Triacastela to Sarria – Stage 31

Stage 31 – Triacastela – Sarria
Total Distance – 25.1 km (15.6 miles)
Adjusted for Climb – 26.1 km (accrued ascent 200 m = 1 km)
High Point: Midway between Triacastela and Samos at 780 m (2,559 feet)

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Triascastela, open and ready for peregrinos early on the morning we left the town

Triascastela, open and ready for peregrinos early on the morning we left the town

Please note that some names may be in Galician – you’ll now it when you see it.

This stage is where things began to get a little more complicated because we expected large numbers of peregrinos at Sarria which is the point where pilgrims can start the Camino and be assured of getting a “credencial” from the Church authorities in Santiago. After Sarria we expected the roads to get crowded and housing to become harder to come by. But that was in the future and on this stage we also got to see one of the most beautiful monasteries anywhere in the world!

Sue and I started out early from the town of Triacastela (pop. 900) that was founded in the 9th century. Like some towns we encounter on the pilgrimage route the meaning of its name is debated amongst scholars. Some believe that the town was named after the trio of castles that were built in the 10th century and the town does have a seal showing three castles. These castles were destroyed in wars against Norman invaders sometime around 968 and are in ruins. Others think that Triacastela refers to the three “castros” – pre-roman fortified settlements – ( named Triacastela, Lagares and San Adrián) that are nearby. Finally others believe that Triacastela means “hacia Castilla” meaning towards Castilla. There is no debate however that Triacastela is the end of the most mountainous section of the Camino Francés. For this reason it became a popular stop for monarchs such as los Reyes Católicos (15 September 1486), Carlos I (22 April 1520), and most famously Felipe II (16 May 1554) who stopped here on his way to England to contract marriage with his aunt, Mary Tudor.

Monument at the end of town leading to the route to Samos

Monument at the end of town leading to the route to Samos

At breakfast Sue and I had decided to take the southern alternate route that would take us to the famous Benedictine monastery at Samos (one of the largest and most beautiful in all of Spain!) rather than take the historic San Xil route even though this route was shorter by 6.4 kilometers. As we started making our way through the town a interesting and somewhat disturbing site awaited us. We saw two big dogs running alongside each other and toward us that were engaged in a fierce battle with each other. Needless to say we gave them a wide berth and continued on.
About 3.6 kilometers out of Triacastela we were in the ancient village of San Cristobo do Real. To my eyes it looked as if we had been plopped down right into the 16th century! It is a small village along the banks of the río Oribio that has no more than 50 massive stone houses/structures all hugging each other tightly. I don’t remember seeing any locals in this village because I’m sure I would have stopped to talk to them. This was eery for me as were the heavily forested and therefore dark trails that we walked through.
Entering the village of San Cristobo do Real

Entering the village of San Cristobo do Real

 San Cristobo do Real has a ancient bathhouse and weir along the río Oribio

San Cristobo do Real has a ancient bathhouse and weir along the río Oribio

 As we continued on through mostly forested trails that cleared once in a while we began to appreciate the astounding “greenness” of Galicia. I saw a vibrant green color everywhere that was unlike any other I had seen in Spain. Agriculture and farming was evident everywhere and we came upon a pleasant surprise as we were walking along a wooded trail!
Sheep moving along

Sheep moving along

Entering the village of Renche

Entering the village of Renche where once foundry stood

Beautiful countryside!

Beautiful countryside!

The trail through the forest

The trail through the forest

Lo and behold a horseman with his beautiful horse was on the trail with us!

Lo and behold a horseman with his beautiful horse was on the trail with us!

A pastoral scene

A pastoral scene

Look at what we saw as we climbed up the trail.

Look at what we saw as we climbed up the trail. Sue is up ahead admiring the view.

I'm not sure where this beautiful little church is. It could be in Renche or San Martiño.

This beautiful little church is in the village of San Martiño.

DSCN3191The signs lead to Samos and that’s where we were going. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we got there but when we did it took our breath away!

The Road leads to Samos!!

