Our day ten on the Camino Portugués was a quiet walk through the north of Coimbra along the river and then through the Portuguese countryside, with few landmarks or distractions.
This day was not too long, but just perfect for me, after my ankle problems from the days before. My ankle, newly braced for support, gave me no trouble at all on this day!
“You see, during my pilgrimage it became increasingly apparent that I wasn't happy and I had to do something about it - stop making excuses. I realized that you don't have to jump through a series of complicated hoops to achieve a goal. You can just look at a mountain and get a connection with God; you don't have to understand the mountain to feel that.” ~ Paul Coelho
This Paul Coelho quote was perfect for me on this day ten of our Camino Portugués. My mission was to walk and observe and feel. God is everywhere.
All the information that I give you is what I took from my own GPS application that I used each and every day to record elevation and distance. I know my information may conflict with other guides, but between my own device measurements and Google Map adjustments, I give you the best information I know how.
I placed the albergues/hotels/cafés on my Google map below as usual for your convenience. I also tried to photograph many a café that we passed on by. I hope this information is useful to you, the pilgrimage traveler!
Below is the elevation profile for day ten. While it looks like a steep climb after the town of Fornos, about 7.75 km into the day, it really didn't feel that way to us. It is about a 130 meter (420 feet) climb over 5 kilometers.
After the best night of sleep I ever had at the Hostal Coimbra Portagem, we set off at 0700. The hostal is only a few steps from the Portagem Square, below, so we were right on the Camino when we stepped out the door.
The Largo da Portagem was asleep and aglow with the dawning light. No cafés anywhere that we could see that were open at 7:00 a.m. We kept walking.
Walking to the far northeast corner of the square, in the photo above, by the lampost, there is a stairway, in the photo below, with the yellow arrows leading you down.
At the bottom of the stairway the arrows lead you to the Rua dos Gatos, below.
We turned left and onto the Rua do Sargeto Môr, which led us back out to the Mondega River, below. From whatever part of Coimbra you start, the easiest thing to do is just follow the river north and you will be on the Camino.
The walk along the river was on a nice path, a bit decrepit but the views at dawn were lovely.
Just after the Camino de Santiago leaves the Mondego River, we saw a sign for a McDonalds immediately east of us, that said "Open 24 hours." Yay! We could have a nice early breakfast after all, even though it was a McDonalds.
After crossing the busy road, going under a bridge and through a significant puddle, we arrived to find the door to the McDonalds locked! However, an employee smoking outside pointed us to the drive-up. Alright, the 24 hours meant the drive-up. That was OK.
We walked up to the window to order a café con leite. No, it wasn't available, only espresso - no milk. Alright, that was fine too. I ordered a small espresso and Rich, a large. I ordered an Egg McMuffin. No, we were told, breakfast is not available until 8:00. It was 7:20. That was not OK. I asked, is there any food available now? We were told only hamburgers. Bummer. We passed on the hamburgers.
So much for our cultural expectations of McDonalds! I observed my American reaction, once again, to a McDonald's that didn't have breakfast 24 hours a day! Ha ha ha!
Instead of eating Egg McMuffins, we sat on the curb and dug out some chocolate biscuits we had in our pack to go with our very strong black espressos! It satisfied my hunger, but not my soul's expectations.
Shortly after the turn-off to McDonalds, you follow along this canal the Rio Velho, below. It is a nice gravel walking path along through here.
In about one-half kilometer, after a roundabout, the path becomes one made of brick, below. Good thing for the path, because the EN111-1 here is extremely busy with morning traffic rushing into Coimbra for the workday.
In just a few tenths of a kilometer more, the Portuguese Way goes right, at the photo below, leaving the busy EN111-1 to join the Rua Parcelar do Campo.
While the name and appearance of this road says "country," this was so far the busiest, narrowest and most horrible road we had been on in Portugal thus far!
The speeding cars along this road came so close to us that we had to use extreme caution! Truly, as the saying goes, an inch is as good as a mile for the Portuguese!
It seemed like it took forever to walk this horrible three kilometer stretch. Pilgrimage traveler beware!
Fortunately, just before Adémia, along this busy country road, we spied what looked like a shortcut. The Rua Parcelar do Campo makes a big bend up ahead, that we could see by the cars traveling on it.
We took a chance and started walking on the gravel road, below. And it worked! It is a real shortcut. We were thrilled to have had a reprieve from the busy traffic.
The shortcut joins the Rua Cabeço to walk into the town of Adémia.
