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Our day eleven on the Camino Portugués was a lonely walk through small towns, not-so-nice industrial areas that surprised us with a "spirited" Camino Angel, yet also included a joyful reunion with our Aussie mates after two days of separation.
"The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone." ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Don't you think that it is interesting that I would include a quote on loneliness when I was walking with my husband, Rich? Indeed, while we shared one another's company, we also walked in silence on the long and lonely roads, without sight of another pilgrim.
Our day eleven on the Camino Portugués also invited us to discuss, once again the meaning of it all - life, happiness, pilgrimage and our purpose in life.
Here is the map I created from my own GPS tracks on the app on my phone. The map is entirely interactive, if you are online. I placed the albergues/hotels/cafés on the map for your convenience.
There are not a lot of services along the route, but there are enough, if you plan the day right. There are lots of gorgeous places to stop for a picnic if you have food with you. As always, my advice is to keep food and plenty of water in your pack at all times.
Next is the elevation profile for the day. Ups and downs are the norm, with a descent to Águeda on the river, and then a short climb back up. With only 25 kilometers to accomplish, for me, this day was quite manageable.
Our day began bright and early, at dawn, close to 0700. We had had a cold breakfast of bread, cheese and gorgeous in-season strawberries in our room, including cold milk into which we stirred instant coffee! Whala! No need to find an open café right away. We knew that there were few services on this leg so we had a pack filled with supplies we bought in Mealhada.
The town fountain greeted us as we walked out of the Residencial Hilário and albergue complex, and onto the Rua Fonte (Fountain Street). You can see the fountain on the right, in the little white building with the red roof. Right after the fountain, turn right onto the Rua 25 de Abril.
The road was wet, as it had rained during the night. We got into a rhythm quickly as we walked along, turning left to jon the Rua Carvalhas, after 400 meters more, shown below.
The Rua Carvalas quickly turns to dirt and walks out of Mealhada and into the countryside. I was energetic as I always am to start the day. We were one of the few pilgrims at the Hilário complex so once again, we were alone on the Way.
Following the well waymarked path, we turned into a lovely eucalyptus forest, by now a common sight.
Out of the forest in another quarter kilometer, we followed the waymark towards the first town of Alpalhão. The total distance on the dirt lane is about 800 meters, before the Way joins the pavement before town at 1.65 kilometers, total.
It was here that the dusky sky started to darken. We even saw lightning in the clouds ahead. So far there was absolutely no rain on our pilgrimage! Was day eleven on the Camino Portugués finally going to be the exception?
I have to say that I didn't care if it rained! I was enchanted by the tumultuous-looking sky.
By the time we arrived in town, at about 1.9 kilometers, it actually looked like it may have already rained.
After reaching the center of town, at about 1.9 kilometers, turn right at the church. In a few meters, turn right again on the north side of town as you walk along the Estrada Poços. Here we noticed the very, very green fields of vines, below, the future home of the delicious grapes that would be turned into Portuguese wine - we hoped!
Then all of a sudden, it seemed the sky just opened up as the sun was rising higher in the sky!
On the Estrada Poços, more verdant fields greeted us as we walked towards the next town of Aguim.
The first group of animals appeared, these sheep below. This would be a recurrent theme for our day eleven on the Camino Portugués.
The Camino essentially walks toward the town of Aguim on the Estrada Poços, turns right at a T-intersection near the center of town by a little chapel, at about 3.4 kilometers into the day, then the next left onto the Estrada da Vinhal. While we saw no café anywhere thus far, at the T-intersection in Aguim by the little chapel, if you turn left instead of right to stay on the Camino, you will likely encounter a café in about ¼ kilometer.
In another 1.4 kilometers after Aguim on the Estrada da Vinhal, we came to a T-intersection where there is school to the right and a huge sports complex for the Municipality of Anadia ahead. The Way goes left along the nice, smooth path shown below.
We walked along this nice athletic path on the southside of the complex, then turned right onto the school road on the westside with the school stadium still on our right.
