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(Please note that this portion of our Camino was written in conjunction with our Coastal Portuguese Camino, when we did it the year prior. The narrative picks up where left off from this Coastal journey and joined the Central Route).
On our day twenty-two on the Camino Portugués, we joined the throngs of pilgrims from the Central Route and those walking the final 100 kilometers from Tui.
This day was most certainly an adjustment for me, and we did have some moments where the presence of other pilgrims presented a personal challenge for us. On the plus side, we hooked up once again with our British friend, for an enjoyable time spent in Pontevedra, a wonderful town with lots of history and a special chapel, just for pilgrims!
“I don’t know who I am. And I don’t think people ever will know who they are. We have to be humble enough to learn to live with this mysterious question. Who am I? So, I am a mystery to myself. I am someone who is in this pilgrimage from the moment that I was born to the day to come that I’m going to die. And this is something that I can’t avoid, whether I like it or not — I’m going to die.
So, what I have to do is to honor this pilgrimage through life. And so I
am this pilgrim — if I can somehow answer your question — who’s constantly
amazed by this journey. Who is learning a new thing every single day. But who’s
not accumulating knowledge, because then it becomes a very heavy burden on your
back. I am this person who is proud to be a pilgrim, and who’s trying to honor
his journey.” Paulo Coelho
Here is my Google Map of our day, made with our GPS tracks. I added the albergues/hotels/cafés on the maps that we visited. There are more albergues as you get closer to Santiago, so I also added some of the more prominent ones.
There are two significant climbs for the day, one of 150 (500 ft) gain and the second a little higher at about 165 (550 ft) meter gain, with the town of Arcade between the two high points.
We walked out of our albergue (we wished we had booked a different Redondela albergue instead) and onto the quiet side street of Rúa Isidoro Queimaliños. After walking past the church of Santiago, at the top of the hill, I saw this interesting shop sign. I just had to take a picture. How do Spaniards pronounce "Virginia?"
The Camino stays straight on and walks down the hill and up another one as it changes names several times. All is completely shut down this early in the a.m., just after daybreak. A typical Spanish morning. It was a good thing we had our breakfast at the albergue, I suppose!
Walking down the street we came to this hórreo (a small building, historically that stored grain), right in the middle of town! There are many of these historic granaries in Redondela. Here the street is called the Rúa da Picota.
Continue just past the horreo to meet the N-550 after about 0.8 kilometer from the main albergue. Carefully cross over it and pick up another side road, veering immediately off to the left. This is called the Rúa Campo de Fútbol because it leads to a soccer field that you will pass shortly on your left, after first walking by a college and a high school.
Walk by the soccer field, and after a total of about 0.65 km, turn left on the Camiño do Esteiro as the scenery becomes decidedly more rural.
After 1/3 km, stay uphill turning right on the Estrada de Zacande, another quiet, paved road on day twenty-two of your Portuguese Camino.
After another 1/3 km come to a T and turn right on the Rúa Torre de Calle.
After 150 meters turn left off Rúa Torre de Calle and onto this dirt road.
After about 400 meters on the path come to a paved road at a T-intersection and turn left onto the Camiño Abreavella and where there are some nice vineyards. Their leaves were a brilliant spring green in April when we walked.
The road becomes the Camiño Real de Cesantes. On this quiet and narrow paved road, walk through the forest and into the village of Cesantes.
Stay right at a Y-intersection in town. Come to a major T-intersection with the N-550. Carefully cross over the highway on a short jog to the left, then right on the wider paved street, the Aldea Saramagoso.
At this point you are about 3 km into the day. There are cafés and accommodation here in Cesantes if you need it, including the O Refuxio de la Jerezana, the Jumboli, and the Pension Yumboli II ( +34 986 49 50 66).
Lovely vineyards abound here in the Spanish hills! Mmm, can't wait til dinner!
Continue on the Aldea Saramagoso, uphill for 0.4 km then turn left on a very small side road, the Camiño do Loureiro do Viso. Watch carefully for the yellow arrow directing you left.
