Camino Portugués: Tui-Porriño

Camino Portugués: Tui-Porriño

Camino Portugués: Tui-Porriño |

Last week I got an early birthday present: a new pair of zapatillas de senderismo (hiking shoes). So, I decided to test them the next day… by walking a stage of the Camino Portugués: Tui-Porriño.

That’s one of the advantages of living on the Camino. If you wake up and feel like walking, you can do it.

I had walked from Porriño to Santiago before, at different times and in different company. I had also been to Tui several times in the past. But I had never walked the Tui-Porriño stage of the Camino. So that’s what I did.

The plan: drive to Tui and leave the car there; walk to Porriño; take a taxi back to Tui (and the car) and drive back home.

The weather has been quite hot and dry this verano (summer). The forecast for the day we walked showed yellow warnings: 50% risk of tormenta (storm) and 60% chance of light rain.

Well, it was sunny and quite hot, like the rest of the summer. Not a drop of rain and no sign of storms either.

 

Tui

Tui is the first Spanish town after you cross the puente (bridge) over the river Miño, which serves as a natural border between Portugal and Spain.

Tui has been inhabited since prehistoric time so, as you can imagine, it has a lot of history.

In mediaeval times, Tui was an important trade centre, with a very active puerto (port) and a hospital for pilgrims. It was also the capital of one of the 7 provinces of the Kingdom of Galicia.

One of Tui’s most iconic monuments is the Santa Maria cathedral. It has the appearance of a fortress and its construction began in 1120, although it has some later additions, like the main entrance or the organ.

Not far from it is the Museo y Archivo Histórico Diocesano (Diocesan historical archive and museum). The building dates from the 18th century and it used to be a pilgrim’s hospital.

If you keep following the yellow arrows through Tui, you will see the convent of the Poor Clares (or Clarisas, in Spanish). It’s also known locally as convento de las Encerradas (convent of the locked up ones), because this is an enclosed convent. You can buy delicious fish-shaped almond biscuits from the monjas (nuns).

 

Tui-Porriño

We started at the cathedral, walking through the old part of Tui, and passing by all the places I  mentioned above.

We were soon leaving Tui, walking through a mixture of forest areas and roads.

It is not a difficult stage. I was still half asleep when we left the house and I forgot to take bastions (hiking poles), but I didn’t miss them.

What I missed was more places to stop for a break. And I mean bars and cafés. We saw one not long after Tui, too soon for us to stop. And then nothing until we were almost in Porriño, slightly off the Camino. We had plenty of water and some snacks too, so this wasn’t a problem. But it would have been nice to be able to stop sooner.

At Orbenlle, you can follow the official route (through an industrial estate) or the Camino complementary, through the woods. You can’t miss Orbenlle because it has become a Camino landmark, thanks to 3 large paintings: the Pórtico de la Gloria, St. James and an elderly pilgrim.

There are two milestones and a map indicating the 2 routes from Orbenlle. The riverside walk through the woods is the one on the left. Going right will take you through the industrial estate. As you can guess from the pictures below, we took the alternative route.

The last section goes through residential areas, but it’s still nicer than an industrial estate, I think.

Camino Portugués: Tui-Porriño

We saw many chestnuts during our walk between Tui and Porriño.

Porriño

I read in a guidebook that there’s also an alternative route into Porriño, along the river, but we didn’t see that. So, we took the classic route, which was not particularly pretty. In fact, if there’s something for which Porriño is known locally, it’s for not being particularly pretty.

It is an important logistic centre in Galicia and, as such, it’s quite industrial (remember the big industrial estate right beside the Camino?).

But there are also some interesting buildings. The most important one is, by far, the ayuntamiento (town hall), built between 1919-1921 and designed by local architect Antonio Palacios. His most famous works can be found in Madrid, like the Palacio de comunicaciones (current town hall), and even the logo of Madrid’s metro.

