Day two on the Camino to Finisterre is a strenuous one with two significant climbs. However it is a joyous day, filled with many open and high views of the Galician countryside, more enchanted forests, many old stone hórreos, and lovely stone cafés and albergues to tempt you to linger longer.
"I believe that all of life is an unfolding journey and we never fully 'arrive' in this lifetime, but commit to always beginning again and to always being surprised by God. Pilgrimage offers us the opportunity to encounter the stranger within ourselves, to journey to places which make us feel uncomfortable in the service of breaking something free inside of us. The pilgrim's path matters in this world where we are encouraged to hold onto and accumulate comforts at any cost."
~ Christine Valters Paintner
Here is our Google map, created from our uploaded GPS tracks. I have placed accommodations, cafés and supermarkets on the map for your ease of planning. There are sufficient cafés along the route, but if you plan to go all the way to Olveiroa and to cook your dinner you will need to carry your groceries, because there is no grocery store to speak of in Olveiroa.
The distance, as you can see, on day two of the Camino Finisterre, is almost 34 kilometers, a healthy 21-mile day, according to my GPS. This is a full day of walking, taking us 8.5 hours to complete, with breaks, so come prepared!
Bring back-up food for your day, stocking up in the grocery stores in Negreira. The café bars may not be spaced properly to accommodate you when hunger hits! Food, indeed, keeps a pilgrim happy and energetic. I do not advise you to diet on this this stage!
Also on the day's route you will notice two orange alternative routes. The long one is the A Picota route, that has similar elevation changes, but is one kilometer longer. The reason to go this way is for a variation if you have done this route several times.
The second shorter orange route is a wonderful alternative to avoid the Monte Aro climb, a difference of about 50 meters (160 feet). Taking this way will also miss the striking views at the Mirador de Monte Aro. Your choice.
As you can see from our elevation profile below, day two is more strenuous and difficult than day one. There is a long, 11 kilometer hill climb to start off your day from Negreira and another climb from about 22-26 kilometers into the day.
There is 892 meters of accumulated elevation gain for the day, almost 3000 feet! If this day doesn't tire you out, you are a machine.
As you can see on our Google map above, there are many opportunities to shorten you day and make your Camino to Fisterra a four day adventure.
The four compadres set out after our glorious buffet breakfast, included in our night's stay at the Hostal La Mezquita. It was a glorious buffet with ham, cheese, bread, fruit and yogurt. We could even have it starting at 7:30 which was wonderful as well.
As we set out, we were all a bit somber. We knew it was going to be a long day, starting out with the long hill climb. First, we walked down the hill from the hotel, walking through the gate of the Pazo do Cotón, shown below. This is how it looked the year I left alone just before daybreak. (See day one for daylight photos.)
After walking through the gate, you cross a river and a "Bonita (pretty)" variant of the standard route is offered to you, via a large sign. This variant walks along the river. The variant is longer, so we chose the standard route. Our day was going to be long enough without adding another 1/2 kilometer.
After a total of about 1/2 kilometer from the hotel, we turned left onto the DP-5602, below. The real climbing begins here. I took this shot looking back at Rich and Steve on the Way.
In a few hundred meters, or so, the Way turns right at this 68.85 kilometer marker. It is important to note, that according to the sign this is where you would turn left if you are looking for the municipal albergue in Negreira.
It is also interesting to note, the sign for Vilacerío, and the albergue/bar there. This sign you will see often on day two on the Finisterre Way, counting down the 10 kilometers to it. It is actually more like 12 kilometers to Vilacerío. The pilgrimage traveler learns very quickly to take distances on vendors' signs with a grain of salt!
Our morning was misty, and threatening to rain, but we did have the immediate reward of open views of the river valley and Negreira below.
A brief 150 meters onward, turn right and climb some more towards the Igrexa de San Xián de Negreira. Below is a photo of Rob, trudging upward. He requested silence on our walk this morning, and we all obliged to walk into our own worlds that morning and do as Christine Valters-Paintner suggests.
This is a quaint little church on the outskirts of Negreira and it was worth a pause to contemplate the meaning of our walk through life.
After passing the church, you are led towards this inviting pathway, below.
In a total of 400 meters on this road, the Way turns into the forest.
As we walked on together, in silence, the enchanting forest took on a different perspective. I really began to notice it, and notice my tendency not to notice enough of the wonders along the Way.
The forest walk lasts for about 1.0 kilometer, when it meets the DP-5603 and turns left, below. Snuggle up to this road, because almost the entire Finisterre Way on day two either walks upon it, or essentially follows its path.
