Day 27 – I’m back!

Why am I doing this walk?

Today, that question reasserted itself very strongly.

I still don't know, but what I do know is that the call was very strong, and where I am right now had a great deal to do with it.

Firstly, my day –

Can't say I liked O Cebreiro. It had a very strange energy. I didn't take any pics because I couldn't bring myself to. It looked like a movie set. Something you'd find on a Universal Studios tour. It was a stone village so perfectly preserved, with so many tourist shops and so many tourists, that it reeked of artificiality.

The storekeepers and merchants had the battle weary dissonance you always find in tourist traps. I was pleased to get out of there, so I left at 6:30am, knowing I had 32 kms to do today, to get to Samos.

It was a beautiful sunrise. Yeah I know, I'm not supposed to think sunrises are beautiful, but this one was a cracker.

(I took a photo with my iPhone and a High Dynamic Range app. It's the first time I've not used my Fuji. I find those Instagram / HDR Pro apps too gimmicky for my taste, but it gave a spectacular image, even though I think it looks fake!)

The first part of the day was hard – steep climbs and equally steep descents. Murder on the knees, and my knee reminded me today that it hadn't gone away. It misses the Meseta.

I had breakfast after about 2 hrs walking – coffee (only one, because I'd grabbed one in OC before I left) – and beautiful ham and cheese on toast. The bill came to €2.75. In Australia, the same breakfast would cost about $4 for the coffee and $6-$8 for the toast and ham and cheese. That's about €8-9.

I'd done about 21 kms by lunch, so I popped into a restaurant in Triacastela and had a Pilgrims Menu (€10) of beautiful home made Galician soup, and barbecued steak, and home made rice pudding. I needed the sustenance after the walk – and I still had a ways to go to Samos.

The last 7 kms into Samos has to go down as perhaps the most glorious walk I've ever done. A track that led through ancient stone villages (the real deal!) and following a stream which had little waterfalls and rapids at regular stages.

The track rose and fell, so at times I was way above the stream looking down at it through the trees, and at other times I was walking right beside it.

Many of the trees were ancient and covered in moss, and some were in flower and were blowing tiny white blossoms onto the path in front of me. Always was the sound of tinkling water, along with cuckoo birds, and cow bells.

I stopped regularly to take photos, and just take in the beauty. I was very slow – 9 kms in 3 hrs – and I didn't want the track to end.

But then I turned a corner and there below me was the Samos Monastery. Truly magnificent.

Two years ago, my wife and I stopped in Samos for a coffee and I wandered around the Monastery. I remember seeing pilgrims entering the Monastery's albergue, and I poked my head in. I saw all these bunks, and pilgrims staking out their territory with their backpacks and sleeping bags.

Later, I spoke to a fellow who was doing the Camino. I remember asking him a lot of questions – how many kms he did each day, how long he'd been walking for, etc.

Samos isn't on the most direct route to Santiago. It's a 7km detour. But I had to come back.

I've now staked out a bunk with my backpack and sleeping bag. I'm sleeping in that same dormitory in the Monastery I checked out two years ago. At 7:30, I go to Vespers in the Chapel. It includes Gregorian Chants.

It will be an experience.

And it might give me some clue as to why I'm doing this walk.


27 thoughts on “Day 27 – I’m back!

  1. Jill and I leave one week from today for Madrid. Excited to finally get to the real deal. Baby walks or practice walks, just aren’t the same, at least to me. Other than the time you mentioned a week or so back, have you had any trouble finding spontaneous accomodations. I can’t imagine that you have been making reservations given your pgs quest, which I admire. A stretch for me, but I plan to give it my best. I don’t comment a lot on your photos, but just rest assured that I love them all. Perfect for me. I have found it interesting how much advice you have gotten from followers. Some things never change. You have been a genuinely gracious blog host and been gracious to all. Besides, how can you make any mistakes with all that advice. :-)) Buen Camino.


    • Ha ha – thanks Steve!

      I’ve only made reservations twice – once in Leon, which was unnecessary, but I thought I’d be coming in on May 1. In fact I ended coming in a couple of days earlier.

      The only other time was O Cebreiro. I intuited that it would be crowded, being a Sunday – and I knew I’d be arriving late.

      Turned out to be the best thing I could have done. I was my PGS working for me.

      I’d busk it if I were you. Even in a weeks time there still won’t be a lot of people. You’ll be fine!



  2. Continuing to enjoy your blog, the photos today are beautiful !
    Tomorrow my husband starts from SJPP, I hope he finds it as interesting and thought provoking as you have.


    • Hi Meryl, everyone walks their own Camino, that’s what I’ve learnt from this. The experiences I’ve had are unique to my journey, as will your hisband’s be. He will have a wonderful, and challenging, time!

