Portuguese Caminho Part 2. The previous post begins our Caminho from Porto to Tui.
November 6, 2017
We took a day off in Tui. After a leisurely breakfast we toured the Santa Maria Cathedral and walked the board walk. Then we crossed the bridge back to Portugal and spent some more time in Valenca. It amused us to go back an hour in time in Portugal and then ahead again when we crossed back into Spain. We still managed to walk about 13 km.
November 7 – Tui to Porrino 20 km
There were a few options for the route today and a few people warned us it could be confusing. Apparently they changed it so pilgrims wouldn’t have to walk through an industrial area but some of the locals objected since the new route bypasses some of their cafes and shops. People had blacked out some of the arrows making the route hard to find. We paid close attention to the areas we’d been warned about and managed NOT to get lost. That’s a big accomplishment for us 😉
It started out at 8 degrees at 9 am but was supposed to warm up. It didn’t. The whole morning was damp and cool so the jackets and scarves didn’t come off. The mist made for some pretty pictures of cobwebs though. We passed through mostly farmland, including a kiwi plantation which looked like grapes with weird leaves. There were no cafes though so we stopped at one point and ate our snacks which sitting on some steps. Today we met more other pilgrims than we had previously.
We arrived in O Porrino early so after a rest, went to check out the city and have some dinner. Tonight we all felt like pasta. The downtown area is nice but the main attraction, city hall was closed up as they were hanging Christmas decorations. Another early night for us!
Porrino to Arcade – 24 km.
We left shortly after 9 am after an amazing breakfast served us by the Hotel Azul. There’s no way we could eat all that food! She left us with 4 bags to pack a lunch as well. Awesome!
After a couple of hours of walking we stopped at a souvenir shop and then a small cafe to rest and have a coffee. We met Mark from the UK there. Later we walked with him for a while and left him in Redonella where he was stopping for the night. We continued on to Arcade. There were a few good hills and some steep down hills that are so hard on the knees and the balls of your feet. I changed to sandals at one point which may have looked ridiculous with my socks but they felt better. 24 km in 6 hours, including a lunch stop is pretty good time considering we enjoyed the day and stopped plenty to enjoy the scenery and take the odd photo.
After being warmly welcomed at the Hotel Duarte, we rested then set off to find dinner. Spaniards eat late so it’s hard to find something open at 6:30 pm. We found a nice seafood restaurant (Quedamos!) with a kind, patient waiter and enjoyed a really nice meal and GOOD wine.
Scare crows along the way
Unique markers to show us the way. Sometimes they’re not so obvious. Markers can be shells, yellow arrows on a wall, lamp post or the road. Sometimes they’re boots 😀
Arcade to Pontevedra; 15 km
After another amazing breakfast, we set off to explore the pretty town of Arcade. Today’s walk was short but there were a couple of really good hills so not exactly easy. Pontevedra is much bigger than we’d anticipated and interesting to walk about in and explore. After a good rest we went to a restaurant Barb had found on trip advisor, just up the street from the Ruas hotel. There was nobody else there. Spaniards don’t come out till after dark so we always eat alone 😉 The waiter was incredibly patient and helped us order an assortment of dishes special to the region. Eating it was an adventure! Salad with frozen goat cheese ice cream, calamari, little fried fishes (you eat heads and all), octopus and pig’s cheeks we grilled ourselves were all really good. Go to La Espuela. You won’t be disappointed! Visiting the Pontevedra church is also a must see as it’s the only church in the world shaped like a scallop and totally dedicated to pilgrims.
Church in Pontevedra. Below are some of the special decorations shaped like scallops to honour pilgrims (peregrinos)
Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis – 24 km
The walk today was longer but no large hills so not that tough. We saw more pilgrims today as well as donkeys which was new. Grapes were in the process of being pruned and one nice man cut some leftover bunches off and gave them to us. I finally discovered the name of a plant we’ve seen in everyone’s garden. It’s called Portuguese kale or walking stick. It’s used in soup and the tough leaves are fed to the animals.
