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Report 2014: Camino de Santiago

By Maria A from NJ, Summer 2012

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Page 5 of 11: Day 3 - Sarria to Portomarín - About 22kms

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Corn field on the way from Sarria to Portomarin

In my opinion, this stage is the most beautiful we walked (well, maybe as beautiful as the first day from O’Cebreiro but in a different way). For the most part we walked on quiet country lanes and tree lined roads. That day we encountered a veritable parade of cows and bulls being shepherded by a couple of dogs. Of course, we stopped and let them go by (I think they have the right of way). The dogs went crazy barking when a couple of cows decided to stop and nibble from the leaves of a tree. Then, a bull decided to get a bit "frisky" with a cow, and wouldn't take "no" for an answer, to the laughter of all of us (my daughter caught it on video, we still laugh when we replay the scene)!

The day started with breakfast at Rectoral de Goian. Homemade muffins and marmalade, toast and yogurt. Once we finished Javier was ready to drive us back to Sarria, to the bottom of the steps where he had picked us the night before. We first went to the Iglesia de Santa Marina where the credencial could be stamped. Actually, we got two stamps: the first one a DIY stamp at the entrance of the church. We then noticed people lining up to go into the sacristy where a priest was also stamping the credencial (with a different stamp).

We then continued walking through town and prior to leaving it we stopped at the Convento de la Merced (also known as Monasterio de la Magdalena), from the XIII. We first thought it was closed but as we were turning to leave, a window above opened and a nice priest told us he would be right down. He was very sweet and wanted to know where we were from. And as usual, when I would say “United States” they would find it odd as I speak Spanish without an American accent (Spanish is my native language). So of course, I have to explain I’m Cuban born, etc (the funny thing on this trip, I was asked if I was French or Italian several times). We got our credenciales stamped and the priest invited us to walk around the cloister, very beautiful and peaceful. We then said our goodbyes and were on our way out of Sarria. I was sorry we didn't have more time to explore the town, which seemed to have other buildings/churches worth visiting.

Our first “rest” stop (I prefer to call them “café con leche” stops!) was at Casa Barbadelo, 3kms outside Sarria, which in addition to bar/restaurant offers lodging (I peeked from afar at one of the rooms, which was being cleaned, it looked modern and attractive). I was already making mental notes for potential places to stay in a repeat visit!

We had another morning stop that morning, about 4kms later, at Café O Xestelo. Lunchtime found us at Morgade, where we stopped at the cozy Casa Morgade, a stone Casa Rural which also serves a Pilgrims Menu. Can’t recall what I had but I remember it was very good, one of my preferred lunches. This looked like a nice place to stay too (although I didn't get to see the rooms).

Our afternoon walk continued, with one last stop (okay, this one was just a bathroom stop!) at cute Mercadoiro. I don't know what the "protocol" is, but every time I wanted to use the "facilities" I felt I needed to buy something, so this time it was just a bottle of water.

Shortly after we started going in a steep descent (at least for me) into Portomarín, by the river Miño. Here we were booked at the Pousada de Portomarin, a big (as compared to other places we stayed) hotel which was originally a Parador (double rooms were €85, the most expensive rooms we had in the Camino). Doesn't have any particular charm, but the rooms were comfortable (although they could use a face lift)and bathroom was big and reasonably modern. Oh, and we had free WiFi (to my daughter’s delight!).

After cleaning up we walked to the town plaza, which I found very handsome, with its stone colonnades, and Romanesque church of San Nicolas (which unfortunately was closed by then, and would be closed the next morning when we walked past it). We headed down to the recommended restaurant, O’ Mirador, enjoying a lovely view of the river/reservoir from the glass enclosed terrace.

While we were having dinner we started reading about the next day’s walk, and my daughter alerted me that we would need to walk about 8kms before a “café con leche” stop! Oh, dear, this brought back painful memories of day #2. I would need to do some thinking about what to do about that.

After another enjoyable dinner (I believe I had merluza (hake). I pretty much had fish/seafood every day on the Camino), we strolled back to the hotel. The beds must have been comfortable because I know that I drifted very quickly into sleep.

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