Camino Day 5: From Hot Springs to Peppers and Monasteries

Each day is becoming harder and harder to remember, as if they’re all becoming one blur! Mary and I have been having a great time out here, and it’s weird how it all runs together. For the West Highland Way earlier this year, I can still remember each day very distinctly. I’m assuming this is largely a function of doing the WHW solo, and being more tuned into your surroundings versus walking with someone.

Anyway, it’s the second to last day – let’s walk from Caldas de Reis to Padrón!

Leaving Caldas de Reis

The sun rises later in the morning here (around 8:15am), so we started our morning in the dark around 7:30am. Our hotel didn’t start breakfast service until 8am, and with a 11.8mi / 19km day ahead of us, we decided to set off and find a cafe on the way instead.

We ended up at the same hotel we ate dinner at the night before as they have tostadas (toasts), and the food last night was pretty good! This decision derailed our early morning start… Really slow service, but there were only four people covering the cafe, breakfast buffet for hotel guests, and the front desk. We got stamped here, and the sello (stamp) made up for it!

On the road again

We kept a strong pace throughout the day, stopping at cafes, but not lingering. Today is our second shortest day, and we’re looking forward to reaching Patrón – our last town stay before Santiago.

While on a rocky section of actual trail, cyclists would come by, having never announced themselves, startling walkers seemingly every 5-10 minutes. When we rejoined a road, two cyclists came by and rang their bells by the last few walkers before pulling off by Mary and I. Mary commented she liked their bells and we chatted about the other cyclists. The pair are doing their second Camino, and also from Michigan (Grand Rapids / Traverse City areas)! They’re doing it in 11 days (or maybe this was day 11?), which seemed like a lot to me for bikers. Especially since we met a cyclist about 5 minutes into day 1 who went from Porto to Santiago (about 200km+) in 2 days…

At the next cafe, we made a longer stop for bathrooms, water, and Cokes (Baños, agua, y Coca Colas). While here, I bought a really cute pin that looked like the Camino stone pillar that read ‘Camino Portuguese’. We also sat at a table and met a really sweet older Dutch woman. She told us she walked from Porto, and this was her first ever solo trip (of any kind). Her husband had a stroke and is now in a wheelchair, splitting time between a nursing home and actually home. Meeting folks on trail is my favorite part of these trips, and it constantly reminds me of the complexities of others lives. You can easily be wrapped up in your own life you forget about what is outside of that bubble.

Arriving in Patrón

Patrón is yet another town where we had a loooong view, thinking we would arrive quickly only to be tempted by the view. It’s a beautiful town, and we found a cafe to eat lunch before heading about a mile off trail to our hotel which is an old monastery!

We ate at Parasio, which had a traditional Spanish menu. We decided on pulpo para Mary (octopus for Mary) y raxo con patatas para mí  (and pork with potatoes, for me). Along the trail we’ve also been hearing a lot about Patrón peppers, so we had an order of these as well – they’re basically roasted green peppers (of varying heat) with big flaky sea salt.

Two walkers sat at the table right next to us, and we chatted for a bit about the day. They’re young walkers from The Netherlands. One thing that’s interesting about the Camino that’s different from other trails I’ve done is the age distribution. My theory is because the trail is really accessible, it caters to an older crowd the way that backcountry trails do not. There was also no talk of not making to Santiago, among the walkers we chatted with. It’s easy enough that you just need to sort out your pacing and how often to take zero days (days where zero miles are walked).

Spanish words I learned today:

  • Jabón – soap (not be confused with yesterday’s jamón – ham)
  • 1906 “diecinueve cero seis” – this is a common regional beer and I already knew my numbers (except zero) so today was the day I had the confidence to pull it off and order in Spanish.
  • Sello – seal / stamp

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