Thursday, 21 May 2015
Did you ever get one of those days that start brilliantly and then descend into near tragedy? The early walk through the beautiful streets of Tomar and across the old Ponte Velha bridge was glorious. The route then led on to the most beautiful and uplifting walk I have ever experienced. The small dusty, stoney and windy path followed the Rio Nabao through dense vegetation that was a riot of colour. The smell of the wild white roses mingled with the wild garlic to produce a fragrance that only nature can bring to life and this along with the music from the cascading river joining in harmony with the birdsong and the bass notes of the frogs was a perfect example of natures ability to produce pure brilliance. Half way along the valley path I came across mans monument to civilisation, a large motorway bridge crossing over the valley and producing a thundering roar that drowned out the simple beauty of nature. I left the sounds of heavy traffic and the path behind me and walked through the villages of Casals and Soianda where I stopped for a coffee and visit a pharmacist to get cream for my feet. At this point it was extremely warm and the terrain was very undulating and by this I mean the road went straight down to go straight back up again. The road really was undulating and at one point had a ten percent incline that lasted about half a mile and almost separated body from soul. At this point, in the intense heat, I really felt a deep desire to call a total halt to the whole thing. Finally the yellow arrows took me in to a eucalyptus and pine forest where the shade of the trees offered a protection from the sun but the stone path kept on going up and then down. I walked this forest trail for over an hour and finally it turned into a country road that led to a village, but no arrows. Confused and slightly concerned because the village name, Pias, didn't appear on the map I entered a cafe for information and advice. I really didn't want to hear what the woman told me about missing a turn in the forest and now being fifteen kilometres from Alvaiazere instead of about six. There was only one thing to do and that was walk the main road for the fifteen kilometres. Hot, tired, angry,dusty, thirsty and hungry I finally arrived at Albergaria Pinheiro to be greeted by Carlos Pimheiro, the owner, who takes great pride in being the perfect host. I met up with Marcel from Holland, Pierre from France and two Finnish ladies Anne and Sinikka and we all enjoyed being offered a glass of ten year old port from Carlos and watch him take great pride in stamping our passbooks in the old way with melted wax. Then Dave and Fairlie Kinnecom my two American friends arrived and their tragic tale of missed paths in the forest at least made me fell that I wasn't the only one who could get lost. This evening the seven of us enjoyed a very tasteful meal in a local restaurant and on our return had another port with Carlos. This is one of the best albergues I have ever stayed in and Carlos is a great example of the perfect host.