Camino Portuguese – Day 5 – 22 miles, stockades, snails, pastries and more

A ghost town along the camino.

Voices but no faces

Lounge in a Golega albergue—empty as I left to go to the next town.
Lounge in a Golega albergue—empty as I left to go to the next town.

As I lay in bed at 7:30am, I heard voices, but I never actually saw anyone else in the Albergue.

The hostel was empty when I came and funny enough, when I got up around 8am, it was empty then too.

It’s weird when you hear people but don’t see them.

Were they ghosts and just my imagination, or where there actually other pilgrims?

There are definitely other pilgrims walking the camino. I was lucky that I went when I did. Had a walked just a few weeks later I might have had more trouble.

The pope is visiting the town of Fatima in May. And over 2 million people are planning to attend. That will make the hostels and hotels more expensive than ever. I looked before and some of the rooms cost $2500 that were normally $250 a night. Crazy.

Lost in a rural city

Leaving the town of Golega on the Camino Portuguese.
Leaving the town of Golega on the Camino Portuguese.

I remember as I checked in to my hostel yesterday, I was given instructions about where to pick up the camino again. She even gave me a map.

Turns out that the rural city is more complicated than expected. Why is it so hard to find the camino every morning!

Walking the farm land

There are many farms scattered along the Camino Portuguese.
There are many farms scattered along the Camino Portuguese.

Today was a much appreciated overcast day. Unlike yesterday’s 80 degree weather, it was in the mid 60s..maybe low 70s. It’s so much easier to walk in cooler weather.

And although there we fields and fields of dirt, it was nice to have periodic trees lining the walk. It made for nice shade. At times it was cool. This is really the type of weather I like to walk in.

Water doesn’t seem so urgent.

Ghost town

The small village had a lot of empty buildings. It was weird walking through a completely empty town.
The small village had a lot of empty buildings. It was weird walking through a completely empty town.

I walked through a deserted town today. It was amazing but eery. It seems like a set from a movie with young kids getting slashed by a group of locals. It’s seriously amazing and I should be shooting a film here.

Dancing dandelions

Dancing dandelions from the gusts of wind on the Camino Portuguese.
Dancing dandelions from the gusts of wind on the Camino Portuguese.

When the wind blows, it’s funny what you discover. Even the flowers on the ground seem to dance. Today, I saw dandelions dance.

Closed cafe and perils of following the guide

There’s nothing worse than needing a cafe and finding it closed.  This has got to stop. No more please.

The cafe was clearly marked on our guidebook, but when I arrived, it was closed. It was such an awesome place too—right on the river overlooking the beach below.

From now on, I’ll have to always hit the cafe right before the last ahead of any big stretches of the walk. What is the saying? An ounce of preparation, is better than a pound of regret.

A glimpse of the Irish walking the Camino Portuguese.
A glimpse of the Irish walking the Camino Portuguese.

Just a glimpse

I suddenly saw people far ahead. I walked faster and met some Italian Pilgrims. We didn’t chat much because it looked like they were face timing with family back home.

But after I passed the Italians, I ran into the Irish again. It was great to walk with them on their last day.

Meeting people through out your camino is something very typical. Last time I walked the camino, I had dinner with an archivist from Wisconsin, then walked with him for four or five days and then met up with him again and had dinner with his wife in Santiago de Compostela. I love it how people come and go. It’s really like life!

Lost

Mountain trail on the Camino Portuguese.
Mountain trail on the Camino Portuguese.

We walked up the mountain through a beautiful forest. And then suddenly we didn’t see another arrow. We happened upon a restaurant that was serving lunch. The food was the best thing ever—especially after a few hour of walking of the trail.

The funny thing is that we wouldn’t have found this restaurant had we gone on the camino. We were lost, but being lost helped us find this awesome place to eat. The waitress was so kind. Instead of worrying about translating the menu for us, she brought out all the options.

She literally showed us what food she could cook. I had turkey. And it was so good!

The Irish decided to head home from here. This was the last I saw from them this trip, but I’m sure we’ll see each other again!

Onwards towards Thomar

Window terrace from Thomas 2300 overlooking the street below.
Window terrace from Thomas 2300 overlooking the street below.

One of the coolest towns I’ve visited so far. Thomar is the city of Knight Templars. They have a huge castle and stronghold. It’s situated along a major river and is an important cultural capital.

