El Camino Frances

The Traditional Route from France

Eastern Galicia

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Hospital de la Condesa via Samos/Sarria to Barbadelo

6 June 1993 and 26/27 June 2002

My two journeys over this stage were very different because in 1993 I went directly to Barbadelo via Saria and in 2002 I took an extra day to visit the monastery at Samos.

1993. By morning I had recovered from my illness and the sun was shining. The walk along the ridge was very good with extensive views on both sides. At times the valleys below were full of clouds while we walked in the sunshine.

We then dropped down through the sunken roads and dry stone walls (much like Dartmoor) and into Triacastela. Here we found another shop where you could have a bottle of beer while waiting in line to be served. I was now well enough to join in this tradition.

After Triacastela we pressed on through pleasant countryside to Saria where we gathered together with other walkers to decide where to stay. No one was sure where the refugio was so our party had a very late lunch (3.30) while some others went to enquire about accommodation. It then started raining very heavily and a very wet girl came in from the refugio to tell us that it was already full and there were not even any mattresses left for the floor.

Our party then split up with some going to a hostal and four of us, Oscar, Tomas, Santi and myself walking on to the next refugio at Barbadelo (about 1½ hours). There was no shop or bar here but we had eaten a substantial meal in Saria and were carrying enough food for a snack.

Alto do poio

Our stay here coincided with a general election in Spain and the refugio was also the polling station for the village. During the evening we had a constant stream of visitors coming in to vote and also question us about our journeys and home towns. We had a very pleasant evening in this small, friendly village.

Fonfria

2002. This was a nice cool day for walking the ridge and the injured members of our gang were easily able to keep up with us. After a coffee break in a bar at Alto do Poio, and fruit juice soon after in an interesting looking restaurant in Fonfria, we dropped down through the country lanes to Triacastela. Here we gathered in our stragglers in the first bar in town from which we could see that the refugio was not yet open.

Triacastela

Most of us decided to move on to Samos so, after a quick snack we set off following the road alongside the river towards the monastery. The Camino eventually left the road and there were a few hilly tracks before Samos. As we approached the monastery we were told by pilgrims who were moving on that the refugio was crowded (40 to a room) and not in good condition so some of us booked rooms in the hotel across the road from the monastery.

Samos

We were having a siesta before attending vespers and mass when a violent hailstorm with thunder broke out. We were very lucky not to be caught out in this and it was only a short dash across the road for the service. Not many monks seem to be in residence but the singing was reinforced by local people and was very nice.

Samos refugio

Afterwards we all gathered for a meal in the dining room of the hotel and had for sweet Torta de Santiago, a flat almond cake with brandy soaked into the base. Since we were now in Galicia we also had to get used to finishing a meal with orujo (aguardiente).

Samos

The rain continued during the night so we all had to pack damp laundry in the morning.

Next morning six of us gathered for breakfast in the hotel resulting in our latest start yet. It was almost 9am before we set out and soon spread out along the way to Saria. I was last on the road because I had to wait for the bank to open as the automatic cash machine was offline.

In Saria it took a little time for our group to find one another but we eventually wound up in an internet café to catch up on e-mails over a couple of beers and to shelter from the rain. After a meal most of us set off for Barbadelo leaving two behind. Brent (from North Carolina) was waiting for his sister to arrive by train and Lindsey was tired.

Refugio at Barbadelo

Once again we claimed the last bunks in the small refuge and were able to hang out our damp clothes under a shelter. The rain of the last two days had left us with too many clothes for the existing lines so we had to tie together bootlaces to accommodate the excess.

Our afternoon siesta was curtailed when we discovered a mobile snack bar parked outside the refugio so we lashed together two double bunks for an ad hoc party. The smallest of the party (Judith) was sent outside at regular intervals for more wine but then we heard about the restaurant which had opened in a farmhouse about 200 metres up the road.

We all adjourned to Pedro’s restaurant for huge soups (Caldo Gallego) and samples of his home made orujo (his photo was on the label). By the time we left to gather in our laundry (still wet) we were all quite merry.