CAMINO FRANCES – Big Cities (6)

SARRIA (Spain) … and food

We have noticed something that totally surprised us when we wanted to put this post together. Two (no, three) things were noticeable:

  1. At this stage in our Camino Frances, we opted to overnight in the smaller villages and just quickly walked through the bigger towns/cities,
  2. We have started to take less photos (and especially so in big cities),
  3. For the first time, we actually made a point of taking photos of our food.

And the reason? I think we got tired! By the time we reached Sarria, we have walked for 24 days continuously and covered more than 600km.

Therefore, for the purpose of this post, to show cast our 6th big city on the Camino Frances, we will concentrate more on the beautiful landscapes on our way to the next big city, Sarria. And then we will conclude with a whole bunch of food pictures (after all, this is one of the features of our blog). Thus, brace yourself (or grab something from the fridge before you start to read)!

Just a reminder, in case you have missed the other five cities, you can find the posts here:

  • Pamplona – after more than three weeks of walking, it now feels like a lifetime ago that we started our Camino Frances in this beautiful city. You can read about our first big city on the Camino here.
  • Logroño – the city that is synonymous for parties, because of all those tapas bars in one street! You can read about Logroño here.
  • Burgos – we will have to go back to give justice to this city. We only saw its beautiful cathedral and then moved on. You can read about Burgos here.
  • León – we had enough energy to explore this city thoroughly (well, at least the old part of the city). And we ended the day by watching the Easter processions. You can read about León here.
  • Astorga – we arrived here on Good Friday, which was perfect for the grand finale of Easter processions. And to our dismay we missed the Chocolate Museum! You can read about Astorga here.

Walking from Astorga to Sarria took us 6 days and 148 km. Get your hiking shoes, because we’re going to walk on some beautiful pathways:

Day 19: Rabanal del Camino (21.4km):

As mentioned in our previous post, we are now done with the Meseta (the flat plains of the Camino Frances) and on our way to the mountains. On this day, we could see the snow-covered mountains in the distance. The early mornings were extremely cold, but we had lovely warm days.

(You can read about the hiking of Day 19 here)

Day 20: Molinaseca (26.5km):

This was (yet another) favourite day on the Camino Frances. It was a mountainous hike full of challenges, but so beautiful. We also reached the highest point on the Camino Frances, La Cruz de Ferro with a symbolic meaning.

Leaving Rabanal del Camino early morning – beautiful sunrise colours, but very cold

At La Cruz de Ferro

(You can read about the hiking of Day 20 here)

Day 21: Villafranca (30.9km):

On this day, we have actually walked through a city. Ponferrada is the second most populated municipality of the Province of León and can technically be our 6th big city on the Camino. But we passed through quickly and only saw the castle (Knights Templar’s Grand Master of Castille) for a brief moment.

Walking through the medieval city gates of Ponferrada

What we did see for almost the entire day, was the one vineyard after the other! You could taste wine in almost every little town … but with a heavy heart, we decided not to be tempted. Today was one of the longest stages – we had to cover 30km and we knew if we started to taste wine, we might not reach Villafranca!

Vineyards on our way to Villafranca

We were hot and bothered when we reached Villafranca. It was a long day on our feet … but Villafranca had something special in store for us. Opposite our albergue was a river and we did not waste any time to dip our feet into the cold water!

Medicine for tired feet

(You can read about the hiking of Day 21 here)

Day 22: O Cebreiro (30.1km):

Is it possible to enjoy a day where you will walk 30km, of which the last 7km are all uphill? I thought I’d never say it, but walking up the mountain to O Cebreiro was just magical! The scenery on the uphill was beautiful and the views on top of the mountain spectacular!

Berto on a very steep part of the mountain

Here I am, trying to find my way between rocks on the mountain pathway

The view – from the top of the mountain

(You can read about the hiking of Day 22 here)

Day 23: Triacastela (21.3km):

After the previous day of walking uphill, this day was pure tranquility. We enjoyed natural pathways, miles away from traffic or people … although we did encounter a very persistent old lady that wanted to sell her pancakes to us!

(You can read about the hiking of Day 23 here)

Day 24: Sarria (18.7km):

The good news was that the road to Sarria was uphill for only a couple of kilometers and from there it was all downhill to the city. Once again, we had lovely views and walked alone without seeing any pilgrims … sometimes this was needed on a day when all you wanted to do was to enjoy the scenery.

