Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25. 2012 Portugal - Salema to Sagres

Today we walked 20 km from Salema to Sagres. The walk began with about 1.5 km of steep steep road up from the Amare Guesthouse in Salema. Mike had a good chat with the person who provided our breakfast. Like others we have talked to, she told us that things are not good in Portugal. The cost of everything is going up, the VAT tax is 23%, there are far fewer tourists than usual and high unemployment. The average wage is only 600 Euros per month. Others have said that the Portuguese are not complaining like the Greeks - but times are obviously tough for many people. Today is an important national holiday celebrating the Carnation Revolution when the Portuguese decided to give up on their colonial wars in Africa - another hard time in their past. We are so lucky.

After the initial climb we walked inland, then back to the coast. Part of the time we were up on the cliff tops and then down to small beaches and back up again. A lot of going up and down. I haven't mentioned my cough but it was particularly trying today despite taking extra medication - especially on the ups which often started after a rest on a beach. Tomorrow I am going to take the ups more slowly and remember that you have to warm up for any cardio activity - including hill climbing. One of the neatest features today was the wide expanses of rocky fields full of thyme - in bloom. Plus all the other usual Portuguese wildflowers. Lovely.

We started at 9:30, had coffee on one beach, picnic lunch on another and lost the path on the top of a couple of different headlands and came very near to the cliff edge - but by about 4 pm we were back down on the big beach just before Sagres. In fact we were at the end where people were windsurfing and paddle boarding - mind you - wearing wetsuits. Those on the beach were sitting in little circles of stone built up at the back to provide protection from the wind and sun. We sat in one and had the last of our lunch. We were happy to find our hotel around 5:30. Like all the rest it is very nice - but not very busy.

We ate dinner at the nearby Italian restaurant - great salad, piri piri (hot pepper) pizza, and chocolate cake - followed by mint tea for me and a tiny glass of free port - very sweet and tasty. Outside the restaurant in the square is a statue of HENRY the Navigator - an important person for Portugal's age of discovery - reminds us of another important person...

Tomorrow we walk to Cape St Vincent - which is the furthest west part of Europe and an old pilgrimage destination. And by the way, Mike got sunburned on his arms so even though it was overcast, there must have been sun shining through.

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