Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis

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).

 

* 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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¡Buen Camino!

Camino Portugués: de Redondela a Pontevedra

Camino Portugués: de Redondela a Pontevedra

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. 

 

Redondela

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.

 

Hórreo. De Redondela a Pontevedra

 

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.

 

De Redondela a Pontevedra

Into Arcade

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 most difficult 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.

Entering Pontevedra

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. And you can find it here.

If you’d like to read about the previous stage, Porriño-Redondela, you can do so here.

 

Today’s Spanish words for the Camino

 

For the pronunciation of Redondela, Arcade, Pontevedra and Variante Espiritual, you can check this post about the Camino Portugués.

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Camino Inglés: de Neda a Pontedeume

Camino Inglés: de Neda a Pontedeume

Welcome to Day 2 of my Camino Inglés: de Neda a Pontedeume. If you missed Day 1, you can catch up here.

On Day 2 of our Camino Inglés, we had planned to walk from Neda to Pontedeume, but the weather forecast was not good. In fact, we were on orange alert, with gales and heavy rain… or temporal, as we call it in Spanish.

 

Neda

We woke up to strong winds and grey skies. We checked our weather app again and the chances of lluvia (rain) during the morning seemed to be slim. The owner of our pensión looked quite sceptical when I commented that we might be lucky and make it to Pontedeume with no rain. But, in any case, we decided to leave and see how things went.

Neda was still asleep. We refilled our bottles at the fuente (fountain) outside the concello (town hall in Galician) and kept going.

Iglesia de Sta. María de Neda

We were in Paradise!

Refilling our bottles

For things to see in Neda, click here.

The second day was the complete opposite of the first one. On the one hand, there was the issue of the weather. The rain held off until we make it to Pontedeume (phew!), but el viento (wind) was so strong that we could hardly walk at times. We would just hold on to each other so that no one fell, and we tried to keep moving.

This was not one of the windiest moments of the day

 

On the other hand, the terrain was quite different too. While Ferrol-Neda was mostly flat, Neda-Pontedeume was a bit of a rollercoaster, constantly going up and down. And I discovered that walking uphill is not one of my specialties!

My youngest daughter tends to be a fast walker. My husband is not, generally; but today he was in a hurry to make it to Pontedeume as soon as possible, before the rain started pouring. So the two of them walked in front.

Between the uphills and my tendency to stop and take pictures, I was constantly behind. My older daughter (the grumpy teenager), was kind enough to slow down and stay with her poor, slow mother. And that’s how we walked most of the time.

For me, the only good thing about the uphills is that, occasionally, you get rewarded with stunning views like these:

This stage was mostly through rural areas, either tiny aldeas (villages) or forests.

 

**Warning: rant ahead

A lot of the forest areas we crossed today were full of eucaliptos (eucalyptus). I often read other pilgrims’ posts in blogs or social media, about walking through an eucalyptus forest: it’s always about the wonderful smell, how nice it is and how much they love it.

Sorry, but I can’t agree on this one. I do like the smell of eucalyptus, but not in Galician montes (forests)! For me, eucalyptus equals economic interest, destruction of native vegetation and increased risk of fires, among other things. In short, a total disregard for the environment. So, walking through an eucalyptus forest (in Galicia) saddens me greatly **end of rant.

 

To stop or not to stop

Anyway, after going up and down a few times, we got to Fene, a larger town with cafeterías and other services. We took a vote and decided to continue.

More uphills, villages and eucalyptus. After one of these uphills through eucalyptus, we came to a couple of yellow arrows painted under a bridge, that seemed to indicate that we had to get off the path we were following. That didn’t seem right. So, after a couple of minutes’ deliberation and checking maps, we decided to stay on the path. Good decision: after a bend, we could see a stone marker a few metres ahead.

Shortly after, we came to an industrial state (Polígono Vilar do Colo) with a big Gadis supermarket and a bar-restaurante on the other side of the road. So we crossed and enjoyed a well-deserved break. Once inside we realised the place is linked to a petrol station (or gas station, depending where you are from) and small convenience store.

After the break, we went back out into the wind and continued our walk through some more villages until we came to this crossroads:

 

More decisions

Again, like in Day 1, we had to decide: continue on the “regular” Camino (right) or take the Camino complementario (left). The latter added almost 2 km to our day, the first one included a dangerous spot, according to the information panel.

Yesterday we were all in agreement: skip the Camino complementario.

Today, it was hard to decide. On the one hand, nobody wanted to add unnecessary kilometres to our day. But we didn’t want to take risks either. Or at least, the more responsible adults didn’t; teenagers didn’t really agree. So, we took the longer route, which includes plenty more uphills. Yay!

Eventually, we joined the “regular” Camino, walked through Cabanas and crossed the bridge that gives Pontedeume its name.

We had booked a couple of rooms at Pensión Luis, so that’s where we headed. All the rooms have private bathrooms and the price is €15.00 per person.

After dropping our mochilas in the rooms, we had lunch at the restaurant they have downstairs (menu for €9.00; tasty and abundant).

After lunch we went out with the intention of exploring Pontedeume, but it soon started raining and rain gear was back at the pensión, so we went to our rooms. Good excuse to go back to Pontedeume.

Anything is possible during the Carnival. While we were having lunch, a group of ancient Romans came into the restaurant. They parked their vehicles outside. Later, while the Romans were still eating, a gust of wind dragged chariots and horses all over the street.

For more info about Pontedeume, click here.

Theme of the day

On Day 1 we say at least 6 “tanque de tormentas”. I must admit I don’t remember ever seeing one of those and I had to check our what they were. Apparently, these structures generally hold water from storm water runoff and release it gradually, reducing damage from erosion and other physical changes.

On Day 2, we kept seeing a different type of construction: lavaderos. Women used to gather around them to do their laundry in the past. According to this article, Cabanas council has been repairing some of them, not just because of their historical value, but also to turn them into meeting points and rest areas for pilgrims.

Day 1: tanques de tormentas

Day 2: Lavaderos

It was again a lonely day. I think we encountered a couple of people only: a woman in Fene saw us while we were deciding whether to stop or to continue, she thought we were lost and showed us the way. And later, we saw a guy on a tractor. That was it! And we saw horses again.

Will the weather improve for Day 3? Will there be a new theme? All will be revealed in the next post.

 

Today’s words

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Camino Inglés: de Ferrol a Neda

Camino Inglés: de Ferrol a Neda

Before I start my account of day 1 on the Camino Inglés: from Ferrol to Neda, let’s get some practical info out of the way.

 

Guidebooks

 

  • For a more “traditional” guide, with very detailed information on the route and background information, I bought The Confraternity of St. James‘ Guidebook, by Johnnie Walker.

I bought both of these books in the digital version. Then, at the last minute, for some reason, I decided to buy a paper one, in Spanish. Don’t ask me why… I’m not really sure. Of course, I am aware of the advantages of digital books in terms of space and weight, but I still prefer browsing through a paper one. I think that was why.

 

  • So I got “Guía del Camino de Santiago: Camino Inglés”, by Antón Pombo. It does include a whole chapter about Santiago (around 20 pages) and also the route from Santiago to Fisterra and Muxía (close to 40 more pages). So there was a lot of book we were not going to need on this occasion, but I still decided to take it along. Being a book lover, I struggled with the idea of tearing the book apart and taking only the pages we needed, as I’ve read that some people do.

 

Accommodation

  • Ferrol: we stayed at Hotel Real Ferrol (calle Dolores, 11). We chose it because it was one of the few places that offered a family room and the location was great too. We paid €45 for the four of us in a very spacious room with 2 double beds and a private cuarto de baño. All new and clean… the perfect choice for us!

 

  • Neda: Pensión Maragoto, not far from the albergue. As well as the rooms, they also have a cafetería-restaurante, where you can have a menú del día for €9.50. They open at 8.00am in the morning. We had our breakfast there before heading off to Pontedeume on Sunday.

 

Sábado, 2 de marzo. De Ferrol a Neda

After el desayuno (breakfast) and a bit of walking around Ferrol (check Empezando el Camino Inglés), we headed towards Muelle Curuxeiras, the starting point of the Camino. Despite reading about it before, my initial instinct was to look for the stone marker closer to the water. I had read on forums about previous pilgrims having trouble locating it and others explaining where it was exactly and I was still looking for it in the wrong place. Then I remember and so we crossed the road… and there it was!

