Villa Franca – La Laguna = 26,5 km (Day 29)
Ricardo left Villa Franca after having wandered around a little while to find the correct way as it was not clear.
After a lady from a balcony guided us in the right direction, we were actually not going to see each other for the rest of the day. There were two different ways, one up a VERY steep mountain pass and the other along the road. Ricardo wanted to take it easy and I wanted the mountain. We split up and wished each other a good day.
The first 1-2 km was the steepest I have ever walked in my life. It literally went up more than 20-25% I am sure. Pheeeeeeew…….!
It was a beautiful mountain and walk although tough as nails! It was also a long one as it took about 3 hours to cross it. When descending again I was of course curious if I would bump into Ricardo when reaching the road..
I actually thought I had gone the wrong way, but fortunately I ended up in Trabadelo and on track along the road. No, Ricardo was not to be seen and I walked by myself for sometime. I later saw a familiar person in front of me and quickened my pace to catch up with my friend Troels from Denmark. We walked the rest of the day together and we talked thick and thin about all that we had not gotten into yet as well as many things from home our mutual experience from school and much more.
Some of the steepest ascents was found today and it was not over yet, up to La Faba and what would be our final destination for the day La Laguna was some of the toughest climbs I have had and then it was all on the same day – it was grueling and when we got to La Laguna I caught myself in throwing in 1 Euro to a vending machine and chugging down a soft drink faster than I could breath… I/we was DONE for the day!
Troels was as well. We had our own bed tonight, meaning no bunk bed which was nice. I was so tired, it had been a very long and tough day, where it felt like half of the day had been used on walking upwards.
Besides a dinner and a conversation with a really nice guy from Romania, I just wanted to sleep, but where was Ricardo – was it possible he had made it up here today?
La Laguna – Samos = 33,5 km (Day 30)
I woke up early, I wanted to get a move on and it was a beautiful way to wake up walking upwards in the mountains as the sun rose. It was a pretty sight and I sat down to enjoy it.
The top of the mountain was O Cebreiro and as I went through the few stone buildings and houses here, I passed a bar where I saw tons of backpacks outside. One stood out and to my surprise Ricardo was here, wow – he had walked further than me yesterday… yes, again… I was like “how is this possible?”.
I turned left as I saw that and walked in and the first person I saw at the end of a long table having breakfast, was Ricardo. He reacted with a look to the side like he could not believe this and we were both happy to see each other again.
I joined him and had an enjoyable update as well as break fast.
We walked down the mountain together and talked as we always did. You know, Ricardo is and was one of those special people… we could talk about everything and supported each other when necessary and were very loyal to one another. I got so much respect and love for Ricardo, he is a great friend and loved our time together on this voyage because we were together from start to finish.
It was enjoyable and the views were amazing… it was today that we officially entered the region of Galicia when passing the peak of O Cebreiro and a spectacle of beauty when it came to the terrain.
Santiago is the capital of Galicia, which has 4 provinces.
A last little knuckle of a hill was the last major ascent the rest of the trip, but also a tough one to test you a last time. Here, we enjoyed some orange juice, mingled with some other pilgrims and found a celebrity of The Camino – or, at least one from my guide book.
Moving on and onward to Triacastela. It was going down the entire time, but it continued to be so beautiful and it was tough to believe you were seeing what you were.
Mountains as far as the eyes could see, green fields, cows grassing and…. yes, just a union of nature was present the entire time.
In the bottom, just before Triacastela, we encountered the famous chest nut tree.
It was time for a break and so we did. We were not finished for the day yet though, we wanted to continue to Samos. It had been a long day so far, but I guess we just wanted more of it. It was also here, we began to have longer days time wise as well and about all days from here on end we first rocked up at the albergues at 5-6 pm in the afternoon.
We continued and besides a couple of breaks we did get to Samos, but it was again one of those times where you in now way could trust the signs of how far there was left.
