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The Caminho Português, Section 1 – Lisbon to Porto

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The Caminho Português, Section 1 – Lisbon to Porto
C.Portugués 1 CSJ 2009
http://www.csj.org.uk/CamPortLisbonPortoA4.doc
The Caminho Português, Section 1 – Lisbon to Porto
Laurie Reynolds
The Confraternity of St James has published Guides to the Camino Portugués in two sections. A Guide to the
route from Porto – Santiago is also available. The Guides are available in printed form and also to download from
the CSJ Website:
http://www.csj.org.uk/guides-online.htm These Guides can only be kept up to date for future pilgrims if users
send their comments to the authors of the Guides. Their e mail addresses are listed in the Guide.
Introduction to the Caminho Português from Lisbon to Porto
Unlike the other online CSJ guides, this one is limited to providing the nuts and bolts information
about walking from Lisbon to Porto. If you are planning to undertake this walk, I highly urge you to
consult the CSJ’s online guide for the Porto-Santiago segment for general historical and practical
information about the Caminho Português.
I walked from Lisbon to Porto in Spring 2009, relying on the yellow arrows and on the Spanish
language guide available online from the Gallego Amigos Association, available at:
http://www.amigosdelcamino.com/php/upload/GUIA_ESPANOLreduc.pdf. For the most part it was
smooth sailing, and the arrows were clear. But in a few cases, especially in a couple of eucalyptus
forests, I got lost. In the pages that follow, I have tried to pinpoint the spots where I lost the arrows,
as well as to describe how I was able to reconnect with them. If you use this guide and manage to
find your way with the arrows, please let me know how you did it, and I will enter updates as soon as
possible.
For some visual information, I have posted my pictures on the web:
http://picasaweb.google.com/laurie.reynolds/CaminoPortuguesFromLisbon?authkey=F7Dxipep3Vo#
This pamphlet has already benefitted from the updates provided by Robert Gunn (summer 2009) and
Sharron Warren (September 2009). I urge others who use this totally non-professional guide to
contact me with new information and changes in the route. There is a fair amount of road
construction along the way, which suggests that some re-routing will occur as a result. Please send
me your updates, and I will input all changes and comments as quickly as I can.
Bom Caminho to you all.
Laurie Reynolds
[email protected]
September, 2009
Information before starting out
General Description of the Caminho
From Lisbon to Porto on the Caminho is approximately 380 kilometers. Devoting two weeks to the
stretch averages out to about 25 km a day. Some days of 30+ km are inevitable, though, unless you
are willing to do creative things like taxi out and back to rural points or small hamlets in between
towns. It’s unlikely that you will be able to use public transportation to help you get to and from
intermediate points between towns. Buses are very infrequent, and the train stops tend to mimic the
suggested starting and ending points along the Caminho, that is, generally in major towns and cities.
In this guide, I give kilometer distances between towns, but please note that these distances are
totally approximate. They are based on my sense of distance (which is admittedly not expert) as well
as on distances given in the online guide produced by the Galician Association of the Camino, which is
referenced later.
There is a lot of road walking on this Caminho. My estimate would be that it’s at least 85% on
asphalt. Most of that is either through industrial parks, on quiet rural roads, or on residential streets.
Very little is on busy roads, though there are a few stretches on national highways and other major
thoroughfares. The good news, however, is that the shoulder on those busy parts is usually quite
wide. Extensive walking on hard surfaces puts a lot of pressure on your muscular and skeletal
systems. Icing shins (or any sore part of your foot) every night is a good idea, even as prevention.
Soft soled shoes add protection against abuse of the foot.
This Caminho has very little elevation gain. Depending on your perspective, this is either a plus or a
minus.
Place names in Portugal can be confusing. That’s because many small hamlets both have their own
name and are part of a larger “municipio.” The municipio is a municipal territory, but in rural areas it
is likely to extend to include the major city (after which the municipio will be named) as well as a
number of rural hamlets. The municipio is then further subdivided into “freguesias”
(neighborhoods/parishes). In large cities, the freguesias will be sections of the city, while in rural
areas, the freguesia will be an entire hamlet outside of the main municipality.
The route from Lisbon to Porto passes through a number of very nice towns (I especially liked Vila
Franca, Golegã, Tomar and Oliveira de Azemeis), some terrific Roman ruins (Rabaçal and Conímbriga)
and the beautiful medieval university city of Coimbra. Though this Caminho goes through rural
Portugal, it is most usually through rural developments in Portugal. There are very few sections that
qualify as “away from civilization,” or “out in nature,” except perhaps for the eucalyptus forests.
The Credencial
Credenciales are available in Lisbon at the Igreja dos Mártires (Church of the Martyrs), which is very
close to the Baixa-Chiado metro stop. Take the Chiado exit, you will go up many escalators and come
out in a plaza with a couple of lively cafes. The Igreja dos Martires is on the Rúa Garrett, which is the
main street leading down the hill. The office is located off the church’s left aisle, about midway down
towards the altar. The charge is 2€ per credencial. You must have a passport or other governmentissued ID to buy one. Office hours in the church are M-F, 10-5, and off and on weekends.
Because the Caminho to Santiago is not well known in Portugal, at least south of Porto, you have to
be creative in finding stamps. In Portuguese the word for stamp is “carimbo” from the verb
“carimbar” (to stamp). Some possibilities: Post offices in small towns, Junta da Freguesia (small submunicipal district offices), Câmara Municipal (main municipal building), and train stations. I also got
carimbos in some unusual places – museums, sailing associations, and even a pharmacy or two. If
you’re in a town with a tourism office, though they don’t usually have carimbos, they are likely to be
aware of the Caminho and can tell you where to get a carimbo for your credencial. All private
accommodations have their own carimbo as well.
Accommodation
There is currently no albergue system until you are north of Porto, but if you are willing to sleep on
the floor without a mattress, the Bombeiros Voluntarios (Volunteer Firefighters) in many towns have a
room where they will let pilgrims sleep. No beds, no mattresses, but they let you shower. They ask
for a donation. Private accommodations are relatively inexpensive. The equivalent of the Spanish
pensión is called a “residencial” or “pensão” in Portuguese.
The AGACS, the Associación Gallega de Amigos del Camino de Santiago, is the group that has done
the most work on promoting and marking the route. Their website has a very helpful guide in
Portuguese or Spanish:
http://www.amigosdelcamino.com/php/upload/GUIA_ESPANOLreduc.pdf
The AGACS guide lists some pilgrim accommodations between Lisbon and Porto.
Lisbon: Pousada da Juventude, Rúa Andrade Corvo, 46;
Pousada da Juventude, Rúa de Moscavide, 47.
Bombeiros Voluntarios (voluntary firefighters) in the following towns:
Alverca, Alhandra,Vila Franca de Xira, Azambuja, Santarém, Vila Nova da Barquinha, Tomar,
Alvaiazere, Ansiao, Coimbra, Mealhada, Agueda, Albergaria A Velha, Oliveira de Azemis, São
João da Madeira, Arrifana, Lourosa.
Planning the Stages.
Because of accommodation availability or lack thereof, the obvious stages are the following:
Day 1 – Lisbon to Vila Franca de Xira (37 km) (to break this up into two days, see suggestions below)
Day 2 – Vila Franca - Azambuja (20 km)
Day 3 – Azambuja - Santarém (32 km)
Day 4 – Santarém - Golegã (30.5 km)
Day 5 – Golegã - Tomar (22 km)
Day 6 – Tomar - Alvaiazere (32 km)
Day 7 – Alvaiazere - Rabaçal (33 km)
Day 8 – Rabaçal - Coimbra (32 km) (for both rest and an opportunity to visit the Roman ruins and
museum at Conimbriga, break this into two days, Rabaçal - Conimbriga (11 km) and Conimbriga Coimbra (21 km)
Day 9 – Coimbra - Mealhada (26 km)
Day 10 – Mealhada - Agueda (31 km)
Day 11 – Agueda - Albergaria a Velha (19.5 km)
Day 12 – Albergaria a Velha - São João da Madeira (29 km)
Day 13 – São João da Madeira - Porto (35 km)
I think there are several options for the first day out of Lisbon:
1. Walk to Parque das Nações (about 8 km), stopping along the way at the Tile Museum (it’s
a “must see” in my opinion and it’s right on the Caminho in Lisbon). When you get to the
Parque das Nações there are lots of things to enjoy. This large multi-use area is on the river,
and it’s a popular hangout for young and old. The aquarium is quite nice, and there are also
several museums oriented more towards kids. But just walking along the river, sitting in a
café, etc., is a very pleasant way to spend a few hours. That would give you an 8 km day, so
you’d have plenty of time to take in the sights. Then take the metro back into the center of
Lisbon and the next day take the metro back out to start from the Vasco da Gama tower.
If money is no object, there are several expensive hotels at the Parque das Nações - Tryp
Oriente:
http://pt.solmelia.com/hoteis/portugal/lisboa/tryp-oriente/home.htm; Tivoli Oriente:
http://www.tivolihotels.com/hotels-portugal/destination/lisbon/hotel_oriente/list.aspx. Rooms
at these hotels range from 80€ and upwards. For the budget conscious, there is also a youth
hostel:
http://juventude.gov.pt/Portal/Lazer/en/PParque_das_Nacoes.htm with rooms ranging from
13 to 38 euros, depending on the number of beds in the room and toilet facilities. The hostel
is about a ten minute walk to the central part of the Parque das Nações.
2. Walk from Lisbon to Sacavém, which is still on the river and 3 km beyond the Parque das
Nações. That would be an 11 km day, and at that point you can hop on a commuter train
back to downtown Lisbon. Starting out at Sacavém the next day would give you a very
doable 26 km day to Vila Franca de Xira.
3. Walk 32 km from the cathedral and spend the night in Alhandra, the first place out of
Lisbon (and directly on the Caminho) with a place to stay. Your options there are to stay with
the Bombeiros or in a residencial that gets bad reviews from residents. Decent private
accommodation on the Caminho is 3-4 km further from Alhandra, in Vila Franca de Xira, which
would be a pretty hefty first day.
4. Walk 29 km from Lisbon to Verdelha a Baixa (0.8 km off route) with accommodations and
restaurants. Directions for this detour are given further on in this document.
The commuter rail system runs from Lisbon to Azambuja.
There are a number of stations right on the Caminho itself – Alverca, Alhandra, Vila Franca de Xira,
Castanheira do Ribatejo, and Azambuja. Azambuja is about 35 minutes by train, trains run frequently
and cost less than 2€ for a one way trip. There are also stations in Sacavém and Vila Nova da Rainha,
but these stations are not directly on the Caminho.
I have posted pictures from the Caminho between Lisbon and Porto:
http://picasaweb.google.com/laurie.reynolds/CaminoPortuguesFromLisbon?authkey=F7Dxipep3Vo#
Starting at Lisbon Cathedral
Abbreviations
Note that I have used the common directional abbreviations:
R (right), L (left) and KSO (keep straight on).
Walking the route
Lisbon
Arrows in Lisbon start at the Sé (the Cathedral). In this initial part, many arrows are close to the
ground. The well marked in-city route takes you through the Alfama (old Moorish quarter), past the
Tile Museum (definitely worth a visit), through the old port, and out to the new river expo center –
Lisbon’s casino, aquarium, science museum, etc. are all at the Expo site.
Facing the Cathedral, the arrow is on the bottom right near the door. The arrows take you through
Lisbon on the following streets and plazas: Cruzes da Sé, São João da Praça, Largo de São Rafael,
Rúa de São Pedro, and Largo de Chafariz de Dentro. From there go up on the Rúa dos Remedios, Rúa
do Paraíso, and arrive at the Campo de Santa Clara, where there is a junk and flea market on
Tuesdays and Saturdays. Continue on the Rúa do Mirante, Rúa Diogo Couto, Rúa Cruzes de Santa
Apolónia, and the Rúa de Santa Apolónia (this is Lisbon’s major downtown train station). From there,
L on the Calçada da Cruz da Pedra, R on Rúa Madre de Deus, pass the old convent (today the Tile
Museum), onto the Rúa de Xabregas, Calçada de D. Gastão, Rúa do Grilo, Rúa do Beato y Rúa do
Açúcar. Cross the busy Avenue Infante Don Enrique and continue on the Rúa Vale Formoso de Baixo
until entering the Parque das Nações. Turn onto Av. Fernando Pessoa and later merge with Alameda
de Oceanos. Continue down to the pavilion and head towards the river on Rossio de Olivais. You can
now walk around wherever you like, with the ultimate object being to get to the large Vasco da Gama
tower on the far end of the park on the Tejo River.
Parque das Nações (8 km). This is the park where Lisbon’s Expo ‘98 was held. The area is also
generally known as Oriente, which refers to the name of the train and metro station, the Estação do
Oriente, which is right next to the park. The station was designed by Santiago Calatrava and is
particularly pretty lit up at night. There are several fancy hotels here.
Leave the park on the river path, you will go by the Vasco da Gama tower on the river. For the next
few kms, it’s a pleasant river path.
Vasco da Gama Tower on the Tejo at Parque das Nações
At Sacavém (3 km), the route turns inland and goes along an old canal. The area seems to be one
of Lisbon’s choice illegal dumping places. You pass some old estates in ruins, and walk through some
industrial park corridors. It is basically an ugly walk all the way to Alhandra. But very well marked.
Alpiarte (8 km). Small hamlet with a bar or two.
At 0.9 km after Alpiarte, a Fatima marker directs you to the right, off the paved road on to a rural
track, which follows the fields until you emerge again on to the road. Turn right here at arrows for
200m towards the tunnel leading to Povoa de Santa Iria. Just before the entrance to the tunnel (do
NOT go through the tunnel), leave the paved road L on to a footpath at the Fatima marker and
arrows. Follow this waymarked footpath parallel to the A-1 and emerge again on to a paved road (Rua
dos Canicos). Turn right here at the Fatima marker to go under the A-1 and descend the 1km to
Povoa de Santa Iria and the large roundabout. Arrows are faint or non-existent here. Turn right at the
roundabout on the N-10 and KSO for 100m keeping the railway on your left (there are arrows on the
back of road signs but difficult to see) until you see the marker arrows at the entrance to the road
bridge crossing over to the east side of the railway. Cross over the railway here.
Once you are over the tracks, you’ll walk close to the river, on a well marked off-road path, into
Alverca (3 km). Carimbo available in Alverca at the Air Museum right next to the train station.
Detour to Verdelha.
To take the 0.8 km detour to spend the night in Verdelha de Baixo, follow these directions. Note that
you should not go all the way into Alverca, the detour is a few hundred meters before entering that
town. After crossing the railway line into the industrial area of Povoa de Santa Iria, in just under 3 km
take the bridge back over to the west side of the railway line again and enter Verdelha de Baixo. Turn
left at the first roundabout, go down the busy road and cross over at the next roundabout onto the
street named Estrada de Alfarrobeira. Here there are a variety of accommodations and restaurants
serving mainly the workers from the nearby industrial estate.
Recommended accommodation at Alojamentos, Particulares, Estrada do Alfarrobeira – 10, Tel
219580475. (20€. single pilgrim rate). Very good food available at the nearest restaurant, usually
busy with local workers. Service quick and friendly. A male pilgrim noted that it may intimidate a
single female.
To return to the Caminho the next morning, retrace your steps over to the east side of the railway line
and you will again be on the Caminho paralleling the railroad, which takes you into Alverca.
