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Levante/Sureste/Don Quixote

Discussion in 'Camino de Levante' started by Bachibouzouk, Jul 31, 2016.

  1. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Been trying to do some online research on these routes. Its all pretty skinny but some here have been of great help. I still have a number of questions.

    I'll be setting off at the end of September. I've got 18 days.

    Haven't decided on whether to set off from Valencia or Alicante. I'm open to persuasion. I fly into Valencia and would ideally like at least a couple of days there. I aim to walk as far as Toledo this year and have a day or two in Madrid before flying home to London. Allowing for a days travel on either end that leaves me with say 12 walking days.

    Four days to get from Valencia or Alicante to Albacete.

    From Albacete I want to follow the Sureste with some Quixotic diversions into Toledo. Something along the lines of:

    Albacete to La Roda
    La Roda to San Clemente
    San Clemente to Belmonte
    Belmonte to El Toboso
    El Toboso to Don Faldrique via Campo de Criptana
    Don Faldrique to Tembleque
    Tembleque to Mora via Consuegra
    Mora to Toledo

    Long days, I know, but I like the heat and the distances. I carry about 6 kg (+2 litres of water), I'm a regular runner (up to 2 hours a day) and I've done the Camino de la Plata in June (hot but do-able). So here are some questions (not all Camino related but perhaps some here will know the answers).

    1) Are there any museums in Valencia with anything by Salvador Dali? I can't find any indication that there are but would hate to miss anything that is there.

    2) Any preferences between Levante or Sureste as far as Albacete? The first day out of Valencia doesn't appear to inspire anyone very much.

    3) Is there anything related to the International Brigades in Albacete, other than the monument, to visit?

    4) Any accommodation in Belmonte? It looks very small.

    5) Are the hikes out to Campo de Criptana and Consuegra both worth the (long) detours?

    6) Any recent guidebook, preferably in English, published on either of the two Caminos? Failing that where can I get a list of the albergues and hostales with their phone numbers?

    Muchas gracias

    Steve
     
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  2. evanlow

    evanlow Active Member Donating Member

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    Some info from my Levante (2015, 2016). My distances were small until Toledo as I was walking with a friend. After Toledo walking alone I have many 37 km days.

    http://camino.wificat.com

    Some notables top of my head.

    1. The distance was crazy on the first day and very boring, plus we started late. We did shave off a few kilometers (train), the only time cheated on the walk.

    2. Albacete famous for the knife. Great looking souvenir and useful for the Camino.

    3. Monte del Cuervo (make time to visit the windmills whether you stay there or not).

    4. Forgot the town but there is one where the albergue is actually at the bull ring.

    5. The town just under 20 km before Albacete where the Sureste and Levante meets. Better place to stay than Albacete (big city).

    6. Make sure you have some navigation guide to get yourself out of Albacete as many pilgrims got lost (hours wasted) trying to get out of the place. Maps.me app (iphone/android) and offline map of Spain for me. Add the Camino Levante kml route (here's mine). https://drive.google.com/open?id=1lXbrwsXoAyfLnBUoIJGzPYnJjyk

    7. Nice old building (town hall) in Tembleque.

    8. Finally of course the view entering Toledo.

    Hope you have time to complete the Levante (another trip?). Incredible for me that immediately after Toledo the landscape changed dramatically.
     
  3. Castilian

    Castilian Guest

    Hi Bachibouzouk! Welcome to the forum!

    Yes.

    I'm wondering if you checked the distances and how you plan to make them. Did you design your own off-road walking route? Do you plan to walk on the berm of roads? Anyway, distances would be too long to walk them in a single day... not to say if you want also to visit Campo de Criptana and Consuegra.

    If you are interested in visiting Campo de Criptana and Consuegra, I would suggest to design your own walking route going straight between both towns (i.e.: leaving the camino at El Toboso and joining back to the Camino in Mora after walking through Campo de Criptana and Consuegra). That would take several days so you have to decide too where to stay overnight each day.

    For a list of albergues and other accommodations you may try the Mundicamino web. No idea how updated it'll be though.
     
  4. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, Steve,

    Welcome to the forum.

    4. Is there a reason to go to Belmonte? If not, my stages in 2013 were San Clemente to Las Pedroneras (24) and Las Pedroneras to El Toboso (31). There is a small parroquial albergue in Las Pedroneras, but we went to the perfectly fine hostal on the highway that had a decent menu del dia if my memory is working right.

    6. The only Levante guidebook I'm aware of is in English and Spanish, but the English version is a few years older. I think the Spanish version is 2013. Even if you get the older English version, you'll get the more up to date maps for any changes in the route. The book is published by the association. http://www.vieiragrino.com/asociacion/publicaciones.asp
     
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  5. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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  6. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    4. Forgot the town but there is one where the albergue is actually at the bull ring.

    You must mean La Roda! :O)

    5. The town just under 20 km before Albacete where the Sureste and Levante meets. Better place to stay than Albacete (big city).

    You mean Chinchilla? That's an awsome place to stop, I agree. Clarifying: Chinchilla is obligatory on the Levante, but optional on the Sureste. So either the Levante and the Sureste meet there, or in Albacete.

    /BP
     
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  7. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Oh, yes, I agree about Chinchilla. It would be a shame to just walk right through, because the camino doesn't go up through the square, past the amazing castle, etc. Staying at a truck stop on the highway isn't the nicest place in the world to be, but it was fine, the food was decent, and the afternoon up in the old town was really nice.
     
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  8. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Thanks one and all for your posts and time, of great assistance in helping me crystalize my plans.

    I discovered yesterday that I can fly out to Alicante straight after work, thus gaining me an extra day. I'll put Valencia on the backburner for another visit. Unlikely to spend more than a day in Alicante, so that'll be a second day gained.

    Alicante - Elda (40 kms)
    Elda - Yecla (40 kms)
    Yecla - Almansa (40 kms) to join the Camino Levante, though I've no idea what sort of a route that might be.
    Almansa - Higueruela (30 kms)
    Higueruela - Chinchilla (30 kms) - taken on board your recommendations, Peregrina and Bad Pilgrim.
    Chinchilla - Albacete (18 kms) - still want at least an afternoon there. International Brigades, Laurie Lee, .....
    Albacete - La Ronda (40 kms)
    La Roda - San Clemente (32 kms)
    San Clemente - Belmonte (36 kms) - a fine looking castle there, Peregrina, which I understand is mentioned in Don Quixote*. I'm only on Part II of Book I and there's no mention of Belmonte yet. Like everything else it is probably an inspiration rather than an exact location.
    Belmonte - El Toboso (25 kms)
    And here I am coming over to your recommendation, Castillan. Poring over the map yesterday I was reaching a similar conclusion. Leave the Camino to take in Campo Criptana and Consuegra. This would also allow me to go via Puerto Lapice, where Don Quixote makes his night vigil and is knighted by the inn-keeper. Perhaps over(k)nighting at Alcazar de San Juan and Consuegra before rejoining the Camino at Tembleque (don't want to miss that famous town square). I've no idea if there even is a walking route El Toboso - Campo de Criptana - Puerto Lapice - Consuegra - Tembleque. My map isn't detailed enough for that but presumably there will be a way. Three days/two nights? If you have any further thoughts I'd very much appreciate them.
    Tembleque - Mora (24 kms)
    Mora - Toledo (31 kms)

    Re: Levante Guidebook, Peregrina. I emailed the office in Valencia some months ago to find out how I could purchase this one but got no reply. I'm assuming it is the same guidebook that has been described as very heavy. So I'm now of a mind to wing it and pick up information as I go along particularly as I'm going to be switching Caminos and routes.

    Thanks for the list of distances Evan, very useful. I intend to resume the walk in 2018 (GR20 across Corsica is on the cards for next year) from Toledo up to Benavente (Camino Sureste) as I've been to Zamora a couple of times and Tordesillas (and Valladolid) are places I must visit. But that's all a long, long way away .......

    So any further thoughts on Yecla to Almansa and the Quixote detour welcome.

    Steve

    * I've had about three attempts over the decades at reading Cervantes' classic and have always stumbled (like Rosinante) and been thrown off (like Don Quixote). Last year while completing the VdlP, and in the vicinity of Oseira, I read Graham Greene's Monsignor Quixote, a wonderful novel. This convinced me to give Cervantes another try, particularly with this walk across La Mancha in mind. Well, it may be all in the translation, but the Edith Grossman's version is so readable and has such great footnotes that I'm wondering why I never persevered with the novel in the past.
     
  9. Canuck

    Canuck Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Hi Steve,

    Concerning the Quixote detour, are you aware of the Guide Book Ruta de Don Quijote a pie, en bicicleta, a caballo published by El Pais/Aguilar. This book was made available to those who wished to walk and visit the different sites found in Cervante's book. The Ruta was designed and marked to celebrate the 400th year of Cervante's birth in 2006. I had the pleasure to wander on that Ruta with my wife for two weeks in that particular year. Very well marked with good accommodation.
    If you can get a hold of that book or surf the different sites on that topic, you will see that your planned itinerary is for the most part on the Ruta de Don Quijote, which you can follow with ease, assuming the markers are still there.

