A circuitous route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Stage One beginning in Munich, Germany ending in Jerusalem - traveling through Austria, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Second stage from Vienna, through Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain.
Final destination - Santiago!

Post Script: The changeable situation in Jerusalem has led to a change in plans. The Rome to Jerusalem leg of this journey has been changed to the 'End to End' in the UK, after which the journey will resume as above in Vienna.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Sobrado dos Monxes

Last night I stayed in a Cistercian Monastery. I'm glad it wasn't winter because I think it may well be a very cold place.  The Cistercian monks live a very simple, austere life, spent in silence and separation from the rest of the world.  As they say in the guide they "share the frúts of their work by offering shelter and hospitality", from which we pilgrims benefit, with 110 beds available for pilgrims at the end of a fairly long day.

The monastery was built in 1147, becoming a Cistercian Monastery in 1498.  A Royal decree dissolved Monastic Orders in 1834, with the end result being that the Monastery was abandoned and was almost destroyed, but in 1954 a restoration programme began, and a community of monks have resided there since 1966.  I was quite amused with the silence rule as I was greeted by a monk called Santiago (he was born on July 25th, St James Day), who talked non stop firing questions at me and chatting, mainly in Spanish, but every so often in English.  He was far from silent, revelling in imparting his knowledge of the Monastery, and showing me where things were for me to access.

I later did a self guided tour of the monastery, and there is not a single bit of gilt or fancy frescoes, just simple stone carvings for decoration with the only color being green and black, caused by the mould and dampness throughout.  I'll let the pictures tell the tale.
Part of he pilgrim quarters in the monastery.

Walking into Sobrado there was a real surprise.  After trudging down hill along the road, the path diverted through a roadside forest and rounding a corner, a beautiful lake came into view.  Approaching it, there was an extremely loud frog chorus.  One pilgrim said to me later that they must have a problem because "its not normal to have so many frogs".  I told him of Mike Tyler, our Adelaide frog expert, who often says that frogs mean that the water is clean.  If that's so, this water is super clean!
The lake on the outskirts of Sobrado dos Monxes, complete with water lilies.

On the way out of Miraz the path went up hill, but so gradually that it was often only when looking back that it showed the slope.  At one stage it went over rocks, so large that it was as if I was walking on a road.

Not ashphalt, but rock.

Before going to Sobrado I spent the night at the English Confraternity of St James albergue in the small village of Miraz.  Here there are around 22 beds in the renovated and extended former priest's home.  The hospitaleros work for two week shifts and our hosts were Rick, from Florida, and Liz, from England.  I went up the road to the taberna with Rick and was fortunate to see a herd of goats being moved, a sight seen several times a day.  After dinner Liz opened the church for those initerested in seeing it.  A delightful church, with a lovely acoustic, which I know because I had a sing!
 The albergue at Miraz.
 The goats being moved at Miraz.
 Inside the church at Miraz, and below, a close up of the retablo. 

Rick showed me several inscriptions on tombs in the cemetery.  They had the man's name followed by "y esposa" (and wife) - poor thing, she didn't warrant having her name there too! 

Not only was the albergue at Miraz a treat, but so was the walk there.  It was a little shorter than previous days, and I could take my time and still arrive earlier than usual.
 A wayside cross not far from Baamonde.
A shed like building on the way.

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