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LIVE from the Camino Starting in Seville

anita

New Member
Dear all to whom I am so indebted for all the advice on the forum and through PMs. Starting out from Seville tomorrow morning. I will try to keep you updated about progress and other contributions. Thanks to Laurie and the others ahead of me for the steady flow of posts - helps a lot. Buen camino to you all!

I am glad to see the LindaMar sides of the story are out in the open and in any case always planned to stay there. God bless, Anita
 
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walkingnomads

New Member
Live from the VDLP

Hi from Cathy and Chris (aka known as Walking Nomads from Brisbane. We started from Sevilla on Sunday 8th May, and all is going really well so far, although I have to admit, a couple of days have been a bit of a slog on the feet, but nothing that a good night's sleep can't fix! The weather is great, and the spring flowers are fantastic! However, we have had 2 very cold days with a chill wind.
This is a quick resume for those following on behind. The VDLP is not very crowded yet. We walkied completely on our own to Villafranca de Barros today for instance. other days we have shared refugios with groups of Spaniards, Germans, and some French, plus a couple of Asian girls travelling alone, 1 Dutch and a young Spanish guy. Albergues have not been more than half full so far.
Now for a quick update on Albergues------Guillena now has bunk beds, m and f toilets abd showers and solar powered hot water (no more roof and floor). Bar El Poli adjoining does good nosh and the owners are very friendly.
Castilblanco has a good albergue by REPSOL fuel. Three diff rooms and 2 rooftop terraces for drying clothes. Food good at the 2 restaurants below the albergue.
Almaden was our only evening of rain so far. The albergue there is quite good although the bunk room is a little squashed (this was irinically our busiest place so far).
El Real has lovely little albergue .....the first building in the town you come to. It was a former water works building. Good food at Meson La Cochara in town.
Now we get into Public Holiday territory for the San Isidore Holiday, so beware when you are told there is a 5 day holiday, as very few things and restaurants are open so a bit hit and miss, and in the last few days we have had to plan quite carefully.
Monasterio we stayed at hotel bar Rinconcello which was in our guide book as a new good option.....really clean ensuite little bedroom and delicious lunch (we usually manage with one good meal a day) with lovely young guy running this establishment (we now know that albergues aren't always an option, so these small hotels are a really good alternative and not expensive.
In Fuente, we stayed in the albergue turistico (converted convent) which included breakfast. it was all very nice, clean and spacious and we were in a 4 bed bunk room (this was fairly full as some bike groups arrived too). Big courtyard at back for drying clothes. Really clean and good hot showers and full bedlinen !
In Zafra, it got even better. We booked into the next albergue turistico, converted San Faranciscan convent. This was fantastic with an excellent young girl running it. We had our own 2 bed room with ensuite shower, crisp white linen and duvets, and all spotlessly clean, with our own key. Zafra is a really beautiful and historic city, so we decided to stay and extra night, even though the San Isidore holiday followed us. Do visit the parador....we sailed into the cafeteria cum bar there at 9pm and had the most exquisite hot chocolate! Talk about going from one extreme to the other on the Camino.
Today we have reached Villafranca and there is even less open. Couldn't find any sign of the supposed albergue turistico, but if you stay with the yellow flecha, you come to Casa Perin, where we are staying with 2 or 3 other pilgrims. It is a lovely old house and we have the run of the sun filled back patio, the internet and washing and cooking facilities AND ensuite bedroom again (but this seems to be the only option in town)!
Yes we are enjoying the pretty lanes, drove roads and country lanes and contrary to the 2 guide books we have with us, there are now plenty of yellow arrows! Birds, frogs, flowers, oranges, vines, olives, sunflowers, wild lavender and wild sage flowering and bees busy pollinating, storks feeding their young......every day is so full of beauty!
NB Between Fuente and Zafra at tributary to Rio Atarja, we had to cross a stream with boots off as it was ankle deep.....this was our only little bit of drama so far! In fact i have had local farmers helping me with stepping stones and people are very friendly.
Hope this is helpful to those following on, and will look forward to other contributions from others.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Anita, Cathy and Chris,

Looks like we are each separated by about a week of walking. I hope you are all doing well. And remember, almost every teeny tiny Spanish town has free internet access somewhere -- in Aljucén, for example, town of about 150, it's in the Hogar del Pensionista. Just ask and you will find, and usually there are morning (till 1:30 or 2:00) and afternoon (starting anywhere from 4 to 5 pm) hours as well.

