Camino de Santiago: Day 24, Hospital, Spain
Distance from Trabadelo to Hospital, Spain 27.7 kilometers
Most days of the Camino De Santiago have been amazing but this was one of my favorites. The first few kilometers after we left Trabedlo were mostly along roads and not that interesting, but it was a pleasant day for walking and only required a few layers to keep warm. At LaPortela we left the roads and started walking my favorite parts, the trails that connect the ancient villages.
While walking through Vega de Valcarce we encountered another pilgrim, a small, compact Asian looking man who, you could just tell from seeing the confidence in his stride, was an experienced trail walker. We gave the requisite hellos and “Buen Camino” greetings and then as he passed, he gave me an examining look and walked across the road and pointed at my backpack as we continued along. I couldn’t understand why he was doing this. He tried to explain in French accented English, but I couldn’t get the point. Finally he put out his hands to stop me, reached behind my pack, and adjusted my shoulder straps. It was like five kilos had suddenly been removed from my back. It felt almost as if I could fly. Again, he said “Buen Camino” and shot ahead. The rest of my day was so much easier because this stranger had taken a minute of his time to help me.
The trail from here turned very steep and very rocky. We passed through dense deciduous forest through passages lined on both sides with ancient walls constructed out of stacked stones. It was beautiful, but finally the road opened up and we could see a huge panorama of wildflowers, purple heather and green mountains. We were passing into Galica, the last province in our walk.
We entered O Cebreio, a restored Celtic village, and found a place for lunch. I had been wanting to try the famous Galician dish of Pulpo, and finally a I was going to get my wish. Pulpo á feira is a simple traditional Spanish dish of octopus carefully boiled in a copper pot. After it is cooked so that it is tender, but still firm to the bite, it is sprinkled with olive oil, sea salt and paprika, and served with potatoes, to be eaten with toothpicks, on a traditional wooden plate. Also, it is said that water should never be served with Pulpo, so I had mine with a glass of Galician Vino Tinto. It was delicious.
Stuffed, and a little sleepy, we wanted to find a place for the night, but we still had some walking to do. We crossed over Alto do San Roque, apparently the last, highest point, on the Camino de Santiago, before beginning a decent into Camino de Compostela. We walked through the nondescript village of Liñares, before finding a lovely Casa Rural called “O Tear” in the village of Hospital. After a delicious beef stew served with thick crusted country bread, and of course more Galician red wine, we went to our room over the restaurant, and slept the solid way you do after spending the day in fresh air and being filled with delicious food.