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Via de la Plata and the Camino Sanabres

Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
Alcazar Garden.JPG


Greetings,

I plan to use this thread to post the log of a Camino on the VdlP that I did with my two brothers and a friend last September and October.

I had done the Camino Frances in 2004. My brothers Bob and Dick had done the Frances multiple times, most recently in 2012. My friend, Doug was a newbie, who was interested in the Camino for years, but whose wife has no interest in walking. The average age of all participants was mid sixties. We all trained for several months before starting the Camino and each had considerable prior hiking experience.

My brothers and I had been planning a Camino together for some time. Doug was a fairly late addition to the group, about 2 months prior to our starting date.

The original plan was that my brothers would walk roughly as far as Salamanca, due to commitments at home. Doug and I would go as far as we could comfortably in seven weeks including travel time from the west coast of the USA.

We all found caminodesantiago.me useful and entertaining in our preparation and execution of our Camino. We appreciate all those who contribute to make this a useful resource. Thanks!

This missive is not meant to be a ‘how to’ or a guide in any sense, it is probably neither useful or entertaining. But if you have any questions, I will try to answer them.

I wanted to write my trip up, but became enmeshed in life immediately after returning from the Camino and have finally had an opportunity to transcribe my notes. It's a brief, or maybe not so brief, description of some of the things we saw and did. I will be posting the results in several entries.

The distances mentioned are estimates, sometimes based on guidebook information and others based on seemingly credible sources (such as owners of hostels, etc.).

Photos can be found using the tag- The Do Not Resuscitate Tour


******

The Do Not Resuscitate Tour

Via de la Plata and the Camino Sanabres

September – October 2015

Bob, Dick, Doug and Carlos

Andalucía

Seville 6-Sep-2015

The AVE from Madrid was great. We went by the famous monument to Spanish corruption, the South Madrid airport at Ciudad Real. Over a billion dollars were spent to build it. It was opened for about three years and closed because of lack of financial viability.

The weather was hot, high seventies with showers that added humidity to the equation. We walked to our hotel, the Meliá, which was very nice. We walked to old town which was about a mile away to find a restaurant that Doug found on Yelp (which was only useful in the major cities). The restaurant was called El Rinconcillo was down an old narrow street. For dinner we had sirloin, French fries, fired green peppers, all excellent and washed down by two smooth bottles of a Muga red crianza. Afterward we walked back to the hotel through the old town. People were really out by then. There were tables on the streets with people talking and lots of foot traffic. We told old family stories as we walked- found out that Dick was still sending X-Mas cards to a long dead uncle - that was a good laugh.

We got somewhat lost before getting back on track.


Seville 7-Sep-2015

The weather was pleasant, the high was 85. We walked to the old section past the remnants of a Roman aqueduct. Doug and his guiding smartphone led the way.

We went to the Cathedral de Seville where Christopher Columbus has a resplendent tomb. We climbed the bell tower that was formerly a minuet. It had a tremendous view of Seville and the river.

We went into the Alcazar which had sumptuous gardens.

Leaving the Alcazar Dick hammered an uncooperative vending machine that refused to give up a bottle of water. His final kick followed by a repressing of the buttons did produce a bottle finally and a lot of shocked commentary from the gate attendants.

We just put it behind us and walked on.

We went to river and walked around. We stopped at the bull ring. It was a pity that the season was over.

We tried our hand at navigating the Seville subway system to get back to the hotel and had success.

Seville was nice, the streets seemed safe.

We stuffed ourselves at the hotel breakfast buffet and forwent lunch. In the afternoon there were beers street side at a café where we talked and joked and watched the traffic go by.

For dinner we found Meson de Juan after much walking and perusing- simple but good fare, the bottle of Manace Lanores (reserve) was mediocre but the complementary orujo was priced right.


