These are my road updates from when I walked the Camino De Santiago from Sarria to Santiago in May of 2013.
Getting to Santiago is hard and for us from Barcelona it took getting up at 4 in the morning, catching a cab to the airport, then a 2 hour flight to Santiago de Compostela before a 2 hour car ride to Sarria, where we are starting. Sarria is the starting point for many people with limited time as it is the place from which you can qualify for a Compostela at the end of the walk.
After picking up our Pilgrims Passports from the church and getting our first stamps we found our hostel and settled in for the night. My first reactions from today are, one that there is not much English-speaking so that will be slightly difficult and two that the trip should be really a cool experience, as the trail is easy to follow, people are nice and it’s an overall amazing vibe. Can’t wait for day 1!
Day 1 – Sarria to Portomarin
Today we set out early on our journey. It was such a beautiful and lush area we walked through.
It was great for about an hour and a half before it started to rain on us. Note to other pilgrims, a good poncho is a must. Ours were weak so we were getting wet fast which made the walk rough in some areas. We were able to duck into a pub with other pilgrims on the trail at lunch time to escape the rain and get some food. There is a great community here, everyone is super nice and you find yourself walking with lots of others all day on the trail.
We passed the marker showing we were within 100 KM from Santiago, started at 114 KM then we ended at 92 KM. After ducking into another restaurant to get out of the rain we met some travel companions from Australia and did the rest of the KM with them.
After about 2 hours in the rain we saw Portomarin and crossed the famous bridge into the city to see the 12 century church and find our hostel for the night.
It was a long day in the rain but hopefully it will be better tomorrow. Everyone says no but I’m holding out hope! Here are some pictures from the day.
Day 2 Portomarin to Palas de Rei
Today we woke at 730 and got ready for the day. It was still raining so that was a rough way to start but pretty much what we are expecting for this trip. After breakfast at a bar near the center of the city we started out on the trail. The trail today was pretty much 100% uphill for the first 10km so it was slow going in the rain. The massive ponchos we had were great for keeping out the water but also kept us sweating inside so it was a lose / win situation. The trail today was nowhere near as beautiful as day one. The first couple KM were lush like a rain forest but then the trail came out and we ended up walking along the main highway for a good amount of it which is never as fun. Along the way there was a couple beautiful small villages that we stopped at and had lunch, coffee and our favorite small town Spanish treat, a Kit Kat. They also have what are called wayside crosses every so often on the trail. You only pass a couple a day but they are amazing.
After pushing up in elevation we were able to top out at 750 meters which is 2200 feet before beginning the descent down into the valley where our hostel would be. We enjoyed 15 minutes of beautiful sun during this part of the trip. Unfortunately for us, while we were heading there it started to hail. This fully sucked as we had put in over 13 miles so far and now were soaking wet in the hail. After about 10 minutes it stopped and we were able to proceed onward easier.
We even crossed some chickens, sheep and bulls sharing the Camino with us. The later was scary as we were walking through them and they had big horns but they didn’t bother us. When we were within 15 minutes of the city it started to pour rain again, so we booked it into the hostel only to find the first one full. Soaking wet we found another and it was open! 6 euro later we were in our room had eaten the pilgrims menu and now at 9 at night we are heading to bed. Hopefully tomorrow has less rain in store but I am not so sure. It is our 16 mile day of the Camino, the other two days are only 13. At least the uphill is much less as well. Till then, buen Camino!
Day 3 Palas de Rei to Arzua
After our adventurous night running through the town looking for a alberque, we awoke earlier at 7 am to try to get a good start on our 27 Km/16 mile day. The morning went well with a lot of lush oak groves to walk through but after 4 KM it followed the main road for a while which is never as much fun. We met up again with a family from Colorado and talked with them for most of the morning before splitting at 8 KM right when the rain was starting to come in again.
I ducked into a church for a stamp on my passport and to escape the rain where we stumbled on an epic cross that I picked up to represent the Camino. When we left the church the rain had passed and the sun was now shining on us. This provided for us a beautiful bridge picture below and allowed us time to wash off the last two days of rain with a bath of sun.
From here we entered what I would call the commercialized Camino area. This place had a lot of advertisements as we walked along the road. There were many rock memorials on the side, at least that is what I thought they were, but it was one of the less enjoyable areas. Thankfully after only a KM we were back in the forest and it was amazing.
After entering the town of Furelos, we stopped for a quick meal in the only restaurant. About 2 KM later we were wandering the streets of a massive town trying to stay up with the Camino, which is harder in towns, while also trying to locate the octopus that everyone raves about from this town. After turning a corner, a hand stuck out the window holding an octopus tentacle covered in olive oil and I had to oblige. It was amazing and the restaurant was packed, which is a good sign. In we went and 15 minutes later we had our fill of octopus and were back on the trail.
