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Virtual Camino VdlP from Zamora and Camino Sanabrés (Virtual)

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Preamble
As my wife and I could not travel from Australia to Portugal this year, we started a virtual walk on the VdlP, starting on 23 April in Sevilla. We have been walking rather slowly, and we have at last reached Romanesque Heaven in Zamora.
If you wish to see what we experienced, you can read more here.
I have started a new thread as the continuation of our walk, as the previous thread was getting somewhat long, and hard to open on a phone. The nice thing about this forum is that when our virtual walk has come to an end, the lovely moderators will be able to wave their magic wands and stitch the two threads together.

Onward from Zamora!
@C clearly has already covered the walk from Zamora to SdC, and I was hesitant in continuing our virtual walk to SdC, but with her and @peregrina2000 's encouragement, and also because we may be doing different stages, I have decided to push on.

Day 43: Zamora to Montamarta
After spending two days enjoying Zamora and its wonderful Romanesque churches and architecture, we resume our walk. We're walking 19.2km to Montamarta today.
Gronze describes this stage as "la comarca Tierra del Pan, caracterizada por extensos campos cerealistas", (the region Tierra del Pan, characterized by extensive cereal fields), which we're looking forward to. Rachel's brother took over the family farm back in Switzerland, and when we were walking in France and Spain in 2018, we would look at various cereal fields and try to distinguish the different types. When we wouldn't know, we would send a photo to her brother for identification.
@C clearly had jumped ahead by bus to Montamarta, and had decided that she was hoping to stay at El Molino de Castilla. Is that the same as Casa Rural Molino 1914 in Gronze? We might stay there too, if we can get a room.
Gerald Kelly recommends the Restaurante Rosamari for good food.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I'm replying to say 'Thank you,' with the ulterior motive of wanting to get alerts. This is Terra Incognita for me so I am really enjoying it.
Avanti!
 

Jenyat53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: September 2013 & April/ May 2014
CF: April/May 2016 CP Tui - SDC Feb 2018
We walked Zamora to SDC in February 2019 and loved it. Only met 4 pilgrims on our whole jourrney. Will follow this with joy, thank you 🙏🏼
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have only stayed once in Montamarta, and it was in a very nice Casa Rural, Casa del Sastre (home of the tailor). It appears to be closed, however.

But I cannot recommend Rosamary Restaurant enough. The restaurant is located on the way out of town, so if you don’t know to look for it, you are likely to eat at an in-town place, of which there are a few. Rosamary is owned and operated by two women, and the food is definitely a notch above. I noted in my journal that it was only the second time on my Vdlp that I had a salad that was not made of iceberg lettuce (the first being in the restaurant across the street from the albergue in Casar de Cáceres).

In the morning, as we were walking out of town, one of the women was sweeping outside the entrance, and she bowed with her broom to bid us farewell. My picture didn’t really capture the bow, but it was such a nice gesture. Not to be missed under any circumstances. 49B5B732-2D57-4465-A6FB-6C9B4083EB66.jpeg
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 43: Zamora to Montamarta
Yes. You've left the Tierra del Vino for the Tierra del Pan. And if you leave Zamora nice and early, there's an appropriate treat for you in the first town after Zamora - Roales del Pan:

The relatively recently established bakery "Panificador Alberto," is on a side road to the left of the Main Street. The delicious smell of freshly baked bread will leave you in no doubt about which street. It looks like the kind of business that must have been there forever, but I don't remember seeing it when I walked through in 2017. You can see on Google Streetview that it's a derelict building in the older images.

It doesn't look like a shop that you can walk into and buy bread from - I think they must deliver most of their bread to local businesses and individuals - but they're quite happy for pilgrims to drop by and pay for some purchases at the office. No better mid-morning snack than a still warm loaf on the edge of a field. If you picked up some cheese in Zamora you'll have a feast.

The roads are straight and the landscape undramatic but not unpleasant. I stayed at at the albergue in Montamarta, which was a clean, unattended, building a little out of the town. It had two good showers, a kitchen with basic equipment, a washing machine, a line for drying clothes outside, and a barbecue area. I don't think anyone showed up to check in on us. If I recall correctly, we just left the requested payment in a box and entered our own details in the register. We ate at Rosamary's. I don't remember it as remarkable - perhaps a cut above the average pilgrim menu. There's a supermarket between the albergue and Meson Rosamary, where we bought food for breakfast.

If you push on further than Montamarta, there is a newly opened albergue at Fontanillas de Castro. In 2017, I stayed in the village sports hall. It's a very small community with basically one roadside restaurant. Not much going on there, but it's worth knowing as an option.

BTW.- You'll see a bronze statue of El Zangarron by the church - a colorful part of the local folklore:
 

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amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
I have only stayed once in Montamarta, and it was in a very nice Casa Rural, Casa del Sastre (home of the tailor). It appears to be closed, however.

But I cannot recommend Rosamary Restaurant enough. The restaurant is located on the way out of town, so if you don’t know to look for it, you are likely to eat at an in-town place, of which there are a few. Rosamari is owned and operated by two women, and the food is definitely a notch above. I noted in my journal that it was only the second time on my Vdlp that I had a salad that was not made of iceberg lettuce (the first being in the restaurant across the street from the albergue in Casar de Cáceres).

In the morning, as we were walking out of town, one of the women was sweeping outside the entrance, and she bowed with her broom to bid us farewell. My picture didn’t really capture the bow, but it was such a nice gesture. Not to be missed under any circumstances. View attachment 77316
And stunning callos, a dish that sounds worse when you translate it to tripe. Excellent food indeed in Rosamari
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
That stage was enlivened by some detours along and across road/rail construction in 2017. I suspect that project will continue for decades. It may seem odd, but I enjoy arriving on foot at projects and activities that I would normally only see from a moving car. I feel a bit like a naughty trespasser.

This photo shows a veritable crowd on the VDLP. In front were some Italians (?) who I never got to know. The detours were well marked. On the left are forum member @Simon Shum and his wife.
 

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
That stage was enlivened by some detours along and across road/rail construction in 2017. I suspect that project will continue for decades. It may seem odd, but I enjoy arriving on foot at projects and activities that I would normally only see from a moving car. I feel a bit like a naughty trespasser.

This photo shows a veritable crowd on the VDLP. In front were some Italians (?) who I never got to know. The detours were well marked. On the left are forum member @Simon Shum and his wife.
I’ll bet this is the same place as the overpass in this photo, mine is about four years earlier. There are only two peregrinos in my picture, but these were the French guys I walked with from two or three days out of Valencia all the way into Santiago.
 

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amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
I don’t think I could ever utter a sentence with the word “stunning” describing “callos,” no matter what language it’s in. :D
You love them, you hate them. I passionately love them. Never get enough, particularly with some tasty chickpeas
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
As we sat last night at the Restaurant Rosamary in Montamarta, not eating callos ;), we looked at the next stage(s), and we had to make a decision.

Day 44: Montamarta to Fontanillas de Castro or Riego del Camino

Over the next two days, we would like to see the Ruinas de Castrotorafe, as well as the Monasterio de Moreruela.
On her 2nd day, @C clearly walked to Fontanillas de Castro.
I am looking forward to sitting around the ruins at Castrotorafe and admiring the view. I find it so amazing to see ruins like that just standing there in the middle of nowhere without fences and display signs and tourists.
@Sara_Dhooma mentioned in her video that there are no info signs around there, and that she was curious about the ruins. A question that @C clearly asked too:
What is the story behind the ruins at Castrotorafe?
@alansykes 's photo shows a fence around the ruins. So is it accessible?

We want to enjoy the ruins, and so we have two options for our next stop.

Initially, I thought we could walk all the way to Riego del Camino. It's a 16.1km walk, comfortable on what appears to be a flat trail. We thought we could stay at Casa Camino, and read in @geraldkelly 's guide that it had closed (information that he also confirmed in a post).
But then I read a post from @LTfit that it had new owners and would reopen. With Covid-19, will they have been able to open? Will they be open when we change this virtual VdlP into a real one? I'm hoping they are still ok. The photos on Gronze
Walking to Riego del Camino would give us even more time to then enjoy the Monastery at Moreruela the next day.

The other option was to walk to Fontanillas de Castro, 12.4km, and stay at the Albergue de peregrinos de Fontanillas de Castro, which I assume is the one discussed in this thread. I believe it is also known as Albergue Castroterafe (is that correct?). Looks great. Do they accept reservations, just in case?

One way or the other, we are breaking our journey from Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela into two stages.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, AJ,
Since @LT was in Fontanillas as hospitalera this past February, I posted a question about visiting Castrotorafe to her. When I was there in 2010, it was totally unfenced and just open to walk around. I remember getting my pants soaked walking through high wet grass. But you are right that Alan’s picture shows a gate with what looks like barbed wire on top. Even though most is in ruins it was very cool to be there with one other person and have the place all to ourselves.

The albergue in Fontanillas is a donativo municipal albergue, so there will be no reservations, but it looks like they have more beds than they would typically have pilgrims.

I have stayed in the municipal albergue in Riego (in 2013) which was fine. The mayor was in charge of keeping it open and clean. She was at the time engaged in big battle with the nearby municipality that had subsumed her small town, so in exchange for the key I had to follow a very complicated story involving fights over the communal use of the nearby monte and other intrigues. There was a bar on the road, frequently the subject of a lot of negative commentary. It may be closed now, because the woman in charge told me she was losing steam, and that was in 2013. The place would not have passed a health inspection, but the food was edible and we survived. And though I wouldn’t count on it still being there 7 years later, in 2013 there was a little supermarket in the house marked #10, which would open at any time for pilgrims. The owners told me they took down the sign because it had made them the subect of two robberies in recent years.

I know you plan to detour to the monastery at Moreruela, and that is a place with gates and fences and visiting hours. Just plucked these off the web, they are pretty typical Spanish visiting hours.

HORARIOS Y VISITAS
De abril a septiembre: de 10 a 14 y 16 a 20:30.

De octubre a marzo: de 11 a 17:30.

Cerrado lunes y martes y los días 1 de enero y 24, 25 y 31 de diciembre.

Abierto los días: 6 de enero, 13, 14 y 24 de abril, 1 de mayo, 15 de agosto, 12 de octubre, 1 de noviembre, 6 y 8 de diciembre.

But I would definitely check out visiting times in the Zamora tourist office. I remember that I was able to join a guided visit when I walked out from Granja de Moreruela after dropping off my pack, so it must have been in the later afternoon. But others have described detours that take you first to the monastery and then to town, which would save a few km. The walk from town to the monastery is quiet and pretty.

Nice that you will have the time to do this, because both sites are well worth it.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 44: Montamarta to Fontanillas de Castro or Riego del Camino
Who can say what impact the pandemic will have on the little businesses up and down the camino that were just about getting by on the pilgrim economy, such as it was? Municipal albergues that have the backing of local government are financially secure but might not be able to open in some cases because they need to make changes to comply with hygiene rules. Folks who own their land, have family ties to the region, and aren't heavily in debt, are the most likely to weather the storm. People who recently moved to the area and took out a loan ...

