Lisbon – Verdelha de Baixo
27 March 2018
We were wide awake even before the alarm went off … that is how we remembered our first Camino – you don’t need an alarm to start your day!
After enjoying a nice breakfast, prepared by the hostel, we had enough energy that should keep us going for some time. I’ve cooked a couple of eggs for us to have later on a break and by 8:30 we left “This is Lisboa” hostel for the first day on our Portuguese Camino. (We left this late because in our minds we would be sleeping in Alpriate at the end of day 1, but we forgot the Camino is not always predictable … so, instead of walking 22km on our first day, we covered more than 32km!)
We had such a laugh when we left our hostel … I was turning left and Berto was going right!! It reminded me of the movie “The Way”, where Tom (played by Martin Sheen) was also going the wrong direction on his first day …
… Well, it turned out Berto’s way was the right way ☺️.
Starting from Lisbon Cathedral:
The first yellow arrow is at the steps of the Lisbon Cathedral, the oldest church in the city. This is the official start of the Camino Portuguese and on the cathedral’s wall the distance to Santiago de Compostela is indicated as 610km … for a brief moment I was thinking we must be absolutely crazy to walk this far … but then I remembered our motto: “Everything is possible, you just have to belief it”. In Portugal the Camino greeting is “Bom Caminho” to wish each other good luck on the journey … and so we did (to each other) and off we went!
Berto at the first way marker at the Lisboa Catedral Se
Let’s do this 😊
We did not see any other yellow arrows for at least the next 8km! It might be that we took a different road, but we knew we had to stay alongside the river Tagus (Rio Tejo) and that this will lead us out of Lisbon.
We walked through the Expo ’98 Maritime Park (Parque das Nacoes) – it is quite in contrast with the old streets of Lisbon we saw the previous two days and had modern buildings and beautiful boardwalks. The park was built in 1998 when Lisbon hosted the World Exposition to commemorate the 500th anniversary of explorer Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India.
Parque das Nacoes – the cable car must provide stunning views over the Rio Tejo
In the distance we could see the Vasco da Gama bridge with a total length of 17km (back at its opening in 1998, this was the longest bridge in Europe).
The 17km long Vasco da Gama bridge in the distance
The statue of Catherine of Braganza (according to our Brierley guidebook, she left Lisbon in 1662 to marry Charles II)
It was a quiet morning as we were walking through this park. We saw a few people walking or running, as well as a couple of children playing, but other than that, we had the whole park to ourselves. I bet, during the high summer season, this must be a very busy place!
Eventually, the waymarkers started to appear that indicated we were still on the Camino. We were sharing this route with the Camino Fatima that also starts in Lisbon, but ends in Fatima. We saw the blue arrows of the Camino Fatima until Santarem where it would then turn away to the west.
The Camino Portuguese and Camino Fatima share the first 100km on route from Lisbon – yellow for the Camino Portuguese and blue for Fatima
After the beautiful walk along the Rio Tejo, the road turned to a remote path that was, at times, quite muddy. We followed this farm track for a couple of kilometers and the only noise we could hear, was that of the air traffic from airport Lisbon. Under the shade of a tree, we took our backpacks off for the first time and had a light lunch of boiled eggs, cheese and chorizo sausage.
Our first lunch on the Portuguese Camino
We were carrying at least an extra kilogram on our hiking shoes after walking through muddy farm tracks
No, we are not sleeping in Alpriate:
As we entered the town of Alpriate, we were looking out for Café Zezinha to find out whether we can stay at the albergue for the night. The lady in the café however informed us that they were still busy upgrading the albergue and that we will have to walk to Verdelha (according to her another 6km … but it later turned out to be more than 10km!)
Before we left Cape Town, we read on the Camino Forum that this albergue in Alpriate may have been closed, so we were somehow prepared for this. We therefore had no alternative but to enjoy a cold drink before picking up our backpacks and walking further to Verdelha.
The sun was now quite hot and knowing that we had to walk another 10km to our destination played a bit on my mind, but fortunately it was our first day on the Camino and we were still in high spirits!
We saw many buildings that was tiled on the outside – tiles for which Portugal is well known for. It is a trademark of Portugal and I loved the way these buildings stood out between the others.
The tiles on the outside of a building – a trademark in Portugal
For the last 5km or so, we were walking on, what seemed like quite a new boardwalk, along the river. It was now late afternoon and we encountered many people strolling on this beautiful stretch of road.
The boardwalk along the Rio Tejo
Where should we stay – Alverca or Verdelha?
We came to the option of either find accommodation in Alverca or walk another 1.3km further to Verdelha. By now, my feet was hot and it was a long first day. We however decided to walk the extra 1.3km to Verdelha because we have read that accommodation in Alverca was limited.
At around 15:30 we walked into Verdelha … and were very happy to find a double room in Hostel Alfa 10.
Accommodation – Verdelha/Alverca:
(Just for clarification: Although Hostel 10 is in Verdelha, it indicates Alverca as their home town on their website – so, don’t get confused 🤨).
And no need for sleeping bags tonight, because the beds had their own linen … if my feet were not so tired, I would not think we were on the Camino!
Our room in Hostel Alfa 10 – beds WITH linen. That is now sleeping in style on the Camino!
We found a laundromat not far from our hostel where we could wash our clothes and then had an ice-cream – well deserved I would say after a long and hot day on the road.
The gentleman at the reception of our hostel told us that we could enjoy dinner at the restaurant across the hostel. The restaurant was filled with contract workers that worked at nearby industrial parks and we were the only pilgrims there. Our bill came to only €8 per person for the meal. Berto had meat with rice (and chips) and I had soup and a plate with 7 small fish (not sure what type of fish it was, but I knew Portugal was known for their delicious seafood and it turned out to be a great choice!)
My first taste of seafood in Portugal
We saw 5 or 6 pilgrims on the road today – nothing in comparison with what we had experienced on the Camino Frances last year. And, already on our first day, we realised … no Camino is the same, neither in scenery nor in experience!
It was quite a day – our first day back on the Camino – and we were just happy to just fall down on our comfortable beds for a well deserved rest!
Click here for Day 2 …