Day 4: O’Cebreiro to Portomarin

Up and down.

We started the day by being driven back to the top of the mountain by taxi after last night’s descent to our hotel. When planning the trip two miles didn’t seem like a big deal but after yesterday’s grueling climb no one was in the mood for a climb like that to start the day. At the top of the mountain we saw an intense fog covering the mountains of Galicia. It looked like an ocean of thick clouds.

Fog over the mountains near O’Cebreiro
Alto de San Roque – Bronze Statue of Santiago This bronze statue of a pilgrim facing towards Santiago holding onto his hat against the wind is by the artist J. Acuna. There is a nearby small chapel dedicated to San Roque but this statue is the most photographed image here.
Today was going to be the longest day of the Camino but it was generally supposed to be downhill so I expected it to be an easy day… boy was I wrong. There are no easy days on the Camino, just different days. Every day brings a new unexpected challenge. On this day it was the constant ups and downs of the Galician mountains. But, before those ups and downs there was a tremendous and very long downhill. Some of us hit top speeds of up to 37 mph! We went down the mountain we climbed the day before but instead of an intense burning sun we flew through fog and cold weather. 

Once that descent was over the up and down began through the beautiful Galician countryside. One of the downhills I will never forget. It felt like riding through a intensely fairy tale themed Disney rollercoaster. Beautiful green forest everywhere. At the end of the downhill I couldn’t help but laugh at the pure joy of the experience. 

Cruceiro in Sarria
When we reached Sarria the number of pilgrims on the Camino grew tremendously. This made riding more difficult as we had to be careful to avoid hitting all the hikers.
Fountain in Galicia with Pelegrin the mascot of the 1993 holy year

Iglesia de San Nicolas: Late 12th or 13th century church and fortress that housed the Knights of St. John. Its height and width make it the largest single-nave Romanesque church in Galicia. The 4 corner towers lead to walkways protected by battlements that indicate the dual purpose of this church. It was moved to its current location when the nearby dam was built.
We ended the day by riding downhill into Portomarin. Every downhill feels like a gift from God.

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