11mls From Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes (Inland Route)

Friends, I noticed sometimes when I dictate, the app transcribes parts of my comments twice. I try to catch them all before I post the blog but I’m trying to limit my time on my blog so apologies if that happens occasionally.

After several hours of doing nothing last night, we all gathered the strength to walk around town. There seems to be so much money in these Portuguese towns especially compared to the Spanish towns on the other Camino route which is strange to me because Portugal in general is a poorer country than Spain. We talked about how it’s probably because these are coastal towns and perhaps the rest of Portugal isn’t quite the same. Either way, I want to live in Portugal one day. 

Brian found an amazing Italian restaurant called Dolce Vianna. For 45 euros, we all ate to our heart’s content, drank wine, and Vegemite even ordered another meal for breakfast tomorrow. So good and so cheap. We then walked around the plaza but only for a few minutes. It was almost 9pm which is way past our bedtime. 

I fell asleep with my windows open in my beautiful Airbnb. In Portugal (and Spain), the blinds are on the outside of windows so you can open the windows fully but still have the blinds shut keeping you safe from anything outside. 

For today’s hike, we decided we wanted to hike the inland route because the scenery sounds better for the next section. So rather than spending most do the day walking East to get to the route, we scheduled a taxi to pick us up at 7:30 am. It was pouring down rain first thing this morning and the sound woke us much earlier than our alarm clock. Hearing rain as a hiker is like receiving bad news first thing in the morning. In response, we pulled our rain covers over our packs, I prepared my Frog Tog rain jacket, and my ultra light weight umbrella, and I zipped the pant legs onto my shorts. All three of us also have the inside of our packs lined with a heavy duty trash bag and our clothes are stored in individual stuff sacks so I’m pretty confident our clothes will stay dry. It’s your body that you usually struggle to keep dry.  

Brian is already getting sad. On the AT, he hiked in the rain and was constantly damp for a couple of months so now whenever it rains, he gets depressed and has to remind himself he doesn’t have to walk in it. But today he does. We ate our left over Italian food and met the cabbie outside. Our cab took us East from Viana do Castelo to Ponte de Lima and our plan for the day is to walk 11 miles to Rubiaes.

The morning’s walk was beautiful as we passed through many vineyards however, the view was slightly spoiled by the rainy day and the flooded, muddy path we had to follow.

It took a while to figure out what attire to wear. I started with my rain jacket but began to sweat, I then tried my umbrella but realized I did not bring the clips I needed to secure it to my pack hands-free. In the end, I decided to walk in my regular clothes and just be wet from the sprinkling rain.

This morning, we followed a path of chestnuts and acorns that look different from ours in the US. Here, the acorns are long and thin. We also passed several men and their dogs who were bird hunting. We heard a shot fire long after we passed them.

About 1.25 hours into our hike, we met up with Vegemite at a lovely cafe tucked between some vineyards and along a stream. I really wanted a crepe but I didn’t feel well last night, probably due to all the junk food I ate all day. So I decided to take it easy today and stick with coffee. This place was specifically for pilgrims and we saw quite a few others here which was nice. It’s feeling a bit more like my first Camino on this inland route. 

Looking at a map during our break, it appears we should be about halfway to Santiago sometime tomorrow. I was thinking we had all this extra time but we really don’t. I’m hoping we can take at least one day off somewhere before we finish.  The guys are interested in staying in valenca which is a fortress town (walls around the city) just before crossing into Spain. We discussed which days we can take it easy and which days we should push harder based on the towns we’ll end up in and terrain. 

I met Julia today from Germany. She was walking fast and hard but slowed down for a while when we met. She said she knew I was a pervious pilgrim because she saw my tattoo. She hiked the Camino Frances last March in the snow and also has a shell tattoo. she told me she is not enjoying this camino as much. She’s been hiking the traditional route while my trail family has been hiking the literal coastal route until this morning. She said people in Portugal don’t have as much respect for the Camino and the pilgrims aren’t interested in talking to others. Remember I said the Portuguese wish you a “bom dia”? Well Julia noted the same. She said on the French route the local people cried from their homes “Buen Camino!” when you walk by but here in Portugal, they just don’t care. I told her I hadn’t seen many pilgrims at all on the literal coastal route so I couldn’t comment on them being different. She said they’re just not as interested in meeting each other on this route and we both agreed the people you meet along the way are the best part of long distance hiking. 

