March 15, 2017. Day 3

Caldas da Rainha to Santarém – 54km

Other observations about the CNS  which we neglected to mention yesterday – There is an emphasis on involving family members or caregivers in their programs. The apartments are set up to accommodate a couple, with kitchen facilities. The residential program is designed to enable individuals to practice applying the techniques and strategies learned from the respective rehabilitation programs in everyday life situations during their stay. As noted earlier, the importance of exercice, both physical and neurological, was evident. Although a new facility, CNS attracts people from counties around the world, including Canada. The centre receives no government funding.

Caldas da Rainha
Caldas da Rainha

The ride today was pleasant, although tiring. A constant headwind (now from the east) and the hilly terrain continue to challenge our still-developing muscles and stamina. At one point we had to pedal down a 7% descent! However, the sunshine and pleasant countryside made it an enjoyable ride. On leaving Caldas da Rainha, we bumped along cobblestones through the old town and past the hospital which now houses the thermal baths of the town. We could not avoid a steep climb out to the main road to pick up the N114.

The road meandered through farmland with ancient vineyards and orchards of olive, pine and fruit and nut (?) trees just beginning to bud with pink and white blossoms. On one roadside break we realized that we were standing by a cork tree that had been partially harvested. We had noticed cork products in the shops in Lisbon but had never seen a live tree!

Cork Tree

Our approach into Santarém somehow got us on to a busy twinned highway (N3), which we rapidly exited to climb and climb, eventually walking our bikes up to the hilltop city. Looking down over the river Tejo (Tagus) and the plains to the south, it struck us that not all cycling in Portugal needs to be uphill! As we plan to visit Fatima next, however, the hills will continue a bit longer. We are taking a day off in Santarém.

White stork nest

Wildlife notes: two active white stork nests. One on an old palm tree and the other on an old chimney.

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