Camino de Santiago, Day 31
Sarria to Portomarín 14 Miles
This article is the twenty-fifth in our series of walking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago with my husband Scott. Some articles will be only about one day of walking, and some may include a few days of walking, for the lengths will vary. To begin with the first article click here.
Day 31 began in the darkness as we walked up the 62 steps that lead out of Sarria, before exiting the city limits.
There were many other pilgrims on their way as well. Sarria is the beginning point on the Camino Frances for pilgrims to qualify for the Compostela. It was the last 100k to Santiago and the minimum required distance to receive the Compostela if you are walking. If you cycle the route, it is required to complete 200k. In Santiago, you must show proof on your pilgrim’s passport of at least two stamps a day, for the last 100k.
We walked dirt roads for most of the day. It was foggy and damp and extremely beautiful. There was such a peaceful feeling walking through the mist.
There were stands of eucalyptus trees and cows in fields. The Galicia region had something new for us to see. This time it was Horreos. They are for grain and produce storage and are found all through the region. Each is unique in its own way and we took pictures of many of them.
As we neared our destination of Portomarín, we had a choice to hike down a steep section of trail or take the paved road around.
Scott and I chose the steep section because it was shorter. We had gone up ahead of Jenn and Blythe. Jenn’s feet and knees were bothering her and every step was painful. Scott and I were feeling impatient with the end of the Camino so near. Usually, we walked day by day not thinking ahead, but with the end in sight, just a few days away, we only wanted to be finished.
The steep section was everything we imagined it would be and was quite rugged.
We came to a magnificent Roman bridge crossing the Minho River. Down below on the shores of the river, the town once stood.
In the 1960’s a dam was built, putting the old town of Portomarín under water. The historic buildings of the town were disassembled block by block and moved to the top of the hill. Each brick and block was numbered in order to replace them perfectly later.
We could see the remains of some of the old buildings along the river because the water was so low at this time. It was very interesting to see.
Once we crossed the bridge, we climbed the steep staircase and went through the arch to enter town.
Scott and I walked the streets looking for a place to stay, but our choices were limited and most places were filled with pilgrims.
Finally, we found rooms at a pension above a bar. They allowed us to hold a room for Blythe and Jenn for one hour, or else they would give it to someone else.
Our rooms weren’t the best, but we had a window which opened to a view of the Church of San Juan, and we could see the numbers carved into the blocks from when they were moved from the old site!
Meeting Blythe and Jenn
After cleaning up, I went to find my friends. I went down the hill and back to the stairs and quickly found Blythe sitting on the steps waiting for Jenn.
Soon, we saw Jenn walking across the bridge, just minutes before the rain began.
The three of us went into town and they claimed their room in time for the night.
Jenn was struggling with knee pain, as well as Plantar Fasciitis. Being in constant pain was exhausting her and making her miserable. After much thought, she decided to start sending her backpack ahead each day to give her feet a break. There is a wonderful service which allows pilgrims to leave their pack at your hostel, or designated place in town and then for only a few euros, be delivered to your next destination.
I think with Jenn making this decision, she was able to more thoroughly enjoy her Camino experience and not be in misery.
It was raining all afternoon so we did minimal exploring of town. There were a few shops open so we did look around a bit.
There was a wonderful pilgrim mural, and I got a nice picture of Scott standing next to it.
Blythe and Jenn found a great Italian restaurant for dinner and saved us seats next to the wood stove. We were cold all day and couldn’t shake the chill. It was nice to finally be warm again.
The end of Day 31 was relaxing. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and then took our time playing cards and drinking wine.
Day 31, 14 miles.