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Detailed planning for the Camino Sanabres, March-April 2020

C clearly

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Some airports in the US have signs for "recombobulation zones" after the security area. An attempt to bring some levity to the experience, I think.
Really?! I would not have expected that.
 

C clearly

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Day 18 - A Laxe to Dornelas (23 km)

What do you think, VN - is this too far? EDIT: I've changed the plan - stopping in Dornelas as suggested by @peregrina2000 .

It seems there are many villages and likely lots of accommodation, but I find the place names are confusing on maps and Google Earth. It is easier to understand, at walking speed.

Maybe Ponte Ulla would be a better place to stay the last night before Santiago. Any recommendations?
 
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peregrina2000

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So many choices here! If you have the time, my suggestion would be to stop in Dornelas, which would be about 23 km. The albergue is run by an Italian couple. It was closed when I went by last year because they were back in Italy getting married, but I walked for a few kms with a few local women who went there every day on their exercise walks for the best coffee they ever had. Everyone loves this place, and it is in a really nice setting. Meals are reported to be up to the high standards you would expect from Italian cooks.

https://www.gronze.com/galicia/pontevedra/dornelas/albergue-casa-leiras-1866

Stay here, @C clearly! You then have two easy days into Santiago, or one 30 km day.
 

C clearly

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You're on! I'm steadily getting closer.
I changed the destination in post #202 above. Now, if you decided to stay at the recommended Lalin albergue last night, I'll save you a bunk you in Dornelas at the Albergue Casa Leiras.
 

Raggy

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If you want to get from Estación de Lalin to Santiago in two days, I agree that stopping at Casa Leiras in San Martín de Dornelas is the best option - Better than the impersonal hostal in Ponte Ulla or the Xunta albergueria in Outeiro , which has a kitchen but no nearby shops (you need to buy groceries when passing through Ponte Ulla).

Casa Leiras is decorated with Italian flair and it has a beautiful garden to relax in. The owners serve a communal dinner - I think that might be your only option for dinner, because I don't remember seeing a kitchen and it's a tiny village. I remember consuming several helpings of delicious pasta with home made ragu. One of my walking companions last year declared it to be the best albergue on the route (despite being bitten to pieces by mosquitos overnight). I disagreed because I don't feel the same warmth in the welcome that I have felt in, say, Tabara, Rionegro, and Albergueria (OK, in Rionegro, the warm welcome comes from the nearby restaurant, not the albergue but even so...). I've described the owners as delightful in my blog, but if I'm really honest, I should say that I feel a bit of tension in my interactions with the husband. There, I've said it.

The walk from Estación de Lalin has a fair bit of asphalt but also some pleasant woodland paths and a beautiful medieval bridge to cross. There are two modern towns on the way - Bandeira and Silleda. When I passed through last year, there was pulpo being prepared in the streets of Bandeira and a festival atmosphere.

Everyone seems in a hurry to get to Santiago at this point, but with all the facilities after Estación de Lalin, there's no reason to rush ... I think if I were to do it again, I'd take three days to give myself an evening in Silleda ... or perhaps at the nice wine bar in [CORRECTED] Bandeiras *(but not the impersonal hostal there), an Italian coffee on my way through San Martín de Dornelas, and a friendly dinner and overnight stay in Deseiro, where the Albergue Reina Lupa is comfortable with a super friendly owner. From there, I would have the shortest possible last day into Santiago. Heck, I might even carry on toward Finisterre.
 
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VNwalking

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a friendly dinner and overnight stay in Deseiro, where the Albergue Reina Lupa is comfortable with a super friendly owner.
Hmmmm...looking this up...

Santiago is within striking distance from Dornelas, but it's a long day, and this option looks super. Why rush? We have no flights to catch after all...
 

peregrina2000

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Doing a little googling to give you a couple of options for how to split the last 27 or 28 kms from Dornelas to Santiago.

