The Turismo is located in c/ Xeneral Gutiérrez Mellado (still called by its previous name of c/ General Mola on some maps ). Opening hours are 10.00 to 14.00 and 17.00 to 19.30 on Mondays to Fridays and 10.00 to 14.00 and 17.00 to 18.30 on Saturdays, Sundays and festival days. They will give you an excellent map (mapa turistico) of the relevant city streets. There is also a leaflet called ‘Pontevedra Step by Step’ and this gives, in English, details of the main attractions in the old quarter. Finally, there is a ‘Mapa Turistico’ of the whole of Galicia, which is useful. These can also be obtained from kiosks in the Alameda or Praza Herreria.
The Turismo also has brochures on Pontevedra and all the other major cities in Galicia but these are all in Spanish at present.
You may also be able to get brochures in English of wider Galician
relevance, e. g. a Guide to Turismo Rural Accommodation, a Guide to Hotel,
Pension and Camping Accommodation, and several glossy brochures in a
TurGalicia series entitled ‘Galicia – Portico of Glory’
- Galicia, Learn about and Enjoy
- Natural spaces
- Routes of Cheese and Wine
- The Rias and their Ports
- The Road to Santiago
- The Land and the People
If these are not available in English, you may still be able to get them in Spanish
For those interested in walking or trekking, there is a useful booklet in the same Portico series. This may only be available in Castellano (‘Galicia al Paso’) or in Gallego (‘Galicia ó Paso’) but the route maps speak for themselves. Not always very accurately, though.
This is a site which will give you a street map of Pontevedra - www.elcallejero.com
Language: Tourism directed at foreigners is of relatively recent origin and English tends to be spoken only in the bigger hotels and in some of the restaurants and shops in the nearby resort of Sanxenxo. Otherwise, Spanish is what you will need if you want to be able to do without sign language. Or shouting.
Galician (Gallego) is a separate language which is older than Spanish and thus closer to Latin. It is the origin of Portuguese [some say], which spread down from the north and was later standardised in Lisbon. Gallego was banned by Franco (rather ironically, as he was from Galicia) but is now making a comeback. Locally, Spanish is referred to as ‘Castellano’. There are a couple of TV channels and several newspapers which use mainly Gallego. And the national channels give news broadcasts in Gallego. If you journey into the mountains, you may well find people who only speak Gallego but this is unusual as virtually everybody understands Spanish, even if they don’t use it as their first language.
Maps: The best ‘normal’road maps are those from Michelin but even
these are small scale (1:100,000), leaving ample scope for choice as regards
inclusion and exclusion of smaller towns and villages. Not to mention minor
roads. And new motorways or Via Rapidas. If you plan to leave the main roads
and travel into the countryside – which is well worth the effort – you have
1. buy a second map from a different maker (or even a third) and combine them when looking for a particular place. Or when you are trying to figure out where you are. Basically, the more maps you have, the greater chance you have of finding the village in which you are standing. And bear in mind that will not get the sort of accuracy you may be used to with, say, Ordinance Survey. Or,
2. invest in one of the government’s large scale (1:25,000) maps. These are called Mapas Topográficos Nacionales de España and are issued by the Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) of the Ministerio de Fomento. They currently cost 3 Euros each and most bookshops stock those relevant to the local towns. As each of them covers only a relatively small area, it would cost you around 100 Euros to cover all Galicia and, of course, a small fortune for the whole of Spain.
So be selective. Two cautions, one general and one specific:-
1. Some of the maps have not been revised since 1976 and do not include recent highways. Most villages and all the mountains, though, are still in the same place
2. Map no. 262-III is entitled ‘Salvaterra de Miño’, which is a small place on the border with Portugal. When you have bought it and opened it, you will find that less than 5% of the map provides topographical detail. The rest is white space, where the river and Portugal should be. This is not good value for money. Especially as it is one of those which have not been revised since 1976.
Events Guides: There are 2 monthly guides published in Pontevedra, one a commercial venture and the other put out by the Town Hall. Both are comprehensive (though in Castellano or Gallego only) but they don’t have a good track record of being available early in the relevant month. They are available (perhaps) from the Turismo as ‘guias de eventos’. In summer, there is usually a glossy brochure covering the fiesta months of July and August. This was available by mid July this year.
Markets: There is a standing fish, meat and vegetables market in the old quarter, near the Burgo bridge. This is well worth a visit for the fascinating display of seafood and shellfish, the earlier in the morning the better. This market was recently rebuilt and opened in autumn 2003, after years of building delays and months of wrangling between the stall holders and the town council over rents. In addition to this standing market, three or four times a month a travelling market is held in the Recinto Ferial, which is near the far side of the Santiago bridge. This offers everything that markets of this sort always offer. Don’t waste your time trying to find somewhere to park anywhere near it. Walk across the bridge from town or get a taxi. As of November, 2003 the council is contemplating moving this occasional market back into the town proper. Naturally, the shopkeepers there are resisting this.
