25 May 2014
Total distance walked 576.9 km
Average daily distance 24.04 km
I just want to revive yeaterday’s rant. The Tui municipal albergue is a fantastic facility. A beautifully renovated ancient building, no expense spared on high quality materials, but it is the most unfriendly place I have stayed in on this camino. I bought myself some salad ingredients for a change, but when I went to the kitchen (rule number 1 – strictly no eating in the dormitory) to prepare my healthy feast I found not one single utensil. I used my fabulous penknife to cut up an avocado, a nectarine, a tomato and some blue cheese, but then had to chuck it into the bag of watercress because there was no plate to eat it from. By the time I realised the mean-ness of the albergue I had completely lost my appetite (ok, that might have had something to do with all the tapas I was so generously given in the bars). They are obviously fulfilling a duty without putting an ounce of enthusiasm into running the albergue. I hate to be negative, but there is absolutely no engendering of a community spirit here. A spanish guy that I met enroute and his friend have been very friendly, but others staying in the room are totally in their own tiny space. Most un-pilgrim-like. I would welcome any insights or comments to the contrary.
I guess it might seem a bit different if I were travelling with someone and we could have a laugh about the situation.
That said, Tui is a very pretty town (population 15,000). When I finally lifted my head from my iPad yesterday, I looked up to this beautiful scene.
Although I am not a religious person, I called into the cathedral last evening. There was a service taking place, something to do with the many young people who were in attendance in their very inappropriate finery (as in hot pants and high heels). There was much milling about of children and adults so I didn’t feel out of place taking a look around. I found the cathedral most beautiful in its simplicity, none of the glitz of other places of worship, little gilt, just massive stone columns and braces (sorry Elly, I don’t know the architectural terms) and some beautiful wooden sculptures hanging from the domed ceiling. Very charming and unpretentious.
Sleep didn’t come easy last night, what with several snorers and the Saturday night/Sunday morning revellers who were shouting all night and were still on the street when I left this morning!
The arrows out of Tui are rather discrete and in several instances I followed the Fatima arrows where I couldn’t see a camino arrow. But it was a very short walk out of the city, which seemed more like a village in certain areas with charming stone cottages. In no time at all I was walking on a country path through woodland – natural woodland now, with oaks and pine trees and very few eucalyptus.
After the woods there was quite a long stretch on the road, but it was very safe with a marked path and barrier and a pleasure to walk on. When walking the camino Frances last year all the pilgrims hated the asphalt, but I bet they would think differently about it after walking the Portuguese route – no painful cobbles to push into and twist your feet.
And then it was back to the woods, where I stopped after 11 km when I spotted a suitable rock to sit on, and checked out a new blister and applied tape. At this point I saw the first pilgrim of the day as he passed me and then another. But once I started off again there was sufficient distance between us that I didn’t see them again, or anyone else.
I reached a very welcome cafe at Cruzeiro Esmoleiro after 13.7 km and discovered that the route I have been following is entirely different to that shown in the Brierly guide. There is a new diversion that leads away from the ugly and monotonous industrial area on the approach to Porriño. The new route is undoubtedly longer but much more beautiful than the original slog. The very helpful and kind cafe owners showed me a map of the new route and provided me with an excellent bacon buttie – my first proper breakfast since I left home.
After the cafe break there is a section of road walking where the cars whizz by even faster than they did in Portugal, and skim me even closer. I am so taken aback that I shout out at one particularly close call – I expect I scared him as much as he scared me!!
As I walk on I can hear a lot of engine sounds, and see that I am passing a velodrome where go-karting is taking place. There is a huge empty parking area alongside and suddenly a car coming towards me swerves, not away from me, but towards me. You can imagine what I am getting ready to shout at this one, when he slows down and stops, obviously wanting to communicate. He gets out of his car and tells me, in very good English that he is working with the ‘Asociación Galega Amigos do Camino de Santiago’. He shows me the map of the new route that I have seen back at the cafe and tells me that there is a war of the arrows going on between the association who are promoting the new, very pretty route, and the business owners who are missing out on trade. He gave me a map and told me that I must turn left immediately after passing under the railway bridge, for a walk on a path that follows the river all the way to the albergue in Porriño. The traders keep painting out the new arrows and the guy tells me he goes out every day to repaint them. That’s dedication to the cause! He shows me his paint roller, full of yellow paint ready to go to war!
See here for info on the new route.
It is quite the most delightful walk I have taken on this camino. The only distraction from the birdsong and the babbling river are the electricity pilons, one of which spans the track. Hugging the pretty river, the path is well used by locals for strolling, jogging and cycling. And each and every person I pass wishes me buenos dias, with a smile. Just like I am used to at home. There are many benches to sit on and watch the world go by, and I take advantage of one for just a few minutes.
When I reach the Porriño albergue the distance from the Tui albergue is 18.6 km, as opposed to Brierly’s stated 15.2 km for the original route. It is definitely worth going the extra mile (or so!)
The walk from Porriño isn’t quite so lovely – the trail is along a fast road, but with a wide shoulder that feels safe. There is a diversion that I didn’t take, but wish I had, along a roman road. I eventually link back to the diversion but I could have saved myself some fast road walking. And then the camino follows country roads through villages. The modern houses in the area and those in Portugal are all very big – I guess there is no shortage of money for some.
Next stop at Concello de Mos at 25.3 km, where there is an albergue and a nice cafe opposite with wifi. I have tried three other places today – none with wifi. Perhaps it is just portugal that is so well served. This is a very pretty small village and the cafe owner is charming. She tells me I have another 10 km to go to my destination of Redondela and I am already feeling quite weary.
Back onto a mixture of tracks and quiet roads. I thought this boundary wall was the best use for cobbles that I have seen so far. And we have also seen these thin cut standing stones used as boundaries throughout Portugal and now in Spain. It is an area rich in granite.
For most of the day the sky has been bright blue with strong sunshine but as I near the end of my day’s walk dark clouds gather and the threatened rain arrives when I have about 5km to go. Feeling rather weary I plug in some energising music and stride out for the last hour.
The municipal albergue in Redondela is fine, if a little crowded, two rooms with bunk beds squashed together, each pair of beds touching and only a very narrow aisle between each pair. I am in time for a bottom bunk, although there are already a lot of people here, most have just walked from Porriño. The showers have doors! I bump into Julie, with whom we shared the the church albergue, way back in Alvorge, and Claudia, who is a forum member and we have coincided at various stages.
Redondela is buzzing with a festival, there is a live band of folk type music (Spanish bagpipes, fiddle, drums, and other percussion instruments) playing outside the albergue and the main square is alive with local families enjoying their town.
It is good, after all, to be back in Spain. They have the best bread, the warmest greetings, I have seen horses being ridden for the first time on this journey, and best of all – no cobbles!
Post script…..since writing this post I have discovered this video showing the new route to Porriño – you can see what a pleasure it was