    For a starter, here is a site of interest:
    http://www.guiadelocio.com/a-fondo/la-ruta-de-don-quijote-paso-a-paso

    Enjoy your trip,

    Jean-Marc
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
  10. Castilian

    Castilian Guest

    Regarding the Yecla detour, I'm wondering why do you want to go from Yecla to Almansa. You could continue from Yecla to Chinchilla on the Sureste. Or you could skip Yecla going all the way till Caudete and making Caudete-Almansa as a self-designed liaison stage from the Sureste to the Levante. If you finally made the route from Yecla to Almansa, I don't know how much traffic has the road linking Yecla with Almansa and I don't know either about the size of its berm. If you plan to design an off-topic route, design it beforehand and make it with a GPS to avoid getting lost. Be aware not all the route is in a plain.

    Regarding the Ruta de Don Quijote, the official web of Castile-La Mancha has a map and info about it available at: www.castillalamancha.es/clm/unlugarparavisitar/rutasparaperderse
     
  11. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Uh-oh, are you sure about the distance? This could be a 40 kms stage (different sources give different kms) but I'm sure it's more than 30.

    /BP
     
  12. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I went through Yecla last year but I'm part of a minority: a lot of pilgrims choose Caudete over Yecla. The albergue in Caudete is supposed to be nice (but you won't stay in Caudete as you do long stages?)

    In Yecla there is no albergue but at least 2 hotels.

    /BP
     
  13. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Okay, I've just posted the list of accomodation on the Camino del Sureste in the Camino Ressources category, as Laurie suggested!

    /BP
     
  14. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Wikiloc tracks show 39-42 kms and that is consistent with what they told us in Almansa. My little group of three decided to take a detour over to Alpera to break the stage up into two. We then backtracked about 3 km to get back on the off-road route into Higueruela, but you could just continue on the road from Alpera. We were the very first pilgrims to stay in Alpera, a nice albergue with little patio, kitchen on ground floor (I think). There are also cave drawings up in the hills nearby, and a local curator drove us up (since we had no car) and gave us a tour and explanation. It was kind of hard to make out the drawings, since they had suffered so much degradation from human touching, but the views were great, and it is always humbling to make contact with things done by humans so many thousands of years ago.

    BTW, there is a great family restaurant in Alpera, on the ground floor of the Pension Stop.

    Buen camino, Laurie
     
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  15. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I like Monsignor Quixote and Greene regularly stayed in the monastery at Oseira writing - if you ask, the monk taking you to vespers will detour to show you the simple comfortable suite he stayed on his retreats there, with a balcony looking over the wooded uplands. If you have access to the BBC online, it is being dramatised on Radio 4's Woman's Hour from next Monday at 10.45am British Summer Time, with Bernard Cribbins (?not sure whether that will work) as Monsignor Quixote.

    I second the recommendation for Alpera and its albergue and the Stop - I was there on a hot Sunday and had a great meal surrounded by happy noisy families. Then somebody (possibly the mayor) insisted on driving me the all of 200 yards to the albergue. A really friendly town.
     
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  16. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    Break it in Alpera. Alpera to Higueruela showed me 26kms.
     
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  17. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Canuck: I wasn't aware of either the book or the website. All the info I have been able to gather seems to be geared at those with cars rather than at walkers. I've only taken a cursory glance at the website but the map looks encouraging. Thanks.

    Yecla: think I was drawing on the info in someone's blog (Bad Pilgrim?). Caudete sounds just as good. Amendment made.

    Distance from Almansa to Higueruela: my poor arithmetic. Amended to 40km.

    Monsignor Quixote on Radio 4: thanks for the heads-up, Alan. I'll be trying to listen to that on BBC I-Player. I stayed in the albergue attached to the monastery in Oseira and did indeed get to see the room that Graham Greene used. Those 'cells' not quite as Spartan as I had imagined. Certainly better appointed than a good many places I have stayed in, including the rather breezy albergue at the monastery!

    Muchas gracias to all.

    Steve
     
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  18. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Correct: it was my blog. Now, Yecla is fine if you need a large town with all the facilities (I don't know about Caudete)! And the church with a blue-and-white roof that looks like candy is magnificent! :O)

    But as I wrote, leaving Yecla you have some hour of walking without any arrows at all. I did it in daylight, but I swear I didn't see any indications at all and there were crossroads everywhere. I used only my compass to get through. Caudete should be just fine.

    /BP
     
  19. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Yes,

    That's better. I did Almansa-Higueruela though. I couldn't measure it but it sure felt like 40+ kms. There's nowhere to get water. The last 11 kms were on asphalt if I'm not mistaken...

    /BP
     
  20. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I've aaaaalmost just decided to go for the Lana next summer, so I guess I'll visit Alpera to see those things!! :O)

    /BP
     
  21. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    Haven't checked the distance of that asphalt stretch but to me it felt like neverending in the heat althought I was walking "only" from Alpera (another 25kms or so). I think detour to Alpera is signed as 3km but I'd say it's more. And the next day back to Levante is similar distance or a bit more, so it's makes equation correct at 40kms from Almansa to Higueruela.

    La Lana is on my bucket list too :)
     
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  22. Donovan

    Donovan Active Member Donating Member

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    Hi K1,
    Like you I took the Alpera option - well worthwhile I thought. There is a camino/GR-239 sign at the point where you join the asphalt road - “Higuerela 10.7km, siguiendo la carretera B-2”
     
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  23. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    And that's the turn off marker for Alpera - 3,6km
    0358-detour to Alpera(Almansa-Alpera, 15.06.2015).JPG
     
  24. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    This may already be clear from the earlier posts just in case. If you go from Alpera to Higueruela directly, it is all asphalt (21 km). If you backtrack from Alpera to the Levante to the place that Kinky's photo shows on the previous post (I think that's the intersection at the Carrascal ranch), you still have some asphalt at the end of the walk into Higueruela but it is much less (roughly 8 km asphalt vs. the 21 km if you go directly from Alpera). The stage is short anyway with the backtracking (it's about 25 km total), so those extra 3 km are not going to make much difference. And you save, if my arithmetic is correct, about 13 kms of asphalt, which is not trivial.
     
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  25. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    You even left one of your shoes there! :O)
     
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  26. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    My photo shows turn off from Levante to Alpera soon after crossing CM-3201. From Alpera you don't have to backtrack to the same point (photo) but you take Ctra.Estacion, which is marked, past train station (could also take Ctra.Higueruela further to the west) and soon reconnect with Levante.

    I would estimate that both distances to/from Alpera from/to Levante is 7km. And on Ctra.Estacion you reconnect with Levante approx.1,5km from the turn off to Alpera (photo).

    Otherwise the math is correct ;)
     
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  27. trevorcc

    trevorcc Active Member Donating Member

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    I think they may have updated the guide in the past two years going by t
    Hi,
    Just to say it is nice to know another person will be on this walk in September, I am starting on the 7th from Valencia at your pace you will catch and pass me very quickly but keep an eye out for a pilgrim just sauntering along or having a nap outside a bar. It will be good to have a chat. Trevor
     
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  28. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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  29. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    A Pilgrim's Progress. Albacete - Day 6.

    Left from Alicante last Friday, followed Bad Pilgrim's blog until Villena on the Sureste/La Lana (spot on BP), on the La Lana to Caudete, then to Almansa and onto the Levante.

    No sign of any other walkers. Fine if, like me, you like sun, solitude and cerveza. So no problem with accommodation. Two of the places I have stayed in only had 3 beds, so nonetheless a good idea to phone ahead. Would be disheartening to get turned away or to have to sleep on the floor. Also means I've not been bothered by snoring, farting and smelly feet - except my own of course! And none of those irritating walkers, who set their alarms for 04:00 am, two hours before daybreak, and spend the next half an hour rustling and rumaging around repacking their backpacks, dropping stuff, and with their head-torches on full beam. Invariably these are the same middle-aged men with harsh guttural accents, who get bolshy when you arrive at the next place at 04:00 pm and disturb their afternoon siesta. What's going on? They're walking in the dark and sleeping half the day. Gurdjieff would have had something to say about that, I feel.
    Anyway all accommodation has been great, with a slight reservation over El Peñon (noisy, I know I've been spoilt, dripping taps and a pretty cool welcome). Hot shower and a good bed everywhere - that's what counts.

    Some thoughts that may assist future walkers:

    1) the volunteer at the Amigos del Camino in Alicante told me that a detailed guidebook was presently being printed. Should be available within the next month. I didn't ask but presumably in Spanish.
    2) the route out of Alicante is supremely well indicated. A great boon to people like me who always get lost leaving big towns.
    3) make sure you follow the signs carefully as you leave Novelda. You should be following the rio and not the road, as some poor fool did. The road will lead you into a labyrinth of quarries and will prolong your day by at least an hour!
    4) I read somewhere that the albergue in Novelda is '5 stars'.
    5) the approach to Sax along the Camino is indeed impenetrable as per Bad Pilgrim. Nowadays you would need a machete to get through. It is absolutely impossible. However the Camino is perfectly practicable until a couple of km short of Sax. At that point you can take the road into town. Dogs: there were a few, but then again all safely behind fences. Disconcerting but not dangerous.
    6) anyone cutting across from Caudete to Almansa. There's an awful lot of Camino running parallel to the motorway. I could look into the eyes of the oncoming drivers. All of them were perplexed and thinking along the lines of: 'Of all the walks in Spain what on earth is that b****y fool doing walking alongside a motorway?' And on and on it went. For those without a faint heart you might want to consider setting off on the Sureste towards Montealegre. Half way there there's a road (C3022?) that leads almost straight into Almansa. I guess this would add a further 10 km to your day and its over, rather around, the hills. On the other hand you'd miss the Almansa battlefield, where it is said that for the only time in recorded history the English troops were commanded by a Frenchman and the French troops by an Englishman. Go figure. I needed some time on Google and Wiki to work it all out.
    7) don't miss going up to the Castillo in Chinchilla for a magnificent panorama. End of the day or just after sunrise? It may feel like more than what you want to do, but just fmake yourself do it.

