Portomarín to Palas De Rei – Stage 33

Stage 33 – Portomarín – Palas De Rei
Total Distance – 24.8 km (13.9 miles)
Adjusted for Climb – 27.0 km  (16.7 miles, accrued ascent 450 m = 2.2 km)
High Point: Sierra Ligonde at 720 m (2,362 feet)

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

One of the bridges that led out of Portomarín

One of the bridges that led out of Portomarín. Notice the line of peregrinos heading toward it and on it.

DSCN3390My first thought when we left Portomarín was, “Where did all these people come from?” and then I remembered that we were within the last 100 kilometers of Santiago and it all fell into place. Still, the numbers of peregrinos on the road that morning was impressive. Immediately upon leaving we came upon a woodland and were soon paralleling the main road.

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Look at the hordes of people on the road!!

Look at the hordes of people on the road!!

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Signs always showed us the way.

Signs always showed us the way.

When we reached the village of Toxibó we came upon another hórreo strategically placed beside a lovely family home. It was the finest example I had seen of one up to that point. Sue and I had no idea what they were for and why they had that unique design. Later we were to learn that the pedestals that had rounded curves and the overhanging base of the hórreo were designed that way to keep out rodents and little animals. These intruders cannot climb up curved surfaces and this measure was enough to protect the meats that would be curing inside the hórreo or the grain stored there. The wooden slats on the sides of the hórreo insured that the structure was properly ventilated. In time we would see many, many more examples of these unique structures.    DSCN3402 DSCN3403 In the meantime we had some walking to do and as you can see from the picture below Sue was completely recovered and had no problem climbing up some of the steep slopes we found in our way.

Believe it or not but that little dot in the distance is Sue!

Believe it or not but that little dot in the distance is Sue!

There she is!!

There she is!! In this area the climbs were short and between a 9% to 15% grade.

With the beautiful countryside as our constant companion we also encountered peregrinos that decided on taking a unique mode of transportation!

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This husband and wife team were Dutch. You soon learned on the Camino that the Dutch were bike crazy!

This husband and wife team were Dutch. You soon learned on the Camino that the Dutch were bike crazy!

As we approached the area around the Sierra Ligonde we saw that the area was one of great beauty.

DSCN3413 DSCN3417 Midway in our stage we came upon a small chapel in Ventas de Narón. It was situated in a peaceful setting which belied the events of 820 AD when a bloody and cruel battle was fought here between Christian and Muslim armies with the Christian armies emerging victorious. Curiously, I saw no plaques that spoke of that fateful battle; all that I saw was a chapel and a plaque that spoke of the renovation of the chapel in 2004.

DSCN3414 DSCN3415Our next stop was to be just beyond the village of Lameiros where a Cross or Cruceiro awaited us. Specifically it was the Cruceiro de Lameiros (1670) that we stopped to see. At the base of the cross you see symbols that represent the suffering and death of Jesus while at the top, where you would expect to see a crucified Christ, is a symbol of maternity. This particular juxtaposition of life and death while unexpected I found to be jarring. To me it was a shock because you see the Virgin Mary holding Jesus (whether it is a baby Jesus or the Jesus of the Cross I cannot tell) in a place one would never expect to see it but then you walk to the other side and then see the crucified Christ. Does it represent the Alpha and the Omega or the love of a mother for her son? Or both?

The Cruceiro de Lameiros (1670)

The Cruceiro de Lameiros (1670)

Maternity and life

Maternity and life

Bones representing death

Bones representing the death of Christ

A hammer and nails representing the suffering of Christ on the Cross

A hammer and nails representing the suffering of Christ on the Cross

The crucified Christ on the other side of the cross

The crucified Christ on the other side of the cross

DSCN3429Four kilometers later we made another stop at the hamlet of Ligonde. Ligonde was a place full of historical significance during the medieval period and is actually two hamlets. The first is known as Ligonde Ligonde and is at the top of the hill. The first of the sites here that we saw was the ancient cementerio de peregrinos (pilgrim cemetery). It is located on an old farm named Leira da rúa and its presence would seem to indicate that somewhere near was a pilgrim hospital or hospice.

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The wall and the cross are all that remain of the original cemetary

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You can’t miss seeing this site as it is right on the pilgrimage route. I wonder how ancient peregrinos felt when they saw this place.

Next we saw the Casa de Carnero, founded by the powerful Ulloa family and as the sign below says, the place where Carlos V, on March 24 of 1520 stayed while on his way to be crowned Emperor.  Felipe II, his son, also stayed here on May 20, 1554 while on his way to La Coruna sail to England to wed Mary Tudor.  In the 16th century this house was given the right of asylum. This meant that anyone accused of a crime or fleeing justice was instantly “freed” upon crossing into the house.

