Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Day 32 - 24 May - Sarria to Portomarin

As John Denver famously sang:

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, home of Marsha
Take me home, country roads

The six o’clock alarm awoke me from my slumbers. The four-bedroom, nine-bed apartment in Sarria had proven very comfortable and my first challenge was to ascertain in which of the beds Mrs C had elected to go for. I am of course joking. She was on the sofa. 

We departed our accommodation a fraction before seven and tracked back into town to pick up the official Camino route out of town. It appears I may owe Sarria an apology. The old town of Sarria, with its bars, cafes and albergues looked both quaint and atmospheric but had we stumbled upon it last night, my imaginary duet with Marsha Osmond would never have happened so I’m not unhappy.

The walk out of Sarria was lovely. It was like being at home and, for those of you who don’t know Burnley, no I’m not joking. This was the English countryside at its best, with English temperatures and cloudy skies but thankfully no rain. In Spain.

A short, steep bit gave way to a more gentle incline as we passed through the tiny villages of Vilei, Barbadelo and Rente before we reached Baxan where we stopped for a coffee and napolitana. And there was soon-to-be junior doctor Fran with her friend Beth and Beth’s mum Angela. Neither we nor Fran have seen our German friend Gerhard for a few days. We hope his bad foot hasn’t dropped off yet.

The walking conditions were perfect. Comfortable underfoot path and road surfaces, beautiful scenery and cool temperatures. And friends to walk with! We caught up with Lars and Inger from Sweden and ended up walking with them all the way in to Portomarin. Together, we passed through the villages of A Pena, CortiƱas, Baxan (another one) and Ferreiros before we stopped for a beer at a great little albergue at Mercadoiro. 

I let Lars and Inger in on our find from yesterday, namely dancing down steep bits. The theory is proven! Lars couldn’t even dance before today but he sure can dance downhill. I have no idea how to post the video proof on here but I can put it on Twatter if anyone wants to see it. If you do want to see it then leave a message to this effect at the bottom of this post.

To be fair, that may be easier said than done because I still have no idea how to post a message on my own blog but Nellie from West Virginia, USA knows how to do it. Hey Nellie. Thanks for your message. And by the way, the Camino is full of your fellow countrymen and women and every one of them that we have met is lovely, especially Marsha.

By now we only had a couple of miles to Portomarin but in the village of Vilacha, we met Xulian (think Julian with an X) who was putting up beer mats on his recently purchased donativo. Previously known as Casa Susana, the site was featured on the BBC’s Pilgrimage programme where “celebrities” ponced about pretending that they were walking the full five hundred miles. Anyway, as much as I dislike the concept of “celebrity”, Xulian isn’t a celebrity and I did like him because he’s a member of CAMRA and he likes his real ales so I hope he can make a success (or whatever it is he wants to make) out of Casa Xulian.

Thereafter, we walked to the entrance of Portomarin from where we phoned our hotel, Hostal Meson do Loyo who being two miles out of town had promised to pick us up. It wasn’t a limo but nonetheless we were on our way to the hotel within ten minutes of the call. Today’s fourteen miles had been the easiest day’s walking thus far and we were at our hotel before two o’clock which meant we had the whole afternoon to sit in the sun and relax. Except there was no sun. And it was a bit chilly. We spent the whole afternoon in the bar.

The hostal accommodation was no more than adequate, there was a bit of a smell of drains from time to time and it nearly had a great view but not quite. The staff were nice and friendly though and the entrecot steak I had was the size of a brick and cooked to perfection.

Also, we had time to sort out our journey-home logistics and all hotel requirements in-between. And of course we had a few beers. We also made some new friends, Louis and  Corine from Holland who are cycling to Santiago.

We are due to arrive in Santiago on Saturday. We will have a couple of nights there and then it’s a train and bus to Porto in Portugal from where we will fly home on the 1st of June. Suddenly this five hundred mile adventure is nearing its end and whilst I have loved every minute of it so far, I am missing my girlies so I’m looking forward to getting home. In the meantime though, we still have around sixty miles left to get to Santiago. Country roads, take me home.

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