Day 52 – Lestedo to O Coto

Walked today: 8.5 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 375.8 miles

It was dark enough for a headlamp when we left Lestedo this morning. A few minutes later we looked behind us and saw a pretty sunrise in the making.

As it got a little lighter, we saw this fellow who wanted to go with us to Santiago to get a Compostela, too.

But we told him that they don’t give Compostelas to dogs, which he seemed to accept, reluctantly.

We walked on through forests and along small roads until we reached Palas de Rei, (pop 3743), an apparent nest for pilgrims.

We stopped for breakfast after being refused at one restaurant who decided they were no longer offering breakfast at 8:25. We were served at the second restaurant and chatted with a guy in a kilt from Cambridge, England. We later saw him as he passed us and the pilgrim glut on the way out of Palas de Rei, one of our least favorite Camino towns.

We ignored the herd through several small villages and gradually through attrition or rate of walking, we regained some breathing room until we stopped at the bar/restaurant of Campanilla for lunch. It was packed mostly with resting pilgrims, occupying the outdoor tables and chatting with one another, but not buying anything and the others were lined up for the restroom. The restroom line was about 15 pilgrims long and increased and decreased as we watched. We entered the empty restaurant and were happily greeted by the owner when we ordered salads for lunch. We then found a seat and enjoyed a nice lunch as the crowd gradually diminished as the pilgrims disappeared, as we later discovered, into a huge tour bus waiting a few hundred yards up the path.

While we were eating lunch, we chatted briefly with two young ladies from Spain who had started the Camino in Sarria a few days ago with their three dogs. We jokingly asked them if their dogs were pilgrims and they laughed and said, “si”. We also asked if the dogs were going for Compostelas and they jokingly, we thought, said “si”.

We finished lunch, and walked another half mile to a small grocery store in O Coto and called a taxi to take us to our hotel in Melide.

During the 4 mile ride to Melide, we mentioned the compostelas for dogs and the driver, laughing, but seriously said that dogs can receive a compostela for walking the Camino! Sorry, pup, we didn’t mean to mislead you.

Our hotel “pencion” is incredible. It doesn’t have food, but mostly everything else, including a pool, which Jim sampled this afternoon. Our room is huge and the bathroom shower was so complicated we had to get the receptionist to give us a short course on how to operate it.

We did our chores and Jim walked into town to replenish our euro stash. Linda stayed behind to nurse a blister she aggravated during today’s walk. Jim returned with “takeout” pizza, pimentos, pulpo and a (3.60€) bottle of wine for dinner.

We ate our dinner in the dining room and chatted briefly with s couple from Melbourne, Australia. They also sampled our pulpo and pimentos.

We retired to our room for the evening after the longer than normal walk.

Day 51 – Castromaior to Lestedo

Walked today: 7.7 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 367.3 miles

On our ride this morning from Casa Nova to Castromaior, we observed another mass of pilgrim humanity pouring out of Portamarin onto the Camino. Most were coming from the town and not the Camino leading into town, meaning that our starting point will give us a six mile lead and a less crowded Camino today… we’ll see.

We continued walking from our finishing point from yesterday and Jim’s initial preoccupation was the fog. As we walked up the steep hill approaching the “castro”, miraculously the moon appeared through the clowds, the fog quickly lifted and to our left was the castro, finally. It was a sight to see. Jim dropped his backpack climbed up and down three mounds that encircled the settlement that lie in the center of the remains of this 2300 year old Celtic and later, Roman, fortification. From the top of the highest and most interior mound he was able to see the view he had missed in 2015 and 2017 (the tiny white dot slightly above center at the start and end of the video is Linda):

A closer look at the settlement layout, building sizes and placement suggested this was primarily a place for safety above anything else.

Jim triumphantly, but carefully eased down from the castro mounds, retrieved his backpack and we were once again on our way.

The rest of our walk was rather uneventful. We walked on paths along small farm roads and secondary roads through several small villages with one or two albergues, but nothing significant.

We made two stops, one for breakfast and one for OJ.

We had chats with pilgrims from England, Vancouver, BC, Venice, Italy

Our final stop was for for the afternoon and night, Hosteria Calixtiño in the hamlet of Lestedo.

