Impressions of Pontevedra

Post by Wynette:

We haven’t blogged much about Pontevedra itself. I thought I’d post a few photos with comments.

Pontevedra has a vibrant sidewalk culture. Nearly every street has a bar with outdoor tables. There are lots of pedestrian streets and these have many bars. If you go out any time in the afternoon or evening you’ll see people socializing. This photo was taken about 10 at night. There is a nightly “paseo” with everyone out walking, eating ice cream, visiting, lots and lots of children playing.
We saw a number of tour groups when we were out on our own strolls through the city. I think most of them were Spanish retirees. I snuck this photo while this group was getting their photo taken in front of a monument. Even though we saw tourists, Pontevedra doesn’t feel touristy at all. Just a place where people live and have a rich community life.
Today Charlie and I walked to the train station to buy tickets. On the way back we discovered this park that went on for nearly a half mile alongside a stream. We couldn’t believe we hadn’t discovered it already.
This is the “alameda” right in front of our airbnb. They had a flea market there last weekend. I bought a blouse. So good to have something else to wear besides my hiking shirts.
This is Ponte do Burgo. It is the bridge for which the city is named. Ponte = bridge, Vedra = old. This was once an old Roman bridge but nothing of that remains. Now, it’s pretty modern. The Camino heads out of town over this bridge. (Ella, I included this largely because I like the reflections, too.)
View from the corner window in our airbnb living room
There are so many children. We have seen many school groups out on field trips of some sort during the school week.
125 year old magnolia tree in park across from us. We saw children climbing in it. Reminded me of my Mom. She loved to climb trees when she was a kid.
Not typical here but I thought it was pretty.

We ate Mexican today

Post by Wynette: We finally made it to the Mexican restaurant that is almost next door to our airbnb. Our friend Henry asked if we expected it to be like USA Mexican or Mexican Mexican.

We got there a little before 2:00 and we were the only people in the restaurant. I was feeling bad for them. But by the time we left a little over an hour later, the restaurant was full. Maybe 20 tables of two or more.

We had half servings of several things just to try things. Tapas-like. The chicken mole enchiladas were the best mole I’ve ever had. Incredible. The carnitas were excellent as well. Those two dishes reminded us a lot of Mexican food we’ve eaten in California. Then we had a Sope. This was like nothing I’d ever had in the USA. It did remind me of food I ate when driving through Mexico to Guatemala in my 20s. (Hi Robert Joe!) It was delicious. And finally we had a Tostada Tinga. Never heard of one of those either. And then we shared a cheese cake with dulce de leche. A very dense, smooth cheese cake with a caramel-like sauce. Everything was excellent. I forgot to take photos of the food. So hard not to just dive in.

Menu is here.

I asked the waiter what part of Mexico the food was from but he just said “all over”. He wasn’t nearly as eager to tell us his life story as the owner of the Brazilian restaurant. Well, he didn’t tell us any of it. So, we didn’t have an experience like in the Brazil restaurant. But we did quite enjoy the food.

Una excurción a Combarro

Yesterday, while sitting in a bar here in Pontevedra taking a break during our self-guided walking tour of the city, a young man sitting near us asked if we were walking the Camino. Turned out he was originally from Minnesota, but living here with his wife and three children. We talked with him at least 30 minutes. We asked him what he’d suggest we see/do while we are here. He named a number of things and, among them was a nearby village named Combarro.

Then, later, we went to the grocery store and the very friendly person who checked us out who we had chatted with on an earlier day, asked us how long we were staying here. When she found out we had a few more days she advised (unsolicited), “Combarro, you have to go to Combarro.” The clerk in the next station nodded vigorously and said “Yes, Combarro.” So, we decided to go to Combarro today.

It’s a 15 minute bus ride to get there. While we were waiting at the bus stop I was chatting with the woman sitting next to us and told her we were going to Combarro. She gave us a thumbs up and said something like “good choice.”

So, we figured by then our expectations were way too high.

But we did like Combarro. A cute little fishing village, population 1300, mostly unspoiled by urbanization (as they call it here). It was a little spoiled by turismo (as they call it here) but not too bad. Some photos follow. I just realized we didn’t take any photos of the touristy part. There were probably a dozen little souvenir shops in the middle of our walk through the narrow path through the old part of town.

Strangely there were dozens and dozens of hórreos, aka granaries, which we’ve mentioned over and over in our blogs. We couldn’t figure out why a fishing village would need so many granaries.
There was an info sign about them (in Galician, Spanish, and English).
Granary by the little beach
More granaries and an old boat (it’s hard to get a photo without a granary in it)
Old fisherman’s homes
Nice little alley way, to get to a granary
A newer part of town
Still some fishing going on. These are traps for some kind of shell fish, probably.
Combarro is on a ria (we might call it a narrow bay), not directly on the Atlantic

The seagulls next door

Post by Wynette: The front of our apartment building faces a fairly busy street but luckily the cars move slowly there. Across the street is a large park and community gathering spot (with occasional loud music concerts, as you may have heard). The side of our building faces a narrow pedestrian street with not much going on except for three good restaurants.

Directly across from our apartment, on the corner of the busy street and the pedestrian street, is an old building that is vacant on the top floor and a bit ramshackle. But on the ground floor of the building is a modern bar with sidewalk tables.

On the roof of this building is an old clay tile roof. We have a good view of it from our living/dining room. We just realized a couple of days ago that a seagull is nesting there. We can’t see the nest, but she hasn’t budged from her spot in several days. And yesterday we saw another seagull swoop in with a large glob of something in its mouth and give it to her. We saw him do this 3 times. So, we assume she is sitting on her eggs and he is feeding her.

