Friday, November 12, 2010

On the Camino Santiago, Day 4: Arzua to Monte de Gozo

Walking a thousand-year-old trail, we found a delightful mix of ancient and modern along the way. The primary landscape was shaped by rolling hills, dotted with small farms and their simple, old, stone buildings. Several times, we saw workers building or repairing the stone structures, meticulously laying stones they way they've been laid for centuries. Now and then, the romance of time travel is punctuated by a jarring reminder that these farms are not a museum piece--they're home to real people, some of whom realize they can bring in a little extra income by hosting vending machines along the Camino.

Our morning breakfast stops--always after we'd gotten a few km down the road--varied in terms of the classiness of architecture and design, but were unwavering in the menu available: always an omelet sandwich (un bocadillo de tortilla). Fortunately, this is a fine thing to eat every day.
The beauty of things planted along the way continued to delight me. Here, spectacular and beautiful hydrangeas lined the path.
And, signs of all sorts--painted on the ground, on sides of buildings, in ancient monuments--kept us on the right path.
At lunch, we explored the menu options available. Here, Colin dared to try an empanada with octopus. I tasted better, I think, before we looked inside...

But, really, it's hard to complain at all about a hike that lets you drink your lunchtime coke out of a wine glass, enjoying the beauty of the day.
On this day--our longest of the journey by far--we began to long longingly for these concrete markers, many of which are marked with mileage. I do not know how many of these little monuments line the path, but they because a reliable companion on our walk. Well, reliable, that is, until we got close to Santiago and they suddenly disappeared. Because, I've come to believe, the Camino's path was re-routed around the airport property, adding a few extra km toward the end...but who's counting?!?
Alas, we were counting on this long day. I suppose it wouldn't have taken much to figure out that a town called "Monte de Gozo" is likely to be atop a hill. With tired feet and legs, we pressed on up the "monte," waiting for the "gozo" to set in.

Fortunately for us, we got to enjoy a rare celebration that night. Besides having made it to the HUGE alberge on the hill that overlooks Santiago, we made it to an ideal location for watching Spain win its first World Cup. We ate dinner and watched the match; Matt enjoyed a pint of his favorite local beer in a special, commemorative pilgrimage mug. (If you look close, you can see the Camino arrow...)

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