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LIVE from the Camino In Monesterio on the Vdlp

peregrina2000

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Staff member
I have just finished my fifth day of walking and am in Monesterio, Spain's self-proclaimed Ham capital. The weather is wonderful, cool and sunny (in fact I had my lambswool gloves on till 10 this morning). The trails are in very good shape, notwithstanding the tremendous amount of rain damage. In some places I've seen bootprints that were about 4 or 5 inches deep --walking in that kind of mud is just no fun at all, so I feel very lucky.

The albergue the first night in Guillena was full (only 10 beds), but since then, no problem. Hostals are readily available and no need to reserve way in advance. I assume crowds may pick up in Merida or Caceres, but I have walked every day seeing virtually no one. I've been somewhat surprised to find that most people are walking in groups -- a group of five madrilenos, four spanish jóvenes (by joven I mean not in their 60s!), a group of 6 Germans who sometimes walk, sometimes ride a bike, and have a huge trailer that can pick up their bikes, carries their luggage, carries a collapsible picnic table, and a fully equipped kitchen. There were also 14 French cyclists but they are long gone. I guess I'm the odd one out.

I'll report back when I have more time, the casa de cultura closes in 10 minutes!
 
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isabelle304

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (SJPP-Santiago) (Oct-Nov 08)
Santiago to Finisterre (Nov 08)
Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (Sevilla-Santiago via Ourense) (Oct-Nov 09)
Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Santiago) (Sep-Oct 14)
Hi Laurie
Yeah, you've started! Will be following your trip with great interest and wish you the best. Hope your feet/heels don't let you down this time!

Isabelle
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm now in Villafranca de los Barros. Eight days with no heel pain, no crowds, and no rain. Things are all fine, and it is great walking weather. Though I read that there is snow-hail in the north, here it is cool. It has been sunny and breezy, but today it got a little cloudy.

The Casa Perin is a great stop in Villafranca. Call a day or so ahead to reserve if things are crowded.

I am in a group of about 8 people that I see every night, but there is a "wave" of 35-40 a day ahead of us. The albergues have all been jammed and overflowing the day before I arrive. So if you find yourself in a big crunch, the thing to do may be to wait it out a day, or go a short stage and see if the crowds subside.

I have found that there are mostly German speakers on the Vdlp. Haven't met many Spaniards or English speakers. I usually walk alone and rarely see anyone during the day. This is a beautiful walk.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm now in Mérida. This is a beautiful place, the biblioteca municipal where I'm writing this email is a new building, lifted a story or two off the ground with Roman ruins and excavation work going on at the entrance. It's amazing. Every time you turn a corner, you see a Roman temple, an aqueduct, a few ruins, or some statuary.

The weather is holding up, it's cool and breezy. We missed a lot of rain by the skin of our teeth, but our punishment was walking through red clay fields. I've walked in a lot of black dirt mud on many caminos, but I have never experienced anything like this red clay. It just glommed onto my boots and when it reached a height or 3-4" it would fall off and the whole process would start again. It was like having lead weights on my feet. But hey, as the Austrian I was walking with pointed out, it's great exercise for the leg muscles.

The Vdlp continues to be nearly empty, at least for me. I know there is a wave of 35 or so a day ahead of me, but I don't see many peregrinos at all. I assume some new people will be joining here in Mérida. Buen camino to those coming after me, Laurie
 
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lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Laurie -

Really glad to hear the heel is doing well, and you are having a great camino! Hanging back a day or so to let large numbers of peregrinos go on ahead of you was a good idea - I've filed that one away for next year. Your narrative and the VDLP place-names make me long to be there again.

Keep writing, and enjoy every minute!

Best,

lynne
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hello from Aljucén.

This was a very short day from Mérida, but I decided to break up the 36 kms to Alcuescar so that I could add on a 8 km detour to Santa Lucía del Trampal, a 7th century Visigothic church outside Alcuescar. I'll lelt you know after I visit it whether that was a good idea or not.

Today's walk went past the Roman built reservoir at Proserpina. They built an aqueduct to transport the water the 7 km into Mérida -- from the few bits still standing, it was quite a magnificent feat of engineering. There is an enormous amount of "improvement" going on at the reservoir (not to mention the 5 km of green pedestrian-only pavement from Merida to the reservoir itself). They are paving paths, paving parking lots, building playgrounds, picnic areas, kiosks, looks like they are expecting lots of visitors.

Aljucén's albergue is run by a woman who also operates a Casa Rural. The albergue has 14 or 15 beds, is very clean, and is full tonight. Suddenly, I am seeing people on the Vdlp.

Not much to do in Aljucén, but the Hogar del Pensionista (Retired Folks' Center is a rough translation) has internet (open afternoons after 4, I think). Funny thing is that there is no pensionista anywhere to be seen. The only users are other peregrinos or town teenagers.

The weather continues to be very good and very cool. No complaints at all. Laurie
 

Ribeirasacra

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
the highway
So some way to go before you get to rainy Galicia. They say it is going to start to clear So hope it is well out of the way by the time you get up North.

Ian

Now I have posted I can keep watching for updates! :D
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm now in Casar de Cáceres, about 11 km after Cáceres. My original plan had been to walk the 26 km from Alcuéscar to Valdesalor, but when I got to Valdesalor at 12:30 and felt fine, I decided to keep going. This decision was the result of the confluence of a number of facts:

-- Valdesalor is not really a town, it's a place where the government built houses for lots of rural people in the '60s, and as a result it has none of the indicia of being anything at all.

-- The albergue has only mats, no beds.

-- The albergue has no blankets, and it's cold here on the Vdlp, 10 degrees centigrade at 2 pm according to the farmacia's sign.

-- The biggest snorer was reported to be heading this way.

So, I rested for an hour and then walked he last 12 kms into Cáceres, and I am really glad I did. Aside from the fact that it was the longest stage I've ever walked on a camino (38 or 39 kms), I went to a very nice two star hotel, the Don Carlos (in an old building, right on the edge of the Casco Histórico and a block from the Gran Teatro). I was in the hotel by 4 pm, so I had a whole afternoon to stroll and relax. The old town is stunning at night. And then this morning, since my destination was Casar de Cáceres, only 12 kms beyond Cáceres, I was able to spend a few more hours in town. The walk from Cáceres to here is pretty flat, half on the edge of a main road (the road linking the A-66 to Cáceres) and half on a Via Pecuaria (the royally decreed animal paths).

The albergue here is small, about 16 beds, but very céntrico and across the street from a good restaurant Majuca, which has a very good menú del día at 9€. I've also seen signs that there is a casa rural here (Encarnación) and a hostal or two, but I haven seen them.

There is also a churrería that reportedly opens at 6 or so, so we can leave town with a good breakfast in the belly.

Next stop, either Cañaveral or the Lindamar, I hope to be able to check out "peetś" and "jacque's" bad reports. I agree with everyone else that there is something dodgy (LOVE that word, which is not used by those of us from USA but is very expressive) about the criticisms.

