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Bad Pilgrim starts from Almería, June 2018

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
Invierno... I am still thinking about it. Apparently there are buses from Mérida to Ponferrada (takes about 7 hours... But the train is too expensive). Hmm... I have to decide soon... I will be in Mérida the day after tomorrow...!
 

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jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), Primitivo(13), Norte(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18)
Ok, I think we both went the same way! Except that you decided to climb down to the road, as you say. That was a wise thing to do! And as for the stream, I can imagine it being wider when you were there. I had to walk through it as well, and it was still wide, but the water only reached my ankles. Yes the last kms uphills to Moclín were really though. As you just read, I went the wrong way down in Olivares, to start with, and I wasn't happy about the waymarks to Moclín either, but I guess that is just me...
The difference might be Spring rain? It was moving quite rapidly too.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Norte, Primitivo, Plata, Salvador Torres
Yes, I very much appreciate your updates with shorter stages. Will help me when I start planning for my Mozarabe after this summer. Question: how are the temperatures now? I heard that one should avoid the Mozarabe later than May. But then I walked the first half of the VdlP in May three years ago and it was the hottest May in decades. Idem for the interior Portugues in June last year - 37 c !

Bonne continuation!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Yes, I very much appreciate your updates with shorter stages. Will help me when I start planning for my Mozarabe after this summer. Question: how are the temperatures now? I heard that one should avoid the Mozarabe later than May. But then I walked the first half of the VdlP in May three years ago and it was the hottest May in decades. Idem for the interior Portugues in June last year - 37 c !

Bonne continuation!
Can be done I guess. I had some problems the same year (2015) on Levante with two weeks between 40-48C (my camera and phone equipment gave up on me) and due to time constraints and solving these technicalities I had to skip Toledo-Avila part but otherwise with smart planning and research is very doable even in summer heat. As I read even more so on Mozarabe with all that olive groves. At least that's some shade, on Levante after Albacete you're out in the open with virtually no shade for miles and miles.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
CASTRO DEL RIO - SANTA CRUZ July 6

When I look back on the maps, there are apparently two ways of leaving Castro del Rio. One of them marks only 17 kms to Córdoba. Well I had no idea, I just followed the arrows that started right outside the hostal A Ka La Sole. The camino goes almost 10 kms to Espejo, and then 13 more to Santa Cruz.

I am surprised that first part was almost 10 kms. Time flew by and I was in Espejo in no time! I am usually slow and always wining about the effort in the morning, so I wonder if this distance is accurately measured...!

Espejo is built on and around a murderous hill, like so many towns on the Mozárabe. I was huffing and puffing my way up the streets. But once at the top, the views are amazing. I stopped for breakfast at the first square I stumbled upon, certain that this was the center of the commercial activities. Well, on my way downhill I found another square, Plaza de la Constitución, of course, full of movement in the early morning. The town was larger than I expected!

The day heated up and the last kms were hard on me. The road to Santa Cruz is almost totally flat, except for the first part after Espejo. There was a sign warning me about a river crossing in the middle of the country road - but the spot was almost dry. It looked as if it could get deep in spring or in autumn, I suppose.

Luckily the hostal that I had booked, Casa José, was right at the entrance of the pueblo. There are two or three other hostals/restaurants at the same place along the motorway.

There is not much to do in Santa Cruz. But I do admire these small villages that are placed on those hills, so you can see the rest of the landscape several kilometers away, 360°. As for weather changes, you must be able to spot them several hours before they actually happen! Santa Cruz is so small that I often could peek between two houses and see the fields extend forever and ever to the horizon. I like!

I went for a walk in the afternoon. But after a short while I had seen the whole pueblo so I spent most of my time in my restaurant watching football instead... No cultural extravagancy available in Santa Cruz. But I slapped myself and decided I MUST visit the Mosque in Córdoba the following day. That should be a cultural experience enough for the rest of the month...!

Next stop: Córdoba! Tag along!

BP
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
Yes, I very much appreciate your updates with shorter stages. Will help me when I start planning for my Mozarabe after this summer. Question: how are the temperatures now? I heard that one should avoid the Mozarabe later than May. But then I walked the first half of the VdlP in May three years ago and it was the hottest May in decades. Idem for the interior Portugues in June last year - 37 c !

Bonne continuation!
Right now there is not a trace of a summer heat. Yesterday maximum temperature was 30 degrees, and no more than 28 in the surrounding areas. Maximum temperature is collected in the afternoon, I suppose. So I am walking in the morning, with no more than 20-25 degrees probably!

That said, rooms heat up in the afternoon so I am still hunting for hostales with AC... Although yesterday and today were reeeally cool. People I meet say that this summer will be less hot than usual. Perhaps things will be back to normal next year, who knows...
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
Can be done I guess. I had some problems the same year (2015) on Levante with two weeks between 40-48C (my camera and phone equipment gave up on me) and due to time constraints and solving these technicalities I had to skip Toledo-Avila part but otherwise with smart planning and research is very doable even in summer heat. As I read even more so on Mozarabe with all that olive groves. At least that's some shade, on Levante after Albacete you're out in the open with virtually no shade for miles and miles.
Yes I remember this K1... I was only one day behind you, remember? We were both the same day in Albergue Las Pascuales in Toledo. Too bad we didn't run into each other...!!
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
The difference might be Spring rain? It was moving quite rapidly too.
Yes, that was what I meant... All these flooded places that I read about on other blogs... They are all reduced to a minimum now! That spot before Olivares is only one of two places that I had to take off my shoes to walk through...
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Yes I remember this K1... I was only one day behind you, remember? We were both the same day in Albergue Las Pascuales in Toledo. Too bad we didn't run into each other...!!
We were??? Really? S***, I forgot about this. Ah, I would love to have a drink with you!!!

Do you remember a young Korean chap? We were in the room together and spent quite a lot of time in the patio area talking.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
SANTA CRUZ - CÓRDOBA July 7

This would only be a stage about 24 kms. It felt like a pilgrimage in its own right, as I had decided that the mosque-cathedral in Córdoba would be my goal of the day. I had given up on the Alhambra in Granada, and I was determined to do penitence by visiting this cultural landmark instead!

I was soon walking through an ocean of sunflowers. Very different from the olive groves that had followed me since... Well, since Almería, or so it seemed. They were now in full bloom - for once there might be an advantage walking in this month...! Unfortunately, when I got closer to Córdoba, someone must have turned off the garden hose cause they were all whithered and dried, like the usual dust of July.

There were no villages whatsoever on these 24 kms. Just some farmhouses and a couple of barking dogs. The closer I got to Córdoba, the usual rushing cyclists began to appear. And when I got to the sign that said "Córdoba 8 kms" , I could already see my target in front of me. From there the Camino descended slowly, and finally entered the city in some suburbs that were surprisingly restricted. When you enter Córdoba you can already see the gigant cathedral in front of you and it is really not far away. The suburbs end after a few minutes, and you are already approaching the cathedral. When you enter Córdoba, there is a bar on your right side that boasts "pilgrim-friendly" all over the place, "get your stamps here" and yadda-yadda. But they seemed utterly uninterested in me.

I had booked a room in one of the pensiones close to the cathedral, where all the hostales are. I guess it doesn't matter which one you choose. They all look alike and there is an entrance every five meter... There is no problem to find accomodation in Córdoba I think.

I had decided I would go to see the mosque-cathedral and I got there around 12.00. This was probably a good time because it looked as if there was a low in visitors, probably avoiding midday heat. I payed ten euros, grabbed a brochure with information and entered the area: first the garden, then the mosque itself. Holy cow! I was mesmerized! I had seen pictures from the inside, but I wasn't prepared for the emotional impact. I read each and every word on the panels and in the information brochure as I made my way from one corner to another. This is a place that you MUST see in Córdoba! Hmm... And I scoulded myself for missing out on the Alhambra, in Granada...! It suddenly dawned upon me that I would have loved that too. Stupid Pilgrim!

In the afternoon, I watched the world cup in football: my own dear team vs England. But the bar became flooded with Englishmen and I preferred to leave after the first half when I understood that my team would loose... And before any of the English supporters figured out what I was doing there!! What a shame.

Next chapter: Cerro Muriano!

/BP
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
We were??? Really? S***, I forgot about this. Ah, I would love to have a drink with you!!!

Do you remember a young Korean chap? We were in the room together and spent quite a lot of time in the patio area talking.
Noo... I remember someone being from Malaysia or something... I spent most of the time outside, that is probably why we didn't meet at the albergue... Too bad :0(
 
SANTA CRUZ - CÓRDOBA July 7

I had booked a room in one of the pensiones close to the cathedral, where all the hostales are. I guess it doesn't matter which one you choose. They all look alike and there is an entrance every five meter... There is no problem to find accomodation in Córdoba I think.
/BP
There are a few exceptions to that, BP. There are a parts of the year, like early May, when everything is booked up way in advance. Maggie and her mob had a huge problem, and I think they wound up spending something like 40 for a bed in an albergue juvenil. I was there two or three days earlier and had no problem. So it pays to make sure you aren’t going to coincide with fiestas in May and maybe other months.

Totally agree about the mosque!
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), Primitivo(13), Norte(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18)
CASTRO DEL RIO - SANTA CRUZ July 6

When I look back on the maps, there are apparently two ways of leaving Castro del Rio. One of them marks only 17 kms to Córdoba. Well I had no idea, I just followed the arrows that started right outside the hostal A Ka La Sole. The camino goes almost 10 kms to Espejo, and then 13 more to Santa Cruz.

I am surprised that first part was almost 10 kms. Time flew by and I was in Espejo in no time! I am usually slow and always wining about the effort in the morning, so I wonder if this distance is accurately measured...!

Espejo is built on and around a murderous hill, like so many towns on the Mozárabe. I was huffing and puffing my way up the streets. But once at the top, the views are amazing. I stopped for breakfast at the first square I stumbled upon, certain that this was the center of the commercial activities. Well, on my way downhill I found another square, Plaza de la Constitución, of course, full of movement in the early morning. The town was larger than I expected!

The day heated up and the last kms were hard on me. The road to Santa Cruz is almost totally flat, except for the first part after Espejo. There was a sign warning me about a river crossing in the middle of the country road - but the spot was almost dry. It looked as if it could get deep in spring or in autumn, I suppose.

Luckily the hostal that I had booked, Casa José, was right at the entrance of the pueblo. There are two or three other hostals/restaurants at the same place along the motorway.

There is not much to do in Santa Cruz. But I do admire these small villages that are placed on those hills, so you can see the rest of the landscape several kilometers away, 360°. As for weather changes, you must be able to spot them several hours before they actually happen! Santa Cruz is so small that I often could peek between two houses and see the fields extend forever and ever to the horizon. I like!

I went for a walk in the afternoon. But after a short while I had seen the whole pueblo so I spent most of my time in my restaurant watching football instead... No cultural extravagancy available in Santa Cruz. But I slapped myself and decided I MUST visit the Mosque in Córdoba the following day. That should be a cultural experience enough for the rest of the month...!

Next stop: Córdoba! Tag along!

BP
I had to walk through a rushing stream just shy of the road prior to entering Santa Cruz. Did you encounter water here too?
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), Primitivo(13), Norte(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18)
SANTA CRUZ - CÓRDOBA July 7

This would only be a stage about 24 kms. It felt like a pilgrimage in its own right, as I had decided that the mosque-cathedral in Córdoba would be my goal of the day. I had given up on the Alhambra in Granada, and I was determined to do penitence by visiting this cultural landmark instead!

I was soon walking through an ocean of sunflowers. Very different from the olive groves that had followed me since... Well, since Almería, or so it seemed. They were now in full bloom - for once there might be an advantage walking in this month...! Unfortunately, when I got closer to Córdoba, someone must have turned off the garden hose cause they were all whithered and dried, like the usual dust of July.

There were no villages whatsoever on these 24 kms. Just some farmhouses and a couple of barking dogs. The closer I got to Córdoba, the usual rushing cyclists began to appear. And when I got to the sign that said "Córdoba 8 kms" , I could already see my target in front of me. From there the Camino descended slowly, and finally entered the city in some suburbs that were surprisingly restricted. When you enter Córdoba you can already see the gigant cathedral in front of you and it is really not far away. The suburbs end after a few minutes, and you are already approaching the cathedral. When you enter Córdoba, there is a bar on your right side that boasts "pilgrim-friendly" all over the place, "get your stamps here" and yadda-yadda. But they seemed utterly uninterested in me.

