The rolling hills from Sarria to Portomarin

Today was a day of early morning fog and rolling hills to Portomarin, the town that Franco rebuilt on a hill to accommodate a dam.


Getting ready to go.


Over the bridge and through the woods (and up a pretty steep hill shortly thereafter).


A foggy morning.


The fog clears for second breakfast.


All of a sudden there’s a lot more Camino stuff to buy. Sarria is just before the 100 kilometer mark from Santiago–and 100 kilometers is the minimum distance you need to walk to get your Compostela (the official completion accreditation). From here on out we are walking with a lot more pilgrims than usual.


Follow the yellow arrows!


Meeting new friends along the way.


Finishing strong!


After lunch we had a class on the church in Portomarin. This is a late Romanesque castle-church built in the 13th century to provide both a place of worship and protection–a reminder of the time in which walking the Camino was fraught with a lot more danger than it is now.


Here Annie shows us the marks on the stones that were made when the church was dismantled and moved to higher ground in the 1960s in preparation for the building of a dam and the subsequent flooding of the valley.  The church was moved and rebuilt brick by brick.


And here she shows us where the original stonemasons’ marks of the 13th century are still visible.


Bringing back groceries for an albergue feast!


Today was a short day to Sarria, about 18.5 kilometers.  Not as long as it could have been if we took a wrong turn. The Camino bifurcates at this point: the left hand path leads through the monastery town of Samos and about 8 extra kilometers. The right hand path leads more directly to Sarria.


Ready to set out.


Walking to the end of town.


Carefully turning right instead of left.


Jill and Annie discover some cows and some Galician philosophy. Asked which is his favorite, the farmer tells us: “some are brown, some are black and some are spotted. But they’re all Galician and they’re all beautiful.”


Some sights along the way:


Second breakfast is the best breakfast!  (Especially at Casa do Franco–this man loves his coffee).


Lunch along the river in Sarria.


A card game in the albergue before bed.

Down to Triacastela

Today was a bit of up followed by a long downhill into the charming little town of Triacastela.  Most charming were the view along the way, however, and the various animals we met.


Setting off:


Enjoying the view:


And the animals.





Lunch at last:

O Cebreiro – Part III: Classtime

Okay.  Big day.

After some free time we met back in front of the albergue/restaurant Venta Celta to start our ambulatory class.

Our first stop: a palloza.  This is a pre-medieval dwelling.  One door for people, one door for animals, no chimney.  The smoke from the fire was expected to make its own way out through the thatched roof.


After the palloza, we visited the church, which is said to house the Holy Grail.


And now back down through town to our classroom in the sky, where we learned more about the region of Galicia and its history.


Finally back to Venta Celta, where we absolutely devoured our dinner.


Greetings from Galicia!

O Cebreiro – Part II: the town

Time for selfies!


Walking into town to find our albergue.


Eagerly anticipating lunch in a rustic setting.  (Our lodgings weren’t much more modern.)  This is our first town in Galicia:  we discovered the joys of Caldo Gallego (a hearty potato and cabbage stew that tastes wonderful after a long hike up hill), Tarta Santiago (an almond cake with frosted sugar), and O Cebreiran goat cheese.


Well fed, found our rooms, now off to explore the town:

O Cebreiro – Part I: the climb

Today we walked about 14 kilometers and climbed some 630 vertical meters.  Most of those vertical meters came in the last 7 kilometers.  But though the path went up and up, the view got better and better. The scenery was gorgeous.


Ready to go:


Follow the yellow arrows:


Up the mountain:


Almost there!


Showing proper respect for the hind legs of horses:


Emma is happy to have reached the top!


A short walk to Ambasmestas

Today was a short walk to Ambasmestas, unfortunately almost all on the pavement, and mostly in the fog.

We walked up the valley, following a river until we got to our albergue for the night.

Then we had a most excellent lunch!

Here we are at second breakfast:

Onward to Villafranca

Today was a wonderful walk through vineyards to Villafranca del Bierzo.

Second breakfast:

Jill and Kayla make a friend:

Slow but steady

Through the vineyards…

… and the town of Cacabelos.

Some local flavor.

Lunch at last!

The Iron Cross

On our 5th day walking we ascended to the iron cross, the highest point on the Camino Frances.

An early morning start.

Walking through Foncebadón, home of one of the Camino’s best second breakfast’s.

Hokies at the iron cross.

The road down to El Acebo and (eventually) Molinaseca.

On this day Molinaseca turned into Molina-mojada: it rained and rained.  But luckily all our peregrines were at lunch by then.