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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!)
Our day eleven on the Camino Primitivo was divided into two parts; the final steps on the Primitivo from As Seixas to Melide, included in this article, and part two, where it joins the Camino Francés and we walked on to Arzúa.
"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." ~ Heraclitus
The Way on this stage, from As Seixas, is relatively straightforward. These are the final steps on the Camino Primitivo to Melide and we made it here in 10.5 days, a little faster than most staging systems.
Here is the Google interactive map for this section of our day eleven, with services placed on the map. There are not many, so plan your day accordingly. A stop in Melide, after the full 14.21 kilometers, whether for food or the night, seems warranted!
Here is the elevation profile for the section from As Seixas to Melide. There is a nice hill climb of 100 meters (320 feet) as soon as you walk out of the Albergue de Peregrino de As Seixas, with a concomitant descent of about 250 meters (820 feet), followed by a cruise of 5.0 kilometers into Melide.
If you plan to stay the night in Melide, there are many, many options, as this is where the route joins the French Way. Click here to see your options. There is also a giant municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Melide, just beyond the main square.
Once again, we left the albergue before dawn. We joined a young German girl in the kitchen for breakfast. We were very careful to tiptoe downstairs after silently dressing and rolling all our items into our bag liner to repack in the kitchen, away from the slumbering pilgrims.
We dispensed café con leche and juice from the outside vending machines. While you can purchase snacks here, we had food that we had purchased in Lugo, the prior day, to eat for breakfast.
We navigated our way with our headlamps westward through As Sexias with our German friend. Very quickly she started to keep a very brisk pace that was beyond our desire to keep up with her. We said Buen Camino as we started the 100 meter climb out of town and up a mountain road towards O Hospital das Seixas, 2.5 kilometers away.
Within a kilometer or so, the dirt road joins a paved road and walks you toward O Hospital das Seixas. There is a picnic area on your left in O Hospital if you need a rest stop when you arrive here. It has a nice shady area. I do not have photos, as it was too dark to snap any when we walked through.
The Way is very rural as you can see in the following near-dawn photos.
Just prior to Arnade, we stumbled on this waymark, letting us know we had only 64 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. The 50 kilometer mark we knew was in Melide, so here we were, only 14 km from Melide at the start of our day eleven on the Camino Primitivo.
Here is the lonely road toward the next town of Arnade, about 2.0 more kilometers down the road. I have no photos of the town since it lies actually just south of the road and appeared to be only a few buildings, as we walked by.
The day began brightening, but there was definitely no sun!
After walking past Arnade, the way turns left onto this lane, towards the next town of Vilouriz, another 1.27 kilometers farther.
The day never cleared for the sun even by Vilouriz about 5.8 kilometers on the road. We were wearing rain gear, as you can see, but it never did rain. The way through Vilouriz is easy to follow and is well waymarked.
After leaving Vilouriz on day eleven, the Camino Primitivo turns left here.
The Way is gorgeous through this section, with sweeping views. Ahead, perhaps we can see Melide, in the photo? It was about here, with about only 8 km left to go, that I voice journaled regarding my realization that indeed we were on the final steps of the Primitivo. With this realization, I tried to settle in and enjoy our last steps. Would I ever walk this way again?
We talked about the challenges and the wild ride of this Original Way. The song, "We May Never Pass This Way Again," by Seals and Crofts kept running through my head!
The walk continues to the next town of Vilamor de Arriba in 1.7 kilometers more, and by the country church below, which looks like so many of the churches along the way. I found the cross that sat to the right of the door, to be interesting.
Immediately after Vilamor de Arriba, you come to Vilamor de Abaxio, below, only 1/2 kilometer later and 8 kilometers into the day.
These little towns have no services that I could see. It was about 08:30 when we arrived in Vilamor de Abaxio after being on the road for about two hours. We figured we were about 6 km from Melide. We knew we could do the 6k in a bit over an hour.
We made it our goal to get to Melide before we took a break. I felt I had enough energy to get there. Melide was a big town and we would be there before 10:00.
I took no photos on the long, quiet, and paved road stretch from Vilamor, through Irago and to O Mascaño for about the next 4.7 km. Not much out was out there but open road and no towns, through trees, fields and plains.
There may be a bar in Irago, so keep your eyes open. I located it on the Google map above, but we did not see one when we walked through.
On day eleven, the Camino Primitivo walks you through a small town of Compostela, before reaching the town of O Mascaño, shown below, on the outskirts of Melide.
When we reached this spot, the road is now called the DP-4604 and this road takes you into the center of Melide. This was the first sidewalk and row houses that we saw as we came into town. When you see this, you know that Melide is very, very close.
