Dawn over Bolton 🇫🇴- Dusk over Galicia 🇪🇸

Travel day to the Camino Inglés – 🚞 & ✈️ & 🚕

A long day of connections ….. from

To …….

With a transfer at Madrid Barajás

And a short Hop on an internal flight to O Corunña

Ends in a traditional Spanish pavement cafe and a long awaited Cervesa Grandé of Estrella Galicia 😘

And welcome Pintxos with Rationés to follow ….. top rambling fuel ⛽️ ….. 😘

With a welcome room upgrade at €19 all in as my roof top bunk has the windows screwed shut in 28 c heat – Good Swop !

Early night as on the trail at sun-up tomorrow…… 🚶‍♀️

Xx

🚂 Day 10 : We-Go Vi-Go 🚂

Pre-Dawn 🌅 ……and like the 💪 Caministas we now are ; we regretfully but swiftly pack up our apartment into our backpacks 🎒 rainy , still dark – we hail a cab and at the station for 7.00am . Time for a superior station breakfast ! and ready for the Vigo train .

It’s unsettling to see our walk of the previous 9 days unravelling at such speed as we reverse our trail on the way back to Porto.

But first – we have cross back into Portugal to go via Vigo – not on our previous route .

“YOU CAN’T GET TO PORTO BY TRAIN”

All the travel sites , inc’ tbe good ones Trainline.Com , Rome2Rio etc won’t give you a rail connection from Santiago to Porto. “Just take the bus” they say – I wondered why – I found and booked the connection – but now I know why .

They don’t believe you can arrive on the 8.33am at Vigo Urzáiz ……..

And get across the city in time to Vigo Guixar for the 8.58am to Porto ( 2 trains a day – the next at 5.30 pm !!! ) …… and ….

…… having done the mad taxi 🚕 ride across town … ( Driver seemed to relish the challenge 🤣) …. I can see their point ! – but you CAN make it – we did ! 👏 👏 .

Worth it though . Cross the border in the middle of the river Ria de Vigo we had previously walked across – upriver at Redondela a week ago .

It means we’re in Porto , a full day ahead and sat out on our own Perfect Pan-tiled Porto Patio by 11.00am ….. lush .

Tonights hotel – The hugely over-ornate 5 Storeys folly of a house known as the Castelo Santa Catarina is a hoot!

Clad in Millions of Blue Tiles , it’s own Chapel , own Victorian Grotto – bizarre with rooms made out of random parts of the house – ours is the middle right Pic next to the blue vase – vast – that used to be an entrance hall , patio and staff quarters 100 years ago – quite eccentric .

We head out to see the town – immediately taken aback by the mix of beautiful , historical and modern mixed with dilapidated, & wrecked buildings – just 10 mins walk from the centre.

Gradually you begin to get a feel for the place – the faded grandeur on one hand and the vibrant future on the other.

Still – a property developers dream

Under-dressed for the fabulously baroque /kitsch Café Majestic ( when you carry everything you own on your back – fashion sacrifices have to be made 🤣😇 )

We follow the descending tram-tracks and more blue-tiled magnificence to the almost Parisién pavement cafés of Praça de Liberdade –

…….. remember we’re still in the Santo Ildefonso parish same as the hotel and the wrecks

I have some places I want to go – we have best part of 2 days …… bars , bridges culture , cathedrals, religion , Douro riverside , restaurants ….. so where to first ?

Yep …… H&M ….. the tweenagers fave clothes shop followed by McDonalds 🙄.

Apparently I (May) have suggested a shopping day at the end of our trip as motivation – ( bit of a blur really ) .🤣

At least we are in the Via Catarina 🛍 Shopping Centre – with that quirky approach to street art I’ve only seen in Portugal 👏

….. and if you’re going to have A toy shop at least you should have a separate entrance for the children! After all it’s their show.

🙏 ….. released from the bonds of waiting outside changing rooms and making approving noises ; we head for a welcome glass of Vinho Verdé on the main square again – people (and 🐻 bear) watching.

……. and yet more imaginative street art – and one of my top 5 favourite pictures of the trip.

….. while being stalked on the way back to the Hotel ………

And head out to Dinner – uphill to Praça do Marqués de Pombal – new outfits of course !

its a cool , quiet evening on this square – in the opposite direction to the main attractions . All local “Porto-istas” – around here . I learn that lesson about Porto again – “not judging a book by its cover”

We pass this …….. Café Pereira – looks perfect for dinner …

…… but we jumped out when – BIZARRE – they have a “reverse” smoking policy !!

Inside – thick fog – everyone , EVERYONE smoking : Outside – very nice facing the square for NON- smokers . Ha ! 🙄.

Next door what looks like a run down bargain-booze shop …….. ( Book and Cover )

Turns out to be ……… high end Italian !

…… Great food & wine and a calm space to end our first day in Porto .

Xoxox

🎉 “Domingo Gordo”🎉

Hard to believe we’ve only been here 24 Hours – from first sight yesterday through silent quaint villages above Santiago ………

to the noisy re-unions and party atmosphere of the town – the side streets are filling up for another day …. and we’ve seen and done so much already.

I was looking for a suitable phrase for a Camino / Galician version of Mardi Gras . That’s why this post is entitled tbe nearest I could get – Domingo Gordo as it’s a huge celebration – and its not a Tuesday! ……… 🎉 🎉 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

The little Bar “25 de Julio” – we live above is at the heart of Santiago . The entire top attic floor is a family suite . It’s quirky and great fun . The girls enjoy having their pavement breakfast

Always best to take pics as you arrive😜Here’s our loft BEFORE we messed it up 😆

It’s in a simple square that’s quieter , but 300 Metres away from the main visitor centre , local cafes, bars and informal restaurants . We spent a lot of time here!

( Ciara would like me to add – we don’t always have beer for breakfast – this pic was on the square the evening before 🤪. )

Before heading into town to see what Sunday holds for us . The Cathedral is open – but under renovation in time for 2021 celebrations.

……. and as we passed the University we bump into more friends – Judy and Dianne from Montreal- amazing achievement ladies – Full weight packs and some 30k long hot hiking days to get here.

Then Chris and Charlotte walk past with Rachel ! – ( it’s NOT that small a town either ) – so an even bigger team pic – 👍

… hugs all round – we’ll see them soon – we head off for coffee – past street musicians and a few ( actually a lot ) of Souvenir shops.

As we are finishing our coffee we get a call and rush back again to Cathedral Square. One final group of friends are almost here ! We met on the first night in Rubiaes – they took the lovely detour on the coastal Camino Portuguese Espiritual route adding extra days .

From Holland 🇳🇱- the fabulous Marijke and Jacob !

As our routes crossed and diverged we kept missing each other . But Camino Mail ( Napkins of course 😆) left for us at the Casa “As Chivas” – the Mad Goat place -near Redondela – re-united us!

….. and when you can’t recall my name. Marijke just used a nickname for me from the great night out we’d had – Ha ! 😆 and it still got to me ! .

Love Trail-names – this my 4th. ( Long Story 🤣)

…….. and yes they are each both over 2 Metres tall – Wayyyyy Over !!

An early liquid lunch with them – means we start real Lunch much later at l’Incontro on Rúa del Villar – lovely man who owns it kept us happy for 2 or 3 hours .

4.00 ish in the afternoon – still having lunch – we hear this …..far down Rúa de Villar …..

( These Videos are large files – any issues playing them – use Wi-fi or go onto my site directly – CaminoRamblings.com ) xxx

And jump up to investigate ……. it’s getting closer …… the noise immense ….. you can see Ciara and the girls loving it ……. I felt fortunate , privileged to be at that spot on that street – pure chance . A proper Camino Moment .

These people , this Drum errrrr ( band is too small a word ) , this Drum ( Corps ? Battalion? , Tsunami ? ) …..Wow , just Wow!

