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Magic Middle Earth

[Wednesday 19th September; Spain Day 8, Camino Day 11. Today’s walking distance 25.3 klms (total 277.9 to date)]

I suggested yesterday that that day was the “best” day on this Camino. “Best” is not a particularly useful description to apply to the Camino, because in my experience no two days can ever be similar enough to make a comparison, and in any case a “good/bad” description simplifies things way way too much.

Having said that, let me break my self-imposed good/bad “rule”. Today was the “best” day on this Camino. We emerged from our rather opulent lodgings and almost immediately stepped back in time to the days of Middle Earth. I had been recommended to walk the Spiritual Variation by my good amiga Kerri Daniels from Sacramento, and since I was previously unaware of the Variation I’d not planned around it, so the suggestion to walk it required a rethink of the trip logistics, and that came with a few hassles. But boy, were the hassles worth it!! The first part of the day, the Route of Stone and Water, was just the most magical experience. I really felt that I had stepped back in time – which at one level I had – to a simpler and less complicated period. The stone mill-houses, the now unused water deviations, the babbling river, the luxurious green vegetation, the soft path under foot – the total experience now made sense of the spiritual deviation, for this really was a spiritual walk, one in which I really felt as peace with nature around me.

Today's story unfolds below.

I had been unable to work out how come the owners of the Pousada Armenteira would build such a place where they have. I think it makes sense now - perched as it is at the start of the Route of Stone and Water it seems to me that it is catering for people who wish to escape to a place high in the hills above the neighbouring towns and then experience the Route. The fact that some peregrinos will stay there is a bonus. That's my take anyway. Here's a sunrise scene from the top of the hotel.

And a family selfie as we left the hotel and just before we started down the hill ...

Now, where are we actually going?

Following are a few shots from the Route of Stone and Water. The photos don't really do it justice, but they may convey a sense of the magic.

One of the old mill-houses perched above the stream ...

A number of the old mill-stones are perfectly preserved as is the case here, even if the building around it is decaying ...

The route ...

Janet said she saw a Magical Liopleurodon in the trees ...

After walking through the magic forest we emerged to find a cafe. It was by now around 1pm and we had travelled all of about 7klms or so. A long day awaited us. The cafe tables looked like they were made of huge millstones ...

... which prompted a display of something from the chicas.

Because I live in one of the worlds premier wine regions (in quality if not in quantity), and even though I am not from the wine industry, I am always very interested in what I see that is related. The vines, mostly albariño, are supported often by massive granite strainer posts (sometimes cement is used). The granite, suitably polished, would look well at home at the most discerning of kitchen, but here they are buried in the ground. Certinly they look strudy enough to be supporting the vines in another millennium.

Newer, cement posts ...

Another thing I noticed is how the vines are all trellised about 2 metres off the ground. All harvesting is done by hand from underneath.

We passed this house along the way. It's hard to tell from this photo, but the whole wall of the house is coated with scallop shells. Very, very Camino ...

Many of the waterways we have passed have been teeming with fish. Inedible I assume. The ripples on the water in the photo below are created by a massive school. I watched the river almost coming alive with fish movement.

We found this friendly burro just out of Vilanova de Arousa ...

Arriving into Vilanova de Arousa, our penultimate destination for the day. The 1 kilometre long bridge connects the mainland to the island A Illa de Arousa.

Across the footbridge into town ...

The pretty little bay across from where we sat and enjoyed a self-congratulatory G&T., Spanish style

Street art at Vilanova ...

Tomorrow is our last day on the road. Tonight we stay at Vilagarcia de Arousa (it's a long story!), and catch an early train into Pontecesures, from where we undertake around a 30klm walk into Santiago. Stand by.

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