And I am very thankful to find internet in every small town, because I have just not met too many other peregrinos for hanging out with in the post-walking hours. So I am very glad that you guys are there. I am actually reading the book I brought for the second time (Cutting for Stone, highly recommended), and hope to find a replacement in Salamanca.

Buen camino a todos, Laurie

p.s. weather continues to be perfect for walking, even a bit chilly, but I'm not complaining because I remember reading poor anniesantiago's posts from last September!
 
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lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Yay Laurie! You've passed Caceres, so you've alread surpassed your last attempt. Now I know you'll go "all the way"! I'm really enjoying reading your posts, so continue to enjoy your journey, and include us!!. Hope it warms up a little (but not too much).

Best, lynne
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Hi Laurie,
Do let us know if the " detour to Santa Lucía del Trampal, a 7th century Visigothic church outside Alcuescar" was worth it. I do love being able to follow 'live posts' like yours-so thank you.
Nell (aka armchair pilgrim!)
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Nell, and others
As my post from Alcuéscar that Canuck linked you to will show, my answer to your question is a resounding yes. All of it was lovely, the walk there and back, the picnic in a sea of wildflowers, the visit to the church, and the information center. But if you go, make sure you don't get confused between the hermita up on the hill and Santa Lucía. A French peregrino was very sad to have walked up to the hilltop and not find the visigothic church. My post gives clear instructions on how to get to Santa Lucía.

I am now in Carcaboso. The weather has been very cool, cold actually in the morning, but this afternoon we are getting a very mild taste of what summer must be like here. It is uncomfortably warm in town but the librarian tells me this is nothing compared to summer weather.

The hotel Arcos de Caparra in Carcaboso is very clean, modern, and comfortable -- 20€ for pilgrims and right on the main drag. The alternatives are 5€ for the polideportivo, and 10€ for a private albergue. The numbers are increasing, and I now can expect to see anywhere from 15-20 pilgrims speaking German or something close to German at night when we convene for dinner (that includes Germans, Austrians, Flemish Belgians, and Netherlands). I have met one or two Spaniards, two English speaking pilgrims, one Italian, two French.... But it is still a very rare ocurrence for me to run into anyone on the Camino itself.

The walk from Cañaveral to Galisteo was one of those surprising Camino gifts. It went through meadow after meadow, just filled to the brim with wildflowers, several little brooks to cross, and the snow covered Gredos (I think) off in the distance. Just 28 km of pure delight.

I figure I'm less than a week out of Salamanca if all continues to go well. Tomorrow I will take Isabelle's suggested no-asphalt route to Oliva de Plasencia.

Looks like there are several others right behind, hope all goes well for you guys too!
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Hi Laurie,
Thanks for sharing your camino with us. Really appreciate your info on albergues and other accom as we plan on doing the VDLP in 2011. Walked from Salamanca in 2006 and did not enjoy all the main road/highway walking for 2-3 days after Salamanca, so . . . . interested in hearing if it's still the same.

Take care and enjoy your camino. So glad everything is going well for you. Hope the weather is kind. Look forward to more reports.
Buen camino
CaroleH
Australia
 
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walkingnomads

New Member
Hi Laurie from Aljucen,
Hope all going well with you. You wouldn´t believe this but guess who is having heel problems now! Yes it started the day to Torremegia, so I bussed to merida (my husband walked and met me on the Roman Bridge. I rested for 3 days in Merida and things felt much better so I walked with Chris to Aljucen yesterday. my heel is a bit sore again so now staying 2 more days at Anna´s lovely casa and will meet chris in Caceres (Elena who helps anna run this casa and the albergue has offered to drive me to caceres on monday now; wonderful things happen on the camino! Anna has just produced a lap top for me to use today so I am being well looked after.
Just wanted to ask about your heel prob last year, if you didn´t mind. Have consulted our daughters (one a doctor and one a physio) and they are basically saying voltaren and rest, so really hope to start walking again in caceres. I´m thinking it is either a spur or fasciitis.
Will keep you posted. We are really enjoying ourselves otherwise. Did you look in this casa...it is full of antiques and wonderful curios.....amazing. cathy (aka walking nomads).
PS if some of my post have lots of mistakes, blame my little screen on my phone, as I use it whenever there is free wireless and it is so handy.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Cathy,

I have responded to you via pm, since I don't imagine there's much general interest in my peculiar feet problems. I will say though, that these new (new for me anyway) silicone insert orthotics, though heavy, reduce the stress of the foot strike enormously, so I am optimistic that things will continue to go well.

I'm in Salamanca,where there seems to be a "bunching up" of pilgrims -- people stay for a few extra days or have bussed ahead and wait here for the peregrinos to arrive. It's nice to know about 25 people, some of whom are always sitting in the Plaza Mayor when I enter and they will inevitably call my name.

We are now definitely in Castila y León, and have had one or two of those brutal endless long straight slogs in the sun with no shade. Temps have gone up into the 30s, but it is supposed to rain tonight so maybe that will cool things off. There doesn't seem to be any crunch or rush for beds at this point, and a number of people are leaving here, with their place to be taken by others for sure.

I have probably already noted this, but the language du jour is definitely German. I'd say at least 75% of all peregrinos are from a German-speaking part of Europe.

Salamanca is stunning -- I'd better go enjoy my last few hours there. Laurie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I am now in Zamora, in the public library right around the corner from the albergue. Believe it or not, the library doesn't close at all in the afternoon. I have had some amazing walking days, and wanted to give a few tips while they are still fresh in my memory.

The days walking from Casar de Caceres to Cañaveral and then to Galisteo were of incredible beauty. There were fields of wild flowers, lots of wetlands and birds, stone walls, cork and oak trees. I really had no idea there was so much natural beauty on this camino.

From Oliva de Plasencia, I decided to make a long haul to Baños de Montemayor (my ulterior motive being to shave a day off of my stages so I could spend a rest day in Salamanca). This was a long day, there are 10 highway kms from Aldeanueva to Baños but IMO it is definitely worth it. Aldeanueva, the more sensible destination from Oliva (24 or 25 km) is a cute, but very sleepy town. Baños' albergue is fenomenal, just great. There are three rooms with 4 beds each, and breakfast is in the basement for you to make whenever you want. The hospitalero, Vicente, is a great guy.

In Baños, though I think the albergue is terrific, if you are looking for a non-albergue place to stay, here's one I didn't see on the internet: Hotel Rural los Postigos, right in the center of town, on calle mayor 48. I had a very decent menú there at night for 10 or 12€.

The day before reaching Salamanca most people spend in San Pedro de Rozados. There are about 4-6 km going into San Pedro that are those interminable hot, straight, neverending paths that make you question your sanity. In San Pedro, I slept in the VII Carreras, a bar-albergue privado owned by Mari Carmen, who had a bar for years that did meals for peregrinos. This is a very nice set-up, 20 € for a private room, dinner another 10 or so. All very clean and comfy. My only complaint was that, though she assured us she would be in the bar to make breakfast at 7:00, it was after 7:30 before she arrived. And then she told us the coffee machine would take another "ratito" to warm up. Well, since I hate walking in the hot sun, I just took off then. I would have left sooner but my clothes were drying on a rack inside the bar and I couldn't get to them before she opened. The other option in San Pedro is an albergue for 10€ or a casa rural owned by the same people as the albergue and I think that's 30€ a room.