Castilblanco de Arroyos 8-Sep-2015 20 Km

We started in Guillena, a dingy garbage strewn small town. There had been credible reports of problems on the first leg of the Camino so we decided to avoid it. It was warm but not hot in the morning. Threatening rain drove up the humidity. The trail went along the road at first, then turned onto a good trail, a wide footpath, with a nice countryside of olive trees, oaks, and rolling hills ascending to about 350 meters. The last four Km along a road were hot and unpleasant. We reached the albergue, the town was small but pleasant and clean. The albergue had a nice rooftop patio where we did the wash, had a nice view of the countryside and watched thunder clouds roll across the distant landscape. The land was suffering drought so the rain that fell on the dry distant hills was no doubt welcomed. There were a handful of other pilgrims at the albergue. We walked around the town looking for a suitable restaurant. All the buildings were well maintained, on the street there were many new cars and the bars were filled with locals. We found a bar/café with better than average food. It was a pleasant dinner after a day on the trail.


Almadén de la Plata 8-Sep-2015 20+ Km

We walked through a nature park, the trail was great, cork oak predominated in the park and showed signs of recent harvesting. We passed the ruins of a huge estancia, saw many quail and a couple of rough looking German women grousing about not seeing any wild pigs. A stream of French tourists without packs and a guide streamed past us smiling and blathering away while chewing on cookies. The last two kilometers were a ballbuster, 25%+ grade, no trail just a loose jeep track traversing a steep bald slope. It was like combat to scale it. We hustled from patch of shade to patch of shade where we sucked air and gulped water. We did this until we crested the top. When we reached town we saw the French group boarding shuttle buses carrying their packs.

The pueblo was nice, clean and the people were friendly. The lady in charge of the municipal albergue did our wash for free. There were only three others in the albergue. A shower with hot water was invigorating. We had beers at a bar, El Moreno, sat outside and watched the world go by. We ate at the Restaurante La Muralla, which provided a better than average pilgrim's meal. We had a second bottle of wine and herb infused orujo for dessert.


El Real de la Jara 9-Sep-2015 17 Km

We were a little slow getting out of the gate, didn’t hit the street until 9 AM. In this hot climate we needed to improve that.

A good trail through hills studded with oaks, meadows of yellow grass, pigs, goats and cattle. It also included a tough climb near the end, 20+ degrees. A Spanish solo bicigrino crashed his bike about 100 meters down the hill behind us – we debated sending somebody back down to check on him but we saw him wave others away and he was talking on a mobile phone. The sun was hot, it was about 85 at the end.

El Real de la Jara was small and well kept. The albergue was cool and clean. We had a room with 5 bunk beds and a private bath for the 4 of us, so we really got to spread out. Dick and Doug did everyone’s wash by hand and hung it. There were more pilgrims, Dutch and Germans. After walking all over town, we found a casual open bar, which was very dog friendly, and had some beers. We spoke with some Dutch pilgrims and a pig farmer, with 1600 pigs, and his wife who were very friendly. The pig farmer said that he considered some of the pigs we had walked by earlier in the day to be wild, thus settling a discussion which had come up several times since the encounter.

Dinner was in El Meson de Coche, decorated artfully with antique stuff, food was average, filled the wine bottles for the tables from an enormous commercial plastic bottle, it was drinkable but not much else. While waiting for the restaurant owner to show up and open the doors (at about 8:30PM), we chatted with the assembled crowd and learned that the bicigrino had been taken to a hospital and that his pilgrimage was probably over. There was an enormous goat corral across from the albergue with about fifty goats in it. Large Moorish castle up the hill which Doug wanted to visit but we didn’t get to it.


Extremadura

Monesterio 10-Sep-2015 23 Km

It was very hot, somewhere in the eighties. The trail was generally good, a few steep hills, goats and sheep, dry grasslands, many oaks, some stands of eucalyptus. We walked by a ruined castle and by loose groups of black domesticated pigs who largely ignored us. Some around a water hole were the size of ponies. I definitely didn’t want to mess with those. One hairy brown pig, young and small and later identified as wild gave me a start when it jumped up as I was passing it. We walked by and were passed in turn by many of the pilgrims we had met in the last two days. The pilgrim numbers so far had been low, six to eight I would say. As it got hotter we put shade at a premium for our more or less hourly stops. We passed several pens holding pigs who lazily watched us. We stopped in the shade of some trees for water breaks. Later when we got to the albergue we snacked on bread, chorizo, cheese and wine in the albergue kitchen. It was a parochial albergue and the priest was dressed in a sports shirt, young and easy going. After we showered, washed our clothes and laid out our bunks we went out to dinner.

