Our Next-to-Last Day Walking: O Pedrouzo/Arca

Today was a relatively short day’s hike to a town with two names: O Pedrouzo and/or Arca.

After the last few days, today seemed pretty short.

A little bit wet, a little bit dry:

 

A cafe bar along the way:

 

And here are some pictures taken at lunch (Photo credit: Shelby Canonico)

On to Arzúa

Today was a super-long day: up at 5:30, breakfast at 6:00, left at 6:30 for almost 30km of hiking to Arzúa.  Passed through the largish town of Melide about half-way and frankly it seemed like we should be done there for the day.

All day was rolling hills, including some pretty steep ones towards the end.

 

It wasn’t all uphill:

 

Taking time to smell the flowers and appreciate the local foliage along the way:


A questionable claim:

 

Dinner and a show.  (We’re watching soccer–the UEFA champions league finale.  Real Madrid beat Juventus rather convincingly.  There were fireworks in the streets.  It was kind of a big deal.)

25K: Portomarin to Palas de Rei

We got a fairly early stop today and after a brief steep plunge downhill to the river began about 2 kilometers of steady uphill on an otherwise lovely dirt path.  It was one of those uphills that seemed to never end.  Some of us hardly noticed it did–it gradually leveled out until all of a sudden we crossed a highway at about the halfway point and started some downhills.

A bit of a trudge, but we still made time to stop and pet the dogs.

Kayla found a friend!  Every time she would back away he’d come right back for more.

 

 

Some good advice:

 

Sharing the road (even if we don’t want to):

 

Almost there (we can practically taste lunch)!

Decisions, decisions:

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!

Sarria

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.

Chickens!

Dogs!

Cows!

 

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!