Take a rest day in Salamanca -- let me say that again, take a rest day in Salamanca, it is such a beautiful lively city. We were there on a Sat. and Sun., and I must have seen 8 weddings, a bunch of communions and lots of graduation celebrations. Going into the plaza mayor at 10:30 or 11:00 at night is something you must do, and you can't do that if you are in the albergue.

This is getting long so I'll end now and post another on the Salamanca-Zamora stages. Laurie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Ok, just a few things to say about the Salamanca to Zamora stages.

You will find that many people take a bus for those 60-somethng kms. Well, that's fine, but if you're inclined to walk, you should know that there are really only 13 or so bad kms along the side of the A-66 in that stretch, and there are many kms of dirt-gravel tracks through very pretty agricultural lands. If the wind blows, there are waving green fields, it's really quite pretty.

The choices from Salamanca to Zamora are to do it in two big chunks (most probably do that), stopping in Cubo del Vino in the middle. That will give you about two 33 km days.

I decided I wanted to take three days, so I did a short day (Salamanca to Valdunciel (16 km)), followed by a long day (Valdunciel to Villanueva del Campeán (33 km)) and then a short day into Zamora (Villanueva to Zamora, 18 km). This way you miss the crowds at Cubo and have the advantage of being able to arrive in Zamora well before noon, which gives you a lot of time to see Zamora even without a rest day.

The two albergues I stayed in between Salamanca and Zamora were both fine. The small one in Calzada de Valdunciel was like a little hobbit house, beds for 8 with a cozy room in the middle, then bathrooms and a kitchen. There were 3 of us there. There's an OK restaurant on the highway, El POzo. This is not a town with a lot going on but I actually got a fair amount of work done in the library on internet in the afternoon.

The second day, I walked through Cubo, had a coffee there but didn't really regret I wasn't staying, and went on another 13 km to Villanueva. There is both a private (where I stayed) and public (run by a woman who is now in the hospital so no one knows what is going on) albergue there. But not much else -- total population is about 80, but there are houses for hundreds and hundreds. Dinner at the Bar Via de la Plata is fine and they will have breakfast for you at 7:15 on the dot if you ask in advance. And from there to Zamora was a quite nice off-road rural 18 km day.

The bad slog in this stretch is really only about 10-15 kms right next to the A-66, which are all in the part between Calzada de Valdunciel and Cubo. You can't help but think that the engineers who did this to the Vdlp were really out to torture us. There are senseless ups and downs, incredible twisty turns and loops for kms, all near the highway. But it's penance for the pilgrims, and it doesn't last that long.

The albergue in Zamora is incredible -- rooms with 3 bunks each having a private bath/shower, a big commons room, kitchen, dining area. It's definitely a five star albergue.

Tomorrow I want to go visit San Pedro de la Nave, a 7th century visigothic church about 23 km from here and had asked the hospitalero whether I could leave my bag in the albergue while I went to do that. He got interested and did some research and now wants to go visit the church himself. So, I will probably take a ride from him out to the church, and then walk back. Weather is cooperating, it's around 20 degrees, beautiful and still no rain, knock on wood. I will be here for another couple of days because my walking partner is flying in from the states and will be here tomorrow afternoon.

The Vdlp is NOT crowded this year, what a wonderful treat that has been! Never a rush, never a fight for a bed. Buen camino everyone, Laurie
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Good to see you trucking along - yes the albergue in Zamora is good - there is also a good one in the centre of town at Cáceres that you missed - sorry to hear you on the mat.

And to those of you how told me to hurry up and complete my blog (and not leave them abandoned at Puebla de Sanabria) I am pleased to say I've finally got around to it.. I guess you inspired me to get moving again Laurie.

I won't mention the hills you have in front of you yet... are you going on to Astorga or via Ourense?

Happy walking.
 
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Javier Martin

Veteran Member
peregrina2000 said:
...The days walking from Casar de Caceres to Cañaveral and then to Galisteo were of incredible beauty. There were fields of wild flowers, lots of wetlands and birds, stone walls, cork and oak trees. I really had no idea there was so much natural beauty on this camino.....

This winter and spring we've had a very wet weather, many many rainy days. When it happens, fields are incredible nice!

Buen Camino Laurie!

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

Javier Martin

Veteran Member
peregrina2000 said:
.....You will find that many people take a bus for those 60-somethng kms. Well, that's fine, but if you're inclined to walk, you should know that there are really only 13 or so bad kms along the side of the A-66 in that stretch, and there are many kms of dirt-gravel tracks through very pretty agricultural lands. If the wind blows, there are waving green fields, it's really quite pretty......

Nieves, other people and me (we were 5) went to walk Salamanca-Zamora ... ¿last september? I'm not sure now. Others prefer not to try it ...

Surprising situations can appear in the most strange place, town, river, field ... don't take buses!

Buen Camino, walking, always walking!

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
peregrina2000 said:
I

Take a rest day in Salamanca -- let me say that again, take a rest day in Salamanca, it is such a beautiful lively city.
[/quote]

Glad you enjoyed Salamanca, Laurie. Evenings in the Plaza Mayor are so wonderful, with the sandstone walls glowing golden in the setting sun.

Are there volunteer hospitaleros in Zamora and Salamanca, Laurie? We are thinking of doing a stint as volunteers next year, after the VdlP.

Thanks for posting . I wonder how you have the energy at times, but am glad you do. It's great to follow along with you, and makes me want to get up and go . . . now! Sounds like there's less A 66 walking than in 2006. Good news. We will cope with 13km next year. Re: bus for that section . . .. once or thrice we took a bus or train (for maybe 10 km) on the VdlP to make the days walk doable for us (under 25 km) but I have always felt niggling guilt after, as if cheating. As Javier says, . . ..things happen, little happenings and chance meetings, often in the most unlikely places, and it would be shame to miss them. We have wonderful memories of many little serendipitous (and challenging) happenings along the way from Salamanca to Zamora. It was special.

Enjoy every moment, especially the beautiful paths further along. Buen camino. Carole.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Spending a rest day in Zamora, after having spent yesterday walking the 23 km from San Pedro de la Nave outside of town back to Zamora. Since that was a walk without a pack on my back, it seemed like a breeze. I put a few comments on a separate post, but if you like old churches, it would be a real pity to go through Zamora and not see this place. The capitals are amazing, and the church itself is very petty -- square apses and all. The church was moved stone by stone when they dammed the Esla River, maybe in the 1930s.

From Zamora, though nearly everyone continues to go straight north, you have the option of taking the Camino Portugués west here through Verín, where it hooks up with the southern route of the Camino Sanabrés. This route takes you right through El Campillo (town where San Pedro de la Nave is), but I think accommodations are few and far between. No albergues, and many towns have no private accommodations of any kind. That may change of course.

