This picture from Portas do Sol, in Santarem points north, overlooking the Tejo River. Somewhere in the distance I’ll find Golega tomorrow afternoon. It’s over 30 degrees┬áhere and I have brought a little something with me from London – a head cold maximus. Apparently coughing and blowing your nose is a guaranteed way to be by yourself here in Portugal. Like you’d avoid the plague, it seems I can make groups of people cross the street upon approaching me.

I arrived in Santarem around midday from Lisbon via train. The journey lasted about an hour and a nice taxi man drove me up the hill to my Hotel. A quick reorganization of my room then out the door to Centro. My mission was to do a recon and look for the starting point of my Camino tomorrow morning. I found Portas do Sol, but couldn’t see a path leading down from the main plaza. When I returned to my room I took a closer look at the map and see that I need to merge left down a street before the plaza – all important info for the morning.

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Next on my to-do list was getting my first ‘Carimbos’, or stamp, on my pilgrim passport. You need to get at least one every day of your Camino in order to get the certification in Santiago de Compostela, Spain upon completion. I think too, the last 100km you need two stamps per day. I found the Cathedral and got my inaugural Carimbo!

Santarem is a nice City – typical European older/Centro with narrow streets, crumbling bits of buildings, original paint and then the outer edges you see the newer part. Portugal is known for its ceramics and tiles, which you see in most of the older parts. Some buildings have entire facades with tile work. I passed the mercado (it was closed), but all around the building they had landscapes created in tiles of different agriculture and food areas. Here’s a close up of one with horses.

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I skyped with Michael this afternoon and aside from my head cold, he asked how I felt about tomorrow. I feel excited that it’s finally here – eve of the Camino. The first three days will be the longest (30 – 32kms each day), so I will carry lots of water, but I don’t feel as apprehensive as the last few weeks, leading up to my journey.

Will try to blog tomorrow, after my first epic day, but no promises…depends on how I feel and of course that funny thing called a wifi signal may be a factor. I’ll leave you with this from my guidebook:

“Santarem, a charming, historical city, straddles a fortified hilltop well out of reach of the floodwaters of the Tejo…..The town provided a major stronghold for the Romans and Julius Caesar chose it as the administrative centre….It was occupied by the Moors [Portas do Sol sits atop of a former Moorish Citadel] until it was recaptured in 1149 and returned to the Portuguese.”

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