The Portuguese Way travels around this large complex, and turns to the left onto the main road on the northside, towards Anadia.
After the school sports complex, we walked through a roundabout, turned left, then climbed a hill on a busy paved road, the Rua Prof. Dr. Rodrigues Lapa. If you were to go straight, there is the large, Hotel Anadia Cabecinho, a possible accommodation in Anadia.
In less than 200 meters, you come to another roundabout, staying right and walking through it, and taking a more northerly direction on the Rua da Bela Vista, all the while skirting the center of Anadia to the West.
300 meters later, cross the busy N235, and turn left here at the Largo Avenida and this gorgeous Portuguese home.
I loved the "Anadia" green sign in the photo below, announcing that indeed, this is where we were! Here is where we turned left on the Rua Justino Sampaio Alegre. At this sign, you are just shy of 7.0 kilometers for the day.
We continued to skirt the town to the west on this lovely street, the Rua Justino Sampaio Alegre, lined with spring-blooming trees and yet another wonderful foot path to the right.
We crossed over the street and joined the footpath, since it was definitely easier on the feet than the cobblestone sidewalk to the left. The view of the valley to our left was gorgeous, with the light shining through the clouds. Plus, it was nice that it was downhill!
The sun continued to break through, as you can see in the photos above and below. Next, it was a small uphill climb to the church in the next small town of Arcos, below, at 7.73 kilometers, approximately.
We still had not seen any open cafés so far along the route despite walking almost a full 8 kilometers on day eleven on the Camino Portugués.
The Camino turns to the right after the church, onto the Rua da Igreja. There are two cafés along this street, so look to see if they are open when you walk through.
We walked on the Rua da Igreja a mere 150 meters, turned left onto the Rua Calçada, and were back into the countryside in no time. Here we are on our way into the next small town of Alféloas. The "town mayor" greeted us and walked with us into town! It was as if he was waiting for the next pilgrimage traveler to come along!
Our day of meeting animals was continuing! We so enjoyed our escort to town.
It wasn't until we entered the center of Alféloas that we found this open café, below, at approximately 8.5 kilometers into our day. It was perfect timing for us for our first break and I was ready to put up my feet and have a real cup of coffee ~ and pastry, of course!
Our only clue that this building was a café was the red Sagres beer sign by the door! It had no name and no identification outside at all! If you are in need of a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, look closely to find it!
The proprietress of this café was extremely friendly and helpful. We had a lively conversation with another local (mostly one-sided on her part) regarding the legend of Fátima. She was negating the phenomenon, and while everything she said was valid, I did not want to burst the concept. It was better to believe and feel the magic of the legend and of the Camino while I was here!
After a longer break than planned we set off again, staying to the left at the next, Y-intersection with a cross. And lo and behold, another dog was on the north side waiting to escort us out of town! We laughed as he trotted along with us as we left Alféloas, then veered off, most likely to wait for the next pilgrim to come along!
At the next Y-intersection, where the dog is pictured, stay to the right.
Continuing onward about 100 meters, cross a more prominent highway at 9.1 kilometers, and turn left immediately after, onto the Rua Vale Salgueiro.
Walk another ¼ kilometer, come to a T-intersection and turn right onto the N334, briefly. After only a few meters, turn to the left onto the Rua Solidariedade.
Now, the pilgrimage traveler must walk through one of two industrial areas on day eleven of the Camino Portugués. The next section of the Camino is about 1.5 kilometers of industrial buildings and then lots of eucalyptus forest growing and harvesting sites.
The Rua Solidariedade was a long, straight paved secondary road, that gave way to more secondary roads as you follow the waymarks and yellow arrows to the next town of Avelãs de Caminho. I took no photos during this stretch as it was one of the few areas that held little appeal to me.
On the outskirts of town pass by the cemetery. And then, suddenly, we came to a T-intersection, where we turned right onto the familiar IC2, to walk into Avelãs de Caminho, below, at approximately 11.7 kilometers total for the day.
