Oliveira de Azemeis to Malaposta

Thursday 23rd March 2023.  17 km

It was a rather chilly morning with grey skies, but that didn’t bother us.  It’s nice walking in the cool.  The promised rain held off until we’d almost reached our accommodation too, so that’s a bonus.

There were plenty of lung busting climbs today through lots of villages and all on bitumen.  The final stretch to our accommodation was on a pavement beside quite a busy road….not very scenic or pleasant at all.

Along the way we stopped in the very large town of Sao Joao da Madeira for lunch. We found a cafe and ordered soup and a bread roll. It was delicious and exactly what we needed on a cold day. It only cost €3 for the whole meal. I don’t know how they can produce such delicious food so cheaply.

Navigating out of the town was a challenge as we couldn’t find any of the yellow arrows we’re used to following. We needn’t have worried though, as they eventually re appeared.

We arrived at our hotel in good enough time to rinse through our few things and be sure they’ll be dry for tomorrow and have a really good rest with the feet up.  This hotel also has a restaurant.  There is a cafe next door as well but not much else around.  It is just a main road on the way to Porto. 

On the wall of a school.
Tiled Church in a village we passed through.  The bells were chiming, but I wasn’t quick enough with the video, so I missed it.
Statue of someone or other outside the library.
Very naughty toes.
You can’t see it, but that’s a lung buster of a climb
Sighted our first Horreros today. These are outbuildings where grain used to be stored stored.
The first official Galician way marker leaving Oliveira. I’m not sure why it’s there.
Leaving Oliveira.

Accommodation. Feira Pedra Bela €68 includes breakfast. Has a very nice restaurant. Cafe next door. Clean, comfortable, pleasant and helpful staff. If you split the stage here, it’s your only choice.

Albergaria a Nova to Oliveira de Azemeis

Wednesday 22nd March 2023 20.5km

Today was much similar to yesterday. Some forests then villages leading to other villages….except today finished with an almighty climb. It must have been at least one kilometre long, if not more and it was steep. On and on until we reached our accommodation.

We’re staying in a lovely hotel, a birthday treat for Fuzz. It has a restaurant with exceptional food. The chef cooks with a massive open fire it’s quite something to see. Unfortunately, photos just don’t do the whole experience justice and it seemed in poor taste to stand and film the goings on in such a fine dining setting. Anyway, we absolutely loved every mouthful of chicken for me and lamb for Fuzz, salad and chips. There were waiters bustling around making great fanfare of opening bottles of wine and serving vegetables from platters with spoon and fork in one hand. I love seeing this.

We both felt fairly strong walking today, even with the big climb. Perhaps we’re starting to get a bit fitter.

He watched us for a while.
A door along the way.
Some forest.
Lots of these flowers everywhere. They seem to grow like weeds here.
Leaving Albergaria.

Accommodation. Hotel Dighton €70 includes great buffet breakfast. Excellent restaurant. Lovely treat. This is a large hotel. Clean, very comfortable. I’d most definitely stay here again.

Agueda to Albergaria a Velha

Tuesday 21st March 2023. 17km

It was Fuzz’s birthday today and his present was he only had to walk 17km. Those 17 km started with a fair climb out of Agueda that led into an industrial zone. Suburb followed and into a string of villages. Villages are good because they usually have cafes and…. coffee.

The last part of today’s walk was through some eucalyptus forest. It was such a lovely change from all the villages and bitumen.

We arrived at our accommodation for the night, it’s lovely and pilgrim friendly and has a washing machine. What a bonus. The lady that was here cleaning insisted we put fabric conditioner in as well, what luxury…now we’ll not only be clean pilgrims tomorrow but also soft and cuddly.

Laundry done, we just rested before wandering into the town for an early dinner. Restaurants don’t open until 7pm and we’re often too hungry and tired to wait until then, so we had a burger and a pizza. Job done.

Eucalyptus forest. Welcome change to the bitumen.
Another meringue…Lucky me.
Roman Bridge on old Roman road. It was only a very short part of the way.
More of the Roman bridge.
Some village.
There were some beautiful mansions all covered in tiles in one of the villages today.
Rio Vouga Agueda

Accommodation. Estalagem dos Padres €51. Modern, very clean and comfortable. Has a washing machine and functional kitchen. Pilgrim friendly and right on the Caminho. I’d definitely stay here again.

Mealhada to Agueda

Monday 19th March 2023 25km ~

The mornings start quite chilly and this morning was no exception at 9 deg C. We were well rugged up and enjoyed the little bit of a walk in the forest.