Buen camino to all, Laurie
 

anita

New Member
Hi fellow peregrinos on the Via, I just lost a very long message of our progress for the 3rd time due to internet connection failure here in the library of Monesterio. Too late to start again. Just letting you know all is well and will communicate as soon as possible. Buen Camino, Anita
 

anita

New Member
Hi Cathy, Chris, Laurie and other forum members,

Cathy/Chris your blog looks great and I really appreciate you posting info re places, experiences like Laurie - this kind of information is invaluable to people like me who will be walking alone soon and a totally inexperienced hiker. I really hope your heel gets better soon. Peet has picked up problems with his feet and mine are under strain so we bused the last part of the road to Zafra today rather than causing more trauma getting him totally grounded. He will only walk with me up to Merida so would like to make the last few days special and given that I still have a long way to go I am really careful.

We are finding the VdlP quite an experience. The abundance of wild flowers and the absolute serenity, peacefulness of most of the route (except the road walking which I found stressful but at least minimal) is food for the soul. We have met a number of nice fellow pilgrims and although communication is minimal, there is nevertheless a pilgrim spirit between us as we pass each other on the road everyday and when lodging in the same places at night.

According to the Oficio Turismo in Monesterio between 20 and 30 pilgrims are passing through the town on a daily basis. The mid day temperatures range from 28 to 34 degrees. Often a cool breeze makes this quite bearable but it is essential to carry enough water and a good sunblock. Between Peet and me we are carrying 5l of water and drink at least a sachet of electrolytes each every day. We also include in our daily supplementary diet some magnesium pills and a multivitamin.

A quick summary of our lodging/restaurant experience to assist other travellers:

Guillena, Bar Hostal Frances - good, clean room but as compared with other pilgrims, the food was better at the Restaurante Portuguese across the street, just take note that a lot of traffic passing through the town at night and a room with a street facing window could be a hindering factor. E42/double room.

Castilblanco de los Arroyes - the Hospederia de la Plata gave us an excellent room with balcony, very good and friendly service, food good and a lot of tolerance with my dismal Spanish. E50/double room.

Almaden de la Plata - Hostal Casa Concha, good service and food, nice, clean room, adequate space. E40/double room.

El Real de la Jara, we landed up in the Meson El Cina in the industrial area due to the wireless internet offer. The room was clean and quite ok with sharing a common lounge area with a few other rooms but the food at the Meson Restaurante linked to the accommodation was really not up to standard. However, the people were friendly and in the end allowed me to work on their personal computer which I appreciated very much. E40/double.

In Monesterio we stayed in the Hostal El Pilar and ate at the restaurante on the opposite corner linked to the El Pilar. The room was good and spacious at E40/double. The service at the restaurant was fair and the food good. Just note - we got a room on the first floor at the front of the hostal and with the wind blowing the flagpoles made a constant noise which was a bit hindering.

In Fuente de Cantos we stayed in the Albergue de Turismo in a converted convent. Really a nice place to stay. Rooms spacious clean, sharing a bathroom with two other rooms. Ate well at the Restaurante Charrao.

Today staying in the Hotel Honda around the corner from the tourism office and across a courtyard from the Parador Zafra. A nice room and good, friendly service but found the Menu del Dia a bit below average.

Buen Camino to all on the way, Peet and Anita
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Anita,
Wow, Zafra seems like years ago. But that's not possible since I've only been walking for three weeks. I'm in Salamanca now and have taken a rest day. It has been restorative and totally enjoyable. I went to high mass in the old cathedral, and even though I am a lapsed Catholic, I was able to totally appreciate the ritual (and when my mind was wandering, there were many beautiful architectural features to appreciate).

