Day 5: Hair Raising Trek to Golega


Inside of Igreja Matriz da Golegã

Day 5

Date: Saturday, Sep 10, 2016
Start: Santarem
Stop: Lusitano Hotel, Golega     👍👍
Dist (Day/Total): 32/124 km
High Temp: 28 C/82 F

Goorgio and I part ways in Santarem.  He’s heading to Fatima.  I decide to skip Fatima and press on to Santiago.

I have the earliest start of my trip – 3:30 am.  Just in case there are any first timers reading this . . .  When you’re leaving early in the morning, make sure everything is packed the night before.  When you wake up, grab your sleeping bag and backpack and quickly and quietly leave the dorm room.  Do not turn on the lights.  So, the night before, know your way out.  Pack your sleeping bag and get dressed outside the dorm room.  Your shoes and poles should already be outside.

It is kinda spooky walking this early in the morning.  No one is around and once you are outside the center of the village or town, it’s pitch dark.  And it’s dogs that are causing me anxiety, not humans.  Thankfully, there were only a couple of instances of loose dogs when it was dark (loose dogs during daylight is another story but more on that later).  Nonetheless, it was always unnerving to walk by a fence, wall or gate and suddenly have the pin drop silence broken by a very loud barking and growling dog, hurling himself at the gate.

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Harvesting Tomatoes

There is an 8 km stretch on the way to Golega that I wondered if I was going to make it.  Not only was there no shoulder but there was tall grass that had encroached on to the road and obscured your view.  And if they obscured my view, then they sure as hell obscured the view of drivers who are absolutely not expecting what must look like an alien (backpack, hat, trekking poles) suddenly coming into view.  Although, I soon found out that even when they did see me, they rarely ever slowed down or moved over.  Slowing down and/or moving over was common in Spain and France.  Don’t get me wrong.  The Portuguese are lovely people but once they got behind the wheel they had a lot in common with Houston drivers.

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Farm Workers Taking a Break at a Cafe Outside Golega

I’m walking thru farmland now with tomatoes appearing to be the main crop.  I arrive in Golega just after noon and on the outskirts, surrounded by tomato fields, is a small cafe.  It has several tables outside with ample shade.  It is full of loud and boisterous farm workers.  I decide to have a beer and an ice cream.  I check accommodations in Golega.  Not many choices but I find the Lusitano Hotel with only one room left.  €118 for the night.  I book it.

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Golega is a small town with under 6000 people and it’s not hard to find the Lusitano Hotel.  I am surprised to see such a fancy hotel in a small farming community.  It is very modern and has a pool, spa, restaurant and a bar/cafe.  The grounds are beautiful.  It looks like a place where stressed out people from Lisbon come to relax for the weekend.  I check in, take a shower and barely get into the restaurant for lunch before it closes.  I want a salad and think that is what I’m ordering but get grilled vegetables.  It’s very good.  After lunch, I walk to the town square, tour the church and go to the pharmacy.  I don’t feel too good.

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