Friday, May 26 – Vila do Bispo to Carrapateira

We are here. On the patio. In Carrapateira. But it was not an easy journey. However, there is one of the nicest beaches I have ever seen and we could barely walk to see it…because we walked around 24 km today!

Last night was pretty much the worst sleep ever. I think the hotel was on the main level of someone’s home, and they were upstairs scraping chairs and tap dancing until at least 1 am. We were on the main level so we couldn’t leave the window open. And the fan was so loud I think I lost some hearing overnight from leaving it on. Seriously. And to top it off, Shawn’s bed was so squeeky! Every time he moved (which was about every 2 seconds) the wooden frame creaked and groaned and woke me up again. It was nuts. Around 1am I got up and found my sleeping pills…and gave one to Shawn! We both managed to sleep after that. Thankfully. But ugg.

And the other funny part was that when the owner checked us in she was busy – on her way to the store – so she asked us to pay later. Even though we came and went through the main door at least 4 times going for dinner and to get groceries we never saw her or anyone else again. She didn’t require any ID like most places do either. So when we got up this morning we could have left and she would have no idea who we were if we had left and not paid. It was so odd. So after we had packed up and were headed out to catch the bus, we left our key and 40 euros behind the reception desk. I hope she found it.

Anyway…I packed up the bags at 6am and Shawn made us breakfast and lunch sandwiches. We had no issues getting to the bus in time and it was almost on time too. We ended up getting back to Vila do Bispo at 7:30 and started our hike. Unfortunately we had a hard time finding the starting point out of the town (again), so we walked around a bit before we ended up on the right path.

It said to go by the soccer field – which was actually a great description, but as we had not walked around the entire town, we did not know where the soccer field was, so we went about 500 meters in the wrong direction before we doubled back and found the field and saw, right away, the markings for the trail that we needed to be on. So, it wasn’t too fatal to our day.

It was neat to see the transition from windswept cliffs to fields and valleys with wheat crops, cork trees, and forests of eucalyptus trees on our walk today compared to yesterday. It kind of felt like we were in a different world.

When we first started it was slightly cooler and overcast. There was mist coming off the ocean and the sky was cloudy. I did not mind a bit. My shoulders got a bit more sun than they should have yesterday, so a bit of cloud was fine by me. It made walking more pleasant as well. So all good things. It was kind of neat because we spent the morning walking around a few different wind farms. They were all Vestas. Not that you care. But I thought it was cool. We also saw a cute little pig farm where all the little piglets were nestled together and came running when we stopped! I had been after Shawn for stopping every half hour to take rocks out of his shoes, but I spent quite a while taking pictures of the pigs, so who am I to talk?!

We passed through the village of Pedralva and decided to stop and have a snack. We each downed a Diet Coke (apparently I deprived Shawn of a coffee this morning) and split this fantastic cheese dish. Bread is amazing here. I would have never thought as it is no screaming hell in Italy – nothing like France. But anyway it is great here. We have bought these great sourdough buns for 18 cents per 4 for the last couple of days. Well, here we had a round of Camembert baked with currents and strawberries and blueberries on top. It was fantastic. All that melted cheesy goodness we piled on to our great sourdough bread. Overall, an amazing lunch stop. (The unfortunate thing being, of course, that my pack was no lighter as we did not consume any of the food that I was hauling with me!)

We headed on our way, further north and followed a river back and fourth and back and fourth. This was probably my most favourite part of our trip. We met great people and the scenery was stunning. Birds chirped and sang beside us in the trees. It was fantastic. And well, after kilometre 13, everything starts to seem amazing!

We followed an almost non- existent river and had to cross it six times. But only 1 time did we really need to cross it. And neither of us fell in, so that was a good thing. After crossing the river a couple of times I started to hear bells. Fine. Not that exciting. We have been hiking for a while now, I could be hallucinating it. But we did stumble on a heard of cows all wearing cow bells! I was super excited! I know that for most people, especially from the Prairies, cows are not exciting. But for some reason I find cows with bells on extremely entertaining. I love the sound.

So, as I was admiring the ringing of the bells in the lush, treed valley we were walking through, I saw the cow-herder. I wanted to take a picture, but we were too close, so it was impossible to be discreet. So on a whim I asked him (via sign language as well as a mixture of French and Spanish, as I do not speak Portuguese) if I could take his picture. He was delighted. He posed nicely for me as well as wanted a pic with Shawn. Then he proceeded to ask where we were headed – he understood we were on this hike, and I tried to convey which city we are stopping in. His toothless grin and lovely eye wrinkles kept reappearing as we tried to communicate with a mix of the languages we understood.

He then told me that there was a new-born vaca (cow) and gestured to the field where the cows were grazing. We followed him through the thistle, weeds, and grass and stopped quite a ways away from the large cows where he pointed and then made the sign for sleeping. I saw ahead of me, maybe 2 feet, a little rudddy spot. It was a 3 day old cow who was napping between the purple thistle. It was so cute despite his head being covered by flies. I took a bunch of pictures – of course. As we went to leave, he introduced himself as Valadine and we shook hands while doing intros. He kept waving and smiling at us as we walked back through the weeds to the path and continued on our way. It was definitely the highlight of my day!

As we crossed yet another river crossing and continued along our hike, we were stopped by a large female cow as we did a stand off in the middle of the path. We decided to go right and she seemed okay with this decision as she went left. All was okay. (But she had large horns…so I am glad it was all okay.)

We continued along – a bit painfully by this point. But we continued along. We passed the turn off for the town of Vilarinha and saw that we still had 5km to go. So we plugged along. I couldn’t believe how much the landscape had changed. It was now lush trees, fields of wheat, and tropical humidity. It was very different than yesterday.

Finally, we made an abrupt turn and started marching up the hill though a forest of eucalyptus trees to reach the summit of the hills that gently rolled down to the town of Carrapateira and the beach. The views of the town from above reminded me of Greece. All whitewashed buildings with nice terracotta roofs. Even the windows and doors were painted a beautiful bright colour of red or blue.

We descended past the centre of town and over to the direction of the beach to the restaurant-hotel where we hastily made a reservation last night when we realized how limited hotels and hostels were going to be on this trip. We found a great little place for super cheap (40 euros again, including breakfast this time). It is called L-Colesterol (which totally made me laugh!) and was en route to the beach!

After checking in early (yes, we totally finished our official 22km before 2pm!!) I convinced Shawn that we needed to go to the beach and check out the ocean. And besides, the cold salt water would make all of our aching muscles feel better. We finally made it there (the 1km has never taken so long!) and we happily dunked ourselves in the ocean and admired the beautiful golden sand beaches. This beach (Bordeira Beach) is one of the most empty and deep beaches I have ever seen. It was dune after dune of beautiful sand…finally leading to the ocean. We only made it through the shallows on the edge of the beach where the “real” ocean leaked a bit into the inland…but it was still amazing. And it felt great on the muscles. Hopefully we will both be able to properly walk our 24 km tomorrow!!

After making it back to the hotel, we headed down to the patio and started drinking another amazing batch of Sangria. And more fish for dinner. Tonight we split the Seabream (fish). I love how healthy all of the dishes are. It is amazing. I love fish and seafood, so this is definitely my place to be!

Until tomorrow (another 24km to go!)

Night!

-Allison

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