AGUEDA – ALBERGARIA-A-NOVA
7 APRIL 2018
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’ve decided that sounds like a good plan and opted for the extra 6.1km … ironically how this does not sound too bad early in the morning, but later in the afternoon, that 6.1km can be very daunting!
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’ve had a great buffet breakfast at Albergue St Antonio … 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
Our walk starts alongside the busy N-1 and then changed to a narrow road that runs parallel with the N-1. We’ve seen the Italian pilgrim 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’ve seen him – although we did not walk much together, it was always nice seeing him at the end of the day at the albergue. I wish him everything of the best.
The narrow street (rua Liberdade) that runs parallel with the N-1 and takes 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’ve 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’ve walked passed and they’ve greeted us friendly.
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” … what wonderful words to see on our way
At Ponte de Marnel, we’ve learned the secondary bridge over the Vouga river was badly damaged by floods and therefor had to walk over the new bridge on the pedestrian walkway. The busy N-1 was alongside as we’ve walked over the bridge … must have been close to 1km and quite nerve wrecking!
The beginning of the long bridge over the river Vouga 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 up hill, we’ve got to the small 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
Just after the village, I was happy that we’ve once again could walk into a eucalyptus forest. The smell of these forests became the smell of the Camino for me!
A walk through a eucalyptus forest
We’ve noticed that rain clouds were accumulating in the distance and with the extra 6.1km we’ve added to today’s stage, it became inevitable that we will walk in the rain.
In Albergaria-a-Velha I’ve told Berto that I need to get to a pharmacy to get a plaster for a corn on my toe that was bothering me … actually everything about my feet was bothering me! My blisters were painful and my swollen ankle became more swollen again.
Next to the pharmacy was a café where Berto bought us coffee. While we were sitting outside, we’ve met two pilgrims from Australia and had a great 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 tomorrow from where they’ve stopped walking – great idea, I must say! We’ve however walked on. At a café at the end of the town, we’ve bought two juicy oranges and ate them while sitting on a bench (and I’ve used the time to patch my new plasters on my blistered feet). And then, as we’ve left Albergaria-a-Velha, the rain started to coming down … ugh!
Once again, we’ve put our rain jackets on and tackled the last 6.1km in pouring rain. The forest tracks became small rivers with deep mud puddles!
To walk in the forest during a downpour became a huge challenge!
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’ve continued in pouring rain on the asphalt road on our way to Albergaria-a-Nova. When we’ve 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’ve 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, extremely wet!!
Accommodation – Albergaria-a-Nova:
We’ve got to the new albergue in Albergaria-a-Nova, Hostel Albergaria drenched and bitterly cold! This hostel is part of the family’s house and they’ve 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!
Our bunk beds at Hostel Albergaria – maybe it does not look like much, but for us, it was dry and therefore great!
If I’ve 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’ve had a hot shower and put dry clothes on (yes, it was incredible that 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.
They really went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable – at the end of a day like today, it was the kind gestures of the Portuguese people that made the Camino memorable!
There is a Portuguese saying about heavy rain, that reads as follows:
“Está chovendo canivetes” … 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 saying today!