There is a flea market on Sunday mornings in Praza da Verdura in the old quarter. Given what is on offer, this is best treated as an opportunity for mirth than as a chance to pick up a priceless antique. Or even a cheap gift for someone back home. Especially if you don’t like them.
Car Parking: Don’t risk parking your car on the streets of Pontevedra, unless you really know what you are doing or unless there are meters and clear parking bays (possibly marked in blue). There is a regular towing service and it costs a lot to get your car back from the pound (Deposito de vehiculos retirados). If you ignore this advice and get towed, this is at the end of c/ Salvador Moreno (or 'Rosalía de Castro, as it has recently been renamed). ‘Safe places’ include those parts of town where unofficial (and unprepossessing) attendants try to guide you into a vacant spot. Of course, they expect to be paid for this (unneeded) service and, unless you don’t care about the car’s paintwork, you are best advised to cough up a little something.
Zebra crossings: I know I said I wouldn’t include anything of a general nature but as I have been almost killed several times, I thought I would make an exception with this. The basic rules are:- 1. Don’t treat these as you would back home; 2. Make sure the traffic has actually stopped before you start crossing; and 3. Pause in the middle to check that the traffic coming the other way shows signs of stopping. It frequently doesn't.
Banks: These are concentrated around Xeneral Gutiérrez Mellado and Michelena and are open between 08.30 and 14.00/14.15 in summer. Don’t expect anyone to speak good English, so practice a few words and several hand gestures. Or save yourself hassle and use Cirus in the widely-available and very efficient ATMs, which do speak English.
Drinking and Driving: The level of alcohol allowed in Spain (25mg) is lower than in the UK. Until recently, the local police were rather lax in implementing this law but things have changed. Fines levied in Galicia for driving offences are reported to be by far the highest per capita in Spain. There are regular random checks on all main roads and the fines are draconian. You will also get done if any of your documentation is not in order or if you are not carrying two triangles and a ‘luminous jacket’. Cars hired in Portugal will probably not have two triangles, and may not even have one.
Shopping for food: The easiest way to shop is at one of the two major supermarkets on the edge of town:-
1. Carrefour – a hypermarket in a centro comercial on the south side of town. You get to it by taking the old road north to Vigo (N550) and turning right immediately after a large roundabout on the edge of town, staying over to the right as you make this turn. You need to look closely for the signs, especially the one for the Centro Comercial.
2. A Barca – This is in a second centro comercial at the Poio end of the Barca bridge, where the coast road to Sanxenxo (C550) begins. It contains a good Champion/Continente supermarket. Coming across the bridge, you enter it just after turning right at the roundabout, going in the direction of Vilagarcia. If you are coming from San Xenxo, just go100 metres past the roundabout. Watch out for the zebra crossings which are strategically placed to trap unwary pedestrians on each of the 4 entrances/exits to/from the roundabout.
There is excellent car-parking for each of these.
Incidentally, you may have noticed that both the N roads and the C roads through/around Pontevedra have the same number (550). This is just one way in which things are designed to confuse you. Just be grateful that the autopista doesn’t have the same number as well, which does happen.
In Pontevedra itself, there are numerous supermarkets. The local supermarket magnate has made his fortune from the Froiz stores. They even have a superstore in the centre of town, near the convent of Santa Clara.
Other shopping: If your idea of a holiday is to walk round the shops, the area you are looking for is that bordered by Benito Corbal, Daniel de la Sota and Joaquín Costa – plus the two roads (Oliva and Peregrina) leading from Praza Peregrina. Here, for example, you will find several of the Zara family of shops, also established by a (now very rich) native of Galicia. If you want a big department store, then you need to go to Corte Inglés in Av. Gran Via in Vigo. Likewise if you want any spices you can’t get in Pontevedra.
The English Speaking Society: This is a flourishing, friendly association of English speakers in Pontevedra, both Spanish and native. They would be delighted to see you and to provide advice on any aspect of life here. Call 986 843106 and speak to Dylan. Meetings are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Finally, a short ‘warning’. To the West of Pontevedra, on the road to Marín and the peninsula beyond, there is a large wood-processing factory, known to all as ‘La Celulosa’. At times, the pungent smell that this gives off can be detected as you drive in from Vigo or even as you walk around Pontevedra. But this is rare and tends to be associated with the wetter, windier weather of winter. Normally, you will only suffer it briefly (but memorably) as you drive past the plant along the south edge of the ria towards Marín. On the other hand, you will be able to see both the factory and its smoke plumes as you drive along the other side of the ria to or from Sanxenxo and the other resorts north of Pontevedra. It is not a pretty sight [though recently tarted up] but the factory preceded tourism in its economic value to the town. Its days are possibly limited. Spare a thought for the poor people of Marín, having to tolerate this monster erected right on its border with the municipality of Pontevedra by the burghers of the latter. No wonder they resent it.
