Saturday, April 28, 2018

Camino Portuguese - Day 16 - Ponte de Lima

35 km (feels like 37 km). Why do I always do that on the Camino and with a less than perfect left foot I will never understand. Maybe it's because the place to stay at mid-point today (Casa Fernando, more like an albergue, donarion based) is a little short on distance, too many older folks who find it hard to do Ponte Lima distance, etc. Also the weather was really nice in the afternoon, sun/cloud with cold wind, perfect for walking.
The day didn't start well, with rain in the morning which stop around mid-morning.
Aurelius the Brazilian really woke us up too early and left the hostel at 6 am! (without breakfast). Breakfast was excellent at 7:30 am, the full course with hot eggs/bacon and cold cuts/cheese, etc. With Olivier smoking outside 15 mins before breakfast was ready. We both said Ponte Lima is too far,  but later he was opposite my bunk bed at the albergue there. Haha. Some pilgrims think alike.
Lots of bicycles starting from Porto 230+ km to.Santiago (cyclist needs minimum 200 km while walkers 100 km to get a compostela in Santiago). Interesting setup, some of their mountain bikes have smaller 24 inch wheels, and today I even saw a couple of electric assist mountain bikes. Not sure if that is allowed, but then again who is going to check it at the pilgrim office in Santiago?
Banana trees here? Is that possible?
Such a nice walking day after the rain. Some residents in a village even put out a stone bench surrounded by flowers as rest point for pilgrims. Still, by 2 pm the body start to wear down. Luckily there was a cafe just off the path where I order a burger and fries. The young woman and her sister at the bar wanted to learn a few basic words in Chinese for the few Chinese pilgrims that comes into her cafe. Really? Wrote just hello, thank you and goodbye (the best I could, added  ā for part of hello as a better approximation for Portuguese speakers).
Arriving in Ponte Lima almost 6 pm. It is a touristy place with the old ponte (bridge) after a more modern one. Turns out the old bridge is for pedestrian only. Lost the piece of paper today I scribbled from Jim's guide on the lodging from Porto to Redondela (my lodgings map overlay on the phone assumes the coastal route), seems like I may need a get an expensive hotel. Saw a guy that looks like a pilgrim at the cafe and ask him about lodgings. He said there is an albergue de peregrinos at the end of the bridge. Yes! 5 euros for just bed, hot shower and kitchen which I would not use. Big albergue. Don't know how many beds but my number is 51 (top bunk! Argh!). Made a bet after seeing Olivier that if no one claims the bottom bed I will buy him a beer. It is already after 6 pm but one never know..
No shower... yet. Seems like there is nothing much after crossing the bridge except the albergue. Crossed the bridge back with Olivier for dinner. He said he has a craving for Pizza for the whole day. That statement also made me crave for pizza. Asked around and got a cafeteria that serves Pizza (probably the packaged type but the dough was still quite good, or maybe it was just the hunger speaking).
Back across the bridge and shower. Oh, so good. It's one of those button pressed and released type showers. I lterally just put both hands on the wall and button and stand under the hot water for like 5 minutes before doing any showering. 

No way I can do the crazy 38 km to Valença (with much higher climb) tomorrow. Not in my condition and I think the majority in this albergue today will also end their walk after 18.9 km tomorrow in Rubiāes. I hope there is enough space there.

At 8 pm Leon (the young man from Germany from yesterday shows up in the room). He had the bottom bed but was happy to go to the top bunk (ah, young man) for me. Phrew! That means I still owe Olivier a beer....

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