Camino Portugués: Caldas de Reis-Padrón

Camino Portugués: Caldas de Reis-Padrón

It’s the turn of the Caldas-Padrón stage of the Camino Portugués today.

And it’s back to walking with the big group from the Asociación de Amigos del Camino Portugués. The number of people was roughly the same as when we walked Porriño-Redondela. A couple of new faces, others missing, but mostly the same.

 

Another Sunday morning, as usual. It had rained the previous 2 Sundays, the ones I skipped because I had already walked those stages. The forecast for the day was good. Chilly in the morning. But that’s to be expected in November. Otherwise, bright and sunny. ¡Perfecto!

 

We got on the autobús at the usual spot, beside the capilla de San Roque in Pontevedra and left for Caldas de Reis. It’s a short drive from Pontevedra, so we were soon in Caldas, taking our group pictures outside the Santa María church.

Caldas-Padrón

Group picture borrowed from the Association’s blog.

Caldas de Reis

After the fotos and the oración, we started walking. We crossed the bridge over the río Umia into the town centre. One of the first things you’ll see is the fuente termal (hot spring), that Caldas de Reis is famous for. In fact, the town gets its name from the hot springs present in the area: Caldas comes from the Latin caldus, meaning hot.

So, if you’re stopping in Caldas, look out for one of its 2 balnearios (spa). Caldas’ thermal waters are meant to be good for your respiratory tract, rheumatism and skin conditions, among other things.

 

Another thing to do in Caldas de Reis: visit its botanic garden. It contains species from almost every continent, as well as a carballeira (that’s Galician for oak grove). Unlike the eucalyptus, which is an invasive species in Galicia, carballos or robles (oak trees in Galician and Spanish respectively) are native to Galicia. But they have been decimated, so carballeiras such as the one in Caldas are hard to come by these days.

 

The second part of the name, Reis,  means kings in Galician. This was added to the name in 1105, after future king Alfonso VII was born here.

 

But Caldas de Reis goes much further back.

 

There is evidence that the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In 1940, a group of local farmers found several objects made of gold while working on a viña (vineyard). They kept the discovery secret and started selling pieces little by little… until they were discovered a few months later. The remaining pieces (36) are known as Tesoro de Caldas (Caldas treasure) and can be seen at the museum in Pontevedra. They weigh around 15kg and it’s one of the biggest gold treasures found in Europe. They date back to 1500-1600 b.C.

Later, the Romans built 3 puentes in present-day Caldas. We crossed one of them on our way out of town.

 

On our way to Padrón

As a whole the Caldas-Padrón stage is my favourite stage of the central Camino Portugués in Spain. Other stages have nice stretches, of course. But this one goes mostly through gorgeous bosques (forests) that are virtually eucalyptus-free.

I’ve heard so many pilgrims mention how much they love walking through eucalyptus trees on the Camino. Sorry, but I can’t agree. Walking through eucalyptus trees makes me sad. They smell good. I agree. But the nice scent is not worth the environmental damage they’re causing in Galicia.

Anyway, I’ll leave the rant for another occasion… But walking through these native forests felt awesome. It was a little tiring on the legs, because of constant ups and downs. Nothing too difficult, though.

 

Before you get to Padrón, you have to go through Pontecesures. If you decide to take the Variante Espiritual after Pontevedra, Pontecesures is where you join the central route again.

 

Padrón

After you cross the bridge in Pontecesures, that’s it. You’re in Padrón. That was my memory of going through Padrón with my parents as a child, either on our way to Santiago or to see family. Well, the Camino takes longer, as I discovered that day, because it takes a detour away from the main road. So, when I thought I was already there, I still had to keep walking for a while. Not what you’re wishing for at the end of your stage. But nicer and safer than walking along that busy main road.

 

I eventually made it… with time to spare before taking the bus back home.

Remember this was a Sunday?

Well, there is a very busy mercado (market) in Padrón every Sunday. One of the biggest markets in Galicia, in fact, with more than 600 stalls where you can find all sorts. From socks to legs of ham. Vegetables, clothes, shoes, tools, crafts… you name it!

