Day Eighteen on the Central Route of the Camino Portugués ~ Ponte de Lima to Rubiães, 18.3 Km (11.37 Miles)

Day eighteen on the Central Route of the Camino Portugués is mostly off-pavement on paths and cobblestone lanes and includes a rigorous climb in the middle of the day on the ancient Roman road, the Via Romana. It may take some digging deep, but if you go slowly and savor the experience it is no trouble at all!

Those who understand others are intelligent. Those who understand themselves are enlightened. Those who overcome others have strength. Those who overcome themselves are powerful. ~ Tao Te Ching: Annotated and Explained

Due to the rigors of the walk on this day, Magdalena, our wheelchair bound friend, decided to opt out entirely and take the bus to Rubiães. It was a wise choice. There is absolutely no way, short of carrying her and her chair that she could have done it with us, as you will see below. 



Map and Stats of Day Eighteen on the Central Route of the Camino Portugués

Here is our map that I created from our GPS tracks, with accommodations, cafés and nearby supermarkets. As you can see there are fewer services on this very rural day, so plan accordingly and carry food in your pack. 

Interactive Google Map of Day Eighteen on the Camino Portugués, Central Route

When you look at the elevation profile below, there is a significant elevation change of 668 meters, over 200o feet. As my friend Glyvia, from Spain says, after Ponte de Lima, it is up, up up! And she is right. However, if you understand yourself and your capabilities and take it at your own pace, you will be just fine. 

The walk is so lovely and off-pavement, that you may not even notice the climb until just before the top, the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja, on the ancient and rocky Roman road. 

Elevation Profile for Day Eighteen, Central Route, Camino Portugués, Ponte de Lima to RubiãesElevation Profile for Day Eighteen, Central Route, Camino Portugués, Ponte de Lima to Rubiães

Photo-Rich Travelogue of Day Eighteen, Central Route of the Camino Portugués

We woke up to a drizzle, when we looked outside our window of the Casa da Vila in Ponte de Lima. The streets were glistening with moisture, so we geared up for a rainy day. 

Here is Rich, where we started our day, heading north on the medieval 14th century bridge in Ponte de Lima, with the church, the Igreja de Santo António da Torre Velha in the background. 

Rich on the Medieval Bridge to Start the Day from Ponte de Lima on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoRich on the Medieval Bridge to Start the Day from Ponte de Lima

After crossing the bridge, we walked by the Albergue de Peregrinos de Ponte de Lima, with lots of pilgrims milling about in the drizzle, waiting to get going. 

Our friends were all staying here, but we had agreed the evening prior, as we exchanged contact information, that we would meet up again, either on the trail or in the next town. 

Albergue de Peregrinos de Ponte de Lima on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoAlbergue de Peregrinos de Ponte de Lima

After the albergue, you walk on the pedestrian way, and take the first hard right, walking by a park on your right side. 

Take Hard Right After Albergue on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoTake Hard Right After Albergue

You come to a T-intersection in a few hundred meters and take another right, continuing to follow the park. Turn left in another hundred meters, at another T. In another one hundred meters or so, take a left off the road to join a path system through the countryside.  If you stay on the road, you will come to the Quinta do Arquinho. Refer to our map, above, or click on the link if you are interested in staying here instead of in Ponte de Lima.

Turn Onto Soggy Path on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoTurn Onto Soggy Path

The path eventually becomes a stone and concrete one as it follows a canal system on day eighteen, Central Route of the Portuguese Camino.

The Path Follows a Canal on Day Eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Path Follows a Canal

Leaving the canal, the path becomes stone....

The Stone Path Leaves the Canal on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Stone Path Leaves the Canal

...and turns to cobblestone as it crosses the N202 and continues onward.

Turn Onto Cobblestone Lane on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoTurn Onto Cobblestone Lane

The drizzle soon ceased, but the road, now dirt, was still quite muddy, as we walked under the A27. It was under the overpass that we finally stopped and took off our rain gear, as it was quite muggy with it still on. The mistiness remained for awhile yet. 

Lane Crosses Under A27 on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoLane Crosses Under A27

The muddy, dirt road meets the paved road ahead as you enter the town of Arcozelo, shown below. You can see the church ahead. We had just walked a glorious 2.0 km off pavement to this point from Ponte de Lima. 

