Currently traveling

Camino Portuguese

Starting from Lisbon
Currently traveling
  • Day1

    Arrival

    October 16, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    I am now in the Star Inn which is a modern luxury hotel, a two minute walk from Lisbon airport. Just what I need. Completely whacked after a long flight from Sydney. Wonderful full-on rainfall shower does fabulous things for the human spirit! As did my first pastel de nata with good Portuguese coffee. I’ve washed my smalls and now intend to burrow under the snowy white sheets, turn on the tv (movies in English with Portuguese subtitles) and stay put until daylight tomorrow.Read more

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  • Day2

    Closed for the season.

    October 17, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    I had intended to stay at Alpriate but when I arrived I found the albergue had closed for the season. So I just kept walking. And then called Uber. Thank you Luis! With his help I made it to Vila Franca de Xira - where the first hostel was full, the second choice (a pensión) was closed but the third took me in. And has provided not only a bed (not a bunk) but also clean linen and towel and soap and washed my clothes - all for the princely sum of €15. Sharing a room with a very well travelled peregrina from Cataluña and another pilgrim yet to arrive.

    Body tired but feeling OK. Freshly squeezed orange juice and pastel de nata were delicious.
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  • Day3

    In the rail corridor

    October 18, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    A rather dreary walk along roads and beside the rail line through industrial buildings, enlivened by a bit of felonious activity. I failed to see the turning arrow and continued along a rough path beside the railway line and eventually found myself locked into the rail corridor - main line with all kinds of trains rushing past! I definitely should not have been there. I wasn’t going back - but could not get out due to high walls. Continued until the next platform another 3km. Flung poles and pack up and scrambled on. Phew!

    Tonight I am in a good municipal albergue in Azambuja with lively company - and an enjoyable restaurant meal together. Lots of Italian speakers, so that’s a challenge for me. My first taste of pulpo, Portuguese style.

    Somehow I have grown the most enormous blister on one foot - I think my feet are baby tender from winter. My body feels pretty fit but obviously the cross trainer does not toughen the tootsies. So considering my options for tomorrow.
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  • Day4

    History, art and food

    October 19, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Here I am in Santarém, with a humongous blister on my foot, having a lovely time sitting in the plaza drinking fiercely strong Portuguese coffee...waiting for the Cathedral to open.

    The pastry shops in this town are just amazing. One small almond tart (a “celestial”, and it was), I could not resist.

    I love the blue tiled art works on railway stations and other public buildings - a great way of teaching as well as bewitching the eye.

    The cathedral was lovely. A great painted ceiling. I also visited some very nice churches. And a museum with a few things that amused me.

    My time being short and not wanting to destroy the rest of the walk with a serious injury, today I took the train.
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  • Day5

    Knights Templar and Henry the Navigator

    October 20, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Tomar is a lovely place, and I had a great day being a tourist. Tomar was having a fiesta - I never did find out exactly what about, but it was fun. Firstly there was a procession of men on horseback, all dressed as caballeros and the horses decorated richly. Then flowers thrown into the river that flows through the town. Women also dressed up, some in traditional clothing, some in 1920s gear. After watching that I hiked up the top of the hill and explored the Knights Templar castle, and the home of Henry the Navigator, then visited an exhibition from what was said to be the oldest synagogue in Spain (still in use but closed for restoration) and stayed at a good hostel.

    Dinner with another pilgrim, from the UK - an old fashioned radical lefty trade unionist. Interesting take on Brexit.
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  • Day6

    Faith and miracles

    October 21, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After much planning, today I am off to Coimbra, but decided I could not miss Fátima on the way, as it is only a 30km detour, so got an early bus and am here now. Extraordinary place, horrible and awesome at the same time. A church (or cathedral) built with semicircular arms (rather like St Peters square) reasonably unexceptional, in front of which is the shrine itself - basically a statute under an awning. People approach it doing the last 100 metres on their knees. Beside it is a stand on which there are so many lit candles that all the wax melts and it’s like a fire pit. Then a vast new monolithic concrete building - the new church. Horrible! Looks like a prison - no windows visible, nothing decorating it - just a huge circular pile of concrete.

    The town is crammed with shops selling every kind of Catholic symbolic item imaginable.

    Never experienced anything like it. Faith or superstition - your choice. But whichever, it’s seen here on steroids.

    Now waiting for bus to Coimbra. After planning and looking at the possible stages, my time constraints and my physical ability, decided there is no point in trying to walk from further south than Coimbra. As that means some buses I may as well see a few things on the way!
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  • Day6

    Coimbra, a literary fall

    October 21, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Great view of the river from the terrace of the Portagem Hostel, where I stayed. Coimbra is a beautiful small university city, and the Joannina library is a must see in a lifetime experience. It’s exquisite. Has a colony of micro bats that live within the library and come out each night to eat the insects that would otherwise destroy the books (furniture is covered each night to protect from droppings). I visited it and the surrounding university two years ago with Robyn, so this time I concentrated on the 12th century Sé Velha Cathedral and the lively city streets below.
    Those stone sets sure are slippery when wet! Lost my dignity and some skin. No major damage.
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  • Day7

    Not for vegetarians

    October 22, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Mealhade does not have much to offer except restaurant after restaurant specialising in - suckling pig! I tried it but have to say I think my version is at least as good. A rather forgettable walk to Sernadelo (just after Mealhade) from Coimbra - some of it beside a despondent smelly canal and road. The one excitement was a herron like bird that kept flying off just as I was about to capture it on the iPhone camera. And about 6km through a eucalyptus forest. Came across two crews of timber workers cutting and removing trees - cheery waves and questions. The Portuguese find it very odd that a woman would be walking solo anywhere - let alone all the way to Santiago. But they have all been admiring and wished me well.
    The weather is unseasonably hot and my red umbrella is up much of the time.
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  • Day8

    Day of the bug

    October 23, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    I woke this morning to see a big fat bedbug climbing up my sleeping sheet. Yuk! Squashed it between my fingers and sure enough, it had just feasted. So a report to the hospitalero, who was very grateful to be told and reacted exactly as one would hope. He said an albergue between Coimbra and Mealhade has a real infestation and the priest there refuses to get proper eradication or control because it costs too much. Which causes a problem further up the line with pilgrims being inadvertent carriers. He drove me to the big laundromat in town and I did the hot dryer thing with bedding and clothes. Luckily I had kept a sealed dry bag of clothes just for this contingency - so changed into those - rather proud of that - it was a Mr Bean effort in front of a plate glass window beside a busy street. The skills one learns at boarding school! No bites showing up yet but I’m prepared with antihistamine at the ready.
    Then another rather trying walk to Águeda where I have a lovely room in a good hotel.
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  • Day9

    Its hot Mama!

    October 24, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    A short 16km walk today after a delicious hotel buffet breakfast. I was planning to walk another 10km but by the time I got going it was quite late, and the heat pulsating waves. Everyone is commenting on how unseasonably warm it is. The forecast for next week is an average of 10degrees lower, a much better temperature for walking.

    Again, a not very exciting walk - lots on road surface, a suburban linear sprawl, one long road bridge over a ravine and a rather insignificant river, a pleasant coffee stop in a nondescript village, and an easy walk through another eucalyptus forest (they are everywhere). Other than a closed ethnographic museum, and a couple of grand houses, one of which had a magnificent fig tree, on which I feasted, there was nothing very much to show.

    I am assured the walk gets better after Porto. Let’s hope so!
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