Once in town, there are many restaurants and cafés along the IC2. Once you have walked through town, The Way comes to this capela, pictured below, after about ½ kilometer. We turned off the IC2, to walk left here at this capela.
We turned off the IC2, to walk to the left of this capela.
The street leaving Avelãs by the chapel becomes the Rua Combatentes as it enters the next town of Coito. In town, we approached this wonderful chapel at about 13.1 kilometers, below left, with a rest area. I would have loved to have a break here, if only the timing was appropriate for our day eleven. The next town along the way is São João da Azenha, below right.
The next town along the way is São João da Azenha, below.
Farther along on the Rua Combatentes we encountered the fountain, below, the Fonte de São João or Fountain of St. John. It did not appear functional, and we never drank from any of these wayside fountains.
Just beyond the fountain, at this small chapel, in the Square of St. John, below, the Camino turns left onto the Rua Alto da Póvoa. Here at this chapel, you are at approximately 14 kilometers into your day.
In about one-third kilometer, this gorgeous quinta, or estate shows up on your right.
The Camino Portugués, on day eleven follows the Rua Alto da Póvoa for about one kilometer, all the way to Aguadela/ Aguada de Baixo, below. When you see this sign you have reached the 15 kilometer mark.
Here is a very inviting park bench under the weeping willow tree in Aguadela where stopped for our lunch.
A sweet and friendly kitty soon jumped up on the park bench with us, after we opened our can of tuna to have with crackers.
Walking on after lunch, next the intersection, below, appeared, with its teeny tiny chapel. Stay to the right at this chapel.
Not even a kilometer from Aguadela, we walked into Aguada de Baixo, passed by this shrine, below, and through the town square at 16.2 kilometers total. There is a grocery store before the square so look for it if you need supplies. There is also a pastry shop by the square, if you need.
Yet another blue, Azulejo tile church greeted us in the square. There is also a nice information board here, in front of the church.
Essentially head straight north after the church, following rural roads lined with country houses and the occasional eucalyptus forest. The road name changes several times as you walk straight on, but it is unimportant as the waymarks are obvious and easy to follow.
Landiosa is a small town you walk through, after about 400 meters, turning right onto the Rua Estrada Velha. This road ends at a T-intersection after about one kilometer, and 18 kilometers total, and you turn right onto the Rua Porto da Moita to walk east under the familiar IC2 once again.
At the first roundabout after about 1/3 kilometer, you turn left or north once again on an unnamed street into an area called Barró. This is not a pretty area and you are entering the second industrial area of the day. You will be on this industrial stretch for about two kilometers!
Fortunately, the road is wide with a nice shoulder for the pilgrimage traveler to walk on!
A large roundabout, below, greets you and you walk straight on.
It was blistering hot in April, as we walked along this ugly, industrial road, and not losing our spirit was our challenge.
My voice journal reflects how badly I felt! Everything hurt, my back, my neck and my shoulders. I even said that this was going to be my last Camino!
I was just not feeling it today! Rich continued to push hard to keep moving.I would stop to take photos, just because I had to bleepin' stop. I guess he just wanted to get the walk over with! I was most definitely feeling very alone through this section.
It was another day on total pavement. The pounding on the pavement was just killing me! What started out as a possibility of rain, literally dried up and fried us in the afternoon as the sun beat on us to death.
The exhaustion, the pounding, the pavement, the industrial zone and the ugliness is all part of the Caminho. There was nothing to do other than to keep placing one foot after the other and keep going, regardless of how hot we were and regardless of how slowly I moved.
And then, when all was despair as we were walking up a long, hot, paved hill, above photo, a gentleman came running out of a building as we were walking by, yelling to us, "Momentito, momentito," and then in English, "Wait a minute, can you wait a minute?!!" We turned around, looked at him as he pointed with his finger to wait and ran back into the building.
