Tag Archives: Vilar do Barrio

Vilar do Barrio to Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense

June 10 – Well, even without a blanket, that was one of the best nights we’ve had in an albergue.  There were only two other people in our dorm, a bicycling couple from the Netherlands, so we got adjoining lower bunks and slept easy.  

Nine miles today.  We walked out of town along with some freshly shorn sheep on their way to pasture.

Are the hydrangeas blooming at home?  My favorite flower:

Our first few miles were totally flat farm track, reminding us of the beginning of our journey.

Here’s a stork out for a morning stroll.  We haven’t seen one in quite a while.

The farm track ended and we were back to the shady woods.  Love the ferns and the mossy green rocks that line the path.

At a little town, we saw a raised grain storage building.  We remembered seeing many on our last Camiño.

We liked the juxtaposition of the old structure sheltering modern cars.

And more sheep!

Jim made some new friends as we climbed up and up some more.

As we descended toward town, Jim saw some beehives, and decided to get a close up.  I don’t have to tell you what happened…

Then down, down and into town.

Time for our next lesson in Galego.  We are now in the town of Xunqueira de Ambía.  In Galego, the letter replaces the letter J, which we all know has the sound of H in Spanish.  Claro?  It’s a good sized town with two supermarkets and our choice of restaurants for a midday meal.  We are staying at Casa do Souto, and have the whole house to ourselves, including the washing machine. So nice to have really clean clothes!  The birds are singing outside our window, and we are enjoying another wonderful view.  85 miles to go.

June 11 – Happy birthday to Peter, my firstborn.  He doesn’t read my blog, so somebody please tell him I’m sending love his way!

Nine miles today as we head toward Ourense, our last big city before Santiago.  It’s gray and overcast this morning, for the first time in quite a while.  We stopped checking the weather forecast, because it was so nice every day!

Haven’t shown you a church in a while.  Walking out of Xunqueira.

The arrow shows the way.  The shell is the sign of St. James.  The water gourd is the mark of the pilgrim.  We think the stars are for the European Union.

Here we are!

We walk on the road, past farmers’ fields.  The grapes are starting to grow!

Our guidebook warned that today was all roadwalk, and it was right.  As the farms turned into suburbs, we were given a sidewalk.

More hydrangeas!

We passed a restaurant with some metal peregrinos:

Getting bored now.  Do you think this sign means we have to yield to trumpet players?

I used to think this sign meant Fat Man Sleeping.  Now I know it means speed bump.

Still walking.

We saw signs that it is much warmer here than where we’ve recently been.  Cacti, palm trees, and red tile roofs.

The suburbs become an industrial area about five miles from the city.  

Our book warned that this was a long, bleak stretch, and all the pavement walking hurts our feet, so we decided yesterday to stop at a travelers hotel three miles out, and walk the final leg into the city of Ourense tomorrow.  The hotel is highly rated with a great restaurant.  We’ll do the rest of the bleak walk tomorrow. 

Here’s the map of our remaining miles.  100 kilometers is all that is required to say that you have completed a Camino.  We expect the trails to get more crowded from this point on.

76 miles to go.

Campobecceros to Laza to Vilar do Barrio

June 8 – I was sleeping as well as can be expected in an albergue with surround-sound snorers, when somebody’s phone alarm went off at 5am.  Then another one went off, and everybody got up and started making noise in the pitch dark.  Sheesh!  We’re only going nine miles today, and thought we’d sleep til at least 6:30 or so, but there’s no sleeping late in an albergue.  The real hikers must be walking the additional four hours to the next town.  By about 5:20, Jim leaned down into my bunk and invited me to meet him downstairs in the kitchen, and he would make us some coffee.  When in Campobecceros, you do what the peregrinos do!  The upshot is that I got some nice pix of the sunrise at 6am:

As what goes up, must come down, today’s hike was all downhill – back below the tree line.

Here’s some flora we haven’t seen before, thriving amid the rocks:

After walking about two hours, we came upon a little self-service support point run by Friends of the Camino, in a little town with no shops or services.  We had a tepid cup of coffee from a thermos and a banana, and left a donation.  What a nice gesture – the first we’ve encountered on this Camino. It reminded Jim of the Trail Angels who set out food for hikers on the Appalachian Trail back home.

Another beautiful day, nice and cool.

Before we knew it, we were on the last rocky downhill into Laza.

As we had no phone reception yesterday, we were unable to book a room for today, but we had high hopes for the Pension Blanco Conde.  We breathed a sigh of relief to learn that we could have our own room, with towels, shampoo, and wifi!  We have a beautiful view of the mountains and can hear the cowbells from the farm next door.  

In Laza, you can walk your donkey down the main street:

What a lovely sunset from our bedroom window:

106 miles to go.

June 9 – We enjoyed our self-serve breakfast of coffee, juice, toast and yogurt, courtesy of our Pension, after a very good night’s sleep.  Twelve miles planned for today.  First few miles were along a highway with no shoulder and lots of cars.  Some pulled into the middle to give us room, and some seemed to be playing chicken – aiming right at us til the last moment.  Not my favorite way to start the day.  

Now that we’re in Galicia, the language has changed (they speak Galego which is closer to Portuguese than Spanish) so that we are no longer on a Camino, but a Camiño.  I was amused to see that someone had corrected all the signs to add the squiggle over the ‘n’.

There was another kick-butt uphill climb today, that had me drenched with sweat and breathing hard by the time we got to the top.  Jim, always encouraging, walked ahead and called back, “We’re almost there!  Just around this bend!”  There were too many bends for me!

By midday we reached a little town with a bar that is famous on this Camiño.  When we walked in, a Bruce Springsteen CD was playing, and the sound of home made me cry.  The proprietor has absolutely covered every square inch of his establishment with Peregrino shells, signed by his customers.  After our coffee, he gave us a shell and asked us to write our names on it.  Heaven knows where he’ll find room to hang it.  I wrote “Karen and Jim Virginia USA”.  When I handed it back to him, he broke out in a big smile and said, “I have been to Caroleeña del Norte!”  Small world.

With the kick-butt hill behind us, the rest of the hike was a dream, with scenery to match.

We got to Vilar do Barrio (the ‘de’ is now ‘do’ in Galego), where a Casa Rural is noted on our app.  We tried to call last night, but got no answer – not a good sign.  Sure enough, it was out of business, so we trudged on to the albergue.  Our book said this albergue was new and modern, so I tried to hold back my negative albergue thoughts.  It has 28 beds, in three dorms, and actually has a well designed women’s bathroom, with two toilets, three showers, and a sink (Jim said the men’s room was similarly appointed).  No soap at the sinks though, which is kind of nasty.  Also no blankets – the first time blankets have not been offered.  We have our silky sheets – sure hope it doesn’t get cold tonight!  

We walked across the street to the only restaurant, and Jim tried ordering in Spanish, which the proprietress couldn’t understand.  The problem was further complicated by the fact that we couldn’t order separate dishes – the entree was served on one platter for both of us.  We figured it out after a while.  Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it…  94 miles to go.