In the morning we pick up the promised package instead of breakfast at the reception. It contains a bottle of water, small juice, apple and a sandwich. Mary is already waiting outside. The city looks very dead at the morning. It reminds me of a scene from some postapocalyptic movie. As if someone erased the whole humanity. We walk around the empty streets feeling like every minute is so long.
We stop at one church because it’s about to be 7 o’clock. We expect to hear the carillon, like we have at many previous churches. It’s not like in Czechia, where they only ring the bells. Unfortunately, we have that much of “luck” that we’re probably standing in front of the only church in Portugal that doesn’t do anything when it’s o’clock. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to wake the townspeople so early on weekdays…
“Decide that you want it more than you fear it.”
As we go on, people and cars slowly start appearing in the streets. We climb a huge hill and it’s visible that Mary isn’t having an easy time walking today. We all successfully finish the hill and then follows a march around a very busy road. We want to shoot a video for YouTube but the noise the cars make makes it impossible. But at least we can see the ocean on our left side in the distance.
After a few kilometers of the tasteless walking around the city and along the roadway we see a café. We would continue, but Mary really needs to go to the bathroom. She also asks us to order coffee and something salty for her and she disappears in the bathroom. So we’re having breakfast.
When we finish the food, we go to stretch outside and then continue. It’s strange to me that we haven’t bumped into anyone yet so we ask Mary if someone is on the route yet. She says that not, that everyone’s waiting for the breakfast on the hotel which starts at 8 a.m. But she also adds that she’s glad we’re walking so early. That the walking is easier in the morning without the sun than in the afternoon when it’s stuffy and hot. We agree.
A few tens of meters after the café we see an advertisement for Pelegrino breakfast menu… And it repeats after every 500 meters or so, until the turn to the goal of this advertisement. We have our bellies full though so we don’t stop. In the resident part that we’re walking through, there’s a dusty wall on the right side separating forest from the houses. I’m curious so when I see a free spot, I walk up to the wall and write the greeting “Buen Camino” for other pilgrims on it with my finger, which currently serves as a pen. I also add our names.
The remaining kilometers show us small villages and forests alternately. Grijo is appearing in front of us so quietly. Today’s route wasn’t very pretty, it was quite difficult thanks to the heavy traffic around us so we’re kind of sick of it for today. It’s clear that Mary is too, but she smiles widely anyway. Especially when we find ourselves in front of the door of the albergue. Her smile disappears when no one answers our banging. Fortunately, there’s a phone number where we’re advised to call to on the door. We try it, but we’re unsuccessful. Mary tries too and after a few attempts someone picks up. However, the one on the other side doesn’t understand a word she says and eventually hangs up, which makes me think she didn’t call to the right number. It almost looks like we’re going to have to look for another accommodation, when an elderly man arrives and opens the albergue for us.
We walk through a gate that it sticked right next to the roadway. There’s a big scallop above the door. The scallops are actually everywhere here and during the “excursion” when we’re following the man – the locksmith, we deduce that the owner of the albergue probably went on camino, too. One of the bedrooms with a few bunk beds is downstairs next to the bathroom with showers, the hall leads to the yard. There’s a few benches and tables there. In the first floor of the building there’s a kitchenette, toilet, office and three other rooms without door. In every room there’s one bunk bed. So, me and Jitka occupy the first room, Mary takes the one next to it.
Follows a quick shower and laundry. After hanging the clothes, we go to a nearby store to buy an ice lolly and beer. I’ve found out, that this combination does nothing to my digestive tract, so why not do it. As we’re pouring the beer to ourselves, Mary comes from the shower and Jannik comes from the gate. Mary goes for a new batch of beer. The South Koreans arrive, too. After this quick refreshment, we go to take a walk to the local monastery. The road leads on cobblestones, which might be the worst surface for our feet in pain full of blisters. On the left side of the roadway there’s a cemetery, on the right a monastery wall. Fortunately, after a few tens of meters we turn to the monastery. A beautiful building with quiet surroundings.
We want to shoot a video for the girls on YouTube but in the passion of searching for a geocache we forget about it and remember on our way back to albergue. Legs hurt but we turn around and get back to the monastery anyway. While shooting the video we realize that this year’s pilgrimage is about to end and even though we’re looking forward to go home to the girls, we’re still sad it all passed so quickly, despite all the pain.
Our last dinner together
We get back to the albergue where it’s quite lively now. We learn that the Spaniards went to shopping and that there will be a dinner together in the evening. During the food preparing we all help. Carles, Marion and Daniel are cooking, Eva and Danny are preparing the ingredients, me, Jitka, Mary and Jannik are preparing the tables on the garden including the dishes, glasses and plates. Wine is being poured a lot already during the cooking so the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable and we’re all happy.
The food is ready and thus the feast of our camino family begins. Jannik has already drunk quite some amount already so he’s smiling widely at everyone. We’re sitting in front of Mary, Kim has clearly drunk a lot already, too. We’re discussing Camino Norte with Carles in German. He says he was there in the previous years. He recommends it, apparently the nature and views are sensational, much less people. In his opinion, the best camino for meeting new people and establish new great friendships is the Portuguese one where there’s more pilgrims than on Camino Norte but less than on Camino Frances. It’s kind of funny to me and Jitka when the Mexican Eva asks Carles if he just spoke Czech with us. I always believed that German is such a specific language that you just cannot mistake it for any other. Especially for Czech.
I hate saying goodbye
Everything ends once and so does this dinner. We say goodbye to everyone and it’s emotional. It’s a pity that Enrique with Tonya and Marek with Ania aren’t here. We’ve met quite a lot of people of the route but as many people in your life, most of them just appeared and disappeared forever. I just can’t explain why I feel like we’ll stay in touch with these people. People of various nationalities, social classes, different cultures, age, gender, employment and hobbies have created a strong and invisible bond here over the past few days. And this exactly is Camino.
We’re going to sleep. Although tomorrow awaits us one last route to Porto, but only me with Jitka, Danny with Eva and Jannik go. The others are going to get to Porto by bus including our co-pilgrim Mary. We simply won’t ever meet this full group again.