30 August 2012

Camino de Santiago day 12: Triacastela - Palas de Rei

We only managed to get out of the albergue after 9:30am, possibly due to the long day we had the previous day. For once, we were not the last ones to leave; there was a group of four other Spaniards (two guys and two girls) who were also on bikes, who took longer. As we were heading out the door, I put my sunglasses on my head and one of the lenses promptly fell out. Not only was this annoying due to the sun, but meant my eyes wouldn't have protection from dirt/rocks/bugs that fly at your face more odten than you'd think while mountain biking. We resolved to try and find some new ones in the next big town of Sarria.

The day was already very hot when we left the albergue and was forecasted to go up to 35 degrees C (95 F). Immeadiately out of Triacastela we hit a pretty steep climb on the trail that saw me walking, and feeling very discouraged! A random local had lost one of his horses and asked if we had seen it. Obviously not. We then hit the roads for the descent and passed the sign for Samos, where we had briefly contemplated staying the night before, and we so glad we hadn't attempted it.

Descending through the clouds and into Sarria.

As we started the descent we entered into an area covered by clouds which was quite chilly, and addded extra layers. At the bottom of the descent was Sarria, a main starting point for those who are walking the Galician section of the camino. We found a cafe and had some coffee and pastries, and bought some freshly made bocadillos (sandwhiches) which we would eat later. I also found a bike shop very close by and bought new glasses, so it was a rather efficient stop.

Overlooking Sarria
After Sarria the scenery was beautiful and green, though tough on the bikes and legs; not as many walkers as we expected though. We also passed the 100km to go marker -- these markers with the distance to Santiago had started appearing once we entered Galicia -- and we thought to ourselves how small a distance 100km is when we're audaxing.

Alberto at 100km

When we got to Portomarín we stopped and had lunch in a park, and then went through the centre of town which seemed a bit run down, though it had a nice central street. We filled our water bottles at a restaurant on the high street, which the waiter was happy to do - this made a nice change as we had experienced some problems filling our bottles the day before. We told him this and was scandalised - especially as it was 4pm and well above 30 degrees. We had set our sights on Melide as a stopping point but realised this was a bit out of reach, so decided to call albergues in Palas de Rei and reserve some beds.

Galician cow.
We had another long climb out of Portomarín to Alto de Hospital, about 10km and a mixture of road and trail. I found this really difficult, again not due to my legs but the heat. We always seemed to be climbing mountains at the hottest point in the day. We finally reached the top, but it wasn't the last climb of the day - there were plenty more ups and downs on the way to Palas de Rei.

On one of the hills we struck up a conversation with an American guy who was walking the camino from O Cebreiro. He told us about a trip to the Andes where he had trekked to 15,000 feet in remote locations, but with a group that included a cook, someone to wash your boots every night, etc. The mountain cabins they stopped at even had hot tubs! We all thought it was a bit ridiculous.

Miguel climbing in the heat.

We finally reached Palas de Rei about 7pm. The owners double checked that there were only three of us, as apparently there was a group of four cyclists also booked in for the night. We guessed it was our friends from the previous albergue. While we were chatting to the owners we heard them receive a call from the four cyclists that they were still planning on coming, they were just taking longer than expected -- we knew the feeling!

The place had a bar-restaurant attached which the owner said was the best food in town. We were a bit put off by this and so resolved to look elsewhere. As we were getting showered, etc, Tim, the Kiwi cyclist, arrived. He had taken several hours off in the heat of the day. The four of us walked around town and had a nice menu del peregrino and we learned about Tim's PhD in ecology and his 6 month trip to Antarctica. How cool! When we got back to the albergue we also ran into the quartet from the morning, they said they hadn't reached the albergue til 9pm!

We went to bed knowing that, in all likelihood, we would reach Santiago the following day, as it was only 63km away. This left us with mixed feelings, and we couldn't believe it had already been 12 days since we set off from London. We toyed with the idea of pressing on part of the way to Finisterre if we reached Santiago early enough, and set the alarm for 7am - ever optimistic that we'd make an early start.

Stats for the day:
Odometer: 68.61km
Moving time: 5h30m
Stopped time: 3h15m
Max speed:60.4kph
Moving average: 12.4kph
Overall average: 7.8kph

1 comment:

  1. No doubt you noticed that the Vuelta started from Palas de Rei the other day. Following the race, and seeing the aerial shots, has been such a good reminder of the joys of Galicia.