18kms. Another sunny day (we’ll stop talking about the weather soon, I promise. It’s just that sunshine is still a bit of a novelty to us after 2 weeks of rain every day). The Camino Portuguese guide by John Brierley has the Alvaiazere to Rabacal section as one very long day of 32.5 km. This includes a lot of climbing and desents, so we split the stage into two days. Even then the 18km was a hard day. It was warm and sunny, and it took a bit of getting used too.
We climbed out of Ansiao which gained us 100 metres in altitude. We passed the first of many pine trees that had been tapped for their sap. It was a quiet country road through Netos where there were several new houses that had been built. Then we went cross country on a track through pine and eucalyptus forest to a cafe/service station at Freixo, where we consumed yet another portuguese tart (or two). Then we left the road for farm tracks that became rtacks through old walled olive groves. We are not qute sure why there are all these walls seperating the olive groves, but they look fairly old.
We climbed upwards in the warm afternoon until we reached Alvorge, where there were a cafe and mini-mercado (small store), but they all looked closed. It was then a steep decent into a valley that contained a old lavadero. We had passed a lavadero before, it is a community clothes washing place, which has a creek feeding over stone washboards so you can wash your clothes. No longer used now of course.
We had to detour a couple of sections of the path that were completely flooded, and then climbed again up a hill covered in low scrub. It was fairly warm, and there was not much shade when we stopped for a late lunch.We decended into Ribera de Alcalamouque, where as usual there seem almost no-one around, passed another abandoned Qunita (farm) and headed north passing small patches of grape vines that just could not produce much income. If grape growers in Australia cannot make money out of 10 hectares of grape vines, we cannot see how these grape vines that are about the size of a house block make any money.
We arrived in Rabacal, to find the only accomodation in town closed. How it works is you need to ring someone in town, and they come and collect your money and open it up for you. We didn’t even get to ring anyone up, someone drove past stopped, asked us (insign language) if we wanted to sleep, and organised it all.