Sunday, October 7, 2012

Portomarin to Lestedo (Oct 6)

Leaving Portomarin we went up a gradual incline to a peak that was hardly discernible. Many walkers leaving Portomarin head for the major centre of Palas de Rei but the 25km would be too difficult for us so we looked for a closer day destination. Instead, from a list suggested by our comfortable hotel at Sarria, we picked to stay at a place located at the quiet hamlet of Lestedo, a mere 20km away. We were secretly pleased that by that stage of our walk, we were able to consider 20km as acceptable distance.

The weather forecast in the morning was unfavourable but the wet did not eventuate apart from a few drops. In fact the overcast sky with gentle breeze should be ideal for walking and the terrain throughout the day was green and gently undulating with forests and tree-lined tracks. StIll we struggled a bit, probably because we were not used to consecutive long days. We had lunch at a quiet cafe (jamon and boccadillo of course) and felt better after that.

Sign near Ligonde says Pilgrims' Cemetery but we could see any graves.

As usual we met other walkers on the way. With most we were too engrossed with walking to exchange more than "Buen Camino" or even just an "hola", but with some we chatted. A Venezuelan now living in the US asked us where we came from etc, and when I said I grew up in Singapore, he immediately said he used to sell sardines for the Ayam brand of the canned fish!  (Singaporeans reading this will know the brand well). We sometimes got surprises like that.

With the denser population, the hamlets in Galicia were getting closer together as we approached Santiago, and while they appeared as distinct markings on the map, they were not easily identified. As we walked on, it was often hard to keep track of where we actually were. With the frequent ups and downs of the tracks, we could not tell the change in elevation and the peaks marked on the map were often as distinct as we expected. It was not until we saw the sign for Ligonde village that we knew we were nearly at our day's destination.

The place we booked to stay at Lestedo was converted from an old pilgrims' hospital. When we stepped in, we had the biggest surprise. Instead of simple hostel that we had got used to and had come to expect each night, we found ourselves in a modern resort type accommodation with modern furnishing that reminded us of some of the restored palaces we stayed in in India earlier this year. Dinner was good, a simple but well prepared mushroom and tomato paste dish for first course (K had the traditional salad), while our main course of salt crusted oven baked chicken was delicious. For dessert, we had whisky cake ice cream. Some pilgrims could be embarrassed by the luxury of it all, but we enjoyed all that.

Where we stayed at Lestedo.

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