Day 23 – Redondela to Pontevedra

Last night I dreamed that my green Montreal marathon t-shirt, forgotten on a chair in a pension five days ago but who’s counting, was returned to me. In my dream I met a pilgrim wearing the same shirt and I asked if she had run the marathon. She replied that she had found the shirt in a wardrobe in a pension. I knew then that it was mine and she gave it to me. D believes this dream is a good sign. For the first few weeks, my dreams were nightmares.

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Spanish cake pops

Spanish cake pops

The terrain today was a mix of country trails and highway – a lot like yesterday but shorter (18 km). We are closer to the ocean now.

Minus the red roofs this could be a view of Cape Breton from Auld's Cove.

Minus the red roofs, this could be a view of Cape Breton from Auld’s Cove.

We walked for a while with Noel, who was leading a group of 16 walkers from Limerick, Ireland, as well as a few from the group. They had a lively sense of humour and were in good spirits. During our short walk together, a van stopped beside us and handed me a fresh baguette and then drove away! We ate it for lunch.

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Nutella and banana sandwiches!!

Nutella and banana sandwiches!!

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Watching the swans

Watching the swans

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Ring my cow bell

Ring my cow bell

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“If you want to improve your understanding, drink coffee, it’s the drink of intelligence.”

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Day 22 – Tui to Redondela

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My third Elvis sighting, this time via a poster on a café wall in the middle of nowhere when we stopped for a sandwich (bocadillo). I don’t understand it. Sure I’ve been to Graceland but that was years ago, when I was visiting Nashville. So why now? And, why? While I can’t answer those questions I do find it appropriate that he would appear in devout countries where divine sightings are common. I laughed loudly upon seeing the poster, and explained to the two young German guys sitting at a table how I’ve been repeatedly seeing Elvis. Elvis? one guy asked up at me, an eyebrow raised. The original Beiber I wanted to exclaim, but they couldn’t have cared less. Unbelievers.

This morning we left our hotel at 7:30 in damp darkness and heavy fog. Our footsteps thudded on the cobblestones in the empty streets, making the passage by ancient cathedrals and religious statues a little creepy. Once inside a warm, well-lit cafe (“Boby Bar Cafe”) we downed cafe con leche and croissants and then started the 30 km journey down the highway.

Lonesome highway

Lonesome highway

Goin' down the road

Goin’ down the road

This cross was placed here in memory of a pilgrim who died upon his return from Santiago in the 13th century.

This cross was placed here in memory of a pilgrim who died upon his return from Santiago in the 13th century.

There was no plaque on this lady so I've named her The Camino Widow. She waits at home for her cherished to return from his Camino.

There was no plaque on this lady so I’ve named her The Camino Widow. She waits at home for her cherished to return from his Camino.

After this pretty, wooded area we followed arrows through an industrial area. It didn’t smell especially pleasant but it wasn’t nearly as terrible as the description in the guidebook.

On the other side of the industrial area we stopped at a large supermercado and bought groceries for lunch. We always lose an hour going onto those places and drooling over all the foods we desire but can’t carry or cook. A loaf of bread, a slab of interesting looking cheese, and a tomato are good choices as they can be carried in our stomachs. We made an exception for bulk candy and I filled a bag with the best Haribo jujubes money can buy. It made up half the total grocery bill and was worth every penny when we needed a high fructose corn syrup motivation boost to continue walking in the hot afternoon.

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Eventually we found the small hotel we’d been looking for. While walking to our room we met a woman who told us she was from Canada. When we said we hailed from Ottawa, a second woman showed and suddenly we were surrounded by Québécoise! The two had been Facetiming with a woman in Quebec, and they turned the screen toward us so that she could chat to us in French as well.

Around 7:30 we went to the only restaurant and were told – with a finger wag – that there would be no food served until 9:00. Demoralized, we returned to our room. My book of crosswords came in handy.

Day 21 – Rubiaes to Tui

Leaving Portugal:

Adios Portugal (for now)

Adios Portugal (for now)

Farmacia sign

Wacky farmacia sign

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A stoney path

A stoney path

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Wall tiles in Valenca on the border with Spain

Wall tiles in Valenca on the border with Spain

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We walked across a bridge and were transported to Spain! Then we spied the object of our affection – Tui.

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Cathedral doors

Cathedral doors surrounded by statues of saints standing on demons.

The view from the top floor of our hotel

The view from the top floor of our hotel

Tui is a beautiful little town. We are adjusting to the change in language and time (lost an hour crossing into Spain). It will take us five days to reach Santiago where we will take another rest day and celebrate the end of this journey.

Now we’re in the land of tapas but we have a week to enjoy those, so I treated us to a filling pasta meal at an Italian restaurant next to our hotel. So hungry we forgot to take photos.

Fun fact about Spain: people eat very late at night. As we left the resto at 9pm the tables were starting to fill up.

