Bill and I opted out today. Severe thunderstorms and an inch of rain was predicted as well as the steepest climb of the Camino. This equals mud and running water under foot.
It poured throughout the night and was raining when we started out. 250 yards later – the puddles were turning into mini lakes (fun for passing cars) – our shoes were already sopping wet.
We had already discussed our options over breakfast. Our egos wanted to walk but our worry for the other wanted to put that person in a taxi.
It minutes we ate ego soup – bailed on our amigos and headed for a taxi stand.
Our destination doesn’t qualify to be called a town. The Alburgue doesn’t open until 1 and there are no nearby restaurants. We fortunately found a old coffee bar with basic groceries shelved behind a counter – without heat or lights and it’s 55 degrees.
We planted ourselves at a table much to the chagrin of the mother in charge. The daughter yelled something to her in Portugues that I assume was “get over it – let them sit”.
* Darrell, Roxanne and Chappy walked 11.2 miles today and looked like drowned rats when they showed up. All of them had smiles on theirs faces and had nothing but positive comments – no regrets!
Roxanne did take an hour long bath and used 1,000 gallons of hot water but it was well deserved!
It’s the first day that we started with blue skies! We relished in the day knowing that tomorrow and the following 2 days will bring rain. Saturday it is predicted to rain up to 2 inches!
Today we walked a quick 8.9 miles with about 20 other pilgrims. It’s like an accordion – you bunch up and expand – bunch up and expand.
We took our last “vacation” day yesterday to visit the town of Braga – rich in history and known to have the first cathedral in Portugal. Originally, we were supposed to celebrate Bill’s birthday on this vacation day but like the weather (literally and figuratively) plans change….
We are now luxuriating at the magnificent Quinta da Cancela in Balugâes – built in 1736. We have it all to ourselves – the owner is having dinner ordered in and we will begin to celebrate Bill’s impending 70th birthday – 4 hours and counting.
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It poured and poured for hours. Our rain gear wasn’t a match – we were soaked to the bone.
The good news – today was the most beautiful of the Camino so far. Rolling hills with old stone buildings, rich dark brown tilled farmland, freshly sprouted corn rows and heavy with the smell of manure.
Since we managed to stay on the correct Camino today – we finally met up with other Pilgrims. All die hards. The walk continues in rain or shine.
The sun starting peaking out just about an hour or two before we got to our final destination of Barcelos. Our clothes dried but the shoes are still sloppy.
The Camino book said we would be walking through the burbs of Porto for 2 days. It would be level filled with pavement and highway traffic.
Our day did not look like that. We had small towns, eucalyptus forests, hot houses, rockslide, detours, dirt paths, Hugh inclines and a marvelous day filled with the ever present f-ing dog barking.
The reason is – we walked 9 miles east of the Camino – following the yellow arrows the whole way! What the heck? Who put them there and why?
Miraculously we came upon a BMW filled with 4 people who with Darrell and Roxanne and weird cirtumstances too long and crazy to explain – determined that we were WAY off course. They became our saviors – ordered taxis to the town we were supposed to be in – Vilarinho (only 2 hours and 45 minutes away by walking).
Chappy, Rich, Ricardo, Grande, Cheapy, Richard and Dick has acquired a few new names along the Camino – Chapmeister, Cheapmeister and Ricky Alan not to mention the new 2 blisters on his toes. Every step reminds him that he’s alive!
My Fitbit said we walked 39,604 steps and 16.76 miles. Chappy’s GPS said 18.1 miles. Tomorrow should be around the same.
Today, we Pilgrims marched to the beat of Darrel – he kept our pace. Who better but a drummer – the metronome man.
We mostly walked the highway – sharing the road. It was loud, dangerous and DRY – skirting the low laying muddy paths.We have now stood inches from an 18 wheeler – multiple 18 wheelers – two 18 wheelers side by side going 70!
On the backroads Bill charmed a group of women – offered a sweet woman his walking sticks in exchange for her cane. She kindly accepted and didn’t want to give them back.34,616 steps and 14.71 miles- all on pavement. Our bodies are angry.
Darrell found a great little apartment in Coimbra for tonight – wall to wall laundry.Tomorrow – the authentic Camino – hopefully with no deviations.
We started today in the fog – it was cool, mystical and invigorating -lifting by noon. It was hilly – testing our lungs – up and down – up and down. We followed a Roman road paralleled by stone walls – tall grasses, olive orchards, wine vineyards and colorful flowers – the muddy paths forced us to trespass. Then plan B – the occasion muddy path turned into MUD all the time. We headed for the highway and rural town roads. Pavement equals pain! It’s rough on the body.
We endured – walked 46,881 steps and 19.91 miles.
Now in Rabaçal, Portugal. Our pension is marginal at best. The only game in town. 29 beds but private rooms – $15 euro per person – sheets and scuzzy blankets – no towels. It’s a bed and we’re grateful.
Walked out of cloudy Lisbon on its famous limestone mosaic sidewalks to the riverfront area where the winds whipped off the waters and blew us around. Then there was rain…The pavement turned to a narrow path that follows the river. Rain + dirt = slippery ass mud!!
Impossible for Bill in his flip flops. Fall left into the fast moving river – fall right into flooded fields – so flooded – sounded like a waterfall – looked like a lake. It poured and poured. There was no relief and no town for a far as our eyes could see.
All of us quietly wondered if the path would run out….
4 hours, 2 snapped hiking poles and 10 falls (picture a turtle on its back) we reached pavement and a town. We made it!
44,103 steps – 18.66 miles.
We have hence learned that the first 3 days can be impassable even on a good day and certainly that after 3 rain filled days, because the trail is through alluvial plains and rice fields.