And that was the end of my adventures on the Camino Portugués: Tui-Porriño. Lunch in Porriño, a taxi back to Tui and drive back home… and no problems with the new shoes.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

Today’s Spanish words

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

For the pronunciation of puente, check El juego de la oca.

For the pronunciation of tormenta, check Weather on the Camino.

Por the pronunciation of Pórtico de la Gloria, check Santiago de Compostela.

 

Go to the next stage of the Camino Portugués: Porriño-Redondela.

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¡Buen Camino!

It’s hot on the Camino

It’s hot on the Camino

 It’s hot on the Camino |

¡Qué calor! (it’s so hot).

We’re experiencing extremely hot weather in Spain (and Portugal) at the moment. It’s not the first ola de calor (heat wave) of the year, but it is the worst so far. It has even reached Galicia.

I don’t remember having temperatures over 40ºC here on the Galician coast ever in my life. El verano (summer) around here is never this hot. Until this week. So, our main concern has been to keep as cool as possible. Not easy!

 

It’s 38ºC outside right now, as I write this. Plus the humidity, which is always high in Galicia. Let’s just say it has been a slow week: staying indoors most of the day, drinking lots of fluids and sweating from the effort of bringing the bottle of water to my mouth.

 

It’s OK for me, because I can choose to stay at home. But this is a busy time on the Camino. And walking right now is dangerous. 

 

A 48-year old Belgian pilgrim died earlier this week of golpe de calor (heatstroke) after his first day on the Camino. So, this is not something that should be taken lightly.

 

I’ve heard of several pilgrims who decided to stop their Camino and finish some other time when it’s not so hot. Wise idea.

 

But if you are going to walk in this kind of heat you should be extra careful. The last thing you want is to end up with insolación (sunstroke), golpe de calor or agotamiento por calor (heat exhaustion).

 

What to do when it’s hot on the Camino 

Although there are some differences between sunstroke, heatstroke and heat exhaustion, they should all be taken very seriously. The best plan, of course, is to prevent them. So, what can we do?

 

  •  Check the forecast. You can use el eltiempo.es or aemet. Both pages allow you to search for specific areas and get a more accurate report. It can be hot even if overcast.
  • Start temprano (early). Very early. And finish early too. Avoid being out in the sun during the central hours of the day.

  • Protect yourself. Wear a gorro (hat), crema solar (sunscreen) and light coloured clothes, and cover exposed skin.

  • Prevent dehydration. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty; it’s better to take small sips constantly. So, make sure you drink enough and you replenish your electrolytes too. You can take salty snacks or, if you need, you can ask for electrolitos at any pharmacy.

  • Keep humidity in mind. Temperatures in Galicia are usually not as high as in other parts of Spain (although that’s not the case this week!) but humidity  makes you feel fatigued and dehydrated faster than in dry heat. 

Worrying signs

As I mentioned earlier, there are some differences between sunstroke, heatstroke and heat exhaustion, but all should be taken very seriously. 

Remember  you can always contact the emergency services if you (or someone you know) are not feeling well. The number is 112, it’s free to call and it offers 24/7 emergency service to anyone in Spain. Operators speak English as well as Spanish.

 

So, what are the signs that you might be suffering from heatstroke or heat exhaustion?

  • Calambres, or muscle cramps.
  • Dolor de cabeza, or headache.
  • Nausea and or vomiting.
  • Dizziness.
  • Disorientation.
  • Either heavy sweating or lack of sweating in the case of heatstroke.
  • Rapid heart rate.

This is not an extensive list of symptoms and I’m not qualified to give medical advice. So, be careful out there and, if you come across someone who might be suffering from either heatstroke or heat exhaustion, seek medical attention immediately.

 

To finish on a lighter note, please don’t say estoy caliente  when you want to say you’re feeling hot. That’s not what it means and you might get some unwanted reactions. I’ll leave it there and let you figure out what estoy caliente means…

The Camino with no Spanish

The Camino with no Spanish

I often see questions about whether it’s OK to walk the Camino with no Spanish or whether it’s a good idea to learn some before your Camino.

