1 September 2016, Thursday, Tomar to Alvaiazere, day 7

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September 1st 2016
Published: September 12th 2016
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Early morning on Serpa PintoEarly morning on Serpa PintoEarly morning on Serpa Pinto

Our hotel view from balcony of room
Day 7, Tomar to Alvaiazere

After two rest days in Tomar,which we used to visit Fatima and see the Knights Templar Castle, we are back on the Camino Portugal headed towards Santiago. Today is another very long day, according to Brierley, it is almost thirty kilometers if you make no wrong turns. So we're up at 5:45, have bags packed, and pick up our breakfast/lunch sacks to be out the door at 6:45.

The way out of town is over the Old Bridge and immediately left along the riverbank to an old abandoned canal. As it turned out we turn too soon and had to backtrack to find a street which then took us along the abandoned canal. This went well until the road ended in a very narrow path along the river and in the early-morning the flies were out so this meant we had to stop and apply insect repellent to try to keep the flies from crawling up our glasses and face. After about three kilometres this off trail route connected to a path along the highway and we continued on to the town of Soianda looking for a restaurant for breakfast. We have walked about 9 kilometers, and 2.5 hours, so morning coffee was in order. We had just finished our sandwich and coffee and we're leaving when I Ayako and another pilgrim from Italy entered the restaurant. Then down the road we saw two women so we waited to talk with them and they were from Denmark and are doing the first part of the Portuguese Camino.

We followed the routes Brierley described fairly well until he said don't cross the bridge, but take the side road to the right to cross the river. However, these directions are wrong and take you to the alternate route that is totally unmarked. We wound up next to a big chicken production facility, several solar power farms and found ourselves on the inside of a locked gate. We found the door open in the warehouse and ask for some directions and help and a young man told us pretty much 'Where We Are,' so we continued for about two kilometres into the alternate town, Areias. This was on route 348 which continued directly in to Alvaiazere only 12 more kilometers away. It was hot!*#$! 100 degrees we learned later. We had cold drinks and a snack and continued on the road to Tojal Cruce - a name Brierley gives any road crossing. By now we have walked more than 20 kilometers.

We are walking during the hottest part of the day. Stopping at any shady place to rest, then continuing, we stop about 2.5 km from our hotel. A lady in the house leans out the window and asked if we would like some cold water. The two of us, Jo and I, consume her entire 1.5 liter bottle. We had had electrolytes earlier.

We arrived at Residencia O Bras and try three doors and cannot find a way in. Karen sends a greeting from the balcony of our room. A lady, Elisabeth, comes to let us in. Next question - where are our bags? I have to use translate.google.com to communicate because neither of us understands the other. She contacts the taxi baggage transfer man and after about 15 minutes we have our bags.

Our dinner is at the restaurant O Bras. Great soup, salad, fresh potato chips, and dessert. Pork and dorado fish excellent.

I had a really good night's rest.

September 1 Thursday, Tomar to Alvaiazere Day 7
Santa Maria dos Olivais - Templar Mother ChurchSanta Maria dos Olivais - Templar Mother ChurchSanta Maria dos Olivais - Templar Mother Church

Allegedly connected by tunnels to castle above town

Karen here - another day on the bus! I walk with Jo and Harlan to Ponte (bridge) Velha. We cross and they turn left, following the Caminho. I turn right as I would like to see a particular azulejo that shows young ladies carrying 15 kg headdresses. The headdresses are trays, each stacked with loaves of bread and crowned with a white dove - symbol of the Holy Spirit. Since the procession consists of around 400 young women, each one has a male escort. The Festa dos Tabuleiros occurs in July every four years. I have seen a picture of the event, on an azuela, and it appears to be at the Templar mother church of St. Mary of the Groves. Unfortunately it must be inside the sanctuary as I walk completely around the building and do not see any tile work. The church opens at 10:00 but my bus leaves at 10:30 - too close! The sun is rising and only the bread men, delivering their wares, and myself appear to be stirring.

