Day-37 (21 May—Tue) Campobecerros

No cell service. I’ll make it short. Great day: 21 km (13.1 mi) and some climb. Left a little before 7:00 and arrived a bit before noon to get the last lower bunk—lucky me! Great camaraderie with Australians and a fellow from Denmark. Coffee on the road and in front of albergue.

Day-36 (20 May—Mon) A Gudiña

So many landscapes today as I crossed into the state of Galicia where Santiago is located. I covered 14.8 mi (23.7 km) and climbed two hills, the first of which was the challenge. (At the top of it, I crossed into Galicia.) It wasn’t so much the elevation gain of some 1200 ft, but rather the mud I was trying to avoid. After a while it was slowing me down so much that I gave up and just sloshed through it. I’m including two map profiles, one from today and one from the entire Spanish Camino that shows I’m at the 60% mark of my of my planned route and 11 days to go until I arrive in Santiago (you can see I’m skirting Portugal!):

Here are some memorable shots of the day: first, mud everywhere, second, an attempt in places to create a protected walkway; next, entering Galicia; big stones to walk over water underneath; lastly I was huffing and puffing from climbing up when I came to this beautiful cross.

 

Day-35 (19 May—Sun) Lubián

Had a super walk this morning covering only 17.4 km (10.8 mi), but having to climb about 1,700 ft. My reward was to find the albergue that was FULL the night before and caused me to change plans was empty except for Thomas. Of course, I expected that because he and I left at 6:40 AM when it was ice cold again, in the low thirties! But today I had three layers on—only my hands complained.

After the summit, I ran into a bar/store combo for a well deserved mid-morning snack. Then came a detour that I followed blindly. It was neither my preloaded track, nor did it show up on my map. This was a first—I followed it with blind faith.

Here are some pics for the day: nearly at the top, I found a marker with boots on it—hmmm; then a glimpse of the trail up; the bar about a mile past the summit—a welcome break; this bottle fascinated me at the bar; and finally, a makeshift bridge to cross a small stream.

Day-34 (18 May—Sat) Requejo

I left the albergue in Puebla de Sanabria at 6:40 AM in bitter cold and wind: 38 deg F and with the windchill at freezing (I just wasn’t dressed for it). I could have used the gloves. After walking 12 km (7 mi) and meeting my German friend, Thomas, it became clear that the 12 beds at my planned destination of Lubian would already be gone, so I decided to stay here with him. We nicknamed our short stage: Urlaubsetappe (vacation stage). It’s crazy—Lubian doesn’t even have a store and only an albergue with 12 beds, whereas Requejo has two albergues (we‘re splurging and staying at the private one—the first albergue ever that had two sheets for every bed (fitted lower one and an upper one) and a coffee machine!! And Requejo has two hotels.

Here are some memorable pictures: the first shows the planned route of 29 km and the blue dot, my actual stay; my friend Thomas dressed in his north Vietnamese monk’s attire (from his days of studying meditation with a Vietnamese monk); third, having fun with Perry the Peregrino; then our hall of beds (18 beds, but only 4 occupied); and lastly Thomas and I having lunch with food we bought at the local store.

Day-33 (17 May—Fri) Puebla de Sanabria

I managed to get an early start again before 7:00 AM, but it was fairly chilly in the 40s and didn’t warm up very much. The path of 10.8 mi (17.3 km) was nice and easy to negotiate—not very rocky and not many muddy obstacles. The destination was Puebla de Sanabria and here’s its location in Spain:

The municipal albergue is super clean and with 30 beds has ample space for the wave of peregrinos (including me) passing through—a situation I hope will continue the rest of the way. Everyone I missed from yesterday seemed to meet here today. The town is definitely a tourist attraction with its castle dating back to the 12th century. It’s such an attraction that it has a cake similar to tarta de Santiago, but it’s known as Tarta de Sanabria and has its castle in the middle (instead of the cross of St James)—and I had a piece which was delicious.

Here are a few impressions of the day: trees along the path or stone walls; then the view of the castle from the bridge over the River Tera; the small street approaching the church next to the castle and finally the Tarta de Sanabria.

