Camino Day II: Santarém to Vila Nova da Barquinha

Today we did 60km, got very muddy and visited a castle!

I thought my bike was muddy when we started the day.Alex looking muddy against a wallI hadn’t seen anything yet!

The descent from Santarém was slippery and technical. On wet, well worn stones at quite a steep gradient. We quickly had to get off and walk because it just wasn’t possible to control the bike with the weight. Once we got back to the river plain things were pretty smooth again. That is until the corn fields.
 Corn field with a dirt access road We managed to get lost in the field somehow so we had to backtrack. It was soft but manageable. After which the path led us back to the road we had been on originally. The next time we went off pavement it was onto a great quality gravel road, which of course I commented on after which turned to slushy mud freshly softened by the irrigator (incidentally I have now ridden through 2 irrigators, sure hope that was just water). Mud was getting stuck in my fenders until my wheels stopped turning and I fell sideways while unclipping.

This is my non-muddy side as I clean out the mud jamming my wheels.

Danni cleaning mud out of her fender with a stick

We decided no more corn fields. Which was easy enough as the rest of the day was road intermixed with pavé and some gravel. 

Ruins of a 16th C chapel

Ruined chapel, built in the year of our Lord 1570

  Danni standing by the Golegã sign

Golegã was our 30km point and the end of the stage, but we wanted to push on towards Castelo Almourol.

Abandoned royal palace

Quinta Cardiga, an abandoned royal palace and estate

 The  ride to the castle started off as rolling hills but then the last section was very hard work. Thankfully it wasn’t for nothing because the boat turned up and we were able to visit the islet. Got some of those looks as we locked up our bikes that say “what are you, nuts?”  

Danni using a Trangia stove on the balconyExcept for the first 500m getting back wasn’t nearly so difficult but given the prospect of the last town for 20km, two more climbs and it already being 4pm we decided to stop at a pensión on the highway, who gave us basically the same rate as the albergue the night before. Unfortunately the dinner options in town were a little limited for veg*ns, the shops were closed and no cooking facilities so we fell back to the backup plan.

Tomorrow the plan is to finish this stage and do the next stage. Around 50km all up, but probably sticking to paved roads instead of corn fields, which should also avoid the crests of a few of the climbs.

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