I had booked a room in one of the pensiones close to the cathedral, where all the hostales are. I guess it doesn't matter which one you choose. They all look alike and there is an entrance every five meter... There is no problem to find accomodation in Córdoba I think.

I had decided I would go to see the mosque-cathedral and I got there around 12.00. This was probably a good time because it looked as if there was a low in visitors, probably avoiding midday heat. I payed ten euros, grabbed a brochure with information and entered the area: first the garden, then the mosque itself. Holy cow! I was mesmerized! I had seen pictures from the inside, but I wasn't prepared for the emotional impact. I read each and every word on the panels and in the information brochure as I made my way from one corner to another. This is a place that you MUST see in Córdoba! Hmm... And I scoulded myself for missing out on the Alhambra, in Granada...! It suddenly dawned upon me that I would have loved that too. Stupid Pilgrim!

In the afternoon, I watched the world cup in football: my own dear team vs England. But the bar became flooded with Englishmen and I preferred to leave after the first half when I understood that my team would loose... And before any of the English supporters figured out what I was doing there!! What a shame.

Next chapter: Cerro Muriano!

/BP
If you go to the Mosque/Cathedral at opening, entrance is free. They allow you to stay for 1 hour before hustling you out for the paying customers.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
There are a parts of the year, like early May, when everything is booked up
Yes - pilgrims shouldn't expect always to find cheap last-minute accommodation in popular cities during long holiday weekends or fiestas. I passed through Cordoba and Caceres on such weekends in May 2018 and I had to plan the stages creatively. There are undoubtedly some rooms available, particularly in places that don't have internet booking, but you may need to search the streets and then pay a lot. If you prefer certainty, you might need to be stay outside the city, taking a bus in and out to sightsee or to get past a stage that would be too long, otherwise. Even the neighbouring towns fill up.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
I had to walk through a rushing stream just shy of the road prior to entering Santa Cruz. Did you encounter water here too?
That would be the spot I mentioned in my post. No, there was just some water by the side of the track, not where I was walking...
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
If you go to the Mosque/Cathedral at opening, entrance is free. They allow you to stay for 1 hour before hustling you out for the paying customers.
Ok, didn't know that. I needed more than one hour though... At least I think so. I kind of lost my sense of time in there...! I only left when my legs started to hurt, of too much walking, standing and watching without sitting down...!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (Spring '17)
Primitivo (Spring '18)
TBD (2019)
I had decided I would go to see the mosque-cathedral and I got there around 12.00. This was probably a good time because it looked as if there was a low in visitors, probably avoiding midday heat. I payed ten euros, grabbed a brochure with information and entered the area: first the garden, then the mosque itself. Holy cow! I was mesmerized! I had seen pictures from the inside, but I wasn't prepared for the emotional impact. I read each and every word on the panels and in the information brochure as I made my way from one corner to another. This is a place that you MUST see in Córdoba!
So glad you loved the Mesquita, as I do. It's probably my favourite single building in Spain and one of my favourites in the whole world.

If you go to the Mosque/Cathedral at opening, entrance is free. They allow you to stay for 1 hour before hustling you out for the paying customers.
I was told by a guard there a couple of months ago that this is only on Mondays and Saturdays. We had paid to go in on Sunday afternoon and then my Dad and I were walking around town on Monday morning taking photos when we walked past and saw people going in a different entrance. So we went back in too!
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
CÓRDOBA - CERRO MURIANO July 8

I thought I had it all prepared for this stage. 17 kms...! A blindfolded baby could do that! So I slept in at the hostal. No need to rush.

After my beauty sleep, I even found a café that was open, although it was Sunday morning. It was the café that is on the same Street as "all" the hostales, on Camino, leading away from the Cathedral-Mezquita. It has some pilgrims symbols on it so I guess it is pilgrim-friendly. (It is not the one I described in my previuos post). Except for this place, Córdoba was dead empty on Sunday morning. So if you need breakfast on a Sunday, this is the place to go.

I had prepared everything... But I forgot to look at the elevation map. Except for the first kms leaving Córdoba, there is a constant ascent to Cerro Muriano. The Camino runs through beautiful but dry woods, with paths and rocks that takes you forever uphills. It reminded me of some parts of Vía de la Plata... It was a new scenery, and would only appear at this particular stage. But the heat prevented me from enjoying it fully. I had started too late from Córdoba and the sun caught up with me. When I was 3 kms from Cerro Muriano, I was almost running out of water. I could only carry on.

I met a lot of cyclists and walkers, most of them coming from the opposite direction, so it is a popular recreation area amongst locals. I wondered how they dared to go for a stroll amongst the rocks in this heat. I was knackered when I crawled into the first bar at the outskirts of Cerro Muriano. Ok, perhaps I wouldn't let an infant do this stage after all.

Cerro Muriano is built along the carretera, with the main shops and the usual array of cheap hostals scattered on each side of the burning asphalt. The church looked as if it was built in the 1960's, rather than in the 1660's. Those places are usually boring, but I kind of liked it. Most of all because of the place where I stayed: Bar X. Yes, that is its full name. I wondered if I should dare to ask the owner if he ever had thought of calling it the Bar XXX instead. Perhaps that would attract even more costumers!

Well this owner turned out to be the kindest "hospitalero" yet! His name is José and I strongly advice future pilgrims to stay there, no matter how many X he puts in his bar. First of all he gave me a real Pilgrim's room: decorated with maps, info, scallop shells and, of course, a credential behind glass framed on the wall. Room and facilities top notch. Two beds. The first pilgrims who arrive will certainly be given this room. It was also a good way to start a conversation with him once I went down to the bar again. We talked a lot about the camino and the lack of pilgrims in summer. Well there had been one a few days ago, but he didn't stay... I asked for a description... Sure, it was Mystery Pilgrim, from the albergue in Baena! Except for him, there had been no-one stopping by in the month of July.

José gave me important information about the stage after tomorrow: 36 kms with no town in between. He gave me a few alternatives if I wasn't prepared to go through such a long stage. His friend Ángel, where I happened to have booked already for tomorrow, would tell me more about this the next day. But José alreday started to draw his own maps with arrows, distances and water fountains so I could start thinking about what to do. It was all about avoiding 36 kms in a row. Some of these alternatives sure were tempting... Last time I tried a stage of 30+ kms, I nearly died (see Stage from Hell, July 1). At least I had one more day to decide, as I was only doing 21 kms the following day, to Villaharta.......

