Before dawn … as usual … I hit the streets leading to the bridge. This is where I bid Adios to the Atlantic Ocean … that would be visible ahead if it weren’t pitch dark.
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Its chilly outside… quite chilly… in fact one might say its nearly freezing. So much so that I finally get to take the jacket out of the backpack. That’s about 950 g I didn’t carry completely uselessly (should have just brought a 200g fleece jacket).
Across the bridge the Way continues through short of and winding road of what appears to be a fisherman’s village. In the middle of the road.. a dead snake… or at least it looked like one.. I didn’t stop to check.
The Way continues through the forest … quite a long while… a forest which is quite dark. The darkness nearly drowns the glow of my headlamp. In the middle of the forest path… a spider’s web… just like in the cartoon. I left it intact because it is quite obvious flies and mosquitoes in Portugal don’t have nearly enough natural predators.
At the forest exit I took a bit of wrong turn uphill.. fortunately I realised my mistake quickly. The Way continues through another pitch dark forest. One tree has an note with an ad for the self service laundry.
Leaving the forest behind I continue through the villages near Pontevedra. This morning I am managing a brisk pace… in fact its a little too brisk.. my legs are beginning to have their displeasure felt, so slowing down seemed sensible.
Inside the city, at the first open bar there is a mix of peregrinos and people back from the night out… each for their own dose of coffee and croissants.
Pontevedra is a bit larger medieval town. Interesting church, round like that Templar chapel at Tomar. Since there is a “Ponte” in the town’s name there should be a bridge here somewhere … and so it is. I leave the city and come across a picnic area where I took a break. Soon a torrent of pilgrims turns up.. some walking.. some cycling… none on a horse.
Further ahead another “arrow war”… this time I was mislead into taking a wrong turn and had to double back for quite a bit.
After another village there is a promenade through the forest and another torrent of peregrinos. One Dad is taking his 6-7 year old child and is pushing a baby in a stroller. They passed me by right when I took my “shoes off” break. The baby gave me such a funny look… like “c’mon let’s move … what with the stopping” … well its easy for you to say, you are in a stroller.. I thought back.
The Way crosses the railway track, than hits the next village after a track through the forest. Its a small village but it features two bars and two albergues. I met a Portuguese father – son pair, old acquaintances from Caminha. The son is asking about English girls… sorry haven’t seen them since Caminha. Leaving the village I nearly took a wrong turn… yet again… but a kind old lady immediately corrected my mistake.
The Way follows the road and my feet are beginning to feel tired, so I slow down a bit. In a few hours I come across a bar … just in time for a snack. I am trying not to check the GPS … how much further is there … since time passes more quickly that way. But I also need to make sure that I don’t miss the left turn for the albergue.
The last section runs through vineyards until I spot that beautiful sign showing an albergue 500 m ahead. Upon arrival I notice the courtyard gate is open but the door isn’t. There is a phone number taped to the door … someone answers the phone … and explains that the key is in a metal box nearby.
Wow I have the entire place to myself … not a soul in sight. By the way… this is a good tip to increase your chances of finding a free bed on the Camino. Aim for smaller places between those shown at the end of recommended stages in the guidebooks. Most people treats these recommendations as carved in stone and brought down from Mount Sinai.
The albergue is great, there is a even a take-out menu for the nearby bar. Lets see… just sandwiches.. never mind, two will do.
Later in the evening I am joined by Gill and Steve, a couple who lives in Porto and they both works as English teachers. They are quite happy since they weren’t sure if they’ll find a free bed, so I give them a grand tour of our residence.
A hospitalera drops by for a quick visit later to collect the money and hand out credential stamps. She is in a hurry because there is local parish football tournament tonight.
That was day no. 25.