Monday, January 17, 2011

Under 100K to go

I apologize for the infrequent posts but computers have been hard to find of late. Also, I cannot seem to figure out photo uploads to Flickr unless the computer is running Internet Explorer which this one isn´t. But nonetheless let me continue with our story. Since leaving Villafranca we have continued to be blessed with unseasonably warm  and dry weather. Robin and I followed the river up the Valcarce valley enjoying the cascading water sounds and the temperatures in the low 50ś F. We spent the night at Ruitelan at the Albergue Pequeno Potala. There were four others there with us. We opted for the dinner and breakfast options which were both well prepared and filling. The climb up O'Ćebreiro from Ruitelan started out in 33 F temps and mostly cloudy skies but the weather soon improved with the clouds clearing and temps again approaching the mid 50ś. Not a drop of rain was seen. Visibility was unlimited. We arrived at the top without incident. The climb was a bit of a workout but nothing more than what we have experienced before or since.The hamlet of O'Cebriero is beautiful with stunning views in every direction. The view out the front of the municipal alberque is beyond comparison. Simply breathtaking. The village bars and restaurants were open so food and drink were not an issue. There is even a small store that if you summon the owner she will open it up for you. Basics only but up there I considered it a plus that a shop was even open. Robin and I attended mass at the village church (Santa Maria Real) which in part dates from the 9th century. The priest offered a special pilgrim blessing at the end of mass. The next day (Saturday) we work to howling winds and cloudy skies.No rain just mountain mists swirling about. We put on our jackets as the wind chill was too much for just a vest over a base layer. Temps were in the 33 F range with the wind blowing about 25 MPH.We left just before sunrise groping through the clouds that had  enveloped the summit to follow the camino arrows out onto the road that led us down the mountain towards Triacastela. We found the road and a most spectacular sight. We moved along the road briskly trying to build up some body heat and before we had gone perhap 200-300 meters we found ourselves below the cloud deck. As we looked back at the summit we could see a torrent of cloud flowing up the southern flank and spilling over the summit into the northern valley below. It was amazing to see this clearly visible cascade of clouds moving at 25 MPH filling the valley below us. As we continued on the day brightened and once again temps worked their way up into the low 50's. We stopped for a coffee at Alto do Poio and dropped of jackets and wool hats and resumed our day's walk with our usual t shirt and base layer configuration.No gloves required.The day passed enjoyably as the mountain scenery continued to tantalize us even as we descended leaving it slowly behind. Mid afternoon found us walking into Tricastela after a long descent that we took most carefully. We stayed at the Xunta run albergue the only spot in town that was open. Good facility but no kitchen or common area which can be a problem.

On Sunday we headed off to Sarria via Samos to see the Benedictine monastery there. Once again the weather cooperated and we spent the day in low 50 F temps under partly cloudy skies. It was a bit of a workout as the camino on this route has some steep ascents and descents, but with the help of two huge omelette sandwichs (yes, picture an omelette slid between a large loaf of bread and you've got it) Robin and I pushed on to arrive at the outskirts of Sarria in mid afternoon where we found a large stand of pines gathering wind off a ridge and with what sounded like one long exhale we were ushered into Sarria. The night was spent at the Xunta albergue with a growing number of pilgrims. We now are moving with a group of about fourteen (not much by summer standards) but considering we were used to either being alone or with one or two others it is an adjustment.We did manage to wrangle a room that only had one other person in it so the night passed quite comfortably.

Today, finally we are getting up to date, we set out for Portomarin. The weather report was for an increasing chance of rain. Robin woke during the night and heard the rain pelting down, my ear plugs worked fine and I heard nothing. But the blessing was that the this morning the clouds had given up all the had and we walkedout of the city, once again, under clearing skies and mild temperatures. Today's walk also had some physical challenges (this is not an easy route) with a lot of climbing (some pretty steep) and a new element has crept in, washed out pathways. There must have been some relativlely recent downpours that hit this raea as the camino is in large part severely scoured out or still under water. Watercourses followed us everywhere as we searched for a bit of dry ground to walk on or at least a few well placed stones. At times neither could be found. But we coped, as all pilgrims do, and eventually climbed up into Portomarin around 3:00 PM. We have opted for a room at the Ultreia Pension, which seems very nice. We are off to Palas De Rei tommorow as our camino starts to wind down. Incredible that we are now so close to Santiago. It seems hard to believe after all these weeks. Gotta go. I'll work on the photos tomorrow. All is well.



  1. Those bittersweet last days..... your bodies are probably ready to finish, but at the same time you know something special is coming to sn end. I have enjoyed following you along the way. I hope Galicia does not turn on too much rain for your last days!

  2. Benvidos a Galiza. Hope you plan to kick the feet up at the Parador in Santiago.