Monday, August 24, 2015

Day 4: O Beautiful O Cebreiro

El Camino, here we come!

Considering that I often only garner about 40 hours sleep in a week, today was a luxury in so many ways, only one of which was a 7 hour night sleep in Leon. Whoo hoo! We enjoyed a breakfast next door at Bar Velasquez. (On the eve of my mom's birthday, please don't tell her I ate breakfast in a bar! But it was only 7 euros for Paul and me, so maybe her frugal nature would forgive me?)
Bar could have a gin and tonic at breakfast, but we did not.

                         Paul had a hamburger for breakfast with a big fried egg on it. 

 Then we set to the task at hand--getting to our starting point: O Cebreiro. 
This is the sum total of O Cebreiro
Note to future hikers of the Camino. If you don't want to be a total slacker and start in Sarria (you must walk at least 100km to be considered a pilgrim and Sarria is the 100km mile marker.), don't choose O Cebriero (100 mile marker as opposed to the 100km marker)  as the starting point. Not because it is not quaint and lovely (it is) or the first town on the Way in Galicia (it also is) or nearest to the highest point of the Camino (once again, yes, that's it), but because it is danged hard to get here! There is no plane, train or autobus. The closest you can get on public transportation is a town below it about 6km away with a straight uphill hike. As slackers with a suitcase, we decided that was probably not going to work. So as complete dweebs, we elected to take a taxi…for 150km. Let's NOT talk about how much that cost us, but needless to say, we made it. Apparently, note to self, people start their partial treks in either Leon or Sarria for a darn good reason. 
The lovely cobblestone streets and slate buildings of O Cebreiro

But once we arrived, no complaints. This place is gorgeous. There is 270 degree view and if someone spun you around and you took a random look, it's all equally lovely. 
The other side of the valley looked just as nice.
Thatched roof
The village predates the Romans in the region and consists of about 20 buildings total, all built of stone with thatched or slate rooves.
Typical slate building and roof
There isn't much except the preRomanesque church, a few eating establishments and a few rooms here and there and the alburgure--the open sleeping dorms for the non-slacker pilgrims. We walked out from the "hotel" and saw a lot of wildflowers in addition to the valley view.  Even though we live in mountains, we rarely get this open of a vista outward. 
one of many mountain wildflowers
Looking out the valley through the wildflowers

We trekked back to the 9th century church which is famous for its chalice--supposedly has some relationship to the holy grail and is credited for saving the lives of the parishoners in a blizzard in 1200 AD, it's baptismal font from the 18th century and somewhere that we could not find, there is yet another piece of the holy cross of Jesus. Overall, a very historic church called Sanctuario de Santa Maria a Real do Cebreiro. When I get that old, I can only hope to look half as good.  
Maybe I will look this good when I am 1200 yrs old?

The Holy Grail of O Cebreiro
18th century baptismal font
We then had a little lunch at one of the bars and tried the Galician pie. Portion size is somewhere between East Tennessee obesity size and downright embarassing.
A lot like an empanada but with tuna! Paul also loves the almond cake and ate it lunch and dinner!
18th century baptismal font

Belly up to the bar, pilgrim!
thing we noticed, that would probably NOT happen in east Tennessee, is that they actually put a religious pilgrim emblem on the beer taps!

Our meditation for today was by Ralph Marston about appreciating the moments we are in. GOOD advice for an upcoming 100 mile walk.  I also saw many Bibles in the church and they were all turned to the same passage: Paraphrase is that Jesus observed that Jewish texts said to love God. But he gave a "new commandment." LOVE ONE ANOTHER. And he commented, "That's how other people will know you are my followers." It's good advice for all of us. Spend each day showing love. (Maybe some religious FACEBOOK posters should read this before they write!) 

Paul's Ponderings:   We slept in once again while in Leon and then took a long taxi ride to O Cebreiro.   Unfortunately, this place is very remote and not easy to reach.   It's also nearly the highest point on the Camino, missing that distinction by about 5 meters.    There's not a lot of here here to paraphrase that old saying.   The town has about 70 inhabitants at most.   The good news is that if we are at the high point on the Camino, we have mostly downhill to go!    This place is pretty stunning from a view perspective, with a very wide view of both sides of the valley for miles and miles.   That said, it's supposed to get down to in the 40s tonight, so we are glad we brought jackets and such.   The weather the next few days is supposed to be mid 70s during the day and 50s at night though, so all is good.   Wish us luck!