Published: September 13th 2010July 5th 2009
Santiago - WE MADE IT!!!
Sarria to Santiago de Compostela: 140.5km (Total 919.9km) Days 39 to 43
On the outskirts of Samos is when I met up with Mary Bell from Salamaca whose family breed cattle. She was 35 years old and worked as a private police officer within the ‘Terrorist of the Middle East’ projects. Ma-Bell came with two other girlfriends but has separated as they are too slow, but all meet up at the end of the day. We seemed to get along well enough and ended walking all the way to Santiago, having much fun along the way.
Leaving Sarria in the dawn light, we pass Monasterio da Madalena shining brightly against the dawn blue light. The day was excellent, walking in the cool day through tranquil woodlands. Helped Maribel with some pain relieve cream for her shoulders with great effect (borrowed a backpack from a friend and did not do much preparation, but is young and strong).
We are grateful for the low stone walkway built along the wide creek bed and stoped at the 100km to go marker.
Received cherries galore, a gift from a local lady near the house of flags (an Australian lives here Gordon Bell).
Leaving Sarria in the dawn light, we pass next to the ? Monasterio da Madalena.
we come to Portomarin with its modern long bridge over the Embalse de Belesar. To enter the town, we climb the stairs that lead to Chapel of Santa Maria de las Nieves. The stone arch over which it was constructed was part of the medieval bridge across the river Mino. Portomarin has a beautiful cobbled main street 'Rua Xeral Franco' with handsome stone colonnades; Plaza Conde Fenosa, has the 12th century Romanesque church of San Nicolas which has links with the Knights of Saint John. This church was rebuilt - the original place was under the Reservoir or Embalse de Belesar and towards the back of the town the trail passes by Parque Antonio Sanz and this quaint little church of Saint Peter or San Pedro witch has a beautiful Romanesque wooden doorway.
In the evening we had drinks at the restaurant and bar, here we met the local Australian Gordon Bell and his adopted son. I promised if I came back that I would bring him a flag for his ‘House of Flags’.
The next day he head towards Gonza in a cool and misty morning, seeing few ‘Horreos’ or store granaries made in ancient times. These Horreos were
Sarria to Portomarin - We are grateful for the low stone walkway built along the wide creek bed.
used to store the local harvest, primarily maize or corn to keep it our of reach of rodents and dry from the rain.
Towards Palas del Rei we climb up through tranquil woodlands, and a ridge beyond Ventas de Naron known as Sierra Ligonde at 750mt and passing by one of the oldest cruceros, dedicated to the cemetery of Pilgrims, the 17th century Wayside Cross, around Lameiros. Entering Palas del Rei is the Church of San Tirso with the cross of Santiago on the top spier. We had very good meals but the town was modern and very busy. Maribel and I nursed Virginia’s ulcerated toes from blisters.
The next day, we left early while the sun was still set. On our way to Rivadiso we were not sure of our way. We came across a statue of Santiago that helped to guide us when we were not sure which way to go, He was pointing the way and He was right!!!!!
While still in the area of Lugo, the trail through dense woodlands was very beautiful yet again and at Cornixa, we entered the province of A Coruna from Lugo. In Furelos, we rested and got a stamp in
Sarria to Portomarin - Guard dog on stand by.
Parroquia San Juan, it houses the unusual Christ sculpture with right arm unpinned from the cross.
A stop at Melide where the Octopus dish ‘Pulpo a la Gallega’ is a must try!!!!!! Well worth the try, as we even got to watch how they cook and prepared the dish. The town however was a bit busy and smelly.
On this day we had about six water courses to cross and the many stone bridges were very helpful to not get our boots wet. Through the lovely forest trails we started finding several flower arrangements along the trail, later we found out they were made by Henry from S. Africa.
Staying in Rivadiso was a good choice; we got to stay with our growing number of pilgrim friends in the same albergue. The weather was warm to hot and the albergue grounds were just by the river were all pilgrims sat out in the sun, while some brave ones got their legs wet in the very cold water. It was just a well because the regular users (local cows) came later crossing the river and under the medieval stone bridge relaxing and doing their business in the waters before going home.
Sarria to Portomarin - 100km to go!!!
On our way to Pedruzco, we crossed trails full of Eucalyptus trees, a very welcoming and familiarity feel to the area, and then we came across Henry, working at his ‘Trail Art’. We also came across several pilgrim memorials such as Memorial for William Watt, pilgrim who died aged 69 in 1993 and was related to our friend Ron from the US.
Towards the second half of the trail we got quite a bit of rain and we were all happy to finally reach Pedruzco. We sat out of rain, waiting for the Albergue to open; Marta and brother (Madrid), Begonia (Australia), Maria y Miguel (Barcelona), Monseg (Mexico), Rachel (Madrid), and Maribel (Extremadura). This albergue was huge, with hundreds of beds and were all happy to get a dry bed.
By this time in the game my feet were no longer mine, I put the pains away at the back of my mind as I had done over the last few weeks. In reality I have been walking faster and longer to get it over due to the pain. Being our last day and everyone wanting to reach Santiago for the 11am Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral, we all got
Sarria to Portomarin - Getting some refreshing cool water.
up at 6.30 am for an early morning start. It was so dark that for the first time I required a head lamp and met pilgrims waiting at areas along the trail for other pilgrims with light. Before arriving to Monte de Gozo we experienced some of the most beautiful sunrises and areas where the light was above the low clouds that draped the lowlands. Alas, it was around here I could not go on due to the pain and thought I would have to get assistance for the last kilometres after coming so far. Maribel stayed with me, while we stopped at a café shop and a lady gave us a bucked with cold water as we requested. When she came to check and found that I had a large blister under my left great toe, she gave advice of how to thread it with cotton. I already knew about this and was waiting to get some relieve from the cold waters, but thanked her all the same. After the treatment I managed to continue but at a slower pace.
Stopped at Monte del Gozo Monument. It was the ancient hill that pilgrims could see the first glimpses of
Sarria to Portomarin - Another difficult stony track section.
the Cathedral, now it is difficult to see anything due to the tree growth and city sprawl. Still, it was an achievement.
By 11.15 we arrive at the Plazo Obradoiro and faced Santiago Cathedral. What an achievement, about 1,000km in total and only one blister on the last day! One did not care that it was not possible to walk any more, yet we still had to go find accommodation. Oh well, a few more steps won’t matter!
We all met up for the Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral and were rewarded with the Botafumeiro services; we got to watch it close up including the many rope pullers.
The history is long in Santiago, but one goes that pilgrims would touch their brow to that of Maestro Mateo. There is a deep hand in print upon the stone of ‘Tree of Jesse’ at the Entrance of Glory made by the millions of pilgrims placing their hands upon the same spot.
There are more photos below