Camino Portuguese – Day 3 – The heat to Santarém

The path ahead is full of cobblestones.

Taxi back to town

A view of the Casa o Alforo before driving back to the town to start the camino again.
A view of the Casa o Alforo before driving back to the town to start the camino again.

When the taxi drove me to the remote location, I made sure to work out a time for him to pick me up and bring me back to town. Surprisingly, he was not just on time but a little early.

This was unexpected and an awesome way to start the day.

Big mistake

I made a mistake today. I didn’t secure any water the night before. Because it was Sunday, most of everything was closed.

I’ve learned in the past that on Saturday or really any day, you should always have a few hours supply of water ready to go for the next day. Especially if you are an early riser, it could be the difference of you walking far or waiting for a store to open.

According to the map I only had about 5 or 6 miles to walk before the first cafe, so I risked it. It’s better to be safe than sorry, because many times cafes close.

Over the train tracks and off to Regueno

Arrow pointing forward with a group of bikers on the way.
Arrow pointing forward with a group of bikers on the way.

It’s seems like one or two times a day now, you cross the train tracks. We seem to be following them up the coast for now. This is great especially for people that end up wanting to skip a region or for couples with partners that don’t have as much walking experience.

You could take a taxi forward, and in this region, you can take a train. This brings up a good point. On Camino Frances, many people pack their bags ahead instead of carrying them. Some pilgrims frown upon this practice.

My opinion on the subject is that you should do whatever your body tells you to do. If you recently had surgery on your knee, maybe you should over stress. The camino is a great experience, but eventually you will need to return home. And when you do, you should be healthy and not hurt.

A few pilgrims I met did send some of their bags ahead. It’s harder to do in Portugal before you hit Porto. You basically have to haggle with a taxi driver. From what I hear you can expect to pay around 20 euros to send your bag forward per stretch.

There’s a lot of park benches just coming out of town. So I guess if you pushed forward instead of stopping, there are great places to rest. But because it’s so close to town, I really didn’t need them.

The luck of the Irish

Walking with Geraldine and Roddy on the Camino Portuguese.
Walking with Geraldine and Roddy on the Camino Portuguese.

Last year I met a wonderful Irish couple, Paul and Miriam, they made my camino fantastic. And this year, it looks like Roddy and Geraldine take the favor. They’ve been great to walk with.

They left a bit earlier than I but I caught up with them at the first cafe. It’s about 5 miles from our last city. Nothing like grabbing a cold water on a warm day. I always ask for ice “jello” in Portuguese.

The waiter asked isn’t that a shock to have ice? Not for me. It’s refreshing and so cooling. I made sure to purchase a big 2 litre water bottle for the trip ahead. Today’s going to be another hot one. It’s slated to be 84 degrees fahrenheit. Ouch!

The cafe that should have been amazing

My plan when I walk the camino is to always eat a hearty lunch because I don’t want to eat late at night. My second tip is to always chose the second to last restaurant. If you chose the last restaurant and they are closed you have no other options.

And today, the restaurant was on the water and was to overlook the sea. As we approached, I could tell it was going to be everything I wanted. But just as you’d guess, it was closed. Not to open until later in the season. Ugh!! Fingers crossed that the next cafe is open, because it’s about 12 miles after that before anything crosses our path.

Last stop in Porto de Muge

Cafe with cheese and ham sandwiches and lots of cold water.
Cafe with cheese and ham sandwiches and lots of cold water.

It’s weird. We would have passed the only open cafe if it weren’t for an older gentleman walking along the same road as us. We asked him about the cafe and he told us to go around a street and to the left. We would have missed it without his advice.

We made it. Unfortunately, it was a bar with very little as for options for food. We ended up eating a few sandwiches made of cheese and some ham. Nothing fancy. He even brought us a mayonnaise to add some flavour.

Even though it was sparse, we really needed the carbs. The next part of our journey was to be growling and hot. The weather was not letting up.

12 miles, heat, dust and no rest

Walking 12 miles with very little shade and lots of dust and sun.
Walking 12 miles with very little shade and lots of dust and sun.

Walking forever and not stopping for more than a minute. There was so much sun and very little if any shade. Once again I rejoiced in my choice to bring an umbrella, but even with that, it was so hot.

I ran out of water with an hour to go. My Irish friends had some to spare but I wasn’t tempted because of the heat, all the water was warm and getting hot. Yuck.

We came across a group of pilgrims heading to Fatima. A town the pope will be visiting in May. I guess millions of people are headed there over the next few weeks. I guess I’m lucky that I chose a time that misses the crowd. I couldn’t imagine trying to find lodging with a big event like that going on.

It took 3 hours to get through the mess. I wish I could say that it was beautiful and amazing landscapes, but it was just hot and hard to concentrate on anything but putting your foot forward.

A horse event on the outskirt of Santarém, Portugal.
A horse event on the outskirt of Santarém, Portugal.

I did learn about the Irish more. It turns our that Geraldine an Roddy met on the road every day. They both work on opposite ends of town and would see each other every morning. Until one day, Geraldine asked her friend if she knew who Roddy was. Turns out he was her boss at school. They’ve been happily married for the last 30 some years.

Just as we approached the town of Santarém, we came across a horse event. We quickly grabbed warm water from their bar area. It was cool to see all the riders in traditional riding gear. I wonder if that’s a requirement in Portugal.

The last few steps are all up hill. It has an elevation jump of 135 meters. Not sure what that is in feet, but it was steep. It felt so good to be there.

I parted ways with the Irish and heading out to find my hostel for the night.

Stylish lodging in Santarém

N1 Hostel had great bunks, with towels and bedding included. You also get a locked cabinet below for your valuables.
N1 Hostel had great bunks, with towels and bedding included. You also get a locked cabinet below for your valuables.

You never know what to expect with lodging. They obviously don’t show you bad things about their location in their advertisements. So it’s always a surprise to see what it’s really like.

When I look for a place to stay, I try to select places that receive good praise on line. One that has more than just 4 or 5 reviews. Because any play can get family and friends to say nice things about them.

Locations with hundreds of praises usually can’t fake it.

I prefer TripAdvisor for my advice all though I do use Booking.com too. I use them all really. Why not.

Cow bell lights at the receptionist desk at N1 Hostels.
Cow bell lights at the receptionist desk at N1 Hostels.

 

N1 Hostel is amazing. It’s beautiful, modern, spacious and unique.

I enjoyed the locking drawer for your valuables. Nothing like given you piece of mind during shower/sleeping time.

I was also surprised about how empty it was. Maybe it’s low season. I did run into other friends and they said their alburgue was full and turning people away.

Before I left for dinner I gave the receptionist my wash to clean. They only charged 2 euros which seems cheap.

Eating like a king at Chappa 7

These garlic prawns were so delicious. I wish I could have them every day!
These garlic prawns were so delicious. I wish I could have them every day!

I like to eat. And there’s no better way to eat well then trying new restaurants. The place I chose today, I found on TripAdvisor.

It didn’t disappoint. I ordered a slight undercooked tuna, some barnacles, garlic shrimp and more.

It was good. I event tried things like barnacles. Funny thing, is that I spent more on dinner tonight that I did on tonight’s hotel and the last nights too.

The locals call it expensive.

I call it heavenly. Definitely worth stopping in. I took a cab there as it was 2 miles from my hostel.

Late night drink at TasCa

After dinner, I thought I would check out old town a bit and I randomly ran into the Irish. We grabbed a few drinks and chatted the night away in a nice bar/restaurant.

The food looked great. The drinks were cheap and the atmosphere was nice. Lots of pilgrims were there with locals too. I think it’s only a block away from one of the alburgues.

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