Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sarria to Portomarin (Oct 5)

We planned a long 22km day involving a climb to 660m and then a drop of 300m to the little town of Portomarin. Even though the long day and ups and downs were strenuous, the scenery was rewarding with green pastures interspersed with forests of chestnut, oak and birch trees. With the higher rainfall, the trees are tall in this part of Spain.

Sarria at just 110km from Santiago is the starting point for a lot of people because  the rule for qualifying for a compostela (certificate) at Santiago required a pilgrim to walk the last 100km at a minimum. The new starters have the freshness and many zipped past us with much energy and enthusiasm!

The 100km mark was a highnote for us for it marked the finishing stretch. Until the numbers were reasonably small, the final destination was quite incomprehensible, as though we had a fear of not finishing. Now, with just 100km, we were actually looking forward to it.

We posed for photos in front of the stone marker when we came to it only to discover later that it was not the correct marker and that a prankster had cheekily altered the sign. The real one came a few hundred metres later!

The 100km mark.

The bridge over the river Mino at the entrance to Portomarin was spectacular for its height over the dry river bed, quite threatening for those fearful of heights. In fact K chose to walk on the traffic lane rather than the pedestrian path so as to be further away from the railing.

Compared to other towns and villages, Portomarin was lacking in old buildings. Some years ago, it was shifted to higher grounds when a dam was built. The old church in the centre of the town was reassembled stone by stone at the new spot. We remain puzzled by the lack of water in the "dam" that the high bridge now crosses over.

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