Day 16: Eating with the Fishes in Malaposta

Day 16

Date: Wednesday, Sep 21, 2016
Start: Albergaria-a-Velha
Stop: Hotel Feira Pedra Bela, Malaposta     👍
Dist (Day/Total): 37/359 km
High Temp: 20 C/68 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.

Headed out at 7 am.  Still dark.  Overcast but nice and cool.  Good day for a long walk.  After a couple of hours, I stopped at cute little cafe in Pinheiro de Bemposta for breakfast.  Incidentally, I have to watch the autocorrects more closely with some of the town names.  I just noticed that Pinheiro de Bemposta had been corrected to Pinheiro de Bedpost.

Cafe in Pinheiro de Bemposta

Anyway . . .

The cafe had a mix of locals and Pilgrims.  I’m starting to see more of the latter now that I’m close to Porto.  Most people start in Porto.  The route from Lisbon to Porto is mostly along roads and doesn’t have the same level of services (albergues, etc.).  Of course, it’s a catch-22.  There aren’t enough services because there aren’t enough pilgrims and vice versa.  But as the other routes get more crowded, people start moving towards the road less traveled.  That’s another thing.  People don’t want to feel like they are in a traffic jam, which is what Camino Francis has started to feel like but they don’t want to be completely alone either.  At the end of the day, you want a few other like minded people to commiserate and share war stories with.

There are some hills on the way to Sao Joao de Madeira.  Good thing it isn’t as hot as the first week.  Sao Joao seems like a good sized town.  I even walk by a mall.  I stop at a pizza by the slice place for lunch as I ponder spending the night here or going on.  I decide to press on to Malaposta, which is another 6 to 7 km.  This would make tomorrow’s walk to Porto a relatively short 27 km.

Church in Arrifana, Portugal on the way to Malaposta

The hotel I’m staying at is right off a very busy highway, in an industrial area.  It looks like a generic US Travelodge and the room and bathroom, for Portugal, are huge.  Next door is the Restaurante Pedra Bela and I head over there for dinner.  The restaurant is large and fancy in an old fashioned, outdated, stuffy way.  There are at least two large fish and lobster tanks.  The waiters are in black pants, white, frilly tuxedo shirts with black bowties.  Everything, including the waiters, look slightly run down.  I’m not sure about the place but decide I don’t really feel like looking for another spot.  I order a steak.  It came with fried potatoes.  I think everything comes with fired potatoes in this area.  I order a half bottle of wine.   It was a great meal.  Rustic and simple.  Second only to my toasted tomato sandwich from earlier in the trip and comparable to the steak I had in Tomar.  At €25, it was also the most expensive meal of the trip.

The place was empty when I arrived.  Looking back at it, I’m not even sure they were open when I got there but they seated me and took my order.  A few minutes after my order was taken, all the waiters sat down to eat family style.  Periodically, my waiter would get up to check on me.  Diners started showing up right after the waiters finished eating.  It was as if there was a schedule and they knew it.  Most of them appeared to be regulars by the way they were greeted and drinks and appetizers were brought out as soon as they were seated.  No orders were placed.  For a couple of empty tables, a waiter put appetizers on the table, champagne bucket next to the table, bottle of wine, etc.  Minutes later someone came in and sat down at the table.  In one instance, the waiter even opened a wine bottle and poured a glass and a guy showed up and sat down seconds later.  It was amazing to watch.  Everyone seem to have their table.  I had a pretty good table in the center of the restaurant and wondered whose table I had taken.


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