“Very wet – but what a finish…!”
13 April 2016
I felt rested, but still with sore feet. I felt bad about yesterday, so set off to walk from Rabanal to Coimbra, the ancient capital of Lusitania (Portugal). The rain was relentless.
I saw not one other person in the hostel after checking in yesterday. No inmates. No manager. No one. The town of Rabaçal was very, very quiet
I stopped at Café Bonita for breakfast (recommended). To use a Yorkshire expression – it was ‘siling down’ outside. The rain was heavy from clouds which I am sure were just below sea-level.
Lots of dedications to St. James in the villages such as Zambujal. Going through the village of Zambuja, I saw a poster informing everyone of the funeral of one of the locals. As I looked at it, I read his birth-date, Just two days younger than myself. Once again – live your life. Do everything you want to do while you have the youth, or at least the vigour. Stop procrastinating. Just DO it!
I had done my best to protect everything, but the camera was getting very wet every time I used it. Eventually it decided to go into lock down. It came out of its sulk when I reached Coimbra.
The best parts of today on the natural philosophy side were seeing the chalk streams matted with flowers and a Yellow-Spotted Salamander, which I was Iucky to get on my camera. I even met another Pilgrim – another Englishman who hailed from Liverpool – walking FROM Santiago. Connor is a nice guy, who had recently finished his university degree. Finally – someone to take a photo of me….(sorry).
On the cultural side – the huge array of Roman ruins at Conimbriga are fantastic. They would look better in better weather, but are still awe-inspiring. These represent a huge Roman settlement. How do places as big and wealthy as this become deserted ruins. Ozymandias again.
Coimbra itself is a fantastic old city – once the capital of Portugal. It has its own special music, Fado de Coimbra. The music – love songs – is old and sung in the streets – in the necessary costume – by the students of the university. This is a town with a great heritage and if like me, you knew nothing about it, add it right now to your ‘bucket list’.
I booked an Airbnb.com apartment right in the heart of the old town. If the weather were drier and warmer, I would have the windows open and listened to the Fado down on the street below.
I visited a doctor who spoke excellent English, and on his advice, the next stage will have to wait. I am popping antibiotics and pain-killers. I shall return home tomorrow, flying from Porto, and on to Farndale to rest my foot, and work on my garden.
I will stay true to the spirit of the Camino. I have already booked my flight back to Porto on 15 June, and will take the train and bus to go back to Alvaiázere . However, apart from using the most basic information on Brierley’s guide, his days of more than 30km are not on my list of things to do next time. The restart will involve more days of (hopefully) fewer kilometres.