We had a full lunch which featured another Mencía wine and Arzúa cheese/quince jam then snacked for supper. We read, relaxed in the afternoon and blogged and read in the evening before calling it a day.

Day 50 – Portamarin to Castromaior

Walked today: 6.4 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 359.6 miles

We stopped at a bar in Portamarin for breakfast just after 8:00.

Portamarin was originally a Camino town divided by the Río Míño and connected by a 10th century stone bridge. When plans were approved to build a dam downstream, which would flood the medieval town, most of the building were disassembled and reassembled, stone-by-stone on the hillside, high above the proposed reservoir in 1956. We stayed here in 2017 and walked over the new bridge in 2015 and 2017. On both occasions we observed the very visible remains of the old town and the medieval bridge and the small stream in place of the anticipated reservoir, and wondered if they really needed to move the town to its present location.

New (1956) towering bridge over reservoir in background

But today, neither the old bridge nor the old town could be seen as the water level was now creating a huge reservoir under the new bridge.

Our breakfast bar was located on the Camino leaving Portamarin which is the first major stopping point for pilgrims who begin their Camino in Sarria.

We looked out the open front door of the bar and counted over a hundred pilgrims walking past in a span of less than 2-3 minutes.

So we decided to have a slower than normal breakfast break to give this hoard of pilgrims time to get ahead of us. We knew that there was an endless supply of pilgrims who would walk through Portamarin until late this afternoon, so when it looked like the initial surge had subsided a bit,

Linda leaving Portamarin in the “gap”

we continued on, hoping that people ahead of us would walk faster than us, but hopefully many of those behind us would not catch us until we had reached our destination for the day.

Our walk today was all uphill, the steepest part being during the first mile. As we walked and chatted with other pilgrims, the majority of them were from different parts of Australia. After several chats, we learned they most of this particular group of pilgrims were with a tour group that had started in Sarria yesterday and was walking 15 miles today before stopping in Lestedo, the village with only one hostal and our destination tomorrow night, thankfully. (Now we know why it was totally booked when we called last week.) We also met up with Ted and Diedra from Connecticut, who had spent last night in Portamarin. They had expressed concern during dinner at Casa Nova about “losing” the group of pilgrims friends they had walked with for several days, by staying two nights at Casa Nova. We then learned they were taking a day off, because Deidra had injured her toe. Linda suggested several fixes which Diedra had apparently applied with good success. We stopped and talked for a minute or two, got an update on the “fixed” toe, then moved on, as they had already “bonded” with a new “community” of pilgrims friends.

The path was ok

a level area just after initial climb out of Portamarin

with respect to walking surface but was not particularly scenic.

pilgrims in front of us

Most of the time we walked on a dirt path

pilgrims behind us

along a two-lane highway with moderate traffic.

The highlight of the day was the number of pilgrims on this part of the Camino.

pilgrims and more pilgrims

We remember the higher pilgrim traffic from previous years

an albergue bar loaded with pilgrim’s and half just walked by

but we’ve never seen it like this.

When we reached the village of Castromaior, we stopped for lunch at a small albergue and called a taxi to take us back to Casa Nova.

Castromaior (pop. 30) is the site of an excavation of a Celtic fortified village that existed from the 5th century BC through the 1st century AD! We’ve “sorta” seen it in predawn and the fog on previous Caminos. Hopefully we’ll get to see it tomorrow morning when we rejoin the Camino.

Aerial photo (copied from a bar) of the “castro” and the Camino path

We got back to Casa Nova a little after noon and did our chores and rested and prepared for tomorrow.

Our logistics plan has worked well so far and if our taxi gets us to today’s stopping point tomorrow morning, we’ll be on our “normal” way again. Jim used a day pack these last two days and although he liked not carrying the extra 20 lbs, he felt less secure and a bit naked without all his gear with him. He thinks he may be morphing into a turtle.

We’re looking forward to tonight’s dinner. The last two will be hard to top.

While walking around the Casa Nova property this afternoon we thought you might be interested in meeting some of the more permanent residents:

and the newest addition born a few days ago

Unfortunately, the pig would not come out for a photo op.

It was just us in the Casa tonight. We asked Esperanza, our chef, to come home with us and she graciously refused but invited us to eat in the kitchen again, like family. Oh, and did we mention that these delicious meals have been cooked on a wood burning stove?

