Continued from Walking Day 1: Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes
Stage: Rubiaes to Valença 17 km
+ 11 km Valença fort to Tui for sightseeing and dinner, roundtrip
28 km total walking
The Rubiaes albergue was much more crowded than Ponte de Lima’s, so the room was very stuffy in the morning. When I cranked open the window next to my top bunk, I got a few nods of approval from the groggy people waking up. The metal bunk beds were a little squeaky, but I managed to get a decent sleep. I was so glad my sleep sack was treated with insect shield because a girl two bunks over was bitten during the night. She spotted a bedbug on her mattress and notified the albergue staff. Yikes! That was too close for comfort. I checked my mattress and bag liner and there were no signs of bugs. It seemed like a very clean and well run albergue. Below are a few photos.
I met Andrea Prestes from Porto Alegre, Brazil in the kitchen; we were both desperate for coffee. We got to chatting with a few others, and she showed us a beautiful book that she made after walking the Camino Francés.
She took all the photos using her iPhone, and had translations in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. I enjoyed talking with her about how the Camino inspires people in so many ways. I interviewed her in the backyard of the albergue.
You can find her book online at pathsaroundtheworld.com.
After a delicious omelet sandwich and café con leche at Café São Sebastião the place opposite the albergue, I hit the trail.
For a while, I walked with two older French men who carried unusually large backpacks. They were the same two people I saw the day before in Ponte de Lima, and we were on the “slow-to-rise” schedules. They were adorable! One of them walked away ahead, but I chatted with Jean. I don’t speak much French, and he had trouble pronouncing my name. Laurent was as close as he could get, but the way he said it sounded like the designer Yves St. Laurent. It made me sound so classy. 🙂
Most of the walk that day was on old Roman roads and bridges next to a creek and waterfalls. I love walking in the morning! As usual, I took a lot of photos, so that slowed my pace a bit.
I took a break at a café where I saw familiar faces from the albergue. This café is donativo, meaning you pay what you think it’s worth. It has been made famous by a woman who colors the stamp in each person’s credential. Her work was really impressive and made it stand out among the other stamps.
The Camino continued through a pine forest, farmland, vineyards, and eventually the suburbs of Valença. I was impressed with the neighborhoods’ tidiness and the beauty of flowers I saw in many homes.
As I got closer to Valença, there was more street traffic and concrete sidewalks. I already missed walking on dirt and old stone roads next to streams. Just when I thought it was about to get too industrial, I saw some calla lilies.
I had decided to stay in the Albergue São Teotónio in Valença on the Portugal side of the border instead of staying in Tui on the Spanish side. After my wonderful time in Portugal, I just wanted to give it one more night. I picked a bed in a lower bunk by a window and took a shower.
I thought I’d try a pilgrim tip I had heard about, which is to go into the shower with your shirt, socks, and undies on and wash them as you wash your body. I did this and rinsed and hung them out as I finished my shower; it’s a good timesaver. I also did my ritual of lying on my back for ten minutes with my legs up the wall to ease the soreness from hiking all day.
After putting on my dress, scarf, and Xero shoes, I went to explore the fortified old city of Valença. I walked around the ramparts and saw the cannons pointed toward Tui, Spain, across the river. It was very beautiful and peaceful. Click here to view a 360° video from the fort’s walls.
I crossed the international bridge over the Minho river to take my first steps in Spain.
There are no longer any passport checkpoints between EU countries, but there were bright stenciled footprints in the center of the bridge’s walkway.
Once in Spain, I headed toward the Parador, a historic hotel that’s part of a chain owned by the Spanish government. I ordered an Estrella beer, Galicia’s finest. It was a total pleasure to speak Spanish and have an actual conversation with the wait staff! I sat at a nice table outside, and the waitress brought me a dish of chips and mixed nuts. Free tapas is one of the great things Spain. Unfortunately, Portugal doesn’t do this! It was only two euros for this refreshing beer and snacks and a welcome treat after walking more than seventeen km.
Exploring the old town, I spotted some friends from the Rubiaes albergue. They all decided to stay in Tui, including bedbug girl who had thrown away her clothes and sleeping bag and splurged on a hotel room that night. I had a glass of wine with her, the Aussie, and two other pilgrims, a few of whom stayed at the municipal albergue.
As I headed back across the border to the albergue in Valença, I regretted not staying in Tui also; Valença and the fort didn’t have much of a vibe or nightlife. Oh well, I was leaving Portugal the next morning.
Seeing Andrea coming into Tui late was an unexpected surprise! We gave each other a big hug, even though we had just met that morning. That’s how friendships form on the Camino. She told me she used a Camino courier service to carry her big bag so that she can take lots of photos for her next book about the Caminho Portugués. I cannot wait to order a copy, especially after meeting Andrea! Below are some photos of her first book, which I just ordered from pathsaroundtheworld.com.
Andrea and I have stayed in touch via WhatsApp and Facebook. I hope our paths cross again.
Before I crossed the border back to Portugal, I stopped by the Parador for their delicious pilgrim menu dinner for just 15 euros!
What a great finish to an incredible day! I was so ready to walk the remainder of my Camino in Spain. I loved Portugal, but Spain will always be closest to my heart. Tui has officially been added to my Favorite Places in Spain list. 🙂
Here’s the tracked map from AllTrails.
Download the map PDF: alltrails-rubiaes-to-valenca
Here’s my walk around the fort and crossing the border to Spain for sightseeing and dinner. I used the MapMyHike App. Here’s that link and map below.
Up next: Redondela to Pontevedra.