day 16, Albergaria a Velha to Oliveira de Azeméis, 22 km

Albergaria rose in my estimation when wandering around the town in the evening we discovered it was hosting a national bread festival. The “Festival pão de Portugal” consisted of many stalls of artisan bread, and of course cakes, and some meat products – not forgetting the wine, oh, and the cheese. We were offered samples of some delicious sheep’s cheese made in the Azores, and I bought some smoked pork loin and a couple of rolls for supper and mid morning, although by the time it was possible to eat it, I was no longer hungry. it was a very well organised event and very well attended.

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I would also like to mention that we were served a delicious salad for lunch in the cafe Ponto Final.

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The cafe was rammed (or as Elly would say, chockers) with locals at lunch time, and when we returned for a drink on the way back to the hotel after the bread-fest, they were still busy serving diners. The cook, who is probably the owner, was a lovely lady who spoke excellent English and was obviously very keen to please, and the guy behind the bar in the evening I would imagine is her husband and was equally charming. If you are staying in Albergaria or just passing through at meal time, stop at the Ponto Final for a meal – you won’t regret it.

Elly thinks I am too hard when assessing some of the towns and accommodations I haven’t been impressed with. She has travelled far and wide and has experienced all sorts of poor facilities, so has a low intolerance threshold, whereas I, as the title of my blog indicates, am much less experienced of the big wide world, and have higher hopes of receiving higher standards.

Today’s walk was again mostly on roads, with some forest tracks thrown in for good luck. Once again the small towns and villages were a delight to walk through. It is incredible the amount of once grand buildings that abound here. The Portuguese were obviously once a very wealthy nation.

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I am now struggling to find wild flowers to photograph. Although we seem to be walking through similar terrain, the flowers have all but disappeared.

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I saw my first horreo today (grain store, as seen throughout Galicia, and much admired by me in all its forms, ancient and modern. And I thought this building showing three stages of development over the ages was very interesting?.

Our walk today is to another ‘off-stage’ stop. As we entered Oliveira de Azeméis we walked into another world. Our luck has changed, and rather than missing the events as we walk through towns, we have obviously now come ‘into the loop’ and have caught two in a row. This town is hosting its annual historic street fayre, with hundreds of stalls with food and fancy goods galore. What a treat.

As we came across the accommodation we were looking for and were wondering how we could get to the entrance behind one of the many food stalls, a lovely lady approached us and told us that it was no longer open. We asked if she knew of an alternative and she suggested we try the bombeiros voluntarios – at the exact moment that a guy walked up who just happened to have the telephone number of the chief fire fighter. A call was made and we were escorted to the now unused sleeping quarters for the voluntary fire brigade. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination clean but it is a bed for the night – in this fabulous town with a wonderful party vibe.

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The beds seemed clean enough and I showered in the communal showers with my eyes shut so that I couldn’t see the state of the floor, and in no time at all we were out and about amongst the food stalls, where Elly’s eyes were popping over the cakes and I couldn’t wait to sample the local vinho verde.

We found a shady area where I ordered a hog roast roll with the most delicious rustic bread, and Elly thought she ordered a tapas portion of chorizo, which arrived as a whole ring of what seemed to be a mix between chorizo and morcilla – very spicy and a huge portion. It was all washed down with sparkling vinho verde served in rustic mugs, ice cold and totally refreshing – so much so that we found it necessary to repeat the experience – twice!

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For my neighbours in Cómpeta, think Noche del Vino, and expand the experience four-fold. For those reading this who have not experienced the ability of the Spanish and obviously the Portuguese to throw a party, check out the links in this paragraph.

There are wandering musicians, a wonderful children’s roundabout from days gone by, with a guy hand turning a wheel to rotate the ride of home made sheep – so wonderfully innocent of modern technology! the lovely lady Margaret who, when I told her I was a pilgrim, sold me a handful of cherries rather than the kilo measures she was dealing in and then chucked in a few oranges from her garden for free.

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This day was meant to be – we deserve the fabulous reception we have received here and it will stay in my memory as the highlight of this camino (unless some other event can top it – which I very much doubt!)

The party will go on, but as wifi facilities are, not surprisingly, lacking in the disused fire bridge accommodation, I will post now and possibly update tomorrow.

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
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21 Responses to day 16, Albergaria a Velha to Oliveira de Azeméis, 22 km

  1. the party atmosphere comes across vividly through your pictures, maggie – wish we were there

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  2. Leona says:

    Ohh, I want to be there! So happy for you that you are. I concur that this has to be a highlight. Rest well, ’till next time…..Leona

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  3. Janice Tyler says:

    I was sure things would look up today and they have! Fantastic photos Maggie of, probably, a fast disappearing world.

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  4. David Wolfe says:

    That certainly his fantastic feria I also wish I was there. I’m so pleased that you’ve arrived on the right day because tomorrow it will be deserted as everybody will be partying all night and sleeping it off tomorrow.Wonderful pictures again. All that fun and a free fireman thrown in for good measure I bet the smile on your face is from ear to ear. Have a great evening / night you deserve it talk later.
    David xx

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  5. The photos are fantastic as are your descriptions. I feel I’m right there peeking somehow.
    The Europeans sure know how to throw a party. Sounds superb this outdoor fun and food. Let’s not forget the vinho and that salad. I wouldn’t turn up my nose nohow. 🙂

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  6. cindy jones says:

    More wonderful photographs making me feel as if I am there xxx

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  7. annieh61 says:

    What a wonderful experience to share with us Maggie. Your photos are stunning too. x

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  8. AMSimoes says:

    Mag and Elly

    Now are they enter the “Vinho Verde” region. Drink white, red and in Ponte de Lima drink “Vinhão” (cold). If they like pig’s blood will not miss the “Arroz (rice) de sarrabulho”.
    From Tuesday will begin to rain.
    Bom caminho.
    AMSimoes

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  9. OzAnnie says:

    Hi maggie and Elly.
    You’re good maggie! I can feel the ambience of that place coming through in your description and the chosen pics posted. How lucky can you be? Annual fayre and you just happened to pop in.
    Oz annie

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  10. Maggie Gardner says:

    I am loving every minute of this journey, Maggie you tell such a wonderful story every day. You will not be able to use the word Trepidatious for much longer!!

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  11. Aww…the benefits of long daily hikes!! All the delicious breads, meats, sweets and wine without an added inch! Great pics of this wonderful fair! Loved the carrousel 🙂

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    • magwood says:

      I can’t understand where all the inches go in Portugal. I have never seen so many pastry shops and the people are not big at all – and I’m sure they don’t all walk 20+ km’s a day!

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