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Report 2014: Camino de Santiago

By Maria A from NJ, Summer 2012

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Page 6 of 11: Day 4 - Portomarín to Palas de Rei - About 25kms

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So yes, as feared, today we would need to walk about 8kms before we could find a “café con leche” stop. So this presented a conundrum: go to the buffet breakfast at the Pousada, or forgo any breakfast until we hit the first town, Gonzar. Remembering how awful I felt that second day, without a restroom in sight for several kilometers, I opted to skip breakfast. The rest of the family didn’t seem to share my concerns and happily went downstairs about 7:30 to fill their tummies. I figured if I got lightheaded or something from hunger I would eat one of the trail mix bars I carried in the backpack.

We started walking about 8:30, it was foggy and cold, I would say about 50F. Once we got out of Portomarín it was a continuous steep climb, not horrible but I felt it on my thighs. Initially we went through woodland, until we arrived at a path that goes by the main road. Later we would walk again through wooded area until we reached Gonzar. I don’t think I was ever as happy to see a town sign as when I saw the white sign with black letters heralding Gonzar! The café bar there was a welcome sight. I was craving some tostadas (buttered toast) and café con leche. But it was not to be. The bartender informed me it was too late for tostadas, only bocadillos were being served (what? It was not even 11am). Oh well, a bocadillo it is.

Later we stopped for lunch at Ventas de Narón, at Casa Molar. Even though it was past 1pm it seemed we were early for lunch and the barmaid had to go rouse the cook so he could come and start cooking!

My recollection is this day was not a difficult walk (maybe with the exception of the initial climb from Portomarín), with a variety of terrains.

We reached Palas de Rei about 4:30pm. Our place for the night was Casa Benilde, right in town. It’s a simple, modern hotel (€65 for a double). The staff welcomed us as if they had been waiting for us all day! It was without a doubt the warmest welcome we got anywhere in the Camino, they had even taken our luggage up to the room and were eager to give us a rundown of the town and offer recommendations of places to eat. My most pressing concern was to find a place where we could have dinner watching a big TV as that was July 1st, day for the Euro Cup final between Spain and Italy. The man at reception offered several suggestions, and after dropping our backpacks in the room, our son and I set out to check them out.

We first stopped at the town church, the sweet San Tirso Romanesque church, to get our credencial stamped. Actually, we should have walked past this church on the Camino once we got into town, but for some reason we had gotten disoriented and reached the hotel via a different street. We then checked three different restaurants/cafes and decided on “A Forxa”, around the corner from the hotel.

That night we had a pretty good peregrino menu at the “A Forxa”. We got there early to snag a table with a good view of the big flat TV screen suspended high on the wall. We were still eating dinner when the game started and stayed there through the end. It was lots of fun, especially because Spain won!

Though the rooms at Casa Benilde are pretty small, they’re modern, functional and super clean. The bathroom by comparison had a good size, with a tub. It looked brand new, thick nice towels and very good water pressure.

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