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A unusually simple sign for such a historical place!

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This could be the Ulloa Coat of Arms but it could also be the Coat of Arms of the Travas, Montenegros and Varelas whose Coat of Arms are also on this house.

A few meters from the Casa de Carnero is the Fuente del Peregrino albergue. It is an albergue that is run is by a British religious group. The building actually was a school built by the hamlet during the Republican period and we were very kindly greeted there with cold water and brightly painted signs that adorned the exterior walls.

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A nice way to say goodbye!

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Free Hugs were available!!!

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Others also stopped for water and free hugs

Moving on we were so in amongst nature again.

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One of my favorite pictures!

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A long and narrow trail

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The hamlet of Eirexe boasts a church with Roman and Romanesque remains and a cruciero

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The cruciero in Eirexe

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Sue loved this little statute that was part of the decoration of the outdoor area of a Cafe where we stopped!

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So did I!! This is one of my favorite pictures!

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The Rectoral de Lestedo was once a pilgrim hospital, then a Rectory and now a modern Casa Rural (Bed & Breakfast). I may stay there next time

Our final stretch into Palas de Rei was tranquil and uneventful.

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Palas de Rei as seen from the outskirts of town

 

 

Sarria to Portomarín – Stage 32

íStage 32 – Sarria – Portomarín
Total Distance – 22.4 km (13.9 miles)
Adjusted for Climb – 23.9 km  (14.8 miles, accrued ascent 300 m = 1.5 km)
High Point: Cruce at Momientos at 660 m (2,165 feet)

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

Sue and I arrived in the early evening at Sarria (pop. 13,000) and we lost no time in finding our hotel, the slightly off the beaten track but very modern Hotel Mar del Plata. As we walked to our hotel we noticed that some streets were cordoned off and had wooden bicycle ramps (for jumping) snaking through the narrow streets. There was a BMX freestyle jump competition taking place right in the heart of Sarria! The atmosphere was festive and the competitors were getting a lot of “air” out of their jumps because the course started at the higher part of town and the downward slope made for some very high and fast jumps!

The ramps for the BMX competetion

The ramps for the BMX competition

This one is near the highest part of the town

This one is near the highest part of the town

When we were recommended the hotel we had been told that the restaurant in the hotel had some excellent food. That night we found out that indeed excellent it was! The next morning at breakfast Sue told me that she wasn’t feeling well and we decided that I would go ahead on foot to Portomarín while she would sleep in and take a taxi later that afternoon. We were concerned about the large number of peregrinos we expected to compete for lodging from Sarria onwards so we decided that we could take advantage of the situation by having her book our rooms when she arrived.

Which way to go? When in doubt always follow the painted one.

Which way to go? When in doubt always follow the painted one. Many times businesses such as Hostels, Albergues, and Pensiones also use the yellow arrow to direct you to them.

I was to be on my own for this stage and started walking at about 9:00 a.m. As I entered the old quarter and climbed up the rúa Maior and made my way to the higher part of town where the Mosteiro de Madalena is located, I sensed the “Saturday Morning in the Park” atmosphere that made Sarria a starting point for many. The signs also reminded me that this was not a new concept since Sarria had been a major medieval center of the pilgrimage route. The people and the language being spoken left me in no doubt that I was in a Celtic Galicia.

A plaque dedicated to a Galleon

A plaque dedicated to Magellan’s historic circumnavigation of the globe. His expedition was the first in history to accomplish this feat although he did not live to see Spain again. Many Galicians sailed with him.

I couldn't make out the language on the lower plaque

Ditto

This one is in Latin

That morning in Sarria I also saw something that I had never before witnessed on the Camino; large families walking together. I felt like I was in an outing in the park. Of course this new presence was due to the fact that Sarria was the starting point from where you could get a credencial by completing the 110 kilometers (more or less) to Santiago. I was immediately conscious that I would see more peregrinos today than I ever did.

A Spanish family of 7 navigating their way through the ramps

A Spanish family of 7 navigating their way through the ramps

More peregrinos up ahead

More peregrinos up ahead

The Iglesia de San Salvador located at the top of the rúa Maior

The Iglesia de San Salvador located at the top of the rúa Maior

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The 13th century Fortaleza y Torres (Fort and Towers) at the intersection of the rúa Maior and the rúa do Castelo

The 13th century Fortaleza y Torres (Fort and Towers) at the intersection of the rúa Maior and the rúa do Castelo

As I arrived at the higher part of town I was able to enjoy the view from above even though there was a slight chill in the air.