For this stretch, you only walk on the road for 700 meters. There is a wide enough shoulder on which to stay safe.
700 meters onward, leave the DP-5603, turning right at this intersection.
The steepest part of the climb is in this first 3.0 from Negreira, so by the time you arrive in the next hamlet of Zas, it levels out for a bit of reprieve. Pass by what appears to be an unused country church.
After winding through Zas, we soon were diverted into the woods on a path, 450 meters later at the 65 kilometer waymark.
It had started to drizzle, when the path ended after one kilometer. Then it turns to the right at a farmer's field, shown below where it intersects with a dirt lane.
This wide and open farmer's lane shown above, soon re-enters the forest and gives way to more pleasant paths.
It is over 2.0 kilometers when you walk out of this forest section and come to the next tiny town of Rapote and this fountain with potable water and rest area. My GPS recorded about 7.0 kilometers walked at this area.
A few meters onward after the rest area we turned left in town, then left again when the pavement ended, shown below, to enter a forested path once again.
At about 1.4 kilometers, past Rapote we entered the next town of A Pena and passed by the Albergue and Cafetería Alto da Pena, shown below. At only 8.4 kilometers into the day, and looking at the long stair climb to get up there, we decided to push on to Vilaserío before taking a break on day two of our Finisterre Way.
We talked to some other pilgrimage travelers, later, who highly recommend this place, stating that the bunks rooms have only four to a room.
Immediately after this sign, pass by another new, private albergue, the Albergue Rectoral San Mamede da Pena that also gets good reviews.
Next, we passed by the town church, the San Mamede da Pena, with its dedication plaque, then a few meters more turned left at a cruceiro. As we walked on the paved lane, and looked back over our left shoulders, we could get a clear view of the church and the albergues, high on the hill.
In a total of about 700 meters onward from the albergue, come to the intersection with the DP-5603 and turn right. Fortunately, the walk is a brief 1/2 kilometer before turning to the right again, shown below. Just after you turn, you are offered a longer, variant pathway to Vilaserío.
We chose the standard route, turning immediately left into the forest, as you can see in the photo above. It is a full kilometer of walking on a forest path, descending to cross this small stream...
...then ascending back up to join the familiar DP-5603, turning right.
This is farm country, and we passed many a tractor on the road.
You must walk a full 2.0 kilometers on this road, finishing the final kilometer of climbing for the morning on the pavement. You will know you are finally at the top when the windmills appear high on the ridge to your left! Breathe, relax and enjoy the downhill to come. You have made it!
Pass by the sign for the town of Vilaserío along the DP-5603, and just beyond it the Camino turns to the left, shown below, to enter the town proper.
It is a short, pleasant walk through the forest for 1/4 kilometer, when you make a right turn into the town, and finally come to the A Casa Nova that has been using signs to count down to it for the past 10 kilometers!
There are three albergues in this small town, the Albergue Casa Vella, meters off the Camino to the south (not pictured), the Albergue O Rueiro, just down the hill from the A Casa Nova, pictured below, and the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Vilaserío farther down the highway.
We did stop and have a café con leche and pastries at the A Casa Nova and broke our walk in silence. After 12.5 kilometers, it was nice to chat again, and take a load off our feet!
It is a few meters down the hill, past the above albergue, when the Camino meets up with the DP-5603 once again. The countryside is absolutely gorgeous through here. In less than 1/2 kilometer, you walk past the municipal albergue remodeled from an old schoolhouse.
Walk a full 1.8 kilometers on the road once again, then turn right onto a side road toward the next hamlet of Cornadó.
There is a fountain in the center town, a short 200 meters down the road, to fill your water bottles if needed.
Turn left by the fountain, and in a few meters, pick up a long, gravel road through the countryside, passing windmills along the way.
You have walked on this long gravel road for a bit more than a full kilometer, when coming to an intersection with the DP-5604. The Camino goes to the right here.
Stay on this road for 1/3 kilometer on a nice walker's lane, show below. Then turn left onto another long gravel lane at the 53.1 kilometer marker and a sign for the Casa Pepa. The Casa Pepa is a good 5.0 kilometers away in Santa Mariña. The turn to the left you can see in the distance, in the photo, just before the stand of trees.
From the turn at the 53.1 kilometer marker it is a long 3.6 kilometers to the next town of As Maroñas on day two of the Finisterre Way.
When you come to the intersection, below in As Maroñas, many signs greet you, because surprisingly while there are no services here, there are a lot in the next town of Santa Mariña, about 1.1 kilometer ahead. Turn left as directed.
