Day 5 – 18.8 km (11.68 miles)
We left the vineyard around 8 am, and the landscape remained quite similar to the previous day until we reached the Lima river. The walk alongside beautiful trees and man-made rapids led us to our lodging for the night. We got there around 1:30 pm but couldn’t check in until 3 pm. We were utterly exhausted – legs and feet tired, calves cramping, and I developed a blister on my left heel. Originally, we planned to walk for two more days before a day of rest, but we opted for an early break. Julie even fell asleep at lunch while waiting for check-in at 3 pm. I contacted the company handling our reservations, and they agreed to adjust our schedule. Consequently, we were staying two nights in Ponte de Lima, the oldest vila in Portugal. Yay! That night, I hit the bed by 7:30 pm and was out by 8 pm. I don’t think the other girls lasted much longer.
Day 6 – 12 km (7.5 miles)
Following a leisurely breakfast, we strolled across the Roman bridge and visited the International Garden Festival. Each diorama there was dedicated to the delicate balance of health between mind, body, and earth. We meandered back along the riverside, passing by a statue of a Roman soldier on horseback. The local lore told of the Lima River resembling a mythical river belonging to Hades – crossing it meant losing one’s memories. However, a brave general rode his horse across, and once reaching the other side called out to his soldiers by name to prove the superstition wrong.
Our day was filled with laundry tasks, a rather peculiar setup at the supermarket. Afterward, we treated ourselves to massages for our weary legs and feet. The frustrating part about Portugal was the midday closure of almost everything, including some restaurants, from noon to two. We wandered around until we found an open restaurant for lunch. Our planned day of rest turned into a 7-mile walk.
Day 7 – 17.4 km (10.8 miles)
Leaving Ponte de Lima, we crossed the Roman bridge once again and ascended a 1000-foot hill to reach our next stop. Debbie and Julie practically sprinted up the mountain, waiting for Michelle and me to catch up. Pilgrims on the path became more frequent, and we walked alongside some ladies from Maine and later chatted with a gentleman from Portugal. Arriving at our hostel for the night, we encountered fellow travelers from Australia. As luck would have it, there was a chilly pool to refresh ourselves in.
We have one more day of walking before we reach Spain.