Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 2.8.21

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.

Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza

The Olive News has 2 articles on Galicia – here and here – and I’ve written to the editor to ask her not to spread such rumours as we have enough bloody (Spanish) tourists to be going on with . . .

Our camino walk yesterday from Pontevedra to the spa town of Caldas de Reis was a tad eventful. We were passed by 2 Guardia Civil officers on motorbikes, something I’ve never seen before. Then we heard what sounded like a pack of hunting dogs, followed shorty after by our bumping into 2 men trying to bundle dogs into a couple of cars. Finally, we were joined by a lady who told us she’d been terrified to see a large wild boar emerge from the undergrowth in front of her. Conclusion:- Furtivos. Illegal hunters, being pursued by the Guardia Civil.

Cyclists: As I’ve noted before, the bane of the camino. A Q&A on the subject:-
Are they polite?: A small percentage of them, yes. The vast majority are selfish, inconsiderate cretins.
Why do you characterise them so?: Well, they’re almost always in groups of at least 3, riding at 20-30km and only about 0.5% of them possess/use a bell. The rest of them come up behind you at speed and shout at you to get out of their way when only a few metres away. Some of them even eschew this and race past you without any warning whatsoever.
Are they always a problem?: On the camino portugués, yes, But there’s maybe 10 times more of the bastards on Sundays. I don’t recall them grinding their way up the muddy, rock-strewn inclines of the Primitivo.
What do you think is the solution?: Either their route should be separate – as it already is in parts – or pilgrims should be allowed to carry and use a machine gun.

To be more positive . . . Here’s a genuine Roman milestone on the camino, which is reputedly the Roman road XIX from Braga in Portugal to La Coruña:-

Truth to tell – the humungous increase in pilgrims on this route – from 5,000 in 2009 to 100,000 in 2019 and 120,000 next year – has led to a massive increase in facilities and improvements in those that already existed. A modernised café in San Amaro now looks nothing like its tatty predecessor, for example. And several pathside private garages have been converted into refreshment stops. But, then, as I’ve said, the camino has long been mostly about money. Best news of all – the dangerous bits of the camino – where you used to have to walk on a narrow grass strip alongside a busy road – have recently been replaced by wider paths, protected by metal barriers.

Here’s reader Eamon’s helpful answer to the problem of inconsistent direction signs:-

María’s Not So Fast: Day 28 August holidays

Portugal

It’s reported that anyone who’s received a dose of the India-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine will need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival from the UK, as the Portuguese government doesn’t recognise those batches. I believe this isn’t the case in Spain and, indeed, wasn’t for my current visitor.

The UK

I laughed this morming to hear a temperature which would be at least cool even in Northern Spain was said to be ‘pleasantly mild’.

Finally . . .

A very Spanish happening yesterday: I’d gone ahead of my colleagues to try to get a table at my favourite place in Caldas de Reis. As this had been full, I backtracked and met them at a café just as they hit the N550 on the southern edge of the town. By the time they arrived, I’d had a drink and enjoyed a pork rib tapa that was so tasty I asked the waitress if they could give us a couple of plates of these for lunch. She said not but, after I’d expressed disappointment and stressed how much I’d enjoyed the tapa, she came back and said that, if we were happy to wait, the owner would light the BBQ and grill us the ribs. We were very pleased to do do and not only got the ribs but also free pastries and free shots of my favourite local liqueur – crema de orujo.

Note: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here.

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