- June 14th, 2014
- Golega: Solo Duro (€10 euros, dorm)
- Weather: Horrendously hot, 38 degrees
It was the first night that I wasn’t alone in the hostel dorm (no pilgrims though) so I tried not to wake everyone when I got up at 3:30am. I packed my bag in the lounge area in a sleepy daze, I’ve never been up so early before to walk…
The way to leave the town of Santarem was through the ‘Porta de Santiago,’ a medieval pilgrims gateway and then down a steep dirt track… A little trickier with just a headlamp leading the way.
There was a quiet road running parallel to where the camino track was supposed to be, so when I couldn’t find the arrows for the track, I continued along the road. Finally I found an arrow crossing the road and following a country track so I took the track and within half an hour of walking through tall crops, no arrows, and coming across various dead ends, I made the painful decision to backtrack to the road… Cursing all the way!
2017 – the arrows are much better throughout the fields now and I haven’t been lost again since this first time!
Around 6:30am I walked through a tiny village and was very happy to see there was a cafe that was open. (I was carrying 1.5 litres of powerade, 2 litres of water plus a cheese sandwich and 2 boiled eggs as I wasn’t expecting anything to be open for the entire 34km in 38 degree heat). I went into the cafe and had a custard tart for breakfast washed down with 3 bottles of cold soda water.
It was a very happy moment to come across terrific Camino signage that pointed me along an ancient pilgrim road (Estrada Real meaning Royal Way) the last few kilometres into Golega.
Today was challenging and my mood was quite low but just like every other day when I’ve arrived in the destination I’ve been greeted by such friendly and kind hosts who make you feel at home straight away. I stayed in a dorm room at Solo Duro (€10) in the most beautiful house, the hostel accommodation was across the courtyard with 2 friendly dogs. The host, Lenore, brought me fresh cold watermelon which I lapped up after a nice cold shower.
I have to say how friendly everyone I’ve met has been. Even in a supermarket in Santarem one of the workers came up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and told me to find him if I needed any help. Most people speak terrific English as well which is completely different to the experience I had in Spain on the camino last year… Not that I expect anyone to speak English, I’m travelling through Portugal so I should speak Portuguese… But it does make things a lot easier! My Portuguese now includes: ice, cold, water, soda water, ham & cheese toasted sandwich, custard tart, good morning and thank you!
I had a lovely steak for dinner with red wine from the region (50 cents for a large glass and very drinkable) then hit the sack for another early morning departure.