Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Day 3 - 9 May - Angeiras to Póvoa de Varzim

As The Drifters famously sang:

Oh, when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roofAnd your shoes get so hot you wish your tired feet were fire proofWalking the boardwalks, down by the sea, yeahIn a bar with my buds and a Super Bock is where I'll be

Today we had one of those days where, had you plotted it on a graph, it would have started with a very obvious trend in the right direction and continued in similar vein, throughout the day, with only the occasional blip every now and then. 

I awoke at seven o’clock to the sound of intermittent rain drops on the roof of Clampett cabin albeit the rain clouds were already dissipating, soon to be replaced by hints of the blue sky to follow. With only a modest ten mile day ahead of us, there was no need for urgency and it was gone ten o’clock by the time we meandered away from the camp site. We strolled back down to the coastal path, turned right and then stopped for coffee and egg & cheese on toast at the first bar we came to in Labrugue.

The Atlantic coastline is simply spectacular with soft sand beaches, more rocky structures than you can shake a stick at and the ocean surf pounding everything that gets in its way. All of this is viewed from the boardwalk pathways which accounted for, I would guess, around eighty percent (?) of today’s total ten miles. 

Spectacular or not, all this walking is thirsty work and not much more than a mile beyond our breakfast venue, the need for rehydration was met in Vila Chã at Bar Terra Nova with a cold bottle of Super Bock. Decent beer in Portugal is proving to be a bit of a challenge and there could be a case to answer with the trading standards people insofar as use of the word “super” is concerned but needs must. 

One of the blips I mentioned above occurred here. 

We weren’t making the best of progress. We carried on along the boardwalks for another three miles and stopped for more refreshment at Bar Areal, just south of Azurara. “Mick, did we pay for that last round at Terra Nova”? Oh bugger. We hadn’t done. What we had done was an inadvertent runner. We made doubly sure we paid up at Areal and will now have to see how we can make good our bad with Terra Nova.

We progressed on to Vila do Conde, a beautiful town, hugging the river back to the coastal path instead of taking the more direct route to Póvoa de Varzim. The weather, still blue sky and sunny, was nonetheless now accompanied by a strong wind off the sea which began to batter us a bit and restricted our ability to get anywhere fast. You often hear it on weather forecasts when they say “the temperature will be 20 degrees but it will feel like 15”. Today, it was a case of the mileage will be 10 but it will feel like 15. With only one mile left to Póvoa, we stopped at Café Lagoas for more refreshment and an opportunity to discuss what could be behind this strange phenomenon. 

One final push saw us eventually arrive at our destination, in the heart of Póvoa, and very nice it was too. It was five o’clock. How could ten miles take us six and a half hours? It’s a mystery to be sure.

Having checked-in to our accommodation and freshened up all necessary bits and pieces, we were out again by six thirty and found a little town centre bar, in the sunshine, where we discussed plans for the following day. Andrea was flagging a bit although she is a borderline narcoleptic in my opinion. Anyway, the sun disappeared behind the town centre buildings so we moved on to find our next place-in-the-sun venue which turned out to be a little bar, right opposite Póvoa‘s very own little fortress, called A Taskinha. I very nearly missed it but this little bar was serving draught Cerveza Alhambra which just happens to be my favourite draught beer when in Spain. Sorted!

What more could you want? Well, actually, food would be nice as we were all very hungry. Mrs C and I may have been on the Alhambra beer but Andrea, our little narcoleptic companion who rarely touches alcohol, had discovered an antidote to her condition in the shape of a glass of white wine. The sun went down. Taskinha had Alhambra beer, white wine……….. and a restaurant! 

It would have been rude not to.

On the rare occasions when Andrea does indulge in a drop of the hard stuff, the transformation is akin to watching Dr Bruce Banner get angry and turn into the incredible Hulk. Except with Andrea she doesn’t go green or burst out of her trousers. Instead she turns into the world’s most animated impressionist and a wickedly good one at that. I will say no more other than I love it when Andrea gets on the wine. 

After a splendid three-course meal (not a pilgrim offering) for all of forty five euros per couple (including our initial beers when sat outside), the proprietor treated us to a cold liqueur made from honey, white brandy and lemon which tasted a bit like grappa. And then he treated us to another one. I don’t think he realised that plying Andrea with this stuff was akin to playing with fire but fortunately the narcolepsy was kicking in and we managed to get her out before she managed to assail any passing dwarves.

This was a very definite high on which to end another splendid day on Camino. What may tomorrow bring? We’ll have to see.

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