Camino de Santiago Day 11: Sarria to Palas de Rei, Spain

The long bridge that crosses the Minho River in Portomarin.
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Camino de Santiago Day 11: Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

Day 11: Sarria to Palas de Rei, 62 kms.

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Sarria is a small town with nothing much to offer save for some nice views from the church up on the hill as you exit the main street. You will find here the 111km. marker. Most pilgrims who want to have a Certificado when they reach Santiago as proof that they did the Camino have to start from Sarria since the requirement is to walk at least 100 kms. (200kms. for bikers). You have to collect stamps along the way from the albergues, churches or bars on your Compostela Passport (which you buy from the church wherever you started) to prove that you did the required distance.

Most of the mountains are not that steep but the thing that wears you down is the length of the climb sometimes going on nonstop over 15 kms.
Most of the mountains are not that steep but the thing that wears you down is the length of the climb sometimes going on nonstop over 15 kms.

Sarria to Palas de Rei, 62 kms.

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I agreed to ride with this fellow cyclist but he was too fast that I lost him in the hilly portions of the way as I fell back further and further behind.
I agreed to ride with this fellow cyclist but he was too fast that I lost him in the hilly portions of the way as I fell back further and further behind.

Most of the way was downhill and two bikers joined me. At first it was okay but further on, I couldn’t keep up for they were daredevils who took the long-winded curves as though they were on the Tour de France! We must’ve clocked 60-70KPH at one point and I was afraid Compo couldn’t take it – and so with me if we accidentally ran off the railings –so I pulled back to a more sedate pace. I definitely didn’t want any mishap on the penultimate day!

The long bridge that crosses the Minho River in Portomarin. - Sarria to Palas de Rei
The long bridge that crosses the Minho River in Portomarin. – Sarria to Palas de Rei
This was the best albergue I stayed in during the whole pilgrimage - modern, super clean, comfortable bunks and fast wifi.
This was the best albergue I stayed in during the whole pilgrimage – modern, super clean, comfortable bunks and fast wifi.
The golden sunset silhouettes this Cross in Punta de Rei.
The golden sunset silhouettes this Cross in Punta de Rei.

Rolled into Portomarin passing through a long bridge spanning a wide river and the road suddenly dipped upwards turning into a steep climb that I could not manage so I got down and walked before reaching the plaza and church. This town was moved stone by stone up to where it is now in order to save it from flooding when they built a dam close by. No wonder the layout looked too perfect. I was hungry so I had my usual peregrino meal with a lot of other pilgrims in the wide, covered veranda outside facing the plaza with many restaurants. I left immediately thereafter since I was still quite far from my destination.

This fortress-like church in Portomarin was moved brick-by-brick to its new location when they dammed the river below the town.
This fortress-like church in Portomarin was moved brick-by-brick to its new location when they dammed the river below the town.
Beautiful arcaded restaurants.
Beautiful arcaded restaurants.

After a long, hard climb, I arrived in Ventas de Naron where I had some local pudding washed down with a glass of wine for I couldn’t find bottled water that wasn’t the spritzy kind. I pedaled through delightful countryside covered with eucalyptus trees which kept the hot sun off the road until Palas de Rei, my final destination where I found a very nice, modern albergue which was the best I’ve stayed so far. Very clean, restful bunkbeds, strong wifi, and nice resto just across the street.

Resting on the steps of a tall staircase during a stop.
Resting on the steps of a tall staircase during a stop.


I couldn't keep up with these two daredevil cyclists who pedaled swiftly down the zigzagging roads from Sarria.
I couldn’t keep up with these two daredevil cyclists who pedaled swiftly down the zigzagging roads from Sarria.

Two American college-age girls joined me in the lobby and we all compared notes on our trip. They had been walking from Burgos for almost a month now – sure was a long way from Minnesota where they came from. So what made you do this, I asked. For the fun of it and for spiritual guidance which raised my eyebrows for later, they said that they were atheists! Well, I hoped they would find whatever it was they were looking for.

Selfie time in Portomarin.
Selfie time in Portomarin.
Four peregrinos cross the bridge single file.
Four peregrinos cross the bridge single file.
The wide Minho River.
The wide Minho River.

As for me, it still wasn’t crystal-clear why I had embarked on this journey which was almost ending but looking back over the last 11 days, I had the satisfying feeling that I had found out a lot of things. Not exactly about Life but about myself……

Note: This was my daily journal throughout the pilgrimage route which took all of 12 days from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.

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