The Road leads to Samos!!

Finally Samos down in the valley below!

Finally Samos down in the valley below! We were still up high and a still had to walk down to it.

A closer view

A closer view

A closer view

Beautiful

When we got to the town we stopped for lunch and also stopped to take a tour of the monastery. It was magnificent and deserving of a separate post that I will write soon. We spent so much time in Samos that we soon had to getting moving, quickly toward Sarria where we had a reservation at a hotel that was highly recommended to us by the barmaid at the Pension in Triacastela. Alas, the rest of the 6.6 kilometers to Sarria was mainly at the side of a two-lane road and uneventful.
Notice the scallop shell motif on the rail of the bridge

Notice the scallop shell motif on the rail of the bridge

The Monastery at Samos

The Monastery at Samos

Here I am posing for a picture

Here I am posing for a picture

The Peregrino monument at the end of the town

The Peregrino monument on the outskirts of the town bids us farewell and reminds us that we have some walking to do!

The beautiful Galician countryside

The beautiful Galician countryside

A Church in the distance

A Church is always in the distance

The yellow arrow, as always, points the way to Santiago de Compostela!

The yellow arrow, as always, points the way to Santiago de Compostela!

The sun-dappled trail that would soon lead us to Sarria

The sun-dappled trail that would soon lead us to Sarria

O Cebreiro to Triacastela – Stage 30

Stage 30 – O Cebreiro – Triacastela
Total Distance – 21.3 km (13.2 miles)
Adjusted for Climb – 22.3 km (accrued ascent 200 m = 1 km)
High Point: O’Cebreiro at 1,330 m (4,363 feet)

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Please note that some names may be in Galician – you’ll now it when you see it.

Finally were we firmly in Galicia – the promised land! The stage before us had some initial climbs before it went almost completely downhill and frankly I didn’t mind that at all. Usually I’m weary of downhill stages because that’s when you tend to get hurt but I was so happy to be in Galicia, every step taking me closer to Santiago, that I didn’t care. I did begin to notice that the churches that we were starting to see in Galicia were much smaller and older than others on the Camino. Also the countryside was greener – those Atlantic winds and storms being caged in by the mountains made Galicia a green haven.

We started the day in a heavy mist and everything from O Cebreiro down was socked in.

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Heavy clouds covering the Valley floor.

Heavy clouds covering the Valley floor.

Soon we were on a forested trail.

The way through the woods

The way through the woods

We had plenty of signs to show us the way!

We had plenty of signs to show us the way!

DSCN3095 The first village that we saw was called Liñares. Dating back to at least the 8th century – we know this because it was mentioned in an 8th centruy document – and mentioned in the 12th century Codex Calixtinus or Liber Sancti Jacobi – Liñares was named for its flax fields that provided linen.

The village of Liñares

The village of Liñares

All along the ridge we were to see fields with Scotch broom and spiky green plants that I found out later were wild absinthe.

Sue walking toward the mist

Sue walking toward the mist

I had to stop for a picture!

I had to stop for a picture!

Peregrinos approaching Linares

Peregrinos approaching Linares

The iglesia San Esteban in Liñares was built prior to 1120 and restored in 1963.

The iglesia San Esteban

The iglesia San Esteban

Narrow entrance to the church

Narrow entrance to the church

My father-in-law will like that this church is still in use!

My father-in-law will like that this church is still in use!

Notice the scallop shells on this Santiago Peregrino. I like his dog!

Notice the scallop shells on this Santiago Peregrino. I like his dog!

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You can see where the restoration work was done.

You can see where the restoration work was done.

After a brief stop at the iglesia San Esteban we were soon on the move again. At the Alto San Roque (1,270 meters, 4,166 feet) were were soon upon the Monumento do Peregrino. This large statute on a stone base is a tribute to all the peregrinos who decide to walk the Camino. As you can see from the pictures below the statute represents a peregrino with his satchel and hat, balancing himself on a walking stick while fighting the elements, the winds, rain, snow or sleet, that stand between him and his destination. At the time I just stood there to take it all in I wasn’t thinking; “Hey, that’s me!” but now with the fullness of time I can honestly say, “Hey, that was me!!”

