Day 3: Early Morning to Azambuja


Day 3

Date: Thursday, Sep 8, 2016
Start: Vilafranca de Xira
Stop: Flor de Primavera, Azambuja     👍
Dist (Day/Total): 22/60 km
High Temp: 25 C/ F

The picture of the bridge is actually from yesterday.  Evidently no good shots today.  DUH!!!!

Because of the heat, Goorgio and I decide to start early.  We settle on 6 am.  It’s still dark and it takes us a few minutes to find the waymarks.  Evidently, the path has changed since my online CSJ guide was put together.  It has been moved from a busy highway to a local road.  It’s still asphalt but without trucks zipping by at highway speeds.

It’s pleasant walking this early.  No traffic on the road.  But as the sun comes up, it gets very hot.  Coming from Houston, 77 F, doesn’t seem bad.  On asphalt, with no shade, we are burning up.  We get into Azambuja at around noon.  For me, this is normally way too early to stop.  But by about 11 am, it is starting to get unbearable.  Also, your choices on where to stop are limited.

Caminho Portuguese doesn’t have near the number of pilgrims that Camino Francis (CF) does and, therefore, doesn’t have the same amount of services and facilities.  On the CF, with the exception of a couple of stages, you always had a choice to stopping or carrying on.  You got to where you planned on stopping.  If it was early enough and you felt good, you could keep moving.  You had options.  Within the next 4-6 km, there would be another village and other albergues.  Can’t do that on the Portuguese Way.  The next albergue/hotel may not be for another 20-30 km.

Based on the recommendation of the hotel owner in Vilafranca, we had decided to stop at Flor de Primavera.  Azambuja was a good sized town and we initially had a little trouble finding the place.  We finally find it and it was very nice and clean.  Even had air conditioning.  Goorgio and I share a room and split the room cost of €35.  He decided to take a nap and I wanted to explore.  After a quick shower, I was out and about.

There used to be a restaurant on the street level of the hotel.  It was closed now.  Another restaurant, next door to the hotel, was also closed.  Azambjua looked like an old, tired industrial town that had fallen on hard times.  The edge of the town, where we walked in from, was along a major highway with several large hotels, gas stations and truck stops.  That seemed to be it’s primary economic source; catering to truck drivers and travelers along the highway.  However, once you got further in and despite several businesses being shuttered, it still had an old charm about it.  I liked it.

I walked around.  I knew I was going to start even earlier the next day and I wanted to make sure I knew how to get back on the trail.  Didn’t want to be fumbling around in the dark, looking for yellow arrows.  After finding the waymarks, I grab lunch at a bar.  Except for the owners, it is deserted.

After lunch, I feel exhausted and head back to the hotel.  Now, it’s my turn to take a nap.  I’m going to skip mass tonight and we are going to fend for ourselves for dinner.  He doesn’t want to start as early as me and we agree to meet up in Santarem.  

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