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LIVE from the Camino Caminho Nascente, 2021 September observations

Past OR future Camino
2021
September 2021:
Well against quite a few ‘odds’ I travelled to Portugal and am now attempting to follow @jungleboy (and Wendy) on the Caminho Nascente from Tavira to Trancoso. Their posts from May/June inspired me to follow their footsteps.

Their notes and subsequent Wise Pilgrim App (WP) are my lifelines. If I discover anything new or relevant to September cf May, I’ll post here.

As we all know, travel is changing by the day so I’m not sure how far I’ll get.

FYI: It’s unlikely I’ll be online very much to reply. Apologies in advance.
First Week:
Day 1 from Tavira to Vila Real de Santo Antonio.
Tavira: the church of Santiago was open again. Perhaps only open during the ‘summer season’ as it is part of a 4-church route. You purchase a passport/card for 10€ (5€ pilgrims) and obtain a stamp at each of the churches.
In Tavira I stayed at O Muralha ( 77€. Rua da Liberdade n.º 22 TAVIRA. P: +351 927 139 283 )
Today’s walk to VRSO was pretty exhausting for me. 26km and very hot coming from winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Day 2: I walked VRSA to Alcaria (I was not able to get accom at the stage end of Almada de Ouro).

A lovely country walk after the first few km to Castro Marin on a bike path. From here I reverted to WP (wise pilgrim) tracks (GR15) taking me off the road walking. It was lovely although more ups and downs.

In Junquera the little bar opened at 8.45. Basic, not friendly. Better bar in Azinhal. From Almada de Ouro to Alcaria, again on the quiet WP track.

Lovely bar in Alcaria (Albertos) with a wholesome lunch. I called the taxi office in VRSO to return me for the night. (+351 969950303)

And of course, next day (D3) taxi back to Alcaria to walk the remainder of the stage to Alcoutim.
I was expecting a casual wander beside the R. Guardiana. Not so. It’s mostly on the road 100m away from the river, with many ups and downs. The river glimpses were súper with many pleasure yachts moored next to holiday homes.
There were no stops all day and the first week of September was very very hot.

Arrival in Alcoutim was a blessing. I found my way to Brisas do Guardiana (Rosalia +351967531064. €60) and enjoyed a room with pretty view over the castle. A small town and very easy to wander around. Stamp from tourist office. Make sure you see the Bordallo II sculpture of a cat down by the river.
Next stage (day 4) Alcoutim to Mesquita proved a problem. Cesar’s ‘albergue’ in Mesquita was booked out with archeologists working in the area. So I just decided to miss that stage. Rosalia organised a 6.30am taxi to Mesquita and from there I walked to Mértola.

This gorgeous area is where you start to see the public bread ovens in the small villages. It’s also a very popular hunting area - I disturbed many pheasants on the quiet country tracks.
Stop first in Vicentes, visit the public bathroom (many villages here have them). The next village Lombardos has a tiny bar for refreshments.

From here there are 3 options: over a rickety bridge (shortest), through farmland (middle) and returning to the N122 following the arrows (longest and gruelling if hot).
At the bar I was told the bridge is broken, so plan B was to take the country route on WP.

Unfortunately I missed a turn and ended up on the N122. Lots of traffic, 9km in 32C and no shade. Not my favourite day.

But arriving to Mértola and accommodation Casa do Funil (Paula +351286610010 or Rui +351934187455 €60) was a pleasure that made it worth it. Great hosts, super helpful and kind. Rui is an artist/architect and drew- painted the most beautiful stamp in my credential. Very special.
Day 5: Mértola to Amendoeira 29km. The hot weather had become an issue, and another long day of sun not an option. Rui kindly dropped me some of the way and I completed the rest of the way stocked up with water. Fabulous day with rolling valleys, livestock and pheasant hunting land.

The only stop, Mosteiro has a small bar where all the villagers seem to pass.
Only 3km to Amendoeira in 36C now! and a wonderful reception at the Recreation centre. The locals told me it had reached 48C the previous week!

It was Saturday and the annual fiesta Pulo do Lobo was in full swing. (Lucky to get food)

At the Rec Centre I was given the keys to the ‘albergue’ (50m away) complete with lovely comfy beds, sheets and towels 30€ (Ph the day before- Maria +351286998011) Order any meals you want in advance also.

From here to Cabeça Gorda (day 6) a dirt farm road all day. A couple of very steep parts but mostly rolling hills.

At 15km in the Vale do Russins I happened to ‘luck out’ arriving on a Sunday - bread baking day.

Unfortunately Cabeça is not a great place to arrive on a Sunday. Make sure you organise accommodation here in advance - on a weekday by calling the local council. (+351284947294)

The free accommodation offered is in a day centre for elderly. There is one ‘hospital’ bed with a rubber mattress and a few blankets but you’ll need a sleeping sheet or bag.
Lovely friendly girls will check you in but you won’t be allowed to have a key. 😊

On Sunday there is one place for lunch Casa de Pasto (there are two bars with the same name, it’s the one furthest from the church)

Cabeça Gorda to Beja (day 7) was my ‘day of dogs’ A lovely mainly flat walk but many security dogs. A couple of them were not tied up but only growled, no biting.