I walked this way in November 2017, about a week after Casa Camino said goodbye to its last guest. I wound up at the polideportivo in Fontanillas de Castro (albergue didn't exist at that time), which is a short walk from the gas station and roadside restaurant. The pilgrim dinner there was yer standard pilgrim deal - lentils or garbanzos to start, lamb or pork with fries, and a crème caramel from a packet - but at least it's clean. I'm so terrified by the stories about the dirty bar in Riego that I've never dared to look in.

The way itself is rather ordinary so you'll do well to liven things up with side trips to see the ruins that Peregrina2000 describes.
 

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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
We want to enjoy the ruins, and so we have two options for our next stop.
I got curious and found this, which has reasonably good info in spite of the annoying 'romantic' label on the ruins:

Apparently the town vanished some time before 1688, and I wondered why? Plague? Aiyiyi...I found a wikipedia entry that makes what we're going through seem like nothing:
Here's a staggering quote from that:
Three great plagues ravaged Spain in the 17th century. [...] historians reckon the total cost in human lives due to these plagues throughout Spain, throughout the entire 17th century, to be a minimum of nearly 1.25 million.
1688 was immediately after the 3rd of these plague waves; a small walled town would be just the kind of place that a pneumonic or bubonic plague epidemic could burn through with terrible effect, compounding the effects of whatever other difficulties that might have been happening at the time:
For nine years (1676–1685), great outbreaks of the disease attacked in waves across the country. It struck the areas of Andalucía and Valencia particularly hard. In conjunction with the poor harvest of 1682-83 which created famine conditions, the effects killed tens of thousands of the weakened and exhausted population. When it ended in 1685, it is estimated to have taken over 250,000 lives.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
@alansykes 's photo shows a fence around the ruins. So is it accessible?
it was very cool to be there
In 2017, you could not wander among the ruins - they were fenced. However, on a nice day, especially if no one else is there, it IS very cool to sit for a snack on the edge of the hill overlooking the river, and imagine you were in ancient times watching for friends or enemies approaching on the river.
20170414_113148.jpg

I got curious
Thanks VN for those links - I will go read them now. We will get you onto the VDLP yet!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I wrote to the tourism office to ask for clarification. I got a very quick answer saying that you can enter the grounds and walk around the complex, but you cannot enter the ruins of the castle itself, because it is undergoing conservation work. If you look at Alan’s picture, you can see he is inside the walls of the complex and the fence is around the castle building.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Apparently the town vanished some time before 1688, and I wondered why? Plague?
The article that you linked to states "Castrotorafe's long history came to an end sometime after the wars of Castilian succession. In 1688, we find the first written notice that the town had been abandoned and was in need of repair."

Wikipedia tells me that the War of the Castilian Succession was the military conflict contested from 1475 to 1479 for the succession of the Crown of Castile.

So it became a ghost town sometime between 1479 and 1688. Who knows what the reason or reasons may have been. Plague is possible. Also wars, bad harvests, too much fighting on the dance floor ... ?
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
There was a bar on the road, frequently the subject of a lot of negative commentary. It may be closed now, because the woman in charge told me she was losing steam, and that was in 2013. The place would not have passed a health inspection, but the food was edible and we survived. And though I wouldn’t count on it still being there 7 years later,
The bar in Riego del Camino was still there last November, and the coffee was OK, but I didn't risk eating. A stern notice inside prohibited photography, presumably because a long stream of pilgrims had been fascinated by the squalor and wanted to immortalise it. Runner-up, or possibly third in my really very short list of "Spain's most horrible bars" - Almonacid de Toledo's dirty and racist Kuki [sic] bar on the Levante sharing top spot with the equally unwelcoming and insanitary Bar Mayve at Madrigalejo on the Guadalupe variant of the Mozárabe.

I loved wandering around the ruins of Castrotorafe - only the main castle itself is fenced off, the rest of the (huge) site is open. As the Esla reservoir was very low, you could make out the ruins of the ancient bridge that pilgrims walked across for a millennium.


esla bridge.JPG
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I have just discovered this thread and intend to follow it. I walked the VdlP in 2017 and stayed at Casa Camino in Riego del Camino, the very last pilgrim to stay there, when the three young women who were running it had to close up shop. Now I am planning to walk the Levante next, whenever I can, so more current information about the route after Zamora will be useful. The only location on the VdlP which I did not visit was Granja de Moreruela. The hospitaleras at Casa Camino encouraged me to take the road directly north from Riego del Camino instead of walking to Granja de Moreruela, because I was being harassed by a male pilgrim who had expressed his intention to go to Benaventa. Anyway, I met him later on the detour I had taken, but the point of this rambling is that I am looking forward to visiting Granja de Moreruela on my next time through and am reading information about it with interest. Any changes in accommodation and restaurants are also of interest. Thanks to all contributors.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Thank you for all the information, and in particular for the fabulous photos on this stretch of the VdlP.

Day 45: Fontanillas de Castro or Riego del Camino to Granja de Moreruela

@C clearly suggests walking to the Monasterio de Moreruela via a shortcut mentioned by @Via2010 and then walking back to Granja de Moreruela. This would mean we would have our backpacks with us during the visit of the Monastery. @peregrina2000 has an alternative:
So what I would to is walk into Granja and leave your stuff at Tio Quico. Then take the path out to the monastery, it’s under an hour each way.
If Casa Camino has reopened by the time we walk in real life, we think we would spend the night in Riego del Camino. That gives us a shorter distance to Granja the next morning, and a possible unencumbered visit of the Monastery before lunch.
If not, we would stay in Fontanillas, and then possibly walk straight to the Monastery.

In Granja de Moreruela, we would definitely like to stay at the Casa Rural La Casa del Tío Quico. It looks great! Tío Quico's website mentions an excellent bakery. We will have to try their bread! The casa rural has a kitchen: we might find groceries and supplies at the tienda Alimentacion- Estanco Peñin. Otherwise, we can eat at the Tele-Club.

This is our last night on the VdlP, tomorrow we head off on the Camino Sanabrés.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 45: Fontanillas de Castro or Riego del Camino to Granja de Moreruela
Either way, you'll have time to visit the Monasterio de Moreruela and it won't be an over-strenuous day. The walk is straight and dusty. The Via de la Plata doesn't end in Granja - It continues as far as Astorga. But at this point, it wasn't exciting me anymore. I felt a sense of closure. I was ready to make that left turn toward a different kind of landscape.

I think you're wise to stay at the Casa Rural. The albergue facilities are OK when the weather is fine - a single dorm with fine showers, a small kitchen area in the hall and a peculiar dining room upstairs (children's school desks). There's also a laundry sink in a tiny courtyard that you can access from the dormitory. There you'll find a few lines for drying clothes... I have read comments that the management refuse to turn on the heating in the colder months. I have mixed feelings about the Bar Teleclub which manages the albergue. The garden at the bar is actually a delight during the afternoon. A very pleasant spot for an aperitif. Recommend that you use some insect repellant when you're there since the puddles in the river bed make an ideal breeding ground for midges and mozzies. Next to the bar is an interpretation center for the monasteries that were in the area. I've never found it open.

On my first trip through Granja, I was all alone. Second time around, I was surprised that quite a few people rolled up to start their Camino Sanabres from here. I remember that feeling of being surrounded by strangers that night - We became friends the next day in Tábara.

The bar serves dinner from 7pm, I think. They insist on you coming into the bar to eat. I would have loved to stay outside, away from the people shouting to make themselves heard above the noise of football on TV. Fortunately, the food is of quite a high standard and the red wine that I got with the pilgrim menu, was a very pleasant Toro wine - all served by a friendly woman who might be married to the grouchy barman...

I've twice encountered the man behind the bar in the morning and found him to be a grouch on both occasions. If I am ever passing through Granja again, I won't bother going to the bar in the morning. It doesn't serve any food except left-over tapas from the night before or long-life "Madeleines," in their plastic wrappers. You can get a fresh coffee, so there's that. Don't expect a "Buenos Dias," or a "Buen Camino," though.

In summary ... Albergue = OK but casa rural must be better.
Aperitif and pilgrim dinner at Bar Teleclub = Pretty good.
Breakfast = Have them prepare a doggy bag the night before. Don't visit the bar in the morning.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I don't have much to add here. I stayed in the albergue, but don't remember much about it except the school desks upstairs, and the crowded bar. There were new people that I didn't know, and I was going on towards Astorga. The next 4 days I was essentially on my own.

So I'll be following this thread now with questions rather than answers.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
I was going on towards Astorga. The next 4 days I was essentially on my own.
Can you share a high level overview of what we would see if we took the road less travelled?
(By the road less travelled, I mean the VDLP to Astorga. CF from Astorga is well travelled, of course).
 

SioCamino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2015, CPo 2016, VDLP[Sev-Các] 2017, VDLP[Các-Sal] 2018
Either way, you'll have time to visit the Monasterio de Moreruela and it won't be an over-strenuous day. The walk is straight and dusty. The Via de la Plata doesn't end in Granja - It continues as far as Astorga. But at this point, it wasn't exciting me anymore. I felt a sense of closure. I was ready to make that left turn toward a different kind of landscape.

I think you're wise to stay at the Casa Rural. The albergue facilities are OK when the weather is fine - a single dorm with fine showers, a small kitchen area in the hall and a peculiar dining room upstairs (children's school desks). There's also a laundry sink in a tiny courtyard that you can access from the dormitory. There you'll find a few lines for drying clothes... I have read comments that the management refuse to turn on the heating in the colder months. I have mixed feelings about the Bar Teleclub which manages the albergue. The garden at the bar is actually a delight during the afternoon. A very pleasant spot for an aperitif. Recommend that you use some insect repellant when you're there since the puddles in the river bed make an ideal breeding ground for midges and mozzies. Next to the bar is an interpretation center for the monasteries that were in the area. I've never found it open.

On my first trip through Granja, I was all alone. Second time around, I was surprised that quite a few people rolled up to start their Camino Sanabres from here. I remember that feeling of being surrounded by strangers that night - We became friends the next day in Tábara.

The bar serves dinner from 7pm, I think. They insist on you coming into the bar to eat. I would have loved to stay outside, away from the people shouting to make themselves heard above the noise of football on TV. Fortunately, the food is of quite a high standard and the red wine that I got with the pilgrim menu, was a very pleasant Toro wine - all served by a friendly woman who might be married to the grouchy barman...

I've twice encountered the man behind the bar in the morning and found him to be a grouch on both occasions. If I am ever passing through Granja again, I won't bother going to the bar in the morning. It doesn't serve any food except left-over tapas from the night before or long-life "Madeleines," in their plastic wrappers. You can get a fresh coffee, so there's that. Don't expect a "Buenos Dias," or a "Buen Camino," though.

In summary ... Albergue = OK but casa rural must be better.
Aperitif and pilgrim dinner at Bar Teleclub = Pretty good.
Breakfast = Have them prepare a doggy bag the night before. Don't visit the bar in the morning.
There's a good bar around the corner from the albergue in Granja, i checked it out as the reviews of bar teleclub were lukewarm at best and i just didn't get a great "feel" from the place when i stopped in to register for the albergue.
Anyway turn to the left exiting the albergue and walk on the same side of the road, there's a bar about 5 minutes up. Friendly & kind welcome, very busy & buzzy after mass on a sunday, food tasty and generous. Theres also a tiny shop across the road to the left from the albergue which seems to open on Sundays for the after mass rush!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Can you share a high level overview of what we would see if we took the road less travelled?
(By the road less travelled, I mean the VDLP to Astorga.
The scenery wasn't spectacular and I don't have tales of wonder, but I did enjoy this stretch - maybe because I had no expectations and I was largely alone.