/BP
 
The 36 km from Villaharta to Alcaracejos are not among the worst, and I think you would have trouble getting lost! Very well marked. Too late to tell you this, but for others who may be tempted to take a cab some of the way. I would strongly suggest taking a cab for the second half rather than the first. I think some of the mob took a taxi for the first 17 km and lost out on the best part. The first half is really beautiful, through woods and forests, over streams, while the second half is more on roads, out in the sun, and less bucolic.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
09 CFrancés, CFisterra 10 VPodiensis 11 CNorte 12 VPlata 13 VPlata, CSanabrés 14 CLevante, CSanabrés 15 CSureste, CInvierno, CMuxia 16 CMadrid, CSalvador, CPrimitivo (17 RLana, CInterior)
CERRO MURIANO - VILLAHARTA July 9

Contrary to yesterday, I got up early in order not to do the same mistake again (sleeping in and get caught by the heat). This stage was nothing like yesterday though. Almost flat, walking next to the road for about 20 kms to Villaharta. There are some bushes, rocks and hills that the path occasionally rounds, so sometimes the road disappears out of view. But you can always hear the cars swooshing by.

Halfway is the town of El Vacar. A perfect place to have breakfast - had it not been Monday. Most bars are closed on Monday morning. Although, I do have noticed that there is always some exception to this rule. As if some owners actually understand that there is money to be made if they are the only game in town that particular time of the day (duh!). El Vacar was no exception: after having walked past three of them, all closed, the fourth was open. So this was a really easy stage: almost flat, short, and a place to eat in the middle of it all. I felt like the laziest pilgrim in the world as I entered the hostal Mirasierra in Villaharta, at 11 in the morning... But the following stage to Alcaracejos would be 36 kms, so it was impossible to carry on the same day.

The owner of the hostal, Ángel, told me about the alternatives, which are pretty much what Laurie wrote in the post preceding this one (read above): take a cab some of the way. I could walk 36 kms in a row. Or I could walk some 25 kms, even without my backpack, and Ángel would pick me up by car/taxi, let me spend a second night at the hostal, and then take me back where he picked me up so I would only have about 10 kms left to Alcaracejos the next day. Ángel's friend, José, who I met the day before, had also added the possibility of a detour with or without taxi to a nearby village off-Camino, but that seemed a bit cumbersome to me.

The thing is that, in addition to the room that was 15 euros, Ángel would take 23 euros for the taxi service. I suppose it would then be 15 euros more for the second night at the hostal (??). Stingy pilgrim... (As Laurie wrote above, I guess you can ask him to take you to a certain place along the way, without going back with him to Villaharta again.) Anyway I decided to do the whole stage. At least there would be a fountain somewhere half-way. And there was no murderous ascent at the end, as on the Granada-Moclin stage.

Ángel and his family (himself, his wife and the usual son who helps them run the business) were very friendly. What a change, compared to the indifferent family that ran the bar in Castro del Río...! The industrious son presented himself and shook my hand even before I saw his parents; the wife was enchanting, and Ángel was just as nice as his friend José, in Cerro Muriano. I don't know if José or Ángel are members of some Asociación - I forgot to ask them - but they sure acted as if they were, and they both have great knowledge about the Camino.

Ángel told me about the previous pilgrim who had stayed there. He had shown up at 20.00 pm! Of course - it was Mystery Pilgrim, with his late habits. Neither Ángel or I could understand how anyone would like to walk like that in the evening. Even if this summer was unusually cool, the day would heat up in the afternoon.

I would have to get up even earlier the following day, if I was to get through my mission...

BP
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
As if some owners actually understand that there is money to be made if they are the only game in town that particular time of the day (duh!)
The thing is that, in addition to the room that was 15 euros, Ángel would take 23 euros for the taxi service. I suppose it would then be 15 euros more for the second night at the hostal (??). Stingy pilgrim..
You illustrate the difficulty of the business model for albergues and businesses that cater to pilgrims, especially when there is just one in the morning and another one in the later afternoon!

Thanks for the good reports!
 

jpflavin1

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), Primitivo(13), Norte(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18)
So glad you loved the Mesquita, as I do. It's probably my favourite single building in Spain and one of my favourites in the whole world.



I was told by a guard there a couple of months ago that this is only on Mondays and Saturdays. We had paid to go in on Sunday afternoon and then my Dad and I were walking around town on Monday morning taking photos when we walked past and saw people going in a different entrance. So we went back in too!
Then days must have changed because we walked through on April 26 2018 and that was a Thursday.

I just looked on their website. There is no charge Monday through Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30. They do chase you out after an hour to open it up for paying customers.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
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Bad Pilgrim

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VILLAHARTA - ALCARACEJOS July 10

I left the hostal at 05.30, walking straight into a compact darkness as the road left Villaharta. After a few kms the signs tell you to turn left and you are on a rural track that begins to descend. It soon began to get a bit lighter but I had to use my flashlight for some more kms.

It is spooky fun to walk in darkness. I saw an owl, sitting on the fence right next to me. Later, when it got lighter, I saw frightened roe deer and wild boars running around and away from me pretty much everywhere... But they had a hard time escaping from me. After a long descent, there was a (dry) river pass at the bottom, then the path began to dance up the mountain again. There were fences on both sides and the further I went, the narrower the fences... Which meant that the poor animals couldn't get away from me. The fences drew us inevitably closer to each other.

At one point, a startled deer jumped out from a bush in front of me and jumped over the fence - and got stuck with his hoof, and front leg! I just stood there, not knowing what to do. He wrestled to get loose, and the leg was writhed in such an awkward position I thought he would break it. I couldn't leave him, but I didn't dare to go closer either, or he would surely panic even more. After a few minutes, he got loose and trotted away, apparently unharmed. And finally the fences and me went separate ways, so even the wild boars that I had driven in front of me could disperse.

Roughly half way is a fountain, no more than a tap in the brick wall of one of the estates. But strategically placed indeed. It is impossible to miss it: a large sign FUENTE, and it is only ten meters off Camino. The inscription says its use is specifically for Peregrinos. And it is the only water on this stretch.

