Day 8 – Let’s label this as an unplanned rest day – Tomar to Tomar (11 September, 0km, 0 hours)

I’ve been debating with myself what, if anything I put in the blog about last night but I guess that’s what travel blogs are for – laying out what happened. After two short days, Melanie and I were fine and strong except for two minor problems. Melanie had a bad, unusual looking blister on her baby toe that was causing her to adjust her usual gait. I had a funny feeling in my stomach that I found out was a UT infection. I’ll spare you the details how I figured that out. As a result, we figured we should stop by the pharmacy after shopping for the next day’s fruit and before dinner. When I described my symptoms and Melanie showed the pharmacist her toe, we were both advised that we needed antibiotics that only a doctor could prescribe. The fun news was that the only doctors seeing patients at 7:00pm were at the hospital emergency room across town.

Here’s the dilemma, we weren’t keen to risk walking further without fixing our problems because we both have experience in these things getting much worse. Tomar is a big town but the next scheduled couple of stops are not so it could be another 90km to the next pharmacist / doctor. If we did go to the hospital, however, we believed it was going to be expensive and take a long time (and also break that “no taxi” rule).  The timing was an important issue because we needed food, time to pack in the hostel before others in the room went to sleep and a good night’s sleep ourselves. The next stage was a tough 31km walk that even Inigo messaged us that he had trouble with.

Of course, we went to the hospital (133€) and by the time we were sorted out with the needed drugs (31€, no steroids), it was 10:00pm. The decision was made for us: today was going to be a rest day. There was no way we could walk today without proper food or sleep so for the first time on either Camino, we didn’t walk anywhere (except as noted below). I’m disappointed but we get curveballs thrown at us for a reason, I guess.

On the bright side, Tomar may have been the best city on the whole Portuguese Caminho in which to be stuck. It’s so full of history and the Convento do Cristo – part monastery, part castle, part fort – that looms over the town can take your breathe away. It is incredibly well maintained and stunningly beautiful throughout the massive structures. If you like stories about the Templars, the discoveries of the “New Worlds” or history of the church and the Camino de Santiago, you must appreciate this place.  We spent three hours wandering all through the grounds so I guess we did walk a bit.

Random thoughts for the day: we’ve had real food (no ham and cheese sandwich) for two days in a row. Tomar has many excellent restaurants. The Tomar 2300 Hostel is awesome but if you can, consider booking a double room. It’s not much more expensive than a dorm room with 8 people (15€ pilgrims, 18€ others, 20€ in a double room). Finally, our taxi returning from the hospital was a Mercedes – if you are going to break a rule, break it well.

Tomorrow it’s Alvaiazere or bust.

The Templar fortress with the Porta de Santiago at the lower left

Inside the fortress grounds on top of the hill behind the “newer” town of Tomar.

The Convent’s chapel

The cloister’s courtyard

The Convent’s chapel.  At floor level, the painted pulpit on the left looks almost identical to the real one on the right.

The cloisters with the older fortress and chapel behind it.