Our day twelve on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense was a long walk, on mostly pavement. The Camino follows along on the same road for more than half-way, then on roads through the industrial areas of Ourense, the amazing medieval town of Seixalbo, and finally a walk into Ourense itself and to its magnificent cathedral, whose portico is reminiscent of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” ~ Maya Angelou, American Activist, Author and Educator
Indeed it was a great day of friendship, as it would be our last day with Miguel, our Spanish ambassador. He had made great friends with us and with another peregrino from Germany with whom he could continue to walk and go at a better pace for himself.
We had made our own plans and we had pre-booked a two-bedroom apartment for two nights in Ourense. Miguel would only stay in Ourense for one night and he chose to stay in the albergue with fellow peregrinos.
Miguel is such a caring and helpful person, a true Spanish diplomat. If all the world was represented by Miguel, bigotry would not exist!
There are plenty of services on this day, as the Camino gets closer to the large metropolis of Ourense. Here is my interactive map, with many services, but not all placed on it to aid you in your planning for the day.
From an energy expenditure point of view, this is not a difficult day, and as you can see, is downhill almost the entire time.
We walked from the Albergue de Peregrinos de Xunqueira de Ambía, on the secondary road for 300 meters, where we joined the OU-0108 to walk into town. We passed the Casa Miraval and arrived at the church square, the Plaza San Rosendo, in the center of town after about 1/2 kilometer from the albergue. The church, the Colexiata de Santa María, below, was lit up with flood lights in the early morning hours. It was an uplifting sight.
We noted the private Casa Tomás Albergue Turístico, across the street from the church with its outdoor tables.
Just beyond the private albergue, in the square, the Bar Guede was open and full of early morning workers. We had made our own breakfast in the albergue, but this place is an option, open early if you need a café.
We walked around the bar as the road curved to the right and now northward to pick up the OU-0102 at the small plaza, the Plaza Primo de Rivera, about 100 meters after the church. This plaza, on its western end contains a lovely little chapel to San Pedro.
It is downhill from here, through town straight onward on the OU-0102 and in less than 100 meters the Camino leaves the OU-0102 on a side road to the left, at this intersection shown below, at about 800 meters into the day.
You descend steeply on this side road and in about another 100 meters, follow the Camino to the left again by the industrial looking building of the Centro de Saude (Health and Fitness Center, not shown). After the center, the road turns to a "grassy shortcut, and in a few meters, picks up a quiet road that leads you out of town, shown below.
This quiet road is actually a lane that leads to the Campo de Fútbol, the town soccer field, not shown. After the soccer field, the lane turns to a path that crosses the OU-0102 a bit farther along as it loops around the more directly routed path. At the second intersection with the OU-0102, it turns right to join the road, shown below. I did not see an arrow, showing the turn to the right and onto the road, but that is the way to go.
Immediately, the road crosses this narrow, stone, moss-covered bridge over the Río Arnoia, shown below. The river is at about 1.5 kilometers total for day twelve, on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense.
My photos are not crisp and clear on this morning's walk. It was very dark, damp, a bit foggy and definitely gloomy, and it was difficult to hold my camera still. At least it was not raining!
The river marks a low point, and there will be a bit of a small climb over the next two or so kilometers to the next town of Outorelo.
After the bridge, the Camino continues along the OU-0102 for about a quarter kilometer, before turning to the right onto a nice parallel lane, shown below.
This lane has some steep and rocky sections, which may be slippery when wet. In fact, it looked to us as if there were some old Roman pavers. A Spanish gentleman once told me, when I asked if a section of road was Roman, answered, "Todos los Caminos son Romanos!" In other words, all roads are Roman! Indeed.
At about 2.1 kilometers, stay straight on as you cross this intersection, shown here. This lane started out paved.
The Camino soon turns to dirt, then veers off to the left onto a path sometime later. At approx. 2.7 kilometers, join the OU-0102 once again. Here you can see the road ahead, where you will turn right.
