PORTOMARIN – SAN XULIAN
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. We however decided to walk an extra 3.5km to San Xulian because we just enjoy the smaller villages more than the bigger towns.
Because we have to cover almost 30km today, we 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 … we could only hear our own footsteps. For the first time on the Camino, I made sure to walk very close to Berto and every now and then I would peek over my shoulder to see if there was someone behind me.
Misty conditions in the woodlands
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 needed them the most! However, 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 came to 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 walked away … who would think that I could get teary over a pair of hiking sandals.
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 left the forest behind us, it was still misty and cold. We knew that it would get hot later in the day, but for now we were still dressed in our warm jackets and gloves.
Misty conditions on the Camino
A bit of an uphill 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. We 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 cold misty morning.
On our way to Gonzar in bright sunny weather
When the mist disappeared, the sun warmed us up quickly. One could almost not believe it was so cold earlier this morning. We made sure we had enough water to drink to stay hydrated.
The shady trees were welcome, on our way to Ligonde (an ancient hamlet)
We were starting to see more and more structures that almost looks like tiny little houses built on pillars or concrete 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’. In the earlier days, 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 also said, with a hint of a smile towards Berto, that these days they can also be used to house mothers-in-law).
For the next few days, we saw many of these ‘horreos’ in different shapes and sizes all over Galicia.
A typical Galician horreo
At around lunchtime, we walked into a blazing hot Palas de Rei. We were contemplating whether we should walk on to San Xulian as originally planned or rather look for an albergue here in Palas de Rei. We decided to first stop at a restaurant to have lunch and then see how we feel – stay or walk on?
After a delicious lunch, a few cold drinks and a rest in the shade, we were ready to walk the last 3.5km to San Xulian.
As we left Palas de Rei, we crossed the main road and I saw the first road sign that indicates 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 after you have already walked 26km (and it’s hot), it can feel like forever! And even more so, when there’s a steep uphill to San Xulian!
It was a wonderful moment when we walked into the tiny village of San Xulian and found Albergue O Abrigadoiro. It’s a small albergue with only 18 beds, but very neat and clean. Across the road is a restaurant/bar and we enjoyed probably the best beer ever (yes, I know I have probably said this a 100 times during our Camino)!
In San Xulian at Albergue O Abrigadoiro – it was a long and hot day
We were the first pilgrims to check in (most pilgrims have probably stopped in Palas de Rei for the day). The hospitalero allocated a room with 2 bunk beds to us. And bonus – we also had our own bathroom! 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 the only traffic are cows walking in the streets … for us, this is the Camino.
We were happy that we decided to walk to San Xulian and enjoyed the company and many stories of our hospitalero. We also had a great dinner in the restaurant and slept uninterrupted in our own room!
Sunset in San Xulian