26 May 2014
Total distance walked 610.5 km
Average daily distance 24.42 km
The albergue in Redondela is packed. The guide says there are 42 beds but I am sure they have squeezed a few more in since Brierly visited and I should think they were all occupied. They are pushed absolutely together in pairs. I choose well and am next to a young woman who was asleep when I arrived and I don’t think she moved or uttered a sound before I left this morning. And a guy took the bunk above me, but he kept still during the night so no great creaking or jolting. Assuming half were women, there are only two loos and two showers, but at least the showers have doors. And also the receptionist was rather more welcoming than the dragon at Tui.
I was awake very early and got up to use the facilities before the rush, got dressed and then lay back down on the bed until it became light enough to see where I was going. The clocks changed on crossing the border from Portugal and it is now an hour darker in the morning.
The direction signs are very poor on leaving the albergue and I was very grateful once again that I had Laurie’s detailed instructions of the route to take – otherwise I might still be wandering around Redondela right now!
Once out of the town the signs have been absolutely excellent all day, although I am feeling a bit fatigued today and not paying sufficient attention to where I am going. However no mistakes are made and I am soon walking through the suburbs and out into the country. I see a very imaginative living crop circle which really takes my fancy.
Since entering Spain there have been milestones (or to be more correct, kilometer stones) and I was pleased to see the number of km’s drop to under eighty this morning.
After almost 4 km it is necessary to cross the N550 where it is very wide and busy. I hate these crossings – they are so dangerous, and it is so difficult to move quickly with a backpack, but I choose my moment and cross as quickly as possible. After a while on quiet roads I am back into woodland track and am rather taken aback when I suddenly have a view of a huge expanse of water that my guide book tells me is the Rio de Vigo and its a very pretty sight.
I eventually encounter the busy N550 again and am directed by the arrows to cross to the other side. Again I choose my time and take my life in my hands. I hate it. I am then diverted off the road and make a loop through some pretty back streets, only to emerge a back onto the highway just a few meters further along and am then directed to cross back over, this time on a zebra crossing. But I am a bit cross that pilgrims are directed to cross this road unnecessarily just for a short diversion. I appreciate that the camino organisers try to take us ‘off road’ as much as possible, but this just seems a dangerous waste of time.
I then pass through the town of Arcade, which nestles on the banks of the Rio de Vigo and it reminds me of a Cornish seaside town, very pretty. And up on the hill I saw a very familiar sight which brought a smile to my face.
According to my gps the distance between the albergues in Redondela and Pontevedra is 20 km.
I’m feeling really tired today and my feet are hurting a bit. I have reached Pontevedra and am unsure whether I will stick with my original plan and plough on another 12 km or stay here. It promises to be a lovely town. I have stopped at a bar for a beer and some reflection. On a whim I thought I might treat myself to a night in the parador, so phoned to find if they had a special price for a pilgrim. It sounded promising, the guy on the phone did calculations, we established that I wouldn’t want breakfast and he came up with the bargain price of 110 euros!!! Well that news gave me a bit of strength and I may carry on as planned, or I may find a more reasonable hostel in the old quarter. Although the municipal albergue in Redondela was ok and I had a reasonable night’s sleep, I don’t really fancy another crowded situation.
I don’t like to be surrounded by lots of people, I find it very unsociable, I am much more comfortable in smaller groups and that is when I have enjoyed myself most. I think I am ready for this adventure to end now and have planned to be in Santiago by Wednesday, giving me two 30+ km days and one of 25. Then I can get a flight to Málaga on Thursday. I don’t want to push myself too hard and end up exhausted, which in truth is how I am feeling right now.
Those last two paragraphs were written when I was sitting in a bar in Pontevedra and feeling rather down and totally knackered. But I picked myself up and dusted myself down and decided to walk on to the small albergue in Portela, midway through the next stage. The supercilious git on the end of the parador phone who cut me off the instant I said I couldn’t afford to pay 110 euros, gave me the determination to carry on – so I have something to thank him for!
I cross the Rio Lerez via a pretty stone bridge decorated with scallop shells and once I have left the town behind there are some quiet roads and a lot of woodland to walk through. The surface isn’t very kind to poorly feet but I call on the power of Shania to get me through the discomfort barrier and would even have taken my first pain killer if it hadn’t meant that I had to remove my pack to get to it. I was popping painkillers for a passtime last year on the Frances route.
I finally find myself in the village of San Amaro where there is obviously a cafe war going on. My guide only mentions one cafe here, but I am approached by a young woman at the entrance to the village who encourages me to go to the mentioned establishment, Meson Pulpo, but as I walk on I see that there is another bar immediately on entering the village, that I presume must be taking the lion’s share of the business. I duly enter Meson Pulpo and am greeted by a charming bar girl who is very chatty and says that if I want she will collect me from the albergue and transport me to the cafe for diner (she says 1.5 km but I felt it might be slightly less).
The albergue Portela, 0034 655952805, is just over one km off camino and I reach it after 33.6 long km’s. But I am so glad that I made the effort. The municipal albergue is housed in a converted school, has 22 beds and offers dinner for 7 euros. There is a pretty garden, no rules are spouted by the very pleasant hospitalero. It is delightful. There are four others when I arrive but it has been filling up since then. Oh, and just to put the icing on the cake – it has wifi and beer – I am in albergue heaven.