This stage was a pleasure. Only 21 km. to Triacastela, mostly descending, beautiful scenery, the weather was warm and sunny, who could ask for more? Anyway, people having knee and ankle problems would perhaps tell a different story, as descent, especially one spreading over several kilometers is a huge strain precisely on these parts of the body.
We almost ran out from the municipal albergue. At about 6.30 o’clock everyone was up and it was resembling an enormous bee-hive with everyone trying to get ready and put their stuff in order in the dark. I really appreciate the fact that many people (I followed the example) actually arranged their backpack outside the bedroom and spared the others all the rustling, whispering and flashlights in all directions. Outside the air was amazingly fresh (I forgot to mention O Cebreiro is located at an altitude of 1300 m) and we started descending through the dark mountain.
After the challenges Camino de Santiago Day 3 threw at me, I supposed Day 4 would provide some pleasurable difference. You know, I expected balance and so on. Different is was. It was more difficult, more steep, and demanded more from my not-so-happy-after-the-25th-km feet. But, you know what, I came to realize that putting yourself to the test and striving to go on only transforms the rest afterwards into vigorous enjoyment and at least doubles the luxury of a hot shower, clean clothes, feet up and something Galician to eat.
Walking traditionally started at dark and probably for this reason we failed to take the right turn (there are two alternatives to chose from after Villafranca del Bierzo – a mountainous route and the “highway” route). So instead we found ourselves walking along the road, for most of the time the highway was high above our heads, but overall, surprisingly, I found the way quite peaceful, probably because it was too early. There was a divider to separate pilgrims from the road. Level walking on flat surface early in the morning was not a bad idea. Some lovely small villages for an occasional cafe con leche were quite welcome as well.