Camino Portugués: Milladoiro-Santiago

Camino Portugués: Milladoiro-Santiago

We finally make it to Santiago! After several Sundays of walking the Camino Portugués, we finish our pilgrimage with a very short stage: O Milladoiro-Santiago de Compostela.

 

If you’ve been following the previous posts you’ll already know this, but in case you don’t:

I walked part of the Camino Portugués (central route) between October and November 2021, with a group organised by the Asociación de Amigos del Camino Portugués. Every Sunday, a bus would pick us up in Pontevedra and take us to our starting point for the day. From there, we would walk a stage of this route; and then the autobús (bus) would take us back home.

 

This particular Sunday we walked the final 7-8km into Santiago, from O Milladoiro. A few more people than usual joined us for this last stage, so we had 2 buses instead of one.

We were again very lucky with the weather: another bright, sunny day. In fact, the weather was unusually good for most of noviembre (November). Since we didn’t have to walk that much, we left Pontevedra a bit later than usual.

 

We gathered outside Capilla de la Magdalena for the prayer and group pictures.

 

Milladoiro-Santiago group

Group picture before we started walking, as usual. Outside A Magdalena chapel.

 

O Milladoiro

There is not much to see in O Milladoiro, apart from this chapel. A few years ago, O Milladoiro was just a small aldea (village). But high housing prices in Santiago pushed many (young people, mainly) out, looking for more affordable options. O Milladoiro is quite close and well connected through  the N-550 road, so it has experienced tremendous growth.

 

There are 2 theories about the origins of the name of this town.

  • According to one theory, it comes from Latin humilliatorium, which makes reference to the fact that pilgrims used to kneel down here, when they could finally see Santiago, and the cathedral, in the distance.
  • The second theory says it comes from the Galician word miradoiro (mirador in Spanish, view point in English) because from this high point you can see Santiago and the cathedral for the first time.

Either way, the name of the town is linked to Santiago de Compostela and its cathedral. 

 

O Milladoiro-Santiago de Compostela

I was familiar with the routine by now. But there was something new this time: they brought the association’s banner that had been created for the 1993 Holy Year.

This banner was carried by different people throughout the stage.

The short stage and the banner meant that the group didn’t spread out so much this time. We also walked at a slower pace than usual, because the idea was for the whole group to stay behind the banner. And the constant change of standard bearer meant lots of stopping and picture taking.

 

Apart from that, the stage was quite uneventful: walking through small villages and some forest areas, with no important climbs or descents and Santiago getting closer and closer. We soon reached the Alameda, where we stopped to regroup and take some pictures before we marched, together, to the cathedral.

It was my first time back in Santiago in a very long time. First time inside the cathedral since they finished renovating it. I would have loved to see the Pórtico de la Gloria or do the rooftop tour, but they’re not open on Sunday evenings. What a great excuse to go back to Santiago!

You can see some pictures of this O Milladoiro-Santiago stage in the following video:

The Pilgrim’s office

I didn’t get a credencial or collect stamps for this Camino. I started walking in Porriño, which is right at the 100km mark and qualifies for a Compostela. But I knew I was going to skip a couple of stages that I had already walked before. So, I didn’t bother.

 

When I walked the Camino Inglés in 2019, the waiting time at the Oficina del Peregrino (Pilgrim’s office) was at least 2 hours… and I didn’t feel like waiting in line for so long. So, I didn’t collect my Compostela back then. But it occurred to me that being November, the waiting time would be short. And so I took my old credencial with me, to see if I could get a Compostela for my 2019 Camino.

 

After a few pictures at the Praza do Obradoiro*, some of us headed to the Pilgrim’s office. The old ‘join the queue when you get there’ system is gone, partly due to covid, partly to avoid long queuing times.

So now there is a QR code outside. You scan it and it opens up a page where you can register your details. After you complete this step, you receive a message with a code. You show this to the person at the entrance and they give you a piece of paper with your number.

There were not many people around that day, so I was able to enter the building straight away.

 

Most of the people in my group were older (in their 70’s, on average) and not very tech-savvy. They were struggling with this new system and the security guard standing outside wasn’t very helpful, to be honest. There was a man, for instance, who didn’t have a smartphone. There was someone trying to help him, I hope he was able to get his Compostela. I managed to help a lady who did have a smartphone, but couldn’t scan the QR code to start the registration process.

 

In short, lots of frustration for these people who were looking forward to receiving their Compostela, and probably some were not able to. Not having to wait in line for hours during busy times is good. But making it almost impossible for those who are not so tech-savvy is not so good.

 

Anyway, I managed to get my Compostela. It has 2 fechas (dates) on it: I day I collected it and the day I finished my Camino Inglés (they added this by hand, under the other date).

 

Hostal dos Reis Católicos

There were a couple more activities organised for the day: a guided tour of the Parador, lunch (at the Parador too) and misa del peregrino (pilgrim’s mass) at 7.30pm. I couldn’t stay that late, due to family obligations. But I did join the visit to the Parador before I returned home.

Paradores are part of a chain of luxury hotels, managed by a state-run company. They are usually located in historic buildings such as castles or convents.

In Santiago, we have the Hostal dos Reis Católicos**, right beside the cathedral. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century by Isabel de Castilla and Fernando de Aragón, los Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs) as a hospital that cared for the pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela. It’s built around 4 patios, all of them different. Construction began in 1501 and lasted 10 years. The Hostal dos Reis Católicos is considered the oldest hotel in Spain.

You can enjoy a few pictures from my visit:

 

Today’s Spanish words

* Praza is the Galician word for plaza (square). You can listen to the pronunciation of plaza in Santiago de Compostela. You will also find misa del peregrino there.

