Our day five on the Camino Portugués was a day of heat, toil and for me, emotionally difficult. We reached the milestone of completing almost one quarter of the Portuguese Way at the end of our day (almost 23% to be exact).
We did this in just five days and it was time to rethink our journey. A day of rest was in the cards for the next day in Tomar, and it couldn't come soon enough for me. Too many kilometers in too few days was taking its toll.
“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but through persistence.” ~ Buddha
Here is my route on Google maps for day five, uploaded from my GPS application. I have as usual, included accommodations, cafés and supermarkets for your reference.
For the first time on the Camino Portugués the pilgrimage traveler encounters hill climbing of significance in midday, after Atalaia. Then a final little climb in the final third part of the day, not as high or as long as the previous two, but to me, seemed equally difficult at the end of a long and brutally hot day.
While the elevation isn't extreme, it may be more difficult than you may think.
We awoke to have breakfast in the Solo Duro albergue dining area, to learn that our Swiss friend was hurting badly. He stated that he would not walk today. His blister was huge and horrible, he states he is too tired and his stomach is bad. Oh my!
He was clearly in pain, and as he told us this information, he would not look me in the eye. He is a very proud man, and despite his pain, he still would not admit that perhaps his system had flaws. We knew he was carrying too much weight, and that his boots were too small, yet he still had tried to push through, not heeding our gentle advice.
The Camino will definitely humble you, even despite your best efforts to be flexible and to find your own pace. He didn't yet realize that he needed to find his own Camino. Because of his pride, he had been walking our Camino, not his own. I felt very sorry for him. We agreed to stay in communication with WhatsApp for the remainder of the day and meet up later in Tomar.
Rich and I set off alone together through the streets of Golegã. Our day started out fresh and new, as we left the Solo Duro albergue just after sunrise. Rich's blister was better today, but he was still limping a bit. He thinks he is OK to do a 30 km day. We shall see!
The route out of Golegã that I describe is not the official route, but a shortcut given to us by the hospitalera. If you want to do the official route, you must go back to the main square by the church, 400 meters south, then head east on the Rua Dom João IV for about one kilometer. At a Y-intersection, turn left (north) onto the Rua do Casal Branco and walk for another ⅓ kilometer until you come to a roundabout. Go straight through and pick-up the CM-1183. Or just follow my GPS tracks.
For the shortcut, shown on the interactive map above, take the Rua Francisco de Sousa Terré on the southside of the albergue, heading eastward for one block. Turn left onto the Rua Padre Marrão and walk for about 200 meters, taking the first right onto the Rua Luis de Camões. In two blocks, come to a T-intersection and take a left onto the Rua Dr. Branco.
In about 1/3 kilometer, the Rua Dr. Branco crosses the N243 and continues straight on as an unnamed paved country road, see below. We walked on this pleasant road for about 1.8 kilometers, with no traffic at all in the morning. I was in a positive frame of mind in the peaceful surroundings.
When the road bends to a hard right, it comes to this T-intersection, below, where you turn left to join the CM1183 and the official route from town.
The CM1183 is a more substantial paved road, but was still not busy at this time of the day. The spring flowers that graced the Way provided an aromatic and visual distraction. I had to stop and savor them. The aroma of spring flowers is prominent in April, all along the Portuguese Way!
The CM1183 takes the pilgrimage traveler about another kilometer-and-a-half, past this sign to Maiã, but staying left here ...
...until it joins the M572 at this posted map and waymark, below. This is the final Golegã Municipality map, and it was a shame, because I had learned to appreciate them very much, even though the first one on day four was incorrect.
In barely another kilometer, the M572 took us into the town of São Caetano. The day was still very quiet along this route. It made for a lovely and meditative walk.
When walking through São Caetano, a friendly statue hails to you, reminding you that indeed, you are on a pilgrimage.
There is a private albergue that you will walk past in town, the Casa São Caetano, if you wish to end here.
After waking out of town, the Rua Direita turns into the road that walks through the amazing and crumbling Quinta da Cardiga. Here is the Camino approaching this marvelous old estate.
