day 3, Vila Franca de Xira to Azambuja, 20 km

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!)

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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.

The view forwards

The view forwards

And the view backwards

And the view backwards

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.

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Anyone know what this structure is?

Anyone know what this structure is?

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.

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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!

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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

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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.

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
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34 Responses to day 3, Vila Franca de Xira to Azambuja, 20 km

  1. Janice Tyler says:

    love the stork nesting!

    Like

  2. magwood says:

    Never tire of seeing it Janice

    Like

  3. Christina Murtagh says:

    Thinking of going this route in late september,I am enjoying your blog

    Like

  4. Jo Bryant says:

    Mariano sounds like a clever fellow. Small acts of kindness are such a delight aren’t they. I hope you found food. I will be worrying about that all day now.

    Like

  5. Thaya McKee says:

    I will begin walking north from Porto on the 18th of this month. I am thinking of taking the coastal Way, hugging the Atlantic shoreline north to Santiago…have you any idea where I can find a current/reliable map of the walking paths? This route is longer than the inland route and I’d rather not add to the daily kms because of ‘losing the way’…txs Thays

    Like

  6. Keith says:

    That section didn’t sound very pleasant. Love the pictures of the stork and the horses.

    Like

  7. Marianne says:

    I think you were lucky to be walking this section on a Sunday, Maggie – doesn’t seem very pleasant (or safe) if there was lots of traffic.

    Ah, those storks – I never tire of seeing them in their nests. They are everywhere in Portugal!!

    Like

  8. Aurélio (AMSimoes) says:

    Good day pilgrims (Mag and Elly).

    The vertical structure in which you photographed is a  pigeon house.

    Bom caminho

    AMSimoes

    Like

  9. Patrish Lyon says:

    Enjoying the walk with you Maggie. Your photos and text brilliant and bring the adventure to life. Looking forward to the next one already !
    Patrish

    Like

  10. Sounds like it’s a lot lonelier than the Camino Frances. Is that good or bad, I wonder?

    Like

    • magwood says:

      It is much quieter than the Frances, but more pilgrims than I expected. I have seen eleven pilgrims today. When there are more people walking the infrastructure will improve, so it should be good for all involved if it gets more popular.

      Like

  11. lucymi says:

    I’m really enjo.ying reading your blog – you’ve a lovely way with words.

    Like

  12. What was the building that looked like a giant Dove Cot?

    Like

  13. Daunting. Wonderful posting. 🙂

    Like

  14. Diogo says:

    Maggie, you really failed to find the right track two times on that day, you weren’t supposed to walk on that road near the water ditch, but you should walk on the other side of the train line. I know this, because I live there.

    I’m still glad to see that you are ok 😉

    Bom Caminho
    Diogo92 from the Forum 🙂

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Diogo. We can’t imagine where we went wrong. Elly never misses an arrow – she has eagle eyes. Could you check the signage and see if the arrows show the right way – we saw other people walking the same way. It was actually quite pleasant blues there wasn’t any traffic at the weekend!

      Thanks for your concern, maggie

      Like

      • Diogo says:

        I will take a picture, and send it to your email (I think that I still have it).

        But, i can tell you that, you should go back to the garden where the boardwalk ends, then you keep walking from there, passing under the bridge. Probably 1km after that, you should have turn right, through a dirt track. There are new markers in Vila Franca, made in stone, with blue and yellow arrows.

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      • magwood says:

        Hi Diogo, thanks for the explanation, I will look again at my photos and notes and try to see where we went wrong.

        Like

  15. YvonneB says:

    Loving your blog so far – I also did the Camino Frances last year and have been getting camino withdrawal symptoms 😉 I’ve just booked my flight to Lisbon to walk the Portuguese from early October this year so I’m looking forward to following your journey. Bom Caminho!

    Yvonne (WildPlace on the forum)

    Like

  16. marjm007 says:

    I am really enjoying reading this. I walked the Frances 3 years ago and an considering the Portugues in Sept.

    I see more posts did any of you have blogs too?

    Like

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