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Plus GST

[Friday 14th September; Spain Day 3, Camino Day 7. Today’s walking distance 26.7 klms (total 184.5 to date)]

So today was a special birthday, plus GST, which in truth makes it not a particularly special birthday. Figure it out. I realised today that I have spent 3 of my last 4 birthdays in Spain. There’s so much I like about Spain.

Various weather reports had it that it was going to be a warm day, so we all decided to leave fairly early. Melie always leaves early (around 6am), and Dave, Shelley and Helen set off at 7, and Janet, Nat and I left a little later, around 7:15. At that time of morning it’s quite dark still, so we quietly plodded off through the deserted streets in the pre-dawn light. The sun was sort of poking it’s head up over the horizon, and the three of us stopped for a farewell to Baiona selfie.

Our plan was to find breakfast somewhere near Nigrán, and that actually did happen, with a twist. We crossed over the Puente Románico de la Ramallosa, which I thought was actually at the town of Nigrán, but which on further research turned out not to be. The guide book we were following was a bit misleading, and then on top of that not long afterwards we completely lost the flechas amarillas which were (or were supposed to) guide us.

So we dropped into a quite modern little café in the town of Ramallosa, which we had thought to be Nigrán, where we were served an early coffee by a somewhat humourless señora, and headed off, unaware that we were slowly getting more lost. “Lost” is a relative term of course, as it’s nigh on impossible to actually get lost, rather one gets disorientated, or “off-track”.

Anyway, we headed off up the delightfully named Via Romana Alto, which I took to be the High Roman Road (below). It was a pleasant walk, and eventually we actually did arrive in Nigrán, some 4 kilometres further on. To borrow from Obi-wan Kenobi: “this is not the Nigrán you are looking for – move along”. So move along we did. I must acknowledge a bit of tension in the air …. a few words spoken … especially as we trudged up the quite busy PO-552 (same one as I found myself on yesterday), knowing that our “proper” path was a mere 2/300 metres to our right, but having no idea as to how to get to it. There was some concern that we’d have to walk the whole remaining 11 or so kilometres into Vigo on this busy and hot road.

As I have written previously, walking the Camino can be a very reflective exercise. It can also be a stressful exercise, in that it is physically demanding and it can cause discomfort or even pain, and so even the smallest distortion to the “expected” path can cause friction and angst, and so it was for the hour or so that we deviated from our intended path.

But distortions have a way of correcting themselves, and at the top of the hill out of the real Nigrán we found a series of arrows directing us up into the forest and so on our proper way. The forest walk went for some 8 or so kilometres in total, and was lovely and at times physically a bit challenging. Over the last several days we have walked through seemingly endless eucalypt forests – mainly Tasmanian Blue Gums, which I take are rather a scourge on the local environment. It’s not at all clear to me whether these forests are planned in some way, or whether they are self-sown. A lot look like the latter. There’s obviously been fires through here in recent times (over the last 2/3 years), and today we walked through sections of forest where there were tens of thousands of baby blue gums self-sown. Short of massive doses of poison (which would be a fairly drastic action), I have no idea how the authorities might control them. But control them they will need to, as they will a massive environmental and fire risk if left unchecked.

The view into the outskirts of Vigo from the previously burnt forest.

Because it was my birthday our mission upon descending from the forest and getting into the outskirts of Vigo was to find a place that would serve a bottle of cava for a celebratory drink. We must have tried at least six places, with our question “¿tienes cava por favor?” either producing a blank look or a “¡lo siento!”. But find one we eventually did, all of 200 metres from our hotel. A well-earned drink, a nice snack, combined with delightful service.

Later we dined in the centre of town just off the Praza de Compostela. A lovely meal. The highlight of the day was yet to come. After dinner, I wanted to wander around a bit and go to the Cathedral, simply because that’s the focal point of the Camino irrespective of which town one is in. The town was bursting alive with people, and as we came around to the front of the Cathedral there were several hundred mainly young folk standing and sitting around chatting, having a drink, enjoying life. It was completely unexpected. They weren’t boisterous or disorderly in any way (which is an expectation that one often has when there’s a large group), just a big bunch of young people simply hanging out in the plaza in front of the church. It was a wonderful experience to just be in the middle of this happy crowd.

Street art in the old town ...

At the cathedral ...

Rest day tomorrow ...

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