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Monforte de Lemos to Silleda: Charrito on the Invierno Yet Again!


Monday March 25

I drove up from Salamanca on Monday morning, making an obligatory stop in Quiroga for a meal in Casa Aroza. As ever, I received a lovely greeting from the owners and the waitress. An excellent choice for the 10 euro menu del día. As a regular client (!) I wasn’t charged for my pre-meal glasses of wine outside, nor for the café and chupito afterwards.

After a stroll around Quiroga I carried on to Monforte de Lemos, where I would be leaving the car for a few days. Instead of going directly to the centre I stayed in the 2- star Hotel Condes de Lemos, right in front of the railway station. Easy to park, and there are plenty of bars/restaurants in the area (as well as the Doll’s House Museum and the Railway Museum). 30 euros for the night, but 32 if you wanted breakfast. This was not just a coffee and a biscuit, but a proper self-service buffet, with ham, cheese, fruit juice, coffee, toast, cakes and much more. They also have plenty of gluten-free stuff.

In the evening I made my way down to the centre, but it was much too hot to climb up to the castle/parador, so I had a couple of wines and hot pinchos. The Centro do Vino is closed on Mondays. Guided tours on Tuesdays to Sundays at 11.30, 12.30, 17.00 (winter), 17.30 (summer), 18.30 (winter) and 19.00 (summer). Summer is July to September.

Tuesday March 26

I caught the 07.50 bus from Monforte Bus Station, and asked the driver to let me off at the stop after Escairón. He duly did, and there I was – at 08.10 – two hundred metres past the Cheese Factory. It’s a pleasant walk of just less than 4 kilometres from there to Diomondi. The Cantina de Mean was, naturally, closed so early in the morning.

After a rest outside the church I walked down to Belesar. It’s as steep as ever, but luckily it hadn’t rained for ages and it wasn’t too slippy. I will never get tired of walking down there, seeing the Miño far below you, but knowing that you are going to be faced with that long uphill slog on the other side!

I checked out O Batuxo in Belesar, but it is closed.

After a quick change of clothes by the bridge (it was over 20 degrees by now!) I set off upwards (on the camino, not the road). The first part is a real killer, but then you get to the road and it’s a bit easier. Knowing that the Mesón e Adega do Veiga wasn’t going to be open, I stopped off in the Bodega Via Romana. Excellent camino-friendly place, and a long chat with Martín, the Argentinian who is one of the two guides. He insisted on giving me two glasses of their excellent red wine (free), which is probably not what I needed at 10.30 in the morning!

Onwards and upwards eventually, although it is never-ending until you get up to the church at San Pedro de Lincora. There is a small bar there (closed), but an Englishman now lives in the old Casa Rectoral and he offered me water. A bit of a strange character, and he told me that he speaks very little Spanish and gets on very badly with the Dutch people who live next door (and who have given up on the idea of opening some sort of casa rural)!

It’s pretty straightforward down to Chantada. I did stop off for a beer and an excellent pincho de tortilla in Café Bar Piolindo, but I needed to get to the Hotel Mogay and shower. Not cheap (39.60 euros for a single room, without breakfast), but very modern, and the air-conditioning was thankfully working perfectly this time!

Martín, in Via Romana, had told me that Mesón Lucus – under new management – was not the same as it used to be (see later), and recommended Os Pendellos, which is what I had already done in the guide a couple of years ago. To be honest, it was fantastic! They do various menús diarios, but the two that most people would be interested in are those which cost 11 or 13 euros. The variety of dishes available for both menus is amazing. I have a photo if anyone needs to see it.

In the evening I did pop in to Mesón Lucus and had a chat with the lady owner. They are renting the premises and the previous family still live upstairs. Not much going on, although three people did come in around 21.00 for some food.

Wednesday March 27

I set off around 07.00, stopping for a coffee and churros in Café Parada. The previous night I had telephoned A Taberna do Peto in Penasillás to make sure that they’d be open around 09.00. And they were! It’s the only place to stop before setting off up to Monte Faro. Incredibly, another peregrino came in (a retired ex-policeman from Calahorra) and we met up a few times later over the next couple of days.

With the sun beating down again it was hard work climbing up, with an obligatory stop in the rest area down below before ascending the last two kilometres. A youngish lad from Madrid who was doing the Invierno by bike got off and walked with me as far as the shrine. As it was a lovely day it was perfect to do the extra 500 metres or so up along the Stations of the Cross and up to the Ermita. Spectacular views.

The walk back down past the wind-turbines is never-ending. Eventually you reach the main roads, but you still have quite a few kilometres to walk before getting to the extremely welcoming Bar O Recanto in A Feira. The guy from Calahorra turned up and we decided to sit down and have a pretty decent 10 euro menu del día together.

I stayed in O’Guerra in Rodeiro, in a new annex just round the back (where the wifi doesn’t work, by the way!). Nice people, as I remembered. Room, a few drinks in the afternoon, evening meal and breakfast all for 33 euros.

One interesting story about Rodeiro is that the King and Queen of Spain have a weekly order of bread from the Panadería Jesús. Having sampled it during my evening meal in O’Guerra, I can see why! Delicious.

Thursday March 28

After breakfast in O’Guerra (she had got up at 6 that morning to prepare the day’s Cocido Gallego, given that Thursday is market day in Rodeiro, I set off and deliberately walked along the PO-533 instead of the long, but beautiful country roads on the camino (with no services). I wanted to check out a few things for the guide. There is, as you can read in the guide, a service road on both sides, but it’s a long uphill slog for around 7 kilometres until you get to Bar A Rocha (pretty dead) at the top. There’s another, more interesting place to stop, Taberna do Tais, a few kilometres further on, and then another few kilometres before you rejoin the camino in Lagazós and make your way down into Lalín.

I had already decided to stay in the Hotel El Palacio, where they have special pilgrim rates: 32 euros for room, lunch or supper, breakfast (in the bar over the street). Anyway, see later.

I saw Rosendo, the guy from Calahorra, wandering down past the church through the main square, and we made up our minds to go for a blow-out Cocido Gallego in Casa Curras, after he had showered in the albergue. Not for the faint-hearted. I can honestly say that I have rarely seen so much food on one table for two people! I have photos and a video if anyone wants to see what they offer, but you will not need/want to eat again for a couple of days if you get through half of what they provide!

After lunch I checked out the Albergue Lalín Centro, where Rosendo was staying. Spotless, modern, and a definite place to stay on my next Invierno. A girl from Thailand had arrived on the Camino Sanabrés, but I never saw her.

We met up for a stroll around the town later, but when I got back to the hotel I had to tell them that there was no way I could face the evening meal!

Friday March 29

When I went down for breakfast the lovely girl on reception told me that as I hadn’t taken the option of supper they would only charge me 24 euros instead of the special pilgrim rate of 32! A nice detail on their part.

The river walk was, as ever, lovely and peaceful. You have to get through or round the back of the industrial estate, but it’s not that far.

A quick coffee in Bar María José and then that lovely walk down to the bridge at Ponte Taboada. Once again, and with the guide in mind, I made the conscious decision to walk up towards the main road, passing the old railway station (Ponte Taboada), where there is still a Cantina, Camiño do Ferro, sadly not open at that hour. There are a couple of restaurants on the N-525, but I would highlight A Casa de Gerardo, just where the camino gets to the road in front of the lovely church of Santiago.

A pretty walk through the woods past Trasfontao, and there I was in Silleda. End of the road, almost.

A couple of drinks in the centre, with stamps for my overfull credencial, and then I walked down the main road and ate in Restaurante O Camiño, just 50 metres or so after the camino branches off to the left. Stamp available, great food, with a different 10 euro menu del día every day. And fantastic views from the dining area over the valley.

My bus back to Lalín left at 14.55, and was on time. I then connected with the 16.00 bus to Monforte, which was about 10 minutes late. Back to the same hotel in Monforte (although the room on Monday – 4th floor - was better than the one on Friday – 2nd floor!).

Great hot pinchos in Hostal Riosol and the station bar, by the way.

Saturday March 30

After my fantastic 2 euro buffet breakfast in the Hotel I drove back to Ponferrada. Why? Because my local football team, Unionistas de Salamanca, were playing there against SD Ponferradina in the Second Division B on Saturday evening, and a load of friends were coming up from Salamanca for the game. All day in Ponferrada, then on to the game (we lost, but who cares?) and a few more late-night drinks.

Sunday March 31

I had organised a trip up by car to Las Médulas. In fact, 6 carloads went up (it’s very strange travelling by car along roads that you’ve walked so many times!). They did the touristy bit, and then we all sat down for a great meal together in O Camiño Real. Javi and Marga are great hosts, and I just love the place and its ‘bohemian’ feel.

Two and a half hours by car back to Salamanca, and I am now planning my next walk, which has to be the continuation of the Invierno that I walked with my good friend Juanjo last year, when we could only get as far as Monforte. So, in the second week of June, God willing, I’ll be doing exactly the same again as this time, but continuing on to Bandeira, Ponte Ulla and Santiago.

Sorry for the length of this, but I hope there’s some useful up-to-date information for you all, especially for the 2020 version of the guide.

¡Buen camino a todas y todos!

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A bit of a strange character, and he told me that he speaks very little Spanish and gets on very badly with the Dutch people who live next door (and who have given up on the idea of opening some sort of casa rural)!


Actually, it was the Dutch people who told me which door to knock on so that we could get a beer in the local bar - in fairness, it is just a very old bar, where an old lady will serve you some lovely cool Estrellas.

That is a lovely stretch of the Camino, indeed, great memories!

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