A light rain was falling when I arrived in Ponte de Lima around 8 p.m. after my train and bus rides from Lisbon.
Approaching the beautiful arched bridge built by the Romans in 1125, I heard jazz playing. I wondered where the sound could be coming from, because the small village seemed rather quiet and empty of people. The music became louder as I got closer to a street light on the bridge, and I realized the jazz was coming from speakers concealed inside the lamppost! I was mesmerized by the beauty and the feeling of that moment—crossing a bridge and being serenaded by jazz. It was as if the Camino had rolled out a welcome mat and said, “Come here child; we’ve been expecting you. You are exactly where you need to be.”
As I crossed the bridge, this huge stone pilgrim statue welcomed me on the other side.
The municipal albergue on the north side of the bridge was just perfect. A friendly hospitalera checked me in and issued my first albergue stamp. She gave me a tour of the facilities, and I selected a lower bunk in a room with twelve beds (six bunk beds).
Too giddy with excitement to settle down, I went to the albergue’s dining area, where I found five amiable Italians drinking a bottle of wine. They insisted I had a glass with them. How could I refuse?
We got talking and Bruno said I had just missed a delicious spaghetti carbonara that he cooked for the group’s communal dinner. He lamented that he couldn’t find the right cheese in Portugal for his specialty. I can speak some Italian, so we all chatted together, finishing the wine until it was time to say buona notte.
I went outside to take photos before it was too dark. Here are a few highlights of the albergue and its surroundings.
The next morning when I woke up, the Italians and most everyone else was gone already.
It was a beautiful morning so I took a few more photos in the albergue and videos by the bridge.