Continue climbing on this narrow, paved road, lined with high walls and banks. In about 150 meters come to this lovely old fountain. I do not know if the water is safe to drink from it.
We passed a waymark with an 80.69 km plaque on it! Getting closer now on day twenty-two of the Camino Portugués.
After another 100 meters, stay lower (yay) and left to continue on a dirt road into the eucalyptus forest. This is an old logging road as far as I could tell.
Walk the enjoyable forest road for just over 1/2 kilometer, and come to a paved road, T-intersection. You are now at the top of the first climb of the day!
Turn down the hill to the left. Along the road, the Subida O Cruceiro do Viso, is a concrete wall, with a nice commemorative shell display for pilgrims. Pause and admire the accomplishments of others, if you wish.
Walk only a few meters before turning right onto another lovely dirt road, called the Camiño dos Peregrinos, to continue on through the forest.
When the forest opens, you can see a grand view of the Ría de Vigo for the last time. This river was our companion, on and off for two days.
Continue steeply down the dirt road and in a total of 0.8 kilometer or so, join a paved road the Camiño das Sete Fontes toward the next town of Arcade.
Continue on the forested paved road for another 1/2 kilometer and join the busy N-550. Carefully cross it to the shoulder on the other side.
If you would turn left here, in a few meters you would come to the Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino. It is yet another very nice privada if your destination is Arcade, but in a quieter, more rural setting. Click on the link if this interests you.
The Camino continues to the right on the N-550.
The shoulder is rather narrow here on the N-550 so take caution and walk facing traffic! It widens a bit briefly by the car dealership then narrows again. Walk by the Albergue A Xesteira, a private albergue.
In about 300 meters, the narrow shoulder turns into a sidewalk as you walk into Arcade, in the photo below.
In another 200 meters (total of about 1/2 km on the N-550), look for a waymark to turn left, walk a mere 30 meters then turn right onto a nice little side road through town. The road becomes a path, and past a funky little pilgrim's niche along the way.
Round a bend and cross the N-550 to the other side and onto the Rúa das Lameiriñas. As soon as we crossed the highway we spied the Restaurant and Hotel Duarte. A perfect place for our first break and café con leche, after 7 km and being not quite halfway for this short day.
A lesson that always served us well, was to seize an opportunity when it became available, because you never know how far it will be until the next café!
This cafe was full of pilgrims, I suspect who were only starting out their day here.
There are plenty of cafés, accommodations and services in Arcade. There are a few hotels you can book ahead if you like. Click here for more information. The private Albergue Lameiriñas is adjacent to the Hotel Duarte.
After our break, walking out on the Rúa das Lameiriñas it parallels the busy N-550 once again, this time to the east of it. This is a very nice diversion through town. Walk by the private Albergue O Lar de Pepa.
Walk to the next intersection where there is a large hórreo on the right after 300 meters. Go straight on to follow the Rúa do Velero.
Walk 130 meters and turn left on Rúa Barroncas.
After 1/3 kilometer, go straight on Rúa Coutada for 150 meters until it bends to the right by another lovely hórreo and becomes the Rúa Fonte do Conde. Continue on this road, shown below.
The next body of water you see is the view of the river, the Rio Verdugo now appearing.
After walking another 150 meters come to the Rúa Roxelio Landeiro at a T-intersection and turn left. You are approaching the wonderful old medieval bridge called Ponte Sampaio.
There was a very famous battle here in June of 1809 during the Spanish war of independence. The combined Galician and Spanish troops managed to fend off the French for three days, keeping them from crossing the river, forcing them to retreat and bringing the end to their five month presence in Galicia!
After crossing the bridge, in only a few meters up the hill on the street also called Sampaio, look left to see this sign, shown below.
The sign indicates that the pilgrimage traveler should turn left, onto this narrow walking street shown below.
If you were to carry straight on, the private and lovely Hostel Albergue O Mesón is straight ahead.
The pedestrian path climbs up and to the right on a series of steps and continues to wind up the hill on Concello street, for about 250 meters.