Entering Arcozelo, Day Eighteen, Central Route, Portuguese CaminoEntering Arcozelo, Day Eighteen, Central Route, Portuguese Camino

The Camino turns right onto the M1240-1 to bend around and come to a roundabout, turning left as you enter town and toward the church. 

We walked by the church, the Igreja de Santa Marinha de Arcozelo, where the loveliest of wisteria vines were showing us the way.

Wisteria Line the Way to the Igreja de Santa Marinha de Arcozelo on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoWisteria Line the Way to the Igreja de Santa Marinha de Arcozelo

In the village, just beyond the church, the way to one of only two open cafés on day eighteen can be seen. You must turn left, here at the sign and walk down a lane to the Café Veiga, about 100 meters to the west of the Camino. 

Turn Left Here, 100 meters Off Route to the Café Veiga on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoTurn Left Here, 100 meters Off Route to the Café Veiga

We continued to wind around the town, as the yellow arrows directed us to turn left onto this next lovely, grape-vine dotted road.

Turn Left Here on Lovely Grape-vine Dotted Road on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoTurn Left Here on Lovely Grape-Vine Dotted Road

We soon turned right onto another path, walking through more glorious Arcozelo vineyards. 

on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoVineyards of Arcozelo

After not quite 1/2 kilometer, the path joins a paved road at a Roman bridge, called the Ponte do Arco da Geia.

Ponte do Arco da Geia, Roman Bridge on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoPonte do Arco da Geia, Roman Bridge

Shortly after the bridge, the Way turns left onto this side road and follows it through the fields. 

Side Road Thru Countryside on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoSide Road Thru Countryside

After walking a ways on a path, we eventually came to this T-intersection and turned left onto this lovely cobblestone road. This is authentic cobblestone in this area, not the pre-fabricated granite setts that you see mostly in the cities and elsewhere.

Rich with Yellow Arrows on Cobblestone Road on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoRich with Yellow Arrows on Cobblestone Road
Farther North Along the CobblestoneFarther North Along the Cobblestone

The building ahead, shown below is the Parque de Pescas a fishing park with a cafeteria that we passed after approximately 5.0 kilometers into day eighteen on the Portuguese Camino, central route. It was 08:30 when we walked by, and it was closed up as tight as a drum. I found some information about it on Facebook, but it appears that it closed October of 2017 and hadn't re-opened as of June, 2018. Plan accordingly!

Parque de Pescas Café and Restaurante Ahead on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoParque de Pescas Café and Restaurante Ahead

After passing the fishing park, the dirt road bends and joins this road, below that skirts the A3 then walks down and under it, pictured farther below. 

Skirting the A3  on Day Eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoSkirting the A3 on Day Eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino
Camino Walks Under the A3 on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoCamino Walks Under the A3

The Way then weaves around and under the A3, three times, as it crosses a bridge, below, with a "Welcome to Labruja" sign on the other side.

Crossing Bridge Under A3, Crossing Bridge Under A3, "Welcome to Labruja" Sign

After leaving the pathway under the A3, the Way turns onto this dirt lane, below, and into the forest as it climbs a steep section that was muddy from the rain when we passed through.

Negotiating a Steep Section on Muddy Dirt Road on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoRich Negotiating a Steep Section on Muddy Dirt Road

In about 300 meters, the road levels out, shown below. 

Road Levels Out on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoRoad Levels Out

Then it's onward through the nice forest road, when in another 300 meters we passed by these meditation rocks. 

Passing By Meditation Rocks on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoPassing By Meditation Rocks

In about 1/2 kilometer more you come to waterfall. You can hear it for awhile before you can actually see it. It is a very inviting sound.

At first I thought it was just the sound of a creek, and was pleasantly surprised when we came upon the peaceful waterfall.

Walking by an Inviting Waterfall on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoWalking by an Inviting Waterfall

Just beyond the waterfall you come to the original Via Romana, here called the Rua de Paredes. It is an historic and wonderful section of road. 

The Ancient Via Romana on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Ancient Via Romana
Rua de Paredes on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoRua de Paredes

At the top of the hill on the The Rua de Paredes, the forest opens and you enter a cluster of buildings, following the road as it turns to the right and becomes the paved road, the Rua da Foz. This off-pavement section from the last bridge underpass to the Rua da Foz is a wonderful 1.5 kilometers of fun!

