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.

 

 

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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.

Monday in Milfontes

Monday Rest in Milfontes
Casa das Hortensias

Since this is a holiday and not a race, we have taken some rest days. This is one of them.

Notes about the Rota Vicentina: the trail is marked with green and blue stripes which closely match flora and sky. I think some volunteers from the Bruce Trail could highlight the trail with a white stripe. According to the Vicentina website, the trail is well marked. Not as well as the Bruce Trail! It was not uncommon to find signs that read, “Skirt the dunes. The next marker is in 2 kilometres (or 3 km!)” This would be okay if the path you were walking did not have several paths crossing it. The good news is that you always want to keep the Atlantic on your right. With a little luck, you will not fall over a cliff or find yourself at high tide with no beach left. It is useful to download a GPS file that some kind soul has uploaded to the net. Carry extra water. We each went through 1.25 litres. The whole trail system which includes the historical way and several side loops is four hundred kilometres. We are not doing all that! This hike is through a national park. There are very few habitations between stopping points. We did not eat much while hiking but it is a good idea to have some food with you: nuts and fruit is what I like best.

We walked six kilometres this morning in Milfontes, admiring small courtyards full of trees and flowers including birds of paradise, palm trees, hibiscus. Mandevila, roses, bougainvillea and many I do not know. We walked the beaches on the shore of the River Mira. We will be hiking the beach on the far shore tomorrow. We sat in the sand and watch the waves crash at the mouth of the river until they were high enough to reach us. None of the three churches was open. They are all relatively small.

We walked back into town to our favourite cafe/deli. After four visits there we think we are recognized patrons. Pao Cafe is a very busy place. You pay for what you want then you hand your numbered order to a server who is behind a very long counter of delicious pastries, cakes and tarts. We shared chocolate almond cake with espresso for our dessert last night. This morning we had our breakfast of bacon quiche and cafe com leite. For lunch we had a hamburger in a baguette with cafe com leite and came away with a caracol: a specialty that looks like a twisted cinnamon roll but it is made with port. We could not taste port but it was sticky delicious. We have browsed the shelves of the deli/mini grocery store a couple of times.

We ate our shared plate of mixed fish at Tosca da Vila last night. The chef grilled everything at the wall of charcoal. Very good. Along with salad and drinks, our meal was 17 euros. We had a beer at the neighbourhood bar. We are “spreading the wealth” where the locals dine.

Our cleaning lady just removed all the sheets from the outdoor lines since a few drops of rain are falling. It is probably the first rain in months. It was not forecast but we are completely overcast. Highly irregular. A good thing the hammock is under shelter.

The Forte Sao Clemente was built at the end of the sixteenth century to defend the mouth of the river from pirates. Although classified as a building of public interest, it is a private home, not for public viewing on the inside.

The buildings here are nearly all painted white but the trim is varied: bright yellow or blue or red mostly. One newer set of condos stands out with a mosque look: domed roof tops and many tall narrow chimneys, all in a yellow sand colour with no trim.

I am intrigued by the variety of chimney tops throughout town.

We went ahead and booked our next few nights of accommodations as along our hiking trail, there are not many places.

Vila Nova de Milfontes

Vila Nova de Milfontes
Hiking the Rota Vicentina or Fisherman’s Trail
20.65 km in 7 hours with pauses, just over six hours moving time

Yes, it takes six to seven hours to walk twenty kilometres when three quarters of it is in soft sand. We got quite the workout today. We did not feel the need to do any of the exercises on the exercise circuit we saw near the end of our hike. There was a light breeze, that kept us relatively comfortable in spite of the bright sun with 25 C. We had very little shade, just a few short pine trees in some parts of the dunes. Fortunately it was not as windy as the last two days or we may have been blown off the cliffs. We were told that it was best to walk this trail from north to south as the wind is from the north and would be in our backs. Good advice! I could empathize with anyone with vertigo. More than half this walk is not for people with vertigo.

Antigua claims it has 365 beaches, one for each day of the year. I think Portugal must have two year’s worth. Admittedly these beaches are colder than Antigua’s but beautiful and quite private. We saw plenty of campers parked in isolated places. It appears
You can camp anywhere as long as you do not want electricity and water.

