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Posts tagged ‘caminodesantiago2019’

Camino Portugués – Lisbon to Alverca do Ribatejo – Day 1

I don’t know if it was the excitement or that French guy’s snoring, but I had little sleep before I left Lisbon. I had been looking forward to this day for some time now and it didn’t disappoint. Leaving Lisbon behind wasn’t a major cause of concern for me, I knew I would be back here again sometime.

Carsten and myself left the hostel early enough, we were the first out. It was still dark and people were on their way to work. We needed to find the Cathedral again to locate the first arrow. I had read that there were very few arrows to guide you from the city but I had a back-up gps “just in case”. We had breakfast before the Cathedral before taking a sharp right. We spotted a few Portuguese locals drinking alcohol while we were having our coffee. Maybe on their way home from work?

You really need to keep your eyes on the walls as signage is poor until you come to the coast. But I had an extra step in my walk and I was giddy with excitement. To the coast..

A fountain, leaving Lisbon
Artwork on the way out of Lisbon
One of the first real signs – yellow for Santiago, blue for Fatima

Arriving at the coast, we walk the Passeio do Tejo, a long stretch of boardwalk that goes way into the distance. There are pictures of people walking, pilgrims and families all lined the Passeio. The sun was starting to rise but we took our time. Further on, the former EXPO park at the Parque das Nações is still a hive of activity with many hotels and restaurants. Giant cable cars hang above our heads that usually bring tourists. This is a lovely part of the walk with many people out for their morning walks or runs enjoying the sunshine. We are the only pilgrims however.

A bit further on from the Parque das Nações is the Vasco da Gama Bridge which takes traffic over the River Tejo, which at 17.2 km is the longest bridge in Europe. I didn’t hang around too long however.

Vasco da Gama bridge

Not long after this, the Camino crosses the N10 motorway after Sacavem, and follows a dusty dry path for many kms so it is wise to be prepared. I had just enough water on me for this section until I reached Alpriate. From here on in, I made the decision to carry extra water.

We arrived at Alpriate early. It is a small village with a small snack bar and an albergue. It opens at 2pm. I was in no position to wait but having walked nearly 22 km, we stopped for a snack. I noticed one of the locals grill some meat on a home made barbeque. The smell filled the town. Shortly later we left.

Arriving at the Praia dos Pescadores was the highlight of the day but it was brutally hot. The Riverside Lounge gave us cold drinks before we took a walk along the boardwalk of the nature reserve. An hour or so before we reached the town of Alverca do Ribatejo. On arriving at the town, the Camino brings you over the train line. Any and all accommodation were on the outskirts of the town. We chose Alfa. It is not a place for pilgrims but as the hours went by, we saw a few more pilgrims come in. There were the French couple, and the Italian couple who we didn’t see again. Later on, there was a super menu for offer not to far from the hostal.

The forecast is for more sun. I look forward to it.

Camino Portugués – Dublin To Lisbon – Day 0

After a month of to-ing and fro-ing with the podiatrist, I wasn’t sure this Camino was going to happen. However, after getting the go-ahead from the podiatrist the week prior, my mind was put at ease. I still had over 300 km to walk.

The morning of the flight was an early one. I woke at 5 am, had a quick breakfast and was driven to Dublin airport. I didn’t need to check my bags in as I wanted them on the flight. All that was to be done was the dreaded security check! Why do I always panic when going through security? It’s not like I have anything to hide?

Anyway, the flight was perfect (for Ryanair!) and I arrived in Lisbon at 10.30 am. The sky was bright and it was quite warm. Lisbon Airport was bustling and my first instinct was to look for the metro station. The city centre is only 2 trips on a metro from the airport. The station was super easy to find – directly to the right once you leave from arrivals. What is great is that there is a large information desk if you are unsure. After a quick 10 minute trip to Alameda followed by a 20 minute trip to Martim Moniz, I arrived at my destination – the hostel.

Lisbon metro – It costs less than €2 for a day ticket

I struggle to find the hostel initially, as the address is not correct. I find it eventually with a little help from my buddy Carsten who had arrived earlier in the morning. Time to settle in, have a shower and see some of the city.

Lisbon is heaving with tourists as we walk through the Alfama district to Sé Cathedral to receive our first sello in Portugal. While walking, numerous 28 Trams speed through the streets with little regard for those in their way. Tourists clamour to take photos as they pass. Tuk-tuk vans whizz by reminding me to stay on the footpath. The Camino calls me louder.

