May 11 and 12: Redondela and Pontevedra

May 11 Redondela

Day two was a day of soreness. Almost everyone in our group was hurting at least a little bit in some way from the hike the day before. I had it pretty easy, my feet were where I hurt most and once I began walking the pain faded. We walked about 20 kilometers to Redondela, a little city close to the sea. This is the day that the Tres Banditos, as Cooper, Marcel, and I had cleverly named ourselves, got lost about a million times. A lot of the Camino was through tiny little towns that clearly did not prioritize the up-keeping of the arrows, hence, many were very faded. But it was fine, we made it to Redondela safe and sound. The walk that day was absolutely gorgeous. We passed by this one view of the yellow mountain flowers below us, trees surrounding us, pristine little towns scattered throughout the mountainside, and our first view of the ocean right ahead of us. It was stunning. One of the most beautiful views I had ever seen.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The albergue opened at 1pm, so after that, Laura, and I walked around town. That night there was going to be a huge festival so there was a little flea market going on in the square. We walked around, surveying the knick-knacks sold at each stand, when we hit one and began speaking with the women working there. We must have stood around for a good 20 minutes chatting with them in Spanish when they asked us to go get a Coke with them. Turns out, they were studying English at a local language school and wanted to practice their English and we wanted to practice our Spanish. We ended up spending most of the afternoon with them and they even showed us parts of the city. We’re Facebook friends now as well. It was really neat to be able to speak to native Spaniards in their language and have them understand us, and have them speak back to us in Spanish (sometimes English) and still understand them. It’s amazing how even though we come from different countries, languages, and cultures, we could still understand each other, connect with each other, and become friends. It was a really great way to spend the day and I had a lot of fun hanging out with these women.
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-Julia

It was a beautiful day as we left O Porrino for Redondela. We walked through the idyllic countryside with small houses. We noticed that the houses are usually brightly colored with terracotta roofs. Rose gardens dot the landscape and the occasional chicken here or there. The walk felt a lot shorter than normal and we made it to Redondela by 12:00, though the Albergue did not open till 1:00 pm. After scarfing down huevos and carne we were checked into the albergue. The albergue was nice with an art gallery next to the communal sleeping area. Redondela is a nice little city with green parks and cafes around the plazas. There was a festival called la festival del choco, basically a festival celebrating sea food in Galician culture, especially pulpo, or octopus and squid. In the square was a big tent full of the sounds and smells of Galician culture. One could smell fried squid and hear bag pipes. There were many stalls that sold handmade items ranging from scarves to ceramics to jewelry to soap. It was an excellent way to practice speaking Spanish with locals, who were very friendly. We could hear the festivities way into the night with many young people crowding the streets eating gelato and drinking café con leche. After a long hike in hot sun, Redondela was a perfect resting place to regenerate for the next day on the Camino del Santiago.
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-Laura

May 12 Pontevedra

This is the cathedral we visited in Pontevedra as one of our site visits this afternoon, and was built in the late 1700s.

This is the cathedral we visited in Pontevedra as one of our site visits this afternoon, and was built in the late 1700s.

This is the bridge where the Spaniards defeated Napoleon a few hundred years ago...pretty cool to think we were in the same spot as Napoleon, right?

This is the bridge where the Spaniards defeated Napoleon a few hundred years ago…pretty cool to think we were in the same spot as Napoleon, right?

Hey everyone!  Today, we walked from Redondela to Pontevedra, which we were told was about 18 kilometers….it was definitely more than that.  I would say we walked somewhere around 20 kilometers, right into a beautiful hotel with guaranteed hot water.  The hike today was one of my favorites, despite it being so long, due to the beauty of the path.  We walked through a beautiful path throughout the woods and through mountains (which Kayla, Eli, Phillip, Felicity and I conquered with the aid of theme music from Rocky).  Seeing as I am basically in love with the earth, this was awesome, despite the heat and heavy backpacks.  Two of my favorite parts from the Camino today were seeing the bridge where Napoleon was defeated in 180-something (I am terrible with dates) and walking through the mountains on the Roman Road. It fascinates me that people were walking along the same path that we were thousands of years ago! Awesome, right?  We also visited La Peregrina once we got to Pontevedra, which is a cathedral in the shape of a seashell and was built during the 1700s.  It was quite beautiful as well!  But, as far as I know, we are all alive despite being extremely sore, hot, and tired.  We’ll definitely be sleeping well (or siesta-ing well for some during the afternoon) tonight! Hope all is well in the US, happy Mother’s Day to all of you lovely mothers out there, and I miss you mom, Dad, and Hannah!

–Marguerite

It was an long day to Pontevedra, as we left Redondela at an early 7 am. It is better to leave the albergue early though so that we beat the afternoon sun and heat. The beginning of our walk was heavily wooded with many yellow flowers along the way. As it got closer to 10 AM, we drew closer to the coast. Through the pine trees one could see water front towns, until finally we came upon a Roman bridge. The water was bright turquoise blue and crystal clear. The town was still asleep besides the mass of peregrinos congregating near a coffee shop called Café Romana. In order to really enjoy the breath-taking beauty around you, one had to stop at the café, order a café con leche and sit outside. The sun was warm on our backs after a slightly chilly morning. After the café, we headed back into the mountains, often having to walk up heavily wooded hills. Though it was a long walk up hill, the scenery was unforgettable. In the distance, one could see the town below them, with the red roofed houses and blue water. In Pontevedra is el Santuario de la Peregrina. It is a neo-classical structure in the center of the old part of the city. Interestingly enough, the figure of the Virgin Mary is presented as a peregrina and she is referred to as the divine pilgrim. We stayed in a hotel in Pontevedra, with hot showers and clean towels. The walk to Pontevedra was without a doubt difficult but the spectacular views and the old church were our rewards for the day.

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-Laura

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