15 May 2014
Today was a hot one. When we left the albergue at 6:30 am it was warm, with little breeze. And it just got hotter and hotter throughout the day, until I guess it reached mid thirties.
We were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise, and after that it just continued to rise.
We started on a track but it didn’t last for long, we were soon pounding the roads. Mostly quiet side roads through virtually deserted villages that were rather more attractive today. It makes a huge difference if your surroundings are pleasant.
It seems that the Portuguese architects and town planners completely lost the plot from the sixties (I would guess) onwards. There are some hideous houses in the towns we have passed through, ugly boxes. But today we pass through some delightful ancient villages with buildings full of character with attractive features, showing signs of past grandeur, but sadly almost exclusively in ruinous condition with little sign of life in the villages, the only people to be seen are the older generation (and I mean even older than me).
I have only one flower offering for you today, the humble morning glory.
I saw some new planting of oak trees today. And I have discovered (courtesy of last night’s barman) that cork trees can be harvested every seven years, and that there is a difference between wine corks – some are natural and others are reconstituted from the waste. I bet not many people know that!
The olive trees, which must be very old considering their girth, are hacked back very severely, but seem to respond with strong new branches.
This guy was wriggling its way along the pavement – it was probably about a meter long and was very anxious to get away from the attention I was giving it, and dived down a hole as soon as it could.
At some point during the morning I spied a fountain and soaked my scarf (buff infinity) in cool water and then wrapped it around my neck and head. That helped a lot, and I didn’t care if I looked a bit silly (or even a lot silly) a cold neck brings your temperature down immediately.
The last long stretch was through industrial areas and was just a matter of traipsing along the road. The roads haven’t been busy today, but there were a couple of dodgy roads to cross.
We finally made it into Águeda after 25.5 km and called into the information office situated at the side of the bridge over the river (Rio Águeda). The woman there was very helpful and told us that a new albergue has opened alongside the Residencial Celeste. We were told that it was 500 metres up the road (yeah, right!) 1.25 km later we arrived at the very pleasant albergue. There are four rooms, two with two bunks (four birth) and two that we haven’t seen because they are occupied. There is only one bathroom, with really nice shower, loo and basin. Not really sufficient for 12+ pilgrims! But there is another bathroom off the courtyard that has been opened up for us. There is also a kitchen (could do with a fridge) and a sitting room, and lovely terraces overlooking the garden. Albergue St Antonio 00351 234 602 871, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The town of Águeda (population 12,000) looked quite pretty, but after slogging up the hill to the albergue, there was no way I was going back into town to discover its delights.
Elly and I have one room, another room has a spanish guy and an Italian couple, there is Spanish couple in one room, and Nicole the French woman who fell in the fourth room. She caught the bus today but plans to walk tomorrow.
There is a Lidl supermarket down the road, and we have bought ourselves ingredients for a healthy salad (and a bar of my favourite chocolate – white chocolate with dried strawberries). I just hope it doesn’t melt before I can eat it?
Busy at work writing the blog (and thinking about when I can start eating the chocolate – great thing about all this walking is that it uses so many calories!)