Leaving the Forest for the Town of Arco on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoLeaving the Forest for the Town of Arco

Next, you come to a T-intersection with the M522 and turn left to walk by the sign for the next town of Arco. 

Walking Through the Town of Arco on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoWalking Through the Town of Arco

Follow the M522 for over a kilometer, and enter the next town of Revolta. 

Entering the Next Town of Revolta on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoEntering the Next Town of Revolta

A few steps onward and up a hill in Revolta there is a little chapel, shown in the next photo, which is open for pilgrims. There is a café across the street, not pictured, called the Café Nunes. Since this was the only café open on this day eighteen of the Central Route on the Camino Portugués everyone was stopping here! There were about 30 pilgrims coming in all at once. There was no table waiting, but pilgrims lined up at the counter to order and collect their order afterwards. What a three-ring circus!

My GPS showed the Café Nunes is about 8 to 8.5 km into the day. It is the last café before the big climb up the mountain, and the last until you reach Rubiães, 10.5 kilometers away. Is it any wonder that everyone was stopping here? We ordered our coffee and left as soon as possible. 

Pilgrim's Chapel in Revolta on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoPilgrim's Chapel in Revolta

After leaving Revolta, turning to the left by the Capela, the paved road is a pleasant and rural one, shown below.

Quiet and Paved Rural Road is Next on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoQuiet and Paved Rural Road is Next

One kilometer later, the town of Labruja appears ahead, with its church dominating the skyline.

Walking into Labruja on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoWalking into Labruja, Day Eighteen, Central Route, Portuguese Camino

400 meters later, we came to the newly-opened in 2018O Conforto Albergue, with an amazing view of the church and the valley below. It is located just under 10 kilometers into the day and had the staging been different, I would love to have stayed at this fantastic-looking place. 

Albergue O Conforto on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoAlbergue O Conforto
View of Church and Valley on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoView of Church and Valley From the O Conforto

Then it was onward, after the albergue, staying right here, to join the M522 once again, shortly thereafter. 

Onward Past the Albergue on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoOnward Past the Albergue, Day Eighteen, Central Route, Portuguese Camino

Walking only briefly on the M522, for about 100 meters, and the Way veers to the right, onto this quaint road below, the Rua da Fonte das Trés Bicas, or loosely translated, The Street of the Source of Three Spouts (fountains).

Rua da Fonte das Trés Bicas on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoTurning Onto the Rua da Fonte das Trés Bicas

This landmark fountain can be seen shortly onwards, 50 meters or so, shown below.

Fonte das Trés Bicas on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoFonte das Trés Bicas

Just beyond the Fonte das Trés Bicas, a potable water source and safe to drink, is this lovely waterfall and a picnic area if you need a place to take a break. The spring azalea bush was too gorgeous not to pause and photograph!

Azalea Bush and Waterfall on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoAzalea Bush and Waterfall, Day Eighteen, Central Route, Portuguese Way

The Camino onward meanders around, but does not join the M522, and turns to cobblestone. Here are two photos of it at its peak charm. In the second photo you can see the large yellow rain cover on the pack of Michal, from Poland, with whom we would chat this day, and eventually he would join our Camino group. 

Cobblestone through the Portuguese Countryside on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoCobblestone through the Portuguese Countryside
Michal Walks Through Arbors on Cobblestone on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoMichal Walks Through Arbors on Cobblestone

We crossed the M522 here and turned off onto this path shown below, northward and toward the Labruja mountain.

Leaving Pavement, Towards the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoLeaving Pavement, Towards the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja

We continued onward on the dirt path, widening into a road, as we entered the forest and away from civilization for about one kilometer, on not-so-steep terrain. Then the real climb begins! We joined the rocky ancient road shown below. 

Joining the Via Romana, the ancient Roman road on the climb to the top, the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja,  on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino.Joining the Via Romana, Ancient Roman Road

We stopped to catch our breath in this steep section, below. A kind pilgrim took this shot of us and our newly-found friend.

Michal, Elle and Rich on the Via Romana on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoMichal, Elle and Rich on the Via Romana

Just when we thought it couldn't get any steeper, it did! This really rocky and steep section below is just before the Cruz dos Franceses (the French Cross), also pictured below. This cross is the equivalent, I suppose of the Cruz de Ferro on the Camino Francés.

