After leaving the quite crowded albergue of Portomarín, we crossed the Miño river heading towards the Ligonde mountain range. The day’s walk was about 25 km, one of our tougher days, but we had beautiful weather and of course, beautiful company.
We arrived in Palas de Rei, a fairly newer-looking town with great cafés and bars and a lot of happy pilgrims. Like most of Galicia, the area is surrounded by small hamlets and green valleys and the agriculture and livestock industry is what drives the economy, in addition to the camino of course. The name of the town is a little deceiving because although it means “palace of the king”, there is no palace in sight. It is said to have been constructed by the Visigoth King Witiza during his reign from 701-9 so we can assume that his palace was destroyed over time. The two main sites that we saw were the Iglesia de San Tirso and the small statue of San Tirso. San Tirso was a Holy Christian saint who was sentenced to be cut in two, but on the day of his execution the saw wouldn’t cut his skin and became extremely heavy. Although he was beheaded eventually, the statue in the plaza shows him standing tall with the bucksaw at his side. The church that takes his name has undergone recent renovations, but it’s 12th Century Romanesque portal still remains. It was a peaceful church to visit, with a cute little old man running the office where they stamp our credenciales.
After eating some tasty raciones in a local restaurant we witnessed an incredible performance by some students from Pennsylvania. They are all high-school graduates who started the Camino in León without any money, surviving off of the generosity of others and living the very frugal life of a pilgrim. They started drumming and singing folk tunes and then broke out into a series of juggling tricks, including one with our very own Allie! It was really intense and the atmosphere that surrounded us kept us dancin’ and singin’ until the sun went down. In every little bar or restaurant we passed we reunited with friends that we had met on the trail and met new ones that were also celebrating the long journey. It’s crazy to think that this experience is coming to an end. The friendships that we have made on the Camino are definitely special ones and I know that they will continue on past Santiago.
I think we were all very happy to have an extra hour of sleep that night. Luckily, the next day was going to be an easy one, with just 14 km to Melide!