21 kilometers, 5 hours. Through larger Vilar do Barrio and smaller villages of Bóveda, Vilar de Gomareite, and Padroso.
We woke to a still and quiet morning; I only roused myself from a warm sleeping bag after Hiromi said the bar was open and she was going for café con leche (espresso with steamed milk). The day outside was crystal clear: blue skies and warm sunlight. However, that only lasted until the sun warmed the valley fog, and it rose to engulf us again. Still, it was very beautiful, calming.
If the prior day was considered wet, this particular day was idyllic. Beautiful scenery in every way. After the fog burned off, the landscape gave way to long views reaching far over verdant valleys to mystical passages lined by large moss and ivy-covered stones, shaded by lichen-jacketed chestnut and oak trees.
Three of us—Fernando from Nueva, Asturias, Spain; Hiromi, a nurse in Japan; and I—walked together most of the day, while Fernando educated us on the many mushrooms and edible fruits and nuts along our path. We ate chestnuts and figs while he picked mushrooms and indicated which were good and which were bad. Ah, fall, my favorite time of year.
Our day was very quiet, though most days had been so far. It was Sunday, and we saw only an occasional person in the villages or hunters in the fields with their dogs, hunting perdices (grouse). But when we stopped in Vilar de Gomareite for coffee, the tiny bar was filled with many residents—from the elderly to infants, husbands and wives, and mothers with their children surrounded by other women and hounded by grandmothers to hold the little ones. A vibrant scene. They all knew each other and were very cordial with us.
As we arrived in Xunqueira, we stopped at the xunta albergue (municipal hostel) adjacent to a large sports complex. The place was quite new and modern. So very white and clean, appointed with stainless steel. A radical contrast to our previous night’s lodgings in the ancient building of an even older hilltop town.
Later, we made our way to have the menu del dia (menu of the day) at Bar Guede, near the central plaza, where we had drunk some wine and used the Wi-Fi earlier in the day. Good food and atmosphere, and the family members who ran the place were quite nice.
Costs: €6 for the albergue, €1 for café con leche, a couple of Euros for wine in the afternoon, and €10 for dinner.