Day 49 – Rente to Mercadoiro (Portamarin)

Walked today: 7.4 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 353.2 miles

The fog greeted us again this morning as we left Casa Nova, our home for three nights, which we’ll explain later.

We were greeted by a couple of donkeys that seemed to be hoping we would toss them an apple.

Today offered a number of different “looks”, that made the walk interesting and picturesque.

Starting out on a narrow, rural paved surface, we covered a half- mile or so then stopped for breakfast. After breakfast, we got back onto a dirt path passing through the woods and later exited the forest for open farmland, separated by simple fences which soon were replaced by old, moss-covered stone walls.

Nice stone walkways bridged small streams or low points that become washes during the more rainy seasons.

One not-so-picturesque change in scenery was the onslaught of pilgrims. We chatted briefly with passing pilgrims, like us, who have been on the Camino for a while, but many others who only began their Camino in recent days. Some of the countries represented today were Canada, Italy, Colombia, USA and of course, Spain.

While it has not been unusual for us to walk an entire day and encounter only a handful of pilgrims, today there were usually a dozen or more pilgrims either in front of us or behind us at any given moment. Stops at bars for refreshment or restrooms were met with waiting lines… something that has been unseen during the past 700 kms.

The reason, of course, is that all you have to do to receive a Compostela, certifying your having walked the Camino, is walk the final 100 kms into Santiago. Today, half-way through our walk, we passed the 100 km marker.

So how does one cope with this abrupt change in atmosphere? Well, we focus not on the “disruption” but on the interesting things around us such as dew laden spider webs, horreos of all shapes and sizes and colors, be they new or old…or the ever present scenes around us, with or without the crowds.

Today, we finished our walk at Albergue de Mercadoiro, where we stayed in 2015. Its a few kms short of Portamarin. We had lunch then called a taxi to take us back to Casa Nova de Rente, which takes us to why Casa Nova will be home for us for three nights instead of just one.

Several weeks ago, we began to get “no rooms available” responses for our target dates for future locations. This was true for Booking.com as well as hostal/albergue websites and direct telephone calls. With heavy pilgrim traffic this time of year, we were not surprised. In particular, locations before and after Portamarin and Melide seemed to be wanting. So we developed a logistics plan that would enable us to stay at a central location, then use taxis to pick us up after a walk and return us to our base, then transport us to our finishing point the following day. Our solution in Melide was to reserve two nights in the town, but at two different properties, because none had two consecutive days open. For Portamarin we chose Casa Nova which is within easy taxi reach for four days walking and they had 3 consecutive night available that matched our timing.

So we walked to Casa Nova on Saturday and spent night number 1. This morning, Sunday, we walked to just short of Portamarin, got a taxi back to Casa Nova and will spend night number 2. We arranged with the taxi driver to pick us up here at Casa Nova at 7:30 tomorrow morning, Monday, and drop us off at Portamarin to continue walking. We’ll then stop, when we get tired and/or reach a place to call a taxi to return us to Casa Nova to spend night number 3. We’ll ask Casa Nova to arrange for a taxi to pick us up at Casa Nova on Tuesday morning as we check-out and take us to where we finished on Monday to continue walking to our planned destination for Tuesday, where we have a reserved room waiting for us.

In addition to it’s location, we selected Casa Nova

Casa Nova de Rente from the front gate

because we were familiar with it, having stayed here in 2015 and 2017.

looking in from the front door

Casa Nova is a 300 year old Glacían farmhouse.

300 year old stone staircase

It was built by the ancestors of the family that resides here, and operates the guesthouse and continues to work the farm.

The food is regional, peasant gourmet and delicious. The hostess, Susanna, her mother, the chef and her father and brother who work the farm are gracious and kind and speak little English, but it adds to the charm.

The interior of the house is like a castle.

small dining room

The solid stone walls inside and out are more than 2 feet thick. The stone is accented throughout the house in the guest rooms as well as the common areas with beautiful, large, solid wood doors, floors, ceilings and the staircase railing.

parlor

The original stone staircase steps appear to be unpolished marble.

second floor corridor and guest rooms

The guest rooms are roomy

our room

and furnished with period antiques.

We think it’s one of the nicest jewels on the Camino and felt very comfortable calling it “home” for 3 days.

Tonight we had another delicious meal in the chef’s kitchen at Casa Nova. Galícian soup, stewed chicken, fresh tomatoes from the garden in Andalucian olive oil and sea salt, potatoes from the garden lightly fried in sunflower oil and crema with a drizzle of honey, and local red wine, of course.

Our dinner companions were a couple from Italy who are cycling to Santiago, having left SJPDP just 8 days ago and a guy from Leon, France who was walking 35km per day. Which shows that there are many different ways to do the Camino.

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