DAY 25


SARRIA – PORTOMARIN

21 APRIL

22.4km

We’ve had a very good night’s sleep. Normally, in previous albergues, the windows were all closed and central heating was switched on. But since it was only the two of us in the room, the window was open during the night for some fresh air.

We’ve decided to leave early this morning. We were aware that many pilgrims will start their journey from Sarria today. We were not sure how available accommodation would be in Portomarin. And, I must admit, we’ve also wanted to avoid big groups of pilgrims on the road … after 3 weeks of solitude on the way, we were trying to see for how long we can keep it like this ☺️

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Up and about before sunrise

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The first part of today’s journey was through ancient woodlands

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It promised to be another fine day, but in the early morning, there were still some mist around which meant we had to keep our jackets and gloves on

Once the sun came out, we took off our jackets and gloves – so glad we’ve packed these in our backpacks, they’ve became very handy on our Camino!

Since yesterday, I became aware of “something” in my left hiking sandal’s sole that was bothering me. I had a look last night, but could not found the culprit. Today it’s worse and I’ve started to worry that my sandals were at the end of their life time!

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This donkey was just adorable

We’ve been walking through small hamlets and saw more and more pilgrims. We were however still walking on our own and the appearance of more pilgrims did not really bothered us.

We’ve passed many streams and the high trees along the way ensured that we were most of the time protected against the sun.

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One of the many streams we’ve seen on our way

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Walking in the shade of big old trees

We knew that we would pass the 100km mark somewhere on the route today. We were on the lookout for this and actually saw two concrete markers about a kilometer from each other that indicated the 100km mark 😏. We took photo’s at both these markers, just to make sure we don’t miss them!

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100km to Santiago. One of the “Three wise men” took this photo!

And then, about 10km into our walk, my left foot became very uncomfortable and I had to stop and took my hiking sandals off. I could clearly saw a crack appearing on the inside which made a bubble right underneath my foot! I took a Compeed plaster (that I’ve used for my blisters) to “repair” my sandal’s sole … but 2km later, I had to stop again and add another Compeed plaster. Desperate times ask for desperate needs!!

But then, after 650km, my sandals had enough and I could no longer walk with them! For the first time in my 45 years, I’ve actually wore my shoes until they were fallen apart! The question was now what to wear! It was still another 8km to Portomarin and although ancient pilgrims sometimes walked barefoot, I did not foresee that as an option for me! I took my boots off Berto’s backpack and struggled them on, but after 500m, I had to stop again and took them off. The blisters that were busy heeling, did not respond well with my boots on …

My last option was to get my flip flops out … now, these are normally very comfortable to wear, but to walk 8km with them, could prove to be a challenge! At first it was nice for my toes to have some freedom to move around, but towards the end of the walk it became an absolute nightmare! I can honestly say, I was more than relieved when we’ve walked over the bridge into Portomarin!

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The bridge over the river Mino into Portomarin

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The steep staircase is part of the original medieval bridge across the river Mino

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The staircase leads up to this arch, which along with several other historic monuments, were all removed to the high ground around Portomarin when the dam was built in 1962

We’ve walked to Albergue Ultreia to stay there for the night. It is a private hostel and very neat. The “hospitaleros’ said we could bring our laundry to her for washing.

My first question was about a shop that might sell shoes … she said there was one in the center of town. We’ve immediately took off to the shoe shop … and to my surprise, I’ve found sandals that were almost the same as the one’s I’ve had! They fitted well, but I suspected there might be the possibility of new blisters …

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The old and the new …

We’ve had lunch in one of the restaurants next to the Romanesque church of San Nicolas XIIthC. When we’ve got back to the albergue, the hospitaleros was so friendly to hang our clothes out on the washing line … she probably saw my discomfort when we’ve asked for a shoe shop and decided to help out!

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Cerveza time – the best time of the day 😁

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The Romanesque church of San Nicolas XIIthC. This church was rebuilt stone by stone from its original site (which is now under water)

We’ve walked around the town of Portomarin and after we’ve taken a couple of photo’s and enjoyed the view over the river Mino, we’ve bought ingredients at the local shop to prepare dinner later that evening.

Berto made a delicious chicken paella in the kitchen of the albergue and we’ve relaxed with a bottle of Spain’s red wine.

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Berto’s chicken paella that could compete with the very best in Spain!

While we were preparing our food, a pilgrim from Japan walked into the kitchen. He had a piece of bread and “jamon” that he got from a farmer a few days ago … it sure did not look all that fresh … and we’ve invited him to share in our chicken paella. He happily accepted and we’ve spent the rest of the evening around the kitchen table.

He later told us that his dad past away a couple of months ago and that he then decided to walk the Camino in memory of his dad. He said that he initially only had enough money to buy his flight tickets. For the rest (accommodation and food), he was relying on his fellow pilgrims and the hospitality of the Spaniards.

And until now, more than 700km later, he was not disappointed by his fellowman. He thanked us that we, unaware of his circumstances, invited him for dinner tonight.

Lesson learnedShare with your fellowman … you never know what this might mean to that person

We went to bed that evening, thankful that we were able to go on this journey and to share with our fellowman.

Categories: Camino Frances (April 2017)

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