It is 4 p.m. in Barcelos, a pretty town about 10 miles inland from the Portuguese coast. Tourism appears to be the town’s main business, with a lot of modern shops plying their wares in very old buildings. One of the town’s main attractions is an old Romanesque church, built in the 11th century. It is astonishingly beautiful.
We arrived in town a little over an hour ago, shortly before 3 p.m. I was impressed that it seemingly took us less time to walk today’s 20 km than it did yesterday’s 17 km. We began our walk about the slammer time, and if anything, today’s walk was slightly hillier.
Of course, it was also much cooler today, with the temperatures for whole of the morning never breaking 20 Celsius. (I’m guessing, mind you. I don’t have a thermometer with me, and I didn’t see any temperatures displayed anywhere.)
The sun only burned off the cloud cover about an hour before we reached our destination, and even now my weather app says it’s only 22 C, about 8 degrees cooler than Arcos was when we arrived there yesterday.
All of this – the cloudiness, the cooler temperatures and slight dampness to the breeze – along with quieter traffic, by and large, made for a really pleasant walk.
We met more pilgrims on the road, too. A fellow from Ireland, an English couple, the group of Brazilian pilgrims who’ve befriended us along the way, and others, too.
The Brazilians are my favourites so far. So friendly, funny and outgoing. Only one of them, Carol, speaks any English, and neither of us can speak more than a few words of Portuguese, but we all seemed to manage together drinking wine in the courtyard of the hotel last night, and joking around at breakfast this morning. I’ll miss them when we eventually part ways.
The scenery today was even more interesting and impressive than yesterday, as cornfields yielded, here and there, to lush gardens with pear, apple, orange, lemon and lime trees, grape vines, roses, and flowers I can’t begin to name.
The houses, too, were frequently beautiful, especially in the Barcelos suburb of Pereira, where ultramodern casually coexists with medieval ruins, and many houses have small shrines built into their walls and fences.
We lunched in the village of Pedra Furada, named for a large stone with a hole in its centre situated outside an 18th century church. Legend has it that Saint Leocadia was buried alive, and escaped by drilling a hole in her erstwhile tombstone with her head.
Now we are getting ready to go explore Barcelos before dinner, abd then prepare ourselves for tomorrow’s 15 km walk to Balugães.