Wednesday, 22 July 2009

From Portugal to Spain…

Tuesday July 14th: Having read through yesterday's blog I find (have found) that I am switching back and forward between verb tenses, something I would severely chastise my students for doing. However, this is a different case. It is difficult to be both narrator and protagonist at the same time. The writer in me stands back and comments; the pilgrim just gets in there and experiences, absorbs, filters - just "is". So forgive me: I do know how to write English!

Bicycle woman stands at the door waiting for the rain to stop. It is only light rain and the first I have seen. Eventually she leaves and Maja and I are soon to do so also… going in opposite directions.

I visit the old city of Tui inside the walls. It is fascinating and I am to find that it is bigger than I first thought. I begin to walk around the walls in search of a route which will take me towards the international bridge and at one "Portico" I encounter a man masturbating who turns away when he sees me but does not stop. "Charming!" I mutter as I walk by him, as I must. What makes some men do this??? I seem to run into them more than my fair share of times!

Anyway, I decide to have a last Portuguese beer at the last bar, but the last bar is closed. I walk across the bridge and notice that a scribbled message about the date and temperature in July 2008 has an added message in the same handwriting about two weeks later in August, presumably some Portuguese pilgrim on his or her way back.

Since I did not get my last beer in Valenca, I determine to have my first Galician "Estrella" at the first bar at the entrance to Tui. The first bar is The Old Dublin or something like that. The second is "Bar Lisboa". By the time I do get my beer I decide also on some Pimientos de Padron but notice on the menu that prices have changed - a lot! Another good reason to visit Portugal...

The Albergue is right behind the Cathedral and is really lovely. Maria Teresa is the hard-working hospitalera and she notices the similarity between her name and mine. I had intended just to get the sello (pilgrim stamp) and to walk on as after all I have walked, officially - the hike around Valenca doesn't count - less than 4 kms, but I am feeling very tired, it is hot, and I really want to see more of this place. I bag a top bunk in the corner away from everyone else (I am not anti-social: I snore!) and then go out to visit the Cathedral.

The Cathedral in Tui is one of the most atmospheric I have seen in Spain. From the outside it has a very "military" look, but inside it is pure Romanesque and remarkably (for a Spanish church) simple. There is choral music playing and I wish I could sing there. There are side chapels one of which contains a martyr crucified on an X shape cross and I wonder who this is. He seems very young. I go out to see the cloisters. There is a "Timeline" on the wall. The part circa late 4th century says very definitively that this is the time that all "Pagan" practices were exterminated - y ya está! Just like more Pagans please, we are Catholics!

At the back of the Cathedral there are gardens which presumably were those attached to the Bishop's Palace. The view to Valenca and Portugal is lovely from there. I make the mistake of climbing up the tower to get a better view. The first part is enclosed and I am OK but forgetting my fear of heights I go up the remaining rather precarious stairs to the top. I am fine at first, but when I realise I have to get down again "precarious stairs" turn into nightmarish danger and I have to go down them more or less on my bum….

It is not true, as I have written before, that if you don't use phobias they go away! I can cure those of others by means of hypnosis but do you think I can do anything about my own.....

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