At the end of the road, above, the sign in the photo below, announces your arrival at the Quinta.
The sheltered tree-lined street takes the pilgrimage traveler directly into the heart of the old estate. The Quinta feels more like a town, than an estate! It's operations must have been enormous. I was in awe as I passed through. I could find no great reference for information on this romantic place, except for this from waymarking.com. Interesting that it was originally established as a grant to the Knights Templar by the first king of Portugal in 1160.
Half-way down the tree-lined boulevard you see the main house on the right.
The azulejo mural on the main house entrance is here in the photo, below.
Passing the main house, and looking to your right, you can see how the Quinta backed up to the Tagus River. This location, with its views to the river must have been grand indeed!
I felt sad for the fall of the Quinta da Cardiga. We lingered a bit in the cool shade, by this stream crossing, below, a fabulous respite from the growing sun, and pondered what the glory days of this place must have been like! Hopefully one day its glory will be restored.
And then, just as suddenly as we found repose within the Quinta, we abruptly re-entered the sunny countryside of Portugal, just beyond the bend. Here comes the heat.
Walking onward, for about 1.5 kilometers, we were welcomed to the town of Vila Nova da Barquinha by this little barking, but harmless doggie.
Continuing on the Rua do Pedregoso, while in town limits, it appears quite rural.
In the center of town, there is a very distinctive pedestrian railroad crossing.
There is now a café in Vila Nova da Barquinha, just before the railroad crossing, so look for it to the right. We missed it, if it was there. The actual town center is to the east of the Camino and there are several accommodations there, if you wish to walk off-Camino for more than a kilometer. Click here to see them.
Looking down the tracks to the west, poppies and other wildflowers were in full bloom.
After crossing the tracks, the Camino goes to the left, continuing north and northwest on a road that changes names many times until in about two more kilometers, you enter Atalaia, at this sign.
As you walk down this road, now named the Rua Dom Afonso Henriques, there is not much there but homes. I was getting discouraged, thinking I needed a rest break and a second cup of café con leite!
Just when we walked almost all the way through Attalia, we spotted a "Sagres" sign at about 11 kilometers. Hallelujah! I was learning to adore the Sagres and/or Super Bock signs! It was a sure-fire way to find a rest break and something to eat and drink.
There was absolutely nothing else to identify this place as a café, other than the beer signs! You can tell I was so happy to be here, by the photo below. I just couldn't mask my joy!
I made Rich snap a photo of me this time, because this place was truly the first open café we came to on day five of the Camino Portugués, and I wanted to make sure other pilgrimage travelers could find it, so check the map above. Hopefully it will still be there when you walk through, but it is always best to be prepared in case there is no café in Atalaia that is open.
During our break, Rich kept massaging his right arch. He says he is OK, but I vowed to keep an eye on him. We ordered sandwiches and coffee with milk and replenished our energy. Those continental breakfasts never last me much more than an hour or two.
After our 30 minute break, we were both trying to get back into the swing of the Camino. I was hurting everywhere! 20 more km till a long rest day! I already felt beat. The worst was yet to come.
Shortly after the unnamed café, the route joins the N110, and within 1/2 kilometer walks by the Casa do Patriarca, a place to end your day if desired. Almost immediately after the Casa do Patriarca, the pilgrimage traveler walks up a hill and to this National Monument, the Igreja Matriz.
Unfortunately, the church was closed, but I stopped to cross the street and snap a photo. As I was entering the crosswalk to return to the other side, I looked back and a taxi rushed by without stopping in the crosswalk! I glared at the taxi. And who was sitting in the taxi? None other than our Swiss friend!
I waved, but it was too late for him to notice. What were the odds that at the exact moment I was crossing the street that our friend would drive by?? Crazy destiny again, at its finest!
It was almost like the Barnacle was destined to be with us. Rich and I discussed this as we walked on. I was not liking this coincidence at all. Our Swiss friend was on his way to a place in Tomar. He most likely would text us to let us know where he was. I did not know what destiny was asking of us here!
