Camino - Day 3
Apparently the post for Day 1 was not circulated to subscribers, system failure, apologies. If you're interested in taking a look, click here to read it.
Today felt as if it was going to be a long day and since the ladies, my four traveling companions, were staying at a different hotel I resolved to start off early. After the first two days walking I felt quite creaky and I was sure that I'd be moving somewhat more slowly than the others. This decision was aided by the fact that my hotel was an old, rambling homestead on the outskirts of the very small hamlet where we stayed the night. It was raining intermittently, grey and overcast and my hotel was damp and quite dark, with original stone steps and landings throughout the rambling space that were misaligned and quite treacherous in the semi-darkness. The only merit of the place was that heat was provided by a couple of radiators which is now becoming a critical determinant of a high value lodging.
When I arrive at my lodging, I'm soaked with perspiration; the weather may be cool but in the course of a 10 or 15K walk I sweat buckets, partly I suppose because I may have one layer too many. However because its quite breezy I've decided that I'd rather sweat and be warm than strip down a layer and get chilled in the wind. The net effect of this is that my first step on arrival in my room is a long and very hot shower and then next I wash all that day's walking clothes. Drying them by morning becomes a challenge and radiators have become a sine qua non.
I set off in a grey drizzle at about 8, stopped off at the ladies' hotel to wish them good morning and set off. Not a soul to been seen on the Camino route that we were taking, and in fact over the course of a 20K day that lasted until about 2pm, we did not see one other peregrino on our walk. The ladies caught me up about 6k into the walk and we stayed together thereafter. We stopped for coffee at a little roadside cafe about 2 hours in and for lunch at another little cafe about 4 hours in. It's amazing how important these brief stops become, even 20 minutes rest and a coffee or a sandwich really do rekindle fires and make re-starting the walk much, much easier.
Over the course of the first couple of days I've become much more sensitive to walking surfaces and unfortunately Portugal's default road construction technique is not easy or pleasant to walk on. The Portuguese build all but primary roads with small, square granite blocks about 5 or 6 inches on a side and each block is separated from its neighbour by a space about an inch wide. This space seemingly should be filled with packed sand but this is often washed away leaving gaps around each block in the road. The blocks are rough, slippery and hard on the feet and this is exacerbated by the top surfaces of the blocks not being flat and level but because of settling, they are at slightly different angles and orientations so that walking is a continual and uncomfortable challenge. Walking poles are a huge aid for easing walking and helping with balance but the ends of the poles continually become caught and lodged in the spaces between the blocks and so become more of a hazard than the possibility of slipping and falling.
Our walk, the longest so far, ended in Barcelos, a quite large and very pretty town at a hotel that unfortunately does not run to radiators! So the bathroom is festooned with drying clothes but in this wet, humid atmosphere they clearly will not be dry by the morning. Hope tomorrow's hotel has radiators, don't think hauling wet clothes around does the clothes or me any good at all.