Arzua to O Pedrouzo – 22.9 km/13.7 miles

 

Hello Amigos! 20.7 km/12.5 miles to Santiago. Starting out I wondered how it would feel to be at this point…..well, it feels pretty darn good.
The morning was quite cold ….we could have used gloves. Then the sun burned through the fog and soon we had to take our jackets off. Nice dry day. The terrain continues to be rolling and we walk up and down through Eucalyptus forrest and farm land. We encountered all the people we met over the last 13 days of and on at rest stops, on the trail and in the evening. Everyone is very interesting to talk to….some have more time and will walk the three more days to Finisterre, but the majority goes by bus.

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They were so, so close……

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Palas de Rei to Arzua – 30 km/18.5 miles

Buenos Tardes! 43 km/26.2 miles to Santiago.
Rained last night again…the day was cloudy with some sun and cool. The trail led more through the country again rather then next to the road…much more enjoyable. There are bigger farms now and newer houses. We passed through a city called Melida, there evidence of the collapse of the Spanish economy is visible in the many deserted construction sites. This is the case for Arzua as well. It is the last major town before Santiago, has a pop. of 7000 and is known for cheese.

The sights of the day:

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Portomarin to Palas de Rei – 27 km/16.3 miles

Que pasa! We met a lovely lady, 71 year old Mary from Silver City, New Mexico in the Albergue yesterday. She has been layed up for five days because of her knee, but will be able to continue tomorrow, some of it with bus and we should see her in Santiago again. Anyhow, we really loved talking with her. The majority of people on the trail now are the Spanish doing their yearly thing. Traffic has increased greatly and I can not imagine doing it in July and August from Sarria on to Santiago. Life in the Albergues is quite calm……no more naked people….he…he…he.

A cloudy, cool day today. It rained during the night, so everything was pretty wet. The vistas are now less exciting and we walk mostly next to the road.

Palas de Rei – pop. 4200 and once home to a kings palace has little left to remind of it’s colorful past.

Only three more walking days to Santiago…Yeah!

Beautiful woods

 Beauty of the Forrest

The view today

The view today

He is doing his job guarding - this is how cows should live

He is doing his job guarding – this is how cows should live

Look what comes down the road

Look what comes down the road

He has to work

He has to work hard

One step at a time

One step at a time….

Farm house

Farm house

Town Hall of Palas de Rei

Town Hall of Palas de Rei

Sarria to Portomarin – 23.9 km/14.2 miles

Hello there! Another nice day for walking through the changing countryside ….rolling land, fields and meadows lined with stone fencing. The villages consist of small dairy farms and it is evident in the air as well as on the trail.

Portomarin – pop. 2000 and located on the Rio Mino. In 1960 the river was dammed and the village had to be relocated. The most historic buildings were moved brick by brick into the new town. The 12th century Romanesque Iglesia de San Nicolas being one of those buildings were each brick was numbered for rebuilding.

Blessed morning

Blessed morning

Buen Camino

“Hola”  amigos

100 km marker

100 km marker

Oak trees

Oak trees

Galicia

Galicia

Memorial

Memorial

Rio Mino

Rio Mino

Bridge over Rio Mino

Bridge over Rio Mino

Iglesia de San Nicolas

Iglesia de San Nicolas

 

Triacastela to Sarria – 20.1 km/12.9 miles

Buenos Dias from Galicia! We had a most beautiful and peaceful morning, a crisp day made for walking out in nature.

Galicia shares many historical and physical similarities to other Celtic regions, especially western Ireland. The language “Galega” is still spoken and understood by the majority. Fish dishes such as steamed octopus “Pulpo” and shellfish are served here accompanied by Ribeiros or Albariño, the white wine of the region.

Sarria – pop. 13,000 of Celtic origin, is a major medieval center for pilgrims. In order to get the Compostela (the certificate) a pilgrim must at least walk from Sarria, these are the last 120 km to Santiago. Many Spaniards walk this stretch yearly for their pilgrimage.

A beautiful morning

A beautiful morning

Enjoying their breakfast

Breakfast

Shell Fountain San Xil

Shell fountain San Xil

At a Cucina for Coffee

At a Cucina for coffee con leche

Trees on the Trail

Trees on the trail

Bare rock - careful when wet

Bare rock – careful when wet

One of many

A few of these….

