I was awake early so quietly got myself ready and crept out of the room, leaving Elly asleep. As forecast, I could hear that it was raining so fitted my home made (well, not exactly home-made, but home ‘adjusted’) backpack raincover. As I was doing this in the hallway, Elly came to say goodbye and I was out of the door by 6am
It was still a bit dark and it was difficult to see the arrows. They are often on lamp posts, but can also be on walls or on kerb stones, so it is necessary to be really vigilant and pay attention at all times. It was a bit intimidating walking the city streets at this hour, but as it got lighter there were plenty of signs to show the way through the unattractive suburbs.
The rain stopped after about half an hour and I began to get a bit hot so as soon as I could find a place where I felt comfortable to stop, I took off my fleece and just wore my thin rain jacket.
My iPhone gps app has the option for a voice to announce the distance travelled at every km, giving time taken and split times. Mine has a woman’s voice and I have christened her Penelope Pocket (because that is where she lives). I’m sure some people would find her very annoying piping up every 10-12 minutes, but I find her quite reassuring – I like to know how far I have travelled and therefore have some idea of how far I still have to go. But I felt a bit anxious about her talking to me from my pocket this morning and turned her voice right down, so as not to attract any unwelcome attention.
It was easy but not nice walking. Nobody makes eye contact to say hello here, like they do at home in Spain. The spanish (in my area at least) are very polite and friendly and always acknowledge everyone they pass, and when entering a waiting room, or cafe will say a general hello to everyone, and everyone responds.
The exception was one old lady at a bus stop who asked if I was going to Santiago and wished me bom viaje. That was nice!
I was beginning to think about stopping for a hot drink but the only cafés I passed were dark blokey places. Then I noticed a scallop shell tile across the street and crossed the road to find a cafe which was bright and clean with a couple of female customers, so I nipped straight in, having walked 9.5 km. I ordered a buttered roll and hot water. I shan’t be influenced by Elly’s preference for sweet pastries now and shall try to cut down my sugar intake.
Thus far the rain has varied from fairly constant light fall to occasional brief spells of no rain and now and then a bit of a downpour.
The walking continued through depressing km’s of industrial area and eventually peeled off onto fairly quiet country roads. Don’t mistake the description of quiet for slow moving traffic. It seems the less traffic there is on the road, the faster the cars and lorries hurtle past. And for many km’s now I have been walking on cobbled roads. When I read of people complaining about how hard cobbles are on the feet I thought they were making a bit of a fuss. I hadn’t found them too bad until the last few days. But you can be sure that if you have any tender areas on your feet the cobbles will seek them out and press into those parts particularly hard.
After 19.75 km’s, sore footed and rather damp, I found a cafe in Mosteiró where I saw a basket of fresh eggs behind the counter and asked the elderly cafe lady if she would cook me an egg. Bless her, she went to fetch a frying pan and mimed breaking an egg into it. I confirmed that this was exactly what I wanted, and she disappeared, probably into her family kitchen and returned a while later with a perfectly cooked fried egg in a lovely fresh roll. Perfection. I followed it up with a pasteis de nata and was served hot water without any fuss, and was charged the princely sum of 1.50 euros.
As of today I am carrying my ipad hanging from my bum bag. I had to use my new pen knife to drill holes through the leather, which involved a few cuts to my fingers. Now I have to organise my own travel plans rather than rely on Elly who has planned our progress thus far, so I need to access the directions that I have downloaded to the ipad. So now I can also listen to my music or catch up on podcasts, and can write my blog as I go, right now whilst eating my egg roll and drinking hot water. I carried my ipad this way last year on the Frances route when I was using it as a camera and it worked well. I am glad to have it back at my fingertips, which, I have to admit, is where I like it to be at almost all times!
This was the most difficult day’s walking with cars and lorries whizzing by on narrow roads. Most pilgrims set off from Porto and this will be their first day’s walk, what a baptism of fire!
I was very glad when it was over and I arrived at my destination of Vilarinho after 28 km at 12:15 and wondered what on earth to do with myself for the rest of the day. I bagged the best bed of the seven on offer at Casa Laura, offering three bunks and a single bed, with only one shower room shared with another double bedroom, which was soon taken by a couple of guys. Then gradually the albergue filled up, first with a couple of Australian guys, then a family of three from the States and finally a Danish guy.
The afternoon soon turned into evening, with lots of very interesting chat, and progressed to dinner at a nearby cafe hosted by a Portuguese family who had lived in South Africa for many years and who had excellent English. All in all a very pleasant first day out on my own (other than the actual walking!)
Casa Laura is a very comfortable and welcoming private albergue, with lovely garden, which couldn’t really be appreciated in the rain. 10 euros for bed and basic breakfast, with bed linen and towels included. Laura also stocks her fridge with beer and wine for which there is a very resonable charge. Beware albergues that offer alcohol – unless you are strong willed – all the inmates were of a similar disposition yesterday, and between us we drank Laura dry.
When we returned from the cafe later in the evening, the lovely Laura had set out a bottle of liquor with sufficient glasses to go round, and left a tin of delicious home made fairy cakes for us to sample. A very thoughtful and much appreciated gesture.
It is still pouring with rain. Hopefully, the more that comes down tonight, the less will be left for tomorrow. I am planning a short-ish day of 20 km tomorrow, so I shall try not to get up too early in the morning.
No photos today, except for the accommodation, including a before and after photo of the room (with the permission of all involved).