We had another relatively short walk, much of which was through beautiful county lanes today. Sections of road alternated with small stretches of forested track, which looked beautiful with the large sprays of golden broom flowers bursting over the path like fireworks. Many local people seem to harvest sprigs of the broom and attach it to their doors and cars, presumably for good luck.
Gradually the trail led us into more built up areas. At one point we wended our way through a very busy street that was full of parked cars from people attending a nearby church. From there the chaos increased as we threaded through a large open market, around the bus station, and then onto a busy main street of downtown Valenca.
It was a short walk up the main street to a roundabout with a large fountain in the middle, and then a cobblestone pedestrian promenade led us up to the walls of the old city. From a distance, the small turrets on the corners of the old walls brought to mind those we saw in Pamplona. We crossed through a group of tourists, under an arched doorway, and into the old city.
The way took us down (one of) the main shopping streets, which was filled with tourists and lined with stores offering brand name merchandise. There were a few smaller shops with handmade Portuguese carpets, linens, and other crafts, but it was too full to do much sightseeing.
We followed the way until it took us to the Cathedral, where we took a minute to step inside. It was beautiful and peaceful, and a nice respite from the rising wind outside.
Although Valenca looked touristy, it was also a beautiful old fort, so we decided to look for a place to stay that would allow us to explore after the tour buses had departed. We asked at the only place we saw, but they were full, so we walked on.
Just before exiting the old fort we walked out onto a lookout point and got our first view of Spain, and the bridge we would cross over. It was very exciting!
After that the yellow arrows pointed down, taking us deep into the dark stone corridors under the walls before letting us back out into the light on the other side.
We made our way to the famous bridge over the Rio Minho. Just as we got out onto the bridge it started to rain. Of course, we found rain in Spain :)
Once across the bridge we made our way into the Spanish town of Tui. We climbed up the narrow winding streets until we came to the central cathedral. It was beginning to look a lot like rain, so we called a couple places to ask if they had space. Remembering how to say things in Spanish was quite a challenge.
We found a place not far from the cathedral, but check-in wasn't until 3 PM. We crossed the square and decided to avoid the rain by having a beer (now Estella, not Super Bock), a large mixed salad, a cheese board, and a ham board. It was quite a feast, and because it was my birthday, we followed it up with a flan, which turned out to be a very nice high-quality one.
After lunch we checked in, did a few chores, and then headed out again to explore. We headed back to the cathedral, which had re-opened by then, and headed inside for a visit. Outside we ran into a number of pilgrims we knew, some of whom decided to pay the entry fee and look inside the cathedral, and some who decided to explore elsewhere.
The inside of the cathedral was ornate and beautiful. It had a large central organ with horizontal pipes, and a fancy gold altar piece. There was also a reliquary wall, and a treasury. Most exciting were the cloister and the tower, which let us climb up to the roof of the cloister and enjoy beautiful views of Portugal and the Minho river. In a true Camino moment the very kind man behind the desk stamped our passports and admitted us free of charge.
After exploring the cathedral we walked the streets of the old town. The temperature had dropped and it was siesta, so the streets were disconcertingly empty of people. We headed down to the river, where we found a boardwalk and a nice park, and then headed back up through the old part of town again.
As we emerged into the newer section of town, which has many pilgrim services, as well as bars, restaurants, and a grocery store we ran into Sue and Peter. We found a small restaurant and headed inside for dinner. We had the pilgrim menu, which consisted of tortilla con patate, an omelette with fries and salad, chocolate pudding for dessert, and wine for €5. It was a nice birthday dinner.
After that we wandered around some more, and then headed back to our quarters to catch up on some work.
Accommodations: O Novo Cabalo Furado
Distance: 20.3 km