8 May 2014
Golegã seemed a slightly strange town. Full of very grand houses within the centre of the town, mostly with large plots containing lots of outbuildings and beautiful gardens, but with virtually no sign of life, either last evening or at 7-ish this morning. I think we only saw two people as we walked more than a kilometre out of town. It is an area famous for horse breeding, but I have seen almost no sign of horses, although there are many street signs and house plaques alluding to them.
I had a simple meal of chicken and chips last night at the Cafe Central, situated on the main square, washed down with a bottle of sparkling wine – most acceptable!
We made a leisurely start this morning because today is equivalent to a day off. Only 13 km because we have decided to split the next stage into two legs, so that we have time tomorrow to look around the Templar city of Tomar.
More road walking to begin the day. No shoulder to walk on, but a quiet road. But the problem with quiet roads is that the traffic zooms past at terrific speed. It’s not so bad when the vehicles are approaching only from one direction because there is sufficient room for them to pull out round you, but on the odd occasion when vehicles pass from both directions at the same time, then get ready to head for the hedges. There isn’t much room for miscalculation.
This morning was quite chilly, overcast with a strong, cool wind. Good walking weather (slightly better with a blue sky and less wind – but who’s complaining?)
Road walking without a shoulder is uncomfortable as well as potentially dangerous. Where the road cambers (slopes) towards the edge, it puts a strain on the outside tendons of the foot because of the downward angle it is forced to take. And it is necessary always to walk facing the traffic, so it is always the same foot that suffers.
It would also help to put a spring in the step if I could listen to music during road walking, but it is so important to hear when traffic is approaching from behind, that I don’t dare plug in.
After about 5km we came, to a small village and I found a bench to sit on so that I could check on an odd feeling on my right heel. Couldn’t see anything, but put some tape on just in case!
A short distance further and we came to the amazing virtually abandoned Quinta da Cardiga. Back in 1169 the first king of Portugal donated the land to the Templar Knights. The buildings, many in complete ruin, cover a huge area and are fascinating in their dilapidated state. The main house seems to be maintained and the surrounding plantings are kept in order. It is built on the banks of the river Tejo and there is a sandy beach to the side of the house. We saw an elderly man wondering in the grounds and chatted to him for a while, he asked us where we came from and was very impressed when Elly told him she was from Australia. I asked if he lived in the house and he said yes, but I can’t be sure he understood the question. He walked towards the main door, and just as I had decided to ask him if we might be able to have a peek inside, the door closed behind him, and our chance was gone.
We spent quite some time drinking in the calm and beauty of the place – a little piece of heaven!
On our way once again, we walked on farm tracks for a while. The sun had come out and the sky had cleared to a bright blue. I saw these egrets hitching a ride with some sheep who were too busy munching grass to take any notice.
Just one flower offering for you again today, this tiny wild rose bud that I spotted in the hedgerow at ground level. There are lots of wild roses growing here and they are beautiful, sometimes a complete wall of roses rising to 3 or 4 metres and sometimes a lonely bud like this one, but all of them absolutely beautiful.
I stopped to take a photo of the clearing sky but didn’t realise that I had caught some birds in the pic. Looking at the photo I first thought they were storks because they are so big, but on closer inspection they are obviously not – more like some large bird of prey – any offers??
So after 13 short kilometres we arrived at the village of Atalaia and are staying in a mansion house which has special pilgrims’ rates of 20 euros per person for a twin room with ensuite, beautiful garden with small swimming pool. The property is 500 years old and is the family home of señora who welcomed us when we arrived. The windows all have beautiful curtains with handmade lace edgings and there is much interesting period furniture and knick-knacks. Unfortunately a busy road runs immediately in front of the property, the once towering and glorious palm tree at the entrance has been seen off by the palm beetle, there is a monstrosity of a building erected in the garden which seems to be used for functions and probably weddings, and there is some building work taking place at the moment, erecting a new covered terrace. The room is very comfortable and we have use of communal areas.
Check out this link if you want to see photos
I made the most of the sunshine this afternoon and laid out on the lawn to see if I couldn’t do something about diminishing the sleeve lines I have developed on my upper arms.