      Thank you for your kind words too!



  3. Don’t forget to walk the Paseo on the other side of the road, along the stream to the little chapel! Glad you made it to Samos… what a magical place.


    • Hi Ingrid,

      I’m tempted to wait around till 10am tomorrow to do the tour of the monastery.

      I’d really like to see it.

      Vespers was wonderful this evening. And yes, I’ll do the walk tomorrow.

      Thanks! Bill


      • Hi Bill, wonderful, I had a feeling you would love vespers. Let me know if you want to get connected with Tracy. Thank you for sharing, this has been a wonderful spirit walk alongside you. Ingrid


  4. Bill, in case I leave it too late to tell you later, when you are doing the stage from Portomarin to Palas de Rei I would reccomend going a few kms farther to San Xulian and stay at Albergue O Abrigadoiro. It is run by one of the most interesting people I met on the Camino. It is a bar/restuarant albergue and the food is great. The man who runs it lived in a cave in Majorca with his now wife when they were younger for about three years. He has some great stories. Hope you meet him.
    Love the photos.


  5. Incredible pictures Bill, we are planning on staying in any monastery we can and attending mass or vespers. So glad you got to experience this. Samos Monastery isl breath taking beautiful. Your blog makes me want the Camino, but my knee is saying no. I’m going no matter what.

    You’re almost there!


    • Hi Nancy, my serious advice is don’t do what I did and ignore a pre-existing injury. See if you can get it seen to before you leave. I thought an 800 km walk across Spain would fix my knee up. Wrong. bb


  6. I look forward to your daily blog, as we are returning to the Camino at this time next year. So am interested to see you have been having good (ie not much rain) weather. We skipped Samos last year, but will include it next year. Congratulations. And I know wha you mean about OCebriero – beautiful, but like a theme park. Kay


  7. PS I don’t know what is happening with the Botafumeria at Santiago, but it was swung for two successive midday masses when we were there last October. I hope they continue this frequency for you. The first time we were down the back of the cathedral, but next day we got ourselves in the one of the “short arms” of the cathedral – a much better view.


  8. Bill, did you know that the Bota (of the fumeira ie the incence thrower) is the same word in Catalan and in Spanish (so I’m told) for bota (boot ie wineskin of pouch) which dispenses (mostly) wine – which means they both dispense heavenly fluids and aromas – how’s that for an intuitive co-incidence? – I intend to carry a wineskin (approx 600ml) to slow down my mate who is younger and probably fitter to (say) max 15 kms a day! Do you think this would work? Cheers – day 27-pics are bloody great! Terry McEwen


  9. Bill, I love reading your Blog and find it inspiring. I’m doing the walk vicariously through you, learning from your insights, and I marvel at your breathtaking pictures. Your spiritual growth is evident, and I’m so glad you’re sharing your journey with us.
    When do you think your PGS film will come out…I will be waiting for it here in Canada.
    I’m almost sorry your walk is nearing its end for I really enjoy your writing. Take care.



    • Thank you Rose for your very kind words. We’re looking for the finance right now, so please direct anyone you know who might be interested our way! Bill


  10. Enjoyed your comments and photos very much. I know what you mean about the artificiality on top of O’Cebreiro- but I still loved the place. I just sat outside in places where I could see the view, and somehow I felt part of all the history of that place- quite at one with the Celts and Romans that had been there before me. And I don’t understand why you apologised about the sunrise: for me they were often one of the most special moments of my day. I remember the sunrise when I descended from O’Cebreiro so very clearly, as red and pink gradually lit up behind the edges of the hills below.
    Yes, that walk to Samos is wonderful as soon as you leave the highway. And if you go ‘cross country’ tomorrow, you will get even more ‘lost’ in Galician mystery- Galicia as it was, before hundreds of thousands of us began crossing certain paths- and maybe Galicia as most of it still is- hidden from our limited pilgrim gaze.


  11. Bill, you r an inspiration. I love the pics, they r amazing. It makes me want to get my shoes on now and start walking, not wait a whole year to go. Thank you for your time, comments & pictures. Beautiful.


    • Thank you Tania. That’s very kind of you. My pictures though in no way properly conveyed the beauty and wonder of that walk. You have to do the Camino. Bill


  12. O Cebreiro is very strange — though I’m told that it’s still better than it has become in the more wintry period.

    But you’re actually mistaken about the pristine condition of the buildings being an artificial creation for the tourists ; when the Camino was first becoming popular again, in the 1990s, they were already like that, and this was years before the place got tourist-ified.

    The locals have simply kept them in a state of excellent repair.

    The actual touristy stuff there is unmissable, and I need to dwell on it …


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