CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 13

Albergaria-a-Nova – Sao Joao

8 April 2018

24.1km

Say what … more rain?

Rain … pouring rain! I really don’t know what else we expected when we 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, so we stepped out into the pouring rain!

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The view that greeted us when we opened the front door of the albergue

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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.

Goodbye to our Finnish pilgrim friends:

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 a couple of days together before they continue with their Camino. They started walking in front of us and this would have been the last time we saw them on our Portuguese Camino. We found great companions in them and enjoyed our time with them in the albergues after a hard day’s walk in the rain.

Crisscrossing the railway lines today:

The road was quiet as we walked next to the N-1 and then we started to crisscross the railway on our way through Branca. We have read in our Brierley guidebook that we will crisscross the N-1 and railway several times today as we are getting closer to urban life.

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Not a soul in sight … only the two of us in the rain

As we 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!

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Although the sky was still covered with dark clouds, we now only had a light drizzle

My feet was hurting this morning – with every step I felt a blister rubbed against my hiking sandal. My swollen ankle looks better, but the itchy feeling now changed into constant pain … maybe it was not such a good idea to start walking so soon again.

Wonderful Café-pastelaria Alfazema:

In Pinheiro da Bemposta we saw a bakery that looked warm and inviting. Berto gave me one look and said “What about a Pastel de nata?” … and to enjoy this treat, Café-pastelaria Alfazema is the right place!

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Pastel de nata at Café-pastelaria Alfazema

While we were enjoying our Pastel de natas, we saw a couple next to us that received fresh bread (and smelled heavenly)! We decided on the spot we were in no rush and also ordered bread – wow, the taste of fresh baked farm bread was amazing! We can definitely recommend Café-pastelaria Alfazema to stop for a sweet treat on your Camino!

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We could probably survive the rest of our Camino on these thick slices of bread with real butter!

A walk through small villages:

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 saw many abandoned houses on our way today. This might be a sign of people leaving the small towns to stay and work in the bigger cities.

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This house was probably a show piece a couple of years ago, but now it’s empty and neglected

And as expected, we did crisscross the railway several times. We did not see any trains, but nonetheless kept our eyes and ears open just in case a train appears while we were on the railway line!

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Crisscrossing the railway line. It was difficult to decide where we should walk, because after the heavy rain there were big mud puddles in between, as well as next to the railway tracks

Orginal pilgrim pathway:

About 3km after Pinheiro da Bemposta, we came to a delightful stretch of original pilgrim pathway as we descended down into the river valley. This was a beautiful track and we enjoyed walking where there were no signs of cars.

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A stretch of original pilgrim pathway over the Anceira river

When we 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”.

Igreja Matriz de Sao Miguel:

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 rested for a while in front of the church.

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Berto in front of the parish church Igreja Matriz de Sao Miguel

After we walked through the town, we 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!

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The medieval stone bridge over the Ul river

Shall we watch a movie or continue walking?

I had a hard time walking today. Some of my blisters looked infected and my swollen ankle is really painful. Because of this, we stopped more on the road today. Just after Santiago de Riba-Ul, we 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!

Onwards to Sao Joao:

But we had to walk another 5km to reach our destination Sao Joao and with our backpacks back where they belong, we walked further. It was uphill from here onwards as we started to enter the suburbs of Sao Joao. Some of the streets were quite narrow and we kept our fingers crossed for no approaching traffic!

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Narrow streets with no shoulder to walk in … fortunately, we encountered no cars from the front!

Hello to Sao Joao:

As we reached 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 under a roof!

At the roundabout we saw 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 😄.

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The dogs of Sao Joao welcomes us into the town

Accommodation – Sao Joao:

Although we reached Sao Joao, it was still another 2km to our accommodation, Residencial Solar Sao Joao. It was great to eventually walked into our double bed room with a beautiful view over the central rotunda Praca Luis Ribeiro.

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Residencial Solar Sao Joao

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The view from our bedroom on the 3rd floor of Residencial Solar Sao Joao – almost deserted on a cold and rainy Sunday evening

A quiet Sunday evening:

The best of Residencial Solar Sao Joao, was that there was a wonderful bath in the bathroom … I  made fully use of this! It was a quiet Sunday evening and we 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.

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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 challenging, but rather a more physical walk – my mental strength was really tested!

Tomorrow we see Porto… a city we have read so much about and can’t wait to see!

Click here for Day 14 …

7 comments

  1. I think you are tight, you probably could do the whole camino on those slabs of bread and home churned butter. Another great looking hostel with a lovely view. Had you booked your accommodation ahead or were you just “winging it”?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That bread is still sitting on my hips 😁.
      Regarding our accommodation, we’ve never booked a place (that’s the beauty of the Camino) … in the evening we would have a look at a few hostels in the next town where we would overnight and once we’re in that town, we will choose one. I guess we were lucky to always have found a bed 😀.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is the way I like to travel as well because then you can stop early if you see somewhere you really like or press on if you feel you have a bit left in the tank.

        I see that a couple of times you got the last bed(s) in town and that was early in the season. I imagine it is much different in July or August.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, apparently it can become some sort of a race during high season … that’s why we’ve walked (both) Camino’s during early spring … we’ve wanted to walk without any pre-booked beds and enjoy every day without “running” for a bed. But that meant we had to deal with a lot of rainy days … oh well, small price to pay for peace and quietness 😁

        Like

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