Day 25 – Over the river and through the woods – Redondela to Pontevedra (28 September, 21.5km, 5 3/4 hours)

The good people of Redondela not only dislike seeing pilgrims’ laundry hanging out of the albergue windows, they also dislike littering their streets with arrows or signs that lead you out of town. People were rustling around in the albergue as early as 4:30am but I doubt any left before 5:30am. We gave up on trying to get back to sleep so we packed, dressed and left just after 7:00am. We had to be out the door by 8:00am and it’s still dark then so I expected the arrows to be a little easier to find than normal. I was wrong. One shell tile seemed to point up the street to the north so we went a few hundred meters that way and found nothing more. We then headed back to the albergue where we watched one couple come out and head confidently up the next road over so we followed them.  The direction, north/northwest, was pretty good so we kept following the couple even though we could not see any signs or arrows, despite searching with our torches.  Eventually, about 500m after the albergue, I saw a single shell tile. More than a kilometer out of town, the regular arrows started appearing. Later, we met an older British couple who were resting and we asked them how they found their way out of the city.  It turns out that you have two choices to be on the right route, either ask directions the night before or follow someone that had done that.  Hmmmmm…. Bad start to the day but the rest was good with arrows easy to follow.

The British couple who we met were actually just waiting for sunrise before entering the dark forest. The Spanish couple that we were following had previously walked past the Brits but we decided to share our light as I don’t think it effected the batteries. The couple, it turns out, aren’t a couple at all. He lives in South Africa with his wife who just had her hip replaced. The woman lives in Scotland and voted for independence.  I guess she got hounded out of Scotland after losing.

I’m in love with Pontevedra. All Sunday long, it seemed like the population of the whole town was sitting in plazas or corner taverns. Kids ran around being kids, playing with footballs and bikes and there were very few smart phones in sight. We had a look at tomorrow’s path out of town and it was fairly well marked, including some sections actually lit with blue LED light in the pavement.

We had a late dinner with an Australian couple staying at the same hotel. Here, I thought we were the only ones staying in town instead of the albergue well before the old district. This is their third Caminho after the French route and Via de la Plata. This time, they have done the coastal Portuguese route, starting in Porto.  Also, for this walk they are taking it easy.  A company is arranging their hotels and baggage for them. They’ve had enough of albergues after 1,800km of them before.  They have found the trails tough along the coast but they are happy now. They also had some trouble getting to Porto with flights delayed by 25 hours, lost luggage and a stolen wallet in Lisbon.  How they have stayed positive, I don’t know but I need to figure it out.

More on the walk tomorrow if I can but it’s late now and I need sleep. I probably have a zillion typos as I keep falling asleep on the keyboard. Walk-lag, I guess. Peace y’all.

The wall of shells near Alto da Lomba

Arcade’s grand bridge across the Rio Verdugo

Roman Road XIX heading out of Arcade

The pilgrims’ very own chapel in Pontevedra

Reminiscing about Redondela’s rules and arrows

The basilica’s entrance in Pontevedra

The basilica’s interior in Pontevedra

The new bridge towards Santiago with the scallop shell motif