Day Eight on the Camino Portugués
~ Alvorge to Condeixa-a-Velha, 20.6 Km (12.8 Miles)

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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

Map and Stats of Day Eight on the Camino Portugués

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.

There is a shortcut, avoiding Rabaçal, that I show in red. It will save you 1.5 kilometers, if you do not need services at that juncture!!

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. 

Elevation Profile for Day Eight, Camino Portugués, Alvorge to Condeixa-a-VelhaElevation Profile for Day Eight, Camino Portugués, Alvorge to Condeixa-a-Velha

Photo-Rich Travelogue of Day Eight on the Camino Portugués

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!

Sunrise Over AlvorgeSunrise Over Alvorge

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.  

Sign for Albergue de PeregrinosSign for Albergue de Peregrinos

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.

Path Down the Hill from AlvorgePath Down the Hill from Alvorge

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.

Path Joins the Road at Bottom of the Hill at Picnic AreaPath Joins the Road at Bottom of the Hill at Picnic Area

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 700 meters, we turned right onto this gravel road. 

Misty Walk on a Gravel RoadMisty Walk on a Gravel Road

After crossing the N347-1, after one kilometer, we again turned right onto this tractor lane, and began the first short climb of the day. 

Climbing the First Hill of the Day, Into the MistClimbing the First Hill of the Day, Into the Mist

The countryside here was rather rocky and baren, with lots of scrub trees. 

Walking Down the Other Side of the Smal HillWalking Down the Other Side of the Small Hill
Nearing Top of First Incline to the Caminho de Portela a Casas NovasNearing Top of First Incline to the Caminho de Portela a Casas Novas

After about 2.5 kilometers on this country lane, when you reach the top of the first incline of the day, shown above, the Way turns left onto a road called the Caminho de Portela a Casas Novas for a few hundred meters, then right again here... 

Turn Right Here off the Caminho de Portela a Casas NovasTurn Right Here off the Caminho de Portela a Casas Novas

and onto yet another quiet tractor lane, below. 

Rich on the Tractor Lane Towards First RuinsRich on the Tractor Lane Towards First Ruins

Almost immediately after the turn, at about 2.93 kilometers, we stumbled upon this ancient road, below. 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!

Elle by an Ancient, Possible Roman RoadElle by an Ancient, Possible Roman Road

Walking onward past the ancient road, the country views are wonderful. 

Onward on Lane to RuinsOnward on Lane to Ruins on Day Eight, Camino Portugués

Rounding the bend and down a slight hill, a large ruin became visible. Again, I am guessing that it is Roman. 

Lane Through the RuinsLane Through the Ruins

This ruined site is mostly a rubble pile, but we did poke around a bit, curious to see what was there. 

Ruin RubbleRuin Rubble

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.

Ruined Building FoundationRuined Building Foundation

After the ruins, continuing to walk on the ridge, the town of Ribera de Alcalamouque is visible ahead. 

View Toward Ribera de AlcalamouqueView Toward Ribera de Alcalamouque

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. 

Left Turn Here at ShrineLeft Turn Here at Shrine

We turned left at the shrine, at about 3.75 kilometers, onto yet another country lane as we walked down the hill toward Ribera de Alcalamouque on day eight of our Camino Portugués.

Onward Toward Ribera de AlcalamouqueDownhill Toward Ribera de Alcalamouque
Entering Ribera de AlcalamouqueEntering Ribera de Alcalamouque

The country lane ends at a T-intersection, one kilometer later and after a total of about 4.8 kilometers. The Camino goes right at this intersection and onto the N347-1 through town. 

Turn Right on N347-1 into Ribera de AlcalamouqueTurn Right on N347-1 into Ribera de Alcalamouque

After only about one-half kilometer on the N347-1, we turn right onto a cobblestone lane that leads to this wonderful windmill. 

Left Turn at WindmillLeft Turn at Windmill

A left turn onto another beautiful lane, shown above, then walks you right by the windmill, below. The windmill marks approximately 5.7 kilometers into the day.

WindmillWindmill

After the windmill, the road bends to the east, and the Camino takes a left turn 250 meters later, onto another quiet tractor lane toward Fartosa

More Quiet Lanes Toward FartosaMore Quiet Lanes Toward Fartosa

After about 600 meters on this lane, the Camino comes to a crossroads, and turns left and northward, away from Fartosa and onward toward Rabaçal. Along the way we encountered lots of country charm, like below. 

Old Well Surrounded by GrapevinesOld Well Surrounded by Grapevines

After another full kilometer the Camino directed us to turn left, onto the pavement, to walk into Rabaçal. (Go straight here for the shortcut, if you don’t need services in Rabaçal!! See farther below).

Left Turn on Pavement Toward RabaçalOur Shadows Point the Way on Pavement Toward Rabaçal

We arrived in Rabaçal to immediately stumble upon the Hostel Albergue O Bonito at the intersection with the N347-1, once again. It is about 8.5 kilometers from the albergue in Alvorge, to the Hostel Albergue O Bonito.

Rabaçal Albergue O BonitoRabaçal Hostel 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! 

Café Bonito at the AlbergueCafé Bonito at the Albergue

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. 

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. 

Church in RabaçalChurch in Rabaçal
Altar to Fátima in ChurchAltar to Fátima in Church

After the albergue here is 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.

Right Turn back on N347-1 Toward CondeixaRight Turn back on N347-1 Toward Condeixa

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. 