We were on clifftops much of the way, looking down at beautiful coves and sandy beaches. I must qualify that the beaches in many coves are only there when the tide is low. At high tide water completely hides the sand. This morning we started walking at 8:45; so we had low tide for a couple of hours. We were able to walk on the wet hard packed sand for about a kilometre. I never thought I would say that I liked walking on pavement but I was relieved to be on pavement for the last two kilometres. I was also delighted to find an outdoor bar where I had a beer.

I emptied the sand out of my shoes just before going to the bar. I emptied my shoes three times along our hike. Each time I dumped half a cup of sand out of each shoe. Brian only removed a teaspoon of sand from his. He said that was because of the way he walks. I cannot explain this difference!

The dunes are home to a variety of succulents, one is most prevalent and quite red. Only a few were blooming. I identified thyme. We saw animal tracks but no animals: snake, rabbit, mouse, horses. I did see a black beetle and Brian spotted a lizard.

There were not many hikers: a total of seven going in the opposite direction and four that we spotted well ahead of us. We passed a Roman fort on an island and a sixteenth century fort on a cliff. A small ferry will take people to the island. Surfers swam on their boards more than they stood up.We saw some terrific spills from on high. We think red is a better colour than black for wetsuits. Those ‘seals’ look like good shark bait.

We have another beautiful accommodation although it was not easy to find. It was on the Main Street but at the opposite end from where we entered. It did not have a street number but said a bank was ‘in front of it’. There are four banks in Milfontes. Thy are not close together. The man in the Information Centre looked it up online for us. Note to self: always check the GPS location when we have internet before arriving in a place.

Hot shower and laundry done and we feel like new again. We even have an outdoor clothes line. The wind is up again; so, things should dry quickly. It took six findings to de-sand our socks…seven for mine!

We are in a private house where they have begun to rent out rooms with ensuite. Our bathroom has double sinks with lovely tile and large mirror, shower and bathtub as well as bidet and toilet. Our bedroom is large with double doors that open onto a patio and garden. We have yet to try out the hammock.

 

Porto Covo

Porto Covo
Saturday siesta

Porto Covo is a sleepy seaside town of white painted house with orange tiled roofs and sky blue trim. Every now and then a rebel has painted her door and window trim red. Seagulls swoop, soar and squeal over the gigantic waves crashing on the rocks and sandy shore. We scrunched down on a rock with our backs to the north wind to watch the seagulls and two fishermen. The fishermen perched on rocky outcrops sixty or seventh feet above the waves. They carried rods that were at least twenty feet long and dropped their lines to the water. They were reeling up fish that were probably only six inches long. They often through R.E.M. Back down to the water, just as often hitting the rocks, but the seagulls were quick to snap up the fish.

Bus loads of people arrive all at once walking down the main street armed with cameras or iPhones and selfie sticks. Several people descended the steep steps to one of the beach coves. So did we. Although I was wearing a bathing suit under my skort and top, I opted for wading knee deep into the salty water. I really did not have to enter the water, the waves brought the water to me. Georgian Bay cold is how I would describe it: 68F. One. And flung himself in, swam back with a wave then lay on the beach. Swim over! It is only on the sand at the base of the cliffs that we are sheltered and warm. There are a few benches on the cliff top. These are prime real estate in spite of the wind.

We saw four twenty-something youngsters renting wetsuits and boards. We do not know where they went with their equipment but no one is surfing near the rocks of Porto Covo. There appears to be a longer beach a few kilometres south of us. We should be hiking on that beach tomorrow.

This town has a hippie vine. There is a shop called, Hipiie Chic. According to the small van advertising it, there are subsidiaries in Sines and Milfontes, twenty kilometres either side of here. There is not one but three old Westfalia campers, one of which has been parked at cliffside at the bottom of the Main Street since we arrived. The top is up but we have not seen any people. Many of the cars here are coated with a salty dust. Long graying hair, long flowery skirts or flowing pants are the norm, topped by long wool sweaters or down jackets. Many people smoke but thankfully this is not allowed indoors. It is still allowed at the outdoor tables.

