22 May 2014
Right now I feel as though I am waiting for a prison term to end – although I am free to leave my room, when I step out into the garden I will be confronted by the oversized Alsatian guard dog. He didn’t look very menacing inside his run, but I won’t take the chance of invading his space whilst he is on duty. He is due to be locked back up for the day at 7am, so I am just biding my time for the next fifteen minutes.
I can’t hear any rain so I might take the big climb up to Monte Franqueira where I am told there are fabulous views over the ocean. It will depend on the sky when I can see it, if there is a lot of cloud, which is most likely considering we have been promised more rain all day, then I won’t make the effort and the extra 2.5 km to get there. Vamos a ver!
When I sneak out the dog is barking furiously, but from the other side of his cage. I can see a bit of blue sky peeping through the clouds to the west so decide to go for it and tackle the climb to Monte Franqueira. It’s a lovely walk, entirely on my own, not another soul to be seen, on an asphalt road winding ever upwards through pine and eucalyptus forest and the aroma after all the rain is fabulous and fresh. I continue to be hopeful as I climb that the view at the top will be worth the effort, and I am not disappointed.
As I round the pretty church at the very top of the hill and approach the mirador, I am greeted with a wide expanse of Atlantic Ocean in the distance. It was definitely worth the effort and I am glad that I made it.
As I descend through the woodland I catch more raindrop pics.
I rejoin the camino after 7.5 km and the path remains on village roads although almost entirely on the dreaded cobbles.
I reach the large and pretty town of Barcelos at about 9:45 after walking 13.5 km and after admiring the beautiful church and withdrawing more funds at a cash machine, I find a cafe to rest my cobble-worn feet and partake of a pasteis de nata.
It’s lovely walking again today and it soon turns sunny and warm. There is very little walking on fast roads, but many hobbles on the cobbles and a lot of woodland and farmland track.
I stop at a restaurant in Portela after about 22 km. Having walked through the rain for a while it feels like time to stop for a bite to eat and I order a bowl of vegetable soup with bread, accompanied by a glass of vinho verde. This wine is so refreshing, with just a light sparkle to it – it really hits the spot!
I’m not sure if it’s the effect of the wine, but I began to feel quite tired during the last third of my day’s walk. I also got a thorough soaking in a very heavy storm and was a bit concerned that my boots would get wet, but luckily no water seeped through, although I had to wring my trousers out. But my hiking pants are so thin that they dry very quickly. My pack cape worked well again and I didn’t get wet inside my jacket at all.
I discovered a new trick today. I didn’t want to take my rain coat off between showers because it is a drag to have to remove my pack each time, but I was getting too warm every time the sun peeped out. Then I remembered that my arms act as a thermostat for the rest of my body and I pulled up the sleeves and adjusted the Velcro fastening to keep them in place above my elbows and I was instantly cooled. I didn’t even bother to pull them down in the heavy rain – it was nice to feel the rain on my skin.
These chairs might have seemed inviting to a tired pilgrim, but actually there is a lot of fly tipping in the woodland areas, with all sorts of rubbish dumped amongst the trees. Not very nice.
I’ve seen a bit more livestock today, these fabulous cows with their amazing horns and a couple of other herds of cows and sheep. I’ve yet to see a pig, although I think I heard one squealing one day. For a country that uses a great deal of pork, I wonder where all the pigs are kept?
And here’s one for Elly. Elly is an architect and bemoans the fact that we seem to have lost the art of creating beautiful environments. Well, here is a beautiful stone wall being built in the old style (although I’m not sure they would have used cement to hold the insides together in days gone by, as they have in this wall – but the outward effect is very pleasing!
I was beginning to think that I had missed my accommodation for the night because the distance indicated on the Brierly map was way out of proportion to the actual distance. Eventually I came across Casa Fernanda (+351 914 589 521) after almost 34 km. There is a wooden chalet with ten single beds and she can put a few more people up in her house. The chalet has two bathrooms.
I met up with the lovely American family from Casa Laura during the day and they are also staying here, as is the Australian guy I walked with briefly yesterday.
The pilgrims at Casa Fernanda number around twenty tonight and we have all been treated to a wonderful dinner and more wine and port than we could possibly drink. Fernanda and her husband Jacinto have entertained us with Portuguese songs and encouraged their guests to sing some national songs. It has all been very great fun. I have met with my first English, from London, there are Germans, Belgians, a Slovakian, Americans, an Australian and possibly Swiss. Thank you Fernanda and Jacinto.