A view of modern Sarria below from the Parque Do Bosque

A view of modern Sarria below from the Parque Do Bosque

A Cross of the type that are all over Galicia. This one was in the Parque Do Bosque

A Cross of the type that are all over Galicia. This one was in the Parque Do Bosque

Approaching the Mosteiro da Madalena on the rúa da Mercede

Approaching the Mosteiro da Madalena on the rúa da Mercede

Mosteiro da Madalena

Mosteiro da Madalena was formerly an Augustinian monastery founded in the 13th century. A community of Mercedarians now reside there.

Although I was walking alone there were many others just starting their Camino.

Another family on the trail.

Another family on the trail.

The cemetary that is behind the iglesia de San Roque

The cemetery that is behind the iglesia de San Roque

The medieval Ponte Áspera (meaning "rough stone") that spans the río Celeiro

The medieval Ponte Áspera (meaning “rough stone”) that spans the río Celeiro

I remember thinking at the time about how green everything was and how excited the children were to be starting their camino. I was in good spirits and buoyed by the excitement of others around me.

The 110 Kilometers to go mark

The 110 Kilometers to go mark

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A family crossing a small bridge

A family crossing a small bridge

A lone peregrina up ahead

A lone peregrina up ahead

A group of peregrinos pushing ahead

A group of peregrinos pushing ahead

After going under a modern railway bridge, over the train tracks and through forested trails it was soon time for a rest break and luckily for me I stopped at the beautiful Casa Barbadelo which is a first-class rural pensione/albergue. Since I only stopped there for a snack and a cup of coffee I can’t tell you much about the accommodations but if the setting was anything to go by they must have been excellent.

Casa Barbadelo

Casa Barbadelo

DSCN3303 DSCN3304The full name of the village of Barbadelo is Santiago de Barbadelo and this village was the site of a monastery in 874. Only a 12th century church, the Iglesia de Santiago survives. It was outside of Barbadelo that I met a Spanish family that consisted of two grandparents walking with their grandson and his new wife. I found out that the happy couple had just returned from their honeymoon in California! The gently rolling and green hills along with the quaint and very Galician stone houses formed a perfect backdrop for this lovely walk.

Entrance to a Galician village. Notice the small white pointed structure to the right. It's a Galician Hórreo, a stone structure on pedestals that is used to store grains and to cure meats. The curved pedestals that serve as a base are used to keep small animals out.

Entrance to a Galician village. Notice the small white pointed structure to the right. It’s a Galician Hórreo, a stone structure on pedestals that is used to store grains and to cure meats. The curved pedestals (not visible here) that serve as a base are used to keep small animals out.

This was a stand-off between a cyclist and a herd of cattle. Guess who won?

This was a stand-off between a cyclist and a herd of cattle. Guess who won?

Me posing at the hundred kilometer to go mark. Soon after tking this picture and invisible local shouted out that that marker wasn't the real 100 K point. It was the only one I saw!

Me posing at the hundred kilometer to go mark. Soon after taking this picture an invisible local shouted out that the marker wasn’t the real 100 K point. It was the only one I saw!

As I write this I realize, now in retrospect, that so much happened on this stage to me and that I saw so many things that were new to me on this day. Some were funny, some were sad reminders of loss but all were a part of living our lives.

DSCN3335Soon I was upon the village of Ferreiros which means “blacksmiths” I didn’t see any blacksmiths but I did see the beautiful church of Santa María de Ferreiros.

Iglesia Santa María de Ferreiros

Iglesia Santa María de Ferreiros

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A structure that was probably made by the same artisian that made hórreos for the area.

A structure that was probably made by the same artisan that made hórreos for the area.

A short while after seeing this church I was reminded of the love and faith that we have for each other by these poignant and makeshift roadside memorials.

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One thing about the Camino is that it teaches you that whatever happens to you, you must move ahead. As I said a prayer for those that had lost a loved one and for those that had died I prayed that they may have been able to move on with their lives as we peregrinos moved on the road towards Santiago.

DSCN3368At the next village I got to, just at end of this road, I saw a very interesting dog that enjoyed lying in wait for we unsuspecting peregrinos and barking at them to surprise them. It was a little game that the dog played, probably everyday of his life and hundreds of times!

Look closely for my little furried friend or shall I say fiend!

Look closely for my little furry friend or shall I say fiend!

Gotcha! He looks like a statute.

Gotcha! He looks like a statue.

