Camino Portugues Fisherman's Trail Portugal

Porto Covo to Azambuja

Today I was supposed to walk the 19kms to the next town, take a bus to Lisbon and a train to Azambuja, north of Lisbon, where I would start walking towards Porto. I ended the day in Azambuja, but a combination of a train strike and my broken shoes changed my plans. Today’s pictures are from Porto Covo.

I was up shortly after seven, packed my dirty clothes in a bag and walked into town to the launderette. On the door it stated that it opened at nine o’clock, but luckily the door was open, and instructions were in English. A television was showing news, and although I don’t understand that much Portuguese I understood that the trains were on strike. Not great when I was supposed to catch a train. I checked the bus timetables and not a single bus goes between Lisbon and Azambuja. That was a problem for later.

Instead of walking I’d decided to take the bus directly from Porto Covo to Lisbon. In Lisbon I had identified an adventure sports shop that sold hiking shoes – Yupik. So my plan for the day was to take the bus to Lisbon, visit the store and hopefully purchase a new pair of shoes and somehow get to Azambuja.

The bus ticket needed to be reserved online in advance. At the 10th attempt I finally was able to reserve a ticket – I should have guessed, when you want to pay with Visa, don’t press Visa but Paypal! With an e-ticket for the bus, washed clothes and a after a chat with my wife, I walked back to the hotel for breakfast. It was a grey and windy morning and max. eight degrees when I went down for breakfast.  It was cold, but that didn’t stop breakfast only being served outside. I went back up and put on a second fleece and a rain jacket. It was a pity, because the breakfast was high quality, with home made bread and jams and local produce – but it was eaten as quickly as at all possible.

After a pleasant chat with the owner, who was off to Lisbon for a surf competition, I set off for the bus stop, walking through the town and downing a coffee to warm me on the way. 

The bus arrived on time and was only one-third full. The journey to Lisbon was mostly along a motorway and took a couple of hours, arriving at the large Sete-Rios station on time. In the train station next to the bus station, I could see that all trains were cancelled. But that was a problem for later, as I needed to get to another part of town to buy some new walking shoes to replace my broken Salomon shoes. I found a luggage locker for my backpack, and then a kind man helped me buy a metro ticket. There wasn’t any understandable explanation at the metro station about how to buy a ticket – first buy a card, and then top up the card with the fare for the metro. I made my way on the metro to the Bella Vista shopping center, and after checking that out, walked a couple of kilometers to Yupik. 

There was a large selection and the lady in the shop was very helpful. I finally bought a pair of Garmond shoes that, on one fitting, seemed very comfortable. They gave me directions to get back to Sete-Rios on bus 755, but warned me that it would take time. And it did. On the other hand,  I got to see some of the Lisbon neighborhoods that a tourist doesn’t normally see, plus the university campus. After an hour, I arrived back at the station. I would estimate that 200 people had been on and off the bus during the journey.

Back at the station, I picked up my bag and took the metro to Oriente, both a bus and train station, and the station from where the train to Azambuja was supposed to depart. It took me ages to find the train station – signage at stations isn’t strong in Portugal. All trains were still cancelled. There was a massive bus station, so I spent 30 mins trying and find a bus amongst the 60 plus bus stops. But according to all the drivers, there weren’t any buses to Azambuja – only trains!

There were a hundred or so taxis in line at the taxi rank – probably having a good day due to the strike. When three drivers independently of each other said that a taxi to Azambuja would cost ca. 60€, I decided that it was the best course of action (and the only way to get there). The taximeter read 61,45 € when we arrived, and to my surprise the driver would only accept 60€, despite the trip lasting almost an hour and the driver having to return.

The place I had booked to stay the night, was an old monastery, but getting inside was a challenge. I had been sent a code to open the gate. Then another code to open a box containing the key to my room. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t open the box with the key. Luckily someone came down the stairs on his way out. He managed to open my box. My room was upstairs at the end of a corridor. The electricity didn’t work in the corridor, so with help of the torch on my iPhone I managed to find my room and the keyhole in the door. The room was massive and cold. There was a double and single bed, a tv and a bathroom with the smallest washbasin ever seen. Nothing else.

I dropped off my stuff and went straight to a restaurant next door to the monastery. I had an excellent meal, depicted below. I ordered a glass of wine and the waitress asked if it was likely I would take a second glass and if so, then I should take a bottle – I could always take what I didn’t drink home. She proposed a local wine, which was excellent, and the whole bottle was subsequently drunk 🙁 During my three weeks in Portugal, at 40€ this was my most expensive dinner.

Back in my room, it was straight into bed under 4 blankets. I slept well until 3 o’clock, but was again woken by talking, probably on the street, and then woke every time the church clock rang 4, 5, 6 and 7 o’clock.

My adapted plan had worked out well. I have a new pair of shoes and had made it to Azambuja, despite the obstacles. I was ready to start walking tomorrow, and just hoped I could break in the shoes without too many blisters etc., not least as I would be walking 34kms.

1 comment Add New Comment

  1. Kim says:

    Hi Steven, thanks for sharing your experience.
    It is super inspiring reads and also beautiful photos, that make me dream myself away from the Danish winter.
    Congratulations with your new shoes 🙂

    BR

    Kim

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