Portugal

Vila Nova da Coa

Kayaking 18 km 4 hours 45 minutes to Vila Nova da Coa
Staying at Quinta Chao d’Ordem

September 5, 2017

(Addendum: I am not back in Portugal, but I am creating a photobook and just noticed that this day never made it to the internet- slow connection)

Just visited the Coa Rock Art Museum. Tremendous history dating back 30 000 years to rock carvings. The concrete building as viewed from the river looked like an ugly rectangular box, but up close it is pretty interesting beginning with the crevice like entrance and large mirrored interior walls built at odd angles. In 1994 the Coa dam project was stopped when archaeologists saw all the rock art that was to be flooded.

From the terrace of the museum we are looking way down to the river we paddled today. A cruise ship is now passing. It looks pretty slow from this height but the wake is visible from here and definitely felt when we were in our kayaks. Only three cruise ships passed us, one going up river and two going down. No one capsized at their passing but we did move closer to shore and it was useful to face the waves to cross them.

Everyone was very happy to arrive at our pull out close to 2 PM. We were more than ready for our picnic lunch which Rui, Carlos and Daniel had prepared for us. We had stretched our legs on one of the few sandy beaches at the seven kilometre mark. It was not my arms but my legs that were begging for the pullout. A watermelon was chilling in the river while we dined on chick peas and cod, white beans and cod, tomato salad and hard boiled eggs. Our guides were surprised that nearly all the women as well as the men wanted cold beer rather than red wine.

Our first full day on the river was a joy. Even though it was very hot, there was usually a breeze. We hugged the shore for shade in places, also to pick blackberries and apples. The grapes were too far up the hillsides to have any of them. The hills look very dry. There has not been much rain here all summer.

What a fabulous lodging we have this evening. Last night’s was very basic. Tonight we have the ritz: a vineyard with a gorgeous house with beautiful rooms all with en suites. Ours has a semicircular tub which I must use before bed. I already had a swim in the outdoor pool. One of the living areas has an olive press in it. The house is furnished with antiques and has great views of the vineyards.

Note to Margaret: remember the wonderful converted mill we stayed at in Spain after our 33 kilometre day? This place reminds me of there but it is bigger and fancier. You would love it!

Brian stayed here while I went to the museum with the six geologists of our group. Rain had to nurse his hip by drinking beer by the pool and taking a nap.

We just had the best meal. Each night outdoes the last! After tiny cherry tomatoes, cheese, salami, and tuna cream spread with fresh baguette, we had a mixed salad followed by a whole grilled dorado each (divine!), potatoes and carrots. Some opted for steak. Since there was so much steak left over, we had some too. The ice cream looked like mille feuille and was accompanied by almond brittle: delicious. To top all that off we had half a melon filled with port. Brian still had room for expresso. We went outside to admire the full moon over the vineyard.

Tub time then sweet dreams!

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October Delights

Kayaking and Swimming
October 2, 2017
5:23 PM

That was delightful. We just came home from kayaking along the shore of Georgian Bay here at Cobble Beach. This morning when we were golfing the bay was a sheet of glass. Not so this afternoon. The waves were rolling in from the northeast; so, we paddled north with the waves swiping at our side and occasionally landing in our kayaks. It would have been a good day for kayak skirts. That is something for our purchasing list.

It is so quiet kayaking in the bay with only the occasional cry of a gull or the waves splashing the shore or spilling over boulders rot make white caps. It has been three weeks since we finished kayaking the Douro and our first time back in a kayak, this time our own, a little sleeker and cushier. I think our trip gave me a keener interest in kayaking. We had never done a multi-day trip before. I really enjoyed it.

We kayaked back to the beach in a stream of sunshine, the sun warm on our bodies. That made it perfect for a swim after kayaking. Brian did not think so, but when the air and water temperatures match at 20C, I think it is perfect. I love to be able to swim in October. That is so special. Still more swimming, Kate!