As mentioned, you can get brochures on every kind of accommodation from the Turismo, or from TurGalicia. This is a short list of the main options in Pontevedra:-
**** Galicia Palace Av. de
Vigo,3 986 864411 986 861026 email@example.com
*** Parador Caso do Baron Barón 9 986 855800 986 852195
*** Rias Bajas (R) Daniel de la Sota, 7 986 855100 986 855100 firstname.lastname@example.org
*** Virgen del Camino (R) Virgen del Camino, 55-57 986 855904 986 850900 hotelvirgendelcamino.com
** La Peregrina Eduardo Pondal, 76 986 856729
* Avenida Eduardo Pondal, 70 [46?] 986 851298
* Comercio Av. Gonzales Besada 986 851217
* Madrid Andrés Mellado, 5 986 865180 Same
* Mexico (R) Andrés Muruais, 8 986 859006 986 845939
Horemex, S. L. Andrés Muurais, 10 986 850415
Los Castros Andurique, 13 Poio 986 87325 986 872662
Paris Albar, 1 Poio 986 873040 986 873198
Ruas Padre Sarmiento, 20 986 846416 986 846411 email@example.com
*** Don Pepe La Barca, 24 Poio 986 872260 986 873433
** Corinto (R) Lugar Alba, 27 Touceda
986 870345 4-5 km out of P’vedra
** La Paloma (R) Sa Margarita [c/ Pomba 11?] 986 844210
* Casa O Roxo Plaza Iglesia, 9 Placéres 986 882818 Near Marín
* Chaparrita Rúa do Areal, 5 Placéres 986 881716 Near Marín
* Pintos [Peregrino?] Ramon Otero Pedrallo, 8 986 858409
Casa Chola Doma, 40 986 762194 Out of Pontevedra
Las Colonias Av. de Pontevedra, 3 986 766308 Out of pontevedra
Lourido Sobral, J Andrés Mellado, 11 986 851006
Atlantico Padre Fernando Olmedo,
38 986 861551
Casa Alicia Santa Maria, 5 986 857079
Casa Maruja Santa Maria,12 986 854901
Fonda Chiquito Padre Gomez/Charino, 23 986 862192
Lago Cobían Roffignac,18 986 840418
O Fidel Pulpeiro San Nicolas, 7 986 851234
Penelas Rúa Alta, 17 986 855705
Santa Clara Santa Clara, 31 986 846820
Finally, here's some Miscellaneous Data:-
Chemists/Pharmacies: Very usefully, farmacias always show a large green cross outside. When they are open, the cross is lit, or possibly flashes. On the door of every pharmacy are posted the details or those pharmacies open when all the rest are closed, e. g. between 2 and 5pm or on weekends/holidays.
Hospitals: The major public hospitals are in c/ Dr Loureiro Crispo (just after it ceases to be c/ Benito Corbal) in central Pontevedra and in the village of Montecelo, on the hillside to the south east of town. The best way to approach the former is from the roundabout at the top of Loureiro Crispo, where the old road to Ourense (N541) starts. The best way to approach the latter is to take the same N541 to Ourense in the opposite direction (towards Ourense) and turn right at the traffic lights in Mourente. If you go past a VW dealer on your right, you have just gone through these lights.
Medical Emergencies: If you are an EU citizen, armed with your E111(and a photocopy) go to the health centre on the corner of the Alameda and c/ Echegaray. Take someone who speaks Spanish as no-one will speak English. Or go to one of the hospitals mentioned above. If you are not an EU citizen, take yourself and your credit card to one of the hospitals.
Some useful phone numbers
Emergency ambulance 061
Local police 092
Guardia Civil 062
The British Consul (in Vigo) 986 43 71 33
Iberia (Vigo) 986 22 70 04/5
British Airways Can’t find it. Look at your ticket.
Spanair 902 13 14 15
Air Portugal 901 30 20 37
Distances from Pontevedra (in kilometres)
As with everything in Spain, these are approximate.
A/La Coruña 110
Caldas de Reis 20
France (Irun) 825
Illa de Arousa 37
O Grove 34 You can go over the mountains [longer but quicker,via the Vía Rápida] or along the coast.
Oporto (in Portugal) 175
Ponte Caldelas 18
Sanxenxo 17 You can go over the mountains [longer but quicker, via the Vía Rápida] or along the coast.
Valença (in Portugal) 95
Vilagarcía de Arousa 25
Vilanova de Arousa 31