Day Two on the Camino Portugués, Alverca do Ribatejo to Azambuja, 29.74 Km (18.48 Miles)

Our Day Two on the Camino Portugués was initially interesting, then quickly turned hot, dry, and long. If I said day one wasn't industrial, while true, the second half of day two made up for it. This was perhaps the most boring leg of the Camino Portugués.

“When the going gets tough, put one foot in front of the other and just keep going. Don’t give up.”  ~ Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Map and Stats of Day Two on the Camino Portugués

Here is my Google map that I created from my Geotracker App files. I included the restaurant/cafés and hotels where we stopped and the hotels that we passed by. There are no open albergues in Azambuja at the time of this writing, regardless of what your guide says. Please call ahead to plan this day's accommodation, or you may be surprised. 

Interactive Google Map of Day Two on the Camino Portugués

I added the route, in light blue that we took to rejoin the Camino (Point B), from the Alfa 10 hotel (Point A). If you include this route in your mileage for the day, you will need to add 1.5 km, for a total of 31.24 km for the day. 

Here are my elevations stats from day two on the Camino Portugués. As you can see, it is totally flat! Essentially, a long, easy day. 

I am also giving you a link of the same map, above, if you care to see the route with our  photos included. Click here to see this map.

Elevation Stats from Alverca do Ribatejo to Azambuja, Day Two, Camino PortuguésElevation Stats from Alverca do Ribatejo to Azambuja, Day Two, Camino Portugués

Photo-Rich Travelogue of Day Two on the Camino Portugués

After our grueling day one, I woke up on day two, feeling surprisingly well. Fortunately, I had slept well and was free of any aches, pains or blisters. 

It was a fresh and dewy morning as we met our Swiss friend and set off at 7:00 a.m. We had 1.5 km from the Alfa 10, to get back to the Camino. We used our little printed map from our hosts to guide us. 

Luckily, there was a gas station along the route, right next to the Jumbo grocery store that was open! (see map) In Portugal, 7:00 a.m. is very early, and very few cafés are open before 8:00 or 9:00 o'clock.

We stopped for café con leite and pastry. Everyone was chipper, and ready for rockin' and rollin.' 

When we joined the Camino on the Avenida Infante Dom Pedro, the way immediately veers to the left on the Rua 20 de Maio 1449. The Way, then takes a turn to the right, shown in the photo below. 

Right Turn on the Rua Catarin Eufémia on the Camino PortuguésRight Turn on the Rua Catarin Eufémia

After turning right onto the Rua Catarin Eufémia, up ahead it looks like the road ends into a dead end at the field. (It was a cornfield for us, but I imagine this could change.) Instead, you see this sign below, and turn left onto a path by the building fence, below. 

Turn Left Here at Cornfield on the Camino PortuguésTurn Left Here at Field
Path along the Cornfield on the Camino PortuguésPath along the Gate

The path soon leaves the building and crosses a long field, leaving Alverca. It was a gorgeous path in the early morning light.

Across a Field in the MistAcross a Field in the Mist

The path soons rejoins the pavement, and walks briefly through some warehouse areas, before joining the busy N10, below. 

The Portuguese Way Joins the Busy N10The Portuguese Way Joins the Busy N10

The Camino is not very lovely here as it follows the N10 for a good 1.5 kilometers, walking through Sobralinho on the way to Alhandra. As the road bends and the shoulders changed, to be safe on this road, we found ourselves choosing to cross from right to left to find the safest passage. Today being Sunday, there were many bicyclists using this route as well. 

Along the N10 for 1.5 KmAlong the N10 for 1.5 Km

When you see the sign for Alhandra, after about 5 km into day two on the Camino Portugués, you know this stretch on the N10 is almost over. 

Sign for Alhandra on the N10Sign for Alhandra on the N10

After entering Alhandra, you can see the train station to your right as the N10 climbs left to the overpass.

Stay Left on the N10 by the Alhandra Train StationStay Left on the N10 by the Alhandra Train Station

Next, you turn right, onto the overpass and get a bird's eye view of the train station.

Alhandra Train Station from the BridgeAlhandra Train Station from the Bridge

Onwards we went, up and over the bridge and back towards the waterfront.