The Portuguese Way then turns left and walks for 50 meters on Ballota, then right on the Barrio Pontillón which becomes the Aldea Souto. Walk about 1/2 km on the Aldea Souto, then descend the hill on the other side.
When the street ends, cross over to a lovely forest path, very well way-marked and begin the long hiking trail through forest and countryside, called the Rio Ulló.
Descend to the river, and cross the Rio Ulló and come to a very nice picnic area by the river.
Within a few hundred meters, the trail clearly becomes an ancient road. There are wagon wheel ruts in the stone pavers. I'm guessing that the paving is from medieval times, but the road goes back to the Romans and the Via Romana XIX. If any historian can confirm this for me and my readers, please let us know! (Contact Us)
I am always enamoured of these old roads, so I took lots of photos. Add vineyards to the mix and what could be better? A perfect combination for day twenty-two on the Portuguese Camino. We walked onward, imagining ourselves once again, as medieval pilgrims on a journey more arduous than the present.
At the forest path's intesection with a paved road near Cacheiro, an industrious vendor was selling Camino memorabilia on day twenty-two of the Portuguese Way. He had lots of interested folks checking out his wares.
We continued on the quiet forest road, lined with moss-covered rocks. We were most certainly in Galicia, with this type of terrain!
The walk through this trail system is about 1.5 km total, walking around the town of Cacheiro.
Then you come out onto the highway, the EP-0001 and turn right. Only walk on this highway for 300 meters, then turn left on a quiet and narrow paved road towards the town of Bergunde. We walked by lots of vineyards here that accompanied us on our journey.
After 600 kilometers, the tips on our hiking poles had worn down to the metal. We were clacking right along on the paved road, energetically pushing ourselves up a hill and passed by a German couple, sitting at the side of the road having lunch. They put their fingers in their ears as we approached. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "We came from Lisbon and our shoes are worn out. "Sorry!"
Then, as we passed another German woman going slower up the hill, she added insult to injury as she confirmed - "But it is loud!"
Well, I needed my poles. Too bad. I was not going to sacrifice my comfort at this late stage of the game and most likely the nearest sports store was in Santiago!
Of course it bothers us when we bother other people. We did not do this intentionally, so Rich and I vented awhile to each other. The venting was mixed with our embarrassment at having displeased someone and annoyance that they didn't understand.
However, we promised ourselves that we would carry extra rubber tips in our packs on future Caminos. (Which I can vouch that I did actually purchase these upon returning home, several months later).
I have to confess that we were also turning into Camino snobs. Around every bend and up every hill, all we saw were more peregrinos. Some we met back at the café in Arcade, who started 2 days ago, in Tui, cranking out the last 100 kilometers.
By this point, we were just tired, and just wanted to get there now and all these people were changing our Camino. Even though we knew there would be many more pilgrims after Tui, there were just more than we had truly expected to experience, I guess. For me, it seemed worse than the final kilometers on the Camino Francés!
In another incident, as we were walking along, three Spanish women jumped out as we walked by, and intentionally blocked our way. What? We fell behind them, but we were walking much faster than them, and I had to sort of nudge and push my way by them and say with the best smile I could muster, "Buen Camino," "Disculpe" and "Gracias." As is often the case, they tried to stay with us, for a short while, and then we lost them rather quickly.
Shortly onward, you walk by the town of Canaval. Between the town of Bergunde and Canaval is a narrow road leading westward to the O Castelo do Camiño, a casa rural. Check the map if you'd like to stay here.
Walk straight on the same road for a total 1.8 kilometers, then come to a T-intersection, where you turn left to join the EP-0001 once again and walk toward O Alcouce. Continue to walk straight on through O Alcouce, below. It is a small town.
Continue walking about another km on the EP-0001. It is a narrow paved road that turns to dirt shortly after town. Turn right onto yet another rural paved road, the EP-0105.
Walk along this road for one-and-a-quarter kilometers and to this country church, the Capela de Santa Marta, shown below in a rather poor picture. I included it as a landmark, for you.