I now know I am not to get on the bus before the driver, even though the door is open! A lady and her pre-teen son, come and stand behind me. She appears to be quite congenial. After many efforts, on the part of both of us, it seems as if she is trying to rent me a room. She keeps using the same phrases over and over - to no avail! So now I ask for the boy's help. It is not forthcoming. I find out he is twelve years but not much else. The mother is thoroughly disgusted and, I can tell, is imploring him to communicate with me. I am very happy when a couple come striding up and I can see a scallop shell on their backpack. She will not speak but he is quite gregarious and I find out they are from Italy. Wow, the bus driver now comes and opens the door ( he had come along and slammed the open door shut some time ago.) I feel like Hester Prynne - but instead of a scarlet A, I feel I have a picture of a bus with a slash through it - an indication I do not know bus etiquette in Portugal!!

We go up and down, around and around wending our way to the unpronounceable
Castle on hill above Tomar Castle on hill above Tomar Castle on hill above Tomar

This photo taken at 0717 shows mist in air.
'A' town. I can start the town's name and finish it correctly and softly but the middle part is hopelessly unpronounceable! I am a little concerned as I keep seeing the town's name at little country road junctions but we are always turning the other way! It appears we have made a gigantic loop, going all around the little village. At last we are at the little town and the bus driver just stops in the middle of the street and indicates to get off. I look over my shoulder and see I am the only passenger.

Well, I look around and see four older men chatting in the sun. I bypass them and head for a group composed of, what I take to be, several generations. I walk up and the teen-age boy says, "Hello." I just blurt out, "Oh, thank goodness!" They all laugh and then become concerned in getting and giving me directions. I thank them (obrigata-it is imprinted on my mind! You say it, people smile and it opens so many doors of hospitality!) I am passing the group of older men, deep in thought in trying to remember the rights and lefts, when the
Path beside River Naboe Path beside River Naboe Path beside River Naboe

This river flows by Tomar. Its origin is near Ansioa, where we will be in two nights.
clear voice of one of the men queries, "Did you understand his directions?" Well, so much for my theory of always trying to find a young to man ask questions!

I walk past and then up alongside the church - always a good landmark! I then make a turn and head back to Tomar. O'Bras Hotel and Restaurant is on the far side of town, which is really strung out. I get settled in and immediately take a nap. I am just trying to shake the dreams from my head (I find I have different kinds of dreams in warmer climes!) when I hear a commotion beneath the balcony. Jo and Harlan are trying to figure out how to enter the building! It is not as easy as you might think as a hotel-restaurant might be strung together and you have no idea as to what entry or stairwell you might want. The cleaning lady, speaking no English, has no problem understanding that two dusty pilgrims need some attention!

Harlan continues here, telling of the cute little girl who serves us dinner as well as two interesting pilgrims from California.

Well, the daughter of the lady providing our meals helps serve. She is shy and will not practice her English she is learning in school but does an excellent job serving our dinner and clearing plates. We learn she is in fourth grade. She and her mother will leave for vacation after our breakfast in the morning.

Gabriela and Martha, are from Sonoma, CA. They are also walking to Santiago. We exchange information on websites and Camino terrain. They are about a day ahead but we seem to be staying or eating in the same places.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Old stone bridgeOld stone bridge
Old stone bridge

Path crosses over it
Municipal sports complexMunicipal sports complex
Municipal sports complex

A nice park and grounds
Two Danish ladiesTwo Danish ladies
Two Danish ladies

They entered as we are leaving the breakfast cafe.
A home with stained glass windows A home with stained glass windows
A home with stained glass windows

Catches the eye as we pass on by
English bicyclistEnglish bicyclist
English bicyclist

Also following Brierley unknowingly. Alternate route.
Chickens and egg production complexChickens and egg production complex
Chickens and egg production complex

Got here by mistake but found it was an alternate route
Hotel O Bras- AlvaiazereHotel O Bras- Alvaiazere
Hotel O Bras- Alvaiazere

Jo and Harlan have 34.4 km walk from Tomar. None of the three of us can say name of this town!
Harlan's fish has many bonesHarlan's fish has many bones
Harlan's fish has many bones

We are served by cook's daughter, Claudia, age ten
Restaurant O BrasRestaurant O Bras
Restaurant O Bras

Next to hotel. We will remember a good dinner and breakfast.

12th September 2016

Harlan's Bony Fish
Harlan's fish looks exactly like the fish we were served near the Sea of Galilee called St. Peter Fish. It too was very bony but delicious! Blessings and I hope Karen is feeling much better. May cooler days be ahead and soon.
12th September 2016

Cooler days now
About 5 days ago temperatures dropped 18 degrees. Thank you and Karen is getting better.

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