Sunday, April 21, 2019


Today we decided to take a rest day in the Knights Templar town of Tomar. It is a very beautiful town, which seems on the edge of becoming a major tourist destination. We were awoken to the sound of canons, and headed downstairs for a breakfast of bread, jam, yogurt, coffee and juice. Pumpkin marmalade has been a part of Portuguese breakfasts since we've arrived, and it featured here as well, along with tomatoes spread.

After breakfast we dealt with our missing kilometers from yesterday uneventfully, and were back in time for an Easter Parade. This was a very serious affair, consisting of a large band of severe looking Knights Templar members, who carried banners and a series of crowns to the energetic beat of band music.

After following the parade to the main square we visited the ancient and impressive central church, which was naturally rich in Knights Templar symbols. We were fortunate enough to get our credentials stamped in the church, but sadly I left my sunhat there. I guess it will remain with the templars.

After our visit to the church we walked up to the castle above town, and the Conento de Cristo. Unfortunately it was closed for Easter, but it looked like it had a very large and beautiful nature reserve inside it.

We continued on along the trail to Fatima through a forested area, until we came to a Roman aqueduct that stretched across a lush green valley. There were quite a few other people there, out enjoying a warm spring afternoon.

We climbed up and walked along the top of the aqueduct, perhaps half way across the valley. The height was a little unnerving, but the views were spectacular, and it was an amazing feeling to connect with something so old.

In the afternoon we wandered back to town, and sat in a cafe by the river. The view from the park was nice, but the service was extremely slow, so we ended up just getting gelato, and then headed to a very old bakery for sandwiches and some lovely thumbprint cookies.

We spend a couple hours working on the blog and other things, and then headed out in search of dinner. Almost immediately we ran into Fernando, Heimy, and their Brazilian friend, who were sitting at an outdoor restaurant enjoying a few pints. They invited us to join them, and we soon discovered that they were sitting with a famous Brazilian band.

As the evening progressed a lively conversation ensued with half the table speaking Portuguese, and Fernando kindly translating. He shared the story of our upcoming hike across Canada, and some of the party read parts of our Camino Frances blog.

As we sat there another Portuguese lady joined the party, and it turned out her cousin owns the albergue we will be hiking to tomorrow. Fernando arranged for her to call and make reservation for seven of us. What are the odds?

At one point Fernando and co left to clean up and get ready for tomorrow, and the Portuguese group invited Sean and I to join them. They also discovered Sean is a photographer, and spent a lot of time showing him photos, and shared a video of their band. We had very little spoken language on common, but somehow it didn't matter. We were in good company, and we shared a lot. As they say, the Camino really does provide.

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