Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November 1: Camino Portuguesa Azambuja to Porto da Muge

Subtitle: Culture and Agriculture
Casa da Alfaro--our bed and breakfast for two nights

Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.
 Bill Keane

     Well, Scarlett O'Hara said it best: Tomorrow is another day.  Or maybe Sinatra sang "the best is yet to come." But whoever said it, today was definitely a more interesting day to walk!

     We were once again bestowed with a beautiful clear day with a high of about only 72 degrees, quite a bit of shade on the route, an easy path to find, and a light, refreshing breeze...and plenty of little cafes to stop in about 2 to 4 miles apart on our 11 mile jaunt.

WE found it! The Camino sign at the Azambuja train station.
After a short segment on the mall, we were introduced to the theme of the walk for today: Agriculture! We soon slipped the surly bonds of asphalt and had a fairly long excursion into a farm area and this continued throughout the day.

On the road again...Notice the height of the grass. We have encountered this daily. Last time we saw such was Hawaii.

We passed an expansive Roma tomato farm. They must harvest mechanically because there were literally thousands of them on the ground

This is the tomato farm--big time agriculture

This cornfield had been harvested

Huge fields of Broccoli...sorry George Bush , Sr. Long live the BROCCOLI!

Black olives

Madonna and baaaahd boy child
This area which is in the floodplain of Europe's longest river, the Tejo (Tagus to some), was originally farmed by the Romans.  We walked through or past tomatoes, broccoli, wheat, and corn in abundance. They are also known for sunflowers but we did not witness any. Animal husbandry seems sparse, but we did see sheep and goats. Nearly every yard had scads of citrus as well.

The first "city" we encountered outside of Azambuja was the Aerodrome. These were dirt runways and we suspect they are used predominantly to crop dust.

crops on one side, river on the other. This is a small branch, not the main Tejo

Dirt runway for cropdusters

There was a small cafe at the "aerodrome" where we had coke zero and doggie therapy

The cafe had a STILL. The owner offered us a sip but after one whiff, I knew it was pure alcohol!

The cafe at the aerodrome...and my finger!

From here, we continued through our tour of field and farm until we got closer to the banks of the river and several very small towns. 

Our coffee break spot in Reguengo. It was us and numerous elder citizens watching soccer

Tiles on a building in Reguengo

Beautiful portuguese pastry found in even the smallest cafe in the smallest village

Reguengo is appparently a village of under 1000 persons now. The term "reguengo" is a hint to how it got there. It signifies land granted to workers by the king.  The little settlement seemed to be elderly people with little to occupy their time. The town was so small, it is hard to imagine anyone there doing something other than farm work. We witnessed numerous John Deere tractors and harvesters in use during our walk.

From there, it was on to the slightly larger berg of Valada. This town had a bit more spring in its step and was on the banks of the Tejo. There was a extensive levy system there. The Moors apparently noted the rich farmlands nearby this settlement in their writings. The Christians must have been there pretty early too, as the parish church dates to 1211.

The Camino follows the levy through Valada 
It's the All Saints Day. Many people came to decorate the cemetery.

Riverfront park where we stopped for a water break.

The backside of the levy with Valada behind.

The marina Valada.  This is the river Tejo

This was a lovely little village with plenty of stops for pilgrims. A funny thing happened on the way out of town. We were stopped by a Portuguese car and asked for directions! By a male....they must have been desperate! We were surprisingly able to give them...in Spanish, but it seemed to work.

Our final walk segment of the day was between Valada and the tiny settlement of Porto de Muge. This town is on the river and was once an important ferry point over the Tejo. Apparently, Romans and nobles alike used the river here to cross. In 1904, King Carlos I built a railway across the river. The bridge still stands but in the 1970s was converted to an autoway.

Typical home along the path

When we got to Porto Muge, since it was the end of our 11 mile hike and there was no train station or open hostel, we arranged to have a taxi from Azambuja pick us up. While we waited, we went into Cafe Tatana. This is literally a hole in the wall. And it was like Los Isley spaceport. In this very tiny and sleepy little hamlet, is a bar of sorts full of people drinking mostly coffee, playing dominoes and ....three guesses....first two don't count.....
If you guessed watching Bollywood movies translated to Portuguese on a flat screen 42 inch TV, you are correct! Give yourself a pat on the back! And let's talk about horse bets for the next Triple Crown.

Dominoes seem to be a favorite in many social establishments.

Our taxi arrived and we still haven't figured out if Durga will choose Raj, her husband
over Rohit, her former flame whom she thought was killed in a war....If anyone knows, give us a call. 

We made our way back to the lovely Casa do Alfaro by taxi and enjoyed a dinner in the same mall restaurant as last night. Today is a holiday, so we were lucky to get anything. The food seemed to be real country fare.

Codfish and potatoes

Chicken and rice

Local wine. We don't know the local grapes at all.

On return to the B&B, we were hailed by the greeter.

We were the perfect guests. We let the dog in and allowed him on the furniture.

Overall, a much nicer walk than yesterday with not a future superfund site in view.  Very grateful for a lovely day out in truly rural Portugal!

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is. 

Ellen DeGeneres

Paul's Ponderings:  A nice day out in Portugal.....very warm temperatures once again, but much better walking than yesterday.  While we stayed on rural roads today, they were much less traveled than yesterday with respect to vehicles.   We stopped in every small town along the way for a respite.  We went into a cafe in Reguengo and it was like a scene from a Sergio Leone western....quiet with lots of old folks sitting around and a fly buzzing around....just waiting for Lee van Cleef to show up and swagger in with squinted eyes.   That aside, we've seen a lot of this part of Portugal, both rural and industrial, so it has been quite a journey so far.   We ended the day back at our wonderful lodging in Azambuja (Ah-Zam-Boo-Jah) and had a nice dinner once more at the place we dined the previous evening.   Tomorrow we finish our walk and on to Lisbon (aka, Lisboa)!

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