The walk from lunch was long but I finally made it to Thomar and my cool boutique hostel called Thomar 2300. Whoever designed the place had taste and used some touches that don’t cost much but really showcase design and upbeat contemporary furniture.

It also doesn’t hurt that it’s situated right on the main street with hundreds of tourists and locals strolling bye.

Changing rooms

Bunk beds in 2300 Thomar hostel in Thomar, Portugal.
Bunk beds in 2300 Thomar hostel in Thomar, Portugal.

I checked in and did a quick look at my room. I noticed I was in a 6 person bunk bed room. My bed was next to the door, so I asked the staff if they had another room where i could get the bed in the back.

There is nothing worse than being awoken all night by people going to the restroom or sleep walking. (It happens.) They told me yes and gave me a bunk in a room meant for eight people. The good news is that I was the only person in it!

Showering and doing laundry

As soon as I locked all my valuables into the locker, I high tailed it to get clean. That’s one of the highlights of the camino—warm showers and getting clean from the days grime. And I was dirty this day.

The shower was right next to the common area. I opted to not care and just go with a towel and flip flops. It made showering that much easier. I guess I’m an exhibitionist.

Meeting new friends

James, Tom and Patty—new pilgrim friends in Thomar.
James, Tom and Nancy—new pilgrim friends in Thomar.

The Irish were gone, but a couple from New Jersey (Tom and Nancy) and a friendly guy from England (James), whom, I had briefly chatted with on the road days prior and at the cafe last night—they very chatty—which is the best for being a pilgrim on his own.

Turns out they were staying at the same hostel as me.  We decided to go to dinner together and grab a drink.

Tom and Patty were on their honeymoon. They had a few grandchildren each and were widowers. They met and fell in love.

It’s a beautiful story. James, was a guy they met on the Camino years ago. They’ve become good friends and do the camino together. They were all nice and so dang friendly. Most Camino pilgrims are!

Reminds me to be nicer to people.

Finding dinner

Taverna Antiqua was our pick for dinner. It is rated as Thomar's best restaurant by TripAdvisor.
Taverna Antiqua was our pick for dinner. It is rated as Thomar’s best restaurant by TripAdvisor.

There are many ways to get suggestions for a place to eat at—asking the staff at your hostel or hotel. Or google. Maybe even just asking other pilgrims.

One app I really trust is Tripadvisor. I’ve been very happy with their top selections in most towns I visit. In Thomar, the number one restaurant was a midevil themed restaurant called Taverna Antique.

The food was awesome. I got a spicy lamb order. Most of the guys followed suit. The food was delicious and the decor was definitely fun too. The restroom was made up as if you were in the middle ages.

So the door closed with a pulley and weight. The restaurant got busier and busier as the night continued. By the time we were done with everything there was a line of people trying to get in.

Going off the Camino

I heard someone once say that there are many roads to Santiago de Compostela. And none of them are better or more authentic. We all have our own path to follow.

The first time I walked the Camino I was very specific about only walking and staying on the path—not taking any detours or chances with other activities. But this time around I decided to change. Change is good.

During the dinner with my new friends, I learned of their intent to stick around Thomar for an extra day and to check out Fatima and the Templar castle in Thomar. I asked them if I could tag along, so we decided to meetup around 8am the next morning to share a cab.

Coffee and a late night treat

Pastry de Nata is a popular Portuguese treat. It has custard inside a baked crust. Often heated and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Yum!
Pastry de Nata is a popular Portuguese treat. It has custard inside a baked crust. Often heated and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Yum!

Most Portuguese have coffee and a treat after dinner. I pushed for us to check out another cafe or place instead of eating it at the Taverna Antiqua. The funny thing is that the cafe we chose was only three doors down from dinner.

It was also a short distance from our accommodations. It’s amazing how quickly tired you can get after a long days walk.

We met some other pilgrims who said that there was film being made at the Templar Castle. I met a guy from Japan that everyone calls Toyota and a girl from Germany called Ella.

Sleeping in an eight bed room

Just because there are eight beds in your room, doesn’t mean all of them will be utilised. I was alone in the massive room and slept like a baby. I seem to be sleeping more after 20 mile hikes.

Maybe doctors back home should subscribe walking instead of medicine.

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