But before we started walking towards Neda, there was one more thing to do: pick up our credenciales from the tourist office, which is conveniently located right next to the stone marker. There is also a farmacia there, in case you need to get any last minute tiritas (plasters) or paracetamol. And if you haven’t had your desayuno yet, there are also a couple of cafeterías here.

We went through the arch into Rúa Carmen Curuxeiras. I’ve been trying to find out who this woman, Carmen Curuxeiras, was; but apparently it is unknown. Also, in case you are wondering and getting confused, rúa is the Galician word for calle (street). You may see both used.

Anyway, this part of town is called Ferrol Vello (Old Ferrol in the Galician language) and it really lives up to its name! Almost the first thing you see after walking under the arch is a few collapsed buildings (or about to collapse).

 

Walking through Ferrol Vello

These are not too bad!

Out of Ferrol

So we walked through Ferrol, past the Parador and iglesia (church) de San Francisco, along the rúa Real and cantón de Molíns, and past iglesia de las Angustias. The last stretch out of Ferrol was not particularly appealing, with modern/boring buildings on our left and army property on the right, blocking the view of the sea. Eventually, you get to enjoy the view, walking by playa (beach) de Caranza.

Then, it’s a busy road for a while until you reach an industrial state, where you have to turn right. There is a Lidl supermarket here, in case you need to buy anything. We already had some fruta, galletas and frutos secos (fruit, biscuits and nuts), so we kept going, but not for long, because we got to a leisure area with benches and we decided to take a short break, have a snack and enjoy the view.

According to this, there’s a cafetería behind Lidl where you can get your credencial stamped. Well, the sign actually says you can get your Compostela stamped; I guess that’s a mistake. It also says it’s the cafetería of a tanatorio or funeral home. None of us needed a toilet break and we were not too keen on hanging out at a funeral home, so a bench outside was good for us. There’s another bar right on the Camino if you keep walking just a bit longer.

After the break, it was not so nice again, going through an industrial area with busy roads and roundabouts, before walking through villages. We passed the monasterio de San Martiño but it was closed, so we kept going.

Monasterio de San Martiño

We kept walking

Decisions, decisions…

After going through a forest area, we came to this:

Left or right?

Map detailing the 2 options

The Camino complementario on the right was longer (it adds close to 1km) and the main reason to take it was to see an old water mill. We’ve seen a few of those before, so we took the “regular” camino on the left and over the bridge. After the bridge, you have to go down some stairs and then you are in a nice promenade by the water. We had almost made it through our first day!

 

Neda

Now we only had to decide which bridge to cross

The old bridge?

…or the new bridge?

We went for the old one and so we got to see this 300 year old magnolia tree:

We quickly found our accommodation, left our mochilas in our rooms and went to have lunch.

A couple of games while waiting for the food

Calamares a la romana

After lunch, a rest and a ducha (shower), we went to have a look around. The park area across the bridges has one of these “playgrounds” for adults, with equipment to exercise instead of slides and swings. Well, the girls still had plenty of energy to play around and compete to see who could jump higher or do more pull-ups. I really envy them!

Up the road from our pensión, there is a Día supermarket. If you are not stopping for the day in Neda, you will pass it as you continue on your way. If you are spending the night in Neda and need to buy anything, don’t leave it till the next morning, as it will be closed.

 

 I didn’t know this, but apparently Neda’s bread is famous and they even have a monument to it!

On company and weather

I think we only encountered one person during our walk, an old man keeping an eye on his sheep. Our company during the day… horses, cows, sheep and goats!

Day 1 was a nice and easy start to our Camino Inglés. Despite the rain the previous night, the weather was bright and sunny, with very pleasant temperatures… not really what you would expect at the beginning of March. The forecast, however, was not good. There was an orange alert for the next couple of days, with gales and heavy rain. In fact, we could already see it changing in the evening: it was becoming increasingly windier and the sky was getting grey. According to our weather app, there would be no rain the next morning, at least not any significant amount. We were a bit concerned about walking through forests and branches falling… but that’s for Day 2.

