Our day nine on the Camino Primitivo was a long-anticipated walk into the historic, medieval town of Lugo, Spain. Here we were to indulge in what the city had to offer, and to take a well-deserved day off. We were to also learn how the Camino de Santiago tears down borders, both in humans and the animal kingdom, and makes us closer to one world.
"Some outer, credible purpose usually motivates my journey, but inside I am waiting for that moment when the ground shifts - when humor or sadness or a shared recognition makes the distance between "my" world and "the" world beyond my borders vanish, at least for a moment." ~ From "Digging In" Elias Amidon, a short story from the book, "Dirt, A Love Story" edited by Barbara Richardson
While the walk on day nine was longer than most of the prior stages, this one didn't feel as hard. This is because the exertion level was less due to very little hill climbing required, as you can see in the elevation profile below. I did have a problem keeping hydrated, as along with the lower elevation, the heat of the day was much higher.
As I listened to my voice journal from this ninth stage, I was much less negative than day eight! It was almost a totally enjoyable day!
By day eight, we were beginning to be known as the "high end" pilgrims. We got this moniker because we would stay in hotels about half the time instead of albergues. We thought this was rather amusing, as we thought we were traveling on quite a budget.
With two of us, the savings in an albergue was less significant, and for a few euros more I could have the comfort of a good night's sleep. This was important for me, as my coughing kept others awake, and kept me awake for fear that I would keep others awake!
Despite choosing to stay in the comfortable Hotel Moneda the prior night, I did not sleep that well, due to my coughing. By day nine on my Camino Primitivo, I had now resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have my virus the entire time on the Camino. And this also I included in the Camino experience - and this was my Camino.
Here is the interactive Google Map of our day, with all the available services. However, I did not include all the accommodations in Lugo on the map, nor all the restaurants as there are so very many! (click on the link for reservations).
I did include the albergues in Lugo, both the municipal and the private ones. Use the map to zoom around and see what is available.
My story for the day describes the "Camino Complementario," the route that was once official but is now an alternative route, the first route shown in orange in the map below. The Complementary route travels to the north through the town of Vilabade. It is about 2/3rd kilometer longer, is almost identical to the official route in elevation changes, being almost entirely downhill and affords the ability to see two lovely churches in Vilabade, the Ermita de la Virgen del Carmen and the Parroquia de Santa María de Vilabade.
I was disappointed when the official route was changed, as in my opinion, these churches are worth the small extra effort, as I hope to show you in the narrative below. However, you must make your own decision. It appears that about 1/2 of pilgrims currently choose the Camino Complementario route. Apparently many pilgrims share my point of view.
I also included in the map below the optional, 1.5 kilometer trip to the ruined, historic Igrexa de San Salvador de Soutomerille, the second route shown in orange.
If you walk both the Camino Complementario and the optional Church of Soutomerille routes you will add 0.66 and 0.5 additional kilometers respectively, to your day, for a total of 1.16 additional kilometers.
As you can see from the elevation profile of our day, below, there is a climb out of O Cádavo of about 150 meters (500 feet), followed by a long downhill of 350 meters (1150 feet). This downhill is not very steep. The rest of the day is gentle ups and downs, with a final short climb into Lugo itself.
If you take the Camino Complementario, there is about another 10 meters of additional elevation gain, staying at the top altitude of 867 meters for an additional ½ kilometer before the long descent shown below. I did not include a separate elevation profile as it is so similar to the official route shown here.
We left at 07:30, which was early compared to the other pilgrims staying in O Cádavo that night. It was another misty morning, and all was extremely quiet when we left our hotel. The café bar at the Hotel Moneda was open at 07:00 which was wonderful, to start off with the usual cafe con leche and tostada. We pulled out some of the cold cuts that we had bought the night before, to add a bit of protein and sustenance to our breakfast.
The first few kilometers gently climbed after town, and afforded nice early morning views of the surrounding countryside.
The initial part of day nine on the Camino Primitivo is on nice country lanes, a topographic feature that was always welcomed! The lanes lead into and out of the woods.
At about 2.5 kilometers into day nine, the climbing tops out. This is the area where you are presented the choice of the Camino Complementario to the north staying straight onward, or the official, shorter route to the south, taking a left turn. Look for the signs signaling your choices.
If you take the official route to the south, the path starts its sharp descent immediately toward the next town of Vilalle in approximately another 2.6 kilometers. It then proceeds to take another 2.1 kilometers or so on more country lanes where it joins the Camino Complementario in Castroverde a few meters from the municipal albergue.