I spent a few hours this afternoon dead-heading flowers, trimming and edging the garden. I prefer cleaning the garden to cleaning the house. We grew our tomatoes with our dahlias this year, with greater success. If the long range forecast holds true we should keep getting tomatoes for a couple of weeks.

Lisbon to Cobble Beach

Lisbon to Toronto to Cobble Beach
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Walk 500 metres, Cais do Sodré Metro to Airport 10 km, airport walking, Air Transat Flight to Toronto 5746 km, walk to car in parking garage, drive home 182 km

A very nice Portuguese-Canadian gentleman quickly came to our aid when we arrived at the Oriente train station yesterday. He has been living in Canada for the past forty years, most of that in BC. He returns to Portugal every year for a couple of months. He has an apartment for sale in Portimão if you are interested. He decided he is too old to keep doing this trip and his Canadian wife refuses to do it anymore.

We got out of the metro at Baixa Chiado station, based on our helper’s advice. I am glad we did. We would not likely have climbed up here from our apartment but it was worth seeing the elegant squares and impressive buildings. Our friend was disappointed we had so little time in Lisbon as there is so much to see but we are travel weary and ready for home.

We spent five hours walking nine kilometres around Lisbon mostly in the Alfama district. We walked up the narrow streets, visited the Immaculate Conception Church with its amazing carved arches, the Se Cathedral where groups were filing through and tuktuks lined up at the entrance, St Anthony’s Church and birthplace. Anthony is the patron saint of Portugal. We climbed to the Sao Iorge Castle. A line forty people deep was waiting to buy tickets. Lines are not for us. Brian talked to the budgies in cages along the streets instead. I took photos.

There were people shopping everywhere. We sat at a sidewalk cafe sipping beer, watching the lemmings race across streets against red lights, narrowly missing accidents.

Getting to the airport in Lisbon was easy and cheap. We left our apartment, walked across the square to the market where cleaners were sweeping up last night’s debris and pigeons were treating themselves to the sweepings. We dined in the brightly lit Time Out Market last night. We sat on stools on the quieter side of The Sea Me restaurant. I had very good baked cod with roasted potatoes and turnip greens. Brian’s cod cakes with tomato rice were much less satisfactory. He suffered from indigestion.

This morning we walked through the deserted Time Out side to where the fruit, fish, meat and vegetable vendors were now all set up and ready for business. We picked up our cafe com leite and pastry and sat in the sunshine opposite the Cais de Sodré train and metro station. Brian is always wiser choosing ham and cheese while I opt for chocolate. I really wanted a pastry half the size and a coffee twice as big. Spain’s cafe con leche are twice as big as Portugal’s.

We descended deep under the city to the green metro line and for one euro forty-five we had our ticket to the airport that involved one transfer at Alameda Station to the red line. This took less than half an hour including waiting for seven minutes for the first metro train.

Getting through Lisbon airport was quick and painless, no long lineups until it was time to board our flight. We had Option Plus that was to speed up boarding but there were a dozen wheel chair passengers and half of the hundreds other must have had Option Plus. Two passengers got lost somewhere in the airport. Extra time was being taken to remove their bags from our flight but then they were found. We were in a bank of three seats with extra legroom but less elbow room. Luck was on our side as the big guy beside me was moved elsewhere and Brian and I were sharing the three seats. Our flight was fifty minutes late leaving.

Eight and one quarter hours later we stopped taxiing down the runway at Pearson. Now we are driving north, past the rush hour traffic and less than two hours from home.

Lagos to Lisbon

Lagos to Lisbon
Monday, September 25, 2017
1.5 km walking, 270 km train, across Lisbon by metro to Baixa Chiado, 1.5 km walking to Cais do Sodré to Five Stars 8 Apartment Building

We rose in the dark, before 7 AM, ate a clementine and yogourt and headed for the train station in the predawn empty streets of Lagos. Lovely! A 1.5 kilometre walk took us across the pedestrian bridge to the train station, a cafe de leite and a nata (custard tart…very flaky crust). The train left a few minutes early. We were in Tunes less than an hour later where we changed trains on the same platform for our first class car to Lisbon. The seats are more comfortable but no extra legroom. In fact I have less. I have a small table between me and a man. The table legs take up my foot room. The windows are only marginally cleaner. For better train travel it sure would be good to have clean windows. The first class carriage is quieter than second class and it has curtains for those who want to block the sun and the changing landscape. Had a cafe in the bar car.

