Day 12: Country Cooking in Rabacal

Day 12
Date: Saturday, Sep 17, 2016
Start: Ansiao
Stop: Centro Promocao Turistica, Rabacal     👍
Dist (Day/Total): 19/226 km
High Temp: 26 C/79 F

A single thumbs up or down is simply an indication of whether I would stay there again or not.  It is not a recommendation.  A double thumbs up or down indicates that the place was great and I highly recommend it or absolutely awful and stay away.

Another late start at 7:15 am.  But it turned out to be a good walk.  Nice and cool, at least until about 11 am.  Ran into a couple of other solo pilgrims.  It also helped that a good portion of the trail was off asphalt, today.  Very rare on the Caminho Portuguese.

On the Way to Rabacal, Portugal

I got to Rabacal at noon and stopped at this municipal run hostel.  It was early and they were closed.  I sat down in the shaded porch and had an orange.  I decided I was going to stop there and called the number on the door.  Someone would be around in an hour or so.  It had now gotten hot and I decided to stay put.  About an hour later, Renato, one of the pilgrims I had passed in the morning showed up and he decided to stop there also.  He decided he was going to get something to eat.  I had had my orange and figured I would skip lunch and have an early dinner.

I got a private room with a private bath for €15.  Very basic, somewhat clean.  It was nearly 2 pm by the time I took a shower and explore the town.  The lobby of the hostel was packed with pilgrims.  It was more than I had seen in the past 11 days combined.  I talked to a couple of them.  One guy from Canada said it looked like the hostel was going to be full and he wasn’t sure he was going to get a bed.  I found out later on that he had.

Rabacal, Portugal

Rabacal is a really small town.  The main drag was less than half a km with a cafe at one end and a restaurant at the other and a grocery store in the middle.  The hostel was about in the middle also.

I was starving and saw Renato coming back.  Asked him about the restaurant.  It was really good but was closing at 2 pm.  Whoooooops.  Of course, that made me hungrier and the restaurant more attractive and I headed out there.  The restaurant was O Cantinho da Clotilde and it looked like it was part of an old farmhouse.  You went up these narrow, steep staircase to the 2nd floor to get to the restaurant.  The dining area was small and looked like a dining room (with extra dining tables) in a messy but charming and comfortable house.  To complete the charm it was run by little old ladies.  There was one long table that was occupied and the other tables were empty but had not been cleared.

O Cantinho da Clotilde, Rabaçal, Portugal

A couple of the little old ladies looked up as I walked in and did not look happy.  I gave them my best sheepish “I’m sorry I know it is late but please can I get something to eat” smile and one of them motioned me to one of the tables.  She came back to take my order and clear the table.  I don’t recall a menu.  She didn’t speak English.  I ordered what I thought was pork and by golly it did turn out to be pork.  And it was delicious.  Hearty and unpretentious.  As I ordered, a couple came in and sat down and I didn’t feel so bad.  The little old lady who waited on me gradually warmed to me.  I decided I would skip dinner and ended up getting dessert.  Lunch came out to under €10.

I walked around, checked out the grocery store.  There is a Roman Museum in town but it was closed.  I ended up at the cafe at the other end of town and stopped for a beer.  It had a shaded outdoor area.  There were quite a few people there for middle of the afternoon.  It looked like Rabacal was the kind of town where people from the city drove to on the weekends to relax, get some home-cooked country meal, drink some beers.  

Renato joined me.  He spoke English well enough for us to have a very pleasant conversation.  I had been to Brazil before and we talked about hiking in the Tijuca Forest in Rio and the differences between Brazilian Portuguese and Portuguese Portuguese.  He tried to convince me that Brazilian Portuguese was the correct one.  I remained skeptical.

He headed back to the hostel and I had another beer or two.  As I started walking back to the hostel, it seemed like there were an inordinate amount of cars parked on the side to the street and there was a traffic jam.  I realized all the parked cars were Volvos.  It was a car club on a weekend outing.

Volvo Car Club w/Hostel (red towel) in Background

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