 

It was a bit of a shock to suddenly walk into so many things on display and so many people after the idyllic walk in the forest seeing only the occasional person and listening to the sound of birds. One other disadvantage: I didn’t know where our meeting point was, so I was following someone from our group… but I lost them in the crowds. I had a second of panic thinking I wouldn’t be able to find it and I would miss the bus. Just a second. Truth is, it wasn’t very hard to find.

By the way, we met in front of the Pementeira (in Galician, pepper lady) statue. Of course. Who has walked the Camino and not tried Padrón peppers? This is where they come from. Well, they come from neighbouring Herbón, to be precise. But we still call them Padrón peppers.

 

Padrón is quite a relevant place in the history of the Camino, but I’ll leave that for the next post about our Padrón-Milladoiro stage.

Today’s Spanish words

For the pronunciation of río, fuente, puente and autobús, check De Pontedeume a Betanzos.

For the pronunciation of oración, check Camino Portugués: de Porriño a Redondela.

For the pronunciation of Pontecesures and Variante Espiritual, check Variante Espiritual.

For the pronunciation of bosque, check De Pontevedra a Caldas de Reis.

 

 

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Camino Portugués: Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis

Camino Portugués: Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis

Camino Portugués: Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis |

Back in October I walked from Porriño to Redondela, on the Camino Portugués with a large group organised by the Asociación de Amigos del Camino Portugués (details about that stage here). I skipped the next 2 domingos (Sundays) because I had already walked those stages.

I walked Redondela-Pontevedra in 2020, right before the confinamiento (lockdown). And I have walked Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis twice now. Both times in julio (July), a year apart. It is my little contribution to the Luz del Camino project.

 

The first time I walked the Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis stage of the Camino Portugués was in 2020. I was part of a small group of 5 pilgrims, so I wasn’t alone. But it was a very lonely experience: there were no other pilgrims around and everything was closed.

The second time was in julio 2021. Again, I was part of a small group. But it was a very different experience. This time around, there were lots of other pilgrims walking too (mostly españoles but other nationalities too). Bars and cafés were open for business. The Camino felt alive again.

 

Peregrina Pontevedra

We had a very hot day in 2020, so we left at 6.00am, in the dark.

This time around, the weather forecast was not as hot. There was no need to start so early.

We left from the Peregrina Church in Pontevedra at 7.30am.

We crossed the bridge, and once out of Pontevedra and Lérez we met the first pilgrims of the day. It was a group of cinco polacos (5 Polish people) who wrote a message on the notebook that travels inside the mochila de la luz.

After Alba, I noticed an improvement on the route. There was a stretch where pilgrims had to walk on the side of the carretera (road). They’ve now added a new pedestrian path away from the road. Much safer than before.

 

Meeting other pilgrims

And then we crossed the road and quickly got to one of my favourite parts of this stage, a beautiful forest area. We met several other pilgrims here.

One of them was a Spanish woman who was walking from Tui by herself. She had wanted to walk the Camino for a while but could never find the right time. A few weeks before we met she found out she was embarazada (false friend alert! This means pregnant, not embarrassed). And she thought that she probably wouldn’t be able to walk for a long time if she waited until the baby was born. So, she packed a few things, got her partner to drop her in Tui and started walking.

 

We ended up walking together most of the rest of the stage and talking about all sorts of things. We got along quite well and the conversation kept flowing naturally.

Roughly halfway to Caldas we took a café con leche break. The place where we stopped was so busy! Full of pilgrims. So different from 2020.

 

After the break, we kept walking through bosques (forests) and aldeas (villages)… and meeting more pilgrims. Not what I’m used to. I know the July 2020 experience was kind of extreme, with everything closed and no pilgrims at all. But I must say I wasn’t used to meeting so many other pilgrims on the Camino. It actually felt crowded at times, especially coming out of a strict lockdown and over a year of so many restrictions and not socialising that much.

 

When the Camino joins the busy N-550 road (5 or 6km before Caldas de Reis), I recommend you cross it and take the short detour to “Parque Natural Río Barosa”. It’s a beautiful place with waterfalls and old watermills. There’s a picnic area there. It’s a popular spot for the locals to go for the day. It’s about 500m off the Camino, but it’s well worth it. That’s what we did again, although our stop was shorter than the previous year.

And before we knew it, we were in Caldas and we all went our separate ways. Somehow I lost sight of my new friend and couldn’t find her again. I would have liked to say goodbye and wish her luck with the rest of her Camino and with her pregnancy too. No pudo ser (it couldn’t be).

