Monday, April 17, 2017

Day 9: Exploring Coimbra

Sept 25: Today I had a particularly short stage to cover--about 22 kilometers. It was practically a half-day for me! So I lingered in bed and surfed the Internet for much of the morning not hitting the trail until close to 9:30. Well, not leaving the hostel until about 9:30. It would take a couple of hours before I hit the trail....

Streets of Coimbra

After leaving the hostel, I immediately stopped at a nearby cafe where I ordered breakfast. The cafe was nearly empty when I arrived, but ten minutes later the place was packed. I started a trend!

Then, before continuing on the trail, I wandered around the city of Coimbra to check out the sights and architecture. One of my stops led me to the new cathedral--not to be confused with the old cathedral which I also visited. But at the new cathedral, the woman at the front pushed for donations, and I dropped a euro (the requested amount) into the box, but the woman seemed angry at me for some reason and I had no idea why. Did she want more from me? She didn't speak any English, though, so I'll never know what I had done to tick her off so badly.

As I was about to leave, I noticed one of those penny-pressing machines which surprised me. They aren't at all unusual to find in tourist locations, but I'd never seen one inside of a cathedral before. It seemed out of place and crass. Amanda loves these sorts of pennies, though, so I walked up to this one to check out the options. The woman in the front saw me and shook her said and said, "No!"

What? Why not? Was it broken or something? If it was, why not put a sign on the thing saying as much? I wondered if it worked just fine but the woman was still angry at me for some reason.

Whatever. *shrug* I didn't need a crushed penny that badly.

I got a bit lost in town. I didn't have a detailed map of the streets and it was a tangled mess of roads on steep hillsides to confuse matters even more. I knew the general direction I needed to go, though, and would take educated guesses in that direction. At one point, I wound up on a road that had been torn up like it was to be repaved--or rather re-cobbled since all of the roads around here were cobblestone and came out to a street where signs and tape blocked off the alley to pedestrians. I was in a construction zone that I wasn't supposed to be in! Why hadn't they blocked off the other end of this alley? Surely I wasn't the first person to mistakingly wander into this closed-off alley from the wrong direction.

I ducked under the tape that was blocking access into the alley and left. I stopped in a small market where I purchased more food for the trail and a little before noon headed back to the trail.

Most of the day's hiking was awful with lots of boring road walks. Late in the day, the trail veered off onto a more pleasant dirt road into some trees where I stopped for 1 1/2 hours to relax and rest in the shade of a tree. With only 22 kilometers to do today, I could take an extended break.

My destination for the day was the small town of Mealhada, and on my map, the alburgue looked like it was near the far edge of the small town, but it turned out to be more than a kilometer outside of town so it took a bit longer to reach than I initially expected. Not a big deal, but it left me wondering if I had missed the hostel by accident.

This hostel was packed with people--18 people in a single room. It could have been worse--the hostel wasn't full so some beds were empty, but including myself, 18 of them were occupied. And a lot of them were pilgrims. Where did they all come from?! I hadn't seen any pilgrims at all on the trail today!

One of the pilgrims was Daniel, the Brazilian fellow I first met several days earlier in Tomar. I was a bit surprised to keep seeing him turn up. He had first told me that he was on a strict schedule that required him to do big-mile days to reach Santiago by a certain date so I had assumed I'd never see him again after that. He was treating some ugly blisters when I first met him, though, and maybe the blisters were slowing him down. He invited me to share some olives in the lobby which is where I spent most of the evening--away from the crowded bunkroom. I ate snacks out of my pack for dinner, supplemented by the olives and conversation provided by Daniel. Good times! =)

This cathedral has a penny-pressing machine, but don't try to use it!

Somehow I wound up on this small alley that had been closed to pedestrians--without knowing it was closed to pedestrians until I reached the end of the closure!

A little before noon I finally hit the trail out of Coimbra!

Most of the day was rather unpleasant walking and looked like this.

What the heck is this thing?! I found it curled up on the road.

What the....?!

I love this statue! It is of the god Bacchus astride a wine barrel.
Entering the outskirts of Mealhada and my destination for the night.
I think that giant yellow thing is supposed to be a chair for people to sit on, but it looks like a giant sombrero to me! =)
The trees in this park were decorated with old plastic bottles and egg cartons that were shaped into flowers! Way cool!

Mealhada is famous for its spit roasted month-old piglet dish Leitões, as depicted by this image created from tiles.


Mary said...

I entered luzicarnes - the sign over the fake ox - and the translation was from the Zulu!!! - light. At first, the translation was carnes! Maybe that sign is parked in front of a pop up restaurant and they sell light ox meat - or light cow meat (really looks like an ox!).

Mary said...

That curled up thing (EWWWW!) looks like a snake, a slug and a moth all mated and this thing was the result. That is creepy looking.