Today is the day. After a very good night's sleep (8 hours without waking even once) the alarm rings at 7. And we had been so sure we wouldn't even need it but set it anyway.
At check-in we were told that breakfast starts at 7:30 and there we were shortly after. It's odd not to go to church on Sunday but we knew this was going to happen and went to the Wednesday service at our church. Our rector even said a special prayer and blessing for us.
We were told that we can ask for a taxi to the bus station when we check out and it will be there in 2 minutes. She wasn't lying. It wasn't even that long. James had bought our bus tickets on the internet weeks ago and printed them. Here is a selfie of us at the ticket window but we can go straight downstairs to the bus.
The bus will take 2 hours to Valença in Portugal. We make a few stops on the way for more passengers. The bus goes all the way to Porto. That is where 2 couples are going we chat with them. One (from Sweden) has walked from Porto and the other couple (from Minnesota) walked from Tui pretty much like we want to do. For others who might want to do the Camino Portuguese that might be a good idea to fly to Porto, leave the suitcase there, take the bus to were you want to start, Then take the bus back to Porto and start your more leisurely vacation then.
It was a pretty drive and I was thinking. Actually I had wondered lately "why did I want to do this". A challenge? Pride? Jealousy because James loved it so much? No. Driving along looking out of the window my heart is full of thanksgiving to our Lord Father and Creator. I will try to do this walk as much "the pilgrim way" as possible and do without the usual luxuries to remind me HOW BLESSED I am.
Arrived in Valença Portugal. Yeah! My first day. My backpack weighs probably about 15 pounds without the water, 17 or 18 with. I had never walked with actually everything. Feels ok though.
From the bus station we have to walk uphill to the Fortaleza (fortress) to find the Camino. Ups, this is steep. Better find the poles.
Yes!!! The first yellow arrow. This ... is ... it!
Fortaleza is a medieval town with small little streets and cute little houses, shops, street cafés.
We want our first stamp in our pilgrim passport to document the beginning. James says often you get them in churches (sometimes even laying out for doing it yourself) but the first church didn't have anybody or anything, the second had a service going so we only stopped briefly to say a prayer, the third was already closed for siesta time. Across the street though on the far left was an antique store.
Here we could get a stamp (the stamp) and buy a shell. Now we are ready!
And off we go. More little streets. More fort. Great views.
This is the bridge we have to walk over to Tui in Spain. In the back to the right is the cathedral on the hill. The albergue is close to it.
Ha, you can read what this sign says shortly before the bridge.
And here is the bridge. Pedestrians on the outside.
Cars on the inside and trains on top. I was lucky to get a moment without any.
Back in Spain. Can you believe it? The short time we were in Portugal we had to deal with one hour time difference.
My first "real" Camino sign. 115.454 km to Santiago!
Glimps of the old town on the hill with the cathedral.
All signed in at the albergue and assigned to a bed. Here 18 to a room. We have two bottom bunks. Mine is in the very corner left and James' just before. He has a nice young lady from Sweden above him.
The view from the bedroom.
After we are situated and had our showers we go out. I do have to tell about the showers though. They are just in a row without dividers. There were two girls already there. I found that you had to push the shower button to turn it on and it would run a short time and then turn off. I joked with the girls that it would take more pushes for my body. How many pushes does it take for this body? I will not tell you, ha-ha.
Ah, sitting in a street cafe and see the world go by is just the thing. Especially with two beers for 3.40 Euros and free tapas. Delish!
We walk the end of this street which seems to be a main one. Had read about the wild horse statue.
And then back to the cathedral which had been closed earlier (before the beer) but was open now. You do have to pay for a ticket but it is well worth it. This picture from its front does not give it justice at all.
I could have taken many MANY pictures but really ... Here is just a selection.
There were many side altars/chapels. I took this one for the framed lace on the right. James had to take it with his long arms and lean over the railing.
The best part was going through the cloister into the garden. What a view!
It helps when you read your guide book. It even told us where the light switch is to go up the tower steps.
There is the tower.
When we want to go down again we see that we can go up even further.
Ups, no railing anywhere here.
And back at the albergue to write some blog.
We set in the courtyard and I was able to work but no WI-FI.
So we went to find a restaurant which had WI-FI. No luck. Even worse ... restaurants don't open before 8 pm.
Finally we gave up with the Internet and just stopped here to have something to eat and drink. We were not very hungry but with the drinks came some complimentary tapas again.
And then we ordered pulpo.
And Padron peppers.
The last was good too but just too much. The pulpo and the Padron peppers were out of this world good.
We started to head back to the albergue because it closes at 10 pm no merci. But we saw WI-FI here and decided to have a glass of the recommended special local white wine. The wine was good but the internet not. Only a few pictures got uploaded. Oh well, we knew this would happen. Better luck tomorrow ... may be.
Night night with 18 full beds in one room.