Day 46: Pontevedra to Padron - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 23, 2024

Day 46: Pontevedra to Padron

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As seems to be the case recently, we spent some time trying to decide which track to follow to our next stop. We must be feeling burned by the various possible traps of a wrong choice: sand, cobbles, mud, traffic, hills, or excessive distance. Usually we can trade among these things, but for the perfect lovely, flat, quiet route we would probably have to retreat to Netherlands or Germany. Still, we keep searching the algorithms and the ways taken by others every day. 

To start off today, anyway, there is no doubt that we have to cross the Lerez river, and the bridge to use is well signed for the pilgrims. It's the one we identified yesterday as the true "Pontevedra".  The confirmation of this came as we approached the bridge, and found an archeological excavation in progress.  It's a bit of a weak photo, because you can't see into the hole, and some idiot also scribbled on the sign, but you can also see Dodie's yellow jacket up ahead as she begins on the broad white surface of the current version of the bridge.

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Being on the bridge gives a chance to look around the river valley, and at one other of the four bridges that cross at this point. I had hoped for an impressive shot of the old town, but unlike Coimbra, for instance, you see nothing of it from the river. 

Looking downriver from Pontevedra
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We had rejected routes from RWGPS and cycle.travel, because they went straight to Padron, which should have been good, except for some kind of a mountain in between. So we used what we think was the Camino Portuguese, Bicycle, Coastal. It only took a km or so before that ran us into the path shown below. In taking the shot, I didn't even include the mud that we came through to get to this point. Despite our aversion to mud, we carried on with this, and things did switch up.  Now, with fate selecting from my list above, mud was out and traffic was in.

The mud way
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The traffic way
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Although I have called the route the "traffic way", it really was not too bad. Except in a few spots, there was none of that continuous flow of cars  that is so hard on the nerves, and ears. This was good too, because a fairly brisk head to cross wind was blowing, and this makes it hard to keep a straight line when being overtaken by a car (or a flock of them).

The route, however, had little of interest. One thing that was there was a granite quarry. We have seen a few piles of large granite blocks by the roadside today and in recent days. These have grooves in them that suggest the rock was drilled, and then cracked off. But looking down into the quarry, there seem to be no drill grooves. How is this rock sliced up?

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Smooth looking surfaces.
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Bill ShaneyfeltCables and grit. Also drills.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9us9HXHaLLk
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3 weeks ago

We arrived in Vilagarcia, a place that was significant to us only in that from there we could shoot straight north to Padron. The town did nothing further to distinguish itself, and I took the shot below just to show nothing special.

Nothing special
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It was nonetheless a city, and therefore the likely possessor of one or more bakeries. I put us on the alert to watch for one, but without success. I did come up with the rather pleasant houses shown below:

Ok, these are nice.
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Dodie in turn came up with a Mercadona, a pretty good Spanish grocery chain, and she came out with some quite good "danishes", not to mention some chicken and cheese "burritos". Burritos is definitely what I would call them, but here they are "flautas". I think the wrapper did use the "proper" term "pollo"(Spanish for chicken), but I noticed "frango" on there as well (Portuguese for chicken), meaning that they are still using Portuguese in labelling, this far from the border.

We nipped over to the adjacent beach, which was called Compostela Beach, and chose the bench with the ideal combination of sun and shade to eat the treasures from the Mercadona. 

Compostela Beach
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We then cycled along the boardwalk, until that ended in a cluster of houses.

Houses at the end of the beach.
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Heading on through the houses at the end of the beach.
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This now marks one of those mid-day turning points in how the ride is going.  Instead of getting tossed into some sort of frying pan, or mud bath, we got tossed out. We found ourselves on small laneways, passing houses that had been impressively crafted from local stone.

The turning point.
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Karen PoretDid “divine intervention” help here?
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesUnfortunately, more like a smart algorithm.
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3 weeks ago
Stone houses
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A little rougher stone work
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Karen PoretInteresting water “fall” or fountain on right!
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3 weeks ago

It was forest lane and village lane most of the rest of the way. The four shots below give the idea.

forest lane
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village lane
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Karen PoretAnd look at that Norfolk Island Pine sprouting up in the center ! :)
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3 weeks ago

We did also pass some river side industry. There was little to indicate what the products were, though I guess I could have noted company names and looked it up. This one plant that I did photograph strikes me as an oil refinery, but according to Google Lens, it's a Nestle plant! Do they have chocolate running in those pipes? We need Willy Wonka to comment.

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Betsy EvansIt's a sweetened condensed milk plant!
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Betsy EvansInteresting, thanks.
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3 weeks ago

We came at last to what has to be an historic bridge over the Ulla. So I stood aside and tried for a good shot of it. You never know when that Scott could be lurking, with his good eye for bridge angles!

The pilgrim bridge on the Ulla.
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Scott AndersonHuh. Another very nice bridge. And I see that we biked over this one and I didn’t even stop for a shot. I think we were worried about the possibility of rain and concentrating on arriving dry.
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3 weeks ago

Once over the bridge we needed to cross a road to continue on our way. Though not high speed, this road had a continuous flow of traffic. It took some time to find just the tiniest gap we could exploit to get across. On the other side was the building shown below. It was a nicely decorated pilgrim oriented cafe, where we were able to get a stamp. 

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Dodie came out and reported that she had seen a cinnamon bun in there. So I grabbed my medicine container - used to hold coins - and went in for a look. Yes, there was one lonely bun, and I went for it. The price was 3.50 euros, double or more than what one might expect. I asked the lady why so much. While I suspect the correct answer was "Because it's the last one and you are a tourist directly on the famous Camino, kms from any competition, but actually only 28 km from the focal point of Santiago de Compostela" her actual answer was very well taken:  "Artisanal".

The "artisanal" bun did have lots of cinnamon and brown sugar. A bun with actual cinnamon is very rare, especially when we will come to France.
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Our hotel in Padron, the Rosalia, has a large bright room, and almost enough plugs. Importantly, it has a store room for the bikes, and a smooth experience at reception getting them in there.

The hotel is right by the train station, and our window faces the tracks. During the afternoon, four trains have come by and stopped here. They were all the "famous" RENFE Medio Distancia, and all had a car marked for bicycles! From our room, we even watched somebody roll their bike directly on. Maybe there is hope for getting our bikes on a train out of Santiago? 

(By the way even my meagre Spanish vocabulary includes the word "red", which means "network". You have to know this to connect to wifi in a hotel. But how many know that RENFE is Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Espanoles?)

The Medio Distancia train, from our window.
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See the bike on the door!
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Karen PoretBut the bike is NOT in the car..yet :)
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3 weeks ago

We are getting excited about rolling in to Santiago de Compostela tomorrow. For one thing, although we did not set out to be pilgrims, we did put the shell on the bikes, and it is fun joining with lots of other people in an interesting activity. But next, we need to find out how we, or more to the point, the bikes, will get out of town. Of course if we get mad, we could pedal right out of Spain, but those 800 km would wreck our plan to visit our friend Michel near Nantes. So it's going to be the train, or more likely, the bike box shipping service of Correos. The excitement is in trying to arrange that (including finding out if the pedals will come off the bikes, and if the bars will turn sideways, after so many kms on the road.).

Also, aside from the Cathedral, GPSMyCity lists about 30 sights in the city.  We of course will not visit all those, but walking around should be major fun. Tomorrow is also Palm Sunday, so hopefully there will be some extra fun in the streets.

But first, the Rosalia has "breakfast included". I am really curious about how that is going to go!

Today's ride: 52 km (32 miles)
Total: 2,306 km (1,432 miles)

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