A detour to Samos…off the beaten track?
Today there is a choice of two routes to Sarria, both are equally pleasant although the Samos route is quieter. The choice is made as you leave Triacastela. Although the Samos route is longer it is easy walking for 11.2 km. Most of the others took the shorter more direct route to Sarria. We could have stayed at the Albergue of the monastery for 7 Euros each, but a private room in a near by hotel was only 15.
Walking thru some tiny villages with nothing but cow poop and a few houses you often see things like this.
This sign means more than 1 person actually pooped IN THE VILLAGE!!! That is what bathrooms are for people!
Mack and Neil…USA and UK…Prosecutor and Doctor…chalk and cheese, but almost constant companions on the walk.
Samos is dominated by the monastery founded in the 6th century by Saint Martin Dumiense, who was born in modern day Hungary. He became a monk when he traveled to the Holy Lands and then for unknown reasons traveled to Galicica where he spent his life converting the local population to Roman Catholicism, for which he was canonized.
We had a well deserved and very good menu of the day today contemplating how far we still have to go.
We went on a guided tour of the Benedictine monastery.
This statue is made of several rock types. The robes are of a special type that turn black when it rains to show he is a Benedictine monk.
This morning it is 12 km to Sarria until which there are no services. Because of this we had breakfast in the near by bar before we left. At Sarria we rejoin the usual route of the Way.
We had some rain walking into Sarria and had to don our ponchos again. This is a very nice looking place. The town and the route from here is traditionally very busy due to many pilgrims starting at this point. A lot of pilgrims use Sarria as their start point to walk into Santiago rather than hike some other arbitrary 100km or 5/7 days elsewhere along the Camino France. Secondly to receive a Compostela you have to walk at least the last 100km, or cycle the last 200km and this is a convenient location to travel to. That said we found a nice bar to get food and a grocery store to by lunch items for later. We saw almost no one else since it was mid morning by now. Also the last big wave of pilgrims had left St. Jean 2 weeks before us and had already arrived to Santiago.
“The 13th century Convent de la Magdalena grew from Italian pilgrims who founded a hermitage in the 12th century. During the 13th century it was reconstructed in the Plateresque style as an Augustinian Monastery. However this history is disputed and some believe it was founded by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, today however it is run by Mercedarian monks.” It looks closed, but there is a sign inside in Spanish that reads “if you want to visit the Monastery ring the bell and wait for a few minutes”. We did just that. The man who finally let us in asked if we wanted a sello or stamp, told us what to see, and asked us to make sure to shut the door on our way out.
After the 12 km to Sarria we decided to try and make it another 13.2 km to Ferrerios. The rest of our Camino family was now about 10 km ahead of us and so it would take several days to catch up.
Emmanuel never could get us to share his Russian salad!
Ferrerios is not a town, it is actually just 2 Albergues and 2 bars. It is however located 700 m from the “last 100 km” sign. We arrived just before a huge down pour. It did clear up later so we could visit the sign in daylight today.
Today we will have to go 8.1 km to Porto Marin to get some breakfast, but after 4.1 km in the village of Mercadoiro we came across a big table covered with all sorts of treats and fruits by donation!
“Portomarin developed along both sides of the River Mino, the town was of strategic importance and always garrisoned first by the Order of Santiago then in 1188 Alfonso IX transferred ownership to the Order of San Juan de Jerusalem who maintained a pilgrim’s hospice for centuries thereafter.”
“In 1956 construction of the Embalse de Belesar Dam was started and completed in 1962 when the valley was flooded. During the construction period major monuments were moved block by numbered block to the new town of Portomarin. The old village is now under water and some of the building can be seen as you cross the new bridge into the town.”
The Camino actually does not enter the town of Porto, although it looks like is does via some steep stairs. In fact we wondered at the few pilgrims we saw going the opposite direction to us down the stairs out of the city, and then there was the lack of yellow arrows… it finally became obvious when there were really no other pilgrims or pilgrim services to be seen. We are off the “scheduled routes” and by now all those who stayed here would have left for the day.
“The 13th century Iglesia de San Juan has the largest single nave of any Romanesque church in Galicia. Amazingly, this was one of the buildings, once along the valley bottom, that was reconstructed, stone by stone.” It is known as a fortress church.
We continued here another 16.8 km to Ligande. After the steep down hill along Portomarin main street and the a gentle uphill around Monte San Antonio the rest of the day is easy going through rolling country side. From Porto Marin to Hospital de la Cruz the Camino follows the main road on a dirt track nearby.
After Hospital de la Cruz you cross the N-540 and the path is asphalted for the next 4.7 km and very easy going.
Ventas de Naron- Here there is a bar and a small church. Sara went into the bar to see if we could see the church. The woman at the bar handed the keys over to this older blind man who led us over to the church and then stamped our credentials. Actually he asked you to guide his hand to where you wanted the stamp, but he insisted to do the actually stamping himself.
Ligonde is a shadow of its former self, at one point this was an important stop along the route to Santiago. The church and hospital here belonged to the Order of St James and even now you can still see the small pilgrims’ cemetery. There are 2 places to stay the municipal and a small parroquial run by an evangelical Christian team from the USA. There are no shops in the town and so for food we would need to eat at the bar about 700 m away. The parroquial had no charge for the bed and served an evening meal and breakfast for donation and so we chose this to have a different if slightly strange experience. We all pitched in to make the communal evening meal.
There was a bar about 700 m past the “town”, which served some food and had wifi. If you stayed there long enough everyone in town showed up.