Day 9 – Redondela to Pontevedra
After a minor, early morning detour to the launderette (oh, the glamour of life on the road), we headed out of Redondela, still slightly mystified as to how we had been unable to find any of the cuttlefish that the town is famed for. In fact, we had struggled to find anywhere to eat the previous evening, but we are very far from wasting away….
Today was Brian’s birthday and spirits in the camp were high. We were blessed with wonderful sunny weather, starting cool and rising to the early 20s, which was not at all the type of weather we had expected in Galicia, known for mist and rain.
The sound of birdsong filled the morning air and we watched large birds (possibly kites?) circling way above the tree tops.
We made our way up the first of today’s two substantial climbs, through forested areas, using the waymarkers to count down our kilometres. This was our 5th consecutive day of walking and we were starting to experience a few minor aches and pains.
We are still surprised that there are so few walkers on this route; we seem to come across the same 4 or 5 people, one of whom is an 80 year old Swedish woman who has walked alone, from Lisbon! With most people we just exchange a friendly greeting, or a “Buen camino”, each time.
At some point, a man approached us and asked us if we had found a hat in the forest several days before….yes, we had! Unsure what to do with it, I had resolved to take it to Santiago, figuring there would be some type of Lost Property office. The man, from Seville, explained the hat belonged to his wife – a gift from their daughter and as such, had sentimental value. We were so happy that we would be able to reunite it with its owner and swapped numbers with a view to meeting later that evening, to do so.
Shortly after this happy interlude, we started our descent into the beautiful small town of Arcade, famed for it’s oysters. This waterside settlement, divided by an ancient stone bridge, made my heart leap; it was exactly as I had imagined Galicia all these years (only without the rain; rather bathed in glorious sunshine!)
We stopped awhile at the friendly bar A Romana with fabulous views. The owner told us of his time living in Hammersmith and we toasted him and his good fortune in coming from such a beautiful place. He gave us some tasty lentil stew to accompany our morning beer, which was probably wise…
We were truly reluctant to leave this beautiful spot, but are certain that we will return one day (and hopefully get to try some of those famous oysters, which seemed curiously absent…)
We headed back into the forest and another ascent, and inevitable descent we noted another of the ancient stone laundry houses, which pop up in most settlements along the way. I noted from the information board next to it, that apparently women used to gather there so they could talk freely without the presence of men – though I suspect it was mainly to do the washing…
Once more, we opted for the complimentary route (rather than walking along the road) and this turned out to be a bewitching, winding river walk through a fairy tale setting of ferns and sandy paths that sparkled, in the sunlight. The burbling river water so clear it failed to come out in photos!
After some kilometres we we were delighted to be heading into Pontevedra, which was a lot larger than we had imagined. We stopped at the train station for a quick beer and a tuna empanada, for which this town is famed, before making our way into the impressive stone built, medieval centre, where our hotel, Hotel Ruas was located. The evening seemed full of promise, as did our rest day the following day….