Two Soggy Pilgrims Continue Through Spain

After spending an enjoyable day and evening in Valenca, it was time to leave behind the Portugal part of our journey and enter Spain. I have to say, Portugal was a very magical place for me, and I felt sad to be saying goodbye to it so soon. We exited the fortress and headed over the bridge to the town of Tui. Because we wanted to see both Valenca and Tui, we only traveled a mile and a half for the day. At one of the stone crosses, I left my 2nd stone (burden) that I had brought from home.

Laying a “burden rock”. A Camino tradition

We soon arrived at a huge cathedral in the center of the square. We stopped to visit the cathedral and enjoy a cafe con leche just outside of it. From there, we headed off to our apartment. Unfortunately, we arrived on a Sunday so very few places were open. We wandered around the town anyway taking in the sites. The next morning we were back to our multi-hour passages.

Leaving the Walled Fortress of Valença
The bridge across the Portugal- Spain border
Spanish town of Tui
Made it to Spain
Tui Cathedral
Getting our Camino Credential stamped in the Cathedral

Tui to O Porrino – 10.78 miles/17.25 kilometers – 577 feet/175 meters of elevation

We were now entering some of the more beautiful parts of our camino journey. We were well out in the countryside on dirt paths, following the river, and strolling through vineyards. We crossed ancient stone bridges and were immersed in nature. 3 1/2 hours later, we strolled our way into the beautiful town of O Porrino. Up until now, I was feeling pretty good and pulling strong. However, an old injury decided to rear it’s ugly head. About 7 years ago, I had torn a tendon and ligament at the top of my foot where it joins the ankle. Once it healed, I had been fine for all these years….until now. We stopped into a pharmacy in search of a compression “sock” to help support the injury. The pharmacist took my measurement and went off in search of what I needed. Unfortunately, she did not have any in stock. Our hotel was out of town a bit, so we headed there for the evening. Little did we know, today was going to be our last good weather day for a while.

Back into the wonderful countryside
We are just about halfway!
Little did we know this was our last beautiful day for awhile!
Bagpipes on the trail
Getting fitted for ankle brace. No luck!
O Perrino
Beautiful Spanish town of O Perrino

O Porrino to Redondela – 12.75 miles/20.4 kilometers – 1177 feet of elevation/357 meters of elevation

We awoke the next morning to rain. Rain and cold temperatures. Oh boy, this was going to be fun. In addition, the weather forecasts were calling for rain, wind and cold for the next several days! As we made our way out of town and through the countryside, we came into small little village selling all kinds of gear and souvenirs for peregrinos. We stopped in for a look and purchased some pins and patches to commemorate our adventure. Wouldn’t you know, in the little first aid section, I found my ankle compression. Woo hoo!

The forecast! Not good!
What we woke up and had to trek through
It was still beautiful
But a bit slippery at times
Breaks in the rain were often enough to make it enjoyable anyways
Across the Vigo River
And arriving in Redondela for the obligatory Pilgrim selfie

Redondela to area of Pontevedra – 14.06 miles/22.6 km – 1439 feet/438.6 m elevation

This was a pretty rough stage, but not until the end. We rolled into Pontevedra in the afternoon and during the end of the May Day celebrations. May Day is the celebration ushering in good weather (Spring, I suppose). Around the town were big, beautiful floral floats from the parade, music and dancing. It also meant that all the restaurants were full or reserved. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, and this was our first meal of the day….oops. We continued on through the heart of town and made our way to the outskirts. Since we would be following the Spiritual Variant at this point, our next accommodation was quite a bit out of town. The Spiritual Variant has a boat ride portion up the river that St. James’ body had taken before continuing on to its final resting place.

Anyway, we were on the outskirts of town where we found this little hole in the wall, local’s restaurant. It was literally the last place before leaving town. There was no menu and no English spoken. The owner was very kind and seemed excited to have these foreigners in her place. She spoke very slowly, in Spanish, explaining what dishes were available. We actually understood and went with her recommendation. It was very good and just what we needed to fuel the final portion of our trek. Not only was the distance our longest one yet, but we had some serious elevation at the end. But wait….it gets better! It also started to rain.

After a painful, uphill trudge in the rain, we were super excited to arrive at our spa hotel. Yeah baby! It boasted a hot tub, sauna, and massages. Just what a weary pilgrim would need. Disappointment number 1 was our room. They only window was a big skylight which just showed cloudy skies. It was like sleeping in a closet in the attic. Disappointment 2 was you needed to give 3 hours notice for the hot tub and sauna which made it too late for the day we arrived (never mind it was $75 euro for 45 minutes use….that wasn’t in the ad). We had decided to spend 2 nights here to make use of all these wonderful amenities. Now we wished we had kept it to one night. Things looked up the next day. Dan was able to switch us to a nicer room with patio door window looking out on the pool and lush grounds (it was still gloomy and pouring rain). I was able to book a massage. It wasn’t bad, but it was in a cold, sterile room (no plush table, soft music or warmth). Needless to say, I was freezing the entire time.

That evening, we decided to go to a fun, local bar/restaurant we had found the night before. Every time we ordered a beverage, it was accompanied by some unusual snack. We had no idea what some things were, but we tried everything anyway. For those who know me well, being adventurous with food is NOT my strong suit! But, I did and tried not to think too much on some of the stranger things I tried. As the evening drew on, we were the only “outsiders” in the place. Before long, the bartender was giving us a free tasting of 4 different liquors made locally. They were quite yummy (and quite generous pours). Needless to say, I slept hard….Dan, not so much. On a side note, the name of the place translated to “Widow’s Bar.” Haha!

In hindsight, that bit of fun probably would’ve been better the first night and not the night before another rough stage in pouring rain, of course. Stay tuned for the final installment of adventures on the Camino de Santiago!

Another wet day of trekking but it was great nonetheless
Arrived in Pontevedra
Taking in the sights
May Day Festival to celebrate arrival of good weather. The irony was not lost on us!
Across the Rio Lerez
And the start of the Spiritual Variant of the Camino
All of the rain made the going a bit muddy!
A nice hotel in the country
And even nicer, Gallego locals who took great care of us. Lots of local treats and spirits made for a memorable stop
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