Date: 3 April 2018
The Portuguese Way – Day 2
Walked from: Alverca do Ribatejo
Walked to: Amazbuja
Remember how easy it was to make friends when you were a child? You’d just rock up to another kid in the park, start playing and the next thing you’re the best of buddies. Walking the Camino can be like that: you start the day on your own and end it realising you’ve spent almost the whole day enjoying the company of a group of people you’ve never seen before, while walking 30km or so. It’s a beautiful thing.
Today’s walk could have been a bit dull. The sky was (largely) overcast, there was a lot of walking along roads, and the area is an odd mixture of industrial (or abandoned post-industrial) buildings and flood planes. But one kilometre out of Alverca this morning I got talking to Susan, a fellow Camino walker, from California. And minutes after that we bumped into Massimo (Italian) and Valter (Portuguese-German) emerging from a cafe and the next thing we had been walking along together chatting for 11km and it was the most natural thing in the world to all stop for a late breakfast in the pretty looking town of Vilafranca de Xira. And then all stop again for lunch 12km later in Vila Nova de Rainha. And our dinner together tonight in Alverca was lovely… although (note to self), if you ever get kissed again by your waitress as you leave a restaurant, you’ll know you’ve over-tipped!
The pretty riverside path from Alhandra to Vilafranca was definitely a highlight from today, as was the discovery that the Camino has been rerouted away from what would have been a 7km slog alongside a very busy road, to a quiet track alongside the railway line. It was also a real pleasure to talk to George (pictured below), the volunteer working at the pilgrim hostel here in Amazbuja (after an adult lifetime spent working in the Portuguese military), whose passion for the Portuguese Way was inspiring.