Stayed in a private apartment in the centre €50 ( call Joana +351961489032 )
Spend time wandering the castle walls and the wonderful Keep later in the day. The tourists have left by 5. Closes at 6pm
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Past OR future Camino
CF, Primitivo, CdM, CP, Nascente, Geira, Fisterra
Thanks for posting this Grace! It's fun to for us to follow you on this route because it's still so fresh in our minds, and having someone else provide practical information is also really helpful. I can already see things in your post that are new to us and will add to the growing available info about the Nascente.

I was expecting a casual wander beside the R. Guardiana. Not so. It’s mostly on the road 100m away from the river, with many ups and downs. The river glimpses were súper with many pleasure yachts moored next to holiday homes.

It's the next stage Alcoutim-Mesquita that has the really nice river views and the whole day is in the countryside on hiking trails, so it's quite a contrast in just one day.

Make sure you see the Bordallo II sculpture of a cat down by the river.

I previously wrote in a street art thread about how I like Bordalo II's Big Trash Animal series and this one (actually an otter) is one of my favourites. There is another one in this series later on the Nascente in Fundão in the Beiras if you make it there!

From here there are 3 options: over a rickety bridge (shortest), through farmland (middle) and returning to the N122 following the arrows (longest and gruelling if hot).
At the bar I was told the bridge is broken, so plan B was to take the country route on WP.

This is a really tricky part and even after getting advice from César we were still a bit unsure what to do. I think we took the 'broken' bridge which was a bit dangerous (very narrow with no rails and vegetation acting as obstacles). But after this there was a riverside walk and a spectacular first sighting of Mértola with only a bit of highway at the end.

Unfortunately Cabeça is not a great place to arrive on a Sunday. Make sure you organise accommodation here in advance - on a weekday by calling the local council. (+351284947294)

The free accommodation offered is in a day centre for elderly. There is one ‘hospital’ bed with a rubber mattress and a few blankets but you’ll need a sleeping sheet or bag.

Good tip about weekends. We weren't told about the free option and instead stayed in an apartment offered by Zé António which was also arranged by the local council (his direct number is in the Wise Pilgrim app for easier and/or weekend arrangements).
 
Past OR future Camino
2021
Second Week
Day 8 took me to Cuba, via a wonderful country walk enjoying cattle fields, olives, melons and grapes almost ready for harvest.
The only village on the way Sao Matías has several bars, not just the 2 you see on the main road.

Arriving in Cuba, it appeared that Hospedaría Lula (@jungleboy) was closed - maybe for summer. I found a lovely room at Hosp. O Carmo (next to restaurant Chave D’ouro (+351964137961 €25)

Cuba is a quirky place, famous (for me anyway) because the last artisan shoe/boot maker is there. Mario Grilo can be found in a side street between the C. Columbus statue and the tourist centre. You’ll need a couple of weeks to get boots made to measure though 😉
As Nick and Wendy also recommended, I found the bodega/bar Adega do Canena (Trav. Cándido dos Reís 11) and enjoyed a wine or two with some lovely local gents.

The next day (D9) is a short 15km if you take the unmarked route (red route on WP) vía the ‘Gado Bravo’ (wild cattle). They are actually all behind fences or cattle grates. It’s a gorgeous walk in nature with cattle on one side of you and commercial planting on the other. At the end of this path you climb a solid metal gate and complete the last 5 km on road.
Alvito is small and friendly. I splashed out for the Pousada Alvito (+351284480700 €90) and enjoyed a luxury stay. Be aware that it’s a 4pm checkin.
Not far from there I lunched at O Frances (opposite Bombeiros). Really lovely staff and wholesome food.
Day 10: From Alvito it is 12km to Viana de Alentejo
(NOTE: the following day’s stage is 36km to Evora via the village Aguiar @11km)

This 12km starts on a quiet country road and after about 4.5km at a right hand bend it veers left onto a beautiful farm track.
NOTE: if you want to see Agua de Peixe (refer WP for info) do not turn left here or you’ll miss it!!

It’s a short stage and knowing I wouldn’t make the 36km next day in this heat, I researched other options once I arrived to Viana.
First I arranged a place to stay the night in Viana. I did this through the tourist office in the little square- not the castle tourist office.
(O Convento €35 call Estela direct +351-911025283) Súper clean and friendly.

The girl at the tourist office also supplied me with a bus timetable and taxi numbers. The route from Viana to Evora only passes1 village Aguiar (11km). The bus to-from Viana-Evora stops there.

You can walk straight to Aguiar (use WP route, at one point climb a gate)
If you arrive there before 1:15 there is a bus back to Viana (this is what I did)

If you arrive too late for the bus, call a Viana taxi (+351-965149927 or +351-965666927). I doubt they will speak English 😉

Enjoy a night in Viana, explore the castle 2€, walk out to the Sanctuary, and visit the pottery just after the main square (Pottery Olaria Mira Agostinho Rua Cândido dos Reis, 17)
I had a lovely meal in Viana at 3 Bicas.

