Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day 1: The Portuguse Way

Sept 17: I slept in a bit late, probably due to the lingering effects of jet lag, but I got up and was out by 9:30. My plan was to hike the first part of the Camino today, then take a train back to Lisbon and stay at the hostel a second night. I could leave stuff behind and slackpack my first day on the trail. =)

I loved these painted things that boats tie up on! This one looked like a hammerhead shark. Wearing lipstick. =)
The "official" start of the Camino is the cathedral, but I wanted to see more of Lisbon than what was strictly marked as the Camino and I walked in the opposite direction towards the east. I didn't have any maps of this section, but it was along the water so I figured it was hard to get lost. Just follow the Tejo River.

I went as far as the Jerónimos Monastery, a "World Heritage listed Gothic monastery" according to Google. The place was crowded with tourists. Buses hurled them out in massive quantities. It was a pretty area, but I wasn't excited about the crowds.

I didn't take many photos on the walk out since I knew I'd be retracing my steps back, but I declared this point to be my starting point of the Camino. I took a few photos and started the walk back--this time, taking plenty of photos along the way. I wasn't sure where I would start the virtual walk on Walking 4 Fun. Maybe here. Maybe at the traditional starting point at the cathedral. Maybe somewhere else entirely. I hadn't decided yet, but just in case I did decide to start from this point, I needed to take lots of photos.

The walk along the waterfront was lovely but uneventful. After making it back to the waterfront near my hostel, I took a path to the São Jorge castle. It sat at the top of a hill: a fort and a royal residence. The infamous Lisbon earthquake in 1755 severely damaged the castle and contributed to its decay. The earthquake was the part that fascinated me the most. I had recently read a book called This Gulf of Fire about the earthquake and its aftermath. The earthquake, quickly followed by devastating tsunamis and firestorms--swept through almost totally destroying the Portuguese capital. They didn't have seismographs back then, but it was one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history with estimates ranging from 8.5 to 9.0 and killed somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000 people in Lisbon alone. They weren't very good at counting casualties back then! It didn't help that the Portuguese government deliberately downplayed the disaster so as not to look weak fearing potential invasions from other countries.
25th of April Bridge. (That's the name of the bridge. The Portuguese have a common habit of naming stuff after apparently random dates.)
Very little of Lisbon survived the disaster and more than 250 years later, the reconstruction has long been over. But this castle was around during that time. It may have been damaged, but it survived.

I wandered around the castle for a couple of hours, admiring the views, walking along the castle walls, and touring the museum inside, then eventually headed back out and hoofed it over to the cathedral.

At the cathedral, I bought my credencial--the passport I'd have stamped wherever I'd stop for the night or at cafes or anywhere else providing stamps for pilgrims. It included my first stamp already--the cathedral stamp.

Before leaving, I decided to check out the cloisters and treasury room. They cost extra, but when would I be back in Lisbon again? The central courtyard of the cloister is being excavated and shows signs of the Roman, Arab and medieval periods, and I found it immensely interesting to turn back time to see structures created hundreds and hundreds of years ago. The stories these walls could tell....

Back outside, I started following the first yellow arrows--markers that would lead all the way to Santiago. They were often paired up with blue arrows facing in the same direction towards Fatima--another popular pilgrimage site. I wasn't heading to Fatima, but the two routes would overlap for a few days before splitting into different directions.

The trail headed along small city streets that weren't particularly interesting. It seemed like most of the stores I passed were closed, but I wasn't sure why. Because it was Saturday? Maybe everyone went home for lunch? Or maybe they had closed early for the day?

I started my hike from here--and look at the hordes of people! Buses were vomiting them in the hundreds!
I stopped for a bit to watch some sort of festival with groups of people dancing to an accordion. I never did find out what that was about, though, and eventually moved along after watching the festivities for 10 or 15 minutes.

Late in the afternoon, I missed a subtle (but important!) turn and wound up walking in circles for a half hour trying to refind the arrows. Eventually I had to backtrack and found where I had gone astray, cursing myself at the delay. It was getting fairly late in the day by now and I was starting to worry I might run out of daylight before I reached my destination.

