I walked from Portugal to Spain today. It was painfully (literally) slow, probably painfully boring for Dayton and it wasn't pretty but for a brief moment I felt like a pilgrim again.
We started the day with a caffeine and sugar high thanks to the amazing variety of breakfast coffee cakes offered at our hotel then we took a taxi from Ponte de Lima to the train station in Valença. That took care of about 32.4 of the kilometres for the day. Our taxi driver, Antonio, gave us the scenic tour to Valença going through the windIng mountain and valley roads that parallel the Camino. At one point, Antonio pulled over to the precarious edge of the road to point out in the distance a huge climb we would have been tackling had we walked this morning.
Once we arrived in Valença we walked through the old quarter of this ancient town, parts of which date back to c. 47 A.D., and up to its famed fortress, Fortaleza. From there we walked towards the bridge that would take us across the Rio Mino and into Spain but first we had to stop at the 'last Portuguese cafe stop before Spain'. Then it was across the long long bridge and, after one hour and ten minutes, we were in Spain. Actually, if you discount the one hour time difference between Portugal and Spain, it was only a 10 minute walk. Exaggeration is so much more interesting.
Our room, at the hotel O nova Cabalo Furado, is in fact a well equipped apartment; well equipped with a washing machine, so we are now very cleanly dressed and presentable pilgrims. Time to see if we can explore this town with as little walking as possible.
I have often said how much admiration and awe I have for the ladies who are independent enough and brave enough to walk the Camino on their own. I concede that I have always been a pampered peregrina with the security of having Dayton always there to find the arrows and the path and always carrying some of my gear to lighten my load. Tomorrow Dayton and I are going separate ways for a bit. Oh my. Dayton is going to leave early to walk the 32.4 kms to Redondela and I have to walk about 25 minutes down the main street to take the train. With absolutely no confidence in my directional skills, we waymarked the route for me this afternoon. Pitiful I know.
We met up with Eman and John for a mid-afternoon lunch at the Happy Restauant. It was wonderful. A huge platter of the freshest, juiciest and biggest tomatoes drizzled in olive oil and garlic, some fried green hot peppers and potatoes with aioli sauce. As soon as you get into Spain you notice so many differences from Portugal. For one thing, there definitely is a siesta time here with most restaurants not serving meals in the afternoon. Also they don't try to put a 'head' on your glass of wine, only filling the glass two thirds full. Another difference is, when we went out at 8:30pm, most of the dinner restaurants had not even opened yet. In Portugal we could feel like we were 'dining' at 7:30pm. We are an hour later so that means leaving an hour later in the morning - 6:00am is now before sunrise and any daylight. Some small things may differ but the heart and soul, the people and food are the same - wonderful. There are of course so many more pilgrims as Tui is the 'Sarria' of the Camino Portuguese. What this means is that Tui is the closest point to Santiago that one can begin their pilgrimage and still get a compostella. It is 115kms to Santiago and one must walk those last kilometres and get at least two sellos (pilgrims stamps) a day to qualify for a compostella. On the Camino Frances that point is the town of Sarria. Obviously, even though I have already walked well over 300kms, I will not qualify for the certificate but that was never the purpose of my walk anyway so I am okay with that,
The rest of the afternoon was taking advantage of the washing machine again to wash everything else we have and Dayton finished booking the rest our nights. It looks like, by the end of this Portuguese Camino from Lisbon to Santiago (and on to Fisterra and Muxia) we will have managed to do it without one communal albergue. Definitely not the most economical way to do it but a great way to do it if you want to enjoy a quiet night's sleep. Again, a gentle reminder - don't judge.
At the fortress leaving Valença
Crossing the bridge from Portugal to Spain.
Late afternoon lunch - a platter of the freshest, largest tomatoes with olive oil and garlic. Fried green peppers.
View of the Tui cathedral from our rooftop laundry.