Albergaria-a-Nova – Sao Joao
8 April 2018
Rain … pouring rain! I really don’t know what else I’ve expected when we’ve got up this morning …
We and the Finnish couple were standing for a long time in the front door of Albergue Albergaria – waiting for the rain to calm down, but it seemed we would have stand there for ever!
The scenery that greeted us when we’ve open the front door of the albergue …
Hopefully that light blue sky in the distance means no rain!
The family of the albergue told us that the rain will subside later in the morning, but we could not wait for when this will happen and eventually left in the pouring rain.
The Finnish couple told us that they will take a couple of days off from the Camino when they get to Porto (in two days’ time). Their children will meet them there and they will spent some time together. They’ve started walking in front of us and this would have been the last time we saw them on our Portuguese Camino. They were great companions and we’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent with them in the albergues after a hard day’s walk in the rain.
The road was quiet as we’ve walked along the N-1 and then we’ve started to crisscross the railway on our way through Branca. We’ve read in our Brierley guidebook that we will crisscross the N-1 and railway several times today as we’ve started to move closer to urban life.
Not a soul in sight … only the two of us and the rain
As we’ve neared Pinheiro da Bemposta (6.5km into our walk), the hard rain changed into a light drizzle … a glimmer of hope that it will eventually disappear!
Although the sky was covered with dark clouds, we now only had a light drizzle
My feet was hurting this morning – with every step I’ve felt a blister rubbed against my hiking sandal. And my swollen ankle looks better, but the itchy feeling changed into constant pain … maybe it was not such a good idea to start walking so soon again.
In Pinheiro da Bemposta we’ve seen a bakery that looked warm and inviting. Berto said he thinks a Pastel de nata will make me feel better and we’ve stopped at café-pastelaria Alfazema for my favourite treat!
Pastel de nata at café-pastelaria Alfazema
While we were enjoying our Pastel de natas, we’ve seen a couple next to us that received fresh bread that smelled heavenly! We’ve decided we were in no rush and also ordered bread – wow, that was for sure the taste of fresh baked farm bread! I can definitely recommend café-pastelaria Alfazema to stop for a sweet treat on your Camino!
We could probably survive the rest of our Camino on these thick slices of bread with real butter!
It was Sunday and the small towns and villages were quiet, except for the charming sounds of church bells every now and then.
It was still overcast and cold, but at least we had no heavy rain. Every half an hour or so we would have a little bit of light rain, but nothing compared to what we’ve had the last couple of days.
We’ve seen a lot of abandoned houses on our way today. This might be the sign of people leaving the small towns to stay and work in the bigger cities.
This house was probably a show piece a couple of years ago, but now it’s empty and neglected
As told by our Brierley guidebook, we did crisscross the railway several times. We did not see any trains, but nonetheless kept our eyes and ears open just for in case!
Crisscrossing the railway line. It was difficult to decide where to walk, because after the heavy rain there were big mud puddles in between, as well as next to the railway tracks
About 3km after Pinheiro da Bemposta, we’ve came across a delightful stretch of original pilgrim pathway as we’ve descended down into the river valley. This was a beautiful track and we’ve enjoyed walking where there were no signs of cars.
A stretch of original pilgrim pathway over the river Anceira
When we’ve walked into Oliveira de Azemeis, we could sense we were nearing the bigger towns. According to Brierley, this town has a growing population in excess of 12 000 and has all the facilities associated with a modern town. There were a lot of locals out on the streets that greeted us with “Bom Caminho”. The Camino route took us past the parish church of saint Michael (Igreja Matriz de Sao Miguel) that is mentioned in documents as far back as 922 – it was beautiful to see and we’ve rested here in front of the church for a while.
Berto in front of the parish church Igreja Matriz de Sao Miguel
After we’ve walked through the town, we’ve headed steeply down over the river, once again crisscrossing the railway. Most of the road is covered by cobblestones – which looks great, but is hard on your feet!
The medieval stone bridge over the river Ul
I had a hard time walking today. Some of my blisters looked infected and my swollen ankle is really painful. Because of this, we’ve stopped more on the road today. Just after Santiago de Riba-Ul, we’ve walked into café O Emigrante to have a coffee and light lunch. There were a couple of locals watching the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” on the café’s big screen … for a moment I thought it would be great to just sit there and watch the movie with them!
But we’ve had to walk another 5km to reach our destination Sao Joao and with our backpacks back where they belong, we’ve walked on. It was up hill from here onwards and we’ve started to enter the suburbs of Sao Joao. Some of the streets were quite narrow and we’ve kept our fingers crossed for no approaching traffic!
Narrow streets with no shoulder to walk in … fortunately, no cars came from the front!
As we’ve got to the major roundabout at the start of the modern suburbs of Sao Joao, the rain once again started to fall. It was now really time to get in house!
At the roundabout we’ve seen a couple of dogs on the grass (maybe 6 or 7) just lying there. It did not seemed as if they belonged to someone, but they looked quite happy welcoming us into “their” town 😄
The dogs of Sao Joao welcomes us into the town
Accommodation – Sao Joao:
Although we’ve entered Sao Joao, it was still another 2km to our accommodation, Residencial Solar Sao Joao. It was great walking into our double bed room with a beautiful view over the central rotunda Praca Luis Ribeiro.
Residencial Solar Sao Joao
The view from our bedroom on the 3rd floor of Residencial Solar Sao Joao – almost deserted on a cold and rainy Sunday evening
The best of Residencial Solar Sao Joao, was that there was a deep bath in the bathroom … I’ve made fully use of this! It was a quiet Sunday evening and we’ve decided to have our dinner at a café next to Residencial Solar Sao Joao. There were a couple of older people eating and watching the soccer on television.
Locals watching soccer in a café on a Sunday evening
I was very happy to be here in Sao Joao. Today it was not the weather that was so much of a challenge than it was physically.
Tomorrow we will see Porto … a city we’ve read so much about and can’t wait to see!