After the odd start to the day before with a temporary incarceration in Arcade, my desayuno at Hotel Rúas in Pontevedra was similarly unusual in that it included a drunken floorshow provided by a local couple who had clearly been drinking all night on a Sunday evening and a Monday morning.
They were now attempting, with varying degrees of success, to actually cross the threshold of the cafe, with the woman repeatedly falling over backwards out the door onto the pavement and the man, a forty-plus year old wearing double denim and a baseball cap worn backwards, attempting to order coffee, all the while knocking over the newspaper stands and generally being quite loud and obliviously obnoxious to all in his eyeline.
I’m no better at understanding Spanish than ever before, but it didn’t take Google Translate to assess that the situation was getting somewhat out of hand, with the formidable cafe owner gesticulating a clear desire for these reprobates to “take it outside” or the feds would be called.
Called they were, as the Spanish Old Bill swiftly turned up, somewhat overstaffed in two cars, to firmly take the inebriates into custody and restore the peace.
Drama concluded, I strapped on my mochilla and crossed the fabulous bridge out of Pontevedra onwards to Caldas de Reis.
Almost immediately, I found myself finally in step with some interesting people who actually didn’t mind having a bit of a chat with a fellow Pilgrim.
At first glance, these two were an odd pairing – Peter, a young man from the Czech Republic, educated as a chemist and a physicist, currently working in logistics and Lise, a 74 year old Canadian from Toronto, walking her 14th Camino.
They’d been walking from Lisbon, a total distance of more than 600km from Santiago, and had bumped into each other so many times already that they’d agreed to just accept that they were going to be walking all the rest of the way together.
Soon after we three became a set, there was Tim from Ireland, who I’d last seen at Rates on the third day walking with a friend weighted down with a 20kg pack, whose current absence was therefore immediately explainable.
All four of us swiftly agreed that the vast majority of the other pilgrims we’d met so far were sorely lacking in Camino compadre qualities and we cheerfully sealed an immediate compact to stick together as a little group and to then see how many others we could draw into our orbit.
Or at least I did.
The remainder of the day was spent happily making our way to Caldas de Reis, a local spa town with the promise of open air geothermal springs to soothe our tired limbs.
On arrival in the town and passing by one of these little footbaths, it became immediately apparent why nobody else was actually taking up the offer, as there was a coating of green slime all around to dissuade weary pilgrims from actually dangling their tired toes anywhere nearby.
En route, we’d acquired Criss and Aurelia from Brussels, who wanted to join us for dinner and Gerard from Holland who was equally keen to add himself into the mix.
However, Peter and Lise and I were about to make a gigantic tactical error.
Having arrived in Caldas de Reis very early in the afternoon, it was decided to get some lunch and a couple of restorative beers, which then saw a two course meal of green cabbage soup and chicken and chips pass our lips around 2pm.
Pilgrim dinners are legendarily good value, being both inexpensive and voluminous in scale – our stomachs were soon straining under our belts from this repast.
Peter then led us to the nearest supermercado to buy some wine and other supplies for the evening and the days to come.
As dinner time arrived and we made our way to the riverside restaurant to meet Gerard and Criss and Aurelia, it soon became clear that we were in some trouble.
Insufficient space had become available in our bellies to make room for a second round of enormously large pasta dishes and slabs of beef and chicken and pork and chips.
Rarely have I been so badly defeated by Food.
But I did still have space for vino tinto, of course.
At some point in the evening, one of the group suggested that they had thought I was aged between 35-40 when they’d first met me.
Too much wine for that one, obviously.
At that point in the conversation, I was able to remind everyone present that alcohol is, in fact, a solution.
Whatever, it all led to an excellent night, bunged in together in an albergue dormitory with bunk beds and earplugs and snoring and everything else that’s supposed to happen on a Camino.
Hotel Rúas, Pontevedra
Another very comfortable hotel, complete with another actual bath (sort of), brilliantly positioned right in the centre of the old town.
Tedious Cough: on its last legs now, having hung around for far too long.
Blisters: 0 (1)
Trips, Slips and Falls: 0
Applications of Factor 50: 2 (13)
Filling of Water Bottles: 1 (12)
Wrong turns taken: 0 (4)
Number of times “Buen Camino” was said: More than thirty
Unsuccessful Requests For Parmesan Cheese: 1
Song Of The Day: Enjoy Yourself, The Specials