I left my mischievous friend and walked toward the Miño valley where the ancient town of Portomarín was located. The town was a strategic location because of its bridge that spanned the Miño river and most probably for this reason was a Roman outpost. We know of a 993 AD document that calls the town Villa Portumarini and most surely it was always garrisoned, once by the Knights of Santiago. In medieval times it was and important commercial and military center. In the 19th century the nearby town of Lugo eclipsed Portomarin and the commercial significance of the town deteriorated. By 1956 a nearby dam to provide hydro-electric power was under construction and the resulting reservoir flooded the town and the major structures of the town were numbered, block by block, removed and rebuilt on a new site. This is the site of the present-day Portomarín. Eerily, somewhere submerged in the reservoir are the remains, houses and streets, of the old Portomarín.

On the outskirts of Portomarin. Notice the advertizements for albergues and pensiones.

On the outskirts of Portomarin. Notice the advertisements for albergues and pensiones.

The bride over the Miño river

The bride over the Miño river

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An interesting thing happened to me on the outskirts of Portomarín. I was walking, minding my own business, when all of a sudden the self-proclaimed Spanish “World Champion” Camino walker briefly introduced himself to me. He was a skinny bony man in his 50’s who claimed to have walked the Camino 50 times! As he walked past me I didn’t believe his claim and was to meet up with him later.

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Notice the steep stairway at the end of the bridge.

Notice the steep stairway at the end of the bridge.

As I was walking across this bridge I noticed that peregrinos were walking up a steep stairway, with ridiculously narrow steps, at the end of the bridge. I also noted that it was dangerously steep and that I was also dangerously fatigued at this point. I figured out that you could easily bypass the stairs by walking up the street that took you to the same place. What was I to do? My brain must have not been working real well at that point because I thought to myself that going up these stairs must be some sort of peregrino ritual and that I would hate myself if I didn’t go up them. The rational side of my brain was blockaded somehow because I didn’t think of the fact that I would have hated myself even worse if I made a misstep and fell down the stairs, hurting myself and probably ending my camino. As I walked toward the stairs I felt a sense of foreboding but also determination. What was I to do?

DSCN3383As you probably guessed I went up the steps. My reward for such a stupid act was the look on the self-proclaimed Spanish “World Champion” Camino walker’s face when he saw me right behind him. It said to me, “How the hell did you keep up with me the Spanish “World Champion” Camino walker!!?” My second reward was a cold beer that Sue had waiting for me on the patio of the Café/Pensione where we were staying. I wish I had a picture of me drinking that beer and of the face of the Spanish “World Champion” Camino walker!

I’ve Been Away Awhile

Me in front of the Monastery and Royal Abbey of Samos, located in Samos, Galicia

Me in front of the Monastery and Royal Abbey of Samos, located in Samos, Galicia

The beautiful Monastery and Royal Abbey of Samos

The beautiful Monastery and Royal Abbey at Samos

Things happen in life for no apparent reason at times and then later you learn why they happened at the way they did.

In my case I went on a pilgrimage in May of 2013 and started this blog to write about my experiences on the Camino Francés. When I came home in July of 2013 I decided that I needed to write a stage-by-stage account of my pilgrimage. So I began to collect my thoughts and pictures and write. At one point last year, for reasons unknown to me, my writing slowed down and it was as if I wanted to savor each moment. Maybe I thought that if I published a post it would put an end to the experience of my Camino.

Fast forward to this summer. I’ve recently come back from being a volunteer Hospitalero at the Monastery and Royal Abbey at Samos. It was a unbelievable experience where I came to appreciate more, if that was possible, the indomitable spirit of pilgrimage and those that serve others. Recently while having lunch with my in-laws my father-in-law asked me if I was going to write in my blog about my hospitalero experiences. My answer was that I wasn’t but now I’m not so sure.

Here’s why. I think that my stay and Samos and the fact that the last stage I wrote about in this blog was the stage that I visited Samos are not a mere coincidence. While a hospitalero this summer I spoke to and enjoyed meeting many peregrinos that were about the walk the very steps that I walked last year and haven’t yet written about in detail. Maybe that was part of some plan that I was not aware of but now it’s time to finish relating my experiences. I think I owe it to myself, to you my readers and to the 500 or so peregrinos that I met this summer. I remember that every morning when I would say goodbye to them, maybe with a hug and always with a “Buen Camino”, I saw them with their backpacks and walking sticks moving off in the morning mist and my heart wanted to go and walk with them.

Now is the time to walk those last 110 kilometers with them…

 

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!!