By about 5.6 kilometers into our day ten on the Camino Portugués, walking through the town of Adémia, we noticed the first open café, below, the Adega do Leite. It was conveniently right along the Camino. Another meal of sugar, caffeine and this time, milk awaited us!
In the café we ran into a youngish Mexican pilgrim and her teenage daughter, who had spotted us in Coimbra the prior day and pegged us as pilgrims! There were moving very fast, keeping up with a group of young Portuguese pilgrims who were also at the café.
We chatted only briefly, as they were preparing to leave. The ladies left us some pastries they didn't finish, so all we had to order was the usual café con leite. Plus we continued to supplement our meals with fresh oranges from untended trees along the Way.
We were to never see this group of pilgrims again. We were in no such rush!
After walking through Adémia, the Way turns left onto this road below, the Rua da Espertina. It is after Adémia that the Way goes from flat to climbing.
We traversed this road for about one-half kilometer...
...until it turns right here onto the Rua Valverde. There is a quaint little footbridge in the background in the photo below.
In a bit more than a half a kilometer on the Rua Valverde, the town of Fornos is ahead.
There are some interesting buildings in this town, including the one below, with the mural. A waymark on the building directs the pilgrimage traveler to the left onto the Rua Nossa Senhora da Esperança.
On this street we passed this typical home, with a mural to Fátima and a Camino waymark, all on the same home.
We followed the waymarks through the town, weaving in and out of small streets, to finally leave Fornos on the Rua Fogueteira, below.
I did not see any cafés right along the Camino route in Fornos, but there are several a short way off route. You can check the Google map to see them. There is one accommodation, the Casa Morais Turismo Rural, if you wish to spend the night (+351 967 636 029).
Next we walked under the busy A14 on the road to Trouxemil. This is a nice climb.
Trouxemil is only a short kilometer farther down the road, the Rua Jacintos from Fornos.
The town church, dedicated to Santiago...
...with this pilgrim statue in front of the church. We paused for a brief moment to feel our own pilgrimage, with hands across our hearts, like this guy. It was good to feel and be alive.
Shortly down the road, we encountered this shrine, as we left town on the north side. Yet another reminder for us, to be grateful, for our journey and for just about everything.
There were no open cafés in Trouxemil when we went through, but there are several and a mini-market. After Trouxemil, the next hamlet is Adões, below. There is a café, the Café Central here, in the photo on the left in the Largo de Capela (Church Square) and it appeared to be open.
The small church in the square is the place where the Way turns to the right, on the Rua Principal.
Yet another café in the next town, Sargento Mor, the Café Carlos da Bina. There is also a mini mercado (mini-market) if you need supplies. We did not, so we kept walking.
On the north side of Sargento Mor this little road leads you to the IC2...
...a horrific road. The passing trucks on the IC2 sent billows of wind gusts, practically knocking me off my feet. As you can see we hugged the shoulder to the farthest left as possible! I promised to show you the good, the bad, the ugly and the terrible! This was terrible!
So far this day has been my least favorite of all. The clouds were building and it was dismal, and there is more pavement today than any other!
Fortunately, this highway stretch is only about one half a kilometer, as the sign for Santa Luzia come into focus, below.
Into the center of Santa Luzia, and the Way quickly veers off the main highway to the left here, as it began to rain on us. There are several cafés at this juncture.
Santa Luzia is roughly at the halfway point for day ten on the Camino Portugués and almost at the peak elevation for the day. It might be a good place for a break for your Camino, but we kept on because we were looking for a quiet picnic spot. Our packs were freshly filled with supplies from Coimbra.
The pavement quickly becomes narrower and quieter as we left Santa Luzia...
...and even quieter still as the pavement becomes dirt.
Soon after spying the elderly couple, above, toiling in their plot of land, we found the perfect picnic spot along the gravel road. We set down a space blanket and enjoyed our snack and reprieve.
This lovely sandy lane goes on for about two kilometers, until just ahead in the photo below...
...where it joins the pavement, the CM1344...
...and walks into the town of Mala and its Largo Capela, below. You are approximately 17 kilometers into your day at this chapel. There is a pastry shop just beyond the church, if you need a break at this point.
After walking through Mala, the Way goes left onto the EM616, below.
We briefly met Marco, the Italian who was putting in 70 kilometer days! Yes, it's true! He was a runner, walking fast and efficiently.
Sometimes when I enter a country village, something attracts my eye. This spring it was the tropical flowers. Here are some brilliant Alstroemeria that I saw at one home. We can only get these tropical flowers at florists where I live! I was thrilled to see them growing along the sidewalk.