Day 20 – Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes

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Hills today! But we saw lots of cool stuff and met other pilgrims, too.

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The four horsemen of Ponte de Lima!

The four horsemen of Ponte de Lima!

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JB wrote the guidebook used by quite a lot of pilgrims. Some question his directions.

JB wrote the guidebook used by quite a lot of pilgrims. Some question his directions.

I’m noting a trend. Grapes and churches.

Buckets of raw product. Note the steeple in the background.

Buckets of raw product. Note the steeple in the background.

Grapes, church.

Grapes, church.

The trail took a turn upward and the slopes didn’t stop until we had ascended a mountain. We met a couple of cyclists from Brazil – Lynn and Fernando – who had to walk their bikes up the steepest, rockiest areas. We met up with them a few times today. They thought we were fast walkers. We like them.

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A large cross in the middle of a forest might seem unusual but not in Portugal.

A large cross in the middle of a forest might seem unusual but not in Portugal.

After many hours we reach the summit. Our reward is a beautiful view and cold, clear water from a kind of pool-fountain.

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Another cross...

Another cross…

I took a closer peek at the base of the cross and look who I found! Elvis is my spirit guide.

I took a closer peek at the base of the cross and look who I found! Elvis is my spirit guide.

A few more pastoral visions of grazing sheep, then we found a cheap hotel, had dinner with a couple in their 50s from Finland who speak Swedish, and fell into deep dreamful sleep in preparation for further torture tomorrow!

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Day 19 – Portula to Ponte de Lima

We left the alberge just after 8:00. We were the last to pack up and leave. D was itchy from bug bites, and later both of our backs tweaked out, but we both felt the day’s walk was easy. There were no uncomfortable hills or rainbursts, and the trail led along tractor tracks and country dirt roads, very easy surfaces to walk on.

So many grapes

So many grapes

Along the roadside we watched as people harvested grapes, balanced on ladders and snipping at thick vines.

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Lunch at a roadside cafe: greasy omelette,  French fries, and rice.

Lunch at a roadside cafe: greasy omelette, French fries, and rice.

Even bicyclettas need siestas

Even bicyclettas need siestas

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Useful fountain

Useful fountain

Preparing for fall

Preparing for fall

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At the tourist bureau we learned that most pensions and hotels here in Vile de Ponte de Lima were full, but luckily we got set up with a private room above someone’s salon! Payment in cash and no passport check, just a set of keys and a brief explanation of what to do with the keys when we leave the next morning. Then adios, and we had the place to ourselves.

Not a recent concert but I love to read the band names

Not a recent concert but I love to read the band names

Day 18 – Pedra Furada to Portula

We walked about 20 km in the sunshine and despite the usual blisters and backache we had an enjoyable journey. The cafe where we had breakfast has one wall decorated in “Camino motif” with all sizes of white Camino shells and flags from many countries. There were also pictures of walkers and knitted yellow arrows, and from the middle of this wall Elvis Presley sends his best vibes to the pilgrims:

Elvis has left the Camino

Elvis has left the Camino

Spied on a path across from a church: bottles of martini mix, cakes, quail eggs, grapes, apples, and beer. Party remnants!

Spied on a path across from a church: bottles of martini mix, cakes, quail eggs, grapes, apples, and beer. Party remnants!

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Entering the city of Barcelos

Entering the city of Barcelos

Doorway of a monastery from the early 1500s

Doorway of a monastery from the early 1500s

If this were a video game, I'd have to remove the crypt cover to find the jewel/clue.

If this were a video game, I’d have to remove the crypt cover to find the jewel/clue.

The cock of Barcelos!

The cock of Barcelos!

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Whispers in the wind and cows in the pasture - Buck 65

Whispers on the wind and cows in the pasture – Buck 65

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Take a seat! You're almost there.

Take a seat! You’re almost there.

We passed many vinyards todays. Miles and miles of wine-to-be.

We passed many vinyards today. Miles and miles of wine-to-be.

Tonight we stayed in an alberge that charged a donation of 5 euros per person. First night in a dorm! We had access to a kitchen so we were able to whip up our own dinner. Pasta, of course (because it’s not on menus here).

The chef

The chef

Our dorm room had six sets of bunk beds and all were occupied by the time the ceiling light was turned out at 9pm, just as the church bells rang for the last time for the evening. By 7am, the church bells had started up again and half the room had emptied. A group of young German people traveling together were up and left by dawn.

Pesto, peppers n' pasta

Pesto, peppers n’ pasta

Sign in the communal kitchen

Sign in the communal kitchen

Day 17 – Vila Do Conde to Pedra Furada

The scenery was beautiful and the weather perfect – sunny and just hot enough. We stopped outside a church and a man walked over, introducing himself as a journalist. He spoke some French and asked us to pose for a photo for a smalltown newspaper article he was writing on Camino pilgrims! Afterwards he showed us around the church which was tiny and magnificent.

This statue shows Mary and Jesus, but also Mary's mother, Claire.

This statue shows Mary and Jesus, but also Mary’s mother, Claire.

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The next few distances will be around 20k each, since we broke up a 60+ km route into three days’ worth of walking. This allows us to sleep in!

Day 16 – Porto to Vila Do Conde

Let’s start with last night’s dinner in Porto. We found a restaurant close to our residencial called Portugandhi. We ordered curries and wine and grooved to the Goa-inspired lounge music.

Spicy chickpea curry and a creamy cashew korma. The waiter told us we ordered too much naan. Not a crumb remained.

Spicy chickpea curry and a creamy cashew korma. The waiter told us we ordered too much naan but not a crumb remained.

This morning we took the metro out of town to begin our walk along the waterfront. We took the option of the coastal route and I took too many pictures.

Coimbra to St. John's!

Coimbra to St. John’s

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The long expanse of boardwalk was great for the day’s walk.

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We did get lost, though. Draft Punk’s line, “If you lose your way tonight / that’s how you know the magic’s right,” definitely does not apply. It’s how you know you have fewer free hours between the end of today and the start of tomorrow’s journey… I walk all day, often in the rain, and no one should call me a slacker!!

Japanese wave

Japanese wave

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This picture reminds me of an endless summer

This picture reminds me of an endless summer

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We got a ride for 3 km and he dropped us off by this aquaduct

We got a ride near the end of the day for about 3km. The driver dropped us off by this aquaduct. He probably felt sorry for us because rain had started.

As the clouds roll in

As the clouds roll in

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Rainbows inspire hope, right? I hope I can finish this journey.

Rainbows inspire hope, right? I hope I can finish this journey.

The kms and hours spent on the road make me eat this whole pizza myself!

The kms and hours spent on the road make me eat this whole pizza myself

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Day 14 – Alberguaria-a-velho to Sao Joao de Madeira

Mornings are better with tosta mista and galao

Mornings are better with tosta mista and galao

The 30 km walk went quicker than anticipated but was still a long slog (ie, it took all day). We saw some cool buildings and two signs for Pigeon Club. We walked by a trio of older ladies at a bus shelter who indicated that we should take the bus! We all laughed – I don’t need to speak the language to know that I’m comic relief to the locals, hehe.

We also ran into Ruth and Annetta, both from Germany. Annetta is walking with her dog Flumke, a very small dog! I was amused to watch Flumke avoid puddles on the muddy logging trail we were walking. The dog was faster than us!

We located a jar of pesto at a grocery store! This stuff is as valuable as gold and just as hard to find although dried pasta is available in even the tiniest shops. At some point we may stay in another hostel with kitchen facilities and want to cook for ourselves; now we’re prepared. Today we each had two tosta mistas (grilled cheeses), and we,ve had them many times before then. We’re ready to move on. Trouble is, we know how to order it in Portuguese, so it’s a reliable stand-by even though we’re a little tired of it.

Bovine tile

Bovine tile over a butcher shop

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I know at least one of you will find this stimulating

I know at least one of you will find this stimulating

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Dinner was grilled squid and shrimp

Dinner was grilled squid and shrimp

 

Day 13 – Algueda to Albergaria-a-velha

The morning started with a shattered desktop as I trashed our hotel room rockstar-style!! That’s right, I used to clean hotel rooms; now I destroy them. I was assured by Phillipa, the ultra-efficient hotel manager, that it was fine but I felt terrible for breaking the pane of glass when she had been so helpful and pleasant during our stay, helping us with laundry, calling the next hotel on our behalf, ordering our telepizza, and so on. I left some euros behind to pay for the damage. So embarrassing! Dimitri says I don’t know my own strength.

The Umbrella Sky Project

The Umbrella Sky Project

This town dedicated a portion of a park to public messaging on exercise

This town dedicated a portion of a park to public messaging on exercise

Before we left the hotel my lower back started to feel tweaky. Unfortunately it made a gruelling challenge out of what could have been an easy day (16 km).

Kiwis for KiwiAmy!

Kiwis for KiwiAmy!

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Keep moving forward

Keep moving forward

A medieval bridge

A medieval bridge

A walk through the woods

A walk through the woods

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Lionel's bar in Portugal!

Lionel’s bar in Portugal!

Plastic flowers in plastic bottles on a concrete wall

Plastic flowers in plastic bottles on a concrete wall

The rest in our hotel had award-winning fish soup on the menu - so good

The rest in our hotel had award-winning fish soup on the menu – so good with cilantro, croutons and thick bread.

Fortunately Portugal has relaxed prescription drug laws that allow us to procure a box of paracetamol with codeine at a farmacia for less than three euros! Two tabs and half a bottle of wine makes me sound like a lush but it puts me out of my misery. 😀 Bem noite!

I learn Portuguese history from sugar packets

Learning Portuguese history from sugar packets: period clothing from the regions.