Tag Archives: Vale de Figueira

Vale de Figueira to Golega

9/4 – we allowed ourselves an hour for the 20 minute walk to the train station this morning, and we needed it! We got turned around and had to retrace our steps, but we got there just in time for the 7:56 am train to resume the Caminho where we left off yesterday. image

A Nice Young Lady of Portugal engaged us in conversation on the train, and was able to explain why we’ve been having so much trouble with the language. Google Translate only gives us Brazilian Portuguese, which can be very different from Portugal Portuguese. We were asking for Trem (for train), when the local word is Ferro. Duh!

Nothing new to report today… more corn, more tomatoes, more peppers. We did spy a patch of pumpkins, and a sunflower field. image


The last 5 miles into Golega was on a busy highway with absolutely no shoulder to walk on. Every time a truck went by I covered my face and hoped for the best. Better routes for pilgrims, please!

The town of Golega is known for horses and there is a great statue at the entrance, in case you had any doubts.image


We stayed at a hotel above a restaurant, and were the only guests! Our room had an ensuite toilet without a door, which was a little weird, but oh well…

For supper, Jim wanted to try a local specialty, so I ordered the same thing. We got plates piled high and overflowing with pork ribs, four different kinds of sausage, tripe, chick peas, cabbage, rice, carrots, potatoes and other things I could not identify. I gave it the old college try, but couldn’t eat half of the serving. Should have taken a pic, because you won’t believe how much food there was – I may never eat again…

Walking gives you lots of time to think, and today I thought about folks back home.

We’ve been keeping up with our boys and grand babies weekly by video call. Emma at 20 months likes to say Hi Gramma, and she always asks to see Grandad, so Jim jumps into the picture and we wave. After that, she may show us a toy, or go off and play, or sit down to color, and we can watch her while we catch up with Peter and Lauren. Not sure what she thinks of us being on the flat screen.

Up until a few weeks ago, Lexi at 3 and a half would say hello, tell us her news from school, sing a song and generally ham it up in Lexi style. Recently, however, she’s become more interested in where we are, asking why we are always calling from bed (at a hotel), why we don’t have a living room, and asked if we were real or just a picture. When I told her we were real, she asked to see the back of my head, as proof that we were three dimensional! Last Sunday, she asked when we were coming home, and if we would come home if she gave us our house back. She asked if we were coming to her birthday party in January. Several times.

Now that it’s September, I think about the start of choir practice, and the start of book study, and the friends who will be starting without me. I think of the folks at the Q and hope they are ready for another holiday season.

So, there is another side to life on the road, and that’s missing the people you love, even though you’re having a wonderful time.

Santarem to Vale de Figueira

9/3 – our original plan for today was to walk 15 miles north, which would give us a short 5 mile walk the following day. Our host Mario suggested a different plan: walk 7 miles north today without our packs, take the train back to Santarem, then reverse the process tomorrow, giving us a 13 mile day. This sounded like a good idea for us, plus it would give Mario another night of our business.

Santarem is a confusing town with many little alleyways, and the maps don’t show all the streets, so we had a challenging time getting out of town in the morning. This is the last time we will see blue arrows for the pilgrimage to Fatima, as those pilgrims are now walking in the opposite direction:


There are several old churches with interesting architecture:




The cathedral had an open square inside, with palm trees growing within!



It was a foggy morning, and the view from the summit of the hill, where the old castle walls stand covered in morning glories, was breathtaking:




We shared the path for a while with Robert, a Pilgrim born in the U.S. but lives in France. Then we were back on dusty sand tracks, looking at today’s crops of peppers, corn, grapes and olive trees:

We reached the sleepy little town of Vale de Figueira by 11, and assumed we would be able to find the train station, either by hearing trains, seeing tracks, reading a sign, or asking helpful townfolk. No such luck! Google Translate gave us the Portuguese for Train Station, but the townfolk looked at us like we were speaking Martian. Then we tried making Choo Choo sounds, but that really didn’t help. Jim determined from our small map that the station was on a different road than the Caminho, but as soon as we turned left, EVERYBODY became a Nice Person of Portugal; pointing, prodding and gesticulating that we were going the WRONG WAY!

We found the station eventually, and in a half hour we were back in Santarem. Here are some of the lovely tile mosaics at the train station:

Tomorrow, we hoist our packs and head for Golega!