 

Once again we are moving downhill

Once again we are moving downhill

Cyclists were too!!

Cyclists were too!!

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Monumento do Peregrino near the Alto San Roque (1,270 meters)

Monumento do Peregrino near the Alto San Roque (1,270 meters)

I think the statute was also telling me, "You've made it this far, past all the really difficult obstacles, now it's time to bring it home to Santiago!"

I think the statute was also telling me, “You’ve made it this far, past all the really difficult obstacles, now it’s time to bring it home to Santiago!”

Continuing on to another 2 kilometers past this monument we came to the village of Hospital da Condesa (in Spanish, Hospital de la Condesa). This village was the site of a pilgrim hospital that was established here in the 9th century by the Condesa doña Egilo, the wife of the Conde Gatón. The only remains of that hospital is la iglesia parroquial de San Xoán (San Juan) . This church is laid out in the form of a Latin cross and has an exterior stairwell that leads to a cupola. The church once belonged to the Knights Hospitalers of St. John of Malta..

la iglesia parroquial de San Xoán (San Juan)

la iglesia parroquial de San Xoán (San Juan)

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The outer stairwell leading to the cupola.

The outer stairwell leading to the cupola.

Notice the small entrance to the church

Notice the small entrance to the church

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Having a conversation with the lady volunteer at the church.

Having a conversation with the lady volunteer at the church after getting my credencial stamped

The scenery outside of Hospital de la Condesa

The scenery outside of Hospital de la Condesa

Soon we were approaching the hamlet of Padornelo which although in 1985 had 3 inhabitants had been the home at one time a priory of the Hospitallers of San Juan de Jerusalén.

Yellow arrow showing us the way

Yellow arrow showing us the way

Peregrino up ahead of us

Peregrina up ahead of us

A palloza just outside of  Padornelo

A palloza just outside of Padornelo

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Sue taking a picture of the bulls in  Padornelo. I affectionately like to call this picture, "The Boys are Back in Town!"

Sue taking a picture of the bulls in Padornelo. I affectionately like to call this picture, “The Boys are Back in Town!”

Alto do Poio pass (1,337 meters, 4,386 feet) and there we stopped again to see a very rustic chapel.

Sue taking in the beautiful sights

Sue taking in the beautiful sights

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I wish I knew the name of this chapel.

I wish I knew the name of this chapel.

I wish I knew the name of this chapel.

I wish I knew the name of this chapel.

At this point although we had 12.5 kilometers to go to reach Triacastela our final destination we were feeling really strong and as a result we flew and covered the 12.5 kilometers in a little over 2 hours.

The village of Fonfría in the distance. It was named after its cold waters, "fons fría"

Plaque praising the architectural restorations in the village of Ramil and town of Triacastela that were sponsored by the Ministry of Culture.

Plaque praising the architectural restorations in the village of Ramil and town of Triacastela that were sponsored by the Ministry of Culture.

Village of Ramil

Village of Ramil

A 800 year old tree

A 800 year old tree

That's the entrance to Triacastela!

That’s the entrance to Triacastela!

My Pilgrimage in Pictures – July 4th, 2013

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On July 4th, 2013, exactly one year ago, I completed my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. It was a magical day!

Photo of me taken the day after I arrived.

Photo of me taken the day after I arrived.

 

The Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela

Me at the Cathedral door.

Me at the Cathedral door.

The Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela

 

 

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My Pilgrimage in Pictures – July 3rd, 2013

I thought it would be fun to post one picture that captured a special moment for each day I was on the Camino in 2013. Considering that I took over 2,000 pictures it will be tough to pick just one but here goes.

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Pulpo (Octopus) in Melide!!

Pulpo (Octopus) in Melide!!

My Pilgrimage in Pictures – July 2nd, 2013

I thought it would be fun to post one picture that captured a special moment for each day I was on the Camino in 2013. Considering that I took over 2,000 pictures it will be tough to pick just one but here goes.