    Accommodation:
    1) Hotel Santa Ana in Elda: 10 euros. Single room, shower, WC, AC, TV and Wi-Fi. Bar does menu del dia at 9 euros and an early breakfast.
    2) Albergue in Caudete: 5 euros. There's a restaurant in town that does a 8.50 euros menu - only not on a Sunday ;-(
    Bar opposite the bullring, on Camino out of town, opens early.
    3) Convent of The Slaves of Mary (what a name for any Ken Russell fans!) in Almansa: 7 euros. Plenty of eating and breakfasting possibilities in town.
    4) Albergue in Higueruela: free. La Posada does menu del dia in the evenings. Another bar closeby opens early for morning coffee.
    5) Hostal El Peñon in Chinchilla: 18 euros. Does menu and early breakfast.
    6) Hostal Atienzar in Albacete: 20 euros and they wash your clothes!

    Hoping this makes some sense. Afternoon with my feet up, resting those blisters and making the most of the afternoon sun. Blame the predictive text rather than the cervezas for any discombobulations.

    Next up - Camino Levante and Ruta Don Quijote into Toledo.

    Steve
     
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  30. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    If you're interested in tilting at windmills, I do hope you won't miss Mota del Cuervo, a couple of hours before El Toboso. It's a friendly place with decent food but, more importantly, it has the best selection of Cervantes-era windmills, dominating the skyline just out of town, and well worth the short detour. It's also often tipped as being the "lugar de La Mancha de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme", and that he didn't name it out of annoyance with its governor's nephew, Nicolás de Ovando, who failed to keep his promise to marry Andrea de Cervantes, the writer's sister.


    If you stick to the Levante, you'll also pass through several places that feature in Lazarillo de Tormes, including Escalona (where he substitutes his nasty blind master's tasty chorizo with turnip) and Machedo (where his stingy priest-master only allows him an occasional onion to eat, so he prays for people to die so that he can gorge on the funeral baked-meats).
     

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  31. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Windmills at Mota del Cuervo most certainly on my itinerary, particularly if it is a possible 'place whose name I do not care to remember'. My readings have lead me to believe that the 'place' might be Montiel, which isn't on my itinerary.

    Not familiar with Lazarillo de Tormes, other than it is the inspiration for all picaresque novels. I'm only going as far as Toledo this year, so I'll have time to read it before I continue next time.

    Hoping to also take in Belmonte, Campo de Criptana, Puerto Lapice and Consuegra this year.

    PS thought the BBC did pretty good on Graham Greene's Monsignor Quixote, although I did only get to listen to the first episode.
     
  32. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    Hahahaha, I like it, exactly my way of Caminoing :D

    Keep us posted. You're good read!
     
  33. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Ola Camigos. El Toboso, Day 10.

    Still on my own, blaming it on the smelly feet.

    Albacete: contrary to received wisdom I had no problem leaving town. It's well marked on the map you can pick up at the Tourist Office. Head up Paseo de Cuba, turn right into Avenida de Cronista Mateo y Sotos and over the railway bridge, follow the railway line.... you're on your way. Nota bene: once you're over the railway line you're out of town. No coffee, refreshments, etc.. until La Gineta. Don't put off breakfast!

    For those interested in the period, the monument to the International Brigades (Albacete was their HQ) is in the university part of town, not far from the football stadium. It's hidden away in the Pharmacology Department (?) grounds. I spent quite some time looking for it. Nobody, least of all the students, had heard about it. When I eventually found it, I discovered perhaps why. It's a monument to mark 60 years (1936-96) of 'the volunteers of liberty'. No mention of the International Brigades. Maybe it's still too sensitive a subject here in Spain? Sadly there's nothing else to the IB in Albacete that's open to the public. Archives are kept here but you need accreditation. I salute all those forgotten brave young men and women, many of whom never got to see home again.

    It's also in Albacete that Laurie Lee thought he was spending his last night on this earth, under the impression that he was to be executed in the morning, mistaken for a Nationalist spy due to an unfortunate North African stamp in his passport. No Cider With Rosie, no As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. Imagine that.

    La Gineta gets a cursory mention in Lee's A Moment Of War. Due to a stroke of luck he avoids execution and is sent to Tarazona de la Mancha, where the XV British Brigade was stationed. He mentions crossing a bridge in La Gineta. An equally cursory search on my behalf revealed no bridge in La Gineta. There's certainly no river running through, though the railway does run on the other side of town. According to my map there's a bridge across the River Júcar halfway between La Gineta and Tarazona. Perhaps we can allow Laurie a little inaccuracy as he was writing these memoirs from memory some 50+ years later, his diaries having been stolen.

    La Roda: I had the bull ring all to myself, what a thrill. 'A las cinco de la tarde' I fought my first bull. It was a brute, a beast, snorting and stamping, kicking up sand, it's eyes disdainful, body language insane. It charged. I side-stepped. It turned and came again. The olés echoed as I showed off my unparalleled towel- work. I toyed with the bull, tired the bull until, magnanimously, I delivered the coup de grâce and plunged my sword between its shoulders. The bull fell lifeless at my feet. It had put up a brave fight. Sadly there was no one there to record or even to witness the finest hour of El Inglés.

    I'd expected a rather disturbed night in La Roda with thoughts of gored matadors, blood seeping up through the sand, carcasses being hawled away but I slept like a log. A peaceful place that infernal infirmary.

    The 'miguelito' is the culinary speciality of La Roda. Think along the lines of the mille-feuille, the Paris-Brest or even the éclair - puff pastry piped with crême patissière and dusted over with the ubiquitous (here in Spain) icing sugar. Fabulous with coffee and, if like me you have a sweet tooth, great for breakfast.

    Minaya: gotta be careful here. The Levante and the Sureste, having come together at Albacete, diverge again in Minaya. All the markings assume you want the Sureste. If you are heading for El Provencio on the Sureste you need to head for the Repsol petrol station and keep going. On the other hand if you want San Clemente and the Levante, Restaurante Antolin is your marker. However, should you find yourself on the Levante but want the Sureste just keep going. Two left forks, both well indicated, after the Antolin will return you back to the Sureste.

    More later, dinner calls.

    Steve
     
  34. andy.d

    andy.d Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Thanks for this Steve - lots of memories from seven years ago!
    (Like you, no other pilgrims at all then).
    For some reason, I couldn't get into the La Roda albergue, but I remember miguelitos!
    I remember some very fine carvings on the Catedral in Albacete, and also Mass in a wonderful modern working class Church
    Buen Camino!

    Andy
     
  35. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    El Toboso (part II)

    San Clemente: wonderful 16th/17th century town centre with a square around the Santiago church. Albergue great too - and free. For those on a budget, it doesn't have a kitchen, but I guess the quid pro quo is you get free accommodation, so you can spend some euros on dinner and breakfast. Fair enough, I reckon.

    Belmonte: I heard in San Clemente about a Camino heading from there to Madrid via Belmonte - the Camino de la Santa Cruz (nope, I'd not heard of it either). I followed the yellow arrows to La Alberca de Zancara, where, as if to fool me, the waymarking completely disappeared. From there I followed the Ruta Don Quijote in the certain knowledge that it would lead to Belmonte. Well, mind and body were both wandering and before I knew it even the Don Quijote waymarkings had vanished. I wasn't too concerned, convinced as I was that I was heading in the right direction. Besides it was a stunning section. No highspeed railway line, no railway line at all, no motor way, actually no road, no power lines, no wind farms, no solar power stations. Just rabbits, partridges and grape on the vine. I was on a roll. But then? A belfry, then a small village. I wasn't expecting to see any signs of habitation for another 7 or 8 km. As I got to the village I realised I was indeed 7 or 8 km off track. That could only mean one thing - cerveza time. I located the only bar in the village. It was one of those bars in a 'hogar del pensionista' which have no outward sign that they are a bar, other than maybe a beer-branded parasol or a couple of San Miguel plastic chairs outside. The sort of bar that has no beer on tap, just bottles and where the locals still light up - clearly no one around for miles to enforce any law. I pushed my way uncertainty through the beaded-curtain and, no word of a lie, I was greeted by a 'Madre de Dios' from the woman behind the bar. Did I really look that woeful? Dusty, dishevelled, sunburnt, thirsty - yes. But I was interrupting the Sunday afternoon session. The five or six agricultural workers in the bar fell silent, heads swivelled. It's the grape-picking season, so maybe they mistook me for a down and out 'transeunte'? Peregrinos are 'transeuntes' and in the greater scheme of things aren't we all 'transeuntes'? Not the first time for me, so I wasn't bothered, but I don't recall an entrance of mine making such an impact. Certainly never merited a 'Madre de Dios' before! By the time I'd ordered my beer, and explained my story in my best hispaniolish, fly buzzing inertia had been re-established. The patrons of the bar were clearly more concerned by my location than I was (you get to where you're going to when you get there) and one of them, putting down his double brandy, or whatever it was he was drinking, beckoned me outside to show me the route. Before I knew it, he was driving me, at a little above reasonable speed, 2 or 3 km down the country lane and pointing out a Camino that would take me straight to Belmonte. We drove back to the bar, mercifully there was no one else on the road, to resume our respective drinks. And here's the thing, the woman behind the bar would accept no payment for my beers!