Granja to Benavente (29 km) - This involved getting information (from a bar maybe in Barcial del Barco) about a greener route, along an abandoned railway. For hours I was uncertain about where I was, until magically I emerged near Benavente, where I got a hotel room.

Benavente to Alija del Infantado (22 km) - Alija del Infantado seemed to be an interesting town, but the details escaped me as I searched for food. There is a fancy mineral water plaza strewn with Greek and Roman statues, and many bodegas still in use. It was Easter Sunday and I could not find anywhere to eat, at least at the right time. Even the gas station had poor pickings – I settled for honey barbeque flavor peanuts with the worst red wine I’ve had in Spain (or maybe just a bad pairing), followed by an ice cream bar. Back at the albergue, I had instant noodle soup and some magdalenas, while discussing the state of the universe with a retired long-distance truck driver from Barcelona, who was wandering Spain and walking south on the Via de la Plata. As the only 2 pilgrims, we each had a private room.

Alija del Infantado to La Bañeza (20 km) - Nothing of note en route, but the albergue in La Bañeza was good. It indicated an active local camino association, and was weird with a roomful of hospital beds! I remember a very good meal and think there were several good restaurants.

La Bañeza to Astorga (22 km) - As I walked through Palacios de la Valduerna, I heard someone calling "peregrina". A local woman, Flora, wanted to welcome me and chat awhile. She invited me into her house for coffee, told me all about the town, how the population is declining, how they want pilgrims to come through, etc. They have a museum of some sort, but being Easter Monday she couldn't track down the key. They were changing the signage in town so that pilgrims would be routed past the church and museum instead of walking straight through as I was trying to do. She had her phone and we spent quite a bit of time taking selfies together. It was fun, but I finally got back to my walk!

Arriving in Astorga from the side door was a bit confusing. While I was a newcomer to the crowd at the Siervas de Maria Albergue, I took satisfaction in being a trail-weary pilgrim, under cover. By that time, I had been away for 5 weeks - I was very happy with my Camino yet was happy to be going home.
 

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peregrina2000

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And @Raggy, just to add to your culinary experience, if you don’t already know this — La Bañeza is reported to be the best place in Spain for frogs’ legs. Back in 1971, when I was a passenger in a car undertaking what was then a 14 hour drive from Madrid up to Santiago on the truck-clogged national highway, the driver and the other two passengers insisted on stopping. I have to admit that my very uneducated palette had much the same reaction to the ancas de rana as I did to those callos Amancio had in Montamarta!
 

Raggy

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Incidentally, if the albergue at Faramontanos de Tábara is closed, and you don't feel that you can walk as far as Tábara, there is an alternative to continue on the VDLP as far as Benavente then turn left and kind of follow the Tera to reach Santa Marta de Tera. You would miss some very beautiful landscapes between Granja and Faramontanos de Tábara, but the distances might work for you:

Granja to Barcial de Barco = 18km (according to Gronze)
Barcial de Barco to Benavente = 9km (according to Gronze)
Benavente to Santa Marta = 19.2km (according to Wikiloc)

The route from Benavente is stage 34 of the Camino de Santiago del Sureste, which starts in Alicante. You're unlikely to meet many other pilgrims going this way:
 

AJGuillaume

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Day 46: Granja de Moreruela to Tábara

We have had two relatively short days from Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela, so Rachel thinks we can walk the 25km from Granja to Tábara. The profile of this stage, according to Gronze, doesn't look too bad (please let us know if that's not the case!). @Sara_Dhooma 's video shows a nice path after the bridge, and I assume that this is the beautiful landscapes @Raggy refers to in his last post, so we don't want to miss that.
If we encounter any problems, there is a taxi driver in Tábara, and we have the number to call.

In Tábara, we could spend the night at the albergue where Sara stayed. José Almeida looks like a wonderful hospitalero.
Alternatively, we could take a room at the Hotel El Roble, where @Kanga stayed in May 2018. Here's her review:
I was not going to stay because of previous bad reviews but a friend who had stayed a few nights before said she found it clean and with helpful staff. I stayed in a tiny single bedroom with bathroom and also found it clean and comfortable. At €25 including dinner, it was good value.
 

Raggy

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Day 46: Granja de Moreruela to Tábara
It is a beautiful walk, which I described in @C clearly's virtual Camino. The prettiest scenery is toward the start. Once you reach the long descent toward Faramontanos de Tábara with vineyards and tiny attached cottages, the best is behind you. If you're going to call a cab, you could have it meet you at the bar in Faramontanos.

José Almeida is an angel of the camino - not only because he runs the donativo albergue but also because he has been instrumental in reviving this route and another one from Zamora through Portugal (Camino Zamorano Portugues). The albergue is a great place to get to know the pilgrims that you're sharing the road with. With regard to to the hotel, the folks that I met on the way in 2017 complained about a bad dinner with unfriendly service, but if you're tired of communal dorms at this point, you could check it out on your way through the center of town. Stop there for a drink, assess the welcome, and make up your own minds.
 

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AJGuillaume

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Tabara's albergue is run by Jose Almeida - a central figure in the Camino Sanabres and the parallel Camino Zamorano-Portugues. (It's one thing to love the Camino so much that you decide to run an albergue, but quite another to love it so much that you also establish an alternative route that bypasses your albergue). Jose will welcome you with tea, show you the dormitory and bathroom, take your dirty clothes for washing (one day's worth of laundry only please), bring you a chupito while you relax in the yard as he prepares dinner, invite you and the other pilgrims to the communal table for dinner with some touching ceremonies, and get consensus on the time for breakfast the next morning.
Watching José Almeida in Sara's video, I could feel that he is someone special.
When we'll walk in reality, we will be staying at his albergue.

I would recommend carrying on as far as Tabara, though, because the walk from Tabara to Santa Marta is strenuous and the municipal (donativo) albergue in Tabara is quite special.
"Strenuous" is a word that we will be considering tonight, as we sit at José Almeida's table, enjoying his meal. And we might ask him about the next day. Should we stop at Villanueva de las Peras? We could stay at Albergue Alameda. He'll probably know when he sees how tired Rachel might be after this day's walk.
 

C clearly

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I was distracted as I wrote about today's stage
Ha! I found that being the protagonist in a virtual camino thread actually took quite a lot of effort, to do well. Towards the end I got lazy and didn't research so much. But by that point on a camino, one isn't so worried about working out all the details in advance.
 

Raggy

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"Strenuous" is a word that we will be considering tonight, as we sit at José Almeida's table, enjoying his meal. And we might ask him about the next day. Should we stop at Villanueva de las Peras? We could stay at Albergue Alameda. He'll probably know when he sees how tired Rachel might be after this day's walk.
By this point in your camino, you may find that you're more confident about longer distances. I guess you'll know what you want to do. The good news is that there's a wealth of options from Tábara. If you stop at Villanueva (14km), you will find what you need there - a nice restaurant with very friendly owners, and an albergue. From there, you have options to walk 10km (Santa Marta), 15km? (Camarzana - off camino), 21km (Calzadilla), or 23km (Olleros). Most pilgrims walk from Tábara to Santa Marta, I think.

Thanks for mentioning Sara's videos. I just watched some snippets. Just a couple of months before her I did the same stages as far as Campobecerros - I stopped overnight there because the weather was filthy.
 
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alansykes

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On my first visit to Tábara, in 2010, there was a really very good display about the town's Scriptorium, which dated back to Visigothic times. It produced some of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts in Christendom, as well as the only surviving contemporaneous depiction of a scriptorium. The widely copied Beatus, illuminated by Magius in the 970s, has versions in Madrid, Gerona, Valladoid, New York, London and Manchester. Magius has been described as "the Picasso of the 10th Century".


Sadly, the display was an early victim of the economic crisis, and had closed down by the time I next walked through in 2012. One thing I did notice, and which hadn't changed by my last visit in 2017, was the surprising number of illegal street names still ignoring the Ley de Memoria Histórica. Teo, the excellent and engaging chef of Rionegro del Puente's Me Gusta Comer restaurant (two days further on) succinctly explained it to me as "oh, son todos fascistas allí."
 

AJGuillaume

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Day 47: Tábara to Villanueva de las Peras

When @C clearly walked her virtual Sanabrés, she had a choice of going through Villanueva de las Peras or Bercianos de Valverde on her way to Santa Marta de Tera. @peregrina2000 suggested a preference to go via Bercianos. She had a great reason:
But in Bercianos, you will bring something of interest (yourself) into a tiny community of elderly residents, many of whom are eager to talk to you.
In addition, we are very conscious that @Raggy mentioned
the walk from Tabara to Santa Marta is strenuous
and he had mentioned that fact also when @C clearly walked this stage virtually.

So we decided that we would overnight in Villanueva de las Peras, but to get there, we would walk via Bercianos de Valverde, and then down to Villanueva. That would give us an 18km day, but more importantly, what we love on the Camino, the personal contact with local people. Rachel used to work in aged care, and will enjoy meeting some of the residents of Bercianos. We do have a plan B, in case Rachel's stamina wears out quickly on that day, we could just go straight to Villanueva from the Bifurcación point.

I am somewhat concerned about the pack of dogs @Raggy mentions in @C clearly 's virtual Sanabrés:
On your way out of Tabara you will likely have to walk the gauntlet of a pack of quite scary dogs. They are pretty aggressive and they don't want you hanging around their territory.
Hopefully they won't be around.

We'll be sleeping at the Albergue Alameda tonight, which has good reviews on Gronze. We can either cook in the albergue's kitchen (still need to find a local tienda), or eat out at the Bar la Moña.

As we're having our evening meal, we're looking at the stages ahead. We definitely want to stay at Rionegro del Puente, as we want to experience the restaurant Me Gusta Comer that everybody has been raving about. To get there we will go through Santa Marta de Tera, but we have to be careful, as Gerald Kelly advises in his guide book:
ATTENTION! Since the closure of Casa Anita Santa Marta has turned into an accommodation bottleneck with the albergue often filling up early in the day. You would be wise to get here early or to have a Plan B.
Now we have to remember here that we are slow walkers, and even though one could think that we have become more confident with longer distances by now, it all depends on my darling's stamina on the day.

One thing is certain: my love for Romanesque churches rivals that of @peregrina2000 :). We're looking forward to the church in Santa Marta de Tera.
 

peregrina2000

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Rachel used to work in aged care, and will enjoy meeting some of the residents of Bercianos.
And with your French, you may get the same loving treatment as my French companions did from the retiree who couldn’t lavish enough praise on the the French safety net. I think he would have kept us there all day!

or eat out at the Bar la Moña
I think this would be a good choice. We didn’t eat there, but I remember very kind people and a lot of local traffic.

But Eroski says they have an “ultramarinos” in Villanueva, which typically means a small shop with some food, maybe not a whole lot in the way of produce, but enough to get you through a night! BTW, just looking at the Eroski guide for the first time in a long time reminded me that the first time I walked the Vdlp, I had no guidebook. I just got on line every day to check with Eroski. There were good walking instructions, as well as complete accommodation/shop information.
 

