Day 21 – Rubiães to Tui – 14mi/22km
This was my favorite day so far on the Portuguese Camino. We got an early 630am start but it was cool outside and the walking was very relaxed. We had nice conversations with some familiar faces we had been seeing the past few days, and a couple of them joined us across the day.
I got cool stamps on my pilgrim passport from several places. One of them was Quinta Estrada Romana, a cafe/albergue that recently was an abandoned building but was restored by a Canadian couple who loved their Camino so much they wanted to relive it daily by building an albergue. We were the first to get there but soon at least a dozen peregrinos were enjoying their delicious food and fresh squeezed lemon juice.
We got to the Portuguese border city of Valença where we enjoyed walking the old fortifications and then had a delicious roast chicken lunch. We then crossed the bridge that marks the Portugal-Spain border. We explored the medieval Spanish city of Tui which was like a ghost town during the Spanish “siesta.” We stayed in an old monastery that converted a section into a historical albergue. We cooled off with an amazingly refreshing swim in the Minho River, alongside families of ducks and geese!!!
Then, we went back out in the evening after the town absolutely woke up, and ate dinner at Taperia de la Manu, an AWESOME tapas restaurant with huge portions and impeccably fresh, delicious food.
After the first 3-4 days of pure struggle, this day finally felt like the Caminos I remembered from years past: camaraderie, scenery, gastronomy, and solid exercise. After the last 3-4 days of wondering why we chose to do this at all, today we closed our eyes very content and happy.
Three weeks on the road!
It was another wonderful shorter day where we could take our time and stop more often along the way.
That said we still left at 6:30 to take advantage of cooler temps and for an earlier arrival.
The first half of the day was through really nice forested and rustic paths of cobblestone and second was going through a mix of the old and new cities of Valença and Tui. It was really nice variety today.
Along the way we stopped at a really nice hostel that was an abandoned building that was bought and converted to a really nice to stay with a cafe. We were one of the first to stop, but soon there for a dozen of us there.
The passage through the fort of Valença was really neat. There is a lot of history between it and Tui as they fought against one another long ago. We had a huge lunch there.
Then we crossed the bridge into Spain!
After some lounge time, we hit the town for dinner. When we arrived it was siesta time and a ghost town, but it was alive at dinner time 3 hours later.
For dinner we went to a tapas place where the six of us each ordered something different. Every one of them was SO DELICIOUS! We were practically sweating by the end.
We stayed at a convent that had converted a wing into a hostel only four months ago and it was very nice. Best mattresses so far.