The answers range from “no need, a smile is enough” to “the more your learn, the richer your experience will be”.

As you can imagine, I don’t agree with the first group. If that’s how they want to do their Camino, that fine. It’s their Camino. And their loss too.

The most common reasons people give to learn at least some basic Spanish:

  • it’s the polite thing to do and it makes the locals more receptive to your needs. True.

 

  • it reduces the chances of feeling frustrated when you need to communicate and you can’t. Also true.

 

  • it also reduces the chances of of feeling lonely and isolated if you happen to have no English speakers around you. Again, true.

 

Let me add another reason. It is not mentioned so frequently, but it’s equally important, in my opinion.

  • you learn so much about Spain and broaden your mind.

 

You’re going to spend some time in the country. A few días (days) at least. A few semanas (weeks) in many cases.

And you don’t learn anything about the country you’re walking through?

A silly example:

I can’t believe how many people think these are mausoleums… or chicken coops! 

They’re called hórreos and they were used to store mainly maíz (corn), but other food too.

They vary a little depending on the region. But they are all elevated from the ground to keep the crops dry and to keep rodents out. 

Combarro, on the Variante Espiritual

More serious examples

I’ve witnessed this many times:

People post on social media about their Camino. They share pictures, as well as their general comment about a number of things.

The kind of stuff I read sometimes… let’s just say there’s a lot of eye-rolling and head-shaking coming from me.

You can tell that these people came to Spain with a mochila full of stereotypes and preconceived ideas. Everything they see, they interpret it through those stereotypes and misconceptions.

They speak no Spanish.

They don’t talk to any locals.

So, they go back home with the same incorrect beliefs they had when they started.

They learn nothing about Spain. Their wrong beliefs are reinforced.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

 

 

People with no Spanish at all

Not too long ago, I started following someone’s daily posts on a Facebook group about their Camino Portugués. The reason I started following was the captions of some of the pictures: any resemblance to reality was pure coincidence.

Clearly, these people had this idea of Spain as a deeply Catholic, very traditional country. And that’s how they saw it.

A random building was, in their eyes, a church.

A mural, in a fishing village, depicting fishing scenes, was a religious painting.

A person begging outside an iglesia (church) was someone dressed in traditional clothes.

A couple of other things they said, I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about.

 

According to their own comments, these people did not speak a word of Spanish, they didn’t interact with any locals, other than to try to get food and accommodation. They completed their pilgrimage and went back home having learned nothing about Spain. A missed opportunity.

 

 

People who know better than you

But there’s another type of pilgrim that totally baffles me. The one who arrives with their mochila full of stereotypes and misconception… and refuses to accept that they are wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I had to make a huge effort to not be rude to someone on social media. This person shared their thoughts about their recent Camino experience.

Among other things, they said that supermercados (supermarkets) in Spain have small puertas (doors) to protect the front of the building because ‘these people have lived with civil war in their country up until recent times’.

I replied that the Spanish civil war ended more than 80 years ago (it took place between 1936 and 1939) and that the size of supermarket doors have nothing to do with it.

Well, apparently I know nothing about my own country. This person went on to give me a lecture on Spanish history.

I ‘learned’ that we were having civil wars in Spain up until the mid 70s. Maybe we weren’t as affected in my area, that’s why I don’t know. Really?

I don’t claim to know everything about Spain. I know I don’t. But not knowing if I’m living in a civil war?

Excuse me while I roll my eyes again.

 

And I won’t get into the siesta comments because I get very triggered by those and I could be ranting here forever. If you want to know more about the truth behind siesta, you can check this other article I wrote a while back.

But can anyone truly believe we sleep up to 7 hours in the middle of the say? A recent post I saw reminded people that ‘most towns have siesta from around 12.30pm to 5 or 7pm’. I love my sleep but seriously?

So, please, don’t be like these people and don’t waste the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Spanish culture. You don’t need to be super fluent. But make at least an effort. You will be rewarded for it.

 

 

Today’s Spanish words

 

 

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¡Buen Camino!

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!