160619

Sam and I spent the night in a lackluster “hostel” very close to the middle of nowhere. More a few rooms with beds; no kitchen or common area, and the rooms exude more motel than hostel. With the alburgue up the road full, Sam and I were beat, and took the next available option. I spent a while talking to a peregrino from TX as I hung out my laundry. To Sam’s amusement I cooked dinner on the floor of the room.

Leaving the motel this morning, we encountered Camino signs directing us to the left … and the right. The signs indicated a left route of 12 km, and a right route of 19 km. The right route followed the larger road, the left went more directly forward. As we debated the options, another peregrino wandered up and mentioned the appeal of the right route because of an interesting monastery in 10 km. Right it is.

While the hills today weren’t as steep, the total elevation change was similar to yesterday. Even leaving at 8:30 am we arrived 10 km away at Mosteiro de San Xiao de Samos at 10:00 am (with an included alburgue, which would have been interesting to stay in). The monastery only offered guided tours, with the next tour at 10:30 am. Sam wandered about a bit, while I chatted with other peregrinos from the US. A woman from Nevada now hikes in sandals, having abandoned her boots by the side of the road.

The guided tour included translation to English, although she double-checked that I required English when I responded to her instructions (in Spanish) that photos were permitted without flash. Still improving my Spanish. Ten monks and one novice remain in the monastery, and their special thing was the largest courtyard in all of Spain.

We left the monastery after 11:00 am and didn’t arrive in Sarria, our intended early lunch point, until after noon. Some searching turned up the unavailable Torre de Sarria (tower), and we ate lunch on a nearby bench. By this point our 80 km goal moved out of our reach, and we decided we’d just keep heading west. 

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My least favorite roads:
1. Mud
2. Sand
3. Gravel
4. Large, regular but intermittent rocks
5. Paving stones

I had plenty of opportunity today to work on that list, as we cycled through various terrain, most of it difficult. Much to Sam’s chagrin, the longer I cycle the Camino the more I desire to follow the pilgrim’s path. We spent most of the day not on asphalt because the path moved away from the larger streets (and even away from the goat tracks). We found a new level of track indicated on OSMAnd+, spending time pushing out bikes up active stream beds and across varied terrrain, all with “steep” adding to the adventure.

In the most remote of places, small shops await the arrival of perigrinos. We stopped at one for water, awash in a Japanese guided group. The shop also offered “credentials”. Part of the process of traveling the Camino having your credentials stamped, a passport-like book that the places you spend the night (and other places) stamp to certify you have actually traveled the Camino, in order to receive the Compostela in Santiago. One has to document at least 100 km when traveling on foot, or 200 km when traveling by bicycle. As I’ve read of cyclists having problems with their credentials not being accepted because of the distances covered, Sam and I are validating our credentials a few times each day at various places along the way.

Nearing Portomarin we briefly switched over to road, if only to cut around large groups of perigrinos (several tour groups) blocking our path. Both Sam and I were flagging, and stopped at an alburgue in Gonzar, but they were full. A kilometer down the road we stopped here, a full day of cycling but only 58 km. Santiago de Compostela is now only 80 km to the west.

Sam and I spent a while tonight working on how to get my bicycle either to Lisbon or home. Unless I make a mad optimistic dash to Lisbon down the Portuguese coast, I don’t have time to cycle to Finterra, and then cycle back to Lisbon and have time to arrange for the bicycle onto the plane.

There are a lot of options, which one remains to be seen. My core plan is to get to Santiago and ask directly at the bus station for the bus direct to Lisbon and for other options.  Other options include (and I won`t remember them all):
-the aforementioned mad dash across Portugal
-Cycling or train to across the border to Portugal, and then hoping I can get the bike on a train (if not, back to mad dash).
-Getting back to Santiago, taking a train or bus to east of Lisbon but still in Spain, and cycling 300 km west to Lisbon
-Cycling or bus to the Portuguse border, cycling to Porto, and renting a car one-way (from Spain is international, and very expensive)
-Using a shipping company in Santiago to ship the bike to Lisbon or home.
-Paying BikeIberia, the folks Wayne and Charlotte rented from, to move my bicycle since they move their own bikes.

All have their merits and detractions. One will rise to the top.  Always do.

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