As we walked onward on the N110, the sidewalk ended and the pavement looked terrible! I was thinking oh #*$#!, and just then, a dirt road appeared off to the side, with the yellow arrow pointing to the right, to follow it. The dirt road turns into a wonderful, shady eucalyptus forest.
For the first time, here we were climbing up a hill. The eucalyptus trees and the mountains almost felt like we were on the Primitivo as we left the hot, hot lowland finally! It sure felt different on our shins and our feet - I liked it a lot!
On day five of the Camino Portugués, we stayed on this dirt lane for a nice, long time. The yellow arrow here, to stay right, was permanent and wooden, with aromatic wildflowers surrounding it.
Eventually, the dirt lane crosses over the A23, a busy motorway, on this bridge below.
At the top of the hill, before you drop down to the motorway, you can see the way ahead and the next hill you have to climb. Take note and take heart. It isn't all that bad.
Here's the first big hill on day five of the Camino Portugués. It is on rough tractor lanes, so beware your footing. I actually took a tumble here, near the top. I fell backwards onto my backpack, and was unhurt, thank God!
Here is the top of the hill, looking backwards, and then Rich, looking again forward. It looks and feels more upsy, downsy, than just two big hills. The good news is that at the top of this hill, you are about halfway through your day five on the Camino Portugués!
After taking the downhill, the next upward climb toward Grou is ahead. The going was tough for me, despite the shade and the aromatic eucalyptus forest.
I find whenever the way gets tough, I want to voice journal. I voice journaled a lot during this section. The hill doesn't look like much on the map, but it was still painful and quite hot. Rich was really limping and I was getting really, really concerned about him. I didn't want to kill him for the rest of the Camino. Yet he carried on somehow.
Unfortunately, when we reached this intersection with the Rua Nossa Senhora dos Caminhos, the dirt road and forest way were left behind for most of the remainder of day five. Nothing much left now but pavement and the heat of the open road. I wished I felt like persistent, cool and flowing water. I did not.
By Asseiceira we were at the 20 km mark, 2/3rds of our day five on the Camino Portugués completed. During the 2nd third of the day, everything started to hurt. My feet felt like they were on fire.
We were now beginning our walk of the third leg of the day. We had made a picnic in the eucalyptus forest, just before Accesseria. I took my shoes and socks off, and laid down on my space blanket with my feet raised high in the air. It was very reviving. I took my first 600 mg dose of Ibuprofen to ease the pain for the remainder of our journey.
As you walk through the center of Asseiceira, just beyond this photo, below, there are several cafés and a minimarket if you wish to take a break in town.
We walked down the hill, through Asseiceira and on to Guerreira. Shortly after Asseiceira, the Way joins the N110, for a long, long time, in the open flippin' sun with no shade. Things were looking more industrial. We were about 8 kilometers out from Tomar. And we carried on.
To help distract me, the Camino provided these lovely Wisteria. I continued to be amazed how they grew wild all over Portugal.
The final long stretch on the N110, is shown below...
...as you approach this large double roundabout where the N110 crosses the A3 (IC-3).
We veer right here, off the N110 and onto the CM1134, which parallels the N110 northward.
Soon after this right turn, above, you cross the railroad tracks on a bridge. Look closely after the bridge, as the Way turns right abruptly onto this nice dirt track and follows the tracks. The N110 is just to the East of the tracks.
The route opens up and brings you out to Casal do Pote, shown below.
We walked through the small town of Casal do Pote...
...to Casal das Bernardas.
When we reached this intersection, below, a mere 3.5 kilometers or so from Tomar, I rejoiced at the sign pointing right and down a hill to Tomar! I could even see and smell the town! I was so happy to be so close to Tomar. My happiness was quickly squelched when the Camino arrow pointed to the left. What?
So, of course we turned left. (You could turn right and meet up with and follow the busy N110, if you wished).
Again, I was facing my angry time of day. I could see Tomar down there. Then the Camino made us climb up a hill in the opposite direction, diverting us on a longer route to the west.
I kept asking Rich - are you sure you saw the yellow arrow taking us this way? When is the last arrow you saw? I just did not want to go this way.
