5. Cercal do Alenjento – Porto Covo
Last night we stayed at Turismo de Casa do Campo. It was the first house almost as you entered the village. We booked this online in advance and whilst the lady of the house was very nice, we’d probably not recommend this stop. It was close to a 1 kilometre walk into town and we went in and back twice… not including the third time in the morning of course. Also the room was a OK but we stayed it what seemed like a spare room of someone’s house… and we could hear everything from the house on the other side of the bedroom door. It was 55€ for a double room. The website said is was semi-self catering but this meant we had a microwave? I don’t want to say it was bad… because the owners were very kind but it’s maybe not an ideal stop… however I don’t know if there is any other accommodation in town?
That said Cercal was an interesting little town with an old church in the centre and a few bars dotted around town. We found a chemist to stock up on sterile dressings for my knee, an ATM to draw more cash (surprisingly few places accept cards here) and we bought a few supplies for a picnic lunch.
We sat outside the old church on a shady bench and tucked into ham rolls, crisps, juicy tomotoes and ice cold drinks.
We meandered back to our room and Gerry had a snooze whilst I tried in vain to post my blog… WiFi and a signal is a bit patchy here. My phone says 4g one moment and nothing the next… but who needs a phone anyway!
Later we meandered back into town and found a pizza restaurant with a very smiley host who spoke good English… and made excellent lasagne. It was only 8:30 but we felt ready to settle down for the night so we meandered back to our room again.
Neither of us slept well; Gerry reckons the bed was stuffed with potatoes. We were awake before the alarm and today we actually made good time out of town. I opted for my sweatshirt this morning as it was a tad chilly… Gerry decided he was far too tough to need his… but he regretted that choice after a few minutes.
I was hoping that we’d pass a bar on the way out of town but no such luck… no breakfast today then. I’m feeling grumpy this morning. My leg hurts and I have a bit of a headache and my throat is scratchy… please don’t let me have Gerry’s cold. We walked away from the town passing some rather posh suburbs and no dogs! Well… one or two but safely behind garden walls and fences.
Up we went to the outskirts of Cercal; the sun was just rising as we reached the top of the hill. To one side we had a glorious sunrise over the mist covered town and to the other we were treated to our first proper glimpse of the sea. Were heading to the coast and I’m feeling quite excited… even through my gloom.
We walked on passing a few more pretty houses and then turned into another eucalyptus forest. Gerry noticed that as we walked into the forest all noise disappeared. There were no bees or flies and certainly no birds chirping. It was almost as if no animals lived there. We pondered this. At first the eucalyptus looks and smells so exotic… it’s Australian and not usually what we’d expect to see here. But walking through the forest it feels lifeless, souless even. The lack of birdsong is unsettling and what was even more surprising was how loud the song was as soon as we left the forest. I guess these magnificent trees grow well and are a good crop but the local flora and fauna seemed to avoid it… it was just interesting.
As we walked along we spotted a small car park. What’s this we wondered? Then we spotted a hotel sign… and a restaurant. Could we maybe get a coffee? We wandered on but couldn’t really see an entrance… we’d almost given up but then we spotted a way in. It felt like a residents only kind of place and we wondered if perhaps we were a tad scruffy to go in… but Gerry is never shy in coming forward so he asked if we could buy a coffee and we were greeted by a big smile… yes of course… inside or on the terrace? We choose the terrace as we both wanted a boots off. Two minutes later big cups of coffee appeared along with a jug of hot milk and two chunks of warm cake… ooh I was a happy hiker!
We rested and drank and wiggled our toes and just enjoyed the luxury of a breakfast stop. I swapped into my teva sandals as I have a couple of blisters starting and the ground feels fairly easy today. We paid and said our goodbyes and felt so much better for the break.
On we walked up and down a little but generally easy terrain. We were overtaken by a group of horse riders out for a morning hack. It was only 10:00 am but it’s hot and we decided it was brolly time. As we stopped we felt a breeze pick up… we are closer to the sea and maybe this is going to become more common now? Gerry started singing but I had no idea what. Summer Breeze he said indignantly… but then said that he could probably sing the national anthem and I’d not recognise that either… and he’s right… because he is totally tone deaf and sings only two and a half notes in a totally random order. He says that in his head he hears the tune but on the way out it changes into the same two and a half random notes… and he’s not wrong!
Anyway I found Summer Breeze on Spotify and we walked along listening to the music… it was a beautiful morning and it feels like July not October and I cold smell the Jasmine too.
The mood changed a little when we came across three dogs. Two behind fences and one old boy just lying in the shade of a tree. I sent Gerry ahead to see if he was chained to the tree… Gerry lied and said he was… fortunately though the old dog never moved but just lifted his head up and watched us walk (run) by.
The guide promised a bar at 14.5 kilometres… we could see it in the distance like a mirage. It took ages to get closer but we almost skipped down to it when we finally arrived. It was the perfect location, overlooking the beach and the ocean and just under 4 kilometres to Porto Covo.
I ordered an egg salad and Gerry ordered fried cuttlefish… not for me as I’m allergic to molluscs. .. squid, octopus and cuttlefish included! Bread and olives and cold drinks arrived along with my egg salad… which was hake eggs and not the hen eggs I’d been expecting. That was a bit of a crushing blow as I’d been craving eggs for a while. No matter there was a mountain of food and plenty for us both. So we sat and enjoyed the view and the shade and the lunch. And after and hour or so we decided it was time to drag ourselves away and go find our hostel.
We’re staying in Ahoy Hostel in Porto Covo. It is the only hostel that we’re staying at along this path. We’ve checked in and washed ourselves and our clothes… I’m laying on a rather hard bed listening to Summer Breeze and the seagulls and we reckon it’s time for a beer…and all things considered, on a day like today, I reckon I should be counting my blessings.