When taking on a long walk, such as the Camino Portuguese, one of the things you quickly learn is how fast the days begin to blend together. It’s something we learned while walking the Camino Francis. If we didn’t have this blog of ours, we’d have a heck of a time remembering dates and places. With that in mind, and because I knew I wouldn’t be writing in real time while walking the Camino Portuguese, we took a series of notes each night. And, thanks to the cloud, all of our hundreds of photos are dated. Between our notes and photos, I can tell the tale of each day.
With that being said there are definitely days that stand out in our minds because the day(s) offered something just a bit more special, or out of the ordinary. Days three and four were two of those days. Day three was an easy and relatively short walk at nine miles, but it was the surroundings of our walk and the wealth of spring flowers that made the day extraordinary. And, it was the day we met an Irish bloke who just happened to also be walking with Portugal Green Walks.
An Irish Bloke
Meeting other pilgrims plays a significant role when taking on a long walk. Sometimes trail friends are easily made with an instant connection, or sometimes it’s just a nod, a smile and a “Bom Caminho” each time you pass on the trail.
So, while we met Brian – an Irish bloke with an exuberant personality – on day three, by the beginning of day five, we continued on while Brian had scheduled a rest day and we lost the physical connection, but not the emotional. It’s the Camino. It can happen again and again with pilgrims who connect as they walk.
Some pilgrims will walk the entire length of a trek while others walk just a few days with the intent to return and finish the pilgrimage at a later date. Others will schedule rest days in between days of walking. The thing about taking on a long walk – such as the Camino – is that it’s your walk. You make it work for you.
Serenity on the Camino Portuguese
Why was day three a day out of the ordinary? It was a day that allowed us to be in the moment. We walked alone for most of the day, void of other voices on the trail. It was a day of serenity. The day offered perfect hiking weather at about 60+ degrees along with a blue sky, puffy clouds, green as far as the eye could see and best of all there was no rain. The spring flowers were incredible. If I had stopped to photograph every garden in the villages we passed through, we’d still be on the trail.
Ponte das Tabuas
Near the end of our day three we were gifted with crossing over the River Neiva on a 12th century stone bridge, Ponte das Tabuas (Bridge of Boards). It was named after the boards used to build the original bridge. It was by far one of the most picturesque settings we came upon and it provided an idyllic ending to a nearly perfect day of walking the Camino Portuguese.
- Day 3 – April 19
- Barcelos to Balugaes
- We walked 9.5 miles (15 km)
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Sleepless in Balugaes
What I will always remember about spending the night in Balugaes was the village dogs. I will remember them because they barked all night long. Seriously, they did. The next morning as the B&B guests sat down to breakfast, each one of them looked exactly how we felt. Sleep deprived. Turns out, there was a village-wide hunt planned for that day and the dogs had the doggy gossip line open all night. At least that’s the story we were told.
We shared a breakfast table with Brian the morning of day four and we all had a good laugh about the dogs. But, if you had asked me at 3:00 a.m. if it was funny… It was that same morning we met a mother/daughter team from Seattle (I think) and they were starting off on their very first day of walking on very little sleep. We would see them on several occasions as we walked and luckily, we saw them in Santiago and had a chance to congratulate them. It’s the Camino. People walk in and out of your lives. Literally.
The day dawned warm. With an 11-mile walk in front of us we were walking by 8:00 a.m. in an attempt to beat the heat of the day. While we like to get an early start to each day, we are not pilgrims who rise before dawn to hit the trail. Forget that. By the time we walked in to Ponte de Lima six hours later, the temps were in the low 80’s.
As beautiful as day three was, day four was equally as impressive, although the cobblestones were relentless. The day took us through forests, orchards, vineyards, agricultural areas and several villages. Aside from the cobblestones it was a relatively easy walk albeit warm. We made very good time that day as we set our pace and kept on walkin!
Goats on the Camino Portuguese
We missed two trail markers on day four, a rarity for us. But, in our defense we missed the first one because it was hidden behind tree branches and the second one we missed because we were distracted by ridiculously cute goats who were leaping for glee as they were being led to a field where they’d graze for lunch.
Easter Lillies on the Camino Portuguese
The scenery along the way on day four was pretty beyond words. Neither of us had any idea that Easter Lillies grow wild but it was abundantly clear that in Portugal they do. They were everywhere. Just incredibly pretty. At one point we were making our way through a forested area and came upon an entire meadow strewn with wild Easter Lillies. It was one of those moments of serenity.
Ponte de Lima
As we approached Ponte de Lima we were welcomed by an incredible promenade of trees. As I mentioned, we set the pace on day four and we arrived in Ponte de Lima somewhere near 2:00 in the afternoon. What a beautiful city. If we had known we would have spent a second night, but alas. We did, however spend a relaxing afternoon taking in the sites. But, that’s a story that involves Roman soldiers and deserves a post of its own.
- Day 4 – April 20
- Balugaes to Ponte de Lima
- We walked 11.5 miles (18 kim)
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate