Yesterday we decided to take the train north to Tomar north of Santarem. This would actually buy us some extra days to explore such places as Porto and Padron when we get to them. The problem with walking 25+ kms per day is that it leaves little time for checking out the place you have arrived at before moving on the next morning. Tomar was an excellent example. We arrived around noon and found a pension to check into and walked up the hill to tour the Convento de Christo, which is a castle on the hill overlooking the town. The oldest part of the convent is the octagonal (actually 16 sided) Knights Templar castle built in the 12th Century. It had a magnificent pillar in the centre and a large door that the knights rode on horseback through to the interior to dedicate themselves before going to the crusades. The castle and church were expanded in the 16th century and have an incredible array of paintings and sculptures and one huge window depicting the glory of the Portuguese empire in that era. The complex is now a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most intact Templar castles surviving. It took us all afternoon to tour the place and was a real highlight of our trip so far.
Today we walked 33.2 kms in showers, rain and a few glimpses of sun. I am coming down with a cold and got wet and chilled. I hope a good night’s sleep will turn things around before another 30 km tomorrow