The next morning there are 2 early buses (Sept 2021) to Evora, stopping in Aguiar to continue walking. 6.00am and 8.15am but it would be prudent to double check times at tourist office.

Days 11/12: I spent 2 days in Evora, soaking up the pretty World Heritage sights.

Day 13: From Evora to Sao Miguel de Machede an easy 23km on country paths, through a massive olive grove and then grapes.

There’s a small village Nossa Senora de Machede after 14km and on a Sunday two bars open.
As I walked on a Sunday I was very aware of weekend shooters all around. Thankful for bright clothes!

I used WP for most of the day. Sometimes the arrows didn’t coincide but always ended up joining up.

And about 4km before Sao Miguel de Machede there is the construction of a new highway underway. Although there are detour signs for cars, the arrows have disappeared. Fortunately no work on Sunday so I picked myself around the mounds of earth and machinery- in the general direction of the giant stainless wine silos. Soon I picked up arrows leading me to SMdM.

In Evora on Friday I had asked my hotel owner if he’d mind getting a message through to Dona Joana who runs a ‘private albergue’. I would be arriving Sunday when the Junta is closed.

The space she provides is a pretty converted room in her back yard. She only speaks Portuguese but that doesn’t matter. She’s a gem and has true pilgrim spirit. A special place on the Nascente.
Call Junta de Freguesia M-F +351266987186.

It seems to be standard to wait for Joana in Cafe Central when you arrive. They will phone Joana and she’ll pop around and get you.
This bar/cafe is not serving food at the moment so bring basics for the day. There is a simple kitchen area next to the accommodation (microwave, kettle) Joana’s is donativo, well worth a big thank$ 😉😊😊😊

And my final day (14) this year was probably one of my favourites. From Sao Miguel de Machede to Evoramonte it’s around 24km in two halves. Very pretty country paths, farmland, olives, cork and plenty of gates to open or climb over.

In Azaruja you can stop for coffee just as you enter the village on the left. When you enter the bar it’s tiny but there is another room behind it, filled with old pottery Amphoras that were used for winemaking.

Only a little over 2 hours from here to Evoramonte. Plenty of small farms (and their barky dogs).
With a few kms to go you’ll get a wonderful view of the castle up on the hill.

I took Wendy and Nicks recommendation to stay inside the castle walls at a gorgeous place called “The Place” 😉
(Call Vicky +351927603884, €65 for pilgrims)

It’s absolutely stunning- amazing comfy beds, super hospitality, lots of cosy areas to chill and of course that view over the valley from the terrace. Eat dinner out here if it’s fine.

An incredible stop, regrettably my final night in Portugal this trip.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Past OR future Camino
CF, Primitivo, CdM, CP, Nascente, Geira, Fisterra
Thanks again for the update and for taking us with you on the non-stop adventure that is the Caminho Nascente!

Arriving in Cuba, it appeared that Hospedaría Lula (@jungleboy) was closed - maybe for summer. I found a lovely room at Hosp. O Carmo (next to restaurant Chave D’ouro (+351964137961 €25)

Lula was nothing special but as I recall we called around the day before and it was the only place that was open at that time. It sounds like you found a better place!

The next day (D9) is a short 15km if you take the unmarked route (red route on WP) vía the ‘Gado Bravo’ (wild cattle). They are actually all behind fences or cattle grates. It’s a gorgeous walk in nature with cattle on one side of you and commercial planting on the other. At the end of this path you climb a solid metal gate and complete the last 5 km on road.

We also took this route and didn't have problems with the cattle, so we were glad we went this way and not on the road.

Alvito is small and friendly. I splashed out for the Pousada Alvito (+351284480700 €90) and enjoyed a luxury stay. Be aware that it’s a 4pm checkin.

We contacted them in advance, knowing that it was going to be a short stage and that we would arrive at about midday. They replied and said they would see what they could do and when we arrived, it turned out that they did have a room ready so we were able to check in early.

(NOTE: the following day’s stage is 36km to Evora via the village Aguiar @11km)

The problem with this stage is less the 36km and more that there is a 15km stretch of it on the side of a busy road with almost no 'shoulder' for walking (especially if the long grasses aren't cut). We spent a lot of it literally walking on the painted white lane stripe right next to the traffic because there was no space between that and waist-high grasses. Great tips on the bus/taxi alternatives!

In Evora on Friday I had asked my hotel owner if he’d mind getting a message through to Dona Joana who runs a ‘private albergue’. I would be arriving Sunday when the Junta is closed.

The space she provides is a pretty converted room in her back yard. She only speaks Portuguese but that doesn’t matter. She’s a gem and has true pilgrim spirit. A special place on the Nascente.

❤️

And my final day (14) this year was probably one of my favourites. From Sao Miguel de Machede to Evoramonte it’s around 24km in two halves. Very pretty country paths, farmland, olives, cork and plenty of gates to open or climb over.

I'm so glad you were able to enjoy this day as we found the scenery around Evoramonte to be the most beautiful in the three weeks we spent walking in the Alentejo on this camino. The second half of this day in particular I really liked.

Plus, The Place at Evoramonte is a great spot for you to pick up this camino where you left off one day?!
 

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