Spain
Plaza de la Estrella

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    • Day 18

      Golden Girls: Pontevedra-Barro

      May 17, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

      Walked along a train track today a la ‘Stand By Me’, but the crew I joined up with definitely had more a Golden Girls vibe.

      Soon after leaving Pontevedra’s lovely Old Town Shopping District (complete with Burger King in an ancient stone building), I run into Omaha sisters Ellen and Amy, childhood friend Jerry, of Phoenix, and “California Kelly”. Within minutes of starting up a conversation, someone drops an F bomb about all the walking. It’s followed by a crack about wine and ibuprofen.

      ‘No way I’m letting these ladies get away from me,’ I think. ‘These are my people.’

      What follows is a raucous day of story sharing and shit talking. The three friends are of my generation. Kelly is a youngish mom they adopted about 20 minutes before I came along. My foot was already feeling better (thanks in part to last nights Vicodin, because something had to give), but there’s nothing like a gaggle of kvetching midwesterners to make you forget your troubles and pick up the pace.

      We share life stories. We share our favorite freaky “Twilight Zone” episodes. We share lunch. The sisters, who are Catholic, can rattle off the specifics of the Fatima story as quick as they come up with a one-liner. How’s that for a combination?

      Within a couple of hours, they are giving me shit about my navigation skills. “Well, Tammy said we were three miles away five miles ago,” becomes a repeating jab from Jerry. I feel loved.

      Ten miles goes by like buttah, but I have to peel off at Barras while they trudge on to Caldas de Reis. I give hugs all around and collect What’s App numbers so we can stay in touch. Some folks you lose along the way. Some you keep.

      The next morning, the Omaha Three and Cali Kelly crew are checking on me after a harrowing stay in a private home, but that’s another story.

      Chances are slim I’ll see this crew again. They have limited time so are walking more miles per day. But I’ll hear from them when they reach the finish line and will cheer virtually for their accomplishment. Because they are part of my Camino family - the ones I’d want to sit with at the big family gathering, cause they’re the fun crew.

      What a happy, happy day it’s been.
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    • Day 21

      Pontevedra 2

      October 2, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

      We walked a bit more, checked out the path for tomorrow. We get to start with a lovely bridge across the Rio Lerez (Ponte do Burgo). Then we strolled through a flea market. Luckily nothing I need.

      We made sure to have a nice meal before siesta. Thanks to Katharine W, we went to Il Piccola and had a great time.
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    • Day 9

      Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

      July 4, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

      After a restful sleep at Casa Sara, we were up early and walking by 6:00 am. At 63 degrees and breezy, the weather was lovely for our brisk pace. I think we made 21 kilometers in 6 hours. We finished walking just as the temperature reached 70. Perfect day, perfect walk.
      The entire day was pine forest paths and gravel or dirt roads with beautiful eucalyptus trees. We had very few encounters with auto traffic. We saw lots of pilgrims, again some we have already met. Our last 2 kilometers was with John and Brenda from Ireland. He started walking in sandals like Charles is now wearing. I am starting to doubt the necessity of close-toed shoes!
      We soaked our feet in the hot waters that make Caldas de Reis famous. There was a free pool for pilgrims.
      We had dinner tonight with the nurse, her sisters, partner, and friends. It was lovely to know more about them. French, English, and Spanish languages all represented. Our waiter was continually confused!
      Three more days to Santiago!
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    • Day 15

      If it’s Tuesday, it must be Galicia

      September 27, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 73 °F

      Today seemed a much nicer walk than the previous two days, though we walked our farthest distance yet. The rain has held off for the time being and we had blue skies most of today. The temperature is very comfortable, 75° or so for the afternoon high but chilly in the morning and evening.

      This morning we got an earlier start than usual since we knew we had a lot of ground to cover. We are at the far edge of the time zone so sunrise is much later than we’re used to. Though we set off just before 8:00 am it was still dark. As we left Redondela the fog slowly lifted from the hills and by our first café con leche stop the sun had begun to light up the valley. From the cafe we had a fabulous view of the bridge across the Estreito de Rande and the Vigo river which flows into the Atlantic just beyond.

      The terrain was a nice mix of back roads, dirt paths, a few short, steep climbs and some boulders just to keep the cyclists in check. Instead of bagpipers, the woods today were populated by little pop up rest stops with people selling cold drinks and lukewarm trinkets. We sat and ate our picnic lunch at one such place, exchanging Buen Caminos with the stream of pilgrims flowing by. We collected several stamps in our credentials today as every little stand we passed was offering. One must collect at least two stamps (“sellos”) per day to qualify for the Compostela at the end. Today we got about 6.

