Fog City Boy on the Camino de la Costa
San Francisco, July 3, 2018
Hail to Spain, farewell to Portugal
1 May 2018: Ancora to A Guarda
I awoke to a pleasant, sunny day. A good day for walking to Spain! The Way was in good condition and beckoned me forward.
After about an hour after leaving Ancora, I came upon a herd of goats enjoying a seaside brunch. In the distance you can see Monte Tecla which dominates a peninsula on the Spanish side of the Rio Minho (Rio Min͂o).
About half way to the town of Caminha where there is a ferry to take pilgrims and others across the river to Spain; however, it is seasonal and was not operating when I passed by. The Senda Litoral branches off of the official Caminha route at Moleda. It adds about a mile to the walk, but is through a lovely park at Moleda Beach and Camarido Beach. Apparently they are favorites of the local surfing crowd. Unfortunately, not all surfers are welcome.
I arrived in Caminha, briefly explored the central city, and at about noon proceeded to the ferry. The ferry was a modern catamaran design and was moored conveniently to the town. A gentleman who appeared to be part of the ferry operation told me that the ferry wouldn’t set out again until 2:00 – however, there was a small boat that could take me now. Was I interested? I looked over the small boat. It appeared seaworthy. Already aboard were two peregrinos from Japan who were doing their perigrenacion on bicycles, also on board. We chatted briefly and the boatman cast off.
The boat was a fast one and the trip did not take more than 15 minutes. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t exciting. Part way across, the boatman feathered the engines only slightly and invited one of the Japanese fellows, and then the other, to exchange places with him and take the controls of the boat while he took their pictures. They accepted his offer. I considered whether or not I could swim to shore if the boat swamped.
He offered me the same opportunity but I declined and held fast to the side of the boat. In a few more minutes we arrived in Spain.
The Japanese fellows got on their bikes and went on – up and over Monte Tecla – the official Camino de la Costa. I continued around the mountain on the Senda Literal which skirted lovely beaches. I paused and looked back at Portugal.
While there was political graffiti in Portugal, it seemed both more frequent and more pointed in Spain.
In mid-afternoon, I arrived in A Guarda, a town with a population of 10,000 or so.
I checked into my lodging, and explored the town. On the recommendation of fellow Bay Area peregrino (a shout out to Emilio, and thanks!), I hiked up to the top of the town and visited the Castillo de Santa Cruz, the construction of which was begun in the 17th century.
It was strategically placed with a commanding view of the sea to the west . . .
The Spanish verb “aguardar” can mean variously, ”to keep,” “to watch,” to guard.” An appropriate name for the town that grew up beneath the castle!
The interior of the Castillo is now a sculpture garden.
The sculptures celebrate common folk rather than royalty.
A soldier in battle dress . . .
A mason . . .
A young woman in the wind, facing the sea, waiving to her lover . . .
I enjoyed my visit to the castle and, toward sunset, returned to my lodging and a good night’s rest.
2 May 2018: A Guarda to O Muino
It began as an overcast day and remained that way. Still, the views were stunning.
It was a pleasant walk, the highlight of which was following The Way into the small town of Oia which is host to the El Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Oia dating from the twelfth century.
The monastery is of some considerable architectural interest and is unusual for having been built directly on the coast of Spain, rather than some distance inland.
The Monastery is closed to the public at present. A private development concern has undertaken to restore the monastery and adjacent buildings with the aim of establishing it as a 4-star hotel with meeting rooms and other facilities. They hope to develop year-round tourism which the locals accept with mixed emotions.
I got a stamp in my credencial from a friendly café owner and continued on my way.
Along the way there were reminders that the economic challenges of recent years have not been wholly overcome. This handsome home has been under construction – or perhaps in suspended animation – for a number of years.
In the late afternoon, I arrived in Mougas and continued on a few kilometers to O Muino, a tiny community perched on a bluff overlooking the coast. One hotel had restored one of the many historic windmills that dot the coast in both Portugal and Spain.
3 May 2018: O Muino to Baiona
The weather improved although almost the entire distance today was along sidewalks and sendas adjacent to heavily traveled roadways.
Someone had built a lovely summer home that even sported a small swimming pool.
A little further along and on the other side of the road, no swimming pool, but a great view.