Raggy

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Teo, the excellent and engaging chef of Rionegro del Puente's Me Gusta Comer restaurant (two days further on) succinctly explained it to me as "oh, son todos fascistas allí."
Classic. Now I like Teo even more than I did.
Day 47: Tábara to Villanueva

I am somewhat concerned about the pack of dogs @Raggy mentions in @C clearly 's virtual Sanabrés.
Saw a great video about dealing with sheep-guarding dogs on one of the French Facebook groups recently (cheminer?). Basically the advice was to call out in a calm voice to avoid surprising the dogs. Take a path away from the sheep that they’re watching. Keep talking. Don’t make eye contact but keep them in your field of vision. Don’t run. Don’t turn your back on them. Stop and pause for a while if they seem agitated. Hold an object (e.g. your hat or your bag) in front of you to give the dog something else to focus on. Don’t raise your sticks. Don’t throw stones.

All fine but I don’t think those dogs will behave calmly whatever you do. I remember on my first visit that they ran over to me even though I was nowhere near their sheep. And they were on all sides of me. On the other hand it doesn’t seem like they actually hurt anyone either. So ... Bon courage.

We can either cook in the albergue's kitchen (still need to find a local tienda), or eat out at the Bar la Moña.
The owners at La Moña are lovely. I think they also own the albergue. They opened for us on their day off and gave us some French toast as a treat at the end of our meal. Recommended.

To get there we will go through Santa Marta de Tera, but we have to be careful, as Gerald Kelly advises in his guide book:
You have a 14km head start on many of the people who are aiming for Santa Marta so I think you can be confident. I have a feeling that I also saw a boutique hotel there too. Check on google maps if it isn’t in Gronze. [Edit - Scratch that. I was thinking of the restaurant Venta Medievo. The nearest hotel is in Camarzana which is 5km up the road from Santa Marta. It’s off Camino but not by too much - it puts you somewhat closer to Rionegro]. Might be an option if you feel like a bit more comfort. That said, the albergue is modern and well appointed.

In terms of the following stages that you’re thinking about -

Between Santa Marta and Rionegro is Olleros, which you saw in Sara Dhooma’s video. The lady that runs the bar La Trucha does a fine plate of homemade charcuterie. I’ve mentioned it in other threads and I see that Sarah enjoyed it too. As an albergue, it’s somewhat basic - a crude breeze-block building on the back of the bar. Pretty chilly in winter. There are apartments to rent in Calzadilla - the village before Olleros - which may be more to your liking.

The South African missionaries have built a really stunning albergue in Villar de Farfón. I’ve only ever stopped by for a coffee but it’s a beautiful, little, hostel. On my first visit, I was told not to worry about making a donation for the coffee and I got a free copy of the gospel of St. John. In my cynical profession, people say that if something is free, guess what, you’re the product.
If you stay at Villar, you’ll reach Rionegro very shortly after... which isn’t ideal but ...
 
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Albertagirl

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The South African missionaries have built a really stunning albergue in Villar de Farfón. I’ve only ever stopped by for a coffee but it’s a beautiful, little, hostel.
I stayed with the South African missionaries in mid November, 2017. They were very hospitable. At that time, they said that they were about to close for the winter, because the albergue was not heated. I noticed heavy frost on the ground when I began my walk that morning. I don't know if they take reservations, but I would certainly try if I were walking out of season.
 

peregrina2000

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The nearest hotel is in Camarzana which is 5km up the road from Santa Marta. It’s off Camino but not by too much - it puts you somewhat closer to Rionegro]. Might be an option if you feel like a bit more comfort.
I have stayed in that hotel, it is fine. I vaguely remember a nice dinner offered outside of normal hours because we were pilgrims. Price was special for us too, so I’m assuming it was in the 20 euro range (the room, not the dinner).
 

AJGuillaume

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Saw a great video about dealing with sheep-guarding dogs on one of the French Facebook groups recently (cheminer?). Basically the advice was to call out in a calm voice to avoid surprising the dogs. Take a path away from the sheep that they’re watching. Keep talking. Don’t make eye contact but keep them in your field of vision. Don’t run. Don’t turn your back on them. Stop and pause for a while if they seem agitated. Hold an object (e.g. your hat or your bag) in front of you to give the dog something else to focus on. Don’t raise your sticks. Don’t throw stones.
@Raggy, I saw that video too. Here it is:

But as you said, the pack you encountered were not looking after sheep...
 

Albertagirl

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While on camino, I was only once was approached fiercely by a dog, which was so eager to get at me that he had pulled out the anchor which was supposed to keep him fastened in one location and was dragging it along behind him. I stopped and waited, while he barked fiercely behind me. I consider all advice to not turn your back on a dog as unrealistic. The dog was a lot more mobile than I was, and he chose to take a position behind me and to continue barking. I stood still for a while, then began to move away, very slowly. Eventually, he must have decided that I was out of his territory, and ceased to follow. In danger, my natural initial response is to freeze, and that has served me so far. But if the dog had attacked, I would certainly have defended myself with my staff.
 

Raggy

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@Raggy, I saw that video too. Here it is:
But as you said, the pack you encountered were not looking after sheep...
Yes. That's the one.
As for the Tábara dogs ... In 2017, perhaps there were sheep on the side of the field furthest from where I was walking. In 2019, I think the owner was with them and I seem to recall sheep sounds coming from the wooded areas on either side of the path. No chance to take evasive action when you're on a path through woodland with dogs ether side. But now I fear that my repeated posts about this are exaggerating the significance of the issue. We got barked at and we carried on walking. Nobody got hurt.
 

AJGuillaume

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Day 48: Tábara to Santa Marta de Tera or Camarzana de Tera

In her virtual camino, @C clearly walked from Tábara to Santa Marta de Tera. As @Raggy said, we have a 14km head start on her, and we only have 10km to Santa Marta de Tera. I want to be able to enjoy the Romanesque church there, so I'm giving myself plenty of time in Santa Marta.

We are going to try and stay at the albergue in Santa Marta. We have read various accounts and blogs of how the albergue fills up quickly, as the Camino Levante joins the Sanabrés here, so we have a plan B. If we need to, we will walk to Camarzana de Tera, and stay at the Hotel Juan Manuel, where @peregrina2000 stayed, and which seems to have pilgrim rates.

Looking ahead, we are going to take two days to get to Rionegro del Puente. "What??" I hear you exclaim. Well, we are slow walkers, remember ☺. If our experience in 2018 walking from Switzerland to SdC (2178km) taught us anything, it's that we should make the most of short stages when they are available.
 

Albertagirl

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When I was at Santa Marta in November, so out of season, I was the only one to stay in the albergue. There was someone who was available to show pilgrims around the church. As I remember it, I did not have to contact her to be shown around. But there is no telling what the situation might be in the future.
 

Raggy

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We have read various accounts and blogs of how the albergue fills up quickly, as the Camino Levante joins the Sanabrés here,
I can't comment on whether there's a bed race here during high season... If you've read it then I guess its' true. But you will be fine, setting off from Villanueva. If you maintain a steady 2.5km per hour for the ten downhill kilometers, only the sportiest walkers from Tábara (>6km/h) will get there before you. Those people won't be stopping in Santa Marta.
"Wont' some people leave Tábara super early in the morning?" you inquire. Some might. But communal breakfast will be at the hour that the majority decides.
"But what about cyclists?" I hear you ask. Well, yes, it's possible that you may encounter a bubble of cyclists. But they will have set off from places that you passed three or four (or more) days ago, so they'll arrive later than you.
"And what about pilgrims from other trails?" you say. I think it's the Camino del Sureste that joins the Sanabres at Santa Marta. (The Levante meets the VDLP in Zamora). Bypassing Zamora and joining the Sanabres at Santa Marta is a very uncommon route. Be sure to get a selfie with anyone who came that way.

Bottom line = You will have your choice of bunks at Santa Marta.
 

AJGuillaume

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I can't comment on whether there's a bed race here during high season... If you've read it then I guess its' true. [...]
"And what about pilgrims from other trails?" you say. I think it's the Camino del Sureste that joins the Sanabres at Santa Marta. (The Levante meets the VDLP in Zamora). Bypassing Zamora and joining the Sanabres at Santa Marta is a very uncommon route. Be sure to get a selfie with anyone who came that way.
Bottom line = You will have your choice of bunks at Santa Marta.
I guess I was being cautious after reading the warning from Gerald Kelly's guide about an accommodation bottleneck in Santa Marta. I did read a blog (with loads of great photos), where the author wrote:
We tried to save two beds, but two new pilgrims came along from the Camino Levante and took them. The rule is that you can't save beds anyway, so I had to give them up. When our friends finally arrived, Nadine got the last bed, and we were very, very lucky to see another mattress that we could put on the floor for Norm. We dodged a bullet this time!
I trained as an engineer in my youth, and we always designed for worst case scenarios, so I guess that's in the grain :cool: , but I will agree with you, @Raggy , that we will have our choice of bunks at Santa Marta.
And that also means more time at the Romanesque church! ☺
 

Raggy

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AJGuillaume

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Day 49: Santa Marta de Tera to Calzadilla de Tera

When she left Santa Marta (virtually), @C clearly asked whether it would be a good idea to take two days to walk the 27km distance from Santa Marta to Rionegro del Puente, the reason being that she would be able to eat twice at the famous restaurant in Rionegro.
Well, although @Raggy and @peregrina2000 suggested walking all the way to Rionegro, we thought the idea would great, and after having spent a good night at the albergue in Santa Marta, we're heading off today to Calzadilla de Tera.
@peregrina2000 remembers
that this stage starts out with a really nice river-side walk
which we are going to enjoy.
 

Raggy

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Day 49: Santa Marta de Tera to Calzadilla de Tera
The walk by the river is pleasant. I don't think it's stunningly beautiful. In places, the river is just a concrete channel, but it's green and lush and it's also flat, which feels good after the ups and downs from Tábara. Unfortunately, there's a large quarry at one point on the way, and when I walked in 2017, I had to cover my mouth a few times when the dirty trucks went past me, kicking up clouds of dust. After that quarry, things become more tranquil again. There's even a nice picnic area with tables overlooking the river Tera. It all feels very close to civilization - no big adventure, just a bit of village to village hopping. I had a spring in my step all the way.

I didn't stay in Calzadilla, but I remember seeing a lot of older residents lined up on a bench in town in the late afternoon, socializing. I expect they've known each other their entire lives. Sadly, there aren't many young people living in the villages around here. They've mostly gone to the big cities. From what I can see on Gronze and Google maps, there's no restaurant in Calzadilla, but there's a bakery and a supermarket, so you should find what you need for a simple meal. The private accommodation has good reviews on Gronze. I assume that it must have some sort of cooking facilities. But perhaps you won't be cooking much, considering the feast that you're planning to enjoy in Rionegro. It's possible, of course, to pop up to Bar La Trucha in Olleros about 2km up the road. Without backpacks that should not require much effort, but it's not a good feeling to yoyo back and forth on the route.