** Reis is the Galician word for reyes (kings or monarchs). 

For the pronunciation of autobús, check En autobús.

For the pronunciation of Alameda, check Pontevedra.

For the pronunciation of credencial, check ¿Cómo vas a hacer el Camino?

For the pronunciation of noviembre, check Samaín.

 

 

Have you read about the previous stages?

Padrón-Milladoiro

Caldas de Reis-Padrón

Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis

Redondela-Pontevedra

Porriño-Redondela

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Camino Portugués: Padrón-Milladoiro

Camino Portugués: Padrón-Milladoiro

A new domingo (Sunday), a new stage of the Camino Portugués: Padrón-Milladoiro.

 

Again, I walked with a large group organised by the Asociación de Amigos del Camino Portugués. We could have walked to Santiago. In fact, most people do that.

 

But the Asociación had some things organised for the arrival in Santiago and a shorter walk suited those plans much better. That’s for the next post. Today we focus on Padrón-Milladoiro.

 

After several stages, I’m familiar with the routine now: we get on the bus early in the morning; we’re dropped at our starting point; we gather in front of an iglesia or capilla, where one of the organisers says a prayer; we take group photos and start walking. It was a chilly morning but there was not a cloud in sight and 0% chance of rain.

 

We covered a distance of around 19 km, mostly flat with some ascent in the final part.

 

Padrón-Milladoiro

Group photo outside iglesia de Santiago borrowed from the Asociación’s blog.

 

A strange stage

This was kind of a strange stage for me. My dad is from this area and I grew up going to some of the places we passed through. In fact, we walked in front of 2 of my tío (uncle) and tía‘s (aunt) houses; we also passed the cementerio (cemetery) were my paternal grandmother is buried and the church were I attended several family occasions like bautizos (christenings), bodas (weddings) and funerales (funerals).

But that was a long time ago.

My uncle and aunt have long been muertos (dead); there’s a big age gap between my primos (cousins) and I, so we were never very close; I lived abroad for 15 years… in other words: I’ve lost contact and haven’t been in the area in years.

And then, there’s also the fact that I always went to those places by car. Walking there gave me a totally different perspective.

But let’s talk about the stage.

 

Padrón

Our starting point was Padrón. When we got there, people were setting up the Sunday market. Lots of activity there, but obviously not crowded like the previous Sunday, when the market was in full swing.

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, about the Caldas de Reis-Padrón stage, Padrón is a very relevant place in the history of the Camino. According to legend, the remains of St. James first arrived by boat here, when they were brought back to Spain by his disciples. The stone they used to moor their boat, called Pedrón, can be found today inside the iglesia de Santiago.

 

At the tourist office or municipal albergue you can obtain the Pedronía, a certificate issued by Padrón’s town council stating that you have visited the place where St. James’ remains were brought ashore. More info on how to get the Pedronía here.

 

If you have time, cross the Santiago bridge to the Convento del Carmen and, from there, the 132 steps up to Santiaguiño do Monte, another significant location in the history of the Camino. According to tradition, St. James was preaching there in the year 40 a.C. There is a cross and statue of St. James there now.

 

There are also other things worth checking, not related to St. James or the Camino.

 

You will see many references to Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885), one of the most important writers in the Galician language. She was from Padrón and one of the first to write in Galician after centuries of the language being banned from public life. Her house has been turned into a museum. You will see signs for it as you walk out of Padrón.

 

Padrón also has a beautiful botanic park with more than 300 species and a nice walk along the river.

 

And last, but not least, I must mention the famous pimientos de Padrón (Padrón peppers). As the name suggests, they come from here. And, as the saying goes, uns pican e outros non (some are hot and some are not).

 

 

Padrón-Milladoiro

Right after we left Padrón we passed the church of Iria Flavia. Iria Flavia is the birthplace of Nobel Literature Prize Camilo José Cela (1916-2002).

 

Lots of walking through villages in this stage, some of them familiar to me, as I mentioned earlier.I walked mostly with the same people I met on my first day walking with the group (Porriño-Redondela).

 

But many other faces were becoming familiar and I also got to chat for a while to a couple of ladies who volunteer at the albergue in Pontevedra. They were sharing stories about different pilgrims who stayed there and caught their attention for one reason or another. This led to a very interesting conversation about cultural differences between different countries.

Miracles

Five or 6km into the stage we came to a very familiar place for me: Santuario da Escravitude. Despite the unusual name, this church has nothing to do with slavery. In 1732, a man was on his way to the hospital in Santiago, looking for a cure for his health problems. He stopped at the spot where the church now stands, drank from the fountain here and asked the Virgin Mary for help.

 

According to legend, he was cured 3 days later and expressed his gratitude for being freed from ‘the slavery’ of his disease. This started to attract other people looking for miraculous cures and, eventually, the church was built.

 

Getting to Milladoiro

After this, we kept walking mostly through villages, some forest areas too, chatting about all sorts of things. We were so engrossed in our conversation that at some point we missed one of the yellow arrows and went the wrong way! Luckily, there were people behind us who saw us and alerted us.

The hardest part of the stage came in the final part, before Milladoiro. Nothing difficult, really. But not what you’re looking for at the end of your walk, when you’re tired! But we made it, with time to spare before the bus brought us back home.

 

Today’s Spanish words

For the pronunciation of domingo, check Está cerrado.

For the pronunciation of iglesia, check Finisterre.

For the pronunciation of capilla, check Redondela-Pontevedra.

 

 

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¡Buen Camino!

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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¡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!