Mealhada to Aqueda

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Mealhada, an interesting place known for its suckling pig dishes.  Most Portuguese towns are graced with monuments honoring local heroes. Mealhada is a bit different. There’s no stony faced navigator or dreamy bronze poet to greet visitors, instead, there’s a three-meter monolith topped with an oversized limestone piglet, its snout pointed skyward in an expression of civic pride in its inhabitants’ prowess in the arts of porcine cuisine.  The town of 5,000 is renowned for serving up spit-roasted, crispy skinned and pepper-spiced piglet.  Peak tourist time, some restaurants can serve up to 800 piglet A DAY!!! I was not tempted to try the suckling pig dishes, not a fan of pork meat!!

We left the hotel in Mealhada around 07h00,  a little nip in the air but not long before the sun was baking down on us.  A short walk of +-4 kilometers through a forest and the rest of the day on asphalt roads, felt like we were soon pounding the roads today.  Mostly quiet side roads through virtually deserted villages that were rather more attractive today.   Our feet are on fire tonight.  In fact I am in lots of pain, anyhow as the saying goes no pain no gain.  One part we walked through the most affluent area thus far on the Camino.   Huge estate type houses with vineyards as the front garden.  Beautiful well-kept homes, so different from what we have seen over the last 12 days.  It makes a huge difference if the surroundings are pleasant and “pretty”.

Took a much-needed rest in Baixo.   The bar had a lovely wooden deck outside and we made this into a camino hangout with back packs, sticks, plaster kits, shoes,  socks all over the place.  Loads of smokers in the bar which was most unpleasant.   You can smoke anywhere you want to in this country,  no laws whatsoever.  (Yeeech)

We opted for a hotel we thought was just outside the town of Agueda however landed up being another 2.5km.  The posters advertising the hotel kept saying 500 meters.  These people clearly have no idea of distance and trust me 100 meters impacts your mind negatively after a tough days walk of 25 kilometers.  Feeling a little peed off about the distance we walked to get to the hotel, I don’t even want to mention the name of the cute place (will be my last blog on Portuguese Way, list of all hotels and contact details we stayed in) we EVENTUALLY arrived at.  The hotel was full and we did not want to stay in the Albergue available at the hotel so schlepp another 2 kilometers up the road to the next available option.

The town of Águeda (population 12,000) looked quite pretty, but after slogging up the hill to the hotel and then another 2 kilometres, there was no way I was going back into town to discover its delights.  I think I died today, my feet are still on fire, we started at 07h00 and finally got to our place of rest at 17h00. Another long tough walking day.

Koren arrived from South Africa to join the trio this evening.  Our journey now consists of 4 of us!  Koren has been travelling for the last 26 hours and will have her first taste of the camino tomorrow.  Our walk to Albergaria Velha luckily is a short walk of only 20km’s.  We will ease her into the joy of walking the camino (even though we have had a pretty rough walk thus far)!!  Welcome Koren!! (my youngest sister).

The hotel (or more like a truckers motel) was clean and comfortable and we were thankful for a great dinner cooked by the owner for us.  We had plenty to eat and it was really good.

It fascinates me that the owners of these “cheaper type” hotels (known as Residencial’s) we are staying in, are the receptionist, the bar tender, the chef, the waiter, the cleaner, the everything!  Everything runs so smoothly without any assistance / help.  I know the economy has taken a thrashing here and it blows me away that they cope so well!  Kudu´s to these hard-working owners.


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