Day 15 – Caldas de Reis, Spain

Monday July 10, 2017

We started a little earlier on our 21 km ( 13 mile hike ) hike from Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis because the breakfast service at the hotel was available at 7 am.

We left the hotel at 8:30 and immediately saw some of the Camino hikers ahead of us. Most of the time, Kathy has been the lucky one to spot the first arrow on the hike, but today I made the mistake of seeing it first and so I get to pay for the meals. At one corner, we found yellow arrows pointing in both possible directions, which would have made things confusing if we hadn’t been told by our California hiking friends that they had been warned about these situations, so we were able to tell which arrow to follow. Apparently some of the store owners are trying to re-direct the Camino hikers past their shops, so they come out in the evening and paint an alternate path. Fortunately, most of these arrows are distinguishable by their simplicity and even if you do follow them, they are only a minor diversion.

There were some sections where we had to hike relatively close to the road and the oncoming traffic, but fortunately these were short sections.

At one point our path took us along a major road and we were happy to see a sign for our final destination, indicating that we were only 40 km ( 25 miles ) to go.

After hiking 8 km, we reached a cafe where we met up with several of the hikers from the previous day. Cold fresh water and a little rest were all we needed to energize us and we were back on our way. We soon met a young lady from Holland named Judith. She is a former policewoman and police investigator who is transitioning into social work.

Other than the vineyards and the very cheap wine, another item that has caught my attention is the extensive use of natural granite for construction. It is so plentiful that the lower quality pieces are used for fence posts.

During our hike we met an entrepreneur who had set up an ice cream stand in our path. Being someone who likes to assist people with their new business, I forced myself to buy some ice cream.

There was only one major ascent and it was early in the day, making today’s hike, relatively easy. When we had hiked 16 km, there was another cafe where I forced Kathy to stop for a rest and some cold ‘ aqua con gas ‘ ( carbonated water ). Several of the hikers stopped there as well and Kathy convinced them to take a group photo.

It was 2:30 pm when we got to the Sena Hotel in Caldas de Reid and we had time for a nice meal before showering and resting a bit.

Day 14 – Pontevedra, Spain

Sunday July 9, 2017

After our regular breakfast of fresh toasted bread, squeezed orange juice and ‘ American ‘coffees ( which is espresso with hot milk ) we left our hotel at the outskirts of Redondela on our 15 km (10 mile ) march to Pontevedra.

There are two things that I haven’t been able to get used to – the smoking, especially in the restaurants and cafes and the fact the the evening meal ( supper, dinner or whatever you want to call it ) doesn’t start until 8 pm at the earliest. However, I am very fond of the cafes and the wonderful breads and pastries.

Today we saw a lot more hikers along the way. We met some people from California who were on a self-guided tour. We talked to a mother and daughter that were part of the group, until they sped ahead of us.

At the beginning of the hike , we had several steep elevation changes. There were sections where we had to hike up and eventually back down but few of them were gradual inclines and some consisted of dirt or gravel, which made them a bit slippery.

Unfortunately, the pictures don’t show the severity of the inclines or how slippery they were.

There were several hikers that we met along the way, although we didn’t get a chance to strike up conversations with many of them.

We met a couple from California, in the late morning and walked with them for a few hours. He is a defensive martial arts instructor

and she works on a nature preserve.

As usual, the terrain varied a lot and just before we got into Pontevedra, there was a wooded bridge attached to a tunnel that we had to cross.

The latter half of the trek was fairly flat. We had reached an elevation of 150 meters ( 500 ft ) but we ended up at an elevation of 22 meters when we reached the hotel.

After we arrived at the Comercio Hotel in Pontevedra, we went for a late lunch and then checked out the surrounding area.

Since we had eaten a big lunch, Pete and Kathy opted to skip the late meal, however, I had a small snack at 7 pm before going to bed.

We are getting near Santiago and anticipate arriving there in a few days, depending on how far we attempt to go each day, but for us, this is a journey and not a race or a competition so it might take longer.

