So, no sleep last night due to the “shenanigans” of our young German Peregrino. At about 6.00 am he staggered to his bunk beside mine and hauled his belongings away.There is a sigh of relief from everybody and we all hope we have seen the last of him. I join the others for breakfast in the town centre where we have the usual cafe-con- leche and bocadillo and stock up with some more water. I never get tired of that Spanish coffee made with full cream milk. Then on with the back-packs and away we go for Ourense, 34kms away. I am a little worried today. I have been told that there will be a lot of road walking. However, I am spurred on by the knowledge that I will have a couple of nice days in Ourense with my son, Ronan. He will walk with me to Santiago de Compostela and I am really looking forward to this “quality time” with him. The heavy rains of last night have left their mark on the grainfields and I notice large swathes of long stemed grain completely flattened and probably unsalvagable. What a risky business, this farming ! As we pass by a farm house we find a “family” made from wood and kitted out with hats, a neck tie and rifle on the dad and a dog with the two kids. What a lovely moment of light humour !
I notice that my friends are not walking as fast as they usually do. Perhaps they are making allowance for my slower pace ! Nice people ! We walk through lovely fresh woods with ferns everywhere….just like back home in green old Ireland. The morning mist has created some fantastic mushrooms and I find a real whopper on the pathside. Peter, my friend from Denmark is a chef and he explains all about mushrooms and fungi. He says that if properly cooked, there is hardly a poisenous one in existence.
After a short trackside stop for carb’s and water we head gradually uphill and soon arrive at a place of exquisite beauty. The views in all directions are filter clear under a lightly cloud-speckled sky of azure blue. We pause for some pic’s before heading downward for a town called Xunqueira de Ambia where we intend to take a proper rest.
We walk through more fresh green countryside and soon reach Xunquieira de Ambia. To our right, as we enter, we see a Refugio but, tempting as it is, this is not for us today as we have about 20kms more to travel. Further on nearer the centre we stop at a nice attractive cafe and to our amazement we have a choice of about twenty different top-of-the range blends of good old fashioned tea. What a surprise….but then I am forgetting that we are getting closer and closer to Ourense, a Roman town where tea was popular way back in those days. There is a big old church/monastery in the centre ( I need to check the history of this interesting town) as we head on by for a hell of a lot of the road-walking that I have been warned about. Sure enough we are soon on that awful asphalt. We also encounter incessant heavy lorry traffic in both directions. Ricardo tells me that they are servicing the construction of the controversial new rapid-rail line to the south. The dust is terrible but luckily I can filter it out with the old Arabic style wrap-around scarf I bought in Pamplona in 2009. My feet are soon beginning to suffer from the pounding on the unrelenting surface. About 8 kms out from Ourense we stop at a bar for a very necessary break. More coffee and cake for energy….a beer would have been nice but we decide to hang on for that until after we get our accomodation sorted in town later. Now there is a pep in our step ( despite the sore feet ) as we start out on our final stretch into Ourense. It is a wearysome walk through an highly industrialised area. Eventually we reach what I thought was Ourense only to find that we still had to walk a few more kms to reach the centre of the town. We pass what appears to be a brewery ( smells like one !) and now the thought of a couple of days and a couple of beers with my son in Ourense, gives me the strength to make it to the finish ! We are strung out in a line now but still within sight of each other. At last we reach the main thoroughfare and stop for those well earned beers ! Ricardo leads us off to an hotel in a nice central location where I check in, shower, crash, shower again and then meet later in the evening for a tour of the historic places in this town of 95,000 people. It is built on the Rio Mino and it’s name comes from the Latin “Aquae Orientes” or Hot Springs which we found at a place called As Burgas. These hot springs are in perfect order and the baths are in the open where one can bathe free in mineral- laden water which pours in from the depths of the earth at a temperature of 79degrees. A small electric street train will also take you to other spa baths across the river.
Ricardo, Jenny, and Peter join me for a tour of the cafes and bars around mid town and eventually settle down in a nice one where the beer, wine and the “craic” was good. We have one more day together in Ourense before they leave me on Sat’ morning for the last 110km to Santiago de Compostela. I will welcome my son later on that day and we will celebrate my birthday in town with a few beers and a nice meal. Happy days !