4 May 2014
Last night when I was sitting in reception writing my blog, the lovely Mariano offered me a glass of wine, and a very nice one at that. It was quite late when a couple came in, looking a bit ‘touchy-feely’. They had a conversation with Mariano who then showed them to a room, but they were soon walking back past me on their way out. Mariano told me that the previous hostel owner used to allow prostitutes to bring their clients for a session. He didn’t want this business but didn’t want to say so. So he tells them he only has one room available, which he keeps in a poor condition so that when they see it, no one will want to stay. Bless him!
A good night’s sleep was had by us both and we set off at around 7am for what was reported to be a very unpleasant day’s walk. As we left town we were directed by three different people. An elderly guy on the street pointed us in the right direction, a little further on a cyclist pointed the way when we were looking confused and soon after someone beeped their car horn and indicated a different way. Small acts of kindness that may have saved us a wrong turn.
We were soon on a major road for a while before turning onto a side road that we followed for many km’s. I have read many reports that refer to this section as very ugly and dangerous – walking alongside industrial areas with no hard shoulder to walk along. I think a lot must depend on the time of year and the day of the week that one walks. Today being Sunday, the roads were virtually deserted and at this time of year the abundance of beautiful wild flowers in the hedgerows distracted from the otherwise grim surroundings. I have seen lots of wild dog roses along the roadsides which will be in full bloom over the next week,or so. There is also a worrying amount of brambles growing in the countryside. I have also noticed an increase in brambles at home in Spain – they seem to be spreading at an alarming rate and I expect they will become s serious problem in years to come – I hate them (although I don’t object to blackberry crumble!)
For many km’s we were walking alongside a water filled ditch where I could see turtles plopping into the water. If the road had been busy in both directions, then I can understand that It could be a daunting and dangerous walk because there would be very little room for vehicles to pull over sufficiently to pass a walker comfortably. As it happens, maybe only 20 cars passed us on this long stretch and I did not feel at all vulnerable. I would highly recommend that if at all possible, anyone planning to walk the camino Portuguese from Lisbon tries to organise this section to be walked on a Sunday.
It was hot, with no breeze and no shade. But as it was fairly early in the morning it was not an issue. We stopped for a boots-off break after a couple of hours when we found some shade and I ate a breakfast of cashew nuts whilst sitting on the steps of a factory. There are lots of groups of cyclist using the road and I got a thumbs up from this group.
Elly is suffering from a few small blisters, but (touching wood as I write this) I am doing very well so far. No blisters, and only the expected aches when starting off. I got a fair distance ahead of Elly and when I came to the village of Vila Nova da Rainha I stopped in the shady entrance of a shop to wait. My camera had run out of battery so I plugged it into my new charging device, I phoned David for a chat and filled my water bottle at a fountain. Elly didn’t appear. I began to think she may have walked past and I hadn’t noticed her. But she might be having trouble with her feet and be limping slowly behind. I was torn between walking on and waiting for her to limp around the corner. I eventually decided to go ahead and after walking for a while and not seeing any arrows I stopped to consult the map and realised that I had missed a diversion off the main road. I could see that I was going in the right direction and that the diversion returned to the road after a short distance, so, relieved that Elly was most likely ok and by now in front of me, I walked on with a clear conscience.
This last stretch was quite unpleasant, along a busy major road, no shade, mid-day sun, and beginning to feel tired. The only relief was when I noticed a field with many black horses, busy eating the plentiful grass. How jealous Liana would be of all that lush green stuff!
I found Elly waiting in the shade of a closed petrol station and we continued to our destination of Azambuja, where we found an open Aldi store at the entrance and I bought a welcome cold fizzy drink and was able to use the loo. Thanks Aldi – never expected to find a supermarket open on a Sunday.
We passed this towering chimney in the town, complete with high rise tenant
We are staying in the hostel Flor da Primavera tel 967 067 381. We hadn’t booked ahead and when I pressed on the doorbell it rang very loudly on the outside of the building. We thought this rather strange until a lady called out as she exited from a house on the other side of the road. She said she was having lunch with her grandson and could we help ourselves whilst she finished eating, told us our room number and we haven’t seen he since! The room is very comfortable and bright in a modern building with small ensuite. Absolutely fine and 30 euros between us. Whether we will find food to eat on a Sunday evening remains to be seen.
An Irish pilgrim called Martin, who was staying at Mariano’s last night, has turned up, together with a couple of Portuguese guys who I haven’t really met yet. So, there are a few of us doing the walk.
In incidentally, I finally remembered to turn on my GPS mapping app this morning, albeit probably 1-2 km’s from the start of my day. John Brierly (who writes the most used English language guide book) states this section to add up to approx 18.7 km, but my GPS system told me just over 20, not including the 1 or 2 walked before turning it on.