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Written by
Sandi Lloyd
Sandi Lloyd

Blessings Along "The Way" - Part 1

Two years had now gone by since I started walking the Camino de Santiago, beginning in San Jean Pied de Port in France, crossing the Pyrenees into Spain. It was now time to finish this last stage, Sarria to Santiago. To finish, I needed a new walking partner and someone to help with the details on how to get to & from Sarria to Santiago, Spain.

I explored the internet and found Macs Adventure. I knew once on their website, they were going to get us from Sarria to Santiago to get our Compostela. I still needed a walking partner. While many pilgrims walk “The Way” alone, my husband did not want me walking across Galicia by myself. I contacted my girlfriend Charlotte, to see if she would like to go for a walk, and she said yes. (We have since walked Hadrian’s Wall and the Portugeese Camino).

People talk about how walking the Camino is life changing and, in many ways, it was for me. I was walking to take care of my soul in the solitude of walking while connecting with nature and other Pilgrims. As a psychologist, I know Nature is healing for the mind, body and soul.

Charlotte and I flew into Madrid, and took the train as I had booked our tickets on Rail Europe, Renfe, and downloaded them before we left. I also took out the rail protection plan ($17.00 total for two tickets). On the train we had a place to put our big bags as well as our packs and it was and is a long ride, 6 hours. We took some sandwiches and drinks. You can buy food and drinks on the train but is less expensive at the station or in Madrid. Our train from Madrid to Sarria arrived in the afternoon.

Macs Adventure had given us directions to walk to our hotel, but we took a taxi from the station to the Hotel Alfonso. Checked in and keys, we received additional information about our walk. Settled in, we headed out crossing the bridge to get to the center of Sarria, looking for a scallop shell for Charlotte (as many shops close in the afternoons and dinner is not until 8pm or later). We found a little café and enjoyed our first meal of the Camino and went back to our hotel to get some rest.

Sun shining in our room woke us to our first day on the Camino.

Dressed, hiking boots on, bags tagged, we took them downstairs to be picked up. After breakfast, we headed out across the little bridge, found our yellow arrow and turned left and then right around the corner. To our surprise, there were steps that went straight up. I looked at Charlotte, we both moaned a bit and then started walking day 1 to Portomarin.

Stairs from Sarria

Stairs taking us out of Sarria.

Charlotte was able to buy her scallop shell at a small shop up the steps. I still had mine from walking from San Jean Pied de Port in France. Charlotte’s shell tied securely on her day pack; we continued out of town where we encountered our first blessing along “The Way.”

Frost from the early morning gave way to a most beautiful day on this last day of April. As we crossed a stone bridge and went around the bend, an elderly gentleman was walking towards town and carried a bunch of lovely purple flowers in his hands. We watched him pass other Pilgrims that were in front of us and when he got to Charlotte and I, he stopped, divided the bunch of purple flowers into two smaller bunches and handed each one of us the small bouquets.

He tipped his hat and wished us a Buen Camino and continued walking into town. What a blessing to receive on our first morning of walking.

Flowers tucked in the backpack

Sandi - With the flowers

The temperature continued to climb as we saw more evidence of Spring. Dress in layers as it was now in the 60’s and I found myself wishing for a bit of a breeze as we walked.

Signs of Spring - Lambs

Signs of Spring

Today we were walking 22km or 13.7 miles and should arrive in Portomarin sometime about 2pm if we walked about two miles an hour. We didn’t arrive until about 4pm. I should say this was because we partly got lost. You would have to be us to understand.

As we crossed the Belesar reservoir bridge, we came to another set of stairs…which caused more moaning. Looking at our directions to Area De Turismo Rural Sta Marina we headed up the steps and was to turn right and continue 1 km on the road to where there was a posting about our accommodations.

More steps to Portomarin

Another set of stairs…which caused more moaning!

This is where we got lost. Climbing the steps, it took us into town instead of following the small road to the right, before the steps. Standing on the corner in town, looking to see where we needed to go, a group of young people yelled and pointed us in the right direction. I don’t think we were the first to need directions. We found the small road to our accommodations, and realized it was still a way away.

Checked in, our hosts walked us to our lovely little cabin closest to the river. It was just what we needed and there were our bags. Later, refreshed, we headed back to the main house and sat outside with a lovely glass of red wine and watched our first day come to a close.

We enjoyed an amazing dinner, and more than we could eat that included dessert, wine, and the local drink, Orujo.

Cabin by the river

Our little cabin

Camino feast

Local drinks

WOW…it has a bit of a kick…try it!

Darkness wrapped us in a star filled night, as we walked back to our cabin. These were the same stars that people have been seeing since the beginning of walking the Way of Saint James. That idea holds a certain bit of awe for me. Clocks set, we climbed into our twin beds and were asleep almost immediately. Day two came to quickly.

Our journey had just begun…what would the week hold? I hope you’ll come along and share our blessings and experiences of walking this stage of the Camino de Santiago with Macs Adventure.

Sandi


For more information on walking the Camino please visit the Macs Adventure website for itineraries and inspiration. Read Part 2 of Sandi's Blog here.

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