    Well Belmonte, in my opinion, ought not to be missed. The Castillo (and I'll not go into detail except to say Don Quijote, Eugènia de Montijo wife of Napoleon III, El Cid staring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren) is picture perfect against that blue Manchegan sky. There's supposedly an acogida here but nobody was answering the phone (Ayuntaminto? Tourist Office closed on a Sunday?) but there are several hotels in town. I rather enjoyed having a soak in a bath, pleased that it wasn't me that was going to have to remove the signature grey/black line running around the rim of the bath ;-)

    You can, of course, see the Castillo in the distance from the Levante but it really is worth a close up. It's only 8 km along the road from El Pedernoso, so it could be hitched if too tired to walk. And Las Pedroñeras - Belmonte - El Pedernoso is probably about 20 km, albeit probably all on tarmac. Better still to overnight in Belmonte. The Castillo looks just grand in that late evening or early morning light. It's certainly worth the hike up to the castle but the best views are perhaps from Plaza Pillares down in the town, with the sun rising almost directly behind the castle from there.

    Mota de las Cuervas: Alan is absolutely right - the seven windmills on the ridge above town shouldn't be missed. Well worth the detour if you're on the Sureste (5 km in each direction?).

    So Toboso: well after Sunday in Belmonte, Monday in El Toboso - Cervantes Museum, Casa de Dulcinea both closed and the Convento Madres Trinitarias not answering their phone either! The Hostal El Quijote is a nice place and with WiFi - so time to write up these notes and have a lie in in the morning as neither museum opens until 10:00.

    Next two days off the Camino. Heading to Campo de la Criptana, Puerto Lapice and Consuegra before rejoining in Tembleque.

    Hasta lluego

    Steve
     
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  36. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    I doubt too much has changed since you walked these ways seven years ago, Andy. A few more solar power and wind farms, perhaps? Shame you missed out on the bull ring.

    Steve
     
  37. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Toledo - Day 15 and El Fin (for this year)

    El Toboso: the Tourist Office confirmed that Hospederia Convento Madres Trinitarias do take 'peregrinos'. I'm disappointed to have missed out as the convent seems to be as much on the tourist map here as Dulcinea/Don Quijote/Cervantes. El Pequeño Escorial de la Mancha, no less.

    The Casa de Dulcinea is certainly worth a brief visit. It was the home of Doña Ana Martinez Zarco the inspiration for Dulcinea (Dulce Ana) and is furnished with contemporary, if not original, pieces. The dovecote is particularly impressive.

    The Cervantes Museum is quite extraordinary. A museum devoted to just one book - the Quijote. But there are 600 of them, in all different shapes and sizes and from different periods and in 73 different languages. Sadly only a facsimile of the first edition. There's a collection of Quijotes that have been signed by the great and good of Spain and the rest of the world - some by the not so great and some by people, who could not by any stretch of the imagination be termed good. Nelson Mandela's copy in Xhosa, Fidel Castro's, Benito Musolini's, Franco's, François Mitterand's rather regally signed just Mitterand. The two audio-visual display are rather well done, too.

    Campo de la Criptsna: has ten windmills on the ridge overlooking the town. Very impressive. If you follow the Ruta Don Quijote to Alcazar de San Juan you will see a further four windmills on the Cerro de San Anton.

    Alcazar de San Juan, as the name implies, is a town founded by the Knights of St John. It now brands itself as the 'cradle of Cervantes'. It's certainly an interesting town and there are statues of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza in the main square and a statue of Cervantes by the imposing Torreon.

    At Alcazar de San Juan the Ruta Don Quijote heads back north to Tembleque. To carry on to Puerto Lapice I had 3 options:
    1) walk along a busy carretera for near enough 25km (I could find no path)
    2) hitch
    3) take the one daily bus

    I bit the bullet and took the later. Unfortunately, this meant arriving in Puerto Lapice well before daylight and a couple of hours before anything, other than bars, was open. From Puerto Lapice you can pick up a Ruta Don Quijote back up to Tembleque via Consuegra.

    Puerto Lapice, as those who have read the Quijote will know, is where Don Quijote held his night vigil in an inn, mistaking it for a castle, and had himself knighted by the inn-keeper under the impression that the later was a noble. La Venta Don Quijote, which purports to be that inn, is all set up to sell you all kinds of Don Quijote trinkets, food and drink but access is free to the courtyard with the well and there are three rooms with exhibitions which are rather good.

    Consuegra: had 11 (?) windmills AND a castillo above the town. As picturesque as it gets. The other side of the Consuegra coin is that it is a big agro-alimentary town. You need a strong stomach as you enter and leave the place. The smell of battery farmed chickens, pig pens, grape already fermenting, the stench of other farming détritus rotting in the sun, barnyard smells on an industrial scale is frankly overpowering. As you enter from Puerto Lapice you walk past the slaughter house and can hear the pigs shrieking. Right opposite is a restaurant. I'm not particularly squeamish but I couldn't help wondering who might eat there. I suppose abattoir workers need to eat too.

    Is the detour to Campo de la Criptana, Alcazar de San Juan, Puerto Lapice and Consuegra worth it? Well, those doing the Camino in one hit certainly won't welcome the extra kilometres nor the extra cost (there are no acogidas) and for those with only a passing interest in Don Quijote, El Toboso and the windmills along the Camino may well suffice. The walking itself isn't that very different - olive groves, vineyards and, at this time of year, empty fields (of already harvested wheat?). On the other hand, those four places are pretty significant spots on the Don Quijote map. Even as a Cervantes novice I found the detour compelling.

    Somewhere around Turleque I walked briefly on the Camino Lorca, another one to add to the list (Sureste, Levante, La Lana, Santa Cruz). From Turleque there are three options. A Ruta Don Quijote runs to Mora via the Ermita San Cristo Del Valle and the Embalse Finisterre, this looked like a great walk over the hills and it would have been nice to see water. A second Ruta Don Quijote runs straight to Tembleque. More by chance than by choice, I did both and neither, following the former to the Ermita and then the road back to Tembleque. A full 10 kilometre detour. I absolutely had to see the Plaza Mayor.

    I'd heard somewhere on the grapevine that there was an albergue on the square itself in Tembleque. If there was, there isn't now. One corner of the square is under reconstruction, perhaps it was there? The Casa Rural El Balcon de la Mancha is a very good option to stay in and just a stone's throw from the square. Fully equipped kitchen and washing machine. Rooms cost €20.00. The restaurant El Mirador de la Mancha, downstairs, does a menu for €9.00.

    From Tembleque you have the choice of Sureste and Levante once more. A few kilometres after Villanueva de Bogas (Sureste) the Camino splits again with the option of carrying on to Mora or circumventing Mora and pushing on to Almonacid de Toledo. This may sound tempting, especially as it will get you that much closer to Toledo. From Almonacid you can get to Toledo in plenty of time to have most of the day there. However. I heard, when in Toledo, from a 'peregrina' with many Caminos' experience that the albergue in Almonacid is quite the dirtiest and most depressing albergue she has ever seen. She was of a mind to volunteer to clean it up. She reckoned it would take her - a whole week!

    Mora: there is no albergue here either. Hostal Toledano (€17.00) is the cheapest option in town, single rooms with shower and WC. Two other hotels - Los Conejos and Agripino.

    On my map there are two Caminos that emerge from Almonacid leading to Toledo. One that goes via Burguillos de Toledo, the other via Nambroca. After Nambroca, and even more so after Las Nieves, this route becomes distinctly unpleasant. It's all along the road to Las Nieves and shortly afterwards the road leads into the autovia. For 3km you are walking along the motorway. OK, there's a crash barrier between you and the speeding cars, but this is no way to enter Toledo. Admittedly after Nambroca the markings became fewer and fewer and even those were very faint but I did ask three separate people, all of whom told me I could walk into Toledo this way. One even said that he'd taken his 'caballo'! Maybe so, but presumably before the road became a motorway. I dithered around for some time, going backwards and forwards before taking the plunge. It's not particularly dangerous, as long as you keep your wits about you, but why spoil a good walk? The Burguillos route is a bit longer but I bet it's a whole lot nicer. If you have set off from Almonacid on the wrong branch, don't worry. You can switch over to the Burguillos option at Nambroca. Just don't go any further.

    I must have disturbed the karmic wheel today. Arriving late into Toledo, due to the above, I dropped my backpack off at Los Pascualinos Youth Hostel and shot off to have a quick look around town before it got dark. But thirst thinks thirst, a beer. I found a nice table in the late afternoon sun, ordered a 'pinta' and started to write up these notes. Toledo is on a hill and everything in Toledo is on a slope. I hadn't paid due attention to the tilt on the table. Poltergeist-like the beer made its way down the ever so slightly sloping table straight into my lap and over my camera and passport. No harm done there, luckily. Except to my pride. I had to make my way back through the crowds to the hostel stinking like a brewery and looking like I'd wet myself. What do these peregrinos get up to? Later that evening after I'd showered myself down, a bird shat on me. Later still I got the dorm with the snorer from hell. He'd build it up with 30 second crescendi then wake himself up to start all over again. I ended up on the sofa downstairs. How quickly we become intolerant to others after just two weeks our own!

    Toledo is a wonderful city but my what a mindblower after the tranquility of the Camino. It was the weekend but how much of your soul do you need to sell to tourism? Ever so disappointing to see those Catholic Kings of Burger getting pride of place in the main square. Symbolic of something.

