Camino Day 8 – Porrino to Redondela

6 hours walking, 17.6 km walked
(Walking times includes stops for meals and breaks)

Because we both got a pretty good night’s sleep for a change, we had a bit of a slow start, stopping a block away from the albergue for a quick coffee and croissant at Restaurante Paso a Nivel, a place whose main recommendation was that it was open, but which turned out to be pretty good. Getting on the road around 8am, we’d only been walking about an hour when we hit another milestone – the Camino waymarker that tell you you have less than 100 km to go before Santiago. The next stages are the most important parts of the Camino in terms of completing the formal Catholic pilgrimage, which is also why the routes are so busy from Porrino onwards.

This was a shorter walking day in terms of distance between towns, but it included yet another mountain climb, so we were taking it easy along the way. The weather was perfect – cooler than the day before, but sunny and clear, and we didn’t feel like rushing. We’d run out of our favourite Portuguese choclate milk, but had found a similar Spanish version, once again a real life-saver.

Peregrinos who’d joined the way at Tui or Porrino passed us by, still feeling that fresh energy, while people who’d been on the route for a while moved along like us, steady but settled in to a rhythm.

We made a stop in the pedestrianized village of Mos to have a coffee at Tapería Flora and check out the local pilgrim shop – I can’t remember specifically what we were looking for, but Sammi bought a good pair of sunglasses. The Camino de Santiago buff, done in the style of the Coca-Cola logo, made me laugh, as did the idea of buying one of these heavy little statuettes just before climbing a mountain with all of my belongings on my back. Souvenirs are so weird. They also advertised a taxi service, a real temptation when faced with yet another mountain.

Now we started off up and over the mountain; a shorter ascent, along real paths and roads. The weather was warm, but pleasant, and the climb was tiring but not awful. On our our last big climb, I’d spent the whole day questioning why the Camino would take that route (and I still do, and urge you to avoid that one if you walk the Caminho Portugues), this one made more sense and felt safer and more scenic.

Eagle-eyed Sammi spotted wild strawberries by the side of the road, which was an excellent treat, and at one rest stop, complete with benches, drinking water, and a vending machine, a neighbourhood dog has learned that pilgrims are a rich source of treats and scritches.

The other bonus of this smaller mountain was that there were villages and restaurants along the way, though many of them were closed. But we found one that was open, so I got this absolute feast of a salad with tuna and olives, while Sammi got that wee little omelet sandwich. Vegetarian options, as I mentioned earlier, are pretty limited.

The walk down the other side was steep in some places (that road sign is not a joke), but had beautiful views and paved roads, so you didn’t have to watch your feet the whole time to make sure you didn’t trip. Walking downhill with a full pack is hard work, though, and we quietly cursed the two otherwise very nice Austrian women who caught up to us, had a little chat, and then breezed on past with their daypacks. Overall, I don’t think it’s worth the money to have your pack sent on at every stage, but I can’t say I didn’t have moments of envy.

As I said previously, at this point you’re really in pilgrim country.

Thought the pathways in Spain aren’t as pretty or as overflowing with bountiful farms and abundant flowers, there were some spots along the way that were quite beautiful. And I love the spirit of Galicia – the windvane above, a witch (miega) on a broom with her little cat – was a symbol we started to see along the road.

Coming in to Rendondela through the outskirts of the city, you can see you’re in an area that used to be much more prosperous, but that in recent years has been neglected as the city has changed. This wasn’t a beautiful part of the walk, but I liked it – I enjoy urban decay, and the sight of pilgrims’ shrines and old drinking fountains alongside autobody shops and busy roads reminds me of how neighbourhoods shift over decades and centuries.

On the way to Albergue Casa Da Torre De Redondela we’d seen posters and decorations advertising a festival, and when we got there around 2:30pm we found the stage crew setting up in the spaces around the albergue. While I showered and did my laundry, I prayed to the gods of pilgrims and festival producers, hoping it wasn’t going to be crap cover bands until 2am outside of our bedroom windows. When we ventured out for dinner, after a rest, we found that they were actually setting up for a marionette festival, but to our disappointment it wasn’t starting until the next evening.

The albergue itself is really nice – spacious and lovely, in a converted Medieval monastery, it has loads of common spaces and a small museum. The showers and laundry are well set-up, though once again there’s no cooking or eating utensils in the kitchen. And we were really happy to have settled in, resting up until the restaurants opened at 7, until an altercation began. It was between a guy I’d seen at the albergue the night before, who was walking alone and had a bit of an angry countenance, and another guy, who was walking with friends, and it seem to bubble up out of nowhere. In a heartbeat, voices were raised, and it looked like it was going to come to blows. Luckily, the second guy’s friends came over, and that calmed the first guy down. But we were both pretty unsettled by it.

We arrived at 78 Gastrobar just as they were opening for the night at 7pm, and were excited to find a menu with really good and non-standard vegetarian food. The waiter was really nice, and my (non-vegetarian) burger was excellent. It was a feast, and after days of meals that were often either too repetitive or just not that great, we stuffed ourselves. We lingered over beer, having had a pretty good day and not too excited about sharing a dorm with angry dudes.

When we got back to the albergue, we were treated to a band with not one but three hurdy-gurdies, as part of the brief opening ceremonies for the festival the next day. We slipped back into the albergue just in time for the 10pm curfew, and hit the hay.

Follow our Caminho Portugues adventure!

Landing Day in Porto
Day 1 – Porto to Vila Cha
Day 2 – Vila Cha to Rates
Day 3 – Rates to Barcelos
Day 4 – Barcelos to Ponte de Lima
Day 5 – Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes
Day 6 – Rubiaes to Tui
Day 7 – Tui to Porriño
Day 8 – Porrino to Redondela (you are here)
Day 9 – Redondela to Pontevedra
Day 10 – Pontevedra to Caldas des Reies

When I’m done posting these, I’ll also post an article of my advice for anyone thinking of walking the Caminho/Camino, and I’ll link it here!

Photos by Candace Shaw and Samantha Shaw

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