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Day four on the Camino Portugués is essentially a walk through God's wine country, from one farm village to another, navigating the pilgrimage traveler on old and rough tractor lanes between fields. This is a long, hot and dry stage, so plan your day accordingly!
"Contemplative walking is Gros’s
favored kind: the walking of medieval pilgrims, of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and
Henry David Thoreau, of Kant’s daily life. It is the Western equivalent of what
Asians accomplish by sitting. Walking is the Western form of meditation: 'You’re doing nothing when you walk, nothing but walking. But having nothing to
do but walk makes it possible to recover the pure sensation of being, to
rediscover the simple joy of existing, the joy that permeates the whole of
childhood.' ” ~ an excerpt from the New Yorker article, "Heaven's Gates" by Adam Gopnik, on Frederic Gros's book, "A Philosophy of Walking."
Here is the Google Map from GPS recordings which I uploaded to Google Maps. I included accommodations, grocery stores and cafés along the way.
While we did the full, traditional stage, you can easily break this stage and stay in Azinhaga. (Click here for accommodations on Booking.com). There is also the option of staying in the Albergue de Peregrinos de Azinhaga, right along the route, just shy of 8 kilometers from Golegã (pronounced gole as in "pole" - ga).
For information’s sake, I included on the map, in red, the old route through Pombalinho (pronounced Pōm-ba-LEEN-yo), a full 3.6 kilometers longer. I really don’t know why anyone would desire to take this route now, unless your destination was to one of the accommodations just east of Pombalinho. There is not even a café there anymore.
Here is the elevation profile for our day. It is a nice downhill slide from the top of the hill in Santarém to the river valley, followed by a slow, steady climb to Vale de Figueira, and the remainder of the day essentially flat.
We didn't start out until 8:00 a.m. on day four, due to our hotel serving an amazing and huge breakfast at 7:00 a.m., complete with cold meat and cheese. It was a lovely start to our day, even if we did get a late start. If you are in the albergue or a place that does not serve breakfast, you may want to secure food the night before as very little is open in the early morning.
The Camino winds through the center of town, from the main circle, and heads in the direction of the Portas do Sol.
I loved the narrow cobblestone streets as we worked our way through town. Our Swiss friend, who we fondly called The Barnacle, since he loved to attach to us, was with us as we walked in the fresh, morning light. He was seemingly fit for the walk for the day, despite his blister.
The walk through Santarém is lovely, straightforward and well-marked.
Look carefully on poles and curbs for the small painted yellow arrows! You turn left here on the next road that passes the church of Santa Maria.
This road is just before the Portas do Sol. Walk by the Igreja de Santa Maria de Alcáçova, shown in the photo below.
Immediately by the Church to Santa Maria, again, we make a strong left, to go through the archway, above, called the Porta de Santiago (Santiago door). This is the door through the old town's fortress wall.
The path walks along the outside of the fortress wall and walks down the hill. The Way is at first cobblestone, then after leaving the wall, it turns to a gorgeous forest path.
The views over the valley from the top of the hill, on the path, are stunning! If not for the long day ahead, I would have loved to have sat here for a while. The flat open fields are our forward destination.
Shortly, as the path snakes its way down the hilltop, it turns to the left, heading for the N114 and N365.
This forest path was such a lovely start to the day. And then suddenly, the path drops down and crosses the highway, the N114, and immediately goes to the left and onto the N365, shown below.
The N114 walks the pilgrimage traveler into the lower portion of Santarém, called Ribeira de Santarém, walks through town, turns right and crosses the train tracks. There are two Residencials and two cafés in town that may open at 8 a.m. Consult the interactive map above.
On the other side of the tracks, the Camino turns left onto the Estrada de Alcôrse...
...and then right across the bridge, the Ponte de Alcôrse on day four of our Camino Portugués.
And then, the vineyards begin, first on the road, the Rua Direita de Palhães...
...then, turning left here on a farmer's lane, just shy of three kilometers into the day...
...that turns into a rugged farmer's lane. Looks like we are on a road to nowhere, in the photo below, doesn't it?
