day 4, Azambuja to Morgado, 19.25 km

5 May 2014

Last evening we wandered around the pretty little town of Azambuja, where there were piles of heavy duty fences awaiting erection, which we worked out must be for a forthcoming bull run through the streets. We found an adequate restaurant and I ate what may well become my staple meal, thinly sliced loin of pork fried, with rice and a fried egg. Luckily I’m using plenty of calories to counter the intake.

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We set off this morning at 6:30, with a short stop for a hot drink and for Elly to have her mandatory two pasteis de nata for breakfast, and were on the trail by 6:45. After crossing the railway line we were directed along a pretty country road with the sun rising to the left

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After crossing a river we left the road for a dirt track along side the river bank.

Another forward and backward facing view from the bridge, inspired by Marianne's "East of Málaga" blog photo challenge - take a look, it's a really informative and interesting read http://www.eastofmalaga.net

Another forward and backward facing view from the bridge, inspired by Marianne’s “East of Málaga” blog photo challenge – take a look, it’s a really informative and interesting read http://www.eastofmalaga.net

The guide book told us to look out for the cobbles of the original Roman road, and here they are.

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It was a beautiful walk, with the dew drops dripping from the cane leaves. I have to thank Elly for inspiring me to take these photos

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After a few km’s the path widened and curved around vast ploughed fields and after about 5km it emerged onto a country road.

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And we are now walking through tomato-land, where tiny plants have been put into the ground over what must be scores of acres, and tractors are racing up and down the road transporting yet more plants. They are planted very close together and I assume that they will have to be thinned out in a few weeks. I remember reading a blog by a guy walking at harvest time and he said the smell was amazing. We walked by what at first sight looked like a lush lawn, but on closer inspection turned out to be trays of baby tomato plants.

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A little further on we came across the unexpected sight of a pen of ostriches (or could have been emus – I’m no expert on the matter). I have to say they looked a lot healthier than the poor pair that have been living beside the goat track in Cómpeta for many years – do any locals know how long they have been there?

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Once again there was an abundance of pretty hedgerow flowers that I couldn’t resist snapping, and I did literally snap a piece of strongly perfumed broom and popped it under my pack strap to counteract the effects of walking in the very hot sun.

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We then came to a long, long stretch of flood barrier going on for many km’s. It varied from stone built bank, sometimes patterned concrete, sometimes natural earth with pretty flowers and most of the time it was possible to walk along the top of the barrier, some 4 metres high, with a lovely view over the river Tejo on one side and a great vantage point to look out over the fields on the other.

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We had a boots-off break after 10 km and sat down in the shade provided by the flood barrier and ate the roll that I had bought in the cafe before we set off. The rustic bread had tomato and pepperoni baked inside it – very tasty!

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There were so many interesting sights today. The river, the guys harvesting cabbages, a stork with its chick (or possibly it’s mate) on top of a dead palm tree, the majestic gates to the quintas.

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But it was very hot, with almost no opportunity for shade and we were glad that we had arranged with the owner of the hostel in Santarem to collect us from Morgado, where he will return us in the morning to finish this stage of the walk. We didn’t want to trek this last stretch into the town in the feirce heat of the afternoon, and we arrived to the beautifully presented hostel at about 1pm.

As I’ve probably already mentioned, the first part of the camino Portuguese from Lisbon to Porto has very long stages without options for accommodation between. Several of the hostel operators along the way have set up a ‘pick and drop’ service, whereby pilgrims can arrange to be collected mid stage and taken to a hostel, and then dropped back where they left off the next day. In this way the long stages become more manageable and pilgrims can walk every step of the way without over stretching themselves. A few good people have worked hard to set this service up, and Laurie Reynolds has produced a useful document to explain the options. You can see it here. This service will make the first part of the CP accessible to many more people.

I have discovered this evening, from a pilgrim who is sharing our room, that there is actually an option to stay overnight in the middle of this current stage, in a Quinta for a cost of 20 euros. If we had known this we would have stayed here. I will endeavour to get details and post later.

Tonight and tomorrow night we are staying at Hostel Santarem, hosted by Mario who collected us this afternoon. It is a beautiful place with really comfortable and stylish rooms. There is a great deal of communal space with lounge, kitchen and extensive courtyard with hand or machine washing facilities, and all areas are decorated with thought provoking original art work. I would highly recommend a stay here, you won’t be disappointed, and Santarem is a characterful town, population 50,000, with pedestrianised old quarter. Take a look at Mario’s website here. Mario and his wife often drive the last portion of this stage to check for flagging pilgrims and to offer water on this otherwise completely dry journey. Don’t hesitate to telephone if you have a problem (+351) 965 832 702.

I am surprised to say there are many pilgrims walking at the moment. We are sharing a room with a Swiss woman who lives in the USA, also here are a Dutch and Australian woman walking together who met a couple of years’ ago on the Frances route, and Martin from Ireland. There are four spanish or Portuguese guys from last night and we came across a couple of German guys today, and the American couple we met on our first day – so not nearly as lonesome as I anticipated. Excellent news for the hostel owners en-Route.

Just shared a lovely dinner with the Dutch/Aussie girls. It’s a shame they will be walking ahead tomorrow whilst we will be going back. But that is the way with the camino – friendships made, company enjoyed, and move on to the next experience.

Gosh, these posts are getting longer and longer. There is so much to show and tell. I have found it a bit quicker to upload photos on the grid, so will probably do more of this in future. How does it work for you?

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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58 Responses to day 4, Azambuja to Morgado, 19.25 km

  1. Kim says:

    Very interesting. Look forward to some more news. Kim x

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  2. Grid is good. And those pix of the dewdrops – WOW! Stunning.