The rest of the day was pretty much less eventful. We got stuck In some hail again but it ended quickly and we enjoyed the sun for a couple of hours which was amazing. We stopped at a local Camino stand for more water and met another friend on a bicycle who pedaled with us for 20 minutes and is a blogger as well.
After arriving in Ribadiso which was to be our stop for the night Amie wanted to push on the next 3 KM to the main town so we did. With about 2 wet KMs later the sun finally came out as we made our way into town and found a place to sleep with 39 people in the same room.
This completed our 18 mile/ 28 KM day. Needless to say after the 30 miles, the two days before, means bed time will be coming soon. Unfortunately Spain doesn’t get dark till around 10 pm haha so it makes early hostel sleeping harder. All in all I am loving my adventure on the Camino and looking forward to tomorrow’s 11.5 mile day.
Day 4 – Arzua to O Pedrouzo
Since we had completed such a long day yesterday, today was a bit less crazy for us as we only had about 12 miles to do today. We stayed in bed til about 7:30 but woke in time to not be kicked out of the hostel (happens at 8). We grabbed breakfast in the small town which consisted of toast and coffee then started our trek.
The valley below, where we would have spent the night, was covered in frost which was beautiful and made us glad that we pushed on yesterday instead of staying down there and having to come up in the mist. The beginning of the trail was largely uneventful as we passed out of the town and down into the valley and oak trees below. This type of landscape has become normal for us which is amazing because it is so lush and on so much of the trail, I always welcome walking through it.
We passed a couple small river valleys then headed back up to the farmlands that we were on for most of the day. This was a beautiful area of the Camino and we met many of the friends we had seen on the trip during this time. We even met an American that had been walking the whole thing and he told us that if you are doing it, wear hiking boots and not trail runners as he had been told. He also had his pilgrim booklet signed by Martin Sheen which was awesome.
Around the 32 KM marker we passed a sign for a taxi number hammered to a tree during a tough uphill part. I found this pretty funny and a pretty good way to market even though it was not a welcomed sight in the beautiful forest.
From here the Camino trailed the main highway for about 4 KM. It was still beautiful but annoying to hear the cars, luckily it ducked back under the highway and into the forest after that. As we near Santiago there will be more and more of this though as tomorrow’s walk into the city is very urban we are told.
As the day was winding to a close it started to rain pretty good again. We hightailed it to the town we were staying in and found a hostel and ate the Pilgrims menu, which for me had epic ham and melon on it today. The ham in Spain is the best ever (called jamon serrano), I eat it every day. Tomorrow is our last day and I am both excited to be done and sad to the leave the community, it will be an experience I will not soon forget.
Day 5 O Pedrouzo to Satiago de Compostela
Today we awoke with the rest of our 20 person hostel at 7 in the morning. Everyone was eager to start their journey as for most it meant the end of the pilgrimage and for some people they have been walking for over 30 days. I can’t imagine what that is like but it was still crazy for us as we have put in over 60 miles in the last 4 days and are now getting to achieve our goal.
After following some pilgrims who apparently were incorrect, we started the day with a quarter of a mile in the wrong direction. Luckily it was corrected and we were able to find the trail and enter into more beautiful oak groves for the first mile. From there the trail walked us through a small town and into a wide valley of farms.
After this we went under the main highway and started the incline up to the airport. This was cool for us as this is what we saw when we first flew in so it was awesome to have come this far. There was also a quarter-mile of fence that many pilgrims had added makeshift crosses to as a ritual before entering the city.
We stopped at a small cafe for early morning coffee and met some pilgrims to walk with for the next little while. The incline of the next part was not easy as they don’t believe in switchbacks and we had to crest a small mountain before getting close to Santiago.
We stopped right at the town near the top of the hill for my last lunch of jamon and queso of the Camino then descended to Mt Gozo. Mt Gozo was great and had a massive statue dedicated to the Pope’s visit and a small church. We thought we would be able to see the cathedral from here but were not able to so we descended into the city.
The city itself was the most anti climactic of the trip in the first couple KMs of it. There was not much reference of the Camino and I thought it would be more of a welcome as the other cities were. After proceeding on though we entered the old district and it got a lot better as well as giving us the first view of the cathedral spires.
This was enough to get the adrenaline going and we forgot the pain in our feet from the cobblestone and headed for the church. After walking through a couple more streets we descended some stairs and walked into the main plaza of the cathedral. It was amazing and awe-inspiring to see what we had been walking to for the last five days and all Amie and I could do was just wander to the middle of the plaza and lay on the ground and stare.
With so many tourists here we stared being photographed a bunch which was funny but we just laid their and soaked our 75+ mile adventure in. I am sure I will have more to say about this later, but I am both sad and happy it is over and it really is weird to just complete something and move on. We went and got our Compostela for completing the journey then checked into our celebration hotel. I can’t wait to attend the pilgrims mass tomorrow and spend more time in the city but for now my Camino is over and oh what a great experience it was. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Thanks for following along!