Date: 5 April 2018
Walked from: Santarém
Walked to: Golegã
I started walking waaaaaaaaaay too late today. I know from bitter experience not to take breakfast somewhere that starts serving it at stupid-o’clock-late (aka 8am), but that’s what I did. And because of that, I didn’t start walking until 9am… which, combined with a few slight wrong-turns along the way, meant we didn’t finish until after 6pm. Brutal; I’m not doing that again on this trip. That said, Susan and I did get to have one last meal with the lovely Massimo and Valter before they headed off on the Fatima route and we continued on our way northwards to Santiago. And the nice lady at the hostel took a photo of our temporary walking gang, so it wasn’t all bad!
Length of walking day aside, today’s weather, after an initially misty start in Santerém, was sunny and warm, which made for some really pleasant walking (aside from the final 6km trudge along a busy road towards the end, which mainly featured fast cars and very little in the way of a shoulder for us poor pedestrians). The route out of Santarém was particularly lovely, passing through vineyards and other farming land for much of the day, before stopping at a heart-warmingly friendly cafe in the village of Vale de Figueira.
Two different lots of friendly farmers concluded that we were either lost or making a big mistake with our chosen route as we passed through the low-lying land to the south of Azinhaga (the birth place of José Saramago, the first Portuguese writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature), and drove up to us along the farm tracks to give us directions. In the case of the first farmers, we had already concluded that we needed to head in the direction they suggested. With the second one, we were actually on the route we had planned to take, but he seemed very determined we shouldn’t go that way (I surmised from our miming at each other / trying out some Spanish, that deep mud might have been an issue had we continued in that direction, and, frankly, it was just easier to do as he said. He then drove on to the turn off and made sure we took it before heading off – what a gent!