Day 15: Total distance 17.5 kms. Total ascent: m
Weather: Sunny and hot. Temperature: 28
How often is it in life that the unexpected changes to our plans often bring the most rewarding of experiences? Our journey today started in the pre-dawn darkness again; we did not have any breakfast with us (the promised food shop turned out to be non-existent) so it was an early start, hoping to find a bar to buy sustenance en route. Despite the hunger pangs, walking in the quiet early morning is a fantastic experience.
Today we were ultimately heading to Palas de Rei, and our walk included a detour off the main path to an ancient national monument – the Vilar de Donas, that was well worth the effort. We had not definitely planned to do this unless legs somehow felt energetic enough to allow us this 5km diversion. As it turned out, the two youngest girls elected NOT to take on the extra kilometres, so MamaBear stayed with them at a ‘bar’ with some fresh orange juices while the rest of us walked to the church. There is nothing to indicate how worthwhile our diversion will be – a small simple printed sign was all indicated the way to Vilar de Donas off the main Camino route – just an opportunity for the curious pilgrim who may have read the couple of lines in the guidebook that suggested this as a possible option. Most pilgrims today walked on past the dusty side-road – their attention on other goals. Our slow pace today allowed us the opportunity to explore.
The Church of El Salvador dates back to 1435 primarily – although it also has links with a 10th Century nunnery. Remaining are a range of stone effigies of knights – the church was the ancient seat of the Knights of Santiago. There are also remnants of unique frescoes which are extremely expressive and sorrowful, and while it is unclear exactly when these frescoes data back to, there is no doubting the mysterious sense of history that the church buildings exude.
on the way to the church…
The Camino landscape appears to have consistently changed to beautifully shaded, tree-lined pathways and stream valleys which are wonderful to walk, and are mostly sheltered from the fierce heat. We are also now only 68km from Santiago – plenty of opportunity for more surprises and detours to the main Way, all part of the journey!
Tags: 2012, postcard: Spain