I was going to try to tempt you to stay in the very lovely Pazo de Galegos, down the hill a bit from the Outeiro albergue, but I see that sadly it is now listed as permanently closed. I do not know when that happened or whether it is covid-related. It was an absolutely beautiful spot, in an old winery and pazo turned Into a hotel rural. I have never stayed there but got a tour a few years ago from the daughter of the older couple who had taken the lead in converting this into a hotel. Maybe it will come back, but not in time for you guys, so I will leave a link for others to lots of pictures and reviews here.

So, that leaves you with several options, and I will put in Raggy’s suggestion as well.

1. 8 km to Ponte Ulla. Ponte Ulla is a nice last place to sleep but I assume you want to split it a little more evenly. But it does make for a very manageable last day’s walk, and it has a foodie restaurant, as well as a nice outdoor bar/restaurant right near the bridge, so if you there’s any chance that @SabineP will make the journey with you, I think she would push for Ponte Ulla as the last night’s stay.

2. 12 km to Albergue in Outeiro. This is a very nice albergue, leaves you with an uncomplicated and pretty easy 17 km the next day into Santiago.

3. About 14 to Lestedo and the Casa de Casal. I know Reb has stayed here and liked it a lot.

4. 19 km to Reina Lupa. I saw it last year when I walked but did not stay there. That would really give you a nice stay plus a short walk into Santiago the next day. And @Raggy has never steered us wrong.

And I have to say this is perfect timing, @C clearly because @AJGuillaume has promised that he will be starting his virtual Vdlp very soon!
 

C clearly

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Day 19 - Dornelas to Lestedo (14 km)

I like this suggestion. In the times I have walked to Santiago, I don't think I have properly enjoyed the Galician countryside, food and people, for a couple of reasons - I've been "with" other pilgrims who are keen to get to Santiago, and I've been on the Camino Frances express. This time I'd like to slow down a bit and this Casa Rural looks perfect. If @VNwalking wants to share a room, it will be more affordable.
 

VNwalking

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I'm in, @Cclearly! It'd be a delight!
Today I get to Lalin and am tempted to push on to the flash hotel just past there on the N525. A German priest I met had stayed there and said it was very nice - it even gave him a pilgrim rate. I've been sleeping in all sorts of places on this walk and could use some comfort!

Edit-
as well as a nice outdoor bar/restaurant right near the bridge,
I can attest to this enthusiastically! Pimeñtos de Padron were perfect, and abundant. That's all I ever need.😁
And the people were super friendly...
 
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Raggy

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Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Today I get to Lalin and am tempted to push on to the flash hotel just past there on the N525. A German priest I met had stayed there and said it was very nice - it even gave him a pilgrim rate. I've been sleeping in all sorts of places on this walk and could use some comfort!
Hotel & Spa Norat Torre do Deza? I stopped at that hotel to use the lavatory in the mid-morning and wasn't that impressed. It reminded me of every hotel where I've ever attended a conference - I heard sounds of staff clearing up in the kitchen but when I called out in an attempt to buy a coffee, my words like empty raindrops fell, and echoed in the empty ballroom. Not that I needed a coffee, you understand. I just thought I should buy one out of courtesy since I was using the facilities.

Bottom line - I haven't seen the rooms and I haven't met the staff, but I feel like I know what the deal is there. If having a room of your own floats your boat (and, to be fair, a spa/ pool), then go for it. For me, the Lalin central albergue is a more attractive proposition - very well appointed, with pilgrim-oriented facilities that hotels lack (e.g. washer and dryer), located in the town center, and with a super-friendly hospitalero who runs a restaurant around the corner. (Someone recently wrote that the pizzas at A Casa do Gato are excellent ... Well, I have had better, but my pizza was fine. The bean soup was better. And the welcome was the best).

Now, the Hotel Rural Casa de Casal in Lestedo is another kettle of fish - If I wanted to give myself a treat after several weeks of albergue stays, that's the kind of place I'd like to splurge on. I've never been inside, but I've always been struck by how pretty it is when walking past. Another good place to splurge in this area is the gourmet restaurant in Ponte Ulla that Peregrina mentioned upthread. The menu is quite old fashioned. I think I had quail in wine sauce. It reminded me of fancy restaurant meals with my parents in the 1970s. It's not a place that stuns you with creative flair but it does what it does very well. But you'll be passing through before dinner time, so ... come back another time.
 