We ate outside at the nearby El Restaurante Los Templarios. The climate improved with the sunset. The food and presentation were excellent.

A fiesta was getting ready to start, Día del Jamón de Monesterio. A kiddie train threaded through the back streets filled with kids and parents. A lot of businesses were closed. It would’ve been nice to stay a couple of days. Doug bemoaned the fact that we would miss the feria and that the Museo del Jamon was closed. We assured him that we would encounter more Museos del Jamon during our pilgrimage.


Fuente de Cantos 11-Sep-2015 23 Km

Monikers were assigned to two of the young German pilgrim women we met in the albergue. One was Speedwalker, from Berlin, so named because she claimed she did a minimum of 40 Km a day. It was totally believable, she was very lean with good muscle definition and traveled light. We wouldn’t see her again. The other, the Mathematician, so named because she got her BA in Mathematics and would be pursuing her Masters after her return from the Camino. The Mathematician looked like she could handle the trail without problems. The monikers were necessary because we knew virtually all the pilgrims we were encountering by sight, but not necessarily by name. There were the also previously mentioned Pig Farmer, and Pig Farmer's Wife, The Dutch Women, and subsequently the Trailer Peregrinos (named for their support trailer that carried their packs, food, and possibly some musical instruments).

The next day on the trail the sun got progressively hotter. At 1 PM it was punishing, everyone was sweating like crazy. We went through hot dusty hills with very little shade. My legs started to ache. We bunched up under a small water tower for a rest in the shade. Bob had taken a fall at a creek crossing and his back started giving him problems. We alternated carrying his pack and finally stopped a farmer who was driving by and he took Bob into Fuente de Cantos.

On the edge of town we were flagged down by an albergue owner who took us to his establishment. The owner offered to track down Bob, found him and brought him to the albergue. The pueblo was not small but not big either. I have to say all the people we met were great to us.

The albergue, El Zaguán de la Plata, was private, the made-over house of a rich man who lost it gambling according to the present owner. His photos and that of his family dotted the albergue as did a lot of period pieces from the forties and fifties. There was a banquet hall filled with antique farm implements, horse tack, kitchen implements and a luxurious carriage. We stayed in small but comfortable rooms with 2 beds and shared a bathroom. The owner did our wash for free and we hung them to dry.

Dick asked the two older German ladies sitting around the pool if they minded if he swam in his underwear. They said he was welcome to swim in any state that he wished. Dick's German language and my Spanish have been very helpful on the trip.

We washed clothes every day because they were sopped with sweat by the time we finished the day’s walking. We had to carry all our water with us because there were few, if any, places to refill along the way. Often we drank every drop.

We had beers at the Club Zurbaran Restaurant Bar on Calle Plus Ultra right across from where we were staying. Bob was thinking of going home. I counseled him to wait a few days, the albergue was pleasant, the owners super helpful.

Dinner was at El Gato. We ate outside at a sidewalk table, served by a woman who looked remarkably like Sarah Palin. While they did not have a pilgrim's menu, they did have several menu selections in the 8 to 10 Euro range. The bottle of Extremadura tinto was actually sealed, rather than refilled as we often encountered. One of our greatest regrets, was that we did not get our waitress to say “You Betcha” on video, which certainly would have gone viral. At dinner we collectively decided to stay another day to see if Bob’s back improved.


Fuente de Cantos 12-Sep-2015 0 Km

I saw off Bob at the local bus station. His back seemed OK but he had decided to go. I felt bad and was afraid he was being hasty.

Now, we were three.

From the local Mercado we got some wine, cold rose, jamon, cheese and bread which we felt extremely lucky to get since the shop was technically closed at about 2:45 in the afternoon. We enjoyed our food and drink at the albergue on the patio in the shade of a big palm. The patio was surrounded by a beautiful garden, the weather was comfortable. It was good to have a rest.

Tomorrow, a longish 25 Km haul. There may be an intermediate point. Up until now it has been largely point to point which was a worry because if someone was hurt at kilometer 10 or 15 out on something like the remote tracks we had covered, it could be a bitch getting someone with a vehicle out there.