There continue to be no crowds. The numbers in the Zamora albergue show that over the past two weeks there has been a range between 8 and 23. Nothing even close to bursting at the seems. I assume we will see more crowds once we get into Galicia and near the 100 km minimum mark.

I was in Zamora last year, but never tire of spending time in this city. The castle renovations are finished and they are terrific. The old mills down by the river are open regularly, and several of the romanesque churches are undergoing renovation. I've had a couple of good Toro wines, and they are to my unsophisticated palate's liking.

My walking partner arrived from the US, so I will be walking the last 400 km in company. We start tomorrow, a short day to Montamarta. Many have told us that the albergue there is in very bad shape, so we have reserved a room in the Casa Rural Casa del Sastre, 28€ each. And since the dollar seems to be getting stronger (well, I think I have that wrong, I think the euro is just weakening), the accommodations are getting cheaper and cheaper!

Looking forward to hearing from Cathy and Anita, who are not too far behind me! Buen camino a todos, Laurie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Sorry, forgot to answer some questions --

To Hel & Scott -- we are going via Ourense. There is no way in the world you could convince me to join up with the Francés in Astorga, based on what I'm reading here.

To Carol -- the hospitaleros in both Salamanca and Zamora are volunteers who do a two week stint. I don't think they got to choose their destinations, though, I think they volunteer and then get sent somewhere. In Salamanca, our hospitalera was from Munich, and in Zamora, Ricardo from Portugal was the hospitalero. Rebekah might have more info because I think she has been a hospitalera there herself!

Laurie
 
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andy.d

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
Laurie,

last October, I found the albergue in Montamarta to be basic but OK. You pass very near it on the way into Montamarta so you might want to look at it?

Andy
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Thanks Laurie. Great posting.

In 2006 we stumbled across the 'still being built' albergue at Montamarta. The new mattresses and pillows still covered in plastic, kitchen not finished, and we kept the door closed with a pile of tiles, but it was a blessing to us that night. Funny how things change.

Buen camino. Carole
 

hel&scott

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2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
peregrina2000 said:
We are going via Ourense. There is no way in the world you could convince me to join up with the Francés in Astorga, based on what I'm reading here.

Wise choice, Ourense is another great albergue and after you drop your pack off you stumble down past the hill and cathedral (and its copy of the Door of Glory) and check out the Burgas, just watch it as it is very hot and therefore not great for foot soaking.

Ahh.. to be back on the road, cold and wet here so must just make do with a walk over Mt Eden and beyond... Looks like you are enjoying your trip, trust your feet hold out.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
andy.d said:
I found the albergue in Montamarta to be basic but OK.

We found the signs around Montamarta a bit off as it's not clear if you go into the town, or over to the road. The albergue is over by the road, you have to go under the road and then up to it. It was competed and in full use in 2008 when we stopped there, but be warned as it is by the road people in cars stop off and use it. In all the thousands of kms we've trod on the camino this is the one and only place we've had gear and food stolen - while we slept!

But there is a service station and a cafe on the roadside you can stock up at. You have to go back under the road to the old town and crossed the dry lake before the Ermita de la Virgin del Castillo.

Actually this is not a bad place to stop and where we read the following warning comment in the pilgrim's log book:

Riego del Camino should be avoided like the plague, due to a very dirty bar manned by a woman with the personality of a junkyard dog - and no toilet!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi from the COOL public library in Tábara, three days walking from Zamora. The weather has gotten very hot and by 2 pm we are ready to wilt. So that means leaving early.

Zamora to Montamarta was a day with no challenges, nothing to complain about either. We stayed in the Casa Rural "Casa del Sastre." There were two cyclists sharing the house with us, sounds strange but works out fine. The albergue had three people that night, and someone went in during the day and stole food and clothing from at least one of the pilgrims. It is a bit isolated from the pueble (which is not itself a very happening place), so I'm glad we stayed in the Casa Rural.

The Bar Hostal Asturias in Montamarta has closed and has been taken over by RENFE as they continue working on the AVE or whatever rail line they are building around here. That means you eitehr have the albergue or the Casa Rural. We ate at the Restaurante Rosamary, a very good place to eat. It's right on the highway on the edge of town as you are leaving. It was one of the better menús del días we've had on the way, and it is owned an operated by three very nice women.

Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela was a bit hot, there was a very frustrating looping up and around an embalse, but we went past the still pretty impressive ruins of Castrotorafe and had a nice run around the place. There were a few of those penetential slogs of kms after kms of long hot stright roads with no shade, but we made it fine. The albergue in Granja de Moreruela looked much better than the previous town's, but we opted for the Casa Rural again, the Casa del Tio Quico. It is VERY nice and comfortable (these casas run about 25€ a person, so they aren't cheap but not extravagant. There is a nice garden, lots of nice common space, all in a ll a very pleasant stay.

The romanesque monastery/church of Granja de Moreruela is reportedly 3.7 km from town, but I walked out and back and I can't belive it's more than 2.5 km each way. Most of the monastery and the church is in ruins, but the athree layers of apses out back are beautiful, and it was a great rest spot with only the clacking of teh cigueñas to interrupt the silence. There are also free guided tours that last about an hour but I left after about the first 15 minutes.

Today we're in Tábara, again in non-albergue accommodations, this time in the Hostal Roble, which is right in town on the Plaza Mayor, again prices are around 20 €. The albergue is out of town so I haven't seen it. This is a bigger town than the previous two. The 25 km from Granja were mostly through rural agricultural lands, with one spectacular climb up a rocky promontory with incrediblye views over the Río Esla, it was aone of the best rest spots ever.

It is getting HOT, we are leaving early, but if it's a choice between waiting till 7 for coffee and leaving without coffee, I'll take the coffee any day!
 
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peregrina2000

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Hi, We're in Rionegro del Puente in the albergue funded by the Junta and the local Cofradía. It is spacious, in a big old stone building, all modern installations and functional showers, kitchen, etc. And, believe it or not, the two of us are the only ones in the building. We'll probably get a few cyclists, but this is crazy, there is no one on the Via de la Plata it seems. The library has one computer and none of the 98 residents seem interested in using it, so here we are.

The terrain is very pleasant in these parts, just a few rolling ups and downs, and we are changing from what I think the guidebooks call "mediterranean scrub" to more Atlantic type growth -- oaks and things like that. The wildflowers seem to be diminishing, too, but the path has been overwhelmingly off-road, and that helps a lot in the heat.

We were in Anita's albergue yesterday in Santa Croya de Tera. Actually, she and her husband have turned it over to their daughter Ana, a young, dynamic and very focused entrepreneur. She has great plans for the albergue, including trying to get some of the Spanish summer courses for foreigners to send a group to Santa Croya to learn Spanish and live in the albergue. Not sure how that will work, but she does have a million ideas.

