Day 18 – 28th October 2016, São João de Madeira to Grijo
On fair weather and wobbly legs
Brett and I rose with the larks and left our Residencial at 7.15am to try to make the most of the walk before the day became too hot. Unfortunately, there was no sign of breakfast or any of the staff, so we slipped out quietly. The weather forecast indicated it was going to be another scorcher of a day up in the 30 degrees-something-centigrade. When it gets this hot, we prefer to do most of our walking in the first half of the day, to clear as much of the distance as we can of these über long stretches, before the sun reaches it’s zenith, and then slow down in the afternoon.
Ok, so I’m rumbled. You can tell I’m a Brit abroad can’t you? The need to blather on about the weather, rather gives me away. We’ve been lucky with the weather so far. Hot and sunny pretty much most days since we left Lisbon, bar the occasional, short, sharp, downpour, when we donned our gigantic, beautiful, bright, blue tent-like rain ponchos that Demis Roussos would have been quite at home in. On this fine morning, our ponchos remained tucked away in the deepest, darkest recesses of our backpacks, while we ambled on, working up a sweat that Betty would be proud of.
On the odd day, like today, my left and right feet, felt as though they were attached to different people and were hard to coax into going forwards in the same direction. My leg muscles were stiff and sore and my limbs seemed to wobble out of control. Perhaps, it was a build up of lactic acid. I was indeed grateful for the new trail running shoes and the sports insoles that provided me with extra support and cushioning for my tired extremities. Note to self – later on at our destination for the day, I must remember to lie down and put my legs up against a wall for half an hour. This old army trick, worked wonders on my last Camino.
Brett and I grabbed breakfast in a lovely café at the village of Arrifana, on the outskirts of São João de Madeira, where there is a stunning church clad in intricately patterned blue and white tiles, that reminded me of Delft pottery.
This section of the Camino was not terribly picturesque. We spent a few hours walking through suburbia, round concrete and dusty industrial estates and even broke the monotony with a second breakfast at a Repsol petrol station that welcomed pilgrims at Ferradal.
Unusual garden design
The usual cacophony of Portuguese canines, serenaded us, as we ambled past suburban gardens. Some residents clearly took their garden statues incredibly seriously or did they? In one front yard, we noticed a voluptuous, half naked siren on the left hand side, while a white, statue of Jesus, his arms outstretched in a pose, reminiscent of Christ the Redeemer statue of Rio de Janeiro, stood on the right hand side. I wondered what the judges at the Chelsea Flower Show, would have made of this garden design? Was it a ‘his’ and ‘hers’ kind of thing?
In the dead centre of town
Beyond Ferradal, we walked through Lourosa, Vergada and Mozeloa. We decided to break the stage to Porto into two by stopping at Grijo for the night, otherwise, we would have had to hike for 34 to 36 km to reach Porto, according to the Camino guide by John Brierley.
Opposite the monastery of São Salvador de Grijo, stands the albergue, also called São Salvador de Grijo. Here pilgrims are welcomed on a first come first served basis for donations (‘donativo’). The guy next door let us in. The hostel is very simple and compact, having small dorms of two bunks per room, one bathroom, a communal kitchen, small lounge, courtyard and a place out the back yard to do laundry.
After settling in and doing a spot of hand washing, Brett and I moseyed down the road, along the interminably long stone wall of the monastery and past a vast cemetery in the centre of town. In one of the bars, we enjoyed a nice, cool Radler limao each and then wandered round a little but there wasn’t much to see or any options for an evening meal at a reasonable time.
We decided to go back to our albergue, past the cemetery, and ordered a pilgrim dinner in the strange bar adjacent to the tiny grocery store next door, as advertised on the noticeboard in the albergue lounge for 7 euros each. We were the only pilgrims there and stuck out like two sore thumbs on a construction site. You know that feeling when you walk into a local establishment, where it seems as though only local people frequent it and are probably all inter-related? Uncomfortable in a League of Gentlemen kind of way isn’t it? There they were, propping up the bar. We walked in and head after head, swivelled round like the ventriloquist-dummy-of-one’s-nightmares, owl-like eyes blinking.
Undeterred, we stuck our ground, got a grip on the situation by ordering a couple of beers and waited for our pilgrim meal, which eventually arrived. Chicken. I wondered if they had to go out and catch it first…Or was it? Funny how the mind can play tricks…
Distance walked today = 23 km
Cumulative distance walked so far = 397.88 km
Stay tuned, to find out what happened next…
Peace, love and light,