Camino Day 20, Sun 16/6/02:

44 km today
696 total
Leafy Lanes

Again, another idyllic series of leafy-laned walks. I left the monastery in Samos at 8:30, stopping for a coffee and some awful prepackaged doughnut thingy at a café on the way out of town. Made excellent progress despite my blisters. Today was the day of the Ireland - Spain game in the World Cup, so I was looking forward to a 90 minute timeout to watch it later in the afternoon.

It could be that Galicia is more religious than other parts, or it could simply be the proximity to Santiago, but I noticed more roadside shrines and the distinctive crucifixes called rollos in Galicia than previously.

Tree-lined paths

leaving Samos (74K)

Idylls of the King

Flyfisherman, Samos (79K)

Wayside shrine

Alto de Riocabo (98K)


en route to Sarria (80K)

Arriving in Sarria around 11, I stopped for breakfast in a little café in the old part of town at the top of the hill - a bocadillo, a coffee, and a BioFrutas (a quite tasty yoghurty concoction which claims to have half the RDA of the essential vitamins and minerals). Good value at 3 euro.
Raju warns that the 23km section from Sarria to my destination for the day, Portomarín, is probably the quietest on the camino, being nearly devoid of places to eat or drink so I stocked up with liquids as it looked like it was going to be a searingly hot day.


paddling! (104K)

Stone walls and frogs

and green fields (64K)

100 Km to go!

Morgade (70K)

Camino as stream

Stepping stones (117K)
Just before the 100 km marker, the camino passes a field which was full of frogs. You couldn't see them, but boy, could you hear them. Shortly afterwards, the camino became a stream for 50 m or so! All very picturesque, but it felt great to discard the boots and have a paddle...

Arriving very hot indeed in the tiny hamlet of Pena at 1:45, where I decided to have a bite to eat and watch the Ireland - Spain World Cup game. There was a fair crowd of locals in the tiny bar, most of the foreign pilgrims (mainly German for some reason) sided with Ireland. I was exchanging text messages with Mar back home in Ireland - she being Spanish and obviously biased kept claiming that "that shagging referee" had been bribed and that the "game has been sold!" In the pub, I ate my meal and managed to keep quiet until an Irish player missed a penalty to level the game. In my dissapointment - and I certainly wouldn't like to blame the half bottle of wine I'd drunk - I'm afraid I might have yelled "Langer!" (a term of abuse here in Cork.) The locals noticed and some good-natured ribbing ensued. When Spain eventually won on penalties after extra time (a travesty!) they all came over to either shake my hand or give me a hug. Ah well.

I reasoned that since it was so hot, I was better off inside the cool, dark bar drinking sidra. I eventually set off again after an hour or so of chatting with he fellow soccer fans. I took some photos but alas they turned out unusable. And so to the road...

All three waymarkers

Cotarelo Mercadoiro (113K) Portomarín

and reservoir (65K)


from Portomarín (65K)

Santiago statue

and church of San Nicolás (57K)

Arrived some 8 km later in Portomarín, a town relocated from the valley floor to a nearby hilltop due to the flooding of the valley to create a reservoir in the 60s. The Romanesque church of San Nicolás was disassembled brick by brick and reassembled in the main plaza. You can still see the numbers on the bricks. It was worth the effort because the portal is by Matteo, the same chap who built the stunning Pórtico de la Gloria in the cathedral at Santiago. It's not quite as stunning, but very few things are...

Portomarín itself was a bit twee and touristy - only to be expected, I suppose. Due to the lateness of my arrival, the local refugio was full when I arrived, and I found rooms in a local hostel instead. I dressed my blisters, bought some more gauze and alcohol de romero, and wandered around. To be honest, there's not a whole lot to see there on a Sunday evening.

After a forgettable and overpriced meal in one of the open restaurants, I bought El País and went to a local bar to catch up on the rest of the day's events. Retired shortly afterwards; I must have been more tired than I thought because I was sound asleep at 10:30 and didn't wake up until 7:30 the following day. Or perhaps it was the wine...

Church of San Nicolás

church-building by numbers (48K)