At about kilometer 3.2 come to the sign announcing your arrival into the town of Outorelo. There is still a small incline left to go.
After passing a few houses, only about 330 meters later, come to the sign for the next town of A Pousa.
Just around the bend you come to the Bar Torre, and a few steps later the Bar A Pousa and a little supermarket at 3.7 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense. It was too early for us to stop, so we carried on.
The small chapel shown below is right next to the last bar and is officially the highest elevation for the day. It is essentially all downhill into Ourense from here.
We continued walking on the OU-0102 for another 1.4 kilometers or so, through the countryside, until coming to yet another small town, Salgueiros. It is at 5.1 total kilometers at this signpost. The weather was getting a bit more misty, but still no rain.
Barely 100 meters after entering town, the OU-0102 goes to the left at this building, shown below and the Camino continues to follow it.
The one kilometer amble on the OU-0102 is pleasant and wooded from the few buildings that make up Salgueiros, to the next town.
It is at approx 6.3 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense, that you come to the turn off from the OU-0102 and towards the hamlet of Gaspar, shown below.
This tiny place has only these few quaint buildings!
Immediately after this cluster of buildings, the paved road turns into a lane, and abruptly turns to the right, and directly back out to the OU-0102!
Cozy up to this road, the OU-0102, because from here you will be walking on it for the next 7.5 kilometers!!
In only a hundred meters back on the road, come to the town of Veirada at approximately kilometer 6.75. This small town has no services. You can see the Camino drops to the left on a side road after the sign, but it comes right back up to the OU-0102 in a few more meters.
Stay on the OU-0102 through town, and cross a bridge over railroad tracks on the town's westernmost side at about kilometer 7.3 on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense. The skies ahead were finally beginning to clear.
It is barely 1/2 kilometer until you come to the signpost for Ousende.
The hamlet, once again contains a cluster of buildings and no services. Here is the road onward, now descending strongly toward the next town of Penelas.
It is at kilometer 8.25 when you reach the town sign of Penelas.
There is not much to this town, however, there are two bars along the Camino. First is the Café Bar Manuel, shown below, about 1/3 kilometer after the town sign and next is the Bar O Casó, not shown, and about 100 meters later.
At the last bar, you are about at 8.7 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense. We did not stop in Penelas, but in retrospect, most likely we should have. We were hoping to get closer to the halfway point before stopping, or to at least have 10 kilometers under our belt.
The next open bar was not until 12 kilometers into the day, more than three kilometers from Penelas, but our information said that there was a bar in Pereiras, less than two kilometers from Penelas, just over 10 k for the day. The group was banking on this rather heavily.
So onward we went toward the next town of A Vendo do Río.
I include this photo below, at the 10 kilometer marker on the OU-0102, because this is how long we had been following the path of this road, or the road itself since we joined it in the center of Xunqueira de Ambía!
You enter the town of A Venda do Río when the red brick sidewalk begins at around 10.7 kilometers. It was nice to see a town of sufficient size to bring us a safer alternative to walking on the road. Plus the red brick is really nice.
After a continuing walk on the red brick sidewalk, you enter the next town of Pereiras at 11.2 kilometers on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense.
Here is Miguel, leading the group into Pereiras.
When we arrived a few meters later into the dead center of Pereiras, at about 11.4 kilometers, the Bar Ruta da Prata was closed up tight as a drum and had a for sale sign on the door!
I can't tell you how hard the group took this sight, especially Nadine. We were all hoping for a rest and rejuvenation, for sure, but the lesson here is to always expect the unexpected. We carried onward.
Through this area, you will see shells embedded on the pavement, with the direction of travel from the rays of the shell, toward the center as you can see in the next photo. This is an interesting change from the rest of Galicia.
I was now under intense pressure to find a bar and find it soon! It seemed, with Nadine's limp that our distances were measured from one café con leche to another. Granted, I too was longing for a coffee, but I knew the Camino all too well, and was used to the ups and downs of its experiences.