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Somewhere outside of Palas de Rei with only 50 kilometers to go!!

Somewhere outside of Palas de Rei with only 50 kilometers to go!!

 

O Cebreiro

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The view from

The view from O Cebreiro

The village as seen from the albergue

The village as seen from the albergue

DSCN3070Whether called “Mons Februari”, “Zebuaril” or “Zebberrium” in the past and having been inhabited since ancient times, O Cebreiro was and is a mystical place. In the United States only Santa Fe, New Mexico and Sedonna, Arizona come to my mind as comparable places. Although there have been no reports of an harmonic convergence here, there most certainly have been pilgrimonic (I just made up this word) convergences for over a thousand years.

Romans knew the value of this strategic location and protected the road here that led west through the mountains of Galicia. Roads have a funny way of leading in two directions and the village was also the site of a battle in 968 that barred Norman pirates from entering Castilla. Legend has it that the Holy Grail was hidden in this very village and kept in the church.

La Iglesia de Santa María La Real (pre Roman, 9th century)

La Iglesia de Santa María (pre-Romanesque, 9th century)

Inside La Iglesia de Santa María

Inside La Iglesia de Santa María

DSCN3050O Cebreiro is the first Galician town on the Camino Francés and there can be no doubt whatsoever that it was the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela that put this small remote enclave on the map. A hospice was founded here sometime around the year 863. The church is the oldest extant church on the Camino and a plaque commemorates the fact that the Benedictine Order has been celebrating mass in the church here since the year 838!

The plaque commemorating the service of the Benedictine Order.

The plaque commemorating the service of the Benedictine Order.

O Cebreiro gained european fame with what was called the Miracle of the Eurcharist (Milagro de la Eucaristía) or the Legend of the Holy Grail of Galicia (Leyenda del Santo Grial de Galicia).The legend has it that sometime around the year 1300 a Juan Santín, who lived in the hamlet called Barxamaior that was a distance of a half a league from the church of O Cebreiro, was so devout that he would attend mass whether it rained, snowed or was windy to a extent that produced bitter cold conditions. On a day in that year when a furious storm struck O Cebreiro, just as the parish priest thought that the conditions were so impossible that no living soul would be able to attend mass, who would be the only person to enter the church but the aforementioned Juan Santín! The priest was so flabbergasted that he exclaimed, “Look who comes here in such a great storm and so exhausted to see a little bit of bread and wine!! The priest then unwisely said, “Your presence was not worth the effort”. As the Priest was raising the sacred host for consecration, God, in order to punish the lack of faith and charity of the priest, turned the bread and wine that was in the Holy Grail into the blood and flesh. It must of been quite a lesson to the Priest! This lesson was not lost on the rest of Europe as pilgrims flocked to O Cebreiro.

Bust of Father Elías Valiña Sampedro

Bust of Father Elías Valiña Sampedro

DSCN3043 The reason that modern pilgrims flock to O Cebreiro and the Camino is largely due to the ground-breaking efforts of Father Elías Valiña Sampedro who was a parish priest here and a great scholar of the Camino de Santiago. At a time when the popularity of the pilgrimage was at an all-time low Father Valiña’s 2 superb books, Caminos a Compostela (1961) and El Camino de Santiago: Estudio Histórico Jurídico (1978), along with his never-ending promotion of the Camino revived the pilgrimage. He was responsible for the first modern guide for walking pilgrims, the introduction of the format of having a map and text on facing pages and the concrete steles (with the yellow scallop shells) that you see everywhere. You could very well say that the rebirth of the Camino was nutured by a parish priest in O Cebreiro!

Father Elías Valiña Sampedro's memory also was honored with a stele of his own.

Father Elías Valiña Sampedro’s memory also was honored with a stele of his own.