Historic Church in RabaçalHistoric Church in Rabaçal

300 meters later we again turn right, off the N347-1 and in the direction of Penela at this juncture. 

Right Turn on M563 toward PenelaRight Turn on M563 toward Penela

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. Where the lanes before Rabaçal turn to pavement, stay straight instead of turning left into town. 

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 on the paved M563, about 900 meters to where the Camino turns north (left), at about 9.75 kilometers for the day, and back onto the country lane below, blooming with spring flowers!

Long Country Road Toward ZambujalLong Country Road Toward Zambujal
Stone Wall Lines the RoadStone Wall Lines the Road

Soon, the town of Zambujal comes into view, below.

Zambujal AheadZambujal Ahead

It is about a 3.5 km walk from Rabaçal to Zambuja, and you arrive at the south of town after 12.1 kilometers total. We saw no cafés along the Way in Zambujal, so we were glad we took the detour into Rabaçal. 

Signpost Welcomes You to the Rua de SantiagoSignpost Welcomes You to the Rua de Santiago

The town, or perhaps the Coimbra district has 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!

Signpost Welcomes You to the Rua de SantiagoSignpost Welcomes You to the Rua de Santiago

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.

Information Board Mural with Legend of SantiagoInformation Board Mural with Legend of Santiago

As you meander through town, nice, large Caminho signs pave the way for you!

Walking on the Rua Jogo da Bolo thru ZambujalWalking on the Rua Jogo da Bolo thru Zambujal

Leave town on more country lanes, heading north and west.

Country Charm Leaving ZambujalCountry Charm Leaving Zambujal

Another 1/2 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. 

Left Turn Onto the Rua Principal Towards Fonte CobertaLeft Turn Onto the Rua Principal Towards Fonte Coberta
Rua Principal to Fonte CobertaRua Principal to 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:

Mural Map of Area AttractionsMural Map of Area Attractions
Farther Along the Rua Principal towards Fonte CobertaFarther Along the Rua Principal towards Fonte Coberta

After about 2 km from Zambujal, we reached Fonte Coberta. This lovely sign welcomes the peregrino!

Welcome to Fonte CobertaWelcome to Fonte Coberta

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!

Roadside Shrine to FátimaRoadside Shrine to Fátima
Roadside Shrine to SantiagoRoadside Shrine to Santiago

The town of Fonte Coberta was such a charming place and a pleasure to walk through.

Rua de Capela Antiga, Fonte CobertaRua de Capela Antiga, Fonte Coberta
Wisteria Hangs From the WallsWisteria Hangs From the Walls

Several hundred meters after leaving Fonte Coberta, there is a very nice picnic area, below, and an information board for the historic Ponte Filibina bridge. 

Ponte Filipina Picnic Area by BridgePonte Filipina Picnic Area by Bridge
Information Board for Ponte Filipina, built at turn of 16th CenturyInformation Board for Ponte Filipina, Built at Turn of 16th Century
Elle on the Ponte FilipinaElle on the Ponte Filipina

After the historic bridge at Ponte Filipina, there is a lovely 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. The year we first walked was a dry year for Portugal, with many life-taking fires later that summer. 

Onward Track thru Olive GrovesOnward Track thru Olive Groves on Day Eight, Camino Portugués
Jogger on Double TrackJogger on Double Track
Double Track Fades to Single TrackDouble Track Fades to Single Track
Dry River Bed of Rio dos MourosDry River Bed of Rio dos Mouros

1.5 kilometers later, at about 16.4 kilometers total, we arrived in the hamlet of Poço. Not pictured, but to the right of this photo below, 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. 

Turn Left Here in Hamlet of PoçoTurn Left Here in Hamlet of Poço

The final small climb of about 40 meters is next, after leaving Poço.

Start of Final Climb Out of PoçoStart of Final Climb Out of Poço
Up the Hill toward ConimbrigaUp the Hill toward Conimbriga
Entering Forest Toward ConimbrigaEntering Forest Toward Conimbriga
Onward on the Forest Road - Conimbriga is NearOnward on the Forest Road - Conimbriga is Near

Three kilometers later, and after a nice downhill run, the country roads bring you right out to the Roman ruin site of Conimbriga, and to this sign, below, at approximately 19.6 kilometers total. The ruins are immediately south of the town of Condeixa-a-Velha.

Entering Roman Ruins of ConimbrigaEntering Roman Ruins of Conimbriga

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. 

Famous Gardens of ConimbrigaFamous Gardens of Conimbriga
Forum Wall at ConimbrigaForum Wall at Conimbriga

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 the albergue. 

The actual Camino continues around the ruins to the north and west after the parking lot in Conimbriga, then takes the first right hand turn to cross under the N347. After the crossing, at the next intersection is the Bar Triplo Jota on the left, where I ended my GPS tracks for this stage. By the bar, turning right to stay on the Camino and onto the Rua da Rossa, after 100 meters, then a left turn onto the next street, off Camino 200 meters, there is an albergue here in Condeixa-a-Velha, the Albergue de Conimbriga. Just follow the albergue signs from the Camino!

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! 

There are two places to stay in  Condeixa-a-Nova in the center of town on the Rua Francisco de Lemos, the Residencial Borges, as well as the Conimbriga Hotel do Paço, farther north. 

And directly west of the ruins in Condeixa-a-Velha is the Alojamento Local Casa da Fonte, an inexpensive apartment for up to four.

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. 

Swollen Ankle at End of DaySwollen Ankle at End of Day

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. 

Reflection from Day Eight, Camino Portugués

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. 

Salutation

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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