After a short bus ride, the end of the Camino, in the historic Santiago de Compostela. This was my second time here, the first being in November 2018 for three days before we went on to Madrid and Barcelona. At that time we had one extremely wet and windy day, one sunny and one in-between. The day we left it poured. The Christmas lights and decorations were being put up and my husband said he thought Christmas would be lovely there. This time in May the place was just bursting with excitement, the weather was fantastic and everyone was out enjoying the sights, meeting friends, and eating and drinking. I arrived early and was lucky as there was a room available, in fact as this was our third Parador this trip we were upgraded to a suite on the second level which was wonderful. The third level must be even better with larger and more luxurious offerings. As it was I was delighted with all the lovely extras. Thank you, Paradores.
We spent three wonderful days here. We walked about the city hitting Rúa do Franco which is home to a lot of bars and restaurants, at one end there is a bar called Paris and at the other end one called Dakkar…This additional route named after Paris-Dakar rally is to drink a glass of local wine and some tapas at each bar between the Paris and Dakkar. As Santiago is a university town I am sure some have tried it. I think we managed three. We went to one pilgrims’ mass, which due to renovations at the Cathedral celebrated in the church of S. Francisco, just 350 m away from Obradoiro Square. If you are in the main square facing the Cathedral, turn left and walk down Rua de San Francisco, past the Parador. It was very musty.You can still visit the cathedral and hug the apostle.There is a self-guided tour of the Parador and here is a selection of pictures, the place is just incredible. We just had to have dinner at the Parador too.Lots to see and do here. We also liked Café Casino at Rúa do Vilar, 35, just 3 minutes’ walk from the main square. The indoor and outdoor market Mercado de Abastos de Santiago on Rúa das Ameas.Visit As Duas Marias in the Parque de la Alameda.
It was easy to find my way back to the bus station as it is such a small town. Santiago de Compostela is not far so you can take any bus. In fact, most pilgrims walking, will do the leg from Padron to Santiago in just one day. Our tour included an overnight stay in Teo. Finding some of the hotels off the main road, the AC241 is the trickier part of the tour, you are given a landmark and you call the hotel from there.It actually does not matter where you call from as everything is pretty close and as I stepped off the bus I found a bar and called the Pazo de Adran Hotel who sent a cab pronto. As luck would have it some Brits who had started in Biona and that we kept running into on the Camino were also staying here, so I spent a very pleasant afternoon drinking and socializing by the pool. We met up again for dinner and a great time was had by all. I did not bother with many photographs as there were no real attractions.Although we had a nice time I think we all felt it would have been better to have made it to Santiago de Compostela.
Today I took the bus to Padron. Padron is a town with great religious and historical significance. There are churches, museums, and a small but lovely botanical garden. There is a large open-air market but it was a holiday the day I was there and not open. The Hotel Pazo de Lestrove was actually in Dodro so I took a taxi although if I had known where it was I could have walked. Once checked in, to the newer side of the hotel which was ok, I walked back to Padron to sightsee. The taxi driver was surprised to see me again but the problem was that I just did not have a local map until I actually arrived and was never quite sure where to go. Today was another hot day as I left the hotel to walk back to Padron on the Rua do Carme, turning right onto the bridge over the Rio Sar that takes you to the church of Santiago Apostle in the center of Padron. Just walk a little further to your left to find a maze of shops, restaurants, and bars or walk/sit by the river down a beautiful avenue.