The Saturday market was happening just behind the churrosqueria where we had our morning coffee, fresh orange juice and shared a gigantic pastry. We walked up and down the side streets to discover the small grocery stores. At the market we bought two small rounds of cheese, one of them sheep, the other, goat and apples. At the grocery store we bought prosciutto and at another store I successfully ordered three fresh buns for Sunday morning at 8. At least I think my Portuguese worked. We will know tomorrow at 8.

Pizza for lunch was Alenteja style: thin crust with thin slices of chorizo, onion and olives. Very good.

Most stores closed at 1 PM for siesta and do not open again until 3PM; so, it is
Siesta time for us too.

Tomar to Porto Covo

Tomar to Porto Covo
267 kilometres by train to Lisbon then bus via Setubal
10 AM to 6 PM with 3.5 hours near the Oriente station in Lisbon

Without a car it is not easy to go from Tomar to a small town on the west coast. Porto Covo is the beginning of the fisherman’s walk. Getting information online or in person was not easy or it was conflicting. No trains go there and the bus employee in Tomar did not know much past Lisbon unless we were going to the Algarve. The ticket agent in Lisbon was more knowledgeable. It was good that we bought our ticket upon arrival in Lisbon just past twelve because the 3:30 PM bus was full.

We filled in our waiting time with lunch and walking. The very large Vasco da Gama mall was right across the street from the Oriente train/bus/metro station. We had no desire to spend our time going to Lisbon Centre only to come back. We found the food court in the mall then shared a large plate of Chinese food from stools looking out at the sparkling Tejo estuary.

Then we went for a windy walk along the water. At 25 C the breeze was welcome. We alternated between sun and shade, watched the gondolas overhead and fishermen setting nets from their small boats that were bouncing in the choppy water. We passed sculpture evidence of Expo 1998. The shopping mall itself had two tall towers on either end, the fronts of which were curved like the prows of ships.

Most of the countryside we have passed today has very brown dry ground even though the trees look healthy and green. We saw a herd of cows, the only cows we have seen that were not colourful life size sculptures. We also saw as many as twenty horses at a time, either white or brown. Before today we had only ever seen one white horse here and there.

The earth became more and more sandy as we headed south of Lisbon. Instead of fruit trees there are cork and pine trees. The pine trees look like overgrown mugo pines, lollipop style.

We arrived in our little tourist beach town (1000 people…maybe not that many today). The Rua Vasco da Gama is the Main Street leading straight to the ocean. It is also the street for our lodging. Less than a block from the shore, we rang the bell at number 48. An older bent over thin Portuguese woman answered and pointed us up the street telling us in Portuguese this was the street but our room was opposite the campground, past where we got off the bus.

This room above the owner’s surf shop is not a palace or a monastery but it is clean. The biggest improvement would be if we did not have to share a bathroom. The owner has had this place in the ‘new’ part of town for seven years but he is still known as ‘lot 48’. One day he will have a real address and people wanting a room will not have to disturb the lady first. His surf shop is not thriving but renting rooms is going well; so, he is going to convert his shop into rooms and add s suites. Good idea!

It appears that this beautiful each location is bringing an increasing number of people here who want to spend months at a time. There is a condo building boom in progress.

We have not tested the water yet but we won’t stray far as the waves are way too big for us. We still have to find the beginning of our fisherman’s trail. I now know what Imammgoing to do with the four long sleeve tshirts I have…layer them and wear them. That is a stiff Atlantic breeze. The parkas some are wearing seem a tad too much!

We have learned how to order supper. We ordered one soup, one salad, one pork entree and one piece of fig cake then we shared. We should be able to sleep better tonight. We dined at Ze Inacio’s at the suggestion of our concierge. The place was packed with locals; therefore, the right place to eat.

Tomar

 

Tomar
Home of the Knights Templar
140 kilometres by train from Aveiro

What an incredible place: our lodging, the Convento do Cristo, our supper at Sabores so Rubao. Magnifico!

I am so glad because as we stood on the bare platform in the middle of nowhere at Lamarosa station, I was beginning to question our sanity at coming to Tomar. Of course it would have been my fault if after 4.5 hours of train with two transfers and waiting at stations, this had been a bad decision since I planned this.

