After spending the night at a small hotel in Pontevedra, we all (80 trekkers) awoke to a greyish day to continue the second sector (Sunday) of our two day walk over the end of May weekend to our destination of Caldas de Reyes. Interestingly Pontevedra is named after its old Roman bridge ‘Ponte do Burgo’, crossing the Lérez River, which is an eminently Latin name composed of pons, pontis (bridge) and veter, vetera, veterum (old, long established).
Pontevedra is a big and bustling city with a beautiful marina but being a Sunday morning we found peace and quiet as we walked through small streets leading us out to the small parish of Burgo. Our meeting point to stamp credentials was the small yet modern Chapel of “Santiaguiño do Burgo” which was built in 1986 at the foot of the Puente del Burgo. From here we continued walking out into the countryside to once again hook into the well marked Roman Via 19 – ‘Via XIX Bracara Augusta – Asturica Augusta’. The Via 19 took us along small tracks through rich, green forestland sometimes following other fellow pilgrims, cyclists and this time some riders on horseback which must be a wonderful way to make this journey.
Beautiful old granite buildings, granaries, animals, vineyards, green pastures all so typical of the Galician countryside, never failed to make us stop and just admire all around us. The weather was perfect with sometimes a slight drizzle but mainly clear and cool.
Our organizers, Terra Verde, once again recommended a wonderful tapas bar enroute for lunch and we couldn’t have asked for better. Freshly made Spanish tortillas made from fried potatoes and creamy eggs, fried in olive oil, and usually very moist inside, were prepared before our eyes and it wasn’t long before we were tucking into this as well as a hearty chickpea meat stew accompanied by bowls of local red wine.
The Spanish caminô is extremely well marked and we could easily see that we were quickly drawing closer to Caldas de Reyes our final destination. Dating back to prehistoric times, evidenced by the discovery of pieces of gold dated to around 1550 BC, this beautiful town is bisected by the River Umia, which has a rich network of small tributaries and brooks. There is a centenary garden with many species of trees and bushes from five continents. During the Middle Ages Caldas de Reyes was the resting place of distinguishable pilgrims, such as Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of England, who, it is said, spent the night in this town in around 1167. In the late nineteenth century the town of Caldas decided to use the stones from the medieval tower of Queen Urraca to build the only Galician temple dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury in commemoration of his visit to the town.
Caldas de Reyes also boasts thermal springs of an excellent quality. The water flows from the basin of a hot springs fountain dating to the pre-Roman period. Celts and Romans also settled in the area mainly due to the hydrological resources and benefits of this place. The Romans called it “Aquis Celenis” and it today is one of the frequent stops for pilgrims, who make the most of the healing properties of water while taking a break on the Way. It was here that our walk closed with all of us dipping our feet into the water and just enjoying the feeling.
Follow previous sectors of the coastal walk from Porto to Santiago de Compostela on these links below:-