Category Archives: Portugal

Finishing my Portuguese Camino in Coimbra The sunshine filled my body with an instant happiness. It only added to the great experience I’d had in the pilgrim’s hostel in Rabaçal and the fact that this was my 8th day of walking and I would have a break after arrival in Coimbra. My body was slightly tired, especially my feet, but knowing I’d have a forced rest period because of the travel ban kept my spirits up. In the meantime I’d learned that the ban did not apply to foreigners, but I think traveling when the locals can’t even leave their municipality sends the wrong message and I was excited for some downtime in Coimbra. My way on the camino started on a long straight unpaved road in between fields and orchards with olive trees. I heard a shot in the distance and saw a farmer with his dog. Besides that…

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The camino from Alvaiázere to Rabaçal It was really lovely that the hotel in Alvaiázere had accommodated myself and another pilgrim in a house, but it was absolutely freezing inside and therefore I didn’t actually sleep that much. Every time I turned over in my bed I felt the cold creeping back in. So I was a bit absentminded at the breakfast table that morning. The breakfast was excellent by the way, much more than I could eat, but I stuffed myself anyway, knowing the food would otherwise go to waste. The thick fog this morning matched my mood. Partly because of this, it felt like I quickly got very far away from Alvaiázere. I walked over quiet roads through a forest and passed very small towns, sometimes just consisting of a handful of houses. I noticed many houses seemed empty and needed repairs. In a big bend in the…

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Diving into Portugal’s Roman heritage The Romans entered Portugal in the third century BC. During the approximately 700 years under Roman rule, many new towns were founded, some of which you can still visit today. Others had been vacated and forgotten, until someone dug up the ruins. Conímbriga, situated about 16 km from Coimbra, is one of these places that was buried for years until excavations started in the 20th century. Most visitors to Conímbriga arrive by car, but if you’re on the camino, you come out of a, in my case very muddy, valley. Climbing up the hill I was surprised the old Roman town was right there next to the trail. The camino goes around the museum building and the parking lot. I quite like history, so I decided to stop and explore the ruins. In the visitor center I was greeted by a super friendly man, who…

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On the Caminho from Tomar to Alvaiázere After five days of walking it was so nice to take a day off. I made myself comfortable in the hostel and started the day slowly. There was plenty of time in the afternoon to explore the sights. I sat on my bed, organizing my things when I got talking to another pilgrim who had planned to give his injured foot a rest today. We’d heard that there was a travel ban coming up, but didn’t really have any details. The man manning the reception this morning joined our conversation and gave us some advice. Basically, there was a long weekend coming up and the government wanted to prevent people from spreading COVID, so they put a travel ban in place. You couldn’t leave your municipality during that time, so it would be better for me to spend this time somewhere interesting. I…

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My fifth day on the Camino Portugues. My soggy shoes stood in front of me. I was ready to go, but dreaded putting them on. It reminded me of the miserable walk yesterday. As I put my feet in, I slowly felt the water seeping into my socks, millimeter by millimeter, until my feet felt wet again. Hmmm… At least the sun was shining and it immediately lifted my mood. As I left Golegã I entered farm land. I walked on rural roads and saw some small trucks, tractors and fields. In the middle of a field I noticed a power line that was covered in stork nests. Four storks were currently hanging out there. I had never seen as many storks as I did in this area. I was enjoying the walk when I entered São Caetano, a very small village of about 3 short streets. They were building…

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A wet day on the Portuguese Way from Santarém to Golegã The weatherman had forecasted a rainy day and I had mentally prepared myself to have to start walking in full rain gear. However, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up without hearing the rain and even after breakfast it was still dry. I started walking in my rain pants anyway, so I wouldn’t have to change when it would start raining. It looked pretty chilly and I had layered up, but during the first half an hour I stopped twice to take off some of those layers. I walked all the way down the hill to the lower part of the city and soon stood in the middle of a vineyard. The Caminho actually walks right through the vineyards, which is really cool. The road was at least 8 km long and all I could see was grapes. After…

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The Portuguese way from Alvaiázere to Santarém I was so excited to finally take a turn away from the railroad tracks today! So even though it was only 7.40 AM on a Sunday and very foggy again, I was in good spirits. I crossed a river and turned left on an ancient Roman road. There were some stones underneath the sand. Roman stones? Who knows. The sun was slowly rising and it greeted me with such warm tones of orange. It came out from behind some trees at the end of a field. Its rays were reflecting in puddles and spider webs. Good morning indeed! I walked passed a farm and in between fields on a paved road, but there was not much going on. It wasn’t until a bit later that I noticed more and more cyclists coming by. We all went into the same direction: a small town…

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An unexpected conversation to start my day After freshening up I went down the square winding staircase of the hostel in Vila Franca de Xira. I’d had the 4-bed dorm to myself that night and had slept like a baby. They’d told me there was breakfast in the morning, so I went to check it out. I was completely surprised when I saw a table full of choice; juice, tea, fruits, breads and pastries. The man who brought me my tea soon noticed I wasn’t Portuguese. Then the story began. The man began with a few innocent questions about what I was doing, but soon focused completely on his story. I felt a bit awkward because I was eating while he was standing beside my table talking to me. Hesitantly I took bites from my sandwich, while looking up at him. First came some suggestions of what I definitely had…

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The first stretch on the Camino Portuguese is about 36 km long. It’s a big distance when you’re only just starting the walk, so I decided to split it up into manageable sections. It was the right decision, not just for my body, but also for my mind. The initial approx. 50 km of the camino are not super interesting. However, the Oriente area of Lisbon is really attractive and there are some small towns and cute places along the way. The first steps on the Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to Vila Franca de Xira The day I arrived in Lisbon I used a few hours of the afternoon to walk from the Sé Cathedral to Oriente. I started walking through the Alfama area, although the route follows the lower part and therefore doesn’t take you past the main attractions in the neighborhood. I tried to follow the spray painted…

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An 8,5 day itinerary on the Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to Coimbra Not many people start the camino in Lisbon. It may have something to do with the distance of 630 km to reach Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It takes a while… I made the spontaneous decision to start walking after my hike on the Rota Vicentina and unfortunately didn’t make it all the way to Santiago because of the pandemic. However, I do not regret starting in Lisbon and I’m so keen to head back soon and pick up where I left off in Coimbra. Here’s what you need to know about the first 8 stages. My scheduleDay -1: Lisbon cathedral to Oriente – 8 km – Draft hostel and rooms €10Day 1: Oriente to Vila Franca de Xira – 28 km – Suite & Apartments DP VFXira €14Day 2: Vila Franca de Xira to Azambuja – 18…

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