I was surprised that of the nine of us staying in the albergue, my friend and I were the only ones who went to see the romanesque church in Santa Marta. Now I know I'm something of a romanesque nut, but come on, that's the church with the oldest known statue of Santiago peregrino. The church itself is one of those small peaceful places, and some of the capitals sat behind retablos for several centuries and as a result are beautifully preserved. One of Isaac was particularly nice, and there's one capital that gets the ray of light directly on center at the equinox (experts aren't sure if the statue it shines on is Jesus or Santa Marta but it's pretty impressive nonetheless). Definitely worth a visit.

We've had some really beautiful walking, a nice embalse to go around today, some long stretches along the River Tera, and now we're moving into Sanabria (not sure exactly what that means, though). The weather is hot, but we're not complaining because we heard it was 40 in Sevilla. That's way hotter than what we've got. Cooler temps on the way.

Cathy and Anita, hope you are enjoying things, and that you aren't suffering with too much heat. What are the crowds like for you guys?

Buen camino everyone, Laurie
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
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Hi Laurie,
Interesting about the lack of pilgrims on VdlP. I really thought there'd be more this year. Anyway, it's great to follow along with you, and reading of places and people we have visited or met. So . . . Domingo and Anita have "retired" at Casa Anita.Hard to believe. Was he around at all handing out his special free vino? We really liked Santa Croya but not sure if I'd do a Spanish Course there . . . maybe.
Keep on enjoying the countryside. Buen camino. Carole
 

andy.d

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Hi Laurie,

good to hear your updates. The Church and statue at Santa Marta are so special, a real highlight of the pilgrimage. I stayed an extra night with Anita and Domingo so I could have time to take it all in (of course the free wine and the chance to dry out soaked kit had nothing to do with this!).

Another pilgrim called Cristina, who has walked from Valencia, is a little ahead of you in Lubian and busy blogging away:

http://www.globetrotter-life.com/IlCamm ... evante.htm

Andy
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
We are now in Puebla de Sanabria, on an old computer in a cool room. The sun is brutally hot and we will wait here till it starts to cool down. It's kind of a shock to be in a tourist town.

The terrain has changed! No more orange round roof tiles or adobe buildings -- it's all slate on the roof, stone buildings and wood balconies. Though Peebla is a tourist town,it is beautiful. Rows and rows of these houses. But you get the feeling that the "real people" are being squeezed out, and that within a few years, it'll be like Carcasonne or many other tourist places, with no one living in the centro histórico.

Walking over the last two days, we've gone through many towns with similar building but none of them as well remodeled as here in Puebla. And as the architecture changes, so too changes the terrain. Now we're walking through lots of green tunnels, very Galician in feeling, with wet paths that require you to either slog it out in the mud or hop over the adjacent stone walls and walk through someone's abandoned plot till you can get back down on the path.

From Rionegro, at Domingo's suggestion, we walked to Casa de Teresa in Palacios de Sanabria. Teresa lives next door to where the pilgrims stay. The building used to be her and her husband's carnicería, and the scales and marble top still greet you on the way in. The upstairs has been converted into rooms for pilgrims, most with two beds. I would not say the condition of the building is great, but it's fine for a night. Teresa is a lovely woman who works all day and all night. She brought us a very bad dinner with undrinkable wine but we enjoyed it nonetheless. (And when I say undrinkable, know that I do NOT have high standards). At 25€ per person, it is not cheap but she's not getting rich either. There are also some very nice looking casas rurales in Palacios, here is the info I jotted down -- apartamentos Carrero, http://www.tursanabria.com, 677-20-13-43. There are two bars there and a small grocery store.

In Palacios during the afternoon, I walked down to the "lower town" where there is the town church and some of the older homes. There are a few huge homes being renovated, and they will be incredibly beautiful done. I soaked my feet in the ice cold water of the tub of the old washing area, with the scrub boards still standing, and a woman came over to talk to me. It was fun to hear her stories of how the town used to be -- up till 1995, she used to come to wash her clothes there year round. She said she missed it, because she used to have a set time for washing and always spent a few hours chatting with her friends as they all washed. Now everyone has a washing machine, quicker and easier perhaps but something lost. There are about 8 children left in the town, it is dying and will soon be a place for summer vacations only. I thought it was telling to see that the only municipal building I could find was a "velatorio" -- the building where wakes are held. I know it's easy to wax romantic about these places, but there are certain things that get lost in the transition to modernity.

Then today, the stroll into Puebla was short (13 km) and delightful, with only a few kms on the highway. Through lots of small towns with houses every bit as pretty as we see here in Puebla, but no one to restore them. In Puebla, stay away from the restaurants on the main drag -- we were pointed to two Mesones, and ate very well in Mesón de Abalardo, off on a side street. Lots of good vegetables, which we are starved for.

For those who are staying in albergues, from Santa Marta to Palacios, there are probably 6 or 7 small municipal albergues (all listed on Mundicamino and the Eroski site). The one in Mombuey is the only one in a town with facilities, the rest are all in essentially ghost towns, so you would have to bring all your food with you. But the towns themselves are very pretty and the albergues clean and dry, and the people in the town love to chat with the peregrinos.

We are close to Galicia and will probably reach Ourense in a week. We are walking slowly and enjoying every minute we can.
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Lovely, lovely post Laurie. I'm just sitting here reminiscing and enjoying every word. Great info, will be really helfpul, to all. I wonder if any more pilgs have appeared? In beautiful tho touristy Sanabria we stayed in the Hostal Carlos V, 2 nights for a blister break and it was good. In 2006 the albergue was in a convent up in the historico,but there maybe another by now.

Glad you are enjoying the gorgeous "Galician" countryside. It will only get better and better. I was delighted by the villages, and some of the prettiest camino walking ever; tho saddened too by the number of deserted homes, same as the area around Santa Croya de Terra where all those deserted adobe farm dwellings, long deserted, are crumbling into the ground. Many people have gone to the bigger towns and cities. Such a shame. Maybe government incentive, controlled tourism or more enterprising people like Ana, could reverse the trend.

Good to hear about those municipal albergues from Santa Marta on, didn't know about them. . . . Continue to enjoy, store up those memories. Would love to see your photos (if you have any) at a later date??
Buen viaje. Carole
 
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peregrina2000

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Well, I'm now in Galicia, in A Gudiña to be exact. The waymarkings say we're only 240 km from Santiago, just can't believe it. I have time for just a few notes for those coming behind and I will fill in the details later on when I have more time.

In Puebla de Sanabria -- we splurged and stayed in a hotel, but the albergue is very nice and clean, it's private (and run by the family who owns the mesón we ate in, which was very good by the way), I think the name is La Luz, but you pass it on your way into town. 10€, and she usually makes dinner (and I can vouch for her cooking, had some piquillo peppers stuffed with shrimp that were grand).