 

Today’s words

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¡Buen Camino!

Empezando el Camino Inglés

Empezando el Camino Inglés

Empezando el Camino Inglés means “starting the English Way”. Why starting? you may ask. Well, because I didn’t get the chance to finish it… yet. And because I’m not telling you the whole story today. But let’s start from the beginning.

When I first decided I HAD to do the Camino, my first question was: which one?

 

Why the Camino Inglés?

Somehow, the Camino Francés didn’t sound so appealing. Maybe because it’s so popular… I don’t know. I’ve always had a tendency to go against the flow and NOT do stuff for the simple reason that everybody else was doing it. So maybe that was it.

Then, the obvious choice was the Camino Portugués, as it passes almost right in front of my doorstep. I’ve walked parts of it, although just as day trips or hikes, and not as a Camino experience. But I still was not convinced.

And then I started reading about the Camino Inglés and my decision was made! The English Way was the one followed by British, Irish and other northern pilgrims from the 12th century onwards. So, in a way, it made perfect sense for me to walk this route, since I lived in Ireland for 15 years.

Anyway, “where?” was clear. But “when?” was a bit more complicated. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but I’ve had to cancel this Camino a couple of times. And now the Carnival gave us a few days off; the perfect opportunity to finally do it.

The plan was for my husband and myself to walk for cinco días (5 days) and leave our dos hijas (2 daughters) with their grandparents. But… all of a sudden, a week before our start date, plans changed and that was not an option anymore. So, we could either cancel (again!) or take the kids. And we went for the second option.

 

Change of plans

The decision to take the girls affected our initial plans in several ways:

  • First. We were not able to walk for 5 days, because they needed some time to do homework and study for exams before going back to school el jueves (Thursday). So we walked tres días (3 days) instead: sábado, domingo y lunes (Saturday, Sunday and Monday), starting in Ferrol and finishing in Betanzos. El martes (Tuesday) we did a bit of sightseeing around Betanzos before returning home.
  • Second. Our 2 mochilas were a bit heavier than planned, because we split the girls’ stuff between them. The girls only carried a small day-bag with some snacks.
  • Third. We pre-booked all our alojamientos (accommodations). There being four of us and two of them being girls close to adolescence, we thought that was the best choice for us (one of them turned trece (13) this week and the other one had turned once (11) a week before our Camino).
 

 

Getting to Ferrol

We made our way to Ferrol el viernes (Friday), March 1: train to A Coruña and then bus to Ferrol. The train and bus stations in A Coruña are very close to each other, so it’s an easy switch. There are trains going from A Coruña to Ferrol too. However, we found that they took longer than the bus and they were not so frequent.

Empezando Camino Inglés: waiting for train

For train routes, schedules and tickets, you can check RENFE‘s website. And you can find buses covering A Coruña-Ferrol (but also Miño, Betanzos and Pontedeume), on ARRIVA‘s website.

Anyway, el viernes was a school day. So, by the time we got to Ferrol it was dark already. It was also raining a bit. That means that, basically, all we did was find our hotel, do a bit of last minute planning for the next day and go to sleep early.

El sábado we got up early, got ready and went out looking for a place to have breakfast.

Breakfast in Ferrol

We had company while having breakfast in Ferrol.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this really was a sign of how our Camino was going to be: we encountered more animals than people…

After breakfast, we walked around Ferrol for a short while, before we headed to the starting point of the Camino. Some parts are a bit run down and in need of a lot of care, but there’s still some amazing and interesting architecture. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Ferrol

This is the stone marker signalling the beginning of the Camino, quite close to the tourist office, in the port area. From there on, the route is very well signposted. You can’t get lost!

We bought our credenciales from the tourist office.

For more tourist information about Ferrol, you can check https://visitferrol.com

And that’s it for today! Don’t forget to come back for the rest of the story…

Read all about Day 1: Ferrol-Neda, Day 2: Neda-Pontedeume and Day 3: Pontedeume-Betanzos

 

Today’s Spanish words

 

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¡Buen Camino!