They took 20 mins to pass where we were – hundreds of them . All smiling , loving their beat , their togetherness, engrossed, lost in sheer happiness…….. as was everyone around them . Marvellous.

😍The next time I’m back here – I’m coming back as one of these BatéBatuké – Looks like I’ll have to learn a little Galician -it’s THEIR thing .

Hope those Vids played ok for you 😘 Don’t normally load big files on this site -but they’re worth it . 🤩

Afterwards – and I know this day already seems full – but with Tweenagers there IS always an afterwards . The Fair beckons 😕……. oh Goody

My babies – growing up ! Wow – new gear – and a strongly worded brief from Mum – see below 🤣 – they’re allowed to head out on their own ………

…….. And we ? ……. we head for a decent G&T on our favourite square to end the day . A Brilliant , just Brilliant Santiago Day.

Xxxxxxxx

🥾 Return to Santiago 🏰 & Ascension Party 🎉 2019

Hard to believe that by the end of today we’ll be standing in Cathedral Square.

It’s odd – I do / but don’t want to get there. Unlike on the French way this recent green Portugués detour means we still have the route pretty much to ourselves and a few fellow peleginös

We’re only 7k out and we think , just maybe we can see the famous Cathedral towers …….. zooming in later ; same view below – we are right ! It’s just in the skyline – to the right of the vast Ferris wheel at the Ascension weekend fair.

Motivation 🤣 even from traffic signs

….. on this route we avoid the modern suburbs – well most – and soon are in the old town of Santiago

And SHOCKINGLY- from a narrow side street we are here !! Praza do Obradoiro – the Cathedral square – the end to all Caminos . Earlier than most travellers – but still surrounded by emotional cheers as each party arrives . 100 or more Spanish / Italian / French / teenagers – a huge group send chills as they arrive singing in amazing tones – marching fast and strong the last steps .

We’re laying on on our backpacks 🎒- just staring at this magical place , Sun still rising as stories unfold around us – when this moment occurs – dusty boots , big and and not so big , seems to sum up a family Camiño – the little girls have been amazing – Ciara strong , positive, engrossed in the physical and spiritual, they’ve made a million friends ……… who will soon catch up .

Just perfect . 💕

……. then across town to the Pilgrims Office to show our Credentiále / Pilgrims Passport – the multi stamped record of every town and sleeping place we passed through – To be awarded our Compostela- the elaborate illuminated certificates. Here in the peaceful garden of the Pilgrims Office.

…. We get a 📞 call so back to the square again …….

The Sun’s properly up as we head back to greet some of our extended Camiño family. Here – Sarah , Sam , John ( Charlotte N.C. 🇺🇸) Rachel ,Chris & Charlotte (California🇺🇸)

Great catch up late lunch – and later with our new member – Jess’s loudly mooing Galician Cow – 🤣

And – the girls drag us off to the huge Ascension 2019 fair .

And that Enormous Big Wheel – we saw 7k away this morning .

With a final tired 💤 flourish we’re back to our home for 2 nights –

But with a view like this from our roofline Family flat – it’s a end to our arrival day we won’t forget .

💤 💤 💤

Xxxxxx

Day 7 : Popping to Padròn

Sun rise ……. The whole country seems to be holding its breath – people moving slower . It looks like a triple moon , some type of minor eclipse ……. or it might be just too flippin’ early 🙄

We’re used to the hour and start seeing people we know – all with that same wonderful camaraderie but now all with the same second objective – finished before 1.00pm if you possibly can 🙏

Woodland paths , past natural springs , villages with bars just opening for breakfast – take us past the 32K marker.

And sure enough – by late morning we are past the “unlovely” outskirts of Padrón.

We discover a “natural wonder” an entire promenade shaded by a deep green canopy- Huge .

The temp’ outside this shady refuge is ridiculous. We’re close to our Hostel- best stay here then ! 🤣

So second breakfast ( now an official term ) turns into an early lunch . Fresh warm tortillas and a real treat – Padrón peppers roasted in olive oil and sea salt – eaten in actual Padrón . Yum

General giddiness 🤣 – it’s a symptom of effort rewarded , and occurs when you have a Dad who is content being a figure of fun. ( 😆I’m crying on the inside 😉)

Onwards – ( we left quite some time later 😁👌) a couple of K to the Hamlet of L’escivatude .

Our booking at the cheerful place nearby had been lost .A quick check nearby found a Casa Rural – the Casa Grande da Capellanía . Ideal – just 2 rooms left – they appeared to be unaware of the heat .Basil on reception says “swimming pool closed Senór ” – really ?? “Yes only open in Summer ” – it’s 36 degrees out side – when would you like summer to start ? – “2 days time – June 1st” – ahh gracias Senör Fawlty.

And dinner in a generous roadside restaurant named “Buen Camino” – friendly people where the dish below – loads of chicken wings all round – was in fact the free tapas !!

End of Day – can’t believe it’s last day walking tomorrow 😴

Xxxxxxx

Day 6 : Hot Foot to Caldas da Reis

You can see that one of the main influences that is changing our daily routine is the amazing weather – with that comes some unseasonably high temperatures.

We’re talking 10 degrees above average on some days .

At 1.00 pm today ……it was 33 and it ended at 36 degrees by 4.00pm

It’ll be this way for 2 more days – so we plan our days around this ….. 😅

Starting with Breakfast on the trail at 7.00am in a bar with a handy full size Grizzly! – ….. bizarre .

The way takes us through vine shade paths , past simple ancient crosses.

And due to a good pace , by mid morning we were on second breakfast at the Soooo welcome O’Cuthberto Bar / Café.

Here’s what happens when you’re told you’re only 45 mins from your destination , and it’s only 10.30am ! 🤣😆🤣👌

Joy , Happiness and Duck impressions using Pringle crisps 🤣 – Try it !

And something i wouldn’t normally notice but ‘Bel’ & Jess’ thought was remarkable – A horse sheltering a sheep from the heat – inseparable- as the long mares tail waved the flies away .

And onward – Steps lighter knowing we are almost there .

And before you know it – an unknown mid market conference hotel – chosen only for that rare Camiño addition for this trip ……?

A Piscina !! …… one of only two in town – we were all right in there – bloomin’ Marvellous in this climate 😁

I had spoken so enthusiastically about the special treatment Pilgrims receive that we had booked for dinner the Santiago trail version of Menu del Dia.

I’ve got to say that the simple walkers carb and protein loaded 3 courses inc Wine & Coffee was the best served Menu Pelegríño I’ve had . At €9 Euros – we actually felt guilty 😉

Note the wine bottle with no label 😅👍

Card games on the bar after. ( plus the world “connect 4 ” trials ) and we’re done fir the night .

I’m sure Caldas de Reis – has some nice parts . After days like this – with babies in tow – Did we see any ? – NO .

Can’t say I missed it really 💕💕💕

Xxxxxxx

Day 5 : The Way to Pontevedra 🏰

We leave “The Goat ” just after Sun Up and head through Arcade which is again a place you could spend a few Hours getting to know – but it’s getting hotter each day and we find the girls are getting uncomfortable by 1.00pm so plan to walk Sun Up to Lunch each day with plenty of stops , hotels with pools and still cover our planned Camiño route .

Arcade ( Arr-Car-Da ) . We’re here by 8.00am ; Entirely downhill From Alto Blanca – There is – however a downside to this upside ( or is it the other way round 😆) Meanwhile its a fine small medieval town …..

With a dozen bars open for Desayunó . Cool by the river at this time .

And sure enough the downside is evident as we head up and up through the villages leaving the river valley . Ciara & Jess here.

Things have to get pretty tough to call in the “Pole-Train” . The ultimate in motivational 6 wheel drive . 🎶 Singing Yellow Submarine 🎶 helps too 👍😉

Terrain soon flattens out as shade returns and a chance for a break in tbe woods.

And we finally reach Pontevedre . Early enough for a long lunch and the Junior Hiker Award 🥇/ Motivation Carrot is soon revealed . ………..

The girls have tried so far this trip (In order – starting with the Simplest )

Alberque ✅

Hostal ✅

Hotel ✅

What’s left ? ……..

Parador ✅

Tbe Barons House in Pontevedre . As far as their Camiño – a mid point , high point

A lush base to explore another characterful town .Designed over centuries to beat the heat – Cool squares, Fountains, Shady Bars and Places of quiet contemplation.

Sleep 💤 never an issue when the last thing you see from your window is this . 💕🙏

Xxxxxxxx

Days 3 & 4 – 🥾 Tui ~ Porriño ~ Redondela ⛱

As promised – to give the girls some recovery time ; the day started 8:30 am – in an Artisan Tui backstreet café – Coffee , Juice , croissants, pasties all bakery fresh , bread and croissants, Serrano ham and strong curado cheese .

A short Hop from town – we arrive at a decision point – the guidebooks and blogs make a lot of this being difficult. It really is simple – either keep right on the original Camino through heavily industrialised outskirts or take the new recommended rural left route . Local bars and Hostels on the original route fought this – blacking out new yellow arrows , trying to redirect Pilgrims with their own arrows and signs !!! . From what we saw they shouldn’t have worried – 70% of the pelegrinös we saw still took the original (slightly shorter) route .

The new route is a little longer but cool and green as it follows riverside and woodland paths .

Past miles remarkable granite fencing – Granite houses , Granite everything Porriño is famous for mining it – it’s cheaper than wood here .

Lunch today is carried by Ciara for a riverside picnic later.

Takes us into industrial Porriño, small square , fairground , little architecture, to mention , super welcome from everyone in this dusty Granite based hard working town trying to establish tourism here – with a railway running through it. Engines dragging 10.000 ton Multi Car wagons . Reminds me of a rust belt American heartlands .

And after diner at a corner Caff’ – lovely people . Prices a fraction of fashionable Tui – an early Alberque night – Girls actually enjoyed the bunked ,curtained off sleeping pods – all part of the adventure.

The following day ……… as we leave – feeling this has been an memorable authentic experience – NOT – Everything can be chocolate box pretty – I hear 2 couples saying that on an organised tour when they walk Tui to Porriño they then get 🚌 bussed back to Tui for a second night as nothing suits the tour companies here ! They THEN get 🚌 bussed back to Porriño AGAIN ! to restart their walk – bless.😉

************************************

Let’s head to Redondela – the Tweenager Bonus today is that allegedly it has a beach 🏖 ! – let’s sea if it’s true 😆🙏 .

A climb up to the lovely village of Mos-

Great little bars and craft shops ……

Where we meet up Cris &Charlotte from California. Part of our “wave” – that’s people we keep meeting up with , regardless of how fast or slow we all go.

Top of the hill and first sight of the coast .

And into Redondela – we are staying 5k the other side in an Alto Quinta – in what looks to be a Characterful place – but first the search for the beach 🏖!

It’s not easy to find – they don’t appear to feel it’s a tourist attraction and it takes us another 40 minutes to find this deserted picnic spot – but well worth it just to be here for an hour or two.

A memorable picnic and escape from the Midday sun –

But by now we have walked 23k including an extra 4K to find the beach and are way off the Camino . It’s too much to leave this lovely place to climb another steep 2 hours to our hill top farm for the night . Sooo – ………. TAXI 🚕 !!!

And smiling with relief we are whisked to the top of Alto Blanca . The Casa Rural named As Chivas ( the Horned Goat ) is stunning –

Vine shaded and cool – we 4 have a super separate farm building . It’s pretty big – often used for weddings and the Kitchen has a good reputation.

