Day 45: Vigo to Pontevedra - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 22, 2024

Day 45: Vigo to Pontevedra

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The goodwill created by the check in lady at the Compostela Hotel yesterday evaporated quickly as we appeared in their restaurant this morning for the "included breakfast".  "Breakfast included" on Booking can mean various things. At the top end, it's a ten jammer buffet. Then we go down through the "jams" as the buffet includes fewer delicacies. At the bottom end there is no buffet, but they throw some croissants and stuff on a plate and hand it or bring it to you. Then below the bottom end, they hang on to the meagre croissants and stuff, and make you ask for each piece, with "what do you want?". Of course it is clear you can not reply to this with "truffle omelette and champagne", in fact the question is usually phrased as "do you want orange juice?".

So cut to this morning. We arrived to find a waitress generally behind a counter, but also bringing dishes to and from tables. We assumed this was going to be the "do you want orange juice?" deal, so Dodie approached the lady with the pre-rehearsed words that actually had not yielded so much food last time: "We have to bicycle far today. Please give us everything you can, everything!".  At this, the woman - who spoke only Spanish - lost her temper and angrily told us to go sit down. Presently she arrived at our table, and after asking our room number, followed with " Do you want orange juice?". Dodie repeated her speech, which caused the woman to flounce off to the front desk and return with the somewhat English speaking  desk man. He began with "what is your room number?", Dodie began with her speech, and the man replied with "You get coffee, juice, and a croissant". With that, Dodie flounced off, saying "I'll find a grocery, or a real cafe!".  "Well fine then", was the general response from the desk man and the waitress. There was no "Well actually for very reasonable extra costs, you can get eggs, cheese, fruit, yogurt or other things you might like, look at this menu over here".  I think likely there were no such backup offers, and anyway the pair would have gotten nowhere with the ripped off feeling Dodie. 

The barren street that housed our hotel.
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I turned out that any groceries around were not yet open, but we fetched up at a bakery. Unlike what you would find in France or Germany, the bakery had no sandwiches, but only a bit of sweet stuff. So Dodie flounced out again. I hung back and bought just one emergency semi-sweet croissant, to fend off starvation if needed.

It turned out the croissant was needed, because there was not a single darn usable food option on our route - for about two more hours.

This was the kick off for what we are calling the least fun day of the trip so far.  Vigo is a vast urban sprawl, and our route seemed to follow a big road throughout. Not that the physical road was always big, sometimes it seemed like a normal city street, except for the rampaging big trucks.

Looking around, we see this.
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At some point we did get a peek through the urban sprawl, to see where we really were.

The Vigo River inlet.
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Houses line the shore, but there are also those weird things in the water.
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A closer look and we still have no idea.
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Bill ShaneyfeltAha! Found it! Lots of info. on the internet... if you can find it. The internet is really huge, so a shot in the dark with a guess and bullseye!

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/mussel-aquaculture-rafts-in-spain--666814288596311057/
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltFascinating! Thanks for taking the time to research it.
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Full zoom - what are these things?
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Bill ShaneyfeltMaybe some kind of aquaculture?
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Our view closes out and our attention returns to the road ahead. A large poster touts a "Via Verde" and draws a bold green line through the urban jungle, and includes a slogan along the lines of "we have to preserve our greenways". For a while we cruise on a paved and then unpaved rail trail, and then:

So much for our greenways.
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Deprived of any greenway, we take to the streets. The photo below shows how we did with that!

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This is a fair representation of our route for today. Strangely, as I follow along our track in the opening map above, I see a thin green bikeway line beneath. So someone thought we were on the right track.
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Scott AndersonIt’s not just you. We hated biking thru Vigo also. I’d forgotten about it.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonThey do say misery loves company.
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At last we came to an open Froiz supermarket, just before the medieval Sampaio bridge. Dodie went in and came back with empanadas, rice pudding, dates, and all manner of other goodies.  Saved!