The owner at La Trucha is very nice. The locals in the bar took the trouble to explain some things about the region to me. The memorable part of the meal was the plate of home made hams and sausages. Before you set off in that direction, you'd better make sure it's not her day off.

I remember seeing some awfully shoddy buildings around Calzadilla and Olleros. Too many houses built of ventilation bricks, with windows hastily filled in with breeze blocks. I'm not a builder but it just doesn't look right to me ... leading me to ponder about rural poverty and the flight to the cities ... and then I see something that's wrong, wrong, wrong - a "Who on earth built that and what were they thinking?" staircase on the exterior of a house in Olleros, with no hand rails, no support underneath, tiny steps made of cheap bricks on a steep concrete slope, and what looks like a 90 degree turn at head height where it meets a breeze block wall ... Let me know your engineer's opinion of that. I think there's no excuse for it at any budget.

eat twice at the famous restaurant in Rionegro
One of these days someone is going to tell us that we've overhyped Me Gusta Comer, but yes, it's the "famous restaurant," of the camino. I think you'll feel happy and stuffed after lunch and dinner there. Perhaps you should take a dip in the river to build up an appetite between meals ... or perhaps not if you're walking in the Spring. It may be too chilly. I've read that Tio can also do breakfast in the morning if there is sufficient demand. Not sure how many pilgrims need to sign up for that to happen.
 

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AJGuillaume

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I didn't stay in Calzadilla, but I remember seeing a lot of older residents lined up on a bench in town in the late afternoon, socializing. I expect they've known each other their entire lives.
I am hoping that as we walk past, one or two might call out "Peregrino", so that we can stop and have a chat. We had that wonderful experience in 2018, both in France and on the Norte, when we would walk through villages deserted by the younger generation. We would meet elderly people, who would love to share their life experience.


Let me know your engineer's opinion of that. I think there's no excuse for it at any budget.
Ah, sorry, @Raggy , I can't give you an engineer's opinion in this case, I was trained in microelectronics :cool: Nevertheless, I agree with you!
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 50: Calzadilla de Tera to Rionegro del Puente

In her virtual Sanabrés, @C clearly makes the following statement:
Well, it sounds like a visit to Rionegro is worth a trip to Spain in itself.
We're looking forward to this experience, and the 16km stage will give us an appetite to enjoy a meal (or two) at Me Gusta Comer.
We'll sleep at the Albergue de peregrinos Virgen de la Carballeda.
There's not much to add to this stage: we have been taking our time getting to Rionegro ;)
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 50: Calzadilla de Tera to Rionegro del Puente
Leaving Calzadilla, you'll continue on the riverside path. The next village, Olleros will appear in no time. The bar La Trucha probably won't be open until later in the day, so you may as well walk on by.

After Olleros, you'll reach a point (seen in Sara Dhooma's video) where the paths for walkers and cyclists diverge. Walkers get to go through a densely wooded area, where the branches of the trees are heavy with lichen. The path descends as far as the banks of the the Tera and then climbs back to the road, which takes you across the dam. Once you get into the densely wooded area, the arrows are somewhat lacking. It can be disconcerting unless you remember that you can't go any further to the right than the river, you can't go any further left than the road, and you can't to any further upstream than the dam. Keep pushing forward and you'll find your way to the climb that brings you to the road and over the dam. It's not worth worrying about the lack of arrows.

After the dam - Well, my buddy Santiago took a dip there. You're welcome to give it a go if the weather is fine. Here you see some charming hand made signs with yellow shells that point the way along the lakeside (reservoir-side) to Villar de Farfon - another depopulated village. In Villar is the albergue Rehoboth, run by Craig and Dorothea Wallace - missionaries from South Africa. Stop in to say hello and rest in the pleasant open kitchen area.

From here on, it's a nice downhill jaunt through wooded areas into Rionegro del Puente. The village has an interesting church with chains and all sorts in the porch and some kind of museum that I've missed twice due to my preoccupation with getting fed. Do take the time to look in and tell us what it's all about. There's also a river bathing spot in Rionegro itself.

There are two bars in town. The first would be quite satisfactory at the end of any stage of the Camino - a bar with pleasant owners and decent snacks and plenty of booze. Unfortunately for the owners, it is completely outshone by Me Gusta Comer, which is the famous restaurant on the Camino Sanabres - the benchmark by which all menu peregrines are judged and found wanting. It's just across the road from the Albergue. You can put your laundry in the machine, wander over for lunch, pop back between courses to put your things on the line. Then head to the river for a bit of relaxation (perhaps a swim in summer) and back to Me Gusta Comer for dinner. Decadent!

One word of warning - I recently heard that the albergue is closed during Semana Santa celebrations because it's right in the square where the festivities take place.

When you roll out of Me Gusta Comer for a second time, breakfast might be the last thing on your minds. That's OK, you will find victuals again when you reach Mombuey. But if you're planning ahead, you might ask Tio to wrap you a bocadilo for breakfast. I've heard that he'll even open the restaurant for breakfast if there's a sufficiently large booking from a group of pilgrims.

Enjoy Rionegro.
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 51: Rionegro del Puente to Entrepeñas

After all this good food, and with a couple of bocadillos from Tio at Me Gusta Comer in the mochila, we have to walk! ;) Like @C clearly , we'll be waddling today!
We were tempted to have another short stage, and only walk to Mombuey, but we decided we had to walk off all the good food, and we're walking to Entrepeñas.
We will make sure we have a look at the mozárabe church in Mombuey as we walk through.
In Entrepeñas we'll stay in one of the two casas rurales.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 51: Rionegro del Puente to Entrepeñas

After all this good food, and with a couple of bocadillos from Tio at Me Gusta Comer in the mochila, we have to walk!
You've opted to walk the same stage that @CClearly walked, so I don’t have a great deal to add.

You won't need to carry much food. One bocadillo from Tio or a light breakfast in the albergue kitchen will be enough to see you as far as Mombuey. There you’ll find cafes and restaurants. If the weather is fine, my recommendation would be to eschew any food with your mid-morning cafe con leche in Mombuey. Instead, pick up a treat at the bakery on the way out of town and enjoy it while perched on one of the big rocks by the path up ahead. (Theres also a grocery store / superette on the main road in Mombuey).

I can’t tell you anything about the accommodations in Entrepeñas, but by going there, you’ve set yourself up for a very doable 19km stage to Puebla de Sanabria which is another highlight of this Camino. Some people might even suggest stopping a while in Puebla. You could spend a full day just kicking back and enjoying the views and the old world charm. Or you could satisfy yourself with half a day before walking the short stage to Requejo.
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 52: Entrepeñas to Puebla de Sanabria

Once more, we are following @C clearly 's footsteps, and we're looking forward to a stage @Raggy describes as
another highlight of this Camino
I have noted @peregrina2000 's suggestions for accommodation in Puebla, and as there seems to be a good choice, I was wondering about @Raggy 's comment:
Some people might even suggest stopping a while in Puebla. You could spend a full day just kicking back and enjoying the views and the old world charm.
We had a break in Zamora, and we have planned another break in Ourense. Puebla de Sanabria looks like a nice middle point to take another two night break. So I am open to more comments about the option of spending an extra night here.

As we have been following @C clearly 's stages to date, and will do so until we get to Lubián, I am not expecting much commentary here. After Lubián, despite the warning below:
Be sure to take a look at the frieze in the porch of the church in Otero Triufe - It shows the lazy pilgrims being consumed by the fires of hell. Let that be a warning to get thee to Santiago, pronto!
we are going to go slower. Hopefully we won't be labelled "lazy pilgrims"... ;) :oops:☺ and the extra stages will elicit comments.
(Your thoughts: should I just jump ahead to stages where our walking diverges from @C clearly 's virtual camino?)
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
First my opinion on the question at the end of your last post — no no don’t jump ahead. ;) This will preserve the record in its entirety — no clicking back and forth required. I really think this will be a great planning guide for others, as is @C clearly’s Sanabrés thread. (and of course that means I can repeat my blah blah blahing about the wolfcatcher in Lubián, etc.)

And two days in Puebla de Sanabria would be nice. It is a small place, but the narrow streets with stone houses and tons of flower boxes are quite beautiful. The church is very nice, castle has a visitor center, so you will not be bored. The beans of this town are famous, and you’ll see lots of them for sale in big bags around town. I had the typical Sanabrés stew made with them and I commented to the waitress that it seemed similar to fabada. She was insulted — “no tiene nada que ver.” (bears no resemblance). Well, white beans, chorizo, and lots of unidentified pieces of meat floating around made it seem similar to my uneducated palate!
 

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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Day 52: Entrepeñas to Puebla de Sanabria

Once more, we are following @C clearly 's footsteps, and we're looking forward to a stage @Raggy describes as

I have noted @peregrina2000 's suggestions for accommodation in Puebla, and as there seems to be a good choice, I was wondering about @Raggy 's comment:

We had a break in Zamora, and we have planned another break in Ourense. Puebla de Sanabria looks like a nice middle point to take another two night break. So I am open to more comments about the option of spending an extra night here.

As we have been following @C clearly 's stages to date, and will do so until we get to Lubián, I am not expecting much commentary here. After Lubián, despite the warning below:

we are going to go slower. Hopefully we won't be labelled "lazy pilgrims"... ;) :oops:☺ and the extra stages will elicit comments.
(Your thoughts: should I just jump ahead to stages where our walking diverges from @C clearly 's virtual camino?)
I, too, would like to keep this thread continuous. It will be very useful for me when I can walk the Levante and want to pick up more current information on the northern section of the VdlP. It is also a great reminder of my own walk there. As this virtual walk is approaching Lubian, I would like to give a shout out for the casa rural, Casa Irene, at Lubian. When I went through there on November 9, 2017, Jose and his wife Begona had recently taken over. I had passed the local albergue, which looked quite primitive and was locked at the time, so I went on and arrived at Casa Irene, also on the camino. They gave myself and another pilgrim a good discount for being late season pilgrims, and wonderful hospitality. If they are still there and open, I hope that others may continue to experience the same.
Again, thanks for continuing with this useful thread.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 52: Entrepeñas to Puebla de Sanabria
Puebla de Sanabria is a treat. The longest I spent there was half a day (2017). At that time, I remember being charmed by the olde worlde atmosphere. There's something slightly MiddleEarth-ish about it. After crossing the bridge, you should climb the steps to get to the old town. Of course you can take a gentler slope if you continue on the road, but the exertion will make you appreciate the view from the top. You can imagine yourself in Rohan, a defensive position with a view out to the edge of hostile territory - which is exactly what Puebla de Sanabria once was.

Last year we had a coffee break and a peek into the church at the top of the town. There was a street market, which was fun. I am glad to see that Peregrina2000 has recommendations for things to visit if you stay longer, but I have a feeling that it would be possible to enjoy a slow, relaxing day there, without specific plans. Definitely try to stay close to the old town, even though I wonder if the food is better (or at least better value) in the less touristy areas on the other side of the bridge).

As I've posted before, I had one of the few truly bad meals of my camino - very oily and indigestion inducing - at the Carlos Quinto hotel in 2017. Perhaps the chef was having a bad day. The Italian pilgrim who was with me was also horrified. The Germans thought it was just fine. I have no complaint at all about the rooms at the Quinto, however, and I bring it up here because I think it might be an ideal place for you two to stay. since you appreciate the comfort of a hotel room when the opportunity presents itself, and the location is great. There are also two-star and four-star hotels in the old town, should you want to splash out for a really romantic experience.

