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City: Rancho Palos Verdes
Begins: Mar 27, 2016
Date: Mon, Mar 28th, 2016
Entry Visits: 1,031
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Much to my surprise, I slept really well last night. I was lucky in that the six-bunk room only had me in it so there were no disturbances from roommates. I woke up a few times but I can't remember ever struggling to get back to sleep. When I looked at my watch it was nearly 7:00 am. I sure hope this was my way of getting past the jet lag. By the time I'd got ready to leave, breakfast was being served so I enjoyed that with the folks I met yesterday. Then I set off to the start. I passed the Cathedral and went up a hill to a church, the Igreja de Santiago that had a pink sign saying "Here Begins the Way". When I went past the Cathedral again I took advantage of no crowds and took a picture. It is quite a nice looking building but just an ordinary church by Camino standards, it certainly was not in the class of the magnificent cathedral in Burghos that I saw last year. There were three hikers waiting outside wondering how to get their credentials stamped. Although we didn't understand each other, I think they eventually understood I got the hostel's stamp so I didn't need the cathedral one. Apparently I'm not the only one that has had problems finding somebody at the kiosk in the cathedral where you get the credentials as well as the credential stamp.
The initial path out of Lisbon took me along a few narrow alleys and eventually came out by the train station near the River. The signs were sporadic but since the River was so large it was like having an ocean on the right. Except, I knew the Atlantic was west of me and the water here is on the east side of the city. Once my head had worked out the geography of Lisbon, all was well.
I went past some small docks including a small container terminal. When I got to the Parque das Nacoes, the architecture changed dramatically to a very modern style and there were large buildings, arenas and a theater. There was even a gondola but it only went horizontal along the riverfront for about a quarter of a mile. So I really didn't see the point of it. All this new building was for Expo '98 held here in Lisbon.
Further on I had to cross major roads but then the trail left the road and went along a narrow single track beside the Rio Trancao. Initially this was quite a relief to get away from all the hubbub of a major city, although it was right under the flight path into Lisbon airport so it wasn't completely tranquil. Later I was just glad to do this section without it raining as it would have been a quagmire. It was bad enough trying to skirt around the large puddles and not get my feet wet. Later when it became a fully-fledged farm road, it actually got worse as the farm machines had created massive ruts and the drainage from them was really poor. At one point I took a detour which got me around a large mud field but put me on the wrong side of a ditch. It needed quite a leap to avoid hitting a muddy section and I failed dismally. This was one time I missed the hiking poles as I have often used them to provide a support in the middle of the mud and then execute a sort of mini pole vault to increase my leap distance.
By early afternoon I was back at the River and it seemed the trail must have taken a long way around because the bridge and causeway of the Ponte Vasco de Gamma that I had walked past earlier didn't seem very far away. I think this route I'd taken was to avoid the IC-2 motorway and the equally busy N-10 north. After going through an industrial park, I reached the grassland that fronts the river. I'd read in the guidebook that the trail then wound its way "through rough vegetation" and I wasn't looking forward to it. But the reality was nothing like that. There was a brand new boardwalk that stretched over the marsh for nearly a kilometer and then there were dykes with wide gravel paths on the top. It was called the "Trilho do Tejo" and I think it's a preserve with lots of seabirds. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the day, especially the many ducks with their brood of ducklings trying to swim and learn how to find food.
This lasted to Alverca where I had a choice to make. Despite the built up areas there had been no sign of any accommodation and this was confirmed in the guidebook. In Alverca there was a 1.3 km diversion into town where there were a few lodging opportunities. The alternate was to keep going another 10 km to Vilafranca de Xira where there were several hostels close to the trail. You can guess which option I took - never have seen any point in going off trail only to have to walk back the next day. But, the trail route past Alverca was gruesome either passing through busy industrial areas or walking along the very busy N-10. On the road it seemed like the biggest sidewalk (and I use that term very generously as all I'm talking about is the amount of road surface outside the white line on each edge) was on the other side of the road but the road was way too busy to attempt a crossing. In California we have a law that vehicles must give cyclists at least three feet clearance when passing them - over here there is no such rule, even for pedestrians, so I was much closer to these fast moving vehicles than was comfortable.
Fortunately, the last couple of miles was another new section that was a pedestrian/cyclist path that ran beside the River. That was also very pleasant and sort of made up for the gruesome part I'd just finished. In town I quickly found the hostel I had picked out and it's very clean and comfortable. It was a Monday night so many of the restaurants were closed but I did manage to find one open and had a really good meal.
Now I'm completely beat. I couldn't believe how my legs were hurting so much. Not sure if I was just a little out of shape or I really underestimated the value of the hiking poles. But it was the first day so 24 miles was quite acceptable.
Camino De Santiago - Part Deux
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.
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