Agueda – Albergaria-a-Nova
7 April 2018
Starting in sunshine … but ending rain!
In our Brierley guidebook, today’s stage is marked to Albergaria-a-Velha (a total of 17km). He suggests however, that if possible, you walk another 6.1km to shorten the next day’s stage. We decided the extra 6.1km sounded like a good plan … ironically how this plan does not sound too bad early in the morning, but later in the afternoon, 6.1km can be a very LONG distance to cover (especially when it’s raining)!
The best news of the day … the sun was shining! We don’t know for how long, but at least we can start the day in dry conditions! We enjoyed a great buffet breakfast at Albergue St Antonio … it was probably the best breakfast on this Camino thus far – I could have actually just stay there for the rest of day!
It’s a new day … and the sun is out!
Albergue St Antonio with part of Agueda in the distance
Goodbye to our Italian pilgrim friend:
Our walk started next to the busy N-1 and then changed to a narrow road that runs parallel with the N-1. We saw the Italian pilgrim early morning on the other side of the road – he mentioned last night that all the rain was getting too much for him and that he was considering taking the bus to Porto. And that was the last time we saw him – although we did not walk much together, it was always nice seeing him at the end of the day at the albergue. We wish him everything of the best.
The narrow street (rua Liberdade) that runs parallel with the N-1 and took us into Mourisca do Vouga
Large mansions in Mourisca do Vouga
As expected, my blisters were annoying me! I have about 4 new blisters (probably due to my new hiking sandals and the continuous wet weather of yesterday). At least, my swollen ankle looks better, but it is still uncomfortable walking … I really keep my fingers cross for no rain today!
We walked on a stretch of Roman road (rua da Ponte Romana) and saw a wonderful restored medieval bridge going over the rio Marnel. There were people trying to catch fish as we walked passed and they greeted us friendly with a “Bom Caminho”.
Berto at the medieval bridge over the rio Marnel
The rio Marnel
“Bom Caminho” … the Portuguese greeting shared between pilgrims on the Camino that literally means “Good way”. “Tem Fe” means “have faith” … wonderful words to see on our way
Walking over the highway bridge:
At Ponte de Marnel, we realised the secondary bridge over the Vouga river was badly damaged by floods and we had to walk over the new bridge on the pedestrian walkway. The busy N-1 was very close to us as we walked over the bridge. The bridge covers a distance of 1km and it was quite nerve wrecking walking over with the cars speeding past us!
The beginning of the long bridge over the Vouga river with a narrow pedestrian walkway …
The end of the bridge. For someone with a fear of heights (me), this was a challenge – I did not stop once from beginning to end!
After a steep uphill, we reached the village of Serem de Cima. There was only a small café and few houses. But even with just a couple of buildings, the houses were beautiful decorated with tiles on the outside.
A beautifully tiled house in Serem de Cima
A walk in a forest:
Just after the village, I was happy that we once again could walk into an eucalyptus forest. For me, the smell of these forests became the smell of the Camino!
A walk through an eucalyptus forest
We noticed that rain clouds were accumulating in the distance and with the extra 6.1km that we added to today’s stage, it became inevitable that we will walk in the rain (once again).
A pitstop in Albergaria-a-Velha:
In Albergaria-a-Velha I told Berto that I needed to stop at a pharmacy for (more) plasters … everything about my feet was bothering me today! My blisters were painful and my swollen ankle became more swollen again.
Meeting two Aussie pilgrims:
Next to the pharmacy was a café where Berto bought coffee. While we were sitting outside enjoying our coffee, we met two pilgrims from Australia and had a nice chat. Their plan was to get a taxi to take them a little bit further (to stay out of the rain) and then they will return with a taxi tomorrow from where they have stopped walking – good idea!
We, however walked on. At a café at the end of the town, we bought two juicy oranges and ate them while sitting on a bench (at the same time, I patched my new plasters on my blistered feet). And then, as we left Albergaria-a-Velha, the rain started to coming down … ugh!
A river walk … in a forest:
Once again, we put our rain jackets on and tackled the last 6.1km in pouring rain. Did you know that forest tracks can become small rivers with deep mud puddles when it’s raining … we experienced it first hand!
To walk in a forest during a downpour became a huge challenge!
A hail storm:
At the crossroads where you get to the statue of Our Lady, a hail storm broke out! The only cover for us, were a few trees next to the road. At one stage, Berto looked down and pulled me out of ankle-deep water … my feet were so cold, I did not even notice I was standing in water!
A hail storm at the crossroads (with still another 4km to our destination)!
After the hail storm subsided, we continued in the pouring rain on the asphalt road on our way to Albergaria-a-Nova. When we got to the turn off where you should follow the woodland path, it became a very difficult decision! It was either taking the woodland path that became a river or continue on the asphalt road that meant walking next to a busy road with no shoulder. Eventually, we decided the river path in the woodlands were safer than walking next to the road!
Maybe a wetsuit would have been a better option than hiking attire!
I cannot remember much of the rest of this walk in the woodlands, except that it was wet, very wet!!
Accommodation – Albergaria-a-Nova:
Finally – Albergaria-a-Nova:
We reached the new albergue in Albergaria-a-Nova, Hostel Albergaria drenched and bitterly cold! This hostel is part of the family’s house and they welcomed us with open arms (and a hot burning stove in the kitchen!) Our Finnish friends also just arrived and we could just laugh at each other at how wet we were!
Bunk beds at Hostel Albergaria – maybe it does not look like much, but for us, it was dry and great!
Definitely the most difficult day thus far:
If I maybe said in previous posts, that a specific day was the most difficult, I want to delete that and said that today was THE most difficult weather-wise … or at least it was true of the last 6km!
After we had a hot shower and got dressed in dry clothes (yes, miraculously we still had dry clothes in our backpacks), the mother and daughter of the albergue offered to take us in their car to the supermercado where we could buy ingredients to prepare dinner.
Kind Portuguese people:
They really went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable – at the end of a day like today, it was these kind gestures of the Portuguese people that made the Camino memorable!
A Portuguese quote:
“Está chovendo canivetes” … translated, it apparently means “it’s raining pocketknives” … well, if that is a description of heavy rain in Portugal, I would like to totally agree with this quote today!
Click here for Day 13 …