Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Amigos de Santiago's free day in Triacastela - Day 0 of our Camino de Santiago

My epic walk of a lifetime would start on June 10 and to acclimatise our little group to the Galician countryside, where we would walk 134 km to Santiago de Campostela, I asked our Camino travel planners,  FollowtheCamino to arrange a full free day in Triacastela where we would begin the walk.

Triacastela is a small sleepy village that comes alive because it is along the Camino.  The town has   amazing views of lush greenery.  I woke up to this picture perfect scene and could not believe that I was indeed in Triacastela -- about to begin my Camino.

Most of the old stone houses in town had "Se Vende" signs -- perhaps they can be turned into small albergues or refugios for peregrinos?  I can imagine what a fixer-upper that would be!

It was completely relaxing to just stroll through the town, particularly in the still cool Galician weather.

The small church of Triacastela is dedicated to Santiago -- I didn't know that when I decided that our Camino would start here, instead of the traditional and more frequented Sarria.
What a good sign, Santiago would be with us from the very start of our Camino.  Surely he would take good care of his amigos!

The church is small and lovely and each evening, a pilgrim's mass is offered at 6:15 p.m.

On our free afternoon in Triacastela, we also paid a visit to the Monastery of Samos, a 10 km drive away. We would not be passing by this route on our first day so I thought we should  see this famous Benedictine monastery which has been around since the 6th century.

Samos Monastery was nearly razed by fire at the start of the 1900s.  The stone structure remained standing but the cloisters and interiors had to be rebuilt.

The monastery houses various treasures and has  gorgeous murals painted along the cloister walls.
But because of the fire, these murals are relatively new and have been completely restored from the originals.

After the monastery visit, we sat down to dinner at Cafe Bar Fernandez in Triacastela.  Here are the Amigos de Santiago -- waiting to be fed.

My dinner started with Caldo Gallega,  a typical Galician dish.   This is comfort soup at its best, flavourful soup stock with loads of vegetables ... potatoes, leeks, cabbage and grelos, a Galician dark green leafy vegetable.

For my segundo plato, I enjoyed one of the best pork chops I had ever eaten.  Thin,  tender and seasoned with rock salt, it was perfectly fried  -- and it came with potato wedges that bested french frittes, hands down!

Fortified with fried food, it was time to head back to the hotel and get a good's night sleep.
The Camino would start tomorrow.  But for now, in the still bright Galician evening at 9:30 p.m.,
I could still stop and smell the roses growing profusely from almost every garden in Triacastela.

With the green Galician hills before me, I took one last photo of Triacastela.  I am grateful for her warm and hospitable welcome -- a good way to start our Camino tomorrow.

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