From Vilamor de Abaixo to the intersection in Melide, shown below is about 6.1 km.
The walk on the sidewalk from here was brutal on my already tired feet. Almost the entire 14 km was on pavement. My shoulders ached too and I longed for a break. I had only juice, coffee and a few bites of bread that morning at the albergue, because I was worried about my unsettled gut that I had developed on day ten. I did eat some blackberries that we found along the way, so that helped too.
Just as you enter town, you pass the private Albergue Alfonso II. If your plan is to stay the night here, you may wish to check it out. If you wish to take a break from the albergues, there are many more places to stay in Melide. Click here to see those that meet the needs of your journey. You may want to make a reservation here, since this major town hosts many pilgrims from both the Primitivo and the French Way.
We stumbled onto an open café bar on the DP-4604, the Bar O Forte, the first one we came to as we entered town, just after 09:30. We had the Tortilla Francés which was a wonderful omelet with ham and cheese (no potato like most tortilla), bread and café con leche. We took a full one hour break here to rest and air our tired feet. We knew we had plenty of time to reach Arzúa, our goal for the day.
I believe that I also felt reluctant to move onward to the Camino Francés. Our Camino Primitivo was definitely coming to an end ~ a chapter never to be visited again.
After our large, second breakfast, the Way takes you to the main part of town, and to a T-intersection. The Way turns left here, onto the Rúa Rámbla San Pablo. When you reach this T you will immediately see the waymark, in the next photo, below, as you look left when you come to Rúa Rámbla San Pablo. You head toward what appears to be a church bell tower, by going right onto the Rúa Calvo Sotelo.
The waymark, kilometer reading here says 54 km, so if we started in As Seixas at the 68 km waymark (see the end of day ten), our morning walk to Melide was 14 km.
The church bell tower is actually on the Ethnological Museum or the El Museo da Terra de Melide. This structure was formerly the Sancti Spiritus Pilgrim Hospital. The Museum sits on the Praza do Convento, a small plaza where we hung out for a short while, as we contemplated our very last steps on day eleven of our Camino Primitivo. I was reluctant, indeed, to move on!
Here is a group of young pilgrims that stayed in the municipal albergue in As Sexias with us. They were traveling with their dog, and were allowed to stay in the albergue. They had a bed outside that they made for the dog for the night!
From this plaza, the Camino Primitivo is just a few more steps southward on the Rúa Nueva, where it joins the Rúa Principal and the Camino Francés.
Adios, for now, Camino Primitivo!
If you are planning to stay the night in Melide there are so many albergues as the French Way participates in the need for beds. If you turn at the first right after the plaza above and onto the Rúa San Antonio, you will encounter the giant municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Melide several blocks later. This is truly an albergue street as you will walk by three additional private albergues on the way to the municipal, the Albergue Vilela, the Albergue San Antón and the Albergue O Apalpador. There is also a pension along the way, the Chiquitín Melide (+34 981 81 53 33).
There are more albergues clustered close to the plaza and steps off the French Way, the Albergue O Cruceiro, the Albergue O Candil (right along the route), the Albergue Pereiro and the Albergue Montoto.
There are also several economical pensions in the center of town, the Pensión Esquina, the Pensión Berenguela (+34 981 50 54 17), the Pensión Pereiro, and the Hospedaje Restaurante Sony. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you can click here to see more choices that you can book ahead. Booking ahead may be prudent in this town where the Caminos merge, unless you choose to walk on farther to a less frequented town.
As our time on the Camino Primitivo had now come to an official end, there was joy in my heart as well as sorrow. I knew that as the quote above states, that we would never again share this experience in the same way again.
It had been a wild and wonderful Camino, for us, more rugged than we expected, and more difficult than we expected. Yesterday, day ten, was easy compared to most days on the Primitivo with nothing like the climbs we did in the earlier days.
It felt good to know that we did the Camino Primitivo. It felt good to know that we still had the faith in ourselves to do it and still had the ability to do something like this. It was a very nice feeling and a nice thing to reflect upon.
Difficulty, a sore body, hunger and loneliness were all recurrent themes on our Primitivo. This was in stark contrast to the experiences of euphoria, deep connection to the earth, to animals and the communitas experienced with fellow pilgrims of the present as well as the past. Almost each and every day brought these varying emotions.
It was not to be an experience easily forgotten. The history here is palpable, the emotions universal. I hope that this special flavor of this Original Way will never change.
But alas, one never enters the same river twice! As the Camino Primitivo will never be the same again, for sure, we will never be the same again!
May your own day eleven on the Camino Primitivo be filled with your own special experiences in your own special moments. May we walk together, in Faith, knowing that while the "river" may never be the same, our Spirits will unite forever on this special, Original Way!
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