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VNwalking

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Hotel & Spa Norat Torre do Deza? I stopped at that hotel to use the lavatory in the mid-morning and wasn't that impressed.
Yeah, I get it. When I passed the last time I wasn't the least tempted to go in—it looked soulless.
But after hearing that the spa was nice... well, that's the temptation.

(Someone recently wrote that the pizzas at A Casa do Gato are excellent ... Well, I have had better, but my pizza was fine. The bean soup was better. And the welcome was the best).
That would have been me. Mine tasted like manna from Heaven! But I have to say by way of caveat that by then I was starving for variety. In retrospect, it was probably just everyday pizza. This calls for a bigger sample size! 🙃
 

VNwalking

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So @C clearly , where are you now? I just passed through Ponte Ulla, and the day is still young. An early lunch and cafe fom the friendly bar by the bridge later, and I'm on my way up the hill towards Outero and Lestedo.

Looking forward to the closer view of Pico Sacra than you get going down into Ponte Ulla. The Castro above the river, with its sweeping views, must once have made it a strategic location.

About Pico Sacra, Wikipedia says:
In galician mythology a tomb for the apostle was to be constructed at the summit, until it was known that a dragon lived at that place.
Well. Of course there is.

Here's the view* from the mirador where the castro once stood; Pico Sacra is the conical peak on the right, and you can see Ponte Ulla down by the river on the left:
0_CaminoRealDeInvierno_day36_15_View_from_Miradoiro_do_Alto_do_Castro.jpg

* Not my photo. I found it here:
 

C clearly

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Camino(s) past & future
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Day 20 - Lestedo to Santiago (14 km)

So sorry for the delay! In real life I have been walking lots and even got bitten by a dog yesterday, so I am happy to arrive in Santiago in virtual life.

VN and I have been walking together - discussing lots of political, religious and other topics that are not allowed on the forum (for good reason). We will arrive in Santiago today. I don't need a recommendation for lodging there - Hospedaria San Martin Pinario is my choice as always. I am sure there are other good places, and sometime I might need to use them, but I love the simple comfort and elegance that is found at San Martin Pinario. I hope to spend a couple of days in Santiago, meeting up with friends and acquaintances.

I have never walked to Finistere. I am saving that for an occasion when I have time, and also "feel like it." I like keeping this option as something to be done in the future. I don't need to do it now.

Since today will be only 14 km, and VN and I will be encouraging each other to explore options, I am interested in details that might might this day's walk novel.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
Ok, though I just headed south a few days ago to accompany @AJ on the Vdlp (now in Fuente de Cantos), but I will hop up here to give you some ideas. One is to take a moment to reflect when you pass over the rail tracks right near the curve where the AVE train went off the rails in 2013. There are a lot of makeshift memorials, many of which are faded, but all of which still pack a punch. The litigation over damages for the families was still going on last time I checked.

And how could I fail to point out the romanesque Colegiata del Sar, which you will pass right before entering Santiago when you cross the medieval bridge. Pretty cloister, small museum. Well worth a short detour.

And close by is the turn-off to walk up to the Cidade da Cultura, a pretty bizarre complex up on a hill. It has been called an expensive white elephant by many and doesn’t seem to be really flourishing. But the architecture is unique (one building looks like a giant ski jump), lots of interesting stonework. And when I was there, one of the buildings was open with an interesting display about some Brazilian Amazon tribes. That would add about 7.5 kms to your short day and still get you into Santiago in plenty of time.

I suppose one other obvious excursion would be to walk up to the top of Pico Sacro. I have never done it, but this account with some nice pictures indicates that it crosses with the Vdlp. I have no idea where that juncture is, but maybe someone like @Raggy or @alansykes would have an idea. Googlemaps says that the pico is only 3 km from the Casa de Casal where you are staying, so that might be a good way to get the heart pumping before the leisurely saunter into Santiago.

Looks like very nice views from up on the top of Pico Sacro!
 

