Friday, 22 May 2015
Grump beats gruff
It was a real drag to leave behind the warm hospitality of Carlos but at 7.45 I gave my farewells and walked out of the little town of Alvaiazere and started the long haul to Rabacal. The sun was still shining and the steep climb out of the town made the start hard. This part of the walk was on small winding roads and the lungs were feeling the pressure by the time I reached the hamlet of Laranjjeiras where I had hoped to make my first coffee stop but the cafe and small shop were closed. Upwards and onwards for another four kilometres and the walk in to Venda do Negra and still no sign of a coffee break. The rest of the walk this morning was on a wide variety of surfaces as the path changed from small rural road, to dusty dirt track, old Roman rocky paths, and forest trail as it meandered through a series of hamlets including Gramatinha and Casais Maduros and still no sign of a coffee stop. Coming out of the forest after Casal do Soeiro I had an encounter with several locals but in my coffee starved state they had no chance as Ireland put Portugal to the sword. There in true Billy Goat Gruff style stood three large beasts blocking the path. We had a stand of. We eyeballed each other and still not an inch. Then in true Celtic warrior fashion I withdrew one of my walking poles and charged. Those goats didn't like to see the glint of steel flashing so they turned and made a run for it. Northern Ireland Football team aren't the only ones who can beat Portugal. After that, even with blisters burning, I strode downhill as a true Celtic warrior to claim my cup of coffee in the large market town of Ansiao. To call Ansiao a market town is an injustice to it. I have never seen a town so clean, it was gleaming in the sun. White marble and polished white sandstone sparkled and the pavements were so clean you literally could eat your dinner from them. I came to the conclusion this must be the capital of OCD and as Mary will understand I felt a true bond and affinity with the town, I was amongst my own. In the town hall I met a real character who not only had spent time in Belfast but knew Carrickfergus and started singing the song. She had been a student in Belfast in the late 70's and I really enjoyed her company but it took her 20 minutes to stamp my passbook. The rest of today's stage into Rabacal was just about keeping your head down on the climbs and taking it easy on the downhill stretches. The highlight of the afternoon was reaching the lovely little hilltop village of Alvorge where I broke with custom and had a cool glass of beer. Reaching Rabacal was a bit of a disappointment since it was so run down looking so I decided to walk an extra five kilometres to find better accommodation. Tomorrow takes me to Conimbriga which is one of the best and most preserved Roman monuments so the extra few kilometre today will give me time to explore it.