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Guest Post Series: Pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago, Part II

Editor’s Note: My friend, Manila-based producer Tanya Yuson just finished a 100 km pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago in Spain. I asked her to share her experiences here on the blog as a series of guest posts. Today’s is filled with the muscle pain realness, more gorgeous scenery from the Spanish countryside and the goodness of Nutella. You can read part 1 here. You can follow Tanya’s pictures on Instagram where she’s @TYPIX. – Jen

Day 3 – Palas de Rei to Melide

Our first “easy day”. We are supposed to only do 14km and at the end of the walk will be the best Pulpo de Gallega for lunch. After our 24.8km the day before all we want to do is go downhill.

Breakfast at the Pension Palas is quite a spread! It only lacks an omelette station. But for 5 Euro you can toast croissants, brioche or the spectacular Galician bread. According to our innkeeper, the best Galician bread is from Palas de Rei. Chorizo, queso, a basket of delicious fruit and some delicious cafe con leche with the milk steamed and ready to be poured. There is also a homemade almond cake as well as cereal and yogurt. The capper- a huge jar of local honey and an even bigger jar of the Spanish Nutella.

Tip: spreading Nutella on just toasted Galician bread and a sip of cafe con leche= heaven!

Fortified, we set off. In the plaza we meet the ladies from Canada who are traveling the camino together. One of them in her sporty wheelchair- outfitted with treads for cross country. We saw them navigate the rocky paths on the way to Palas de Rei and they are pretty much rock stars.

The short walk is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. Especially for a group of novice walkers who grew up in a tropical country, where the only hills we navigate are by car. We know enough not to make it a competition- just like a yoga class. But you can’t help being pushed to walk further by the sight of 3 older gentlemen ahead of you chatting and singing like they were at a pub instead of hiking up a steep hill.

Speaking of which- it turns our day isn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We end up reaching Melide at 3pm. Hot, tired and cranky because we are starving. We head to A’ Garanacha for Pulpo and pimentos and a bottle of Albirino. We’re still exhausted from the climbs and the heat but they were right about the Pulpo being amazing. Who knew Octopus could be so tender. Also why is a place that seems far away from the coast famous for Octopus? Matters to google later.

We get to the Hotel Carlos where we are met by Luis- the manager who runs the place while his father cooks fantastic Galician food and his mother is front of house for their dining room. It has been a good food day and dinner was no exception. Callos that we’re so flavorful, we all had to stop ourselves from drinking the bowl and Merluza a la cazuela. Fish with clams and peas baked in a clay dish.

It was almost enough to make us forget that we trekked 15km before lunch. Our sore legs would remind us of it though as we limped off to bed.

Day 4 Melide to Arzua

Learning from our mistake of waiting until 3pm to eat lunch the previous day to disastrous results – we resolve to try to cover as much ground as we can in the morning and break for lunch at around 1pm.  This will make for less grouchy pilgrims.

After a hearty breakfast, we set off  to pick up the Camino from the north side of the city. We feel especially refreshed because we all had our laundry done for a reasonable 12 Euro. Freshly washed clothes never felt so good. This is one of the lessons of the Camino – you learn to appreciate and watch out for the little things both good and bad. Newly laundered gear and ice cubes in your water bladder = good. A tweaky pain in the side of my leg = not so good. At first I think it’s because I haven’t stretched enough so I try to go at an easier pace so I can warm my legs up some more. After a bit though I have to sit down and take a break. Triage is massaging my leg with some liniment and taking the ibuprofen I forgot to take at breakfast.  To rest is good, but in my head I know that the more we keep moving, the sooner we get to our destination. My leg feels a hundred times better after the massage and the meds, and after finding a stretch that works out the kinks, I am good to go. What a difference to walk without any pain – yet another lesson learned on this Camino.

A good thing too that the pain is gone, as the last bit of ground to cover before our next destination is climbing Mt. Sophia. Unlike Palas de Rei – this is a pretty steep hill with none of the magical treecover that we so look forward to as it shades us from the unrelenting Galician sun. It’s October but it still feels like summer sometimes.  We reach Arzua and have to sit down to rest, though we are a scant 500 meters from our hotel for the night. We eventually get there and I do a proper stretch before we go down to eat. The surprise at dinner is a group of German pilgrims break into song complete with harmonies. I can’t tell what the song is about but all of a sudden it feels like Christmas.