      We met a very sweet little dog this morning and another this afternoon. Many of the houses and farms we pass have dogs in the yard and you can usually hear at least one dog barking anywhere you are. The ones who live right on the Camino seem pretty bored by the endless parade of pilgrims clicking along with their hiking poles. The two we met today were eager to have their ears scritched though were probably disappointed we had no cheese to offer.

      Somewhere near the midpoint of today’s stage we met up with Ashook and Hesha again. We chatted for a bit before they took off at their much faster pace. They are here in Pontevedra tonight, too, but it’s a large city so I doubt we’ll run into them.

      We arrived in Pontevedra about 3:00. Checked into our room at Casa Sara, took our showers and have just finished our laundry. Our laundry game has slipped a bit in the past few days. At this point the rinse water is just as gray as the wash water. We’ve gotten pretty cavalier about wearing dirty clothes. I can see why some people burn theirs when the reach the end.

      The key to successful laundry on the Camino is in the wringing. When the wringing is poor you suffer for it the next day. If you’ve ever tried to put on a damp sports bra you know what I’m talking about. And I have developed a deep appreciation for a well-fitted sink stopper. They are to be cherished.

      DINNER UPDATE: Didn’t have the energy to deal with a tapas menu so we ended up in a doner kebab place run by a lovely Indian man named Abdullah. As we finished our dinner a fellow pilgrim came in and asked to join us at our table. Pilgrim Steven (“STAY-ven”), a postman from Northern Ireland, talked our ears off for close to two hours. He was a delight. We’re headed to the same place tomorrow but I doubt we’ll see him on the way as he walks extremely fast. Postman legs.
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    • Day 7

      La Estafeta, Pontevedra

      March 28 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 48 °F

      A most awesome dinner, de puta madres! (I got to say it!) I had bacalao, and it was delicious. The restaurante made us sandwiches for tomorrow and gave us Leche for our coffee. It's holy weekend, so not many places open tomorrow, and we have to have our provisiones on hand.

      Tomorrow is supposed to be 21k. We plan to leave at 9am. We have atun sandwich baguettes to take with us.

      The Camino is certainly getting livelier the closer we get. The first day, we practically saw no one. The second day, a handful of other pilgrims. Today, as the central and coastal Portuguese paths come together, we saw dozens, likely a hundred. The energy is building.
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    • Day 4

      Pontevedra

      March 25 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

      I follow the Camino until I get to point where I turn off for the albergue. I arrive there at 10am and check-in is not until 1pm. I buzz the door anyway and ask if I can leave my bag. Thankfully they agree and I deposit my bag and wonder out exploring.

      I figure I should find the Virxe Pelegrina cathedral. It's now properly raining and cold. I'm not keen to explore. I just want to lay in bed and get warm. The cathedral is built to be in the shape of the pilgrims shell. From the inside you can see the roundness of the building. For 1€ you can climb 60+ steps to a viewing balcony that circles the place. I get my credential stamped and pay the fee to walk to the top. I instantly question my decision to climb when my body feels broken. There is a half way break going up where there are some benches. At the top there are these creepy children dolls and lots of memorabilia. If it was darker I'd be spooked. I venture out on the balcony. It's scary high and narrow. I make a complete circle around the cathedral then head back down.

      I still have another 2hrs to kill so I go to another cathedral wonder around all the Easter statues for the pending celebrations. Then I find a cafe to sit and wait out the time in warmth. I have my 1st sweet for the trip and a proper coffee this time.

      I check in to the albergue at 1pm sharp. I'm the 1st person here. The bed is like a cocoon with a privacy curtain and boxed in all around. This place is super clean. I'm in an all female room. The Canadian mum and daughter pair show up and hour afterwards. It's lovely to see them. They're really friendly and chatty so it's nice being around them.

      Today was an easy walking day. Only 13km scheduled but because of the way the Camino avoids the direct route I end up clocking in 21km and just over 30,000 steps.
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    • Day 30

      Arcade-Pontevedra #10

      June 10, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

      Just 13 km today and less than 70 km to Santiago de Compostela. Rain made the track muddy and slippery in parts and I didn’t even cyclists climbing some of the really rocky parts of the track. Had a really good walk with Livu from the Algarve. We walked for three hours and only exchanged names after he headed on for another 10km after we had coffee. Covid and lockdown took a toll on his marriage and he is searching for a new path. But reckons the Camino gives him a chance not to think. Our conversation lightened up when I took his picture next to a tree and suggested he could use it for his tinder profile !!! We parted in good terms. Pontevedra is on the Rio Lérez and is a bustling city, but quieter than Porto. Big churches, lots of squares, not too touristy and a beaut market.Read more

