Day 27 – Somedays you have breakfast between walking and other days you walk between breakfasts – Caldas de Reis to Padron (30 September, 19.4km, 6 hours)

We had yet another chilly, foggy, 7:00am start which was just perfect for walking.  Please God, one more day like today, please.

Near Carracedo at Café Esperon, we stopped for breakfast #1 as we already covered five kilometers. We were the first Caminho customers of the day according to the lovely hostess who insisted on treating us like family.  By that, I mean she spoke to us like family, ie., in very, very fast, complicated Spanish. She just went on and on with questions and by the time I translated what she said, formulated a response that I new how to say in Spanish and then spit it out, she was already on her third or fourth new topic.  We eventually got our order in when Slovenian Tony walked in.  He kept us enraptured with his stories of past Caminos and walks through Spain.  He once just walked and camped from town to town here with his dog for four straight months. With his stories, long grey hair, beard and twinkling eyes, he is a real character.  We could have been walking three kilometers during the time that breakfast took but we would have missed a lot.

While the fog is great to walk through, unfortunately, we are not so used to it and at one point, while passing under some trees, it started to rain. We stopped and quickly put on our backpack covers but it just seemed that bigger and bigger drops were coming so we put on the raincoats too.  Just as we started to walk after that exercise, two German women passed us and explained that it was probably just the fog condensing on the leaves and dropping on us.  They had not felt any rain.  Sure enough, as soon as we walked out from under the trees, it stopped “raining”.  Oh well, we may have been a little embarrassed but we were warmer too.

We walked a fair bit of today’s stage with people we just had brief encounters with before. Portuguese Carlos had worked in Macau, visited Singapore and was interested with the overseas Portuguese and Eurasians so we had plenty to chat about. Anastasia, an engineer from St. Petersburg has limited English but it was good enough to have a good conversation about a wide range of things. We never once mentioned the 1972 Olympic gold medal basketball game or politics though.  It’s a good thing we didn’t.

Breakfast #2 was near San Miguel de Valga and it took another 45 minutes as we chatted with Anastasia, Carlos, Tony, Dirty Dirk and German Lenny.  The empanadas were delicious but we had to start walking again to burn off the calories.  The rest of the way was either overlooking or through the very old suburbs of Padron.  When I say suburbs here, I still mean places where you still see sheep in the backyard.  We passed one vineyard where the grapes were being harvested. Melanie and I both put on our best smile and happiest “Hola! Buenas dias!” and it worked! We were both offered huge bunches of fresh cut green grapes that were so lovely, juicy and cold. Anastasia soon caught up to us again, shortly after her third breakfast so we happily shared our bounty. She said the grapes were better than any she has ever had in Russia.  Dang, they were about the best grapes I’ve had in the US or Singapore too, so I was not very surprised.

As we walked into Padron, it is a similar entrance to the city as Ponte de Lima.  We walked along the river under a tunnel of trees that drops us off right at the Igrexa de Santiago where a famous relic is kept under the altar.  St. James did not only come to Spain after his martyrdom.  He also came to preach while he was still alive and he did that in Padron. When his body was returned after his death, according to legend, the boat that brought him up the river to Padron moored at a specific mooring post that has held a place of honor in the church ever since. They actually built the church around where it stood.  There are many other statues and paintings in the church and nearby related to the Santiago legends. After a quick look at the church and saying goodbyes to Anastasia who is walking another 10km today to get closer to Santiago, we found a fantastic pension, the Hostal Jardin. It is in a beautiful old mansion just across from the botanic gardens and for 35€ a night for a spotless, homey en-suite room with wi-fi; it’s a great bargain. Ever since cleaning up, we’ve been sitting under the trees, along the river outside the great Ruta Xacobia pub & restaurant greeting peregrinos as they come into town.

For those following us, the route today was delightful and the arrows easy to follow the whole way. The only advice I can give you is similar to what the experienced Tony said this morning as he headed off after the second breakfast – the Caminho is like life; enjoy every moment and enjoy each other’s company. That’s my thought for the day too.  Peace y’all.

The church of Santa Mariña in Carracedo

A typical communal village washing machine

A small school along the trail in Carrecedo have added a nice touch to the Caminho by welcoming all pilgrims

Some of the beautiful flowers that are never far from the trail

Some of the beautiful flowers that are never far from the trail

Walking in the foggy morn

San Miguel de Valga church and graveyard

Padron bridge with the Convento do Carme looming behind it

Inside the parish church of Santiago de Padron that was supposedly built over the “pedron” (large stone) that was used to moor the bought that brought the body of St. James’ back to Spain.

The pedron under the altar

Looking towards the mountains that will be crossed tomorrow in order to reach Santiago