VNwalking

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Well, Pico Sacra is well behind us now as we pass through A Susana, and reach the outskirts of Santiago. Next time! That's an amazing view. What's interesting is the photo they posted looking East is almost exactly the opposite of the one I posted from the castro above Ponte Ulla.

I am sorry @SabineP is not with us, because Lestedo contains a culinary surprise. Even if you don't stay here, it's only a wee ways off the camino for a place that makes a locally famous delecacy - tarta de Lestedo. Cheesecake with a strawberry topping. Yum!
 
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Raggy

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What else is there to say about the "home stretch"? The views from the top of the climb around Ponte Ulla and Outeiro are nice (but you already passed those before Lestedo). I didn't know about the Pico Sacro ...

Your opportunities for filling the credencial with its final stamps are the Bar Rosende next to the Reina de Lupa albergue (a couple of hundred meters off the camino). Very friendly, but I doubt you'll need a break at this point. The next bar is only a short distance up the road in A Susana. And then, according to Gronze, after you pass the little chapel (Emita de Santa Lucia) there's another bar in Piñiero, but I don't have any memory of it. Somewhere around here you'll catch your first glimpse of the Cathedral spires. Hard to remember the details at this point, I must always be single-mindedly focused on getting there.

I'm told that these last kilometers on the Sanabres are more pleasant than the way into Santiago on the Camino Frances. There are a couple of road sections, some muddy, grassy bits, one or two pretty little stretches, like the bit where you walk under a canopy of vines between two farm houses, some highways and high voltage electricity cables to pass under, and the railway bridge / crash site that Peregrina2000 mentioned. To get over the railway bridge, you've got a short, irritating, climb - Not a proper climb up a mountain or anything that you might actually want to do, just a last-minute "fooled ya!" kind of climb. After the bridge, you'll get your reward, though. From there on, it's a descent along pretty, old-fashioned streets, until you reach the pedestrianized old town.

Overall, I think it's not an especially beautiful stage until you're in the old town of Santiago itself (and that's very beautiful). But it's not bad. It's a fitting end to the Camino. Compared with entering Ourense or leaving Granada or Salamanca, it's bliss.

Albergue Seminario Menor looks great. I think I'd treat myself to a private room if I were to stay there. I stayed at The Last Stamp albergue last year and found myself with some pretty feckin' ignorant room mates. I don't mind that they'd never heard of Poland, but by the time you reach Santiago you ought to know better than to make a long phone call from your bunk in the middle of the night. The Last Stamp had jacked up its prices since 2017, when I spent one night there. Back then, it seemed like a good value. Now, I'm not so sure.

Come to think of it, my room mates there in 2017 were kind of boorish too - three cyclists from Portugal who hung their gear out to dry across every square centimeter of the shared space, and made a huge racket when they left very early the next morning. I think it's just a shock to my system to find myself in Pilgrim central after being on a less popular route. The camaraderie and feeling of fellowship is diminished and I find my defenses going up. Some things seem so dog-eat-dog. I find people making a sudden dash to position themselves ahead of me in the queue at the pilgrims office. A woman accuses me of having one of her socks in the dryer with my clothes. (Yes, of course, I'll check when I remove my things. No, I'm not just going to walk off with one of your socks. Yes, of course, it's fine for you to stay here and watch me to make sure of that. And how was your Camino?)

In Santiago, I've also stayed at the Compostela hotel on the Plaza de Galicia, which is modern, comfortable, and super-convenient for the airport bus. I've also rented an entire Airbnb with a couple of other pilgrims just off the cathedral square, which was pretty awesome. I must try the Seminario Menor and the Parador one day.

Things to do in Santiago - You probably have your own preferences. I was thrilled to be able to join the guided tour of the Portico de Gloria last year. Tickets are offered to a select few pilgrims who collect their credencials at the Pilgrim Office (who knows how that will work in the COVID aftermath). I'm a huge fan of the museum of the Galician people. The building and the exhibits are simply fantastic. The answers to all of the questions that you asked when you were passing through Galicia are all to be found in the museum. As well as color coded maps for festivals, architectural styles, agriculture, and other cultural phenomena, there are some fascinating isogloss maps of Galicia. (Yes, your ears weren't lying, the Galician language in some of the regions that you walked through sounds quite close to Portuguese). I also like the museum of pilgrimage and the cathedral museum. In all of these places, it pays to have your credencial with you to qualify for the generous pilgrim discounts.