    Well that's my Camino over for this year. I've loved walking on my own but one of the downsides has been not being able to share experiences in the evening. This forum has alleviate that to a certain extent, so thanks to Ivar for getting it going and to all of you that contribute and to those of you that just read.

    Hasta lluego.
     
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  38. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Hi,

    This comes a bit late but now I've read your account, with great interest. Will you continue from Toledo to finish this Camino?

    What map did you use? When you said there are two ways out of Almonacid: one through Burguillos, one through Nambroca. As I remember it, the Levante runs through both of those places. Then I know of the Sureste option between Almonacid and Toledo - where I got lost & confused last year. Can I see your maps on a link somewhere?

    /Bad Pilgrim
     
  39. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Hello and happy New Year.

    Bad Pilgrim:

    I used Michelin 577 (Espana Este) for Alicante to Elda, one day's walking.

    Mapas Provinciales de Espana (IGN) for Albacete and Toledo. Both are 1:200,000 (1 cm to 2 km). Both trace the various Caminos (Levante, Sureste, La Lana, etc..) without actually itemizing them. In essence, they do little more than point you in the right direction, but with only one or two exceptions (entry to Toledo being one) the routes are so well waymarked that I didn't really need anything more detailed.

    From Almonacid (and from memory) you have two options. One route goes via Nambroca and the other via Burguillos de Toledo but I'm afraid I no longer recall which is Levante and which is Sureste. I ended up taking the Nambroca route which goes on to Las Nieves and then peters out and becomes precarious. Entry to Toledo is along the motorway with only some occasional, faded waymarkings after Las Nieves. You have to walk along the motorway, though there is a waist-high safety barrier between you and the traffic. I would not recommend this route. At Nambroca it is possible to rejoin the other Camino which runs parallel circa two kilometres south on the other side of the motorway. There is an underpass beneath the motorway. Indeed I was heading to Burguillos when a local hiker advised me to go under the motorway to Toledo via Las Nieves. It wasn't the first time that I would have been better off not listening to local advice! You live and learn but you do enter Toledo via the Puente de Alcantara on this route, which was pretty impressive.

    I will be continuing from Toledo, possibly this September, but only as far as Benavente (Valladolid will be my ultimate destination). I've been to SdC twice before and have also walked Benavente to Astorga and Zamora to SdC. My plans go something like this (and I'm open to any suggestions/improvements from anyone here):

    Day One: Toledo to Torrijos (34km, o/n Bar El Abuelo)
    Day Two: a.m. return by train to Talavera de la Reina to walk the battlefield.
    p.m. Torrijos to Escalona (26km, o/n Albergue)
    Day Three: Escalona to Cebreros (42km, o/n Hotel Castrejon)
    Day Four: Cebreros to Avila (36 km, o/n Albergue Las Tenerias)
    Day Five: Avila to Gotarrendura (20km, o/n Albergue)
    Day Six: Gotarrendura to Arrevalo (25km, o/n Hostal El Campo)
    Day Seven: Arrevalo to Medina del Campo (34 km, o/n Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites)
    Day Eight: MdC to Tordesillas (26km, o/n Albergue)
    Day Nine: Tordesillas to Mota de Marquis (24 km, o/n Albergue)
    Day Ten: MdM to Villalpando (38km, o/n Albergue)
    Day Eleven: Villalpando to Benavente (30km, o/n Valladolid)

    Oddly the Avila Mapas Provinciales de Espana does not show the Camino, although the Valladolid one does.

    I am hoping to also have time in Madrid to get out to Alacala de Henares, a day in Toledo and a day in Valladolid.

    Steve
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
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  40. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    [QUOTE="alansykes, post: 450254,
    If you stick to the Levante, you'll also pass through several places that feature in Lazarillo de Tormes, including Escalona (where he substitutes his nasty blind master's tasty chorizo with turnip) and Machedo (where his stingy priest-master only allows him an occasional onion to eat, so he prays for people to die so that he can gorge on the funeral baked-meats).[/QUOTE]

    Alan:

    I've now read Lazarillo de Tormes and Quevedos' The Swindler, which come together in the Penguin Classics edition. Both great reads. Thanks for the heads up. Have just this morning finished Donald McCrory's excellent biography of Cervantes (No Ordinary Life). What a life and what a read.

    Have downloaded to my Kindle for future reading: Spain by Jan Morris, Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove, The Death and Life of Miguel de Cervantes by Stephen Marlowe and Cervantes' Exemplary Novels. I've read Jan Morris before but know nothing of Turtledove or Marlowe. Bit of a literary pilgrimage in between the walking.

    Anyone here know anything about Avellaneda's bootleg Quijote? Is a readable English translation available?

    Happy wanderings and wonderings.

    Steve
     
  41. Bad Pilgrim

    Bad Pilgrim Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Hi,

    I have a few things to say of the albergues where you plan to stay:

    Day One: Toledo to Torrijos (34km, o/n Bar El Abuelo) Bar El abuelo is very nice and run by a pilgrim-friendly family. The daughter came in my direction to meet me after I had phoned them (I'm easy to recognize because of pilgrim-outfit) when I entered the town and she took me to a spacious albergue. Rather an apartment than albergue: kitchen, rooms, washing machine and so on. I don't remember the price but I know I commented something about it being a good price for this standard and that the albergue was worth more, to wich she replied "Me and my family are humble people, we would never charge more!" It just got stuck in my mind.

    Day Two: a.m. return by train to vera de la Reina to walk the battlefield.
    p.m. Torrijos to Escalona (26km, o/n Albergue) Very basic if you stay in the Polideportivo. Shower and beds and matresses, that's about it.

    Day Three: Escalona to Cebreros (42km, o/n Hotel Castrejon)
    Day Four: Cebreros to Avila (36 km, o/n Albergue Las Tenerias)
    Day Five: Avila to Gotarrendura (20km, o/n Albergue)
    Day Six: Gotarrendura to Arrevalo (25km, o/n Hostal El Campo)

    Day Seven: Arrevalo to Medina del Campo (34 km, o/n Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites) Standard ok, you'll get your own room, it's usually "take what you need from the fridge" filled up with fruits and goodies by some friendly volunteer, at least when I was there. It's "Donativo 10 euros".

    Day Eight: MdC to Tordesillas (26km, o/n Albergue)
    Day Nine: Tordesillas to Mota de Marquis (24 km, o/n Albergue)

    Day Ten: MdM to Villalpando (38km, o/n Albergue) Oh-oh, one of the most basic albergues on the Camino. On any Camino. Abandoned building with several floors where supposedly many families used to live - now deserted. The only open door is that to the "albergue" which is one of the apartments. Would host a family of 3 children perhaps? Now an albergue with functioning shower, perhaps kitchen with fridge (I don't remember) cause I never was in the kitchen: a pigeon had built a nest just next to the balcony door (glass) so it got scared and abandoned her eggs as soon as I opened the door to the kitchen and moved around. So I kept the kitchen door shut not to disturb the mother! When birds move in on the balcony, you get an idea how abandoned this building is. Almost no furniture: just beds where you can sleep. And yes, it's free: not even donativo if I'm not mistaken.

    Keys: in a bar at the entrance of town. Then I struggled with the keys for half an hour at the entrance on the bottom floor, no kidding, I thought they had given me the wrong keys and just by chance I managed to open it. Just saying you might have to struggle to get in. I slept well but it was an eerie old building, very dark. If you're afraid of ghosts you're in for a challenge!!

    Day Eleven: Villalpando to Benavente (30km, o/n Valladolid)
     
  42. Verity

    Verity New Member

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  43. Verity

    Verity New Member

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    Velencia ia a lovely city to explore but no connections to Salvador Dali (you need to be North of Barcelona for that). The Cathedral, the old river bed, the river was diverted due to flooding and now the old river bed is a park with many other things in. A wonderful little Church is Iglesia de San Nicolás, the church of St Nicolas, think they open at 10.0, go prompt to avoid the queues. The home of paella because they grow rice in the countryside near Valencia. Enjoy wandering the small streets, eating paella, seafood and drinking red wine all local produce. I live between Valencia and Alicante and love both cities, Alicante is smaller but lovely, probably you would get out of the suburbs quicker from Alicante whereas Valencia is a very big city with huge suburbs. Buen Camino
     
  44. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Thanks for that Verity. As it went I flew into and set off from Alicante, rather put off by talk of all those suburbs out of Valencia. One day I will get to visit Valencia. Thanks too for Dalí information. I could find no mention of any of his works in Valenciano museums so assumed that there weren't any. I gather the Royal Academy in London is holding some sort of an exhibition later in the year of his surrealism period. I'm familiar with Port Lligat, Figueras, Pubol, so hoping there will be works from other more distant places (St Petersburg) and from private owners.

    Steve
     
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  45. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    Well, that Valencia suburbs are not really that bad. Couple of hours or first day at the most. Next 2-3 days (depends on length of the etapas) are also on tarmac but through orange groves mostly. So a bit of shade with pounding on your feet.

    Definitely want to try Alicante start but on "original" Sureste though ;)
     
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  46. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I was going to suggest that you consider the Cami St. Jaume till I saw you had already been to Figueres, which was one of my stopping points. But I will suggest it anyway, since it is a fabulous walk between Port de la Selva and Montserrat! Passes through Vic and Girona, both of which are lovely.
     
