NOTE: Forgot to track my distance on the 16th. 13.9 km.
MONDAY – September 17. Up at a decent hour from our room in the green hotel, and Ria had already scouted out a bakery for tea and crumpets. She also found an optician right around the corner and will go there after it opens.
Today is the “to do” day, at least this morning:
- Get Ria’s glasses fixed
- Find a post office so I can send on 1.5 kg of stuff I find I don’t need enough to carry (AGAIN?)
- Await the opening of the Tourist Information office (if they EVER open), for a bus schedule so we can ride basically 3 days worth of walking, from Povoa de Varzim to Viana do Castelo.
By 11:00, we have accomplished all these things. Ria’s glasses now have rose-colored stems (she emphatically dislikes them, but at least she can wear the glasses now), my little package has been sent to the post office (Correos) in SDC, and we have our bus schedule times.
We pack up and are delighted to find that the bus stop is directly across from our green hotel, and that we JUST have time to make the 11:45 a.m. run, rather than have to kill another 75 minutes until the 1:00 bus. So on we go.
The bus ride is, predictably a stop and go ride through the smaller areas on the way to Viale do Castelo, though at one stop, three German pilgrims board and I hear a shout from both Ria and the woman in the entering group. They have met on another Camino stint a few years ago, so while they catch up, I doze. We enter a larger town/city, with strange upper and lower main roads, and finally Ria spots the municipal albergue in the short distance so we disembark along with the three German friends, and walk to get our beds.
We are early and the rooms are not yet available, but I hope I can get a ‘baja’, a lower bunk, and Ria says, “You will get one. You’re old.” We laugh. Turns out, the man (who is also not a spring chicken) gives us a private twin-bedded room. Apparently we are both old. No matter. Whatever gets us the private place. But we can’t get into the rooms for another hour or two, so we wander down into the coastal part of the town. Here we are delighted to find a not-uncommon sight in the streets:
We wander under these colorful umbrella-peppered blue skies, not even caring whether the decorations were for a specific festival or just because it’s a beautiful autumn in northern Portugal.
It’s past time to actually get to our rooms, so we wend our way back to the albergue, where the man, in speedy Spanish, gives a little orientation to us and to a half dozen young people, “Here is where you can go out and come back in, no coming back in the front door, here is the laundry area, and here is the courtyard where you hang your clothes up, and here are the stairs to your rooms, etc. etc. etc.” So we follow him and are finally shown to a twin-bedded room with a window and tiny private bath. The settling routine is . . . well, routine, by now. Unpack what I need, wash what is in my white mesh bag, hang it somewhere to dry and hope it’s dry by morning, extract toothbrush, toothpaste, apnea mouth guard, shampoo, tonight’s meds and tomorrow’s vitamins from their bag, get out tomorrow’s clothes and tonight’s sleeping gear (this changes daily, depending on how hot I was the night before), and then I take a nap. I haven’t walked much today, but around our previous and current towns, but managed to put nearly 10 km on my phone’s heart-site, and the effect of the past days of walking is cumulative.
By 9:00 p.m., I’m ready for dinner. Fish is usually in front of me as I walk these coastal towns. Why not? I can eat Dorada and Bream and Sea Bass for days on end, though the mounds of “punched” potatoes (whole potatoes, skins on, that are smashed once and put on your plate) and overcooked vegetables remain after only the bones of the fish accompany them. Is this the place I had the worst panna cotta ever, though until now, I have never met a panna cotta I didn’t love? But this was grainy, gritty, and not creamy at all. Sigh. Maybe it was last night. I can’t remember where, but I surely know the fact of my disappointment.
Tomorrow it’s back on my coastal walking feet.