Sunday, May 5, 2019

Barcelos to Valinhas

And so the morning races begin.   This morning started around 4 am when several rather noisy individuals in the albergue decided it was time to leave.  Awake and not wanting to lay there during the inevitable 2-3 hours of rustling and packing as the entire albergue started their days, we also got up, packed our bags, and headed out. The sun was just rising, the town was still asleep, but as we walked through the quiet streets we passed a shrine filled with lit candles.

We left the city center fairly quickly, without breakfast, and soon found ourselves in fields, passing a huge red chicken statue. I think we will be happy to leave the tourism of chicken town behind.

 
We spent the next few hours climbing, and then walking around the edge of the valley that Barcelos is located in. As the sun came up and it started to get warm the mist began to burn off in the valley below, giving the hills in the distance a wonderful depth.

 
We stopped for breakfast at a small cafe that was thankfully open, and had a coffee. Unfortunately when I selected a pastry I accidentally chose one that had melted cheese and ham inside of a sugary sweet pastry. Sean said it was very rich, and somewhat of an unexpected combination for a North American. I didn't attempt to separate the ham from the rest, so decided to forego breakfast.  Clearly today was not my best morning on the Camino. 




As we continued on, enjoying spectacular views down the valley, we crossed into a section of eucalyptus forest that had been burnt. The trees were all dead, but there were still dried leaves in the canopy, so the fire must have been fast moving, or not too hot. In the warm air there was still a strong smell of eucalyptus.







The afternoon was spent much as the morning was - wending our way through valleys, small stretches of eucalyptus forest, and rural areas with small fields, vineyards, olive trees, and wildflowers.


At one point we passed through a small village where an enterprising person had set up a small stand where passing pilgrims could pay €3 for a large bag of cookies and assorted pastries, or €1 for a bag of cooked beans (I assume - that is what they looked like). This was the first sign of donativo trail magic, and we happily purchased a bag of pastries.


The walk was very beautiful, but by noon the heat, the climbing, and the sleepless night were catching up with us. We stopped at the highly recommended Casa Fernanda, but it was already booked solid. As we left, we saw a man carrying suitcases and large tagged backpacks out to a waiting vehicle, so clearly luggage transport for pilgrims is now available as well.


We continued on to Valinhas and saw a nice looking place, but thought we could go a little farther. We called a few places up ahead, but they were all booked. When we called the Estabulo de Valinhas a very kind lady answered, and said there was a room available. We decided to wait in the shade of an olive tree out front until the place opened at 2 PM. It turned out to be a fantastic decision.




When the hostess let us in, we discovered a beautiful place with a kitchen, a fridge full of drinks available for purchase, and a pilgrim menu available. As it turns out, today is Portuguese Mothers Day, so everything is closed. The option of a vegetarian meal seems like an extra blessing from St. Roch, on top of the beautiful, comfortable, and available room.

   

We enjoyed a communal dinner in the beautiful common area.  There were about 14 of us, and more than half were German.  The meal was huge - pasta, salad, bread, fruit, and plentiful wine.  We were told that the rooms we were staying in used to be stables, and now the farm had been converted into a winery, which helped explain the very tasty homemade wine that was enjoyed, perhaps a bit too freely. It was a wonderful meal, but quite a change to be served rather than to participate in the preparation and clearing up of the meal.

 

 After dinner I sat by the frog pond for a but, watching the bats circle overhead, and listening to the frogs and birds singing as the darkness fell and the stars began to shine.  Conversations stretched into the summer night as people shared their stories.  It was another beautiful day in Portugal.

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Accomodations: Estabulo de Valinhas
Distance: 21 km






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This blog describes our walk along the Camino Portuguese in April and May 2019.   We hiked 690 km from Lisbon, Portgal to Santiago de Com...