Day 55 – Castañeda to Arzúa

Walked today: 4.0 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 390 miles

When we awoke this morning there was no rain, but all the weather forecasts and weather maps showed it was raining, or would be in 18 minutes. So we put on our rain gear and departed for Arzúa, a mere 4 miles away.

When we realized we were going to arrive in Santiago a week early, we tried to change our airline tickets accordingly. But we only had two openings, one on the Sept 27, which was too early and the other was Oct 2, sooner than our original ticket by 5 days, so we rebooked it.

We preferred to have two days in Santiago after finishing Camino 2019, a day for the train trip from Santiago to Madrid and two days in Madrid before boarding our flight back home. The two day buffers were in case there were unforeseen delays in getting to Santiago and/or Madrid. With our new schedule, we still had four extra days to burn, so we decided to burn two of them on the Camino and two in Santiago, since Madrid hotels were running about twice the cost of Santiago.

Our method of burning two days on the Camino was to have several very short days leading up to Santiago. Today was one of them at 4 miles and the other two will be 3 and 3.2 miles respectively. In addition to making our final few days physically easier, this will also let us experience three new properties and two new villages on our way to completing Camino 2019.

Getting back to today’s walk, it was threatening rain the entire way with slight drizzles but nothing to justify serious rain gear. Linda was first to take off her poncho, but Jim hung on for a little longer feeling that if we both took off our gear we would lose it’s deterrent effect.

The path took us through alternating corn fields, holstein pastures, open unplanted fields and eucalyptus forests, not necessarily in that order.

We did pass through the 16th century village, Ribadiso da Baixo, where we stopped for breakfast and a credential stamp.

In order to validate our pilgrim credential to qualify for a compostela, we must have at least two stamps per day during the final 100 km into Santiago. Our second stamp today will be at our Arzúa hotel.

The final mile was along the road or on city sidewalks into Arzúa.

We arrived at Pencion Domus Gallery in Arzúa at 10:15 and were able to check-in shortly thereafter. As soon as we sat down in the pencion lobby, waiting for our room, it began to rain seriously… boy, did we dodge a bullet this morning.

our room in Pencion Domus Gallery

Arzúa (pop. 6,238) was previously known as Villanova, as it is called in the Codex Calixtinus. Ample evidence exists of both pre-Roman and Roman settlement nearby. When the area was reconquered, Arzúa was repopulated with Basque people. It was the principle stopping point for medieval pilgrims before Santiago.

Arzúa today is known for its cheese, made from cow’s milk from the municipalities of the Ulloa, raw or pasteurized. It is also known as Ulloa cheese, Ulla, “Paleta cheese” or other more generic names as “Galician cheese” or “cheese of the country “.

The cheese is creamy, rich and smooth. Its crust is thin waxy of yellow and elastic texture, while the paste is white or yellow, very soft and buttery. The flavor is mild, somewhat acidic, varying from a slightly bitter to a slightly sour taste, depending on whether its development has been in winter or summer.

We’ve eaten Arzúa cheeses several times during our walk through Galícia and like its smooth creamy texture and taste.  

For lunch/dinner we walked to a small hotel/restaurant on a plaza a block from our hotel. It was a delicious combination of pizza, roasted padrón peppers and ensalad Rusa.

Afterwards we retired to our room for the day for naps, reading and blogging.

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