Walking in Spain along the Camino Ignaciano from Loyola to Manresa, and the Camino de Invierno from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016


Galicia has a very distinctive smell, which until about two days ago my nose hadn't detected, on this trip.  Two days ago, as I approached the town of Quiroga, where I planned to spend the night, I knew I was truly in Galicia - the smell was there!  It is the smell of hay mixed with animal waste, the smell of sileage in the hot afternoon sun, the smell of cows, and of slurry!  It is distinctive, and nowhere else in Spain have I found that smell to such a degree.

Until now, I have been passing industries such as slate factories, and vineyards - wine is very important in this region.  Now I am seeing (and smelling) more and more dairy farms.  Along with this kind of farming is an increasing danger - DOGS!  These are VERY big, VERY loud, and VERY scary!!  Those who know me, know I'm not really an animal lover, and my experience with the dogs here has put me off them forever!!!!!

The little yappers are ok, as are the big woofers - when they are safely locked inside a yard.  It is the big woofers, not chained or locked up, who suddenly appear out of nowhere, barking and growling ferociously that are VERY scary.  I had three dog episodes yesterday, and each time the owners were around to take charge.  There were two little yappers and their master stopped the car and kept commanding them until I had gone past and a kilometre or so further on three small "ponies" came at me!  Fortunately the farmer was there and so I just stood still until they were called back into line.  I met those three again, 15mins later, as they worked with the sheep and goats the farmer was moving.  They were OK then, trying to head-butt me to move along with the sheep!
After my "dog episode" I took some time out, only to hear the bells, and this herd turned the corner.
The biggest dog was the one on the left of the black dog.  It seems to be a common breed here.

Today's dogs - a different story.  I missed a sign and was looking for it when I got bailed up by a couple of dogs.   I adopted my usual strategy of standing still in the hope that someone would appear, but the only thing that did was three more dogs.  Walking slowly and steadily forward (I thought forward was a better way to go than retreating), I decided that I didn't really need to find the sign!  The dogs continued barking, and I cut across a paddock with the aim of heading along the road, but not so.  A glance down the road showed three of my tormentors ranging along the road just waiting for me!  I decided retracing my steps along the road was the best (a 2km detour) way to go, but even this was not hazard free as another dog came out of a farm at me.  Having said all that, I eventually arrived at Monforte de Lemos - supposedly only 12.5 kms, but with my detours 4 kms further!

This is a beautiful town.  It boasts a Parador (a chain of luxury hotels in converted monasteries and the like).  I could have stayed there for €85, but have chosen to stay in the Hotel Puente Romano for €20, with breakfast thrown in because I'm a pilgrim!
Looking towards the Puenta Romana
My hotel is the white building, and on the hill behind is the Parador.
The Parador (above and below) in Monforte de Lemos sits atop a hill, overlooking the whole town.

It seems to me that this part of Galicia is a more affuent than its more northern counterpart.  The houses are big, often rendered, and brightly painted, frequently with a bigger yard, often with very impressive vege patches.  They often have tiled entrances, numerous pot plants on display, with small balconies and large windows.  The streets are impeccably clean, though cows are around, there is not much manure in evidence - sometimes on the Camino Frances one is in great danger of slipping on the deposits!

This little Cappella is dedicated to Santa Barbara.  In all the times I have been to Galicia, I have never seen inside one of these tiny churches, until this day.  The Señora (below) opened it for me.  We had a chat - she has had knee surgery, so she could never walk the Camino!

By the same token, there are an amazing number of very old traditional houses.  I have often walked past what I have thought is an old wreck of a house, only to be surprised that at the back, or side, there is evidence that it is still a lived in residence.  One village I walked through had such narrow "streets" I could have stretched out my arms and touched both sides at once.
The houses on the left are lived in, and underneath the verandah is the lavadero público.
I've gone under quite a few rooms built across the roadway.

There have been some long days, and there a couple more to come, but the scenery has more than made up for it.  There a couple of days of ups and  to come so there will be more views in store.
Just some of the views.  Leaving A Rûa de Valdeorras.
The River Sil, and in the distance the white buildings of Quiroga.
The River Sil, not long after leaving Quiroga.
Looking over Montefurado.
Looking over a portion of Monforte de Lemos.

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