“…Walking the 14 km section of the French Way from Melide to Ribadiso is an ideal way to sample the Camino de Santiago…”
El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James is the pilgrimage route to the shrine of the apostle St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia , where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. The Way can take one of dozens of pilgrimage routes. Traditionally, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the Santiago Cathedral. In Spain, France, and Portugal, pilgrim’s hostels with beds in dormitories dot the common routes, providing overnight accommodation for pilgrims who hold a credential or Pilgrims Passport. Pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela who have walked at least the last 100 km, or cycled 200 km to get there, and who state that their motivation was at least partially religious are eligible for the compostela or a certificate of accomplishment from the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago. The first ten pilgrims who present their Compostela at the Parador in Santiago each morning are entitled to free food and drink for three days.
The scallop shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago.
One wet and windy Saturday morning this July, we decided to walk the fourteen kilometres of the Camino from Melide to Ribadiso. Manuel Ruzo picked us up at the Parador in Santiago where we were staying at 8.30 in the morning. Melide is 45 mts. by car from Santiago. “The history of Melide, since its foundation in the 10th century, is linked with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The 11th century Cruserio – stone cross in the little square at start of The Way in Melide is thought to be the oldest in Galicia.
Just past the stone cross is Romanesque church of St Mary with murals decorating the interior of the apse.
The first half of the walk is easy – it is mainly on flat ground through agricultural land. The path is firm. You walk past an ancient laundry, pretty flower-decked house and through forests with tall trees. You cross a stream with stones for a bridge, and have one to one with belching cows. Stone pills with yellow arrows and scallop shells mark the way.
We stop for coffee at Cafeteria el Aleman. It is full of walkers eating Galician cakes and sipping cafe con leche. One pilgrim walks past with his spiritual inspiration on his back pack.
Then we walked in to Boente with its stone cross and Saleta fountain. That was the half way mark and the walk became more difficult with the path getting steeper and tougher. We panted up hill, stood in the shade to catch our breath and walked on.
We reached Ribadiso after midday, crossed River Iso over the old single span bridge. Ribadiso with its 60 bed hostel is an overnight resting place for many pilgrims. We drove to Casa Brandariz to drink Albarino and Mencia and eat one the biggest and tastiest Galician lunches we have ever had!
The walk was arranged by Manuel Ruzo of ArtNatura, Rúa Bautizados 1 1ºD, 15702 Santiago de Compostela, +34 – 981 587 454 + 34 639 888 064 artnaturagalicia.com