I've looked up the names of the other places I've stopped for refreshment in Puebla - I had a nice coffee and cake at the Panadería Pastelería Puig. And I had a coffee at the Posada de Sanabria - which is one of the prettiest, flower-decorated buildings at the top of the town. I can't say that either of those places was earth-shatteringly good. I'd love someone to give us a really good restaurant recommendation in this town.

If you stay an extra night in Puebla, take the opportunity to reconnoiter the camino route out of town. It's not well marked, and it will be better to familiarize yourself with the way when the light is good and you're unencumbered. It won't take long to go as far as the Guardia Civil, and that covers most of the tricky bit, I think.

I agree with Peregrina2000 that it's good to have a comprehensive set of stages in each thread, even if there's some repetition. If we cross-reference with links to the previous thread, it will be a useful reference for people who open the thread in the future.
 

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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Nada màs pido: el cielo sobre mi y el Camino bajo mis pies
That says it all!
Thank you for the photos, @Raggy and @peregrina2000 .

We have followed advice and spent an extra day in Puebla de Sanabria:
Day 53: Puebla de Sanabria, rest day

Day 54: Puebla de Sanabria to Requejo
@C clearly opened this stage with a question mark. The advice was that a stop in Requejo was a good idea. Looking at the profile of the stage to Lubián, there is a nice hill from Requejo, and we may need to start the climb fresh in the morning, after a good night's rest.

The walk from Puebla de Sanabria to Requejo is okay - The signage to get out of Puebla de Sanabria could be better but once you're out of town and you get off the road, you have pleasant riverside and woodland walking.
It will be a shortish day, 12.1km.

If you decide to cut short your visit to Puebla and trek on to Requejo, be sure to avoid the cheap, cheap, highly recommended, blah, blah, roadside "Hostel tu Casa."
We didn't cut short our visit to Puebla, but we need to check out the accommodation in Requejo. It looks like we will heed @Raggy 's advice, as his experience is more recent than @peregrina2000 's experience 10 years ago. Interestingly, Gerald Kelly's guide doesn't mention Tu Casa. @Sara_Dhooma stayed at the Albergue Casa Cerviño. And there is the Hotel Maite.
Restaurant Hotel Mar Rojo looks like a good place to eat.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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Day 54: Puebla de Sanabria to Requejo
I took a look at the map and street view of Puebla to understand why such a small place feels inadequately waymarked to me. There ought to be nothing to it - Follow Camino del Ponton as far as the Guardia Civil, then head up to the Av. de Galicia and turn left until, eventually, you come across an arrow to the left that takes you to the footpath. But somehow, I have those irritating moments of doubt here.
I think the only arrows that I've seen in the town are painted on the side of the green refuse bins at the entrance of the Camino del Ponton next to the Cosas de Aqui souvenir shop (see Google street view link below). There's no arrow at the fork in the road after that (continue on the Camino del Ponton - the left fork), nor is there a sign when you reach the Guardia Civl post (head north to join the Av. de Galicia). The roads are really pretty and it should be an enjoyable walk if only it had a couple more arrows:
Now, if you happen to be staying in a hotel at the top of Puebla de Sanabria, you needn't descend to Camino del Ponton. The map on Gronze shows the route of the Camino going north from the top of town along the Paseo San Román to the Av. de Galicia. Whichever way you go, you want to wind up on the Av. de Galicia, heading west.
Keep following the Av. de Galicia until you reach an arrow pointing you to a footpath to the left. If you miss that, you'll meet the N525 a short distance later. You don't want to walk along that. Go back and find the footpath which takes you through some pleasant, unchallenging countryside, with a view of the hills that will be your challenge tomorrow.
@C clearlyLooking at the profile of the stage to Lubián, there is a nice hill from Requejo, and we may need to start the climb fresh in the morning, after a good night's rest.
It's a big hill and it's on the side of the fast (but mercifully not very busy) road. Plan on tackling it after first light.

We didn't cut short our visit to Puebla, but we need to check out the accommodation in Requejo. It looks like we will heed @Raggy 's advice, as his experience is more recent than @peregrina2000 's experience 10 years ago. Interestingly, Gerald Kelly's guide doesn't mention Tu Casa. @Sara_Dhooma stayed at the Albergue Casa Cerviño. And there is the Hotel Maite.
My theory is that Requejo has been spoiled by all the business that came from the AVE construction workers. I think this is probably how the towns in California or the Yukon felt after gold was discovered there.
My two favorite establishments in Requejo are the little shop and the bar that you come across when you enter the village. The bar has a little garden area. Service isn't super friendly but I did get thanks when I brought our empties back to the counter.
Hotel Maite - Terribly tired rooms with chipped laminate on the furniture; yellow, flaky, grout between the tiles; and bed covers that have seen better days. Not especially friendly.
Restaurant Hotel Mar Rojo - I had a good enough steak in the faux-fancy restaurant there in 2017. In 2019, they tried to rip me off for a few beers. Rooms are probably a grade above the rooms in Maite but they were fully booked by the construction firms in 2017.
Municipal albergue - A bit uncomfortable. Killer slippery tiles in the toilet/bathroom. No kitchen. No washing machine. Sagging washing line at the back of the building. Cheap.
Casa Cerviño - If I were going again, this might be the "goldilocks" spot. I would not feel like giving my money to the two hotels, but I might like a bit more comfort than the municipal - e.g. washing machine and kitchen.
Tu Casa - Others say it's great value. I found the surroundings too decrepit and the food too "basic." to meet my minimum standards.
Restaurant Hotel Mar Rojo looks like a good place to eat.
Keep count of your drinks. Scrutinize the bill. Check your change. Don't give them the benefit of the doubt if you discover a mistake - tell them that Raggy warned you that they were bandits.
 

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peregrina2000

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I think time may not be treating Tu Casa well. It is obviously one of the victims of the construction of the A-62, which has now turned the N-525 into a wasteland. The commentary on google is still positive, but I know Raggy was not at all pleased. The owners are an elderly couple (the wife was off the day we were there 10 years ago, and a very surly young woman, probably a granddaughter, was helping out). Someone has made them a website, though, so maybe there are transition plans to the next generation. Since it’s a walk out of town, why risk it if there are in-town options?

The Casa Cerviño albergue was a treat, very clean, nice place. It is (or was) owned by a couple who have a business of some sort in Puebla — can’t remember what it was but it was kind of New Age-y. The wife did the Puebla business, the husband took care of the albergue.

We went in the afternoon to the Bosque de Tejedelo (I had to look up the name), which has ancient trees, some yews are reported to be 1,000 years old. Nice walking trails — the owner of the albergue took us out in the afternoon. It’s probably about 5 or 6 km out of town.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
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Here's a wacky idea for folks who don't mind occasionally skipping a few kilometers here and there:

I think that the the roadside climb out of Requejo is a bit of Camino that you could skip without much regret - if only there were a good way to skip it. If there were a bus service to Padornelo, I'd be advising you to take it.

Last time I checked, there are no buses running between Requejo and Padornelo. (Or even between Puebla de Sanabria and Lubian). There is, however, a widely-used ride share service called BlaBlaCar, which might work. If you have a BlaBlaCar account then you could post a request for a ride from Requejo to Padornelo. I would do that while you're enjoying your rest day in Puebla de Sanabria. Probably no benefit to posting sooner than that. In my experience, people tend not to use the platform to make commitments very far into the future.

The timing for the ride could be in the afternoon that you arrive in Requejo or the following morning. And depending on when you reach Padornelo, you could either walk 7.3km into Lubian or spend the night at the Hotel Restaurante Padornelo.

What would you miss by skipping ahead to Padornelo? About 4.5km of roadside, uphill walk, then 5.5km of okay-ish track under the highway overpasses and up to a crucifix with a panoramic view of the construction-scarred countryside. If you were to stay at the hotel restaurant in Padornelo, you could leave your bags there in the morning and wander up to the crucifix and back (probably a 5-6km roundtrip), and then pick up your bags and continue on the Camino to Lubian (7.3km).
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 55: Requejo to Lubián

We quite like wacky ideas when they can be used as plan B. It's 17.5km between Requejo and Lubián, according to Gronze, which should be manageable. Depending on how my sweetheart feels, we can opt for plan B.

I have noted, however, that what used to be a beautiful walk between Padornelo and Lubián through Aciberos is now apparently no more. As @peregrina2000 mentions in @C clearly 's walk, Gronze still shows that path as a dotted line. I would be interested to find if someone has recently walked that way. When this virtual walk becomes reality, should I try it? Especially if we have used plan B and we only have to walk from Padornelo to Lubián.

If we can't go through Aciberos, we'll definitely have to be careful not to go through the tunnel.

I have noted two suggestions from @C clearly 's virtual walk on this section. The first one is that we should stay at La Casa de Irene. The second one is that we need to go and see the wolf catcher. @peregrina2000 shares more about this curiosity in @C clearly 's walk.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 55: Requejo to Lubián
I now see that I made the same wacky BlaBlaCar suggestion in @CClearly’s earlier virtual Camino. Looking at my comments in that thread, I don’t have much to add.

As you say, 17.5km isn’t too far, even if it’s not the nicest 17.5km, so you might well walk the whole way but it’s good to have backup plans. If you’re feeling any aches and pains or if the weather doesn’t treat you kindly then BlaBla or a taxi might be worth considering. BlaBla requires a bit of planning - I would recommend having it installed and set up on your phone before you start your Camino. It gives you another option in any given situation.

When this virtual walk becomes reality, should I try it?
I have a feeling that the construction work won’t go on forever and perhaps when it’s over, the powers that be might make some improvements - like opening up paths to take walkers away from the roads (including the route that was closed). Who knows?
They might also spend a few cents putting arrows in places where they would help people to avoid the tunnel. For now, my advice is to keep an eye on your GPS or number of steps - and be on the lookout for the path off the road at around the 4.5km point out of Requejo. I didn’t have any problems avoiding the tunnel but a bit of rain or mist can change everything.
In any case, this is one section of the Camino that I believe is likely to change. It has been in a state of temporary disruption for years
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Here is a warning about the route onward from Lubian, as I experienced it in 2017. I tried twice to stay on the camino route. I walked out of town on the marked camino, along a hillside, into a forest, then out on a steeply climbing grassy hill, leading up 300 m. to the Portela de la Canda, the pass into Galicia. On this hillside the trees with markers disappeared, the path disappeared, and the way forward was high grass and weeds. I could not find a way through, so eventually I turned back to town and walked along the main road, crossing over a high bridge and then through a tunnel, neither of which allowed any space for pedestrian traffic. I was squeezed against the left side of the road, with my staff held out into the roadway to mark my presence. This was late fall and a summer's worth of weeds and tall grass had made the pilgrim route impassible for me. You might consult a more recent guidebook, or forum members who had been through soon before you, for advice about this section.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
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Just to say that the tunnel issue will arise whether or not you go through Aciberos, I think. But I am counting on @Raggy to set me straight.
Yes. The infamous elevated highway section and subsequent tunnel are both before Padornelo. Aciberos, which I haven’t walked through appears after Padornelo. It would be nice if the Camino would route through there again but I don’t know if that’s possible after the construction in the area.
The current path from Padornelo to Lubian is not bad. Quite pretty toward the end.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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Here is a warning about the route onward from Lubian, as I experienced it in 2017. I tried twice to stay on the camino route. I walked out of town on the marked camino, along a hillside, into a forest, then out on a steeply climbing grassy hill, leading up 300 m. to the Portela de la Canda, the pass into Galicia. On this hillside the trees with markers disappeared, the path disappeared, and the way forward was high grass and weeds. I could not find a way through, so eventually I turned back to town and walked along the main road, crossing over a high bridge and then through a tunnel, neither of which allowed any space for pedestrian traffic. I was squeezed against the left side of the road, with my staff held out into the roadway to mark my presence. This was late fall and a summer's worth of weeds and tall grass had made the pilgrim route impassible for me. You might consult a more recent guidebook, or forum members who had been through soon before you, for advice about this section.
Sorry to hear this. I walked it in Nov 2017 and Sept 2019 without any issue. It’s actually one of my favourite walks and I feel sorry for the road cyclists who huff and puff their way into Galicia without seeing it.
the roads around there are totally car oriented without any thought for pedestrians and very busy, so you must have gone through quite an ordeal I’m sure.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Would it be prudent to get the latest GPX tracks for the stretch between Requejo and Lubián? And beyond, judging from @Albertagirl 's experience in 2017?
 

OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'CP, Frances,Norte,Salv/prim;Le puy, Inglés, CDM, Invierno, Fin/Mux, Vdlp 2019>Táb/ Prt Levante 2020
Would it be prudent to get the latest GPX tracks for the stretch between Requejo and Lubián? And beyond, judging from @Albertagirl 's experience in 2017?
I would AJ. I’ve yet to finish this section so I’m following this info.
I try to have latest tracks on full route if they are available. Good insurance.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
Would it be prudent to get the latest GPX tracks for the stretch between Requejo and Lubián? And beyond, judging from @Albertagirl 's experience in 2017?
I think this is one of those individual choices that just depend on personal comfort level. Last year, when I walked the Vasco/Olvidado/Invierno, I did not bring tracks for the Invierno. When I walk with a GPS I play a little game of sorts. Only look at it if I’m at an unmarked intersection or if I’ve been going for what seems like a long time without an arrow. I never hold it in my hand as I walk, but keep it in the pocket on the side of my pack. Even with that limited use of GPS, it did build a sense of comfort/assurance that I lost when I started the Invierno. Even though the Invierno is probably the most marked camino in Spain, not having access to the GPS took some mental re-adjustment. I guess I made the “no-GPS” decision for the Invierno just to prove something to myself — and thinking about it, it’s probably because walking caminos alone has been a tremendous source of a sense of self-confidence for me, so maybe I was just wanting to push that a bit.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
When I walk with a GPS I play a little game of sorts. Only look at it if I’m at an unmarked intersection or if I’ve been going for what seems like a long time without an arrow.
I use my phone to display the GPX tracks, and like you, use it to check directions when in doubt.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 56: Lubián to ... Vilavella

The next Gronze stage is from Lubián to A Gudiña, a total of 23.7km. A stage most pilgrims would do easily. This is what @C clearly walked when she left Lubián. The profile shows a steady rise of 310 metres after the Santuario de la Tuiza, an ascending elevation which can drain my darling's energy early. So we think it might be wiser to aim for a shorter day, and walk to Vilavella. It is 11km, and as we have no deadline and plenty of time, it will allow many stops along the rise.

It will be too early in the year to experience the romería de La Tuiza as we walk past the Santuario, but we will have a look at the baroque church.

There's a nice video that describes the region around Lubián, including the Cortello dos Lobos.

We enter Galicia at the peak, if I am not mistaken. We will have to go from "hablar castillano" to "falar galego".
The ascent to the border with Galicia at Porto Canda is one of those beautiful green tunnel walks. I noticed the immediate appearance of cow poop as soon as I started down on the other side, so we are definitely in Galicia.
;)
I don't think many pilgrims stop in Vilavella, so when this camino becomes reality, I'll have to report on the accommodation. The Hostal Porta Galega looks ok, and has good reviews on Gronze.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I don't think many pilgrims stop in Vilavella
There is always the possibility that the fancy four star hotel spa will have special pilgrim prices. I have eaten breakfast there (they were very nice, not snooty, and gave us a very good breakfast at a reasonable price) and they said they had special rates for pilgrims including a spa day. Not sure if that appeals, but it might be worth a look. Any four star hotel that puts a picture of a cow walking in front of its hotel as its main website picture has to have a good sense of humor.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 56: Lubián to ... Vilavella
A gawjuss stage. I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the other virtual Camino that the sense of arrival in Galicia at the Portelo da Canda is just wonderful.

As you know, elevation makes a huge difference to the difficulty of a stage, so I think your decision to stop at the spa in Vilavella is a good one. Frankly, the last couple of kilometres into A Gudiña have felt like a schlep to me - partly a function of the lactic acid in my muscles and partly because of the transition from beautiful heathland to boring “ribbon development” roadside. A Gudiña grew up on a railway and a road - and it shows. I can’t think of a more stretched out little town of its size. (OK. I admit that this is purely a gut feeling. I haven’t actually done the work to make a comparison of population to linear scale for small Spanish towns).

So you’ll be stopping in a pretty Galician village with a church, a stylish cafe (Bar ON), and a luxury spa. Nice. Bar ON operates a proper sit down restaurant at weekends when the owner’s husband is back from his job in town. (Which town? I can’t remember). On weekdays you can get a drink and the usual bar food. I’m sure the spa has a fancy restaurant. I’ve never seen any reports about it so I look forward to hearing what it’s like.

You are correct that the Galician language is the standard pretty much as soon as you cross the invisible line at the Puerto de la Canda / Portelo da Canda. Last year I tried greeting people with “Bos dias“ all through Galicia. Again, it wasn’t a scientific experiment but I think I got a Galician response more often than not in the mountainous communities. All through A Gudiña, Campobecerros, and Laza, locals appear to use Galician as the default in daily chit chat between themselves. Needless to say, they’re bilingual and speak Castilian Spanish to outsiders. Keep your ears open for variations in the sound of the Galician as you proceed through the country. I think it sounds closer to Portuguese as you proceed further along the Camino. I’ll remember where I noticed this when we get there on this virtual walk. If this interests you, check out the isogloss maps in the museum of the Galician people in Santiago de Compostela.

EDIT - Photos below are from 2019 for a change. The church in Lubian is pretty - not especially famous, as far as I know, but worth seeing if you can.

As you think about the stages ahead, you might be stuck on where to stop next. A Gudiña would make for a very short stage after Vilavella and Campobocerros might be further than you want. There is an apartamento rural with good ratings online that isn’t listed in Gronze - Check out “Apartamentos Rurales O Bolano” online. It’s in the tiny hamlet of Venta do Bolaño some 7 kilometres before Campobecerros (or 13km after A Gudiña). The house looks lovely from the outside (Especially when it’s raining cats and dogs outside). You’d need to bring some food from A Gudiña or ask the owners to put some food in the kitchen for you to cook your own dinner.

Actually, with this in mind - If you think you might stay at the apartamentos rurales in Venda da Bolaño, then you might consider walking from Lubian to O Pereiro Novo (Hotel Cazador) instead of Vilavella. That would give you more evenly spaced stages.

apartamentosruralesobolano@gmail.com
Tel: 988421005 - 609864193
 

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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
@Raggy , you have a fabulous depth and breadth of knowledge, you're a historian, ethnologist, archaeologist, linguist, geographer all rolled in one!
You never cease to amaze me!

EDIT: and a foodie! I meant: a gastronomer! ☺
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 57: Vilavella to A Gudiña

I quite like the idea of walking a bit further than Vilavella, and staying at Hotel Cazador in O Pereiro Novo, as suggested by @Raggy . The walk from Lubián to Laza would then be in three stages: Lubián to Hotel Cazador (15km), then to Venda da Bolaño (22km), and finally to Laza (22km).

We have no deadlines, as mentioned before, and we might still take 4 days to walk to Laza from Lubián. So this could be a short stage to A Gudiña, just 13km. Unless my darling is full of energy!
We're open to suggestions for accommodation in A Gudiña.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Day 57: Vilavella to A Gudiña

I quite like the idea of walking a bit further than Vilavella, and staying at Hotel Cazador in O Pereiro Novo, as suggested by @Raggy . The walk from Lubián to Laza would then be in three stages: Lubián to Hotel Cazador (15km), then to Venda da Bolaño (22km), and finally to Laza (22km).

We have no deadlines, as mentioned before, and we might still take 4 days to walk to Laza from Lubián. So this could be a short stage to A Gudiña, just 13km. Unless my darling is full of energy!
We're open to suggestions for accommodation in A Gudiña.
On this stretch you also have Hostal Porta Galega up above the village of Vilavella on N-525 (just a little bit past petrol stations on both sides of the road). Slept there two years ago and it was pretty nice vs. price. Restaurant too.

Google Maps still showing me Youth Hostel even higher above the Vilavella (at the train station) but same info was given to me both in 2015 & 2018 - they closed it exactly because of the remote location. Don't know the situation right now.

A bit further on the Camino after Vilavella where you cross OU-311 (O Pereiro do Abaixo) you can turn sharp right and there is roadside (on N-525) motel O Carrizo. I slept there in 2015 for 15€ with shared bathroom. Excellent food for the price. Overall pretty good option if you don't mind a bunch of truck drivers. And they accept credit cards :)
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
On this stretch you also have Hostal Porta Galega up above the village of Vilavella on N-525 (just a little bit past petrol stations on both sides of the road). Slept there two years ago and it was pretty nice vs. price. Restaurant too.

Google Maps still showing me Youth Hostel even higher above the Vilavella (at the train station) but same info was given to me both in 2015 & 2018 - they closed it exactly because of the remote location. Don't know the situation right now.

A bit further on the Camino after Vilavella where you cross OU-311 (O Pereiro do Abaixo) you can turn sharp right and there is roadside (on N-525) motel O Carrizo. I slept there in 2015 for 15€ with shared bathroom. Excellent food for the price. Overall pretty good option if you don't mind a bunch of truck drivers. And they accept credit cards :)
I was hoping you would jump in here K1! And just to point out to @AJ, that if K1 is around, a virtual Camino Levante would be a lot of fun.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 57: Vilavella to A Gudiña
There's a dramatic change of scenery from Vilavella, from dense forest to wide open heath. The path under foot is comfortable to walk on and generally flatter and wider than the climb and descent into Galicia. Last time I was there, I felt my pace increase as though someone had replaced my boots with skates. It's very pretty until the last couple of kilometers when you cross over the Autovia and then walk along the N525 into A Gudiña.

The first hotel on the way into town is the Hostal A Madrileña. It's a reasonably priced hotel and the bar is a decent spot to stop for a beer and a snack whether you're staying here or not - in fact it's one of the only places in town that seems to be open in the late afternoon. The owner's daughter was (is?) a Lufthansa flight attendant, and speaks German quite well. I shared a twin room at the Hostal with another pilgrim in 2017. It was rather small but comfortable and clean with two beds and an en suite shower room. We had read terrifying reports of bed bugs at the municipal albergue - which turned out to be completely false. (Other pilgrims told us they had no problems).

