Camino Portugués: de Redondela a Pontevedra |
One of the advantages of living on the Camino is that you can walk the Camino every day. OK, it’s kind of a Groundhog Day situation: you walk the same stretch over and over and you never make it to Santiago de Compostela. But I must confess that I sometimes change my route so I can follow the flechas amarillas (yellow arrows) for a bit.
There’s something about following those arrows… If only every decision in life was so easy! You think “Should I do this or that?” And boom! A yellow arrow or concha de vieira (scallop shell) magically appears and shows you the way.
Another advantage of living on the Camino is that you can train for your next Camino… on the Camino. The Ruta da Pedra e da Auga, on the Variante Espiritual of the Camino Portugués, for instance, is a favourite route of ours.
The plan for the recent Carnival break was to walk 2 or 3 stages of the Camino Portugués. Life had other plans, however. That meant we could walk one stage only. We picked Redondela-Pontevedra because we could easily get to Redondela to start walking and we would finish at home. Not much planning required.
So el lunes (Monday) we took an early tren (train) to Redondela, had some café con leche and started walking.
One of the most characteristic features of Redondela are the two viaductos (viaduct) that cross town. They both date back to the 19th century.
Recently, I accidentally found out that there are two pieces of the Berlin Wall in Redondela. For more info check this article.
I would have liked to walk around Redondela a bit, but by the time we got there and had breakfast it was already 9:00am. Great excuse to go back.
So, we set of from Praza da Constitución 1812, up rúa Cruceiro and past hórreo da Esfarrapada.
Hórreos are a constant feature in Galician rural landscape. They are used to store grain. The pillars that raise them from the ground are ended in flat stones that prevent access by rodents. They are usually made of stone or a combination of stone and wood.
Soon we were out of town, walking on paved roads with little traffic. And after crossing a busy road we got to a pleasant picnic area with a fuente (fountain).
After that you walk mostly away from traffic, through forests. There’s an area where you get a nice view of the Ría de Vigo on your left. Right before that, there’s a display of shells, on your left too. I must say I was surprised by the number of these kinds of displays on this stage only. I don’t think I saw any on the whole Camino Inglés last year.
Another difference I noticed was that we never saw another pilgrim on the Inglés around the same time a year ago. On this one stage of the Camino Portugués from Redondela to Pontevedra we saw between 10 and 15 other people walking.
The worst part of the stage, for me, came right before Arcade. This stretch probably feels longer than it actually is, because you’re walking on a busy national road with cars, trucks and buses flying past you. But you are soon in Arcade, a nice little town famous for its ostras (oysters). In fact, every year, in the month of April, they celebrate an oyster festival.
Arcade has bars, restaurants, banks, shops… any service you may need.
Right after Arcade you pass Pontesampaio… and one of the most photographed bridges on this route. A plaque on one of the sides reminds us of the historical relevance of Pontesampaio: in June 1809, during the Independence War, the Spanish troops defeated the Napoleon’s army and thus ended the French occupation in Galicia.
Historical events aside, this is a beautiful spot.
After that, you continue through rural areas and forests for most of the way until Pontevedra.
The weather was nice, dry and sunny but not too warm and I found most of the stage quite a pleasant walk. There are some uphills, although they are not very demanding.
The hardest part of the stage came after Pontesampaio, with a section on stone paths. Although it wasn’t raining that day, it has rained a lot this winter, so there was a lot of water and mud in between the stones, making the walk a bit trickier. Our bastones (hiking poles) came in quite handy here.
There is an alternative route or camino complementario into Pontevedra. After a small chapel (Capilla de Santa Marta in Tomeza). I was really looking forward to this section, after seeing photos and comments from other pilgrims. This camino complementario is longer than the official one but you get to walk in nature, surrounded by trees and with a river flowing by your side. Quite idyllic, as opposed to walking on the side of a road.
Well, the beginning of this alternative route is clearly marked but we had to skip it because there was also a sign saying that it was closed. A couple of months ago we had a few storms with heavy rain and strong winds. As a result, the small bridge over the river disappeared. I remember reading about this at the time but I had forgotten about it. So, we had to stick to the road. Not as scenic.
And we were finally home. One of the first things you see when you enter Pontevedra is the albergue. It’s right beside the train station and quite close to the bus station too. But you still have to walk a bit more to get to the city centre and see the famous church in the shape of a scallop shell: iglesia de la Virgen Peregrina, patron saint of the Camino Portugués.
I think Pontevedra well deserves a post. Maybe next time?
Today’s Spanish words for the Camino
Conchas de vieira
Café con leche
For the pronunciation of Redondela, Arcade, Pontevedra and Variante Espiritual, you can check this post about the Camino Portugués.
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