"Are we having fun yet?"
Today Dayton and I were sitting in the hotel lobby before starting out for the day when, out of the blue, Dayton said that he was thinking about my blog and how too much of it seems to focus on complaints. He thought that anyone reading my blog would think we weren't having fun. We looked at one another.........and started to laugh.
Once the gales of laughter had subsided and the tears dried up, I noted how our hotel had redeemed itself this morning. We might have had a toasty room due to a broken air conditioning system but the breakfast they served this morning was exceptional; fresh fruit, croissants, rolls, bacon, hot hardboiled eggs as well as scrambled eggs, platters of cold meats and cheeses, hot coffee and tea and chilled orange juice, yogurt and fresh goat cheese and a variety of cakes and pastries. We tried to do it justice.
Well sated, we set out to Albergaria and started walking along a shaded path through the woods. An hour later and for the rest of the day we were mainly on quiet asphalt roads going from village to village. At one point a couple of young ladies bicycled up to us and we stopped to have a quick Camino exchange of pleasantries, "Where are you from? Where did you start? How far are you going? etc. etc. ". These two ladies were from Brazil, had started in Fatima and were cycling to Santiago. Their bikes looked brand new and both the bikes and ladies looked well equipped. The bikes had handle bar clips to hold their cell phones, walkie talkies were clipped to the front straps of their backpacks, small panniers were in the back racks and the ladies themselves were in custom designed personalized biking shirts with machine stitched patches showing a flag of Brazil, a Camino de Santiago emblem as well as their names. They also had a support vehicle with a mom and a boyfriend travelling on ahead. They were heading to Porto today but already questioning their ambition as it was so hot.
By 10:00am the heat was pretty intense. Going through the villages we were greeted by the most tantalizing aromas coming from one house or backyard after another. Men were doing what men all over the world enjoy doing and take as their domain, barbecuing. One man had two huge chickens on his little spit and a couple of metres on we came across a group of men supervising and testing a huge roasted pig. It takes a village. At the same time the baker in the pasteleria was working overtime and in overdrive trying to keep up with the demand for huge round loaves of bread. It was evident that Portugal was feasting well this Sunday evening.
We walked for a couple of more hours and about 12:00pm Dayton stopped and pointed out a town in the distance saying that this was our destination for the day. The town was on a high hill, we were not. It was up and down and up and down for another hour before we got to the town of Oliveira de Azeméis. Oliveira de Azeméis is a town of about 12,000 and today every single person in this town and every surrounding town was out in the streets enjoying the biggest street festival we have ever seen. Every street was lined with stalls of baked goods, jams, pottery, and most of all pig roasts. This is the twentieth year this town has had a festival recalling the last days of the nineteenth century and the early days of the twentieth century and the dress of most of the locals reflected that. So did the prices. When we finally selected a place to sit down and have Dayton try some of the local flavours, we were a little hesitant about the prices; €20.00 to €30.00 for a plate of pork. One of the servers who spoke English enlightened us on how and what to order and clarified the prices. The prices were listed in 'reis' the currency of the nineteenth century which meant that what we thought was €30.00 was actually only €3.00. A platter of a variety of pork (slices, sausage and some parts and pieces I don't even want to know about) was €10.00 and we got a jug of wine and one of water, a basket of a variety of Portuguese breads and a bowl of olives totalling €15.00. The gentlemen who had served us and chatted with us explaining the festival and local food and customs also chose to serve us one final local drink, a shot of some potent liquer. My foot is feeling better now.
What an absolutely fabulous afternoon, so interesting and fun.