After a moment or two he came back out with two plastic bags, one for each of us. In it were two apples and a bottle of wonderfully cold water!
What a sight for the pilgrimage traveler's eyes! We grinned from ear to ear and said "obrigado" so many times!
As it turned out, our Camino Angel was running out of a very famous Aguardente manufacturing company. If you haven't heard of Aguardente (we were introduced to it on day two), it is the Portuguese version of firewater, like nothing else we've had! Yes, it is a very potent clear liquor that will warm your mouth, throat, stomach and perhaps your heart too, if you are inclined to like strong spirits.
While Mr. Nelson did not give us any Aguardente to sample, as he knew we might not finish our day eleven on the Camino Portugués if he had, he did give us a brief tour of the storeroom and the family history of its production.
Here is a photo of him and Rich, eating one of the crisp, cold apples!
I just had to take a photo of the blue mural on the wall, outside of the Aguardente building. Had we not been stopped by Mr. Nelson, I doubt I would have even noticed the place. In a spot where all I could think of was how fast I could walk through the horrible industrial zone, one of the most magical things on our Camino happened!
As it is often said, if you miss any steps along the way, whether through the good, the bad or the ugly, you may miss something that was intended just for you!
I was glad that we hadn't missed these steps through the industrial area on day eleven of our Camino Portugués. Our Camino Angel had renewed my strength and my belief in the kindness of the human heart!
We said goodbye, as we walked and drank our cold water and ate the most delicious apples I have ever eaten!
Especially after this event, and throughout our day, Rich and I debated the meaning of our own lives. Of course, acts of kindness are a must. Going out of our way to help when we can, is a must.
We contemplated what needed cleaning out in our own lives, and decided that we had simplified, downsized and de-stressed quite a bit already. We didn't feel like we needed to simplify our lives any farther. We were both newly retired and finding the pleasure of doing what we wished and when we wished. This was all quite satisfying until Rich's mother suffered her stroke the year prior. Suddenly, our lives were changed.
Sneaking away for a 4-week Camino after nine months of parent-care was restful, nurturing and indulgent, to say the least! I relished this time, both with Rich, and with my aloneness.
Finally, after about 2 kilometers on the industrial road, and 20.2 kilometers total for the day, we spied the yellow arrow on a pole, below. It was time to turn off this busy road, finally.
Next it was a dash across the street, and onto the Rua Estrada Real, below.
Compared to the busy industrial road, the Estrada Real was narrow and wall-lined, but not busy at all.
Here we paused for a breather, where the direction continued straight on.
At this pause, looking left, the nice rural countryside appeared once again!
In approximately another 1.7 kilometers after the industrial area, we started the downhill descent into Águeda, and we could see it up ahead.
Onward through a south suburb...
In a very short while the Way opens up and intersects with the busy N1, below. Fortunately, we crossed the N1 to a quiet cobblestone path, by walking straight ahead.
Crossing the busy N1 here, we were surprised to walk into Águeda on the lovely Rua Dr. Manuel Pinto, a cobblestone path, then a quiet road for about a half a kilometer...
...until joining the main road, the N1, to cross the bridge over the Rio Águeda, below, and into the heart of town. You will pass by several places to eat on your way to the bridge, but we wanted to wait until we got into town before stopping.
The bridge and the river are at the altitude low of the day, and 23.3 kilometers, total.
The first blue tile building across the bridge, to the right, in the photo above, and in the photo below, was an inviting looking café along the river, with outdoor tables. We walked around and down to the plaza to enjoy its view and order a café con leite and a pastry.
We knew that we still had a long uphill climb out of Águeda after our break to end our day.
If you don't want to climb the final hill to the albergues and to complete the traditional stage, you can always book a place down by the river. Click here to see your options. In addition to hotels there is the economical Águeda Hostal and Friends, which is a private albergue that allows you to prebook, if that is important to you.
