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(Please note that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the businesses along the Camino may not be operating as expected, despite reopening as of June 21st. It would be wise to check with the locals regarding the opening and operations of specific restaurants, bars, albergues and other accommodations recommended in this guide.
If you are going on a Camino during the pandemic, please check the local news frequently, for new areas of outbreak and any new restrictions in travel. Any portion of the Camino may close down at any time to contain a new outbreak!
Also please note the current travel restrictions for travelers from the USA entering Spain, from the US Embassy. If you are coming from Europe to Spain, the European Schengen countries are now allowed to enter Spain. Those of us from outside this area, I am afraid, must be patient!
For detailed information regarding entry restrictions of any country in the world, including entry into Spain, click on this link to the IATA ((International Air Transport Association)). When the page opens, click on the country of your choice in the interactive map to see their requirements for entry. Good luck and be safe out there!)
On this day eleven of our Camino Primitivo, part two, we joined the Camino Francés, and not only made a change in direction, but also found familiar faces. Our total mileage for the day, if you counted the 14.21 kilometers from part one of day eleven was 28.16 kilometers.
Appropriately, the juncture of the Camino Primitivo and the Camino Francés at a quaint chapel in Melide, see below, marks the final 50 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. When you reach this city, Santiago de Compostela is so very close!
“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed...It feels an impulsion...this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.” ~ Richard Bach, From Jonathan Livingston Seagull
My soul did not want to leave the Camino Primitivo upon arriving in the Praza do Convento in the center of Melide. It was 10:30 a.m., and as good pilgrims do, we carried on and soon joined the Camino Francés.
If you wish to spend the night here in Melide, there are many options from which to choose. See the interactive Google map of Melide for their location, or click here. There is the giant municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Melide just beyond the square, many private ones, and hotels and pensions throughout town.
As you can see from the elevation profile of day eleven part two, starting in Melide, the walking is now much easier and is relatively flat, with mild elevation changes throughout the full 14 kilometers.
We reluctantly left the center of town on the final steps of the Camino Primitivo and after walking through the Praza do Convento onto the Rúa Nueva, (see day eleven, part one for the photo of the plaza), after 100 meters the Way turns right (west) on the Rúa Principal. Here we joined the Camino Francés! One takes this street until it ends in a walkway by a cemetery in only 1/4 kilometer and you are essentially out of the center of Melide. The street is now called the Camiño Santiago.
In addition to the many pilgrims we were seeing as we joined the French Way, we also knew we were on the Camino Francés, by its many shops. Here is one we soon encountered - welcome to the Camino Francés!
Shortly after the souvenir shop, on the outskirts of town is the famous and well-touristed, Iglesia de Santa María de Melide. It is definitely worth a look and is appropriately located by the 50 km waymarker, that you can see in the photo below.
The interior of the chapel contains some remarkable 14th Century paintings, and there is an old 8th Century Roman fountain on the grounds as well. My photo of the paintings did not turn out well, and I never did see the fountain through the throngs of people.
There was a guide at the door when we entered who in rapid fire English explained the historic value of the place to any eager pilgrim ears. There were so many people here that after the intimacy of the Camino Primitivo, I just wanted to leave! I was not a very good pilgrimage traveler, adjusting to whatever came my way.
My suggestion is that you try to see this lovely little chapel either early or late in the day, or in the off-season. In early September, at 11:00 a.m. it was packed with pilgrims and many others. I was unable to find any information regarding the hours of its opening, so you may want to check with the locals before making any plans, if you want to see inside.
After leaving the chapel, the Camino Francés yields way to a lovely, wide, off-road path, generally westward and in the shadow of the N-547.
The waymarks were now very intriguing as we kept a new, determined tempo to get to Santiago de Compostela more quickly. We were moving at a much faster pace on this flat terrain. The waymarks took on a different look when we joined the French Way.
We were very surprised at the many off road paths we found on the French Way on our day eleven on the Camino Primitivo, part two. They were often very shaded and walked through tree-lined countryside!
Essentially, after Melide, the French Way continues to follow to the south of the N-547 on these nicely shaded paths. We frequently traveled into and out of forests like in this photo, below.
The Camino does join the N-547 in Barreiro de Abaixo, but never walks onto it, but onto a path beside it. It once again turns off the N-547, on country paths and quiet pavement to walk into Boente, 5.5 kilometers from the center of Melide and shown on the sign below.
Just before town, watch out for the private Albergue and Cafeteria El Aleman, if you choose to stay in Boente for the night.
After turning right, in the above photo, the Camino joins the N-547, below, to walk through Boente. If you need a stop there are lots of bars, and if you are done for the day, it has the Albergue Boente and the Os Albergues along the main road
At the junction of the N-547, there is a lovely fountain and cruceiro. Here I am by the cross. The church is just down the road a bit more. This is a nice place for a rest, if you need, on the bench shown in the photo on the left.
The Way turns right by the church to walk north of N-547, then crosses under a bridge and alternates to the south, staying close to the highways direction and nearby towns. It goes over and sometimes under the highway, but rarely on it on its way to the next town of A Fraga Alta.
Here is another glimpse of the town of Boente on the north side of the N-547.
Once in the town of A Fraga Alta, 2.2 kilometers from Boente, turn left at this small, private Albergue Santiago, shown below, as it continues on south of the highway. There is also a café bar here, if you need a food/beverage stop. At this albergue you are now 7.75 kilometers into this section from Melide.
