Where We Be
|The Home Stretch -- Camino de Santiago
If you had asked us if anything were missing
from the early part of our Camino, we might
have said an ongoing sense of cameraderie.
Yes, we made friends along the way, but they
usually hiked longer distances than we did at
that point, so we'd meet once then never see
them again. If you've seen the movie "The Way,"
you'll know the main character ends up hiking
with several others who become good friends
during the journey. Maybe we wanted that for
ourselves too in a wistful sort of way. After all,
it's a special part of the Camino experience.
We finally got our wish when we met Fiona and
Virginia in León, and that friendship continued
to blossom the rest of the way to Santiago. Our
longer hiking distances helped keep us more in
sync with them, and we especially saw a lot of
them during this stretch, walking together,
sharing meals, and meeting more new friends
like Roy, until it felt like we had our own little
coterie, just like in the movie. We even got to
share Robin's birthday with them, a real treat.
|Cameraderie is the "secret sauce"
that really makes the Camino sing
|During this stretch we hiked three days from Sarria to Melide, with distances as follows:
14 miles to Portomarin, 16 miles to Palas de Rei, and 9½ miles to Melide
|Hiking Day 37: Sarria to Portomarin
|This adorable 12th century Romanesque church is
San Xulian do Camino in the town of San Xulian
|The hiking on this 9½ mile day was pleasant enough, often passing through
glades of trees with good shade, but we got a late start and it was a hot afternoon
|We stayed at Hotel Carlos (€50) on the edge of town
and dreamed of reaching Santiago in only three more days
|Dinner that evening was a treat: we ate with Virginia at Casa Alongos. We sat on a patio
covered with a thick trellis of kiwi vines -- perfect shade for the longest day of the year.
|This 16-mile hiking day was our longest of the Camino (not including Finisterre).
The day started out misty but soon turned sunny -- and about time!
|This gives you a sense of just how crowded
the Camino can become after Sarria
|Finally seeing blue skies on Robin's
birthday seemed like a gift from above
|The day was long but pleasant. The first half trended uphill to a town
called Ventas de Naron, while the second half trended downhill.
|We missed our free hugs
but enjoyed seeing the sign
|On such a pretty day it was hardly surprising to see so many fellow
pilgrims dining outside. It's a fun experience walking to your lunch!
|That evening we crashed with our friends at Apartamentos Guillermo. We shared dinner at a local pulperia
(a place specializing in octopus) then returned home for dessert and wine to celebrate Robin's birthday.
|The Galician scenery was once again misty, water-
colored, and mostly agricultural on this 14-mile day
|A big disappointment was anticipating and never finding the 100 km marker. There was a 100.746
marker and a 99.930 marker, but never one celebrating the actual 100 km point like there used
to be. Yes, the old one was covered with graffiti, but it was still an important milestone for pilgrims.
|No wonder the trees do so well here, considering how much rain they get!
|We passed a bagpipe player at one point, and with the mossy stone walls, ancient
trees, and remote stone hamlets it really did feel like we'd stepped back into an
ancient Celtic world at times. There’s a strong Celtic influence in Galicia for sure.
|In Mercadoiro we stopped for a slice of this amazing cheesecake, and it went
a long way towards assuaging our sadness over the nonexistent 100 km marker
|We saw plenty of dairy cows in pastures -- not to
mention heading right towards us along the road
|Then we arrived at this long bridge which crosses the reservoir at the base of
Portomarin. The reservoir gives the town a different feel than most Camino towns.
|We climbed a steep stairway into Portomarin, then walked to the fortress-like Church of San Juan
at the town's center. Interestingly, this 13th century Romanesque church was disassembled and
transported, stone by stone, from the valley bottom where the old town used to be to this spot.
|We stayed at Pension Arenas (€50) on the main square and shared dinner at O Mirador with Fiona,
Virginia, and Roy. Fiona had to work hard to get the waiter to add whipped cream to her traditional
Tarta de Santiago (almond cake). The albariño and cake were good but the company even better.
|Looking down at a section of the reservoir from above. Portomarin sits
just off the Camino, so we had to do a little backtracking in the morning.
|Hiking Day 38: Portomarin to Palas de Rei
|Melide is especially well known for its pulpo (octopus), so there was no question we
were having it again here, along with grilled veggies and several other tasty plates
|Hiking Day 39: Palas de Rei to Melide
|We loved Mercadoiro and some of the other small stone
villages we passed through on our way to Portomarin
|Near Portomarin we had to
descend this steep, slippery stretch
|Lunch came late, at a place called A Paso de Hormiga
in Portos, with a big statue of an ant (hormiga)
|What could be more appropriate than a yellow
Camino arrow made up of scallop shells?