Day 44: Caminha to Vigo - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 21, 2024

Day 44: Caminha to Vigo

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For the next almost a week, the Camino will figure prominently in our tour. First there is the fun of following all the signs, and exchanging "Buen Camino" with the walkers. Then there is the pilgrims' mass at the cathedral, with hopefully the singing nun, and the botafumeiro (giant swinging incense holder) performance, and finally there is the fact that we will be arriving at the beginning of Semana Santa, which ought to produce all sorts of music and excitement.

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Last night, Paulo, who booked us in to the guest house and stashed the bikes for us, very casually mentioned that breakfast would be at 7:30, and that at 8 the "taxi man" would be found outside the building. He then described a series of left and right turns to go to the taxi boat. The gaps in his presentation - like what was the role of the taxi man outside the guest house, where exactly was the boat leaving from, and when, caused Dodie to lose sleep during the night.  In our relationship we have some divisions of labour, and I leave most worrying to Dodie, but I admit I was wondering about these points. Dodie is also in charge of being up early reading emails and blog comments, so she processed Scott's comments and links about troubles others have had getting across the river.

In response to these concerns, we were up early enough to completely load our bikes, before gobbling the 7:30 breakfast, and showing up outside the building, ready for who knows what. Who knows what turned out to be Daniel, holding a pamphlet describing the "Taxi Boat Peregrinos", a title that he claimed Google Maps could mostly locate. Daniel was very calm and cool about it all, and he recommended that we should just go toddle down there, and all would be well.  So we jumped on our loaded bikes and set off in search of the critical boat.

That's Daniel on the left. The "taxi man" Paulo referred to showed up later. It turned out his role was to shuttle any walkers in the Arcanova guesthouse what turned out to be the 2.6 km to the boat.
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The taxi boat pamphlet
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The flip side of the pamphlet.
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Because we had come in from the highway yesterday, there was nothing about Carminha that we remembered from last year. But the way to the taxi boat passed our old haunts, and now I could see again why I had described the Caminha central square as lovely.

On the way to "downtown"
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Approaching the square
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This was our hotel last year
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The way to the boat (naturally!) ran down by the water, affording a look across the river at Spain.

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There was also this sign, which I am sure I saw last year too, because the way also followed an unprotected ledge.

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Dodie is keeping well away from the edge - must have read the sign!
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Dodie was not so focussed on the edge that she could miss this great Eurasian Spoonbill!
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When we arrived near where Google Maps said the boat was, a slightly built and weathered man greeted us, and acknowledged that he was the captain, pointing us to the boat. I was rather taken aback and very doubtful as I looked down some steep steps at what seemed mostly like a rowboat, floating indifferently near some rocks that were serving as a dock.

The giant ebikes, luggage, and us, are going on that?
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At this moment the nonchalant Daniel strolled up. It was a mystery as to how he had appeared there - the taxi man, I guess. Before Dodie or I could mount any objections, Daniel grabbed the first bike and refusing help, just walked down the steep steps with it. The captain helped move it onto the boat, and bingo, it was stowed. The procedure was repeated for the second bike, and bags. But what of Dodie of the bad knees? The same efficient but nonchalant crew moves just helped her on there as well!

Bike 1 ready to board
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Ready for another one.
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Dodie is helped in.
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Well done Dodie, Daniel.
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We thought it miraculous that our bikes and us got onto the bike. But at the last minute, two more customers showed up. We sadly did not get their names, but though these two from Colorado were walking this time, they had cycled China and Eastern Europe repeatedly, in the 80's!

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Ok Captain, give 'er some gas!
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The Captain was wasting no time, and the little boat bounced and blasted quickly over the water. My well known fear of heights, that gives me palpitations on bridges, does not apply to boats. But Dodie has a fear of being on the water, so this was no picnic for her.  She decided to close her eyes tightly and have us tell her when it was over. When we were almost there,  the Colorado people and I said "Almost there!", but that did not comfort Dodie, she wanted to be there!

In this photo, we have arrived enough to be lifting the life jackets over our heads, but Dodie's eyes are still tightly shut.
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Daniel gives Dodie a hand to leave the boat, since we are definitely there.
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But where is there?
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"There" looks like marooned in the sand somewhere!
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Hey guys, is that it? Where ya goin"?
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Looks like a moon landing happened.
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Tide coming in?
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Something that Dodie got from her Mom, is a joy in collecting sea shells. She found the beach here littered with them,
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The thing about many of the shells that struck me was that just like St. James, we had landed in Spain with the Coquilles St. Jacques at our feet.
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Now taking a little time to look around, we saw the fort out in the river mouth, with many small boats also all around.
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And we spotted this guy, surprisingly not photographed until now: 24173 Carrion Crow
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And so we set off on the rest of our journey,  past the towns and villages of this piece of Galicia.