The forest didn’t last long and the way was mostly village after village. In one of these little villages a car and van went past with the occupants beeping their horns and excitedly waving their arms out of the windows yelling “Bom Caminho”. They pulled over and we could see a heap of school-aged kids on bikes behind them, some carrying banners and more cars behind them with banners too. An occupant from the van jumped out and asked us where we were going, took pictures of us and before we got chance to ask them were they were going and what it was all about they were gone. I think the school kids were on some sort of Camino cycle trip. The van had Camino symbols on it. Quite and unexpected experience.

As we continued through the villages it gradually became quite warm. We were grateful that today there were a few cafes along the way. Unfortunately, the first one was at about 7 km, and it was our first coffee for the day. There wasn’t anywhere near us open for breakfast this morning, so we had bread that was left over from last nights’ dinner and shared a cake that’s been in a plastic bag in my backpack for a few days. It certainly didn’t do us any harm after yesterday mornings’ feast.

The final stretch of the day was about 3 km through an industrial zone. You have to keep your wits about you crossing some of the busy intersections and on some of the blind corners, especially when you’re tired, it’s easy to make a mistake. The upside of the industrial zone was that it had quite a large cafeteria, which was a handy stop for two hot and weiry Pilgrims to grab a Coke.

We arrived in the lovely town of Agueda. They have ‘The Umbrella Progect’ here. In summer, umbrellas and sometimes other materials are strung up over the narrow streets to supply shade. What a colourful and clever idea. You can Google it for more info if you’d like.

The Umbrella Progect. This is a photo I took of a photo in a bakery.
A 550 year old fountain along the way.
Seen along the way.
Mandarin and orange trees lined some of the footpaths in the villages. Of course we ate some and they were delicious.
Some of the kids on bikes.
This cat was hiding the arrow. Messing with the Pilgrims heads.
Morning sky aeroplane vapour trails.
Early morning path.
Little bit of forest in the early morning.

Accommodation Agueda Hostal and Friends €45 inc breakfast…booking.c Great location, modern, clean, comfortable, great breakfast. I’d definitely stay here again

Coinbra to Mealhada

Sunday 19th March 2023. Zero km

We woke up feeling quite tired from the last few big days and Fuzz still has a dodgy foot so we decided that being as the train station is about 70 metres from our hotel and our next stop is on the line we’d take advantage of the train.

I can hear the collective intake of breath from the Camino purists, but Fuzz and I dance to our own tune, and this is our journey. Plus, it’s so good for the brain to work out how to do different things. Like getting tickets for trains, etc, in foreign countries, we’ve had to work hard through this in the past. On this occasion it was very easy. The station was quite large and had a manned ticket office. The lady spoke English and gave us all the information we needed regarding the platform number and times.

We had time for breakfast, so we headed to the nearby cafe. We ordered the full English. Crickey, the waiter moved another table next to ours, and that’s when we realised we were in for a massive treat. Toasted bread rolls with little pots of butter and jam arrived first followed by a huge glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, cappuccinos then a plate of bacon, sausage a massive amount of scrambled eggs, tomatoes and lettuce. I gave it my best shot, but it beat me.

We had time for little rest after breakfast before it was time to catch the train. It was a comfortable 25-minute ride that cost €4.40 for the two of us. What great value, and we only had to walk about 2km to get to our accommodation once we’d arrived.

There seemed to be quite a few restaurants along the way to our accommodation, and our accommodation has one too. It turns out this area is famous for roasting whole suckling pigs. Guess what we had for dinner. It was delicious and served with a salad that had an orange dressing. I would never have thought of that but worked well.

We had time to sit and work out what we’ll do after we reach Porto in a few days time which was great because there are a few different options. We think we’ve devised a plan, so we’ll see if it pans out.

Interesting statue outside our accommodation.
Lovely tiled murals at the entrance to town.

Accommodation. Albergue d Peregrinos Mealhada. This is an Albergue that also has private rooms. We had a private room with ensuite for €30 good value, and adequate. Nice restaurant here also. There seems to be quite a lot of accommodation here.

Conimbriga to Coinbra

March 18, 2023…. 17km (app said 16.7, but I forgot to start it at the beginning).

We started today with our rain gear very handy as rain was promised. It didn’t let us down, and we spent the whole day with ponchos on and off due to intermittent heavy showers.

The poncho I decided to bring was a gamble. I’ve been meaning to throw it away. It’s old, well worn, and I’d forgotten just how unwaterproof it had become. I have a new poncho that I used on last year’s travels that works really well, but it’s heavier, and I wanted to carry the lightest backpack I could possibly manage so I decided on the older lighter of the two. This turned out to be a big mistake. I spent most of the day quite wet, and every time I had to put it back on it was like putting on cold wet swimming togs. Very unpleasant.