We had Galícian soup (collards, white beans and potatoes), grilled T-bone steak, deep fried potatoes from their garden, fresh bread, creama with honey and local red wine.

We said our goodbyes after dinner, paid our bill for the past three days and Susanna arranged for our taxi in the morning.

We climbed the 3 century old stone staircase to our room and made preparations for tomorrow, before calling it a day.

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.

Day 48 – Pintin to Rente

Walked today: 7.8 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 345.8 miles

We’ve mentioned backpack transporting on several occasions.

For Camino 2019, we have transported Linda’s backpack almost every day. This has actually made it easier for both of us. Linda has instead carried a daypack weighing 5-6 pounds vs her full pack of 20 lbs. This puts less stress on her knees, letting her walk longer distances more comfortably and avoids getting totally wiped out at the end of a more difficult walk. Jim offloads less critical items from his backpack and stuffs them into Linda’s transported pack, reducing his pack weight by about 5 pounds, making his walk easier. This way, if Linda’s pack doesn’t end up where it should on a given day, Jim still has all our essential items with him to sustain us while tracking down Linda’s pack.

The backpack transport system is quite simple and easy to use. Transport service envelops are found in every place pilgrims spend the night. Here’s how it works:

1-You pick the place you are staying tomorrow night.

2-You fill out a transport envelop with your contact info: name, email address and phone number and current location

and your destination information

3-For Jacotran you put 5€ in the envelope and seal it

4-You attach the envelop to your backpack.

5-You or someone in your albergue calls Jacotran before 7 pm today and tell them your name, where you are staying tonight and where you want the pack taken to tomorrow morning.

5-You leave your backpack in your hotel/albergue’s designated pickup location as you leave to walk tomorrow morning.

6- Your backpack is waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.

An increasing number of pilgrims are using the service since our first Camino in 2012. The tipoff is the number of pilgrims with day packs instead of regular backpacks.

We tested the backpack transport service for the first time in 2017, using several different carriers 9 out of 68 days along the different regions of the Camino and felt most comfortable with Jacotran. So, we have used them exclusively in 2019 and are very pleased with their service thus far.

We also had relied on our hotel reception to make arrangements for transporting a pack in 2017. Jim has now taken on that role, calling Jacotran himself, communicating in either English or Spanish, depending on the Jacotran operator.

Also, we bought Spanish mobile service sim cards for our phones when we arrived in Madrid, which lets us make all phone calls locally and directly, giving us more freedom and control to schedule Jacotran, as well as making room reservations, without relying on someone else to do it for us

We left Pintin in heavy fog this morning which stayed with us almost all the way to our destination. This kept the temperature below 60F, ideal for walking. The combination of fog and one section of forest made us especially cautious because it was almost like dark and the footing was unpredictable.

We also noticed that in this area, when the Camino crosses a road, a patterned inset in the road makes drivers more alert to potential pilgrims crossing.

We began walking along the road, still in the fog as we approached Sarria.

We stopped for breakfast just before Sarria and chatted with Yvonne, a young lady from Hamburg, Germany. She was a real estate agent and had begun her Camino in Burgos on September 1. She’s averaged around 25 km per day which will put her in Santiago in about 4 more days. We left while she was still eating and said our Buen Camino’s.

We walked into Sarria (pop. 13,590) and followed the Camino markers through a relatively unattractive part of the city.

Sarria is a major starting point for those wishing to do the minimum 100km to receive a Compostela. The infusion of new pilgrims can drastically change the character of the experience of other pilgrims (who have been on the Camino for a while) as beds become scarce and groups enter the Camino who may be less familiar with pilgrim etiquette.

Yvonne caught up with us halfway through Sarria just as we were about to take an alternate route (and shortcut) through town to avoid a very steep up and then very steep down section which we endured in 2015, but avoided when we discovered the alternate route in 2017. Yvonne opted (as she should) for the main route since this was her first Camino.

Yvonne waving as we took different routes through Sarria

We parted once again, but as we reached the merge point of the two routes, we looked back and there was Yvonne catching up to us again.

Yvonne bashful about having her picture taken

We waited for her, and walked a short distance together, wishing each other the best and then parted company, probably, finally this time, having enjoyed each other’s company in such a delightful way. Such is the Camino.

