Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Day 9 - 15 May - Tui to Porriño

As thousands of football fans sing to the referee and his linesmen at every football match:

You don’t know what you’re doing…

Despite the comfortable beds and relative absence of any serious snoring among the ten souls who shared the five bunk beds in the dorm last night, sleep was hard to come by. The ghosts of monks past haunted the room with a night-long cacophony of strange, creaking noises. Either that or it was the metal frame beds which detected and amplified every toss, turn and other movement. I prefer the ghost hypothesis.

Perversely, I didn’t emerge from my top bunk phantom-land until shortly after half past seven, my preferring to let the other occupants get on with their ablutions, packing and rustling. Once up, the convent breakfast at €2.50 was worth every cent of €1.50 so we set off for the day only lightly fuelled although we did have just a modest ten miles ahead of us today.

Ah Galicia! It’s good to be back and much as I have loved the walking in Portugal, this feels more like the Camino. In fact, last night’s convent experience was an important factor in all this with the chance to meet and talk with other pilgrims so I wouldn’t seek to dissuade others from staying here. Just bring some ear plugs and WD40.

We set off at nine o’clock, leaving Tui for the lanes and quiet roads of the countryside, walking through a land of greenery. Around an hour or so in, a huge eucalyptus tree was felled not thirty yards from where we passed. There was no “timberrrrrrrrrr” or indeed any other sort of warning from the workmen doing the felling. They obviously had it all under control but it was a little disconcerting all the same. One minute you’re walking along the road admiring the eucalyptus trees on the high bank to your right. Next minute one of the buggers goes crashing to the ground, falling at one hundred and eighty degrees to where you’re strolling. Had the workmen not got it all under control and it had fallen the other way, I would probably have been alright although Andrea’s already short stature may well have been compromised still further. 

To avoid walking through uninspiring industrial areas as we walked towards Porriño, we took the scenic option through woodland paths and small villages. The downside of this is an absence of any refreshment facilities along the way which at least provides incentive to keep walking once that sun is over the yardarm. 

Two of the Portuguese routes merge in Tui so there are more pilgrims on the road. I got talking to Fabian, a very nice bloke from Hamburg, Germany where he solves crime when he’s not walking in Galicia. He is on his third Portuguese Camino. He is now officially our new friend number six on this Camino.

Fabian and I continued chatting all the way to the outskirts of Porriño when a friendly local told us to take a riverside path into town. In the event, Modesto - for that was he - walked with us for almost a mile along the riverside path and eventually led us right to our accommodation.

Modesto Vázquez Riveiro is a retired, top level, assistant football referee. He officiated at an England v Sweden international in 1999 and showed me a picture of him, as one of the officiating team, ahead of a Real Madrid v Barcelona match with team captains Michel Salgado and Pep Guardiola. 

Modesto delivered us to our apartment accommodation at just after one o’clock which allowed us a nice bit of settling-in time and an hour’s kip before we hit the town at four o’clock.

Porriño isn’t a pretty town but it is authentically Spanish with lots of bars and I like it. Leisurely beers were taken, respectively at La Cueva, bar A Francachela, Galibar Centro and Bar Celtiña before we happened upon possibly my favourite bar of this Camino. The Classic was aptly named. Classily decked out. Classical music on the sound system. Classy beers. It is hard not to be inspired when Ride of the Valkyries is followed by Nessan Dorma and then Handel’s Messiah. Our erstwhile unsuccessful endeavours at securing accommodation for the following night were transformed into efficiency hitherto unseen and we now have the next two night’s booked. The beer on offer at this establishment was insanely tasty and insanely strong. Mrs C and I had two small glasses of Salvora IPA (9.5%) and Mick went for the Imperial Stout (11%). Andrea stayed with white wine, she still being traumatised by her near death experience with the eucalyptus tree. 

We retired back to the apartment for nine o’clock and attempted to play a game of Asian Dice but I’m not sure that any of us could properly count the dots on the dice any more. But I bet that Modesto could have. None of this “should have gone to Specsavers” for this assistant referee. He did know what he was doing.What a lovely guy. He did us proud today.

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