If you take the Camino Complementario by staying straight, you must do a bit more gradual elevation gain over about 1.25 kilometers more on these lovely forest lanes shown next. This gain is only another 10 meters so it feels totally flat.
From this high plateau, the Camino now descends sharply toward the next town of Vilabade.
The forest lane eventually leads into this gravel road, just before Vilabade, towards the Ermita de la Virgen del Carmen, after 5.0 kilometers into the day.
The Ermita, below, was a hospital for pilgrims, built in the 17th century under the dedication of San Gabriel by local families.
While we were not able to see inside, in front of the church is a nice picnic area, if you need a break when you go by.
The gravel road soon lends to pavement and walks the pilgrimage traveler towards Vilabade.
When you arrive in town, at the center by the church, the Parroquia de Santa María de Vilabade, you have completed just a bit over 6.0 kilometers for your day.
The parish church in the center of town is sizable for such a small town. It was a nice stop for pilgrims, with tables of information, and a very friendly hostess to help out if needed. We arrived here at 09:00 and were pleasantly surprised to find it open!
You can also get a sello (stamp) here for your pilgrim's passport.
The altar is quite nice, in the Gothic style of the 15th century, with the "Matamoros" or St. James depicted as the Moorslayer, always on horseback, crowning the altar.
After spending some minutes here, sitting, meditating and sending prayers of gratitude for my journey and my experiences thus far, we continued on through town.The road becomes the LU-P-1206 towards the next town of Castroverde.
A Camino kitty drew my attention to her, in the photo below, as she warmed in the sunshine of the day, sitting atop this little structure framed by flowers. I "noticed" the kitty, or did she draw my attention to her? Interesting change in frame of reference, isn't it, if you think about it!
According to Priscilla Stuckey, contemplative author of Kissed by a Fox, animals send intentions to us humans to draw our attention to them! Indeed, we both love to bask in the sun!
After leaving Vilabade, the LU-P-1206 will eventually join the LU-530 in Castroverde, after walking along it for about 1.7 kilometers. Just before the LU-530, where the Camino Complementario joins the official route, the Camino takes a right turn, taking a shortcut to walk by the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Castroverde. You are about 7.3 kilometers into the day when you reach the albergue.
After passing in front of the albergue, the Camino crosses the LU-530 joining this nice shortcut lane, below, to skirt the town to the south.
Castroverde is truly the last chance for obtaining meaningful food prior to Lugo, more than 20 kilometers away, so check your supplies to ensure you have sufficient. There are vending machines ahead, but only for snacks and drinks and a "pilgrim oasis" (see text farther down), where you can get fruit and water.
There are three grocery stores in town, so if you need food, don't take the shortcut, but turn right onto the main road after the albergue to find them. There are also several café bars along the LU-530 in town, if you prefer this to the grocery store and also one if you stay on the Camino, see farther below.
If you decide to go through town on the main road, you can easily re-join the Camino at the western end when you are leaving town where the LU-530 meets the Camino at a large intersection with an overpass. The turn is before the overpass on a parallel right. You will see the waymark to follow from the LU-530. You can also check the Google map above to see the way.
The vending machines are in a small town farther along the way - keep reading so you will know where to find them. This will help you plan your day. I would have loved to have had this information my first time thru!
The Way is entirely rural in the next 20 kilometers with no real towns to speak of. This is truly amazing when you consider that you are walking towards a major city in Galicia.
After about 250 meters on the shortcut lane described above, come to an intersection and turn left, walking a few meters before turning right again, for another 200 meters before coming to a large square with a church, the Iglesia Santiago Castroverde y Fonte dos Nenos and the Café Bar Pereira, not pictured.
Below is a photo of one of the alleys along the way.
The Camino takes you straight on by the church, but if you head south a few meters at the square, there is the Pensión Residencia Cortés, and if you head north a few meters, back to the LU-530, there is the Pensión Roma in the café of the same name, two more inexpensive options if you plan to stay here for the night.
Almost immediately after passing the church, the Iglesia Santiago Castroverde y Fonte dos Nenos, this picnic area and fuente appear, below. If the timing is right, and you brought food, this is a lovely spot to take a break. We kept going as it was only 09:30 when we passed.
Past the fountain, this tractor track lane takes you on the remaining shortcut through the south side of town.
The shady diversion was a welcome relief from walking through the pavement in town. The day was already quite hot by 09:30. I was grateful the Camino planners did not change it as they did in Cornellana and walk us through town!
When the tractor track brings you out to the LU-530, about 350 meters from the church square, the Original Way crosses the highway and makes a left onto a parallel side road and into an underpass tunnel to continue onward. This is where the option of walking through town, joins the shortcut as described above.
