Day two on the Camino Inglés takes us from Pontedeume, climbs up and down, up and down and eventually leads us, 20 km later to Betanzos, Spain.
"Tourists require. Pilgrims Thank." ~ Author Unknown
Even though shorter than day one, the second day on the Camino Inglés was much more difficult, due to the many climbs and drops. Especially climbing up and out of Pontedeume, seemed quite challenging, yet the the climb at about 5 kilometers was also very, very steep and not for the faint of heart.
Here is the elevation map for day two of the English Way. While Miño is the halfway point, and despite all the elevation gain prior to it, the Camino de Santiago once again dropped us back to almost sea level. The ups were hard on the lungs and the downs hard on the feet, legs and hips. We were not quite yet totally acclimated, and trouble was brewing on this leg of our journey that was to challenge us both.
I hope you enjoy our spiritual journey, full of hardships and events that would push us out of our comfort zones. I tell the story through lots of photographs, as our pilgrimage travel continues on day two of our Camino Inglés.
You can reference the route map from Gronze.com, read from right to left and showing major landmarks and mileages along the Way of St. James.
We were fortunate enough, on a Saturday morning, to find a café bar open early enough in Pontedeume, to have our café con leche with a torta (a type of cake) prior to setting out. It is very, very difficult in Spain to find anything open before 10:00 a.m. let alone 8:00 a.m. Our bar host also grilled us ham and cheese sandwiches for our lunch on the road. We learned very quickly on that securing food and snacks for the day, is an absolute must, because hungry pilgrims and opening times for restaurants and bars often do not coincide!
Setting out for the day in Pontedeume, the Way joins the
Calle Real and climbs to the cathedral of Santiago. It was not quite
at full light when we set off, so my pictures of the glorious cathedral
were very fuzzy. Daybreak occurs after 8:00 a.m. in September, here in Galicia, which
took some getting used to. We would try to always be on the trail by
8:00 a.m. though, because it was certainly bright enough to find the
waymarks. If we started any earlier, we would have to stumble around in the dark, something we did not wish to do.
One of the first waymarks to greet us on the second day of the English Way, was this golden one, embedded in the street. This was a unique and welcome sign. We were off on the right track.
We quickly and steadily climbed up from our Hostal Allegue at sea level, to look back upon a beautiful view of the town and the Río Eume. The red tile rooftops were ubiquitous and a very homogenous site for this region of Galicia.
The climb up and out of Pontedeume seemed relentless and steep. We were both glad that it was in the early part of the day, so we were fresh and energetic. Even so, we felt like the climb would never end! On only the second day of our Camino Inglés, it certainly felt like the most difficult day to me, despite it being shorter than day one. We were not quite acclimated to the long distances each day that the Way required and with the added trial of the hill climbing, made for a long, strenuous day.
We walked by story-book homes with beautiful flowers that included the most gigantic of hydrangeas that I have ever seen. They must have measured twelve or more inches in diameter!
Nearing the top of the first elevation gain, the views of the rural countryside were quite stunning. Little hamlets nestled in the slopes were a common sight as the Way of St. James kept to the back roads that were very nicely untraveled.
The Camino de Santiago waymarks were often seen in the most unusual, unexpected and always helpful places, often on private walls and edifices. This one (if not all!) attracted my attention enough to snap a photo, because of the lush vines that seemed to be trying to grow over the top of this wall.
We stumbled onto our first horreo on day two of the English Way, a granary used for storing corn. I actually knew what they were, as I had read about them prior to the trip. This one was made of wood, and was entwined with vines. I was learning just how verdant and lush Galicia is, and how much rain was on its way. None yet for the day!
As on day one, the cultivated eucalyptus forests were a frequent sight, and now the corn fields were being added to the agriculture of this region.
I was drawn to so many architectural features, and here ripening fruit was added to the feature. I couldn't have staged a better still life.
Grape vines were draped over everything, and here the Camino de Santiago turns down a country lane and under the vines. It was a right-of-way directly through someone's property and their grape arbor. How incredibly inviting on a hot day. This little Camino treat lifted our spirits immensely!