Day 13 – Redondela, Spain

Saturday July 8, 2017

It was a warm sunny day as we hiked the 20 km ( 12 miles ) from Vigo to our hotel in the Redondela area. The temperature climbed to 29 C ( 85 F ) and we were glad whenever we had a little shade.

We had breakfast at a cafe across the street before we left and we were back on the trail by 9:30. It took us almost an hour to get past the outskirts of Vigo, at which time we had a steep climb of 100 meters ( 350 ft ).

The benefit of hiking up the mountain is that we had a great view and you can even see the outskirts of Vigo in the distance.

We hiked through some streets in a small town before we enetered a trail used by many local hikers and bikers.

Shortly after we started on the dirt path we met a Camino hiker named Geralyn from New York and we spent a few hours hiking together.

There was a steep descent down the mountain just before we entered Redondela.

As we travelled through Redondela we met some more hikers that were with a tour group.

As we left Redondela, Geralyn continued on the Camino trail and we took a different route to the Hotel Santo Apostolo. When we got to the hotel, checked in, had a snack, took a shower, did some laundry and rested a bit. As evening approached, I took a picture of Pete and Kathy at the ocean view from the hotel.

Day 12 – Vigo, Spain

Friday July 7, 2017

We had a wonderful breakfast at the Hotel ARCE in Baiona and we were sorry thet we had to leave this nice town and especially the hotel. It would have been nice to stay here an extra day.

It was another cool day for our 23 km ( 14 mile ) hike from Baiona to Vigo.

We started by crossing the nearby riverbed on an old Roman-style bridge.

As usual, our paths took us through very different areas of the towns and countryside.

At one point we had to cross an interesting pedestrian bridge that wound back and forth across the highway at a traffic circle.

After a few kilometers we reached a marker indicating that there was 100 km ( 62 miles ) to our destination, the cathedral in Santiago.

We met some walkers along the trail who passed us on one of our uphill climbs.

We eventually caught up to a couple of women who had passed us earlier. They had stopped at a crossroads for a rest and they directed us to our path and the they took an alternate route.

We passed several houses in small towns along the way, many of which had dogs of varying sizes and numbers that took exception to us walking through the alleyways close to the house.

Kathy wasn’t aware that kiwi fruit grows on a vine until we saw some at one of the houses.

When we reached the outskirts of Vigo we could see from the distance that this was a large city with all of the same benefits and issues that are associated with a large city. Vigo is one of the larger cities in Spain with a population of 300,000 in the city and 500,000 with the surrounding areas. As with any large town, there are some abandoned areas, graffiti and industry in the town. I took this picture in one of the alleyways next to a large factory that was along the Camino path going into the town.

However, Vigo also has state of the art shops, restaurants and is a bustling town with several beautiful statues.

Day 11 – Baiona, Spain

Thursday July 6, 2017

We had a good nights sleep and and a wonderful breakfast at the hotel before leaving on the 19 km ( 12 mile ) hike for Baiona.

The temperature was in the low 20’s C ( low 70’s F ) with some cloud cover and a slight breeze, which made it very comfortable for walking.

We opted to walk as close to the seashore which added about 4 km distance to our hike but it was very scenic. We saw some of the same scenery we had seen the past few days, as well as some new views that made it worth taking the ocean route.

There were some steep climbs along the way.

At one point we saw a campground, which is something I hadn’t seen before in Portugal or Spain.

Although we were moving at a good pace, we took some time to sit and just enjoy the views.

For most of the day, it was partially cloudy and at one point it rained a bit during the hike but it wasn’t much and not for long, however, it was enough for Kathy to put on her rain poncho for a few minutes.

As we got closer to Baiona, we could see it in the distance.

It is a fairly large resort town and there are numerous activities and things to see. It is a haven for sailboats and the beaches are very nice. There is a large castle for tourists to see and there are a lot of shops, cafes and restaurants.

We hurried a bit near the end of our walk because we could hear thunder in the mountains to the east of the town and we ended up completing our 19 km ( 12 mile ) walk in 4 hours.

