Today’s story really starts last night! Fernanda cooked us a wonderful meal with vegetables straight from her garden. There was grilled sausage and cod fish fillets and whole sardines and crispy pork. There were bottles of homemade wine and then ports (white and tawny) with chocolates….and then cheese and fire water….and pickled cactus (for real)….the food just kept coming and coming. Then some bread and raspberry jam, because Fernanda had just made the jam and wanted to try it. At some point in the proceedings Fernanda’s husband, Jacinto, tried to get a sing-song going, but we non-singing pilgrims were all rescued by the solo French lady who collapsed as she tried to wander outside presumably for a breath of fresh air. Portuguese, Italian, Polish, French and English all mingled as we tried to help each other help her. She came round after a few moments and took herself off to bed; conversation resumed and singing was not mentioned again!
Eventually we too headed for bed. And not just any bed. It was a double bed with sheets in a private room. A couple from the Camino Forum (wave to annakappa and fraluchi) who had stayed there the night before had kindly told Fernanda we were coming and so she reserved the one and only private room for us. No snorers, no squeaking mattresses, no bunks, no rattling plastic bags early in the morning. In fact, no early morning at all. Breakfast was set for 8am.
And so when the rain started drumming on the roof at 5am, we ignored it and stole another 40 winks.
Breakfast was as comprehensive as dinner (minus the alcohol but with more of the homemade jam), and it took quite some self-control to actually leave such wonderful hospitality! The rain had reduced to drizzle, but even that did not dampen our spirits. For the first time the paths were not predominantly cobbles underfoot and for the first time there were longsih stretches of nature instead of just walking from one residential area which merged immediately with the next.
There were a lot of farms (new Portuguese word for the day – quinta) and the hills got closer and it was quite simply a relaxing walk. The final stretch into town was along a wide boulevard of oak trees:
Oh yes, and it was only 15km, so that made it feel very restful too. We arrived in Ponte de Lima, Portugal’s oldest town, and one which has had a bridge crossing the river for two thousand years, well before we could consider having lunch, so we just wandered.
Whenever the rain intensified we took cover under handily-placed canopies. Later we would discover Mr Brazil left the place we stayed last night quite a bit after us and walked the whole day in pouring rain – we were really very fortunate to mostly miss it. As I type right now, we are hunkered down in a warm dry albergue and the rain is bucketing down. All the other pilgrims have just left to go back across the river (in the pouring rain) to find the restaurant where we had lunch. We had arrived so early and the albergue did not open until 4pm so we had hours to fill in – what better way to do it than lingering over a three course pilgrim meal with wine and coffee?
14.4km + 7km round town….drizzle….14 degrees
14.4km + 6.6km round town….drizzle….14 degrees