Read about the Caldas-Padrón stage here.

* Caldas de Reis and Caldas are the same place. Caldas de Reis is the official name of the town, but we usually refer to it as just Caldas.

 

Camino Portugués: Porriño-Redondela

Camino Portugués: Porriño-Redondela

A few Sundays ago I walked a stage of the Camino Portugués: Porriño-Redondela. It’s one of the perks of living on the Camino; you can walk anytime you like. No need to take time off work or do much planning. Just go.

 

In fact, I didn’t just walk Porriño-Redondela. I’ve walked several stages of this route in the past few weeks. A different one every Sunday. This is a common way for Spanish people to do the Camino. Whenever you have some time off, you walk as far as you can. You then go back home. The next time you’re free, you pick up where you finished the last time and you keep going.

 

It’s a different experience from walking to Santiago in one go. No better. No worse. Simply different.

 

I’ve walked with my family before and I’ve also led a small group of strangers. This time around, I was also part of a group. It was quite a large group, actually. Also strangers. But a totally different experience.

 

There is an Asociación de Amigos del Camino Portugués (Association of Friends of the Camino Portugués) in Pontevedra. Among other things, they organise a yearly pilgrimage from Porto to Santiago. They walk on Sundays only. By the time I heard about it this year I had already missed the stages in Portugal. But I was still able to join in for most of the Spanish section.

 

This Sunday Camino works as follows: early in the morning we get on a bus that the Association has hired. This bus takes us to our starting point for the day. Once there, one of the organisers says a little oración (prayer), we take some group pictures and start walking.

 

There is a coche de apoyo (support car) for anyone who is not able to walk the whole stage. The bus will pick us up at our finishing point and take us back to Pontevedra for lunch (I’m talking Spanish lunch, around 2.30pm).

 

Porriño-Redondela

My first stage with the group was Porriño-Redondela.

Tui, right on the Portuguese border, is the most popular starting point for those who walk the last 100km of this Camino. But Porriño is actually on the 100km mark. So it is possible to start here and obtain a Compostela. On the other hand, Tui is a much nicer town, it would be a pity to miss it. But you could start in Porriño, and still qualify for a Compostela.

 

When I signed up for my first stage, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I didn’t know how big the group would be or what the people would be like. Not the type of situation where I feel most comfortable. So, I asked a friend to join me. She was going to, but then something came up and I had to face this unknown group by myself.

 

The group

There were between setenta (70) and ochenta (80) people in total. My impression was that they all knew each other and they all had their little groups. The vast majority were over 70 years of age. I was almost the baby of the group! There were a couple of niñas (young girls) accompanying their abuelo (grandfather), but they soon got on the support car.

Empezando Porriño-Redondela
Empezando Porriño-Redondela

These 2 pictures are taken from the Association’s blog, which you can find here. We’ve just arrived in Porriño and are outside Las Angustias (Our Lady of Anguish) chapel. The president of the Association read the prayer this time. Then, group pictures before we started walking.

 

The Porriño-Redondela stage

This stage is around 16 km.

Following current covid restrictions, we were wearing our mascarillas (facemasks) on the bus and at the beginning of the walk, while the whole group was still together and it was impossible to social distance. We took them off once the group scattered.

 

The first half of the stage is quite flat and easy. I guess it’s not the most beautiful stretch of the Camino, as it’s mostly through villages, on paved roads, but at least there are no busy roads or anything like that.

 

The second half, after Mos, is a bit more challenging, but nothing too hard. There is an ascent first up to the Santiaguiño de Antas chapel. And, when you get to the top, a harder descent into Redondela. I was glad I had my poles for that. Otherwise, I would have probably been tempted to just roll down the hill 😅  This half of the stage also has some nicer stretches through forest.

 

The weather forecast for the day wasn’t great, so we were all prepared for the rain that was supposed to fall. But it turned out to be quite a lovely morning, with no lluvia (rain) and some sol (sun).

 

Mos

So, as I mentioned, nothing much to report up to Mos. The Camino is very well marked and it’s impossible to get lost unless you’re very, very distracted and not paying attention at all.

