view from our hostel in the town of Tomar

The journey’s over and I’m back home, back to normal… or maybe a new normal.

Before leaving Portugal I got a chance to do touristy things. We were in the town of Tomar, a two hour train ride north of Lisbon. It’s a pretty town on a river but the main attraction is up on the hill. 


covered corridors surrouding courtyard
Convento de Christo used to be a Templar Knights castle in the 12th century. Then it was a convent. Now it’s an historic monument on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

I really loved this place. We walked through corridors open on one side overlooking a courtyard on to the next corridor with courtyard, on and on. I could have spent all day here and not seen everything. It was raining, birds were singing, the sounds were magical. 


old door at the convent
Next day we returned to Lisbon for our flight home. We took a two hour train ride and passed through some of the towns we had walked into this week. It was strange seeing places we had passed on foot. Remembering the places we had stayed, the angels we had met, the battle wounds we had survived, the beauty we had witnessed and the pain, oh the pain. All the time following little yellow arrows. 

Jean,Madge, Rita and a yellow arrow the blue arrow is for Fatima (Alison took this picture)

Before I left home to go on this trip I had a few concerns…. How could I possibly walk the distances required? How could I live so closely with five people? I often wake myself up snoring, what if I wake the people I’m sharing a bedroom with? What if I can’t sleep in a strange place? Or if the bedroom is too hot or too cold? What if I get bitten and swell up and have to go to the hospital (that was one of those middle of the night manic thoughts…)? What if I get blisters and can’t walk? What if the heat is so intense I can’t keep walking?

When I was packing I tried to cover all these concerns. I bought a new top of the range water bottle to keep hydrated. The seasoned walkers had the plastic bottles the water comes in… lighter and free. When I lost my amazing bottle on the last day in Lisbon I was more excited by the weight saving than I was upset about losing such a good-looking product!


nice tiles
I bought a super light (not super light enough, though) sleeping bag and carried it back home unused. Many times I wanted to leave it behind but didn’t…. Just in case.

I did snore but it turns out everybody snores, I wasn’t any louder than anyone else (unless my room mates were lying to me?) 

When I couldn’t walk the distances there was a simple solution – I stopped. When the sun was too hot I found shade. I didn’t swell up or have to go to the hospital and when I got blisters I used the Compeed stuff.


Jean, Rita, Mary, Alison and me (Madge took this picture)
And as for living closely with five other people… I needn’t have worried. In their company I let go of so many hangups I should probably pay them! Instead of money though, I’ll offer my gratitude. 

Thank you, Alison, Madge, Mary, Rita and Jean. And thank you to the one who made me believe I could do this – Laura.

I did it, Mairead.