Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 42 (10/30) - Ribadiso to Arca O Pino (23km)

It had been awhile since we got up in an albergue. Getting up in a dark room and getting backpack, etc. organized while lights are out and others are still sleeping is a bit of a challenge -- having things organized the previous evening is the key. Anyway, we got things together and went to the bar/cafe across the path and had breakfast and then started walking. It was clear above us and foggy/misty all around -- very beautiful and just the way I like to start my day. We went through Arzua and then stopped for second breakfast after 9km and lunch after 14km. We have been seeing several of our pilgrim friends every day and had lunch and coffee with several of them -- we even caught up again with two Australian women who we had not seen for several weeks ( Glenyce and Dawn from Melbourne). The walk was very pleasant and along quiet roads and paths until the last few miles. Arca is a fairly ordinary city and we checked in to a new albergue (Albergue Cruceiro de Pedrouzo) that is definitely new but may not be a very nice place to sleep - we will know more in the morning. It's hard to believe that we have one more day walking to reach Santiago and I'm not sure how it will feel to arrive. In fact, I think I want to keep walking to the coast.

Starting from last night's Albergue just after sunrise.

Typical morning pathway.

A nice edible mushroom specimen.

30km left and counting!

Reconnecting with Glenyce and Dawn from Melbourne.

The shot glass is a complementary sample of Spanish liqueur.

20km remaining and counting!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 41 (10/29) - Palas de Rei to Ribadiso (26.6km)

We left our pension around 7:30am, grabbed breakfast nearby and hit the trail. Again, it had rained before we got up and we were pleased that it had stopped and the morning was quite nice. The sky was clear and the fog and mist on the fields was quite lovely. We walked 8km and had second breakfast and then continued on another 7km to Melide where our guide book had highly recommended stopping for lunch and having Pulpo a la Gallega -- we were not disappointed. A large plate of octopus was only 7 euro and we added Caldo Gallego soup and pimientos del padrone (roasted green peppers with olive oil and sea salt) along with two glasses of white wine apiece for a total of 21 euro. We had a few small rain showers, stopped again for refreshment and then ended up at Ribadiso. For us, it was a fairly long day, but the path was easy with gentle rolling hills. In Ribadiso, we found private "Albergue Los Caminantes I" so will spend anther night in bunkbeds, something we wanted to do again as that is part of the pilgrim experience.

Early morning mist shortly after leaving Palas de Rei

Morning pathway - typical pathway for much of the day. We also spent time on dirt/stone track.

Typical farm.

Our guidebook recommended that we stop in Melide for Pulpo de Galego (octopus Galicia style) and we were not disappointed. A large plate cost 7 euro.

Pork humor (above!) -- Mike at the 50km marker (below!).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 40 (10/28) - Portomarin to Palas de Rei (25.4km)

Day 40 (10/28) - Portomarin to Palas de Rei (25.4km): Another time when we heard rain in the night and were worried about the day's weather. Breakfast in the bar downstairs and left if our full rain gear but the rain had stopped. There were a few brief sprinkles and one pretty good shower later in the day. We stopped after 8km for second breakfast and continued another 7 km for a lunch stop. The caldo Gallego was a bit different - more potatoes, less beans and some cabbage. I suppose it will differ from place to place and we definitely want to try making it at home. The path was pretty and we ascended steadily but not steeply for 14km and then descended a bit to Palas de Rei. We found a pension (Pension Vilarino) and checked in, getting a double "matrimonial" room (i.e. double room with one bed). Cindy has been wanting "pimientos del padrone" again but the bar was out of them so we are simply having Rioja crianza and a bit of cheese. Beginning at Sarria is the minimum distance a pilgrim can walk and get their certificate of completion so it's interesting to visit with the "newbies" and get a bit of their excitement -- those of us who have been on the trail for more than a month are a bit jaded. We had a nice dinner. I had wonderful pork shank.

Departure this morning in front of a stature of Saint James (Santiago) dressed as a pilgrim and indicating the "Way" out of town.

Typical pathway today.

We have seen a lot of this lush green vegetable in the gardens. The Galicians call it "berza" and it is collard greens! They put it into their Caldo Gallego soup.

A pilgrim with a donkey. Definitely not an everyday sight!

I had wonderful pork shank for my main course.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 39 (10/27) - Sarria to Portomarin (23.1km)

Daylight savings time kicked in overnight so we got an extra hour of sleep. It will be nice to have more daylight in the morning since sunrise has been getting close to 8:30am and finding the correct way out of town in the near-dark was sometimes a problem. Breakfast was included in our room and we walked for 10km or so before stopping for second breakfast and then continued on another 7km and stopped for lunch. We split a mixed salad and a nice bowl of lentil soup plus each had a cerveza con limon. The trails and terrain were nice with no particularly difficult stretches. We crossed the first large river that we have seen and climbed up the hill into Portmarin and found Pension Posado El Camino, near the church.

Typical pathway today

Note the yellow arrows, marking the "way" on the old stone building.

More neat pathways.

This marker shows 100km from Santiago - the end of our journey. We hope to be there after 4 more days of walking and arrive on October 31st.

Neat old church, illuminated by the setting sun, just across from our Pension (see below).

