8/23 – For those who may not know, the reason we are in Portugal is to walk the Way of St. James, a pilgrimage walk of 385 miles from Lisbon north to the Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago, Spain. We completed the Camino Frances, across northern Spain west to east, in 2011, and liked the experience so much we thought we’d do it again from another direction. There are many routes, from different countries, all ending at the same cathedral. The Camino Frances is the most popular route, with dozens (sometimes hundreds!) of fellow pilgrims walking with you every day. This Caminho (the H is pronounced as a Y = CamEENyo) Portugues is much less traveled, and there are fewer pilgrim accommodations along the way.
So, today we start our walk. The challenge with this journey is that the towns, with places to eat and places to stay, are about 20+ miles apart. My definition of a good day’s walk is about 12 miles, and my personal best (without injury) is 15 miles. So! Fortunately, I am not the only person with this challenge, so we have learned some “work arounds” that should enable us to complete each step of the Caminho.
Our first goal is to walk to Sacavem, about 8.5 miles, then return to Lisbon by bus. Later in the week, we will take a train back to this point, and then walk the 13 miles remaining to the next town with accommodations. Easy!
We started out after our hostel breakfast of corn flakes and boxed milk, buttered rolls with jam, juice and instant coffee. The Caminho starts at the Cathedral Se, with a painted yellow arrow to show the Way:
We walked past the tourist part of Lisbon, and encountered a huge Saturday flea market that ran down several blocks. Lots of people, most with just a few, used household goods to sell.
We walked through the industrial edge of the city, until we reached the site of Expo 1998, Parque das Nacoes. There are many attractions for tourists here, including a large aquarium, the Oceanarium.
We spent the afternoon enjoying the displays of all the ocean habitats from tropical to arctic. We saw puffins, penguins and sea otters, and all manner of fish coexisting peacefully in huge tanks. The sharks and predator fish are fed by hand on a strict schedule, so that they leave the other fish alone. Remarkable!
Then we walked under the sky tram and the Vasco da Gama Bridge:
Just before the town of Sacavem, we saw our first waymark for those walking the Pilgrimage to Fatima. Both pilgrimages follow the same path until we reach Fatima – Santiago marks in yellow, and Fatima marks in blue:
We’ll return to this spot later in the week to pick up where we left off!