Alverca (3 km from Alpiarte) has cafes and shops, but no accommodation. To leave Alverca, enter
the train station (on the museum side) and cross over the railroad on the elevated walkway. You will
be on the west side, and the arrows begin as you exit the station building. Following arrows and
Fatima markers, which are not always easy to see, go past the football/soccer field to emerge onto
the national highway.
The route from Alverca to Alhandra (5 km) is on the side of the national highway. Lots of marking
and wide shoulders. In Alhandra, there is one residencial, but a resident told me it was not very nice.
Alhandra has a variety of shops, bars, and restaurants.
In Alhandra, the arrows take you out of town to continue on the national highway. But there is a nice
alternative. In October 2008, a river path opened between Alhandra and Vila Franca de Xira. This
river walk is paved, used heavily by old and young alike. Carimbo available in the Associação de Vela
(Sailing Association) right at the beginning of the walk.
As you are coming to the end of the river walk in Vila Franca de Xira (4 km), you have two different
ways to reconnect with the arrows. If you don’t want to stop in town, you can continue to hug the
river, past the docks, and through the municipal gardens, where you will see the arrows. If you want
to go into town, you should take the pedestrian bridge over the train tracks right before the bull ring.
You will see the yellow arrows at the bull ring. Follow them to go into the center and then out again
to the municipal gardens along the river. You can get a carimbo at the main municipal building,
located on the main square across from the tourist office.
Accommodations in Vila Franca de Xira – Leziria Parque Hotel (67 rooms), www.leziriaparquehotel.pt
or at Residencial Flora, http://flora.com.sapo.pt (20 rooms). Lots of restaurants, shops, cafes.
Main Square in Vila Franca de Xira
Leaving Vila Franca, walk through the municipal gardens along the river. When you exit, turn R, then
take a quick L. This will take you out of town, and you then will have to walk on the side of the N-1
(national highway, not too busy) in the direction of Carregado. This is all extremely well marked, and
at the Lidl store, turn R and enter an industrial park that goes on for kms and kms. The only good
thing is that there’s not much traffic.
I was surprised to see a fair number of restaurants scattered through the industrial park, but it makes
sense since truck drivers and workers have to eat too!
In Vila Nova da Rainha (19 km from Vila Franca) the route takes you through the town and there
are bars and restaurants. Vila Nova da Rainha to Azambuja is 5 more km, all on highway. Once you
pass under the superhighway (A-10) the scenery gets a little less industrial, but soon you are back on
the N-1 all the way into Azambuja. It is not pleasant, but not dangerous, the shoulders are extremely
wide.
Azambuja is a major town with lots of commerce. It has several options for spending the night. I
visited the Bombeiros Voluntarios (Volunteer Firefighters) and learned that, yes indeed, pilgrims can
stay at this place in many towns along the way. All sleep in one big room, no beds, no mattresses,
but they do let you take a shower. No charge, but they ask for a donativo. Private accommodations:
Residencial Flor da Primavera, Rúa Conselheiro Arouca, 21 (Tel. 263-403-263). (Recommended in
June 2009, 20€). Restaurant O Forno below the residencial was basic but very good. Carimbo is
available at the Residencial and at the Junta da Freguesia. Free internet in the Espaço Internet, run by
the municipality on the second floor of the small “centro comercial” in the center of town.
Leave Azambuja by crossing over the RR tracks at the train station. You are now on the east side of
the station, and immediately out of the urban area and on a pleasant paved road. There are picnic
tables in a shaded area a few hundred meters away from the train station. When the road crosses
over a canal, a few km on, get on the dirt path that goes alongside the canal. There is a big round
concrete pole-like marker, in the size of a Roman mile marker, to indicate that you will be walking on
bits of the Roman road.
The path zigs and zags through farm areas and comes to a paved road with a signpost that indicates
Valada to your left (and back to Azambuja on your right). Stay on that paved road all the way into
Valada (it keeps on zig-zagging to get you around several big farms/ranches).
About ½ km after getting onto the paved road going towards Valada, you will come to a concrete
Fatima/Camino marker that has arrows painted in several directions, with lots of crossing out and
painting over. Just stay on the paved road. This appears to be where you would cut through a
private farm, but my exploration for a km or two down the off-road option yielded no further markers.
There must be a dispute here over whether pilgrims can go through this land. On the paved road,
just to check your bearings, you should pass the entrance to the Quinta do Alqueidão. The road takes
a sharp left turn soon after the entrance to the quinta and brings you into Reguengo.
Reguengo (8 km). Café Campino on main street. The top of the dyke for the Tejo River is a broad
flat path (it’s a cemented surface in some parts, and there are benches all along the way) that you will
stay on all the way into the town of Porto Mugue and beyond. Depending on the time of year, the
top of the dyke may be overgrown, but you can always walk on the road below, which parallels the
dyke the entire way.
Valada (2 km). Small grocery store, various cafés. Carimbo at the Post Office. Stay along the dyke
through Porto Mugue (3km), where you pass underneath the RR bridge that crosses over the Tejo.
Café on the L before the bridge, and picnic tables on the R shortly after the bridge. No facilities for
the next 9 km until Omnias. The Caminho leaves the paved road and takes a wide dirt road used by
farm vehicles for almost all of those 9 km. It passes primarily vineyards and horse farms. When you
reach a paved road, turn left and head under the modern bridge (Puente Salgueiro Maia). Stay on the
road that hugs the Santarém Aerodrome and continue into the small town of Omnias.
Omnias (12 km from Valada). Restaurante O Forcado. At the restaurant turn L, go under the RR
tracks and KSO up the Calçada da Junqueira into the town of Santarém.
Santarém (2 km). At the top of the hill coming into town, go R onto the Rúa Pedro de Santarém,
KSO into a big traffic circle. The old town is off to your right at this circle. You can access it from
many points along the Rúa Antonio dos Santos, which comes into the circle with Rúa Pedro de
Santarém. Carimbo in the church office next door to the Igreja Matriz (main church).
Lodging in the city ranges from a big 4-star Santarém Hotel, Av. Madre Andaluz, the 3-star Hotel
Residencial Alfageme, Av. Bernardo Santareno, 38, tel. 243 377 240,
http://www.hotelalfageme.com/, to several smaller residenciales: Residencial Beirante, R. Alexandre
Herculano, 3/5, tel. 243 322 547, www.residencialbeirante.com; Pensão Muralha, R. Pedro Canavarro,
12, tel. 243 322 399 (owner reported to be very surly, 30€); Residencial Vitoria, Rúa Segundo
Visconde de Santarém 19, tel. 243 309 130. There is also the quite fancy Manor House Hotel, Casa
da Alcacova: http://www.alcacova.com/ingles/ingles.html. It is located very near the Santiago Gate
on the Caminho. There is also reported to be very cheap accommodation directly across from the
train station, located in Ribeira de Santarém, down below by the river.
The remains of the Moorish castle form the perimeter of a pretty municipal park and garden, which is
called the Porta do Sol. Santarém also has several gothic churches, but I think its self-proclaimed
status as Portugal’s “Gothic Capital” is a bit of an overstatement.
To leave Santarém, find your way to the gardens at the Porta do Sol, which are inside the castle
ramparts. In the square that is directly in front of the gardens, the Porta de Santiago (Gate of
Santiago) leads you out of the town and down a dirt path that descends and goes around the castle
walls. I lost the arrows here, but it is easy to find your way.
The path leads to a very wide paved road that seems to be connected with the ramparts or the
engineering holding up the promontory that the castle is built on. This road descends gradually,
taking you to the outskirts of Ribeira de Santarém. Swing around the yellow and white church, KSO
to the RR tracks, and stay as close to the tracks as you can till the Rúa Alfageme de Santarém, which
is the center of Ribeira de Santarém. Then turn R and go over the tracks.
Ribeira de Santarém (2 km). Bars, cafes, and stores. This small “suburb” of Santarém is on the
river level. Santarém’s train station is here, but it is not directly on the Caminho. I was told that there
is cheap accommodation near the train station, but I have not seen it. Once over the tracks in Ribeira
de Santarém, turn L and walk straight towards the XIVth century Alcorce bridge. Cross it, and turn R
onto a paved road, then L off the road a few hundred meters along, at an abandoned white building.
About 50 meters onto path, quick R. You are now paralleling the paved road on which you left Ribeira
de Santarém. After about 2 ½ km, you will be back on the paved road, cross it and take a quick R
onto the dirt road again. You will pass a few unmarked intersections, always KSO. At a T
intersection, turn L and very soon you are on the paved road again, turn R into Vale de Figueira.
Vale de Figueira (7 km). Enter the town on the Rúa Campo do Rossio, leading into Alvitejo, Baro de
Almerim, and you will reach the church in the main square. There is a Junta de Frequesia office here
for a carimbo. It also has a welcome water cooler with very cold water. Bars, cafes, and restaurant.
KSO through the town, and at the mini-mercado (small food shop) with bar attached, turn R onto Rúa
do Sobral.
Shortly after leaving Vale de Figueira, still on Rúa do Sobral, at a Y intersection, bear L, then R at a Tjunction. And at another Y junction, bear R again. You will be going slightly downhill through this
section. Pass a large abandoned building on your right side, and you are at another T-junction.
At this point, I had the misfortune of meeting a very helpful, earnest man who insisted that I could
not turn right here, even though the left turn option had a yellow X (the Caminho’s way of saying “not
this way”). Unfortunately I saw no arrow pointing to the R either. He insisted that I take that left,
500 m or so to a paved road, and then turn right to go into Azinhaga. Since I couldn’t understand
him completely and didn’t know whether there was some problem on the Caminho ahead, I decided
to follow his advice. I took the left and ignored the yellow X. I continued on the gravel road to the
paved road, and then turned R. This way took me through a town not on the Caminho, called
Pombalinho (lots of commerce), and about 5 km further on, staying on the highway, I reached
Azinhaga, where I found the arrows again. Had I taken the right turn, I believe I would have stayed
on the agricultural gravel path longer, and gone through the countryside till reaching Azinhaga.
[Here’s what the Spanish guide says about the part between Vale de Figueira and Azinhaga: Go
through the planted fields near Reguengo, and turning left go through the Quinta da Leziria (this may
be the large abandoned building I note above), until the paved road that takes you to Porto das
Pereiras. Turn L, then R, enter into the countryside of Pombalinho, past the ruins of the Quinta do
Rei, cross the bridge and enter Azinhaga.]
Azinhaga (12 km). Birthplace of Jose Saramago, Nobel prizewinner. There’s a plaque outside his
modest home. The town has bars, restaurants, stores, a pharmacy, and rural tourism Casa da
Azinhaga: http://www.casarioribatejano.com/index.asp?info=casas&id=11&cont=apresentacao (tel.
249 957 162). The Rúa de Misercordia takes you past the old hospital and pilgrim’s albergue (XVIXVII century), the town church. KSO out of town. Paved road all the way to Golegã. There is a very
short off-road section right before entering Broa, take L onto dirt road, go past the Quinta da Broa (a
very pretty large ranch), cross the bridge over the Almonda River and return to the paved road. Stay
on this road till Golegã.
Birthplace of Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago in Azinhaga
Golegã (8 km). As you enter Golegã, there are picnic tables on your right. Once past the tables, a R
turn takes you to the square of the Immaculate Conception (Largo da Imaculada Conceição), with the
manueline church of Our Lady from the 14th century. It has beautiful blue and white tiled walls inside.
KSO past a bullfighter statue, cross the square, and you are on the Rúa D. Afonso Henriques, which
will lead you out of Golegã.
In Golegã, there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants. Two fancy hotels, the Golegã Sporthotel
and the Hotel Lusitano, Rúa Gil Vicente, 4, http://www.hotellusitano.com/ (tel. 249 979 170). Quinta
da Miranda, a 4 room B&B/residencial, tel. 249 957 115. Also, the campgrounds have rooms/apts.
available – the woman in the tourist office said they were nice. Though I didn’t have a chance to visit
it, I did take a rest in the shady gardens outside the very pretty late 19th century home, turned
museum, of Carlos Revas. It’s right next to the Junta da Freguesia, where you can get a carimbo.
Golegã is the center of Portugal’s horse breeding area and there are many horse shows here
throughout the year. Its statues also explains the horse motif on many street signs and stores.
Leave Golegã on the Rúa D. Afonso Henriques, which leaves from the praça where the church is,
behind the bullfighter statue. KSO till the end of town, where you will see a small monument to
Manuel Barreto (bullfighter). Cross the highway and KSO onto a dirt/gravel road. After about 1 km,
the road makes a hard right turn and leads onto paved road straight ahead about 50 m. L onto road,
pass Casal Branco ranch on L. Cross EM23 (name of paved road) and KSO. Sign says you are
entering Mala. R at Y junction, takes you off the main road and onto a dirt road. When the dirt road
ends in the middle of a field, KSO over fields. Emerge onto paved road at Quinta do Matinho. Turn R
at stop sign. KSO through hamlet of São Caetano (no commerce). KSO to Quinta Cardiga.
Abandoned palace at Cardiga
Quinta Cardiga (3 km) is a very large former royal palace, estate, and castle. Dating from the 13th
century, it is now totally abandoned. Fun to walk around, lots of shade, on the river, a nice rest spot.
I found some very pretty tiles on walls around the estate. There are rumors and hopes that a
pousada (historic hotel similar to the paradores in Spain) will be built on the site, but I saw no
evidence of that.
Cross bridge leaving Quinta da Cardiga, turn L onto paved road. KSO and enter Vila Nova Barquinha
(2 km). Given its apparent size, I assume there is ample commerce here if you want to go into town,
which appears to be quite close.
KSO (street changes names from Pedregosa, to Cardiga, and then to Salgueiro Maia. Cross the
highway and go over the RR tracks at the pedestrian crossing. L after tracks, KSO. Cross the
roundabout (Junta da Freguesia for Moita Norte on left as you enter roundabout – carimbo available).
KSO on street whose name changes from Ribeiro Maia to Escola Nova. The arrows take you through
a residential neighborhood and you do not enter the town of Vila Nova Barquinha.
KSO and enter town of Atalaia on Rúa D. Afonso Henriques (2 km). Café Monteiro before stop sign,
fountain and tables on L shortly after stop sign. KSO and pass Casa do Patriarca (rural tourism B&B).
6 rooms, 50€ for a double. Kitchen for guests’ use to cook, or there is a restaurant 50 m away. Very
nice gardens and common rooms. Tel. 24 971 0581; website www.casadopatriarca.pt.vu.
Leave Atalaia, KSO past church. Soon after the church, turn off on right side of the road onto dirt
road leading through eucalyptus forest.
[NOTE: THIS IS THE FIRST EUCALYPTUS FOREST WHERE I GOT LOST. Clarification and updates
most welcome.]
The eucalyptus forest is long (almost 5 km) and not well marked. Many sections were being logged
throughout the spring and summer of 2009, which of course makes things more difficult. Upon
entering the forest, KSO, through several intersections. You will come to an abandoned house on the
left and a bridge over the superhighway. Cross the superhighway, turn L and about 100 meters later,
turn R up a hill. Be careful here, this turn is not the first road on your right after the bridge, and it is
hard to see the arrows, in fact I didn’t see one indicating the turn itself. The first arrow I saw was up
the hill after the turn, about 30m on the left on a pine tree. The road goes up and down over a hill or
two. In a clearing with three high voltage transmission lines there are two roads ahead in a Y. The
branch on the left is marked with a yellow X, so take the one on the right, even though I saw no
arrow. Soon after, at a T junction, I lost the arrows. I explored for a while in all directions, but found
nothing. Miraculously two men in a car drove up on one of the logging roads and helped me out. I
followed their directions: Turn right at the T. About 50 meters along the path, you will see a small
hamlet below and to the left. It is Grou, your next destination, and it seems to be about 2-3 km
away. Follow the large high voltage transmission poles and lines, and they will take you down the hill.
The path down from the first transmitter is very steep, at the bottom it goes up again, and then
straight ahead you can see a single farm that appears to be enclosed. You want to get on the road
that runs along the far side of the farm, so take a L and then a R on the next path, and you come to a
dump – and the arrows! Turn R, you are now on the other side of the farm, you pass it on your right,
and the road takes you into Grou.
Grou (5 km) is a small hamlet with no commerce. KSO past a modern church on the right, on a
paved road and into Asseiceira.
In Asseiceira (3 km), there are 4 cafes, two mini-markets and a Junta da Freguesia for a carimbo.
KSO and the road merges into the N-110. Take a R towards Tomar. You pass through Guerreira
(café, restaurant, pharmacy). Stay on the N-110 and go through two roundabouts. At the second
roundabout, leave the N-110, and take the direction towards the train station of Santa Cita. Cross the
railroad tracks on an overpass, KSO and cross the street. Straight ahead is an unpaved path that
parallels the train tracks.
Stay on this for several kms. The dirt road ends and turns into a paved road, but KSO (paralleling the
train tracks) till the abandoned factory. Turn R, cross tracks, and you are back on the N-110.
Go through São Lourenço on the N-110, with a chapel and a monument to the martyred saint. KSO
into
Tomar, Convento de Cristo
Tomar (5km) is a pleasant town on the River Nabão. Lots of commerce and accommodation.
Tomar’s Convento de Cristo sits a bit above the town and is definitely worth the walk up the hill for a
visit. It is both a castle and monastery, built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century, with
additions from later centuries. The Reconquest in Portugal was complete a lot earlier than in Spain.
By the mid 13th century the Moors were gone. When Spain and France began to try to diminish the
Templars’ power, many took refuge in Portugal, where King Dom Dinis welcomed them and renamed
them the Order of Christ.
They were very influential during Portugal’s sea expansion. There’s lots of evidence of that in the
Convento de Cristo.
The Convento de Cristo has what is commonly agreed to be the best Manueline (flamboyant
Portuguese gothic) window in Portugal. Open every day, 9 - 6:30 (closes at 5:30 October-May).
Also worth visiting is Tomar’s 15th century synagogue, said to be the oldest in Portugal. It was built to
honor the Jewish community’s support of Portuguese expansion and discovery in the New World. It
has been turned into a small museum with interesting artifacts and two very old burial stones. The
interior is well preserved and has beautiful horseshoe arches.
Places to spend the night in Tomar include Residencial União (Rúa Serpa Pinto 94, tel. 249 323 161),
Residencial Sinagoga (Rúa Gil Avo 31, tel. 249 323 083), and Residencial Luz, (Rúa Serpa Pinto 144,
tel. 249 312 317 - reported basic but very good, 17.50€). All of these places are on or next to the
Caminho.
Leave Tomar on the main road Rúa Serpa Pinto to cross the old bridge. Tourist office just before
bridge – carimbo available. Head up Rúa dos Voluntarios, go around the bull ring. You will pass what
looks like a jail on the edge of town on your right. R onto Rúa Vicennes, L on Rúa Coronel Julio
Araujo Ferreira. L on Ponte de Peniche.
Pavement ends and you walk through olive groves and over an old bridge, presumably the Ponte de
Peniche. KSO under highway.
R at T-junction, river on your left. Path leaves river after an abandoned house and twists up and R. L
at T junction, then path keeps you on the ridge for a while. L at fork with a big electricity transmitter
pole. KSO - do not take the next path on the L.
Path has several marked turns, and the markings are usually on electricity poles. Follow the poles
onto the paved road, where you turn R. At a junction with Rúa Antonio Silva Nunes Carvão, KSO.
Into Casais (7.5 km from Tomar) on Rúa Associação. L and past church on right. Pharmacy upstairs
in Junta Freguesia. Carimbo available. No services except for the pharmacy.
R in direction Castelo Branco and Coimbra. Into Soianda (1.5 km) (bar, but was closed) and out on
main road. KSO out of town toward Calvinos.
KSO on paved road to Calvinos (2.5 km). L at stop sign and quick R onto Rúa da Capela. R after
chapel, L at house with “telefone” sign. Mini-mercado and café on L. Leave Calvinos on Travessa do
Bairro. KSO down hill.
Enter Freguesia de Alviobeira. KSO up and through hamlet on Rúa da Calçada. R at junction. L at
fountain onto Rúa do Alqueidão. KSO with stream on left. Stay on pavement. L at T with another
paved road.
KSO, with hamlet on right side. R at T-junction and then a quick L. Sign says Travessa da Eira. R and
then L onto path paralleling highway. R off of highway and over stream, continue to parallel highway
on L. Pass house “Vivienda Mesquita” on L. R at yellow ranch and up slightly. 50 meters more and
you’re on a dirt road. L up (leaving river on your right). On the Roman Road. No markings. Stay on
main path. Near the top, L turn indicated only by arrow on pine tree AFTER the turn. This path will
bring you out into the open on a ridge, nice views on the L.
KSO onto paved road, pass through small hamlets of Portela de Vila Verde, Daporta y Venda dos
Tremoucos.
Turn-off takes you onto dirt path about 100 m from last house in Venda dos Tremoucos. L off of road
on path that is next to utility building. This path takes you into a eucalyptus logging forest. [NOTE:
THIS IS THE SECOND EUCALYPTUS FOREST WHERE I GOT LOST.] About ½ km into the forest, there
was an arrow on a cork tree, and that was the last arrow I found. At a junction with four logging
paths and no arrows visible, I went L. This was the wrong way. I wound up in Pereiro on the N-110,
instead of in Tojal (which is about 8 km from the last town of Calvinos).
(It was a 2-3 km walk from Pereiro on the N-110 into Tojal where I found the arrows again). At
intersection of N-110 and N-238, take the N-238 towards Alvaiazaire).
Cortiça (3 km from Tojal). I spoke with an 87 year old woman out for her daily walk who told me
her next door neighbor is English. In a pinch, you could try to find her. Bar at end of town. Cross
road, R then L on Rúa de Sobreiral. Cross Rúa Farroeira and you’re on Rúa do Almagre. Come out
onto busier Rúa Visconde de Souzel and L takes you into town of Alvaiazere.
Alvaiazere (6.5 km from Cortiça). Small town with services. Junta da Freguesia on Caminho right
before the Residencial O Bras. Grocery store, several restaurants and bars, pharmacy.
Restaurant/Residencial O Bras, Rúa J. Augusto Martins Rangel (right on the Caminho), tel. 236-6554050. Basic room, 20€. Free internet in library (very close to O Bras, open till 6 pm).
Leaving Alvaiazere, one or two bars in the center of town near church open at 7:30. Leave on road in
front of church, up and L at old age home. Well marked route takes you through Laranjais
(2 km) and Vendas (1 km). At top of hill leaving Vendas, R at fork and down. Merge into another
minor road and KSO. At Y junction, L towards Ariques, gentle descent. R onto gravel road at arrow,
takes you into Venda do Negro (3.5 km).
R turn off main road, sign posted for Casal Maduros and Casal do Soeiro. Very minor roads, pleasant
walk, into town of Ansião
(7.5 km from Venda do Negro).
You pass the sign saying you are in Ansião about 1½ km before you actually enter town. Banks,
stores, bars, free internet in library. Junta da Freguesia next to pillory. Pensão Residencial Adega
Tipica, located on Rúa Combatentes da Grande Guerra, tel. 236 677 364. Very good standard rooms,
25€, and there is a restaurant on the premises.
Leaving Ansião, cross the bridge and go across highway. Right outside of town, and on the Caminho,
Solar da Rainha has rooms and restaurant (tel. 236 676 204).