Zafra 13-Sep-2015 25 Km

It’s sad that Bob was gone. It was cool but still sunny with wind. The trail was fairly good and consistent. The oaks had thinned out considerably. Many olive groves, vineyards, and some recently plowed fields waiting for the next planting.

It was hunting season, doves. The hunters were out early. We didn’t see most of them but heard many shots, some close and the smell of gunpowder wafted across parts of the trail.

We were not quite in trail shape. Many things ached at the end of the day but within a week this should improve. Limited shade but we happened upon a cabana along the trail with a table, a welcome respite.

We walked around town, picked up some food, and had a few beers. The pueblo was nice. We tried to get into the Iglesia de la Candelaria that has a couple of notable works of Zurbarán, but no dice. It was closed.

Our walking had become like a job in its routine. You got up, hurriedly ate whatever you had, packed up your crap, filled water bottles, maybe took a dump and split.

You walked, and then you walked some more and finally you walked. There were brief stops depending on the weather and the quality of the trail and if someone was nursing a leg, back, foot, friction burn, blister, bad stomach, etc. You drank water, maybe ate an orange or banana or a handful of nuts. Then it was back to walking. We were on the Via de la Plata not the Camino Frances! Often when there was a 'town' there were no services open as we were passing through. There were very few fountains with potable water along “The Way” (this way, anyway).

When you got to your destination you were tired maybe exhausted. You registered, got a bunk and flopped down. You rested but chores had to be divvied up, someone was assigned to wash clothes. You showered.

When the clothes were hung out to dry you went out for beers with an eye open for an open store to buy fruit, nuts, and chocolate for the trail. After beer, time to find a place to eat, hopefully with a pilgrims menu, inexpensive but reasonable food, wine included. Then to bed. It didn’t leave a lot of time to explore and there were many places I would’ve liked to lay over in order to get to know them better.

The police had finally found the body of the missing US pilgrim, Denise Theim, near Astorga. It appeared that a sicko, now in custody, had killed her. This news was posted in the albergues and was front page in the newspapers for a few days. Some people had left flowers around the notice posted outside the albergue.

We had a splurge dinner at the nearby Comeera. We had a nice bottle of Extremadura tempranillo, with a cork removed at our table. It was not very busy, we were early, slightly before 10 pm. The food, presentation, and service were very good, but at 63 Euros for 3 of us, it was about twice the price of a pilgrim's menu (but worth it).


Villa Franco de los Barros 14-Sep-2015 20 Km

There was the smell of anise along the trail. The plants were common. We passed one estancia that was a collapsing ruin. There were miles and miles of olive trees and vineyards, literally as far as you could see. It was harvest time for the grapes and there were crews were out in field with big automated grape picking machines. Every once in awhile a tractor pulling a trailer of grapes would rumble by at speed leaving dust and a few bunches of grapes in its wake.

It was very dry. The trail was mostly good and flat. A few rough patches, with two low hills to cross, a meandering dirt track led us into town. We had beers in the shaded part of the plaza which was calm and quiet. We prepared dinner in the private albergue, Albergue Peregrinos Villafranca, which we had all to ourselves, pork tenderloin, a garbanzo medley, salad and a couple of bottles of wine. Afterward we watched a dumb ass Chuck Norris movie in Spanish. The albergue was new and a little different, sea bunks three high, they each had electrical outlets and reading lights, the upper ones difficult to enter.

Other pilgrims gave this place a pass, possibly because we had already snagged most of the bottom bunks, but it worked well for us.
 
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C

Castilian

Guest
We went by the famous monument to Spanish corruption, the South Madrid airport at Ciudad Real. Over a billion dollars were spent to build it. It was opened for about three years and closed because of lack of financial viability.
I'm not an expert on the Airport of Ciudad Real so I don't know if there was any corruption there. What I do know is:
  • The name of South Madrid airport was used just something like 4 months when the airport wasn't yet opened. The airport is more tan 100 miles away from Madrid and the authorities of the Autonomous Community of Madrid told the airport owners they would go to the tribunals if they didn't change that name and the owners ended changing it.
  • The airport was and is a private airport.

We went to the Cathedral de Segovia where Christopher Columbus has a resplendent tomb
That should read the Cathedral of Seville; not of Segovia. Although the Cathedral of Segovia is really nice and I suggest you to visit it if you happen to be in Segovia.