My pressure/patience ratio seemed to be growing. I tried to take it all in stride, but I admit it was getting more difficult. I hoped to keep it together, to get us to Ourense, for our down day and some respite from this pressure. Easy enough, it seemed at only 12 kilometers left to go.
So, we sallied forth, as every pilgrim throughout the millennia must do!
As the story goes, it wasn't far until the next Bar Descanso, that I spied 600 meters farther down the road. What a relief it was to see it! The pressure was off. Even though the bar itself was not so great an experience, it served the purpose.
After our rejuvenating break, we continued along the OU-0102 and within 1/2 kilometer, walked under this railroad bridge.
As of this moment you have now left the quiet villages behind, and you are entering the industrial area of Ourense. However, there is the quaint town of Seixalbo still ahead, and its medieval wonders.
First you do get to walk by this intriguing-looking place, shown below, the Bbikalla Park. I would love to have taken a break here at this bar, if we could have gone on just another 700 meters! It is at about 12.7 kilometers into the day.
The walk onward is comfortable as it continues on this brick sidewalk, toward the industrial park of A Castellana.
As we walked into the town limits, the industrial smoke greated us! There is at least one bar that you walk by in this town.
At about 13.9 kilometers, there is a Y-intersection, with this pilgrim's rest area, or "Area Descanso de Peregrino." I am not sure why anyone would want to stop here in the middle of this industrial area, but if you had your own picnic, it is a comfortable enough looking place.
It is here at this pilgrim's rest stop that you finally leave the OU-0102, where the road ends, but unfortunately you do not leave the pavement behind. The pavement continues for the rest of the day.
After the left turn at the Y-intersection, there are lots of industrial buildings ahead. This may be the only section on the entire Camino Sanabrés that I would describe as ugly. Yet, the pilgrimage traveler doesn't judge, just moves forward!
Right by the building belching the smoke, you come to a T-intersection, where you will turn left onto the OU-0514. At this turn you are almost exactly 15 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense.
In about 200 meters more, at a roundabout, the OU-0514 bears to the right, to enter the next town of Reboredo.
There are many services along this stretch, as you might expect so if you need one keep your eyes open. They are too numerous to list here.
At kilometer 15.9, you will come to a Y-intersection, shown below. Stay to the right at the Y and start your final climb for the day, up the hill.
It is only about 1/2 kilometer climb, when you merge with the OU-105 shown below.
You are on the OU-105 for barely 100 meters, when at the top of the hill, you will notice the Nicanor Carballo sculpture, below. It is telling you to go to the left. There is a restaurant on the left side of the street, shown in the photo below, and the turn is just before it.
You will know you are on the Rúa do Cruceiro when you see the next Nicanor Carballo carving, below! Don't you just love these carvings?
Our spirits were high as we crested the hill, and the grand metropolis of Ourense came into full view.
After not quite a kilometer walking on the Rúa do Cruceiro, you once again merge with the OU-105. This is at 17.5 kilometers on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense. There is a nice pilgrim's path on the side of the road.
A few meters later, the sign for Seixalbo comes into view, in the photo below.
You walk along the highway for only 300 meters when you come to a large roundabout. After the roundabout, the Camino leaves the OU-105 at this intersection, making a right hand turn onto the Rúa Santa Águeda, shown below.
You could actually stay straight here, on the OU-105 and miss the small diversion described below, to the chapel. You wouldn't miss much.
If you stay on the Rúa Santa Águeda, in about 60 meters, turn left and onto this lane, shown below. You can see the landmark Capela Santa Ádega on the hill before you.
As you approach the chapel and its cross, shown below, the railroad tracks block your passage to the Capela, so you must turn left by the tracks as the blue sign with the arrow indicates. Follow the tracks down the hill and back to the OU-105. See the next photos.
This little diversion allows you to come close to the chapel, but not actually to go to it. If you want to try to see the chapel, you must turn right when you reach the OU-105 at the bottom of the hill, then walk under the tracks via the tunnel, and take the first right on the other side of the tracks to go up the lane on the other side. (Look for the sign to the chapel after the tunnel.) We chose to go onward.
