CAMINHO PORTUGUÊS – Nazaré
(13,080 steps – 9.88 kms – 6.14 miles)
Azenhas do Mar
Our plans for today were unambitious. First, a walk to the café that adjoined the albergue. Second, a 2-kilometer walk to the far end of Azenhas do Mar. Third, another coffee and a strategy meeting. Yesterday was a tough day and my knee could use a break. The first coffee was good, the walk-through town along the Atlantic was stunning, and the second coffee was also good.
Our original plan was to locate a path or trailblaze a way from here to Nazaré. There was no clear-cut way, but we had read reports of a few that had done it. After yesterday’s experience, the thought of doing another 60 kilometers of that was out of the question. It was fun in retrospect, but we had a larger objective (Santiago de Compostela) to fulfill. Our new plan – hitch a ride to Nazaré, rest the bodies, and begin the pilgrimage tomorrow morning.
We were in Nazaré a few hours later.
The taxi delivered us to the center of town and drove away. It immediately started to rain. We ducked under an overhang and put on our rain gear, then set forth to get our bearings in the new town. We walked west, knowing eventually we would arrive at the ocean. Once there, we could work our way back to the parts of town we needed to be in.
But first, we had lunch. There was another hamburgueria (remember, hamburger store) in a plaza just off the beach. We enjoyed another delicious burger, the Portuguese are 2-for-2. After the meal, we searched for our lodging, found it, and then took a nap.
Our goal this evening was to find the cathedral and or the tourism office to gather more information about the pilgrimage path from Nazaré to Fátima. We generally knew there was a way, but we didn’t even know where to begin.
First, a couple of notes about Nazaré:
- It is a beautiful beachside town, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
- It is a tourist town, because of the beauty and the surfer appeal. Some of the biggest waves in the world roll in here.
- The town is divided into 2 parts – Lower, more tourist vibe, and Upper, the Old Town. The upper part sat atop a promontory high above the Lower. A long, steep hill connected the 2 parts.
- The cathedral and adjoining tourism office are located in the upper part. My right knee protested.
Tourists Prepping for Pilgrimage
My right knee’s protest was overruled by the necessity of learning about what we would be doing tomorrow. We climbed the hill to the Sitio, the Old Town on the hill. Actually, Doug climbed. I did my broke-knee shuffle…shuffle step, shuffle step, step up with left knee. Repeat until we covered the 15 kilometers (not really, but it seemed so) to the top.
Once atop, we found the cathedral and took a quick, self-guided tour. At the adjoining Tourism Office, a very hospitable lady gave us all the answers we needed. There are three Caminhos de Fátima:
- The Norte from Valenca on the Spanish border, south to Fátima.
- The Tejo from Lisboa, north to Fátima.
- The Caminho da Nazaré, west to east. The way we had chosen.
The kind lady told us where to begin, not far from where we stood, and to follow the Blue Arrows all the way to Fátima. She further told us that we wouldn’t see many people out there, as the main date for pilgrimage was in May (related to the visions of Mary). With that, she stamped our credentials and sent us on our way.
From there we walked to the Lighthouse to see if there were any big waves coming in. There weren’t, so we walked back through the Old Town, and back down to the Tourist Town where we were staying.
Tomorrow morning, the pilgrimage journey begins!