- June 15th, 2014
- Tomar: Hostel Tomar 2300 (€15 in a female dorm)
- Weather: Still hot, 36 degrees
I left at 4:45am and the abundance of arrows showing the way put a huge smile on my face for the first couple of hours! The route was along a quiet country road surrounded by fields with birds chirping, sprinklers watering the crops, 2 curious foxes, horses, bulls and a lovely sunrise.
I walked past an exquisite Quinta and according to google, “The first historical record of Quinta da Cardiga goes back to 1169, when the first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques, donated the lands already cited as “Quinta da Cardiga” to the Templar Knights.” The attached buildings are not quite complete ruins, but are on their way. Yet the main house still looks beautiful and ancient with ivy covering its front. I stood looking at it for a long time and took many pictures. Hopefully someone will bring it back to life… Turn it into a museum or a hotel or something to open the doors and let you inside to witness the history going back 8 centuries.
So it was a great start to the morning until I arrived at the eucalyptus forest. The guidebook said “extra vigilance is needed through this next section” because the arrows had either peeled off the bark when the eucalyptus trees shed is bark or the eucalyptus had been logged along with the arrows! The arrows I could actually see were conflicting with the guide but I followed the arrows assuming they were newer than the guide… Then the arrows ran out and by now I couldn’t use the guidebook because I had already strayed so far from its directions. The arrows became ribbons which I continued to follow for quite some time before coming to a highway and finally realising the ribbons were not for the camino! 😦
I had two choices. Either backtrack up the hill back into the eucalyptus forest and try to find the correct way, or continue along the highway which missed a couple of villages with cafes but ultimately went the right direction. I chose the adrenaline pumping highway walk again but there was at least a tiny shoulder for me to walk in when a car approached.
The camino joined the highway I was walking along so it was comforting to see an organisation like the camino was making you walk the death defying highway route! I passed a dead snake with a diamond head, which my Aussie survival instinct says is not a friendly snake but I have no clue what it was even after googling Portuguese snakes. I showed the picture to an old man in the first cafe I came across, 24km into my journey, and although he couldn’t speak English, when I used google translate to ask if it was poisonous, he said no… Still when I finally found camino signs again and they pointed me along a route that was an overgrown dirt track, I wasn’t so keen to be walking through the long grass on a hot day in shorts!
I arrived at Hostel Tomar 2300 (€15 in a female dorm) in Tomar at 1:30pm and after showering and washing clothes, I slept like I’d been sleep deprived for a week. When I woke I decided if I was going to have any chance to see the sights of this medieval Knight’s Templar town then I was going to have to stay another night. Tomorrow I plan to sleep in then leisurely stroll around the town taking in the sights and then sleep some more 🙂