Monday, April 22, 2019

Tomar to Alvaiazere

When we left the hotel this morning, the cobblestone streets of Tomar were silent. The golden lights made the town look magical as we followed a forested footpath along the river towards the outskirts of town.

We made our way along the valley on a small footpath, occasionally getting a glimpse of Tomar through the trees. As we paused at the river we saw two bats hunting for insects above the still surface, and a little farther along we heard the distinctive call of an owl among the trees.

As the sky began to get light, we listened as the world slowly began to wake up. It began with a few birds calling, then a few more. Soon roosters began crowing, followed by dogs barking, and children calling. After that the traffic noises started and the day had begun.

We followed the track until it became a paved country road. The road began to climb, at first gradually, then more steeply. It took us through a forested area, then out into a another river valley with beautiful treed views.

We had left Tomar at 5:45 am, before breakfast, and it was about 8.5 km to the first possible place we could stop for refreshments. We weren't sure if it would be open on Easter Monday, but when we reached Soianda we were delighted to find the cafe open and offering coffee, chocolate croissants, and fresh pears. As we sat there, two English gentlemen arrived, and just as we left Fernando, Heimy, and the Brazilian arrived. Feeling that St. Roch was smiling on us, we continued down the county roads.

Much of the day was spent on back country roads and dirt tracks. We enjoyed the shade and refreshing, spicy smell of eucalyptus plantations as we struggled up and down on dirt logging roads. In other parts we wound through many small villages, with their walled courtyards, many colorful blooming flowers, and fruit-laden orange and lemon trees. We also walked among olive and cork plantations.

Overall, today felt like we spent a lot of time in nature, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the wildflowers, fields, and forests. It was a refreshing change from the road walking of previous days, but still rather tiring.

Towards the end of the day we passed by the Albergue in Cortica. This was a wonderful looking place, and came recommended by a couple of British ladies we met on the side of the road. We were also pretty tired by the time we got there, so I think it would have been a good place to stop. Foolishly we decided to continue on to our final destination.

The last 6.7 km were beautiful, but felt kind of brutal. We were tired, and the Way began following an old Roman road. The cobblestone streets were lined with stone walls beyond which were olive groves, beautiful gardens, and wildflowers in full bloom, but mostly all we could think about was how much it hurt to walk on the cobblestones.

Finally we made it to outskirts of Alvaiazere, and took a break to rest.

Once into the city we discovered our albergue was at the far end of town. To make matters more difficult we found most of Alvaiazete is a modern town which was initially not overly inspiring in our opinion. Although like all things, it is what you make of it.

Our room in the albergue is very inexpensive but clean and very hospitable, in addition to which we have it to ourselves, which is very nice. There is a kitchen and laundry facilities available, and it is quite nice. To top it off, the albergue's stamp is the most elaborate and artistic stamp I've ever seen.

Once we were settled and had our chores done we headed in to town in search of food. We found a cafe open that served cheese sandwiches, so we consumed two of those. Sadly everything else in town seemed to be closed for the funeral of a local firefighter. So far we have been very lucky with finding things to eat on holidays we didn't know about or forgot, but today was a bit grim.

We had a second cheese sandwich and a couple pints later that evening, and turned in, just as a very heavy rain began to fall.  Some days are just tougher than others.
Accommodations: O Pinhiero albergue
Distance: 33.2 km

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