El Camino (Levante) La Canda to Alto do Canizo just before the footbridge in A Gudiña (12.3km) Friday 13th April, 2018
|And I'm Back!! Four years on, but starting from where I left off. Yay!!|
Well it all got off to a bit of a hair raising start! All seemed to be going well on the Thursday we were flying out to Spain, arriving in good time, checking the car into the off airport parking and getting the bus into Heathrow. Check in was interesting, none of the machines were working and the Aussies behind us thought it was just them, but we ended up having a bit of a laugh with them when the machines rejected UK citizens as well.
It has been some time since I went through Heathrow. On returning to the UK we drove through via the EuroTunnel and of course, we had flown from RSA to Spain before that and had been resident in Spain for three years. My last visit into London had probably been around 2005! Finding that everything is automated, including having to check and tag our own bags was quite something. Should I ask myself if I am carrying any forbidden substances or if I have left my bags unattended at any time? Customs was similar, nobody really present and everything left to machines. I'm guessing this is to improve security but overall it felt much more exposed and much less secure. Anyway, all went well until we got on the plane and discovered that Heathrow baggage handling had gone to hell in a hand basket.... what DOES that mean?! Well in our case, it meant over an hour delay. With our connecting flight only 45 minutes after landing, there was little chance of us making it. We lived in hope and on arrival sprinted to the gate - we were out of luck. The plane had left 2 minutes before we got there. Fortunately, due to our sprint, we were only third in the queue for Customer Help.
|My first shells and arrows this trip|
The lady at the desk was not willing to phone ahead to our hotel or car hire - hmmm, I kind of understand but considering how hard it is to change things quickly over the phone in a different language and that it wasn't our problem that the service had turned to s*@t, I wasn't that impressed. We were allowed to use their phone to make any changes, which we did after trying all sorts of alternatives which included:
- Fly to Barcelona and then back to A Coruña (ended up fully booked)
- Fly to Santiago and then bus to A Coruña - arriving midnight and proceed to sort everything out (reaching our hotel maybe 04.00)
- Fly to A Conuña the next day - which in effect would mean two days out of the Camino
None of the above were options that would work for us. It seemed to me that the best option was to see if our car hire company would allow us to pick up in Madrid and drop off in A Coruña and then drive 5 hours to Ourense that night. The lady on the desk could not understand at first because if our car was due to be collected in A Coruña, she assumed that is where we were staying... she didn't really get that flying to Santiago, then taking a bus another hour further north in order to collect a car to drive back 2 hours south made no sense! The whole of that trip would take possibly another 11 hours to get to Ourense - collecting a car in Madrid and driving straight to Ourense would only be around 7 hours (including the pick up time, going to refunds for the flight and car hire costs, the drive itself and breaks). After much to-ing and fro-ing, that is finally what we did.
We played merry-go-rounds with the baggage and some Americans also trying to reclaim late bags, collected the car and paid the extra for the different collection/drop off option, headed to refunds to put in a claim for the flight inconvenience and the additional hire costs, collected money from the ATM (ah Euros at last), had my first cortado of the trip (yum) and hit the roads out of Madrid.
|Meltwaters were running fast and high and there was|
still snow on the mountains in many places.
When we arrived just above La Canda it was really quite chilly and the breeze from the still snow capped mountains meant I was glad of my snood, hat, gloves and jacket! In fact, the snowmelt must have been recent - the rivers and streams were running very high and fast and many of the paths over the week were flooded or very wet and muddy. If I had attempted to walk a few weeks before, the chances are some of the passes may have been impassible, or the floods so high I couldn't have got through. I could now see why in the guide book there are places where it offers alternative routes for when it has been very wet or it suggests care is taken due to slippery rocks! The little stone bridge mentioned in the guidebook was so much further on than I had expected, but the walk was quiet and superb and as so often on this camino, quiet and devoid of pilgrims. Sadly, those coming out of Lubían were walking along the road and many had missed the beautiful walk I had done on my last trip and the route that would bring them out at the starting point which I had left from on that first morning. They missed some stunning scenery and woodland paths and were going to go from unnecessary road walking to more (but necessary because it is actually the camino) road walking the next day.
The most tiring part was hopping from one side to the other trying to avoid mud and puddles, rushing meltwater and flooding. I often had to hug the bank or climb onto a wall to keep my feet dry. There were some parts where the floods were deep and long, covering a large proportion of the path. One of these I was able to avoid by clambering over a wall and into a field next to the path, but I had to do a bit of a leap in order to land on dry ground and get back on the path. Despite all this, I only got one very muddy foot when I thought I was on a firm spot and then sank fast! I had been admiring the sound of the cuckoo, the birdsong and babbling brooks - but
this was soon followed up by the cry of "Oh Bugger" when I almost lost my shoe.
|Markers were like friends|
upon the way, many artist
sculptures of St James
|This area has a lot of water and snow|
melt, there are granite slabs laid to
make a pathway raised above
some muddy parts.
The way was very well marked and clear including some to guide us around fords without foot crossings. I was very grateful for meeting Michael (initially with the cortado that I have so missed since being in England) and then at midday, hearing he had located a good bar for lunch - Don Pepe Bar. The menu del día was paella - declicious (!) although I'm not sure what the Valencian's would say as it was sea food! I'm sure this is because we are in Galicia, the capital of Spanish sea food, but even so - considering the Spanish claim that seafood paella is an "English corruption"! This one had mucho sabor and was only 5 Euros!
|I love the drinking fountains along the way,|
and they all seem to work!
|Up, up and more up - over what looked like Spanish "Tarr" |
steps. My legs were like jelly and I hardly knew how
to put one foot in front of the other.