From Puebla to Requejo -- we took a short day just because it made the later etapas easier. There is also a new private albergue in REquejo, where, believe it or not, they give you towels and change the sheets daily. 12€, and well worth it, it's very spacious and clean. My friend and I were there with one German pilgrim thinking we had the place to ourselves when at 7 pm 8 Portuguese men on horseback showed up. Made for an interesting night. If you plan to stop here, there is also a hostal next door that offers rooms very cheap, and I'd recommend a meal at Tu Casa, a ways up the road but well worth it, I had lentils that were the best of the trip so far. And a 6€ pilgrim menu is hard to beat. If you do stay in Requejo, be careful about the municipal albergue (unless you want to stay there of course). The hospitalera is very aggressive and the town is obviously not happy about the private albergue (Casa Cerviño). But as several towns people told me, the municipal albergue is dirty and not well cared for, so what do they expect?

The way since Puebla has been just stunning -- I've probably described this before, but it's been km after km of old oak and chestnut and other hardwood trees lining stone fenced lanes with rivers, brooks, streams, just beautiful. There have been a couple of ascents, the first of any real punch since Sevilla! But the days are just invigorating. I'll close now and continue in a new post because this is getting long. Buen camino a todos, Laurie.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
---- Continued

From Requejo to Lubián was just magical, and Lubián is a very nice little town. The municipal albergue was almost full when we arrived (where did all these people come from?). I went upstairs, found two beds, realized it would be cramped and likely full of snorers since there was only 1 other woman, but we were ready to tough it out when we heard that the water wasn't running, meaning no showers and no toilets. Well, as my friend said, that was a deal-breaker, so we walked around to find private accommodations. There is a Casa Rural Irene right next to the albergue, but to tell you the truth it smelled kind of bad and looked kind of funky, even though it's a beautifully restored old stone building. We continued on to the Casa Pachaca, on the other edge of town, right off the Camino. Most highly recommended, 45€ for double. The woman who runs it is one of those Camino angels. She restored the house 11 years ago (after being a very young widow for 5 years she said she decided to keep on living) and has a book full of pilgrim praise. Though her breakfast was nothing to write home about, the evening meal was fresh, most ingredients were home grown, and it was yummy.

Lubián to Gudiña was more of the same green magic, with a few moon-like desert stretches in between rivers. Lots of boulders and little green, wow, what a contrast. As we got to the top of the Canda Pass, with its announcement that we had passed into Galicia, we knew we had to start looking out for the cow poop. And sure enough, on the way down the pass, we saw a lot of that Galician staple. The municipal albergue in Gudiña is clean (paper sheets and all), run by the Xunta and now with its 5€ charge. What a pleasure to pay so that the bathrooms can be clean! We are finding more people on the road now, some Spaniards but the majority German still. I assume the crowds will continue until Santiago, though this is all relative because there are still 8 or 9 free beds in the albergue.

Rain is in the forecast and seems inevitable. But since I haven't had any at all since Sevilla (oh yes there was a 5 minute shower before Torremegía), I cannot complain. This is a beautiful, absolutely beautiful camino, and I am grateful every day that I can walk it. And since I have seen two 70-something German gents for the last few nights, it gives me great hopes that I have many more caminos in my future! Buen camino a todos, Laurie
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
So glad you are enjoying this beautiful camino, Laurie. We loved it and can't wait to get back on it in 2011, especially with your lovely posts stirring up such wonderful memories. Thankyou for sharing. Enjoy every minute. Buen camino. Carole.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Hi Laurie -

You're having a fantastic camino - I couldn't be happier if it was me . . . umm well yes, I could. :wink: I'm saving this whole thread for our camino in the spring and will make good use of your reports, experiences and observations! I have been looking forward to your posts.

You're storing up a lot of wonderful memories. Enjoy!

lynne
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Back again, Laurie, for 2 follow up comments. I seem to remember we stayed in the Albergue at Requejo in 2006 and found it mouldy and smelly then, so we slept under open windows. Sounds like it hasn't changed. You'd think the locals would ask themselves why Pilgrims are not always using their albergue, would realise there might be a reason. :?

Also, re Casa Irene, in Lubian, a bunch of us dined there, had a fun night, but a few hours later my husband was ill with what seemed like food poisoning. (Of course it wasn't the wine!) It was the only time we were ill on the whole camino and maybe a coincidence, but it sure did make the climb up Padornelo the next morning extra tough and testing. So maybe you made the wise decision. . . . .

Sorry about the negativity, but people need to know, and VdlP is still the most beautiful camino, and we have so many memories of people being kind and helpful, of chance meetings, of funny little happenings. Like Lynne, I'll be taking your stream of posting, Laurie, next spring . . . so full of useful information and so joyful. I look forward to reading it every other day. Buen viaje. Carole :D
 
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walkingnomads

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Hi Laurie, Thank you so much for updates along the VDLP. It is very helpful to us!
Hi....this is Chris and Cathy again and I am up and walking again and all seems to be going pretty well.
We agree with you ...this area is very beautiful and today enjoyed the walk from Tabara to Santa Croya, staying at Casa Anita, which we know you enjoyed too!
The VDLP is still not crowded for us, but the Tabara albergue filled up at 9pm with 4 bikes from Sevilla and 2 from Poland. 4 girls had already joined us there.....2 German, one French Canadian and a Dane, but the Germans decided to move out when they sawe the numbers of roncadores!!!!!
The albergue in T is fine with a lovely kitchen, but we thought badly signed through the village (its very near the old flour mill). No sign of hospitalero there but then we saw a sign stating no cleaning Sat, Sun and Mon, so all was revealed.
We also very much enjoyed the private albergue in Banos with Vicente, who really apologised for the 430 opening but told us the financial crisis meant another job for him. He was extremely kind and ran around with cleaning stuff but I wondered how often the sheets and pillow cases were changed! (very clean pillowcases in Tabara)!
Morning coffee at Bercianos, where guide book told us to find a tiny unmarked bar. Elderly lady in dressing gown appeared and sent us to a new community centre and rang the cleaners ther to tell them to put coffee machine on! Next an elderly gent arrived with a bag of madelenas cakes as a gift....what kindness you find in unexpected places)!
Tonight at Casa Anita....it is so lovely here, but Anna tells us there is politics happening in lots of the villages with albergues, and showed us a news article where someone is painting new arrows and redirecting between Tabara and here (such a pity, and we did think a couple of things conflicted with our guide books and the 2 Germans got lost), but as you say Laurie, we don´t need or want to get involved, even though the info is helpful to us.
We have noted all your accomm and eating places as we head into Galicia. Aren´t we priveleged having the time and health to enjoy the countryside!
Buen camino to all. Yes it looks more like rain in the next few days, but we too have been lucky with the weather, and it was delightful walking in slightly cooler weather today. C and C
PS The 4 girls have just started in Zamora, so we expect to see more in next week or so.
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
Having just completed the VdlP on May 25, I am enthralled to read a couple accounts from current pilgrims in this "Live from the Camino" section of the forum.

I was blessed with first rain and then blisters, my recollections for the first 10 days are:
- How do I get dry?
- and What can I do differently (different socks? walk in sandals?) to help my blisters?

But the beginning of the VdlP definitely has some beautiful sections and these accounts help me reminise.

Thank you for posting your day to day account for us all to enjoy.