Here in this village you will also get to see a Palloza. In order to do justice to this unique and ancient architectural style I’m going to quote the excellent book, The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000):

The pallozas, low, oval stone houses, with ridge-hugging thatched roofs, are remnants of an ancient architectural style that goes back to Celtic times. They are found by archaeologists wherever there have been Celtic communities, from northern Scotland and Ireland to Brittany, Galicia, and the mountains of northwestern Morocco. Their rounded walls and aerodynamic straw roofs (celme), lashed firmly with twisted sprigs of broom (veos) to wooden ridge-poles against the the fierce mountain winds, are perfectly adapted to their environment. Pallozas tend to have 2 rooms: one for animals and the other for humans. Generally both set of inhabitants enter through a single door. Pallozas have no chimneys: smoke escapes through the straw roof, under which are hung joints of meat and sausages to be cured for eating during the long winters. Within the stone oval, the family side of the house is often divided into 2 levels by a wooden platform loft, with sleeping quarters upstairs, and the family kitchen, living quarters and work spaces below.

A traditional Galician Palloza

A traditional Galician Palloza

DSCN3078Unfortunately commercialism in the form of shops with trinkets is rife in the village but I guess everyone is entitled to make a euro every now and then. As for my stay in O Cebreiro it was a brief one. Since I did not reserve a room ahead of time I was forced to ask around at some of the casa rurales in the village. One person told me to ask at a Cafe/Restaurant and much to my surprise they ran a lovely casa rural and had two rooms available.

The Cafe/Restaurante where we found lodging

The Cafe/Restaurante where we found lodging

Our Casa Rural

Our Casa Rural

The Fireplace

The Fireplace

The Living Room

The Living Room

Our stay in O Cebreiro was also made pleasant by the excellent food and excellent wine we had and our first taste of a Torta de Santiago (Cake of Santiago). As the first village in Galicia I could think of no better place to have experience it than here!

Notice the Wine and Torta de Santiago! No wonder we have large smiles!!

Notice the Wine and Torta de Santiago! No wonder we have large smiles!!

 

 

 

 

My Pilgrimage in Pictures – July 1st, 2013

I thought it would be fun to post one picture that captured a special moment for each day I was on the Camino in 2013. Considering that I took over 2,000 pictures it will be tough to pick just one but here goes.

TWO TODAY!

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Galician statute

Galician statute

Sheep!

Sheep!

 

My Pilgrimage in Pictures – June 30th, 2013

I thought it would be fun to post one picture that captured a special moment for each day I was on the Camino in 2013. Considering that I took over 2,000 pictures it will be tough to pick just one but here goes.

HARD TO PICK JUST ONE TODAY!

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I like the mist in this photo and also the peregrino making his way forward

I like the mist in this photo and also the peregrino making his way forward

This was a milestone in more ways than one! 100 kilometers to go!!

This was a milestone in more ways than one! 100 kilometers to go!!

The burial site for

The cross marks the site of a field that was the burial site for medieval peregrinos

Beautiful Church

Beautiful Church

It's surrounded by tombs

The Church is surrounded by tombs

The beautiful Galician countryside

The beautiful Galician countryside

 

Vega de Valcarce to O Cebreiro- Stage 29

Stage 29 – Vega de Valcarce – O Cebreiro
Total Distance – 11.6 km
Adjusted for Climb – 15.1 km (accrued ascent 700 m = 3.5 km)
High Point: O’Cebreiro at 1,330 m (4,363 feet)

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I must say that other than crossing the Pyrenees the prospect of climbing up to O Cebreiro was the stage that I dreaded the most. This ominous foreboding began long before I actually left home for the Camino. It was based on my study of maps, especially those maps that only showed the elevation of all the stages. I would look at these maps and see the outline of a whopper of a mountain and think, “I’ll have to go up that!!” As I talked to experienced peregrinos in California and listened to them tell me about the steepness of the trail and the fact that horses were available that would take you up  services that took up your backpack I got a little spooked by the prospect of the climb. It was for this reason that Sue and I decided to start the climb in Vega de Valcarce.

This beautiful scene in Vega de Valcarce began our day.

This beautiful scene in Vega de Valcarce began our day.