Even though it rained on and off, it was still a lovely walk through farms, forests and a couple of villages. There were a few lung buster climbs thrown in for good measure.

We arrived at our little hotel, which is in a great location. Close to the trail, near restaurants, self-service laundry, supermarket, taxis and a train station.

After getting cleaned up, we took a taxi to Decathlon, which was very fortunately close by. Decathlon is our favourite sports store. I got a new poncho, hat and sunnies. All cheap as chips. Then we headed to the lavanderia and got a much needed load done. It was then time for an early dinner as we were tired and hungry. The restaurants don’t open until about 7 pm, so we decided to grab something quick at the nearby kebab joint. All in all quite a successful day.

Not our hotel in Coinbra.
The river Mondego.
Heavy clouds ready to burst.
View of Coinbra on our way into town.
Letterbox in a little village along the way.
Interesting bark.
Just so many lemons.
Along the way.
Some pretty flowers.

Accommodation. Hotel Domus €50 near trail. Great location, close to all amenities and restaurants. Clean and comfortable. I’d stay again.

Alvorge to Conimbriga

March 17th, 2023 22km

There were showers on and off throughout the day, and our rain ponchos were kept very handy. Some of the showers were quite heavy, and a few times, we tried to get shelter under olive trees. I’m not sure how successful that was, but it did give us a little rest.

We met 3 young German university students this morning. Looking very trim and fit with large packs. They are walking to Santiago and camping out in tents each night. They don’t have much money, so they are cooking pasta and pesto every night on their little stoves. We had quite a laugh and a very nice chat with them (their English was perfect) before they headed off at a pace that Fuzz and I can only dream of. Oh, to be young a fit.

The countryside was very pleasant, olive groves and vineyards much like yesterday. Pine and eucalyptus as well. The surfaces weren’t too bad except for a bit of a muddy downhill towards the end, but after the rain, it would be impossible not to find some mud somewhere. There were enough ups and downs to keep things interesting.

Just as to arrive here in Conimbriga, there are Roman ruins that are said to be spectacular. Quite a few people have said we should definitely make the effort to go and see them. We were too tired and too wet to want to bother, unfortunately. Maybe some other time.

Tonight, we are in our first Albergue. It is a private Albergue, has 4 bunk beds in one room, and we are the only Pilgrims here, so we have the place to ourselves. What a bonus. We booked a few days ago and were given two bottom bunks. They also supply towels and donnas, and there was even a chocolate waiting for us on the pillow. It only cost €15 each to stay, so it was quite a cheap night. It was especially cheap tonight because we were very hungry and didn’t want to wait for restaurants to open, so we grabbed some cold cuts and little toast crackers from the local supermarket, and that was dinner. We also bought bits and pieces for breakfast too. Cheap all round.

The countryside is quite green.
Path in the bush.
Fuzz is ready for the next downpour.
The skies cleared periodically.
Resting in the Albergue.

Accommodation. Albergue Privado Conimbriga. €30 for 2 people. Very comfortable and clean. English is spoken very well here. The lovely lady who owns the Albergue helped us organise accommodation in a town where we will be in a couple of days’ time that we were finding difficult to organise. Very helpful indeed.

Alvaiazere to Alvorge

March 16th, 2023. 24.4 km

What a fantastic day today was. The temperature was perfect for walking. There were plenty of undulations that made things easier on the feet ,hips, and back. The surfaces were a mixture of bitumen, gravel, some forest floor, and only a few cobbles. Walking through areas filled with orange and olive trees, then forest all with birds chirping away. Little villages, too. What’s not to love.

Our lunch stop was in a town called Ansiao. There was a cafe just when we needed it, so we popped in, and before we could decide what we wanted, the owner decided we wanted soup. So soup it was, and it was delicious. Full of vegetables and legumes. You can just feel it doing you good. Soup seems to be a favourite here, and every cafe has one ready for lunchtime.

As we continued on, we met a young lady who was going in the opposite direction. She is walking the Ruta Carmalita. I think this is similar to the route to Fatima. We had a very nice chat with her before heading off again up and up some more through the forest.

We eventually arrived at our accommodation, which is 500m off the route, but wow! We struck gold with this lovely house. The owner, Mark, showed us around and told us all about the renovation of it, which was very interesting. He said it was 200 years old and quite a wreck when he bought it. He’s done a marvellous job. He also has built himself a micro brewery here.

