Lisbon – Verdelha de Baixo

27 March 2018


We were wide awake even before the alarm went off. And that’s exactly 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 would keep us going for some time. I cooked some eggs for us to have later on a break and by 8:30am we left “This is Lisboa” hostel for the first day on our Portuguese Camino. (We left so late because in our minds we would have slept in Alpriate at the end of Day 1, but we forgot that the Camino is not always predictable … so instead of walking 22km on our first day, we covered more than 32km)!

We had a good laugh when we left the hostel. I turned left and Berto went right!! It reminded me of the movie “The Way”, where Tom (played by Martin Sheen) also went in 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 Lisbon Cathedral, the oldest church in the city. This is the official start of the Portuguese Camino and on the cathedral’s wall the distance to Santiago de Compostela is indicated as 610km. For a brief moment I thought we must be absolutely crazy to walk that far … but then I remembered our motto: “Everything is possible, you just have to believe 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 didn’t see any other yellow arrows for at least the next 8km! It could be that we took a different path, but we knew we had to stay along the Tagus River (Rio Tejo) and that it would lead us out of Lisbon.

We walked through the Expo ’98 Maritime Park (Parque das Nacoes) – quite a contrast to the old streets of Lisbon we had seen the previous two days and had modern buildings and beautiful promenades. The park was built in 1998 when Lisbon hosted the World Exhibition 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 when it opened in 1998, it 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 when we walked through this park. We saw a few people walking or running, as well as some 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!

Finally, the waymarkers began to appear, indicating that we were still on the Camino. We shared this route with the Camino Fatima which also starts in Lisbon but ends in Fatima. We saw the blue arrows of the Camino Fatima up to Santarem where it then turned 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 which was quite muddy at times. We followed this farm track for a few kilometers and the only noise we could hear was that of the air traffic from Lisbon airport. Under the shade of a tree we took off our backpacks for the first time and ate a light lunch of boiled eggs, cheese and chorizo ​​sausage.


Our first lunch on the Portuguese Camino


We carried at least an extra kilogram on our hiking shoes after walking through muddy farm tracks

No, we are not sleeping in Alpriate:

When we entered the town of Alpriate, we were looking for Café Zezinha to find out if we could stay at the albergue for the night. However, the lady in the café informed us that they were still upgrading the albergue and that we would 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 might be closed, so we were prepared for this. We thus had no choice but to enjoy a cold drink before picking up our backpacks again and walking on to Verdelha.

The sun was now quite hot and the knowledge that we still had to walk another 10km to our destination was playing on my mind a bit, but luckily it was our first day on the Camino and we were still in high spirits!

We saw many buildings that were tiled on the outside – tiles that Portugal is famous for. It is a trademark from Portugal and I loved the way these buildings stood out among the others.


The tiles on the outside of a building – a trademark in Portugal

For the last 5km or so we walked on what looked like a fairly new promenade along the river. It was now late afternoon and we encountered many people strolling along 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 finding accommodation in Alverca or walking another 1.3km further to Verdelha. By now my feet were warm and it had been a long first day. However, we decided to walk the extra 1.3km to Verdelha as we had read that accommodation in Alverca was limited.

Around 15:30 we walked into Verdelha and were very happy to get a double room in Hostel Alfa 10.

Accommodation – Verdelha/Alverca:

(Just for clarify: Although Hostel 10 is in Verdelha, it lists 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 weren’t so tired I wouldn’t 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 afterwards we went for an ice cream – well deserved I would say after a long and hot day on the road.

The gentleman at the hostel’s reception mentioned that we could enjoy dinner at the restaurant opposite the hostel. The restaurant was filled with contract workers who worked at nearby industrial parks and we were the only pilgrims there. Our bill came to just €8 per person for the meal. Berto had meat with rice (and chips) and I enjoyed soup and a plate of 7 small fish (not sure what kind of fish it was but I knew Portugal was famous for their delicious seafood and it turned out to be a good choice!)


My first taste of seafood in Portugal

We only saw 5 or 6 pilgrims on the road today – nothing compared to what we experienced on the Camino Frances last year. And, already on our first day, we realised that no Camino is the same, neither in scenery nor in experience!

It’s been quite a day – our first day back on the Camino – and we were just happy to crash into our comfy beds for a well deserved rest!

Click here for Day 2 …


9 thoughts on “CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 1

  1. That is a pretty hefty first day’s walk, 332km. is a bit of a trek in anyone’s book. I don’t know if you realised it or did it on purpose but you began your camino on the feast day of the Annunciation which I suppose is appropriate for a beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think (hope!) you’ve meant 32km … but yes, quite a long day (in hind sight, we should have done a much shorter stage … but hey, it’s done and dusted now!)
      We were not sure when the Feast of Annunciation was – we thought it might have been two or three days earlier.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I meant 32, clumsy fingers as usual.

        As is so often the case with me, I am not making myself clear, my mind is generally trying to think about eight things at once! I am not a Christian so I don’t know about feast days but, as you were doing a camino for “Santiago” I thought I would look up his feast day to see if you would be walking then which would have been quite special but obviously not.

        I should have made this reference in your first post about the camino as the 25th was the day you “hit” Europe which was really the start of your adventure and an adventure it certainly turned out to be so sorry for the confusion.

        If I could get my brain to think as clearly as you two good people obviously did on your return I would probably get on a whole lot better but my scatterbrained approach has kept me going for 61 years on this lovely planet so I reckon I am ahead of the game!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Although we are Christians, we have not done this Camino for (just) religious reasons … but must add, it was pretty special to be on the Camino during Easter.
        And by the way, we are not much younger than you are (a merely 10 years or so 😊), so we understand everything about trying to keep your brain clear 👍🏻

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I know many people do the Camino for all sorts of reasons, not merely religious ones but I can understand how Easter would have added another dimension for you.

        I have to say that you are both ageing a lot more gracefully than I am!

        Liked by 1 person

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