Camino Primitivo Day 11- Lugo to Ponte Ferreira
This was our first day walking with our good friend and Camino veteran Steven. A long 27 Kilometers to Ponte Ferreira that was promising to be another hot day. We were on the road by 6:30am and had just enough light that we didn’t need headlamps. Getting out of Lugo was relatively easy since we knew to walk out the Santiago gate in front of the cathedral, which was a 5 minute walk from our hotel. All we had to do was walk out the gate and cross the street. Go straight down the hill and soon you will see the first Camino marker. There wasn’t a single person on the streets of Lugo with the exception of a few vehicles and a local police car.
It wasn’t more than 15 minutes before we came upon The Old Roman Bridge of Lugo. It crosses the river Minho and was built in the 1st Century.
There was this very cool metal statue of a Roman warrior at its entrance. It was erected for the Burn Lugo festival in 2015. What the heck is a Burn Lugo festival you ask? At the end of June the city celebrates its Roman and Celtic history with a major festival that is reported to attract 1/2 million people. They reenact their Roman history by spending days dressed up in period costume, people get married under ancient Celtic rites, military camps are setup, a siege of the city walls is reenacted, etc. It’s supposed to be quite the crazy festival.
I’ve linked below a short video for the marketing of the festival. It looks like quite the event.
Moving away from Lugo we started an uphill climb for about 3 km and walked past many farms and lovely scenery. None was as spectacular as what we had experienced in the week prior, but it had its own special beauty. The path followed a secondary road for most of the way and we had to be careful of oncoming cars.
Some have said they find this section boring, but we enjoyed walking it. A few pilgrims passed us and some talked for a bit. For the most part though, it was just the 3 of us which was nice as we had not seen each other in so long. Billy and I liked talking with the other pilgrims, but we weren’t going to walk at their pace. After short conversations we always encouraged people not to feel compelled to walk with us. We were not picking up our pace for them.
We stopped to talk with these two lovely ladies who were out working their little farm. I convinced them to let me take a picture with them. The people in these little villages love to chat with the passing pilgrims. It’s just that not many of them stop to talk to them. Steven and I are fortunate that we speak the language fluently and can engage them in details about their lives.
There are no services along this stretch of the Camino. It’s a long haul, so we were sure to carry 3 liters of water and plenty of bread, Jamon and cheese to keep us going. It was a very warm day and the skies were blue. I didn’t enjoy the heat but it made for very pretty pictures.
Eventually, after about 20 km. the path brought us into the hamlet of San Roman de Retorta around the back side of this little church and its lovely church yard.
About a hundred feet away is a bar where we stopped to rest and get some cold drinks. The Via Romana starts here and follows the old Roman road all the way into Ponte Ferreira. This was the first bar we’d come across the entire day and it was nice to just sit down inside and have a cold glass of mineral water.
Right near the bar we stopped at is this reconstructed Roman stone marker. The real one was found here during an archaeological dig and this one is a reconstruction. But it certainly gives you the sense of history. We are walking on an ancient Roman Road that once had dozens of these markers to mark the way. The Camino de Santiago is a lot older than its inception in the 9th Century. All of these routes are built upon old Roman roads that date back to pre-Christian times. The Celtic influence in this part of Spain is strong and it’s very interesting to see it mixed with Roman and Christian history.
About 7 kilometers further ahead along the Via Romana (The Roman Road) you finally arrive at the private albergue called A Nave in Ferreira. This is where we chose to stay the night. Juanma Caballero, its owner, also runs Albergue Ponte Ferreira. But that albergue doesn’t open until June 1st. We’d made reservations with Juanma about a month earlier and it was the perfect choice for us. Especially after seeing how dismal the little municipal albergue looked. A Nave has rooms with several bunk beds as is typical in albergues, but we chose the triple room. It had a bunk bed and a single, and came with a private bathroom. It was nice having a room just for the 3 of us where we could chill out in privacy and get up as early as we wanted without waking up the late sleepers. The rooms with the multiple bunks was very nice. You can’t go wrong here. The place is brand new and super clean. HIGHLY RECOMMEND staying here. I’m sure his other albergue, Ponte Ferreira is equally as nice. These people take pride in what they do and they do it well.
The inside is spacious and has a bar. You can order anything to drink here. To the right is the large communal tables and lounging area. I think, without a doubt, this was my favorite of all the albergues that we stayed at. It was certainly the nicest and the hospitaleros where superb. Juanma speaks perfect English, btw. Making reservations by phone or email for non-Spanish speakers very easy.
Juanma’s wife Paloma cooks the evening meal which is this huge seafood paella that is delicious. For an extra 10 Euros you get the main course, a salad, wine bottles, and desert. I had seconds on the paella.
So many of the same people who we’d met on day one were staying there with us. It’s fun to spend the day alone with occasionally passing each other and then meet up in the evening for drinks and wild tales of the day. I still have no idea what Paula said to Billy to make him react like this 🙂
All in all this was a good day but very long. A lot of road walking which just made my plantar fasciitis worse. I really do regret not wearing sturdy boots and stretching in the mornings. I didn’t stretch my calves nearly enough and they were tight as violin strings. I was in a great deal of pain through dinner and couldn’t wait to lie down and put my feet up. Billy of course, was in no pain. His boots were the right choice for him. A very minor blister on one foot that caused him no distress was the worst he suffered. I’m just glad that I had no blisters to add to my foot problems.
Paula, the lady from Utah in the picture above, had shin splints and there was another lady with pretty bad knee pain. I had none of that, thankfully. I’ve never had problems on other long distance hikes and I can only assume that this time it was bad because of the combination of road walking and not wearing supportive boots to control that lateral movement. Next time, I will for sure wear light weight hiking boots with my orthotics.
Tomorrow we head for Boente. A small village past Melide which is where the Camino Primitivo joins the Camino Frances. I’m not looking forward to the next couple days. There will be a lot more people once we enter Melide and we’d chosen the Primitivo for its quiet rural qualities. But we have to join the Frances in order to get to Santiago.