Mark has one side of the house, and guests have the self-contained other side it’s very large. He can have up to 10 guests here. He made sure the fire was going for our arrival, which was lovely, so we just relaxed on the sofa and enjoyed that while also enjoying some of the drinks he left for us in the fridge. There are artworks on the walls that have been done by himself and his wife. The house has a beautiful dining room, a fully equipped kitchen and a washing machine, and a dryer. Happy days.

We would have cooked something here at our lovely accommodation for dinner, but the little supermarket was closed, so we walked back to the little town to the restaurant, which has a pilgrim menu for €10. Soup, bread, meat, potatoes, broccoli, desert, and wine. Can’t go wrong with that.

Dining room in our accommodation.
Lounge and fireplace. Very comfortable.
Path along the way.
Lots on tiled murals on the sides of houses.

Accommodation… PusaSTAY – QdM Artists Suites. €66 booking.c Excellent accommodation. I’ve already commented on it in the story. Do yourself a favour and stay here. I’d mostly definitely stay here again.

March 15th, 2023

Short day 11.7km (Fuzz thinks it’s 15km)😀

With our feet and the rest of me feeling much better after the best part of 2 days in bed, we got a taxi to Vila Verde or there abouts. It would have been impossible for us to walk 33 km today. As it was, we had multiple stops to adjust footwear, etc. We really don’t want to agrivate our feet and end up back how we were.

The walk was mostly pleasant country roads. Eucalyptus and olive trees lined the way for a bit. There were some very old olive trees by the size of the trunks and many heavily laden orange trees as well.

Along the way, we saw a pilgrim walking towards us. We had a very nice chat with Justin, who has completed the Camino Frances and is now walking the Portuguese from SdC to Lisbon and perhaps beyond. It was a really lovely encounter. We do enjoy these meetings with felow pilgrims, and there haven’t been many so far, so this was extra special.

We can’t believe how hot it is. It’s quite cool in the mornings, but it doesn’t take long to need to start removing layers. We were sweating like pigs by the time we arrived at Alvaiazere, where we were stopping for today. Our accommodation has an excellent restaurant, and we fell in and ordered a beer because we were very thirsty. We then ordered the menu, and what a feast. Olives and bread were delivered first. A mixed salad came next which we ate before potatoes and a bowl of the most delicious meats arrived. I was stuffed but still managed to share a flan desert with Fuzz.

After lunch, we struggled to our feet so we could be shown to our room. The room has an ensuite, which is always a bonus, and it’s very clean and comfortable. It is very dated, though. It’s a bit like going back in time to the early ’80s. It would have been very luxurious in its day. It’s fine for us for tonight, though. Right on the Camino, clean, comfy, and excellent food. What could possibly be wrong with that…

More bloody cobbles 🙄.
Nice trees.
Pilgrim along the way….Justin.
Must ne an old olive tree with a truck that size.
Heavily laden orange trees everywhere.
We’re off!

Accommodation…Residential O Bras €35….booking.c. Excellent restaurant. Make sure you eat here. Room has ensuite, it’s very clean and comfortable although dated but it’s right on the Camino. Perfect. I’d definitely stay here again.

Tomar…day 2

14th March 2023

Woke up feeling a little better today, so we decided to visit the Templar Castle and Convent of Christ. It would be a shame to be here and not visit. It was quite close by, so we took a leisurely wander.

It’s a very interesting place… (you can Google it if you would like to know more). I love wandering around in these places and thinking about the people who lived here and how their lives would have been.

We didn’t want to overdo things, so after we’d seen what we wanted to see in the Convent, it was time to head back to our little apartment. Not before stopping for coffee and some delicious Portuguese baked treats. There are just so many delicious things to eat.

We have seen so many heavily laden orange trees since we’ve been here in Portugal. Delicious freshly squeezed orange juice has been served with almost every breakfast we’ve had so far. Perhaps all that lovely vitamin C is why I’m starting to feel better already. Plus, the fact that fresh soup is sold in a lot of the cafes. That’s mostly what we’ve eaten for the last couple of days. We’re getting some good nutrition on this trip.

Quite a few different cloisters here. The whole complex seems to be a bit of a maze.
Another one.
Photos don’t do justice to this area.
One of the hallways with the cells off to the sides.
Dining Room.
This wasn’t in Tomar but just an example of how healthy and full the orange trees are.

Accommodation… Flattered To Be In Tomar €128 for 2 nights. Included some breakfast items. Lovely comfortable little apartment. It has a washing machine. Very clean, great location. I’d stay here again.