Next, we reached the cruceiro in the center of Santa Mariña, shown below. The Camino Finisterre goes to the right, but to reach the Casa Pepa one must go left a few more meters. Our friends Steve and Rob, at a 22 kilometer day were going to stay here at the albergue. The Casa Pepa is a private albergue and it also has a café.
Rich and I were going on to Olveiroa, so we had a cup of café con leche with them, before heading onward. Our plan was to meet up again in a few days in Muxía.
Reluctantly, we continued onward without our friends. As we left town we noticed a very nice picnic area, where one could have a picnic. It is just less than 1/2 kilometer from the center of town, to the AC-400 where there are lots more services.
There are two more café/bars, a panaderia (bakery) and the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Santa Mariña, shown below. The sun was coming out and there were many pilgrims hanging out here as we walked by.
After turning left, or westward onto the AC-400, it is not quite 1/2 kilometer on this road, before the Camino turns to the right on a quiet secondary road towards the next tiny town of Gueima. It is almost two kilometers from the turn off the AC-400 to Gueima.
After the town of Gueima, the Camino heads toward the next small town of Vilar de Castro, 700 meters onward. There are no services here, but it is distinctive in that walking to this town begins the next very steep climb of the day, about 24.25 kilometers into an already long day.
The Camino gains 200 meters (about 650 feet) of elevation over about 3.0 kilometers, which shouldn't be that bad, but after a long day's walk, I had difficulty convincing my legs!
After the 700 meters from Gueima, take a sharp turn to the right at the 44.146 km waymark, in Vilar de Castro, and continue on a nicer, flat road for a while that leaves town, shown below.
OR, you could take the alternative route to A Picota, and turn left in Vilar de Castro, at the 44.146 km marker, and towards the brand-new private Albergue Picota in not quite 5.0 km. There is also the Hotel Casa Jurjo in this town.
The southern, alternative route through A Picota avoids the steep hill climb described below, and shown on the map above in orange, and it adds about one kilometer to the route. However, it is another option to shorten the day. (At this juncture you are about 7.2 km from Olveiroa but with the steep hill climb ahead.) The Picota route, however, has a climb of its own, even a bit higher than the standard route, it is just more gradual and on easier pavement.
On the alternative route, in 300 meters after the turn in Vilar de Castro, go right to join the main road, all the way into A Picota, about 4.7 km, to find the albergue on the NE corner in the main square. The Hotel Casa Jurjo is across the street. From the albergue, turn right onto the DP-3404 and head north for 3.2 km until the main route joins the DP-3404 to walk across the river into Olveiroa (8.2 km total).
Otherwise, along the main route, after turning right in Vilar de Castro, in 800 meters more, take a left turn at this intersection, shown below. You are now heading towards the high point of day two on the Camiño Fisterra ~ Monte Aro.
Just when I thought the road could go no higher, I spied this dirt road to the left with people on it! Could this be the Camino??
And the answer is: Yes it is! 300 meters onward from the last turn, the Camino takes a left onto this final steep dirt pitch.
I actually saw a sign before the turn, stating that the climb was a "provisional route" which confused me. Everyone was going this way, but I remembered nothing like this the last time I walked the Camino Finisterre. Perhaps they will change it in the future, I don't know.
400 meters after the grueling climb, there is a nice resting and viewing platform that appears recently added, shown below. This is a wonderful place with stupendous views of the countryside and the Fervenza Reservoir.
We lingered a bit here, but not very long. One hundred meters onward, the road turns left to point the pilgrimage traveler to the next obstacle. Another climb??
Mercifully, the answer this time is: No, the Camino turns right. Take heart, because it is all downhill from here to Olveiroa.
It is a lovely and not-too-steep, 1.3 kilometer stroll from the high point of the day, into the next town of Lago. The views of Fervenza Reservoir abound.
It is a long, straight road for one kilometer from the top, turning left near Lago, below.
If you need a break and refreshments, there is the Casa Xalleiro waiting for you at the bottom of the hill. There is also the Albergue Monte Aro if you have had enough walking for the day! In Lago, you are about 27 kilometers walk from Negreira.
Lago is a very small town, and after another 1/2 kilometer walk you turn left at this bus stop/bench area. Rich and I stopped and had a picnic here. I needed something to get me through the next five kilometers to Olveiroa.
While we sat here for our picnic, we chatted with a woman, whom we had seen before the final hill pitch. She did not go up and over the hill. She stayed on the pavement, and met up with the Camino here! See the short alternative route in orange, on the map above for this shortcut!
