Our day eight on the Camino Portugués was a walk by Roman ruins, a windmill, a medieval bridge, shrines and through the wonderful countryside.
My left ankle swelling had gone down overnight, with all the pampering I had done to it! It did not feel all that bad on this morning. I was newly charged, on day eight, a glorious Easter Sunday and ready to go. Why was I still willing to walk despite my ankle?
"Le cœur a ses
raisons que la raison ne connaît pas." (The heart has its reasons, of which
reason knows nothing.) ~Blaise Pascal, mathematician, physicist and philosopher, "Pensées," 1670
Below is my interactive Google map from my GPS tracks for the day. I also placed the albergues/hotels/cafés on the maps that we visited, plus additional places of service.
As you can see from the elevation profile below, aside from a few, short uphills, the day was essentially downhill! In the text below, you will see photos of the short climbs at the beginning and the end of this day.
Day eight on our Portuguese Camino dawned over Alvorge with spectacular abandon. Here is the view eastward from the albergue. I just love the windmills on the ridge in silhouette. It was a beautiful vision for this Easter Sunday!
We quickly ate our cold breakfast in the albergue (no kitchen to speak of) and set off by 7:00 a.m. Below is a photo of the sunrise along the road by the albergue. If you wanted to avoid the climb back up to the church for the official route, you could just walk down the hill from the albergue, turn left at the side road, and it will meet the Camino farther along. It isn't shorter, but perhaps takes less effort.
The friendly man in town, with the key to the albergue, told us to go the opposite direction, up the hill, beyond the church, cross the street and find this lovely path, below. Since we trusted him as a local, we took his suggestion. It is the official Way.
The path down the hill is short and sweet and joins the road at the picnic grove, below. If you are passing through Alvorge and need a place to stop, this would be nice.
It is really six of one, half-a-dozen of the other, which way you choose to leave albergue in Alvorge. Both routes meet up at the same place. I suppose the path beyond the church avoids the pavement, which may be a small advantage, since it is such a short distance.
In less than a kilometer, we turned right onto this gravel road.
After crossing the N347-1, we again turned right onto this tractor lane, and began the first short climb of the day.
The countryside here was rather rocky and baren, with lots of scrub trees.
After about 1.5 kilometers on this country lane, the Way turns left onto a road called the Caminho de Portela a Casas Novas for a few hundred meters, then right again here...
and onto yet another quiet tractor lane, below.
Almost immediately after the turn, we stumbled upon this ancient road. I have no idea who built this road and could find absolutely no information on it. It's a pure guess that it is Roman, since the ruins of Conimbriga lie ahead, and it seemed to make the most sense. If you have information on this, please contact me and let me know! My readers and I would appreciate it!
Walking onward past the ancient road, the country views are wonderful.
Rounding the bend and down a slight hill, a large ruin became visible. Again, I am guessing that it is Roman.
This ruined site is mostly a rubble pile, but we did poke around a bit, curious to see what was there.
This foundation wall definitely looked Roman to me and my amateur eye. I wish I had asked the locals about it, to verify my supposition, but alas, I did not.
After the ruins, continuing to walk on the ridge, the town of Ribera de Alcalamouque is visible ahead.
In the middle of this lonely countryside, a beautiful, azulejo tiled shrine appears. It felt quite appropriate on this Easter Sunday morning. We stopped briefly and paid homage to the One who sacrificed all for us.
We turned left onto yet another country lane as we walked toward Ribera de Alcalamouque on day eight of our Camino Portugués.
The country lane ends at a T and the Camino goes right, on the N347-1 through town.
After only about one-half kilometer on the N347-1, we turn right on a cobblestone lane that leads to this wonderful windmill.
Yet another beautiful lane walks you right by the windmill, below.
We followed the arrows, meandering around the countryside, from one tractor lane to another.
Turning northward, away from Fartosa and onward toward Rabaçal, we encountered lots of country charm, like below.
Then the Camino directed us to turn left, onto the pavement, to walk into Rabaçal.
We arrived in Rabaçal to immediately stumble upon the Albergue O Bonito at the intersection with the N347-1, once again. It is about 8.6 kilometers from the albergue in Alvorge, to the Albergue O Bonito.