In Spring 2009, there was a lot of road construction right outside Ansião. Circle around the big works
project, keeping the construction on your R. The path ascends slightly and you reach a small road
ahead with arrow (right next to a factory TOFASIL on R). Go down small lane, pavement ends. Short
time on track, out to road and L past a small shrine in honor of the Virgin Mary. KSO, passing
through Constantina and Netos. Leaving Netos, L onto dirt road. About 2 km arrive at a four road
intersection with gas station/café.
This is Venda do Brasil (6 km from Ansião). Cross highways, keeping the gas station on your R.
Shortly after, R turn off road with sign “Casais Granja” – uphill on gravel road. Very pleasant narrow
path through hedgerows, stone fences, vineyards and olive trees. Path narrows but still has stone
walls on either side. Out onto highway after 1 km on this track. You can see the next town,
Junqueira, straight ahead on the highway, but do not stay on this highway or you’ll miss the
Caminho’s next turnoff. The Caminho does not actually enter Junqueira but rather skirts it. So when
you reach the main road, take a quick L off road and across the field. R when you come out onto
minor road, L going up before intersection with main road in town. Back on dirt road, gradual
pleasant ascent into Alvorge (4 km from Venda do Brasil).
Alvorge is a village, with an ATM, mini-market and bars. The bar owner told me that the town is
home to a British citizen. Road construction on the edge of town as you are leaving means the
arrows are gone. At the new traffic circle, go on the newly paved road towards a two-story brown
stone house that is oddly shaped (it flares out at both sides).
After passing the flared house at Alvorge, the pavement ends, and you are walking through pleasant
fields. The Caminho winds down to the highway (Estrada EN347-1). This highway goes directly into
Rabaçal, but the Caminho takes you across the highway and heads upwards. This is an unpaved
road, and the arrows are on stones. You are now walking sections of the Roman Road. After about
2 km, you emerge onto a paved road, which is coming down from Casas Novas. This road connects
Casas Novas with the EN347-1, but you do not want to go all the way to the highway. About 400 m
before you reach the highway, you will see a faint arrow directing you to the R off the paved road.
You are once again paralleling the EN347-1. At the next group of buildings (a village named
Alcalamouque), you rejoin the EN347-1. There is a bar here. At the end of the village, an arrow
takes you R onto a good track between houses. You will pass a small round tower on your L (perhaps
it’s a lookout tower for the 13th century Castelo de Germanelo you can see off in the distance on the
top of a hill). Continue on this main path for 300m, turning L at the arrow at the next junction. Pass
the wooden signposts for a local hiking path, the GR26, then emerge onto a wider track, then turn L
to enter Rabaçal, going up and past the primary school.
In Rabaçal (9 km from Alvorge), stay at Casa de Turismo (right next door to museum). Telephone
numbers are on the door. The people in the museum will call for you. If you want to call ahead, try
91 875 2990. Room 15-18€, clean and basic. Two restaurants in town, decent food. Try the well
known Rabaçal cheese.
Roman Ruins at the Roman Villa in Rabaçal
The Roman villa about 2 km outside Rabaçal is definitely worth a visit (1.5€, which includes entrance
to the museum and a ride out to visit the ruins). Open till 6 p.m. My guide was a young man who
became interested in archaeology as a boy helping out at the ruins when they were first excavated in
the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. He went on to study archaeology at the University of Coimbra and is now
employed by the museum. The small museum houses artifacts found at the site; my favorites were
several Roman marbles and some petrified food garbage that showed that these wealthy Romans had
seafood brought to them from the coast. The site itself was a large single family villa, and the walls
have all been marked out to show the size. It has spectacular mosaics, but all are kept under sand
since they can’t afford to put a roof on to protect them, as they have done at Conímbriga. The guide
will brush off the sand to show you some of the best, and the ones I saw were incredible – feminine
representations of the four seasons.
Baths are quite large and many of the original walls remain intact, particularly around the sauna
alcove. My guide explained that they do excavations every year in July. It’s a huge community labor
of love, with lots of participation by local residents, young and old. I enjoyed the visit a lot, and the
museum has its own carimbo.
Though the bar owner across the street from the museum told me he would open at 7:30, I left town
at 7:45 without coffee. There is nothing between Rabaçal and Conímbriga (about 11 km away).
Shortly after leaving Rabaçal, a pedestrian path on the R takes you on the Roman road to Zambujal
(3.5 km). In Zambujal there are also newly painted GR red and white striped markings (indicating a
regional hiking path) going in the opposite direction of the Caminho. Yellow arrow takes you to
Fonte Coberta (2.5 km).
Leaving Fonte Coberta on the marked Rúa de Santiago, do not follow the brown directional sign
pointing right that says “Caminho de Santiago.” The AGACS (Galician Camino association) has painted
a very visible and initialed yellow arrow to the left, which takes you alongside an old river bed and out
to the small hamlet of Casas do Poço (2 km). Here you ascend on the Roman road and walk on
quiet paths into Conímbriga (3 km), the most important Roman site in Portugal. Museum and ruins
have a cafeteria and are definitely worth a visit. Opened at 10 the day I was there, though
guidebooks say 9 am. It is still only partially excavated, but very interesting. Lots of mosaics, pools,
baths.
Accommodation available off the Caminho in the town of Condeixa a Nova (only a few km away, and
there are public buses that go frequently from Condeixa a Nova to the ruins). Residencial Antonia
Jesus, tel. 239 941 353; Pensão Residencial Ruinas, tel. 239 941 772. There is also a fancy Pousada,
the Pousada Santa Cristina, originally a 16th century palace, but extensively reconstructed as a hotel.
Rooms have nice balconies. Tel. 239 944 025. Might be worth a call for last minute special prices. If
you’re over 55, the Sun-Thurs price is 40% off the rack rate.
Leaving Conímbriga, get on the road leaving the ruins’ parking lot. Arrow takes you off that road to
the R at the first intersection, and you go under the highway. KSO across a busy road (bar here).
Arrows take you on a country road through small hamlets of Atadoa, Avessada, Orelhudo, Beira
de Casconha, and Casconha (bar).
Cernache (7.5 km from Conímbriga) has bars, shops, pharmacy and a Junta da Freguesia for a
carimbo. R at main square with café, onto Rúa do Cabo, then Rúa 1 de Maio, to the small hamlet of
Pousada. Very nice looking (probably not cheap) Quinta Sao Pedro, tel: 919555403. Leave Pousada
on “main street”, L onto dirt forest road and R at stone hut. Not many markings after that. Stay on
the main path, more or less always straight ahead, for 2-3 km. As you are reaching the end of this
path, you’ll pass the dump on your L, electricity plant on R, lumber yard on L. Then the Caminho
takes you into the small town of Palheira.
Enter Palheira, arrows take you up past the church, and you then leave town on a dirt road with big
private estate on R. L at fork and up. Out onto paved road, L into Freguesia de Antanhol. After one
or two blocks in this patch of modern housing, zig-zag down and under highway, up to main road and
R. You are in Antanhol.
Continue on into Cruz dos Mourocos (8.5 km from Cernache). Bar. Past the small church, there is
an outdoor seating area with first views of Coimbra in the distance. On paved roads now into town.
Be careful with road construction here, but it seems that the works are going to cross over the
Caminho, not re-route it. Arrow takes you R and up to Mesura (a Coimbra suburb). Pass the
University’s observatory on L. At traffic circle follow sign for Santa Clara Convent (3.5 km from Cruz
dos Mourocos). Dom Diniz’s wife, Queen Isabel, is buried here but her tomb is not open for visitors.
The convent has pleasant views of the city below. Walk down, cross the Ponte de Santa Clara (bridge
over the Mondego River) and you are in the center of Coimbra. Tourist office on square, with
carimbo. Caminho continues ahead into Coimbra, past the church of Santiago, and takes narrow
streets to the in-town train station (called Coimbra-A to distinguish it from the newer station slightly
out of town that accommodates high speed trains).
Coming into Coimbra
Church of Santiago in Coimbra
Coimbra (1.5 km from convent) is worth a leisurely visit. Old university, narrow streets in old town,
cathedral, lots of churches (13th century church of Santiago), lively atmosphere. Numerous hotels,
pensiones etc. Pensão Residencial Domus, Rúa Adelino Vega, located on Caminho. Tel. 239 828 584.
Email: [email protected] Website: www.residencialdomus.com.
Leaving Coimbra, return to the old in-town train station (Coimbra-A). Arrows direct you along the
river out of town and onto a rural road.
Right around Coimbra, the Caminho again joins up with the road to Fátima. Because Coimbra is north
of Fátima, pilgrims to Fátima are going south, in the opposite direction of the Caminho (unlike the
Lisbon to Santarém stretch, where arrows were going in the same direction). On a few occasions, the
sight of a blue arrow in the opposite direction confirmed that I was indeed on the right path.
If you are arriving in Coimbra to start your walk, chances are you will arrive at the Coimbra-B train
station (2.5 km north of Coimbra). If you are going to visit Coimbra, your train ticket entitles you to
get on the next local train. Usually there’s one parked waiting for the arrival of the fast train. If you
are going to start walking directly, and don’t care to go into Coimbra, all you do is exit the station
onto the main road and turn R. Soon you will see an arrow pointing you off road to the R along a
canal (0.5 km from Coimbra-B).
The path takes you to Ademia da Baixo (3 km), and Cioga do Monte (1.5 km). Bar; over the A-14
through Trouxemil. Arrive at Adões (3 km). To Sargento Mor, into Santa Luzia (3 km). Continue on
N-1 till Lendiosa (5 km). After Lendiosa, off road track on L, goes through a bamboo tunnel and
some crops. Track comes out onto paved road, go R and straight into Mealhada (5 km). At entrance
to town there’s a roundabout with a statue of Bacchus. Walk over the railway bridge and immediately
take a sharp L off the main road, past the big Intermarche store on the right. KSO through town,
walking on the two block pedestrian-ized street. Residencial Oasis (tel. 231-202-081) on far edge of
town right on the Caminho. 25€ for single. Decent simple food is served in the restaurant here.
Mealhada is famous for its roast suckling pig (Leitão). It has many restaurants serving this local
speciality. Reasonable prices: 10-15€.
Leave Mealhada for a short stint on the highway. Follow arrow on R taking you off highway. When
you are on the Rúa 25 de Abril and come to a bright yellow house with an old grape press in its walled
yard, keep an eye out for a not-so-obvious arrow on the R. This takes you through the outskirts of
Sernadelo. At the end of the residential area, a short well-marked walk through pine/eucalyptus.
Into Alpalhão (4 km). Through Aguim, and as soon as you leave town, there’s a very clearly marked
turn off the paved road onto a dirt track that parallels the road through eucalyptus.
Into the outskirts of Anadia (4 km), a town with a lot of new construction – huge sports facilities and
other cultural centers on new roads outside of town. The Caminho doesn’t take you into town here,
stay on the outskirts. Other guides report that Anadia has accommodation. My web search revealed
a three star hotel in the center of town. Hotel Cabecinho:
http://www.hoteis.pt/link:http://www.hotel-cabecinho.com (one pilgrim reported getting a 37€ special
rate in the hotel and also noted that there is a residencial in the town center, but I could not find
anything about it on the web).
The Caminho passes the cemetery, and then the arrow takes you downhill to Arcos. You’ll also pass
the hospital of Anadia. This road takes you to Alfeolas. Leaving Alfeolas, cross the N-28 and take a
hard L, which takes you past new walled-in houses. R in 100 meters, then L at sign pointing you to
APPACDM, which you will pass in a km or two. This is a huge sports complex.
Enter Avelas (6 km) (bar, shops, restaurants). Road goes behind the church, on Rúa Fonte do
Sobreiro, cross the N-10 again.
Go through São João da Azenha, there’s a small chapel there. From here to Aguada de Baixo (4
km). Entering the industrial area of Agueda, then Lendiosa. Go under the IC-2 and at the
roundabout, turn L through the industrial area of Agueda Sul. Right before the roundabout, the
Restaurante Dois Postes was packed on a Monday noon.
There is now a long slog into Agueda (7.5 km), and this part is very industrial. Right before Agueda,
pass through the little town of Sardão, pass a wide open space known as the “parque das merendas”
(place where people come and park their cars and set up tables for eating). Coming over the bridge
into Agueda, you’ll see a “residencial” immediately in a little plaza on the right. This is a house of ill
repute.
To find the Pensão Ribeirinho go along the river to the R and you’ll see the Restaurant Ribeirinho (tel.
234 623 825), behind a large parking lot. The Residencial is attached. Very clean and comfortable,
20€ for single.
Entering Agueda
Agueda is a town with many shops and restaurants. In addition to the Ribeirinho, the Pensão Celeste
(tel. 234-602-871) is also highly recommended, but it’s at least 1 km off the route and up a fairly
steep hill. If you have time to explore, the “Parque da Alta Villa” is a huge estate donated by the
owner to the city for a park. Very shady and cool, lots of painted pig statues there for some reason.
Leave Agueda in the direction of Paredes, along the river on the Rúa 5 de Outubro. Up and over the
RR tracks through some rural residential development, enter Mourisca do Vouga (5 km). Several
bars and shops here. Walk down the Rúa da Liberdade and 25 de Abril, at the end cross the very
busy IC-2/N-1 and KSO.
After crossing the highway, you will see the medieval (some say Roman) bridge ahead. The bridge of
Marnel (3.5 km) has been nicely restored. To cross over the bridge and continue on the Caminho,
KSO. For a very short detour to a nice picnic spot on a little island looking over the bridge, take a L
immediately after crossing the highway (only a 2 or 3 minute walk). After walking across the bridge,
go under the modern bridge of the N-1 and go straight up the road and past the church of Lamas do
Vouga. You will be walking on the Estrada Real, the Royal Road.
Go through Pontilhão, then Lameiro. As you are coming into Lameiro, there is a newly constructed
intersection and the arrows are not there. Cross highway (signs point Coimbra to L, Porto to R), and
go straight up to Lameiro and follow the sign to Serem (3.5 km). Nice bar and shop run by the same
family as you enter Serem.
At the end of Serem, cross the road and KSO into the eucalyptus forest (the arrow is a bit
ambiguous). You pass over the A-25 and through Asseilho and then enter Albergaria a Velha (5 km).
Plenty of cafés, shops, pharmacies, ATMs. Carimbo in the Câmara Municipal on the main square,
internet in the library next door (both right on the Caminho).
In Albergaria a Velha, there are several options for accommodation. The Pensão Casa da Alameda
(tel. 234 524 242) is on the Caminho, on the street leading into the main square. Room with bath,
25€. Room with shared bath in hall, 15€.
The Casa Parochial of the Igreja Matriz (main church) also offers space to pilgrims. It is down the
road on the left after the church. The priest’s house is on the corner across from the café, and the
key is available there. There are a few mattresses and blankets in a basement room with cold water
facilities. Also, the Bombeiros offer hot showers and no beds. Pensão Restaurante Parentes is near
the Bombeiros – walking past the Bombeiros (with the building on your right side), turn R and the
pensão is at the next left by the fountain (Rúa Doutor Brito Guimarães, tel. 234 521 271).
Leave Albergaria a Velha following the arrows past the Bombeiros Voluntarios and cross highway.
Arrows are slightly faded, but you want to go in the direction of Nossa Sra. do Socorro (there is a road
sign indicating the way to go). About 100 meters along, there’s an arrow taking you off road and into
a eucalyptus forest. Well marked with arrows. Exiting the forest, a religious retreat center is on your
right (3.5 km). KSO. Shortly after, another turn-off takes you off road and back into the eucalyptus.
Well marked. Enter Albergaria a Nova (3.5 km), you will be on Rúa Velha through town, turn right
on the N-10.
You will pass through a number of small hamlets. It’s an almost continuous string of development.
On entering Pinheiro da Bemposta (5.5 km), bar at the nice square, Largo do Cruzeiro. KSO up hill to
the Largo do Cruzeirinho. Cross over the IC-2/N-1 on an elevated stairway. You then pass the Largo
das Vendas, and soon have entered Bemposta.
Old Bemposta
Soon after crossing the highway on the elevated stairway, there’s a sign pointing towards
Bemposta’s “centro historico”. If you want to see it (a few nice old buildings, a beautiful
fountain/trough, and an interesting pillory with both the templar cross and an armillary sphere on it),
it’s a slight ascent, but not much out of the way. It requires no backtracking. At the end of Bemposta,
KSO and head back down the hill and you will reconnect with the arrows right before a crossing back
over the busy N-1 again.
After crossing the N-1, continue through Besteiros. At the far end of Besteiros, there is a newly
constructed intersection. Sign points R for Oliveira de Azemeis. The Caminho goes straight over
highway. Continuing through several hamlets, after an ascent you go through a RR tunnel and walk L
and parallel to the tracks for about 50 m. Then go straight down on a gravel road (leaving the
tracks), which takes you to the bridge Sr. da Ponte (5 km) (supposedly medieval but very hard to
see anything because of overgrowth). There is a fair amount of shade, so it’s a good place for a rest.
After going through Silvares, enter Oliveira de Azemeis (3 km). Even though the arrows disappear
as you cross through town, just KSO. This takes you right through the historic center, past the main
municipal building (carimbo available), past the church (take a minute to go to the bottom of the little
park in front of it to see the authentic Camino de Santiago mojón sent to Oliveira by the government
of Galicia). This is a very pleasant looking town, some nice looking restaurants.
Accommodation includes Pensão Anacleto (tel. 256 682 541) and a modern (pretty ugly outside) 4star hotel right on the Caminho, Hotel Dighton (tel. 256-682-191 - ask for pilgrim discount).
From Oliveira de Azemeis to São João da Madeira (9 km), the way is well marked and almost totally
through development. Residencial Solar São João is right in the main square, the Praça Luis Ribeiro
(tel. 256 202 540). Clean room with bath 29€. Café on ground floor open by 6:30 a.m.
São João da Madeira is not very attractive. Their main square has a huge round modern projectile
shooting up into the sky, not exactly clear what that is. The Municipal Forum is a very large modern
building, carimbo available. Internet available until midnight at the Casa de Cultura (very nice old
renovated blue building about a block off the main square towards the little church up the hill) and
also in the basement of the library next door to the Casa de Cultura (till
7 p.m.)
Hat making museum in Sao Joao da Madeira
If you have time to kill, take the Caminho out of the main square for about three blocks and you will
come to a totally renovated large old factory. It was a hat making factory, now a museum, and
appears to have exhibits describing the old hat making process. According to an inscription on a nice
statue/fountain out back (5 men making felt hats), this was a dirty, ugly job. What was visible from
the sidewalk as I passed by in the morning looked interesting. There was also what looked to be a
kind of “upscale” restaurant in one part of the museum and a nice café out back. I was very sorry I
hadn’t known about either the museum or the restaurant before leaving town because, other than the
internet, there isn’t much to do or see here.
Leave São João da Madeira on Rúa Oliveira Junior, one of the roads going out of the main square.
Facing the Residencial in the main square, the street you want is not the road immediately adjacent to
the residencial on the left, but the next one over. At the Repsol gas station, a few blocks after the hat
museum, turn left onto the Rúa da Fundição, then right onto Rúa Varzea. You will be going around a
huge, now abandoned foundry. Up past the Mini-Preço grocery store, and into Arrifana (2.5 km).
From Arrifana you go to Arrifães. At the stop light in the center of Arrifães, R and up to the N-1.
Highway names are often confusing in Portugal, and the N-1 is also dubbed the IC-2. I had trouble
finding the arrows here, but if you get lost, rather than ask for a town, the best thing to do is to ask
for directions to the N-1. You will walk along this highway for many kilometers before you get to
Malaposta (5 km). Once on the IC-1 (sidewalks all the way), the arrows are infrequent, but KSO on
the highway. Immediately after the hotel in Malaposta (constructing an addition in summer 2009, so
hard to see), it’s difficult to see the arrow telling you to get off the N-1 and onto a secondary road
that starts out paralleling the N-1. Once on it, you pass a cell phone tower on the right. You are on
the Rúa da Estrada Romana and will have several stretches on the original Roman road, some of it in
remarkable condition.
Roman road on the way into Lourosa
In Lourosa (4 km) - many cafes and shops, turn R onto the N-1. As noted earlier, you may see
references to the IC-2. The N-1 and the IC-2 are one and the same highway.
Past a large factory, Facol, on the left side of the road. Once you are out of Lourosa, you will get off
the N-1 and walk through Vergada. After a km or two, arrow takes you L. Cross the N-1, go straight
down on paved road in front of you, then a quick R.
In Mouzelos (3 km), you can see the ocean! After Mouzelos, on minor roads, pass under two very
high elevated roads (must be super highways), which are about 1-2 km apart.
Upon entering Grijó, you will hug the high walls holding lots of greenery behind them. The entrance
to the Monastery (5 km) is in those walls and obvious. There’s a long shaded driveway with lots of
benches. The Junta da Freguesia across from the Monastery has a carimbo. Clean bathrooms. Not
much to see in the monastery, but the cloister with its 13th century tomb is likely to be open for a
quick peek, and the well shaded benches are a nice rest spot.
Accommodation is apparently available in Grijó, but it’s at least 1 km off the Caminho. I found a 3star pensão on the internet: Pensão Sobreiro Grosso, Rúa Américo de Oliveira 807 (tel: 227 648 188).
From the monastery of Grijó, head down Avenida do Mosteiro, then turn in direction of Sermonde,
arriving in Perozinho (5 km). This is the first place I saw permanent camino markers, signs with the
shell and an arrow indicating the direction. They disappeared again after about 5 km, seemed to be
only in the municipality of Perozinho. After Perozinho, there’s a brief walk up through eucalyptus and
other trees on part of the original Roman or medieval road. Down into Rechousa, where there’s a
long walk on the sidewalks along the busy main road (Rúa de Rechousa). When you begin to
descend, the development and traffic thin out. At the next intersection, R following sign to Vila Nova
de Gaia. Under the overpass, then up. Stay on the N-304 for what seems like many, many
kilometers.
Once in Vila Nova de Gaia (7 km), the arrows will want to take you DOWN to the river’s edge,
where the port wine lodges are. Depending on your plans upon arrival, that may be what you want to
do, but if you would prefer to go straight to the Cathedral for a carimbo, you should not go down.
The bridge that crosses the Douro River at this point takes you over to the city of Porto, and it has
both a low crossing and a high crossing. The low crossing is next to the port lodges, taking you
directly across the river to Porto’s riverfront, while the high crossing takes you to the “upper town”,
very near the Cathedral. So, if you want to take the “high crossing”, when you see the sign pointing
you downhill to the port caves, ignore it and go across the plaza in front of you and you will be on the
Avenida da República. That’s the main street of Gaia, and it’s where the tram runs, connecting Gaia
and Porto (using the top part of the old bridge as well).
You are at this point very close to the Jardim do Mouro, a garden in Gaia with a fabulous view
overlooking the Porto riverfront, and the Gaia port wine lodges below. It is, in my opinion, one of the
most beautiful “built environment” sights ever I’ve seen. The bridge leaves from the Jardim and
crosses the river. You then take a left to go uphill (often there are those little mini in-town tourist
trains parked there) and you will be in front of the Cathedral (4 km). You can get a carimbo in the
Cathedral. There is also a tourist office right there.
Porto Riverfront
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