Monday, 25 May 2015
Well today was a thirty kilometre walk to the town of Agueda and I will spare you the boring details of missed signs and sore feet. The early morning walk was along small scenic country roads but soon deteriotated into road walking on the main road which is unsafe and soul destroying. Today is the birthday of our special angel, Rachel, who always had the gift of bringing happiness and joy into our lives. With this in mind I was thinking of her as I walked along half expecting something special to happen and wasn't disappointed. I had made a wrong decision somewhere and ended up on the main dual carriageway until I reached the town of Avelas de Caminho where I was able to pick up the yellow arrows and rejoin the correct route through several small villages. I passed by the headquarters of the Sao Joao Bodega with its famous Bairrada grape and noticing that the door to what appeared to be a museum was open so I stepped in to look and photograph the beautiful ceramic murals that were at the entrance. Hearing voices I decided to leave but before I could a gentleman appeared and greeted me as a pilgrim. I explained that I only wanted to photograph the beautiful murals and he invited me in. When he led me into a large room I was surprised to see a gathering of about twelve equally well dressed people who appeared to be having some sort of reception. I was introduced to everyone, including the Mayor of the region, and offered wine and a plate of snacks. Things got better when a woman informed me that in the 1980s she had been in Belfast for a week at a European Union convention on Peace and Reconciliation. My host Manuel Jose Costa invited me to stay for lunch which he explained was to thank the local dignitaries for another successful year for the Bodega. When I declined he insisted we had photographs and on my leaving gave me his card and asked that I contact him at the end of my journey. Two glasses of wine and hot sun don't add up to perfect walking conditions but I made the final ten kilometres, still deep in my thoughts and memories, and arrived at the best Albergue ever. My thoughts today are with everyone at home. I have posted photographs on Facebook.