The Very Steep Section of the Roman Road on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Very Steep Section, Roman Road
The Cruz dos Franceses (the French Cross),    on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino. This cross is the equivalent, I suppose of the Cruz de Ferro on the Camino Francés.Cruz dos Franceses

Take heart, because when you reach the French Cross, you are only about 300 meters from the top! We paid our respects at the cross on the central route of the Camino Portugués on our day eighteen. 

I call this next section the "hike-a-bike" section, because the bicyclists ahead are carrying their bikes on their shoulders! That is how difficult this final section is. Take your time and enjoy the ancient road. There is no competition and you have plenty of time to reach the top. Remember ~ those who know themselves are enlightened!

Hike-a-Bike Section of the Roman Road on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoHike-a-Bike Section of the Roman Road

We continued to climb and suddenly, above us was the top! The famed Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja.

Last, Steep, Rocky Section toward the top of the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoLast, Steep, Rocky Section
Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Top!

We reached the top after 12.89 kilometers on my geotracker app. All-in-all, the really steep, rocky and tough part of the day is only about 1/2 kilometer, even though it feels much longer!

There is a sign at the top letting you know that water is available if you need it. Here is the viewpoint from the Alto. We hung around and rested and had a bite to eat, to ready ourselves for the final 6.0 kilometers. There was no hurry on this shorter day. 

The Viewpoint from the Top, the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Viewpoint from the Top, the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja

My mind wandered to Magdalena and again, I was grateful that she knew herself and the wisdom of her choice. Bringing her up this Roman road would have been near suicide for all of us. I didn't know where Matt, Magnus and Borut were on this day, but I knew we would meet up in Rubiães down the road. They probably were behind us, as they liked to sleep late when possible. We did not see them all day on our walk.

After resting, we set off on the flat mountaintop, following the well-waymarked route. The weather appeared to be threatening rain, as we peered down the mountain on the other side.

Weather Threatens on the Way Down the Mountain on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoWeather Threatens on the Way Down the Mountain

Here is a photo of the downhill side. It is almost as bad as the uphill! The Way was very, very steep and muddy from the rain. I hoped it wouldn't rain again until we got through this section!

The Downhill, Almost as Steep and Rocky as the Uphill on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Downhill, Almost as Steep and Rocky as the Uphill!

And then the route flattens and smooths out as you soon walk by a wooden sign, in the middle of the forest that lets you know you are entering the next town of Águalonga.

The Route Smooths and Flattens on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Route Smooths and Flattens

The Águalonga sign is directly across from this cross, below. The cross is seen after almost a kilometer from the top. 

Cross, One Kilometer After the Top on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoCross, One Kilometer After the Top

Then the forest opens in another 300 meters from the cross and we came to a cluster of buildings, near the town of Romarigães, shown below.

A few meters onward is the Quinta da Preza. A rooster crowed, drawing our attention to the Quinta, rated 9.5/10 on booking.com. Click the link if you are interested in staying here. I thank you for using my site as your referral!

Cobblestone Replaces Dirt Road  on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoCobblestone Replaces Dirt Road

We crossed a paved road, to enter another cobblestone one, with amazing grape arbors to harbor us. I do love the Portuguese countryside and day eighteen of this central route of the Camino Portugués was no exception!

More Grape Arbors and Cobblestone on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoMore Grape Arbors and Cobblestone
Captivating section of real cobblestone on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoCaptivating Section of Real Cobblestone

Walking on through a cluster of buildings, a local entertains himself watching the peregrinos go by!

Local Entertains Himself Watching Peregrinos on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoLocal Entertains Himself Watching Peregrinos

Here are two peregrinos crossing yet another Roman bridge, this time a small one.  

Peregrinos Crossing Small Roman Bridge on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoPeregrinos Crossing Small Roman Bridge

The church, the Igreja Matriz de Águalonga (São Paio) loomed on our right after we crossed the bridge. The sky still threatened, but no rain!

Igreja Matriz de Águalonga on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoIgreja Matriz de Águalonga, Day Eighteen, Central Route, Portuguese Camino

We climbed up a small hill from the bridge to see this shrine. 