As elsewhere in Spain, the local authorities have taken steps to facilitate peregrinos and keep them safe from vehicular traffic. Note the granite peak in the distance.
Another coastal home. Note that it is constructed of granite blocks, an oft-used building material in this corner of Spain.
And, atop the granite peak, the Faro de Cabo Silleiro, built in 1924 and projecting a light 44 kilometers (24 nautical miles).
I continued on into the town center of Baiona, a community of about 12,000.
On the main thoroughfare I espied a welcoming café. They advertised a calamari sandwich in two sizes. I ordered the small size.
What would the large version have looked like!?! I enjoyed half the sandwich and saved the other for lunch the next day.
Baiona was windy that afternoon. The flags of many nations welcomed visitors to this coastal destination.
A handsome fonte dating from 1865 is situated near the town center.
The placard explains that the fountain was donated to the city of Baiona by Ventura Misa y Bertemati, a local entrepreneur.
I wandered the town for a time. The billboard below was not the first one I had encountered offering instruction in the English language.
4 May 2018: Baiona to Vigo
Again, the Camino de la Costa and the Senda Litoral diverge. I chose the Senda Litoral, passing a lovely chapel and adjacent cruciero on the way out of town.
As previously noted, political messaging in Spain is not uncommon.
A little further along, the Fog City Boy strikes a pose at seaside.
More beautiful scenery, but increasingly developed for visitors’ enjoyment.
In time, I made it to Vigo, an active seaport with substantial ship building and repair facilities. There was a lovely park near my lodging for the night.
5 May 2018: Vigo to Redondela
On the way out of Vigo, I again traversed the central park and came upon the dancing waters of a lovely fountain.
About two hours into the day, the Senda Litoral rejoins the Camino de la Costa. At this point The Way becomes quite hilly which is, on the one hand challenging, but on the other, affords wonderful views.
A delightful young woman has established a bocateria catering to peregrinos. A place to refresh and relax before continuing on.
I gave her the address for my blog. I’m hoping she is reading this now!
There were hundreds of mussel farming barges anchored in the river below.
The Camino de la Costa continues through a lightly wooded landscape. . .
. . . before reaching Redondela where it rejoins the Camino Central – the traditional Camino Portugues.
May 6, 2018: Redondela to Pontevedra and beyond
On this perigrenacion to date, I have only repeated one stage of The Way that I had walked previously on my first pilgrimage in 2014. That would be the stage from Matosohinos to Vila do Conde (plus a short segment at the end of the walk from Porto to Matosinhos. Today I will walk to Pontevedra and the day after, about an hour to the point at which the Variante Espiritual branches off from the Camino Central – rejoining in three days time the Camino Central shortly before Padron.
One of the attractions of this Way to Santiago was that the thrill of discovery was yet available to this pilgrim. New paths, new vistas, discovery, and a destination that, while not new, was to be reached by a new, coherent traverse. All in, all done, I will only have duplicated my 2014 pilgrimage on slightly over three days.
The Camino is about discovery. Discovery of space, time, and spirit.
With that, on to Pontevedra.
I recall that in 2014, I by design overshot Redondela by a few kilometers. This time I stayed in town. Meandering out of town, the peregrino finds a display of conchas and words of greeting and encouragement.
At Arcada, a Roman bridge still crosses the Rio de Vigo.
Once across, there are more than one challenging climb!
We are now well into Galicia. The frequency of Crucieros increases.
Later in the day, I came upon the Capela da Marta, dating from 1817
Shortly after that, I decided to walk a detour from the regular Way – the Senda Fluvial rio dos Grafos Tomeza. This was a lovely, shaded, and engaging walk through the woods along a babbling brook!
The Senda Fluvial rejoined the waymarked route and I continued on into Pontevedra. It’s a big city in that part of the world with a population in excess of 80,000.
A large town square with numerous restaurants seeking the attention of visitors – pilgrims or not. And an extraordinary church – the Sanctuario de la Peregrina – dating from the 18th century.
The next day, May 7th, I crossed the Rio Lerez . . .
. . . and continued a little more than three kilometers, passing by a charming painted tile on a wall surrounding a suburban house depicting St. James, a Camino waymark, and the cathedral in Santiago. . .
. . . they were welcoming and acknowledging the pilgrims passing by . . . and I continued my perigrenacion to Santiago via the Variante Espiritual.
More to follow!
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