She was a frequent Finisterre Way pilgrimage traveler and she reinforced my belief that you do not have to go up that final steep hill. She says that they keep on changing the route, and she knew better than to climb the hill! Who knows what changes to the route the future will bring?
About 400 meters on down the road from the bus stop, and towards the next town of Corzón, take a right hand turn. If instead you were to go straight, staying on the main road towards Quintáns, in 1.6 km off-route you would come to the private Albergue Virxe da O. Another option.
Otherwise, continuing on the route, it is 2.7 km from the bus stop to Corzón as the Camino winds around the country roads, following the clear waymarks. The road seemed to never end.
After Corzón, it is another kilometer to the next town of Ponte Olveira. There is not much here, but there is the nice-looking old stone building that houses the Albergue Ponte Olveira.
Past the albergue, the Camino turns right to pick up the DP-3404 for the final 1.7 kilometers into Olveiroa! This is where the alternative route from A Picota and the main route join at the DP-3404.
Cross the Río Xallas. There is a really nice picnic area, just beyond the bridge on the left, with a view overlooking the river.
Is that a hill ahead walking into Olveiroa? Argh! This final stretch on a busy highway I felt was bad enough without a hill on the final push. I was so tired! I dislike greater than 30k days, and I doubt I will ever do this long day two on the Camino Finisterre again!
In the final meters on the DP-3404, pass by the small Albergue O Peregrino.
In a few more meters past the albergue above, finally we come to the sign announcing the historical center of Olveiroa. You can barely make out the black letters on the distant wall of the photo below. I guess I was more interested in photographing the sheep!
I must say, I like Olveiroa, and the many hórreos that surround this town. I will miss staying here in the future if I walk through, making four shorter stages. To see gorgeous photos of the town hórreos lit up in the early morning, see our day three.
Just 300 meters after the turn into the main part of town, we came to our accommodation for the night, the Casa Loncho, shown below.
There is also a municipal albergue, the Albergue de Peregrinos de Olveiroa, just north of the main road, and three more privadas (privates), the Albergue As Pías and the Albergue - Restaurante Casa Manola, along the Camino itself and the Albergue Santa Lucía - Olveiroa, also just steps to the north.
Olveiroa is a pinch-point with few albergues, so we had reserved a room at the Casa Loncho, a wonderful pilgrim refuge. The place is full of choices for the night, from lovely rooms to the standard dormitory, called the Albergue Hórreo.
Plus, the most wonderful of all, the main dining/reception area served food and beverages from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., whenever anyone wanted it - a pilgrim's dream! Because of this, the cafeteria is always a bustling place.
In addition to all this loveliness, they had a little grocerette that had things like chips, Oreos, nuts and fruit for sale to stash in your pack for the next day. I have to admit that I had two packages of Oreos when I arrived. I was so happy to see something familiar for the first time in weeks. Not much of a pilgrim, at this moment, I confess, but I was still happy, on this day two of my Camino Finisterre!
Lounging outside on the balcony of our room, I felt truly blessed on this day. We splurged on a double room instead of the dormitory (which didn't smell too lovely on this particular day) and despite the Saturday night partying noise, we slept very well. After walking 33 kilometers, I think I would have slept through a hurricane.
After our wonderful evening meal, which we had quite early by Spanish standards at 6:00 p.m, the Menú del Día (menu of the day), consisting of breaded and fried chicken filets, french fries and Caldo Gallego (local vegetable soup) and copious amounts of wine, we went to bed with full bellies and contented hearts. The caldo never tasted so good! - cabbage, potatoes and a salty chicken broth to replenish our electrolytes!
We started out with our good friends on this day, in silence, contemplating our own pilgrimage. We journeyed on for 22 kilometers together, later chatting and being our usual selves. This felt different than our prior Camino days, but it was a necessary and welcome change. Having to leave them behind after 2/3rds into our day felt much more unusual, as we had come such a long way together.
The physical effort that it took, walking our final 10 kilometers, kept us in a different place. It kept us distracted from true reflection perhaps. We missed our friends and yet it felt freeing to have a conversation solely with one another. We looked forward to meeting up with them again in Muxía.
The symbolic nature of the journey on the Camino, versus our journey through life brings constant parallels to mind. This unfolding journey, as the beginning quote describes, reminds us that the Way is always full of surprises, twists and turns that are out of our control. The Way is constantly changing before our eyes as we learn more and more about ourselves and our responses to this sacred path.
May your own day two on the Camino Finisterre be a learning experience for you. May you also find more insight into yourself, encountering the stranger within, when you walk the Finisterre Way. Ultreia!
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