Rich by a Wayside Shrine on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoRich by a Wayside Shrine

There seemed to be a lot of cobblestone in the last kilometers of day eighteen on the central route of the Camino Portugués. We fondly started to call it "hobblestone" because it was very hard on our feet and legs. I couldn't help thinking, only one more day of cobblestone, before crossing into Spain! 

Up the Hill on More Cobblestone on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoUp the Hill on More Cobblestone

The Way then crosses the N301, below...

Crossing the N301 on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoCrossing the N301

...and enters Rubiães as shown by this sign, below.

Entering Rubiães on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoEntering Rubiães

And then the Way joins the N201, turning right. You stay on the main road only briefly, as you walk by the Albergue de Alojamento Local Constantino.

Turn Right on the N201 on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoTurn Right on the N201

Just as soon as it joins it, the Camino leaves the N201, turning right here at this capela.

Leave the N201 Here on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoLeave the N201 Here

Next, you walk by the Quinta das Leiras and the Casa das Lages, two country homes that both look like fantastic places to stay. We walked onward.

Walk by the Quinta das Leiras on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoWalk by the Quinta das Leiras
Walk by the Casa das Lages on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoWalk by the Casa das Lages

You re-enter the forest and come out at the neglected Igreja de São Pedro de Rubiães.

Re-enter the Forest Briefly on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoRe-enter the Forest Briefly
Emerge at the Igreja de São Pedro de Rubiães on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoEmerge at the Igreja de São Pedro de Rubiães

Within about 120 meters from the church, the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de São Pedro de Rubiães appears. This albergue is quite large, with very large open rooms. We walked onward. 

Albergue de Peregrinos de São Pedro de Rubiães on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoAlbergue de Peregrinos de São Pedro de Rubiães

Just across the road from the albergue is the Café São Sebastião, where we all met up later to have a raucous happy hour!

Happy Hour at the Café São Sebastião on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoHappy Hour at the Café São Sebastião

Rich and I continued on down the hill, turning right on the N201, past another Via Romana waymark (with a Roman horse and chariot) and an information board. We noted the next private place to stay, the Casa de São Sebastião, on the right, just behind the Café where we had happy hour. They were under construction, building new rooms when we were there in June of 2018.

Our desire was to stay at a smaller, private albergue, just a few steps farther, the Albergue Ninho, shown below. The place, known as the "Pilgrim's Nest," (note the yellow bird on the building) is enjoying success as they also add more rooms. It was easy for us to see why this charming place fills up. 

The Pilgrim's Nest Albergue Ninho in Rubiãs on day eighteen on the Central Route of the Portuguese CaminoThe Pilgrim's Nest Albergue Ninho

This wonderful old stone house has a unique kitchen and main sleeping area in a loft-like setup, then additional rooms are available in various configurations. Rich and I took a room that slept three, however, a third person never materialized so we had the room to ourselves. Much better than the muni's large rooms, and only a few euros more. 

All of our group, except for Magdalena and Michal, decided to join us at the Ninho. After our happy hour, we met a delightful Italian woman, Miriam, at the Ninho, who the guys bribed into cooking us all Pasta Carbonara for dinner! She agreed to cook in exchange for the meal.

The guys walked farther down the hill to the nearby grocery store, (see the map above for its location) for the ingredients for dinner, and of course, wine! Miriam made a wonderful meal, which we all enjoyed immensely! Magdalena wheeled down the hill with Michal, to join us for dinner. It was a perfect ending to an almost perfect day. The large courtyard at the Ninho was more than accommodating for a meal al fresco.

Fabulous Pasta Dinner Al Fresco!Fabulous Pasta Dinner Al Fresco!

Reflections on Day Eighteen, Central Route of the Camino Portugués

This day was one of only a few of my many days on various Caminos that I had absolutely no issues! It was a perfect length for me, a perfect challenge as far as effort, was filled with the charm of the Via Romana, forests, waterfalls, Roman bridges and delightful Portuguese villages and countryside. 

If I were to know myself to the fullest, I would know that days like these are extremely rare and are to be treasured as soon as I recognize them. While it is most likely that I will never overcome myself in this lifetime, it's times like these that I can see a glimmer of hope that it just might be possible!

Salutation

May your own day eighteen on the Central Route of the Camino Portugués be filled with delightful moments when you find your perfect stride, come to know yourself better and maybe even overcome that which brought you on the Camino in the first place. Ultreia!





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