The previous hospitaleros had told me that the first part was the harder one, and that the terrain would get better during the second. I thought it was the other way around, but I guess I got tired at the end just because of the sheer distance. The only hard descent and ascent is during the first half, they said, but I noticed there were actually some ups and downs during the second half as well.

I didn't stop to eat. I just drank my water a few times and wanted to get to Alcaracejos as soon as possible, because this was one of the hottest day on the Camino. The last four kms are on a road... I can cope with asphalt nearly any time, but at the end of a long stage... I never knew 4 kms could feel so long. I was glad I could check in at the hostal Las Tres Jotas for a well deserved siesta. Unfortunately the AC was boken, or I couldn't get it to work. I had to wrap a towel around my head, and another one around my neck, when I was resting on the bed, as there was a stream of sweat from my head all the time...

Anyway, this stage is perfectly doable. The ups and downs are manageable and there is one fountain on the way. I didn't get lost once: someone has made an extra effort and put waymarks every 50 mtrs in some places. If you have opted for Ángel's taxi service, you stop when the Camino crosses the motorway at about 25 kms, and Ángel will have indicated the spot where he will pick you up.

I didn't get much sleep because of the heat. Fortunately, there were only 20 kms to Hinojosa del Duque the following day! It felt almost like a vacation!

Don't miss it!

BP
 
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Bad Pilgrim

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ALCARACEJOS - HINOJOSA DEL DUQUE July 11

Very short stage. I had some trouble in the afternoon the day before, about finding the arrows. That is my daily routine: I refuse running around in the morning not knowing where to go. The routine in the afternoon goes: Wash clothes, Find the arrows, Buy café con leche, as the Codex Calixtinus says. Well it turned out I was staying at the same street as the Camino. If you stay at Las tres jotas, you continue on the right side of the road when you leave.

I had very little sleep because the room was hot and I had no AC. So a short stage was really nice. Also, the stage was flat as a pancake! I passed one or two villages and one of them had a café opened, but as it was a short stage I preferred to keep walking. I saved my hunger so I could indulge in gluttony in Hinojosa del Duque instead.

The Camino mostly follows the motorway between Alcaracejos and Hinojosa del Duque. At one point the arrows disappeared and I went wrong for a few minutes: I should have stuck to the road that I could see to my left (duuh) so I don't think future pilgrims will make the same mistake anyway. The last kms are on the road, which felt a bit scary as there was a lot of trucks swooshing by. The final part goes through the industrial suburb, which isn't that extended, but on foot it took a while... At last I arrived in a beautiful, green park and could finally satisfy my urges in one of the cafés.

I then used my GPS to find my hostal. This took me almost directly from the industrial scenery of the suburb to the A-422 that goes through Hinojosa del Duque, where no commercial or any other activity could be seen. Everything seemed closed or abandoned along the road. Hinojosa del Duque looked to me like an incredibly boring town. Only in the afternoon did I discover the smaller streets surrounding the pension, where the actual Camino would have taken me, and the lovely square with the cathedral! It turned out to be one of the most beautiful squares I had seen on the Mozárabe. The cathedral was intriguing: too big to be a church, too small to be a cathedral, I thought. I took some pictures of it, from different angels, the details, the portada... A very relaxed atmosphere in this square and very beautifully buildings surrounding it! I spent a lot of time there.

I stayed in the Pension Ruda, close to the Día supermarket, yum yum. 18 euros and a standard about what one can expect for that price, so it was ok. But I almost broke down in tears when the guy told me there was unfortunately no AC at the moment. But he rapidly added that he could find me a electric fan if I wanted. I said (cried) YES, PLEASE!!! I even took a picture of this life-saving device, with the same awe I felt for the cathedral... Greatest human achievements in history: Cathedrals and AC, period.

Coming up next: Monterrubio de la serena!
 
BP, you are giving the Mozárabe a bad name.;) This stage was all off-road and through nice fields. I admit it wasn’t the most lovely stage, though. I walked it on a Sunday, and I ran into a number of Sunday walkers at both ends, some were walking longer distances and having people pick them up.

Glad you made it though! My notes from that day reminded me that it was FREEZING cold and very windy when I walked it. Clearly not your issue!

I met a couple of guys who stayed in the albergue and thought it was fine. Right near that main square, but I didn´t go inside. And the big church was shut up tight — I thought maybe on Sunday it would be open. No such luck.

Buen camino, Laurie
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
The Camino mostly follows the motorway between Alcaracejos and Hinojosa del Duque.
This stage was all off-road and through nice fields.
I guess that I walked the same route as @peregrina2000. I looked over my photos for the day and did not have a single one of a highway. I try to take a good representation of the day's walk, so if there was a lot of highway I would have taken one. Maybe spring is the time to go!
20180503_130606.jpg 20180503_082831.jpg 20180503_081949.jpg 20180503_133643.jpg 20180503_113214.jpg 20180503_210327.jpg

I stayed at the Pension Ruda and shopped at the supermarket too.
 

Bad Pilgrim

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Ok, what I meant was that I had the road to my left, of course not all the time, and that I walked on it for the last part into town. I am also writing this a few weeks later so my memory may be a bit fuzzy.

BP
 

Bad Pilgrim

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HINOJOSA DEL DUQUE - MONTERRUBIO DE LA SERENA July 12

This is one of the prettiest stages, but also one of the hardest. When I look back on it, it really stands out. I will explain!

Some Mozzies are gonna tell you that Granada to Moclin is the hardest stage. But you can divide that stage in two (suit yourself, Bad Pilgrim!) Then others will say that the 36 kms stage to Alcaracejos is the most demanding because of the sheer distance. But hey, there is water along the way, or you can jump into Ángel's cab for a while. So my humble opinion is that Hinojosa del duque to Monterrubio de la serena is the most challenging one! Because: there is no water (unless I missed something at the Ermita, 8kms before target?) and it is about 33 kms which is still long. I know I ranted about the Granada to Moclin stage. But this one was difficult in another sense! But it was mostly my own fault.

First of all, I only brought two bottles of water. I almost ran out of it. And I totally misjudged the distance. When I saw some whitish buildings belonging to the Ermita I was like "Oh, those are the first houses in Monterrubio! Cafetería, here I come!" But.. I had 8 kms more to walk, on the highway...! The thing is that this stage, as I said, is really pretty (until the highway) and I know I slowed down to contemplate the scenery. I probably went too slow... And I listened to... The silence. Yes, we often walk along rural tracks and in the fields or the woods. But here I couldn't hear a single road running in the far distance, not a single car. Once again I thought of how lovely these stretches must be in spring...! I saw a lot of green around me, but it must be even prettier then.