Let's see, some tips -- In Cañaveral, the Hostal Málaga has been recently remodeled and my 20€ room was just fine. Crisp clean white sheets, what more could you ask for.

If you stay in Carcaboso, which is a nice little town, I highly recommend the Hotel ARco de Caparra, but if I were you I would call and reserve a room ahead of time, because it filled up pretty quickly the day I was there. There are only 5 rooms in this hotel, and the "pilgrim price" was 20€ for a single. The other option is the bar that Elena runs, but there are shared bathrooms and bedrooms and it's 10€ so the price-quality ratio seems pretty obvious. We also ate a decent dinner at the hotel, and there's good internet access in the library.

I have meant to post a thank you to Isabelle for her suggestion about the way to avoid highways and long days on the stretch between Carcaboso and Aldeanueva. I followed her suggestion and went from Carcaboso to Arco de Cáparra and visited the site and the visitors' center, and then went "backwards" to the albergue turístico at Oliva de Plasencia. It was all a wonderful walk and best of all, no asphalt and no cars. (There is competition going on here between Elena and Monica in Oliva de Plasencia, but no need to get into that now)

The next day I did a long walk, from Oliva to Baños de Montemayor, and the albergue there is terrific -- three rooms with four beds each, a very kind hospitalero, and decent restaurants in town. There are some incredibly beautiful days in this part of the country, I was enjoyed it so much.

I am greatful every single day, this is a wonderful experience. WE had a huge rainstorm tonight in Salamanca, and the Plaza Mayor looks even more spectacular when the stone is wet. Tomorrow begins the long slog along the A-66 to Zamora. I will take it slow. Buen camino, Laurie
 

isabelle304

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (SJPP-Santiago) (Oct-Nov 08)
Santiago to Finisterre (Nov 08)
Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (Sevilla-Santiago via Ourense) (Oct-Nov 09)
Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Santiago) (Sep-Oct 14)
peregrina2000 said:
Hi, Anita,

I have meant to post a thank you to Isabelle for her suggestion about the way to avoid highways and long days on the stretch between Carcaboso and Aldeanueva. I followed her suggestion and went from Carcaboso to Arco de Cáparra and visited the site and the visitors' center, and then went "backwards" to the albergue turístico at Oliva de Plasencia. It was all a wonderful walk and best of all, no asphalt and no cars. (There is competition going on here between Elena and Monica in Oliva de Plasencia, but no need to get into that now)

Glad to see my suggestion was useful to you. As much as I loved walking the VdlP, I absolutely detested the occasional stretches of walking along busy roads - the 4km leading up to Castilblanco, the section between Caceres and Casar de Caceres, the part between Villanueva and Banos de Montemayor, the 6 or 8km before Embalse de Alcantara are the ones especially that stick to my memory as unpleasant and stressful (there are a few more but I cannot remember the place names right now).

I'll be interested to hear more about this Elena when you have time - does she run a new albergue in Oliva de Plasencia then?

Keep yourself and your feet well.... your posts are bringing back so many good memories... I was not intending to walk a camino this year but now.... I am not so sure!

Isabelle
 

anita

New Member
Hi to fellow pelgrims,

Some updated information, however not so complete and interesting than Laurie´s! but at least I hope helpful even if only to re-confirm.

Villafranca de los Barros - stayed in Casa Perin. Very homely, met some nice pelgrims there and had an absolute wonderful lunch at Restaurant Monterrey! (i don´t want to scare the solo female walkers but just take note: in Aljucen I met a young girl from Germany who is now walking with other male pelgrims because she had an incident about 2km outside Villafranca with an elderly man. She did manage to get away from him and returned to Villafranca where she reported this to the police).

Torremeija - stayed in Hotel Melenium. We had a good room but the German lady who has been walking with us had a very small room with constant smells from the kitchen. I also were not too impressed with the menu del dia but the service was very friendly and as always the vinotinto very good!