We passed four golf courses along the coast but many more citrus groves, mostly oranges, I think, a few vineyards. We saw storks on nests; before this we only saw empty nests. A second nesting? Went through hilly country going north, dry meadowland, some clocks of sheep, cork and olive trees, endless blue sky.

Arrived in very busy beautiful Lisbon. Look out for trams, cars, tuktuks, people! Good sandwiches at La Padraria Portuguesa. Room for 2 more on the sofa bed in our big apartment that even has a dishwasher. Too bad we will not be here long.

My friend, Joan, asked me where I would choose to stay for a month in Portugal based on our travels here. Tough question. Part of my decision making would be based on the time of year and what I would want to do. We came to Portugal in September specifically for kayaking the Douro River. This trip was only offered in June or September, both are months when I do not like to leave home but we wanted to do the kayaking trip and we are really glad we did. Our guide, Jack, is 76 (you would not guess this!) and he plans on retiring this fall, unless he doesn’t, but Rui, his partner, will be continuing.

What we saw of the Douro was from the river, but if I were to pick a spot to locate on the Douro, I would probably choose something on the upper Douro, east of Regua. We walked across a
Grande Randonnee hiking trail. These trails come down from France. Something to research further.

You may have guessed, we like an active trip; so we would look for an area suited to hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling. I am not, however, the cyclist our son is; so a lot of uphill would not be on my list unless I could switch to electric. It makes sense to pick a place that is central to a number of opportunities; so, much as I love water, a coastal location is not ideal.

Based on what we have seen, and preferring to travel in April, I would probably pick Zambujeira, on the Fisherman’s Trail since there are stunning views and beautiful beaches ( too cold for swimming but good for hiking). It is very accessible if you rent a car to hike more trails( the whole Rota Vicentina which includes side loops and the historical way) and see more great panoramas. There are rivers running to the coast suitable for kayaking. It’s not far from inland villages of historical significance or from the Algarve should you wish to see more tourists. It’s two and a half hours to Lisbon or three and a half hours to Seville by car. Buses will take longer. There is no train from there.

I would probably check information about Monchique which is inland from Zambujeira. I have not been there but it would be more central for the southwest, away from cool Atlantic winds, good hiking area. Evora is a larger town. We did not go there but we met other couples who were using it as a central place from which to explore southern Portugal.

Based on what a couple of Portuguese men have told us southeast Portugal on a lake is the best place to be. I am not sure what lake they had in mind but it appears that there is a reservoir and the Vale do Guadiana National Park which looks very interesting for hiking and water activities and is central for south Portugal and close to Spain (2.25 hours to Seville and another 1.75 hours to Gibraltar).

Lazy in Lagos

Lazy in Lagos
Sunday September 24, 2017

This morning we did not get out of bed until 10 AM. You would think we were on holidays.
We met other lodgers. That’s a first. Two girls from Germany have been here for a week. They were leaving for Faro this morning. Jacob just arrived last night from Germany. He is staying here for nine days.

Last night Brian grilled ribs and sausages on the barbecue with potatoes and cooked broccoli. Salad completed our meal. We did not need dessert. The sausages were for warming up this morning to have with our croissants and yogurt. We have never been on a holiday where we stay for more than a few days in one spot but we think we might be ready to rent a place for a month somewhere in the world and use that for a base from which to explore. Not next week but at some future time. We are open to suggestions.