We opted to walk onward, the 1.3 kilometers or so, up the steep hill through town. After crossing the river, the Rio Águeda, the Camino continues straight on through the roundabout, and along the N1, below.
I found this waymark to be interesting, showing "albergue" embedded into the arrow on the waymark. I think this one was the first and only one like this we saw. I would not be surprised if it was place by the Residencial Hotel Celeste/Albergue Sto António!
This final hill climb on the narrow shoulder of the N1 was not too pleasant, nor was it too bad. I was indeed happy to have had the coffee and pastry down by the river!
Here is Rich waving to me, to come on!
Also up the hill is the interesting looking Bamboo Guest House. Click on the link for more info.
At the top of the hill, the welcoming sign of the Residencial Celeste finally appeared!
This is the place where the Albergue Sto. António is also located. It looks like it is at a separate location on a Google map, but it is not. You can see the brown sign in the photo below, to the right of the reception door that says, "Albergue Reception Here." Both facilities are run by the Residencial Celeste.
The albergue building is separate and off to the north side, while the white building, above contains the hotel part. We asked to see the albergue, and they had this lovely room for two, below, for less than the hotel, so we took it! It was private enough for us.
The dormitory rooms are of various sizes, and all are located upstairs in the separate building. There was only one other gentleman staying here the same night.
The shared shower facilities were down the stairs, outside and around the back. The kitchen facilities were also downstairs, and quite well-appointed. The courtyard, below, was calling out an invitation to cook on this sunny and glorious day.
Fortunately, there is a Lidl supermarket only 1/3 kilometer back down the street we had come.
And much to our pleasure, our Aussie friends, Christine and Chris were staying at the hotel! While we had not seen them along the Camino Portugués on day eleven, but we ran into them hanging out clothes to dry on the community line. They had arrived just before us.
We invited them to dinner, which we cooked. A large salad, bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic, and pasta with sauteed chicken, drenched in olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese sauce. And of course, Portuguese wine! It was an unforgettable evening!
Our Australian friends were fast becoming true friends!
I must say, that this was the worst day so far on our Camino.
All-in-all both Rich and I were satisfied that we had already done a lot of our own "junk" clearing. In the Scandinavian culture they call this "death cleaning." It simply means that you clear out your belongings so when you die, your children don't have to!
Rich and I had already simplified to the max, downsizing just about everything in our home. We live in a small cabin in the mountains of southern Colorado, and there is not a lot of room for much!
We had just finished cleaning out Rich's mother's home, of 90 years of living! It was an extremely difficult task, and we would not wish it on anyone!
The small problem, is that now we had also inherited quite a few of his mother's things, that we just couldn't throw or give away. Things that we thought might have some value. They are still sitting in our small storage shed. Something to tackle when we get home.
We decided that our purpose for this Camino, was to walk together and yet alone. We needed to just be, to just be present to something other than someone else's needs and to care for ourselves and our relationship.
We knew our purpose was still to care for Rich's mother when we got back, yet for me, I felt we needed to find more balance in this care.
Being thrown suddenly into his mother's care meant cleaning out her home, moving her across the USA, finding placement near us, and meeting her physical and emotional needs as she transitioned from total independence to almost total care in a nursing facility.
All of this occurred so suddenly and unexpectedly in our lives that it had thrown us out of balance. The Camino was helping us discuss how we would find this balance once again, upon our return home.
I had been very happy with my holistic health coaching website and my Pilgrimage Traveler musings. They were both creating a very small income, but more importantly they were the full expressions of me.
Rich was happily involved in volunteering for the local fire department, working a myriad of projects on our ranchette and now, absorbed in the care of his mother.
We chatted long and hard about how our lives were going to look when we got home. I really didn't even want to think about it much. I just wanted to enjoy the walk, the time alone, the time together, and now also making wonderful new friends with the Australian couple.
May your own day eleven on the Camino Portugués be filled with contemplation and insight on how you can clean out your own life, how to simplify, balance and fine tune the discovery of your unique purpose!
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