This albergue also has the policy of opening the door at 6 am. However since the bags were being rustled from about 5 am I got up and packed. Again an open door earlier than announced and again I was first out on the Way.
In just a few steps I reach the bridge with the first glance of Spain on the other side of the river. I’ll be looking at it all morning on my left, since I need to follow the river to another bridge crossing at Valenca.
An interesting tower structure in the next village … like a watch tower. I soon hit the river bank… with a nice riverside promenade. On the river.. morning fog, along the river … cyclists and joggers.
The promenade doesn’t stretch along the entire bank. One section cuts across the grass, rich with morning dew. Convenient for cleaning my shoes from yesterday’s mud.
The promenade continues through towns and villages, picnic zones, parks and playgrounds. Among the trees I spot a glimpse of Valenca ahead… last city in Portugal on the Camino route.
Another 5-6 km and I am there, with yellow arrows dotting the approaches to the city. In the suburbs there is a peregrina ahead of me. She has a massive backpack and is hand-carrying a sleeping bag… which weighs at least a kilo. One arrow sign confused her into taking a wrong turn so I helped her find the right way.
At the center of the city a Spanish couple stopped to check the albergue location and a helpful gent passing by pointed the way. He is telling me that the albergue is to the left… I know.. alas the time has come to bid tchau to Portugal.
On my way to the bridge I pass a massive fortress … nearly gigantic in scope. Guess the neighbourly relations weren’t always amicable.
There lies the bridge … Tchau Portugal, no more obrigado, Bom Dia, Bom Caminho and pastel de nata. I found Portugal to be quite a nice country with extremely hospitable people. Hola Espana… its time to switch to gracias, buenos dias, Buen Camino and cafe con leche.
Spain welcomes me with the faded blue sign with yellow arrows and a bunch of Camino markers. This is the province of Galicia, a home to all things Camino.
A bit further down the road to Tui, than round and round uphill street to the cathedral. Behind the cathedral.. a police station, a library … and an albergue.
Many bloggers currently on the Camino as well as Facebook updates from pilgrims ahead mention how big pilgrim crowds start from Tui. Since Tui is the closest point (100 km) that you can start the Camino and qualify for the Compostela certificate. So with all the talk of crowds and difficulties in finding a bed… I was the first one at the albergue. Yet another Camino demonstration of the general uselessness of worrying. True, finding a free bed can be difficult, even off season, if you arrive late in the afternoon. But if you time the arrival before 13h generally speaking, there is no problem.
Tui is a town for peregrinos. Camino souvenirs and specialised shops are everywhere and every restaurant features menu peregrino. Although I keep telling myself to switch to Spanish a few obrigado’s manage to escape me.
At the organic bar / shop I tried something they call “an energy bomb”… a toast with Nutella and sliced bananas. I also met Greta from Denmark. Although experienced mountain climber she picked the wrong shoes for the Camino and her feet are killing her. Paying it forward for the help that I got from several Danes on my first Camino … I advised her to get a pair of hiking sandals and wear them with hiking socks.
Later in the afternoon there is a crowd back at the albergue, mostly Germans and Italians. I chat a bit with Greta, Irmau from Barcelona and Ithar from Germany. As I’m showing Ithar the GPS file with Camino route he comments… “you know there is a word in German for guys like you – Schtreber” … I know, we imported it into Croatian … “but since I am also one, email me the file please” (in English schtreber is nerd or a geek).
The German contingent has a mother – daughter pair. The daughter is a massage therapist so she gives her mum a thorough massage every day. Talk about wisely steering the kid’s career choice …
That was day no. 22.