Day 31 – 10th November 2016, Caldas de Reis to A Picarana.
After a good breakfast at Albergue O Cruceiro, we tramped out into the misty and cool, clingy morning air and followed the river for a while out of town. We had mixed feelings about finishing our Camino Portugues walk as we were so close now, only two more days of walking to go until we reached the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
On the one hand, we felt sad that our walk would soon be over. On the other, we were glad that we were approaching the end of our Camino in early November and not later, because at this time of year, even when it is damp, the daily temperatures are still pleasant enough for walking.
Brett and I relished walking through the autumnal scenes of turning and falling leaves that crunched and rustled underfoot. There is something otherworldly and magical about walking through woodland and forest on the Camino, as if thousands of unseen eyes from the past, present and future are peering in and observing our progress. As if the trees themselves and woodland creatures willed us onwards.
We bumped into a lovely Spanish couple we had met before in Redondela. They kindly took the photo above (the feature image) and sent it to us, – a wonderful memento of Brett and I walking today through this rustic, autumnal landscape.
Ambling on we passed by the church of Santa Maria Bermil, through Carracedo and Cortiñas and continued over bridges and through woodland.
Galician stone houses and churches rose up from luscious green fields that greeted us on our way. I wondered to myself, how many pilgrims had trod the same pathway through the hamlets, villages, towns and cities and whether the buildings somehow recorded the echoing footsteps across time and space.
The weather soon turned a tad damp again and we donned our Vaude rain ponchos, but the rain didn’t last long.
We strolled over Pont Valga and on through San Miguel de Valga to Pontecesures. Through Pontecesures we crossed over the Rio Ulla and followed the trail along the Rio Sar and under a magnificent, natural arcade formed from an avenue of trees at the Paseo do Espolon. This brought us some welcome shade in the heat of the day. I was flagging at this point and looked forward to finding a café to stop, rest and take some refreshment.
At the end of the Paseo, we came to the famous Igrexa de Santiago but unfortunately, the heavy doors were closed to us, like so many of the numerous churches and chapels along the Camino. This was such a shame. We wanted to ponder the legends surrounding this spiritual spot because Padron has a special significance on the Camino Portugues.
Actually, it is an incredibly significant place in the history of St. James, and therefore El Camino de Santiago as a whole. Padron is purported to be the place where St. James began his ministry in Spain but, not only that, was the place where the boat carrying St. James’ remains stopped and tied up to a stone mooring post, called O Pédron, on the Rio Sar from which the town gets its name. Allegedly, the very same mooring stone is displayed inside Igrexa de Santiago.
One thing that strikes me as decidedly odd is that the Camino Frances is more popular then the Camino Portugues if you observe the numbers of pilgrims travelling along each route year on year. For 30 years now, the top three Camino routes have been the Camino Frances, followed by Camino Portugues followed by the Camino del Norte. True, the Camino Portugues has seen a slight increase in numbers recently, which can only be a good thing! However, considering the significance of the Portugues route in the history of St. James, I am surprised that the Camino Portugues is not more popular.
Brett and I lingered for a while on a café terrace to enjoy a late lunch and wait to see if the church would be opened. Sadly, the doors remained shut so we decided to continue our walk in the afternoon, skirting around the church, past the Hospital de Peregrino on one side and Palacio de Quito on the other.
The Camino trail ran alongside the railway for some of the way and we passed through a village where there was a traditional outdoor laundry that provided a stone wall, where we paused for a water stop.
We noticed many of these in Galicia. Onwards, we crossed back and forth over the hectic main highway the N-550. We came to a small village called A Esclavitude where yet another church, Santa Maria de Cruces that was shut, however, the nearby café-bar was open, so we popped in for ice tea!
In the late afternoon we pressed on through woodland to Angueria de Suso and finally, just as dusk approached, we arrived at a curious place called A Picarana, where there were supposedly two pensions but no albergues. Pension Glorioso had a lacklustre appearance and seemed shut. Pension Pivadal was open and thankfully we bagged a double ensuite room just before the evening rush of pilgrims, also trying to find a bed before dark.
However, I can tell you honestly that this place was a complete rip off at a steep 40 euros, considering that the room was freezing, no breakfast was included or available, the check-in process seemed a little bit dodgy and the evening meal was mediocre. We asked for a heater and one of the staff brought a fan heater to us. Brett and I remembered hearing some of the pilgrims leaving during the night because they too were freezing in their rooms. Perhaps the heater we borrowed was the only one available.
Our advice would be to walk on and find somewhere else!
Distance walked today = 29 km
Cumulative distance walked so far = 716.04 km
Peace, love and light,