Monday, April 24, 2017

Day 12: Struggling with another slow day....

Sept 28: Ultimately, I had a wonderful night in the woods. A few flies had come out near sunset, but they weren't the biting plague like a swarm of mosquitoes, and they hung around for just a short time before retiring for the night like a proper insect should.

Slug on the trail!

I woke up early, but I wasn't in any particular rush hoping to cover about 24 kilometers today. I would have preferred to do closer to 30-kilometer days--that seemed to be my sweet spot of not feeling too bored by going too slow and not hurting myself by going too fast. But I was scheduled to meet Amanda in Porto in a couple of more days and I needed to average about 20 kilometers per day to get there on time, so I was limiting myself to 24 kilometers today. Still more than I really needed, but it was the best option for lodging closest to the 20-km mark I was shooting for.

Although I wasn't in a rush, I couldn't help but wake up early. The air temperature was pleasantly warm--no cold to drive me back into my sleeping bag. But I was ready to start walking by 7:30, and I held back because it was still too dark out. I was a bit surprised by this. When I first arrived in Portugal, 7:30 wasn't dark. I'd been in the country for about two weeks and I could tell it was getting light noticeably later in the morning than when I first arrived. I lingered in camp until about 7:45 when the tops of the trees started lighting up in sunlight. It was still somewhat dark for my camera, but I could make it work. By 8:00, I expected the sunlight to reach all the way to ground level.

The day's hike was generally easy but boring. I stopped for a break by a "ponte medieval" (medieval bridge) to pass some time. A few pilgrims passed, but I didn't really know any of them. I said they could stop and join me, but they kept on moving. I read my book but grew restless after an hour or so and continued a short way into the town of Oliveira de Azemeis arriving there just before noon as the heat of the day cranked up.

I was moving too fast. Despite my hour-long break at the medieval bridge, it was only noon and I had a mere nine kilometers (about 5.5 miles) to my destination. I figured it would take me maybe 2 hours to reach my destination in Sao Joao da Madeira. I was definitely in no rush.

I stopped at an outdoor cafe for a lunch break where I ordered a hamburger (mediocre, at best), pastries (delicious!) and two Cokes. It didn't take me long to finish the food, but I lingered at the table for nearly two hours reading my book and killing time.
When I started hiking in the morning, the landscape wasn't lit up yet, but the tops of the trees were in sunlight. I figured the ground below would be lit up soon.

Growing increasingly itchy at sitting around, I finally paid my bill and hit the the trail again. Temperatures had soared during my break and sweat poured down my face the last two hours to Sao Joao. The last couple of miles weren't particularly pleasant passing by busy, congested roads and shopping malls. It had the feel of a big city, even though my guidebook listed the population as being only 21,000 people. I had to think that the suburbs swelled the area's population much higher than that.

I made it into town which, as far as I could tell, had no hostels at all. So I booked a hotel room for myself for 25 euros. A bit more than I would have preferred paying, but not exactly breaking the bank either. The hotel was a bit run down and I didn't get a private bathroom, but it was serviceable.

I stayed in the hotel room for the rest of the day watching television shows online, eventually going out in the evening to get dinner and read in the plaza in front of the hotel, but generally taking it easy.

These short days were growing increasingly frustrating for me. My legs wanted to go! And tomorrow, my plan was to cover an even shorter 19.4 kilometers into Grijo. Good grief, how would I survive?

They still use steam trains here?! Way cool! =)

That utility pole is actually stuck into the top of that mound of dirt, which for some reason I found very fascinating! They couldn't move the pole? Or was the pole installed after the mound was formed? It just seemed like a weird place for a utility pole.

It looks like an abandoned wreck of a train, doesn't it? =) But in actuality, it was moving down the tracks, in use, and I had to stop to let it pass so it wouldn't hit me when I crossed the tracks.
Ponte do Salgueiro, an ancient stone bridge. (Not the one I took a break at, however. This trail has a lot of ancient stone bridges!)
Corn crib

That building on the left is a giant, indoor shopping mall.

Tower in Praca Luis Ribeiro, and in front of the hotel I stayed at. =)
Is that supposed to be a pilgrim riding a snake?

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