Friday, April 19, 2019

Santarem to Azinhaga

This morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast of toast, jam, yogurt, and orange juice at the hostel with the group we've been walking with. We headed out down the cobblestone streets of the town through a beautiful morning. The path took us to the Portas do Sol, which is a beautiful park, offering a panoramic view over the Tejo River valley. We paused to enjoy the expansive view over an agricultural landscape swathed in morning mist.


From there the Way took us through the Porta de Santiago, and then wound it's way down a steep, tree covered footpath below the walls of the fort. As we made our way back to valley floor the bird song seemed to cheer us on.


After crossing a small marble bridge, we stopped to pet a friendly donkey, and then continued on into the country. For most of the morning we wove through fields and vineyards, alternating between paved roads and a dirt track. In places the track was quite muddy from yesterday's rain.

 
The first town we came to was small and colorful, and we stopped for a coffee and today's supply of fresh pastries.


After that the trail mostly took us along country roads, through the flat river valley. In the afternoon we left the roads and opted to take the unmarked alternative route off the highway. This turned out to an extremely muddy track, which left us slipping sliding along with very heavy shoes. Along the way we ran into Catherine (from England), who we first met on the way on to Santarem, and who stayed in the same hostel with us there. We chatted for a bit and then split up. As we approached Azinghaga we ran into Peter and Sue, and ended up weaving our way through the town in their company.


The rest of our group had reservations at the Casa Assancha, but we didn't. The owner of the establishment wasn't around when we arrived around 2 PM, and couldn't be reached by phone. We decided to wait with the group to see if she had any beds available, but were a little worried that we would have to continue walking on in the late afternoon as the storm clouds built.


When the owner of the accommodations turned up around 3 PM she arranged for us to share a room with two other guests. It was very nice of them to agree to this.

The house had a a nice tiled courtyard where everyone hung out dinner, along with the resident dalmatian, white cat, and turtle.



Dinner was around two communal tables, and it was incredibly good. It consisted of salad, cabbage soup, a great omelette for us and cod fish for everyone else, and fruit for dessert. Everything was wonderful, and the place offered beer, soft drinks, and laundry, but all these things cost extra. It was very pleasant and very convenient, since the rest of the town didn't seem to offer much in the way of food.

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Accommodations: Casa de Azzancha
Distance: 26.9 km

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