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Sunday, 17 May 2015

I hope Benfica don't ruin a good nights sleep.

This morning I was at the door of Lisbon Cathedral at 7.15 and took my first steps on the road to Santiago. The first way marking symbol appears to the right of the Cathedral steps, so in true Camino tradition I touched it and started walking.The first 9K went fairly quickly, in the cool bright morning sunshine, as I walked pass and indeed through some of the cities historical sights until I joined the walkway through the Linear Park, with  its line of bronze statues as it runs parallel to the rio Tejo, and all the time the impressive 17km long Vasco da Gama bridge was getting closer and closer. After this pleasant start it was a shock to have to walk along a busy road for about 4K but then I turned right on to a path that took me through beautiful countryside. It was at this point I met two Italian walkers Tony and Andrew who are also heading to Santiago.
By now the temperature was rising as we walked through vine fields and row upon row of poppies. I even stopped to take a picture of a man gathering lemons and not a gin in sight. After about 20k we stopped for drinks at a small cafe in Alpriarte and met two German girls who are walking to Porto. At this point I had to leave them and start walking, or be sick, as Andrew started lancing the biggest blood blister I have ever seen. The next six or so kilometres was me and Van the Man walking in tandem along a dusty path through  corn fields as the sun got hotter. The path then deviated through a wetland nature reserve and the noise from the wild life was deafening as I walked along a boardwalk for about five kilometres . The final four kilometres into Alverca were along main roads again and I must admit that in the heat of the sun I found these difficult. I met up with the Italians in Alverca. I was sitting enjoying a large coke when they arrived so we took a time out from walking. The problem with time outs is that you stiffen up and the next kilometre or so was quite painful. The three of us had decided to walk through  Alverca even though it was the end of the stage one walk. The Italians stopped near Alhandra but I decided to do the extra 7K into Vilafranca and this stretch with its new path that passes through several marinas  and boat clubs on the Rio Tejo was stunning. I must say that by the time I reached Vilafranca I was hungry, thirsty, in need of a shower and looking forward to a quiet night after walking 42K. When I get it wrong I usually do it big style. The drink, the food, and the shower all went as planned but then Benfica FC won the Portuguese league and the whole town is going nuts. I couldn't even talk to Mary with the noise of car horns as they drive around the streets waving their red flags. I hope the celebrations don't last all night.

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