Otherwise, to go onward on the Camino, rejoin the OU-105, and walk for about 150 meters, until you see this turn below, where you turn left as indicated toward Seixalbo.
From this turn, it is a lovely 1/2 kilometer walk through the ancient medieval streets of Seixalbo. While only a short distance, this section is packed with things to see and original medieval buildings at which to marvel.
Start out on the Rúa de Amendo, shown below and enter the narrow streets of a bygone era.
One of the first medieval buildings of interest that we passed by is this one with the concrete "corridors," called cantons, that would create sheltered passageways from house to house. This is a common medieval architectural feature.
Below is another well-preserved medieval stone house, just before the Praza Maior, which you reach at about 18.6 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense.
You will know that you are at the Main Square, the Praza Maior, at this cross, shown below. It is here that you will turn to the right and onto the Rúa Maior or the Main Street.
As you walk up the hill on the Rúa Maior, you will pass by several cafés. We chose not to stop, but it would be lovely to sit outside here and take in the ambiance.
As you continue walking up the hill, enter the plaza, Praza das Laxas at kilometer 18.8 and see the town church and parish buildings. We were lucky and arrived on a Sunday, just after mass had adjourned, so we could have a look inside.
I hope you take some time to wander around the narrow streets of Seixalbo, before pushing onward. There is a very nice webpage from the Ourense website called "Un Paseo Por Seixablo" or "A Walk Through Seixalbo," that locates and describes all the sights in town. Just click on the link. You will not be disappointed.
Then it is a continuation northward, after the church plaza, on the Rúa Verea Real de Seixalbo, or just the Rúa Seixalbo, down the hill and staying left at the first intersection. This is the road that will take you into the southern outskirts of Ourense.
As the view becomes ever more commercial-looking, pass several industries including a Peugeot factory, until you arrive at the supermarket, Eroski, the orange building shown in the photo below, at almost exactly 20 kilometers total on the Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense.
It is at the Eroski that you join the OU-105, now called the Avenida de Zamora, cross over the street on a nice crosswalk and walk on a nice fenced pedestrian way. The closed pedestrian way ends in about 300 meters at the first big roundabout. Carry on straight at the roundabout to continue on the Avenida de Zamora.
After another long 700 meters of city walking, come to the next large roundabout. It is here that you stay left to continue on the Avenida de Zamora.
As we walked around this area, the pulpo vendors were everywhere! We almost stopped to enjoy some, but we didn't because we no longer choose to eat octopi, after having discovered how intelligent they are!
At the very next intersection, in about 100 meters, stay left again to continue on the Avenida de Zamora.
If you pay attention, there are sufficient waymarks embedded in the sidewalk, as shown below. However, you are only given a waymark when there is a change in direction, so it is often easy to miss. Just follow my directions and you will be fine!
You are getting very close to the cathedral and the center of town when you see this large park on your right, the Xardín do Posío.
If you are going to the Grelo Hostel and Albergue, you should turn right before the park onto the Rúa da Coruña and continue on for about 200 meters to the Rúa Pena Trevinca, then turn left and the albergue is 100 meters to the north.
To continue on the Camino, after passing the park, it is only about 1/4 kilometer, where the waymark in the sidewalk directs you across this crosswalk and to the east side of the street (hiker's right), just before the stone gate shown in the photo below. This crosswalk is also easy to spot by the overpass that is just ahead.
It is imperative that you find this crosswalk, as instead of walking over the bridge, you need to take the stairway down below the street level, shown below.
You will be greeted by a lovely formal garden dotted with palm trees and a mosaic centerpiece, shown below. If you miss the stairway, and walk on the bridge and see this to the right below you, this is the way you should have gone, so turn around!
You follow the pathway to the fountain below, where Rich and I posed so sweetly! The plaques on either side of the fountain describe the history of the thermals, and the mineral content of the water.
