Bom Caminho: A Ponte de Lima Jazz Serenade

A light rain was falling when I arrived in Ponte de Lima around 8 p.m. after my train and bus rides from Lisbon.

A lone kayaker gliding along the river

A lone kayaker gliding along the river

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.

 

As I crossed the bridge, this was a nice welcome. Bom Caminho!

Bom Caminho is the pilgrim greeting in Portuguese, just like Buen Camino in Spanish.

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).

Municipal Alberge is conveniently located in a toy museum.

Municipal Alberge is conveniently located in a toy museum.

Albergue entrance

Albergue entrance

Yellow arrows point to Santiago, blue point to Fatima. Pilgrims walking in both destinations are welcome in all albergues in Portugal.

Yellow arrows point to Santiago, blue point to Fatima. Pilgrims walking to either destination are welcome in all albergues in Portugal.

Entering the albergue

Entering the albergue

My bunk was 2nd from the window

My sleeping bag liner stretches so it fitted over that giant pillow. Notice the plastic covered mattress. Albergues do what they can to prevent bedbugs.

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?

The Italians

The Italians gave me a warm welcome, and a nice glass of vino.

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.

Women's Bathroom

Women’s Bathroom

Showers

Showers

Kitchen

Kitchen

Signs for laundry and WC (bathroom)    Wash basin

Laundry facilities

Laundry facilities

Funny in every language!

Funny in every language!

Drying rack

Drying rack

Sign listing other albergues

Sign showing other albergues along the route

IMG_7480

Roses and guest book

Roses and guest book

The view at night from my bunk

The view at night from my bunk

The next morning when I woke up, the Italians and most everyone else was gone already.

I was the last to leave!

Late(er) start – only my boots and backpack were there. The early birds were long gone.

It was a beautiful morning so I took a few more photos in the albergue and videos by the bridge.

View from balcony

Sunrise view from balcony

Back patio of albergue

Back patio of albergue

Stone archway

Stone archway

Church by the albergue and bridge

Church by the albergue and bridge

Bull statue

Beautiful Ponte de Lima

The beautiful Roman bridge with 30 arches

1125 AD Roman bridge with 30 arches

Yellow windmill

Yellow windmill surrounded by lush green vineyards and farms

 

 

Up next: Walking Day 1: Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes

Digame, por favor.

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