Lastres, was the village before Samos and as the sign indicates, you are aparently not allowed to take a shit here 🙂
It was quite a funny sign to see as I guess they maybe have a lot of pilgrims doing that out in the open as a last option.
I reached Samos first and Ricardo and a German girl he had met the day before was along. It took some time before they came, which game me time to enjoy the peaceful place that Samos was.
We got a chance to sleep in a big one room albergue connected to the big and very ancient monastery, which was a nice experience.
We had another bench-meal where we had bought some bread, tomatoes, cheese and wine to enjoy the evening out. Here, we were joined by Niklas from Germany and another German who was at Albergue Verde as well. Niklas had actually stopped walking, because of immense pain in his legs a few days ago and arrived here on a bicycle as he wanted to finish!
That was how the day went and sleeping was next…
Samos – Portomarín = 37,7 km (Day 31) (could have been way of 40+km)
Due to information from our two companions in front; Steffen and Daniela, we about knew when they would enter Santiago. We had a great desire to catch up with them, so since we “only” had 130+ km left we would make this a long day to make it all the way to Santiago in 4 days.
We walked and walked… and about 15 km later we entered Sarria, which is a significant point on The Camino. Here, there are just a little over 100 km left, which means that many pilgrims actually begin their trek into Santiago from here, because you need to have walked at least 100 km to receive the official Compostella diploma in Santiago.
I got in front of Ricardo once again and awaited him right outside the pilgrim office here. We went into the city and here we got bread and stuff to make what became our famous meals on the trip; home made bocadillios.
We walked on… and while I knew we saw a lot that day and went through many villages I know that we just walked and walked and walked… We must have gotten to around or over 40 km that day and it was about to be felt in our lower extremities. We wanted a different day today, Ricardo said that he had not carried his 2 kg tent for nothing and not use it.
This meant that as we got into the village Ferreiros and the albergue there, that had some familiar faces instead of checkin-in, we just had a pilgrim menu and walked on after to find a spot for the tent.
We were ABSOLUTLY SMASHED! – and we had yet to find a spot to camp… I have never had so much pain in my legs before and we literally humped our way there, almost dragging our led-like bodies along. We were right in the middle of nothing, fields all around and Portomarín getting closer. We were in the small hills right before the town, and we saw a patch of green far over on the right side, and we eventually found a spot to begin setting up the tent for the night.
It was as painful of a trial to get the tent up as it probably was to observe us do it, I am sure… not pretty and not fun at all. We walked around like old men who had taken a serious shit in their pants, our legs were SO out of it and now we had to sleep in what was a VERY small two person tent.
But you know… we had a lot of fun. It was just before 9pm and early, but when we were trying to get comfortable and get some needed rest we had a good time, laughing at it all. I was happy I had brought an inflatable air madras, although it does not work that well, when you have camped on a spot that is not totally flat. I scooted down the entire night and like a worm had to crawl back up and lay for a while again until I would have to do the same again… anyway… rest was possible and we must have been tired because we slept for a long time.
(We got the stamp in the morning at a bar registered to give stamps for Portomarín)
Portomarín – Ligonde = 15,6km (Day 32)
We slept until it got light outside and it was first after 8am we began getting ready and begin the walk down to Portomarín. It was a beautiful place, all white buildings enclosed by a large and wide river, a very pretty sight from anywhere you were.
It was a nice place, calm and peaceful even though it was a larger town. Today they had a market so after a little breakfast we gathered some fruit for the day and began to walk on.
We were recovering from the day before and it was not going to be that much fun today and it did not take a long time before we had to accept that getting to Santiago in just 3 days would not be possible with the condition we were in.
But… pain and suffering is very much a part of this journey and we all we can do is to take that one leg in front of the other and so we did… just a little slower than all other days 🙂
We walked slow and waited for each other a lot. Took longer breaks and were definitely not in a hurry to move on from the places we sat down to save and build extra energy.