We went to river and walked around. We stopped at the bull ring. It was a pity that the season was over.
If I'm not wrong, you can visit the bullring year round (except some specific dates like Christmas when is closed). There are several bullfighting seasons each year. The last one is in late September. Before considering to go to a bullfight in Spain, I would suggest to get an idea of what are they about. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish-style_bullfighting may be useful for that.

Almadén de la Plata 8-Sep-2015 20+ Km

We walked through a national park
Not a national park but a parque natural (not sure of the translation to English but it might be Nature Park).
 

Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015

That should read the Cathedral of Seville; not of Segovia. Although the Cathedral of Segovia is really nice and I suggest you to visit it if you happen to be in Segovia.

Typo corrected. Thanks.

If I'm not wrong, you can visit the bullring year round (except some specific dates like Christmas when is closed). There are several bullfighting seasons each year. The last one is in late September. Before considering to go to a bullfight in Spain, I would suggest to get an idea of what are they about. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish-style_bullfighting may be useful for that.

It was open. I went in and talked to the person at the ticket window who said the season was over but we could look around.

Not a national park but a parque natural (not sure of the translation to English but it might be Nature Park).[/QUOTE]


You are correct

South Madrid Airport

A Spanish documentary I saw indicated that it was probably corruption driving its construction as the viability was never seriously investigated. Wikipedia also sites a BBC documentary (which I have not seen). " A BBC News magazine report suggests the airport was planned to fail by its investors, who benefited from construction contracts awarded to their own companies.[4]"

It is in receivership. I read that a Chinese consortium put in a bid for part of it but I believe the deal fell through.
 
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Juanajoanna

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to bike spring 2017
I enjoyed reading your post. I will be doing that Way next year by bicycle. I am dreading the 25% grade of El Calvario.
Sounds like a wonderful time with your brother and friend.
 
C

Castilian

Guest
South Madrid Airport

A Spanish documentary I saw indicated that it was probably corruption driving its construction as the viability was never seriously investigated. Wikipedia also sites a BBC documentary (which I have not seen). " A BBC News magazine report suggests the airport was planned to fail by its investors, who benefited from construction contracts awarded to their own companies.[4]"

It is in receivership. I read that a Chinese consortium put in a bid for part of it but I believe the deal fell through.
As I said above, I'm not an expert on that airport. I've made some reading about it and what I've found is convoluted. That's the scenes. What will be the behind the scenes! Anyway, after the instructive reading, I'd like to clarify this quote:

The airport was and is a private airport.
The airport was private but one of the main shareholders was a Savings Bank in which board of directors was public representatives.
The airport is private but just provisionally because who won the public auction of the airport has still to pay it within the time limits determined by the judge. If the winner fails to make it, the airport will be back to receivership.

P.S.: The Chinese offer was way too low and a new auction was opened to see if someone made a bigger offer. A Spanish enterprise made it and the airport, right now, is provisionally of that enterprise although, as I said above, if it isn't paid within the time limits determined by the judge, the airport will return to receivership so we'll see if the airport is finally of that enterprise or that's just another chapter of the story/history.
 
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Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
I will be doing that Way next year by bicycle. I am dreading the 25% grade of El Calvario.
Don't even think about taking a bike up Cavario, unless you are very strong and fit. I needed considerable assistance to get my bike and bags up there on my first Camino in 2012. This year I avoided it altogether by detouring past El Berocal, and got to see more of the park.
 

Juanajoanna

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to bike spring 2017
Don't even think about taking a bike up Cavario, unless you are very strong and fit. I needed considerable assistance to get my bike and bags up there on my first Camino in 2012. This year I avoided it altogether by detouring past El Berocal, and got to see more of the park.
How did you avoid Calvario and still see the park? I thought that was the only way through the park.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
How did you avoid Calvario and still see the park? I thought that was the only way through the park.
Not so. You enter the park following the Camino. After 4 or 5km the Camino turns off the main track to the left, over a small bridge. There is an inscribed, tall Camino granite block at that point. Do not turn left. Continue along the main vehicle track for 5km to a group of large buildings, Cortijo de Berrocal. There is actually a restaurant here, open on weekends only. From there continue through a car park northwards to a road, which approaches Almaden from the east, and goes through a gap in the ridge. This adds a few kms but is well worth it, believe me!
 