We arrive at Sé Cathedral and I’m blown away by the size of the building. Steps lead into the entrance of the cathedral and then darkness. Carsten has been here earlier in the day and received his sello so he is telling me where to go. Generally, there is a counter on the right-hand side of the entrance and it is manned for those looking for stamps or credentials. However as today was a Sunday, things were different. There was no one behind the counter and a small group was beginning to form outside the sacristy. In broken English, the sacristan was willing to provide sellos and credentials however he made it clear that this was not the norm.

On leaving the cathedral, I immediately could see the first arrow. It was placed on the bottom right-hand side at the entrance. Another can be seen to the right of that on some corrugated iron.

In the small group of pilgrims, we noticed some faces that we would meet in the coming days. There was the duo from Russia, the young man from Hungary and the elderly man from France. We would all know them by names after Lisbon.

For the remainder of the day, we decided to walk to the coast and the Praça do Comércio. It is situated along the Tagus river and with temperatures high in the 30s, the sea breeze was welcome. We took a walk to see the Santa Justa Lift but saw the queue and thought again! This was designed in 1901 by the French architect Raoul Mésnier du Ponsard, an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel.

Food was always on my mind and there are many restaurants lining the many streets of Lisbon. Don’t forget to try the Pastel de nata.

It wasn’t long before we walked up the steep slope to the hostel beside the Castelo. Sleep came naturally but it would be an early start on our first day.

September’s Camino is a little up in the air…

So as some of you know, I have flights booked to Lisbon to walk some of the Portuguese Camino from September 9th. I booked the outward and return flight from Porto at Christmas. What makes this extra special is I will be meeting Carsten whom I met in Ventosa on the Camino Frances last September. He will be walking all the way to Santiago. While I have been looking forward to visiting the amazing city of Lisbon for a long time, I hope to be spending one night there. However, there have been some developments.

During my recent Camino from A Coruna, I picked up an injury on my large right toe, the extent of which wasn’t apparent until I returned home. The toe was red, sensitive to the touch and I just knew there was some bad news incoming. I visited the local GP and when I saw his face make those shapes, I was mentally preparing myself. The toe was infected and I was given a course of antibiotics to hopefully do the trick. If not, Plan B would kick into action. This was Friday, the 21st. The antibiotics were completed with no success and it was time to walk towards the door marked “Plan B”.

I then visited a great podiatrist in the city centre of Dublin last week who told me in no uncertain words that the nail must come out. The words, ‘ingrown’, ‘toe’ and ‘nail’ all came sailing towards me. Deep down, I knew that the nail would have to go but it took a while for me to admit it to myself, especially with a Camino coming up so soon. By the end of the evening, the podiatrist removed most of the nail until it became too painful to remove any more.

The remainder will be removed under anesthetic on August 2nd in Newry, Northern Ireland which isn’t too far from my home. She explained, much to my surprise, that no podiatrist can administer anesthetic to patients in the Republic of Ireland. This was an eye-opener to me.

I hope and pray that I am ready for my Camino on September 8th. But if I am unable to go, so be it, I have lost the cost of my flights, nothing else.

Since Friday..

Let me apologise! The intention was to keep you updated a little bit more than this but I was busy over the weekend. Here goes…

The Camino Society held their first monthly walk of 2019 in Glencullen. There are tonnes of trails there and the Dublin Mountains Way runs through it. I won’t go into it in too much detail as I wrote a piece about it on their newsletter here. Go check it out, the photos are excellent.

Anyway, the day started well with the sun shining in Donabate. I had a good feeling about the day. I brought the rain gear ‘just in case’. However the further south I went, the darker the sky got and the first drops could be felt at Johnnie Fox’s pub, our meeting point. Not to worry. We marched on regardless.

With a full pack and thirty-something other pilgrims, it was close enough to being on Camino. It was just what I needed with my May Camino quickly approaching. After the walk, we returned to base (Johnnie Fox’s) for some food and music.

Kilmashogue megalithic wedge tomb – 4000 years old

The following day, Sunday, marked 100 days before my brother and I travel to Ferrol to start our Camino Ingles / Celtic Camino. From now on, it’s all double-digits and even though I have done this many times before, it feels new this time. Maybe because it is a new route? May 7th we leave for Ferrol and we hope to be in Santiago by May 14th. We have flights booked for May 19th which gives us room to decide to walk to Finisterre or stay in Santiago.