A big day: Day 5 on the Camino de Santiago

Day 5 –  Boente to O Pedrouzo – 28.3km

I took a bit of a shorter day yesterday, walking about 16 km instead of the 24km I had planned. Well, it just meant that I had to make up the 8km today. It was probably for the best because there were a few steep hills between Boente and Arzua, starting with a steep decline out of Boente.

Starting in the early morning

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The hills are never actually too bad, especially not in the morning when I feel like I can just power up them. In the baking hot sun of the afternoon, especially after eating a delicious but heavy lunch, they seem to inch along. Downhill in the afternoons are even worst as my feet ache and the blisters protest. In the morning, however, I charge across the dark misty landscape. As I go over the crest of one hill, I couldn’t help but stop and watch the sun rise over the misty valley below before descending once again into the mist.

I couldn’t help but stop for the sunrise

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This time, it is Patricia and Millie who catch up to me as I stopped to admire the old stone bridge in the fog at Ribadiso da Baixo and we walk into Arzua together.

An old stone bridge at Ribadiso da Biaxo

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Idyllic pastoral scene heading into Arzua

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Arzua, pronounced with the ‘z’ as a ‘th’ sound, is a modern but pleasant city. Arzua is known for its boob shaped tetilla cheese, which is shaped in protest to the bishop of Santiago. The story goes that the bishop noticed an odd smile on the prophet Daniel’s face and followed his gaze across the doorway of the Cathedral, right to Queen Ester’s…ahem…augmented bosom. The Prophet Daniel kept his cheeky smile but the bishop made the sculptor give Queen Ester a boob reduction, which led to the boob shaped cheese in protest. The cheese was quite delicious no matter what the shape.

Boob shaped protest cheese, a speciality of Arzua

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Mid morning break

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After Arzua, I kept my pace up and walked another 8km at rapid pace with Millie and Patricia fueled by the cheese. I got to Calle – O Outeiro and decided to stop at a café/restaurant/bar combo. These café/restaurant/bars are flexible to the time of day and the needs of its clientele. It serves coffee as a café n the morning, lunch as a restaurant around midday and then turns into a bar, really whenever there is demand for it. Unfortunately, while this Bar Lino was in a great location with a lovely patio just off the trail, it was definitely predominately a bar. I ordered some freshly squeezed orange juice and a cured ham sandwich. It tasted kind of funny and I look closer. What I had thought was pepper crusted edges of the ham was actually mold!

An old oak grove after Arzua

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I kept up with Mille and Patricia’s expert walking for 8km after Arzua then stopped at a cafe for lunch. Looks good…unfortunately, the ham was moldy!

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I pushed on ahead, walking with other pilgrims at times and sharing stories about the Camino. One man was hiking in tribute to an acquaintance who had been murdered, others are addicted and it was their 10th time doing it, some are doing it for mental health and others to celebrate a recent retirement. I even met an old British couple in their late 70s…admittedly walking faster than I.

A horreo, a Galician granary for drying, curing and storing corn

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I stopped for a coffee at Empalme at a bustling café under the trees beside the highway. There is a detour to Santa Irene but I had my eyes set on reaching Arca, the next city, which was a 4km descent through eucalyptus forests away.

Eucalyptus forest into O Pedrouzo

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The last stretch to Arca, aka Arca do Pino or O Pedrouzo, seemed like it took forever. The path actually bypasses the modern city through the eucalyptus forest. However, for those staying in the city, there is a 500m hot stretch along the side of the highway into the city itself.

I stayed at Alberque REM, a large, modern hostel with lights and plugs at every bunk. As I hobbled into the hostel tonight, I saw a lady that I met on my first night on the Camino. She speaks only Italian so we never had a full conversation, but we were overjoyed to see each other. We hugged each other fiercely with tears in our eyes. This is the magic of the Camino.

When lights and plugs at every bunk becomes the lap of luxury…

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There is a bit of a feverish energy in O Pedrouzo as pilgrims are excited for the last day into Santiago. I ran into some other Canadians I had met on the trail and we all had dinner together. I made a blanket fort back at the hostel, feeling like I was channeling a bit of my inner child but also relishing the small private space and soon fell asleep. I felt very accomplished with my 27.5km walked today.

Modern city of O Pedrouzo

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Overview of the walk on Day 5

Day 5 with elevation

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