 

D-32 (16 May—Thu) Entrepeñas

This is just one of the reasons I love the Camino so much: space and time contract to where your most urgent problems are today’s, like finding lodging and knowing that the town you set as a goal (at 15.5 miles) only has one albergue with six beds! You hear there’s a Casa Rural (a step up) less than 2 miles before but figure others ahead of you will already take their only available six beds. So you start preparing yourself mentally for a 25-mile walk to the next biggest town you know has plenty of lodging. However it turns out, you’ll be elated beyond words that you’ve solved the most important problem of the day—nothing even comes close at home!
How did it turn out? I was able to get one of their last two remaining rooms at the Casa Rural. The Camino gives and the Camino takes—today I’m ever so grateful that it gave. Some pics from today’s route and the last from my balcony:

 

Day-31 (15 May—Wed) Rionegro del Puente

Spectacular scenery today over a stretch of 27.3 km. (17.1 mi) but essentially no store and only one bar/albergue open at 5.5 km near the end. Although I had a 6:50 AM start, I felt exhausted by my 2:00 PM at arrival. Much of the walk was along either the Rio Tera or a canal that was an aqueduct from it and then fed small irrigation canals.

These are some of my memorable pictures from today: first, standing in front of the Rio Tera that was dammed up at this point and almost felt like a lake; the river downstream from the dam; five of us who happened to arrive at that bar/albergue; the canal I walked next to go miles.

And after arriving, everyone flocked to this gourmet restaurant that featured a dynamite three course menu (no choices) for 10€  that included pate, a local cabbage soup, pork cutlet, desert, water, wine, and digestive.

Day-30 (14 May—Tue) Santa Marta de Tera

Before looking at today, I have to comment on yesterday’s albergue—absolutely fantastic in terms of hospitality—the hospitalero (Jose Mari Tekane) made you feel so comfortable. He had prepared a 3-course meal that included egg drop soup, paella, and desert plus wine and three different home-made fruit liqueurs. And, Jose’s passion is writing poetry. We only had room for 12 at that municipal albergue, so the others had to sleep at other places. Here the choices of other places are more limited; one decided to give up his spot here and sleep outside on the ground. I elected to take their only spare mattress and put it on the floor finding that it’s quite comfortable.

So, today was a great walking day: 20.9 km (13.1 mi) over rolling sparsely forested hills. A 77-year old Italian was picking herbs along the way (see next to last pic)—never did get the name of it; here are some memorable photos: the first two from last night’s communal dinner; third was of me leaving by 7:30 am to get a bed here; then there’s one of the German, Thomas, who’s been on the Camino for about 20 years straight—could write a book about him—he’s as close to being a monk as you can get w/0 taking the vows—he’s studied meditation with north Vietnamese monks and teaches it on invitation. . . Then there are my feet looking around while on a mattress on the floor.

Day-29 (13 May—Monday) Tabara

I had a very challenging day not so much the distance of 16.5 miles (26.4 km) but there was a 1+ km section (0.65 mi) that was a narrow rocky path along cliffs with a steep drop off to the river that slowed me to a crawl. My balance is just shot. And I noticed several others actually skipped this section—smart!

The scenery changed dramatically over the past week which was mainly agriculture to going through forests interspersed with fields of grain. Just before that challenging section I had a spectacular view of the bridge over the River Else.

Here are a few memorable photos: first, we’re reminded that last night’s town was the bifurcation point of the two Caminos, one going via Orense (mine) and the other going via (Astorga); next the Else River and the bridge; and finally that challenging path. I wish I knew the name of those white blooming flowery bushes??

 

Day-28 (12 May—Sun) Granja de la Moreruela

First, for all mothers reading this: HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!

Cold this morning and I kept my jacket on almost the first 2/3rds of the walk. Then it heated up. The stretch was 22.7 km (14.3 mi) and I felt it. I arrived at the bar where they issued a sheet and pillow cover, then after my beer, I walked the 100 to another building where the alberge was located. Of course all the lower bunks were already taken. BUT, you know you’re getting up in the years when three people offered to move to an upper one—muy amable!!!

It was a real treat walking through old Roman ruins of a castle. Then it became known as the ancient town of Catrotorafe, popularly known as ‘Zamora la Vieja’, are in San Cebrian de Castro, emplacement already located in the XII century. So it became a medieval defensive site which appeared on the banks of Esla River.

Here are a few memorable shots: first the saying of the day (seen at breakfast) and the route; then, everyone on the Camino must experience negotiating one’s way around sheep, and finally a shot of the old ruins of  Castrotorafe.

It’s exciting for tomorrow I make a left turn to start Camino Sanabres.