Sarria ➡ Grazon ➡ Melide
I had thought we had run out of sunrises on our trip, I thankfully was wrong. Day 30 of our Camino journey dawned and welcomed us with a beautiful clear day after all the fog and rain. Hallelujah! We made a leisurely morning of our walk, suddenly in no hurry to get anywhere with so few days left on our journey. We said hello to every donkey and cattle beast as we walked. Marvelling at the beauty of the rising sun and enjoying the familiar smells of farmland as we walked through yards and barns full of cattle and sheep.
Around midday we came across a huge marker point. 100kms left to walk! We had walked over 600 kilometres!! the stone marker was awash with graffiti. I like everyone else felt jubilant if a little melancholy. We walked further down the lane to a small building we almost missed, for a very important stamp. Our 100km stamp which took up two spaces in the stamp booklet. Milestone achieved! We had made it 680 kilometres with only our two feet (minus the 15min taxi) and a bazillion arrows to guide us.
We got into Portomarin the supposed stop for the day around 2pm, coming into the town we saw a huge bridge, like a grand concrete carpet leading into the city walls. To the left as we came in we saw ruins at the waters’ edge and both of us got itchy trigger fingers to go down to the water and take photos of the ruins and the sun glinting off the still river. We walked into the town, Intent of finding some lunch before going down to the river. Portomarin was not what we were expecting, not that I really know what we were expecting. The first thing we saw was two huge tourist buses full of day trip ‘pilgrims.’
We are people (as it has been established) that enjoy the road less travelled. And as much as I can appreciate the inclusiveness of being able to see these towns as tourist pilgrims, it was not the first impression we desired for somewhere to stay. To top it off, because we arrived at 2pm, it was Siesta. *Insert face palm.* Royce’s dreams of pizza (which had come up several times in the past couple of days) were again dashed. We could barely find anything to eat at all! Together we decided that after taking some photos we would make the 8km trek to the next town.
We spent a couple of hours amongst the ruins by the water’s edge learning the history of the town; Portomarin in Lugo, Spain is a village in the hills of the Monte do Cristo on the river Mina. In 1960 they dammed the river to build the Belesar reservoir (Encoro de Belesar). Because of this, the whole Roman built city had to be moved from the river’s edge else, it was drowned. The most important pieces of the city were dismantled and moved piece by piece to higher ground where the current city of Portomarin resides. When the water is low, such as it was when we visited, you can see the remains on the water of the old city’s ruins.
By the time we had finished exploring and snapping the day had turned to afternoon, it was 4pm. Still we were set on carrying on our walk, so off we went back into the wilderness… We should’ve stayed put.
It was nearing 6pm when we finally dragged our weary bodies into Garzón, which to our dismay was barely even a village, just a dairy farm with an albergue, really. And the municiple albergue at 8 euro each did not live up to our expectations. The room made me want to douse it in bed bug spray and though there was a range for cooking, there wasn’t a single pot! We went out tired and hungry in search or something.. Anything to eat. The ‘town’ certainly didn’t have a shop. We found a small restaurant thankfully nestled in amongst some small stone buildings. There they were serving a hearty pilgrim meal, exactly what we needed. We sat down with a fellow pilgrim; Gui a French Canadian man who we had first met right back in Granon!
The following morning was an early start, not that I was that upset, I was pretty keen to be up and out of the Albergue, especially when I got up and found there wasn’t even any toilet paper for the whole seven people staying! We got on the road. This last section of Camino definitely felt different. It was a lot more touristy, there was so many more groups of people on the road even though there seemed to be fewer people in the Albergues. Locals did not come across as friendly, and the people on the track didn’t attempt any Spanish at all. So I could definitely understand the wary nature of the locals. A larger proportion of local people spoke English as well, which I felt was almost disappointing as I had been enjoying practicing my Spanish. This whole section of the trek was just such a mile away from where we begun. The feelings of anticipation at almost being finished, mixed with the dread for the same reason. Nobody wanted to go back to “real life.”
We found our last stunning sunrise just outside our morning coffee stop, hurrying, trying to find a rise among the trees to take in the spectacle. I spied a gap in the pines, and we boosted down the hill to capture some of my favourite sunrise shots to date; it was a spectacular array of colours in the morning air. It set the sky on fire and lighted my face in a grin at the wonder of the rising sun. I would definitely miss my Spanish sunrises!
As the morning wound into afternoon and our sunrise turned into a brilliant day, we passed more trees and green fields full of sheep and cows. Passed a man taking his cows down the narrow tracks. Flowers still bloomed, and stone houses dotted the rolling landscape of farmland as we walked. Chestnuts scattered the path, and apples and pears clung to every roadside. It was so different, but still so beautiful. At 4pm we finally found our town for the night, Melide. Our hostel was a stark difference to the night before, much nicer, cleaner, and a decent shower! Unfortunately, though, no stove top. Out we went to find some tapas instead.
The local delicacy for the Galícia region is Pulpo, also known in English as Octopus. Royce was excited to try it, and we set off for one of the many Pulpo restaurants in Melide. Thankfully, we only ordered a small plate to share, as when it was laid in front of me I discovered there is something entirely inedible in my opinion about eating tentacles.. The small wooden plate sat down in front of us was just a pile of cut up Octopus, I could still see the suckers. I’m not normally squeamish and will try just about anything.. But the texture of the testicles was a no from me. I grimaced as I heard the splash of another Octopus being dunked into the boiling water. It delighted Royce he got the whole plate to himself! I instead headed for the supermercardo to find something less.. Oceanic.
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