“Eat. Drink. Walk. Take photos. Sleep. Repeat.”
The beautiful sunny weather has returned! For today at least! We set off from the fine city of Pontevedra at 8.50 am this morning to make our way to the spa town of Caldas de Reis, which we managed to reach before two o’clock this afternoon.
Our journey was, without question one of the most pleasant, straightforward and scenic of the Camino thus far. The sun shone from start to finish, conditions underfoot were generally good, there were far fewer inclines than yesterday or the day before and we had lots of coffee break options (we stopped twice). The second of these stops was at a quirky set up created by a Spanish family with a large, attractive house right beside the Camino trail. No doubt they’d spent years watching a constant trail of pilgrims passing along until someone came up with the entrepreneurial brainwave of converting their large garage space into a cafe. It was just perfect for us: they had a table groaning with giant empanadas containing tuna, cod (bacalao – I still wake up in a cold sweat having revisited the Pamplona squid debacle in my dreams), meat and, yes, you’ve guessed it – calamari….. Through a door we could see a room containing at least ten barrels of wine, each with its little individual tap. No doubt they carry out the entire wine making process themselves, given the preponderance of vines snaking around the house’s extensive grounds.
Anyway, we correctly ordered the empanada bacalao and it fairly hit the spot, washed down with excellent coffee. We watched as a Spanish couple were brought a sliced chorizo sausage still sizzling on a miniature spit sat over a burning clay pot. It looked amazing! Authentic Galician cuisine brought to you by authentic Galicians! Elderly couple serving, not a word of English. First class.
We passed only a couple of churches today, both of which were locked up. One of the churches had what I suppose we’d term a graveyard attached which was accessible. We’ve seen a few of these on this Camino, both in Portugal and Spain. They are extremely grand, miniature mausoleums with marble façades, often containing glass doors showing a small altar with, in some instances, visible coffins to right and left. Family crypts, I suppose. I saw the most spectacular example of this last year at the Recleta cemetery in Buenos Aires (as previously mentioned). That place was the size of a small town, with the most spectacular tombs and statues imaginable. The ones we’ve seen along the way in Portugal and Spain are nowhere near as grand, but still appear to be a resting place for wealthy families only. Oddly enough, we’ve never seen cemeteries as grand as this in southern Spain.
Caldas de Reis sits between two rivers, the Umia and the Bermaña. Its greatest claim to fame is the thermal waters which gush from its natural ground source at a constant temperature of 40 degrees. Apparently they’ve been here for thousands of years! We’ve just enjoyed a Menu del Dia in the very attractive Cafeteria Termas which overlooks one of the two rivers (don’t know which). The food was delicious and the sun is still shining.
Having finished lunch, we wandered off to visit the Xardín Botanicás, which contains exotic shrubs, flowers and trees from all over the world. With the sun streaming through the gaps between the trees and the variety of picturesque fountains dotted around the park, it’s a very pretty, relaxing place to cool down on a hot day such as this. They appear to be preparing a large stage for a concert of some sort. The park isn’t that big, but the stage looks huge and there are loads of portaloos sitting around. Whatever is taking place, it’s a spectacular setting.
Having exited the park, we crossed the road to visit the town’s large sandstone church, sitting in a plaza (praza) containing a stone fountain erected in 1920 (it’s small but perfect) surrounded by manicured grass and tables for the surrounding cafes. We ordered coffee and cakes from Pasteleria Caprichos. I’ve always maintained that Spanish cakes and pastries tend to flatter to deceive, but this place was something else: chocolate cupcakes filled with cream and fruit; caramel filled tarts with cream and walnuts; puff pastry filled with chocolate mousse. All small but perfectly formed, two bites and gone. Sensational.
We’ve done our share of eating and drinking today (mainly eating). Everything has been delicious. We’re heading down to the hotel bar for a final drink in the evening sun. This Camino has its moments.
Tomorrow is the penultimate stage, leading us to Padron, whence we prepare for the final push to Santiago, and the end of the road. A tidy wee 19km, hopefully in pleasant weather. Marching on!
Today’s album track is “Old Town Road” Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X .
Nope, I’ve never heard of it either. Carolyn has taken charge of the musical choices. And she spends a great deal of time on them. Apparently it’s a remix. Why not play it and get down with the young people?