Today’s distance 38 km
Elevation gain 577 m
Elevation loss 623 m
Total distance from Almería 1,015 km
We left the friendly town of Aldea del Obispo and had an uphill hike for 2 km to the Portuguese border at the village of Vale da Mula. It was an opportunity for a selection of selfies, with Aurelio demanding to see my passport before he would let me into his country!
Halfway through the village we turn onto sand track running through farmland. There is a very short stretch on road and then back onto track. The sky is very dark and threatening with thunder rumbling and even a few streaks of lightning, but the rain holds off until we almost reach the walled city of Almeida at 12.5 km. We stop and put on our rain gear and continue to the city where we find a place for breakfast, but don’t explore too much as it’s too wet. By the time we leave we have added 2 km to our distance.
The farmland that we have passed through is split into smaller parcels than we have seen in recent days in Spain, divided by hedges and stone walls. After we leave Almeida we are quickly onto track again, but the rain doesn’t let up for most of the day. We descend steeply into a deep valley and climb back up again before Marilyn and I stop for a drink at the next village of Vale Verde 23.5 km. We order a cafe con leche for Marilyn and hot water for me. The bar lady is extremely friendly and our bill is 60 centimos…welcome to Portugal!
Because of the rain I didn’t take many photos today. The landscape now is very rugged and dramatic with huge granite boulders strewn about, there are more small trees and so much lavender that the hillsides appear purple.
Aurelio didn’t stop with us at Vale Verde, preferring to walk on until he reached the next village of O Pereiro at almost 30 km. But he knew something we didn’t! We reached the bar known as Casa Julieta and as I put my hand to the door, it was opened for me. The place was full of elderly men, but none of them was Aurelio. We were ushered into a back room where we seemed to be entering a private dining room and found Aurelio tucking into a hearty plate of steak and rice. We discovered he had already devoured two bowls of soup. The tiny figure of Maria Julieta entered the room and offered us soup which we were assured was just vegetables. How could we refuse – and why would we want to. She busied herself in the kitchen and returned with two bowls and a pan of steaming soup. Marilyn managed a bowl and a half and I managed two and a bit. It was delicious – just what two sodden peregrinas needed to warm their bones! Eli, who likes to take her time, arrived when I had eaten myself to a standstill and was offered what remained. Maria Julieta keeps a visitors’ book and has a sello and welcomes all pilgrims. We were treated so kindly and when we left it had stopped raining for a while. We were accompanied to the edge of the village where we were each given a beautiful rose from her garden and took our leave with hugs and kisses all round. What wonderful Portuguese hospitality. Thank you Maria Julieta – you will remain in our memories for years to come.
Even though it rained for most of the day, it was nevertheless a beautiful route through stunning countryside, the last part alongside a wide river. The only downside was that I had a bit of indigestion from eating too much soup and bread!
The signage (yellow arrows) has been much better than I expected throughout this camino and today was no exception. You could possibly follow the arrows without backup information, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Maps.me continues to be consulted at regular intervals.
Pinhel is probably a lovely town, but I didn’t feel inclined to explore in the rain. We are staying at a hostal called Skylab. We have a nice triple room, with shared bathroom and shower. 15€ including not very nice bedding and very nice large fluffy towels.