Over the Train Tracks by the Alhandra Train StationOver the Train Tracks by the Alhandra Train Station

Here is Rich and our Swiss friend, joing the Passeio Pedronal Ribeirinho de Alhandra, or essentially translated, the Alhandra Riverwalk. 

The Alhandra Riverwalk ~ Passeio Pedronal Ribeirinho de AlhandraThe Alhandra Riverwalk ~ Passeio Pedronal Ribeirinho de Alhandra

The Portuguese are very friendly, when you engage them.  As several bicyclists passed us on the riverwalk, one calls out to us, "Good Morning!" I returned the salutation with with "Bom dia," and I got a hearty a thumbs up in return!

The Riverwalk continues for about a kilometer as it passes through town. Here is Rich and our Swiss friend pausing for me, for a photo, as the marina comes into view. 

Rich and Our Swiss Friend on the Alhandra Riverwalk

If the timing is right, and you are carrying your own lunch, there are lovely shady respites for lunch along the Alhandra Riverwalk. 

Shady Lunch Spots Along the Passeio Pedronal Ribeirinho de AlhandraShady Lunch Spots Along the Passeio Pedronal Ribeirinho de Alhandra

After leaving the town of Alhandra, the Passeio Pedronal Ribeirinho becomes the Caminho Pedronal Ribeirinho. It follows this 2-way track along the Rio Tejo for the next two full kilometers, or so. 

Caminho Pedronal Ribeirinho, 2-way Walking/Jogging Track Along the TejoCaminho Pedronal Ribeirinho, 2-way Walking/Jogging Track Along the Tejo

On the Sunday we walked this walking/jogging track, there were many Portuguese out and about. It is easy to see why, as we walked on this beautifully planned walkway. 

The Caminho Pedronal Ribeirinho Continues for 2 KmThe Caminho Pedronal Ribeirinho Continues for 2 Km

Here is the final stretch on the Caminho Pedronal Ribeirinho as it walks into Vila Franco de Xira. 

Final Stretch of the Caminho Pedronal Ribeirinho into Vila Franca de XiraFinal Stretch of the Caminho Pedronal Ribeirinho into Vila Franca de Xira

The 2-way track ends at the sculpture, of Álvaro Guerra, a famous author and journalist from Vila Franca de Xira. Here is a nice blog from his granddaughter that describes the sculpture and how the town honored his works. 

Tribute Sculpture of Álvaro Guerra in Vila Franca de XiraTribute Sculpture of Álvaro Guerra

The Camino de Santiago continues past the sculpture and along the waterfront. At about 9.5 km into day two on the Camino Portugués, we decided to go into town to look for a café for a coffee break. At this lovely tile building by the marina, we turned left into town. 

The Docks at Vila Franca de Xira, PortugalRich at the Docks in Vila Franca de Xira

The town looks lovely, and we soon found Christina's, a very inviting place. Here are the boys, selecting a table. The pastry selection here is marvelous, and we were soon scarfing down empanadas and more pastel de nata!

Christina's Pastelaria in Vila Franca de XiraChristina's Pastelaria ~ Yum Yum!

I wish we had more time to explore the town, as it is quite charming. Here is another blog regarding Vila Franca de Xira. Indeed, if you spend the night here, there are sights worth seeing. 

While taking our break, our Swiss friend, desiring to lighten his load, starting tearing pages out of his guide book that he no longer needed! He confessed that he had two books, and he already ditched one back at the hotel in Verdelha. 

Since it was already hot by the time we stopped for our break at 9:00 a.m. it was imperative that he lighten his pack. If the afternoon would be anything like day one, it was going to be a very hot one. 

Rich picked up our friend's pack, and then I did. OMG, it was about twice as heavy as Rich's. When we commented on how heavy the pack was, our Swiss friend only replied, that this was a "normal" weight. Obviously this was his first Camino! 

We chuckled and stated, that yes, his weight might be normal for a backpack in the Swiss Alps for a few days, but way too heavy for a pilgrimage traveler! He didn't say a word in return. Each to his own!

After lightening his pack by a few pages, and adding much more weight into our stomachs, we rejoined the Camino at the docks. We discovered a small Christina's right along the waterfront promenade! We would not have had to turn into town, but we had not walked far, so we had no regrets. 

Very shortly, we entered this park, the Park Jardim Municipal Constantino Palha. Another place for a wonderful break, if you were carrying a picnic. 