Hello Froiz!
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When we got to the bridge, I took a little extra care to get a good angle for the photo. Not that there is any competition, but I know for sure that if Scott ever gets to this bridge, he will do the same, and I would feel silly for just taking a casual snap.

My best shot of the medieval Sampaio Bridge on the Rio Verdugo.
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After the bridge we came to a spot with lots  of gulls floating about. Gulls are tough to ID, but Dodie is game to try for a new one. Shoot those gulls, she requested, but not juveniles, they are too tough. So here is my great shot of six juveniles!

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As we struggled along whichever route we had brought from home, I was a little concerned not to be seeing many, if any, Camino signs. Were we missing some way that everyone follows, and were fighting the trucks for no reason? so we stopped, and got an opinion from cycle.travel. It seems our choice was to be up in the hills on one side of a valley, or up in the hills on the other side, or down the middle with the highway. We randomly chose one of the hills routes, and ended up pushing up there. In one unmemorable case, we pushed up only to be led to descend to the highway again, not much further along.

One algorithm said go here ...nope!
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Aside from gulls, we saw a few other birds, but they were ones we have seen before, so no jumping up and down.

Most likely a Black Redstart
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European Greenfinch
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As to why so hilly around here, a Camino sign had the answer : Galicia! By the way, see the strange lettering, must be Galician. Galician has official status here, along with Spanish.

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We proceeded, off the highway, through various villages, that we remarked did not appear very interesting or beautiful.

Not interesting or beautiful.
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Not quickly, but soon enough, we found ourselves in the central square of Pontevedra. Now the sense of beauty and fun returned. These were at first all bundled in the "Our Lady of Refuge"", an 18th century baroque basilica.  Our Lady is also deemed the Divine Pilgrim, and she appears on the facade of the tower, together with St. James and St. Joseph in pilgrim's garb.

Santuario de la Peregrina
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Sue PriceAnd who might that be in yellow on the right?????
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Sue PriceNo idea. We are really clueless on modern pop culture.
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Karen PoretLooks like the UCSC mascot..the banana slug ;)
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Near the top of the tower , St James.  I missed getting Our Lady, up there.

It's either St James or a generic pilgrim.
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Inside the sanctuary, a lady was selling hand painted coquilles St. Jacques. Most all pilgrims carry one of these, so since we are pilgrims for the next three days, we went for it:

Bike turns into a pilgrim mobile.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like the one my daughter got a few years back when she hiked it.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltSuch a great souvenir to have. Also, identifies us as pilgrims as we ride which is good for a few Buen Caminos.
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We got a stamp inside the sanctuary.
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And here she is:

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The square around the sanctuary is also very nice. We enjoyed its relatively car free tranquility.

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Here in the square as well, is the San Francisco monastery.
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Karen PoretNot “my” San Francisco..yours is clean and free of loiterers. Nice!
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I also liked this tee shirt. It says if Grandpa can't do it, we'll have to turn to St Jude. (St Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes).

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Karen PoretI was taught he is the patron saint of LOST causes..In your case, as Grampies, this is more appropriate ..sorry …
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Here is another interesting building in the square.
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Dodie proceeds to our nearby hotel.
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That's it! It looks small, but there was room for the bikes inside!
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We went back ut for a quick look around. One thing we found was replicas of those elevated storage "sheds". They are apparently a Galicia icon. I saw from the side of a potato chip company truck that maybe they are also used to store potatoes.

They call it a horreo - a granary.
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Here is a gift shop with some high quality Camino stuff.
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We walked down to the river (Lerez) and looked at the three bridges, to decide which might be Ponte Vedra (from pontis vetera - old bridge in Latin). We chose this one, because it has the coquilles on it.

Pontevedra?
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See the coquilles
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Here is a look up the river, and to a bridge we did not choose.
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Anyway, we are here!
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Today's ride: 38 km (24 miles)
Total: 2,254 km (1,400 miles)

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