A look back at Rich and our Swiss friend, with Santarém on the hill in the background. We were already putting some distance behind us.
After about 3.4 kilometers on the lane, and 6.4 kilometers total for the day, we joined the pavement briefly, below, only to turn right again immediately onto another farmer's lane, farther below.
The vineyards were lovely, and seemingly endless!
Second thought waymarks, like on this telephone pole, below, with bright neon yellow "S" and an arrow, were all that guided the Way! But it was visible!
Once hitting the pavement again at about 8.3 kilometers total, the first town for a break, at a bit more than 11 kilometers into day four on the Camino Portugués was Vale de Figueira. In this photo, below, we had just joined the pavement.
At about 8.3 kilometers total, the Way joins the pavement again on a road that meanders around the countryside for another 2.2 kilometers on its way to the first town for a break, Vale de Figueira. You are getting close to town when you feel the elevation change as you climb the hump in the middle of the stage, as seen on the elevation profile.
When we reached this town sign, below, there was still about another kilometer to the first café on day four of the Camino Portugués.
Next, you walk straight on and up a long, gradual hill towards the center of town.
We stopped at the first café we came to at 11.5 kilometers total. There are two cafés in town. The townspeople were friendly and wonderful in Vale de Figueira, at the Café Petiscos and Companhia. They taught us Portuguese and helped us learn to pronounce the next town's names!
There was even a townswoman who brought in her Calla Lilies and showed them to us. The Callas were in full bloom, almost everywhere!
It was nice to be treated more warmly in the café, after what seemed like we were being regarded as a curiosity. The Portuguese are friendly when approached, but are a bit reserved when merely passing by. Plus, again, we were seeing no other pilgrims but the three of us.
After a nice, long break, we carried on through town, about another 200 meters until the first blue Camino de Santiago sign appeared. See the photo below. You turn right here on the Rua do Sobal.
Just before the turn off at the blue sign, there is a small grocery store on the right, and we stopped to replenish our packs with fruit and other snacks!
It was along this way we encountered a van load of locals, who upon recognizing us as pilgrims, enthusiastically started waving at us, and calling out "Bom Dia," or good day. I always greatly appreciate the support of the locals and this greeting was wonderful and uplifting!
We were thrilled when the main road soon turned into a lane, and we entered a lovely and shady forest.
The very famous cork trees we encountered in this forest had waymarks. I loved this one!
The Way also went through a eucalyptus forest for the first time, though I have not included a photo of it. For those of us who have walked before, we know the eucalyptus tree is the signature tree of Camino de Santiago, especially once you reach Galicia, the Spanish province where Santiago is located. The sight and smell of the trees lifted my spirits.
Then too soon it was back to the open, hot lanes through the fields, and by mid-morning, it was now extremely hot!
The guys, walking ahead were on the lookout for the waymarks, on the post below, where we turned left.
The impossibly long lanes of a lot of nothing gave us ample time and space to empty our minds and walk in a most contemplative fashion. This was my goal - walk in contemplation, however, the heat made it most difficult! We walked on, in single file, placing one hot foot in front of the other.
The lanes through the fields turned really rugged at times, a phenomenon that surprised me! I thought this Portuguese route would be more developed than this. I had to watch my footing and was grateful, at least for the earth instead of the pavement. I was also most grateful for my hiking poles.
Somewhere along these lanes, I noticed that Rich had a slight limp. He was not walking as fast as he had been that morning. When I asked him about it, he stated that his right arch of his foot was hurting a bit. We pondered whether or not we should stay the night in Azinhaga (pronounced Oz-in-YA-ga) or to push on to Golegã.
At approx 6.5 km from the café in Vale de Figueira we came to our first camino shell, in blue, with yellow rays, on an actual, permanent concrete post!
At this first camino shell waymark, you turn left towards the hamlet of Reguengo de Alviela and Pombalinho. You have come a total of 17.9 kilometers at this turn.
After the turn, only 100 meters onward, you will turn to the right on a farmer's lane. At this point, the old route used to go on straight, for a jaunt through Reguengo do Alviela, then turning right onto the N365, to enter Pombalinho.
