Albergaria-a-Nova – Sao Joao

8 April 2018


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 stood for a long time in the front door of Albergue Albergaria – hoping the rain would stop. However, it seemed like we would be standing there forever and finally decided to brave the pouring rain!


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


Hopefully that light blue sky in the distance means no rain

The family from the albergue told us that the rain would stop later in the morning, but we couldn’t wait that long and ended up walking in the pouring rain.

Goodbye to our Finnish pilgrim friends:

The Finnish couple mentioned that they would interrupt their Camino to rest for a few days in Porto (which would be in two days’ time). Their children would meet them there and they wanted to spend a few days with them before continuing their Camino. They started walking ahead and it would be the last time we saw them on our Portuguese Camino. We had great hiking buddies in them and enjoyed our time with them in the albergues after a hard day’s hiking in the rain.

Crisscrossing the railway lines today:

The road was quiet as we walked along the N-1 and then we started to cross the railway on our way through Branca. We had read in our Brierley guide that we would cross the N-1 and railway several times today as we started to get closer to the bigger cities.


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

As we approached Pinheiro da Bemposta (6.5km into our walk) the heavy rain turned into a light drizzle … a glimmer of hope that it would eventually go away!


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

My feet were painful this morning – with every step I could feel a blister rubbing against my hiking sandal. My swollen ankle looks better, but the itchy feeling has now turned into constant pain … maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to start walking again so soon.

Wonderful Café-pastelaria Alfazema:

In Pinheiro da Bemposta we saw a bakery that looked very inviting. Berto gave me one look and said: “How about a Pastel de nata?”. He didn’t even have to ask, I was already on my way there! Café-pastelaria Alfazema was the absolute right place at the right time!


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Pastel de nata at Café-pastelaria Alfazema

While enjoying tasty Pastel de natas, we saw a couple next to us receiving fresh bread (and the smell was heavenly)! We immediately decided we were not in a hurry and also ordered bread – wow, the taste of freshly baked farm bread was amazing! We can definitely recommend Café-pastelaria Alfazema as a pit stop for a treat on your Camino!


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Thick slices of fresh bread with real butter – only on the Camino

A walk through small villages:

As it was a Sunday, the small towns and villages were very quiet, except for the charming sounds of church bells that we heard now and then.

It was still cloudy and cold, but luckily it didn’t rain hard. Every half hour there was a light shower, but nothing compared to what we had experienced the past few days.

We saw many abandoned houses on our way today. This could be a sign that people are leaving the small towns to live and work in the bigger cities.


Abandoned house

And as expected, we did cross the railway several times. We didn’t see any trains, but still kept our eyes and ears open in case a train was coming while we were walking on the railway line!


Crisscrossing the railway line

Original pilgrim pathway:

About 3km after Pinheiro da Bemposta we came to a beautiful stretch of original pilgrim pathway – just after we started walking down into the river valley. It was a beautiful pathway and very nice that we could walk without being disturbed by any cars.


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A stretch of original pilgrim pathway over the Anceira River

When we entered Oliveira de Azemeis, we immediately realised that we were approaching the larger towns. According to Brierley, this town has a growing population of over 12,000 and has all the amenities associated with a modern town. There were quite a few locals on the street who 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). This church dates back as far 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 walking through the town, we walked down a steep road over the river and once again crossed the railway line. Most of the road is covered with cobblestones – which look beautiful but are hard on your feet!


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The medieval stone bridge over the Ul River

Movie vs Walking:

I had a hard day today. Some of my blisters looked inflamed and my swollen ankle was really painful. As a result, we stopped more along the way today. Just after Santiago de Riba-Ul we walked into café O Emigrante for a coffee and light lunch. There were some locals watching the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” on the cafe’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 get to our destination Sao Joao and with our backpacks back where they belong, we walked on. It was uphill from here as we started walking through the suburbs of Sao Joao. Some of the streets were quite narrow and we kept our fingers crossed for no oncoming vehicles!


Narrow street

Hello to Sao Joao:

When we reached the large roundabout at the beginning of the modern suburbs of Sao Joao, the rain began to fall again. It was really time to get under a roof!

At the roundabout we saw a few dogs lying on the grass (maybe 6 or 7). They didn’t look like they belonged to anyone, but they looked very happy when they welcomed us to “their” town.


The dogs of Sao Joao welcomes us into the town

Accommodation – Sao Joao:

Although we reached Sao Joao, it was still a 2km walk to our accommodation, Residencial Solar Sao Joao. It was wonderful to finally walk into our room with a lovely double bed and beautiful view of the central roundabout 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

A quiet Sunday evening:

The best thing about Residencial Solar Sao Joao was that there was a big bathtub in the bathroom. Yes, I took full advantage of it! It was a quiet Sunday evening and we decided to have our dinner at a café next to Residencial Solar Sao Joao. A few older people were eating there while watching football on television.


Locals watching football in a café on a Sunday evening

I was very happy to be here in Sao Joao. Today it wasn’t the weather that was challenging, but rather a more physical walk – my mental strength was really tested!

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

Click here for Day 14 …


10 thoughts on “CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 13

  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

    1. 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

      1. 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

      2. 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 😁


  2. Clearly your mental strength is considerable. I have had a lot of problems with my feet and I know only too well how miserable they can make you, so I think you are a very determined lady!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words Carolyn 🙂. It’s just … one pays so much to get there, that the option of giving up just isn’t a possibility. I tried to focus more on our beautiful surroundings than on my painful foot – and it worked (sometimes). But in the meantime, one can also do long-term damage … so, it’s a fine line.


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