Day 11 – 21st October 2016, Alvaiázere to Alvorge.
Into the misty morning
Our stay at Albergaria Pinheiro rejuvenated and revitalised us so much. My right foot felt better and I was ready to resume our walk. We were up before daybreak, packed our backpacks and launched ourselves into the early morning air. It was a bit chilly and we didn’t see any bars or cafés open on the way out of town. Already, I craved a familiar, strong, Portuguese coffee! Never mind, the steep climb out of Alvaiázere occupied my entire body and mind for a good few kilometres.
Thankfully, the Camino trail led us along quiet roads and dirt tracks, away from the major busy highways that had plagued us so often since we left Lisbon. Curls of mist hung low on the hillsides ,as we continued to ascend and clothed the crumbling stone buildings in pastel hues. Dry stone walls, snaked this way and that across the fields, through olive groves and disappeared on the horizon.
One very odd thing we noticed, was that someone seemed to be responsible for stealing the ceramic Camino tile markers along the route. Could this be the work of kleptomaniac pilgrims? Who knows, but it appeared to be a completely pointless, yet annoying endeavour. Still, we were able to find our way without any problems.
The wisdom of trees
Our Dutch biker friends passed us at 6 km and stopped to say a brief hello. They were on their way to Coimbra and they looked so fit and energetic, we were sure they would reach there in a few hours, whereas we would take a while longer! Walking at a leisurely pace, we admired the gorgeous forest trails, through stands of pine, eucalyptus and oak. There is something particularly refreshing about strolling through forests and woodland. Perhaps it is the wisdom of the trees themselves, their sentient beingness and the energy and oxygen they emit into the atmosphere.
We passed through the little villages of Venda, Gramatinha and Casal do Soeiro and gently descended into Ansião, an attractive town, where we popped into Pastelaria Diogo for a delicious lunch stop of toasties, pastries and of course coffee. Here we relaxed for a while. There was no rush. Today, would not be a 30 km or more day, because our destination was Alvorge, approximately another 9 or 10 km from our lunch stop. We were making good progress and my right foot appeared to be behaving itself.
Ultreia! It was soon time to resume our bimble through the beautiful Portuguese countryside, up hills and down dale.
The long and winding road to Alvorge
Brett and I started to sing “The Long and Winding Road”, by The Beatles, which was a fitting match for the Camino trail as it twisted and turned through lush, verdant, undergrowth. The path beneath our pilgrim feet was often earthy, or strewn with rock and gravel. We ambled through the pretty hamlets of Netos, Freixo, Junqueira and reached Alvorge, where we picked up the key to the local parochial albergue from the bar and café on the main street.
We stopped to have an ice tea and chatted to a British chap, who lived there. I could tell by his accent he was a Midlander (it takes one to know one) and he told us he hailed from Sutton Coldfield and that many Brits lived in the local area.
We booked in for an evening pilgrim meal at the same café, but as with many places on the Camino in Spain and Portugal, they serve dinner later on the evening. So we strolled through the main street to the church, where we found the parish community centre adjacent to it. The albergue took up the ground floor and appeared to be brand new. We were so glad we had taken on board Pedro’s recommendation to stay here. Its design reminded me of a mini version of the albergue in Roncesvalles on the Camino Frances, because bunks were arranged in cubby holes, separated by partition walls to give an air of privacy. The showers and loos were spotlessly clean. The place was quiet and still, there were no other pilgrims in sight so we had the whole albergue to ourselves and all this for a donation each, ‘donativo’.
We watched the sun set over the valley below, then trundled back to the café for our evening pilgrim meal. Obviously we were ravenous, but also very tired by then and didn’t linger. It was time to get some shut eye!
Distance walked today = 24.5 km
Cumulative distance walked so far = 231.88 km
Peace, love and light,