Juanajoanna

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to bike spring 2017
Thanks for the info. I was under the impression that road was only open on weekends. From Gronze. But glad to know differently.
 

Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
After Caceres.JPG


Extremadura

Torremejía 15-Sep-2015 27 Km

The trail was largely flat and straight as advertised. It was noted to be a “Roman” road which coincidentally corresponded to the powerline maintenance road. How convenient I thought. We hadn't see anything Roman since we left Seville, no Roman mile markers, bridges or anything else. Grapevines and olive trees stretched off to the horizon.

I got an abrasion from pants rubbing my crotch, burned like hell when I began to sweat. Sweet tang of anise around the trail which contrasted with the hot sourness of animal dung, dense and unpleasant, around pig sheds. Sharp acid smell of manure floated through the pastures.

First 15 Km no problem but when we approached 20+ Km my arches started to ache, ankles also hurt and back muscles started to twitch.

Not a spot of shade but plenty of artfully executed granite trail markers, sometimes there were three within ten meters of each other. They looked expensive to make but apparently there wasn’t any money for a little cabana with a cheap bench for a little shade. There were no intermediate watering opportunities between travel points.

The Albergue Peregrinos Torremejia was an upgraded old building with some interesting design elements, such as some 'skylights' between floors. They opened the bar early for us to drink our beers after the pilgrim's dining room was taken over by a children's birthday party. Dinner was quite good, we took a break during it to check out the commotion outside cause by a procession from the church across the street.


Merida 16-Sep-2015 15 Km

A sudden shower broke my thoughts as I was mesmerized by the nick knack rhythm of the boots of the person in front of me and lost in thought. We had come out of the rural area into the edge of Merida.

We walked in on and off light rain through some dismal urban blight areas, remains of what looked to be a small abandoned military installation, empty industrial buildings, trash heaps, low end housing, graffiti walls, before getting to the river and finally the Roman Bridge that led into the city.

It was a very impressive bridge. There was a nice green area on the city side of the river that ran along the banks and further on a modern bridge designed by Calatrava. The albergue was near the river and was singularly crappy. There was a kitchen but no stove. There was one men’s crapper and one woman’s. The albergue did fill up. I got a Spanish cyclist in the bunk above me and the hospitalero did not let anyone turn on the light until 7PM due to cost constraints (or so he said). There were three local albergue people who just seemed to hang out and smoke cigarettes. The washing machine was not plugged in until early in the evening.

We would take a rest day and get a hotel and not even bother to ask the hospitalero if we could stay an extra day.

In the afternoon the rain came down heavily. We had beers in an upscale bar overlooking the river and later a meal at an outstanding restaurant, La Bodeguilla, inside the old part of the city. I had an excellent bit of salmon and the wine was better than usual.


Merida 17-Sep-2015 0 Km

We were able to leave our backpacks at the conveniently located Hostal Emeritae while well did stuff around town. This would be a more upscale experience since we started walking, but was a welcome change after the previous night in the full albergue.

Sightseeing, we went to the Roman Theater complex, and walked to the hippodrome, very impressive. There were literally ruins of one type or another throughout the old town. Lunched at the restaurant from yesterday which was packed with local business people, Dick and Doug had baby eels. The food was again very good. Afterward went to Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, really well laid out, interesting mosaics, coins, statues, bottles, jewelry, etc.


Aljucen 18-Sep-2015 16 Km

We left Merida before sunrise, some of the arrows were a bit difficult to find in the dark, would’ve been impossible if didn’t have head lamps. When we got out of the city the trail was of mixed quality, we spread out along it, a group of Spanish cyclists passed us saying unenthusiastically buen camino. The trail turned into a sandy track through rolling countryside of sparse yellow oaks, some scotch broom here and there, many cows with bells, the herd sounded like a giant wind chime that mooed. There were calves that were bawling and mothers that lowed to them. We passed the Embalse de Proserpina, a wide lake from a reservoir that the Romans built to supply water to Merida that still functioned. It was sunny, warm but not unbearable, not much of an elevation change which was good. We passed a dilapidated ruin that maybe started life as a rich man’s house, transformed into an institution of some kind. I would’ve really liked to have known the story.

