28th Day: Sarria to Portomarin

The Camino has reached its maximum capacity today. Portomarin, my end destination, sits past the 100 kilometer mark to Santiago, so any pilgrim that would join the route tomorrow, would not be eligible for a compostela. That being said, after reaching the end of the village of Sarria, where I started my walk this morning, I came upon a hoard of walkers. I thought perhaps this was “rush hour” – it was 8 am and most people have to be out of the Albergue at that time to start their hikes. Then I thought maybe if I took a lot of pictures in Sarria, the crowd would lessen, so I set off to find interesting subjects to photograph.

First place I went to take photos, I sort of broke into. Well not sort of, I did. The Castle of Sarria is surrounded by walls on all sides. As I circumnavigated the perimeter, I found no gates or doors that would let tourists inside to see the castle in full glory (from outside the wall you get glimpses of the structure, but not the entire thing). Full glory might be an overstatement, as it’s just a ruin of its former self, with stairs leading up to a lonely lookout tower. If there was a back to the walled area, I found it, and there, behind a smattering of rapeseed and thorny bushes, the wall had crumbled in on itself. I hiked up and peered over the top. It must not be open to the public, because sheep were grazing on the other side. I hopped over, snapped a couple of photos and then, getting a little scared that maybe someone would be tending the sheep, quickly jumped back over to the other side.

Afterwards, I walked on 100 meters and visited the Monastery of Santa Maria Magdalena. A really nice cloister sits in the middle of the Monastery and I spent a good 45 minutes taking pictures. When I came out, the steady stream of peregrinos (I use that term loosely) were still walking by. I tried to guess the average distance between them and came to a rough estimate of about 20 meters. I found a place in between two groups and joined in the march towards Portomarin. I didn’t take many photos, as it would probably have been annoying for those trying to pass me on the Camino, but eventually I ran into Dag, a Norwegian that I had met two days earlier and we walked the rest of the way into Portomarin together.

Dag was smart. He anticipated that accommodations may be in short supply due to the number of people joining for the last 100 kilometers. I was lucky. I walked into an Albergue that didn’t have any places left, but the kindly hospitalero took pity on me and called other Albergues to find me lodging for the night. On her 6th call, the attendant on the other end indicated that one spot was still available at his Albergue. I booked it the 200 meters in double time, afraid that another pilgrim might wander in and take the coveted last spot. No one did and even at the Camino’s full capacity, I still found a place to stay in Portomarin.

A random alleyway in Sarria before sunrise.

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I took this picture yesterday. The break in the wall is not the one I jumped through, but it made for a better picture.

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See? The break in the wall I actually jumped through is not really interesting at all.

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On the other side of the wall the sheep were only mildly concerned about my presence.

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The money shot of today’s post is admittedly a bit of a letdown. In my defense, I snapped it quick for fear that a hidden sheep herder would appear out of the mist and the light was not so great.

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The mass of Peregrinos in front of the Monastery that gave me pause.

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Taken inside the cemetery across from the Monastery.

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The next five pictures are taken inside the Monastery of Santa Maria Magdalena. The cloister was great for letting in light in short bursts conducive to taking good shots.

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Rejoining the Camino. Ok, so you might be able to spot a 40 meter break between pilgrims…

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Taken outside of Peruscallo, 103 kilometers from Santiago. A bus had just dropped off a load of passengers to get their first stamp of the Camino.

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The all important and yet somehow arbitrarily significant 100 kilometer mark.

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