CAMINO FRANCES – DAY 23

O CEBREIRO – TRIACASTELA

19 APRIL

21.3km

We woke up 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 some pilgrims in the lobby, also busy packing their backpacks and we have wished each other ‘Buen Camino’ as we walked out of the albergue.

The Galician region is well-known for its rainy weather accompanied by cold and windy conditions. And, although there were no clouds in the sky, there was indeed a very strong wind and it was freezing cold. It was once again time to dress in all of our warm clothes and then hope 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 uphills. There is apparently a steep downhill at the end. This morning, I woke up with a sore throat and runny nose … it’s possibly 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 is struggling against the wind

Although the sun was out, it was now very cold. It seems as if Galicia is living up to its reputation! Fortunately (and never thought I will say this), there were a few uphills to get our blood pumping and generating 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, having some doubts about Brierley’s guide book … he mentioned the steep downhill towards the end of today’s session, but did not say much about all these uphills! Or maybe it’s just that we had enough of walking all these uphills 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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We were turning right here to walk through Hospital de la Condesa – a village that once boasted a pilgrim hospital (hence its name)

After we walked through Hospital de la Condesa, a couple of chickens crossed the road. Yesterday, we encountered cows, today it was chickens – a bit less intimidating than those cows.

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Beware: Chickens in the road!

It changed into a beautiful walk … far from traffic, dirt tracks, quiet and the sun was also now getting a little bit warmer.

Quiet dirt roads with magnificent views around every corner

Time for a funny story:

We walked through a couple of typical Galician villages and almost saw not a single person … that was until we reached Fonfria. In front of us were an old lady busy getting her cows into their sheds.

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, but ate the pancake with a big smile.

It was when we smiled and said thank you, that she get 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 big pancakes for that 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 noticed 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 slice 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 were quite surprised that we shared our room with the ‘Three wise men’ from Korea/USA! It was really nice seeing them again.

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Lovely lobby 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 for 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.

One thought on “CAMINO FRANCES – DAY 23

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