Easy Peasy PortugueasyPosted: October 11, 2011
6 big kids in a Cubby on a Camino!
A Camino, as you well may know, is a time for contemplation. Giving up our regular life to reflect and consider what is really important to us. To go without the material and everyday baggage we carry and take a lighter load, one that fits in a pack on our back!
A contrast then, to the journeys our friends have taken to meet us! Elaine, Geoff and Ian, (Ians’ wife Kate flew home early) had just finished their 5 star cruise through Greece and Turkey. Luxury accommodation, dinner suits and gowns! Jo left her husband Paul in their Balinese hotel, playing tennis and sailing with friends (inbetween massages) on a beach!!
We of course have everything we own in our cubby and have travelled 32000 kms to be here.
Day one, a cracking pace prevailed. As Mad Dogs and Englishmen, we set off in the middle of the hot afternoon sun. Taking the advice of our guidebook, “The John Brierley” (hereby referred to as The JB), to heart, we drove out of the industrial suburbs of Porto and added a few extra kilometers for good measure. After sorting out our first full load of Cubby and arriving at our starting point, it was time for lunch and the cafe sitting on the beach offered the delicious aromas of sardines grilling on the outdoor BBQ. It was only sensible to sit and eat, and then begin “the walk!” Sensible also then, that we were not attempting the full quo rata our first day, in the heat, after a big lunch, we all knocked up about 11.5 km of the bookmarked 25 kms, along the coastal route to Vila do Conde. Antonio drove ahead, parked Cubby at our destination and walked back to meet us. At least, that was his plan! Unfortunately following yellow arrows backwards presents some problems, he did not get to meet us, and probably ended up taking the longest walk of us all.
Vila do Conde is a delightful medieval town, settled around a small harbour that was particularly well known for boat building activity when Portugal was active exploring the bigger wide world! Our weary pilgrims settle into the 2 star, 17th century, Hospedaria O Manco D”Areia accommodation and a lovely restaurant dinner (more outdoor grill sardines!), overlooking the harbour and a relic of one of the oldest boats made here. All in all, pretty proud to have day one done and dusted!!!
Day 2, also hot! Our plan was to not overdo ourselves. We remind each other its the beginning of a marathon, not a race, its the journey that counts, not the destination, we need to work our way into things! So we plan to cut off, oh, just a few kms of the scheduled 17 km and begin our walk at the 6 km mark – therefore having 11 km to walk. Thats fine in theory BUT!
It is not as easy as it sounds to find a destination on a little, not really to scale, diagram. A path here, a church there, a coffee shop around the corner. We pulled up where we knew we must be close to finding one of our trusty yellow arrows that mark the way of The Camino! Then God intervened……….through the ever curious Jo!
We were actually, completely lost in a quiet “one church” town. Like orienteering boy scouts, we got out of the car and glued ourselves to The JB, looking for clues to find the yellow arrows. Waiting, looking, scratching our heads, kicking curbs. It was then Jo happened to rattle a door thinking it was a small chapel……. it was then the oasis appeared with the smiling face of Antonio Jose Rodrigues at the Quinta Sao Miguel, inviting us in to see his beautiful home. (The JB actually defines Quinta as a Country Mansion!) Walking in under the kiwifruit laden terrace, past the pool, into the cool of the stone interior! We fell in love, especially when he said he could accommodate us all, and cook dinner, and set us on our yellow arrow path to finish the days walk! Logistics organised, other accommodation cancelled, bags unloaded. We settled in briefly, and continued on our way.
I did mention it was hot didn’t I?? Once again, after all our tooing and frowing, we found ourselves walking off in the midday sun. Some of us, (no need to mention names) decided the pool at our Quinta was calling loudly and could not be ignored so retreated in a taxi back after our first 4.5 km coffee break!! Others, (Jo, Geoff and Tony,) continued allocated kilometres to pick up the previously parked cubby, and returned to the pool at a later time!
We sat and enjoyed our well earned dinner and made plans for the following day. A day that would also involve a LOT of walking! Around the Barcelos market!!! Described in The JB as “one of Portugals best known and liveliest markets!” A plan was hatched to drive there and return to the divine Sao Miguel and enjoy one more night, just one more night, in Anontio’s oasis. After this, we promise we will be better pilgrims. We really will.