Caminho Portugues from Lisbon – First Thoughts

My Camino from Lisbon has been and passed. I arrived back in Dublin yesterday afternoon with fine weather. I left having walked 345 kms over 11 days from Lisbon in the south of Portugal, to Agueda further north. I caught a train to Porto the following day, stayed the night and few home. But not before picking up my final sello of this Camino in Porto. Thanks to all of you who have been following me on Instagram. I have been posting short videos and photos each day. After the first day, I wasn’t sure if this is what I wanted to do for the full trip but on arriving in Alverca do Ribatejo (the end of the first day), I decided to continue.

Se Cathedral at night

So why Lisbon? Why not somewhere closer to Santiago? Well, the answer to this is quite simple. I have been walking the Camino Frances for a number years and have seen the numbers of pilgrims increase. I have been looking for something different for some time, somewhere a little quieter. On receiving a message from my pilgrim friend Carsten who wanted to walk from Lisbon, I jumped at the chance and ask to join him. However, I only had 11 days leave having walked the Camino Ingles in May.

Tram 28

Walking from Lisbon is as different from the Camino Frances as you are going to get. There are many stages over 30 km in distance and if you are on a schedule, it can be quite tricky. The first three days are along the River Tejo and the terrain is relatively flat. It is quite easy to walk these long distances and take as many stops as possible. On arriving at Santarem, the terrain changes. Out goes the flat and in comes the hills. That said, a crafty pilgrim can divert a difficult hill by sticking to the main road. By why spoil the fun!

On arriving in Lisbon, I had someone to walk with. I am thankful for that. It wasn’t until the 2nd stage – Azambuja – that we met our next addition to our band of brothers. Azambuja’s albergue was basic and had 12 beds but what it lacked in stars, it thrived in character and charm. It was the Camino. It has been a while since I slept in accommodation that locked up at 8pm.

As the days passed, more pilgrims walked. Each walking their own speed. Pilgrims from Russia, Canada, Holland, New Zealand, France, Japan, England, Hungary, Germany and South Africa. Our eldest pilgrim was a 79 year old cyclist from France and our youngest was 11 months. He was part of a German family making their way to Santiago. His father and mother met on the Camino four years ago and now are walking again. Amazing! Myself and Carsten helped them pull their specially built buggy up a tricky hill on our fifth day and we later met them at the albergue. I met the first Irish pilgrim at Coimbra, which was the halfway point.

The albergues are rarely open before 2pm. Most of them are small and I was lucky enough to stay in a number with beds. There are also plenty of hostels and pensions so accommodation is not an issue. However, if there was ever a time that you find yourself without a bed, you can knock on the Bombeiros (fire fighters) door. They generally give you a place to lay your head if all other options are gone. Our New Zealand friend Alan stayed with the Bombeiros in a number of towns. However, if you start walking before 7 like I did, then there should be no issues.

Arriving in Agueda, my final town, was a highlight for me. Here is the home of Umbrella Sky Project. We have one in Dublin but it is of a larger scale here in Agueda. I stopped here for a while to take it in a then walked on to the albergue, which was located 1 km out of town.

The following day I travelled to Porto. I didn’t do much of a sight-seeing trip here as I knew I would be back, but I picked up my final sello. All I needed to do was board the plane and go home. My walking was done.

I will be posting from Day one soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive an email!

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