Past Castroverde, after about 1.0 kilometer on the pavement, and through the hamlet of San Miguel, once again the Camino goes back onto country lanes. It was here that we stumbled on the 124 kilometer waymark, below. Santiago is getting closer!
After almost 2.0 more kilometers on nice country lanes of mostly dirt, the Camino leads the pilgrim onward to Souto de Torres, a small hamlet. You will know you are there when the lane brings you past this lovely country church, the Iglesia de Santo Tome, below.
There is a nice open area at the crossroads ahead, which has an inviting bench to sit and gaze at the cruceiro and parish church for a while. We arrived here just after 10:00 after only about 11.4 kilometers into day nine of our Camino Primitivo, so we lingered only a short while.
By the next hamlet of Nadela, after 1.8 kilometers from the Santo Tome church and barely seen on most maps, Magdalena, a Camino family member, had caught up to us. Rich and she walked ahead, as he loved to chat whenever he could. I felt more like walking in silence, again today. My constitution, with my cold virus, still didn't put me in the mood for much socializing.
In Nadela, another animal drew my attention to him. This silent dog in the shadows below, that I saw watching me as I instinctively turned my head to the right after passing his house, was gazing contemplatively at me.
Most likely he spent his days here watching over the pilgrims as they passed. He didn't bark or move a muscle - just gazed. I can still feel the feeling of being drawn to this creature, even as I write today! I was happy for his watchfulness, and wished I could go and pet him or give him a treat! I silently thanked him instead.
By the time we reached the next town of Vilar de Cas at 11:00, a short 700 meters later and after not quite 14 kilometers on the Camino, we were ready for a longer break.
As you enter Vilar de Cas, there is a private albergue called the A Pociña de Muñiz. If you look on their facebook page, through the link, the place looks fabulous. They have private rooms in addition to a dormitory and each bunk has its own privacy curtain. There is no public café here that I saw.
However, a few meters down the road, is the vending area. You have to look closely to find this small building housing the vending machines, shown below. There is a sign on the pole to the right of it, facing backwards in the photo below, that says "Café y bebidas frías aquí." (Coffee and cold beverages here). If you miss the sign, you may miss the vending machines. I did place its location on my Google map above, so you can see its precise location.
You will be coming from the background of the photo, to the foreground, and the vending area will be on your right as you pass. You won't see the little house until you are past it and you look back. Here are our Camino family friends, enjoying the snacks by the vending machine's little house, just after we left.
These vending machines were really quite fabulous. We had café con leche and cookies. The coffee really wasn't bad at all. We were very grateful, indeed, for them on day nine of our Camino Primitivo.
It was here that I gave a fellow pilgrim some of my Halls throat lozenges, because she thought she might have been getting a cold too. Argh! I hope I didn't give it to her! It was an extremely hot day, so maybe she only had a dry throat from dehydration.
Plus she had blisters because she was forced to wear socks that hadn't dried out the night before. She had lost her second pair. Blisters and wet socks - what a horrible combination. I had one extra pair of socks, so I gave a pair to her. What goes round comes round. I needed all the good karma I could get!
As we were sitting enjoying the rest stop, we looked up to see sheep coming toward us at the vending machine stop. I was actually sitting on the bench by the machines, when the sheep in the photo below, approached.
I was so lucky to have the sheep draw my attention to them at this perfect location! Coincidence?? Was I becoming more one with the animals?
I laughed when I realized the coming set-up for the photo below, well before I shot it! I was able to prepare for the photo, with plenty of time to spare. How lucky I was to be sitting at precisely the right bench to get this photo. Or was it luck?
After Vilar de Cas, the Original Way joins the LU-P-1203 for barely 400 meters to walk into the next hamlet of Soutomerille. When you reach Soutomerille, you come to an intersection, after the route turns to dirt, where you have two choices. Both choices are waymarked.
To the right, the Camino takes you through a lovely forested path to the ruined, 12th century Igrexa de San Salvador de Soutomerille, about 800 meters farther to the north. We did not know of this site when we walked. To go there would add another 1.5 kilometers to your day.
If you chose to go left at this same intersection, this is the "official" and shorter way. Click on the link above to make your own decision. I will definitely see the church the next time I pass this way.
After Soutomerille, you eventually join the LU-P-2917 and enter the next town of Santa María de Gondar, after 1.9 kilometers more and about 16.3 kilometers into the day.
