It was a restless night for both of us as is often the case for first night in an albergue and the first to stir in the morning were the French (as usual) with packing and re packing starting at 5:00am.
However we got up at 6 which is sunrise here and were on the trail at 6:30. It was a beautiful morning, a little fresh to start but quickly warmed up as the sun rose in a near cloudless sky.
The walk today 25km (about 15 miles) with some steep hills but it was beautiful through small villages, passed vineyards everywhere and some flowers growing wild such as lillies and rhododendrons in the moist areas.
We crossed a medieval bridge and passed several small churches but they were all locked and we could not see anything through the small window in each.
Much of the time we were in the sun with little shade which made it uncomfortable. We didn't find anywhere for. breakfast until we had been walking for about 2.5 hours but then the coffee and fresh rolls were delicious. We had taken plenty of water with us so stayed well hydrated but at times the sun was intense.
After the steepest climb and descent we found ourselves in more shaded areas with eucalyptus and pine trees or vines with tiny grapes just forming overhanging the trail. The air felt so fresh and smelled so clean that we gained new energy.
Soon we ready for a second breakfast so stopped again at a café for fresh rolls with ham and cheese and a soft drink.
Then back on the path through the woods and the vineyards.
Here we passed some wild foxgloves. I told Helen how we used to put them on our fingers when we were children and chase each other or play puppets with them.
In one little village there was an outdoor fitness center with various fitness equipment
Another small church, this one dedicated to Santiago with an outside pulpit
Finally after about 6 hours we arrived in the town of Ponte de Lima. It is the oldest town in Portugal with a long history and some interesting statues.
There is a long medieval bridge spanning the river. The area in front of it is a car park so photo cannot do it justice.
We walked on to find our albergue for tonight which was across the river. It was now close to 1:00pm but the albergue didn't open until 4:00 pm. We sat in the shade outside a restaurant with a drink while deciding what to do for 3 hours on a hot sunny day with our backpacks
I looked on line and found a room with 2 beds in the local youth hostel available so I booked it and we walked back across the bridge and along the river to it. It will work well.
We settled in, showered and did our washing chores before heading out into the town to look around.
We found an old church that was open with some service either in progress or about to start.
Down by the river there is a line of soldiers standing as if about to cross the river. They represent an old story about the roman army as they were conquering Spain and Portugal. They believed that there was a certain river that if you crossed it you would forget everything you ever knew and that this was the river! So they were refusing to cross it.
Meanwhile on the other bank the general was calling and urging them to cross because he had crossed and could remember all their names. He is on the other bank on a horse if you look carefully.
The way between the town and our hostel is along a lovely avenue lined with sycamore trees. Very pleasant and much cooler in the heat of the afternoon.
We had an early dinner in the town and then headed back to our hostel to start our daily blogs and sort out our clothes and sundry items so we can make an early start tomorrow and be over the 1,000 ft climb before the sun gets too intense.
It will not be as long a day tomorrow but probably equally strenuous. Both of us loving it all!
Good night from James and Helen