The Hot Springs of the Kings

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October 1st 2019
Published: October 3rd 2019
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Today was a relatively short and pleasant “Goldilocks” hike - a longish hike and not too many hills. We started out at around 8 AM, which with the wacky Spanish time zones meant it was still dark out. This meant we were up the hills before we were really awake. As has been typical, there was heavy fog and we walked for several hours before the sun burned it off.

Once the sun came out, the walk was wonderful—much on comfortable paths through vineyards heavy with grapes.

We neared Caldas de Reis, which didn’t initially seem promising. What we saw was industry along the river, and high rises. But like so many of the towns along this route, its interior is a polished gem, despite the rough exterior.

The gem-like part of the city centers on hot springs that were a spa destination back to Roman times. It also has a church dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who in the early 1100’s made his pilgrimage to Santiago three years before his assassination.

We were staying at a small, 3 bedroom Pension just outside of the center of town. The young, engaging host recommended a massage therapist for me and a restaurant for dinner. The massage loosened up my back and legs and on the way to dinner I stopped at the common hot spring, open to all passers-by.

I had about a half hour before dinner, so I sat on the edge of the pool and enjoyed the hot water on my legs. Three Portuguese Peregrinos joined me and we chatted about our respective adventures.

Shortly afterwards a group of older Spanish women, who were in Caldas de Reis to “take the waters” came by. They didn’t join us in the pool, but laughed and joked before moving on. As I swung my legs out of the pool a group of about 15 more people came down and swung their legs in. Truly a community resource.

Our dinner was at a dark tavern called Taberna O Moino. It’s a converted mill, right on the river, and a line forms 1/2 hour before it opens because it serves seafood caught that day. You get what’s available and it’s spectacularly good. We sat at a shared table, with three women from the U.K. and had a bowl of fresh cockles, Padron peppers (tiny sweet green peppers fried and sprinkled with sea salt) and manchego cheese. It was accompanied by a bottle of the fine Galician Albariño wine. A real find!

Caldas de Reis was a totally unexpected delight!

Data: 14.3 miles, 9 floors

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