DAY 22


VILLAFRANCA – O CEBREIRO

18 APRIL

30.1km

According to Brierley’s guide book, there are three different routes to get to O Cebreiro. After yesterday’s hot and long walk, we’ve decided to take the least strenuous route – although, it still promised a steep uphill towards the end.

It was just after 6:30 when we’ve left our albergue. We had a good night’s sleep in our own room – this was needed for the walk today. Though we’ve walked along the main road, there were few cars and not as busy as expected. This might be because of the completion of the new A-6 motorway – we’ve seen the evidence of high bridges running over the old N-VI.

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The new A-6 motorway running high above the old main road

We could also see the change in nature. We were now entering Galicia and the fields were green, with plenty of small streams.

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Beautiful green fields and a flowing river – nice to see since we’ve just had a dry and hot summer back in South Africa

Just before Trabadelo, we’ve walked past different stacks of wood. Me and Berto were discussing how nice it would be to have some of these pieces of wood for our fireplace back home – it would be Winter once we’re back in South Africa! I was surprised at how neatly the different logs were stacked together – obviously someone took great pride at their work.

Plenty of wood stacked next to the road, neatly packed together

We’ve really enjoyed the walk thus far. It was a cool morning, but not as cold as previous days. We’ve read on some Camino blogs that once you’re entering Galicia, you will see a lot of cows … it was definitely the case with us this morning. Some of the cows were even in the road and we had to take extra care to walk around them.

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Who’s got right of way … 😅

In Trabadelo we’ve seen a couple of pilgrims that either opted for the same route as us or the recommended route (as per Brierley’s guide book). Everyone was talking about the last steep climb to O Cebreiro … we could not wait to get there!

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The plague reads: Santiago – 190km and Roncesvalles – 559km. I’m glad we’re on our way to Santiago!

Somewhere, close to Vega de Valcarce, we’ve noticed a bakery next to the road that looked really inviting. Berto ordered a toasted ham and cheese sandwich and I could not resist the lemon cake together with our normal café con leche. Just what we’ve needed before we got to the last stage of today’s walk …

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Time for a snack … and a view to remember!

We were walking through some quiet villages alongside the river and I was thinking how beautiful the scenery was … until suddenly, a steep uphill appeared. Although it was steep, it was beautiful. We’ve put our heads down and enjoyed the walk through the nice smelling woodland.

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Berto almost jogging up the hill 🤪

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I’ve enjoyed the beautiful woodlands

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On the photo it does not look that steep, but I can assure you that your pulse rate will definitely increase!

And then, as sudden as it started, we’ve got to the top and the scenery was breathtaking beautiful! We’ve seen green rolling hills in the distance and you could almost see O Cebreiro … although it was another 6km or so to go.

We’ve conquered the steep uphill and almost feel like on top of the world!

On the final little uphill, a man and his two horses came from the top. We’ve seen in one of the smaller villages that you can pay to go on horseback up to O Cebreiro. I’m glad we’ve done it by foot …

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A man and his horse coming down from O Cebreiro

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We were officially in Galicia

As we’ve walked into O Cebreiro, it was with a feeling of satisfaction. The steep up hills were every drop of sweat worth the breathtaking views and O Cebreiro was a beautiful village, their church dating back to the 9th century. There were many tourists (that came by bus) and the pilgrims started to filling the town later that afternoon.

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Iglesia de Santa Maria Real – according to Brierley’s guide book, the oldest extant church associated directly with the pilgrim way

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A statue of Don Elias Valina Sampedro (1929-1989). He was a parish priest and it was his idea to mark the Camino with the yellow arrows that every pilgrim is following today during their journey

We’ve walked to the Albergue Xunta at the end of the village where we’ve each got a bed. It was an enormous dorm with many bunk beds. We and two cyclists were the first to get to our beds. I’ve decided that, after today’s challenges, I’ve deserved a lower bunk bed and choose mine next to Berto’s bed … it was almost like a double bed 😊.

By the end of the evening, the dorm was filled with pilgrims – every bed was occupied! I was wondering where all the pilgrims came from, because we have not seen so many pilgrims on our journey thus far!

I’ve heard stories where pilgrims said they’ve seen O Cebreiro covered in snow with icy conditions – even in Spring time. But we were fortunate to enjoy this village in bright sunny weather.

We’ve met two South African women, sitting in front of a bar. They’ve overheard us speaking Afrikaans to each other and called us over for a chat. We’ve asked them what they thought about the steep up hills of today’s walk, but they’ve admitted they were more into “slack packing” and choose not to walk the last part of today’s stage. They also prefer to stay in hotels. We’ve learned that every pilgrim does the Camino their way – whether it is the way we do it, or some stages by foot and other by bus or taxi – in the end it is your Camino and your decision how you would like to do this journey.

We’ve had dinner at one of the small restaurants where Berto ordered pasta, but I could not resist to eat the Galician soup that our Spanish friends told me about. It was really nice and I had two servings 😁

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The famous Galician soup – the first of many plates for me. I loved the smell and taste!

I thought that it would be difficult to sleep between so many people after we’ve had our own room the previous night, but O Cebreiro’s steep up hills ensured that I did not struggle to sleep at all.

Somewhere during the night, I woke up to go the bathroom and when I came back, it was with astonishment that I’ve heard all the different sounds … snoring, coughing, turning around in noisy sleeping bags and more snoring!

I could only smile … where in the world will you ever encounter something like this?

Categories: Camino Frances (April 2017)

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