Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.
If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.
- Andalucia is said to be the poorest region in Spain but, in 6 days, I've seen fewer beggars here than I'd see in 15 minutes in Pontevedra.
- On the other hand, ambulant African traders are even more numerous down here.
- Two interesting exchanges yesterday and today:-
- After asking a woman in Puerto Real where the Turismo office was: Answer: What's that?
- A call from the receptionist at the hotel where we're staying tonight, after I'd advised on the booking form we'd be arriving at 3: Is that 3 midday or 3 in the middle of the night?
- At the end of this post is my brief write-up, for a friend, of the camino from San Fernando to Puerto Real. There's a Civil War reference which might be of interest.
- Having lucked into a decent place for lunch in Cádiz (Los Nieves), and then the welcome lunch in La Entrada yesterday midday when entering Puerto Real, we ate by chance in what could well be the best tapas bar in Puerto Real last night – El Calvo. Very extensive menu, at pretty low prices again.
- I forgot to mention that, when I was in the Information centre in Cádiz, an English chap came in and asked for a token for the services/servicios. Neither I nor the staff had any idea what he was talking about, but he insisted someone had told him that he could get there a token for services. Given that servicios means toilets in Spanish, the staff – after I'd translated his request - were at pains to tell him – in Andaluz – that he didn't have to pay for these, and so they certainly didn't have tokens for them. It then dawned on me he was talking about water and electricity for a caravan. So, we were able to tell him they didn't supply tokens for these either and send him – unhappy but grateful - on his way.
- At a large roundabout on the edge of San Fernando, we couldn't find a yellow arrow and so didn't know in which of the 4 alternative ways we should go. I did debate with myself about asking a local or two but my experience of asking questions on new (but 'totally authentic') caminos is that no one has the slightest idea where the route is. So I didn't, and eventually found 3 arrows in the same spot at the end of the station carpark. I guess that makes sense to someone.
- Not for the first time, I've noted that – when you ask for a shandy (clara) – there are parts of Spain where no one knows what you mean when you say 'With gaseosa(lemonade/soda), not limón'. At times – but not always – you need to use the brand name 'La Casera'. But down here in Andalucia, I've heard blanco(white) used. Life can get very tough.
- As all travellers in Spain will know, a claim that a hotel has wifi throughout the establishment must be taken with a real pinch of salt. In the one we stayed in last night, it wasn't available at all in the room and was weak even in the lobby.
ODDS AND SODS
- Can it really be true that Spain is on the way to another property boom, as claimed here - in Spanish?
- HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for the news that, in 20 years, the population of the town of Arroyomolinos, to the south of Madrid, has grown from c. 2,700 to c. 29,100. No idea why.
- Here's an interesting list of 7 things condoned by the bible but which are illegal. In most countries at least.
- Does this Galician woman really look like Donald Fart?
This is about the only construction of note on the camino stretch described below, between San Ferdinand and Puerto Real:-
STAGE 2: SAN FERNANDO-PUERTO REAL
- Most of what you can read about the start of the route is obsolete, now that the Cercanías railway has been completed and the routed is well-defined.
- You can start from SF-Bahía Sur or, 1 km(?)further on, from SF-Entro.
- The route is virtually flat from the station of SF-Centro.
- There's no shade at all, except for the occasional tree as you get closer to Puerto Real.
- There's nowhere to get any drink or food between SF-Centro and the edge of Puerto Real.
- Other pilgrims are non-existent
- But there are cyclists, few of whom indicate they are coming up behind you. As ever. And there's the occasional lunatic who approaches you at speed and would certainly hit you if you unwittingly moved to the left or right.
- Very few cyclists wish you 'Buen camino'. Only one, in fact, in our case.
12.50: We start walking from Cercanias station SF-Bahía Sur.
Go past the station carpark and through an industrial park. Pavement largely blocked by vehicles. But plenty of yellow arrows.
Go up short, steepish hill. Pavement only on the left. Totally blocked by a truck.
Arrive at roundabout at the top. No arrows. Eventually see small blue/yellow arrow right of the roundabout on the road going across the bridge. It points to the street going left, along the side of the railway.
Follow this street to the end, where there's some steps going up a roundabout. An arrow at the top on the pavement points to the SF-Centro Cercanias station entrance on the other side of a zebra crossing.
No arrows discernible on the other side. Spend 10 minutes finding which of the 4 options is the right one. Don't bother to ask any of the locals if they know where the camino goes, as experience on new (but 'totally authentic') caminos is that no one has the slightest idea. Eventually find 3 arrows all together at the end of the station carpark. Logical, I guess, as it's in a straight line from the one before the zebra crossing.
Go down leftwards, passing a board which gives distances and times for local walks. Walk on clay for a bit.
Turn left under a tunnel under the railway and then right. Some surface water under the bridge but not a problem.
Turn right onto the gravel path along the railway, which is actually Renfe's service road.
Walk along this path, taking advantage of the clay path whenever possible.
We walk with a stream and extensive marshland to our left. There are said to be many birds here but we don't see a single one.
Eventually see a small duck rise from the stream.
13.35: Reach a wooden viewing platform, which I believe is about half-way. As with all of these, the board telling us about the local birds is so weathered we can hardly read a thing. Take out my small bird-watching binoculars but still don't see a single bloody bird.
13.40: See our second bird! Either a stork, a heron or a white crane. Think it's the last-mentioned.
13.55: See a sign for the barrio of Jarana on the road across the railway line to our right. Note that we haven't seen the golf club which one maps suggests is between us and the houses of the barrio.
14.07: See a yellow arrow. Possibly the first since those in abundance at the end of the station car park.
14.10: Pass some trees at the side of the path.
14.13: Reach a sign on the adjacent road for Puerto Real hospital and pass some ruins where 2 horses are grazing in the garden. Three small white cranes rise from the grass around where the horses are eating.
100m later, reach an arched, white stone gateway, about the only construction of interest along the route.
Note some trees ahead and wonder if they are the pines of Puerto Real.
14.18: Reach second sign for the Puerto Real hospital.
14.25: Reach the 3rd sign on the adjacent road, this one indicating Sevilla is straight ahead. Take a short break to determine how far we have to go to our hotel. Delighted to see it's only 1.1km and 13 minutes. Work out that this is a good pace of 5km an hour.
14.30: Set off again and note that there seems to be slight rise ahead of us, before a road bridge.
14.40: Start on the incline. Trees, bamboo plants and yellow and purple spring flowers on our left
14.42: Reach the bridge. Arrows after it indicate a left turn. Walk up a short but steepish hill and across a car park.
14.45: Arrive at a roundabout and again consult Google Maps re the route to our hotel, which we figure must be just round the corner. Disappointed to be told it's now 2.2km and 33 minutes away.
Notice that there's a bar serving tapas near the roundabout – La Entrada. Decide to have a drink and lunch and are rewarded with chicken, chips and egg for €5 and a glass of decent dry white wine for €1.50. Disappointed to note I could have had a big bacon sandwich. Chat to the friendly waiter and tell him the toilets are the cleanest I've seen in Spain. He thanks me and shakes my hand, making me wonder if he isn't actually the owner. Having checked our route to the hotel, I ask him why there's a street on our way called The Street of The Cross of the Woman Who Had Her Throat Cut. He says he doesn't know but then comes back to tell us it's something to do with the Civil War.
15.40: We leave, and deviate from the camino to walk the last 2.0km to our hotel, feeling very refreshed.
16.09: Arrive at our hotel, a km or so outside town. Realise we'll have to backtrack to the town in the morning, to meet the camino as it emerges from the town along the promenade.