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  47. pilgr

    pilgr Guest


    How does the Sureste and Levante differentiate themselves with the Waymarking? It seems both routes follow each other from Almansa/Albacete to Medina del Campo. Then at Medina, the Sureste goes north to intercept the CF.; and the Levante goes west to Zamora to intercept the La Plata. Is this accurate? I am not a fan of intercepting the CF (too many people) and prefer the Sanabres via Zamora.
     
  48. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Sanabres ('14, '15 - entire),
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    Ingles ('16)...
    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    As far as I can tell about waymarking, and that's only for the stretches where Levante and Sureste ovelapse because I did only Levante, I think Sureste Amigos did the job better than Levante Amigos.

    You're right about Levante and Zamora but after Medina Sureste goes NW to Benavente which is on VdlP. So you can go further up north to Astorga on CF. To avoid CF crowds and to join the Sanabres route (which is beautiful BTW) you can walk from Benavente either south to Granja de Moreruela (2 days approx.) or directly to Santa Marta de Tera which is on Sanabres. I haven't walk this last option but I saw markers in Sta.Marta that indicates Camino from Benavente.

    One other option is to walk either from Zamora (Levante) or Benavente (Sureste) on VdlP to Astorga, then to Ponferrada on CF and from Ponferrada on Camino de Invierno which joins Sanabres in A Laxe. So, plenty of options there ;)

    Ultreia!
     
  49. pilgr

    pilgr Guest

    Thanks Kinky!
    I did the Sanabres (via Vdlp) two years ago and LOVED it! That route is probably the most beautiful of all the caminos I have done. Your suggestion of walking north from Medina del Campo to Benavente, then west from Benavente to Santa Marta de Tera sounds like a good way to go.

    I also like you Invierno idea too. So many options!

    I did really enjoy Zamora when I walked Vdlp. It was my second favorite town on the Vdlp next to Merida. But checking out a totally different route would be fun. Plus I remember the highway and train construction was crazy north of Zamora.

    Matt
     
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  50. sulu

    sulu Veteran Member Donating Member

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    According to the official guide book the Levante camino goes through both Nambroca and Burguillos. I am sure that from Almonacid I simply followed arrows and got to Nambroca, after that I don't remember the signage but the book says that when leaving Nambroca it is signed as the 'Ruta del Quixote'. It goes under the major road and then continues on paths. The whole route is well signed. The only place I got lost was leaving Mora and I am sure that that was my fault, the rest was fairly easy.
     
  51. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi, sulu, I had to check my blog to make sure that Nambroca was the cute little town with everything locked up tight because of a post-fiesta slumber. Like you, we had no problem with the signage, but there was a ton of asphalt. Arriving at the lookout spot across the Tajo to old Toledo, however, was one of the most special of any camino views anywhere!

    http://levante2013.blogspot.com/2013/05/camino-magic-arriving-in-toledo.html

    p.s. Though I didn't have a GPS, the wikiloc tracks for this stage show that, as you suggested, the route goes through both Nambroca and Burguillos -- was Burguillos that suburb type place where the route took you through a long stretch of housing subdivisions of little chalet type structures? (sorry, I guess that won't distinguish it from many other little towns around big cities, but I remember climbing up a hill past endless small houses all the same, and then, pop, was in the countryside).
     
  52. sulu

    sulu Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Hi Laurie, Nambroca was/is a cute little town and it was open when I was there, there was a bar near the Town Hall, I'd be surprised if it closed for a siesta but maybe. I don't remember Burguillos, it was boring enough for me not to take a photo, your description rings bells. All I remember after that was loads of new estates called 'cigarrales' all very much the same, housing estates for the wealthy! then it was the wonderful view and a glass of wine in the Parador :)
     
  53. andy.d

    andy.d Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Burguillos is the town where a passerby stopped me and engaged me in a long conversation about St Thomas Aquinas
     
  54. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Belated thanks to Peregrina (post 46) - the Cami St Jaume is on my to do list though I'll probably start it from Collioure in France - and Bad Pilgrim (post 41). Somehow I dropped out of the weekly digest loop and its only now that my flights are booked that I'm catching up. Due to resume from Toledo in September.
     
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  55. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Well I completed my walk a couple of weeks ago - see post 39. In the end I walked from Toledo to Zamora rather than to Benavente. I alternated between the Levante and Sureste, much as I did last year, until Medina del Campo. From there I went on to Tordesillas and then followed the Senda del Douro (GR14) to Zamora. I mostly used Bad Pilgrim's blog as a guide. It served me well this year as it had done last year. Many thanks Bad Pilgrim.

    I'll post recollections etc in greater detail at some later stage.

    I'm now looking at both Camino Manchego and Ruta del Argar for next year. I've started new threads on each on this forum in search of some information/thoughts/advice. If any of you have been on either or both please post away.
     
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  56. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Part I - Toledo to Cebreros

    I found leaving Toledo as baffling as I had found approaching it last year. I wanted to follow the rivers, first the Tagus and then the Rielves, but all markings and verbal directions took me in quite another direction. By the time I realised my error it was too late to turn back. I had an infrequent train to catch in Torrijos. Perhaps the answer would have been to start off by following the Senda Ecologica out off town? It seem to run parallel to the Tagus.

    I caught my train in plenty of time and overnighted in Talavera de la Reina, where I wanted to walk the battlefield (27th-28th July 1809). I set off the next morning with Sharpe's Eagle in hand (only kidding, I used Jac Weller's well researched tome, though Bernard Cornwell's novel is a cracking read) to piece together the elements of the battle. Well, of course, the Tagus and the walls at Talavera de la Reina which bookended the southern part of the battlefield and the Sierra de Segurilla which bookended the northern-most part are both still there - and still about 5 kms apart! The Cierro de Medellin, the high point of the river plane, occupied by the British, and which stands a little over halfway between the two extremes is there too. The Portina brook, which divided the two armies, is also still visible in places. However, the battlefield is now bisected horizontally by the Madrid motorway. The summit of the Cierro de Medellin is now private property and although it is still possible to walk around the base of the Medellin, on the far side, where the cavalry charged, is now a huge reservoir. There's an impressive modern, if rather ugly, pyramid-shaped monument just off the motorway at the foot of the Medellin commemorating the troops that fought there. From this monument you can make out the older obelisk-shaped monument, which is now also on the private land on the Medellin. The battle was, to pre-iterate a phrase, 'a close run think'. Not least because Wellesley was nearly captured the day before the battle. Secondly no one had thought to post pickets on the Medellin and the French very nearly seized the high ground in a surprise night attack. Prior to either of these two, the Spanish army had failed to attack on the appointed day at the appointed time - lying in and refusing to fight on a Sunday (who wouldn't?)! The next day, as if to make up for it, the Spaniards over enthusiastically pursued the retreating French who quickly counter attacked. By the 27th July Victor's French army had been reinforced and was now more than a match for the combined Anglo-Spanish troops. Talavera de la Reina has gone down in history as a victory for Sir Arthur Wellesley, who as a result was ennobled as Viscount Wellington and Talavera (though not as a Duke until a few years later). If it was a victory (and the French certainly blinked first) it was a pyrrhic one. Losses where similar on both sides but greater as a percentage for the British army (Wellington only had those soldiers that fought at Talavera, whereas there were several other vast French armies throughout Spain). The French fell back on Madrid and Wellington fell back on Lisbon unable to counter attack for another 14 months.

    In Talavera de la Reina I was told that the train I wanted to catch back to Torrijos only ran on Saturdays and Sundays. I did find a bus but I was walking against the clock for the rest of the day, unable to stop for more than the cursory photo of the fabulous castle at Maqueda. I rolled into Escalona just as the light was fading. In Escalona you check in with the Policia Local for the albergue. The albergue is a little out of town and, if like me, you're in luck you'll get a ride up there in a police car. It was a first for me, well in the front of a police car, anyway! It's a nice albergue and free too. I'd wanted to arrive in plenty of time to dig out any references to Lazarillo de Tormes but had to wait until the following morning. I did spot a Calle Lazarillo de Tormes, a Meson Lazarillo and some tiles on the bandstand in the Plaza Mayor which depict a boy leading a beggar. It wasn't much but it satisfied me and, of course, I made quite certain to avoid sausage and turnip while I was there!

    A little after Escalona the Camino starts to climb and its a longish haul to Cebreros (42 kms - or more if like me you keep taking the wrong fork). At Parades de Escalona there appears to be at least three routes (via Cenicientos, via Almorox and one in between which further sub-divides later). I took the middle way which got me into Cadalso de Vidrios just in time for the village fiesta. One moment I was supping a beer on my own in the village square, the next the Plaza Mayor was full of locals in their Sunday best. It would have been rude to make too early an exit. By the time I left I had to step on the gas once again. I wanted to see the Bulls at Guisando on the way to Cebreros. Rather naively I had assumed Guisando to be a place of some touristic/cultural interest with perhaps a cafeteria, certainly a drinks dispenser or a least a tap so I had not burdened myself with any water from Cadalso. It was baking hot, the trail wound around taking me up and down and around in what seemed like endless circles and I arrived at Guisando with my tongue hanging out. Now here's the thing, there is absolutely nothing at Guisando apart from the four stone-carved prehistoric bulls. Nada de nada. To disappoint me even further, the bulls are now safely paddocked behind a high stone wall. You can make them out through the iron railing gate but that ain't quite the same. I was told later that due to abuse (couples carrying out their own fertility rites, perhaps?) the bulls have had to be locked up and protected. The site is now only open Friday to Sunday and only at the usual Spanish hours, morning and late afternoon. Be warned - its a fair old stretch from Guisando to Cebreros when you are very thirsty and somewhat disappointed!