After turning right, the new route continues through the fields, following waymarks for 2.4 kilometers, until it turns to the right again after passing a bank of solar panels, at this intersection, below. This is where the new route joins the old route from Pombalinho. (See the interactive map above.) As stated before, this new route, shortcuts the Way by about three kilometers! Thank-you Camino planners!
There is absolutely no shade here on these back country lanes. Wear a straw hat! We were all getting funky tans, me especially on my hands, since I was wearing long sleeves. Rich was getting a rash on the back of his legs - most likely from the sun! All this, despite our slathering ourselves with sunscreen!
Rich's limp continued to worsen. Our Swiss friend decided to push on with us, after we had stopped for a bite of lunch.
The official route took us on long lanes, through gorgeous rapeseed fields.
We encountered this intersection, below, just before entering town, at 22.8 kilometers total, where the Camino stays to the right. It is a full 11 kilometers on these hot lanes from Vale de Figueira to this point in Azinhaga!
The Way does take you on a better path now, by this cool and a bit shady, canal of the Rio Almonda.
Rich's limp continued to worsen. Our Swiss friend who had decided to push on with us was reaching his limit. The heat was brutal. The news reported that it was 29 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit) in Lisbon that day, and people were already hitting the beach. In April.
It was 2:30 in the heat of the afternoon, and I thought it was only 6 km to Golegã from here! I was wrong.
Shortly after entering Azinhaga, our Swiss friend stated he could walk no more. He would only say, "It's too hot to walk."
Since there is no train connection in Azinhaga, we checked our options. We were already at about 23 kilometers for the day. Our friend could stay in Azinhaga. Rich felt he could keep on walking to Golegã. It was hot, indeed, but when we checked the route for the next day, we decided that we wanted to reach Tomar and have a rest day there, instead of two short days before.
Since our Swiss friend did not want to go on, but seemed to desire to stay attached to us, he said, "then we will all take a taxi to Golegã!"
I wanted to stay committed to walking the entire route, so I replied that I did not want to take a taxi, but that I wanted to walk. Our Camino friend looked at us and blinked.
We inquired of two masons, working on a house as we walked by, could they tell us how to acquire a taxi? They replied in perfect English, that there was no taxi service in Azinhaga!! We asked how far it was to Golegã, expecting to hear that it was 6 or less kilometers. They answered that it was at least 10 kilometers! We all gasped. Ten more km in this heat!! (In actuality, it is about 8 more kilometers from here to Golegã.)
I had a quick private discussion with Rich and he was OK with walking on, as I was still committed to walking the entire route. It meant more that 30 km for the day, and I thought, we'll just take it slow and get there when we get there.
We told our Swiss friend that we were going to continue to walk. Then Rich asked the mason if he knew anyone who would be willing to drive our friend to Golegã, since he could walk no more.
Without hesitation, the mason stated - my son can take you! It will be no problem! A jubilant Swiss friend said, "We can all go together to Golegã!"
We had to firmly stand our ground, that we would walk and could join him once he got to Golegã. The friendly mason said he would drop him off in the main plaza by the church, and the Camino would pass through there. We would be able to find him no problem.
Our poor Swiss friend had had enough, yet he still could not or did not want to go his own way. Our nickname, the Barnacle, was still appropriate, however, I could not blame him for not wishing to travel alone. We were his only family and he seemed truly beaten.
Quickly, a car arrived and he was whisked off to Golegã by himself. Portuguese hospitality is unparalleled on the Camino.
If you do decide to stay in Azinhaga, there is the Casa das Portas (has dormitory beds) along the N365, and the Casa de Azzancha, a few blocks west of the center of town. The Albergue de Peregrinos de Azinhaga is just beyond the church in the center of town, shown in the photo, below.
Eventually you will also walk right by the Quinta da Piedade (minimum 2-night stay) on the north side of town.
Back on Camino, the Rua do Calcanhar turns toward town and joins the N365, shown below, just before the church.