I made a great decision. I do not know how we are getting to Porto Covo from here, but I am so happy we came here. I love Tomar. When we got off the train at almost 4 PM, we only had to walk two blocks to our lodging: Conde de Ferreira Palace. It did not have an encouraging entrance that made us think we were entering a palace or even a hotel. There was no sign to say we had arrived. I cautiously entered a huge wooden door. A young land was working on a laptop and looked up from his paper filled table. I asked if there were rooms here. He pointed me to the young lady in the corner who hurried to greet me. She asked if I was alone since she had a reservation for two of us. I told her my husband was waiting below in the yard. Brian did not want to climb the stairs if we did not have the right place. I waved him up.

The concierge gave us a tour of the house starting across the hall with the dining room then our bedroom. Our room is 24 feet by 30 feet with 12 foot ceilings, a chandelier tall casement windows and doors, ensuite with shower and a door to our balcony which has a stairs to the grapevine covered garden below.

Our guide took us into the private quarters of the father and son who live here. This mansion which takes up most of a city block with two foot thick stone walls has been in the family for two hundred and fifty years. She also showed us to the space for guests from the eleven guest rooms. We have access to a salon and library with drinks and cake laid out for us. She gave us a map of Tomar and told us how to walk up the hill to the Templar Castle and Convento de Cristo. She gave us directions to her two favourite restaurants, not tourist ones. She also gave us two massive keys on an orange bell pull rope so that we could get back into the house and our room. We had to hustle to get to the castle before closing time.

Half way up the hill a tuk tuk driver offered us a ride for five euros. This seemed excessive but we did not want to miss our visit; so, we took it. Have I said how great it is to be a senior in Portugal? You show ID that you are sixty-five or over then you pay half price. It cost us six euros each for our train trip and three euros each to tour the monastery. Climbing the parapets of the castle was free. It turned out that we had until 6:30’PM to tour everything. We took that long. The place is massive and beautiful with incredible detailed stone carvings, painted murals and domed ceilings. There sure were a pile of monks living here back in the sixteenth century. I will have to research this place.

We had a couple of beer below in the town centre by the river while waiting for our restaurant to open. Sabores ao Rabao lived up to its name of Best Tastes. Brian had Roquefort Steak and I had grilled cod, both with homemade chips or fries and a medley of vegetables. We could. It even think about dessert.

The temperature rose to 28 today but is down to 20C tonight.

Life is good!

 

Aveiro: Day 2

Aveiro
Quiet walking around day

Admist English speaking tourists in the dining room of our hotel we had a delightful breakfast. Our server was very entertaining. She sang a song, cheerfully brought us scrambled eggs and bacon, made espresso for those who wanted it and told us stories. The buffet had plenty of fruit including blueberries, pineapple and mango. As well as croissants and toasts, yogourt, cereal, Nutella cake and another cake were offered.

I had a message waiting for me at the front desk. Daniel gave us the name of a restaurant where we can meet him for supper. John and Kim will join us.

We spent some time today considering our next location. Eliane is going to take the bus to Nazare and hopes to heal her ankle on the beach. Walking is not doing her any good. We booked a hotel in Tomar and will take the train there. We still have to look up the schedule.

We walked around Aveiro. Brian found a shoe repairman to sew some stitches into his sandal. The man was very meticulous in finding a matching blue thread and triple stitching the problem. He asked for half a euro. Brian gave him more!

We went back to the same cafe for lunch. Eliane and I had enormous salads. Mine was topped with the equivalent of a can of tuna. Brian helped me with mine. He had a goat cheese wrap.

Later we were in need of an ice cream cone. I had dark chocolate ginger. Awesome! Brian had chocolate. Eliane had a nap. We walked through a large three story open air shopping mall. All the American brands were there. We were not tempted to walk into any store. The fish market was more interesting, but we did not fill our pockets with raw fish.

This was also laundry day. A pleasant breeze is drying our belongings hanging in the window.

We ran into John and Kim twice and will find them again shortly studying the craft beer selection.