Sarria to Portomarin 22kms (13.7 miles)
After breakfast we left the hotel around 08:30. Stepping outside was a bit of a shock as it was quite cold, despite the sun shining. As we walked through the town the streets were empty. We followed the yellow signs for the Camino Way; painted arrows
scallop shells and paintings on the floor or walls.
The first sign was within yards from the hotel
We turned a few corners before seeing our first group of pilgrims outside a shop, with what appeared to be a guide giving instructions.
We walked past them to begin climbing up three flights of steps.
Passing the various café bars open with people inside chatting loudly over breakfast, we neared the end of town whilst still following the yellow signs and gaining more height. We arrived at the top of a hill and just past what was the juvenile prison
in its day. There was also a viewing area overlooking the town
so we could see more of the landscape over Sarria. We stopped for the first photo shoot of the day and then walked on passing the old market Campo da Feira, which has existed since the 14th century, before descending a steep hill, being careful of passing cars where parents were dropping off children at the local school.
At the bottom of the hill we headed off across a stream to follow the path climbing through woodland, now seeing more pilgrims.
As we were passing them,
we heard the first of the many sayings – ‘Hola’, ‘Buen Camino’, ‘Gracias’.
Still climbing the path, it became wider
and easier to pass others and it was more open with views across the land. We could also see in the distance the viaduct
we had travelled over the previous day on our way to Sarria.
The route took us past some very old outbuildings which looked like they may collapse in a strong wind; they were obviously still in use as there was equipment inside.
Now the morning began to feel warmer. The path was good which helped us to make steady progress, and as we reached a small village a group of Chinese ladies were outside their accommodation, waiting to have their photo taken. They saw us passing and waved to us shouting, “Buen Camino.” We replied with a wave and returned the phrase, “Buen Camino,” loudly.
As we continued through the village we arrived at a shop selling T shirts, hand carved walking sticks, trinkets
of all kinds and scallop shells. We purchased our shells and tied them on to our rucksacks to show we were true pilgrims before having our passports stamped.
We continued along the path for some time until we came across what looked like a restaurant/coffee shop.
There were no other buildings around to indicate we were in a village so we decided to stop for coffee as there were other walkers taking a break here.
After we removed our rucksacks to sit down, to our surprise Sami appeared and joined us.
After coffee she was on her way but we stayed a little longer to soak up the sun and atmosphere. As more pilgrims were arriving we thought it was time to go, so decided to set off along the path
heading to Portomarin for the night’s accommodation.
We later arrived at the high point at Momientos overlooking the town of Portomarin,
with lovely views all round, only to be given a leaflet by a man advertising his restaurant in the town and showing us the way to go as there were two routes to follow.
We descended the hill, passing through another small hamlet of houses
and farm buildings and came to a signpost offering an alternative route. One path was 902 metres whilst the other was 565 metres. It was not difficult to decide; it was getting hotter by the minute and we just wanted to get there, so we took the shorter route. Also, as there were other pilgrims in front of us showing the way and we thought it would be a good idea.
As we went down the path into what can only be described as a gully, with high sided sandstone walls, crumbling sand & gravel stepping stones, boulders with large uneven steps down and extreme care required, it came across our minds that the longer route may have been the safer one!
As we finally arrived at the bottom of the gully, we immediately stepped out on to a road, which was quiet, with views across the River Mino and the Belesar reservoir.
We crossed the bridge over the River Mino and ahead of us was the staircase which the guide books recommend we walk up as it leads into the town. This was all we needed on a hot day. Phew! We climbed the staircase and at the top looked back at the wonderful views over the river and we could see other people crossing the bridge. As we watched the pilgrim behind us climb the stairs with ease, despite carrying a large Bergen rucksack,
we congratulated him on his efforts, to which he replied, “It’s no problem. I am in the Norwegian army and normally carry much heavier weights than this.”
As we entered the town we soon found our hotel, booked in and asked the receptionist for advice as to where to eat later on. We then headed off
to look for the central square of
Praza Conde de Fenosa,
which was easy to find, and here we had lunch
overlooking the Romanesque fortress of St John.
After lunch we were off to sort a venue for our evening meal. We walked around the town but found ourselves back at the restaurant where we’d had lunch and decided this would as good as anywhere, so we booked a table.
We were heading back to our hotel when we came across two French ladies taking photos of each other. They asked for one of us to take their picture by the statue and Steve, being a gentleman, leapt forward to oblige. They returned the favour
and in conversation we found they were from Bordeaux and enjoying their holiday.
To our horror they were not walking the Camino, arrrrrgh! NOT PILGRIMS.
After a little repartee and a few photos later, they asked if we could recommend anywhere for them to eat that evening and we just said that we were eating in the restaurant where we’d had lunch.
After a short while we bid them “Farewell. “Au revoir,” “Adios,” with a friendly smile and a wave. We headed off to check out a restaurant that had earlier been suggested to us, but after eventually finding it the menu didn’t look inviting enough, so we decided to stay with our original plan and eat where we’d had lunch.
As we approached our hotel we saw Sami who was looking for a place to eat, so we suggested she joined us for dinner if she wanted. After a brief chat we three amigos decided to check out another restaurant/bar nearby and have a beer.
It was a good menu, with views across the reservoir, but very expensive for pilgrims, so we had a beer or two on the patio to get over the shock.
There were two Canadian ladies who had obviously been there for some time as they were a little raucous. One of them was having problems with her foot and was receiving a foot massage from a male pilgrim who happened to be a chiropractor. We could hear from the loudness they were having fun and then they shouted across the patio to us, introducing themselves and discussing the Camino. Another lady joined them but she was from New York and walking the Camino for the second time, which was impressive. As the banter subsided we said our goodbyes and headed to our hotel.
Later in the evening we had a casual walk into town; the weather was still pretty warm. We arrived at the restaurant and given a table inside, which was wonderful as the air conditioning was on. After we had an aperitif and checked out the menu Sami appeared. She had decided to join us for dinner which was great. Whilst discussing the events of the day’s walk, the two French ladies we’d met earlier appeared. They came over to talk but the restaurant, being small, had nowhere for them to sit, so after a few pleasantries they said, “Au revoir,” and left.
During the meal there was an even bigger surprise when in came the two Canadian ladies, (Denise & Heather). They had seen us eating and decided to drop in to noisily say hello. It was a brief moment, and then they left. After a very pleasant evening, we said goodnight to Sami and returned to our hotel.