‘Have no fear of the steep inclines – the magic of the Camino will float you to the top!”
Pontevedra is a handsome city divided into the new and old sectors. We had set off this morning from Arcade at 8.50 am to walk the short but quite lovely route through woods, beside a quietly flowing river which saw us emerge on the city’s outskirts just after 11.30 am. There were a few steep sections prior to entering the woods – Carolyn hates these – but once they’d been knocked off the rest of the journey was pretty much plain sailing. As long as you don’t mind going without coffee stops. There weren’t any, which was slightly irritating as far as I was concerned and completely unacceptable to Attila the Peregrina. I just kept my head down until we found a very nice watering hole in the new town and emotional equilibrium was restored.
As we made our way through the woods we caught up with an Australian walker who we’d met for the first time yesterday. Like us, Peter started in Porto and is headed for Santiago, having previously completed the Camino from a starting point in Granada! That’s not even a formal route until it merges with Seville, and he confirmed that the initial stages had been “pretty difficult”, with typical Aussie understatement. He’s clearly an experienced traveller and told us all about his time visiting Scotland. He took in just about every island on Scotland’s west coast, and has also spent the night in Paisley’s Ash Tree Hotel, where he enjoyed the company of American astronauts!
Almost every Aussie we’ve met (and there have been plenty) has informed us that he/she hails from Melbourne, but we’ve established that this is used loosely as a reference point for people like us whose knowledge of Australian towns is for the most part nil beyond the main cities. He told us he was from “just outside Melbourne, a couple of hundred kilometres along the road…….” A very nice guy, who was pleasant company along today’s route.
Pontevedra itself is an impressive city which comprises the new sector (modern buildings, fairly characterless), and the old sector, which is typically old school charming, Northern Spain at its best.
By 12.15 pm we’d found our hotel, only to be told we were “very fast”, and had arrived before our luggage had been delivered. Consequently, we have made our way into the beautiful old section of the city, still wearing our dusty boots etc. to explore the delights of Pontevedra. As I said at the outset, this is a really attractive place. The old town comprises narrow streets full of stone buildings adorned with multi coloured pots and baskets of flowers. You follow them into expansive plazas (prazas) containing churches, convents, dramatic statues and the pilgrim chapel of Santuario da Peregrina, built in “the baroque style, to a floor plan in the shape of a scallop shell.” It’s very impressive.
We’ve pretty much concluded our wander with a visit to the basilica de Santa Maria la Mayor, which apparently dates back to the 16th century. Beautiful inside, but, in common with virtually every church we’ve entered in the course of this Camino, doesn’t provide real candles to light.
Tomorrow we’re off on a 22 km walk to Caldas de Reis. Only 3 days left – how did that happen?
Today’s album track is “Live it up” by Mental as anything ( a wee Australian number)