Tuesday, 26 May 2015
The Albergue last night was the best I've ever stayed in on any of these mad walks. Six of us sent out for meals and then with three euro bottles of local wine sat out on the veranda and had a feast. Like all things Camino the evening entertainment stops early, usually before nine, since everyone needs to get packed and have a good rest for an early start. The start this morning was early in order to try and get finished before the intense heat of the afternoon sun. This was to be the shortest day with a distance of only 23 kilometres. Most of it with the exception of a short forest part near the end was on roads, either rural or national road, N 1. The first five kilometres was on the N1 and I was glad that the early start meant less traffic even though it was busy enough. I walked through several villages today and in one in particular, Mourisca do Vouga, was amazed at the number of large mansions that were obviously built in a more prosperous past but with some now appearing derelict and in poor repair. Two of the highlights today were bridge crossings. First there was the Roman bridge at Ponte de Marnel where you walked along an old Roman road and then walked onto the bridge beside a lake and there was a peaceful tranquility. You felt that nature, history and mans endeavours had all joined together to create this masterpiece of beauty. In contrast the walk over the fairly new Ponte, A 25, over the Rio Marnel, is frightening, dangerous and noisy. You walk on a small path on the new motorway bridge that crosses over the valley below. It is ridiculously high, windy and the traffic thunders past alarmingly close.Not a good experience. There were also some climbs which even the book described as very steep and with a red ! mark. These were long and steep but you have no choice but to keep your head down and plod on. It was with a feeling of relief that I walked into yet another beautiful town Albergaria-A-Velha only to find that the local Albergue wasn't open for another two hours. I met four other walkers in the town square who were waiting for the Albergue to open but I left them and got a cheap but clean room above a restaurant. The day now is about resting up, doing repairs to the feet and getting ready for the final push to Porto. So far I have done about 320K and the next two days of 32 and 38 will see me arrive in Porto on Thursday afternoon. I'll sign off now with a Happy Birthday to Aisling.