I remember a lake, and shortly thereafter the abandoned railway station that appears, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It looks eerie and beautiful at the same time. Apparently there is a possibility somewhere here to go to a town called Belalcázar. According to Mundicamino.com it has all the facilities and you can stay for the night there. But it is some kms off Camino and the arrows don't point to it.

There were a few farms... And in these isolated areas the dogs sound more aggressive. They were barking vehemently at me as if they never had seen anyone walk by before, although I think it was all for showing off, because I am certainly not the first Mozzy to come by. Most of the dogs were at the other side of a fence, some were not. One came running towards me from a large field, barking like mad, then crawling under the fence to get to me. By coincidence, I just walked over a branch that looked like a walking stick, so at the same time the dog emerged from beneath the fence, I bent down to pick it up. The dog froze instantly, went dead quiet and just stood there, harmless! In a second. I guess because I had a stick in my hand, and I had also done the "Bend down and pick up a stone-movement" to get hold of it. I never tried this before and I never walk with sticks. Gee, dogs are really afraid of this...! I have read about it, but never knew how well it worked...! I kept my newly found walking stick until I got to the road, cause these dogs were so annoying. But it is all to show off, so don't worry.

I stayed in the Hotel Vaticano. Well it is really another hostal, but good. Very friendly guy in the reception, probably running it with his brother in the bar next door with the same name. The cultural escapade of the day was the market that was set up before entering Monterrubio. I strolled for a while, but I rarely buy anything... Then I had a loooong siesta at the hostal, to get my daily dose of beauty sleep. I had to look good for my next goal: Castuera!

I'll be back!

BP
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
these dogs were so annoying. But it is all to show off, so don't worry.
We might have seen the same dog! We were approaching a field on this same stage where there were dogs keeping an eye on sheep (I think) when a van come down the path to turn around. The dog was crazy with barking. and then leaped over the fence to bark the van away. Once the van turned and left, the dog looked satisfied, stopped barking and jumped right back over the fence into the field. My companion and I had been nervously approaching, ready to pick up stones or jump into the van, but the dog was not at all interested in us. We walked by without provoking any further barking.

By the way, the van was the transport vehicle for a group of 6 walkers who were doing a supported walk along part of the Mozarabe. I never met any of them and don't know what their routine was.
 

Bad Pilgrim

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MONTERRUBIO DE LA SERENA – CASTUERA July 13

As yesterday’s stage was quite hard, it was nice to do less than 20 kms this morning. The problem is that if I walk fast, I arrive at 11 a.m. in these little pueblos and I don’t know what to do for the rest of the day… It would be possible to walk 20 kms more and thus do a stage of 40 kms all the way to Campanario. That is what some guidebooks propose. But as I had set my mind on doing these shorter stages, I opted to do 2 stages of about 20 kms instead. I think it is perfectly possible to do the 40 kms in one day though. The terrain is totally flat all the way to Campanario. And with Castuera in the middle, it provides a delightful place to stop to have a rest.

Well, I stopped for the day in Castuera. There is not much to say about the stage. There was a lot of olive groves when leaving Monterrubio, a large stretch of asphalt, then I remember some more rural tracks into Castuera… No, it was such a short stage that there is not much to say about it and, for once, no misfortunes to report…

I had booked a place in the Hostal Los Naranjos. By the way, I had become so spoiled with hostals so I hadn’t even checked if there was an albergue in town. Sigh. And to think I always stayed dutifully in the municipal albergues between Almería and Granada…

The hostal was very nice and modern, with a lounge-like bar and a fancy restaurant. Luxury…! But it was only 21 euros, or something like that. The only problem was the enormous parrot near the entrance that emitted shrieks and yells to everyone that walked by its cage. In the evening it sounded as if it was being murdered: the shrills echoed up the stairs and into the rooms in the hostal. Or it might just be mating season in the Amazon. Luckily it stopped just before I went to bed. Perhaps someone threw a blanket over it.

Los Naranjos is at the outskirts of Castuera, so it was a walk of 10-15 minutes to get back to the main square for the shopping and the sightseeing. But as I only had done 20 kms, I thought I might as well do some extra walking… I saw the entrance to the Museo del Turrón, but didn’t check if it was open… I had some problems with my cellphone that I managed to fix, and I planned my way for the next day: not to Campanario, but to Magacela. That would be 30-35 kms. I had heard about the hostal Malay in Campanario and its bad reviews, and the municipal albergue in Campanario seemed to be located a few kms outside the town which is too far from me… I’m a City Pilgrim and spend much time in the towns, not in the albergues. I could as well carry on to Magacela the following day. And boy am I glad I did…! But more about that in my next post!

/BP
 
MONTERRUBIO DE LA SERENA – CASTUERA July 13

As yesterday’s stage was quite hard, it was nice to do less than 20 kms this morning. The problem is that if I walk fast, I arrive at 11 a.m. in these little pueblos and I don’t know what to do for the rest of the day… It would be possible to walk 20 kms more and thus do a stage of 40 kms all the way to Campanario. That is what some guidebooks propose. But as I had set my mind on doing these shorter stages, I opted to do 2 stages of about 20 kms instead. I think it is perfectly possible to do the 40 kms in one day though. The terrain is totally flat all the way to Campanario. And with Castuera in the middle, it provides a delightful place to stop to have a rest.

Well, I stopped for the day in Castuera. There is not much to say about the stage. There was a lot of olive groves when leaving Monterrubio, a large stretch of asphalt, then I remember some more rural tracks into Castuera… No, it was such a short stage that there is not much to say about it and, for once, no misfortunes to report…

I had booked a place in the Hostal Los Naranjos. By the way, I had become so spoiled with hostals so I hadn’t even checked if there was an albergue in town. Sigh. And to think I always stayed dutifully in the municipal albergues between Almería and Granada…

The hostal was very nice and modern, with a lounge-like bar and a fancy restaurant. Luxury…! But it was only 21 euros, or something like that. The only problem was the enormous parrot near the entrance that emitted shrieks and yells to everyone that walked by its cage. In the evening it sounded as if it was being murdered: the shrills echoed up the stairs and into the rooms in the hostal. Or it might just be mating season in the Amazon. Luckily it stopped just before I went to bed. Perhaps someone threw a blanket over it.