Steps after the turn, above, you encounter the casa rural, La Calleja, After A Fraga Alta the road ambulates through the countryside through Pedrido and O Rio, where another casa rural, the FreeBird Castañeda can be found.
In O Rio at this signpost, there is a nice picnic area in the shade to left by the river.
When you reach this old Roman bridge over the River Iso in Rivadiso, you have walked 3 kilometers from A Fraga Alta and there are only 3 kilometers left to go to Arzúa. It is a wonderful and quiet place.
A bit farther onward is the Albergue Milpés. All four of these places are in a quiet setting, if you prefer it to a larger town.
Just before Arzúa the French Way joins the N-547 and walks on a nice dirt path on the south side of it.
When you enter this hedge-lined path you know that Arzúa is very, very close. I loved the protected feel of this path into the city. It certainly shelters you from the risk and the noise of the increased traffic. Good job Camino engineers!
Below is the "before" and "after" shower and rest photos! Here I am, when we first arrived in Arzúa, before checking into our pension. Here also is Rich, with no pack and fresh-looking after we had a beer, checked in and rested, and were ready to hit the town for dinner!
We stayed in the Pension Rúa right along the N-547 on the eastern side of town, the first place we saw! It was adequate, clean and comfortable and only a short walk to the center of town. They also run the albergue right next to it, the Albergue Don Quijote and a café bar.
As you would expect there are a gazillion places to stay in Arzúa. Here is the list of albergues, starting with the 46-bed muni, the Albergue Público de Arzúa farther along the Camino on the west side of town. Next I will list the privates, from east to west, the O Albergue de Selmo, the Albergue Santiago Apóstol, the Albergue Ultreia, the De Camino Albergue, the Albergue Turístico Arzúa (+34 981 50 82 33), the Albergue Pensión Cima do Lugar, the Albergue The Way Hostel, the Albergue del Peregrino, the Albergue Los Caminantes Arzúa, the Albergue San Francisco en Arzúa, the Vía Láctea Albergue en Arzúa, and finally the Albergue da Fonte.
In addition to the Pensión Rúa where we stayed, there are many more economical private rooms, like the Pensión Domus Gallery, the Pensión Begoña, the Pensión Luis, the Pensión Boutique La Casona de Nené and the Pensión Arcano.
For even more choices of accommodations and to see the deals today in Arzúa click here.
While Rich and I were resting in our hotel, he says to me, "Call Camino Mother." Gylvia was part of our Camino family, and we fondly called her the "Camino Mother" because she had a very nurturing personality. (see day nine)
I ignored Rich and kept on working on categorizing my photos, and posting to Facebook. In about five minutes he says again, "Call Camino Mother." I'm not sure why he didn't call her, but I suppose it was because it was I who had her phone number!
So, I called Glyvia. Much to our astonishment she was in Arzúa! We had caught up to her, even though we had spent an extra day in Lugo. On her first day after Lugo she had gotten lost and after a one-hour detour grew discouraged and ended up staying in San Román (see our day ten). She had spent the second night in Melide. Today she made it to Arzúa! Her niece, Saskia had gone on and she was now with Magdalena, a bit further on.
After our rest, we met Glyvia at the church in the center of Arzúa and wandered around to find this café. It was sunny, bright and inviting, so we walked in for a bite. I cannot remember the name of it, but we really only had small dishes and wine, not a full dinner.
Shortly after sitting down, in walks Mattias, another member of our Camino family. Not only had we caught up to Glyvia, we had also caught up to Mattias, who was having foot/blister trouble. He joined us for a beer. We were so very happy to see our familiar Camino family faces again!
Perhaps my mind set put me in a more closed place when we arrived on this day eleven of our Camino Primitivo, part two. I am not exactly sure.
But I do know that we walked very quickly and with much endurance on the French Way, partly because the terrain was much, much easier and flat, partly because we were not as desirous of the company of throngs of pilgrims with the concomitant heightened tourism and partly because we were eager to arrive in Santiago de Compostela.
My attitude was also influenced by meeting up with so many pilgrims who were seemingly on a race. We had encountered several pairs of peregrinos who when they heard us approach from behind, would speed up and try to stay ahead of us. (Ay, we did not want to repeat the episode of day four and the "Three Amigos.")
By the afternoon, we were growing sick of being polite and we just wanted to "get there." We chose to keep our pace throughout the "races." Sure enough, whenever we would come to a hill, the racers would fall back and then disappear. Whether or not it was the Tortilla Francés we had in Melide, or our conditioning in the mountains of the Primitivo, we were very strong on the hills.
While I never set out to race, I must admit that with all the peregrinos now out and about, it did help to fuel me on, though I arrived very tired and aching in Arzúa after a long, grueling 28 kilometer day!
I observed all this racing behavior with amusement, tried not to judge and just kept to our pace. I will, however, claim my somewhat competitive nature! I did feel proud of what we had accomplished on the Camino Primitivo.
Indeed, we had changed our course of direction, in many ways when we joined the Camino Francés. One day, we might do the entire French Way. And then, we might not. The jury is out.
The French Way is not good or bad, just a different experience.
May your own day eleven on your Camino Primitivo, part two (Francés) be filled with a better knowledge of the different Caminos, why you are who you are and why you choose one Camino over another! May you stay steady at your own pace and soar over the clouds to get a complete view beyond the horizons! Buen Camino!
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