Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Alvaiazere to Alvorge

When the first people in the dorm got up and began preparing for the day at 5:00 am or so, there was a steady rain falling outside. We decided to stay in bed until 6:00 am. We helped ourselves to breakfast along with the other pilgrims (an Italian man, two French ladies, and a South Korean couple). After a quick breakfast we headed out into a wet morning, but thankfully it wasn't actually raining. We followed the shells out of town, and almost immediately began climbing, first through a small village, and then through a eucalyptus plantation.

Although the slope was steep, we followed a paved road, so the climbing was not too difficult. As we entered the forest the rain began to fall quite hard. As we slowly gained elevation the wind began to pick up as well, and when we reached the highest point on the Camino Portuguese the rain was being driven sideways. We scurried onward, back into the trees, where the wind was less strong.

Although it rained a lot, today was one of the most beautiful on this Camino so far. The path took us through numerous small villages, most of which were very beautiful, and many of which enjoyed panoramic views down forested valleys.

We also walked down cobblestone lanes, and along dirt tracks, bordered by moss covered stone walls.

We stopped in Ansiao for a coffee and chocolate croissant at a wonderful bakery located right on the way. The rain was really pelting down at this point, and the warm coffee seemed like liquid gold. As we sat there nearly all the pilgrims that were staying in the albergue last night joined us. It made for a merry, if wet, gathering.

Feeling refreshed, we headed out again to tackle the climb into Alvorge. This was another beautiful stretch of Camino, and again, the weather alternated between heavy rain and brief periods of sunshine as we passed through picaresque villages, olive groves, and more forested areas.

In Cruce we stopped again for a brief rest and another coffee. As it turned out we would have done well to dally a little longer in the warm of the cafe. As we headed back to the trail it began to hail!

The wind sprang up, the thunder rolled, and the temperature really started to drop. We took shelter beside a wall until the worst of the storm had passed. As we continued on, the path turned to a stream of red mud. Next we had to cross a field of tall grass, which pretty much ended any hope we may have had of staying dry.

Although the day was stunningly beautiful, by the time we reached the charming hilltop village of Alvorge, we were ready for a break from the elements.

We decided to stop in the donativo albergue there, which has eight beds. Somehow we missed the bar where we were supposed to pick up the keys, but when we arrived the French ladies and the Italian were already there. The French ladies very kindly helped us call the bar and confirm it was okay to stay, and we soon settled in.

This is a nice place, with four showers (!), a small kitchen, and four think beds divided by small partitions.

We headed back to town to visit the small supermarket, and picked up some breakfast supplies for the morning, as well as a bottle of port to share later tonight.

After our shopping expedition we visited the bar, where we found the rest of the occupants of the albergue. The French ladies ordered hot chocolate, which turned out to be steamed chocolate milk. We each had a coffee and brandy. It was established that the bar doesn't have a menu, but would provide meals for pilgrims.

When we headed up to dinner with the Italian, the two French ladies, and the Scandinavian we discovered a nice surprise! Dinner consisted of wine, bread, an enormous plate of rice, beans, meat, and vegetable stew, and an assortment of cakes. The hospitalero, Victor, was extremely nice, and spoke fluent French, so that was the language of choice for the evening.

It was a lovely evening of good food, good company, and even a rainbow!

Accomodations: Albergue Igreja
Distance: 22.8 km

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