Whilst opting for a hotel room in Barcelos had seemed like a cunning plan at the time, in an effort to get a good night’s sleep for myself (and avoid potentially disturbing anyone else with all my coughing and sneezing), I’d given no thought at all to one major detail – the date.
Almost as soon as midnight struck, a furious fusillade of fireworks kicked off and then continued for a good half hour, as the locals happily greeted the advent of May Day, which is of course a public holiday here in Portugal.
Marking it’s arrival with extensive and enormous explosions was a bit of a shock to my system, especially as my attic room window provided no angle to actually see the display, now that I’d been woken up by it.
Nice for the locals, I guess.
They’re also looking forward to the Feast of the Crosses, which marks the miraculous appearance of a cross in some soil on the ground in 1504.
The third day’s walk was the first one begun in brilliant sunshine, as I strode out of Barcelos with the sun at my back, with the morning further improved by a couple of hours again in the company of Issy from Dublin.
As we’d both walked Caminos before and we both found ourselves at “interesting” times in our lives, the conversation focused first on the little differences we’d noticed so far between the Francés and the Portugués, and then onto various techniques on how to deal with the Big Questions In Life.
Quitting long-standing jobs and careers to go off somewhere and travel instead seemed to be quite a popular solution.
After the earlier stretches of mundane road walking, it was a delight to finally get into a more peaceful and rural environment, with birdsong and butterflies replacing engine noise and unwelcoming dogs.
Reaching this wonderful spot, the Ponte das Tábuas, was the first time I had really felt like I was back on a Camino again, such was the beauty of the spot and the atmosphere.
That lasted for just about ten minutes though, as a workman then arrived and started banging in some poles of some sort, with no thought given to how he’d rather changed the milieu.
Oh well, on we go then!
The walking and the weather was good although once again, I began to find myself fading in the early afternoon more quickly than usual – the effects of the Badly Timed Cold and the Unexpected Fireworks, no doubt.
Spotting a roadside honour stall offering bags of fruit for a Euro, I seized on the opportunity to get some lovely looking black grapes to keep me going.
This was a Significant Error.
The mysterious objects were, in fact, black olives.
How very disappointing.
Normally perfectly tolerable, but when you’re expecting a sweet grape, chewing on an olive is a sour experience.
By now, I was beginning to realise that I didn’t have it in me to get all the way to Ponte de Lima (a 34km day), so I selected a renovated stables offering rooms about 10km short of that distance.
By now, I’d met up with Lisa and Denise from the US, who insisted on taking this picture of me under a tree, before then asking me for an update on the Royal Baby.
I did my very best impression of being someone who cared about the imminent arrival of another HRH, given L&D’s cheerful exuberance on the topic – I was able to successfully remember who the prospective parents were, so was sufficiently equipped to engage on the issue without disappointing my new friends.
As I arrived at Estábulo de Valinhas and settled in for a first Pilgrim dinner, I found myself in another interesting social situation, with eight Germans and two Austrians also around the table.
They were splendidly polite at first, all speaking English and not one mention of Brexit or the Royal Baby, but after about ten minutes, the conversation was then entirely held in German.
It gave me an interesting perspective on what people must feel like when they’re unable to understand what’s being said around them – it’s quite a rare thing to experience.
I just looked out of the window at the vineyard instead, which was nice.
Post dinner, a couple of the Germans came out to join me on the veranda and we all had a good chat about football, Iceland and beer.
Which was nice of them.
The last hotel room in Barcelos was very comfortable, minus points only for bumping my head on the sloping roof more times than should have happened. Vanya the receptionist was very helpful and pointed me to an excellent bar with football and tapas and great music, Bar do Xano.
The Tedious Cough continues, despite Strepsils and fruit being deployed in copious amounts.
Sleep is best described as fractured.
Trips, Slips and Falls: 0
Pineapple Solero Consumption: 0 (I’m hoping it’ll reappear when I cross the border into Spain)
Applications of Factor 50: 2 (3)
Filling of Water Bottles: 2 (4)
Wrong turns taken: 0
Number of times “Buen Camino” was said: 3
Random Songs Played By My Brain:
Thank U, Alanis Morissette
Ai No Corrida, Quincy Jones
One Love, Bob Marley
What A Fool Believes, The Doobie Brothers
PS – if anyone can work out any hidden meanings why my brain is picking these songs, please let me know…