Right beyond the Capela the road intersects with the EP-0002 and the pilgrimage traveler turns left on it for only 240 meters in O Pobo.
Walk another 150 meters before picking up an amazing trail system as an optional diversion, that follows the Río Tomeza through the south suburbs of Pontevedra. If it's been raining you would want to think twice about walking on this diversion, unless you like mud baths. In the case of heavy rain, continue to walk north on the highway, the EP-0002, for about 2km, to the roundabout at the south end of Pontevedra, described below.
This trail system walks for at least 2.5 kilometers on a long, comfortably flat stretch. You barely know that you are approaching a major metropolitan area. We met and chatted with many peregrinos along this trail. There were equally many local Spaniards out and about here as well.
After 2.5 km, the trail makes a big bend, where you can see you are coming into a city, and you pop out to the EP002 where you now know for sure you are in a big, busy city!
Come to a large roundabout and cross over and onto the Avenida do Conde de Bugallal. At this large roundabout is the Bar Taperia Casa Pepe, with many pilgrims milling about. Next to the bar is the first private Albergue O Marco.
Continuing on the Avenida northward, after 200 meters, turn left onto Rúa de Ramón Otero Pedraio.
Walk under the train tracks and the street bends to the north to walk into Pontevedra proper. As you walk up the hill, watch out for the sign for the Albergue Virxe Peregrina, if you plan to stay here. You do not actually walk by the albergue, because of a high wall that is separating you from the albergue on your right. It may be easy to miss the sign, where the wall has a break and you double back to find it on a side road.
We chose to stay closer to town and after our fiasco at the albergue in Redondela, we wanted a nicer place! We walked on past the albergue, and for a total of 0.75 km until we came to a roundabout at the train station in Pontevedra.
We turned left at the large pointed bronze statue and onto the Rúa do Gorgullón.
Continue on the Rúa do Gorgullón for a total of 0.66 km. You will see many hotels along this street. You are not yet in the center of town.
Come to another roundabout and turn left and walk a few meters, turning right almost immediately onto a quiet side street, the Rúa da Virxe do Camiño. Walk about another 300 meters.
Come to a T with the Rúa Sagasta, jog a few meters to the left, then take an immediate right onto the Rúa Peregrina. In less than 100 meters, when the road bends around and you come to a nice walking plaza by the fountain, the Fuente De Los Niños, walk straight onto this lovely walking street, shown below.
There are many yellow arrows on the street to guide you through Pontevedra, so it is difficult to get lost. This is the Rúa Peregrina or the Pilgrim Street - how great a name is that?
Continue on the red, then gray paved walking Peregrina Street for another 250 meters until you come to the lovely Praza da Peregrina, and the most amazing pilgrim's chapel, the Capela da Virxe Peregrina de Pontevedra. This chapel is a must see. It was built in 1778 in the Baroque Style.
Even if you are not staying in Pontevedra, plan on taking a break for at least an hour or so to see this place built just for peregrinos!
The streets were becoming increasingly crowded as we neared the central plaza and it was clear there was a big event happening here on the Praza da Ferrería. The festivities were about May 1st, the Spanish Labor Day holiday and a tree-judging contest. Interesting.
In order to continue onward to the main square that you can see ahead, find the small paseo for a few meters more, shown in the photo above.
We arrived here at the square just after noon, and missed the tree judging. We ran into Steve, our British friend on the square, hanging around, watching the festivities and looking out for other pilgrims.
We found a café, El Puchero, just beyond the main square, along the Camino, on the Rúa dos Soportais where we had a nice lunch together.
After lunch, our next goal was to find a place to stay, since we were worried about the Labor Day holiday and finding no room at any inns.
There are many accommodations in the old section of Pontevedra. Click on the link if you want to see them on booking. com.
We walked away from the square quite far and found the Casa Maruja open, just before the start of siesta. We booked a nice room on the second floor, with a private bath for only 30 Euro. We cleaned up and yes, that is our laundry hanging out to dry in the photo below!