A few meters past the town sign in a field to your right is El Oasis Primitivo, a place “to be able to rest, relax and learn about Lugo” according to their Facebook page. You can rest on wood benches with umbrellas and get water, fruit and a stamp. This is the last place for refreshments before Lugo, about another 12 kilometers away!
On day nine, the Camino Primitivo stays on the LU-P-2917 for 2.2 kilometers to walk towards but not into Bascuas, shown below, and passes a large quarry along the way. It leave the pavement soon after the quarry and turns onto a dirt tractor lane, after 18.5 kilometers for the day.
For the next 1.9 kilometers, the Camino avoids the highway on nice lanes, skirting Carretera to the north until joining the familiar LU-530 once again as it walks you towards Carbadillo for about 1.2 more kilometers.
After Carbadillo, The Way turns right, into a tree-lined side road, a welcome afternoon solace from the hot sun.
We decided to stop here for lunch, around 1:00 p.m. and ate from the ample supply of food we had been carrying in our packs. Whenever possible, we also took a foot break, as you can see. Airing out your feet is essential, in my opinion, to prevent the formation of blisters. Especially on this hot day nine of the Camino Primitivo!
Can you see the hiking poles just beyond Rich? This is exactly where he left them as we walked on after lunch! He discovered his mistake about a half a kilometer down the road.
I waited here in the shade, below, while he went back to retrieve his poles! I took the opportunity to photograph these glorious sunflowers which were smiling at me.
The day turned very hot and dry for the remaining 10 kilometers into Lugo. I was carrying a hydration pack and even though I was drinking as I walked, I still felt like I could not get enough.
This unshaded stretch of the road seemed particularly hot and dry, despite this unusual fence that broke up the monotony.
In another 1.9 kilometers on these dirt lanes, we approached the hamlet of As Casas da Viña after about 23.5 kilometers total. We were now only about 5 kilometers from the outskirts of Lugo.
I was intrigued by the feeling of seclusion of the walls in the photos to follow. If I didn't know it, I would never have guessed that we were approaching a very large city! The Original Way planners did a great job for the day nine part of the Camino Primitivo!
Surprisingly, we remained on dirt lanes after walking through As Casas da Viña for the next 3.3 kilometers, despite walking over two major highways, the A6 and the LU-021 on the way to Lugo.
My excitement was growing at this waymark which shows 106 kilometers. I knew that Lugo is often the starting point for those only interested in going the final 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. We were not far now. It seemed truly doable from here!
You can easily see why the Romans built their fortifications on this site. Lugo is on a hill, and very defensible, with rivers and streams on its borders. So the Way, of course, descends first before entering the old city on day nine of the Camino Primitivo. In the photo below, you can also see the aqueduct leading into town.
About 1.6 kilometers after joining the paved road, and just after crossing the bridge, shown above, the Way turns uphill for the final ascent into Lugo.
Continuing uphill for 400 meters, you walk through the railroad tunnel, below, and eventually up a steep set of stairs where you enter into the city center at a large divided street called the Ronda das Fontiñas at the top of the stairs. Welcome to Lugo!
Cross the Ronda das Fontiñas and observe the giant LUGO/Km 100 sculpture, letting you know this is the official 100 kilometer distance marker, to Santiago de Compostela!
Continue westward on a street called the Rúa Carril das Flores, (to the left of the sculpture) for 350 meters. Come to the ramp, below, where the fortifications loom above you! (Sorry for this lousy photo - I was shooting into the sun.)
What a feeling of euphoria, to walk into the old city, through this gate, the Porta de San Pedro ou Toledana!
I was hot, thirsty and sweaty, but happy to be finally here! We arrived around 3:00 p.m., a full 7.5 or so hours on the Camino.
My euphoria soon vanished when loud, thumping music was soon heard inside the gate. We peeked into a side area to see a restaurant with some guy grooving to a karaoke song! It was only 3:00 p.m.!
Just as we turned about face to continue walking toward our hotel, we ran into Igor and a new-found friend (to the right in the photo - sorry, I can't remember her name!). We greeted one another with joy, they grabbed us and we headed back to the same loud restaurant for tapas and beer.
I later realized that the loud attention-grabbing music did precisely its job, attracting weary pilgrims in the afternoon of their day nine on the Camino Primitivo! Ha ha ha!
I had to be careful to re-hydrate and drank two large bottles of cold water too! With my hunger and thirst quelled, I was becoming a happy pilgrimage traveler once again!
Soon, in walked Matias! It was a sweet celebration for the end of a very long day's walk in the heat, and the beginning of a long rest period! Salud!