We found the hotel Balneiro Acuna Wiktoria had booked for us and right away reserved our time in the spa. An hour in a huge, warm, tub with jets to soothe all the aching muscles was just what we needed. My feet felt invigorated and ready to start the camino over again. Well. Maybe not THAT good.
Too late for a late lunch meant we had to wait for the Spanish dinner hour. We managed to find a restaurant that opened “early” at 7:30pm with the help of a nice young man who, when we looked lost, asked if he could help then said “follow me” which we did. After showing us the way to go he waved good bye, wished us a “buen camino” and continued on his way.
We were her first customers and her help wasn’t there yet. Dinner was worth waiting for! Barb had cod, Anita salmon, Sue veal and I had scallops. All were great choices! We had a little trouble finding our hotel back but hey, we needed the exercise 😉
Caldas de Reis to Padron 21 km November 11
Today’s start was a bit late as we kept forgetting things (you’d think we’d have the hang of it by now) and Barb needed to stop and get a pastry as there were none with breakfast today. How weird is that?
A nice thing about the Camino de Santiago is that it takes you through the old sections of the towns and cities it passes through. We took a few detours along the way and investigated anything that looked interesting and stopped a couple of times. Once was about 3 hours into the walk when we came upon a cute rest stop with vending machines, a bathroom and tables with chairs to rest at. Next was an hour or so later when we found a cafe that served soup. Yum. Soup.
The walk was nice today with a few little hills, up and down and through a really pretty forest. Not much time spent walking along the highway which is great. The mountains we could see in the distance had obviously been affected by the recent fires as they had black patches of the charred remains of trees.
Again we walked past gardens full of a strange vegetable for which I finally received an explanation. Couve Galega Portuguese Walking Stick or Portuguese kale (col) is grown everywhere. It’s a perennial here. The tough, bottom leaves are fed to the animals and people in the tender upper leaves. It’s a staple in soup.
We didn’t arrive in Padron until 3 pm and were all pretty tired by then. When we asked if there was a place we could get dinner around 6 pm, the lady checking us in looked at us like we’re crazy. Spaniards come out at night and don’t eat dinner till after 8 pm. Oh well. We found a pulperia open all day and had our dinner at a “decent hour”. The octopus was okay but we hope to find better maybe closer to Santiago? Last time we had some amazing octopus in Sarria. Maybe it just can’t be beat.
Sunday, November 12, 2017 Padron to Teo – 14 km
Knowing we didn’t have far to go today, we did a few detours and sauntered more than usual. Today’s route had us meandering through small villages and neighbourhoods. Just a few sheep and goats and not so much farmland.
We took a bit of a circuitous route to the Casa Vella da Rivera but arrived early in the afternoon. Our hostess was ready for us and showed us around. We each got our own room! The villa is really nice with a couple of sitting rooms, one with a fire place where we enjoyed some relaxing time with a glass of wine. She didn’t even think we were crazy for wanting dinner at 6 pm, rather than after 8 when Spaniards typically eat.
Monday, Nobember 13th Teo. Rois to Santiago de Compostela
After another hearty breakfast we headed down the highway. Barb had opted to skip breakfast and leave early to enjoy her pilgrimage on her own.
The walk today wasn’t very interesting other than a couple of pretty forest trails. Upon entering Santiago there’s a choice of two routes. We chose Santa Maria as it appeared shorter and my feet hurt. Approaching the Cathedral isn’t as interesting as doing so from the Camino Francis but the way is nice anyway. It’s not marked once you get into the city either. It’s really confusing trying to find the office to receive your compostela certificate. The Cathedral was covered in even more scaffolding than it had been 2 years ago so I didn’t feel compelled to take many photos. They say it will be completed in February of 2018. Perhaps we need to come back? There are several Caminos we haven’t done.
After meeting Barb at our accommodation, Pension San Juan, we found a place that served pasta which we’d all be wanting for a few days. We wandered around the hundreds of shops for a while and called it a night.