What an extraordinary day! We spent last night at a wonderful old hotel in Ferrol (Hotel Suizo). After checking out (and getting an all important stamp in our ‘Pilgrim Passports’), we set off for the port in the dark …. We were met at Kilometer Zero of the Camino by Isabella, who gave us a tour of the Ferrol Arsenal which culminated at the wonderful Maritime Museum in breakfast with various groups (lots of sailors of course but also representatives of an association working with people with disabilities and something like the local Women’s Institute – possibly others, at one point there seemed to be hundreds of us!). Cake, coffee and two hours later, we set off for real.
The route winds around the coast, initially through a fairly urban landscape but with some lovely views especially once we reached Neda. We stopped briefly at the Mosterio de San Martino and then at an old tidal mill where we were joined by the President of the Excma Diputacion of A Coruna and the Galician Minister of Tourism who walked with us for the next couple of kilometres.
At the Albergue at Neda, we enjoyed a short rest and aperitif with empanada before setting off again at 1.30pm. The hostel is in a wonderful position and very nice although a quick shuftie in the dormitory did make me thankful that for the first couple of nights along the Way I’m staying in a hotel …
The route on to Fene was a bit steeper in places but fine. I was intrigued by the number of lavaderos we came across (public wash houses), which are apparently quite common in Galicia. Somewhere en route an old chap picking figs in his garden gave us a few handfuls to munch on.
We stopped for a late lunch in Fene which was preceded by some wonderful music and singing. Bagpipes, washboards (perhaps that relates to the lavaderos?) and even bottles! Four courses including Spanish omelette and empanada; wonderful mouthwatering clams; beef stew; cakes and coffee. Wowzer! All washed down with some fabulous wine and finished off with a little local moonshine, not unlike genepi if you’ve skied in the Southern Alps.
After Fene, the Way became more wild and rugged. We walked for a while in a forest, which was also when it started to rain, although it wasn’t cold.
Eventually, 17 miles after starting out (although that figure doesn’t include walking to the start or walking around the Arsenal … ), we arrived in the pretty little town of Pontedeume. Tired and slightly sore, we had one last climb ahead of us; the medieval Andrade Tower, where we enjoyed some more wonderful singing, music and dancing – and more empanada – in the company of the mayor.
I lost count how many mayors we met today, but one thing’s for sure: Everyone we have come across has been so kind and friendly and ready to wish us ‘Buen Camino!’ (or ‘Bo Camiño!’ in Galician). We have shared thoughts, ideas and impressions with a variety of different people and organisations, we have talked about the power of heritage to bring people together, to build identity and civic pride. And we have seen that in action in spades! What will tomorrow bring, I wonder?
You can catch up on other posts here:
Thanks for reading and for supporting INTO!