Portomarin to Palas de Rei 24kms (15.4 miles)
It was an early start as it was to be our longest day of walking and the breakfast area was busy. The weather had changed, it now looked overcast and threatening to rain. Once we had finished breakfast and placed our bags in reception we were off for the day’s walk. As we stepped outside into the cold air we looked around and saw Sami walking towards us as the route actually passed the front of our hotel. We said, “Good morning,” and had a natter before continuing on our way together.
We were high up in the town
and the route led us down to the river. Ahead we could see lots of early pilgrim walkers so the route wasn’t difficult to follow. Sami stopped to take photos whilst we carried on.
We soon crossed the bridge over the river Mino, following the signs up our first long climb of the day, which is just what you want after breakfast! The path, which climbs through the woods around the Embalse (reservoir) de Belesar before joining a main road, became busier as people were struggling and slowly walking up the steep incline.
What was funny was listening to the different nationalities of walkers all gasping and struggling to say, “Buen Camino,” as we walked by and “Gracias,” in reply to our “Buen Camino.”
After a while we were soon at the top of the hill and shortly to join the road, which we crossed several times. Although it was a main road, it wasn’t that busy so we were able to cross safely.
Ahead we could see we were getting closer to another group of pilgrims and when we met up with them it turned out to be the Canadians, (from right to left) Denise and Heather, plus the American lady, Carol, from yesterday.
We enjoyed a little banter to break up the gloomy weather and left them still smiling.
The path was much gentler now and we were walking through several small villages and passing farms. As we followed one bend, and approaching a small cluster of buildings, there were pilgrims outside what looked like the possibility of a café. What a good time for a coffee break!
Rest over, we continued on our way. As we approached the village of Gonzar, the square was busy with pilgrims having coffee and/ or breakfast, so we walked on and were joined by the couple from Norwich whom we’d met in Sarria on our arrival. They were walking a much faster pace so didn’t stop to chat, just spoke a little as they passed by.
Lots of grey clouds were appearing and rain looked ominous, so we decided to don waterproofs as a precaution.
There was a lot of crisscrossing the road till we eventually started our highest climb of the day to Sierria Ligonde at 720m (2,362ft) followed by a gentle descent to Portos. In one of the villages there was a coffee store with locals outside and pilgrims resting.
A young local girl was trying to get people to stop for coffee, shouting, “Free hugs,” which was quite amusing, Steve stopped for a hug
but we didn’t have time; we were changing out of our waterproofs. In the background we saw cattle were approaching;
the farmer was moving his herd to another field on the outskirts of the village.
The cows just walked on as they knew where to go, with the farmer and his dog keeping them in check, holding up traffic
without a care in the world and no complaints from following motorists, which was great to see. The locals in action.
At this point we could have taken a detour to Vilar de Donas to see a monument which would have added an extra 2 kilometres on the day’s walk, but with an ominous looking sky we decided against it and descended the hill
into Palas de Rei. The weather had stayed overcast and cool.
As we entered the town, down some steps and passing a church, San Roque Park was opposite. According to our information our hotel was close by and as we crossed the main road we could see it up a side street.
At the hotel our hosts made us very welcome and when we asked for suggestions as to where to eat in the evening they were very helpful.
We were shown to our rooms where we just put our rucksacks down, changed from our walking boots and were off to find somewhere for lunch. At a restaurant close by we decided to check it out first; it was fine so ordered drinks.
As we were partaking of refreshments, the lady owner, who spoke very good English, asked if we were walking the Camino. As the conversation became involved with plenty of questions from her, Steve commented on her use of English. Apparently she had lived in the UK for nearly 30 years until she’d divorced and moved back to Spain.
So now it was time to go back to our hotel, to freshen up and rest awhile. We said, “Adios,” trying out our Spanish you see.
As we left we then looked around to find the restaurant, as suggested by our hosts, which was just two minutes from the hotel. It looked good so we booked a table.
As we were heading back to our accommodation, we met Sami and her aunt who were looking for somewhere to eat later on. We were introduced to Auntie Alicia who looked more like a sister, she was quite young looking. After chatting for a short while, we returned to our hotel whilst Sami and Alicia went to check out other restaurants.
It was raining that evening so our hosts offered us hotel guest umbrellas as we were leaving, which was kind, but there was no need as it was a very short walk to a bar. Here we had an aperitif or two before going to the restaurant.
As we entered the restaurant we saw Danny and two fellow lady pilgrims. We asked what they would recommend and they suggested a couple of meals to try out. Soon after they left.
We looked through the menu and decided what we were having. The evening was both relaxing and enjoyable and helped by a very nice bottle of wine.
Then it was time to return to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.