CAMINO FRANCES – DAY 24

TRIACASTELA – SARRIA

20 APRIL

18.7km

In Brierley’s guide book, there are two different routes to Sarria. The one route is via Samos and 6.4km longer, while the other route is via San Xil and, according to Brierley, after recent improvements on this route, the natural pathways increased with 60%.

We decided to take the route via San Xil. It was the first time after more than a week that I will carry my own backpack again and we thought the shorter route will be more practical to see if my blisters and knee recovered well enough to handle my backpack again (we did hear from other pilgrims that the route via Samos is just as beautiful) … it probably depends on how much you’re willing to walk on this stage.

As we left Triacastela, we saw Pieter (our fellow South African pilgrim) again. We last saw him in Rabanal. We walked together for a while and caught up on each other’s journey. At an uphill, he stopped to take photo’s and we greeted him as we continued towards San Xil. We unfortunately never saw him again on our Camino and trust he had a good journey.

John Brierley was right that we would walk on beautiful woodland paths. It was chilly between the high trees, but we enjoyed the quietness in the woods and many streams along the way.

The woodland paths were pure tranquility

As we exited the woodlands, we reached the highest point of the day, Alto do Riocabo. The up hills were absolutely worth it, the views were splendid indeed!

Magnificent views at Alto do Riocabo

We then started our descent, it is now all the way downhill to Sarria.

In order to receive a Compostela (pilgrim certificate), you need to either walk at least 100km or ride a bicycle for 200km. With Sarria being the biggest town before the 100km mark, we knew that we will see more pilgrims on our way from tomorrow. For the past 3 weeks, it was nice to walk alone or in small groups … these might change soon.

Berto and I were discussing the fact that we will see many more pilgrims from tomorrow and were mentally preparing ourselves for this … maybe this is a way of the Camino to start introducing us back to civilisation.

Downhill, on our way to Sarria

At around 10:30 we reached Furela, where there was a nice café … perfect time to enjoy a mid-morning coffee (and something to eat … of course).

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We enjoyed stunning pathways and crossed small streams

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Berto enjoying the Galician empanada and I’m back at my favourite, lemon cake

The last 5km went quickly and we arrived shortly after lunch in a very busy and sunny Sarria. We chose Albergue Durminento for the night and found this albergue easy.

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Albergue Durminento

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We were the first pilgrims to arrive and choose our bunk beds next to a window

The albergue had a lovely terrace and we could hang our washing here in the bright sunshine. From here, we also had a terrific view of Sarria and enjoyed a cold drink while resting after the day’s walk.

There were so many restaurants in the center of town, but almost everyone was full of pilgrims. We finally found one where we could have lunch. While sitting there, it was interesting to hear how the pilgrims were eagerly discussing their next few days (for most of them tomorrow would be their first day on the Camino).

We are now in Sarria – a major starting point for pilgrims with limited time, but wanting to collect a “Compostela” at Santiago

We explored the town after lunch and later went back to the albergue where we sat on the terrace to enjoy the bright sunshine. We were pleasantly surprised to see the “Three wise men” in the albergue – they were also spending the night there (but chosen one of the private rooms). That meant that Berto and I had the dorm to ourselves – something that seldom happens on the Camino!

We enjoyed a delicious dinner, prepared by the albergue, together with our Korean/USA pilgrim friends and again, shared many stories. After dinner, we went to the terrace to have some of Spain’s best red wines, Rioja.

It was a pleasant evening to be outside and we were now looking forward to the end stages of our journey.

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Late evening on the terrace of Albergue Durminento, that overlooks Iglesia de Santa Marina XIX

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