Camino - Day 1
Left at a reasonable time this morning and off to start our Camino. I had set my alarm for 6:30 this morning since my luggage needed to be at reception by 8 to be picked up and carried to my next hotel. Of course, and entirely predictably, I woke up at 3:30 in a panic thinking that I had missed the alarm and slept through. No more sleep after that.
Met my traveling companions, Hilarie and her three friends at their hotel and we headed off. Today was a 24k leg to our first night's lodging. We decided to take the subway to the outskirts of the city and save the tramp though city streets and suburbs. We then planned to cut over to the coast from the Camino route and walk for about 5 or 6k along a coastal boardwalk through a national bird sanctuary and then head back to the Camino route and circle back to our hotel. We cut off about 10k by taking the subway but expected that we would add that much to our walk by taking the coastal route to our hotel. Unknown to us the subway train that we boarded was an express and did not stop until 6 or 7k beyond our planned exit. However we still walked to the ocean, and along the boardwalk and by the time we had worked our way back across country to our lodging we still managed a 15k walk so while not as demanding as we had expected, still a good first day's warmup for the hikes to come.
Our hotel, Quinta das Alfaias, is lovely, an old 1890's colonial house on extensive grounds and gardens, built by wealthy expat Portuguese Brazilians returning from their colony with bags of money. It was very reminiscent, in a curious way, of the Indian hill station houses built at around the same time and with very much the same sensibility, and love of chintz.
While the day was sunny and bright, by evening it was very cool and we were glad of the fire in the library as we all assembled for drinks before dinner. V had quietly arranged with our charming hostess, by phone and email, for champagne as a surprise for us and we celebrated my birthday with champagne, a wonderful dinner and lots of wine. This is the second year in a row that I have been away from home and V on my birthday, last year I was tramping through the Outer Hebrides on a photo shoot, but as usual V reached across the ocean and made the day memorable.
Tomorrow is supposed to continue sunny and since we have an easy 11k day, the only one this easy in our itinerary, should be an easy day.