    • Day 12

      Pontevedra

      October 5, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 73 °F

      The first big city since Porto. Today was hard! A Lot of uphill walking and not enough water. Lunchtime cerveza made me sleepy, might not partake tomorrow. I’m hoping to eat soon but have too many choices! So different from the last few places where there is only one option in town for food 🥘Read more

    • Day 11

      Arcade -> Pontevedra

      August 22, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

      Auf der heutigen Etappe war einiges los. Da in Redondela der Caminho Central und der da Costa zusammenlaufen, waren mehr Pilger unterwegs als sonst. Der Weg war aber wirklich sehr schön. Er führte nahezu die ganze Zeit durch Wälder und kleine Dörfer. Hier gibt es tatsächlich Eukalyptus Wälder. Richtig schön. An den Wegesrändern wächst außerdem oft Minze als „Unkraut“, sodass die Wanderung durch ein gutes Aroma ergänzt wird. Zusätzlich gab es heute auch wieder Unterhaltung für uns: einen Dudelsack Spieler auf dem Weg. Naja, wem‘s gefällt. 😅

      Pontevedra ist eine wirklich sehr schöne Stadt, deren Altstadt einen Besuch wert ist! Da wir heute schon zur Mittagszeit ankamen, blieb uns auch genug Zeit die Stadt zu erkunden. 😊 Heute ist der letzte Tag einer Reihe von Feiertagen in Spanien. Ab 22:30 Uhr spielt ein spanischer Singer-Songwriter. Wir freuen uns. (:

      Es sind noch drei Tage und knapp über 60km bis Santiago. Bald ist’s geschafft.
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    • Day 16

      Ganzer Tag in Pontevedra

      June 14, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      Am Morgen liessen wir uns Zeit mit dem Aufstehen und kehrten ins erste Café in der Nähe unseres Hotels ein, wo wir uns mit Gipfel und frischem Orangensaft eindeckten. Anschliessend unternahmen wir einen ausgedehnten Stadtrundgang und kehrten am frühen Nachmittag in ein Strassencafe ein. Da stellten wir fest, dass es an der Zeit war, uns die nächsten Tage bzw. die Übernachtungen bis nach Santiago zu organisieren. Bald stellten wir fest, dass es ziemlich schlecht aussah mit den Unterkünften, besonders in Santiago. Es stellte sich heraus, dass dort just an diesem Wochenende ein Musikfestival stattfindet, wo Leute aus ganz Spanien anreisen und sämtliche Hotelzimmer belegen mit entsprechenden Auswirkungen auf die Zimmerpreise. Da gab es Zimmer in Massenschlägen, die über 100 Franken pro Übernachtung kosteten. In der Zwischenzeit meldete sich Kathy bei uns, die auch schon Panik schob wegen den raren Übernachtungsmöglichkeiten. Sie kam zu uns ins Café und wir berieten gemeinsam, wie es weitergehen sollte. Nach langen Beratungen und Schiebereien konnten wir schließlich eine gute Lösung für alle Tage finden. Das ganze Prozedere nahm schließlich insgesamt ungefähr drei bis vier Stunden in Anspruch 🥴 . Verständlich, dass die Frauen zur Entspannung noch einen kleinen Rundgang durch die Läden der Altstadt unternehmen wollten 😆, während ich mich in einem Park auf eine Bank setzte und es mir dort gemütlich machte. Doch es dauerte nicht lange, da wurde es mir zu kühl und ich beschloss ins Hotel zurückzukehren und mich aufzuwärmen. Rund eine Stunde später kam auch Claudia ins Zimmer, wo wir uns für das Nachtessen bereit machten. Ich hatte in der Zwischenzeit einen Tisch in einem Restaurant in der Altstadt reserviert, der im TripAdvisor empfohlen wurde. Die Portionen waren gut zubereitet/gekocht, jedoch mickrig und dies zu absolut übersetzten Preisen. Wir hatten noch nie so wenig für so viel Knete bekommen. Aus lauter Frust schrieb ich noch am Tisch eine vernichtende Rezension im TripAdvisor. Unter den Bildern ist noch ein Bild der Lasagne für 13 € zu sehen. Die Guacamole-Sauce wurde wenig stilvoll in einer Tube serviert die vor allem mit Luft gefüllt war 🙄. Allerdings hat jede Schattenseite auch eine Sonnenseite: Der Vorteil war, dass wir an diesem Abend nicht mit überfüllten Mägen ins Bett steigen mussten 😄.Read more

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