Merida - what a wonderful town for someone interested in Roman history. Around every corner there is some excavation or an already excavated, preserved site. We stayed in the Hotel Nova Roma and had a good room, service etc. Just around the corner from it is a cyber cafe. Peet and I split ways here with him going back to Johannesburg thus a sad for me.

Aljucen - I stayed in the Casa Rural but the municipal albergue is also good and clean. The casa rural is cosy with quite a collection of antiques and the hostess, Ana is very friendly and helpful. What made my stay also interesting is the night I was there, a circus was in town, complete with anacondas, tarantulas and the works!

Alcuescar - I stayed in the Monastery and this was special. The night I was there we were about 11 pelgrims that I know of, at least counting those who stayed in the albergue. Although I am not Catholic (Christian but another denomination) and do not understand a lot of Spanish, I found the sermon at 19-30 in the chapel very special with guitar music and the special prayer for the peregrinos. The dinner was also good.

From Alcuescar I headed for Aldea del Cano yesterday but found it too short a walk for the day thus went on to Valdesalor with the idea to sleep there. Got the key for the building they make available as an albergue from the Council and by chance popped into a place where municipal employees can eat where the lady running it very kindly gave me what was on the menu for E9 - very good. However, after seeing the "albergue" (kind of isolated, gymnastic mats to sleep on, etc.) I decided to move on to Caceres. This was a good decision and I am now sitting here doing this message on a freely available computer with wi-fi at the Hotel Alfonso. Single room E45 per night.

Today I am having my first rest day since starting in Sevilla on 16th May and tomorrow I intend to push through to Embalse de Alcantara. It looks as if the way out of the city will be challenging so I intend to take a taxi to the outskirts on the way to Casar de Casares. Note that the old city of Caceres is beautiful and worth while visiting.

I am finding the weather very good for walking, in fact it is cool in the mornings when I set out. For me the landscape is absolutely beautiful and peaceful. I specifically chose this camino after I read and saw on videos that large parts of it is much the same as where I grew up and I am not disappointed at all!

Laurie, I can see that your camino is going very well and I am so glad for you that those heel problems seem to be something of the past! I don´t see any messages from Cathy and Chris - would like to know if her heels are ok now?

Anita
 

walkingnomads

New Member
Hello to Laurie, Anita, those currently on the VDLP and to others who are vicariously enjoying our live accounts because they have been there already or are contemplating the route.
I can only endorse what Laurie and Anita are telling you.......this is a most beautiful route!
The only thing to bear in mind is to listen to your body if there are aches and pains......from experience it is quite annoying but very important if you want to continue on with this fabulous route.In other words, if your feet or back are casunig a few problems, slow down and have a rest day or two, it works wonders. I know some of you are pressed for time but we have had to slow down for a while, but there are delightful surprises too.
Here is a quick update of our accommodation and things which we highly recommend.
Like you Anita, Chris had a night with the monks at Alcuescar (but disappointed there was no mass to attend nor any contact with the monks at all. On the other hand, I went to a wonderful service in Aljucen (I stayed behind for 2 days to rest my ankle), and I think the priest was from Alcuescar with his guitar. he very much invluded a handful of childre in the service and was most patient with one who was disabled. More to come. Cathy and Chris.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Cathy,
I just saw your post as I was about to sign off -- I, too, saw that kind loving priest in Aljucen. He was singing with the children for at least 45 minutes before mass started -- songs like "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands", with the words saying something like "If you know that God love you, clap your hands." I was also impressed by the way he interacted with the children, and their presence made the mass a much more joyous occasion. There was one kid who for the life of him could not snap his fingers when that was the command, and the priest took a lot of time with him to help him master that task. There was a lot of laughing and love going around in that small church in that nearly abandoned town.

