There was no point in getting up too early the next morning as the temperatures were forecast to drop to single figures until at least an hour after sunrise. When I finally managed to leave my comfy and warm bed and made it downstairs to have breakfast, the Cutest Couple were there, which was a lovely surprise! Yet again we ended up drinking coffees and chatting about life, love and long distance walking, and I think it could have been eleven before I hoisted my backpack on and got on with the business of walking the camino.
One thing that has baffled and worried me is that there is a sign at O Cebreiro recommending that pilgrims go on the road rather than the trail through the forest from the municipal. The day before Maria had shown me a trail line on her camino app that seemed to just swing onto and straight off the road again and she would follow that. So I went down to the road and look what has happened:
There is indeed a trail that takes off from the road and follows it down to Liñares! Quite a pleasant trail it was too, and it just goes to show you learn something new every day/time.
The camino basically goes down from O Cebreiro on the other side, so you can see the opposite valley to the one you walked up. The weather was perfect for it, sunny but not to hot, windy but not too much. Yet again I seemed to have timed my departure perfectly between the O Ceb crew and the people coming up from Herrerias, and walked in splendid solitude just about all the way.
Now this sign can only mean one thing: You are about to go downhill for the specific purpose of going back up hill, but not just any old uphill – the Cursed Hill leading up to the Blessed Bar. Yes, that is what I call them and you will see why if you haven’t already.
The Cursed Hill is surprisingly and almost rudely steep and leads to lots of swearing (YMMV), and if you zoom in on the photo below you can juust about make out the awning of the Blessed Bar, so called because the pilgrim curses turn to semi breathless whoops of joy and praise as they crest the hill and spot a free chair.
Sadly though, the up and downhills had done their worst to my knees, which were now complaining loudly even if I just tried to sit down or stand up. Knowing the trail down to Triacastela would be predominantly downhill, some of it quite steep, I decided to share a taxi with an exhausted lady who desperately needed to find a room and lie down in the dark for as long as the establishment would let her.
… Only to find, when we arrived in town, that it was completo! I dropped my pack at the Atrio, where for once I had a double bed instead of a twin, so I couldn’t even offer to share, and then we went off in search of a room or at least a bed for the lady. When there were only two places left to try, I had to call it a day and find somewhere to sit myself down for a rest – I do hope she found somewhere, even if it meant taxiing back on herself again. This is not the time to wing it, people! Book your place and remember to cancel any bookings you don’t need…
I perched myself at the Xacobeo restaurant for a lunchtime churrasco. I then remained perched there until dinner time, when my Musician dining friends joined me again. The Xacobeo has zamburiñas on the menu, so we feasted on them for starters, and after they had eaten their meal I joined them for a dessert of Cebreiro cheese with membrillo. When in Galicia…
At the end of the evening I thought I recognised the top half of a face above a mask, and it was indeed Art, of Art’s Gallery in nearby A Balsa. I thought he had sold up and left after brexit made it impossible for Brits to stay more than 90 days out of any 180 in an EU country, but here he still was (until the end of the week). He sat down and had his meal with us, and when my albergue alarm went, I promised I would see him the next morning on my way to Sarria. Then I had to do a little Cinderella run through the cold to beat my curfew, and I was very pleased to have a room with a thick, lovely blanket!