Beep beepbeep. It’s still dark outside when we hear the sound of an alarm clock. The period until the owner of the phone turns it off seems never ending. I am considering waking up too and slowly packing up our stuff. Yeah, but firstly I don’t want to be the sleep destroyer who wakes up Jitka (if she’s still asleep) and secondly, I feel how much I do not want to get up yet. Plus, every night I fall asleep hoping there will be a miracle overnight and I wake up with my legs being completely okay and with no blisters.
And I’m scared to move every morning and I keep delaying the discovery that no miracle happened. So, I’m just lying down being completely motionless and simulating sleep. I still hear how the Spanish people are packing though and how they eventually leave and it’s quiet and so I fall asleep again.
Rise and shine!
Almost an hour passes until our alarm clock starts beeping, so it feels like I just closed my eyes. I’m curious how my legs are today. I don’t even have to mention how much they hurt yesterday. All I need is to faintly touch the ground to be sure that today’s steps will be difficult again. But that’s also what a pilgrimage is about.
“Don’t be angry with a rose that has a thorny bush, but rejoice that a thorny bush has a rose.”
So, we both pack up to be able to go continue our route. We shoot a video for YouTube while packing and then we finally go on. It’s half past seven and the sky outside is cloudy. I wish it would stay this way for a while… The first steps on the asphalt are very felt but once we find our usual pace, the steps are much lighter and easier. We stop to find the first geocache of today after a few hundred meters. Jitka sacrifices herself and goes down a ditch by the road for it. I am bowing to her in my head. I know that it’s difficult for her to interrupt our pace, too. This warp-up while looking for the geocache takes a lot of our energy. We’re logged and we can go on.
Unfortunately, still on the roadway. Then there’s a roundabout to which we would walk from the right side if we didn’t stay the night at the Amigos albergue. On our left side the first houses in Alvaiázere are showing. We’re passing by a road sign, that warns the drivers about snow. It’s funny considering the heat that is here during the day.
We stop at a café in Alvaiázere and buy some drinking water for the route. Even though it was not planned, we end up having a coffee, too. This time it’s without desserts this though. It’s early and the dessert showcase is yawning with emptiness. So, we eat some crackers that I had in my backpack instead. When we’re done, we pick up our walking sticks and go slightly out of the city. After a few kilometers the road starts going uphill. We’re gasping but we’re glad that we’re here now, in the morning, while the weather is still good.
Dogs and cats
The road on the hill also leads through a settlement, where from an alley on the left side of the street a smaller dog comes and stands in our way. We want no problems so we’re trying not to pay attention to him and we walk around him. During this maneuver we find out he’s not alone. This devious dog is probably the leader of a pack with about 7 members and apparently, they decided not to let us go so cheaply. He’s starting to growl and his pack follows his audacity.
Fortunately, we still have our bamboo sticks so we can keep them away from us. The leader accidentally gets slightly hit over his nose as we’re defending ourselves. He just screams and runs away along with his pack. The fact that we just got attacked by a dog pack isn’t as surprising as the fact that no one came out to fight them off.
In the next settlement there’s a cat waiting for us instead of a dog. It’s rolling out on a wall and purring loudly while we’re gasping and out of breath after overcoming the hill. Now we’re just enjoying the view on the lowlands.
Then follows a road downhill with a beautiful view. In the distance on the road among the olive trees we see the figure of a pilgrim. Finally, someone is on the route.
I pull out my camera and we shoot another video while walking. We suddenly hear “Buen camino” behind us. It’s the biker that we met twice yesterday. The road in the nature is amazing and is incomparable with the roadway. Instead of cars there are butterflies flying around us. I have never seen this kind.
Breakfast in Ancião
Meanwhile the sun goes up again and shows us with all its effort that today’s kilometers won’t be easy again. We arrive to a city called Ancião. There is a café by the local church where there are two pilgrims just getting ready to go by one of the tables outside. One of them is our biker. We greet each other and take their places. Our order is 2x coffee, 4x desserts, 2x Coke a 1x water and we pay €5,70. When a young waitress brings us our breakfast, we’re taking off our socks and drying them along with our feet and shoes on the sun.