The Entry Gates of the Park Jardim Municipal Constantino Palha, Vila Franca de Xira, PortugalThe Entry Gates of the Park Jardim Municipal Constantino Palha

This park is such an amazing and lovely retreat from the hot Portuguese sun. I continued to be amazed on only day two of the Camino Portugués, how hot and dry it already was in Portugal in early April. At least this year (2017)!

A Grand Stand at the the Park Jardim Municipal Constantino Palha, Vila Franca de Xira, PortugalA Grand Stand at the the Park Jardim Municipal Constantino Palha

In the middle of the park, the Vila Franca train station is on your left. It is a gorgeous building and I took several pictures of it. 

The Famous Train Station at Vila Franca de  Xira, PortugalThe Famous Train Station at Vila Franca de Xira

After leaving the cool, shady park of Vila Franca, the real Camino began for me. 

The road after the park is narrow and quiet, but paved as it walks out of town. Here the surrounding fields are wide open, totally devoid of shade, or any attractive features. I do not have photos of this one kilometer stretch or so. 

The unnamed road crosses under the N10 and eventually leaves the pavement to turn right at this junction.

Leaving the Pavement to Turn Right Unto Dirt LaneLeaving the Pavement to Turn Right Unto Dirt Lane

The dirt lane takes you in the direction of the next town, Castanheira do Ribatejo.

Long, Hot Lane Towards Castanheira do Ribatejo on the Portuguese WayLong, Hot Lane Towards Castanheira do Ribatejo

While the photos don't depict it well, the large power plant in Carregado (see below) is within sight, almost the entire way from Vila Franca to Carregado on day two on the Camino Portugués.

Lane Joins the Railroad Tracks, walking towards Castanheira do RibatejoLane Joins the Railroad Tracks

The winding dirt track does not join the pavement until it reaches the Estrada do Apeadeiro, just before the train station in Catanheira do Ribatejo, shown below. 

The glass building over the street ahead, is the train station.

Walking Towards Castanheira do Ribatejo, Portugal on the Estrada do ApeadeiroWalking Towards Castanheira do Ribatejo on the Estrada do Apeadeiro

I promised I would show the good, the bad and the ugly on the Portuguese Way and my photos of this section on day two of the Camino Portugués fulfills my promise!

I couldn't decide which part of the Camino from Vila Franco was least desirable, the long, hot dirt lane, or the long, hot paved roads!

Castanheira do Ribatejo Train Station along the Portuguese WayCastanheira do Ribatejo Train Station

The long, hot pavement continues onwards toward Carregado. This section, was clearly, just putting one foot in front of the other. 

Paved, Barren Road Toward CarregadoPaved, Barren Road Toward Carregado

As you can see in the photo above, their is a shoulder once in a while to get off the hard surface of the pavement. It did help to walk on the shoulder. 

As the above road comes to a "T" intersection, the Camino turns left on the Rua Prudêncio Duarte Correira, and ahead is the Carregado train station, finally coming into view.

Carregado Train Tracks, PortugalCarregado Train Tracks on Day Two of the Camino Portugués

It took us about an hour and a half, to do the approximately 7.5 kilometers on this stretch from Vila Franca to Carregado. It felt like 3 hours!

When you reach the station in Carregado, you need to take an elevator or stairs to go up, over and across the tracks, and then walk down the steps on the other side, to the west of the tracks. We chose the elevator up, but took the stairs down on the other side!

Up and over the train tracks in CarregadoUp and Over the Train Tracks in Carregado

The Way then immediately turns right from the train station, heading northeast on the Rua da Estação towards the Power Plant. 

On the next corner, before you have to turn left onto the Estrada da Vala, we ran into this Café and Restaurante Belanita (see map above), in the photo below. It harbored a shady spot to get some respite from the sun. We were ready for another break!

Café and Restaurante Belanita, Carregado, PortugalCafé and Restaurante Belanita

All the hot pavement was hurting my feet and I was grateful for a place to stop, rest and air them out!

Rich's right little toe was bothering him, and our Swiss friend, still sticking with us, was starting to complain about the heat. 

I had read a poetic little blog, where a group of Sisters did a Camino de Santiago together. One nun described her pilgrimage as "praying with her feet." The only problem with that description for me now, was that my feet didn't feel much like they were in prayer! They were hurting too much, as well as my legs.

At this point we were not yet 2/3 of the way at about 17 km into our day two. 

Our Swiss friend was the only pilgrim we had seen on day two of the Camino Portugués until Carregado. After our break, we ran into three middle-aged Americans from New England, walking backwards toward the train station. One of the ladies already had a blister!

This was only their third day on the Camino and they were going to take the train from Carregado to Azambuja. They were giving up the pilgrimage for the day! It was discouraging to hear, as our spirits were also a bit down at this point. 

While the walk currently had been hot and boring, I set my resolve to walk, come hell or high water!

Setting off in the heat of the day, along the Estrada da Vala, the power plant that had been in our view for what seemed like forever, could now be fully seen. Here it is in all its glory!

Ribatejo Power Station, Carregado, PortugalRibatejo Power Station

The Camino follows the Estrada da Vala, along a nice walkway that parallels an irrigation ditch, below. 

Skirting Along the North of Carregado
The Way Parallels the Estrada da Vala, Carregado, PortugalThe Way Parallels the Estrada da Vala

After leaving Carregado, we turned right onto the Estrada da Central, 3.2 long kilometers of open, hot pavement once again! Here I am, smiling through the heat! The Way ahead on the open road looks very long, doesn't it?

Along the Estrada da Central, Vila Nova da Rainha, PortugalElle, Along the Estrada da Central

After the long pavement section, we entered into a cute little town of Vila Nova da Rainha. Here is Rich, walking into town.

Walking Thru the Town of Vila Nova da Rainha, PortugalWalking Thru the Town of Vila Nova da Rainha

We did not stop here. 

Straggling Over the Bridge Into Town, Vila Nova da Rainha, on the Portuguese WayStraggling Over the Bridge Into Town on Day Two of the Camino Portugués

After walking through Vila Nova, it was no surprise when we had to walk up and over the train tracks again.

Up and Over the Train Tracks, Once Again in Vila Nova da Rainha, Camino PortuguésUp and Over the Train Tracks, Once Again in Vila Nova da Rainha

Immediately after crossing the tracks, the way turns left onto yet another long, hot, dry and sandy lane, shown below. The gate seen on the photo is easily skirted on the left. 

Gate on Sandy Track towards Azambuja, PortugalGate on Sandy Track towards Azambuja

And of course, the sandy lane follows the railroad tracks going toward Azambuja!

Along the Railroad Tracks Towards Azambuja, Camino PortuguésAlong the Railroad Tracks Towards Azambuja

(The guide we were using did not show this route, but instead showed the Camino leaving Vila Nova da Rainha on the N3 and walking the entire 7.5 kilometers on the N3 from Vila Nova into Azambuja.)

I voice journaled as I walked behind the boys. It was the time of day when in my tiredness, I always reflected and talked to my journal more frequently. This is the time when more complaints were being registered! Or real thoughts without filters. You be the judge!

In my ignorance, I was discouraged to face another long, hot and sandy lane, yet despite it all, I was OK! (It would have been much worse to walk on the hot pavement of the N3 for 7.5 km into Azambuja!)

I felt like I was struggling to stay hydrated. I felt the constant need to drink. I must have been OK becuase I had to pee frequently as a result! Not convenient!

The sun was brutal and I noticed that the back of our Swiss friend's legs were totally sunburnt. I don't suppose his heavy pack carried sunscreen. I offered him some, which he graciously accepted. 

I was tiring of the railroad tracks. Seemed to me, in these early stages that there was not a lot of pilgrimage history here, and the medieval route of yore was not well-established. There were no frequent chapels along the way to remind you to say a prayer or express gratitude. I missed this.

While the scenery in the afternoon was boring, at least it was flat, and required less exertion in this heat! I was so tired of the heat! I even called it my "desert Camino!" One foot in front of the other...

I reflected that the Portuguese did not seem as friendly as the Spaniards. The greetings along the path today were infrequent. If I engaged first, they were always friendly in return. A little bit of my Spanish/Portuguese did seem to help break the ice. Perhaps describing them as reserved, is more appropriate.

