Day 12: Total distance 14kms. Total ascent: 258m
Weather: Clear and warm. Temperature: 25
Over 100,000 people walk the Camino every year. That is an amazing number of pilgrims to shelter and feed everyday, and explains the fantastic network of albergues, refugios and pensions that are regularly scattered along The Way. Even in the smallest of villages or hamlets there is typically an albergue – in fact, some of the hamlets appear to consist solely of an albergue and a ‘bar’. Our destination today falls close to this category – Ferreiros is just 14km out of Sarria, roughly halfway between Sarria and the town of Portomarin. We had decided to camp here partly because we didn’t want to do a full 23 km to Portomarin, and partly because it had a municipal albergue – that is, cheap (5 Euro) accommodation! However, some of these smaller villages and albergues have limited facilities; there may be a bar where you can buy a meal, but there may not be a food shop. Eating out quickly becomes too expensive for the Bear tribe, so we had done a big shop and were carrying all our provisions for the day – lunch, dinner and breakfast for the following day. The information we had also indicated no kitchen at the albergue, so we would be eating simply! In actual fact, it appears that many of the municipal albergue actually DO have kitchens, but you will be lucky to find a pot or any other utensils in it! Given that we aren’t carrying pots or pans with us, the kitchens become redundant.
Today began at a leisurely pace. Being in our own dorm room the previous night meant most of us had slept well last night, and we were rested and full of energy; even excited by the prospect of a walk after a full rest day! GrandpaBear complained that we did the 14kms too quickly, and that the leading group were a good half kilometre ahead of him because of the fast pace. Part of the reason for our haste was that the Camino was noticeably busier today, and the albergue we were planning on staying at only had 22 beds – so we would require 50% of all available beds and therefore wanted to arrive as soon as possible!! Such are the realities of travelling as a horde ! Despite the faster pace, we had time to enjoy the walk which was again through varied and wooded sections, but we especially noticed it was definitely busier on the trail. Heading out of Sarria was like walking through the mall on a Saturday!
Here are some of our fave shots from today.
The reason for the greater number of walkers today is because Sarria is the closest place to Santiago that pilgrims can begin the camino and still receive a compostela (a certificate of completion). It is evident that large numbers of people start their Camino from here as the trail was downright highway-like this morning, with large groups of walkers at every corner and stretching out along the track. It is also evident that many of these walkers are “fresh” as they do not appear to be as generous to return the Camino greeting “Hola! Buen Camino” as we have experienced in the last week. Perhaps this will change in the days ahead as we get nearer to Santiago. They are also fresh in the sense that they have perfectly clean shoes and stay up late at night, clearly not suffering from the tiredness that eventually hits even those like us who do not tackle exceptional distances each day! They also typically walk normally – and don’t display any signs of the “camino hobble”.
A significant milestone today for us was passing the 100km-to-go marker. Normally walkers would chew through this distance in 4 days – we will take a far more sedate 7 days. The slower pace means we can stop for pictures, stop for extended lunches when we want to, and still arrive early at the albergue and give the younger children time to play. It also means, on days like today, we can go blackberry scavenging. Blackberries are everywhere along the Way at this time of year… so in half an hour we managed to pick about 4kgs – which we combined with our nuts and raisins and had a fantastic afternoon tea, and still had about 3kg to offer to others in the albergue. They made a welcome addition to our “trail ration” dinner of only baguettes, chorizo, olives and cheese! Another happy day on The Way!
Tags: 2012, postcard: Spain