In 2019, I stayed at the municipal albergue, which is closer to the town center. The building is a bit austere - concrete and steel construction with a caged area outside for boot and cycle storage, and another steel cage in the middle of the dormitory - one of those weird features that the architects intended for something but which probably never saw any use. I assume that the architects were following a brief that emphasized the risk of theft. My guess is that these caged areas have never been locked or supervised. The dormitory is upstairs. It has wooden shutters instead of curtains, steel beds, concrete floors and walls, and plastic covered mattresses with no blankets. I'd be surprised if a family of bed bugs would find it easy to live here. There are male and female showers at one end of the dormitory and a kitchen, dining area, and lounge downstairs. The hospitalero shows up at 6pm to stamp credentials and take payment. By the time you walk though A Gudiña, this may be ancient history, because the Xunta is paying for the conversion of a historic building in the town center into a new albergue:

As far as I can see, the other hotels in A Gudiña are about a kilometer further along the main road. There seem to be four or five hotels and as many restaurants down there. It's such a stretched out settlement. I haven't walked to that end of the town. If you do stay there, I think you'll be able to cut straight up to the Camino the next day without having to backtrack through what I call the "town center". I have a feeling that what I call the town center is probably an older town center, but the commercial center of gravity may have shifted to the end with the hotels and restaurants.

The old town center has banks, pharmacies, a bakery, supermarkets and other shops. This is the last proper town that you'll pass through until Laza, so you'd better get anything you need here. The bakery is in the old town center, and opens early so you can get fresh bread before heading off toward Campobecerros or Venda da Bolaño.

I am pretty sure we had dinner at the Hostal A Madrileña in 2017, and it was fine. In 2019, we went to Bar O Peregrino for hamburgers, sausages, salads, and so on. It's the closest bar to the albergue and it has a map of the camino on the wall. Big portions and low prices. They're happy to wrap up any left overs for you to carry the next day ... I have no complaints but I'd probably go for somewhere with a more interesting menu if I were passing through A Gudiña again.

In the old town center you will see arrows pointing in two directions - right for the route through Laza and left for the route through Verin (which is the longer way to go). I don't think many people opt for the Verin route. As far as I know, that's the route for folks who walked the Camino Zamorano Portugues.

[I think these three photos are from the walk to A Gudiña but my photos are from 2019 are a bit mixed up]
 

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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I remember the longhorn cattle, from your central photo, but I don't remember where I saw them.
 

Mycroft

Active Member
Yes. You've left the Tierra del Vino for the Tierra del Pan. And if you leave Zamora nice and early, there's an appropriate treat for you in the first town after Zamora - Roales del Pan:

The relatively recently established bakery "Panificador Alberto," is on a side road to the left of the Main Street. The delicious smell of freshly baked bread will leave you in no doubt about which street. It looks like the kind of business that must have been there forever, but I don't remember seeing it when I walked through in 2017. You can see on Google Streetview that it's a derelict building in the older images.

It doesn't look like a shop that you can walk into and buy bread from - I think they must deliver most of their bread to local businesses and individuals - but they're quite happy for pilgrims to drop by and pay for some purchases at the office. No better mid-morning snack than a still warm loaf on the edge of a field. If you picked up some cheese in Zamora you'll have a feast.

The roads are straight and the landscape undramatic but not unpleasant. I stayed at at the albergue in Montamarta, which was a clean, unattended, building a little out of the town. It had two good showers, a kitchen with basic equipment, a washing machine, a line for drying clothes outside, and a barbecue area. I don't think anyone showed up to check in on us. If I recall correctly, we just left the requested payment in a box and entered our own details in the register. We ate at Rosamary's. I don't remember it as remarkable - perhaps a cut above the average pilgrim menu. There's a supermarket between the albergue and Meson Rosamary, where we bought food for breakfast.

If you push on further than Montamarta, there is a newly opened albergue at Fontanillas de Castro. In 2017, I stayed in the village sports hall. It's a very small community with basically one roadside restaurant. Not much going on there, but it's worth knowing as an option.

BTW.- You'll see a bronze statue of El Zangarron by the church - a colorful part of the local folklore:
Raggy, your description of the bakery started me trembling for freshly baked bread! Torture that people from the US are not allowed over there!!!!
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Raggy, your description of the bakery started me trembling for freshly baked bread! Torture that people from the US are not allowed over there!!!!
For the first time since March, I found yeast in my local grocery store yesterday and bought a bottle, If you buy some yeast and are willing to work at it, you can make your own fresh bread. Very tasty!
 

Mycroft

Active Member
For the first time since March, I found yeast in my local grocery store yesterday and bought a bottle, If you buy some yeast and are willing to work at it, you can make your own fresh bread. Very tasty!
Oh you don't know how I have tried for many decades to make raised dough baked goods. One time a friend and I made the same recipe side by side--his came out just right and mine was like a rock!
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
I was hoping you would jump in here K1! And just to point out to @AJ, that if K1 is around, a virtual Camino Levante would be a lot of fun.
Given that I am still stuck behind closed borders in Australia, with no opening in sight this year, I'll gladly do a virtual Camino Levante with @KinkyOne .
But I'll need to finish this virtual Camino first ☺
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
I have never walked the alternative route through Verín and Allariz, but I have visited Allariz and its nearby Santa Mariña de Aguas Santas and HIGHLY recommend that visit. Roman ruins, the site of Santa Mariña’s martyrdom, and hill forts also right there to visit. So you will have a choice to make once you are in A Gudiña.
Almost everybody seems to take the Laza route out of A Gudiña, presumably because it's a day or so shorter, but the Verín way is good too. Verín itself is a bustling friendly border town with a great dominating mediaeval hill-top fortress and some decent restaurants. The largely empty albergues on the way are outstanding - last November I was about the 125th person of 2019 to stay in the very well equipped and clean albergues of Villaderei and Xinzo de Limia. And, as Laurie also says, Santa Mariña is well worth a visit, and only 500m off the camino.
In the old town center you will see arrows pointing in two directions - right for the route through Laza and left for the route through Verin (which is the longer way to go). I don't think many people opt for the Verin route.
I had considered taking the route through Verín. It is longer than going via Laza, and I had more or less worked out stages that would suit our walking pace. When the time comes when we can walk in reality rather than virtually, I will seriously consider the option via Verín. For the purpose of this virtual exercise, we will continue towards Laza.

The old town center (A Gudiña) has banks, pharmacies, a bakery, supermarkets and other shops. This is the last proper town that you'll pass through until Laza, so you'd better get anything you need here. The bakery is in the old town center, and opens early so you can get fresh bread before heading off toward Campobecerros or Venda da Bolaño.
Day 58: A Gudiña to Venda da Bolaño or Campobecerros

The Gronze stage A Gudiña to Laza is 34km, somewhat too long for us. On her virtual walk, @C clearly mentioned it was time she did a longer day. She did make it to Laza.
We're tempted to stop at Venda da Bolaño, as suggested by @Raggy earlier. That would give us a 12.7km stage, followed by a 21.3km stage to Laza. As a plan B, we might get a taxi from Laza (or more likely from Verín) to pick us up for the last few kilometres into Laza.
Staying overnight at Campobecerros would make it a 19.6km day followed by 14.4km to Laza.
In Venda da Bolaño we would stay at Apartamentos O Bolaño.
In Campobecerros, we would stay at the Albergue da Rosario.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Day 58: A Gudiña to Venda da Bolaño or Campobecerros
One thing to keep in mind for making the decision would be the weather. If there is rain, the descent into Campobecerros (unless it has changed because of AVE construction) would be a slip-and-slide on loose shale.

I remember sitting out a rain storm in the bar on the edge of town on the way out, it must be Casa Núñez. They also had rooms, but all were full because of AVE construction. I continued walking to Laza, but the others got a cab, and the bar owner gladly made the call for them.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
It would be cheaper if you call the taxi from Laza on the Campobecerros-Laza stage because it's much closer. I'm sure there is one because I saw a flyer or a poster either in Albergue da Rosario or somewhere very close on the street lamp post in 2018.

Apartamentos O Bolaño:
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
I didn't want to walk the whole distance to Laza from A Gudina so twice now I have taken a taxi in the morning to the 3rd Venda and then after second breakfast in Campobecerros I walked to Laza. A long day but enjoyable.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 58: A Gudiña to Venda da Bolaño or Campobecerros
Much of the stage is on asphalt, but there is very little traffic and the scenery makes up for the hard surface. I hadn't thought of the weather as a deciding factor but Peregrina2000 is right that the steep descent into Campobecerros on that flaky, shale, surface is a bit hairy, even in dry weather.

If you are thinking of making a stop at Venda da Bolaño, I'd suggest speaking to the owners (or checking whatever booking engines they. may use) to confirm that they're OK with a one-night stay. I would guess that they are. You might also ask what they can do to provision the kitchen for your evening meal. It might transpire that you need to carry food from A Gudiña.... but it's also possible that they'll leave you a dish to warm up. I would be interested to know what kind of welcome they offer. Waking up with a view of the surrounding valleys from that isolated settlement would be a treat, I think.

Campobecerros is also barely a dot on the map, but it's a metropolis in comparison with Venda da Bolaño, with three bars and a church (of Santiago!). I'm not sure if there is any place to buy groceries. It's a place with character - I have fond memories of walking through the medieval-looking covered passages between buildings, past the bleating goats on the ground floor. Last time I was there, I was able to chat with people who had returned to their ancestral home to celebrate a wedding.

I think you've made the right choice with the Albergue da Rosario. It's a basic single dorm with male and female showers. No frills but it's clean and the owner has a washer and dryer in the basement that you can use for a fee. It's also possible to get a room at Casa Nuñez, but I didn't find the restaurant there particularly friendly in 2017, and I see several similarly negative comments about the welcome on Gronze. I think it's fair for me to mention also that the Casa Nuñez had a bed bug issue in 2019. This can happen to any establishment and I feel that all we can expect of any hotel is that the management responds promptly and thoroughly in the event that bed bugs appear. I am not sure what to make of Casa Nuñez, though, because I think two reviews that mentioned bed bugs have been removed - and now there is now one review which mentions bed bugs. British people sometimes use the saying "Once bitten twice shy." and Americans prefer "Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me." I think that a combination of these two phrases may be appropriate in this case - "Bite me twice, shame on you!"

With this in mind ... If I were to stay in Campo again, I might have dinner at the first bar that you pass on the way into town. There's no kitchen in the albergue and I don't think that there is a shop in Campobecerros, but I think that there might be a barbecue in the albergue garden in the warmer months. so perhaps it's possible to bring food for the grill from A Gudiña. You should probably call ahead to confirm the existence of a barbecue before doing that - just to be sure that it can be done.

There is nothing open in Campobecerros in the morning and no commercial activity in the villages before Laza, so you should buy something to enjoy for breakfast before you go to bed. I'm sure that any of the bars will whip up a bocadillo for you.

[.yhw wonk t'nod I .redro esrever ni deyalpsid era sotohp s'yadoT]
 

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