Just a few steps farther is the Café Bonito, attached to the albergue, where we stopped for our first break of the day, for what else? - café con leite!
The proprietress was extremely friendly and insisted on showing me the albergue. It was brand new and absolutely gorgeous! If your stages bring you to Rabaçal for the night, I would definitely recommend this place. Here is their Facebook page, click here, for their phone number and photos.
Across the street from the albergue, you see the church. Of course, I had to stop in to express my gratitude for everything! Inside, the altar to Fátima was one of my favorites along the entire Way.
Here is the signpost at the T intersection of the N347-1 where you turn right to go northward toward Zambujal, our next destination on day eight of the Camino Portugués.
Walking on the main street, the N347-1 through town, this closed historic church caught my eye. Too bad I was unable to see inside.
Farther along mainstreet you will see the Pousada do Rabaçal (+351 918 752 990) on your right, another possible accommodation with 10 dormitory beds, which shares the same building as the town museum.
A few hundred meters later we again turn right, off the N347-1 and in the direction of Penela at this juncture.
When I studied the map, if I had known, we would not have had to have taken the longer Camino route into Rabaçal at all. You can see on my route map above that it would have been much shorter to go straight north, cutting off the entire section to Rabaçal.
But we did enjoy our Nata and coffee and the tour of town! If you are not interested in touring or staying in Rabaçal or don't need refueling, I would recommend the shortcut.
We continued to walk briefly on the paved M563 to where the Camino turns north (left) again and back on the country lane below, abloom with spring flowers!
Soon, the town of Zambujal comes into view, below.
It is about a 3.8 km walk from Rabaçal to Zambuja. We saw no cafés along the Way in Zambujal, so we were glad we took the detour into Rabaçal. There is actually a café by the town church, a block east of the Camino, so look for it if needed.
The town, or perhaps the Coimbra district had erected the most lovely signposts, in the traditional Azulejo styling. The photo above shows them as you are greeted at the entrance to town. Below, are the closeups!
The street here, of course, is the Street of St James!
The street here, of course is the Street of St James! Just beyond this sign, below, is the brand new Casa Das Reposas, (+351 965 006 277). I inadvertently shot a photo of it, before it was a rural house. It is the stone building in the above photo. Click on the link for their Facebook page to see how it looks now.
On the north side of town, nice, large Caminho signs pave the way for you!
Another kilometer or so after Zambujal, the Camino crosses the N347-1 again, and shortcuts onto another paved road, below. This is the Rua Principal towards the next town of Fonte Coberta.
It was a long, solitary walk for the two of us today. We met no other pilgrims. I was feeling lonely, and a bit sorry for myself around this area, when a sudden flash of insight hit me. Maybe my purpose on this Camino was not to meet other pilgrims, but solely to walk with my husband!
We had such a whirlwind in our lives, the prior nine months. Rich's mother had a significant stroke, and we had to go to upstate New York, be with her for months, close her house, and transport her and a selection of her things to a facility close to us in Colorado.
Concluding a lifetime of 90 years in one town was not an easy task. We had essentially disconnected from our own lives to accomplish this. It took us 3 months!
On our Caminho, we were having time together, without external pressures for the first time in nine months. It was good to get reacquainted with one another! Certainly a reason of the heart!
I felt content with this purpose of my heart and was happy in the moment.
Between Zambujal and Fonte Coberta we encountered this tourist attraction mural:
In another kilometer, for a total of about 2 km from Zambujal, we reached Fonte Coberta. The lovely sign welcomes the peregrino!
Just before entering town, and just before the sign above, you will walk by an unusual camping site called the Refugio Peregrino Nicolau (+351 963 327 662) that offers their tents, drinking water and food for the peregrino. The owners accept donations for your stay here. Make sure you click on the photos in the link provided to view this most charming-looking place. You are about 14.5 kilometers from Alvorge at this location.
Below are more engaging shrines in the town that we encountered along the Way on day eight of our Camino Portugués!
The town of Fonte Coberta was such a charming place and a pleasure to walk through.
About half a kilometer after leaving Fonte Coberta, there is a very nice picnic area, below, and an information board for the historic Ponte Filibina bridge.
