We spent a restful night at Casa Capela, and happily awoke to clear skies. Marguerite, our host had breakfast in hand, and our laundry was folded in a basket. We thanked Marguerite for all her many kindnesses and stepped out onto the cobbles, made a left turn and set out for Tui. Nothing much to report as the day was close to being perfect. The weather was dry with temperatures topping out near 60 F. Robin and I simply enjoyed the time on the trail and before we knew it we were moving down the narrow streets of Valença enjoying the old town around the fort. After a few twists and turns and navigating through some shadowy portals we emerged back into the sunlight and headed across the Minho River bridge into the town of Tui and Spain. We stopped at a convenient bar for a cold beer, and to change our SIM cards back to the Spanish ones we had previously purchased. As we were sipping our Estrella Galicia we asked the lady at the bar where our hotel was. She confirmed it was about 5 kms outside of Tui but she felt sure they would come and collect us if we had a reservation, which we did. About 20 minutes later the hotel van arrived and we were off. We are now doing what we always do post walk. Showers, laundry, and lunch. We are staying in the Hotel Alfonso I and although it is outside of town, it has all that we need. As a side note the food in the restaurant was terrific. So we are in the decompression stage and simply relaxing. It was a very fine day and tomorrow promises to be more of the same. What luck.
Today was another day where the weather was forecasted to turn wet in the afternoon. As we made our way out into the streets of Ponte do Lima a grand market had been installed overnight. We quickly forgot about the weather as we took in the number of tents. There wasn’t a square inch of river front that did not have a vendors tent on it. We were told that this occurs every 15 days. All morning people were streaming into the town as we made our way out. We were off to a good start feeling rested, nourished and ready for the day ahead. We followed the Camino arrows out of town and down a rural lane until we rounded a bend and found the trail flooded. This part of the Camino immediately outside of Ponte do Lima is low and very flat. Recent rains had gotten the best of it and there was simply no where for the water to go. We opted to retreat and found a quick diversion onto the N306 that had us paralleling the Camino but on dry land. We carried on up the road, about 2.5 kms until we crossed under the A27. Shortly thereafter we took the next left turn into the the village of Barrosas where we found the Camino arrows once again. From this point onward we never had any serious high water. We did encounter a few spots that required some long steps to cross, but all in all it went smoothly.
This morning we picked up a ride from our hotel to Porriño, and set out from there for today’s walk to Redondela. The day was much colder than yesterday with frost visible on the cars in front of the hotel as we set out. Other than that it was a beautiful morning that promised to stay that way through the day. Having cut about half of today’s walk we had an easy day of it and thoroughly enjoyed just loafing along enjoying the scenery. The terrain started out with a gentle climb that steepened as the morning progressed. Once the top was reached it was a precipitous drop back down to something close to sea level. From that point it was just ambling along the flat until we swung into Redondela. No problems at all. We have an apartment at the Alvear Suites (right on the Camino), and have found its to be quite comfortable. We will set out for Pontevedra in the morning. We might actually walk the whole way. Maybe.
We had a fine and uneventful walk to Pontevedra. The weather started out chilly but quickly warmed up and layers of clothing were peeled off. There were some hills to climb, and more stream bed rocks to hop, but with abundant sunshine, the day just seemed brilliant. We were feeling strong and walked at a good pace all day. Once we walked into Pontevedra we stopped at the first bar we could see and ordered our usual two cañas. Once our thirst was quenched we caught a cab to the Parador where we would spend the night. The price was quite reasonable with breakfast included. No complaints, we had a great room and the hotel was just steps from the Camino.
We awoke a bit early at Torre de Rio, and started in on the breakfast that had been set out the night before. We had told the lady in the dining room the previous night that we would like to get underway before their preferred breakfast service at 9:00. So she had everything laid out for us. As we were enjoying our meal the day staff arrived and immediately asked us if we wanted something else such as eggs, bacon, ham, etc. So we signed up for the full meal deal and felt more than adequately nourished for the day’s walk ahead. A taxi took us back into Caldas de Reis and dropped us off at the church. Five minutes later we were crossing the Roman bridge out of town and heading off to Padrón our destination for tonight. We caught yet another break with the weather and set out under clear, cool conditions. As the sun climbed over a ridge whose shadow had kept us fairly cool it’s radiant heat now forced a halt and our jackets were peeled away. We proceeded uphill (mostly) and then downhill (somewhat) following a mix of paved roads and forest trails. In all it was a very good day’s walk. We arrived in Padrón at 1:30, had nice cold Estrella Galicia and headed off to our hotel, the Chef Rivera. After some lunch and a shower we walked over to the Church of Santiago. The sacristan invited us up to the alter where the stone pilar to which, according to legend, the boat that brought St. James’ remains to Spain was moored, now resides. We enjoyed our visit to the church, that is until a Spanish tour group laid siege, after which we quietly retreated. We strolled around a bit just enjoying the evening air, and eventually called it a night. We are Santiago bound in the morning. It is always a time of mixed emotions when our time on the pilgrim road draws to its end and life back home beckons us to return. But, God willing, we will find another road to walk when, once again, we are ready. For now let’s just get to Santiago. More on that tomorrow.
We left Padrón on Sunday morning at 7:40 and walked into the Pilgrim Office in Santiago at 1:15 pm. We had a great final day. We outpaced the weather until just at the very end when a few showers hosed us off. But, it was arrival day and nothing was going to stand in the way of the special joy a pilgrim feels on that day. As always there are reflections on this or that or some other thing regarding the Camino just walked. I’ll leave those for another day. For now, our joy is palpable. Robin and I have experienced the gift of yet another Camino, two if you throw in our days on the Camino Vasco. Santiago continues to seem like another home to us. It isn’t perfect, but for those on the pilgrim road there is no sweeter place to walk into. Now we just need to exhale and relax. Actually we are pretty good at that as well. Prayers and blessings to all from Santiago. We will be shapeshifting into our other selves as of this coming Thursday when we once again return to our home state of Washington in the magnificent Pacific Northwest. Thanks to all who in some way shared this journey. Peace be with you.