After the breakfast we continue our route and the road from Ancião leads us to nature which is from time to time interrupted by small villages again. The vineyards are being switched by eucalyptus forests. There are fig and olive trees along the way. There are beautiful flowering plants everywhere which bring a captivating scent. We’re trying to absorb the beauty as much as we can. We buy an ice lolly and an ice-cold Coke in a gas station along the way to exhilarate ourselves. Outside we say hello to some native who is smiling at us, wishing us a successful pilgrimage and also correcting us that it’s afternoon already so they don’t say “Bon dia” but “Boa tarde”.
The next kilometers are in nature but on the bare sun so we welcome a round well with drinking water joyfully. I am the first one to make the wheel spin and Jitka refreshes herself and then we switch places. I make my hair wet and it’s a really beautiful and pleasant refreshment. After a few tens of meters my hair is completely dry though and I’d love to return to the well. But we would stay here until the evening if we did this.
According to the map there might be the last hill of today ahead of us. I’m saying there might be, because we might end today’s route in the village Alvorge where there’s a really small albergue with only a few beds. If there are free places there, we’ll stay but if it’s full, we’ll go. The hill turns out to be even crazier than the one we conquered in the morning. But apparently it is because of how many kilometers we’ve walked or maybe even the sun which is draining our energy.
Eventually, we conquer this hill, too, and arrive to the town Alvorge which reminds me of villages from movies like The Magnificent Seven etc. We’re passing by a pub when suddenly a pair of pilgrims come out. They’re the ones we’ve seen in the morning in Ancião. We say hello to each other and during the conversation we learn that they wanted to pick up their keys from albergue in the pub and that the guy’s name is Danny and is from the USA and the woman’s named Eva and is from Mexico. Apparently, the key was already picked up by someone else before them.
We’re slowly preparing ourselves for a few more kilometers assuming the beds are already taken. Fortunately, there is only another couple of pilgrims in the albergue though. Including us there’s 6 of us and there are 8 beds. Phew. So we go to check in. Albergue is donativo, which means that it’s up to us how much we decide to pay, IF we pay. The other couple of pilgrims turn out to be the ones we’ve met in the scarp by the road on our way from Tomar.
They’re from Poland and we start a conversation. She is Ania and his name is Marek. We end up arranging a dinner together in the pub. They say there is some food from pilgrims. Danny and Eva stay in albergue though. They have a lot of washing clothes ahead of them and they are also planning to cook dinner in the kitchenette. They say they usually sleep in a tent outside but check in an albergue once every few days to wash their clothes.
After showering and checking in we go to the dinner together with the Polish couple. They are looking at us like we’re crazy in the pub when we ask if they have a pilgrim menu. They say they don’t have any food but they can make us some salads. We’re also told to come after 7 p.m. There is a Spanish pilgrim sitting in front of the pub with her legs bandaged. The Polish couple know her from the road but we’re seeing her for the first time.
She’s finding out whether there’s still a free bed in the albergue. She’s clearly out of energy so she’s relieved when Ania tells her that there are still two free beds left. We go back and we stop to shop in the local minimarket. To make the wait shorter and also to cool our organisms a little, we buy a few bottles of beer. Then we relax for a bit in front of the albergue.
After returning to the pub we sit to the table and order something to drink since they tell us our salads are on their way. Our Czech-Polish conversation is great and we’re laughing at the mutual learning of tongue twisters together. So the wait for the food isn’t that long. For dinner we all get a huge plate full of fries, salad, massive schnitzels and fruit. Ania, as a vegetarian, has a slight problem with the meat but then admits she’s actually an “elastic vegetarian” and eats some of it. At the top of that, we’re being given something looking like sponge cake with us when we leave. Including some Heineken beer, we’re paying €5 per person.
On our way to albergue we learn that the Poles are planning to just go to Coimbra and then move to Porto by train from where they’ll continue. We say goodbye to both them and Danny and Eva, hoping that we’ll meet again in the upcoming days. Exhausted by the challenging day, we fall asleep with no problems in our cubicles.