Crossing a small stream

Such a beautiful hiking trail

(You can read about the hiking of Day 24 here)

Sarria:

Sarria is the most populous town on the Camino Frances in the province of Galicia. What makes this city so popular on the Camino Frances is the fact that if you choose to start your Camino here, you will cover the necessary kilometres (100km) to receive a Compostela (pilgrim certificate).

Reaching the city of Sarria

There was a hustle and bustle in the city on our arrival. The city was filled with pilgrims that just arrived to start their Camino. From here it is only 5 days of walking in order to reach the ultimate place, namely Santiago de Compostela. This might be the reason why we don’t really have photos of Sarria … it was just so busy! We were fortunate to find a really nice albergue with a lovely terrace. It was much better and quieter here than in the city streets.

The terrace of the albergue

We were ready for lunch, but it was quite a search for an open table at one of the many restaurants. After walking up and down the streets a couple of times, we finally managed to find a spot. After lunch, we walked to a viewpoint from where we could see part of Sarria. We then found some back streets which took us back to our albergue where we spent the rest of the afternoon.

Viewpoint in Sarria

A (quiet) back street in Sarria

For the last 6 days, we have only seen our fellow pilgrim friends on a few occasions. And we were really surprised (and happy) to find the group of three men from the USA/Korea at our albergue. We spent the evening with them on the terrace, drinking a few glasses of wine with a spectacular view over the Church of Saint Marina.

Church of Saint Marina

Food

As promised, here is a gallery of (some) of the food we enjoyed on the stretch from Astorga to Sarria. Let’s just say, we did not go hungry (or thirsty)!

A proper breakfast in Murias de Rechivaldo, on the morning that we left Astorga

Ham & cheese toastie for Berto and I’m with my favourite, Spanish lemon cake … just before we started to walk up the mountain to O Cebreiro

Berto preferred pasta in O Cebreiro

Warm apple pie and café con leche – on our way to Triacastela

On the way to Sarria it was once again time for Spanish lemon cake and Empanada pie

And lastly, a bottle of Spanish wine on the terrace of our albergue in Sarria

We hope you have enjoyed this ‘unusual’ edition of big cities on the Camino Frances. Hiking trails through beautiful landscapes and delicious Spanish food … you can’t ask for much more!

Our next big city, is the grand finale on the Camino Frances … Santiago de Compostela. We are looking forward to share this city with you!

36 thoughts on “CAMINO FRANCES – Big Cities (6)

  1. I couldn’t help but laugh at your transition from taking a lot of pictures of the big cities to your food! Priorities! I love the rural scenery. Good for you for staying strong and avoiding the wine, especially after being tempted by hiking through the vineyards all day. It must have been so strange to go from walking in the quiet countryside for several days to arriving at a busy city.

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    1. Haha Linda 😄 … it was just so much better on the feet to SIT and take photos than to WALK and take photos! And we all need food and beer to continue walking long distances, don’t we? The rural areas of the Camino Frances is probably the very best of this walk. But next time, we’re going back to spent a couple of months on the Camino (and a couple of weeks in the vineyards)! The cities were actually our least favourite part of the Camino – though it’s beautiful in its own way, it was just way too busy!

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  2. Ha ha, walking and wine..I agree they don’t mix. Your transition from the flat land to mountains emphasizes how very far you walked. What an accomplishment. I would love to be able to boast of such a walk but my feet would have protested and it takes real courage to walk when your feet are raw. And you did it with a smile! That is dedication indeed. I love the idea of bringing stones to place at that cross. I noticed there were a lot so I assume this is what many people do? What a nice idea. You have really had it all on this journey, flat, steep, freezing cold and tremendous heat. I don’t wear a hat but if I did I would take it off to you!

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    1. And there were so many beautiful wineries! Maybe we should just go back and stay a week in that area 😉. Oh yes, I think most of the pilgrims carry a stone with them to find a final place at La Cruz de Ferro (one should just make sure it’s a small stone … you know). And whether you’re religious or not … it’s a place filled with emotions. It’s amazing, looking back, at how the scenery changed from Pamplona up to this point in Sarria – it’s actually hard to believe that we have done it. Thanks Carolyn, I appreciate your nice comments.

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  3. I mean to backtrack some time and catch up with your other cities (I got behind with my reading during and immediately after my holiday) Meanwhile this post captures the feel of your Camino very well and I enjoyed hearing about Sarria 🙂

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    1. I’m sure you’re still on a ‘high’ after your Nepal visit (I can only imagine how many lovely photos you brought back home with you)! Yes, I think you’re right about this post … it shows the amazing natural pathways and the delicious food! Definitely covering the very best of the Camino – hiking and eating!

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    1. We were never really hungry while walking…but oh, as soon as we reached our destination for the day, I was ready to feast on the fine food of Spain 😉. It’s a strange feeling when you reach about the 600km mark … your body wants you to just stop moving, but in your heart you still want to keep going for weeks! Thanks for taking the time to read more about our Camino cities Marion, have a great day 🌸.

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    1. Teen die tyd wat ons by Sarria gekom het, was ek poegaai! Maar tog wou ek ook nie he dit moet ophou nie 😉. Ek wens ek kon my gedagtes en herinneringe in foto’s omsit … maar jy’s reg, die herinneringe is vir altyd daar (Berto se egter, as ek voorstel ons moet vir ‘n paar weke gaan stap, ek vergeet gou hoe seer my voete was). Dit is dus dalk waar: Mens onthou net die goeie en vergeet die slegte!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments Tricia. It’s amazing when you think at the beginning of the Camino just how LONG this journey is … and then suddenly, a couple of weeks later, you walked 600km! Oh yes, I kinda of think all that food was indeed well-deserved 🌸.

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  4. Wow, the medieval city gates of Ponferrada are a sight to behold. I enjoyed all your food photos, it is always interesting to see what’s available in other countries and given how much you walked and hiked, all the cakes were well deserved! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. Many pilgrims overnight in Ponferrada, but we chose to stay in the quieter town of Molinaseca. As we walked through Ponferrada, we realised just how beautiful it is (and there’s so much history in this city) … maybe next time 😉. We love the authentic food of a country, but on our Camino we literally just had a lot of soup, bread and chips … all the unhealthy stuff, but it filled us quickly (especially after a long walk)! As for the cakes – you can never really have enough of those, can you? Thanks for reading Aiva en have a great day 🌸.

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    1. The countryside is beautiful … and to see how much it changed over the 600km up to Sarria, was even more amazing. I agree, the medieval gates in Ponferrada was special to see – I think if we had overnight here, we would have been able to take some great photos!

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  5. It’s one magic photo after another. It is an impressive feat what you did, no wonder you felt a bit tired on this leg of your pilgrimage. I love that first photo from, or on your way, to Molinaseca with the lovely sky and a stone cottage on the side of the road. I cannot believe you walked 30km in a day, the last 7 all uphill. You do need all that food after such exertions, and indulging in food, beer and wine is essential after such long walks. I bet the cold beer never tasted better than on those days. There’s an absolute magic in your pilgrimage and your posts on the journey are very inspiring. Much more so in my opinion that the Martin Sheen film ‘The Way’.

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    1. Oh bless you Leighton! Thank you so much for your kind comments … to be compared to the movie ‘The Way’ is pretty special! That sunrise photo on the way to Molinaseca was such a surreal moment. We stopped at that exact spot for a few minutes to just embrace the moment. Yes, that 30km day to O Cebreiro was a tough one … but surprisingly also one of our favourite days on the Camino! Ha, after every beer I said “this has to be the best beer ever” … only to repeat the same sentence the next day! It sure was a wonderful prospect after every day’s walk!

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    1. It was hard to believe that we had walked this far … it’s actually unimaginable! When we finally walked into Santiago after 29 days and 720km, I cried like a little girl (happiness/relief … and yes, of aching feet)!

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  6. I don’t know how you walked uphill that far!!! I would have broken my ankle on some of those trails. I’m happy you posted food, of course, but was surprised they eat French fries for breakfast. I don’t know why I’m surprised, it’s a potato, but I have never seen them eaten for breakfast here.

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    1. I don’t know either! I think after more than two weeks of continuous walking, you are just fit enough to tackle a steep hill like that! Oh, we have French fries too here in SA for breakfast (though, now that I’m thinking of it, not necessarily at home, but mostly in restaurants).

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  7. Amazing 👏🏼👏🏼 that the two of you could walk for 24 days continuously. I thoroughly enjoy joining you on these beautiful pathways with its mountainous hike, thank you for sharing Corna🌸💕I will have to take your word that the food was delicious ☺️ the food looks really good in the pictures. Spectacular post!

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    1. Thank you very much Henrietta 🌻. I’m so happy you are enjoying our Camino journey through one the most beautiful parts of Spain. Although the mountainous stretches were tough, it was probably the most beautiful days on the hike. As for the food, I actually think any food will taste delicious after a long day’s hike 😀. We were so hungry after each day and I remember we always said to each other that this must be the best plate of food on the Camino … just to say it again the next day! Thank you for your continued interest in our Camino – not long to go now, because in our next post we are finally reaching Santiago de Compostela!

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