Camino de Santiago, you say? What the heck is that?
OK, for those readers who don't happen to be Catholic Pilgrims (that includes us, by the way), the Camino de Santiago is one of the most well known long walks to a holy city. Santiago de Compostelo is a city in northwest Spain that is reputed to hold the relics of Saint James, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. There is an entire cathedral built the remains which were discovered about 800 years after James was thought to have ministered there... Then there arose a "cult" to honour and worship James, then the cathedral got built. Long story short, it has been, for more than 1000 years, an important journey to go pay one's respects to Saint James by walking to Santiago along one of the Caminos. There are 5... but maybe more. They have different names. It's not clear how many routes there are.
So being in Portugal, we've narrowed our Camino choices to one of the Portuguese routes. Well since, at the time of writing, we are in Santarém, we've chosen to be on the inland Camino Portuguese. It's all rather confusing, even more so, since our Camino Santiago overlaps with Camino Fatima, a walking route from Lisbon to Fatima, another holy city. Confused? Yes, us too.
Bike touring with the boys is quite the trip. Many solo and with-Kiki trips, it's been a dream to have the kids into a trip, and the Camino Santiago is a great trip to start with. Day 1 was 37km to Vila Franca de Xira, a city on the west bank of the Tejo River, upriver from Lisbon. Blue sky day, no wind, minimal complaining. At least until the mud. The Camino is mostly for walkers. It's been 10 days of solid rain, so trail + rain = deep mud in sections. Arrived at dark and had a late dinner in an authentic cafe with Benfica on the tele and the locals giving us sideglances and helping with translation. It was very sweet.
Day 2: more challenging. A rough night of sleep as the farm we stayed at had 9 dogs, 10 horses, two cages full of tropical birds, chickens and rooster(s) and geese. This was all quaint to see and fun for the kids, but after getting bit by one of their companion dogs and awakened by rooster(s) and two or three of their big dogs barking in the night, we were glad to get out of there. Destination was to Santarem, a city upstream on the river Tejo. 44km according to the guidebooks.
Santarém turned out to be 56km. Average speed 9.3kph. With the dirt track, mud, breaks, slower kids, innumerable bike and pannier adjustments, water, photo and scenery breaks, it was 6h on the bike total. We were spent, cranky, hungry, stunned. But Kiki had booked us a sweet 2 nights of recovery in another old house, courtesy of Booking.com. We found food at O Torgal, nearby. Food and drink and we felt human again.
Next day: SCHOOL!