Los Naranjos is at the outskirts of Castuera, so it was a walk of 10-15 minutes to get back to the main square for the shopping and the sightseeing. But as I only had done 20 kms, I thought I might as well do some extra walking… I saw the entrance to the Museo del Turrón, but didn’t check if it was open… I had some problems with my cellphone that I managed to fix, and I planned my way for the next day: not to Campanario, but to Magacela. That would be 30-35 kms. I had heard about the hostal Malay in Campanario and its bad reviews, and the municipal albergue in Campanario seemed to be located a few kms outside the town which is too far from me… I’m a City Pilgrim and spend much time in the towns, not in the albergues. I could as well carry on to Magacela the following day. And boy am I glad I did…! But more about that in my next post!

/BP
Ok, ok, you are back and writing, but I am still waiting for the Yelbes adventure.
 

Bad Pilgrim

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CASTUERA – MAGACELA July 14

Well, the first part from Castuera to Campanario was no problem. As I have written before, doing 40 kms in this area wouldn’t be so bad, if you are used to it of course. Just saying that the terrain poses no challenges. I contemplated the scenery, listened to my favorite music and pondered about how to solve the world’s biggest problems… Time flew by and I reached Campanario before I knew it. Oh, there was some ascent before the outskirts of Campanario but it was no big deal.

I read on a blog that Magacela is visible when leaving Campanario. But you can actually see it already before entering, on your left. From Campanario there are at least 11 more kms to go! Yikes! But first a stop in Campanario, luckily. I had a looong breakfast there… I could lay it out in details… but anyway.

The church in Campanario is cool because it has a Pilgrim Mausoleum behind glass built into one of its walls. At least that was what it looked like. A more logical explanation is that it is a homage to the Camino Mozárabe, I know… I also saw the indication to the albergue Estación about 2 kms away, when leaving town. No way José! I walked towards it for some hundred meters but then followed the arrows to the right to join the countryside. I have only heard pleasant things about the aIbergue in (or should I say outside) Campanario so I have nothing against it. But I had heard even nicer things about the Casa Rural el Cercón de Candelo in Magacela! I had booked it the previous day.

Magacela, with its white, shiny pueblo climbing up the hill was approaching sooo slowly, as do all the towns that you can see from a distance. There was a lake halfway that really stood out against the dry fields. Instead of brown-turquoise, the water was ice blue. Perhaps the water wouldn’t be that clean if I had gone to take a closer look, but from a distance it looked fantastic. There was a railway track in between and I didn’t feel like leaving the Camino when I had already targeted Magacela… I took pictures of the lake, which turned out really nice with the sharp contrast between the deep blue color and the burned, brownish fields. But I only have a cellphone to take pictures… I wish I could post some pictures here, but every file is too large! Has it got something to do with the photos being too colorful? Even if I took a close-up of a grey wall, the Camino Forum would still tell me the file is too large to upload… Tsss… Then again, many pilgrims before me have taken pictures so perhaps it is not a big deal…

I arrived in Magacela and knew more or less where the Casa Rural would be located, thanks to maps and GPS. There were also arrows and signs taking me there. Just remember that the owner of El Cercón runs two of them with pretty much the same name (El Cercón vs. El Cercón de Candelo). I stopped at the first, and would have thought I was at the right door if I hadn’t checked the name of the street and the number of the house… I continued some hundred meters and found El Cercón de Candelo. I knocked on the door, nothing happened… I lolled back to the first building to see if I was wrong. But it turned out the owner was just busy, and she hollered me to the right entrance. Now this lady was extremely nice! And what a house! 15 euros, breakfast included. Coffee, milk (chocolate), the usual magdalenas but also bread with butter, jam, olive oil… Good enough for me!

Nice Lady prepared the breakfast in the evening which gave us a chance to chat some more with each other. I told her I wanted to stay there as her place had gotten rave reviews from other pilgrims, and she was of course pleased to hear this. She lives in the house in front (both houses share the same patio) and told me I could knock on the door if I needed something. And I did have to knock when I tried to wash my clothes in the washing machine, and managed to take my clothes out when water was still in it… Causing a small flood in her patio… Anyway, Nice Lady was in a bit of a hurry because her daughter would perform at a concert in Medellín the same evening – she plays the saxophone! We talked about the Camino, about this and that, and she told me that the pool was at my disposal. I don’t know, I always end up not using it when they tell me this, even if it is hot. Perhaps, this time, it was because I was so hungry that I could only think of food.

Well this was Sunday: not a good day to go hunting for food in a town of the size of Magacela. I did the hike up to the town’s center in the afternoon. I found some shops and a cafetería, but everything was closed and no human being in sight. Only cats roamed the streets, as is usually the case on the southern Caminos and in towns of this size and shape. But I must say that the views were impressive. I could see miles around… Campanario, and beyond… From the hill I looked down on the rest of the village and saw the piscina municipal, almost from a bird’s-eye view. Hmm… Piscina equals food! I hurried down, guided by the shouts and laughter of kids in the water. I ordered a paella just before the “kitchen”, or whatever they had, closed for the day. I don’t care if it came straight out of a can: as I was hungry, it was the best paella I had ever eaten!

I planned not to repeat the ascent to the center of Magacela the next morning. It is possible to stay on the road and avoid at least half of the ascent by rounding the hill. I didn’t consider this as cheating: I had already walked up and through all of it when I was desperately searching for food, actually reaching the end of the Avenida de la Constitución at the end of Magacela, mind you… And I do love asphalt!! Yum yum! I kid you not. Road and traffic is no problem. I am the Asphalt Pilgrim. And once again, I had opted for a short stage of about 20 kms to Medellín. Nice Lady had told me about a roman theatre, recently discovered, that she suggested that I visit amongst other things.

Except for the usual glimpses in the bars, I hadn’t watched television for weeks. On the news they talked about the killing of tourists in France, two years ago July 14. I remember when I heard this, as I was on the Camino Primitivo at that time and how much it shocked us all then. A sad way to end the day.

I slept like a log, protected by the defensive walls of El Cercón de Candelo from stray cats, angry dogs and roaming teenagers. I think I have developed an unhealthy attachment to accommodations that are reminiscent of gated communities…

Get ready for next stage: Medellín!