Near sunset, I reached the Parque das Nações, the location of the 1998 Lisbon World Exposition. Until now, I'd been eating snacks out of my pack all day not wanting to take the time to stop and eat a proper meal, but I was hungry for something other than snacks and there was some sort of American festival going on when I arrived here. They had food trucks serving "American" food--I put "American" in quotes because some of it wasn't exactly what I recognized from the United States. But I figured the food trucks would be quick and easy to grab, eat and go. I couldn't wait long--daylight was fading fast.

So I ordered a hot dog and Coke. The hot dog was covered in something... I wasn't sure what. Fried, stringy things. Potatoes, maybe? The poor hot dog was drowning in it. I ate it anyhow, quickly downed the Coke, then continued the walk. My feet were sore at this point. I may not have been carrying a full pack, but I had covered a lot ground!

I knew the Moscavide train station was nearby and that was where I planned to stop and take the train back into central Lisbon. I figured I'd probably see a sign pointing to the train station, but I never did and by the time I realized, I must have already passed it, I didn't want to turn around and retrace my steps. There was another train station a couple of more miles ahead and it was practically right on the trail. I'd just catch it there instead.

Walking back towards the April 25th Bridge.
By now, the sun had definitely set and the sky was darkening fast. I was going to finish in the dark. Dark dark--not that "sunset dark" stuff. Taking photos became a difficult chore because I could no longer hold my camera steady enough to take in-focus photos. I would have to set my camera on a bench or something and start the 10-second delay timer to get photos. It was slow and laborious.

From the Expo area, the trail headed out onto a nice boardwalk along the river and away from civilization so even lights became rare. I hoped walking around this part of the city was safe at night, because I was definitely walking around at night now. I didn't see anything that made me suspicious of my safety, but I was in unfamiliar territory.

I finally arrived at the Sacavem train station at around 8:30 in the evening. There was a ticket machine, and I punched the button for English and followed the directions. I needed a card with at least a few euros on it, but everything I tried didn't work. I couldn't get a stupid card to come out of the machine.

A local on his way to the train was passing by me, and I asked if he understood English. He did, and I told him about my trouble figuring out how to work the darned machine. So he gave it a try and it didn't work. Then he tried it with the Portuguese language selected, and the machine still wouldn't give up a card. I'd have been happy to speak with an actual, living person who could issue tickets, but there were none. Just this machine that apparently wouldn't give out cards for people to ride the train.

My new friend said not to worry and pulled out his wallet. He had an extra card which had something like 50 cents left on it, and he'd let me have it. I'd have to reload it with more money, though, which the machine was able to do. I added three euros to the card, then scanned it and waited for the train. I offered to give the man a euro to cover the 50 cents that was still left the card, but he wouldn't take it. Very friendly and helpful!

The route followed this bike path along the way, which separated the two directions of traffic with a row of dots. I'm not sure if the Pac-Man was added by 'vandals' after the fact or was part of the design, but I really liked it! =)
The train arrived maybe 10 minutes later, and I rode it to the Santa Apolonia stop, then transferred to the metro which carried me to the Baixa-Chiado stop--the one nearest my hostel. Made it!

When I got up to the bed in my room, I found a guy sleeping in it. I went back down into the lobby to ask about that. Was he in the right bed? Had my bed been moved to another location? The woman in the lobby checked her records and said I was supposed to be in bed #324--the same one as the night before and that whoever was in my bed was in the wrong bed.

I went back up to the room and woke the guy up. I whispered--there were already other people trying to sleep--and asked him what bed he had been assigned. I didn't mind switching beds with him if he was already comfortable there. Maybe he had picked that bed not realizing that we'd been assigned beds and it was near his friend or something. I didn't know. He could have that one as far as I was concerned, but I needed to know which was his bed so I could take that one and not take someone else's bed!

He insisted that that was the bed he'd been assigned. I disagreed telling him, "I just talked the clerk downstairs and she assured me that it's not."