Cyclists were heading up the mountain also.

Cyclists were heading up the mountain also.

A bridge of the modern A-6 Highway overhead

A bridge of the modern A-6 Highway overhead

An example of a sign written in Spanish that has been altered to Galician. So mysteriously this sign in Ruitelán changed from "La Braña" to "A Braña" Galician nationalism asserting itself on the border.

An example of a sign written in Spanish that has been altered to Galician. Mysteriously this sign in Ruitelán changed from “La Braña” to “A Braña” Galician nationalism asserting itself on the border.

Ruitelán

Ruitelán – this town is thought to have been the ancient Roman town of Autaris

The first part of our hike that morning was peaceful and blessedly flat. The views of the valley were beautiful and Sue and I decided to take a break and enjoy the scenery before seriously climbing. As I saw the views (below) just before the town of Herrerías I remember thinking that the next time I walked the Camino I would stay at the beautiful El Capricho de Josana Hotel Rural and Café and I vowed to bring my wife to this beautiful place one day.

The town of Herrerías in the distance. notice the small river or stream running through this little valley.

The town of Herrerías in the distance. Notice the small river or stream running through this little valley.

A closer view of Herrerías.

A closer view of Herrerías.

The Albergue del Bierzo

The Paraiso del Bierzo

The Albergue del Bierzo

The Hotel/Restaurant/Bar Paraiso del Bierzo

The beautiful El Capricho de Josana Hotel Rural/ Café that was just before the bridge to Herrerías were Sue and I stopped for a morning snack.

The beautiful El Capricho de Josana Hotel Rural/ Café that was just before the bridge to Herrerías were Sue and I stopped for a morning snack.

Enjoying the morning coffee and the views!

Enjoying the morning coffee and the views!

As I sipped my coffee little did I know that minutes away in the town of Herrerías I would have a truly touching experience. As we were walking over the puente romano (that had been re-built in the 15th century) and then through the village I saw a little elderly lady with a makeshift walking stick walking in our direction. I called out to her and asked her, in jest, how her climb up the mountain had been. She laughed and then held my hand and very touchingly told us to drink plenty of water and the make sure that we shielded ourselves from the sun. I told her that she was beautiful and must have driven the men crazy when she was young and she looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes and said that she certainly had! It was one of those authentic Camino experiences that I still treasure.

Herrerías -- this town was named after the iron forge that once existed here. Also in the beginning in the 12th century there was a Hospital Inglés that catered to English pilgrims.

Herrerías — this town was named after the iron forge that once existed here. Also beginning in the 12th century there was a Hospital Inglés that catered to English pilgrims.

A beautiful lady and I

The beautiful lady and me.

Leaving Herrerías

Leaving Herrerías – we still have another 8.7 kilometers and 620 meters (2,035 feet) before reaching our destination for the day!

The climb from Herrerías to the next village of La Faba promised to be steep. We would be climbing from 705 meters to 920 meters on mostly a shaded, steep and rocky trail. It was a challenging way to climb a mountain. Luckily for us we were equal to the task!

At first the road out of  was a paved one lane mountain road.

At first the road out of was a paved one lane mountain road.

Soon we were diverted off the road on to a steep rocky trail.

Soon we were diverted off the road on to a steep rocky trail.

Sue moving up the trail.

Sue moving up the trail.

You can see that some of the rocks were quite steep!

You can see that some of the rocks were quite big! That’s Sue up ahead!

Cyclists were also tackling the trail alongside us.

Cyclists were also tackling the trail alongside us.

More rocks.

More rocks.

We ran into a train of horse that were tied together and making their way down the mountain.

We ran into a train of horse that were together and making their way down the mountain.

The horses.

The horses were just following each other down as if they had done this thousands of times.