I had another similar experience in Monesterio -- the priest there went from a funeral to First Communion practice without missing a beat, and his relationship with both of those two groups of people was something to behold. He was obviously a very well loved figure in the community. These things have impressed me, because of all the scandal swirling around the Catholic Church. It was a good reminder that there are many wonderful human beings doing good things with their flocks. I´m not Catholic but do occasionally go to mass to just for the down time and contemplation it offers.

By the way, the priest in Monesterio told me that he is turning his priest's house into an albergue because it's too big for him. He hopes to have it up and running in August, well after most walkers on the Vdlp, but maybe next year some will be able to stay with him. He's walked several caminos and is pretty committed to the Vdlp.

Looking forward to hearing more! Laurie
 
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anita

New Member
Hi to Laurie, Cathy and interested others,

I am now in Banos de Montemayor, quite a lively town and some more tourist type shops, I suppose largely due to the Thermal Baths. I am allowing myself the luxury to stay in the Hotel Balneario and enjoy having this internet nook all to myself. I don´t think I will catch up with you Cathy since I am taking tomorrow and the rest of the week slow due to my feet being under stress and I am now quite aware of ´compromising to avoid crisis´. I will thus probably only be arriving in Salamanca by Monday, 7th and plan to spend a rest day there before walking on to Zamora where I plan to spend another rest day. I might never come this way again and just do not want to miss what these cities have to offer.

This week´s walking took me through some of the most beautiful scenery, I felt like Alice in Wonderland!

Let me start with Embalse de Alcantara and the big debate. It was quite a long, hot walk there from Caceres and since I made up my mind to stay at the Lakeview Hotel to see for myself, I did just that. Stephan, the owner actually wasn´t really prepared to accommodate any pilgrims that day and apparently before me he showed some others away. Reason being that he had some fishermen staying there and the place was cluttered with fishing equipment and the like. The bedroom he gave me was not sparkling but I did find the bedding, bathroom, etc. clean. He kindly came to fetch my washing and did it for me. I ate with him and the fishermen and it was a good meal with nice dessert wine as postre when they learned I collect port. I have to agree with Marga that the hygiene of the kitchen and some other areas is not up to standard and the place will need a good maintenance hand soon. Apparently Stephan bought the place to specifically accommodate fishermen not only pilgrims, himself being a keen fisherman. The next morning he gave me a good English breakfast. I asked Stephan about his future plans and kind of got the idea that time will tell if he stays there for long. The albergue certainly is good as per the reports of all the people i have spoken to thus it remains a matter of personal choice I suppose.

My next stop, Grimaldo, I found to be a charming little town and the lady running the Bar Grimaldo and the albergue (donativo) is just as charming. I ate delicious lentil soup and the food and service were very good. The albergue is small but has everything required.

At the walled village of Galisteo I stayed in the Hostal Los Emigrantes where I received good service and food and certainly got the idea that the place is well run and one of the town´s favourite gathering places.

From Galisteo I intended to go on to Oliva de Plasencia but eventually went passed the road to OdP and onto the Arch at Carparra from where I organised to stay at the Hotel Asturgia on the N630. The owner fetched me and two other gentlemen and later went back to fetch three more pilgrims. We put our washing together and share the E3 it costed and by 20:30 we had our clean washing back. All around everyone was fairly satisfied with the food ordered from the Menu del Dia and I found the hotel quite a suitable option than doing the full walk to Aldeanueva. Due to my feet needing rest I went straight to Banos de Montemayer rather than doing the Huelva umweg while I believe as Cathy is describing it to be something really worth while doing.

I am having quite an interesting experience. I brough the CSJ updated guidebook with me and some other info I put together but looking at the German guidebook I found that to be so much better than the CSJ book that when the German lady that on and off walked with Peet and me to Merida departed for Germany from there, I took over the guidebook and is now walking through Spain in German while actually being Afrikaans. Since I am from German descent and took German in school (many years ago) I picked up quite quickly. There are words I don´t know but when I arrive at the place, its an AH! oh yes, now I remember moment!

A reminder that between Banos de Montemayer and Salamanca there are no ATMs.

Greetings to all from the VdlP, Anita
 

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