A colourful breakwater, town, ocean, mountain!
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We got our stamp for today.
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We had stopped by many bike shops in Portugal, looking for Magura hydraulic rim brake pads, but they simply don't use those brakes there. When we spotted this shop, we almost didn't stop, but we are glad we did. We scored a dozen pads (30 euros), more than we need to complete this trip. (A complete swap out of pads for the two of us takes eight, eh.)

Wow, a lucky stop.
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Karen PoretIn Situ? Yikes..that is part of my cancer malady! (Ducal carcinoma …in situ) So, are bicycles ( cells) of milk ( wheels)?
No, it means “On Site” Cycles.. Still too ironic for me,though!
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3 weeks ago

The next "lucky" bit has also been written about by other cyclists. It's the existence of this yellow bike/walking way, for much of the way to Baiona. The idea of the thing seems to have been to provide for the walkers. So when the walkers' route would leave the highway (to descend toward the ocean - for the hell of it?) so would the yellow road disappear. This was sort of no matter, because the normal shoulder of the highway was quite wide as well. Sometimes we would also get "suckered" and follow the walkers down. This could happen because of an inviting "bikes, go this way too" sign, leading us off the highway.

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Even without the yellow path, we had this.
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The view of and from the yellow path.
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During one of our excursions off the highway, we came to this small chapel. It had a peregrino (just visible on the right) trying to rest his stockinged feet. Inside it was very spare, but atmospheric.

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The next village too was photogenic.
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The path continued down where you see Dodie going, but I insisted on stopping at the monastery on the right.
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Not before spotting this House Sparrow.
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The monastery was called the Royal Monastery of Oia
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It was locked! but I had a peek inside.
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Our off highway paths continued, and offered a lot of beauty.
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Even cows to look at, by the ocean.
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We thought we had really been suckered, as far down one of the off highway diversions the path had been totally torn up and blocked.

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But as has happened before, the workers graciously cleared the way, and even helped carry the bikes through!

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We think these are unique to Spain, and are meant for grain/corn storage.
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See how the cattle are in small stone enclosures.
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We stopped for lunch off highway at a shelter that had an explanation of salt production on this coast since Roman times. The explanation just here was because a Roman salt was just down the hill.

Part of the salt story
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The Roman structure, with the vertical slats.
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We were back on the highway, with the yellow path, and enjoying some beautiful sights on both sides:

The road, by the ocean.
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Roadside flowers
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A spa/hotel, backed up against the mountain to our right.
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The best shot of the day of the ocean doing its thing.
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We rolled into Baiona, and encountered right off the 12th century Castle of Montereal. We had a peek as we went by, but we were on a mission to get to Vigo, today!
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Just rolling by, we have no idea what the statues are all about.
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Even without the spirit of just rolling by, the display below is hard to figure out. It doesn't help that the text is in Spanish, or that they seem to have painted a globe image over it, but the general idea is a celebration of circumnavigating the globe, which maybe Baiona had a hand in. As I cycled by, what caught my eye was that they were name dropping, the names of Kepler, Eratostenes, Tycho Brahe, and others - inventors of stellar instruments.

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Why does this happen to be here?
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This is now another of those points in the day where the character of the ride totally changes, usually for the worst. For 25 km from Baiona we had to noodle through a basic urban environment, with no more yellow road, but rather going along beside parked cars on large boulevards, or passing many 2-8 story offices or warehouses or apartments, none with any architectural appeal.

Below are three of my snaps, as we entered and passed deeper into Vigo. It struck us as a dingy port city. In fact it was just like what I had (wrongly) imagined Marseille would be. 

Hey, no yellow road!
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Just what is this neighbourhood?
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Warehouses, offices?
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We finally pulled up to our hotel, the Compostela, where our impression began to be changed by two things. First the check-in lady was extremely nice, and she had a ready place for our bikes plus an understanding (usually lacking) that we needed to first take off our panniers and put them somewhere, before storing away the bikes. Second, the lady referred to the nearby old city.  Having absorbed hours of dreck, we hadn't considered that such a thing might yet be here.  Tomorrow we will go have a quick check on that!

Today's ride: 64 km (40 miles)
Total: 2,216 km (1,376 miles)

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John FlecknerEnjoying your adventures every day. Thanks for reminding us of the joy of riding. Hoping to resume our riding in Europe, perhaps in the fall.
The Cyclingsantas
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3 weeks ago
Laurie MarczakJust read this out loud to Joni for her bedtime story, she thinks that given a choice between flowers on one side of the road and the ocean on the other we would probably choose to look at the ocean. I did point out that we didn’t need to choose!
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Laurie MarczakI bet Mom and bikes in the little boat also made a good adventure story for bedtime!
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo John FlecknerHoping you are able to do a trip in the fall. We always enjoyed your food reviews.
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3 weeks ago