Day 4. Póvoa de Varzim to Esposende
Our albergue last night was very nice; clean comfortable and well equipped but it was a tad noisy and there was a street light right outside our bedroom that lit up the room all night… it was a bit odd as it felt like early evening all night but having said that, once asleep I slept really well until 6:50… positively luxurious for a pilgrim.
We had hung our washing to dry overnight but even though the room was warm our washing never dried. Sara suggested that maybe we go look for a launderette so we set off in search of one but of course it was closed. Not to be outwitted she was off again looking for the next but in the end we decided that smelly socks were the better choice than hiking all over town… so we wandered back to the coast road and our familiar boardwalk.
My knee seems OK. What is worse are the aches and pains from falling. The right side of my back aches and my left ankle hurts… there is a small bruised egg growing on my right knee and the skinned playground knee on the left… not forgetting a sore hand and a bruised arm. Unlike on the Rota where I never really fell, yesterday’s tumble took its toll on me today.
I thought a lot last night about what had actually happened. I have been careful and I am increasingly nervous as I walk. I know I have visual problems in my right eye. I have something called Multifocal choroiditis and I know that I have blind spots. I’m useless at golf as it effects my 3D options (thats my excuse anyway) and my field of vision is restricted. I’ve not really had it checked for years but I’m wondering perhaps if I should just go and have it assessed when I get home.
Today I walked with my head down watching every step. But it made my neck hurt and looking so hard at the ground meant the world was passing me by and I was oblivious to it. I felt quite isolated looking down in my own little world. It struck me that this is a pretty good lesson in life. It’s maybe not so good to plough on without considering your surroundings but it’s also not good just keeping your head down too much. So in the end I decided to straighten my back and look up… my blind spots are forever so I have to learn to live with them… I have a healthy respect for my limitations but I can’t live life in a bubble or feeling nervous or fearful… and everything is hurting today so that’s a good reminder for me to take extra care.
Jaqui spotted a sign saying coffee. It was pointing away from our boardwalk but it was coffee and I was in need of breakfast. As it happened it was just around the corner. Hot chocolates and toasted sandwiches helped boost the energy levels. I must admit I miss the early morning cafe con leche and tostados of the Spanish bars… we’ve not found things open here as early so it’s often an hour or two before we can stop for breakfast.
We decided to hang our damp socks and smalls on the outside of our packs… they could dry in the morning sun. Feeling nicely refreshed and laundry sorted we headed back to the trail and the boardwalks… and the beautiful coast as always was beside us. As we walk we’ve passed so many locals out walking too; many wish us Bom Dia or Bom Caminho. Occasionally they will stop and ask if we’re going to Santiago and always with a smile. Today as we walked we were passed by two ladies who genuinely looked like they were approaching their 80s… the jogged by at a pace laughing and joking… still wearing their aprons. Bom Dia they shouted across… we just stopped in awe and watched them go… sea air and seafood is clearly good for your health!
The landscape is changing today. It feels a little more rural and agricultural. There are fields with dry stone walls and in the distance we can see high hills lining up along the coast. We walked by what at first glance looked like haystacks but were actually stacks of dried seaweed. The soil is so sandy I guess this seaweed will make good compost?
On we went and the wind whistled as we walked between sand dunes and fields. Our boardwalk ended and we were directed inland along cobbled roads. At first we thought we were passing allotments but the veg patches changed to fields of crops and polytunnels. Right behind the sand dunes in this very sandy soil… onions and cabbages and carrots and courgettes grew abundantly… Then flowers and then poly tunnels filled with baby plants. Acres and acres of market gardens, kilometre after kilometres of veg.
We also noticed that we were following arrows and I guess at some point the Senda Littoral had merged with the Caminho Coastal. We walked on into a village but we felt that we were too far from the coast so we headed back in the direction that we felt was right. I was ready for a stop but it was a tad early for lunch, although it had been a few hours since breakfast and I’d walked too long without a boots off… so to add to my aches and pains I also now have a blister. I should have learned by now to stop! We found a bench to tape and repair before moving on again. We had lost the boardwalk but picked up a road that would take us to our next stop… and it had a nice pavement rather than the cobbles.
We followed this road for a few kilometres before taking a shortcut through the suburbs… neat houses and gardens just a stones throw from the beach. It was gone 1.00 by now and my tummy was rumbling and my feet were aching but we decided to keep going… it was only a few kilometres more. Between us and our destination though there was an iron bridge. Not that high but high enough to get me squealing… however there was nothing to be done… there was only one path!
Onwards we walked and finally made it into town at around 1.30. My two gazelles still had a spring in their step but I have to say I was feeling jaded. Esposende is a lovely little town and we had lunch and found an albergue all within a few hundred metres. We showered and changed and sorted our laundry and went in search of a tourist information and a pharmacy… we found both and in the process found a little bar selling port…. and from there a little bar selling burgers… all just a stones throw from our beds! So we drank and ate and ate and drank.
Tomorrow we’ve decided to follow the arrows as the seaside route seems more difficult. We can return to the coast the day after and we figure it will be interesting to see something different… and I’m definitely going to take it a little slower tomorrow and rest these old bones … as they say it’s the journey that’s important and not the destination…and I’ll do my very best to stay on my feet!