Sunday, April 28, 2019

Agueda to Albergaria a Nova

When we awoke this morning the world outside was swathed in a thick layer of fog. We made our way down to a lovely breakfast buffet with cereal, bread, jam, cakes, pastries, juice, and fantastic coffee around 7:30 am.

Our walk today began with 2 km of highway, until we passed a McDonald's and then turned off into a smaller town to rejoin the Camino. Although the world looked mysterious and romantic as the sun burned through the mist, it was hardly an inspiring start to the day.


The next bit of hiking was through a town that presented many interesting tiled and decaying buildings, as well as many cafes, that surprisingly were open on this Sunday morning. Finding it too early to stop, we passed them by.


After a further stretch of road walking we came to Pedacaes. The descent into the town offered lovely views down a valley.

At the bottom of the hill we entered a small park with a pond full of frogs, and a few interesting waterfowl species. There was also a nice view of a bridge and a church, and we spent quite a bit of time there enjoying the soothing sights and sounds of nature.


After the brief interlude, we found ourselves walking on the shoulder of an extremely busy highway. This was generally bright, hot, and unpleasant, although there was a nice view from a pedestrian bridge.

After that the remainder of today was generally spent walking through suburban neighbourhoods, patches of eucalyptus plantations, some of which had been logged, and highways.

One of the eucalyptus plantations we passed through was marked with red crosses, which seemed a little sinister because we didn't understand their significance.


The nature of today's hike made us realize that our modern world is not designed to be aesthetically pleasing or user friendly for people travelling on foot. In ancient civilizations I think walkways and roads would have been shaded and lined with beautiful trees, art work, sculptures and the like. Now, it is as though we are content to focus on the comforts of the interiors of our cars, and to ignore the boring and ugly landscape outside that often seems to exist between point A and point B.

When we passed through Albergaria a Vehla, where the Brierley guide suggested we stay, we found a nice town with a good looking (but closed) albergue, a covered market, and a central park decorated for Easter. It looked festive, and there were lots of amenities, but we decided to continue on in order to make tomorrow's walk more manageable.

The last bit of the hike was mostly through eucalyptus forest, which provided welcome relief from the hot sun. As we walked through the forest we first heard multiple shots and cannon fire, as though we were approaching a military shooting range, and then we heard music. As it turns out there is a local festival here today!


After a short walk along the road we came to the Albergue, which turned out to be another lovely place, with a central garden, kitchen, laundry facilities, and swimming pool. Even though it is a holiday, and the family who runs the place was holding their own Sunday dinner, they were extremely friendly, nice, and helpful.


After getting settled and doing chores we headed in to town, which was about a 10 minute walk. There were lots of people walking into the town, and when we reached the middle we found a small area with go carts, two music stages, and a few food trucks gathered outside for the festival.

Most things in town were closed for the holiday/Sunday, but we managed to find a small fruitaria open on the far edge of town where we bought a cucumber, tomatoes, a pepper, a lemon, and two pears, all for only €1.59! We brought our produce back, and purchased a can of beans and a bag of pasta from the albergue, which also offers soft drinks, beer, wine, chips, and basic groceries.

We cooked dinner in the kitchen, along with Peter and Sue, and shared a meal and some good conversation with them in the kitchen. Many of the people we have been travelling with are here, except for the Korean couple, Kim and Clara. We ended the day with a lovely evening in the grassy courtyard.

Accommodations: Albergue Albergaria a Nova
Didtance: 23.1 km

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