Sunday, September 18, 2011

Falling Behind

The End of the World

Since my last article, Ozzie has traveled to the end of the world. Well, not literally, but figuratively. Figuratively because the Spanish have chosen to name this rock Finistere, which means End of Land. One can imagine Christopher Columbus in 1492 sailing away to an unknown world and wondering if the trip was one way.

Ozzie and his friend are staying in the small fishing village of Portosin on Spain's western coast. The road along the coast winds up and down through the hills that provide a bulwark against the Atlantic storms that rage in the winter. Fortunately, it is summer. The sky is blue and the air is clean with a scent of fish and salt. In Portosin, each and everyday, excepting weekends and holidays, in Portosin, the fishermen bring in their catch from the sea. They work on boats that are perhaps 30 to 40 feet in length with crews of five or six. The catch is often anchovies. It is a fish perhaps five or six inches in length. The anchovies are quickly put on ice and loaded onto trucks for the market. These salty fish make a great dinner or snack.

Ozzie prefers the quiet of the villages to the bustling action of the cities. In Portosin, one can walk along the beaches and watch the seagulls pick among the debris left on the sand for their morning meal. Occasionally, one meets a Spaniard out for a walk, but it is not often. Here the water is cold and the currents dangerous.

Two days of relaxing in Portosin and Ozzie is on the road again. This time headed back to Santiago de Compostela, then east along the Camino Santiago, or Way of St. James. This is an historically significant route that since the Middle Ages has been a pilgrimage for the devoted. Pilgrims would walk from all over Europe to pay homage to the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela's cathedral. During the Middle Ages, it is estimated that a half million devoted Christians made the journey each year. The number today is not quite as high, but it is still remarkable in this day and age to see the young and old walking along the old route.

Next, our journey took us to the northern Atlantic and along the coast to Luarca. For awhile, we strayed from the highway to join the dvout on sideways on their journey to Santiago. This was the first time that I have heard English spoken, when chance brought us together with two ladies from South Africa. Their husbands stayed home; they were making the jaunt together, a trip they said covered 20 to 26 kilometers a day.

From the seaport of Luarca in Cantabria, we travelled to the province of Astruria. Ozzie drove up into the Picos de Europa and onto the town of Covadunga. Here in 722, Pelagius (Pelayo) defeated an army of Moors and kept a Christian kingdom in northern Spain from which the Reconquista would eventually be launched. The drive through these mountains is spectacular, all the more so as they rise steeply only a few miles from the coast line. The steep hillsides have, like Switzerland, small farms where cattle and sheep graze on the hillsides.

Asturia, is that where John Jacob Astor gets his name from?

A week passes by...

Sometimes, I have internet, sometimes I don't. Traveling on the road is not always conducive to good writing habits.


We leave Pots and Pans behind for a trip across the top of the Picos de Europa.The route takes up to Riano through winding roads and deep valleys. Ranchers let their cattle feed on the hill side grass giving the impression of Switzerland. Finally, I understand what the triangular road sign is with the cow means. A Spaniard, his wife and dog are driving the cattle down the mountain road.

There is little traffic to mar the view, but the trip is slow. After 30 minutes, the beauty is worn thin by the need to pay attention to the cutbacks on the road.

A night in Leon - the cathedral is spectacular. Its stain glass windows rival those of Chartres. Stayed at the Hotel Eurostar, near the El Cortes Ingles.


A short drive to Benavente is about all we can take after the harrowing drive through the mountains. The drive is only 90 kilometers so we arrive early and take a break. Staying at the Hostal Universal, just off the main square. For that reason, as we will discover later that night, the party goers keep up their revelry til midnight and the trucks roll by at all hours of the night.

The city is quintessentially Spanish to me. By that I mean that the shops shut tight from 2 until 4 in the afternoon, dinner is not served until 8, and Spaniards come out in the evening to walk about. Ozzie wonders when is prime time tv in Spain?


A trip to Zamora is worth it just for the visit to the cathedral of Zamora. There one finds one of Europe's greatest collections of tapestries. My camera is full of pictures from the tapestries alone. The cathedral itself has a beautiful tiled dome. The interior is rich in art work and paintings.

By the end of the day, Ozzie finds himself in Tordesillas. It is a hot dusty town, a way station on the path to larger cities. Staying at the Hostel El Pardo.


1 comment:

  1. Too cool! that pilgrimage reminds me of mecca... which reminds me that religions are not so different from each other. the two women you met sound interesting. i wish you would have gotten a picture to put along with your blog post. One thing i've learned since starting at KWCH is that what you write should have corresponding visuals. "Write you your footage" is a mantra in our newsroom. Well try more local foods at an agriturismo. They are small family run establishments with a set menu that changes daily. they are often on farms, like the ones your described in your post.