La Faba to Triacastela – 19km (13 for me)
Up by 7:00am and downstairs for breakfast at 8:00am, van loaded and depart by 9:30am. This is the routine for the next 5 days.
We left Molinaseca and drove about 40 minutes through the beautiful green countryside leaving the main highway to a small little village for mid-morning coffee. The buildings are all made of slate and stone and steam rises from the dewy fields as the morning sun hits the valley. It is an absolutely stunning morning!
Coffee drank, water purchased, and stamps in our Credencials, most of us clamber back into the van and carry on to La Faba were we begin our journey. Gideon, Lyuba, Steve & Jett (four of our six American companions), along with Carson opt to start the hike here at the coffee shop to add on extra kilometres! Bill & Judy, also from the US, along with Tammy, Ellen, Cecilia & Annie start at La Faba with a 5km hill ascending gradually another 600m in elevation. The trail begins through the woods and winds it’s way uphill. Before long spectacular vistas of the Leonese Mountains come into view and we realize just how far we have come.
Paul, Leslie & I opt to drive with Paul Sr. directly to O’Cebreiro. The views from here are incredible and the village right out of history! It consists of 20 stone buildings, cobbled streets and a 9th century church, Santa Maria a Real do Cebreiro, the oldest on the French Way of the Camino and the first to be restored in 1960. Nearby are typical Galician thatched buildings of Celtic Origen called pallozas.
From here we walk one of the newer paths which follows the contour of the mountains and rewards us with a beautiful at each bend. As always, there is an oops here & there, and one was made here. By accident, we started on the old Camino path and it kept climbing and getting more & more challenging, not the description Paul Sr. gave us. Finally we contacted Paul Jr. and retraced our steps to the correct path. This added about 2 additional km to our walk. Another 3km later the Paul’s met us at Linares and collected Paul who was very much looking forward to getting into the van.
Leslie was ahead of us and carried on, and I joined Annie & Cecilia for the balance of the walk to Hospital (name of the village, not an institution 😀) making it 8km for me and 12km for the ladies. Heading up an undulation as Paul Sr. refers to a hill, we stopped atop of the windy junction for our photo with the Pilgrim Statue.
Photo taken, we walk down to the village of Hospital and arrive at Meson O’Tear for a lunch of lentil soup (the best ever according to the Pauls and we all agree), beef in an incredible sauce, small trout, french fries, wine and almond cake (tarta de Santiago). Delicious! Absolutely stuffed, we get into the vans once again and dropped off further down the road to walk an additional 5km to Triacastela.
The walk was a very pleasant walk through tree lined streets of small hamlets and villages, past enormous chestnut and cypress trees. It was delightful! We joined The full group of 14 at a cafe for a cold drink and then headed to the hotel in Sarria. Sarria is a larger centre and somewhat newer with little character. We are at the Hotel Alfonso IX, which is modern, and although nice, it lacks the charm of the smaller manor and country house we all love.
After a wee rest, Annie, Leslie, Ellen, Cecilia & I meet at the patio bar and eventually make it ALL the way across the small bridge to a cafe recommended by the Pauls , Meson Roberto. It suited us just fine as it was steps away from the hotel!
We sat outside and although not overly hungry, we all ordered the Menu Del Dia as it is such a good price €10 (includes starter, main, dessert, wine, water, tax & tip!!). Our starters were relatively light, however when the main meals appear we groan. Leslie & I ordered pork loin and received two huge pieces about 1/2″thick. Unfortunately much of it was left on the plate which is such a shame – the portions are huge and we just don’t seem to learn to order a share plate rather than our own…….sigh.
After a great meal, and fabulous company with bundles of laughter, we start to get very cold and decide it is time to call it a night. Such a fun group, the banter and laughter never ends!