After much exertion we gratefully reached the village of La Faba. This village was known as Villa Oxa in the 12th century. In addition to its 25 inhabitants the village has the iglesia San Andrés that dates from the 16th century. There is also an albergue located here that is run by a german group based in Stuttgart named La Asociación Ultreia de Amigos del Camino de Alemania. La Faba was just 4.7 kilometers away from O Cebreiro but we’d have to climb an additional 410 meters (1,345 feet) to get there! We needed to stop and have a soda or a coffee before tackling that and happily for us there was a small cafe where we had a snack along with half a dozen other peregrinos.

The entrance to the village of La Faba.

The entrance to the village of La Faba.

Pointing the way we'd have to go but I don't know hat the little lizard is doing on the milestone.

Pointing the way we’d have to go but I don’t know what the little lizard is doing on the milestone.

The view from La Faba

The view from La Faba

A typical house in La Faba

A typical house in La Faba

Two Spanish peregrinas, that we met while stopping for a snack, walking on ahead of us.

Two Spanish peregrinas, that we met while stopping for a snack, walking on ahead of us.

Leaving La Faba we were steadily climbing up out Castilla y León and soon would be in Galicia! All along the way we saw beautiful mountain scenes of bushy open country with fields covered with gorse, white broom and laburnum.

Just outside of La Faba

Just outside of La Faba

The Spanish Peregrinas

The Spanish Peregrinas

Gorse, white broom and laburnum on the mountain

Gorse, white broom and laburnum on the mountain

The mountain was certainly in bloom!

The mountain was certainly in bloom!

Happy to be climbing!! Words I never would have uttered before.

Happy to be climbing!! Words I never would have uttered before.

The view was spectacular!

The view was spectacular!

The gorse bushes were colorful and beautiful!

The gorse bushes were colorful and beautiful!

One of my favorite pictures of Sue climbing up to Laguna de Castilla, the last hamlet before you entered Galicia

One of my favorite pictures of Sue climbing up to Laguna de Castilla, the last hamlet before you entered Galicia

The next four pictures were taken in Laguna de Castilla and I loved how the farmer and his dog had the situation under control. Those cattle knew exactly what was expected of them.

At first I thought this was an unplanned meeting since the farmer and his dog came from an opposite direction than the cattle.

At first I thought this was an unplanned meeting since the farmer and his dog came from an opposite direction than the cattle.

 

The cattle is doing his best to intimidate the dog

The bull is doing his best to intimidate the dog

The Dog won this battle of wills!

The Dog won this battle of wills!

It’s hard for me to describe my emotions as we entered Galicia. Arriving at O Cebreiro I felt that we were about to enter a mystical and magical place and that we were not alone in doing so, either that day or historically speaking. How many hundreds of thousands of pilgrims or maybe even more must have felt the same emotions I was just feeling? Physically I was amazed at how fine I felt. The climb had been much, much easier that I had ever imagined it to be. Of course, I was fitter than I had ever been but I also know that walking with Sue and my other fellow peregrinos had made the climb easier too. It was truly beginning to sink in that Santiago de Compostela was getting really, really close and that the major obstacles in my path were behind me. It was a great feeling!!

Getting close and happy for that feeling.

Getting close and happy for that feeling.

We've reached the border with Galicia and take a brief moment to celebrate

We’ve reached the border with Galicia and take a brief moment to celebrate

Those little dots are peregrinos making their way up.

Those little dots are peregrinos making their way up.

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We are finally just outside of O'Cebreiro

We are finally just outside of O Cebreiro

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A plaque showing the village as it must have been

A plaque showing the village as it must have been

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The view from the top

The view from the top

Sue making her way to the church at O'Cebreiro

Sue making her way to the church at O Cebreiro

O Cebreiro was and is such a truly magical place that I will devote a whole post to it. Coming Soon!

 

My Pilgrimage in Pictures – June 29th, 2013

I thought it would be fun to post one picture that captured a special moment for each day I was on the Camino in 2013. Considering that I took over 2,000 pictures it will be tough to pick just one but here goes.

TWO TODAY!

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Our first view of the Monastery of Samos from above in the hills.

Our first view of the Monastery of Samos from above in the hills.

Without a doubt Samos is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Europe.

Without a doubt Samos is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Europe.