DAY 1


LISBON – VERDELHA DE BAIXO

27 MARCH 2018

32.7km

We’ve woken up even before the alarm went off … that is how we remembered our first Camino – you don’t need an alarm to start your day!

We’ve had a nice breakfast prepared by the hostel 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’ve left this late because in our mind we would be sleeping in Alpriate at the end of day 1, but we’ve forgotten the Camino is not always predictable … so, instead of walking 22km on our first day, we’ve had to cover 32km!)

We had such a laugh when we’ve left our hostel … I was turning left and Berto was going right!! It reminded me of the movie “The Way”, where Tom (Martin Sheen) was also going the wrong direction on his first day! Well, it turned out that Berto’s way was the right way!

The first yellow arrow is at the steps of the cathedral (Lisboa Catedral Se). The plague on the cathedral’s wall indicated the distance to Santiago de Compostela as 610km … for a brief moment I was thinking how far we were planning to walk … but then I remembered our motto: “Everything is possible, you just have to belief it”. In Portugal you say, “Bom Caminho” to wish each other good luck on the journey … and so we did and off we go!

Berto at the first waymarker at the Lisboa Catedral Se

We did not see any other yellow arrows for at least the next 8km! It might be that we’ve taken 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’ve passed the Expo ’98 Maritime Park (Parque das Nacoes) – it is quite in contrast with the old streets of Lisbon we’ve seen the previous two days and had modern buildings and beautiful boardwalks. It was built in 1998 when Lisbon hosted the World Exposition to commemorate the 500th anniversary of explorer Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India.

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Berto walking through the Parque das Nacoes with the cable car ahead that 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, it was the longest bridge in Europe).

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The 17km long Vasco da Gama bridge in the distance

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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’ve seen some 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, that in the high summer season, this must be a very busy place!

Eventually we’ve seen some waymarkers that indicated that we were still on the Camino. We were sharing this route with the Camino Fatima that also starts in Lisbon and ends in Fatima. We will see the blue arrows of the Camino Fatima until Santarem where it will turn away to the west.

The Camino Portuguese and Camino Fatima share the first 100km on route from Lisbon – yellow arrows for the Camino Portuguese and blue for Fatima

After the beautiful walk alongside the Rio Tejo, the road turned to a remote path that was, at times, quite muddy. We’ve followed this farm track for a couple of kilometers and the only noise we’ve heard, was that of the air traffic from airport Lisbon. Under the shade of a tree, we’ve taken our backpacks off for the first time and had a light lunch of boiled eggs, cheese and chorizo sausage.

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Time for our first lunch on the Portuguese Camino

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We were carrying an extra kilogram on our hiking shoes as we’ve walked through some mud on the farm track

As we’ve walked into Alpriate, we looked for the 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 with upgrading of the albergue and that we will have to walk to Verdelha (according to her another 6km, but it turned out to be more than 10km!)

Before we left Cape Town, we’ve read on the Camino Forum that this albergue in Alpriate might be closed, so in a way we were prepared for this. We therefore had no other alternative as to have a cold drink before we’ve continued 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’ve seen a lot of 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.

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

For the last 5km or so, we were walking on, what seems like quite a new boardwalk, along the river. It was now late afternoon and we’ve encountered many people strolling on this beautiful stretch of road.

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The boardwalk along the Rio Tejo

We came to the option of either look for accommodation in Alverca or walk another 1.3km further to Verdelha. By now my feet was hot and it was a long first day, but we’ve decided to walk the extra 1.3km to Verdelha because we’ve read that accommodation in Alverca was limited.

At around 15:30 we’ve walked into Verdelha and were 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 🤨).

There was no need to take our sleeping bags out, because the beds had their own linen … if my feet were not so tired, I would not think we were on the Camino!

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Our room in Alfa 10 – our beds had their own 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 have a nice dinner at the restaurant across the hostel. The restaurant was filled with contract workers that work at nearby industrial parks and we were the only pilgrims there. We only paid €8 per person for our meal. Berto had meat with rice and chips and I had soup and a plate of 7 small fish (not sure what type of fish it was, but I knew Portugal was known for their tasty seafood and it turned out to be a great choice!)

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My first taste of seafood in Portugal

We’ve maybe seen 5 or 6 pilgrims on the road today, but nothing in comparison with what we’ve experienced on the Camino Frances last year. No Camino is the same, neither in scenery nor in experience … we’ve already knew this on our first day!

It was quite a day and we were happy to fall down on our comfortable beds for a well deserved rest!

Categories: Portuguese Camino (April 2018)

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