CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 9

Rabacal – Coimbra

4 April 2018

29.2km (for Berto – walking)

0.0km (for me – another bus day)

It’s (another) rainy day:

With respect to the weather, nothing changed overnight. It rained through the night again and when Berto and the Finnish couple left Hostel O Bonito, it was still raining … 🌧 🌧

It might be my imagination, but my ankle looks a bit less swollen this morning. It seemed the antihistamine is doing the job and not walking long distances, may have added to the recovery.

It was (again) with mixed feelings that I did not join Berto in walking today … today’s terrain follows part of the original Roman road and I would have loved to walk this stretch. But then again, in this rain, the bus ride to Coimbra sounded more comfortable!

I took my time and enjoyed a hot shower and then put all my stuff together in my backpack. As I walked into the café, our fellow Italian pilgrim invited me to have coffee with him. He decided to take the bus to Coimbra as well (he was definitely not a fan of walking in the rain).

At exactly 9:30, the bus stopped across the café and at €3.50 per person the Italian and I jumped on to find our way to Coimbra.

In the meantime, Berto and the Finns were walking in the rain which meant again it was almost impossible to take photo’s. It was only close to Coimbra that the rain stopped and he were able to take a few pictures.

On the way to Coimbra

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The first view of Coimbra at Cruz dos Mourocos (the highest point of the day at 225m)

In Cernache (halfway to Coimbra), our bus stopped and everyone stepped off the bus. The Italian and I were a bit confused about this – we wanted to go to Coimbra. The bus driver explained something about “another bus” … so, together with the rest of the passengers, we waited in the pouring rain for the next bus. Fortunately, 10 minutes later, another bus appeared and we were “back on track”.

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The bridge over the mighty Mondego river that leads us into Coimbra

Arrival in Coimbra:

Coimbra is a beautiful city! If it was not for the constant rain and that my swollen ankle limited my walking, I would have surely taken the time to explore the city.

However, as I got off the bus, a heavy downpour of rain came down and I had to run for cover to the nearest café … which meant it was coffee and pastel de nata time! Who would complain about that?

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What would I do without the delicious Pastel de nata?

I asked the lady at the counter of the café for directions to our accommodation for the evening, Olive Street House. But after her explanation of: “You turn left, you turn right and left and on …”, she lost me! My trusted GPS on my cell phone would have to direct me to our hostel!

Accommodation – Coimbra:

Olive Street House

Walking in the rain and at the same time trying to follow directions on my cell phone, was not the easiest thing to do, but at 13:00 I stood at the front door of our hostel! Once again, we were lucky to get a double bed room with our own soft towels!

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Our room at Olive Street House

I sent a message on my cellphone to Berto that I arrived in Coimbra and directions on how to get to our hostel. He and the Finnish couple were still about 15km from Coimbra.

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The couple from Finland we met 3 days ago in Alvaiazere – Timo and his wife

Friendly advice from a pharmacist:

I decided to pay a visit to the local pharmacy to get another opinion on my ankle. The pharmacist was very friendly and helpful and invited me to sit at the back of the pharmacy where she could have a good look at my ankle. She confirmed my suspicion of an allergic reaction to an insect bite and said that I must continue with the antihistamine.

When she heard I wanted to continue my Camino, she suggested I put an ankle guard on my swollen foot and try to walk with hiking sandals. She helped me with getting the correct ankle guard and I put it on right there in the pharmacy. It immediately felt better when I started to walk. I will be forever grateful to this pharmacist who helped me to continuing my Camino!

It was still raining and as I walked into the square Largo da Portagem, I smelled something nice … I ducked into a restaurant where they served the most amazing soup! For just €1.50 I enjoyed the most delicious bowl of soup I ever had!

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Soup on a rainy day in Coimbra!

Berto and the Finns arrived just after 14:00. Although they were soaking wet, they were fortunate to enjoy the last 10km walking without rain. After Berto had a shower, I convinced him to walk another few kilometers with me to buy hiking sandals. On our way to the outdoor sports shop, we had a chance to see the beauty of Coimbra. And for a wonderful moment, we had no rain!

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Walking through Coimbra – looking for hiking sandals

Finding hiking sandals:

When we arrived at the place where the outdoor shop was supposed to be, we heard that the shop closed down! So, we walked 5km and there was no shop to be found! But I knew I had to get hiking sandals otherwise my Camino would be over … after walking around, we saw a shopping mall and decided to have a look there for a shoe shop. There was not a big variety, but I managed to find hiking sandals that will hopefully help me walk the Camino further!

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My new hiking sandals – now I’m ready to walk the Camino again!

Berto decided that there was no need to walk to our hostel if there were busses available! So, with the help of a few youngsters, we found the correct bus and soon we were on our way back to the square Largo da Portagem where our hostel was.

Back in our room, the lady at the reception desk gave me a bucket with cold water and salt – she was convinced this might help to reduce the swelling of my ankle.

These last couple of days, I experienced the goodness of people on our Camino thoroughly. What a blessing to receive such warmth and care from total strangers!

We ended our day with a light meal in one of the street cafés before we went to bed … tomorrow, I’m back on my feet again!

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The Camino sign on the road in Coimbra – showing us the way

Click here for Day 10 …

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