Day 59- Rente to Portomarin

  • Distance Today                      10.4 mi
  • Distance Camino 2017         433.4 mi

The most significant part of today’s walk was not the terrain or walking surfaces, which were very tame,

but instead the number of pilgrims. For the first day since we began the Camino 2017 there were always one or more pilgrims visibly in front or behind us. Further, the demographics also shifted to much younger and more Spanish pilgrims.

We expected an increase in the number of pilgrims after passing Sarria, but today when ever we reached a bar along the way there were typically 20-30 pilgrims present. Waiting in line to use the bathroom or to order breakfast or a drink was common. And when we reached the 100 km to Santiago marker,

    100 km (62 miles) to Santiago

halfway through our 10 mile walk, a dozen or so pilgrims were lined up to have their photo taken.

We stopped several times today to rest, pacing ourselves for the longer than average walking distance,

including stopping for both breakfast and lunch breaks and didn’t reach Portomarin (pop. 1737) our destination until 1:30. But the cool morning air, late rising fog and shady walking areas made the walk quite pleasant.

Portomarín has been around for a while with a bridge from at least the late 10th century, but the current city is a relocation of the historic city including buildings transferred stone by stone.

This was all due to a dam constructed in 1956, which flooded the former city that was located on both sides of the river. Today the water is normally low enough to see the remnants of the former city including the Roman bridge. Many bridges have spanned the river at this strategic point. Al-Mansur destroyed an early bridge in his campaign of devastation in 997. After being rebuilt, the bridge was taken out again by the 1112 war between Queen Urraca and her husband. Later, Urraca had the bridge rebuilt along with a pilgrim hospital. The strategic town needed to be protected, and this role fell first to the Order of Santiago, then to the Order of San Juan de Jerusalén. The town became an important pilgrim stopping point, including for royal pilgrims such as King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Domenico Laffi described it as, “an excellent place that has plenty of everything.” The city declined in the 19th century as the nearby city of Lugo rose to prominence.

The only difficult part of the walk today was the last mile going into Portomarin which was a long, steep stretch of downhill pavement resulting in an atypical blister for Jim.

We checked in to Pencion El Caminante when we arrived (45€) and tended to our chores.

Then, we struggled with wifi both in our room, the hotel common areas and nearby bars and restaurants. The hotel had a weak signal, but elsewhere was due to the high number of users as tonight this town with a huge number of places to stay was completely booked (or “completo”).

We had a delicious margarita pizza for dinner overlooking the picturesque town square and then retired to our room for the day.


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