About 4.5 kilometers into our second day on the Camino Inglés, the route crosses a main road and turns into the Club de Golf Miño. The Pampas grass was enormous, reaching up to the sky as we paused to admire it, while waiting for golfers to swing through to the next hole. We safely passed and turned to the right into yet another wonderful forest.
We met more scenic views of a wonderful old stone building and a nicely embellished horreo.
A close-up of the architectural detail of the old stone building in the picture above. Isn't it charming? I was captivated by it all, and felt like I was seeing an old world, of many days gone by. It was definitely seeing the world with new eyes.
Just when we thought we had finished the steepest of the climbs, the Way of St. James turned into another forest and climbed even more steeply than the climb out of Pontedeume. Fortunately, the scenery was as captivating as the adventure.
The way down from the second climb, and into Miño was a very steep downhill on paved roads which made it difficult on the legs and feet. Just before Miño we arrived at the wonderful old Roman bridge seen below. By this point we were about 10 kilometers into the spiritual journey to Betanzos. We paused for photos and a long drink of water at the nearby fuente.
The fuentes (public fountains) were frequent along the Way of St. James on this leg, and we were delighted not to have to carry full containers of water. Ancient pilgrims, along with the locals, and current pilgrims, all must have used these fuentes. To drink of the fuente felt more than physical to me, but deeply nourishing beyond just the water.
Upon walking into Miño, at the halfway mark and 3 hours into the second day on the English Way, we spied a shady park in the center of town with inviting park benches. We were starving since all we had eaten thus far was coffee and cake. We took off our shoes, and with outstretched legs and airing feet on the bench, we absolutely gobbled our grilled sandwiches.
After inhaling our sandwiches, we thought that another caffeine lift would be appropriate. But alas, the commercial part of town eluded us and no café bars were in sight. I stopped an older lady on the street and politely asked where we could get some café con leche. She tried to explain it to us, then judging that her directions were too complicated, she proceeded to wave to us to follow her. She proceeded to personally walk us to the "best" cafeteria to ensure that we did not go to a less pleasant one! And indeed, she chose a lovely spot for us. This was the type of hospitality that we were to find, everywhere, as a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.
I felt special and deeply nurtured!
As we enjoyed the café, we remembered to get our sello (stamp) for our Credential, proving that indeed we indeed were in Miño.
Unfortunately, here I noticed that I was getting "rubs" on the back of two of my toes, on separate feet. It was the usual spots where I get them, so I plastered them with Compeed, a blister product found commonly in Europe and only available in the U.S.A on the internet (as far as I know). This product turned out to be a lifesaver, as I never got a single blister on the entire rest of the Camino. The same was not to be true of my Camino partner.
As we left the town of Miño, recharged with café con leche, we crossed a railroad, on this interesting pedestrian bridge. It appeared to have been built, expressly for the Camino de Santiago.
More hill climbing was ahead, on this second half of day two on the Camino Inglés, but fortunately, we were passing by gorgeous estates such as the one below.
The high walls along the narrow, paved roads were very captivating to me, and I kept photographing them. Why, I am not sure. But barely visible in this photo is a waymark by the tree, telling the pilgrim to turn left. The ancient stone walls created a tunnel-like feeling, of leading you onward, just to the waymark. I was absolutely enchanted by this.
I think our spiritual journey to Betanzos was indeed extended significantly by the time it took me the take the many photographs you see here. Everything seemed to fascinate me, and this old building was no exception.
Here is yet another example of my fascination with the architecture, so unlike anywhere in the States.
We stopped at this historic fuente, that had the date 1884 on it. The place was shady and cool, and we drank deeply and filled our water containers. We sat on the side of the road and rested here for quite a while.
I already was wearing my Teva sandals, as you can see on the photo above and had happy feet. My Camino partner was not and she had a large blister on her heal. She switched to her sandals as well, and my worry started to grow about her feet, and could she continue on the walk?
It took her until day two on our English Way to finally admit to me that she had arrived in Spain, already with a blister on her foot. OH MY! She had inadequately broken in her new trail shoes prior to the trip. Currently, she was carrying her trail shoes in her pack, and was wearing her sneakers which she had brought as an emergency back-up. Because her sneakers lacked the proper cushioning, she had taken the insoles out of her trail shoes and was wearing them inside her sneakers. This arrangement was not working for her.