We literally did not have much energy, it was consumed by all the pain we were in, we was taught a lesson and were feeling the symptoms from it.
Nevertheless we had our usual fun and good conversation and we also struck up a conversation with a pair of pilgrims who were on bicycles having been in Portugal and were going to Germany. They had a blind passenger, literally… in a dog that was blind that they took care of – as they meant that this is a life worth saving.
We move on, but also moving closer to making a decision of looking for an albergue. I really was done walking for the day and we both needed rest. As we went into Ligonde, we found a donation based albergue that was an Evangelica albergue founded by an American who had started this because he believed as many has, that The Camino had been commercialized way too much.
Ricardo and me got the very last two spots and here we were around the Brazilian brigade as I began to call them and others we had seen along the path.
It was an evening with a lot of social focus and it was nice because the volounteers there, really wanted to make something out of it for the pilgrims and make the focus on the present and day be to share stories and much more and it all made for a very special evening. I believe we must have been more than 25 pilgrims eating at the same time, sharing fun stories and enjoying the company of one another.
I made everyone laugh with the Piere Story from our 3rd day and besides the amazing food, it was another special evening… interestingly enough those usually happens and happen with a bunch of other people…
Ligonde – Mélide = 23.6 km (Day 33)
Up and about at 7 am-ish and onward. It was misty and a little cool, but nice.
My legs were definitely better than yesterday and my belief was that so was Ricardo´s.
We were getting closer and closer to Santiago and while in the back of our minds that was obvious, it was all normal and without change. The way of life as a pilgrim was natural and in rhythm now.
We were not walking that fast and while it was probably a mix of being a little tired it was also a feeling that taking it easy was all okay and enjoyable too…
The first main stop we did was when we got to Palas de Rei. Here, we as so many times before encountered familiar faces and people. We both wanted something to eat and wanted to create one of our bocadillio´s so we got stuff for that to make. I also needed a new notebook and a pen, so I got that fixed to make sure I had content for this very day to share with YOU ALL 🙂
After a great bocadillio as always, we began walking… We were about to get lost one time because we missed a marker, but got on path again.
Today became an average day distance-wise. Ricardo was still struggling with his feet and walking slower, but was still pushing through… I gladly waited for him – I would not leave my friend behind now when we had been together for so long and now were so closer to the finish line.
I was having a break right in front of the monument above. I had an orange and pondered that here, in what was a bit of an industrial area, once was knights galloping around fighting with swords to defend pilgrims on this path, hmm…
This was right when we were getting below the 50 km before Santiago. Wow… it was really close now!
We shortly after got to Mélide. It was some tough last kilometers and we were happy that we had finished the day. Later after we had relaxed been having a nice shower and so on, we wanted to get some food. Ricardo did not want to walk far, because of his feat, and we walked way further than he wanted around this town where we could not really find anything to eat.
We eventually found something and talked about the current situation, how we felt and so on. Because there were much going on in between both of us for many different reasons and it was really nice to have each other as support.
A walk back and then we were both ready to get some needed rest.
Only two days left now before reaching Santiago de Compostella…
Mélide – Pedrouzo = 33,2 km (40+) (Day 34)
It was unsure how today would go as Ricardo was gingerly walking out of Mélide next to me. We were both doing fine as we got into the rhythm and not long after we stopped for a break to stock up on the inner energies as well as gather some for later on.
What was a fun experience was that a girl who had been walking with the Brazilian Brigade told us that SOMEONE HAD SEEN PIERE??? We could not believe it, although when she told us about who it might be and the story behind her revelation, it was clear that it was not him as the person believe to have seen him was not around the people we were.
It was just so funny that this rumor and phantom person and idea had been spread across The Camino and other people than us were looking for him! 🙂 Fun stuff indeed!
We walked on again and a little later we caught up with the Spanish girl Ricardo was with when I saw him just before going to Hospital de Orbigo. I walked on to the next bar as he wanted a little break and we met up there.
After we had taken a break he told me to just walk on as he needed a break and knew he would be much slower than I today.
Mélide, was also the town where The Northern Camino merged with The French Route. The Northern route follows the northern coast all the way from around the area of Pamplona and meets with The French route and the official Camino, which meant that a lot of new people were here now along with all the MANY others who have just started The Camino from Sarria.
All of a sudden the trail was slightly more crowded and while it was nice to meet knew people and so, it was rather odd to all of a sudden see SO many, especially ones who have only been walking for 1-2 days.
What was beautiful today was the comfortable path within forests and on gravel, which made it easy to walk. Along with that, John Lennon´s spirit also was around…
Pretty much the whole song was written in chapters on these blue buckets for a while. It was quite nice to read and be reminded of the truth and beauty John put into this song.
Ricardo and me had agreed to meet up in Salceda, but when I got there he never showed up. I let him know through a text message that I was here, and I walked from the bar I had stopped at and down to the only albergue there to ask if anyone had seen him, but nothing. I met the same Romanion guy from La Laguna and his girl friend and talked to them and had a break for more than an hour.
I decided to walk on and hope that I would see Ricardo tomorrow for our last walk together on The Camino, because that was his final stop.
In the text to Ricardo, I had told him that I would stop in Santa Irene, which was the next village. BUT… when I got there I was not liking the look and atmosphere, so I wrote him I would go to Pedrouzo.
It was already around 5.30 pm and late… so also knew that I could not take too long to find an albergue. I walked on and the most beautiful and tranquil forest I have ever been in came. It was an Eucalyptus forest and such a marvelous one.
I walked into it and right after saw a person sitting in there. I recognized that it was a girl I had seen earlier in the day and I said hello and sat down. We talked for a while and enjoyed the peace. You could not hear anything, and I actually thought of camping in here. Another German came this time a guy who I had also seen earlier. He was one of the people having walked the Northern Camino and he talked to us about that, how it was more remote, with more mountains, less people and albergues.
I stayed over an hour before I wanted to move on to Pedrouzo. I walked and saw the signs leading to the many different albergue´s. I saw the signs that pointed in the left direction and kept walking past them as I had not encountered the village yet.
I passed through another beautiful and bigger Eucalyptus forest and another, before I came back out on the other side and began to figure out that Pedrouzo was not coming
– I had missed it!!! I began to beat myself up – thinking how in the world could I MISS A VILLAGE???
I looked in the guide book and saw that there was at least another 10-12 km to the next albergue, but fortunately got to a hotel. I entered and asked for directions and was told that there was nothing for the next 10 or 12, but if you go back, Pedrouzo is “only” 3+ km away.
At that time I had already been on the road for about 12 hours and had walked close to 40km. I thought that I HAD to finish this with Ricardo and bit my own tongue, put my head down and began speed-walking like you have never seen before. Smashing through the trail and forests I had passed before – going really fast!
My legs were actually feeling surprisingly good and I enjoyed the intensity in them and in my muscles. I got to the spot with all the signs and began walking down the street with albergues in about all the directions you could think of.
(You probably ask yourself, how I could miss the village right? Well, this was the ONLY time on the entire trip, that you did not come through a village, but actually had to go off the trail in a way to get to the village. So, in the back of my mind I “knew” that the village would come as I would walk into it like always.)
I finally got to a nice one, checked-in, showered up and wrote Ricardo a message that I would wait for him in the forest after Pedrouzo tomorrow. I figured he must be behind me.
I went out to get some dinner and were drawn to a restaurant for good reason, because here I saw the Brazilian Brigade as well as Gale and David who was the famous father and son pair – David being almost blind and Gale his nice father with his great character invited me to join them.
I had a nice 3-course meal that was well deserved before I said my goodbyes to them and a little latr found myself in a new bed, the last time before hitting Santiago. Hopefully with my loyal companion Ricardo.
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