In the company of angels in Santarem.

Day 5 – 15th October 2016, rest day in Santarém.

Hello friends, pilgrims and fellow world travellers!

Learning to listen to the body and rest

Sometimes it’s hard to rest properly when on the move, even when the body screams out I “I need sleep!”. There’s always some unconscious compulsion in the traveller to hurtle into perpetual motion, onwards to the next place, to another adventure and one more destination (…or finding quickest way to the next party as Joost, from the film ‘The Way’ would say)…Travelling can become addictive. Walking the Camino no less so!

However on this occasion, both Brett and I were fairly pooped by the time we reached the N1 Hostel, Apartments and Suites. After our kind hostess had pampered us by cooking our first, wonderful, proper pilgrim meal and our host had brought out the family-produced Portuguese red wine, which soothed our troubled brows, we gave in. We flopped into crisp, cool sheets on a comfy bed! Thankfully the room and the hostel was quiet and we slept soundly.

Feeling totally at home, by the morning, and recognising our bodies needed more time to recharge, we wanted to stay another night but, sadly, the hostel was fully booked over the weekend. Instead, the receptionist kindly went the extra mile and booked us in to a room in neighbouring Hotel Vitoria. So off we trotted with our packs to check in and were pleased to discover our room turned out to be a a large ensuite, reasonably priced with breakfast included. We decided we’d be out of the door before they served it the next morning!

Earth angels are everywhere

Earth angels are everywhere. You might recognise them. They are people, who seem to know exactly what you need, when and go out of their way in kindness and compassion to help you. Even in the most everyday things. We’ve met a few of them in Santarém e.g. the man who stopped to give us a lift up the hill to the main hostel, the restaurant owner, the taxi driver, the hostel and hostess in N1 etc. Today we encountered more.

The N1 Hostel daytime receptionist, for example, who found us the best alternative accommodation, she didn’t have to but she did. The second one of the day materialised in the guise of a lady in the tourist office, who took the time to explain to us where to find a self-service launderette. Now you may be reading this and thinking, ‘well that’s not an awfully spiritual pursuit’ – hunting down a place to wash clothes. However, they do say ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ and we didn’t want our steamy socks and sweaty travel pants to trigger a mass exodus from Santarém.

Suffice to say, we had been wandering around the streets for what felt like ages to our tired feet in search of one.  There’s plenty of professional laundries, where you pay for someone to do your washing, drying and ironing for you but we were trying to save some money as accommodation has been more expensive than expected overall. We were slightly perplexed as to why we couldn’t find a self-service one, as any pilgrim knows these can be a Godsend to a pilgrim on a budget after a few days of schlepping sweaty-bettyness in the baking sun!

We paused to re-energise with a morning coffee and pastry in a café along Rua Serpa Pinto. Then we retraced our steps and popped into the Tourist office. Sure enough the lady behind the desk knew exactly where two were and would you believe it one of them was only a short distance from our hotel  on the same road where we stopped to have morning coffee. By the way, just in case you are planning to walk the Camino Portgués too, the launderette is tucked away in a corner of a parking lot, just off Rua Serpa Pinto.  It costs 4.20 euros to wash a load weighing 9kgs and 2 more euros to dry. Each cycle takes approx 20 mins and you don’t need to put soap in the machine. Its all automatic. Problem solved. We dropped our clothes off and went sight-seeing and called into the Igreja do Hospital de Jesus Cristo – a church that was open!

The church felt peaceful and serene in it’s simplicity compared to one of two of the churches I visited in Spain on the Camino Frances, that were adorned in gold and packed with icons. Colourful and detailed paintings, including an amazing frieze on the ceiling depicting angels, drew my eyes towards them and I gazed in awe for a while. I reflected on the angels we meet in our everyday lives and gave thanks.

Taking it easy enjoying delectable delights

Brett and I wandered around the town until it was time to grab some lunch at a restaurant inside a shady courtyard, which served traditional Portuguese fayre.  We tried the Iberian pork secret with handmade chips and a bean and herb accompaniment, bread and garlic olives, with half carafe of wine for 20 euros for 2 including a tip. I’m not usually a great fan of pork to be honest, but it’s worth trying the secret!

An afternoon siesta beckoned. Bliss. Waking only long enough for Brett and I to stroll in the moonlight over to Tasca’s for a light evening meal. I sampled the salmon salad consisting of cured salmon, fresh greens, tomatoes, capers, light goats cheese and alphonso mango slices…a weird combination worthy of a masterchef audition but strangely works. Meanwhile, Brett enjoyed the bitoque of turkey with chips and salad. A large glass of wine each washed our meals down well. All in for 20 euros for 2 including a tip.

And so ended our brief R&R in Santarém, a city of angels.

Distance walked today = not recorded!

Cumulative distance walked = still at 103.38 km

Peace, love and light,

Sarah xxx


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