19 September 2016, Monday, A Guarda to Oia, day 21

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September 19th 2016
Published: October 13th 2016
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19 September 2016, day 21, A Guarda to Oia. 14.91 kilometers, 8.9 miles Hotel A Raina

A warning - a longer blog covering 'gunner monks,' Galician ponies and a beautiful old monastery

As I mentioned yesterday when we entered Spain we moved our clocks an hour ahead. So when we awoke at 0700; it was still dark. The lady at the Hotel Meira, served us breakfast of Spanish dried ham, cheese, croissant, coffee and orange juice. This was at 0800 when we had to have our bags down for transfer to next hotel.

So our merry band of five started down the streets of A Guarda just before 0900. We saw the square and church before getting to the coast boardwalk. The day was sunny and the walk along the coast beautiful. As we were walking through the streets of A Guarda, we passed by this cute little dog that was having so much fun with a larger dog. This video photo will not load so you only see the little dogs brown legs in photo between the black dog and the two owners of the dogs. Then as we got to the edge of town we met three young women, two from Lithuania and one from Italy, all working together in Cambridge, England. They said to Julian, that they were lost and could not find the Camino. We had found the arrows so they followed us.

We walked along the coast for a few kilometres and came to a very nice house or hotel like structure which was abandoned. A nearby path leads to a rock basin near the shoreline. Upon further examination we saw tanks built along one side of the rock basin that could be used for storing lobster or other marine life before harvesting. Information posters showed pictures of lobster but were in Spanish so the exact use was not clear to us.

The walk along the coast was beautiful on this sunny, perfect temperature day. We alternated between a path near shore, a more inland blue-gum, eucalyptus, path and along the Hwy No. 355 roadway. The only negative was no coffee shops or restrooms the entire nine miles. As we continued walking we saw a father and son going fishing, a field of goats and two homes that have been built to look like boats. I do not recall ever seeing homes built like this before.

Next a group of five caught up with us. A man and wife from Vancouver, BC, Chuck and Li Boesencrew, whom we have been seeing almost daily since Porto, as they passed us. They were walking with three ladies from Oregon and Washington. Some additional folks we met at lunch and I chatted with briefly were a couple from Riga, Latvia.

In northwestern Spain there is a festival in the summer called Rapa das Bestas (The Capture of the Beasts.) The festival lasts three days and involves marking the foals and cutting the manes of the wild horses who have been brought down from the mountains. When they are brought down they are penned in what we would call a corral - in Spain they are called 'curros.' 'Grapplers' are men in charge of trying to keep the horses subdued while grooming takes place. At one time the mountainous property was owned by religious orders and the monks were the first to practice principles of horse breeding. Musicians are at the festivals and the food and wine flows. The ancestors to these beautiful, black Galician ponies are, by most accounts, horses that came
These three young ladies work in Cambridge, EnglandThese three young ladies work in Cambridge, EnglandThese three young ladies work in Cambridge, England

Two are from Lithuania and one from Italy. We help them find the Camino waymarks
from Ireland at least 3,000 BC.

Upon reaching the town of Oia, our first stop at about one in the afternoon, was the restaurant; the restrooms and food were the order we needed. While eating lunch we saw the young Italian girl who had been walking with our Japanese friend, Ayako. I sent a note to Ayako about our meeting her friend. and she responded immediately.

From the map and GPS we determined we needed to go in front of the monastery along the harbor sea wall to get to our hotel.

Our hotel A Raina did not have anyone at the desk when we arrived. We saw our bags and waited several minutes before a young man appeared. He used his cell phone to indicate that he is deaf, but he spoke very clearly and read lips if one speaks clearly in Spanish or English. So we got checked in and then relax. Jo and I had some wine and work on blogs on the deck outside the lobby of the hotel.

Our lunch was so good that we returned to the restaurant for dinner. We arrive a little early and ask the waitress if
This little puppy wanted to play with the older, bigger dogThis little puppy wanted to play with the older, bigger dogThis little puppy wanted to play with the older, bigger dog

The owner of the little pup tries to separate it from the bigger dog.
the monastery is open. She tells us it is open at that moment. We hurry over for a pilgrims mass only to find they are only reciting the rosary, in Spanish of course. We also find out that only the church is open. The monastery, after the 1835 confiscation of their property and the expelling of the monks, was passed through a succession of private owners. Many schemes have been advanced for use of the property, none have appeared to have come to fruition. There was a large, tattered sign near the monastery touting a luxury housing development. Presently a company is trying to market a spa, touting the mineral waters found in the area. There is a model in the back of the church showing the extent of the monastery at the height of of its power. What we see in the present Santa Maria Monastery is only a ghostly vestige of its past.

And what did the monks do? Fishing was never a viable business but the monks cleared the land and made roads. Oia had a crucial, strategic geographic location and often the monastery was called upon to defend a large amount of coastline. In 1625 three Christian ships were being chased by Turkish privateers and sought refuge in Oia Bay. The monks, along with a troop of soldiers residing in the monastery, succeeded in sinking the Turkish ships. From then on they were called 'Gunners Monks.' The king rewarded them by declaring them to be a Royal and Imperial Monastery. The monks also developed horticulture, particularly viticulture. They developed the grapes that would eventually lead to the delicious wine for which the area is known. Albarino white wine comes in three types: dry, medium or sweet.

After dinner, taken on the beautiful outside area of the restaurant, watching a beautiful sunset over the bay, we link arms and sing our way home. A perfect day: a good short walk, perfect weather, great food, pleasant accommodations and the best - wonderful travel companions!

Additional photos below
Photos: 35, Displayed: 26


A paved path leads to this walled tank pondA paved path leads to this walled tank pond
A paved path leads to this walled tank pond

These were used to raise seafood. Not sure whether shrimp, lobster or fish.
Chuck and Li BoesencrewChuck and Li Boesencrew
Chuck and Li Boesencrew

From Vancouver, Washington now but originally the Midwest
Walking along this highway had a barrier of sortsWalking along this highway had a barrier of sorts
Walking along this highway had a barrier of sorts

This provided a path away from the oncoming traffic
Looking back along roadLooking back along road
Looking back along road

Later we would find them ripping these barriers out to widen the road for cars. Ugh!

15th October 2016

Love pictures from Oia, Spain
This post seems so lovely and rewarding. You've trudged through many difficult places; Oia seems to make it all so worthwhile.

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