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  3. Rich Cooper says:

    I’m thankful for your detail! And, I agree that your photo skills are great to view. Thanks for your effort on our behalf.

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    • magwood says:

      Thanks Rich. I am so glad you are enjoying it. I started the blog as a journal for myself because I have such an awful memory, but it’s really great that others are liking it.

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  4. Jo Bryant says:

    gorgeous pic of the dewdrops

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  5. This is so exciting for me as I just found my way here today. Must go back to beginning to catch up. ~(*_*)~~

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  6. I am enjoying all the detail – about the stages, the people, and the trivia. It sounds like a very pleasant camino.

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  7. Janice Tyler says:

    The blog just gets more interesting each day. The grid is good as we get more pics that way. When you have a boots off break, is it hard to put your socks and boots back on again?

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    • magwood says:

      Actually Janice, it all seems a lot easier this year. No blisters – yet – and I am walking with someone who has a slower pace than me rather than my daughter who stormed ahead all the time. It’s nice to get the socks off, but not too much of a problem to put them back on again.

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  8. Jim Reed says:

    Thank you for writing this wonderful blog/account with beautiful pictures and insightful comments. It is a joy to read each day. Buen Camino.

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  9. Too hot for walking here now. Wonder if you wish you’d started earlier in the spring?

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    • magwood says:

      It’s impossible to know sandie. I think it is hot very early this year, but today (Tuesday) is a little cooler. I hope it will be the same tomorrow for our next long day.

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  10. Marianne says:

    The photos look great, Maggie – especially the “looking forward, looking back” ones 😉 Your walking looked much more interesting today. Glad you’re having fun!

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  11. Kristina Wilkening says:

    The pictures are turning out wonderful. Love the artistic grid patterns. I must say after walking in that intense heat….you still have such amazing energy to pump out some nice blogs. Most people would just plop down in their bed and say nighty night!! Nice to see you got off the busy roads and into some pretty nature!

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  12. Great photo’s Maggie, I can see the difference in camera 😉 Love the blog, really great to walk with you this virtual way, brings back memories…

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  13. Leslie says:

    The photos are great and so are your update – feeling a bit envious right now.

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    • magwood says:

      Thanks Leslie, there are more pilgrims than I expected to see. I saw 11 yesterday, and 5 today, and there must be more who I haven’t seen.

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  14. Keith says:

    Great post Maggie. Love your story telling. And the photos are fab.

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  15. Feel as though I am there! Amazing photos, what camera?

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    • magwood says:

      Panasonic lumix DMC-LF1. I’m pleased with it, except that the on/off button is in the wrong place and I keep turning it off instead of taking the picture – really annoying – I have even been known to swear at it on occasion.

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  16. Maggie Gardner says:

    Enjoying the trip so far. Like the pace you’re keeping I’m not getting too tired!!
    Glad you have met so many pilgrims it adds to the interest of the journey.

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  17. Greg Starr says:

    Love the blog and love the photos — keep it coming!

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  18. Sean says:

    Hi Magwood,
    Looks like you are having a good time and getting great weather. I arrive in Porto this day next week and plan to start walking on May 15th. There will be 4 of us so you never know if we all shall meet. I am enjoying your blogs and wish you well on your Camino.
    Regards,
    Sean

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  19. Christine & Malcolm says:

    Maggie – a bit late with our feedback today, but we think the previous comments say it fall or us. You seem to taking this Camino more in your stride and enjoying your everyday experiences – love to you x

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  20. Aurélio (AMSimoes) says:

    Hello Mag and Helly

    If you want to have a strong culinary experience in Santarém do not forget the “Sopa da Pedra” “stone soup”, too heavy for dinner. Ask the Mario.
    Also the famous convent sweets, “Celestes de Santa Clara”, “Arrepiados do Convento de Almoster”, e “Queijinhos do Céu do Convento das Donas”, all based on almonds, sugar and eggs and, naturally “Pampilhos”.
    You need sugar for the effort.

    Bom Caminho
    AMSimoes

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  21. cindy jones says:

    Really enjoying your blog and the amazing photos Cindy and Graham

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  22. annieh61 says:

    Love your fancy photos. I’ve got serious blog envy.
    Annie x

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  23. Maureen Gillespie says:

    Loving having your daily blog back in my life again. And it’s even better now I know you 🙂 How beautiful is Portugal? (And how delicious is their toast! The nicest I’ve ever eaten. And the pastel de natas. My favourite cakes… ) Anyway, as usual I want to copy you so I’ve ditched my plans to do the Spanish camino and want to follow your footsteps in Portugal instead. Lots of love. x PS it’s mad that your companion this time is Elly not Ella!

    Like

  24. jmcmil says:

    Sounds fantastic. Great photos!

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  25. Shev says:

    Hi, Been enjoying your blog. I start from Porto on May 22-ish. Want to take the coastal route but hear it’s not well marked. Are you planning on the coastal yourself? Would appreciate info on that and also the weather. Especially if it’s rainy along the coast. Buen camino!

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  26. tony says:

    hi really enjoying your blog .i walked from lisbon to santiago last october and you are bringing back so many good memories.i followed the brierley guide and met some lovely people and had some adventures swimming in lots of rivers when it got too hot ,including the little beach in your photo.the hostel in golega is a wonderful old mansion and the castle in tomar is a fabulous place.have a great time and i look forward to the next post kind regards from the u.k. tony

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    • magwood says:

      Thanks Tony. I would have been tempted to wade into the river today as we passed by Quinta da Careiga today, the sun was sparkling off the ripples in the water and it looked beautiful. What a place that is. We styled in the Sol Duoro last night, a fabulous place and such lovely dogs. To at tomorrow. Glad to have your company, Maggie

      Ps where are you from in the UK?

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