Shortly after leaving Sarria, the dirt path took an abrupt turn over a small creek then climbed upward at a very steep grade. We were passing through a very old forest, evidenced by the very old trees lining the path. Some of the trees were very distorted but beautiful and majestic in their own way. We finally reached the top and walked a short distance into Barbadelo (pop. 342) where we stopped for a light lunch of tortillas and bread, anticipating a full meal tonight at dinner.

We reached the tiny hamlet of Rente and Casa Nova de Rente (33€) at noon and waited in the parlor until our room was ready.

Dinner was prepared by the lady of the house and her daughter. We watched her gather

lady of the casa and chef

the lettuce, tomatoes from her garden, then watched her prepare a delicious salad, lentil soup, beef stew, potatoes fresh bread, local red wine and cheesecake for dessert. Our dinner companions, Ted and Diedra from Connecticut were walking to Santiago from Ponferrada to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

We ate in the kitchen rather than the dining room which seemed to really please the chef, who spoke zero English.

Totally stuffed, we climbed the stairs and called it a night.

Day 47 – Triacastela to Pintin

Walked today: 6.7 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 338.0 miles

We stopped for breakfast before leaving Triacastela this morning since there are no services along our walk today.

We were careful not to miss the split for the alternate Camino route out of Triacastela

subtle marker and sign marking alternate route

which cuts the distance by 4 miles!! and avoids a long section of walking along a relatively busy main road.

All was well as we started as the incline was gradual, good walking surface and no cars.

The road got smaller and after the bridge began to climb upward

The road became steeper and smaller as we walked through the a small hamlet as the road disappeared and became a steep path

actually a very steep path…

As we climbed higher, and the path got steeper, next came our favorite walking surface, rocks!

Ok, so it became a bit of a struggle until we reached a section with a little less slope as we stopped to rest at a big shell and water source for thirsty pilgrims.

The path became a road again, but very steep…

..,until we finally walked into San Xil, with a building or two and not much else. The road actually leveled out a bit with much more gradual ups and downs. But we then realized we were now walking at an elevation of nearly 3000 ft !!!… we had climbed over 800 ft since leaving Triacastela.

Because of the elevation we began to see the resulting scenery.

Up above the clouds again

nice view of mountains we came from yesterday

But we soon could see that it was cloudy and foggy below us.

And it wasn’t long before we headed back down again.

the Camino veered off the road onto this downward path

The incline became very steep quickly and continued that way for what seemed like forever.

down and
down and

until we reached a possible bottom at this small iglesia

Soon after walking through the village of Monton the “bottom” was confirmed as we now were walking in the low hanging clouds we observed from above.

No more scenery now, but the path and bulls

and more path switching from one side of the local road to the other

walking in the cool fog is better than the sun

nearing our destination

On our way into Pintin, we walked by some handsome cows and Jim commented ” will you look at those beef cheeks!”

“look at those beef cheeks”

We followed the markers through town and arrived at Casa Cines, our destination for today.

Casa Cines

We were able to checkin to our room a few minutes after we arrived. We were warmly greeted by the young lady who checked us in and who said she remembered Linda’s face from 2015 and 2017!

We set out doing chores before having lunch.

Jim showered first, then Linda got undressed for her shower and Jim took her clothes and his and put them in the hotel washing machine. Jim then went to retrieve Linda’s backpack from the transported bags in the lobby. Unfortunately, Linda’s pack had not arrived, so when she got out of the shower, she had nothing to put on. After waiting another half hour for the pack, we were getting hungry, so Jim went down to the bar and asked if we could have lunch in our room, since Linda couldn’t come down to the dining room in her present state. The young lady who had recognized her, laughed and said “no problemo” and began preparing and then delivered our orders of spaghetti to our room. Less than 5 minutes later, the young lady knocked on our door, this time with Linda’s pack and a smile.

The rest of the afternoon and evening continued to go well without any other surprises.

Day 46 – Fonfria to Triacastela

Walked today: 5.5 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 331.3 miles

We put in our order last night for clear skies and no clouds above 500 ft. Did we say ‘the Camino provides”?

She delivered as never before!

The weather looked promising as we left Casa de Lucas this morning.

The first signs of what was in store was encouraging.