We checked into the ARCE Hotel at 2 pm, had some lunch in their cafe, showered and then rested a bit. The hotel is very nice and the owners are an English couple that are very friendly with a great sense of humor. In the late afternoon their was a thunderstorm in the area that we watched from the comfort of the hotel, but it didn’t last long.

For supper we went to a very nice restaurant. During our trip, we have typically spent about 45 Euros for suppers, which included drinks and desserts. This was no exception. We finished our meal with crepes and I had my standard cappuccino.

Day 10 – Viladesuso, Spain

Wednesday July 5, 2017

It was a cool overcast morning and we had a very simple breakfast at the hostel before leaving A Guarda for our 16 km ( 10 mile ) hike. The temperature reached a high of 21 C ( 70 F ).

The trail started along the rugged seashore.

Most of the trail was close to the shore, however sections of the trail went along the highway and through wooded areas.

We have noticed several different types of wild flowers that I didn’t recognize, so I took pictures of a few of them.

There were areas where the houses had been abandoned,

and other areas where there were beautiful houses with well manicured lawns.

We were looking for a place to eat in a small town along the shore when I captured this picture of a goat herder going through the town with 3 goats.

We stopped at a restaurant and the bartender told us that he wouldn’t be able to offer us anything to eat until 1 pm, except a tortilla, which turned out to be a delicious frittata. The fritatta was a pie made of eggs and potatoes. Because we don’t speak the language, we have had a little trouble ordering food and we typically get much more than we anticipated but it has always been good.

We reached the Hotel Costa Verde at 2:30 pm, checked in and had a light lunch before we cleaned up and relaxed a bit. For supper we ordered a grilled Hake fish dinner plus a salad. For once there was the right amount of food and it was delicious.

Day 9 – A Guarda, Spain

Tuesday July 4, 2017

It was a warm dry day with a temperature of 27C ( 80F ), but it seemed cooler due to a slight breeze.

We had decided to make this day a short day by only walking 13 km ( 8 mile) to A Guarda, since we would lose another hour due to a time change in Spain plus we didn’t know how much of a delay we would experience at the the ferry crossing.

It was an 8 km ( 5 mile ) hike along the coast to the ferry terminal in Caminha. Unfortunately for me I spotted the first trail marker and pointed it out before I realized what I was doing, so I was responsible for paying for supper tonight. We followed the path along the shore and as we got close to the mouth of the river we came upon a herd of sheep.

At the mouth of the river we could see Spain on the other side.

At one point we got onto the yellow brick road for several kilometers, but in this case it was an upgrade, so it was paved and painted yellow.

We reached the ferry terminal at 11:15 so we had some ice cream while we waited for the 12 pm ferry to arrive.

The ferry was punctual and it took about 15 minutes to cross the river.

After we dis-embarked, we had our Camino passports stamped at the Spanish ferry terminal and then headed to A Guarda for the last 5 km ( 3 mile ) hike. There were several different types of paths around the mountain on our way to A Guarda.

We walked through the town until we got to the seashore where we found our hotel, the ‘ Hostal Del Mar ‘ and checked in. The owners spoke very little English and I was happy that I had google translate on my phone. I hadn’t needed to translate much in Portugal but I needed it now. All I had to do was type my questions into the translator and show the people what I was trying to tell them. Between google translate and hand gestures, we were able to communicate quite well.

After we had settled into our rooms, we noticed that it was an hour later then it was in Portugal and our time was now 6 hours earlier than back home.

Before I took a shower, I went for a quick swim in the ocean – a very quick swim because the water was frigid!

After showering, we rested a bit, made some plans for the next few days and then went for supper at a nearby restaurant. A fairly dense fog had covered the area since we had arrived and there was a slight mist in the air. We went to the restaurant, where we found out that they didn’t serve their evening meal until 8:00 pm, just like in Portugal. We still can’t get used to the fact that the restaurants close up in the late afternoon and don’t start serving supper until late.

We returned at 8 pm, only to find out that I had misunderstood them and they would start serving their meal at 8:30 pm, so we waited there until we were able to order. There was a little confusion with our order, but everything turned out fine. We had a very nice seafood salad, seafood croquettes and lots of prawns.