Camino Day 36: Ourense to Oseira

As you might suspect, we were late getting started following our rest day. But, by 10:30 am, we began the long walk through suburbia and the unattractive industrial sections of Ourense.

An interesting part was a tunnel through which we had to transit. This one was a bit different as it was only one lane wide and we had to press a pedestrian walk button and wait for a signal. So, it was kind of like a crosswalk with no chance of escape if something bad happened. It was a bit scary but got definite kudos for creativity.

There’s that old joke about the light at the end of the tunnel being the oncoming train. No joke – we heard a train go by and freaked a bit.

Ergo, it was nice to clear both suburbia and creepy tunnels. Mikey thinks that he’s a bit more comfortable on the open road anyway. Oh, and there was another version of the Camino markers.

After a while, the path got rather forest-like and we trudged along in the midday sun. According to the locals, it is currently both unseasonably warm and dry for this time of year. Thanks – we’ll just celebrate with sweat.

Upon reaching the town of Cea (where we had intended on staying), this large clock tower and fountain was a welcomed sight. As many fountains have not been marked as potable, we have often opted for water rationing instead of risking it.

Following a quick rest-stop, we followed the arrows out of town and were met with this Camino fork in the road. Since a fellow pilgrim had recommended visiting the monastery in Oseira, we made a right and decided to bunk with the monks tonight.

Still, we had to get there. Luckily, most of the way was on the soft shoulders of country roads.

But, it was all about gaining elevation. As such, we climbed up and up along these twisted mountain roads for what felt like hours. According to the guidebook, once arriving in Oseira, we couldn’t miss the monastery. This was true.

Just around a bend, the impressive complex suddenly appeared. First impressions: it was old and it was huge.

Yet another 12th-century construction, the monastery features Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque features. So large is this structure that it features three cloisters (most monasteries only have one) and once housed almost 500 monks. Less than a dozen roam its halls today.

Completely abandoned during the second half of the 19th-century, it was reclaimed just prior to Franco’s regime. At present, it is being restored by lay workers while the Cistercian order of monks has revived the liquor stills and other artisanal endeavors in hopes of funding its return to glory.

Pictures within the monastery are strictly forbidden, but when our guide-monk found a dead bird in the sanctuary and left to throw it out a side door, Mikey snapped this picture. It’s cool, we get all of our Catholic sins forgiven once we reach Santiago!

The interesting part about this shot is that it captures the Baroque-styled central dome. Once the church was reclaimed as a parochial entity during last century, the parishioners funded the removal of 80% of its Baroque decorations thereby returning it to its Romanesque origins. They left the highly embellished interior of the dome.

In more modern times, an axillary building has been converted into a dormitory for pilgrims. Yep – we slept here! Oh, and those stone walls and vaulted ceilings made for a very chilly night. At least they installed hot water a couple of years ago.

Well, that’s about all for this side trip to sleep in a monastery. We did get to take an in-depth tour and even attended vespers but have no pictures to show. As such, we will close for now. Hasta entonces, via con Dios.

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