2 May 2014
Elly and I had decided to take it easy on our first day. We returned to yesterday’s breakfast scene of the pasteis de nata and then decided to use the remaining credit on our daily travel cards to ride the tram down the very steep hill just along from the cafe, and then back up again.
We returned to the apartment to collect our packs and walked to the tram stop to get a ride to the cathedral to start our camino. We had already walked there twice from the apartment and didn’t feel the need to do it again. But as it happened, the first two trams that arrived were full to the gunnels and we didn’t feel we could squish in with our packs, so set off on foot after all. So our initial day’s walk was between 10-11 km rather than the official 8km.
It was hot. Not much breeze and it took me a while to get used to my pack. The practise walk that I took recently left my collar bone bruised from the pack shoulder straps. I had seen a photo somewhere of a female pilgrim who had placed washing-up sponges under her straps to protect her collar bones, which I thought was a very good idea. But I didn’t think that washing up sponges were so great because I might get lumbered with the washing up in the albergue kitchen. So I purchased a couple of bath sponges and stuffed them inside the feet of a pair of opaque black tights, knotted them off and wore them under my straps. I have to say, it made a lot of difference, so I shall sew them on some time soon. A good idea if you suffer from bruised bones!
We were very glad that we had already visited the cathedral and seen where the first yellow arrow was situated, because when we arrived today, there was a group of people sitting on the ground in front of the arrow and we would not have been able to find it. As it happened, we came across an American couple who are starting their walk tomorrow who had been making an advance recky of the route and they said that they did not find the arrow at the cathedral. We are very grateful to Laurie’s very precise instructions that we had to consult on a couple of occasions when we could not readily see an arrow at a cross-roads.
After about 3km we came to the tile museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo)
which I was very keen to visit. It is set In a beautiful building that was once a convent and is full of the most wonderful panels of hand painted tiles from over the ages. I took many photos but shall just reproduce a few here.
The museum has a lovely cafe with good reasonably priced food and a pretty covered courtyard garden with a pond that has some very acrobatic turtles. A beautiful place to visit.
The rest of the walk wasn’t so nice, industrial areas with narrow pavements, but mostly with occasional interesting period properties to admire.
We eventually arrived at Parque das Nações, the site of the Expo 98, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expo_’98) and located the youth hostel where we have booked beds for the night (tel 00 351 218 920 890, firstname.lastname@example.org). My first experience of a youth hostel – at age 60! And unfortunately my second experience of the top bunk, hey ho, I shall just have to get on with it. We are sharing the hostel with, well, youths – lots of them – but quite well behaved. And there is dinner for 6 euros which was actually quite good. We are in a female room for four, sharing with one evangelist preacher who is about to spend a few days street preaching (good luck!) and a delightful Portuguese student of wine. The hostel is fairly new, very large, and seems to be well run. The cost for the night 15 euros. Only problem is that the internet connection has just failed so I might not get this post out tonight (and I have still to write yesterday’s post of the wonderful day we had exploring Lisbon).
I seem to have fallen in with an organiser. And I see no point in duplication of effort, so whilst I am walking with Elly I am leaving the route planning to her.
An easy first day – long live the easy days!