    In Cebreros I went first in search of liquids then Hostal Castrejon. The latter was like the Marie Celeste, front door open, tables set in the restaurant but not a soul about. I tried the phone a couple of times but got no answer. After 20 minutes I gave up and checked in to Hotel Dracos. It was rather more expensive and beyond my daily budget but nice enough. I heard later that the albergue here is excellent, not least because it is linked to the local Hotel and Catering school and that at 7.00 Euros it is particularly good value even if a little out of town.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
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  57. Kanga

    Kanga Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Fascinating post @Bachibouzouk - really interesting reading even though I have no intention of following in your footsteps!
     
  58. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Part II (Cebreros - Medina del Campo)

    From Cebreros the path keeps on going up and up through pastureland and magnificent scenery until the windswept village of San Bartolome de Pinares. Then it rolls down gently to Avila. It really is a quite splendid day's walking. Bad Pilgrim warns of an 8 kms stretch of tarmac leading into Avila. Maybe the route has been altered. I followed the way-marking and never came across the asphalt.

    The way-marking is excellent in the province of Avila. So much so that I found myself wondering whether so much of it was actually necessary. At times it almost seemed gratuitous and tantamount to graffiti. I have a photo with well over half-dozen arrows and markers just on the one rock! But you sure won't get lost. Maybe they could assist Toledo with some of their way-marking?

    Avila is one of the many highlights along this route. The walled town with its 2.5 kms of ramparts and the fortified cathedral are stunning and I very much liked that intra-muros remains unspoilt, even if a little touristy at the top end of town. It's the sort of place where you just can't stop taking photographs. Sometimes the very same photographs just a little later on with different lighting and shadows.

    One of the best view points overlooking Avila is from Cuatro Postes just across the river. It's on the route out of town the following morning but (and this is a tip) best go the afternoon/evening you arrive, it's only just across the river from the albergue. In the morning you'll have the sun in your eyes/camera as you squint back over majestic Avila.

    And here's another tip: the old Jewish tanneries are located between the albergue and the river Adaja. From the albergue you simply push the iron gate open and walk over the overgrown weeds and shrubs and you're in the semi-abandoned archaeological site. It really is worth half an hour of anybody's time.

    The albergue in Avila (Las Tenerias) is exceptional with a fully equipped kitchen, a washing machine and a hospitalero of the very friendliest and most helpful sort. Here I came across the first peregrinos I had seen since the Youth Hostel in Toledo. A couple of bicigrinos, a peregrino who was going no further and Serge, from Quebec. Apart from his imposing size Serge also had an impressive plaster covering most of his forehead. He'd tripped and fallen by the wayside a few days earlier on the climb after Cebreros, bruised his ribs, concussed himself and generally got himself in a bad way. There but for the grace of God go many of us. Luckily for him he hadn't been walking alone and a good Samaritan had driven him to the hospital in Avila. Our paths were to run in tandem over the next two or three days.

    I spent the next morning walking around the town before setting off on the 20 kms hike to Gotarrendura. In Cardenosa I came across yet another fiesta and rather unfortunately, as it turned out, turned down their kind invitation to the communal paella. Unfortunately because there really wasn't much going on in Gotarrendura. I was pleased to catch up with Serge there in the well appointed albergue (donativo). We patronized the one bar in town, had dinner in the bar and watched some Spanish football on TV in the bar. There really wasn't much going in Gotarrendura.

    From Gotarrendura to Arevalo is a fairly gentle walk and that meant plenty of time to check out Arevalo on arrival. Much to my surprise I came across a statue of Juan Gil Fraile, who I was to discover was both born and died in the town. The name was familiar but it took a moment or two to place it. He was the Trinitarian friar who took the ransom money to Algiers to free Cervantes from the Barbary pirates in 1580. Cervantes had languished almost 5 years in captivity, attempted four escapes and twice avoided execution in extremis. He had yet to pick up a quill and he was still unknown but his experiences in Algiers were to serve him well in the future. It comes as no surprise that Cervantes requested his mortal remains be buried amongst the Trinitarians.

    Arevalo has another of those stunning castles, gleaming white ashlar against clear blue sky. The future Isabella of Castille grew up here. But maybe Arevalo is best know for its 'cochinello'. The Hostal El Campo had hiked its prices up and roast suckling pig seemed a bit of an extravagance in the circumstances, so Serge and I settled for the cheaper fried version. You need a good set of teeth and a strong jaw to crunch your way through it and I kept picking out small bits of bone from between my teeth for most of the following day. Don't be mean, splash out on the real thing, is what I'd now advise.

    Medina del Campo also has a fine castle, in pristine condition, though this time a brick one (its amazing how well the Spaniards look after their historical buildings). It was in Medina del Campo that Isabella of Castille died in 1504 but not before she had married one of her daughters, Catherine of Aragon, into the house of Tudor, first with Arthur then, when he died early, with the future Henry VIII. The marriage was to cement the 1489 Treaty of Medina del Campo which aimed at establishing a common policy against France, the mutual enemy. It was never meant to be a marriage made in heaven but it ended in the mother off all divorces. Possibly the messiest and bloodiest in history? Henry and Catherine had one surviving child, Mary, who came to the throne after her half-brother died childless. And so the pendulum of English sectarianism swung back with increasingly bloody momentum. Slightly glossed over in the annals of English history, well certainly when I was at school, was that Mary married her first cousin once removed Philip II, making him at least until Mary's death king of England. She was already 37 when they married and they had no issue. Perhaps this was just as well when you consider the Habsburg's obsession with consanguinity.

    The albergue in Medina del Campo is very central and within the Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites. It was full of surprises. I'd expected nuns but there were monks. I'd expected a Spartan dormitory but you get your own room. There was a large screen colour TV and even Wifi and they brought us up a light collation on a tray - potato soup, chipolatas, bread and a yoghurt, presumably what the monks were having for dinner. And all that for just 7.00 Euros. My room even had a sun-drenched balcony. What more could the modern day pilgrim want?
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
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  59. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Great stuff but, at the risk of being pedantic, Mary was Philip's first cousin once removed (great-nephew of her mother Katherine), so not actually incest. If she had lived longer and they had had children, European history would have been very very different ...
     
  60. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Not at all, Alan. I stand corrected and I'll edit my post. Yes, of course, now that you point it out, son of a cousin is not a nephew, it would have to be son of a brother or sister. I think the consanguinity issue would still have held true.

    Yes European history would certainly have taken a different turn. Presumably no Elisabeth I, no return to Protestantism, no Union of the Crowns, ..... but what would it have meant to Spain? Given that Philip III was the product of Philip II fourth marriage. Could Philip and Mary's son have inherited both crowns?
     
  61. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Part III (Medina del Campo to Zamora)

    It is at Medina del Campo that the Sureste and the Levante finally go their own way, the former to join the Camino Frances at Astorga via Benavente and the latter to join the Camino de la Plata at Zamora. I'd been to both Zamora and Benavente previously on the Via de la Plata and wasn't planning on going any further. I had no preference as to which of the routes to follow but I did know that I didn't have time to do both routes, that I wanted to visit Tordesillas and that I didn't want to backtrack. Tordesillas or Castronuno, Toro and the Douro? As I walked from Toledo I talked and read myself into the Zamora route via Tordesillas. I was pretty sure I could find a way to walk from Tordesillas to Castronuno and back onto the Levante.

    Between Medina del Campo and Tordesillas there are a lot of vines - the vineyards of the Rueda. Serge had introduced me to the white Rueda wine and I was more than happy to call a halt just before midday in the small town of Rueda and carry out some comparative studies of my own. It was a mellow afternoon walk from there into Tordesillas.

    Tordesillas has much going for it. It's a lovely town built above the Douro and with some history that resonates with me. I'd recently read Laurence Bergreen's book on Christopher Colombus and it was as a result of Columbus's first voyages of discovery that Spain and Portugal decided to carve up the New World with the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. You can visit the house where the treaty was signed. It houses a small exhibition which covers the voyages and the treaty (maps, instruments, models of the boats, ...). Extraordinary to realise just how small those boats were and how crowded and insalubrious they must have been.

    I was also very interested to visit the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara where Juana I was confined for 46 years. She should have been Queen of Castile when her mother (Isabella) died and queen of the rest of Spain when her father (Ferdinand) died, but first her father and then her son (Charles I) declared her insane and ruled in her stead. I'd first become interested in this tragic story whilst walking the Via de la Plata some years ago. Somewhere just before Puebla de Sanabria I came across a plaque, overgrown and in the middle of a wood that seemed to indicate that Philip The Fair had met Ferdinand here to reach a compromise about who should inherit Isabella's crown - and it wasn't going to be Juana. There was further mention of Juana in the castle at Puebla de Sanabria. I was intrigued but, in retrospect, clearly not enough to follow up. Sometime later, and quite out of the blue, I came across Linda Carlino's Juana La Loca. From what I can piece together Juana was not what we would nowadays call mad, she may have, and I will quote here as I'm in no position to make any sort of diagnosis, 'suffered from melancholia, a depressive disorder, a psychosis or a case of inherited schizophrenia. The symptoms were perhaps aggravated by her non-consensual confinement and control by others.' Others being husband, father and son! It makes me mad, though in a very different sense, just thinking about that! It would appear that Juana was a highly intelligent and well educated young woman, perhaps too much so for the broodmare that was to be her lot. I was further intrigued to read that she 'showed some sympathy for Martin Luther's ideas'. That wasn't going to win her any friends in the palaces of Castile. Nor was her refusal to bury her dead husband and keep his corpse close to her for an unsuitably lengthy period of time. Although the Monastery is an absolute gem, you don't get to see anything relating to Juana except for a harpsichord that she is said to have played. Some say her rooms have been walled up, some say they've been knocked down and some say that she was actually confined in an adjacent palace and that she simply went to the Convent for her devotions. Curiouser and curiouser. There's a statue of Juana where that palace once stood. She is not wearing the crown but holds it in her hand. In spite of the title of Queen Regnant I wouldn't have thought that she got her hands anywhere near the crown. She was briefly buried in the Convent of Santa Clara but eventually re-buried alongside her husband, next to her parents, in Granada cathedral. Before her husband Philip's untimely death Juana had six children: two emperors (Charles V and Ferdinand I) and four Queens (Eleanor of France, Isabella of Denmark, Mary of Hungary and Catherine of Portugal). She certainly left her mark.

