Today’s hike was quite different. Much hillier, wilder and less stressful. Admittedly, we are also walking less far – from Pontedeume to Betanzos is a mere 20km – but it has been a beautiful ramble. I’m writing this first half of my blog sitting at the Albergue de Mino, the halfway point, where we have stopped for lunch. A chef is preparing seaweed and mussels. Schlurp!
The day started with a huge downpour, but fortunately we we’re in no hurry so simply prolonged our breakfast (at the Eumesa Hotel – somehow managed to avoid cake and had fruit and toast!).
We climbed up the hill at the back of the town to the 18th Century Church of Santiago and then continued onwards and upwards, following the blue and yellow scallop shell signs. Beautiful sweeping views of the bay before we crossed over to the other side.
Something hugely motivating about a hill climb. Definitely my kind of walking. We met some other groups of pilgrims – one lively bunch from Andalucia having a whale of a time and a gang of German ladies with big rucksacks.
The Way took us through forests and pretty villages, past small homesteads and chestnut groves. And an amazing fungus called ‘Witch’s fingers’ … After crossing a delightful medieval bridge, we walked in the shadow of a large modern flyover to the Mino Albergue where we are having lunch with the mayor. Seaweed and mussels were delicious. As was the empanada and rolls filled with either chorizo or chocolate from Horno Sandbrandan.
After lunch we set off for Betanzos, passing lots of small holdings and the walled garden of a fairly fancy looking place – I wonder what lay behind the high walls??? Just before Ponto do Porco, we stopped for coffee/beer/icecream and to hear about the story of the Galician knight, Pérez de Andrade who commissioned the bridge decorated with the family boar symbol.
Halfway up the hill to Betanzos we stopped again for apples, pears and drinks – thank you voiture balai! As we arrived in Betanzos we firstly met a man with half his body inside a huge wooden barrel. Sadly I wasn’t quick enough with my camera. The streets of Betanzos were hung with bunting. They must have known we were coming …
We visited several churches in the wonderful medieval walled town of Betanzos with our guide José Raimundo Núñez-Varela, including the Convent of San Francisco which contains the tomb of Pérez de Andrade, the Church of Santa Maria with its amazing alterpiece and the Church of Santiago where we got our next stamp from a room where apparently sick pilgrims would be given absolution if they weren’t able to make it all the way to Santiago. Tempting …
A swift tea/beer and then we were received by the mayor in the impressive Town Hall after which we visited the CIEC Foundation (International Centre for Contemporary Printing) where we enjoyed seeing print making in action as well as exploring the galleries, followed by supper of award winning tortilla (the perfect mix of egg and potato!) and white wine. A truly magical day – thank you everyone involved!
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