We began heading down from our elevation of 4300 ft when the Camino diverted from the road back onto the dirt path.

and this…

But the temptation to have some breakfast overcame us

walking into Biduedo

and we stopped at a charming bar/albergue in the village of Bibuedo (pop. 31).

Just around the corner was the smallest iglesia in the entire Camino.

Jim peeked in through the locked door and saw only this.

Shortly thereafter the oohs and ahhhs began.

hows this for an ooh

and this for an aaah!

or holy moly!

And then we got serious about going down the mountains…

great, but steep path
a little steeper, still easy walking
quite steep here after about 1000 ft drop
still steeper, nearly 1500 ft drop at this point
still going down
time for a break at Fillobal

O.J.hit the spot while we gave our knees and legs a rest

Just after the albergue at Fillobal we passed a Galícian mountain home, then continued downward, the mountain views soon became obscured by a canopied path or in wet weather, a wash.

We walked by some beautiful old trees at “root” level, wondering how these massive structures continued to survive with much of their roots exposed for so many years.

At the entrance of the ancient village of Ramil was a huge chestnut tree probably several hundred years old.

Finally, after descending over 2100 ft along a 4 mile path down the Galícian Mountains,

looking back at where we’d come from

we walked into Triacastela (pop. 772), our destination for the day.

Upon reflection, today was our best day so far on Camino 2019. Although we were tired from the walk, the beautiful weather, the magnificent and varied scenery and the satisfaction of meeting the challenge of the descent of nearly half a mile in elevation made it a perfect day.

Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived at Albergue Atrio, so we walked to a nearby grocery store to pick up some snacks and bottled water. We noticed a hiking gear store across the street and Linda found an extra pair of slacks to wear on the cold mornings still ahead.

Albergue Atrio
Common area outside Atrio for hanging clothes or just hanging out

We checked into our room (40€) at noon and …

outstanding double room
large, new, modern ensuite bathroom

couldn’t believe what we saw, which made a perfect day, more perfect, if that’s possible.

Having worked up an appetite from our morning stroll, we had a delicious lunch at a familiar restaurant from our stays here in 2015 and 2017.

We know we’re getting redundant, but our lunch was the “creme de la creme” for our best day of Camino 2019.

Roasted vegetables, a pasta salad and cheese cake for Linda.

pasta salad
roasted vegetables
cheese cake (less one bite)

Pulpo (grilled octopus) and roasted peppers for Jim

Grilled octopus and potatoes
roasted padrón peppers

Our wine was the best we’ve had so far, a Mencía,

full bodied. award winning wine (6€)
the specs on our lunch wine

grown and bottled less than 20 miles from here.

An outstanding day on the Camino Frances came to a close as we finished the blog post for the day and prepared for our walk tomorrow.

Day 45 – Herrerias to Fonfria

Walked today: 7.6 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 325.8 miles

We decided not to take on the 4 mile/2000 ft mountain this morning and opted for a taxi to drop us off at the top at the touristy village of O Cebreiro,

O Cebreiro at 8 am

where we began our walk in the clouds.

When we climbed the mountain in 2017, which was indeed as challenge, we took some wonderful photos on the way up, at the top, spent the night, then continued getting great shots the next day on our way to Fonfria.

Leaving O Cebreiro, fantastic scenery all around, but hidden by clouds

Today there was no scenery. The ride up the mountain was in the clouds, clouds covered the top and clouds

Our stop for breakfast at Linares

prevented any decent photos during all but a few fleeting intervals

Pilgrim statue, great scenery all around 😢

during the 7 plus mile walk which

Quick look before clouds rolled back in

hovered between 4000 and 4400 ft.

Jim was greeted by a Camino canine
Enjoying some brief sunshine and OJ on wet tables and chairs

We targeted Fonfria for today to position ourselves for the walk tomorrow

Casa de Lucas

and to revisit one of our favorite

Our room with large bathroom and big shower

“habitacions” on the Camino Frances, Casa de Lucas (37€).

View from our room window

Just as we got to Fonfría (pop.41), our destination for the day, the sun and blue sky finally appeared, only beginning to warm the damp, chilly 50F air.

By 4:30, the weather was beautiful, hopefully a good sign for tomorrow.

We had a pilgrim lunch and snacked for supper all in the Casa dining room.