Yesterday we walked thirteen kilometres around Lagos. I suspect we will not do half of that today. Instead we spent two hours at the beach. It was a very different beach experience from yesterday. Today we were able to walk from beach to beach through tunnels at low tide. This meant we could access five beaches in a row with varying rock formations.

Surprisingly there were not many people on the beach. We thought there might be more on a Sunday. We still saw plenty out on the water: in kayaks, parasailing, sailing, on standup paddleboards, in motor boats of various sizes. Two hours in the sun at the beach is about our limit even though we were in and out of the water and spending time wading in the water seeking shells. I am a shell collector but I refrained from collecting a bag full and took photos instead. I have a few for my beach garden at home. Carrying a backpack makes me think twice about acquiring anything.

Brian only took a small handful of change with him in his bathing suit pocket. On the way back to our room this change bought us two tomatoes,1.5 litres of water, a bottle of red wine, a panache, a delicious grilled multigrain panini loaded with chorizo, tomato, cheese and eggplant. Brian still has change left over.

En route to the beach we toured the fort (Fortaleza da Ponta da Bandeira) at the mouth of the river. There was an exposition of metal art. Very attractive!

Lagos

Lagos
Saturday, September 23, 2017

We have a lovely terrace with shade provided by a mixed vine and artificial plant hedge and triangular sail overhead. There is concrete charcoal barbecue and sink, the Portuguese precursor to outdoor kitchens. Last night we dined on this terrace with barbecued chicken from the supermercado and spinach salad and green peppers and potatoes fried by Brian. A pleasant change from restaurant dining.

Lest you think we never stop, last night we were in bed by nine and did not rise for nearly twelve hours. True, our sleep was interrrupted by rowdy drinkers in the streets a few blocks
away. At 4 AM we closed our window. We might do so earlier tonight and turn on the AC if the street noise persists. The street we are on in the historical district and is quite quiet but noise travels.

We had breakfast on the terrace then went for a walk to get money from a bank machine and locate the train station for Monday. A crew of cleaners were sweeping the cobbled streets and picking up beer bottles. I forgot to bring my passport with me. I need to show ID to get my half price senior ticket. We will return.

The vendors along the quai were setting up their stalls to sell clothing, jewelry and
trinkets. I did not notice any wooden penises for sale. They have been on offer elsewhere.
There are plenty of vendors wanting our euros for water adventures around the cave lined coast: sailing, kayaking, motorboating, seadoing and snorkelling. We have been told the water might be 15 to 20 C.

Later…
We had a baguette chicken sandwich on the terrace with beer and green mint tea. Then we went for a walk to the lighthouse point via the Estrada da Ponta da Piedade (Point of Piety). It also has the stations of the cross every few hundred metres. The sun beat down on us every step of the way. This is the point where the boat tours go but there are better views of the rock formations from the water. Our views from the Fisherman’s Trail were much better.

What was good about our afternoon was a swim or jump in the waves at Praia do Pinhao.
There were tunnels through the rock to neighbouring beaches. The tide was still coming in ; so, between that and the tour boats going by the waves were substantial. Great fun and refreshing after walking more than five hot kilometres. I estimate the water temperature was 20C. Brian thinks 16C.

 

Odeceixe to Lagos

Odeceixe to Lagos
50 kilometres by bus

Friday, September 22, 2017

At 8AM our host at Casa Morais had breakfast laid on the kitchen table with linen tablecloth for eight people with two extra settings ready to go on the counter. Fresh bread and rolls, ham and cheese, spicy pumpkin jam and tomato jam were ready with thermos pots of cafe com leite and black tea. There were individual plastic containers of butter. In a restaurant butter is an extra, usually 70 centimes a serving. Bread and olives are automatically put on the table but cost a few euros. If you say you do not want these, the server takes them away, otherwise you pay for them. You have to ask for sales and pepper if you want those.

According to posters we have seen we are a couple of days ahead of the Fisherman’s Trail Volunteer crew who repaint posts and add new ones. The machete crew does not cut back the trail until the first week of October. We chatted with a Spanish trio: madre, padre, filia at the Blue Sky restaurant last night. They are hiking on to Aljezur today. We have seen them daily on the trail. They said Spain’s Camino was much better posted. We agreed.

We walked around Odeceixe this morning. Odeceixe is built into a steep hillside with a windmill at the top that was built in 1898 for milling corn and wheat. Its sails still operate. There is a new washroom being built nearby for the tourists who climb to the mill. Many folks have large clay pots of flowers lining the fronts of their houses. One man was busy watering pots before ten this morning but paused for a sandwich and a bottle of beer.

The flies have been sticky these past two days and are annoying us now even in this breeze as we wait by the bridge for a bus to Lagos. We did not know that hitchhiking was so easy. Five people with large backpacks have been picked up by three different cars in the last five minutes, going both north and south. The ticket agent warned us that the bus might arrive at 11:40 AM or maybe noon or whenever: it’s on Portuguese time.

It was 12:25 PM when the bus came. The good news is that someone must allow for lateness when calculating travel time. We were told it took an hour and twenty minutes to get to Lagos by bus but we were here in forty-five minutes even though the first few kilometres was spent zigzagging uphill behind a slow motorized trike carrying two crates of dried corn.

The market was closing but the fish stall was interesting. Glad to get an outdoor table at a waterside restaurant. Fried fish then fish soup with cerveja. Good to go again!

We have arrived here. The tourist mecca of the Algarve even though this western end of the Algarve reportedly has fewer tourists. The accordion players and violinists are playing in the streets. The first accordion song was “Somewhere my love…” Perfecto.

Less than a ten minute walk to Dina’s Guesthouse. 20 marble steps to our room that also has a common space kitchen and terrace.

Did some grocery shopping. Will eat early then explore more.

 

 

Zambujeira to Odeceixe

Zambujeira to Odeceixe
18.65 km in 6 hours 35 minutes
Stopped Time: 1 hour
193 metres of ascent, 213 metres of descent
Thursday September 21, 2017
Best to be a mountain goat!

We took more breaks today, partly because we were tired, partly because it was the best thing to do! What goes up, must come down. We did that over and over. There were at least three of those parts that it would have been preferable to be a mountain goat. The goat would not have needed to hang on to a rope while also using poles for one descent. The slippery scree and slick faced shist were challenging in both directions. I stopped three times in the first ten kilometres to change my socks because they were wet with sweat. I hoped to avoid more blisters but I now have one on each heel. I do not plan on wearing socks and shoes for the rest of our trip: five days left but no big hikes. My feet are decorated with blister bandaids.

We started our morning with a gift of fig jam from our Air BnB host, Lita. She also gave us a baggie of dried figs for our hike. Lita made sure Brian’s bag was picked up and went on to Odeceixe. Last night we rested playing dominoes on the sunny roof deck before going to watch the sunset then have a chicken dinner at a restaurant with a view of the ocean.

Zambujeira has two beautiful beaches at the foot of the town. Brian’s knees were too tired to do all those stair steps down to the beach and back. I was willing but I may not have had the energy to make it back up the steps. Zambujeira would have been a good place to spend two days just to have a day to enjoy the beaches.

Instead we stood at the sea wall high above the beach taking photos of sunset. I must have been concentrating on the sun more than Brian as he noticed the eight people relaxing in the nude on the beach. I did not. Today with only four kilometres left in our hike, we also stripped at riverside to enjoy the salty Atlantic as the tide continued up the Seixe River. It sure felt great! No photos of this event! We were not the only strippers here. It seemed the best thing for a hiker to do. Dressed again, we enjoyed the last four kilometres much more. I walked in the river for a few hundred metres before putting my socks and shoes back on.

Earlier in the day I had just been saying that maybe Goretex shoes were not the best for this hike since they hold the heat and we had not encountered water. Minutes later that changed. We crossed several muddy sections of trail where springs crossed the trail. We even had to walk in streams since there was so much undergrowth there was no way around them.

