Friday, July 1, 2016

Betanzos - Hospital de Bruma

Camino Inglés day 3.
Distance: 28.7km (83.2km), time spent: 7:57 (25:19).
Weather: Light drizzle in the morning, overcast remaining of the day.


Day three on the Camino will bring us to an important junction on the Camino Inglés, Hospital de Bruma. As the site of an ancient pilgrim-hospital, Bruma marks the point where the two routes from Ferrol and A Coruna meet. Before we started on the Camino, I was a little bit worried about how many pilgrims we would meet there, as there are only 26 beds in the albergue. Since there were only 3 in the albergue in Pontedeume and 13 in Betanzos, I am not that worried anymore, but it is a long distance to the next albergue if the albergue in Hospital de Bruma should be full (Siguero, 24km).

The Camino crosses a railway track in the woods after Betanzos on this bridge.

A look out of the window in the morning reveals the weather outside to be grey and dreary, with a light drizzle in the air. Sitting around the various tables in the ground floor of the albergue, are sleepy pilgrims eating breakfast. One by one, or together in a small group, they pack together, pick up their backpacks and disappear out the door. After having done the same thing, we follow after, out to the early twilight and quiet streets that are barely wet from the small rain. Out of Betanzos, after a small ascent, a local waterworks company has erected a pilgrim statue showing the way forward.

Remote surroundings in grey and drab weather.

From Betanzos it is approximately 28km to Hospital de Bruma, where the route goes through a quiet and peaceful countryside. There are no towns or villages to speak of, only farms, small hamlets or smaller villages that the route passes through, with few places to obtain drinks and food along the way. After the two first days on the Camino, this stage will probably feel more secluded and remote.

San Esteban de Cos.

The first kilometres of the days feels exactly as described, we walks on small and quiet village roads through forests and culture landscapes in the outskirts of the local settlements around. Shortly after Betanzos, we cross over the railway on an old stone bridge. The grey weather lies heavy over the landscape. Small information boards stands along the route, all with faded information that cannot be read any longer. After 7km, we have come to San Esteban de Cos, an old church with one church bell in the clock tower.

Camino waymarker stone, these usually stand on the ground next to the Camino, this one was placed inside a wall as a part of it.

The fact that the Camino is a spiritual experience for many is well known, but for some it is also a symbol of hope and peace. We repeatedly pass by small pieces of paper hanging from the trees (sort of reminding me of the hiking ribbons in South Korea), and some that have fallen to the ground. The papers contains various statements about peace from famous people (like Gandhi and Mother Teresa), refugees and unknown people. 'Love is the foundation of peace' (Roger) stands on one of the ribbons, 'Peace is not something you wish for. It is something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you giveaway '(Robert Fulgham) on another. These are fine words, but still I do not feel that it is here along a Camino that these words are the most needed.

We passed by this axe set in a fence post after Leiro.

For those who think that 28km is too far to walk, there is a small albergue in Presedo about 10km after Betanzos. Although the albergue is not located directly on the route, Kjetil and I goes down to it to see how it looks like. The hospitalera, a smiling lady, meets us at the door, stamps our credentials and tells us that there were 9 pilgrims who slept there this night. The albergue is small, but looks pleasant. We take a break next to the church, Santuario da Nosa Senora da Saleta, while a group of pilgrims who also were at the albergue in Betanzos arrive. They are going to stay here at Presedo. According to my guidebook, there are no places to get food here, but shortly after leaving Presedo, we come to a place called Meson-museo Xente no Camiño. So it appears that facilities along this stage has grown. We take a cup of coffee sitting outside amongst walls decorated with pilgrim and medieval artworks.

After Presedo, we continue walking on quiet country roads, the weather showing no signs of lifting, although it is not raining. Passing by the church Santa Eulalia de Leiro, we notices that it has two bells in the clock tower, does it symbolize that it covers a larger district than Cos for example? Bar Julia, or Casa Julia as it is written over the door, probably earns good money by being appropriate located for lunch between Betanzos and Bruma. Here I take delight in a bocadillo with sausage (salchicon) and a cold beer, while Kjetil goes for a bocadillo with cured ham. The father with the two kids about eleven years old arrives not long after us, sporty done by the two youngsters to walk the Camino.

Casa Julia, the bar is situated about halfway between Betanzos and Hospital de Bruma and is in that way a good place to stop for lunch. If the bar is closed, the water tap on the wall is probably highly welcome (if the water is turned on).

After Casa Julia, the second of the two steepest sections of the Camino Inglés awaits us and there is a small punch to it. On the way up, we pass by a small worn out bumblebee, which we try to help by placing it on the top of some flowers. In Vizoño, the clouds have suddenly turned dark and for a (very) brief moment the air is full of rain, we do not see any signs of the said bar that is supposed to be here. A sign with Castro Maior written on it, together with an almost indistinguishable symbol marking an attraction, leads us on a fruitless hunt in the fog. It must have been an old castle or fortress here, but where we think it must have been it is now overgrown and inaccessible.

A rusty 'flowerpot' with the yellow arrow on, on the ascent from Casa Julia to Vizoño.

Bruma is barely more than a hamlet, I am actually not sure that we are in Bruma before I recognize the sign outside the albergue. Solvor have arrived before us as usual. It is a nice albergue, built in a renovated pilgrim-hospital from the middle ages. Changes has happened here as well, now there is a bar close to the albergue that serves food (until 20:00). Nice, but also a little pity at the same time. I had been looking forward to the arrangement here that I had heard about, where the pilgrims (who wanted to), choose from a menu from a bar (Bar La Ruta, the hospitalero had the menu). The hospitalero then ordered the food and then the bar would deliver it, set up the table inside the albergue with the food and drink that was ordered. That way it would became a sort of a communal meal, and it will not be the same now.

In a misty landscape on a lookout for a possible castle, Castro Maior. We did not find any old castle, only fog, a helipad, some antennas and a lot of vegetation.

Around us, the farmers goes on with their daily lives, herding sheep (by car) and working the land, while we are relaxing outside the albergue. Most of the pilgrims who were in Betanzos also come here, even those who at first was going to stay in Presedo. In addition, some who have come from A Coruna.

An old man does his laundry in Bruma, this is the first time I have seen anyone use one of these old types of laundries.

The bar, Casa Graña, has the usual menu del peregrino. I go for a pasta salad with tuna as primero, cutlet with potato chips as secundo and flan (caramel pudding) as postres. Kjetil goes for the other option on the menu, sopa de gallego (soup) as primero, chicken with potato chips as secundo, but the same dessert as me. Solvor eat dinner together with the two elderly ladies who had come from A Coruna. I had to help explaining the difference between the menu and just a single plate for them (from Spanish).

The albergue in Hospital de Bruma. A nice albergue, the wall we see originates from the old medieval pilgrim-hospital. 26 beds, bath and toilet located in a small building opposite the albergue (where you see the hospitalero is sitting). A vending machine outside had beers and sodas if wanted.

I have always enjoyed staying in these tiny places on a Camino, I always feel so relaxed here, although there is not so very much to do at the place. We finish the evening with a beer outside the bar, though I later sit alone outside the albergue when the rest of the pilgrims have gone to bed. I usually cannot sleep if I go too early to bed. Just to sit quietly outside and enjoy the fresh air feels like a good end to this third day on the Camino Inglés.

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