A rather dark menacing sky hung over us as Dayton and I left our little Residenciale hotel at 6:00am this morning. As we set off down the deserted and rather desolate looking streets of this simple town and followed the yellow Camino arrows out of town, a chilly breeze put a little pep in our step. Most of our pilgrim companions had indicated that they had no intention of rushing out early this morning so we were on our own as the markers directed us onto quiet country tracks alongside farmlands, fields of olive trees and vineyards. The first hour's walk was companionably peaceful and that tranquility continued throughout the day. For most of the morning we meandered along the country roads and fields, through one small village after another and from one cafe stop to another. It is nice when the cafes pop up right before you know you even need them.
The only pilgrim we met up with today was Francisco, our Barcelona gentleman. Dayton and I were enjoying our tea and coffee and a couple of the rather tasteless prepackaged pastries when Francisco was served up a wonderfully fresh bocadilla and a snifter of some alcoholic beverage. I guess it helps to know what to ask for or to know what you don't even know you want to ask for. Francisco's wake-me-up beverage made me think of when we were walking towards the Somport Pass in France two years ago when a Dutch pilgrim introduced us to the concept of 'cafe courageux', a cup of espresso served with a snifter of brandy. It is a combination that certainly puts some fire inside you on a wet and freezing day. Right now we are not dealing with that cold so we will stick with our coffee and tea. Still.....that is something to keep in mind.
That menacing sky of dark clouds turned into nothing more than a welcome shade to make today's walk so much easier. Often the only super early traffic is the bread delivery man and at one village we saw a few locals lined up at a truck with his side canopy lifted. We thought it was the traditional bread truck but as we got nearer, the salty aroma was a little fishy...it was the door to door fresh fish monger. I wonder if this door to door daily delivery might be a concept our LCBO might consider pursuing.
By noon hour we were in a little village high above the city of Coimbra. It was still an almost five kilometre walk through the huge suburb of Santa Clara, and then across the river into Coimbra. After finding our hotel we wandered over to one of the many open squares for yet another tea and/or wine and just as we were packing up to go back to our hotel, Eman and John showed up ready for lunch so we joined them for a truly authentic Portuguese midday meal. We're flexible like that. Now we have to do some more town wandering to work up an appetite for the evening meal. So chalk this one up as another good day on the Camino.