I thought we should be in Tomar by now. All I wanted was to find solace from the sun. There was no café along this final section. I was completely out of water and food. Rich pulled out peanut brittle he had left and shared with me. It got me up the hill that seemed to go on forever, pictured below. OMG, I'm thinking WTF is this and this GD hill?? (Excuse the explicatives. Sometimes, I suppose, other words just don't suffice).
Then at last we reached the "alto" or top when this sign greeted us, at Alto do Piolhinho. A small town. No café. We plugged on. Be like water, soft and persistent...
Now I was thinking and voice journaling that in the earlier days on the CP, I didn't bonk like I was today. There are indeed more hills now. We just couldn't believe that we were climbing up another hill at the end of the day. On a diversion, no less! (As it turns out this diversion is only about ½ kilometer longer than walking along the N110, so you can make an informed choice as to whether or not walking on a quiet road is more important to you and your Camino!)
My energy level was so low. The last hot hours were retched for me and just killed me. The final kilometers always, always took longer than I thought they should!
Then just as suddenly as we reached the top of the hill, the Camino turned right on the Rua Nova de São Lourenço, and several hundred meters later, took us down into the town of São Lourenço, under the same railroad tracks that we had been following earlier, and dropped us out at the gorgeous Capela de São Lourenço by the Nabão River, see photo below.
(Be very careful as you approach the town São Lourenço. Look at an arrow on a pole that points downward towards the ground and at a diagonal. You suddenly realize you are supposed to go down the stairs and under the RR tracks.)
The sight of the chapel immediately lifted my spirits. Despite the fact that I was out of water, exhausted and hungry, I longed to stay at this beautiful place for awhile. Below is a close-up of the gorgeous azulejo mural on the side of the chapel. The chapel was closed, so we were unable to have a look inside.
Google maps identifies several cafés in São Lourenço, but we were so close to town, that I chose to carry on.
In a couple more hundred meters after the chapel, following the N110 and the Rio Nabão, you come to this large roundabout and the sign that you are entering Tomar. Yay!
We had finally arrived in town around 3:30 in the afternoon on day five of our Camino Portugués. We had both made it.
We stopped at the first open café, the Pastelaria Tropical and had two coca cola zeros and two pastel de natas to revive us! Rich looks like he needs reviving in this photo, doesn't he? I am so glad that he had no energy to take my photo!
After our break, we made quick work of walking to the center of Tomar. No sooner did we enter the main circle in town, when there on the street was our Swiss friend trying to find us! He was very happy to see us and was wanting to go get a beer with us right away.
We were so hot and exhausted. The sun was so brutal, at around 82 degrees and the pavement hill climb to Alto had been so grueling. We said no, we needed an hour and a half off to rest and regroup.
We finally made it to the Hostel 2300 Tomar at 4:30. We agreed to meet up with our Swiss friend at 6:00. He was staying in another Residencia. He said the Hostal 2300 Tomar was not in his guide book. Go figure.
The Hostal 2300 Tomar is a wonderful private albergue-type place, with private rooms as well. Click on the link to see the photos of it, just mere blocks from the main square, the Praça da República, shown below. It is economical, breakfast is included and the staff is marvelous. We booked a private room with a shared bath.
For more available accommodations in Tomar click here. There are no municipal albergues, but aside from the Hostal 2300 Tomar in the center of town, there is one more private hostel with dormitory-style rooms, the Residencial Avenida Hostel, along the Camino just as you enter town and past the Pastelaria Tropical, mentioned above. Consult the map for their exact locations.
After regrouping and meeting up with our Swiss friend, we landed at Café Pepe's for drinks in the square. While Rich and our Swiss friend celebrated with beers, I wandered around the fascinating square, with the church of São João Baptista (St. John the Baptist) as the anchor. It was glowing in the evening light!
In the center of the square is a statue to the founder of Tomar, Gualdim Pais. We had a lovely happy hour, gazing at these monuments and the Knights Templar castle looming over us.
