As soon as we got settled in our rooms – around 2pm, we started calling hotels in O’ Cebreiro, a very small village which would be our next destination. It is the only village where the inn keeper would not make reservations for us when we called in March. We got lucky and the hotel that was recommended by the lady at the front desk of the Hotel San Francisco had two cancellations and we took the rooms. They were expensive for being a rural place – 48 for a single and 60 for a double. After making those reservations, we could relax.
We saw several people who had used a taxi service to transport their backpacks. Since we had read that the last 3 km of the next stage was straight up – very steep, we decided to let the taxi take our mochilas for 7 euros each. They would be waiting for us when we arrived at the hotel… We thought that this was wise since the last 3 km the elevation would climb something like 600 meters. At our destination, we would be at 1293 meters!
Off we started at 6:45am after a café con leche. Cold, windy and misty for the entire day. We walked up and up slowly for most of the day, crossing highways, following creeks and rivers. We kept our eye on the map, like we do every day – looking at how many kms between villages. We were waiting to arrive at La Faba, the last village before the “big climb.” About 1 km before La Faba we started a very steep climb in a thick forest, with a wet slippery path, riddled with rocks. We were all drenched in sweat by the time we made it up the last portion. All I could think is, “THIS was not the “big climb” to O’ Cebreiro?! What awaits us after La Faba?” We kept calculating that it couldn’t take us longer than an hour and a half… Hhhmmm…
After resting a bit in a teeny, tiny village that time definitely forgot, we trudged out of town into the fog and mist. The hills were green – at least as much as we could see. The hills were round, but the climb was steep. The path, like so many places in the Camino was washed out by flooding, torn up by mountain bikes and horse hooves. We kept climbing, and climbing and climbing. We couldn’t see where we were going. Occasionally, we would turn back around and look out across a valley, but many times we stopped to turn and look and there was nothing but fog.
We passed through several enclaves of 2-3 houses. They were all very old, depressing places. Every one of them had a HUGE mastiff or German Shepherd lying in front. These dogs were so big that they could probably give us a ride up the mountain, but they were all napping in the middle of the road. They had seen so many pilgrims pass by before us, that they didn’t even open their eyes and we trudged by them with our walking sticks click-clacking on the trail.
We heard bells ringing at one point and breathed a sigh of relief. We were really close! We had made it! Just around the next turn we’d see the town… Forget it! Then, a car alarm went off or an ambulance siren sounded. What emergency had just occurred?! We must be right on top of the town, but just can’t see it. It’s around the next curve… Nope, it wasn’t.
Finally, at 3:30pm, we suddenly saw several stone buildings right in front of us. There was no warning – they were just there – 50 feet away. There were a group of old stone buildings. We estimate that there were 2 hotels, 1 albergue, 2-3 bars/restaurants and 2 stores. The church was near the entrance to the town. There was nothing more to the “village.”
We ended up staying in a stone building with walls about 3 feet thick. There were 6 rooms in the building, all with brand new bathrooms, 2 sets of double-paned windows and nice wooden floors. They finally put the heat on at 9:00pm and turn it off again at midnight. We ate a really large lunch, which was needed after all the energy we spent getting up the mountains. Our “dinner” was simply pulpo a la gallega.