Day 22: Triacastela to Sarria

Our day began with a difficult decision regarding which path we would take to Sarria. The shorter and more popular route would save us 7.2km but involved a gradual, yet steep uphill climb. The alternative path consisted of constant rolling hills (i.e. lots of moderate climbs and descents) and would lengthen our day considerably. Sorry, but that’s a big decision after only one cup of coffee!

In the end, we opted for the longer route as it would take us through the village of Samos which is home to Western Europe’s oldest and (one of its) largest monasteries. While Frank probably agreed to lengthen the day’s walk purely for Mikey’s sake (history major), this decision proved to be quite enjoyable for both of us. 

As mentioned above, the route through Samos was much less popular than the shorter trail. Ergo, we enjoyed a mostly solitary stroll through some wonderfully serene parts of the countryside. 

 Looks like Frank finally found a practical Lamborghini. 

Much of the morning looked like this – empty trails and the chance to listen to the tranquil sounds of nature. 

 We turned a corner on the trail and could suddenly espied the monastery complex from afar. 

Mikey couldn’t wait to pose with it. 
Talk about your front porch! But seriously, it was rather fancy for a group of austere monks. 
Even the monastery’s cloister is the largest in Spain. But then again, if you’re the oldest in Europe, you’ve got more time to make it bigger and better. 

 A statue of Saint James is given pride of place in the sanctuary. Perhaps this is a nod to the monastery’s significant role in caring for Santiago-bound pilgrims since the Camino’s inception. 

Much of the path out of Samos was flanked by beautiful scenery like this. 

 While we walked for several more miles than expected, it was refreshing to leave the highway behind for most of the afternoon. Still, we returned to reality upon entering Sarria. 

A word about this upcoming town: 
The Camino de Santiago has no starting point – only an ending. Thus, like the grooves of its scallop shell icon, there are many paths to the same destination. As this particular pilgrimage and travel in the region grew in popularity during the late 20th century, the Church found it necessary to regulate the requirements for pilgrims wishing to undertake it. At present, a pilgrim must complete a minimum of 100km walking to Santiago (and it must be for religious/spiritual reasons) in order to receive the official Compestella or certificate of completion from the Church. 

The town of Sarria is located just over 100km from Santiago along the Camino Frances. This Camino route is the most historic and popular among pilgrims. As such, many begin their walk at Sarria. Although it has led to a major economic surge in the area and in many towns from Sarria to Santiago, the “latecomers” crowd both the trails and albergues during ones final days. Perhaps we will see what the “Disneyland of the Camino” is like tomorrow. Hasta pronto. 

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