27 May 2014
Total distance walked 644.5 km
Average daily distance 24.79 km
We were served a very good dinner by the Portela hospitaleros, including soup, masses of salad, bread and spanish omelette. And there was also wine or beer or soft drinks. There were about 18 of us around the table and it was all very pleasant. We were Germans (the majority), Belgian, Italian, American. Many present had stayed at casa Fernanda and likened the two experiences. The bunk beds were a bit rickety and creaky and there was a lot of snoring going on, but I managed a resonable sleep.
Last night I committed myself to booking a flight home on Thursday and thought that whilst I have a good internet connection I should complete the check in process this morning. Ryanair, for reasons only known to themselves, have dismissed my account settings and so I had to create a new account in order to check in, which of course took ages longer than it should have. My departure from the albergue was consequently at a leisurely 7:30 am.
The walking was once again very pleasant through country lanes and farm tracks with a couple of very short spells on the dreaded N550. I reached the stage end of Caldas de Reis shortly after 10 am and 12.5 km and found my first stopping place in a cafe alongside the river and am currently working my way through half a bacon buttie (I shall squirrel away the other half for later). I also stopped to buy a big bag of cherries for later in the day’s journey.
There was lots of cloud but it was warm and I was soon stripping off my fleece sleeves and then my jacket. My next stop was on a bench where I worked my way through most of the cherries.
Whilst sitting there a whole load of young cyclists rode by and I was to meet them several times on the narrow paths through the woods, I heard some Irish accents and at one point, when I stopped to put my jacket back on because of the rain, there was an ambulance collecting one of their party who had come off his bike and broken or dislocated his shoulder.
I spent twenty minutes or so walking with a couple of Canadians who were really enjoying the scenery and the ancient buildings, just taking short stages and stopping over a couple of nights in pretty towns.
I stopped again late in the day at a picnic area, and as a guy walked past he told me there was an albergue just around the corner. I thought I would take a look but didn’t really want to stay in the area which is some way outside of Padron and seemed to be situated in a light industrial estate. The place was literally deserted, not even a receptionist, just a note saying to take a bed and he/she would be back. The place was like the Marie Celeste – not a sign of life, but the facilities were pristine and very modern. I decided not to wait around at the Xunta albergue in Pontecesures. Brierly talks of a restaurant for the use of pilgrims nearby, but I didn’t see this.
After wandering on for a while I stopped at a small bar that was offering a sello (stamp) for my credential and stopped to chat for a while. The guy told me Padron was two km’s further on, but it was a very ‘spanish’ 2 km’s, much more like four!
I hobbled my way into the town. My feet are still feeling a bit worn out. I put compeed on both my heel blisters last evening but the blister under and between my big toe and the next one on my right foot is difficult to reach and difficult to tape. It feels as though it might be a bit infected, not really surprising considering the number of times I have stabbed it with a needle. I’m not too worried though, just one more shortish day to go, and then they can have a rest.
I am staying tonight in the Xunta albergue in the town of Padron. Like those in Tui and Redondela it is in a beautifully renovated old stone building. The beds are joined in blocks of four but with wooden slats separating them and they are very sturdy. I was just in time for the last bottom bunk, for which I am very grateful. There are 46 beds with two loos and two showers, for the ladies. There is a dividing wall between the showers and a door between the showers and the loos, but no curtains for privacy. I was a little less bothered this time and as the water was lovely and hot I didn’t rush to get out. Oh, how our standards adjust to what is available!
After a warm morning with some sun, the afternoon and now evening have turned cooler with light rain. I am off now to find a bar for a much needed glass of wine and some equally necessary wifi.