The Camino is reaching its climax. I'm entering the land of fairy tales and sorcerers: Galicia. Think green hills, Swiss cows, old walls and mountain streams. After the purgatory of the Meseta, this must be paradise. Morning mist is still hanging between the rolling hills. I’m in heaven and the miles are flying.
In Triacastela, yellow markers point in 2 opposite directions. The regular route continues straight to Sarria, the alternative road winds its way to the Samos monastery. It’s a no-brainer. I take the longer path and soon I find myself traveling back in time. Hollow roads lead through mysterious forests. Mountain streams create a relaxing soundtrack. Villages come straight out of The Lord of the Rings. There’s nobody on this road. This is pure Me-time.
I didn’t pass a single cafe. My stomach is all empty and I’m running out of water. Just as I’m starting to worry ... a miracle. A good soul has left water, homemade salsa and - what are the chances? - a copy of 'The Prophet.' A bookmark is stuck at the passage about giving. “It's when you give of yourself that you truly give.” This is pure Camino magic. Little further, I reach the stunning Samos monastery, offering beds. It's a basic 'Donativo' but too good to pass. Sleeping in a real monastery, isn’t this what I came for in the first place? The dorm is nearly empty, but the hospitalero asks me to keep the lower beds for the older pilgrims. My ego glows as I’m still considered a youngster.
At 3.30 pm we’re invited for a tour through the monastery. The guide speaks as much English as Manuel from Fawlty Towers. But his enthusiasm is addictive and all pilgrims pitch in to decipher his strange mixture of Spanish, French and English. The monastery has some romanesque and gothic elements, but boasts an overall neo-classical appeal. Modern mural depict the life of St. Benedict in a scary style. Note the many side altars in the church, allowing non-stop mass celebration during the religious heydays. This has been a day of wonders. The Camino is keeping the best for last. Or to quote Gibran: “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
As spoken, the Camino splits in Triacastela. Make sure you take the Samos road.
Albergue del Monasterio de Samos, open all year, from 3.30 to 10.30 pm (actually opens earlier), 70 beds in a musty dorm with naive murals. Donativo. Basic bathrooms. An authentic Camino experience. Must do.
More upscale accommodation and restaurants can be found right across the street. Decent 10 euro pilgrim's meal.
Next episode: ‘Day 24 to Ferreiros - I am an Orang Utan’