As we learned later from some more British pilgrims, they got the last tiny room at the Hospedaje Casa Maruja on the 3rd floor, so the place did indeed fill up entirely, as I am sure most hotels did in the old medieval town.
We found the Casa Maruja to be in a perfect location, close enough to the center of town, and yet far enough away to be unbothered by the party animals.
We explored Pontevedra and the old medieval town, with wonderful fountains, buildings and architectural features. Here is the Praza da Ferrería after all the festivities were over. Nothing is left but the stage.
We only admired the San Francisco Convent from the Café Smöoy across the plaza, watching all the pilgrims go by, with our friend, Steve. One by one, more pilgrims joined us for libations.
Our hotel room on the second floor was very near this Basilica de Santa Maria, built in the 15th Century in the Plateresco style. The day was as gray as the building! We were unable to go inside, since it was closed.
We admired the town hall, shown below, built in the 19th century of an eclectic style, on the evening of our day twenty-two of the Portuguese Camino in Pontevedra.
One of the many architectural features we ran across in the medieval old town was this archway connecting the two buildings on the east side of the Praza da Leña.
Along the Rúa Don Gonzalo, is a wonderful purple house built on an archway over the street, in the old town, just north of the main square. There is a small plaza here, the Plaza de Mendez Nuñez with a bronze statue of Casto Méndez Núñez, a Spanish naval officer in the 19th century. I did not include the statue, but he is just off to the right of the photo.
After our walkabout of the old town, we rejoined all our pilgrim friends for tapas and beer at a local taverna, the Taberna Zentola for a celebratory evening.
The frosting on our cake for day twenty-two on the Camino Portugués, was our view from our 2nd floor hotel room, of the fountain on the Praza Alonso de Fonseca with the Basilica de Santa Maria towering in the background. Ahh, the many splendors on the Portuguese Way!
Our day was short and sweet, a nice break for us, surprisingly rural and off-pavement for a walk toward a major city. While we considered walking farther, Pontevedra was definitely worth the half-day we spent here. The medieval old town is charming and full of delightful surprises.
We saw and connected with so many pilgrims! Some were in it for the diversion, some for the party, some for splendor, some for increased spirituality and some for better understanding of the concept of pilgrimage itself. We were about all of them!
Our incident with our hiking poles stuck with us for most of the day as we reflected and questioned the balance between taking responsibility for one's actions versus going overboard with the desire to please others.
Indeed, a balance is necessary. We reflected on both sides of the coin, agreeing that one must indeed take responsibility for what one does. We had learned that we needed to ensure we had spare rubber tips for our poles at all times to minimize our impact on another's Camino.
However, one can go overboard trying to please others, and many an undesirable memory flooded into our consciousness when we discussed this aspect of our past lives. Yet there was many a time when giving into the desires of others was not beneficial to us, and when we stood firm, we suffered the consequences as serious as losing jobs.
As the quote from Paulo Coelho, above states, we can only come to the point where we must try to understand ourselves as best we can, however difficult this may be. After all, the journey is always personal and what may be best at one point in our lives may no longer serve us at the next.
While on my pilgrimage I tried not to internalize the pole incident, which is always my tendency, and Rich's too, yet I found my mind wandering back to the incident, over and over again. In fact, my annoyance and self-justification was a feeble attempt to avoid the inevitable internalization that I was a "bad" person.
Fortunately, this internalization lasted less than a day and did not cause a loss of sleep! I came to peace that it was my behavior that was less than ideal, not me, myself. I could certainly improve my behavior. All I could do in the moment was honor my pilgrimage, learn from it and improve myself going forward.
I even chuckled to myself thinking that most likely we would be the subject of some forum or blog post, illustrating how some pilgrims can be so clueless and annoying!
May your own day twenty-two on the Camino Portugués be a place where you can honor your own journey, your pilgrimage through life, symbolized by the journey to Santiago de Compostela.
May you continually question the great mystery, "Who am I?" and "Why do I behave as I do?" May the cloud of unknowing enrich your self-discovery process!
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