Sunday, October 30, 2016

October 29,2016 Day 1: Camino Portugesa Lisboa to Povoa da Iria

"Portugal is a high hill with a white watch tower on it flying signal flags. It is apparently inhabited by one man who lives in a long row of yellow houses with red roofs, and populated by sheep who do grand acts of balancing on the side of the hill."
Richard H. Davis

We are on the road again here in Portugal and walking the Camino Portuguesa.  It's good to be out in the beautiful weather , soles on cobbles here.  Paul has been to Portugal before, but I am a newcomer to this land. We decided to start our experience with walking the first stage of the Camino, since we are postseason, and catch up with Lisbon afterward.

Part of the Camino Santiago Portuguesa. A track along the side of the Trancao River

     The walk starts at Cathedral Se, on hill in the middle of two streets in Lisboa. The cathedral is very lovely, as most of this ilk are.

Cathedral Se

A look at the interior

A very gaudy green robe inside a grotto inside Cathedral Se. Hey. I'd wear it!
We proceeded from there down typical cobblestone streets in Lisbon. We marveled at all the work utilized to place the cobbles and were instantly glad we weren't tasked to do this. It had to be grueling. We walked down narrow lanes and past businesses and museums, finally reaching the sea front. Here we were treated to the seaside park for quite a distance. We "cheated:" and road the cable car down the oceanfront for about a mile--great views of the water and the inner city.

Paul "enjoying" cable car ride...or maybe not based on the face.

Great views of the ocean and city from on high.
 From here we walked beneath the gargantuan Vasco de Gama suspension bridge.. Lovely and photogenic, it appears to go on for numerous miles. It was built on the 500th anniversary of Senor Da Gama's reaching India by sea. (I knew that 4th grade social studies class would serve me well one day!)

A man and big dang bridge

The Vasco de Gama bridge is a cable-stay bridge that is the longest bridge in Europe. It spans the Tagus River.
 Eventually we ended up at the mouth of the Trancao River, a tidal estuary, which we followed to the outer suburb of Sacavem. We had a nice lunch near the banks. Interestingly, the tide was coming in, creating a current upriver.  There were literally hundreds of seagulls on the river riding the current upstream. Not sure if it contained a favorite food or if this was just for fun.

The Trancao River

After walking about 9 miles on roads, we made a lunch stop on the river. It wasn't all that tasty but it sufficed.

The VIP restaurant (or so they said) on the river. A welcome stop after 9 miles of walking. 
We were finally treated after miles of cobblestones and a nice walk on the oceanfront in Sacavem to a riverside walk on a single track trail. This passed farm, abandoned houses and factories and unfortunately, lots of discarded trash. It seems to be the norm.

One of several abandoned large buildings along the camino. This looked like it was once a farm area

Walking through tall grasses

Abanadoning trash is common along the camino. Paul says "not unlike Cocke County in the 1960s"

Graffiti is very commonplace as well. We saw some excellent artwork...not sure this qualifies :)
 We also passed several flocks of goats with their tenders. The only town we passed after Sacavem was the tiny village of Alpriate. There was a single bar/restaurant called Nadia's where we stopped for lemonade.

Gotta love Portugal. You can call your lemonade "BI" and people will 1. buy it 2. drink it and no letters were written to the producer :)
Nadia runs a happening joint with nearly everyone in town present. We saw young guys fresh from soccer games, middle aged men and women playing dominoes and an elder gentleman riding along in his jazzy wheelchair honking a horn constantly. All seemed happy. We were the novelty item.
Everyone spoke and were very friendly.

From there it was on to a less stellar section of hiking, much of it on a road with no sidewalk to Povoa da Iria. Of course we got bit lost on the way to the train station, but it all ended well . We are overnighting in Santa Iria at the VIP hotel. I've seen Justin Timberlake on the video screen, but otherwise, not many VIPS around.

 We had a lovely dinner at an Azorean restaurant Nove Ilhas. They started us with pulpo and local cheese and finished with chocolate and fish courses in between. Food porn alert!

The restaurant kept seafood on dry ice creating an ethereal presentation

Chocolate torte? After 18 miles of walking, why not? (We split it.)

Portuguese fish...with parma ham

Paul's fish special served on spinach and potato

The interior of the restaurant. Portugal is never without soccer on TV

Cheese please!

A cold marinated pulpo.

Why yes, a pirate does like an oyster!
YUM. Overall a good day with approximately 20 miles of hiking. I enjoyed the oceanfront and riverfront hiking, but some would best be skipped. We are reluctant to wholeheartedly recommend all of this section of the camino due to lotsa trash and an uninteresting path through Lisbon. But we enjoyed the ocean walk and most of the river very well. It's a toss up.

Goats added a melody to the walk

Narrow Lisbon streets near the start

View from the cable car (telecabina) along the way

Another view of Vasco Da Gama Bridge near Lisbon - very long bridge

Morning Glories abounded along the path

So a long walk, many things of beauty, some not so much. But we were tired and grateful at the end.

"I had no books at home. I started to frequent a public library in Lisbon. It was there, with no help except curiosity and the will to learn, that my taste for reading was developed and refined."
Jose Saramago

Paul's Ponderings:   I was in Portugal in the late 1970s and boy has it changed.  Presumably due to the influx of a lot of European Union money!   This was a LONG day of hiking...around 20 miles, which is about my limit of walking in one day.   It was an interesting trek.   Metro Lisbon is pretty medieval in parts, followed by lots of industrial areas, then lovely ocean/bay walking, then scruffy trails with intermittent trash all over   I commented more than once that "this looks like Tennessee in the 1960s as far as folks dumping trash down ravines all over the place".   Kind of sad in such beautiful country.   That aside, we've had great weather today and had a lovely meal in a local fish restaurant tonight....the locals here are pretty varied on ability to speak English, so we get along in a combination of that, Spanish, and so forth.   It's all good though and we are very lucky to be here at this time of year.   We literally had the entire 20 mile Camino to ourselves!   We saw a few random bikers at the very end of the day and that was pretty much it.   The weather was pretty warm as the day wore on, up into the low 80s and pretty sunny.   By the time we got to our destination we were pretty much cooked from walking, but had a great dinner of seafood nearby with a nice Portugese red blend wine.    Having done quite a few long walks in recent years, we find that your appetite increases with mileage and you burn so many calories that you can pretty much eat whatever you like at dinner.   Lucky for us, there is a lot of healthy and tasty food here in this area.

So, 20 miles, tired feet, but all good in general is the bottom line.   Hopefully the next 40 miles will see the hiking gods with us along the way!

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