Homer's Travels: Camino De Santiago - Sarria To Portomarín

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Sarria To Portomarín

To receive your Compostela you are required to get two stamps in your pilgrim's credential each day after Sarria.  This isn't a difficult thing to do as every bar, restaurant, church, and albergue has a stamp.  If I collected all the stamps along the Camino I imagine I could have filled a dozen credentials. (I wonder if that's ever been done?)

I collected my first stamp of the day at a bar/restaurant/albergue a couple miles out of Sarria.  I bought a banana for the road (I always bought something when I got a stamp).

The Camino traveled through the countryside.  The Camino went through agricultureal areas mostly and this area was mostly cattle and dairy.  It was along here that I saw my first hórreos.  Hórreos are granaries raised on stilts for storing/drying grain and protecting the grain from rodents.  They are made of wood or concrete.  They are more decorative nowadays but they are a common sight in Galicia.  They became known as Oreos among the English speakers.

I took a picture of the 100 km marker (just about every pilgrim I saw there was getting their pictures taken with the marker).

I reached a bar and did something I rarely did - I stopped and ate (Tortilla, of course).  I usually just powered my way without stopping for food except for what I was carrying.  I probably could count all the times I stopped on one hand.

As you approach Portomarín the Camino drops fast down a hill - not easy on the knees - before you reach the bridge that takes you across the river Miño into town.  The town of Portomarín was flooded by the river when a reservoir was formed and many of the medieval buildings were moved stone by stone to the top of the hill where the new town of Portomarín is today.  Two bridges cross the river - one is an older, much lower bridge ( not used today) and the other, the one the pilgrims enter on, is a high, modern one.

As you enter the town pilgrims are directed up stairs (of course they are.)  These steps take you over the last remaining arch of the original medieval bridge.  I met GV at the top of the stairs and we walked up the hill to a nice private albergue.  We checked in and did chores.  The University of Michigan students I'd run into in Fromista were also staying here.

We went out to explore a bit.  Returning to the albergue we relaxed in the courtyard while we waited for a washer to become available.  Realizing that we didn't have enough coins for the machine I headed back to the downtown (which actually was down from the albergue) to find a place to get change.  I went to a grocery store that we'd stopped at earlier and bought a bag of red liqourice-like candy (but with a bit more sugar ... a lot more actually) and got the change we needed.  Then it was back up the hill.  I swear that hill got taller every time I climbed it.

That afternoon was one of those relaxed times when everything felt just right.  I sat in the common room composing my email back home with sweet French music in the background and everything took on a content glow.   I felt like I was in the right place at the right time.

When the stores and restaurants reopened in the evening, we found a place across from the Saint Nicholas church, a boxy but very interesting Romanesque building, to have dinner.  The 12th century church, built to be both a church and castle, is spartan but has a beauty all its own.  It dominates the town.

Day thirty-one would turn out to be a peak along my Camino.  The feel of the Camino would change after here.  The adventure would continue but my attitude would change.

Total Distance: 13.49 Miles (21.71 km)
Total Time: 5 hours 9 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 2,108 ft (642.52 m)
Total Elevation Down: 2,464 ft (751.03 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]

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