As my last post said, we had a very difficult time finding a place to stay. It had been a long first-day's walk - and the end of it was STRAIGHT downhill toward the river. Tough walking - but our destination was just on the other bank of the river, so we carried on! As we walked up to the town we saw this beautiful staircase...
Monday, April 10th - after a GOOD night's sleep in that new room, we awoke and had Mass in the hotel room - then breakfast at the hotel restaurant - and at 10:20 a.m. we were off! The town where we had stayed the night (Portomarín) had a beautiful ancient church in it - and the morning was a bit foggy as the photo shows. The Church of San Xoán was built as a temple-fortress by the Order of St John of Jerusalem. It wasn't open, so we couldn't go in. But from the outside you could see the large rose window and the 4 defense towers (one at each corner). We also learned that the church was originally down next to the river - but was moved to this location in the town in the 1960's when the flooded the river to form a reservoir.
So, we headed off. As the fog lifted, it revealed the beautiful landscape...
That day we walked through the following towns (and some pictures as I could recall where they were taken):
- Toxibó - one of the things we saw all along the way were these little "houses" - and it caused quite a bit of debate as to what they were. They had small doors - and spaces for air to get in. I thought they were perhaps bee-hives - but, on asking someone, we learned they are storage for corn.
Before arriving in the town, we encountered some ancient Celtic ruins dating from 400 BC to 100 AD. The settlement was built on the top of a hill (which we, of course, had to climb) in order to protect the settlement of about 1000 people and to provide a deterrent to anyone who might think of invading (I know the hill looked overwhelming for us!). For even further protection, they built rings of walls and ditches around the settlement. The ruins of buildings were all built of stone and originally had thatched roofs and were connected by narrow streets that occasionally ended in dead ends. I found some photos of these ruins on the internet to share with you (mine didn't turn out well). After exploring a bit, we continued toward Castromaior where we found the church of Santa Maria de Castromaior.
We then headed on toward the town of Hospital da Cruz. Again, just beautiful landscape as we walked along!
We walked through Hospital da Cruz, Ventas de Narón where, since it was now close to 1:30pm, we found a nice place along the way for lunch... and after lunch, another locked church - the Madalena Chapel - which was also once a pilgrim hospital.
Our goal for the day was to make it to Casanova - still 17 kilometers away... So we continued on through Crucero de Lameiros - where we found a pilar dating from 1670. The cross on top represents the maternity and life through images of Christ and the Virgin de los Dolores. The base represents death and suffering of Jesus Christ (on it are found images of a pair of tongs, a crown of thorns, and a skull). It was here that we paused to give our feet a rest and pray Daytime Prayer together.
Back on the road, we again found beautiful landscapes - we were VERY fortunate with weather, upper 70's during the day - sunny... perfect for hiking! We walked through Eirexe, Portos, Lestedo (in one of these towns we FINALLY found on open church - and went in to spend some time).
Finally we made it to Palas de Rei about 5:45pm. This was a good sized town, so we stopped here for dinner. Note the "pilgrim shell" in the street - you'll see shells everywhere - it's the sign of the pilgrim!
After a nice meal (and a beer) we continued on toward our destination... through the towns of San Xuilán do Camiño and Ponte Campaña.
We finally arrived at the town of Casanova at about 8pm - 8:45 pm (in case you are tracking - that's nearly hours on the road) - where had we had found nice place to stay about 1 km "off the beaten track" of the Camino.
At this point I was EXHAUSTED and really hurting! I was going VERY slowly down the beautiful treelined road toward the hotel. I thought I had blisters on the bottoms of both my heals - turns out they were both bruised - guess I walk too hard! But it was a very lovely tree-lined road leading toward our hotel for the night.
As we arrived at the hotel at 8:45pm dinner was already over - it was OK, we had already eaten. The staff was a bit surprised to see us. They had sent a message that they would pick us up at the Camino and bring us to the hotel. If ONLY we had gotten that message! Oh well. Another good night's sleep - and ready for Day 3.
To be continued...