The door handle in my albergue broke in the middle of the night when I tried to use the bathroom. Fortunately, Frank, an agreeable civil-engineer from Stuttgart, the only other pilgrim staying there heard me and opened the door. It was comical!

I got off to a late start. My legs were shot. The energy I had the previous day was gone. The temperature rose quickly to 96. I picked some grapes for breakfast. Nothing is better to eat than the fresh figs and grapes found along the way.  A dog escorted me for over a mile as I walked through a village. He led me like a sentinel. I listened in Audible to Johnny Cash reading the Gospel of John, which is so different from the Synoptic Gospels. I realized how much of the Fourth Gospel is never read aloud in church.

I met only a handful of pilgrims. All of them were walking in the opposite direction. The were headed to Fatima. This is the only Camino that I’ve walked with signs in two directions and pilgrims walking in two different ways. I met Matteo and Ingrid – two Italians walking to Fatima. She started in Santiago, while he started in Bergamo. This was his 85th day of walking as a pilgrim!

By 11:30 a.m. after a late start, I reached Conimbriga, which are possibly the largest, but definitely the most intact, Roman ruins in Portugal.  This was once a walled city, with defenses that went on for 1,500 meters – only 10% of which has been excavated so far.

The domus, Casa dos Repuxos (House of the Fountain) is a spectacular aristocratic abode sheltered by a modern glass canopy. It dates to the 1st and 2nd centuries and has an elaborate fountain, mosaics and traces of a painted mural.

I toured the museum quickly. The Roman period has never attracted me to the same extent as the medieval period, which I find more fascinating. I ate a good lunch at the cafe. It was 96 degrees out. I still had 10 miles to walk. I decided to call a cab to take me 16 kilometers to Coimbra, where the citizens of Conimbriga moved some 1,700 or 1,800 years ago when they abandoned Conimbriga. It was a smart decision to take a cab. My heals are in bad shape. It’s time to rest my body. A pilgrim must always listen to their body.

After showering at the hotel, I began to explore Coimbra. It’s a wonderful Portuguese city of about 100,000 citizens with much to see. It’s a World Heritage site as well. I explored the university, which is the oldest in Portugal, the Palace, the University Chapel and the Biblioteca (library) Joanina, which may be the most beautiful library I have ever seen. Unfortunately, photographs are forbidden.
For dinner, I took the hotel’s recommendation and walked to A Capella, a wonderful restaurant housed in a small church, offering Fado concerts and good food every night. It was wonderful. I was exhausted and could barely keep awake, but the food and music were fabulous!
Now, I’m sidelined as a pilgrim and will rest my feet for several days hoping that they will heal. Pilgrims since the beginning of time have had to do this. This is why hospices were created along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which were later transformed into the first hospitals that we know. The hospices existed to offering hospitality and healing for weary pilgrims. This is what our churches and hospitals still do, and the need remains as great.
With love and prayers from Portugal,
Marek