If there's time after all of that, I would recommend a quick visit to the Mercado de Abastos for some foodie souvenirs, followed by a lazy afternoon of sampling Spanish wines with ham rolls at Casa Pepe. And if you need a beard trim or shave, I recommend Barbanosa at 1 Rúa da República Arxentina.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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these last kilometers on the Sanabres are more pleasant than the way into Santiago on the Camino Frances.
This is such a lovely entry to the city - and you can actually see the cathedral spires as you come down the hill past the Cidade da Cultura.
And the Colegia that you mention Laurie is definitely worth a look. 20190616_140225.jpgAnd And the bridge near there is really beautiful. I don't know why I found it so unexpected.
20190616_135301.jpg
And I had the same experience as you did, @Raggy— the Portico de Gloria tour was fantastic.

And the Seminario is heaven. I also like the private rooms - simple but all you need. Now I'm on the hunt for the best pimeñtos de padron. Any other addicts out there with suggestions?
View media item 9725
 
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Raggy

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A propos of nothing, why does everyone's Tarta de Santiago have St. James' cross on the top? Of course, I realize that's the tradition. But would it not be a cute point of differentiation if bakers sprinkled their icing sugar over a template in the shape of a shell, or an arrow, or the silhouette of two pilgrims bending toward each other for a kiss, or the cathedral wall shadow pilgrim figure, or the cathedral itself, or the word Ultreia in cursive script ...?

Just a thought.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
My go-to place for pimientos de Padrón is Bodeguilla San Roque. It is no longer the cozy neighborhood spot it was 20 years ago when the owner of Hotel Costa Vella sent me there (In fact they have opened a satellite at San Lazaro right on the Camino Frances as you come into the city past that big monument to famous pilgrims (the Porta Itineris San Jacobi).
But its popularity hasn't ruined their preparation of those yummy peppers.
 

VNwalking

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Hmmm...that's also right up the street from the Altair, which is a wonderful little hotel if you want to splurge.
Thank's Laurie! Worth checking out.
Looking forward to visiting Tertulia, as well. The best tea in town.
 

C clearly

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Thanks for all the reminders of what to do in Santiago.

I'm a huge fan of the museum of the Galician people. The building and the exhibits are simply fantastic. The answers to all of the questions that you asked when you were passing through Galicia are all to be found in the museum. As well as color coded maps for festivals, architectural styles, agriculture, and other cultural phenomena, there are some fascinating isogloss maps of Galicia.
Yes, the museum was good. Here I'd also like to reiterate my praise for the Museo Etnografico in Mansilla de las Mulas. It provided similar information for the province of Leon, and was well worth waiting around in Mansilla for the morning. There is also a convenient bus to and from Leon, so you can combine it with the stayover in Leon.

I even want to go to the Cidade da Cultura - bizarre hilltop complexes are always appealing, especially if they have a display on Amazon tribes.

While I like to walk alone much of the time, and I don't like to be caught up in another person's plans, I think I would really enjoy spending a couple of days sightseeing in the company of another person in Santiago. We really need to encourage such meetups with forum members in Santiago, once we have that opportunity again.

Thank you everyone for your help with this journey - in particular, @Raggy and @peregrina2000 for sticking with me all the way. Now I have a personalized guide to the Camino Sanabres!

I will hurry over to the VDLP to see how @AJGuillaume is faring.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
A propos of nothing, why does everyone's Tarta de Santiago have St. James' cross on the top? Of course, I realize that's the tradition. But would it not be a cute point of differentiation if bakers sprinkled their icing sugar over a template in the shape of a shell, or an arrow, or the silhouette of two pilgrims bending toward each other for a kiss, or the cathedral wall shadow pilgrim figure, or the cathedral itself, or the word Ultreia in cursive script ...?

Just a thought.
Spoke too soon
 

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