Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 5 Caminha to Valença June 22

This is another catch up blog. I am a bit hampered by no internet in the Albergues but I am doing my best to get caught up in the next few days.

The Albergue at Caminha did not have a hospitalero, nor did it have hot water for the showers. It was only 5 EUR so I guess you get what you pay for. The cafe owner around the corner collected the money and we filled in the register and stamped our credentials by ourselves. There were only maybe 10 people at the Albergue for the night and they a nice group of people to chat with and share a few drinks with. Some of my friends from previous day's headed on the ferry to Guarda and they will be continuing on Da Costa route. I met a nice young woman from Denmark who was going in the opposite direction. She has been travelling for months and started out in Holland! There are 3 of us that I know who are headed to Valenca, a young woman from Slovania and a man from South Africa. There will for sure be more as we join the people who have been walking from Porto on the interior route and also as there will be more folks starting at Tui, which is just over the 100 km mark. You must travel at least 100 km to earn your "Compostela" or certificate of completion and there are quite a few, I understand, who do just the 100 km.

Monday was much cooler, under 25 all day and cloudy. I welcomed the change and for the first day in quite a few I can say I enjoyed the walk and ended the day tired but not totally dead. The route today was across the bridge and then to Valença which is up river a distance of about 28 km. It eems I am destined for 28 km days still. At least today there are no hills and it is along the park.

I left Caminha at about 6:30 and after crossing the river lost track of the arrows. I was in no state to fuss with them and after consulting with my map saw that the highway looked pretty direct from here to the small town of Vila Nova de Cerveira which looked to be just a bit short of the half way point. The highway had a nice wide shoulder, so that settled it. After a coffee stop in the sleepy village of Seixes I set out down the highway at a good pace. The weather was cloudy and cool, perfect for walking and I listened to tunes on my iPod.

Before long I was at V.N. de Cerveira and admiring the pretty town. It seemed to have as its mascots both a big stag deer and also ladybugs - they were everywhere. It is billed as the city of the arts. If you check the wiki link I provided above, you will note that there is a legend which tells a tale of a big King Stag deer and a duel with a Nobleman for this land, the land of the stag deer.

I am sure you can't see it in the picture above, but from the plaza in the town you could see a statue of a huge buck stag. I zoomed to show it in the shot below.

At the tourist information I discovered there was a pedestrian pathway all the way to Valença. After topping up with a bocadilla and a cafe con leche I set out to walk down to the river Minho and the walking path.

The path was just perfect and I was very surprised that the 5 ft wide yellow asphalt walkway continued beside the river through virtual wilderness, beside the river for I guess about 15 km to Valença. Much of the path was brand new it seemed and even a few small sections had not been finished as yet.

The downside was that there wasn't a bar, cafe or store the whole length of the way, until we arrived in Valença.

Valença is a town with the most complete "living" fortress I have seen yet. By that I mean that not only is it still complete with all walls and fortifications intact but there are also people living in the houses and there are stores, restaurants and even a couple of churches. I was very impressed. Too bad it was so cloudy and overcast, not the best for pictures.

Valença is also the last town in Portugal before we enter Spain at the city of Tui. The two cities are separated by the Rio Minho, a wide and majestic river even at that point about 30 km from the sea. At the Atlantic it is, I would guess maybe 5 or 10 km wide. Apparently the fortifications were necessary at Valença (and Tui) to protect against marauding English pirates of the day who would sail up the river from the Atlantic.

The Albergue was outside the walled city beside the Bomberos (fire station)
The view from the walled city of Valença over the Rio Minho toward Tui, in Spain.

I am losing two of my Camino buddies tomorrow. Katarina, from Slovenia, is taking a train to Vigo at the coast to continue walking the coastal route from there. She is short of time and also wants to be near the ocean, so is skipping forward. She flies out of Santiago on the 29th. Also, Adriaan, from South Africa, is going to be walking further than I am tomorrow - he is also trying to make up time since he is short of time to finish also.

Me? I am headed for Spain tomorrow, over the bridge to Tui and then on to O Porrina, just over 18 km. In my next blog I will tell you about thenroutenchange I am making at Pontevedra - 3 days walk from here.


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