Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2 Camino Portuguesa Day 5 Porto de Muge to Santarem

Handmade boat outside a home in Porto de Muge

Wise is he who enjoys the show offered by the world. 
                                                                                   Fernando Pessoa

What a long and interesting day! We started without our usual search for the Camino markers, because we left off a the Bollywood loving snack bar in Porto de Muge and to it we returned by taxi. Our driver had a sad and somewhat protracted discussion with us about economics in Portugal. She and her husband, who also has a job at the auto factory, run the taxi service. They talked about how hard it is to make a decent living. She said, "Portugal buys everything. We don't make anything."  Her son is majoring at university in tourism, but she hopes he moves away so he can earn a decent living. She said she doesn't mind paying for school, but she sees no way for his life to be better than her own. We enjoyed speaking with her, but it left our hearts heavy as we exiting in front of the snack bar  that seemed to have exactly the same people in it at 10 AM as it did yesterday at 5pm. For the older crowd in small towns, there appears to be very little to do.

It was another lovely day weather wise. Although we woke up to fog at Casa do Alfaro, it dissipated and we walked in sunshine most of the day with some afternoon overcast, despite the forecast for rain. We walked predominantly through vineyards today. There was quite a bit of broccoli as well. A less diverse terrain initially than yesterday, and no towns for a coffee break or lunch.

Paul looks out on the farming area onto the town of Cartaxo, miles away from our dirt path.

Sting can write a new Portuguese song, "Upon the fields of broccoli..."

Vineyards. We have sampled lovely regional wines not seen in the US
The walk was a bit more than advertised distance wise...about 12 miles instead of the intended 9 to Santarem, but all pretty much off road and without the concerns faced with autos on a narrow road. 

Flowers were in every yard

A door framed in floral overhang

Typical rural home

Snail on a rock

Lime winged butterfly
Eventually, we climbed the only really significant hill we have encountered into the town of Santarem.
The Tagus River viewed from Portas do Sol

Since prehistory, the region of Santarém has been inhabited, first by the Lusitani people, and then by the GreeksRomansVisigoths
Moors and later Portuguese Christians. Of the various legends related to the foundation of Santarém, the most famous tells of the Visigoth Saint Iria(or Irene), who was martyred in Tomar, a city about 40 miles away,  and whose uncorrupted body reached Santarém. In her honor, the name of the town (then known by its Latin name Scalabis) would later be changed to Sancta Irene, from which Santarém would eventually be derived.
The foundation of the city is attributed to the Romans, who occupied the region in the 2nd century BC and named the city Scalabis. During the Roman period, Scalabis was an important commercial post in the mid-Tagus region, and was the administrative capital of one of the regions of Lusitania. Julius Caesar creates in 61 a.c., a military camp in Santarém. Much of the upper area is still fortified to this day. The conquest of Santarem mirrors the takeover of Lisbon by Portuguese kings as well 
.It was a great pleasure to walk up to the old Fort area and take a look out over the valley we have been walking across for nearly 70 miles. It's so flat we could hardly appreciate it, but no so from on high.

Interior of the church of Marvilia in Santarem....with a rare churchgoer

A statue inside Marvilia

Tiles in the church. Nearly every home also has beautiful external tile.

Santarem is also the place that the Fatima pilgrimage separates from the Camino de Santiago.  This made finding the path a little more difficult, but we made it!

Now THAT is a park bench

A view back where we came from

A view of the Santarem ancient Roman wall against the new condos of Santarem

After a brief tour of this lovely hill city of Roman derivation, we walked down the hill to the train a station in Ribiera da Santarem. Guess they didn't want to walk up there and install tracks and I don't blame them one bit!

Where we came from 

Lovely statue of a Crusader at the upper park area of Santarem

The path out of Santarem

End of the Camino for 2016 celebratory beers

70 miles and not much worse for the wear

We started at Se Cathedral. We ended at Santarem train station

Our chariot to Lisbon

Amazingly after walking 5 days, it took 50 minutes by train to return to Lisbon. 

We are staying here at the Pessoa guesthouse. Fernando Pessoa is a legendary Portuguese writer and we are staying in a room he rented as a young man when he was getting started as a writer. Hoping his ghost does NOT come for visit. Paul booked reservations for us tonight at a Michelin Star restaurant ELEVEN. Please pardon the coming FOOD PORN section. Suffice it to say, the meal was outstanding. We got the "lobster tasting menu."

Try not to hate us

Yes, sir, we will start with champagne

Amus bouche: Tuna and avocado
There were two amus bouches because 5 courses is just NOT enough, right? Thank heaven all portions were very small.

Lobster, saffron, and citrus segments. YUM

We had smoked lobster in a ginger consomme and this contraption heated the broth and infused ginger. FANCY PANTS

The end result of smoked lobster with consomme

Enjoying our reward for a long hike

Lobster in a copper vessel.  The fennel and pea puree was crazy good.

And of course, there had to be dessert and port, right??
Lobster salad first, then...

Le chocolat. This was a chocolate cookie base with milk chocolate atop and then a chocolate lace cookie rolled with milk chocolate piped inside decorated with gold foil and served with frozen greek yogurt . This dessert should be a sin. Thankfully, we already walked the camino

Wow We needed to have walked 70 miles to eat this much lobster and chocolate!

Needless to say after walking 15 miles today, a train ride back into the city and this meal to celebrate, we are "tarred," and definitely need a nap in Mr Pessoa's old room. Very thankful for our great time on the Camino, learning about Portugal, meeting so many lovely local people, as safe trip and a lovely end to the day. 

Look, there's no metaphysics on earth like chocolates.
                                                                        Fernando Pessoa

Paul's Ponderings:   70 miles in the bank and we are both a bit sore, but it was all good.   Today was mostly rural and very pleasant -- just what we expected about the Camino.   By the time we reached the spectacular medieval village of Santarem, it was all about getting on the train shortly afterwards.  We followed that with a celebratory lobster meal at "Eleven" a 1 star Michelin restaurant.   Tomorrow starts relaxing in Lisbon, which we look forward to!


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