No restaurants in Tomar open prior to 7:00 p.m. We finally found an Italian restaurant that our Swiss friend had been dying for. It was a place called La Bella - see my Google map. Rich had Carbonara, I had a dish with pasta, chilis and salami. It was all very delicious and I highly recommend it.
Our Swiss friend announced at dinner that he was leaving the next day to go by train to Porto. It was too hot for him to walk and he did not want to put himself through the stress of it.
His boots were too small and his weight was too much, but he was never convinced that what he was doing wasn't normal! He said repeatedly that how he was equipped was all normal! 10 kg was a normal weight. However, we knew that his pack weighed way more than 10 kg. If he wanted to continue to drag on with these issues, it was indeed up to him after all.
I asked him to keep in touch and let us know how he was doing. He was planning to walk the Camino from Porto and see if he liked it from there. I was very interested to see how he would fare going forward, and if he continued on the pilgrimage from Porto.
(As it turned out, we never did hear from our Swiss friend again. My heart silently knew that he was not into the pilgrimage, nor was he into the Portuguese culture. I hoped that we did not spoil his pilgrimage by having him follow ours, yet I will never know for sure what he truly felt. What will be will be and I quickly let it go, despite trying to reach him over the next several days.)
Somehow, while relieved to finally be free of our Barnacle, I was not particularly happy to see him go.
And finally, I leave you with our view from our private room in the Hostal 2300 Tomar! The night sky over the castle was a gorgeous end to our day. We looked forward to exploring the town tomorrow.
We went to bed at 10:00 p.m., so very exhausted, but I still had trouble falling asleep. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with crap going through my head, like "What am I doing here? Why am I even walking? I don't want to walk! Its too much. What's the purpose? I've been here before. Yeah, I can write about all this but what's the point?" and so on and so forth.
While these questions I knew were rhetorical and their answers had to be discovered with each and every footstep, nonetheless, they bothered me in the semi-conscious moment!
I felt like it was a miracle that I had not developed any blisters so far. The Camino is humbling for everyone and the Barnacle reminded us of this over and over again. Rich's limp and blisters reminded us as well. I had escaped any real physical trauma at this point, thank God. I was doing OK. I had to watch out for Rich. I was grateful for the day off the next day.
I guess we taught our Swiss friend a bit about being a pilgrim, but honestly, it felt to me like, because he was too stubborn-headed to change his ways, that he wouldn't make it after Porto either. Most likely something will be wrong, whether it be the heat, blisters, improper gear or lack of persistence. We will never know how he fared!
Our Swiss friend thought 20-25 km a day was enough, and I agreed that this would be good for us too.
The truth of the matter was, I wanted to walk the Camino without having to do my time. I wanted a shortcut and there was none. Maybe our Swiss friend knew his limitations, and we did not? Maybe our Swiss friend taught us more than we taught him?
We just had to look at shorter stages. The 30 km days were just too much. I thought I would be able to do this amount, and maybe, with a rest day I probably could continue. Time would tell.
I treated Rich's blister the prior night and it was nasty. We stuck a needle and thread through the one big one on the top of his little toe on the right foot and so much fluid came out it was unbelievable. The second one under the nail of the same little toe I also poked a needle through. I put a natural tea tree oil antiseptic on it and a Compeed bandage. His plan was to only wear his sandals the next day, walking around Tomar.
Tonight, the blisters actually looked better. The thread that I left in the blisters actually worked to keep the fluid draining, and gave him less pressure on his foot. I left the Compeed on, but I could tell, the toe was less swollen.
I actually started re-thinking my own pack weight. I considered sending my warmer clothes on ahead to Santiago, since I most certainly didn't need them here! However, I had the memory of a cold, wet Galicia, and I never did send anything ahead. This would turn out to be the wise choice, as you will see if you read on throughout my journey. I eventually used every item in my pack as the climate got cooler the farther north we walked.
Regardless, we had some sight seeing, resting and talking to do the following day in Tomar!
May your own day five on the Camino Portugués bring you the persistence that you need. May you learn more about yourself and your capabilities as you trek onward towards Santiago de Compostela! May the discoveries be many, and may the rocks wear down in your presence!
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