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Travelling in Spain. Camino Tui─Santiago de Compostela. Part two

Misty Morning

Misty Morning

The morning of the second day happened to be cool and misty. Morning mists are not rare here. Proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and a rather even landscape formed a unique climate; the nights are cold at times, but in the daytime it is usually hot.

Morning Wood

Morning Wood

The pilgrim’s route lies two kilometres away from our hotel. After we had some breakfast and thanked the hostess for bed and table, we set off on our journey. The dawn was breaking outside, and the morning mist, like a veil, was slowly dissipating to expose the grass, spotted with billions of drops of dew. Another moment – and the first rays of the morning sun quickened everything around us, turning the drops of dew into glittering deposits of diamonds. We stopped for a moment, stunned, riveted to the spot, admiring the unbelievable beauty! I wonder, what impressions could the first pilgrims have experienced seeing all this nature’s splendour? Of course, the first pilgrims took all this splendour in the right way – it was God’s blessing and approval of their pilgrimage!

Corn Fields

Corn Fields

To keep us from being bored, the road was constantly winding, intersecting with vineyards from time to time. In September in Galicia the begin to harvest the grapes, and as we were passing by the vineyards we watched how the grapevines are harvested here. For an outsider it looked like a festive event: the entire household comes together to harvest the grapes – from the oldest to the youngest, and all of them are vigorously picking up the grapes together. Long months of painstaking labour pay back the vinedresser with a generous harvest and a festive table, around which all the relatives come together. What a festive day it is indeed!

Grape Harvest in Galicia

Grape Harvest in Galicia

The goal of our second day was the city of Pontevedra, where we planned an overnight stop, and a dinner party with our helmsman Andrei from Pontevedra. As we walked on, enjoying the nature, we had not noticed how the pilgrim’s path brought us to a crossroad. We could walk on the road, or we could walk along a small river. At the advice of our cupbearer Andrei, we chose the second option. The route we chose turned out to be more interesting than the first one, because it went through a little forest and brought us directly to our destination.

Colt's Breakfast

Colt’s Breakfast

In the forest it was cool, and the air was filled with the aroma of vegetation. Every now and then we stopped and studied the plants we encountered on our path. As it turned out, we possessed a good deal of knowledge about botany, and we even knew many plants and their valuable qualities. And our secretary-chronicler Yelena beyond all expectations seemed to us to be a sort of David Attenborough: there had not been any plant that Yelena would not have known. Truly, she was a valuable person with an exceptionally useful information.

Once in a while we encountered fruit trees and even laurels. When we reached a turnpike, the forest abruptly ceased, and the path brought us to a little settlement that turned out to be one of the Pontevedra’s suburbs. The time was getting closer to the noon and siesta.

Spanish Cabbage

Spanish Cabbage

Upon entering the city, the pilgrim’s path took us right to the city’s centre, to the Peregrina Square, where the church of the XVIIIth century La Peregrina is rising in the middle over it. La Peregrina Church is considered the main attraction of the city, although the oldest preserved religious edifice of Pontevedra is the Monastery of Saint Francis of the XVI century. Street restaurants nestle around the square, with numerous cafeterias and snack bars.

We decided to go to the church first to participate in the afternoon mass, then have a bite somewhere, and, if we still have enough strength, to continue our journey.

In the church the mass was sung, and it was pleasant to see that not only the pilgrims attended the mass, but a lot of the local population also. This testifies of the fact that here, in Pontevedra, there is a very united and active Christian community.

Bridge in the wood

Bridge in the wood

The old city port Pontevedra lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean’s bay. The population of the city is a little over eighty thousand people. Pontevedra is also the administrative centre of the province of Pontevedra.

The city is known from the times of the Roman Empire; when translated from Latin Pontevedra means the old bridge. According to the ancient legend, the city was founded by Teucer, a hero of the Trojan wars, who married Helena here – the daughter of the king, who headed up the Greek army to liberate Athens. The city was built with its paved streets, neat squares, and a fortress wall on the spot where the Lerez River empties into the Bay.

Passionfruit Flower

Passionfruit Flower

Pontevedra possesses one of the richest collections of the Roman architectural legacy in Galicia. In the city, built with incredible patience, which is called by the local people a good village, a great number of historic monuments has been preserved. And if in the past it was mainly a commercial port with shipyards, where the ships were built for Christopher Columbus, now this city has become a cosy haven for Romantic travels.

Shady streets of Pontevedra

Shady streets of Pontevedra

Pontevedra can be also called the city of streets and plazas; and the best way to enjoy the city’s beauty is to wander in its ancient streets and cobbled plazas with colonnades and blossoming trees.

From the Ferreria Plaza there is a splendid view of the San Francisco monastery; and on the Plaza de las Cinco Calles, which translates as the Square of Five Streets, you can behold how five streets come together in this relatively small square.

The Square of Firewood (la Plaza de la Lena) in Pontevedra

The Square of Firewood (la Plaza de la Lena) in Pontevedra

Having attended the mass, and after a light snack, we decided to walk on as much as we had strength left, and then, if we got exhausted, we would ask our helmsman Andrei to pick us up and take us to the hotel.

Siesta was at full blast, and we realized that we had made a mistake, setting off on our journey at this time of the day. After approximately fifteen kilometres the afternoon heat had fully wiped us out, and we decided to turn to our helmsman for help. At any rate, it was a valuable experience for us.

Andrei came quickly and rescued us from the afternoon heat. At the hotel that bears the symbolic name “Virgin Mary,” we were accommodated rather comfortably, and, having rested for some time, we started preparing for the dinner party.

La Peregrina Church (view from the rear)

La Peregrina Church (view from the rear)

Andrei, our helmsman and driver in one person, arrived at the hotel at the appointed time to take us to his house and show us hospitality. Andrei is a professional cook and at his main job he works as a sea cook on a fishing boat. Many a time Andrei roamed the seas and oceans, and he saw a lot of exotic fish and sea monsters. The evening promised to be quite entertaining and informative. And indeed so, our expectations had been fully met.

At Andrei’s house there was a royal reception awaiting us. The tables were heaped with food. Mainly it was the produce of the sea, cooked by Andrei himself and his wife, who is a descendant of fishermen and a good cook. All the dishes were served with excellent local wines and noble drinks. Especially I would like to mention the dishes made of a huge lobster and a gigantic ocean crab.

Having enjoyed a wonderful evening and savoured sea delicacies, we thanked the hospitable hosts, and, saying our goodbyes, went to the hotel. We had to have some rest and restore our strength for the third day of our Camino.

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