Day 24 – Pontevedra to Armenteira – 14.2mi/23km
After seeing 110+ hostel beds get snapped up yesterday before 3pm, we were worried. With so many other peregrinos coming to Pontevedra from the coastal route, we woke up early and planned to be quick with our stops today to make sure we had places at the Armenteira albergue. Even at 630am we saw hordes of pilgrims silently walking out of Pontevedra and wondered how crowded the road ahead would be. 2km on, the path split into the “Spiritual Way” which we would be on and the “Central Way.” The majority of people seemed to turn onto the central path and we had a quiet road in front of us.
The quiet path was good for contemplation. An initial climb and descent brought us to a beach where we observed hundreds of locals harvesting shellfish left behind by the tide. A lunch stop helped us fuel up for the second, much steeper, longer climb of the day. That climb brought us high above sea level with stunning views back to the coastline.
A few hours later we arrived in the very small town of Armenteira. We got here quickly and were among the first “in line” waiting for the local Albergue to open. The hour we had to wait outside allowed for some much-needed stretching time, after which the typical Camino to-dos got underway: making beds, taking showers, washing clothes, brief naps, and dinner. A pre-dinner visit to the Armenteira Monastery and Cloister was a breath of fresh air in a quiet and peaceful place. And after a nice dinner, I got a chance to chat with a boisterous group of Italians who really put a smile on my face. This was a physically demanding day but it had a few treasures to appreciate!
In order to escape most of the central route crowding, today we decided to break off from that trail and begin a little detour called the Espirtual way. This route brings you west and into the mountains and then down to the coast instead of staying central.
That meant that today we had a long steady climb over a 300m hill. It’s amazing how a shorter distance with a rise makes you just as tired as long flat day.
We were still worried about the amount of people that would be on this route and left early and walked hard. We must have passed 25 people or so before arriving nearly first at the albergue. There are only 36 beds here.
After waiting for an hour and then checking in, the throngs of prior started to arrive. I’m glad we got here early.
This town is actually home to an ancient monastery that has a lot of importance historically in this area.
The downtime of sitting around waiting for dinner with everyone is always relaxing.