Agueda – Albergaria-a-Nova
7 April 2018
Starting in sunshine … but ending in rain!
In our Brierley guide, today’s stage is marked as far as Albergaria-a-Velha (17km in total). However, he suggests that, if possible, you walk an extra 6.1km to shorten the next day’s stage. We decided the extra 6.1km sounded like a good idea. Yet ironic how this sounded like a good plan early in the morning, but later in the afternoon the extra 6.1km became a VERY long distance (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 were able to start the day in dry conditions! We enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast at Albergue St Antonio. I’d say it was probably the best breakfast on this Camino so far – I could have actually just stayed there for the rest of the day!
It’s a new day … and the sun is out
Albergue St Antonio in Agueda
Goodbye to our Italian pilgrim friend:
Our hike started along the busy N-1 and then luckily changed to a narrow road that runs parallel to the N-1. We saw our Italian pilgrim friend on the other side of the road early in the morning – he mentioned last night that all the rain was just getting too much for him and that he was considering taking the bus to Porto. And that was also the last time we saw him. Although we didn’t walk much together, it was always nice to see him at the albergue at the end of the day. We wish him all 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
And as expected, my blisters irritated me beyond hope! I got at least 4 new blisters (probably due to my new hiking sandals and also the constant rain from yesterday). At least my swollen ankle looks better, but it’s still uncomfortable to walk. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed that there won’t be any rain today!
We walked on a stretch of Roman road (rua da Ponte Romana) and saw a wonderfully restored medieval bridge that spanned the Marnel River. We saw some locals trying to catch fish. When we walked past them and said hello, they waved kindly and greeted us with “Bom Caminho”.
Berto at the medieval bridge over the Marnel River
The Marnel River
“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 that the secondary bridge over the Vouga River was badly damaged by floods and we therefore had to walk over the new bridge on the footpath. The busy N-1 was very close to us when we walked over the bridge. The bridge spans a distance of 1km and it was quite nerve-wracking to walk across 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 climb we reached the village of Serem de Cima. There was only a café with a few houses. But even in this small place, the houses were beautifully decorated with tiles on the outside.
Beautifully tiled house in Serem de Cima
A walk in a forest:
Just after the village I was glad that we could walk again in a eucalyptus forest. For me, the smell of these forests became the smell of the Camino!
A walk in an eucalyptus forest
We noticed rain clouds starting to gather in the distance and with the extra 6.1km we added to today’s stage, it became inevitable that we would be walking in the rain (again).
A pitstop in Albergaria-a-Velha:
In Albergaria-a-Velha I told Berto that we should look for a pharmacy … I needed plasters. Everything about my feet bothered me today! My blisters hurt and my ankle started to swell again.
Meeting two Aussie pilgrims:
Next to the pharmacy was a café where Berto bought coffee. While sitting outside drinking coffee, we met two pilgrims from Australia and started talking. Their plan was to get a taxi to take them a little further (to get out of the rain) and then tomorrow they would take a taxi back to start walking from where they had left off – this sounded like a good idea!
However, we decided to walk further. At a café at the end of town we bought two juicy oranges and ate them while sitting on a bench (at the same time I was putting my new plasters on my blistered feet). And then, as we left Albergaria-a-Velha, the rain started to come down … ugh!
A river walk, but in a forest:
Once again we put on our rain jackets and tackled the last 6.1km in pouring rain. Did you know that forest paths can turn into small rivers with deep mud pools when it rains … well, we experienced it first hand!
Walking in a forest during a rain storm became a huge challenge
A hail storm:
At the crossroads, where the statue of Our Lady stands, a hailstorm broke out! The only cover for us was some trees along the road. At one point Berto looked down and pulled me out of ankle deep water … my feet were so cold, I didn’t even realise I was standing in the water!
A hail storm at the crossroads (with 4km to go to our destination)
After the hailstorm subsided, we walked in pouring rain on the asphalt road on our way to Albergaria-a-Nova. When we got to the turn off where you have to follow the forest road, it became a very difficult choice! It was either the woodland path (which had since become a river) or the asphalt road which meant we would be walking along a busy road with no shoulder. Finally we decided that the river path in the woodlands was safer than walking along the road!
Perhaps a wetsuit would have been a better option than hiking attire
I don’t remember much about the rest of this walk except that it was wet, very wet!!
Accommodation – Albergaria-a-Nova:
Finally – Albergaria-a-Nova:
We reached, soaking wet and freezing cold, the new albergue in Albergaria-a-Nova, Hostel Albergaria. This hostel is part of a family’s home and they welcomed us with open arms (and a hot stove in the kitchen!) Our Finnish friends had also just arrived and we could only laugh at each other about how wet we were!
Bunk beds at Hostel Albergaria – maybe it doesn’t look like much, but for us, it was dry and great
Definitely the hardest day so far:
If I may have said in previous posts that a particular day was the hardest, I want to correct that and say that the last 6km of today was THE hardest (weather wise anyway)!
After we had a hot shower and were able to change into dry clothes (yes, miraculously we still had dry clothes in our backpacks), the mother and daughter from the albergue offered to take us in their car to the supermercado where we could buy ingredients to prepare for 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 from the Portuguese people that made the Camino unforgettable!
A Portuguese quote:
“Está chovendo canivetes”… translated it apparently means “it’s raining pocketknives”. Well, if that’s a description of heavy rain in Portugal, I’d like to agree 100% with it today!
Click here for Day 13 …
7 thoughts on “CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 12”
Oh my goodness!! What a miserable day. Glad it ended well.
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That was the longest 6.1km of my life!
I know exactly how you feel about the bridge as I don’t like heights either and high bridges terrify me. I hope this weather cheers up soon.
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Oh hail! That’s awful. Amazing how grateful one can be just for being dry!
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Until that day, we had never walked in hail – it was not fun at all! Yes, being dry (and taking dry clothes out of your backpack at the end of such a day) was one of the best feelings.