I reflected on the lonliness here thus far. Aside from our Swiss friend, we were out here all alone. No real community feeling was part of this Camino yet. In fact we were tiring of our Swiss friend. He stuck to us like glue. So much, that I nicknamed him the Barnacle. In an unholy way, Rich and I continued to call him by this name, when we spoke in private. Sad, but true. 

After about 3.5 hot kilometers, we arrived at the train station prior to Azambuja, the Espandanal de Azambuja, where once again the Way is up and over the train tracks. I was beginning to dread the stair climbing! Last one for the day!

Espadanal de Azambuja Train StationEspadanal de Azambuja Train Station

After crossing the tracks for the umpteenth time, the Camino joins the N3 for the final, brutal 2 km walk into town. The entire stretch looked the photo below. Busy road, but with a wide, paved shoulder to walk on. Lots of industry here and lots to look at and distract you. One foot in front of the other on day two on the Camino Portugués.

3.5 Km on the N3, Camino Portugués3.5 Km on the N3

Finally, the town of Azambuja is in sight. 

Entering AzambujaEntering Azambuja

The Camino forks to the left of the N3, and takes you into town on the street below. This is the last photo I took for the day. My one foot in front of the other, had brought me here at last. 

Avenida do Valverde into the Center of Town, Azambuja, PortugalAvenida do Valverde into the Center of Town

The reason I did not take any more photos, was because I was distracted, looking yet again, for an albergue that didn't exist! Remember, that whatever your guide says, as of this writing, there is no albergue in Azambuja. I am not sure why the guides, supposedly updated, are not correct on this. The locals at the restaurant, told us later that the albergue roof had collapsed many years ago and has been closed ever since! 

After wandering about looking and asking for the albergue, we gave up, checked our guides and found the Resedential Flor da Primavera

We had passed the Ouro Hotel just before the center of town (see Google map above) but were hoping to find the albergue, and passed on by it. 

The Flor da Primavera was a comfortable family hotel, clean and with a very friendly proprietress who will hang your hand-washed clothes up on her roof, if you ask her. The cost to us in April, 2017 was 35 Euro for a lovely room with its own bath. I believe our Swiss friend paid 25 Euro for a single. 

We hoped to go to a grocery store, but alas it was Sunday, and all stores were closed! I needed to replenish my pack with snacks, but it would have to wait until Monday. 

Our proprietress recommended a café just down the street, called the Café Tatlana (see map) where she said we could get food anytime. Yay! We cleaned up, washed our clothes and went post haste to the café by 4 o'clock. 

We ran into the three New England pilgrims and were told that tomorrow's leg, at Porto Muge, 15 km down the road was completely booked for a Portuguese event. Our only choice was to make it to Santarem at 32 km. Or take a train back and forth as needed. 

I was worried about our Swiss friend. He looked pretty trashed, and told us he did not want to walk to Santarem tomorrow. We decided that we would see how we felt in the morning. 

We were served by a very informative English-speaking man who's mother owned the café. I had an amazing stewed goat dish, marinated in red wine for two days. The man introduced us to Aguardente, the Portuguese firewater! He said the name means "fire in the belly" and indeed, that is its very effect. He said it was good for the "recooperation" and yes, of course, it was!

My favorite, however, was when he introduced to us, on the house, yet another famous Portuguese apertif, called Ginja (said like jzhin jzha) a sweet cherry-flavored liquor. I loved it. 

We all ate and drank heartily and sealed our day two's experience on the Camino Portugués. We learned that the café would also open up at 7:00 a.m., just for pilgrims, so we agreed to meet there in the morning. 

We fell into bed, exhausted, sated and content, at 7:30 p.m.

Lessons Learned on Day Two, Camino Portugués

Persistence is the name of the game for this leg of the Camino. Bring music, or chat with someone, drink lots of water, and take as many breaks as you need. Our rule of thumb is to stop no more than every 10 kilometer, eat something, and air out your feet! Always one foot in front of the other!

Salutation

May your own day two on the Camino Portugués be filled with resolution, persistance and hope! May you always continue when the going gets rough, with one foot in front of the other, slowly and surely!





***Please note that I will be adding articles for each day that we spent on the Camino Portugués, as I write them. All 26 days! So check back frequently, or subscribe to my feed, to make sure you don't miss any! (To subscribe to my feed, go to the left Navbar, find "Recent Articles," and click on the little orange box on the top right hand corner)


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