It is right after this café, the O Candil, that the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Lugo can be found, on the first turn to the right after entering through the gate, on the Rúa das Noreas, several meters farther along. Also at this turn is the inexpensive, splashy Shiku Hostel, with dormitory beds.
The Camino continues onward after the gate, to go through the center of town, past city hall and the main plaza and ends for this stage, 1/2 kilometer later at the grand Catedral de Santa María de Lugo.
Once inside the gate, begin to look for bronze Camino shells on the pavement to guide you through the city! You will find them at every intersection. The first shell is under the gate itself!
After our celebrations we picked ourselves up and went to our hotel, the Hotel España, right outside the medieval walls, on the south side of town, just steps from the Catedral de Santa María de Lugo. We would be here for a glorious two nights. (To see our tour of Lugo, and the way through the city on the Camino de Santiago, click here. We walked the Roman walls, went to the cathedral and other sites.)
There are many more accommodations in Lugo, and more private albergues, the Roots and Boots, Lugo, the Hostal Albergue Lucus and the Bretema Albergue, all on the southside of town. The Hostel Cross, the Hostel Porton and the Hostel Viatori are near the center by the cathedral.
In addition to the Hotel España, there are more economical hotels, the Hostal Pension Mar De Plata, the Pension San Roque and the Hotel Méndez Núñez. To see even more choices, click here for booking.com.
The evening of day nine on the Camino Primitivo, our Camino family all gathered in the main town square (Praza Maior) and enjoyed dinner together at one of the outdoor restaurants that have tables lining the square.
Tonight was to be Igor's final night on the Camino. His personal Camino ended here as he was leaving to go back to work. He was our Spanish ambassador. It was he
who would ensure that we all were cared for, that we understood and loved his
country. It was us, who were receptive to his guidance, whether as a language
interpreter, a food explainer, or a friendly Spaniard who was always positive,
smiling and walking faster than most of us!
Igor would herd us together like sheep, and tell us information about Spain and it's culture that we would have surely missed had it not been for his guidance. He was there to ensure that all of us had the information that we needed. He was a prime example of Spanish hospitality.
Igor definitely assisted in the vanishing of the borders between all the countries that were represented in our Camino family. As my husband is skilled in bringing people together with his incredible social skills, so was Igor able to further this process to tear down borders, so that we were all one world - Americans, Austrians, Irish, Swiss, German and Spanish.
Here is his heart-felt farewell speech at our family gathering for dinner in Lugo. It is so poignant! Thank-you Igor!
Day nine on my Camino Primitivo was certainly about uniting with all beings that I encountered. On this very special day, yes, I was able to notice a shift.
I noticed and communed with the animals. As for the humans, our shared pilgrimage goal united us in nationality, yes perhaps, from similar European cultures, yet it felt not so similar many times.
"My" world became "Our World" as we shared the comunitas which Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook speaks so fondly, regarding pilgrimages. I got it. We all got it that night. We were united.
Perhaps, our family on the Original Way was, as a whole, younger and/or more physically active than other pilgrims on the other Caminos, which helped to unite us. I do not know. I do know that this Camino Primitivo definitely attracts athletic and/or determined people who are up for the challenge of the grueling climbs and descents of the first 200 kilometers. The sustained effort is the challenge for this Camino.
Here, in Lugo, we were to rest tomorrow and stay another night. I deserved it and had been looking forward to it.
However, it was cloaked in sadness as well. This perhaps, was our final get-together as this particular Camino Family. Most likely, everything was about to change in our final 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela.
I was happy that most of the physical effort on this Camino was now behind us. Lugo is symbolic in that way. Not only do you have most of the kilometers completed, but you have most of the physical effort completed.
But I was ready for what was to come. I was grateful for the comunitas I had with these people for the first 200 kilometers. I knew that we would be OK, and that more wonderful experiences lay ahead. And I did, indeed, as it turned out, make lifelong friends!
May you also find the spirit of community as you form your own Camino families on your own day nine of the Camino Primitivo! May you always know that "Nunca caminarás solo!" (You'll never walk alone!) May we all unite as one world!
Many readers contact me, Elle, to thank me for all the time and care that I have spent creating this informative website. If you have been truly blessed by my efforts, have not purchased an eBook, yet wish to contribute, I am very grateful. Thank-you!
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Need suggestions on what to pack for your next pilgrimage? Click Here or on the photo below!
Carbon fiber construction ( not aluminum) in a trekking pole makes them ultra lightweight. We like the Z-Pole style from Black Diamond so we can hide our poles in our pack from potential thievesbefore getting to our albergue! There are many to choose from! ( See more of our gear recommendations! )