Thursday, May 11, 2023

Day 4 - 10 May - Póvoa de Varzim to Esposende

As Men at Work famously sang:

I come from a land down underWhere beer does flow and men chunderCan't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?I may be called Bruce, but I only drink juice, yeah

Following yesterday’s tardy progress over ten miles, a bit more discipline was called for today and we had early alarms set to ensure that we were on the road by half past eight. We departed Póvoa along the sea front passing multiple beach bars along the way, none of which were open for a breakfast coffee or anything else. 

It was ten o’clock by the time we reached the small seaside town of Aguçadoura and sat down for coffee, toast and cake at bar Flor do Trigo. We sat outside, not wishing to expose the punters inside the bar to the spectacle of Mick’s sore little toe being aired. 

As was the case yesterday, much of the coastal path was along boardwalks and the beach scenery remained spectacular. Beyond Aguçadoura however, the path began to track inland which provided a welcome change with the gusty sea breeze beginning to pick up again.

It was another four miles before we reached the town of Apúlia and it was here that we got chatting to 86 year old Bruce from Australia (not joking). Bruce is walking the Porto route on his own, having already walked the latter stages of the main Camino Frances route from Trabadelo to Santiago prior to travelling to Portugal. What a guy! A real life Aussie bloke called Bruce. This called for a beer so we invited Bruce to join us as we stopped for refreshment at Cafetaria Pão Quente Feliz in Apúlia.

Can I buy you a beer Bruce?

I’ll just have an orange juice thank you. I don’t drink beer.

I was flabbergasted. An Australian, called Bruce, that doesn’t drink beer. Is that even allowed? 

We had left the boardwalks behind us. The path took us along quiet roads, past fields and through woodland. Mrs C cannot walk past anything resembling bamboo without breaking into a Dick Van Dyke rendition of Me 'ol Bam-Boo and the roadsides were full of the stuff. It wouldn’t be so bad if her knowledge of the lyrics amounted to more than Me 'ol Bam-Boo, Me 'ol Bam-Boo, diddly diddly diddly diddly 'ol Bam-Boo. But it doesn’t.

We also got our first sight, and aromas, of the eucalyptus trees which we know will increasingly feature as we get closer to Santiago. These trees were actually named after the twingy twangy banjo-type instrument, constructed from the tree’s wood, made famous in the 1930’s/40’s by English actor, song writer and comedian George Formby who specialised in playing the instrument whilst leaning against lamp posts. Probably.

Winner of the quaint-little-town-of-the-day award was Fão, on the south banks of the Cávado River, south of Estopende. We stopped here at pastry shop Pastelaria Clarinhas, which also did an excellent impression of a bar. We all had one of their pastries, some washed it down with coffee and one of us had a beer.

We departed Fão, each with a mint imperial sized, hand-painted pebble that some jolly restaurant owner was handing out to all and sundry. The pebbles were painted blue with a yellow arrow or shell above letters spelling out the town’s name Fão. I bet that whoever was painting these pebbles was glad they didn’t live in Esposende.

Thereafter, we crossed the river and headed into Esposende itself and on to our accommodation situated at the north end of the town. Once sorted, we ventured out looking for something close-by as stiff limbs and Mick’s sore toe had dampened any desire to walk half an hour back into town.

Finding decent beer in Portugal is a challenge. The standard Super Bock offering is pretty tasteless although we have discovered a couple of interesting options under the same banner. Super Bock Black is a stout with taste and, of more interest, they have a premium range of bottled beers Selecção 1927 which includes a 6% Bengal Amber IPA. Our first port of call tonight was Peppermint Brunch bar and restaurant where we had a couple of draught Stella Artois whilst overlooking the spectacular beach scene from up high. Then it was on to Marine Lounge which sounds like a cheesy piano bar but which, in reality, was a splendid establishment with a great selection of bottled beers including the IPA mentioned above. Needless to say, it was sampled and excellent it was too. 

But the star of the day was undoubtedly our Antipodean friend Bruce. Without going in to detail, Bruce is walking the Camino on his own for a reason, and he is doing so with great spirit and humour. It was a pleasure to meet this old chap, from the other side of the world, whilst walking through a small town in Portugal. What are the chances eh? Here’s to Bruce.

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