Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Dear Diary – Day Two of the Camino Inglés

Pontedeume – Betanzos 20 kms

I woke up in the dark to the sound of seagulls. Again. No poetry this morning.

Although I walk a lot I’m feeling stiff. The effects of the first day, the sun and the cervecas no doubt.
Last time I was here writing the Guide I set off at dawn to walk the detour to the Church of San Miguel de Breamo which sits high on the hill above Pontedueme.

Over coffee the Guidechecker, reading of today’s route commented on the description of the walk to San Miguel de Breamo. “ Last time, you did this before breakfast and before you set off on the route to Betanzos?” he enquired with a look that said…” tooth brush sawn in half, walking the route to the beginning then back again and a 2 hour walk before the day’s walking began…” Pitiful is the message conveyed.

Along the top of the bar the breakfast buffet was laid out – a choice of cakes or biscuits. A couple of locals were chain smoking in the corner. They were drinking strong expressos with a slug of aguardiente. I’ve tasted it. It really is firewater. And after all – it IS 7 am, what better time for a drink!

In Scotland it is considered weakness to have even a spoonful of sugar in your porridge so we eschew the cakes and biscuits and I negotiate a tortilla francesa. Two freshly made 2 egg omelettes appear in a jiffy and Louis with a cosmopolitan air gives us each a sachet of ketchup. This breakfast is almost Scottish.

We set off in the cool morning air. The sky was clear. It would be hot again today.
The book says we are going to be walking up hill for about 3 kms. Very soon reality confirmed that the book is correct. We reminded ourselves that some people pay money to go to the gym every morning for this kind of cardiovascular exercise. We stopped to admire the views looking back and told ourselves it was worth it. And we kept walking up.

Soon we were warm even before the sun came up filtering through the forest track when the route levels out above Pontedeume. Different smells filled the air, pine, grass. Dew wet our boots.

Not far along this stretch is a seated area. Really handy after the walk up out of Pontedeume. There is a fuente where we topped up water bottles and rested for a few minutes.

A local man strolled past and we chatted to him briefly. I asked him if there were many other peregrinos. “Oh yes, “he replied,” I saw two English people, an Irish woman and a German, I think.” “Gosh,” I said. “That’s a lot. Was this earlier today or yesterday?” He stared…”no, in the last week.” He replied. My compañero laughed with the man.

More people are giving me funny looks these days. But as far as the Guidechecker is concerned there will be revenge. Rest assured.

As we left the chap we passed a nearby lavadero. These are washing areas in villages in Galicia and often people can be seen washing clothes. The water is ice cold and they are also great places to revive tired feet on a hot day.
Soon we took a right turn off the road and the route took us through rural Galicia at its best. Green and lush. In the forest birds were singing. Horses and donkeys sprinkled the fields.
We stopped very briefly at the Ponte Baxoi then we made our way into Miño. A right turn at the main road would have taken us to the very well appointed albergue but we carried on straight ahead out of town.

The estuary appeared on our right and we made our way down through country lanes to have lunch by the river. Every day should be like this.

Then as we set out refreshed I couldn’t resist some small revenge. “You see that motor way flyover up there?” I said pointing. “Yes, the one which is really high up. Well we’re going to walk up to a point just above that – but it won’t take long.”

It was above us
Then we were beside it
Then we were above it

But in all honesty it took just less than 15 mins to walk but it didn’t stop the question being asked halfway up: “When do I get my first beer?”

We set off down the other side through lovely lanes and paths until we were on the outskirts of Betanzos. There we hit heavy traffic and nearly got involved in a three horse traffic jam.

Tomorrow is a big day – early to bed.

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