CAMINO FRANCES – DAY 23

O CEBREIRO – TRIACASTELA

19 APRIL

21.3km

We were awake early this morning and took our backpacks outside the dorm to pack. It’s almost impossible to go back to sleep when you wake up … time to start walking then! I noticed over the last couple of weeks how we did not need an alarm to wake up, but that our bodies told us when it was time ☺️.

There were just a few pilgrims in the lobby busy packing and we wished each other “Buen Camino” as we walked out of the albergue.

The Galician region is well-known for their rainy weather accompanied by cold and windy conditions. And although there were no clouds in the sky, there was a very strong wind and it was indeed freezing cold. It was once again time to get all of our warm clothes on and then hoping to warm up during our walk.

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Early morning mist in the valley (accompanied by a very cold wind)

Today, compared to yesterday, should be an easy walk – not too far and also not many up hills … although there is a steep downhill towards the end. I woke up with a sore throat and runny nose this morning … could be the beginning of a cold.

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Ouch, just 3km into the walk and this hill welcomed us

Alto de San Roque, outside Linares (a small hamlet). This statue of a medieval pilgrim almost looks as if he too was struggling against the wind

Although the sun was out, it was now very cold. It seems Galicia was living up to its reputation! Fortunately (and never thought I will say this), there were a few up hills to get our blood pumping while we could get some warmth into our bodies!

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Another uphill …

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You could almost crawl up this hill

I was now, for the first time, wondering about Brierley’s guide book … he only mentioned the steep down hill towards the end of today’s session, but did not say much about these up hills! Or maybe it’s just that we had enough of walking up hill after yesterday … despite this, we were carried away with the stunning green rolling hills – what a sight!

Beautiful green hills in Galicia

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Turning right here to walk through Hospital de la Condesa – the village once boasted a pilgrim hospital (hence its name)

After we walked through Hospital de la Condesa, a couple of chickens crossed our path. Yesterday, we encountered cows, today it was chickens 😁.

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Beware: Chickens crossing the road!

It was starting to change into a beautiful walk … far from traffic, field walking, quiet and the sun was now getting a little bit warmer.

Quiet field tracks with magnificent views around every corner

Time for a funny story 😂:

We walked through a couple of typical Galician villages and almost saw nobody … until Fonfria. In front of us were an old lady busy getting her cows into their stables.

When she saw us, she was waving and speaking in Spanish to us. At first, we tried to tell her that we don’t understand Spanish, but she just showed with her little hands that we must wait. She ran off to her house and was back within a minute with freshly baked pancakes in the one hand and cinnamon sugar in the other. Now, it is true that I’m crazy about pancakes (even more so on a cold day). On the other hand, Berto is not that fond of pancakes and not always willing to eat anything “on the street” that was made by someone else. But this little old lady was determined – she almost put the pancake herself in our mouths! I was slightly amused by this, but ate the pancake with a big smile.

It was when we said thank you and turned around, that she got hold of our jackets and ask “Donativo?”. Oh, we had to pay for the pancakes? Berto scratched in our purse for some coins and gave it to her (which she happily accepted). As we walked away, Berto just shook his head and said: “We just paid R30 for two pancakes”. Back in South Africa, you can probably buy 4 pancakes for this price! We laughed until we reached Triacastela 😄.

And then, as Brierley’s guide book warned us, we reached that steep descent. This continued for 3km until we saw a small café in the woodlands. It was still early, probably just after 11:00, and a café con leche sounded like a great idea. And then there was fresh apple pie on the counter … well, we had sweet pancakes earlier today, why not apple pie as well 😊?

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Café con leche with a warm piece of apple pie – yummy!

When we reached Triacastela, we continued to the center of the town where we found Albergue Complexo Xacobeo – a lovely modern albergue. We shared our room with non-other than the “Three wise men” from Korea/USA! It was really nice seeing them again.

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Lovely reception area of Albergue Complexo Xacobeo

We enjoyed lunch at the restaurant next to the albergue. It was here that I got a taste of the famous Empanada pie of Galicia for the first time (it is a savoury pastry or pie that can be filled with almost anything – mine was filled with tuna). It was delicious and in the next few days, we enjoyed several Empanada pies!

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Empanada pie, a well-known dish in Galicia

It was still cold and for the rest of the afternoon, we spent time in the communal area of the albergue in front of a wood burning fire.

Later that evening most of the pilgrims were sitting in the communal area, chatting to each other. We shared a bottle of red wine with our roommates, the “Three wise men”. While we were sitting there, we heard the most beautiful sound coming from outside the albergue. We all went out and saw a young guy playing on his bagpipe. There was a crowd gathering listening to him and some of the pilgrims even joined him with a dance.

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Two of the “Three wise men” joined the bagpiper with some dancing moves

This was yet again a truly “Camino way” of ending our day’s walking.

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