There was a beautiful waterfall that fell over a cliff to the beach. I had to wait for a couple making out on the beach to get out of the way for my photo.

We chatted with two German university students for the last four kilometres. The girls had taken seven days to do what we did in five but they had also been camping along the way and walking shorter distances. They observed that they did not walk as fast as us. I noted that I would not walk barefoot on hot pavement as they were doing. We have seen a couple of people walking barefoot in the sand. I considered doing so but there were too many places I would have needed to put my shoes back on.

I do not know how people walk long distances without poles. They certainly propel us along and are essential for the ascents and descents.

We passed a farm of exotic animals: American bison, ostriches, ibex. They were behind a seven foot tall fence. Not sure which animal they thought would leap over that. An electrical wire also kept them in. A sign said there was video surveillance. We did not see any but we had no plans to lead a bison on our hike.

A mechanical harvester was emptying a field so sweet potatoes with the help of several men ensuring that the produce fell properly into crates. It looked like very dusty work.

We had some pica pau with a beer and Radler as we entered Odeceixe. We have seen pica pau on the menu but had not tried it. We are glad we did. It is strips of pork cooked in a light gravy with a little cauliflower and carrots. We used every crumb of bread to soak up the gravy.

We are clean once again, rested in our new abode, Casa Morais, where our hosts only speak Portuguese. I am putting my studies of the language to work.

 

Almograve to Zambujeira

Almograve to Zambujeira
20.72 in 5 hours and 45 minutes
Full Sun, some ocean breeze
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The days are blurring. I have to think about what day it is. Today is the last day of summer. I do not think the weather will change tomorrow. I think it was 25c today. When the trail took us to the cliff top we could feel the delightful ocean breeze. When we were led through large dunes and along inland gravel or dirt roads, our view and our breeze disappeared.

Today was a surprise. Our hotel manager, Manuel, had told us we would have seven kilometres of soft sand to walk in. Happily there may only have been four kilometres of it. Trudging uphill in soft sand is particularly exhausting. The first few kilometres were on boardwalk the. Hard packed dirt road above the ocean. Every few hundred metres we were invited by signs to participate in exercises on a fitness circuit. We did not feel compelled to do jumping jacks or torso twists or run on the spot. We just kept walking.

Last night in the restaurant we chatted with a German/English couple. They had lost their way yesterday and ended up taking a taxi to Almograve. They said they met two other couples who did the same. All of them missed the short signpost hiding in the bushes near the end of the sod farm. There the trail was best suited to wee folk but I had spied the sign and we made our way through without a machete. Today this couple was going to take a taxi to Cavaleiro, the midpoint and hike from there.

Our fresh sea bream was expertly grilled. Our restaurant host had us trying some drinks on the house: schnapps, moscatel and an almond liqueur. I liked the last best.

Today after two hours we had finished nearly ten kilometres and rewarded ourselves with cafe com leite, a ham and cheese pastry and a custard tart. At this first cafe on the trail there were a dozen hikers going the opposite way. Today we passed eight people in the first hour then we took turns passing and being passed by another couple as we took different breaks along the way.

I did it have much sand to dump today but I changed my socks twice. My socks get soaked with sweat. I have acquired a blister on each big toe. I have never had one in either location before. One of the perils of hiking.

we passed fields of sweet potatoes and tomatoes where pickers were filling crates. There were fields of butternut squash already harvested but corn still to be taken in.

Driscoll’s has acres of greenhouses here full of berry plants.

We saw a couple of sailboats more than a kilometre out in the ocean. The water looked pretty calm compared to previous days when we have seen kayakers fighting the waves a couple of hundred metres from shore. There was more rocky shoreline than sand beach with amazing folds to the rocks and layers of quartz shining between black layers of schist.

Shrubs with dark green sticky looking leaves bordered a good part of the trail. These three to four foot tall shrubs had finished blooming and sparkles in the sun. There was a pleasing fragrance from them but we did not dare touch their stickiness. In one place where we had to inch our way down a rocky slope we had a hard time avoiding these shrubs as they crowded us on both sides of the trail.