/BP
 

Bad Pilgrim

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Maybe. However, timing is everything - past a certain point your audience might forget about it!:confused:
I'm working on it... I am back to work and I have a loooot to do! %Oo !!
 

Bad Pilgrim

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Camino(s) past & future
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MAGACELA – MEDELLÍN July 15

This stretch offers good infrastructure. (Infrastructure on the Camino de Santiago means: Cafés.) La Haba, Don Benito and Medellín. But, since it was Monday, I didn’t know if I would be able to find breakfast in the morning. Luckily the roadside café in La Haba was open early when I arrived: pilgrims, take note.

In Don Benito a man stopped me in the middle of the sidewalk and grabbed my arm. A beggar? A lunatic?? No, an ex-pilgrim. My hiking outfit had given me away. The guy had walked many caminos himself, although not the Mozárabe, and was eager to hear about my experience. He was very fond of talking about his memories from the Primitivo, and I walked the Primitivo two years ago, so it was still vivid in my mind. Another obvious topic of conversation was the weather, as the summer had been cooler than usual in Spain, and certainly in the south. The guy told me I was lucky walking this year. People recognizing me as a pilgrim and wanting to have a chat has been common on other Caminos, for example last year on the Lana, but this was the first time it happened to me on the Mozárabe.

After leaving Don Benito, there is a bridge that you must share with cars swooshing by, and you can see the castle in Medellín from it. The road goes from the bridge in a straight line right into Medellín. But after the bridge the Camino veers to the left, a totally counter-intuitive turn as you could see Medellín in front of you and then turn your back on it. But just a few more meters, and there is another turn to the right that puts you in the right direction again. So the walk to Medellín is roughly 9 kms on a dirt road parallel to the highway. Corn fields eventually hide the cars from view. It is a pleasant walk all in all.

This stretch felt much shorter than the 9 kms indicated on the map. Walking straight towards a town for several kms is usually a slog, but I was there in no time. The corn grew higher around me the closer I got to Medellín, until the only thing I could make out was the castle on the top of the hill. Not in ruins, but quite well preserved, with Spanish and European flags waving in the wind. When I got even closer, I saw some people moving half-way up the hill. Next to a church I could just make out a semi-circular shape: probably the recently discovered Roman theatre in Medellín that Nice Lady in Magacela told me about.

Okay. Hostal Rio: a somewhat indifferent treatment à la A Ka La Sole (see my previous posts). I don’t mean to say they were rude or anything. But sometimes I feel like I’m moving on an assembly line. The food was horrible: the worst meal I have eaten since at least five Caminos. But I highly suspect this has got something to do with the fact that I chose the cheapest food on the menu: French fries with a strange cheese-and-bacon sauce. This time it did come straight out of a can, I’m sure. You get what you pay for. Stupid Pilgrim! Oh, I think I have read on other blogs or on the Forum that the food is quite alright in this place, so once again this was surely my fault. I don’t remember the exact price of the room, but on the Mozárabe I never paid more than 23 euros in any hostal. (Correct me if I’m wrong, considering the places where I stayed? I don’t think I did). The Associations must have done an excellent job lowering the prices for pilgrims. For example, on the Lana, paying between 25 and 35 euros for the same standard is not unheard of.

In the evening I was torn between visiting the Roman theatre, beneath the castle, and watching the World Cup final between Croatia and France in the bar. Since the World Cup wasn’t located half-way up a mountain, I stayed inside for the more horizontal alternative… Ok, I had seen previously that day that the excavations didn’t seem to be that far up the hill. I am aware that I easily could have gone there. Sorry, Nice Lady! But hey, football is also a cultural heritage, right? And it was cool being part of the feisty clientèle in the bar: from young parents with loads of new-born babies, to the grandparents and their chatty friends. Everyone cheered and rooted for France. Wow, Grandma can really shout if she wants to!

France won, and everyone was happy with the result. It was a nice evening. As for Roman theatres, I had promised myself I wouldn’t miss out on the one in Mérida. I would get there in two days. I know of some hardy pilgrims who can make it to Mérida in one go. But I decided to stop in San Pedro de Mérida, and then do a very short, second stage to Mérida.

Alas, between me and San Pedro de Mérida there was a problem. The problem’s name was Yelbes. I must tell you about it… in my next post!

Hang on!

/BP
 
Hi, BP, Thanks for the report. I didn’t take that counterintuitive left hand turn after Don Benito, but not too much further along, the owner of a property on the highway motioned to me and took me across his property to the dirt road behind. It was much nicer. Thinking back on this stage, it was almost all very nice and off road. I had come from Campanario, so I was dragging at the end, but it is a very doable stage and great on the feet.

My experience in Hostal Río was very different, but everyone has their good days and their bad days. I did get a good menú, no canned beans that´s for sure. You missed out on a real treat, that castle and the Roman theater are very well worth a visit. You will have to go back. What was most astonishing to me was the huge statue of Hernán Cortés in the square. I’ve read descriptions of him like “most depraved man in the history of the world” so I was surprised to see him there in full majesty and apparently highly regarded in the town of his birth. The town, I thought, had a good vibe. The square was filled with lots of young and old in the afternoon promenade time.

Can’t wait to read the Yelbes adventure!
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
You missed out on a real treat, that castle and the Roman theater are very well worth a visit.
Unfortunately I was there on a Monday, so I missed it too!

the World Cup wasn’t located half-way up a mountain
If it hadn't been Monday when I had another excuse, I might admit to the same consideration.

Hostal Rio was good, with a friendly young fellow at the bar - I can't remember what I ate.

My companion and I took the bus to Merida in the morning, as she had an important date there. Waiting for the bus was fascinating - Bar Paco Yuma is the place to be at 7 a.m. when the entire town seems to come by for coffee - all the usual old men, plus cars, trucks, tractors, boats, police cars, school bus, regular bus. There is no bus-stop-sign, though, and you need to ask the locals where the bus to Merida stops. No one seemed sure of the exact time, either, but it was fun waiting and it did come by eventually.
 

AZgirl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2012 , via de la Plata 2014
Madrid/frances Sept/Oct 2017
Next : Levante Sept 2019
Really enjoying your posts! I think this is my next camino.......
 

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