Day 14 | Padron
Some of you know that once or twice a year I escort a group of pilgrims along the camino. In 2019 I had planned a group walk, pretty much like the walk we’d undertaken this year and one that included the boat ride to Padron. I’d pre-booked 10 seats on the boat with the assurance that they could be cancelled but had to be paid for in advance. Of course in 2019 there was no reason to think this would be a problem… but then covid came. The 200€ was never refunded, indeed my emails were never replied to but at the time that was ok and I just accepted that with national lockdowns many businesses along the camino would be suffering. I decided that I would not pursue a refund… it was gone… c’est la vie and I really didn’t mind.
Day 13 | Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa
A new day dawned and thankfully Gerry felt he would be ok to walk. One of the reasons for walking the Variant is the day that was to come. Everyone says that the coming stage is one of the most beautiful of all caminos; that is a big statement as we have walked some incredible stages so I had big expectations!
We had breakfast in our little casa, which I thoroughly recommend! And once we’d finished the lovely host drove us back to Armenteira and we set off back on the trail at the start of the Ruta da Pedra e da Agua (route of stone and water). Today is considered the second stage of the Spiritual Variant (but take my advice and stopover in Combarro!), it’s 22.7 kilometres long and the first 7 of those kilometres border the River Armenteira where we’ll get to spot over 50 ancient mills; some left in ruins and some in good condition thanks to a restoration programme.
Day 12 | Armenteira
We’re not in Portugal or Spain but I am very much aware that I’ve not updated my blog in such a long time and also that our wanderings along the Portuguese Camino were never finished. There is a simple reason for this; we never finished.
As the heatwave sweeps across France, I decided I should stay inside in the cool and spend some time catching up. And we’ve had a few adventures since that walk and I’d like to share them too. Sadly this means that for those of you who follow my blog (and our travels) you’ll be getting quite a few notifications now and for this I apologise in advance.
Day 11 | Arcade to Combarro
Last night’s supper was superb. We walked along the water, stopped for a cold drink before seeking a restaurant. We found one in a little back street which according to Google had reasonable reviews. We asked if we could eat now (7.00pm is early for dinner in Spain)… yes yes of course came the reply and we were escorted inside. The lady of the house spoke only Spanish but somehow we conversed… if Gerry’s mum had a Spanish counterpart, this senora would have been her… oh she was wonderful.
Her husband also had a birthday today but he was 78… she said Gerry was just a baby. She took his hand and showed him the fresh crab, just delivered and together they choose one. He ordered fresh oysters to start, followed by crab… and a bottle of local white wine. Senora was suitably impressed with his choice. I ordered steak… she seemed OK with that too.
Day 10 | Mos to Arcade
There’s a certain joy in having a cup of hot tea in bed on the morning. Covid-19 gave us all many things we didn’t want but it’s also given Gerry and I fresh ideas about how we like our caminos… and hot tea in the morning before a shower is one of those things.
There were still no cats this morning and worse than that there was no sello either. Yesterday when we arrived there had been no check-in. I realised last night that we must get our credentials stamped, so this morning we tried the owners house. The doors and windows were open, cars were in the garage but there no sign of life at all. It was 9.00am and we knew we had to get walking but the lack of a stamp was troubling, it could even cost us our Compostela. But … tant pis… as they say in France… There was nothing that we could do but walk on. And another lesson for us; don’t book accommodation almost a kilometre off the trail, particularly when it’s an extra 800m uphill!
Thankfully today we felt good. The heavy feet and heavy heads of the last few days had gone. We meandered along admiring the gardens and flowers and greeting cats and dogs as we walked. As with yesterday we noticed so many more pilgrims walking and of course this meant more greetings and hellos too. We stopped for a coffee as soon as we were able but sadly there was no warm (or cold) tortilla for us today. Ah well.. there was still coffee.
Day 9 | Tui to Mos
We had a nice stay in Tui. For dinner we enjoyed a few Tapas in a bar opposite the cathedral; the padron peppers were very nice indeed. We’ve lost an hour crossing over to Spain so decided on an early night. However, Tui had different plans as the town seemed to be in party mode. Our room was above a restaurant and it was busy. As well as the bustle from downstairs there was also an occasional burst of distant crowds chanting… it sounded almost like a football chant? And to add to the general cacophony the bedroom doors had automatic keypads. Everytime you arrived and started to enter your PIN a (loud) automated voice would say “Door Locked”… followed by a series of loud beeps… followed by “Door Unlocked”. This happened every time someone returned to their rooms and it felt like there were a lit of rooms! I know I was still awake at midnight as I heard the chimes and I don’t think either of us slept well.
Day 8 | Pencene to Tui
Last nights hotel was yet another gem. It was a shame we felt so out of sorts because it was fabulous. The room was spotlessly clean and big and bright and airy. It was a room for three so again great value for three sharing. The garden was lovely and there was even a pool. We had use of the kitchen and lounge and seating inside and out but sadly we didn’t feel in the mood. We had a light salad for dinner, chatted with another pilgrim from Chicago before turning in for the night.
We slept. We clearly both needed to sleep. We woke around 7.00 and Gerry made us both tea. We both felt better today. My head still felt fuzzy but my sickness and pain had gone and Gerry felt the same. He said at one point in the forest yesterday he was trying to figure how he would get me out as I looked so pale and clammy. Neither of us had been well so it was a good job we were able to keep walking.
We ate a hearty breakfast today. I had my GF crackers with homemade marmalade and local honey followed by banana and fresh melon… and several cups of tea. Gerry had the same but with fresh warm rolls and ham and cheese. For even bigger appetites there was also cereals, yogurts, cake, biscuits and fruit… all included! The cost for the room was 60 euro, breakfast was included and it was fabulous. We would come again to Casa de Capela… stay here! You won’t regret it.
Day 7 | Ponte de Lima to Pencene
This blogs is a little late but that’s because there’s always a story when we walk the camino… and this walk is no different!
Our Casa in Ponte de Lima was really excellent… we’d thoroughly recommend it. We had breakfast from the remains of yesterday’s shopping and had plenty for a packed lunch. Indeed we ended up taking a rather lot with us that morning. We left later than we had planned because Gerry was feeling a little off; nothing major but he wasn’t 100%. So we took our time and had an extra cup of tea.
The clock struck 9.00 as we walked away from Ponte de Lima. It was raining and I felt a twinge of sadness. The last time I walked here it had rained almost everyday… so much so that the trail was lost under water where rivers had broken their banks and we had to find alternative paths to walk. I was hoping for sunshine this time but instead we had clouds. So we left town feeling under par and I felt cheated by the weather… I also started to feel a little ill myself.
Day 6 | Vila Praia do Ancora to Ponte de Lima
Sadly dinner last night was not as good as we’d hoped. Gerry had imagined a fabulous fish supper over looking the sea but of course it was Sunday night and our choices were very limited. In the end we settled on a small restaurant a few streets back from the coast (actually it was all we could find). Gerry chose Bachalau… the celebrated Portuguese salted cod. My choices were limited to a pork chop. We ordered a glass of wine and a side salad, which was lucky as they were the most enjoyable parts of the meal. Poor Gerry missed his seafood dinner yet again.
We returned to our hotel, the Meira. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the seafront and the camino. It was wonderful and we’d thoroughly recommend a night here. Our room overlooked the pool, but it was quiet and comfortable… Great shower too!