Friday, June 3, 2016

Grand cathedrals, rolling hills and forests

Day 21: We're currently walking across Galicia, the final province in our foot journey across northern Spain. 

We've backpacked with 12kg/25 lb packs for 32km/20 miles every day now for 20 days and we're feeling it! Today we hiked 16 miles and decided to take a rest in the delightful town of Mondonedo where we're staying as guests in the seminary adjacent to the huge cathedral built in Gothic and Baroque styles. An unexpected and interesting spontaneous experience! 

During our journey here this morning we met a fabulous couple parked in their traveling van outside a closed, unused Albergue in one of the small towns. They gave us trail magic in the form of coffee and cookies and were so interesting to talk to. They come from the Netherlands and Belgium and have a dream of opening and running an Albergue somewhere along the Del Norte, however they are experiencing resistance by the mayor of this small village for one or another reason. I hope their dream comes to fruition as it is a much needed service from what we can gather.
 The town of Laurenza was a fantastic place to buy fresh produce and we left with heavily laden backpacks after witnessing the cutest little cluster of kiddies obviously out on a school field trip at the cathedral. Surprisingly, many of the bigger churches have been open for the last week in towns we've been through.

The route in this area is very well marked with some steep climbs, followed by pleasant forest walks and downhill slopes into villages.

Fascinating architecture abounds whether it be in the dry stack rock walls or grand Gothic or Romanesque cathedrals.

The town we're staying in tonight is Mondonedo which is designated a historic-artistic heritage site. It was the provincial capital until 1833 and prior to that had been taken over by the Moors for a century and a half and recaptured in 858. The strange part about this historical fact is that one would think that over a period of 150 years the Moors would have built things and left an imprint of their presence and yet, to my knowledge there are few to no artifacts to be found. Were they all destroyed? 
We unexpectedly landed up at the door of the seminary and got a very comfortable private room in this grand, historical establishment for less than we would have paid at an Albergue.
When we arrived in town we wanted to see whether we could go inside the huge cathedral and popped our heads inside the door. We discovered that Mass was in progress being given in English by an Irish priest to an all Spanish community!

Hopefully after a night of good solid rest we'll feel strong and be able to tackle the next 100 miles/160km to Santiago. First we have to get up over the steep climb tomorrow to the peak known as the Alto da Xesta! See you on the flip side.

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