We saw a very distinctive sandy coloured residence with multiple buildings of domes and turrets. We surmised that it belonged to a drug lord or wealthy being who required a helicopter pad.

It was easy to find our lodging today at the first street we came to. We were lucky to catch our host Zita just before she went out. We have a two bedroom apartment with upstairs sunny deck. Our laundry is drying on the lines. Brian had his pack shipped today along with extras from mine. That gave his knees a rest. I carried my pack most of the day as it is small on Brian. I encouraged drinking water to lighten my load.

Time to explore Zambujeira and find some blister bandaids.

 

 

 

 

Milfontes to Almograve

Milfontes to Almograve
15.46 km in 4 hours 21 minutes
No wind, hot, sweaty

It is only 8 kilometres by road to Almograve but as with any hiking trail, it winds in and out, up and down to turn 8 into 15. We knocked off the first five kilometres in an hour and Brian had visions of being in Almograve by noon. The first part was on pavement and took us across the long bridge to the south side of the river Mira then through a farm gate where a sign warned us to respect the cattle. We skirted the edge of the brown pasture in the shade of cork and acacia trees. I felt sorry for the cattle browsing in the dirt.

A salty mist hung in the still air for half of our hike. This hid the Atlantic from us as did the fact that a good part of the trail drew us away from the cliff edge. We could hear the ocean but not see it.

We could have used a machete today to trim the trail for tall people. We brushed through and under acacias, bamboo and brambles. That was the shady part but otherwise we were on dunes with low vegetation. Brian was eyeing the juniper berries and thinking about making gin. I was only thinking about drinking a cold gin and tonic. It was very hot today with no breeze to cool us. I do not do heat very well.

We came upon a sod farm. The bright green was startling. It matched Brian’s shirt. We do not know where the sod is going. We have not seen much green grass. Perhaps golf courses in the Algarve? Brian told me to slow down so that the large sprinkler rotating to water the field would not get us wet. What was he thinking? I hurried ahead to catch a welcome shower.

We caught up and passed two other pairs of hikers. A mother/daughter duo had left Milfontes half an hour ahead of us. We passed them just before having to descend a steep hill via ladder. The one woman looked as if she wanted to approach the ladder a different way. I was afraid to watch her. I was glad she changed her mind and followed our procedure. We passed a young couple who had found the first good viewpoint. They were emptying their shoes.

I emptied my shoes after the first nine and a half kilometres. I had tried Brian’s flat footed walking method without success.

As we entered Almograve there was a bar/restaurant. That appeared to be where everyone stopped. The establishment across the roundabout was not collecting as many customers. We had a beer and cream of vegetable soup with bread. Vegetable soup is the standard soup of the day in Portugal. It is usually tasty although it varies in flavour and thickness but is always green.

We arrived a few hundred metres later at our hotel: NaturaMaris. The manager left the neighbouring restaurant to greet us. He asked if we ran here. We were earlier than most arrive from the trail. His hotel has 13 rooms. He has lived in this village all his life. A very nice man. He sat and chatted with us later as we had a drink. Yes, I scored a gin and tonic.

The manager was worried we would not fit in our room. It is the smallest room we have had and the first with twin beds but it is fine. There is a swimming pool and although the manager thought it might be cold, I thought it was awesome, especially after walking an extra 2.39 km after we checked in. This we did so that we could cut a bit off tomorrow’s 22 km.

It sounds as if fish is the best item to order on this evening’s menu. It is sold by the kilogram.

We were disappointed this morning when we went for breakfast at Pao Cafe. They were taking the day off for personal reasons. We were taken care of at another cafe-bar. The selection of pastries was not as great but I was satisfied with an enormous chocolate croissant while Brian had grilled cheese and ham. We both had a freshly squeezed orange juice made from 2 1/2 oranges each, our daily quota of vitamin C.