David, Victoria, Canada
 

anita

New Member
Hi Laurie, thanks for all this useful information! Your accounts of the towns and the people are inspiring and I am so glad that your camino is turning out to be such a great experience. I am in Salamanca and will start the walk to Zamora tomorrow. I will be taking it slow since I have enough time. I am also glad to see that Cathy and Chris are doing well. Buen Camino to all of you, Anita
 

peregrina2000

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Hi, to everyone, and thanks for all the comments. C and C, and Anita, I am so happy to hear about your experiences, it means I can already relive my Vdlp while on the Vdlp. I've had a hard couple of days because my walking partner was called home for family reasons yesterday. We were in Laza, and she got the call at 4 pm, by 9:30 she was in a cab to Verín for the 1:00 am bus to Madrid. It has sort of turned everything upside down, I miss her a lot (she had met me in Zamora and planned to walk to Santiago), and of course I am worried about her situation too. But I have got lots of 20 céntimo pieces and will be lighting candles whenever I find an open church.

Well, the rain! Yesterday, we walked from A Gudiña to Campobecerros. The first five minutes were raining, then it stopped, and we had several hours of walking up high, looking down and across at Galicià´s deforested mountains. It was kind of eerie, like we were up in a plane or something. Well, all we had left was the descent into Campobecerros when the rain began, and that kind of steep shale descent became a whole lot more interesting. We made it without mishap, though my friend sat down and slid for a couple of bad parts, and once in town we went to Pensión Nuñez, which I had read about here, I think. Unfortunately, we learned that there was no room in the inn, all booked (guess I had gotten complacent), so the options were to take a cab to Laza or to walk the 13 extra km. Three opted for a cab, being the hard core camino nut I am, I walked. The rain was off and on, nothing too torrential, and most of it was very pretty.

The albergue in Laza is very very nice, but having 32 people in wet clothes, smelly boots, nowhere to hang anything because of the rain, etc etc, kind of took away some of the charm. But hot showers (and these were VERY hot) do wonders, and the meal at the mesón was excellent, and the owners super nice. We had breakfast at the town´s other bar, the Picota, I think, and the tostadas were the best I've had. You know breakfasts are basic when I focus on distinguishing good toast from bad toast.

Today, it was raining at 6 am, after having rained a lot during the night, but that didn't dissuade many people. In fact, people were up and about at 5, I was kind of shocked. I waited till 8, went to have breakfast in the Picota, and then three of us decided to give it a try. We must have been on the right side of someone up there, because though we walked through dense fog and were wet when we arrived at the top in Alberguería, we had no rain other than a few minutes of light rain at the beginning. We took the highway up on the advice of the Guardia Civil, but I'm not convinced we had to do that, I think the camino would have been ok, it looked like a pretty solid path.

The famous scallop shell bar Rincón del Peregrino now has a shell with my name on it, and the owner told us that his albergue is completed and waiting approval from someone in Madrid. I got a slightly different story from the grocery store owner in Laza who told me he tried to open an albergue without getting the necessary approvals and they shut him down. In any event, there's a 10 bed albergue there ready to go, kitchen and bath are ready (only one bath, with shower, toilet, etc., and it was the weak link in the albergue, IMO).

On the way down from Alberguería, the rain stopped completely, so I hopped over to the Camino (got off the highway) and it was a wonderful walk down the 8 km into Vilar de Barrio. This albergue is just incredible -- spotless bathrooms, hot water with tons of pressure and a shower head that shoots water where you want it to (sorry to keep going on about these Galician albergues, but I'm a veteran of the days when Galician albergues were donativos, and they were a health disaster waiting to happen, this 5€ charge has made a huge difference).

In Vilar de Barrio, there were two octopus tents (happens the 9th of every month, so plan accordingly!), so I had my first pulpo gallego with some terrific bread and a glass or two of wine. But then the heavens opened and it poured for at least an hour and a half, in fact, it just stopped as I made my way here to the library to write. Looks threatening again, but one day at a time, and I have been incredibly lucky so far.

I have been using all the good information that I collected on this board, so I am happy to hear that some of what I'm posting will be useful to people coming later. Hard to believe I am so close to Santiago, buen camino a todos, Laurie
 

Canuck

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peregrina2000 said:
... We took the highway up on the advice of the Guardia Civil, but I'm not convinced we had to do that, I think the camino would have been ok, it looked like a pretty solid path.

Laurie,

It's a good thing you followed their advice. The climb up to Albergueria is very long and very steep and the trail has been churned up by the firefighters' and forest workers' machinery. You would most likely have slid and walked in ankle deep mud.
It was a bitch in dry and cool weather last fall and I just can't imagine doing it in the rain.
When the locals recommend something, don't go against the grain. Be smart and follow their advice, as you did. Good on you!

Cheers,
Jean-Marc
 
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peregrina2000

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Just a quick check-in from Xunqueira. I had planned to continue on to Allariz, but I saw the beautiful collegiata down in the town here and decided I would rather visit it in the afternoon. So, in the Xunqueira albergue I will sleep. Looks like a few more people than yesterday -- when I checked in there were already four others there. Another new modern albergue, and I LOVE those sex-segregated bathrooms, especially when there are usually 8 males for every female on this Camino.

It rained a lot last night, at least I think I heard the beating, and I slept in till 7:30 -- the latest on this Camino or probably any Camino for that matter. By 8:30, though, it had stopped, and the quick 13 km to Xunqueira were lovely. I even saw my shadow a few times. There were a few stretches with a bit of mud, but nothing too hard. Just beautiful Galician landscape, there were some really WOW-inducing parts.

I think I'll be arriving in SdC in one week, at least if I have my stages mapped out right. And I will probably head over to Muxia soon after arriving, thanks to the info I got on another posting.

Buen camino a todos, Laurie
 

CaroleH

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Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Must be hard to believe you are within a week of SdC, Laurie, and I guess you'll have mixed feelings about that. Going on to Muxia will help to extend your time and give a nice transition period for collecting thoughts and moving on to the camino of life. . . . (Enough! . . . it's 8am in Australia and I'm off to do a little walk)
Wow! Hard to believe . . .. I feel like I'm there with you . . .. Continue to enjoy every moment. How brave you are, often walking alone, tho never alone in spirit. Well done.

Buen camino. Carole
 

anita

New Member
Hi Laurie,

I am sorry to hear about your walking partner having to return home and also wish for her situation to be ok. I know what you felt, I had the same experience when my husband had to return to Johannesburg when we reached Merida. The first few days I really felt alone but then one is taken up by the camino family and the socials at night with so many wonderful people help me along. I am also looking forward to my daughter joining me in Orense.

I am in Zamora which I reached in two days from Salamanca rather than the four I planned mostly due to the rain. Yesterday, I was also advised by the municipal official managing the albergue in El Cubo del Vino that I should rather take the N630. It rained the whole day only clearing up slightly for an hour or so when I approached Zamora. The 30plus km on the road was after the road walking the previous day not the best, especially for my feet but luckily only two small blisters added to the healthy blister offspring I have been tending to!