 

In Mos, there is a church and a pazo (manor house), as well as several places where you can stop for a café con leche and a bite. You can also see here a big sign with the town’s name made out of bobbin lace (check the video below).

 

Up to here I walked partly alone, partly with someone. As we were taking the group pictures, I recognised someone familiar: it was a friend and former colleague of my mum’s. I walked with her for a while, but she’s not well and after a while I needed to walk a bit faster than her. So I went on by myself.

 

I took a short break in Mos and, as I was getting ready to continue, I saw another familiar face. The mum of one of my daughters’ classmates. She was walking with another woman I didn’t know. I thought they were friends, but I later found out they had met while walking the previous stage, from Valença to Porriño (which I missed). From then on, I walked with them.

 

Porriño-Redondela

This is us in Redondela, waiting for our bus to go back home.

 

This picture is also borrowed from the Association’s blog.

Up and down the hill

The next part of the walk was more interesting. On the way to Porriño (on the bus), they had warned us about the uphill section after Mos. I’m not a huge fan of walking uphill, to put it mildly. So I was a bit concerned. But the ascent is quite gradual, so it’s not too bad.

 

The descent was actually worse, not as gradual. I was so grateful I had my 2 poles! And I was also grateful it didn’t rain. I can imagine how slippery that road would be if it was wet…

 

There are some beautiful views of Redondela in the distance and a lovely walk through a forest with huge (and kind of odd) stone picnic tables.

 

After that, you’re just outside Redondela. We had also been warned about crossing the busy national road N-550 here, but they must have made some changes to the route, because there is now a very safe place to cross, with a traffic light.

 

Our meeting point was outside the albergue in Redondela, which is in a very beautiful old building, a 16th century pazo.

I’ve put together some pictures of the Porriño-Redondela stage in the following video. Enjoy!

You can read about the Redondela-Pontevedra stage here.

 

 

Today’s Spanish words

For the pronunciation of Tui, Porriño and Redondela, check Camino Portugués.

For the pronunciation of lluvia & sol, check The weather on the Camino.

For the pronunciation of mascarilla, check The Camino and the new normal.

 

 

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Muxía

Muxía

After making it to Santiago de Compostela, many pilgrims decide to continue on to the sea, to the ‘end of the world’ in Fisterra. Others prefer to go to Muxía, also on the same stretch known as Costa da Morte (coast of death) but further north. And some, of course, go to both places. They’re both close to 90km from Santiago, and they both have a connection to the Camino. 

 

We’ve already visited Fisterra in a previous post, so today we are taking a walk through the history of Muxía with Sarah Blanquet, who lives there

 

 

Muxía and the Camino

This little fishing town, located on the coast of Galicia, is considered one of the last stops of the Camino de Santiago. But in order to understand how this small remote village became an essential part of the Camino, we must dive into history.

 

Since the beginning of time, different populations have lived in this beautiful region in the northwest tip of the Iberian peninsula. Megaliths such as the Dolmen de Dombate (Dombate dolmen) bear testimony to ancient settlements and remind us of the strong connection between nature and  spirituality in this area. Indeed, these monuments reveal that stones in this region have always been sacred. Stones marked spiritual places. Stones held healing powers. Stones connected humanity to the great beyond.

These stones and beliefs transcended time and faiths.

Centuries later, they were to help the apóstol Santiago (saint James) himself. Legend has it that he fell to his knees in despair on the very coast of Muxía, where he was preaching the gospel without much success. Suddenly, the Virgin Mary appeared to him on a boat. It was, of course, a boat made of stone. She comforted and encouraged him and, while her words dissipated in time, she left behind a stone boat that can still be seen to this day.

Muxía

Stones on the coastline of Muxía.

Muxía

Church of the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Barca.

The stone boat ran aground in the Santuario de la Virgen de la Barca, where it was divided into multiple parts: a sail, a rudder and the ship itself. But what’s even more fascinating about this legend is that, to this day, many of the piedras (stones) are still surrounded by mysticism. 

 

 

Pedra dos Cadrís, Muxía

Pedra dos Cadrís, the sail of the stone boat that carried Mary.

The sail, also known as pedra dos Cadrís*, is said to heal back pains if you go under it nine times.

