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Day 5: Casteneda to Rua. 18.3 miles.

Our longest day yet. We were exhausted when we got to our hotel. But so very happy. Some highlights:

We met another herd of las vacas on the trail. This time, they were close enough to touch. So close, that we had to move over or be trampled. The farmer herding them was not impressed with the fact that we were peregrinos on the Camino, grunting a curt reply to our “buenos dias,” one of the very few times that we’ve not been welcomed or happily greeted by locals along the way. And the locals who greet us with the most warmth are the elders, “las personas mayores.” One morning, we passed an elderly woman who was sitting at the top of a steep set of stairs. She was sipping her café con leche and, with a huge smile on her lined face, she offered a “Buen Camino” to each panting pilgrim making it to the top of the stairs. We also saw many elderly men, their faces coffee brown and pruned by the sun, standing at the gates of their homes or looking up from working in their gardens, always smiling at us as we passed. Some strolled among the peregrinos, grinning and nodding their heads, offering their Buen Caminos and looking like they wished they could join us. One man, stooped and walking slowly, smiled and asked us, in halting English, “Where are you from?” We answered in our broken Spanish, adding that we thought his country was muy bonito (very beautiful), and his smile grew even larger. “Then stay!” he said, waving his hand as if offering up his entire village to us. We told him we’d love to take him up on the offer, but that we were abuelos and had children and grandchildren back home. He nodded his head and laughed, telling us he had grandchildren, too, so he understood why we couldn’t stay. And then we said goodbye.

The Cerveza Garden

We also stumbled across a very unusual local beer garden this day. There are plenty of them here, many sponsored by what we assume to be the major brewery, Estrella Galicia Cerveza. This beer is to Galicia as Miller is to Milwaukee. And, Estrella is a marketing genius. Not only is their beer everywhere, but their well-branded beer gardens are too, along with their tables, signage, glassware and of course, cerveza, even at bars that don’t have much outdoor space for a garden. Anyway, the beer garden we stumbled across was unique in that it wasn’t Estrella. And it featured their own beer, Peregrino, which we didn’t see anywhere else. Finally, the beer garden itself was located on a hairpin turn at the corner of a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. Pilgrims literally turned a corner and saw thousands of empty beer bottles hung on pegs stacked all over the place. The deal was, you bought a bottle of Peregrino beer, and when you were finished, you grabbed a white marker, wrote something on the bottom of the bottle and then hung it on a vacant peg. The toothless owner of the bar, who looked and sounded as if he’d enjoyed a few bottles alongside his patrons the day we stopped in, was sweeping the stone floor when we arrived. But he stopped working to chat with us, asking where we were from and whether or not we liked the beer, which we did.

Pimentos padrón.
Nope. That’s not peanut butter.

In addition to good beer and lovely wine, we’ve had some wonderful and quite interesting food. In the wonderful category: grilled prawns, spinach lasagna, sautéed sea bass and grilled salmon at Porto de Bois, where we also spent the night. (Yes, we’re eating like lumberjacks, but hey, we’re justifying it by telling ourselves that we’re walking it off.) Pimentos padrón (salty grilled peppers) are a popular dish found on many menus, and they’re delicious. Octopus (pulpo) is so revered that many towns, especially as we got closer to Santiago, dedicated entire restaurants (pulperías) to them. In the interesting category, Kent enjoyed a pate made from mussels that looked like peanut butter spread on thick slices of rustic bread. Patatas fritas (French fries) or bravas (larger chunks of fried or grilled potatoes) are found on nearly every menu, and are often very good. Of course, this being Spain, ham is everywhere—boiled and smoked, dried and aged. Pork finds its way into numerous types of sausage. Bacon (fried, but never crispy) is more like thin strips of smoked ham. Cheese rivals ham for the frequency of its appearance on most menus and its variations of form and flavor. Finally, I’d love to know how their fruits and vegetables are so fresh and full of flavor, even though it’s the beginning of the growing season here.

Our first view of Porto de Bois from the trail.

A side note on Porto de Bois: The inn overlooks the Camino, so we could sit on the lovely terrace and watch the pilgrims come down the hill in the morning, the sun lighting their way. The inn was gorgeous, originally built in the 1500s on land given to a Portuguese count by a French king. When Portugal went to war, trying to steal away the land, the count took his native country’s side. Unfortunately, Portugal lost, and over time, the land reverted back to Spanish control. Through the years, it had mostly been used as a farm, but when the current owner, Jorge, bought it five years ago, it had been abandoned for years. And in Spain, Jorge had financial help from the Galician government to renovate the property, which he’s done in stunning fashion. In fact, throughout Galicia, we often walked along new, renovated paths alongside new, renovated stone walls. And bathrooms along the way were not only plentiful, but looked to be recently renovated and were always super clean, even if they were located in a rundown little bar or restaurant. We couldn’t help but wonder if the government offered financial help for those businesses, too. Which would be smart: the money spent by pilgrims on food and drink in these middle-of-nowhere places no doubt helps them to survive.

Finally, signs of war were everywhere. It’s clear that people here know what’s going on in Ukraine and they aren’t too happy about Putin’s war. It’s good to know that some ideas—like peace, solidarity, and that dictators are bullies who need to be stopped—remain universal, and don’t require translation.


  1. Did you write ✍️ -Jill was here-on the bottom of your beer bottle??

  2. Pulperias! Love these. You are reviving wonderful memories.

    So glad to hear about the clean and plentiful bathrooms! That was definitely needed.

    I can almost taste the Estrella Galicia while reading your stories

    • And apparently, Total Wine carries Estrella Galicia!!

  3. Wow! You logged in quite a few miles today but it seemed the food, drink, and bathrooms were plentiful. What an adventure!

    • The only time we had to leave our DNA behind was when we went off-trail and got lost. Our own fault. But good thing there wasn’t another soul anywhere, and that we followed the advice to carry tissue with us!

  4. Muchas gracias, mi amiga.

  5. Y’all are putting on some miles!!! Good on ya! I knew the food would be fresh and wonderful but add “well earned hunger” to it and Fabuloso!
    And yeah, F@CK Putin

  6. What fun! I especially like their use of English in regards to Putin.

    • Yes. They are not shy about sharing their emotions! My kind of people.

  7. Really enjoying reading these stories, Jill. Keep it up!

    • Thanks Barb! I appreciate you reading and commenting.

  8. I just recently caught up on your travels (after just getting back myself from traveling). When I read your blog, I feel like I am right there. What an adventure you are having. Traveling opens up my eyes and at the same time makes me appreciate home too.

  9. Hi Jill and Kent,
    I just finished reading your wonderful adventure and as Jude may have mentioned this hike is on our to do list. I hope we make it. Your thoughts and insights are most encouraging. I especially related to Day 4 and how fortunate we are. Hope to see you guys soon and hear more of your stories.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Mark. I hope we can connect up this summer. We met some wonderful Canadians on our trip (but aren’t all Canadians wonderful?) and I’d love to compare notes! (Also, didn’t think you’d mind the little edit!)

  10. This trip is on my bucket list! I love reading your adventures.

    • I hope you get to check it off your list. The entire experience exceeded our expectations, and was so worth the wait! Thanks for reading and commenting, Alicia.

  11. Jill,

    Love reading about the trip. Sounds spectacular! Your writing is so fantastic, it puts me right there with you and Kent. Thanks for taking us with you.

    Enjoy the rest of the trip.


    • Thanks so much for your kind comments Gary–I’m glad you’re coming along with us! Hope all is well in your world.

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