Over the course of the next few hours we tested their Complimentary Tapas , Cold Beers , Childrens Cocktails , G&T’s , Wild coloured burgers , Padrón Peppers, Fresh Fish and laid back hospitality. Thanks to our host Ursula x

It’s been a long day . We crashed asleep 💤 before 10.00pm surrounded by soft rural silence

Xxxxxx

Day 2 – Rubiães 🇵🇹 to Tui 🇪🇸

We’re excited to see what the day holds – a forecasted 29 degrees means we’re out before 7.00am . The modern Café & Patisserie oddly alone in countryside opposite the Alberqué in Paredés da Coura offers Up first breakfast.

And a “Camino Moment” occurs – 7.30 am – far too early for this – BUT – I’m intrigued to find from the milestones that I’m sharing my way with several other routes most thrillingly- the “Via Romana” – Santiago has a mere AD 800 birthdate – this is the full 2000 years old . Bridges and cobbled roadways set with 1/2 ton stones worn by a million feet and iron shod carts.

The early – pre 11.00am steps are fine ……

…… after this soaring temperatures mean we all seek frequent shady recovery moments. 🙏

Passing humorous Alberques who share the distances to our goals as well as the origins of their guests .

Before we enter Valenća and cross the bridge into Tui and Spain 🇪🇸!! . Never tired of the “half in – half out” game 🤣

I recall the first time I crossed a border – amazed at an ACTUAL difference a simple line could make. In this case it’s not simply cultural – its also Climate , Soil , Vegetation: ~ { Lush to Dry } – …….. this being Galicia it won’t be dry for long .

It’s been way too long a day – harder even than the first days ascent. The final 30 mins is desperate, hot , silent , trudge .

We’re staying in the old town of this medieval city . Highest Street , Top Building , Top Floor , …. it’s a killing last few metres .

BUT ……. I’m astonished at how a couple of hours rest and some crisp , cold Albariño wine wipes that memory away

A good dinner …with some great company – Ciaras’ Australian possé – Jean and Geraldine -.

and some far reaching views from the restaurant terrace ……

………… ends the day on the roof of our Pension – right next to the Cathedral with Jess and I – A 💕 lovely moment

To make it fair on ‘Bel & Jess – I’ve already changed tomorrow’s plans – late breakfast , half the distance , picnic lunch and a cool river walk. – got to keep Morale high !

Xxxxxxxx

👋

Day 1 – Ponte de Lima to Rubiães

The hidden story behind today is the ascent of the Alto de Portela Grande . I must admit to being worried about what I am about to take my youngest children through.

Team Harrison 💕 6.45 AM

It’s a hot, long , 20 K gradual ascent , 30,000 steps introduction to the Camino – with warnings that after the first 4K there are no places to stop – so stock up with water and provisions before you leave.

The legendary café Nunês an hour out of town – is a good place for second breakfast before the incline really kicks in.

Because of this baptism of fire I have a small surprise waiting for them with this nights accommodation 😀👍

Before that – we pass Frenchmans cross about three hours later also known as the “the Cruz de Muerte” 💀- probably best to move on !!

The alto steepens and the path is rubble and crumbling inclines. Everyone is holding up really well – it’s an interesting walk and the girls seem to skip all the way through it until we reach …………. an astonishing view . The opening of the Portela grande – the view across the rest of Portugués Camino

Our first Beer at Lunch stop 40 mins later -very welcome 👌🍺🙏🎶

Our Quinta for the night is a welcome sight – Lovely low bungalow that you share with other guests – A slightly posher version of the usual Camino hostel at €20 per head!But a just reward for a tremendous effort by the little ones .

it has the surprise in the garden

Our fellow guests Mariaka & Jacob from Holland and retired Joseph from Arizona (Worked as technical director with the great Robin Williams including on Mrs Doubtfire) – are great company and the communal meal in the evening is just fabulous – Menu Pellegrino –at a simple packed local restaurant at the usual €10 per head for three courses including wine! – It’s good to be back!

Last few minutes of day one from our Alburgé

Xxxxx