DAY 26


PORTOMARIN – SAN XULIAN

22 APRIL

28.3km

Today’s stage was a bit further than other days. According to Brierley’s guide book, the stage could end in Palas de Rei for the day on 24,8km. But we’ve decided to walk an extra 3.5km to San Xulian because we’ve enjoyed the smaller villages more than the big towns.

Because we’ve had almost 30km to cover today, we’ve once again started to walk before sunrise. At the start of the route, the track went through a woodland. It was misty and dark … and very quiet between the trees … you could only hear our footsteps. For the first time on the Camino, I’ve made sure to walk right behind Berto and every now and then I would peek over my shoulder to see if someone was coming …

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A walk in misty conditions through the woodlands … spooky!

I was walking with my new hiking sandals this morning – comfortably I must add. My old sandals were in my backpack – I just could not throw them away yesterday. Normally I don’t get too emotionally attached to my possessions, but these sandals helped me walking for almost 650km when I’ve needed them the most! But they do add extra weight to my backpack (and I could not see that Berto would be very impress if I hung them at the back of his backpack together with my boots …).

As I was wondering what I should do with them, we’ve walked passed a tree surrounded by a lot of deserted “pilgrim stuff” … I thought this might be the perfect “resting place” for my old hiking sandals. I was hoping it won’t be seeing as garbage and that I am not polluting the forest – it just seemed so perfect to leave them there. I was a little sad when I’ve walked away … who would think that I could get teary over a pair of hiking sandals 🤔

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My old Cape Union Mart hiking sandals from South Africa found a “forever place” in a forest in Spain

As the day break and we’ve walked out of the forest, it was still misty and cold. We knew that it would get hot later in the day, but for now we were still in our warm jackets and gloves.

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Where is this road going – misty conditions on the Camino

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A bit of an up hill early in the morning

As the mist was clearing and the sun came out, we could feel the warmth returning to our bodies. It changed into a beautiful morning and we were happy to be on the road again. We’ve stopped in Gonzar at a café next to the road for a hot coffee and “bocadillo” (sandwich). There were many pilgrims here that had the same idea and we were enjoying the sunshine after the misty morning.

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On our way to Gonzar in bright sunny weather

As soon as the mist gave way to the sun, it started becoming hot. You could almost not believe that it was so cold earlier this morning. Fortunately, we’ve made sure we had enough water to drink to stay hydrated.

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We were now appreciating the shade of the trees along the road – on our way to Ligonde, an ancient hamlet

We were starting to see more and more buildings that almost looked like tiny little houses build on pillars or concreted on walls. We were trying to figure out what use these could have.

Later that evening, at our albergue, the hospitaleros told us that it is called a “horreo”. It was used to store and dry granary and build this way to prevent access by rodents. Ventilation is then allowed by the slits in its walls. (He said, with a hint of smile, that these days they can also be used where their mothers-in-law can stay – I think he was joking 😅).

We’ve seen many of these horreos in different shapes and sizes all over Galicia.

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A typical Galician horreo

At around lunchtime, we’ve walked into Palas de Rei. By now it was hot and we were contemplating whether we should walk on to San Xulian as originally planned or look for an albergue here in Palas de Rei. We’ve decided to first stop at a restaurant to have lunch and a cold drink.

After we’ve eaten and rest a while in the shade, we’ve felt ready to walk the last 3.5km to San Xulian.

As we’ve left Palas de Rei, we’ve crossed the main road and I saw the first road sign that indicated Santiago as a destination. It was only 65km to Santiago with the main road – less than an hour’s drive with a car, but 3 days of walking for us!

When you think about walking 3.5km, it does not sound that far. But when this is the distance you need to cover at the end of a long and hot day, it can feel like forever! And even more so, when there’s a steep up hill to San Xulian!

It was a good moment when we’ve walked into San Xulian and found Albergue O Abrigadoiro– a small albergue with only 18 beds, but very neat and clean. Across the road is a restaurant/bar and we’ve enjoyed the best beer ever!

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Yippy! We’ve arrived in San Xulian after a long and hot day at Albergue O Abrigadoiro

We were the first pilgrims to check in (most pilgrims would anyway have stopped in Palas de Rei for the day). The hospitalero allocated a room with 2 bunk beds to us. And we’ve also had our own bathroom – what a bonus! About 10 more pilgrims arrived towards the evening, but they were in a separate room.

San Xulian is your classical Camino village. There is just a couple of houses, a 12th century church and cows walking in the streets … but for us, this was the Camino.

We were glad that we’ve decided to walk to San Xulian and enjoyed the company and many stories of our hospitalero. We’ve also had a great dinner in the restaurant and slept uninterrupted in our own room!

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Sunset in San Xulian

Categories: Camino Frances (April 2017)

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