From the fountain, take the stairway back up to the street level, on the Rúa Burgas, and just behind the fountain is the thermal pools. It is free to enter the pools, but you absolutely must have a "proper" bathing suit to go in or you will be removed, like we were.
The guys got to wear hiking shorts and were not asked to leave, but Nadine and I in jog bras and hiking shorts were asked to leave, despite the protests of the locals. I will refrain from comments about sexism. As we were leaving, I stated that I was going to drown my sorrows in Crema de Arujo (local firewater with cream added - one of my favorites!) and everyone laughed!
The pools, shown below were closed as we walked by the first time, during siesta. If you plan to return for a free soak, check the current hours at the entryway on your way by.
Continuing up the hill on the Rúa Burgas past the thermal pools, the waymarks in the pavement are now bronze on the Camino Sanabrés, Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense.
It is only about 50 meters past the hot spring pools that you come to the first intersection, and the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Ourense is on the left (NW corner), at 22.3 kilometers. Here is a photo of it. There have been a lot of poor reports about a hospitalero there, which may have changed. The facility itself was recently remodeled. We did not stay there, I can offer no opinion.
The Camino continues to the left, up the hill on the Rúa Barreira, and in only 80 meters you come to the Main Plaza, the Praza Maior, shown below. Here is where Nadine and I went to a bar, to drown our sorrows in Crema de Arujo while we waited for the guys to enjoy their soak! It is a nice place to hang out.
The onward Camino continues through the plaza, and you must look for the narrow street, in-between the two buildings shown below, keeping the northward direction, that will take you to the cathedral.
Here is this narrow street, between the buildings in the main plaza, called the Rúa Arcedianos, with it's embedded shell waymark.
In only 50 meters, the cathedral looms above you to the right! This is where I ended my GPS tracking, to finish our day.
The cathedral deserves some time to tour, but again, we arrived during siesta and would come back later to give it justice.
To whet your appetite, here is the Pórtico de Paraíso, so similar in feel to the Pórtico da Gloria in Santiago de Compostela, only 100 kilometers away now.
There is a municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Ourense, as mentioned above, near the thermal springs. There are also two private albergues, the Albergue Augas Quentes, far to the north of the center of town, across the Minho River, and close to the route via Tamallancos on day thirteen and the Grelo Hostel, which is on the south side of town, near the center and a few meters off-Camino. Please click on the links or check the interactive map above for their exact locations.
There are also several economical hotels/hostals from booking.com that I have listed for your convenience, the Hotel Miño, the Hotel Irixio, the Hotel Altiana, the Hostal Lido, the Hotel Zarampallo and the Hotel Novo Candido, all clustered around the center of town and the cathedral.
The four of us stayed at the Fantástico Apartamento Zona Centro, for 65 Euros a night, which is incredibly inexpensive for a full apartment with a kitchen and a washer and dryer. It is a bit of a hike up the hill from the Cathedral, but is centrally located.
There are many more places to stay, at higher prices, but you never know who is offering a special, so you may want to go to the Booking.com Ourense to see the current deals.
I was happy that Miguel could finally feel like he could make his own Camino, without being burdened by us and our pace. We were looking forward to the rest day in Ourense, touring the cathedral and soaking in the hot springs, both in As Burgas in the center of town, and the ones along the Minho River.
We all joined together for dinner in town and even managed to hook up with our old friend, Colin from the UK. He spent a rest day in Ourense, but he was going on the next day. He would still remain one day ahead of us.
We did keep in touch with Miguel after he left us, and indeed he and his friend walked much longer days than we were able to. He arrived in Santiago long before we did! I was so very happy for him and to have met him!
Nadine now desperately needed a day off from walking, and we all hoped that it would be enough for her to continue onward. Only time would tell.
On your own Camino Sanabrés from Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense, may you be forever free of bigotry as the Camino brings you together in new ways! May you make forever friends that will forever enhance your life! Ultreia!
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