Monday, September 24. Ria sets out fairly early because it will be a long day, but I have laundry to do at a real Laundromat, a 1.5 kg box to mail to myself, and find a way to catch up. My plan is to do my errands, grab a banana and juice for “breakfast” and get a bus. However, by the time I was done, I discovered that the bus only runs every 2-3 hours to Pontevedra. So the taxi got my business.
By the end of this Camino, I will have walked at least 100 miles on the path from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. I have no blisters at all, no foot problems, no back or shoulder problems, at least not any caused by this trek. And I intend to keep this status. Everyone who knows me knows that in my real life I hate hiking, don’t like health-club exercise (but for Nia, which has all but disappeared in the Fort) and love to walk, but not in the heat. So I will always be less well prepared than many on the trail. But I like the challenge, and I persevere. I hope this will be my last “wild hair” Camino. Next accumulation of steps can be on my own Cathy Fromme Prairie trail or in NYC.
Pontevedra is a very nice small city, about 75,000 people, second only to Santiago de Compostela for its rich history. Here’s a bit of official info:
“In 1999, Pontevedra pedestrianized its 300,000 square meter medieval center by banning all but the essential automobile traffic. Pontevedra’s car free center helped transform it into one of the most accessible cities, leading to awards for its urban quality: the international European prize, “Intermodes” in Brussels in 2013, the United Nations Habitat prize in Dubai in 2014 and the “Excellence Prize” of the Center for Active Design in New York City in 2015.” Quite impressive! Makes for a vibrant pedestrian “town within a town”.
Though we stay just outside the medieval part of the city, it is an easy walk in, and gives us opportunities to mix our café browsing with a bit of history walking.
The Praza Peregrino, a large circular plaza with a children-friendly fountain in the center, yellow arrows all the way through the medieval part of town, presents a very welcoming environment. I walk almost as much IN the city as I would have done on the hot hills. A nice tradeoff. I try to reserve a second night, but the Hotel Avenida was “completo”, though they make an arrangement for the Hotel Madrid for our second night.
Weaving into the medieval center through several tour groups hearing (in Spanish or German) the historical details about the churches, the ruins, and various port references doesn’t educate our tired minds, but we find a leafy, shady table in an area away from the tour groups (and the beggars), to have a glass of wine.
Dinner is late in this town as well, so we wander, looking for a good tapas menu, finally settle into another shady but hopping Praza to sit again. German Michael (from our albergue in Mougas) pulls up a chair, appearing very happy to have some company. We have wine but not much food yet.
Michael has a recommendation for a Michelin (not starred, just recommended) restaurant around the corner. Loaira Xantar. We find the last outside table and make our selections. Seabass ceviche, Padron peppers, hake with green rice (and thin strips of seaweed), tempura king prawns and vegetables, and razor clams in garlic, a new one for me, all beautifully presented and delicious. So delicious, and so hungry are we, that I forget to photograph the plates before we dive in, but for the razor clams.
My dessert choice was “cheesecake with strawberries”, but what came was what anyone I know would call panna cotta. Doesn’t matter what it’s called . . . it was creamy smooth and tasty, making up for the horrible “panna cotta” I got a few days ago.
Tomorrow we will move to the Hotel Madrid, with terrible wifi so these posts get later and later. But beautiful parks abound outside the medieval center, and we will spend some time closer to greenery.