The four of us stopped at one of the few cafes on this beautiful route. I ordered what I thought was a flavored water but it tasted like an off brand of 7up. We didn’t stay long as it wasn’t a super comfortable place to hang out and we wanted to get through this rainy day. Just as we started to put our packs on, it started to rain heavily. Julia wasn’t excited about leaving but we told her it’s expected to rain all day. I felt a headache coming on with the changing pressure so I popped a couple of Advil and pulled out my umbrella again. I was SO relieved to have the umbrella as it rained on and off all day today. The start of my Camino today felt good but that changed rather quickly.

Julia and I walked together for a while but as we began encountering some steep hills,  I fell farther and farther behind. For several miles, every time I thought it couldn’t get steeper, it did. Towards the top, it was very rocky, slippery, and I needed my hands and feet to get up. And even though it was cold and rainy, I was soaked in my own sweat. Eventually, Julia and another young German woman marched on with Vegemite but I didn’t stand a chance of keeping up. Brian began to lag behind to keep an eye on me but even he struggled to go as slow as I was. So he still walked ahead of me and would attempt to wait patiently for me at the top of each climb. He wasn’t enjoying this anymore than I was. He is also struggling with his foot. He has Morton’s Neuroma which is severe nerve damage. I don’t fully understand what he’s going through but sometimes is so painful, he’ll kick something really hard with his foot or smash his toes with his umbrella…this he says relieves the pain. he’s going to need surgery but he’s hesitant to do so. 

Today was not fun for me. The scenery was the most beautiful of this trip so far but I didn’t enjoy it. It was slippery and rainy, I walked alone the whole day, and there was absolutely nowhere to stop so I walked the entire day on a couple of ounces of leftover lasagna from this morning. I opened a bag of trail mix I purchased a few days ago when I finally reached the top of the day’s climb, but it wasn’t until I poured out a handful that I realized it contained peanuts. I only just recently developed a sensitivity to them and I get sever stomach cramps now. I was so famished though that I took a chance and had a couple of handfuls. I did get some cramping though so when we ran into Vegemite at the last stop, I gave the remaining mix to him.

Though the physical struggle was a bit tough, I had a harder time mentally today. I felt as though I was pulling Brian away from his hiking buddy but at the same time, I had no interest in ruining my own experience to keep up. Brian also felt a lot of pressure because he’s under the impression I enjoyed my first camino more. I explained to him that I struggled a lot on the first week of my first Camino and it took time for me to adjust. I also explained that on my first Camino, because I was alone, I felt no pressure to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. There were also more stops. Not having anywhere to stop all day on this trail is really impacting how I experience it. I stop to take breaks on the side of the trail occasionally but knowing Brian’s friend is blazing ahead, just creates a lot of unnecessary pressure. So I spent a lot of today just beating myself up physically and mentally. 

Oh, and when we did get to the one stop, it was only 2km from our final destination. Just as we arrived, Vegemite was leaving. I really needed to rest my feet but brian said a thunderstorm was well on its way. So we left quickly. Again, I had no food and no rest. I was pretty beat down by the time we got to our final resting stop. 

The albergue was right on the camino and in the middle of some beautiful rolling hills. There was a small restaurant to the right and the hostel to the left. Brian and I checked in and went immediately for food. Julia joked that I was gross for not showering first. That’s usually the first thing you want to do when you’re done for the day and it’s the considerate thing to do. But I hadn’t had any real food all day so I didn’t care. I ordered a  croissant with ham and cheese and ate it in about five bites. Vegemite was there too and said that he thoroughly enjoyed his day. I suggested that the guys should walk together and we all just meet in the last town of the day but Brian said he didn’t want to do that. 

Shortly thereafter, I took a shower. There were male/female bathrooms but someone apparently didn’t want to keep the women’s bathroom closed so there wasn’t a ton of privacy as I exited the shower. Fortunately, no one was around at the time. Vegemite and Brian weren’t so lucky. I was on my top bunk in the middle of the dormitory of 30+ beds when V came in with his evil giggle. “OMG Vegemite m, what did you do?” He explained that there was a Dutchman in the men’s room who wasn’t shy. He told Brian to hurry into the bathroom to see something and of course brian did. It created an awkward moment for Brian and the guy but loads of entertainment for V. Needless to say, they’ve already found an Airbnb for our next stop. They made sure it has 4 bedrooms so they don’t run ANY risk of seeing anymore naked people.

This albergue has washers and driers so the three of us did a load of laundry and charged our phones in the common area while we waited to the cycles to finish.  Brian said it’s about a 10 minute walk to a restaurant or two. Julia Warned us that the food wasn’t good but we were eager to get out of the albergue. She was right. It was the WORST food we’ve had yet. Plus we had to walk all the way back up the hill on the cold rain. Today just was NOT my day. Tomorrow will be better.

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