I am contemplating the Finisterre/Muxia option for a day or two myself and is therefore glad you asked the question and for the helpful responses.

I will be typing my places of stay and other comments under the post stream of ´Starting in Seville´so as to also keep it together.

I wish you just the best for this last week! Anita
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Anita, Carole, and all peregrinos,

I can hardly believe it, I'm in Santiago. I saw that with a slight extra effort, I could arrive early enough in Santiago to be able to walk to Muxía, so after a couple of long days, I'm here.

Xunqueira to Ourense was a beautiful day (great walking weather, cloudy and cool), the hospitalero in Ourense is quite a talker (I think there are two, because he works one week then has a week off, so I imagine they alternate). The albergue was pretty empty, though it has been very full recently. We took the tren turístico out to the termas, and they looked VERY inviting. But I had no bathing suit, so I just had a look. Next time, I will carry a bathing suit, it would be worth it just to dip into these waters. The termas are extremely well maintained, looked spotless and comfortable.

Leaving Ourense, I was planning to take the right hand route to Cea, rather than the left hand route. The hospitalero had regaled us with stories about the perils of the left hand route, through Mandrás, he told us we'd be up to our culos in mud (his words, not mine), and I fully intended to follow his advice. But at the split, I met a German couple who told me the left hand route is much prettier, so I took a chance. It was the right decision. The ascent is short and sweet, on a secondary road, and once you're up there it's all beautiful camino. There was absolutely no problem, an occasional patch of mud but nothing serious. I know others may disagree, but I would recommend the left hand route, not the right hand route, which spends a lot of time on the national highway. This was beautiful.

I think this is long, so I'll post and continue in a minute. Laurie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
(From Ourense to Santiago no. 2)

I had planned to stay in Cea, but arrived there around noon and decided to continue on, mainly because ribeirasacra had told me that the monastery in Oseira is well worth a visit, which would be impossible if I stayed in Cea. So after a good sandwich in the pulpería in the plaza (those who stayed in the very nice Cea albergue said the dinner in the pulpería was out of this world), a French peregrino and I continued on to Oseira. This was one of those experiences that I will always remember. The albergue is in a big stone room, much like the albergue in Roncesvalles, but with about 26 beds. It is cold and clammy, but there are hot showers in the intersticies of the monastery, someone has to lead you there. Dinner was in a bar, pretty bad, but all four peregrinos had a good time and some good conversation. I would stay there again in a heartbeat, because the visit to the monastery was well worth it.

From Oseira, the next stop was Laxe, again further than I had planned to go. This is a "vanguardista" albergue, with 24 beds or so, and lots of common space, which is used for different purposes, not just for peregrinos. This albergue is in need of attention, it seems like once we arrived in Ourense, the quality of upkeep decreased in the albergues. But it was fine, and the pilgrim meal in the bar on the highway was edible, if not inspired.

The next day, it seemed quite do-able to go to Ponte Ulla, where I stayed in a very spotless pensión on the highway. This day is incredible, I found it so incongruous to be in a rural Gallego spot, with cows, tree tunnels, etc, and to be able to hear the highway in the distance. I don't know how they do it, but I really appreciate it that the Camino is off road and beautiful, though the highway N-525 is always close.

And from Ponte Ulla, it's a short day to Santiago. There were exactly 5 peregrinos in front of us at the office of peregrinos for the credencial, and we arrived about 1 pm. Go figure. The town is not crowded, lots of places to sleep available, and believe it or not the sun is shining.

I will post more later tonight with some recommendations for Anita and those behind, but right now I have to go meet some fellow peregrinos in the Praça Obradoiro. Buen camino a todos, Laurie
 
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CaroleH

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Well done, Laurie, well done. You are there in Santiago, and we are there with you in spirit. Celebrate and enjoy the feelings. You've earned it. :D :( :mrgreen:

Siempre buen camino. Carole
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Fantastic camino, Laurie, and thanks again for your wonderful, descriptive reports. Enjoy Muxia!

lynne
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
peregrina2000 said:
I can hardly believe it, I'm in Santiago. I saw that with a slight extra effort, I could arrive early enough in Santiago to be able to walk to Muxía, so after a couple of long days, I'm here. Laurie

Warmest congratulations Laurie. It has been great to 'follow' you here. I hope you enjoy your time in Santiago and Muxia....and manage to make the 'transition' out of walking mode without too much strife....
Margaret
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Congratulations Laurie... a wonderful trip and so many memories, make us really miss it. Must be especially rewarding after the problems from your first attempt. well done.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks so much for all the good wishes. I am now in Negreira, Day 1 on the Camino to Finisterre, and kind of shell-shocked by all the crowds I see. There are 20 people in our albergue, haven't seen that since Guillena, Day 1 on the Vdlp, when the albergue was completo.

Weather is holding up nicely -- it's perfect walking weather, actually, cloudy/sunny and cool, but no rain in the forecast, if you can believe the forecast.

Laurie
 
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analeise

New Member
Can someone tell me the weather in late March - early May for walking the Via la Plata? How much rain and cold weather gear should I bring? Are there government sponsored albergues all along the route? Also can anyone suggest a guide I can print from the internet for the Via la Plata from Sevilla to Santiago in English?

Thanks so much. I leave from Seattle, WA USA March 26th so time is vital!
Analeise Volpe
 

mmm042

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
Hi.

I just flew into Spain yesterday and am in Merida, about to walk Merida to Salamanca. We had rain yesterday, but the 10-day forecast between Merida and Salamanca is calling for lots of sun. Temps are supposed to be roughly 30s-40s at night and 50s-60s during the day -- perfect! It's obviously warmer in the south, and will get warmer as time goes on when you're here.

Re: rain gear, I say just bring something to have when it rains, but don't overdo it. It doesn't need to be a ton of gear. I walked Sevilla to Merida in November, when there was rain, and now I'll be doing this leg in March, right after they had a bunch of rain, plus I did Ourense to Santiago in October in 2009. Seems to me when it rains along the route, it's more of a mist, or on/off rain. I've never experienced a steady rain all day long.

There are albergues in most towns on the route, although I'm not sure which % are government-sponsored vs. private.

If you have an iPhone, I just published a trail guide to the VDLP through iTunes. Right now it only goes Sevilla to Merida; I'm here walking Merida-Salamanca now to add that portion in next. It will be finished by the end of the year. I believe a traditional guidebook in English was just published.

Hope you have a wonderful time! i just LOVE the VDLP, and the people along the way. Have fun with all the pigs on the leg that starts in Almaden de la Plata!

Melanie

P.S. When you leave Villafranca de los Barros on your way toward Almendralejo, there's a small stretch that cuts through some farm fields. If it's been raining a lot, be forewarned that this stretch is VERY muddy and can take forever to walk because every other step your shoes/boots become CAKED with mud. It's better to continue on the main road, then hang a left on the next main road ("main road" meaning the crushed limestone road you've been on, not a paved highway). You'll end up in the same place and save yourself a lot of time and trouble.
 

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