There are 10 provinces and 3 territories in Canada and I felt after a recent visit to Cayo Santa Maria that Cuba could be at least be an honorary destination in recognition of the fact that Canadians love the country so much! At least 99% of tourists were Canadian in Cayo Santa Maria. One couple we met has just completed their 43rd trip to the same resort going monthly. When you switch on the television you get CTV Ottawa!That said, we have just returned from a first-time visit and enjoyed a beautiful week there. I had been told that the Cubans really appreciate any items left behind so when packing I made sure to take things that I would give and leave for them to use. Some said just tip them but this is a country where everything is very expensive and nowhere near the choices we have, we heard many stories, one woman told me she had to pay 14 pesos for a plastic laundry basket and it cost her two weeks’ pay! It does not matter that things have been used although if you are giving something away make sure it is something you would be prepared to accept yourself. Any sort of tote bag is popular as the Cubans work very hard and long hours often traveling long distances to get to work. A day after I arrived my beach bag was admired and I said if she wanted it I was leaving it behind, she did. I also gave out jewelry, bags, fragrance, and clothes. I was fortunate that I had a checked bag as well as a carry-on so I was able to take quite a lot. I was thrilled that my downsizing proved popular, even more than the tips. So if you are traveling to Cuba or perhaps a country that is underprivileged, declutter or if you prefer, purchase some items. Don’t worry if it does not fit as items are traded and passed on. The most popular items that Cubans want are babies and children’s clothes, fragrance and toothpaste.
I had seen the bus station on my left when exiting the train station the day before so I walked down after checking out of the Parador after breakfast. Again it was a lovely day and I took a slight different route to get there. I could have picked the bus up at one of the stops nearer the river but my language skills are laughable so played it safe.I only realized once I was on the bus. When I arrived in Caldas de Reis I had to take a taxi to our hotel, Torre do rio.
The taxi driver said it was muy beuno, a very good hotel and it was absulutely stunning. All the rooms have names, not numbers and this large country house has a river that runs through the grounds and feeds the amazing pool that boasts its own waterfall. while it was hot, the water was ice cold and I just put my feet in. Originally an 18th century textile mill, now renovated as a country house hotelon Umia River. Breakfast and dinner were excellent as were the rooms with upscale toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. The landscaping was gorgeous, a perfect place to stay. Take a look at these pictures.
I left early taking a taxi to Redondela station and catching a train to Pontevedra as I knew there would be more to do in a good size city and I was not dissapointed. There was a tourist office in the station and armed with a map and directions I set off for the Parador. I took a wrong turn and then another and got completly lost which was really the best thing as this is really a lovely city. Lots to do here whatever your taste. Pontevedra is a very walkable and interesting city with lots of pedestrianisation and car free center. Surrounded by hills, the city is located on the edge of an estuary at the mouth of the river Lérez by the sea, at the bottom of the Ría de Pontevedra, in the heart of the Rías Baixas.
The Parador, is a palace that was once the residence of the counts of Maceda, now a hotel located in the old quarter of the historic city of Pontevedra. It was quite wonderful with its stately carved stone staircase leading to comfortable and large guest rooms. The garden is absolutely stunning.
Walking through the well-preserved old quarter of Pontevedra, most of which has been pedestrianized. Lots of stunning buildings, museums, shops, cafe and restaurants. Visit Santa María la Mayor Basilica, and La Virgen Peregrina Church, a chapel with a scallop-shaped floor plan and beautiful night lighting.
Here we met up with some other walkers, the Aussies and the Brits in the Parodor bar and a lively evening was has by all.
For this leg I needed to take a train from Vigo-Urzáiz, which is one of two railway terminus in Vigo. I was fortunate to be within walking distance to the station which connects with Galician cities such as Pontevedra, Vilagarcí a de Arousa, Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña every hour. My next stop was to be Redondela and as this hotel was in a rural setting and with no bus access I had to take a taxi from the station. Note there is Redondela & Redondela-Picota. They are close together but Redondela was the nearest one for me. I took a taxi, found easily outside the station to Casa Rural as Chivas located in O-Viso, 6km from Redondela, we both found this location awkward as it was extra walking or transport. Casa Rural as Chivas is a hotel that has a restaurant and large garden.
I am a city girl and lunch or dinner in the countryside is lovely but there was little to do here except walk so reading my book in a shady part of the garden until the walkers arrived was how I spent the day and I am glad it was just the one.Looking forward to Pontevedra