    The albergue in Tordesillas is another top notcher. Recently refurbished, it has a fully equipped kitchen and washing machine. At 5.00 Euros it's a snip. Centrally located a stone's throw from the picturesque Plaza Mayor (one of my favourites on this walk), the Santa Clara monastery, the Museo del Tratado, the river and the lovely bridge. Furthermore, the hospitalero is another of those that fall into the category of Most Helpful and Friendly. With Antonio's help I worked out a route to Castronuno. It's a bit of a schlep on tarmac initially but soon enough you join the GR14/Senda del Douro which takes you through the Reserva Natural de las Ribeiras de Castronuno. I was lucky enough to see a wild boar. I was so surprised that for a split second I thought it was a calf that had become separated from its mother. It paid not the slightest attention to me, wagging its tail and snuffling along as it crossed my path not 50 metres ahead, then trotted off down to the river.

    At Castronuno you can either rejoin the Levante or carry on along the GR14/Senda del Douro or indeed mix and match. I overnighted here. Castronuno is on a majestic bend in the river accentuated by the Presa (dam) de San Jose. From La Muela, a great vantage point, you can see the river stretching out in both directions and observe the herons, cormorants and other river fowl ducking and diving (also Garza Real, Milano Negro and Aguila Laguna as per one of the signposts). The albergue here (5.00 Euros) is nice too but after Tordesillas more in the functional category. There's no kitchen but a good value restaurant and bar are close at hand. In the morning if you follow the Senda del Douro you'll pass right by the Presa de San Jose, it's a great place from which to watch the cormorants fishing and drying out their wings.

    I enjoyed Toro and its red cliffs and followed Bad Pilgrims recommendation to take a look at the polychrome portico in the Colegiata. Stunning. I've never seen anything quite like it. It gives you some sort of an idea of how cathedrals must have been decorated in the past. Worth noting, the pedestrian bridge giving access to the town, is closed for restoration. The tourist office told me that it would remain so for at least 18 months. It makes for a slightly more round about and a much less picturesque arrival and departure. Pension Zamora was closed when I arrived and I had to check in to an altogether more expensive hotel. The three nights I'd planned on staying in hotels had all cost me more than anticipated, which only made me appreciate the albergues all the more. I was about 50.00 Euros out of pocket but on reflection that isn't so bad for 12 days. When I walked past the Pension Zamora on my way out of town the following morning the bar to the hotel was open. I dunno.

    Zamora is another of those towns with a great approach and a bridge to cross. As this was my third visit and my last day's walk I dawdled along the way and got there late in the afternoon. It came as something of a shock to encounter full dormitories, rows of walking boots and busy kitchens again!
     
  62. Bachibouzouk

    Bachibouzouk New Member

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    Part IV (Valladolid and Madrid)

    In over 45 years of visiting Spain I had never been to Valladolid. Valladolid is where Isabella and Ferdinand were married in 1469, unifying the crowns of Castile and Aragon. Christopher Columbus died there in 1506 - still believing he had found the westward route to China and India. It was briefly (1601-1606) the capital of Spain under Philip III. Cervantes followed the court to Valladolid and put the finishing touches and proof-read the manuscript of Don Quixote whilst living there. He also wrote at least two, possibly three*, of the novellas that appear in The Exemplary Novels – The Deceitful Marriage and The Colloquy of the Dogs – whilst in Valladolid. There’s much else in the town that recommends itself (a river with a beach, a wonderful Campo and many impressive historical buildings all within easy walking distance of each other) but I had enough to get on with in the 24 hours I had at my disposal.

    * The Illustrious Scullery-Maid

    Cervantes had lived as a child in Valladolid. His father a surgeon (for surgeon read barber, I guess sharp instruments and a steady hand were the transferable skills?) had led a peripatetic life in Spain. However, it was Cervantes Junior’s stay in the town in the early 17th century that interests most people. You can visit the Casa Cervantes where he lived for just under three years with his extended family. It’s an interesting enough visit even if there is nothing that actually belonged to him there. It is furnished with facsimiles and best guesses as to how the family might have set up their home. In the front garden is all that remains of the portico of the Hospital of the Resurrection. The Hospital of the Resurrection, which was located no more than 200m from his house, was the setting for both The Deceitful Marriage and The Colloquy of the Dogs. It must have been knocked down some time before the end of the 19th Century because in its place now stands the Casa Mantilla, a Modernist building which dates from 1891. The top of the portico is all that was salvaged and transferred to the front garden of the Casa Cervantes. If you sleuth around the Casa Mantilla a little you will come across a plaque with the following inscription:

    ‘En el solar que ocupa esta casa estuvo el Hospital de la Resurrecion, donde el vecino de honor de Valladolid, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra situa El Casamiento Enganoso y El Coloquio de los Perros’.

    In Plaza de la Universidad, just behind the cathedral, is a statue of Cervantes with a quill in his hand and a sword in his belt – the soldier and the writer.

    The Casa Colon is an altogether different visit. It’s an interactive audio-visual museum given over to Columbus and his four voyages of discovery. Unfortunately, for me at least, it’s all in Spanish, but if you are interested enough in the subject you cannot but get much out of the visit. I looked for the house where Columbus lived out his final days but with no success. Perhaps it was located where the museum now stands? I did, however, find the spot where he is said to have died. The Convent of St Francis is no longer standing but there is a plaque on the ground in the Plaza Mayor indicating where it once stood. Columbus travelled almost as much in death as he had in life. He was first buried in Valladolid, then his remains were moved to the monastery of La Cartuja in Seville, then to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), next to Havana (Cuba) and finally to the cathedral in Seville, where any peregrino setting off on the Via de la Plata can see his catafalque.

    In Madrid, amongst other things, I particularly wanted to visit Cervantes’ final resting place. On an earlier trip I had gone looking for him at the Convent of Las Descalzadas Reales, where many eminent Spaniards are buried. But he wasn’t there. Clearly, I had confused my discalced orders, the Poor Clares with the Trinitarians. Last year I tracked him down to the Church and Convent of the Discalced Trinitarians. There’s a plaque outside confirming that Cervantes’ remains are now contained inside:

    ‘A Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra que por su ultima voluntad yace in este convento de la orden Trinitaria a la cual debio principalmente su rescate. Cervantes nacio en 1547 y fallecio en 1616’.

    But the church/convent was closed for renovation. This year I asked the very helpful lady at the Tourist Office to ring ahead and make an appointment for me to visit. The Trinitarians weren’t answering the call. Nonetheless I went around to Calle Lope de Vega to see if I could get in. The door was locked and there was just no way in but there was a list of the times of the daily celebration of the Eucharist posted on the door. Perhaps that will be my Open Sesame next time around? It is anybody’s guess as to what Cervantes would have thought of the address of his final resting place. He was said to be more than a little irked by Lope de Vegas’ success and Midas touch.

    Coda: In Madrid I stayed around the Puerta del Sol. It was even livelier than usual with the finishing line of what I took to be an ultra-marathon in the square. The digital clock was well past the 14 hours mark and solitary runners were still struggling in at lengthier and lengthier intervals when I decided to look for some dinner. The next day on the flight back to London I was sat next to one of the participants. He told me that it had been an Ironman event. They had been woken up at 04:00 in the morning to start their day’s exertion in the dark. This much I could empathise with but then he told me that a 4km swim had been followed by 180km bike ride and a full marathon (42km). He was disappointed to have finished in 12 hours, explaining that the bike ride in the heat had been particularly ‘brutal’ with two passes at over 2000m. It put even 40km hikes into perspective.

    When Ironman had nodded off I finished reading the last story in Cervantes Exemplary Novels, The Two Damsels. All is well that ends well and the four protagonists get married, Marco Antonio with Teodosia and Don Rafael with Leocadia. To celebrate this happy out-come they decide on a pilgrimage to ‘Santiago de Galicia’. For a writer usually so wordy he sums up the pilgrimage in less than one, admittedly long, sentence. Nonetheless a neat way to conclude my own Levante, Sureste and Don Quijote camino.
     
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  63. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    If you ever do the Vía de la Plata, day two takes you to Castilblanco de los Arroyos, where the two cross-dressing damsels met, and where there is a plaque boasting of its connection with Cervantes.

    Cinco leguas de la ciudad de Sevilla, está un lugar que se llama Castiblanco;
     
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