“The Olive Garden”
11 April 2016
I liked the looks of Tomar, and my host, João – who teaches art and exhibits internationally – made breakfast and even my sandwich for lunch. I like the places I have stayed at through www.Airbnb.com. Such helpful hosts, so I am giving the network a ‘plug’.
My feet were really – I mean REALLY – sore for the first couple of hours, before the endomorphines kicked in. The weather was varying from clear blue skies to lowering thunderclouds.
The rain which fell from time to time, lasted just seconds , on each occasion so I cheated the Rain-gods for once today. I know they will have their vengeance, but I really do not care. I love the smell that pervades the Eucalyptus forests after rain
This area seems to the centre of olive production. Thete are acres and acres of them. I am amazed how they grow at all when so heavily pruned and pollarded.
The forests tracks are a treasure, and the flowers are stunning and the butterflies are out in number. I keep seeing one particular purple flower which I think is an orchid, but please tell me what it is if you know.
Very few watering-holes en route. The last that was open was at Solanda (just after Casais), which leaves over 20km to go. Thankfully I had food and water enough for the remainder, because there were no shops. This route parallels the main road, but misses the villages through which it passes.
The route wove through pretty hamlets set amongst the trees. Very few people to be seen. The houses are frequently adorned with tiled pictures – many religious. They look quite attractive and uniquely Portuguese.
Lots of country roads. There are so many lanes which have been cobbled in this unique Portuguese manner. A huge number of man-hours went into them originally, so a lot of wealth must have been around. I do not see the same goes into their present day upkeep. The same goes for the retaining walls which run for many kilometres alongside the roads. Someone invested so much time and effort into them. The steps built into them in places now lead nowhere and are almost hidden in the vegetation as you can see. It is sad to see this work of earlier stonemasons going to waste.
I went on through yet more and more olive groves. In one, almost hidden completely, was a strange, almost sinister, entrance into the hillside. The entrance looks neglected now, but someone went to a lot of effort to put this here. I wonder what they were storing?
At the village of Outerinho I had my first dog affray. Normally they are chained or fenced in. On this occasion, four dogs got out. The owners shouts were ineffective. My shouts and swirling stick were enough to keep all but one back. In truth only one came at me. I have criticised ‘sticks’ in the past, but today I was glad I had both of mine. I did not have to do any more than roar at it, and wave a stick fast in its face. I think the dog realised it was alone, and that I was not backing down. It gave up. It scared me however.
Alvaiázere is a strange town. It is a modern town, which seems to be in the heart of nowhere in particular. It has a very small old centre, but the rest is purely modern buildings. Even the ‘bread box’ to see seen at the gate of many of the rural houses that I have passed are modern. A suburb without an ‘urb’ almost. It even has its own version of La Grande Arche of la Defence in paris.
I was staying at O’Bras. Although I had booked ahead, they were unaware that I was staying. It proved to be OK, but as I was the sole person in the place, the heating was off, so a cold night.
These ‘Brierley’ days are 30+km and for this old man, they are proving very long to sustain, especially in the rain. Today I recorded 43,877 steps. Over 2,700 calories.- and each day is about the same. I am exhausted by the time I finish each day and my feet are very sore. Something is wrong I think as my right foot is very hot and looks to be swollen.
I may have to take it easy tomorrow.