At Caldas de Reis we hung around in the hotel for a while in the morning, then took a taxi to the next hotel: Pazo de Lestrove Hotel Monumental in Padrón. In my journal I noted (without sources):
This emblematic 16th-century building, a recreational mansion that used to belong to Compostela’s archbishops, was erected on a walled plot of land measuring 50,000 m2 with woodland and gardens. It is only 300 metres from the historic town of Padrón, where the Nobel Prize-winner Camilo José Cela was born and the last residence of the great Galician writer Rosalía de Castro.
12 September 2015: The restaurant at our hotel in Caldas de Reis juts out above the Ría Umia. Last night as we sat down to dinner at around 8 pm I noticed a large bird fly past the window and land on the grasses in the river. Then it slowly waded towards us. Research suggests it was a Grey Heron. Lovely.
I relive last year’s fantastic holiday by bringing posts over from the trip blog. This doesn’t aim to be identical to the trip blog, but an improvement, with text edits and more / better photos. Find all these posts under the tag: Spain2015.
13 September 2015: When I’m in New Zealand I joke about living in the future because by a quirk of timezones we are anywhere up to 12 hours ahead of almost every other place in the world. When it’s Sunday in New Zealand it’s still only Saturday in Europe and the US.
Now I’m in Spain, which has its own quirky timezones, and New Zealand is 10 hours ahead of us. As I sit here immersed in the past, surrounded by old buildings, ancient ruins, Via Romana XIX, villages that were here before the Romans set foot on this soil and other tangible manifestations of thousands of years of history I find it hard to believe there are places that are already in tomorrow.
Tonight we are in a beautiful hotel in Dodro / Lestrobe / Padrón — it’s not entirely clear which of those placenames I should use. The hotel and its huge walled garden dates back to the sixteenth century when it was a place of leisure for the bishops of Santiago de Compostela. It has thick stone walls, small windows and many staircases and passages, nooks and crannies.
The building incorporates a chapel, visible from windows in the corridor across from our room.
As I write this at 8 o’ clock on a Saturday night there is a mass going on in the chapel.
A few metres down the road are houses whose front doors literally open onto the road. When someone steps out they step into a narrow gutter with one foot and over the white line at the edge of the roadway with the next.
A few metres in the other direction is the Fonte Vilar, a public fountain, where locals were filling up their water containers. The fountain is decorated with a lion’s head.
I have seen so many lion’s head decorations, even on letterboxes, that I finally looked it up and found it is a deeply Christian symbol.
Spain is a very religious country. There are religious symbols everywhere, on public edifices and private buildings. There are shrines, cruceiros (stone crosses), churches of every description, icons, plaques.
The Celts were here before the Romans apparently. A lot went on here. According to Wikipedia:
Iria Flavia was an Celtic settlement, the capital the Caporos people, located in the confluence of rivers Sar and Ulla, and on the crossroads to Braga (Portugal) and Astorga (León). It became Iria Flavia under Titus Flavius Vespasianus, and it was the Episcopal See during the Middle Ages until Alfonso II of Asturias moved it to Compostela after the foundation of Santiago’s sepulcher.
When the name “Padrón” became more popular, “Iria Flavia” was consigned to a small hamlet (the current parish).
According to tradition, it was in Iria Flavia that Apostle Saint James first preached during his stay in Hispania. Soon after his death that his disciples Theodore and Athanasius brought his head and his body to Iria from Jerusalem in a stone boat. They moored the boat to a pedrón (Galician for big stone), hence the new toponym given to the place.
Today I’m very aware of the ‘New’ in New Zealand, and the old in Padrón.
In retrospect: we had a fantastic breakfast in the hotel, photos below. It was quite an experience to stay in a place with enormously thick stone walls. There were numerous passageways, various lounges for guests, and although I’m not religious, there was something very special about having windows on to the chapel directly opposite our room.
While we were there, getting drinks in the dining room, a whole wedding party arrived, and there was much fussing around with the bridal party. It was fun to be around while folks were getting married and celebrating life.
When we strolled round the town we passed a shop selling locally handmade pottery and admired several items, including a gorgeous cow. The shop was closed or we might have bought all kinds of things. Later, in Santiago de Compostela, we found the shop for the Sargadelos pottery and did buy a couple of items.
Meanwhile Deb had developed a most impressive blister and we decided to take the bus next day to Santiago de Compostela, our final destination for this ‘walk’.