He didn't seem to believe me, though, and decided to go down there himself to find out what was what. I waited in the room, taking off my shoes but not getting too comfortable just yet. I might still get moved, or take whatever bed the other guy had been assigned. He came back about five minutes later, seemingly angry at me and started moving his stuff to another bed. I offered to take whatever bed he'd been assigned so he didn't have to move, but he was in a huff and kept moving his stuff to the other bed.

Whatever. *shrug* Finally having reclaimed my bed, I went down to the common room where people weren't sleeping to check email and write in my journal. I had taken 51,280 steps for the day--one of my longest days ever! About 25 miles worth of walking! My feet certainly felt like it. It was close to 11:00 at night by the time I could hit the sack. I was exhausted!

More of those painted tie-ups. They are called bollards.
Who! Whow!
Praça do Comércio
Arco da Rua Augusta
Lots of people walking around! =)
Rossio Square
There's a castle up in them there hills! And I intended to find it! =)
View from São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle
There were a lot of these neat trolley cars in Lisbon, but I didn't take any. Maybe next time!
Lisbon Cathedral
Inside the Lisbon Cathedral
The cloisters
Excavations in the cloisters--which was the most interesting part for me! Weird to see such extensive excavations on the inside of a cathedral!
Outside of the cathedral, they appeared to be rebuilding the street. A lot of the streets in Portugal are cobblestones! I was impressed with the sheer number of cobblestone streets. They're all over Portugal!
One of the first yellow arrows along the trail marking the route to Santiago!
Some sort of festival where they played an accordion and danced and stuff. Never did figure out what they were celebrating, though.
The yellow arrows often had blue arrows to Fatima beside it--Fatima being another popular pilgrimage site. For the first few days on the trail, the two trails would overlap so I could follow either color arrow to move in the correct direction.
This area was the location of the 1998 Lisbon World Exposition
I like the painted kid pointing to the periodic table! (The kid in the corner of the photo is real, though.)
There's a hot dog somewhere under all those condiments.
This was the Lisbon Expo mascot. He was named Gil, after Portuguese navigator Gil Eanes.
That's the Vasco da Gama tower in the background.
The sun has set and now darkness is fast approaching! gotta finish up the day's hike--pronto!
The Vasco da Gama Bridge goes over the Tijo River, but the trail just passes under it--not over it!
Gotta say, this mural was a little creepy to find while walking down the trail in the dark. *nodding*
The end of the road for me! The train station is at the top of this bridge, just off the left side of the photo. Time to get back to the hostel!
The train I caught into town wasn't very busy.....


Grrly Girl said...

25th April is Freedom Day in Portugal.
Love the night photo of the bridge.
Thank you Ryan "Ansel Adams of AQ" for a new adventure to follow.

Mary said...

"The Carnation Revolution (Portuguese: Revolução dos Cravos), also referred to as the 25th of April (Portuguese: vinte e cinco de Abril), was initially a military coup in Lisbon, Portugal, on 25 April 1974 which overthrew the regime of the Estado Novo." It's the Carnation Revolution because it was peaceful and they stuck carnations into the rifles and also on the uniforms of the soldiers. It seems many bridges and squares are named with significant dates - usually revolutions!

Anonymous said...

You walked thru town on a "quiet" day - we were there on a May Sunday when the square along the river was full of special olympics events, and school buses of scouts were being deposited at the cathedral. You didn't go downstream to the monument to the explorers?

di and her guy

Ryan said...

No, the explorer's monument was covered with scaffolding and kind of ugly at the time. I could see it from a distance and decided it wasn't worth the effort... this time around. Originally, I had been thinking about using it as the starting point of the walk until I saw it covered with all that scaffolding. Guess it was time for it to get a facelift!

JA Smith said...

I noticed that the different neighborhoods in Lisboa had unique patterns in their cobbled sidewalks. It was a cool way to navigate while I was wandering around town.

Mary said...

Those buses with all the people could be from cruise ships. I've been to Lisbon twice and the monastery was one of the shore excursions from the ship. These are beautiful photos.