Spain Snapshots: The Medieval City of Mondoñedo along the Camino de Santiago del Norte

Leaving Lourenzá at just past 7am, we’d have a two hour hike before reaching Mondoñedo, where we’d agreed to meet Iván, Claude and Sandrine for breakfast. While we’d stop and feed our bodies whenever we felt hunger pains or a bit of weakness, this day was different – we’d need to double our intake of toast and coffee for a three-hour hike straight upwards into Gontán.

Not only was this the day we had to climb a mountain, but also the day we couldn’t lose MC. Hayley and I both cried silent tears to ourselves from pain, from frustration, from just needing to let out what our emotions were trying to say. It was a long day, and a pivotal one during the trek, where I nearly broke the promise I made to myself to walk every goddamned step to Santiago by checking bus schedules.

As we descended the lush valley into the small city of Mondoñedo around 9am, I took a misstep and felt a weird pain creep up my left calf. Remembering my years as a gymnast, it felt like tendonitis. I grasped at it in pain, trying to sooth the sore area by walking on on my heels and pulling out my mobile to check bus times out of the city.

Mondoñedo is one of the original capitals of the Galician kingdom and a city with more than 900 years of history. Its most famous landmark is its cathedral and rectory, known as a catedral arodillada for its squat spires. It was breathtaking and the backdrop for a lively market that morning under a soaring sun.

Climbing straight out of the city, we turned around to glimpse the village as the sun began to burn off the mist that had become synonyous with our mornings along the Camino. Thankfully, leaving Mondoñedo was quicker than savoring the entrance to it.

In the nearly six months it’s been since we reached Santiago on foot, but the quick stop in Mondoñedo has stayed with me, both for the views and the valley, as well as the day I decided to grit my teeth and prove to myself that I could handle an uphill climb, both mentally and psychically. 

Have you been to the Lugo province? 

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

Comments

  1. Caitlyn says:

    Looks stunning! I haven’t been to Galicia before – I really need to explore more of the north – but it’s definitely on the list. Though when I get there I probably won’t be approaching by foot :)
    Caitlyn recently posted..The Bunker Man of AlbaniaMy Profile

  2. Corinne says:

    Such a gorgeous place…I love Galicia. Don’t plan on hiking the trail, though…good for you!
    Corinne recently posted..Rafflesia – Stinky Flower and One Cool Bloom!My Profile

    • Cat Gaa says:

      Even doing a day or two is great! I’m considering a long hike during our upcoming long weekend, and then just taking the bus back. It’s been six months since we finished, and my feet are itching again!

  3. That’s really nice, Cat. Oh, the things you got to see and experience during your walk. Insane.
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  4. Galicia is off-the-beaten-track as it is (unless you’re talking about the Camino, ahem), and Lugo province (along with the rest of the interior) is usually passed over for the Rías Baixas, Santiago, and Coruña—which is a shame because it’s so beautiful! I love your panoramic shot of the whole town.

    Random fact: one of my auxiliar friends (who I met on the plane ride to Spain two years ago!) actually taught in Mondoñedo last year!
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..If You Love Castles, You’ll Love Spain’s Jaén ProvinceMy Profile

    • Cat Gaa says:

      Precisely why we chose the Norte! If you get to Mondoñedo, you’d love it. Lugo has so many beautiful villages, and the Camino was an awesome way to see that!

  5. amelie88 says:

    Lovely pictures and kudos to you for sticking to your original plan. Knowing me, I would have gotten onto the bus (I’ve been on too many infamous “hikes” chosen by my dad which have always resulted in the most grueling, catastrophic climbs) and not looked back.

    Also I love the names of your French friends (I’m assuming they are French?). Claude is my grandpa’s name and Sandrine’s is my sister’s. :)
    amelie88 recently posted..Oh the Tangled French Presidential Webs We Weave: The Affair Part 1My Profile

    • Cat Gaa says:

      It was definitely one of those moments where I thought about the emotional consequence, and not the physical ones. I was not outdoorsy as a kid, despite loving summer camp, so this felt like a big accomplishment for my, physically. Looking back six month later, it has even more significance.

      And, yes, lovely French people we met along the way – they were great!

  6. Gayla says:

    Congratulations to you for sticking to your resolve. I hope the pain from the trek has healed. I would love to visit Galicia. Even my friends from Valencia tell me that I’ll enjoy it. Mondonedo will have to be one of my stops :-)

  7. Galicia keeps calling to me. I haven’t been yet… and now I have YOU waving it in front of me too ;)
    Elle x
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  8. Such incredibly beautiful photos. You make me want to go!
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  9. Jennifer says:

    Those photos are lovely! And what an accomplishment for you. I bet I would have given up and lost out on seeing the town.
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  10. Your photo of the vista is beautiful. I’m glad that you were able to find the inner strength to continue even through the pain.
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  11. Travelogged says:

    So beautiful and sunny! Wish i was there right now!
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  12. Sounds like you had a memorable climb — and got some splendid photos along the way!
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