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 38 (10/26) - Triacastela to Sarria (17.9km)

We heard rain in the night but it had stopped by morning. Left the room at 8am and stopped for a nice breakfast at a bar down the street. We had two options on the route today and chose the recommended and shorter and with less elevation gain, following the path through San Xil. Stopped for second breakfast after 10km at Furela and then plodded on to Sarria. It was a fairly short day and the weather was excellent. Sarria is the starting point for the pilgrims who want to get their certificate of completion and walk the minimum distance necessary (around 115km). This time of year, it is much quieter than earlier since not so many are starting. We got a nice map and good information from a tourist information office on the edge of town, stopped for a light lunch along the river, and found a room at Pension Escalinta. The rooms are above a bar and the owner was so pleased to see us that, while we were signing in, he poured us a large glass of wine and gave us a plate with slices of cheese. The room was nice and the shower felt great. Even though this was a short day of about 11 miles we felt tired. There should be only 5 more walking days to Santiago and Cindy decided it would be nice to arrive on October 31st, her dad's birthday.

Looking back at Triacastela shortly after we left town and before sunrise.

The pathway was steep in places but nothing like the past few days!

Our Irish acquaintances say Galicia looks a lot like Ireland.

Tonight's lodgings are above a small bar and the owner gave us wine and cheese while we were registering.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 37 (10/25) - O'Cebreiro to Triacastela (20.9km)

It had stopped raining by morning (hurray!) and we had a nice breakfast and headed out of town around 9am. The view from the trail was amazing and we had ups and downs as we followed the mountain ridge. Stopped for 2nd breakfast at Hospital de las Condesa and continued. There was more ascent than we had expected but not too bad. Stopped for lunch at Casa Lucas in Biduedo -- each had tomato, cheese and tuna salad and split a big bowl of Caldo Gallego soup. Decided that the greens in the soup were collard greens (Berza) that we had been seeing in gardens along the way. The trail continued its up and down and finally descended from the top down to Triacastela. After yesterday's downpour we enjoyed a nice day with only a few brief showers. We were pleasantly surprised that it wasn't (quite) as steep as we were expecting so made pretty good time with not so much wear and tear on the knees and feet. We are seeing more cattle near the trail than before. Checked in to an albergue (A Horte de Abel) but got a private room (Habiticion) with bath so enjoying the luxury. Walked around town, had a sidra (cider) and roasted green peppers and then back to a restaurant not far from the albergue for dinner.

We passed through several small villages with their small churches

Typical view for today

Round stack of firewood with thatch "roof".

View back along the trail - the cluster of houses in background was along the trail.

Typical trails for today - above and below. Yesterday's trails were steeper and full of running water from the rains.

Location:Triacastela, Spain

Day 36 (10/24) - Trabadelo to O'Cebreiro (19.9km)

Milestones: Today, we crossed over into Galicia and now have less than 100 miles remaining in our pilgrimage!

The Albergue closed at 8am so we hit the road before sunrise. Luckily we were following a group who had a good headlamp so there was no problem finding the route out of town. Stopped for breakfast after 3.8km and by the time we finished it had started to rain so geared up with full raingear (paints, jacket, backpack cover and dollar-store ponchos. It rained and rained and was the worst day by far. We stopped for cake and coffee and then again for early lunch at Herrerias. The waitress told one of the other pilgrims (who understood spanish) that we should stay on the road (i.e. bicycle route) as the pathway was dangerous in the rain. At La Faba we left the road and followed a "tractor path" with water running down each rut and it was still quite steep - we plodded along with the weather worsening and worsening. The last 5km was pretty challenging for us and the wind was fairly strong as we neared the top. All in all, we climbed 730 meters (2400') with most of that over the last 8km. We arrived at O'Cebreiro in heavy rain and got a room at the first available bar. Turns out the room not upstairs but in a nearby building so we had to go back into the rain. We were a bit disappointed since we had expected to stay upstairs above a cozy bar. However, it turned out okay since the room had radiators and we were able to dry our wet clothes. In the early evening, the storm had paused and we were able to get a few photos and see some of the awesome scenery. The storm quickly resumed and we sat in the bar for a drink and then had dinner there. Rain stopped again so we were able to get back to our room without getting wet.

Self portrait in rain.

At first, we walked along small roads along the valley floor with freeway high above.

Galicia is green = rain, rain, rain! It was raining so hard for the rest of the hike that I could not take pictures for fear of ruining my iPad.

The rain did stop briefly later in the day after we had arrived.

9th Century church in O'Cebreiro - probably the oldest church along the pilgrimage route.

Traditional round stone house with thatch roof.

Village scene.

When the weather briefly cleared we could see great scenery and appreciate how much we had climbed today.

Location:O'Cebreiro, Spain

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 35 (10/23) - Pieros to Trabadelo (19.8km)

Everybody slept late (and listened to a bit of early morning rain on the skylights) and got up after 8am. The hospitalero had a nice breakfast waiting and we left around 9am with pleasant weather. It took longer than expected to get to Villafranca del Bierzo but it was a very nice walk through vineyards and a small village. We had an early and very nice lunch in Villafranca and then took the "scenic" route out of town rather than the flat route up the narrow valley and along the road. The route was indeed very scenic but also involved a 400 meter (1300') and very steep climb. We then walked along a ridge and through a marvelous chestnut forest. We could hear the nuts plopping onto the ground and there lots of family groups gathering large bags of them. Then, we had a very steep descent to the valley floor and checked in to the municipal albergue in Trabadelo. We are in a room with two bunks and 4 people total so not too bad. Then dinner at a pension/Gastropub that was singlehandedly run by a Dutch woman. She was bartender, chef and waitress. It was a great dinner.

Last night's albergue in Pieros.

It was nice to walk through vineyards again.

Beer delivered to a bar by tanker truck!

Not yet weary pilgrims.

The ground under the trees was covered with chestnuts and people gathering them.

Our albergue above and the "Gastropub" where we had dinner below.

Location:Trabadelo, Spain