After the historic bridge at Ponte Filipina, there is a lovely 2 km walk on country paths to Poço, the next hamlet, as I show in the photos below. The paths follow along the dry Rio dos Mouros riverbed. 2017 was a dry year for Portugal, with many life-taking fires later that summer.
2 km later, we arrived in the hamlet of Poço. Not pictured, but to the right of this photo, there is yet another nice picnic area by the river! So pack plenty of food, as we did, because as you can see these small towns have no services!
Here I am, in the photo below, at the turn in town.
The final small climb of about 40 meters is next, after leaving Poço.
Three kilometers later, the country roads bring you right out to the Roman ruin site of Conimbriga, and to this sign, below. The ruins are immediately south of the town of Condeixa-a-Velha.
Unfortunately, the ruins were closed on this Easter Sunday, including the museum and café.
Here are just a few photos of what we could see from the public road. I was quite disappointed, but had no choice but to content myself with seeing the site from the road.
After touring the ruins, and having a picnic at the site, we walked through Condeixa-a-Velha and onward into Condeixa-a-Nova, which lies across the N347 highway to the north. It is a full kilometer or a bit more off the Camino, if you prefer to spend the night here in an accommodation other than an albergue.
The actual Camino continues northward through Condeixa-a-Velha after the parking lot in Conimbriga, as you can see if you check the map above. There is now an albergue here in Condeixa-a-Velha, just beyond the ruins, the Albergue de Conimbriga, only a few meters off-Camino, just past the Bar Triplo Jota, where I ended my GPS tracking. The albergue was not there when we walked through, or I would not have chosen to go all the way into Condeixa-a-Nova!
The shorter day was worth it to me at this time, as my ankle was once again, getting more swollen and painful as the day progressed. I could feel the tension from Rich, who was a bit annoyed at the extra kilometers into Condeixa-a-Nova. He had pushed himself through blisters earlier, and I felt like he wanted me to push on as well. However, I persisted in my need to keep this day eight on our Portuguese Camino shorter and sweeter!
All the places to stay in Condeixa-a-Nova are in the center of town, and we stayed at the Casa de Hospedes Ruínas Residencial, now permanently closed, on the Rua Francisco de Lemos. The hotel was old and a bit shabby, but still clean, comfortable and full of charm. It is a shame that it couldn't survive. There is also the Residencial Borges on the same street, as well as the Conimbriga Hotel do Paço, farther north.
We had arrived at the residencial hotel early in the day, around 2 p.m. and had to wait in a café for almost two hours for someone at the hotel to answer the phone, when we found the door to the hotel was locked. Then, around 4:30 p.m., when someone finally did answer the phone, the proprietor didn't speak a lick of English!
He was German and he thought that the more German he spoke, that we would eventually understand! Which we did not! I had to finally ask in the café if anyone spoke English, to assist us. And, of course, in true Portuguese fashion, a young man came to our rescue!
After we cleaned up and went looking for a place to eat dinner, alas, all the restaurants on the square had closed for the day, since it was Easter! We found a pizza place next to the hotel, that I wouldn't recommend. It sufficed to fill our bellies, but was not the tastiest pizza I have ever had.
My ankle had held up another day. While you can see in the photo, that it was swollen, it wasn't all that bad. Ibuprofen, prescription-strength, had been a lifesaver. I kept my legs/feet up in the air for as long as I could that evening, and continued to massage my ankle toward the knee/heart to reduce the swelling.
I still had absolutely no idea what was causing the swelling. A slight sprain for which I had been unaware? Stress fractures from overuse seemed unlikely as I was able to reduce the swelling significantly the night before. It was an unsolved mystery.
During our walk on this day, we constantly asked ourselves, why are we doing this? Why were we walking? What was the purpose? We never really answered the question, and most certainly not on day eight of the Camino Portugués. If our purpose was to walk together alone, indeed we were doing that and doing it well!
Despite all our questions, the reasons of the heart defy reasons, for sure. All I knew was that I was happy and at peace, merely moving along, I was here and I was walking with my best friend, my husband! And for the moment it was enough.
May your own day eight on the Camino Portugués be filled with your own heart's reasons. May you walk this lovely path in the moment, and in tune to hear your own messages from the heart!
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