Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31, 2016: Camino Portuguesa: Day 3. Vila Franca da Xira to Azambuja

Subtitle: I Ate in a Mall and I Liked It
The Camino Portuguesa started this morning at the train station.

Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. 
Thomas Jefferson

We started this morning from our hotel in Vila Franca da Xira called the Flora Guesthouse. After a European breakfast, we were off to find the Camino Markers at the waterfront of River Tejo. 

We constantly look for these yellow and blue markers to guide the way of the peregrino. We are also following at this point the pilgrimage to Fatima.

From here, in general terms, we walked mostly on secondary roads with no shoulder in full sun with very little protection from passing cars. And instead of rivers or fields or old buildings, we walked predominantly past factories. The one that loomed constantly in our path was a thermoelectric plant. Based on the shapes of the cooling towers, it was most likely nuclear power, although steam is a possibility with the proximity of the Tejo River.

Most of the day we walked toward this monstrosity...and later away from it. A "thermoelectric plant."

The only wildlife we spotted today. Hundreds of snails covering greenery along the roadside.

In general, I would say this day held very little to recommend it as a walking path. Mostly we were on a road with no provision for walkers. The traffic was light, but speedy. Fortunately, most everyone tried to accommodate us. 

We did make two stops. One was Carregado. This was a factory town. We stopped for a tea . Well we stopped for a diet Coke, but they were having NONE of that. One thing we noticed was that wine and beer at lunch were the norm.  Tea was all we could get, but any watering hole on the trail is a gift. They sold cigarettes at the counter one by one which you don't see every day.  Our second stop was a truck stop in Vila Nova da Rainha. This town appeared to be a service area for overland trucks. There are numerous highways and bridges across the Tejo in this area, as well as ports and railways. We walked past quite a few large containers for ships.  We ate at trucker haven. The food was hearty!

Hearty meals at a truck stop! Drive by truckers abound.

From Vila da Rainha, we decided to take the train for the last two miles. Having walked about 10 already, a saunter along a truck freeway with no sidewalk seemed unappealing if not foolhardy. When we went to the train station, it appeared there was an alternate route not featured on the pilgrim map along the backside of the railway. But so be it. It's not a contest and we arrived in Azambuja about O beer thirty.

We haven't sampled all the local beer yet. This brand, Sangres,is ubiquitous, but Super Bock is also popular.

From here, we made our way to the country estate of Casa do Alfaro. Paul will probably discuss this at length, but suffice it to say, from my point, it is a bit out of town, an old estate and winery and really a nice bed and breakfast.  Photos tomorrow! We are staying here two nights. The owners are amazingly accommodating and have gone above and beyond to make our stay lovely. And I want to say that is entirely characteristic of the Portuguese people on this part of the camino. The Spaniards along the camino are very polite also, but these folks go above and beyond. Paul even had the bathroom cleaner approach him to be sure the restroom was satisfactory.   As part of their hospitality, the bed and breakfast recommended a dining spot for us and had their house taff take us to it . The name of the restaurant was Flor da Sal. And it was in food court in a small mall. And it was delicious. FOOD PORN ALERT!

Paul in the mall at Flora da Sal

Our dinner. Fresh sea bass grilled with veggies. Healthy and delicious!

Flat doughnut. (No. We didn't eat it.)

The dessert display. WE had's like angel food cake without the flour

The bill....about $30 for two people with ample wine and water.

So, an interesting day. If you do this walk, please SKIP this section and just take the train to Azambuja and walk to Sacarem. Unless you seriously enjoy future super fund sites, it's probably time better spent elsewhere. That said, we made it through about 10 miles smiling, staying in a great place and enjoyed a lovely mall meal. Who knew?

I should be content
to look at a mountain
for what it is

and not as a comment on my life.….

David Ignitor: News of the Universe

Daily humor. The mall in Vila Franca da Xira. Bowling Bingo Mall.
Paul's Ponderings:  Another interesting day in southern Portugal.   We had a lot of "industrial hiking" but it all ended well.    We are staying outside Azmabuja in a lovely remodeled estate.   Weirdly, we had dinner in a mall restaurant, which we would never do in the US.   Great fish and vegetables for the main course followed by local dessert.  Overall, the hike today is marginally recommended due to the large amount of factories, etc, but we still had a good time and it's certainly the best way to see the country at an everyday level.   Dinner was great and the folks we have met are super friendly and helpful.   We have done the long hikes in this trek mileage-wise, so look forward to some shorter (aka 9-10 mile) walks tomorrow and beyond.   

Back to the estate we are staying at, you can google it online, but it is called Casa Do Alfaro and it is an incredibly lovely place and very affordable.   Best I can tell, they have remodeled an old house to accommodate 10 bedrooms or so, along with a huge salon, breakfast room, etc.   It's 2-3 miles outside of town, but worth the trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment