Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mealhada to Agueda May 16 - 26kms

An early morning walk through a still sleeping town and a quiet countryside has to be one of the best ways to start a day. So peaceful; a gentle awakening, physically and mentally for sure. Nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other and listen to the birds and the roosters waking up. It seemed that all the cafe owners were finding a lazy way to wake up this Saturday morning as well as all the cafe stops we expected were still closed. We seemed to be out and about before anything was getting going anywhere. We were before the farmers' market opened, before the cafes opened and before a promising village festival started but also before the heat got really intense.

We arrived in Agueda right at noon hour, found the tourist office to ask for some help and then headed to our rather modern hotel, a multi-storied hotel which seems anachronistically out of place in this charming old town. However, we are not complaining about a spacious room, a hairdryer and a prepaid Sunday breakfast. We did pass up this morning's prepaid breakfast at Hotel Oasis because we want to get ahead of the heat but we have other plans for tomorrow.

Dayton and I have decided that, in order to spend some time enjoying the city of Porto,we are going to combine a couple of the suggested stages to get to Porto a day earlier and spend two nights there. This means we are going to have to be a little creative about how we attack the next two days. We have over 38kms tomorrow to get to our next reserved stop and then 43.7kms to get to Porto. Our John Brierley guide book also strongly cautions that the walk into Porto is one long slog featuring lots of highway walking through heavy industrial areas. That description does not scream 'Camino' to us. Ergo,our creative solution might involve a bus or a cab somewhere along the way. Do not judge.

This town is situated on a lovely river and the walk over the bridge with the old buildings in the background was quite picturesque. We stopped for a quick photo op. On our past caminos we have brought two cameras exactly the same so that we could share chargers and an extra common battery. The continual dampness and rain on our last Camino pretty well pooched our cameras so they had to be replaced. This time we acted fiscally responsible and only purchased one camera for Dayton and decided I could use my new iPhone for my photos. Not once have I felt deprived of not having a camera and not once have I felt compelled to take my iPhone out of my pack to take photos. It is not that there have not been lovely shots to take but one camera recording this journey is sufficient. That is why most of 'our' photos are of 'me'. So far my feelings about this Portuguese Camino is that the people, the accommodations and the food surpass the sights.

Once again we lucked into a great place for lunch after, once again, being unable to find the ones recommended by the hotel concierge. Go figure. Dayton had a full course meal of fish, potatoes and cabbage and the chef went overboard to make sure my salada mixta was a full meal with tomatoes, onions, oranges, carrots and apples. So good or muita bom.....I have now increased my Portuguese vocabulary twofold. I still need to increase my vocabulary a bit more though as we still have a bit of miscommunication ordering. We retired to an outdoor cafe after lunch for a tea and a white wine. The server kept nodding her head yes every time we said vinho branca (white wine) and then we were served tea and a Super Bock beer. Dayton cooperatively said nothing, accepted it and drank it. We are flexible that way. I am not always a fan of dining al fresco with bugs and all that but boy I could live in a climate where you could enjoy these outdoor squares with their relaxing cafes.

As we were dodging traffic to get to our restaurant I was noting that the crosswalks in Portugal seem to indicate to drivers that they can stop for pedestrians - if they want to. When they don't, we do look a little comical. There we are battered and backpacked trying to cross the street when a car speeds towards us. Invariably, the eyes widen, the heart beat goes into overdrive, the arms start pumping and flapping but the legs just keep plodding on - da dum da dum da dum. There is no way the legs can speed up. "All sound and fury signifying nothing".





  1. Our modern hotel treat is turning out to be not such a treat. Temperatures are soaring into the mid30sC and the hotel air conditioning is broken, there is intermittent Internet connection and, although the concierge suggested the rooftop bar as a solution to cool off, the bar is somewhat lacking in cool drinks, only wine and liquor. I keep telling myself to drink wine and not will probably be raining once we reach Galicia and I will have that to complain about. Accept and enjoy...trying!

  2. A variant of no good deed goes unpunished, perhaps. But, you two are dealing with all that this camino is throwing at you. Courage and ultreia! Better days ahead (I hope, and believe).