Camino Trip Notes: Stage 34 (Sarria to Portomarín)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Distance: 22.1 km

Before we start, a quick history lesson compliments of CaminoAdventures.com:

“Sarria has been inhabited for many thousands of years, both by the Celts and the Romans but the town was founded at the end of the 12th century by Alfonso IX, the last king of León and he named the village Vilanova de Sarria. He died here in 1230 from a serious illness that he contracted while undertaking the pilgrimage to Santiago. A statue of the king can be seen near the police station.”

8:20 – At roughly three seconds past 8:00 am, the lady running the hostel stood at the foot of my bed and pointed toward the door. Language barrier or not, it was crystal clear that she expected me to leave ASAP. I didn’t see her bedbug fumigation apparatus but I knew that’s what she would be doing before the next wave of pilgrims started to drift in around noon. It took me 10 minutes to get up, dressed, teeth brushed, and hustle across the street to the cafe where I am now waiting for a coffee and warm bacon sandwich.

10:00 – If I don’t lose any weight after walking 800 km, I’ll blame it on the bacon. It’s on every menu, three times a day, and it is great. I don’t know what Spanish pig farmers feed their critters, although I suspect it’s what they don’t feed them that makes bacon in rural Spain so much better than the stuff from Oscar Meyer or Maple Leaf.

I know that bacon is produced locally because every day I pass at least one farm where they’re spreading the evidence.

10:55 – I’m back on track after a mid morning stop to upload the Friday and Saturday posts that I finished last night. There’s a terminal in the back of the bar on which you can wager on just about any sport imaginable, including tonight’s Raptors / Cavs game.

12:30 – I stopped to check out a small market and ended up buying a lapel pin that combined a Canadian flag and the Camino logo. They only had a few styles of pins and no other countries were represented.  I have no idea why and neither did the lady who was selling this stuff.

12:50 – The kilometres are flying by this morning. I’m now less than 100km from Santiago.   (The somewhat confusing sign indicates that I’m 99,930 meters or 99.9 km from Santiago de Campostela.)

13:50 – There was heavy traffic congestion in the westbound lanes, just east of Portomarin.  It probably cost me half an hour.

14:50 – Edward wanted to stop for a beer and I agreed to join him, although it was definitely against my better judgement. Bright sunshine, a nice patio and ice cold beer could be a bad combination when you still have 8 km to cover on foot. But how much trouble could I get into with a 70-year-old retired Presbyterian minister from Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia?

13:50 – The spot where we stopped for a beer also had beds.  Well, one bed to be precise. I let Edward have it.  What’s another 8 km?


14:50 – I’ve been walking for an hour with John from New Orleans. He started his Camino yesterday in Sarria and already he’s doubting that he’ll make it to Santiago. An old foot injury is flaring up at the worst possible time.

15:30 – I’ve been chatting with a Swiss couple who just spent an hour phoning hostels, hotels and pensions before finally finding two  beds in Portomarin. Things could get dicey. Secretly I’m hoping that I will have to spend the night in the local church. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve fallen asleep on a pew.

17:50 – The last 1 km before Portomarin involved walking down a narrow rocky and very slippery trench that during rainy season would have whitewater rafting potential. After the trench you cross a highway, then walk the length of a 500 meter long bridge before you are greeted with about 50 steps up to the first row of buildings in the lakeside town of Portomarin. At the end of the day, 50 steps felt like 5000.  The beer didn’t help.

18:00 – Nawlins John and I have managed to get beds at the second place we tried. Only after checking in and paying 9€ did I realize that Albergue Ferramenteiro has somewhere between 250 and 400 beds. In one room. There are curtains dividing the room into sections of 60 or 80 beds but with no walls to baffle the sound, I may as well have asked to set up a bed in the middle of the local scrap yard, right beside the car crusher.  It’s going to be a test!


21:40 – I’m back at the hostel after a nice octopus and roasted new potato dinner.  Three hundred of my newest friends are in various stages of preparing for bed.  Some will be zipping and unzipping things and screwing around with krinkly plastic bags for the next 90 minutes.  I’m going to try the “auto off” timer on my iPhone. For now I’m listening to Motzart but if this thing works as advertised, I’ll be asleep in 5 minutes and the music will shut off in 15 minutes. Goodnight, Johnboy.

3 Responses to “Camino Trip Notes: Stage 34 (Sarria to Portomarín)”

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