Buen Camino this is the word that you hear and say all the way (in every part of the Camino, Saint James Way, the french camino, the north camino, the portugues and many others trough Santiago the Compostela).
I just finished 6.5 days from Valenca Portugal to Santiago, part of the portugues camino. It is a remarkable experience, hiking around 20 km per day with 7 kilos of backpack, meeting people form around the world, every corner of the world.
I flew to Porto which is a stunning city, beautiful and lively and got to taste the Ribeira and Verde wines from the Duoro area. Arriving at Valenca by train in the afternoon, we (Rami and I) started to walk the pilgrim’s way to Santiago, always looking at the yellow arrows and the symbol of Compostela.
We arrive at the old medieval wall and the old city of Valenca late at night, found ourselves alone in time, surprised by the beauty and calm of the place but in a rush to get to Tui around 5 km away in time to the hotel.
We crossed the bridge above the Duoro river, which later understood had an incredible history between Spain and Portugal during all years.
A stunish Galician girl played the Gaita for us in the forest, and told me that her grandmother use to crossed the river with goods under her long skirt in Franco’s time in the 50’s and 60’s.
Walked pass nice parks at night and arrived to a medieval city of Tui at 11 pm. Stonish!!
Our host was expecting us in the incredible Torre de Xudeo, which I felt touch by the name of the place and my ancestors. A strange feeling being in that place late at night.
Woke up early with a good breakfast and started walking towards Porriño. Not bad for the first 20 km, nice hike and then it struck me, a lot of people on the way, a huge group of loudly italians, many 70’s old couples from Germany, England, Canada, many group of women, many by themselves of all ages few with skirts, 2 couples from Catalonia, mexican old and young ladies and many more.
At the beginning it bothered me to walk along so many people, because it drawn my attention towards them, after 15 kms started to pay attention to the way.
Arrive at Porriño which is a small town in Galicia. Usually in Spain all towns looked deserted around noon, but after 5 pm all come alive, so this peatonal road, main road became very lively with children and families.
Next was the town of Redondela, nice place close to the Atlantic cost in Galicia, walked around 20 kms, and seeing that there was no albergue or hotel close to the sea, we decided to continue to Cesantes, further away.
Found a fantastic private house for pilgrims called A Vella with few rooms, and we got the best A room with a View.
Great host that tell you stories. Very warm and nice people.
The walk to the beach surprise me, because I wasn’t expecting to get so close to the Atlantic and just had this remarkable sunset that we had.
In the morning started to head towards Pontevedra. Ohh such a treat this city is.
The second largest in Galicia, I didn’t learn anything before comming, so it was the best surprise to have. Gorgeous city a fantastic casco aintiguo, plenty of great Cathedrals and churches. We were lucky to find a room in the Plaza de la Verdura, I must say this city is a must in Galicia, just get lost in the old city, drink caña, cerveza o vino and just relax from the long hike.
We were told by chance to go the museum of arts El Sexto in Pontevedra and even so we were exhausted we visited this amazing place, again it struck me the quality and great art of the Gallegos, it is also FREE.
At this time my feet were aching, it is not easy to wake up in the morning and be ready for another half marathon, but it is so worthy and fulfill the way that you just get going, the moment you are in the path and see all these pilgrims walking by, you forget everything. A smile appears in your face.
Met two gallegos from Bayona that explain to me about the Horreos. All foreigners asked themselves what is this?. We all had different assumptions about it, Horreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula built in wood or stone, keep corn or potatos above so the mice couldn’t eat it.
The same with the lavaderos women used to gather around them to do their laundry in the past.
A lot of the forest areas we crossed today were full of eucaliptos (eucalyptus), the smell remainds me of Bogota Colombia, were I was born.
In the way you see new faces, people from before, you see a lot of bicigrimos, pilgrims on bikes, when they come down a hill make some noise and seems that there is a party in town. Always with Buen Camino!
I walked pass a 3 generation guys, the grandfather, the adult son and a boy, love to see the way the walked one after the other, the grandfather looked the best in shape, what a remember trip this will be for all of them!
Had a nice chat with a couple from Vancouver, Vincent and Huan Le (Juanita to me!), she is 73 and walks like a young woman! Also with Gerard and Lucy grandparents of 6 from Canada, all speak also french with this funny accent.
Arriving to Caldas de Reis ( Termal springs) I had a treat to Rami my husband, booked at the Balneario Acuña a building that was built in the XIX, had a nice treatment to relax and a swimming pool with heated water, very good. Nice stone bridge.
I was lucky not to have any blisters in my feet, just a litle tired, every morning you smell foot cream all over the place!!
So we headed towards Padron, beautiful scenery, bushes, types of trees, now I am enjoying every part of it, I walked better, have a nice rythm, say Buen Camino to new faces and also to old faces, another 20 kms and arrive to this empty and sad city, it is by the river with a road of trees that can be gorgeous, but I saw and felt sadness, many shops closed, a lot of signs se vende, se alquila, not pilgrims in the roads where are they?? Few restaurants opened at 8 pm, so we sat in one of them and by chance all my new friends from Canada arrived at the same one (maybe the only one open) and had a great dinner together! This is Saint James way.
Next and last day for us towards Santiago de Compostela, around 24 kms, rainy day, put on our rainy covers, here you see all types of covers, it is a whole new business, some are extremely practical and some are really uncomfortable.
It is nice to walk with rain, it changes the scenery completely, the colours change and the smell and noises are different. Of course I loved it because was only one day, I understood that who ever started the way on a day like this can have a week of rain, so painful.
It is a long day and you prepared yourself to the big destination, took quite a while inside Santiago to arrive to the Cathedral but once you arrive, ohh the feeling of joy it is enormous even with the rain.
I made it, I loved it. In Spanish they say “Tu pasas por el Camino o el Camino pasa por ti”. (You go trough the path or the path goes trough you)
I read in a pilgrim’s post that the best way to end it, is it staying at the Hostal de Reyes (Parador) next to the Cathedral, so I was lucky to booked it 3 weeks in advance, and it is a treat!! One of the oldest hotels in the world, 500 years of hospitality.
They still offer 10 free meals daily to the first pilgrims that arrive with the Compostela. Well done.
It was on my list of The Card that Keeps you on Track. Keep dream big and small but keep doing it.