We talked about the problem, yet wearing her sandals now, we got up and walked on, because that is what a pilgrim does. She pushes through whatever hardships befall her. However, I was still worried about whether or not she could complete the Camino and how that might affect my Camino!
The grinding stone that greeted us shortly, with the yellow arrow, seemed to say, "onward, pilgrim, onward." We heeded the direction as we admired yet another reminder of a way of life gone by.
Within a few kilometers of Betanzos on the second day of the Camino Inglés, we came across this famous landmark. The Iglesia de San Martiño de Tiobre is a romantic old church that is worth a side stop. When we arrived here we were almost home free!
We milled about the church grounds with the graveyard, but it unfortunately was locked so we were unable to have a look inside.
Our first views of Betanzos was lovely, as the town was nestled in the valley below by the banks of the Río de Betanzos. Our destination was close at hand.
As we entered the city, the encouraging sight of flags hanging from the balconies seemed to cheer us on for the final steps of the journey.
As the Camino de Santiago led us into the center of town, through an old medieval arch, it turns right and climbs to the highest point of the town. On this small plaza sits the Church of Santiago, seen in the picture below.
Just to the left of the church is this old manor house, with traditional Galician architecture.
As we explored the town the evening of day two on the Camino Inglés, we saw the best narrow streets that ran up and down the main hill of the old town.
Not far from the main old town square is a cluster of churches, this one below is to San Francisco. Unfortunately, once again, we were unable to enter as they closed just before our arrival.
We returned to the municipal albergue, the Casa da Pescadería. It was an updated and beautiful place to stay. It appeared to be a remodeled, very old stone building and was a perfect place for pilgrims. Here I am, in the morning light of the 3rd day, just before we left.
The albergue, the Casa da Pescadería had a lovely sitting area next to the dormitory.
The beds were new, clean and the facility was extremely well-run. We were thrilled to see the accommodation, after the difficulties of the municipal albergue on day one.
If you are interested in other choices for accommodation, here is a link on booking.com, for your convenience!
The two sections of our journey on the second day of the Camino Inglés took us 3 hours each, for a total of 6 hours walking time. We arrived in town at 3:00 p.m. a much earlier arrival than the prior day. It allowed us sufficient time to find our albergue and explore the town.
However it was a Saturday night, and it seems that the whole town was closed up as tight as a drum until about 8:30 p.m. when the streets finally came alive. We were unable to find much food at the café bars before this time.
As we sat waiting for food, the draw of the cerveza was too great, and I overindulged in an attempt to assuage my hunger. An uninhibited conversation with my Camino partner ensued, and we had our first disagreement as the dam of my fear broke. I wanted a Plan B in the event that my Camino partner was unable to walk the next day, due to her blister. She wanted to convince me that she knew herself and her body and that she was OK to continue the walk. I so wanted to believe her!
Due to my being crabby from my hunger, I chose words that were perhaps not the best I could have chosen. But we managed to come to agreement, that indeed, we would go according to plan, without a Plan B.
At least we were able to spot a lovely supermercado (supermarket) in town and were able to load up on picnic supplies, for the very long 29 kilometer day that was to be our day three.
We retired for the night, and both had a worried, restless sleep in the dormitory. Part of this was due to the squeaky door that our bunk was beside. This door seemed to open and close constantly, as the Spanish weekend warrior pilgrims went in/out of the room and to/from the bathroom. And the other part was worry over my partner's feet and whether or not she would be able to continue the walk, on the longest, hardest day on the Camino Inglés.
The somewhat "spiritual" journey was complete for this day two of our English Way. I was mostly thankful, on this day, but I believe that I failed at a lot of things!
I was indeed trying to let go of my requirements, but it was proving to be harder than I anticipated, especially when it came to finding food. Trying to be compassionate to my partner's blister situation was also very difficult for me. I had such a strong intent to finish my very first Camino de Santiago that I could not fathom not doing so!
I hope you continue to journey forward with us pilgrimage travelers, for day three on the Camino Inglés, the hardest, longest of the days!
**New Updated Version (9/2017) of My Ebook Including the Change in Route From Leiro to Bruma, on Day Three!**
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