Camino de Santiago (Camino Inglés) Day 2: Pontedeume to Betanzos
Out of all of the stages of the Camino Inglés, this second stage from Pontedeume to Bentanzos was my favorite. There were long stretches going through beautiful forests, and the prize at the end was the famous tortilla de Bentanzos.
I am only half-joking when I say that this whole Camino de Santiago trip was motivated by the tortilla de Bentanzos, known throughout Spain as being an especially runny tortilla made with small chips of potatoes. My thought process was like:
I want to visit Galicia,
-> and, they say to get to know Galicia, one should visit the small towns, not the big cities,
-> but, I don’t want to drive
-> so, how about walking the Camino de Santiago
-> oh, wouldn’t it be neat to visit Betanzos to try the famous Betanzos tortilla
-> hey look, it’s one of the stops on the Camino Inglés
-> decided! I’ll walk from town to town and pass through Bentazos. Camino Inglés it is!
I even called a couple months ahead to the restaurant I wanted to eat at, Meson O’Pote to check if they were open in August, as many restaurants in Spain are closed. The friendly guy, addressing me as “my son,” told me that not only were the open then, that was their busiest month! But he noted that they were closed every Tuesday.
Crap, my original plan had me arrive in Betanzos on a Tuesday, so I shifted my itinerary to include a day trip to A Coruña, delaying my departure from Ferrol to Tuesday, in order that I would arrive in Betanzos on a Wednesday!
So this thought process brought me to the empty streets of Pontedeume at the wonderfully early hour of 6:30am, ready to set off for Betanzos.
I knew I had to set off this early, because the albergue in Betanzos was known to be “one of the good ones,” in a historic building but modernized inside with plenty of facilities for pilgrims. But it had only 35 beds, so if you arrive too late, you’re out of luck (and might have to stay in a gymnasium if you don’t opt for private accommodation).
It was just a bit tricky getting out of Pontedeume in the dark; I overshot a turn because I didn’t see the sign. When I reached a busy road without a waymarker, I realized I probably made a mistake and had to backtrack.
But the downright scary part was actually going through the forest in the dark… at times there were road lights…
…but mainly there was absolutely no illumination at all. I actually was quite afraid at this point - I did pull out my headlamp to see a bit better, but not only was I scared of getting lost, I really thought that if anything happened to me, no one would find me.
If you manage to stay on the path though and stop, as I did to take a drink of water and rest, you’ll realize that someone will pass by every few minutes on the Camino.
And soon enough, daybreak arrived, bringing a beautiful soft blue to a pastoral scene.
There were even horses in the meadow to complete the idyllic feeling.
One was never far away from civilization, even if it were a golf course…
…and at times we had to cross over highways.
Or under highways, for that matter.
But there was lots of lush vegetation around.
And I think the cloudy, cool but rainless day made it quite pleasant too.
I really enjoyed this early morning walk.
The Galician landscape is dotted with these storage houses, to keep grain and other things elevated and away from pests.
A midway point came at the town of Miño, where I got a stamp at the post office. It was pretty cool! Instead of hand-writing the date, I got a postmark.
Just outside of town, there was a pretty beach that looked like a pleasant place to rest. But having the thought of the Betanzos albergue running out of beds motivated me to press on! I suppose this is one of the downsides of doing any Camino during peak season.
I did get a bit hungry, and was saved when I saw this stone building with a simple “Panaderia” sign on the door. I saw someone walking out, and asked her if it was open. She said yes, but that I needed to ring the bell for service.
Indeed, there was a bell for service, and just a few loaves of bread available for sale. Artisanal indeed! I rang the bell, and the baker came out from back. She sold me a hunk of bread cut from a larger loaf, since there weren’t any smaller rolls.
Beautifully crusty and rather dense, this was just another example of the wonderful bread they have here in Galicia.
I liked seeing all of the old people taking walks. And the people I generally saw in the countryside were actually old people - maybe the younger crowd has moved to the cities or other regions? Seeing this particular couple holding hands really warmed my heart.
In general, this was a day of feeling immersed in nature. This was my favorite stretch, surrounded by high banks of ferns, with eucalyptus springing forth on top.
Even getting closer to Betanzos, it still felt quite rural. Check out this horse in the middle of the street!
And finally I arrived in Betanzos! Next post will be about the town, and the objective of this trip: the tortilla de Betanzos.