Day 12 | Armenteira
We’re not in Portugal or Spain but I am very much aware that I’ve not updated my blog in such a long time and also that our wanderings along the Portuguese Camino were never finished. There is a simple reason for this; we never finished.
As the heatwave sweeps across France, I decided I should stay inside in the cool and spend some time catching up. And we’ve had a few adventures since that walk and I’d like to share them too. Sadly this means that for those of you who follow my blog (and our travels) you’ll be getting quite a few notifications now and for this I apologise in advance.
So we walked to Combarro and we had an amazing evening in this glorious ancient little seaside town. It was Gerry’s birthday and Gerry LOVES seafood!
I had planned the stages of this Camino to ensure that we arrived here on his birthday. The town is famous for it’s seafood. I had tried for weeks and weeks to book into the most popular restaurant in town but I had no reply; I guess they are so busy they don’t need to. Anyway, in the end I explained my predicament and said that we were eating in town but that we had to go early to try and get a table after the Spanish late lunch and before the evening diners arrived. With this in mind we headed off before 6:00pm. The town was bustling, narrow streets full of tourists and shops overflowing with goods and shoppers; we loved it. Even if you’re not walking the Spiritual Variant I would recommend a visit to Combarro. Most pilgrims skip through when walking in order to get up the big hill to Armenteira but I would suggest breaking the stage and resting awhile here.
We walked through the streets to the restaurant that I’d wanted to book. It looked empty and I asked if it was too early to eat? It wasn’t and she took us to the most perfect table. I’d read that if you can, get a table overlooking the sea… and that’s what we had. I’d read that if you are really lucky the tide would be in and the water would lap right under the terrace… and it did! Honestly it was simply the most perfect table in the best restaurant in this glorious little town… and on top of all this wonderfulness, we’d also had a fabulous hike that day! Gosh it must be someone’s birthday!
We ordered… some of us might have over-ordered but it’s his birthday after all. The meal was fabulous, as was the wine and we sat and talked and laughed and looked out to sea and thanked our lucky stars for the day. And when we’d eaten our full we continued to explore, walking out of the old town and into the new and along further to the modern harbour area. We watched the sun set and the stars come out and then turned around and walked back to our hotel. Oh it had been a good day.
However, the goodness didn’t last. In the early hours of the morning Gerry was ill. Did I mention how much he loves shellfish? The problem is that he loves it so much that he’s often reluctant to leave any… even the little mussels that really don’t look like they should be eaten! There was no way he would be walking in the morning. We would need a taxi and I knew that meant no Compostela for us… but the poor chap was suffering and there was nothing he could do to change the situation. He slept until around 11:00 am. He decided he couldn’t cope with a shower but the look on my face suggested otherwise, so after a quick dousing, we checked out and ordered a taxi for Armenteira. We had a room booked for that evening and we had to move on.
I settled him in the shade on the terrace of a bar and I went to explore the convent. Much of it was closed due to the current restrictions but I could still have a little wander and a glimpse of what it would have been like if COVID hadn’t prevented us from staying the night.
As I wandered into the gift shop an old nun came out to say hello. She spoke no English and my Spanish is awful but somehow we understood each other. I spotted a handmade cross, decorated with a painted flower. I grew up in the family of our local church but Gerry has no faith… I say a prayer for him regardless. Of all the little gifts and trinkets in the shop this little cross spoke to me, Gerry’s nickname for me is Fleur. It would make the perfect little birthday gift to cheer him. I pointed to the little cross and the nun explained that she made them and she was happy with my choice. She stamped my credential, the taxi means we won’t be getting a Compostela but I still love looking at the sellos I collect whilst walking.
We said our goodbyes and I wandered back to Gerry’s shady table. A group of young caballero had arrived at the bar and were showing off their horsemanship skills and getting their horses to dance whilst they sang heartily like fine young Spanish men should. On any other day it would have been a fabulous little rest but for us it was just a pause.
We had booked into a little casa that would come and collect us. At the allotted time I called and 10 minutes later they arrived. We checked into our room, ordered some dinner and Gerry fell into bed and slept. It would be fair to say it wasn’t the day we expected but by the end of the evening he was feeling a little better and for that I was very grateful.