Santarem – Golega
30 March 2018
During the night, I woke up and could hear the rain falling … would that be the beginning of our rainy days on the Camino?
However, at 6:00 the next morning, there were only a few clouds in the sky. Fortunately, our clothes dried completely during the night and we were ready to start walking at our usual time of 7:00.
Walking through the streets of Santarem
Tiled street name on a wall in Santarem
The owner of the restaurant where we had dinner last night, told us about the magnificent viewpoint at “Portas do Sol” (Gates of the Sun) from where we could see the Tejo river and suggested that we visit this site before we start walking today. It was a beautiful place with lovely gardens and the view was indeed breathtaking. We took a few photo’s before starting our journey for the day.
The entrance to the “Portas do Sol”
Stunning view of the Rio Tejo
After enjoying the lovely views, we headed down steeply on woodland paths to leave Santarem behind. At the rail line we missed the medieval bridge that we were supposed to cross, but fortunately realised this about 300m later and turned around to follow the right way.
Try and stay on your feet on this steep downhill with wet rocks!
Leaving Santarem behind
As we got to the country road, the rain started to fall out of nowhere – the one moment there were no clouds in the sky and the next moment the rain bucketed down! And this was the story of our day – from sunshine to light rain to intense showers and then some sunshine again!
Rain clouds gathered in the distance
We decided not to take the path that run through the crop fields because it was a muddy affair! We rather took the road where there was less chance of getting mud up to your knees! But this meant we were walking on a small shoulder next to the road where we had to be very cautious of the Portuguese drivers – a difficult choice to make!
Soaking wet next to the road on our way to Vale da Figueira
Time to dry out in Vale da Figueira:
As we walked into Vale da Figueira, the rain subsided and the sun came out for half an hour. It was definitely an indication that we needed to stop at one of the cafés to have big mugs of hot coffee (for the cold) and orange juice (for energy), as well as some sweet pastries (for good measure).
Time to dry out in the sun with coffee and sweet pastries – I must admit, I don’t look impress!
After some refreshments we were ready to continue. The sun was shining (well, at least for now) and we enjoyed a wonderful stroll pass cork trees. We did not know the reason for the numbered trees, but it was amazing to see how the cork was removed from the trees. What we do know, is that Portugal is one of the world leaders in cork production and we presume that these trees must be of utmost importance to them.
Cork trees marked with numbers
Here comes the rain (again):
The road changed between country lanes and farm tracks. Roads without any traffic or people … we did not see any other pilgrims for the whole day and were sort of completely alone on this stage. The weather constantly changed from sunny weather to heavy downpours … later on, we decided to put our warm jackets in our backpacks and only kept our rain jackets on.
Farm tracks are always nice for walking … but with constant rain, it tends to becomes a mud bath!
With the heavy rain, the farm tracks – at some points – almost became impossible to walk. Berto avoided being caught in the mudholes because he could give longer steps than me … but I was not that lucky! Time and time again, I ended up in the mud!
We crossed a bridge where the Alviela river flows (a tributary of the Tejo river). It was literally flowing as if it was in flood – in a short time, we experienced a huge amount of rain!
The Alviela river in flood because of the constant heavy rain we had since this morning
As we reached the option route, the rain stopped. We chosen to continue on the farm tracks because we did not want to walk alongside the main road. The contrasting colours of the dark sky and green crop fields were amazing and we could take some nice pictures. But as the heavy rain started falling again, there were no time for any more photo’s and we just had to put our heads down and walk through the rain.
Beautiful colours of dark rain clouds and green crop fields
In (serious) need of Pastel de Nata:
For the next few kilometers we endured some serious mud walking! I was really looking forward to a hot shower and some dry clothes! When we walked into the town of Azinhaga, I was just fed up with the rain. But Berto knew there was one thing that would kept me going … pastel de nata!
We walked into a bar where we enjoyed steaming hot coffee and pastel de nata – indeed, now I was ready to continue again!
Pastel de nata is the best medicine for a wet pilgrim!
The worst road walking ever:
Just after Azinhaga there was another option of walking on more farm tracks to avoid walking next to the busy main road (N-365). But after so much mud walking, we decided to rather take the (more dangerous) option of walking next to the main road without any shoulder! And then it started to rain again – heavy rain – and I can honestly say this was FRIGHTENING! It almost felt as if the Portuguese drivers wanted to see how close and fast they can get pass you!
NOTE: I would not recommend any pilgrim to take this route next to the busy main road – doesn’t matter how muddy the option route is! There are no shoulder to walk on and the speeding cars makes it a very dangerous walk (especially in rainy conditions).
Berto is just soaking wet – not even his so called “gore tex” boots could withstand the intense rain – not to even mention the dangerous walk next to the main road!
Arriving in Golega:
It was already 17:00 when we arrived in Golega. I felt lucky to be alive!
Accommodation – Golega:
We walked to the Inn Golega where we would spend the night. Elsa, the very friendly owner of the Inn Golega, made sure that our room was warm and that there was enough hot water for a shower. She made us some coffee and offered the washing machine and dryer for our clothes.
A warm and cosy room with big bath towels – such a treat after a very wet day on the road!
The rain stopped while our clothes were in the dryer and we decided to walk to a nearby bar for a hot dinner. We were probably the only foreigners there and the locals looked curious in our direction! I could see the waitress found it stressful to serve us, but in the end she has done a great job and we enjoyed a bottle of red wine and a big plate of lamb chops and chips before we went back to our room.
What is that itchy/painful feeling:
Before we went to bed, I had a close look at my feet … more blisters appeared, but I also discovered a “funny” itchy (but also painful), ankle. I was not sure what the reason for this was … hopefully I can walk this off.
What a wet and stressful day … and tomorrow, yet another 30km is awaiting us!
Click here for Day 5 …