As we followed the N365 through town, Rich and I were a bit discouraged upon leaving Azinhaga and stressed over whether or not we had made the right decision. I still had some energy, but I had to dig very deep in order to go on. I felt bad about leaving the Barnacle, even though I knew this was my (our) Camino, not his.
Yet we walked onward on the road below, with a beautiful ruined church, the Igreja de São João da Ventosa, below to distract us. If it were not so far off the road, and I was not so tired, I would have loved to have visited it, on day four of our Camino Portugués.
After 1.5 kms from the center of Azinhaga, and about 25 kilometers total, we arrived in Brôa, shown below. That is the Quinta da Piedade, just after the sign.
We continued on busy N365 after turning right in Brôa. Our progress in the heat seemed all too slow for me.
This stretch of pavement is very dangerous. The Portuguese drivers are very fast drivers. Initially, there is a nice walking shoulder as you can see in the photo above, and then for the final kilometers, there is no shoulder at all! We even had an incident where one car was passing another as they both came speeding towards us! Needless to say, we jumped off the road! Wear bright colors to be seen fully!
And finally after an exhausting final 5 kilometers, the town sign greeted us.
As we entered the town proper, a very nice monument to the Camino de Santiago also presented to us.
Shortly after the monument, the Camino turns to the right and onto the Rua de São Lourenço, then left after a few meters onto the Rua do Campo, where shortly after you arrive at the main church and the Central Plaza and Café. Here is where we joined up with our Swiss friend. He was happily quaffing beer, as we fell exhausted into the chairs beside him. I turned off the GPS at the church
Beside being exhausted, we had no blisters, and Rich's foot was OK. It had held up. It had taken us two more hours to walk from Azinhaga to Golegã and we did not arrive until 5:30 in the afternoon.
A 28 km day had turned into 31. It was not easy! Our Swiss friend, now happy and rested, kept saying, "You are good walkers, You are strong walkers!"
Beware the Café Central, right across from the church - they will overcharge you! I thought Rich was going to blow a gasket when the bartender overcharged us for the tiniest bottle of water. We were completely out of water, yet Rich placed the water bottles back on the counter and refused to pay the inflated price.
Instead of staying and imbibing at the café, we walked due north along the Rua José Relvas another 400 meters and found the albergue, a private one, the Solo Duro. Our Swiss friend took this option and we secured a room in the attached Casa da Tia Guida. The place was comfortable and clean and near the center of town. Breakfast included in all options.
The proprietress of the Solo Duro was extremely friendly and helpful. She also told us of a shortcut out of town in the morning!
To find more accommodations you can click on this link. There are many of them, including two more economical places, east of the main church, the Inn Golegã, with a dormitory otion and a few steps from the Camino, the Quartos do Lagar right along it and finally the Lusitanus, a few steps from the central square.
We cleaned up and agreed to meet and go to dinner. We landed at the Casita D'avó, see the map above, for interesting and delicious Portuguese cuisine. It was a bonus that they opened for dinner at 7:00!
Our Swiss friend seemed uninterested in his meal and seemed to be becoming more aloof about the Portuguese culture. I could sense the shift in his energy.
While there was not a lot to see in Golegã, we did wander into this church, with beautiful Azulejo tiles inside, and around the plaza a bit. We were surprisingly refreshed after rehydrating and cleaning up!
Had we made the correct decision to carry on to Golegã? We will never know. We did not suffer any consequences, but may have ruined our Swiss friend's attachment to us and/or the Camino de Santiago!
I was determined to walk every step of the pilgrimage and Rich was not going to leave me to walk alone, despite a sore foot. Our persistence worked for us this time.
The idea of contemplative walking for hours on end in the heat was brutal, for me on this day. I did not talk much along the way, that is for sure, but I am not even sure what I thought about. The day was a long, hot blurr, with some breaks to eat and drink.
It was one of those days that you are extremely proud of what you were able to do and extremely happy that it was over! I will not make up anything more than what was! I chose to forget this day as soon as possible.
May your own day four on the Camino Portugués be better planned, now that you have the knowledge of what lies ahead. May you attempt, as I, to make it a contemplative journey, one that leads you into a better way of being!
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