We officially left Castile y León today and entered Galícia, the final region on the Camino and the home of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino sign post outside Casa de Lucas reads 140.5 km, which means we’ve got just over 87 miles to go!

Day 44 – Trabadelo to Las Herrerías

Walked today: 7.2 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 318.2 miles

The skies looked threatening and our weather app said rain in 10 minutes, so we prudently put on our rain gear before leaving the hostal and walking through Trabadelo.

The paved road through the village continued for a half mile or so

L to R, Autovia, national highway, Camino

and then rejoined the crash barrier walkway again.

We stopped for breakfast at a huge truck stop and hotel complex, took off our rain gear as blue skies appeared, then walked through Portela de Valcarce (pop. 37).

Small church in Portela de Valcarce
church interior

We stopped for a brief visit and photo of a small church.

We also took a photo of some lookalike statues that we”ll try to duplicate and mount on our driveway back home.

We walked through the villages of Ambesmestas (pop. 46) and the fairly large town of Vega de Valcarce (pop. 703). A shop in Vega had Camino handcrafts of every kind you could imagine for sale, but we kept walking realizing anything we bought, we would have to wear or carry.

The further we walked,

getting deeper into the base of the mountains
green all around

the more lush the landscape became with streams, green meadows and the approaching mountains of Galícia.

We finally reached Las Herrerias (pop.44), our destination for the night.

the church hovering over Las Herrerias

This small village is literally at the end of the road, which becomes a path through the forest, then a steep “wash” up the side of the mountain, then a path again, climbing up the side of the mountain until it reaches the top, some 4 miles later at La Faba and finally, O Cebreíro. We know this, because we did it in 2017.

Entering Las Herrerias
Most of the village of Las Herrerias
Hostal Casa Polin

As soon as we arrived the clouds moved down the mountain and a light drizzle, cool wind and dreary sky forced us indoors for most of the day.

This beautiful horse was grazing in the green pasture near our hostal.

We had a menu of the day in the dining room at 1:00, all to ourselves, save for a late arriving pilgrim cyclist. We then retired to our room and tried to keep warm and dry for the rest of the day.

Day 43 – Villafranca to Trabadelo

Walked today: 5.6 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 311.0 miles

We walked out of our hotel just before sunrise on a road that worked its way through a gap in the mountains surrounding Villafranca.

A few minutes later we looked back toward Villafranca into another beautiful sunrise.

We continued to wind through the Valcarce Río valley, sharing our paved walkway with the winding national highway and the occasional overpasses of the A6 autovia. We seldom were distracted by road traffic because there was little of it. We also got an occasional glimpse of the Valcarce Río, among the thick green trees and undergrowth below us on the left.

We stopped in the hamlet of Perejé (pop. 39) for breakfast.

outside of Las Coronas in Perejé

We are nearly always pleasantly surprised whenever we enter these diamond-in-the-rough small businesses along the Camino, 

inside of Las Coronas Bar & Albergue

that cater almost exclusively to pilgrims.

We rejoined the crash-barrier walkway along the highway to Trabadelo.

just before Trabadelo

We left the main road and began walking on a paved surface into Trabadelo passing several stacks of aging logs and more cut lumber either aging or awaiting pickup for places unknown and finally we walked by the lumber mill.

small scale Spanish trucks to handle and transport logs

We remember walking by this mill in 2017 and thinking of Timothy as we did again today.

Our hostal was located on the Rió Valcarce just across from the mill. We have a perfect view of the opposite side of the mill from our room balcony.

Our room is very nice with a huge, modern shower… and a baby bed!!! (which thankfully we won’t need)

all for 50€.

After checking in, completing our chores and making a couple of reservations, we had a delicious lunch in the hotel dining room.

Linda’s soup was a very flavorful broth and noodles and Jim’s was Caldo Gallego (white beans, turnips, potatoes, collards, ham, pork, choriso)

Our main course was potatoes, roasted peppers and Carrilleras (beef cheeks marinated in red wine sauce) which was delicious and literally melted in your mouth.

For dessert… … we had natillas (custard) which was also very tasty all complimented by a Bierzo Mencía red wine.

Having satisfied our appetites and completed our chores for the day, we retired to our comfortable room for reading and blogging until the end of another wonderful day on Camino 2019.