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Cathedral in Ourense - statue of St James

My promised return to the Camino commenced yesterday with a pleasant 5 hour bus ride from Salamanca. It was heart wrenching to leave my beautiful ´Sala´ but it had to be done. The emotional highs will now settle back to normal for a while but History has been written and more will follow.

I arrived back in Ourense last night to continue the Camino and was met by my Couchsurfing host. Beppe firstly drove from the bus-stop to park his car and we then walked a short distance to the appartment he shares with his lovely partner, Patrizia. I soon recognised the ´As Burgas´fountains housed in the ´Casco Antiguo´ part of town so I was excited to be staying a night in the old centre, rich with culture, churches and tapas bars!

The fountains are a group of three, built in the 17th , 19th and 20th centuries respectively.

Typical tapas - tortilla
The water is delivered from a natural mineral spring and is at exactly 67C every day of the year. A short drive from Ourense brings you to an area similar to Rotorua in New Zealand, where you can bathe in the hot water in a series of local pools and baths. Unfortunately I did not have the time to experience it this trip but Beppe and Patrizia said that it is a great place to go in winter and almost deserted a lot of the time. What a gem.

I was welcomed to their spacious and airy appartment and felt a new kind of ´Camino love´. I realised that it was the first time (since starting the Camino) that I had actually been in someone´s home to stay. I was made so welcome with my own room, a bed with sheets, homemade cake and green tea. It was like having instant New Best Friends.

Walking out of Ourense

Later in the evening we walked around the curving, sloping cobbled streets with much of the rest of the population of Ourense. It was a Thursday night but everything was a-buzz with the noise of people catching up after a day at work. The working day is considerably shorter than we work in Australia and includes the long siesta break in the middle. It is unfathomable to the Spanish that we do not take time to break and sit down to eat lunch or drink our coffee. I have learned some valuable lessons about nurturing my body and hope that some of it might rub off onto my hard working friends. Think about taking more breaks and ordering your coffee to have IN.

We took short breaks at each of three different Tapas bars with a snack and local red Murcia wine at each.

After the BIG hill climb
Beppe is originally from Italy so wine runs in his veins as much as mine. At the last, we sampled a Galician speciality, little Sardines called Xouvas, fried quickly and eaten whole except for the tail. These were accompanied by small green Pimentos de Padrón, laced with local olive oil, fried (sometimes char-grilled) and covered liberally with chunky sea salt. Every meal is accompanied by a large basket of local bread and we were lucky to have the local Cea pan - artisan brown bread - to mop up the juicy flavours hidden in the olive oil. So delicious and all eaten outdoors on a balmy evening with the Cathedral and other Churches towering above us and storks circling to rest on the spires.
Albergue in Cea

We talked and talked until Beppe had to leave for work at midnight (in a Hotel) and then Patrizia and I wandered leisurely back to the homely appartment for coffee and cake. I really did not want to set my alarm for 6.00am and think about my putting on my old friends again in the morning (my boots). I could have stayed another day in Ourense but the Camino was calling me to get back to it and my ´vacation´was over for the time being.

It was a warm morning with the prospects of a hot day, very different to my previous experience in Galicia a week ago. I walked the 30 minutes necessary to get out of the city limits and was immediately faced with a frightening vision! In front of me on the small country road I was on loomed a hill like no other I have ever seen.

Cea - inside an Horno (bakery)
The slope would be impossible to ride up with a bici and with my 13kg loaded pack, I was about to experience a new struggle between man and earth.

It took several minutes to get my balance perfected and to atune my calves to the steepness as every step was biting into the extremes of my calves and tendons. I also had to contend with the early morning work traffic hurtling down and tossing me sideways towards the narrow grassy verge. Not only was it incredibly steep but it was endless and the in the 1.5 Km it took to arrive at the top, I climbed an altitude over 350 metres from the base. Forty minutes later, I was a sweating, panting wreck on reaching the small village at the top. The promised bar (for breakfast and Café) was closed so I had to walk another hour and a half to claim my prize!

I have now read that this section is the steepest on the whole of the Via de la Plata.

Artesan bread
It can only be easy from now on. Another obstacle surpassed!

So now I am settled in the village of Cea, famous for it´s old-styled rustic Pan (bread) still cooked in wood fired ovens in small batches, all over the village. I have already had a little wander and poked my nose into a couple of them. It is literally 5 steps back in time from the door to the old stone ovens. Each one houses the proud baker, usually a woman, and dusty with flour from her head to her toes. They are always thrilled to have me interested in their profession and proudly open the oven doors for me to take photos of the large crusty oval loaves cooking. The bread is a creamy brown and the crust almost inpenetrable but the taste is like nothing I have ever tasted in bread. It is creamy with a sourdough aftertaste and the texture is a little elastic, perfect for supporting all kinds of Tapas delicacies

I am looking forward to my dinner tonight - something with a hearty sauce to be mopped up with some of this crusty Cea Pan. My profile chart shows me another ´up´day tomorrow but I am not ready to come ´down´yet from this heady adventure!

Besos, Grrrace (are you keeping up with this?  the ´r´in Grace is now rolled like the Spanish say my name)

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Cathedral in Ourense - statue of S…
Cathedral in Ourense - statue of …
Typical tapas - tortilla
Typical tapas - tortilla
Walking out of Ourense
Walking out of Ourense
After the BIG hill climb
After the BIG hill climb
Albergue in Cea
Albergue in Cea
Cea - inside an Horno (bakery)
Cea - inside an Horno (bakery)
Artesan bread
Artesan bread
Sa
photo by: Gracethepilgrim