Coimbra – Mealhada
5 April 2018
There were three things today to be grateful for:
- I’m walking again – yep, me and my new hiking sandals are back on the Camino
- It is only 23.1km today … those long days of 30km are gone (at least, for now)
- And … the sun is shining!
I could not wait to get back on the road again and we left Coimbra just after 7:00. My ankle was still swollen, but I could adjust the straps of my hiking sandal which meant my “big” foot fitted neatly into my sandal! Was it too soon to walk again … I guess I’ll find out soon …
Leaving Coimbra early morning
The first couple of kilometers were quiet and we saw almost nobody (not even animals) … did we miss something? Maybe it was just way too early for people to be out and about – except of course for pilgrims.
We have read that part of today’s walk will be next to a road again, but the last 10km are a newly marked forest track (and without the prediction of rain, this could be a great walk).
Every now and then, we saw a tree blossom, a reminder that we are walking in the most beautiful season – spring!
And then we got to the promised road walking next to the N-1. Fortunately, there was not a lot of traffic and we could walk without looking out for speeding cars.
The feared road walking – at least it was not raining today and we could walk on the side without too many problems
At Fornos, we saw a café next to the road and decided it was time for coffee. There were a few locals in the café and when they saw us coming in, they all went out … we soon found out why – no one was speaking English! Berto ordered his black coffee without any problem, but when I ordered “café con leche” (coffee with milk) there was a loud conversation in Spanish/Portuguese! Eventually the young man behind the counter left and we were alone in his café … what now?
An old man came in and said something in Portuguese (which we did not understand). We were standing around, not knowing what to do, when, a few minutes later, the young man came back into his shop … this time with a bottle of milk he was holding like a trophy! We figured out he wanted to buy milk and had no idea how to explain it to us. I don’t know who was the happiest when we got our two cups of coffee – we, the young man behind the counter or the rest of the people outside!!
Enjoying a “café con leche” … more exhausted from the ordering process than the actual walking!
The road walking continued until Santa Luzia. Just outside the town, there was an old Portuguese woman sitting on a bench watching us closely. Berto and I walked on opposite sides of the road and I had the opportunity of taking a photo just as Berto walked passed her … the expression on her face was priceless! I don’t know whether she ever saw a modern pilgrim walking into her town – I would have loved to know what her thoughts were!
The curious Portuguese woman outside Santa Luzia keeping an eye on Berto
There was a hustle and bustle in Santa Luzia as the locals were busy doing their shopping for the day. A street market, which was on our way, gave us the opportunity for some “window shopping”.
The local street market in Santa Luzia
We saw many small farms on our way today. People were working in their gardens, either planting something or just cleaning their fields. Most of these people were not that young anymore and I was wondering whether it was all the hard work that make the Portuguese living longer!
An old woman and her donkey busy working on her piece of land
After all the road walking, it was great to get to the new route, the woodland track. I was just so happy that it did not rain. It was such a glorious walk. And yes, even my hiking sandals did the job and my feet did not complain.
The new woodland track was great and we could smell nature as we continued our walk to Mealhada
Yummy, more Pastel de nata:
In Mala we noticed a café and thought it was a good time to have more coffee and … yes, Pastel de nata!
What would a day be without my favourite, Pastel de nata?
The last 5km was pure bliss. We walked through more woodlands and even olive tree orchards. As we got closer to Mealhada, the sky got greyer and it was colder … maybe an indication for rain later on?
Beautiful woodlands and olive tree orchards
Santiago is getting closer …
Arriving in Mealhada:
Mealhada is situated in a famous wine growing area and with 1km to go to Mealhada, we saw the statue of the wine god Bacchus at the Rotunda.
The statue of the god Bacchus on a wine barrel as we were entering Mealhada
Mealhada is also known for its spit roasted month-old piglet dish “Leitoes” (my apologies to the vegetarians). Already in Lisbon, we were informed to try the pig dish in Mealhada and we will make sure not to miss out tonight!
The entrance at Mealhada – the tiled wall describing their main dish
Accommodation – Mealhada:
We decided to sleep at Albergue Hilario, which is about 1.5km from the town centre. But first, we had lunch in the town centre (a massive toasted sandwich which we shared) and then walked to our albergue.
It was great to see the Finnish couple there, as well as the Italian that got on the bus with me to Coimbra.
The famous pig dish:
After checking in and our laundry done, we walked together with the Finnish couple to a bar for a couple of cold beers. Later that evening we all went to a restaurant and probably had the most expensive meal of our trip … but hey, every Euro worth it! The much talked-about pig dish was delicious!
The fancy pig dish (well-known in Mealhada). What a lovely dinner!
I was happy. It did not rain and it was a good day on the road!
Click here for Day 11 …