Camino boots also attracted my attention at yet another home along the way:
Seeing and feeling today, was indeed enough! God was near.
After leaving Lendlosa, with only about 6 more kilometers to go for day ten on our Camino Portugués, the hamlet Vimieira is next.
After entering the tiny hamlet of Vimieira, you come to this intersection, below, where you follow the waymark on the back of the stop sign and turn right onto the Rua Fonte Corgo, shown below.
Just beyond the turn, the quaintest of small chapels appears in the "square," where Rich and I took a brief repose on the bench beside it. It would have been a lovely place for a picnic. But we decided to eat later.
After Vimiera, the Way walks on quiet pavement...
...winds around a bit to join these tractor lanes:
In the photo above, the Portuguese Camino turns to the right, and walks toward Mealhada, our destination for day ten. You will encounter a café almost as soon as you join the pavement.
Then the way joins the busy IC2 once again, but on a nice sidewalk, to cross the railroad tracks, below. You will encounter a café almost as soon as you join the pavement.
In only a few tenths of a kilometer, we turned off the highway to turn left. If you were to stay straight on theIC2, in about 300 meters there is a townhome, called the Casa Branca, a very economical accommodation, your first choice in Mealhada.
Just beyond the turn off of the IC2 there is the big grocery store, the Intermarché on your right. On the left side of the store is a strip of shops, containing the restaurant, the Churrasqueira Lendas na Braza. I was extremely hungry, and convinced Rich to stop.
Rich had been pushing me hard to avoid the rain that seemed to want to happen all day, but never really amounted to much. Plus, I think the Italian racer raised his desire to prove himself!
We had one of the loveliest meals we had the entire trip, below. The fried chicken was to die for. Plus the chickpea and corn meal side dish was so very unusual and delicious, especially since it was drenched in butter! Most likely I loved it because I was so exhausted, hungry and my feet were aching!
After lunch we eyed the Intermarché grocery store. Should we pick up groceries for our dinner? With full bellies, it was hard to justify. Our packs would be too full for the final two kilometers, we wanted to get there, and surely as we walked through town we would see another market?
We decided not to go and walked on into Mealhada. In retrospect, I wished we had gone! Make a wise decision here!
Farther down the road, a nice fountain sends the pilgrimage traveler to the right and towards the heart of the city.
And onward we walked through town on this street.
The street above turns into a walking plaza farther on. Here is Rich, looking for a grocery store in town. Note the different clothing on Rich - this was after we reached the albergue and had to return to town for groceries!
We walked onward to turn left by this prominent mural display on a roundabout, showing a pig being roasted!
By the murals, this lovely path and park led us onward. I was tired and this path by the park, though lovely and less than a kilometer, seemed very, very long. It was also following the busy IC2, so it was not so peaceful.
You will pass by the Oasis Hotel and Restaurant, if you wish to stay closer to town, however, the albergue is not quite a kilometer away.
The final turn, is off the IC2, onto the Rua Fonte, below, by all these restaurants. Roasted piglet barbeque is the specialty here! There is another accommodation, the Hotel Quinta dos Tres Pinheiros, +351 231 202 391, several meters beyond this turn.
Almost immediately after turning onto the Rua Fonte, the albergue appears on the left. It is easy to spot, see the photo below.
You turn into the gate here, and walk into a courtyard, where you will see the office. The albergue is straight ahead, and the residencial hotel is the building that you first see. This is all part of a large restaurant/albergue/hotel complex called the Residencial Hilário that you can pre-book if you wish. Click on the link to see the place.
We chose to stay in the hotel which was clean and with a small, private bath, for only 30 Euro.
The restaurant Hilário was closed that night, but the owners said if we wanted to cook, we could use the restaurant kitchen! None of the barbeque restaurants opened before 8:00 p.m. and we wanted to put in an earlier night.
We ended up walking the kilometer all the way back to town to find a grocery store that so we could cook! The restaurant kitchen was lovely and we quickly made our dinner so we could retire early and rest with our feet up. No swollen ankles for me at all!
This was perhaps my longest-feeling, worst day ever, on the Camino ~ walking on the industrial routes, with the busy traffic, aching feet, gnawing hunger and the overcast day. I experienced it all and I survived.
My tips are:
May you seize the moment on your own day ten on the Camino Portugués.
May you see.
May you feel.
May you walk.
May you just be.
Skip to Central Route Below, for Final Days 22-25 to Santiago
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