Azambuja – Santarem
29 March 2018
It is only the 3rd day, but already my body is protesting against walking yet another 30km today! I remember, after walking the Camino Frances last year, that the first week is the biggest challenge and then, from there it starts to get easier … so, just another 4 days to go …
Although today’s stage has no hills and the terrain is as flat as a pancake, it’s a long day on our feet and the last 2.5km will be a very steep climb to Santarem. The weather forecast is still sunny for today (but this might change tomorrow).
We left Azambuja shortly after 7:00 and were treated to the most beautiful sunrise between the trees on a quiet road.
A beautiful sight – sunrise as seen through the trees outside Azambuja
A muddy walk:
As we turned into a wide farm track, we could see the evidence of heavy rain of a couple of days ago. We had to choose our steps carefully not to end up in the mud.
A muddy farm track about 2km after we left Azambuja
It was however a lovely walk on quiet country roads with only a car or two passing us occasionally. As we pass an “Aerodromo” (air field), I glanced back and saw the fields behind us in the most beautiful shades of green. At that moment, it felt like pure Camino!
Different shades of green fields as we continued our walk towards Santarem
About 10km into our walk, we came to the small village of Reguengo. It was interesting to see the high flood barrier on the one side of Reguengo … the Tejo river is lying just on the other side. Sometimes we would walk on top of the flood barrier from where one could see the river and then we would get back to the road again to see if we could find a café … we were in serious need of coffee!
Walking on top of the high flood barrier enabled us to see the Tejo River
We saw a small café on our left as we walked on top of the flood barrier and carefully made our way down to have that important coffee. Café Campino also offered sweet pastries and we were happy to share one between us.
Coffee and a sweet pastry at Café Campino
The people at these small villages are very friendly. They might not always be able to speak English (it is Portugal after all), but they always have a big smile and wished us “Bom Caminho”. It is true that it might differ a lot from the Camino Frances, but the Portuguese Camino did not lack any hospitality!
Another tiled house – a trademark of Portugal
The town of Valada was just 2.4km further where we saw bigger cafés as the one in Reguengo, but we continued our walk since we already had something to eat and drink.
Welcoming sign at the town of Valada
No facilities for the next 16.2km:
In Porto de Muge we stopped to buy water and some sweets to take us all the way to Santarem … there are no facilities for the last 16.2km and you need to make sure you have enough snacks and water for this stretch.
On our way to Santarem we saw the Tejo river occasionally. The road also took us past a variety of crops and the wide farm tracks opened up all the way to Santarem.
Tranquility on our way to Santarem
And then, tired from walking almost 30km and with only another 2.5km to go, we got to the steepest hill ever! It’s always difficult to show the steepness of these hills on photo’s, but believe me … it was STEEP!
The steep hill at 2.5km before Santarem
An old Roman road next to the main road on our way to Santarem
A welcome sight – We were now in Santarem!
As we arrived in Santarem, we stopped at the very first café to have a beer – that steep uphill required all of our energy!
Accommodation – Santarem:
Our first proper albergue on the Portuguese Camino:
We decided to overnight at Santarem Hostel. We got the last 2 bunk beds that was available in the albergue (and probably in town). There is a big football tournament in Santarem and with almost every bed occupied in town, we could probably count ourselves lucky that we got accommodation for the night.
Our first stay in a proper albergue (as we know it) on the Portuguese Camino – the well known bunk beds awaits us!
There were no washing machines in the hostel and we had to wash our clothes by hand. About half an hour after we hanged our clothes on a drying rack, it started to rain … we then hung everything around our beds (and kept our fingers crossed that it will be dry by tomorrow).
A great meal:
It was raining very hard when we went out in search of a restaurant. We literally ran to the very first one we saw … and our luck was in, it was a typical Portuguese restaurant where the owner only speaks a few words of English, but what a treat! He made us felt so welcome and served us a wonderful meal. I wish I could remember the restaurant’s name to recommend this to fellow pilgrims, because the food and hospitality of the owner made this a memorable evening!
A great combination: Delicious traditional Portuguese soup and the friendliest owner of a restaurant you’ll ever meet!
After a huge cup of the creamiest cappuccino I ever tasted, we returned to our hostel. We spent some time in the communal area reading and watching football on the television, before we went to bed.
As for tomorrow … yet another 30km day to walk!
Click here for Day 4 …