As for the ship, the Pedra de Abalar, it has a perimeter of almost 31 square meters and belongs to the set of so-called oscillating stones. This means the stone can move slightly when people walk over it. Over the centuries, this characteristic was believed to have all kinds of purposes: fortune-telling, magical-healing and, above all, fertility-inducing.

 

As you can see, myths, traditions and catholicism merge in this powerful location. That’s probably why it is no wonder that, overtime, pilgrims started to walk from Santiago to this holy site in order to finish their Camino de Santiago

Nowadays, Muxía is part of the extension to Fisterra and many pilgrims decide to “walk the extra mile” and enjoy the wonderful views of the sunset in the Océano Atlántico (Atlantic Ocean). 

What about you? Where do you want to end your Camino? 

Today’s words

*pedra dos Cadrís: ‘pedra’ is the Galician word for stone (piedra in Spanish). Cadrís is also a Galician word and it means hips.

Abalar is another Galician word. It means to rock or swing.

For the pronunciation of Fisterra and costa da Morte, check this post.

 

Sarah Muxía

 

Sarah Blanquet is a passionate Spanish teacher who lives in Muxía. She studied a Translation Degree then a Master’s in Teaching Spanish. She helps learners speak confidently and enjoy their learning process.

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Galician language on the Camino

Galician language on the Camino

We’re not going to learn Spanish today. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the Galician language. More specifically, I’m telling you about the Galician language you’re more likely to see on the Camino de Santiago.

 

Yes. I know this page is called Spanish for the Camino and (almost) every post includes a few Spanish words or phrases you can use on the Camino, or elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world. But Spanish is not the only language spoken in Spain. It’s not the only language you’ll encounter on the Camino either, as we discussed in previous posts.

For instance, you will come across Basque as you walk through País Vasco and Navarra. Oihana teaches us some basic words in this post.

 

Also, once you enter Galicia you’ll start seeing and hearing galego (Galician). Rest assured. Everyone can and will speak Spanish. But it can be nice and even helpful at times to be familiar with some common words you’re likely to see often.

 

I wrote another post about the Galician language before. In it, I gave you a very summarised history of the language, and your first basic words (greetings, please, thank you…). You can read that post here.

In this post, I thought I’d focus on things you will see around you, like names of towns or signs.

 

But first, let me give you some more background, so you understand the sometimes difficult linguistic situation we have over here.

 

Some more history of Galician

As I told you in a previous post, Galician was banished from public life in the 15th century, and it remained so until the 19th century. During this period, the upper classes spoke Spanish, while Galician remained the language of the lower classes. Add to this the fact that Galicia became impoverished during this time and many had to emigrate. In many cases, these people were ridiculed and made fun of because of their language.

 

These 2 facts contributed to create the belief, that many still hold today, that Galician is an inferior language, that if you want to do well in life, you must speak Spanish and not Galician. This explains why during that period many names of towns (and family names too) were changed to make them sound more Spanish.

 

Today, the official name of every Galician town is in galego, but there are still remnants of those old beliefs. To use an exampled I’ve mentioned before, Fisterra is the official name of the town where many end their Camino, but you’re likely to see Finisterre too.

 

Not every town has 2 names, but there are several well-known Camino towns where this happens. Wikipedia, for instance, tends to favour the Spanish name. Certain apps will only display the Spanish name too.

 

Muxía is an example of this. The Spanish-sounding version is becoming less and less common, but you may still see Mugía in places. Melide may sometimes appear as Mellid and Tui is still frequently spelled as Tuy (no change of pronunciation in this case).

 

Galician on the Camino

The use of galego varies across the region, so how much of it you see or hear will depend on where you are. But there are common words you’re likely to see.

Rúa (calle in Spanish): street

Praza (plaza in Spanish): square

Igrexa (iglesia in Spanish): church

Mosteiro (monasterio in Spanish): monastery

Concello (ayuntamiento in Spanish): town council

Castelo (castillo in Spanish)

 

Galician language
Calle Peregrina Pontevedra

What is your experience? Has this ever caused confusion for you? Share your anecdotes!

 

Today’s words

For the pronunciation of calle, iglesia and monasterio, check Camino Inglés: de Ferrol a Neda.

For the pronunciation of plaza, check Santiago de Compostela.

For the pronunciation of castillo, check Finisterre.

 

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¡Buen Camino!