Dan 2: Vila Franca De Xira

The day started at 5:00…  pitch dark outside…

but the arrows are still visible. I’ve set the headlamp in order to see ahead since I have hiking poles in my hands. This is also the first time I tested the headlamp in field conditions.  Wow…  it shines as brightly as anti-aircraft searchlights in the old war movies.

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The path is overgrown with shrubbery…  in some places it forms small tunnels.  Simona is wearing a kind of elvish green cloak …  Lord of the Rings style.  She also has an Iron Man – style light and some Batman style gadget…  all in all, a diverse taste in movies.

The path leads to a city  and than a promenade stretching across the river marsh. A few locals on their morning stroll or  jogging over wooden pathways and small bridges. There is a another group of locals out this morning …  mosquitoes …  a lot of them …. in fact a substantially huge number of them.  So much of them that I was forced to put a buff over my face.

The pathway ends near the railway crossing …  after a bit of up and down on the  staircase… a new town.  The Way leads next to the school,  over the fields to the main road.  Walking alongside the road is not that dangerous because the traffic is light and the path next to the road is wide.

The way leads to the river,  passing the fence painted in blue and yellow…  Camino colours. New town features a river promenade.  This river Tejo is quite wide..  I can barely see the opposite shore.

At the beginning of the promenade a gent is sitting on the bench,  under an umbrella.

This section of the promenade looks like a part of some resort complex.  Lots of people enjoying the summer day … young and old …  cyclists and joggers.

Nobody is Bom Caminho – ing yet.  The first time I heard that pilgrim greeting was from Via Lusitâna couple yesterday.  Camino doesn’t appear to be known much,  maybe because there aren’t many pilgrims south of Porto. Also many pilgrims are heading towards Fatima.

Arrived at the Vila Franca De Xira at 10:45 and found a hostel. Look … there is a room with beds on the ground floor …  alas the next available room is on the third floor (the highest one)…  naturally.

A standard Camino routine follows …  a shower and followed by clothes washing …  no matter how much you’d (really, really) prefer a nap after the shower.  This time I kind of cheated…  errr …  took a shortcut and used a washing machine.  But hey I’ve got a good excuse … apparently my hand washing soap is one of those “ordinary ones”  from the commercials and not the magical “hocus pocus one”  that removes even the difficult stains in a second or two.

In a little while a new pilgrim shows up, a Korean girl Myongsoon Seo, who left Lisbon today.  Not only did she fry under the sun for a long stretch, but she also got lost for a while looking for the arrows. So I helped her install the GPS file with Camino route.

Next to the restaurant is a indoor marketplace and a fish-market.  There is also a restaurant nearby.  The lady running the place decided to help me practice my Portuguese by refusing to speak English.  I  figured out the soup is made of vegetables and how to order a beefsteak …  eventually. Good food,  great beer and a decent price.  At the end I got a negative fashion review on my hat. True enough,  it doesn’t look like the Indiana Jones type…  nor am I Harrison Ford…  but it provides great sun cover. I greatly prefer functionality over fashion anyway.

Later I helped Simona buy a Portuguese sim card.  In this town “fala inglés”  doesn’t work the same way as in Lisbon. My limited Portuguese actually proved quite useful,  and when words fail me I use Spanish and Italian as a kind of verbal crutch to make myself understood …  more or less.

That was day no. 2.