Camino Portugues Spain Spiritual Variant

Day 24: Pontevedra to Armenteira

Another beautiful days walking, this time with a couple of climbs, the second of which was 430m over ca. 4km. In addition I visited two beautiful monasteries. A short stage, 20kms plus 3 more to get to the place I am sleeping tonight.

I left Pontevedra at 9am, wearing a jumper. It was ‘only’ 14 degrees, but it didn’t take many minutes before it came off again. After 3km the trail split most walkers continuing on the Camino Portuguese, whilst I followed the Camino Spiritual.

The Camino Spiritual takes 2 days and a boat tour to Padron, where it merges back into the Camino Portugues, with 25km still to walk to Santiago. The split comes ca, 3km outside Pontevedra.

Immediately after the split was the first climb, up to just over 100m mostly on roads, before reaching the extremely impressive Mosteiro de San Xoán de Poio after 8kms after a a similar descent towards the coastal town of Combarro.

I cannot stress how fantastic this monastery is, architecturally, but not least a massive mosaic on three sides of the cloister depicting the Camino in France and Spain, from Paris to Santiago. The mosaic is 2m60 high and 80m long (more than  200 sq. m). Each sq. m consists of ca. 5.000 pieces of marble, over 1 million tiles in total.

It is truly impressive – and the pictures in no way do it justice. Well worth a visit.

I continued towards Combarro, and as I reached the coast, there was different pieces of art on display, as well as a 20 plus stones with Spanish and English sayings.

Based on the long queue of cars, I could work out I wasn’t the only person heading to Combarro. Combarro is a small fishing village, very picturesque, and it was packed with people going there for lunch – although you won’t get that impression from the pictures below.

As the place I am staying tonight is in the middle of nowhere, far from restaurants and even further from a supermarket, I decided to eat lunch in Combarro, despite it being early for Spanish lunch – around 12pm and not being that hungry. Being early I managed to get a table. I had grilled Iberian pork, which has a stronger taste and darker colour than Danish pork, but is very fatty. It probably wasn’t a great choice, as I could feel it in my stomach the rest of the day.

On leaving the town, I bought some bread, cheese and fruit for dinner tonight, and a bottle of water, as there wasn’t anything before today’s destination, Armenteira. Immediately out of town,  I started the 430m+ climb inland up Monta Castrova with great views over the coast. Initially on roads, the climb turned into a dirt track. At one point there was a sign indicating a 25% climb, luckily not in the direction I was going.

At the top of the mountain I took a break and admired the view over the coast and towards Ponteverda. It started to rain, but as usual, by the time I got my poncho out and on, it stopped a couple of minutes later.

To reach Armenteira there was a descent of ca. 100m, mainly through forest. I visited the day’s second monastery Mosteiro de Santa María da Armenteira, also with a beautiful church and cloister. Built in the 12th century and abandoned in 1837, restoration began in 1963.

Apart from the monastery, the town comprised of a handful of houses, a large hotel and a bar. I took a beer in the bar next to the monastery, before walking 3kms to the place I am staying tonight. Luckily it was pretty much on the direction I will walk tomorrow, so there will be fewer kilometers to walk.

The hotel is super modern and there’s nobody here to check you in. They send codes to get through the gate and for the room, and a phone number in case of problems. There was no hot water in my room, and despite it being Saturday, they turned up twice to check it – but didn’t offer me a new room. It wasn’t a lot of fun washing in cold water after walking for a full day.

From the hotel, there’s a great view to the coast, which tomorrow’s walk should take me.

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