After a really good night’s rest we are up and away at around 7.30am. There is not much activity on the street as we drop into a cafe for breakfast. It’s the usual Coffee and boccadillo followed by the juiciest apples I have ever tasted. So, fully loaded with water and carb’s, we head out of town at around 8.00am. It’s a little misty looking now as we leave Silleda behind. Everywhere is smelling fresh and green just like back home in Ireland.
No rush today so we move along at a conversation pace and soak up the beauty of the countryside….damp and all as it is ! We note that roadside gardens are proudly bedecked with layers of coloured flowers. This, along with the sound of rivers and streams, has a lovely calming affect on me, and I am sure on other Peregrinos. Mind you, I have not needed much calming on the “Via” to date..now that my journey’s end is near, I can metaphorically look back and say that my experience to date can only be described as beautiful wonderful and mentally refreshing.
After about an hour and a half we ramble into a town called Bandeira where we take a short break in a small hotel before moving on again. About 15km into our journey we encounter some heavy rain. This time, all we can do is hope it might be one of those “long showers” we get at home.
We are now, without doubt, in “Hydrangea Country”…..they are everywhere ! They look particularly fresh and beautiful in the damp conditions. Blue and white blooms in full splendour on every side of the path helps to brighten up our spirits . I take a picture of a virtual “hedge” of them and then we move on.
A bit further on we see what appears to be a very new looking viaduct accross a deep ravine and think that this might be part of that fast train track they are building from Galicia to the south. I have encountered those works on a few occasions along my journey and I have heard several people predict that it will prove to be a huge “white elephant” and scarce money down the drain. Time will tell.
We are now closing in on a small town called Ponte Ulla where we hope to stop for a bit of “real” food. On the way in we see what appears to be a camping area to our right. There are picnic tables under the trees and while it is deserted today, no doubt because of the poor weather, I can imagine it to be a lively and pleasant playground for families at the weekends. So, here we are crossing a bridge over a wide river into Ponte Ulla with hungry tummies. We see some restuarants and shops and remember that someone back in Silleda told us of accomodation here but we could not immediately see any signs of it. So, we move on through and turn left where we find just what we need….a fairly large supermarket. We unhitch our back-packs and I watch over them while Ronan does some food shopping. Now stocked-up, we cross the street and sit on a stone stage overlooking the town Plaza and munch our lunch. Ronan is fed up drinking all this healthy Agua Natural so he produces a couple of bottles of orange juice….which tastes refreshing (and sugary). The nice young couple which we had met hand-in-hand earlier today, pass by with a big hola and a smile. We are beginning to feel a bit too comfortable here so we pack up and set off behind the youngsters.
The Via de la Plata has many fabulous features…some are big magnificent and historical but my favourites are the Fuentes. They evoke in me mental pictures of the old and even ancient locals, travellers and armies which stopped and drank and watered their horses at these man-made little oases.To the right is a photo of nice example of such a fountain near Ponte Ulla. Ah, if those stones could speak…..what stories they could tell and what great secrets they silently guard !!
Anyway, we pass by a sign just outside the village with La Coruna on it so we assume we are now in the Provence of La Coruna. A bit further on we catch up with the young student couple and as we reach a busy highway we see a roadsign that gives us great news…Santiago 17kms !! (of course that is by car !) Still, we figure it can’t be more than a couple of kms more by the “Via”. The young lady is having a “blister problem” and is taking it slowly now. There is not much more than two kms to the Refugio at Capilla de Santiaguino so there is no rush and it’s only around 3.00pm. We now enter a nice forest area which is good shelter as it is getting quite hot and clammy. After we exit from here and continue on the final stretch to Santiaguino we are cheered along by lots of barking dogs….of the viscious looking type (thankfuly behind gates). So, we soon enter a small hamlet with what looks like an old refurbished church. There was an old lady fidgeting around at the front and I was tempted to ask her about the history of the church and village but figured that she wouldn’t understand my few words of Espagnol and I would not understand her fluent local dialect, anyway. Ronan has stepped on the gas now for his sprint to the finish which turns out to be only a couple of hundred metres further on. This Refugio looks very new and it is. After we check in, we notice just three or four familiar faces and then the young student couple arrive (blisters and all !) The place is run by a couple who seem to be hell bent on producing a nice evening dinner for all the Peregrinos. As this is our last port-of-call before Santiago de Compostela there is an air of excitement running through the establishment. After the usual shower etc., everybody gathers in the nice lounging area and we compare notes of our experiences to date. I offer to drain the young lady’s blister and treat it but she decided to nervously deal with it herself. Ronan and I chatted with the two young German ladies and Stefi badly wanted be done with the Camino and head back home but her friend Julia sounded as if she would like to keep on walking indefinitly.
Horror of horrors….in the evening a large group of teenage school kids and teachers arrive and mayhem commences. Now I know why the Hospitalario was so nice to us earlier….no doubt, an effort to “buy the peace”. A quick estimate of the numbers clearly meant that there would not be enough bunks for them all. After a noisey evening they bunked down on every patch of floor they could find ….and the loud chit-chat continued. A few elderly Italian gents complained bitterly to the teachers who seemed to ignore their protestations and kept their heads down. What the Hell…sure, we were all young once !! Anyway, we are now only about 15km out from the Big Finish tomorrow morning. Sleep or no sleep….I don’t care.