By Andrew Brown
My Three Favorite Pools Along the Camino de Santiago
Walking all day through the heat and dust of northern Spain in the summer there was never a sight as inviting to me as that of a big pool. There are alburges now that have their own pools, usually smaller lap pools or even smaller foot pools, but my passion has always been for the big municipal pools in towns like Hontanas, Obrigo and Portomarin.
The pool in Hontanas is communal and is about 50m long. It is located about 500m down the road, almost at the edge of town, down the main road and is completely worth the trip. It has lots of green grass around it and a nice bar on premises which serves light food as well as cold beer.
In Obrigo the pool is across the river via the new short bridge (just follow the signs saying “piscina” which is Spanish for pool). Here you will find the biggest pool along the Camino. Over 100m long and very wide this pool does require that you wear a cap when you swim but you can get one of those for a euro at the entrance desk. There is a very cool little restaurant/bar right next to the pool and a large grassy area, almost a park, with big trees and shade around the pool to lounge around in when not swimming.
The prettiest pool I saw was in Portomarin. This pool is large and free and is setup as an infinity pool overlooking the river below. A mere 5 minute walk from the main street this pool was my favorite as it always seemed full of people and the view is second to none.
A few quick tips on the pools in Spain. They are free but in some cases you will need a swim cap to enter, do not bring your own as you can get one from the front desks for free or 1 euro a piece and it is not worth carrying your own for the one or two times you may need it. They are very clean but do remember to shower afterwards to get the chlorine off as this does dry your skin a lot and it is no fun to walk the next day with chlorine bleached skin in the sun. Be careful of staying in the sun too long. You get some strange tan lines on the Camino and it may be tempting to try and mitigate these with an afternoon session pool side but the last thing you want in the morning is a sunburned back of legs. I had a great time swimming in Spain and the pool is an obvious spot to spend some time with friends after a hot, long day walking. Just keep your eyes open for that special “piscina” sign and enjoy!