I looked up seagull nesting habits on Google and learned they lay their eggs in early May. (This was a UK article but I assume Spanish seagulls are similar?) The eggs hatch in about 3 weeks, so she has a while to go. I also read that seagulls mate for life.

The seagull next door
Her mate shortly after bringing her a treat to eat

Day trip to Sanxenxo

Post by Wynette:

As Charlie just posted, we spent a few hours in Sanxenxo today, up the coast a bit from Pontevedra. It has a long sandy beach. It was beautiful beach-walking weather so we did a bunch of that. We were pretty shocked how urbanized the area is along the beach front. I was trying to imagine what this town was like 50 or 100 years ago.

Silgar beach. Sculpture inspired by Celtic mythology symbolizing the beauty of the sea. (Madama de Silgar).
Getting coffee in a pastry shop. We ordered the ones in the middle. The server brought out the ones on the side with the coffee. Whew!

We popped into a small church (unusual to find one open!) and were struck by how it was like a miniature cathedral complete with little chapels on the sides. It seemed like a toy cathedral. But very charming.

Little church in Sanxenxo. Seven rows of seats.
Heading out of the church.
Near the back
The other end of town, in front of restaurant where we had lunch. A very down home restaurant, with lots of locals eating there.
We had the menu. We both had the same thing: salad and Sanjacobos. The salad was good. The other wasn’t bad but wasn’t great. We felt bad we didn’t eat something healthier, especially after those pastries earlier.

Harbor and boat repair in Sanxenxo

We took the bus, 30 minutes with lots of stops, out to the seaside resort town of Sanxenxo (San-shen-show) near Pontevedra. We walked the beach, it was low tide and fun to walk on, saw the harbor and had a nice lunch at a place frequented by locals. The fancier places are tapas places with no menu del dia.

We walked out the pier and came to the harbor:

We have visited many small boat harbors on this trip. We have posted a number of photos. They have cute little boats, often in some disrepair, obviously owned by people from the town.

I looked at these boats and, whoa, these are fancy boats. Here are some more:

Some of these are 40+ feet. We are getting into Portofino territory here. Actually I’m lying about that. We were in Portofino a few years ago and the boats in Portofino are as far above these boats as they are above the rowboats we have been seeing before. But still, pretty fancy boats, way more expensive that anything we have seen before on this trip.

We walked along farther and came upon a boat repair facility. They had 20-30 boats in dry dock. We saw a work cleaning barnacles off a propeller. I noticed their boat crane was being moved. Video here.

As you can see the key thing is: slow and careful. They were going to lift a boat out for repair. I didn’t see them lift it but here is the boat being attached to the crane straps. I love to see skilled workers doing their job and making it look easy.

A morning on the Camino, but not as pilgrims

Post by Wynette:

As we have talked about in a previous post, Charlie and I are spending eight days in Pontevedra, a city of about 80,000 south of Santiago. Pontevedra is on the Camino that goes from Lisbon, Portugal, to Santiago. We walked that Camino, starting in Porto, in 2016. Yesterday, we decided to walk this Camino for a few miles going out of Pontevedra.

We got up, got dressed (no breakfast or coffee) and headed out. Good to be out in the cool morning. We started seeing pilgrims immediately. In general, pilgrims like to get an early start, either to beat the heat or to get to their destination before others so they get the bed they want.

And almost immediately, I started missing being a pilgrim, going to Santiago. It’s not the same being on the Camino if you are just out for a hike and have to retrace your steps to get to your place for the night. I felt jealous of the many pilgrims that we saw. Not exactly logical.

About three miles out of town we heard a woman behind us say “Is that a Zia symbol I see?” Turned out it was a woman from Santa Fe. She had spotted my “American Pilgrims on the Camino, Albuquerque Chapter” patch that was on the flap of my backpack. We chatted a bit and it was clear the woman she was walking with (not from Santa Fe) wanted to chat more, but the Santa Fe woman was in a hurry. They were the only USA Americans we’ve met on this trip on the Camino. (We’re not counting the guy from Portland who now lives in Galicia.)

Woman from Santa Fe and her partner leaving us in the dust

There was a bar nearby, a little off the Camino, so we decided to head there for breakfast and coffee. The woman tending the bar was so nice. She said she couldn’t make us fried eggs but she made us ham and cheese bocadillos with some delicious bread.

Very nice woman who made us breakfast sandwiches

After that we headed back to Pontevedra. It was interesting walking backwards on the Camino. There were lots of pilgrims coming towards us. Everyone was friendly and many said “hola” or wished us a “buen Camino” but they usually looked at us quizzically like, “huh, you look like pilgrims but why are you walking that way?” No one actually voiced the question out loud. We couldn’t believe how many pilgrims we saw. Maybe over 100 total.

Lots of pilgrims

Did you spot anything interesting in the above photo? There was a woman carrying a young baby. Here is a close up:

Pilgrim carrying a baby. That was a first for us.

Then shortly after that we passed a family with a young child. She was probably 11 or so. Another first for us, I think.

Young child walking the Camino

One more thing of note from the walk. We spotted this as we were getting back into Pontevedra:

Spotted on the way back but not on the way out

Spain is such a funny country. The above pretty amazing sculpture was way up on top of somebody’s garage.

Sculpture above someone’s garage
Also spotted walking back into Pontevedra. Tile on the back of someone’s house. I liked it.

Novel toaster design

This is the toaster provided in our Airbnb. I am liking it. It toasts quite fast. It is easy to see how dark the toast is getting. No switch, no controls, unplug to turn off, simple. You do have to flip the toast if you want two sides but that is easy to do. Don’t leave the butter in front of it, it melts. The other side is the same so you can do two slices at a time.

We are toasting some raisin-walnut bread we got yesterday, delicious.