....and a few of these

….and a few of these

Sarria in the distance

Sarria in the distance

O’Cebreiro to Triacastela 22.3 km/14.1 miles

Buenos Tardes! Much better day today, cloudy but a clear view. Steep descend with short, but extremely steep inclines. The way leads through several farming villages and we encountered many “pets”. We pass many dogs big and small…the big ones do look scary….are no problem so far.
We had dinner with Mike and Cindy, an American couple from Olympia, WA…very nice, we meet them often on the trail as well as another Mike from LA and Kevin ( orig. from Buffalo) and Serena living in San Francisco. There are many more Americans now then in June as well as British, Irish, Belgian, Korean, and bikers from Italy. All in all a nice group again and we see each other again and again on the trail, at rest stops and at night at the Albergue. Knees and feet are still doing good and no new bug bites for Charlie 🙂

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Pilgrim statue at Alto de Poio

Pilgrim statue at Alto de PoioP

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View of Triacastela

View of Triacastela

 

Trabadelo to O’Cebreiro – 23.6 km/14.3 miles

Hello again! Celebration! The last tough mountain on the way is conquered and we are at 96.4 miles to Santiago. Yeah!!! What a day it was…no luck with the weather. The light rain at the start progressively became worse and worse with wind joining in towards the top of the mountain. The, at times very steep trail with rocks and mud turned into a little stream flowing downhill. Our shoes became swimming pools and everything on us totally drenched. We definitely paid penance today.

To top it off, Charlie who has not slept well since we arrived in Spain, woke this morning with bedbug bites. O yes, that’s what they are. Now we are in the process of hot washing and spraying our sleeping bags and all cloth etc. What did I say……PENANCE!

Starting out in light rain

Starting out in light rain

The next village - Vega de Valcarce

The next village – Vega de Valcarce

The trail starting up

The trail starting up

Entering Galicia now

Entering Galicia now

This is the way we climbed up - it cleared up after we got settled in

This is the way we climbed up – it cleared up after we got settled in

O'Cebreiro - Iglesia de Santa Maria la Real from the 9th century and the earliest surviving building on the Camino

O’Cebreiro – Iglesia de Santa Maria la Real from the 9th century and the earliest surviving building on the Camino

O'Cebreiro home of Don Elias Valina Sampedro (1929 - 1989) the parish priest who restored and preserved the integrity of the Camino, it was his idea to mark the route with yellow arrows. He is buried in the church.

O’Cebreiro – home of Don Elias Valina Sampedro (1929 – 1989) the parish priest who restored and preserved the integrity of the Camino, it was his idea to mark the route with yellow arrows. He is buried in the church.

Fuente Cacabelos to Trabadelo – 25.2 km/15.3 miles

Greetings! We are in the middle of the mountains again after crossing the valley between Ponferrada and Villafranca del Bierzo. Tomorrow we are facing the second steepest climb on the Camino going up to O’Cebreiro. l just hope we don’t have to deal with rain and fog as we did on route Napoleon the first day in June. Plus, I’d like to enjoy the view. Got word on the Camino forum that a 43 year old Canadien pilgrim has died on the Camino between SJPDP and Roncesvalles. I remember route Napoleon as very, very challenging and can see someone falling of the cliff. Also in contrary to my statement from yesterday…Hostals are not available in these mountains….so Albergue it is and slow internet. We are now under 200 km from Santiago.

Villafranca del Bierzo:

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Along the trail:

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Molinaseca to Fuente Cacabelos – 24.5 km/15.4 miles

Hola! A shorter distance today since our legs are still tired from yesterday. We also decided to try to skip the Albergues and stay in Hostals from now on. At this time in the year it is just little more for a room with shower and no need for reservations. Besides, there is a rumor of bedbugs in some Albergues ahead. Most are closing in November and peaple working there have “Burn Out” from the high traffic all summer.

We started at 8 am since light does not come till about 8:40 now.  After about two hours we entered Ponferrada (meaning Iron Bridge) – pop. 63,000 and on the river Sil. During the Roman times the region was mined for various minerals. The city is noted for the Castillo de los Templarios, a Knights Templar castle covering approx. 16,000 square meters. In 1178 the city was donated to the knights by the king to protect the pilgrims on the way to Santiago. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponferrada

Our route took us through the medieval city and past the main historic sites. We stopped for breakfast across from the Knights Templar castle and continued on the trail after touring the castle. After the city we walked through vineyards and past fig, quince, pomegranate and chestnut trees.

Molinaseca - view of Iglesia de San Nicolas

Molinaseca – view of Iglesia de San Nicolas

House with balcony in the Bierzo style

House with balcony in the Bierzo style

Ponferrada

Ponferrada

Gate into the old city

Gate into the old city

Castillo de los Templarios

Castillo de los Templarios

Castillo de los Templarios

Castillo de los Templarios side view

Having a break at Fuentes Nuevas

Having a break at Fuentes Nuevas

On through the vineyard

Our next mountains are ahead