The pueblo was small, clean with a couple of bar/restaurants

The albergue belonged to the parochia, was basic but adequate with fifteen beds and one bathroom.

The hospitalero had been called away but a note posted told us to get the key and pay at a close by bar. There was no soap in the restroom of the restaurant / bar – the room was also used by the employees.

Next door there was a ruined two story institution that I judged to be from early twentieth, late nineteenth century. Doug and I explored it. It had a kitchen, a courtyard and many rooms. I had the feeling it was linked to the church. What was it originally I wondered?

Thankfully we shared the albergue with only one young couple, Spanish. They stayed in a different room and shut the door. They woke me late at the night going at it hammer and tong. I was too tired to care and soon drifted off.


Alcuéscar 19-Sep-2015 23 Km

The trail was pretty good. But it was hot and toward the end you could feel the heat coming up through your boots from the trail. Landscape was much the same as yesterday’s and days passed, sparsely spaced oaks, brush, and bare fields.

We stayed at a monastery that also served as an albergue. It was a crappy experience. The hospitalero ranted and raved at us for putting our packs in our room prior to signing in, when this was exactly what the person on the ground floor told us to do. I did see the hospitalero passed out in one of the bedrooms, and previously across the street in the bar, but he was so shabbily dressed I thought he was an ancient crazed pilgrim.

We had hit a concentration of pilgrims which until now has happened infrequently, one Dane, two Dutch, a German, two Italians and a Swiss. The rooms were clean and comfortable.

Dick had a muscle problem which was worrisome.

The monastery provided a dinner which was a greasy abomination but we had an opportunity to talk with the other pilgrims.

The town had a serious concentration of idiots. At two hotels I inquired in, no one had the slightest idea of when the buses to the next town ran, where their pickup point was or who could tell me. I just got stares and shrugs back.

My opinion was confirmed by graffiti on the side of a farm building we passed on the outskirts of the city the next day.

Todos Tontos, it said. Doug and I nodded our heads in agreement.

Dick’s leg was worse in the morning. Since the bus does not run on the weekend we put him in a taxi for Caceres which was two days down the trail. This would give him time to rest and we would reevaluate when we met up.


Valdesalor 20-Sep-2015 26Km

The trail was generally good. It was hot in the afternoon. The landscape has grown stark, wide swaths of rolling open empty land, yellow grass, and a few small stands of oak. Scotch broom abounded around the trail with a few eucalyptus here and there.

We walked past a 'nightclub', the Pecado, in Casas de Don Antonio, which seemed fairly lively for 10 AM on a Sunday morning. After we had walked too far to turn back we regretted that we had not gone in to get our Credentials stamped.

The trail led us right through a small semi abandoned airport. We walked through a gap in the fencing and right across the runway. It was a weird sensation.

Doug kept looking for a pilot’s lounge to grab a beer. Most of the airport was on its way to becoming a ruin but a few casitas showed signs of habitation.

Right after the airport the heat made us crash in the shade of a large eucalyptus for about thirty minutes. I was dead exhausted from the heat. I just dozed as long as I could in the shade.

The last miles to the albergue was a flat straight line with dry pasture on both sides, some sheep, some cattle. There was a major highway in the distance running perpendicular to our direction.

The town was full of old and middle age people, very few children. It didn’t look like it was suffering though. We were almost alone in the municipal albergue. There was a young Danish woman in the albergue whom we had first met in the monastery but didn’t really know. Her English was excellent and she told us many many many things about her life and the Danish education and welfare systems. She would henceforth be known as the Chatty Dane.

Doug and I drank beer from an honor bar while listening to her. When she went to take a shower we did our wash in the aggravatingly complicated European washing machine which I threw up my hands at but Doug finally figured out. We hung the wash outside to dry in in a warm breeze.

We had pork fillets in a bar that was owned by the guy who looked after the albergue. When we got there, there was a large group of older women playing some card game at tables in the outer room. In the bar itself groups of men were doing the same thing. Everyone knew everyone else. The Chatty Dane showed up after we ordered. While she ate and chatted we knocked back orujo and brandy. She had been walking with a group that she had hooked up with but they had outdistanced her today.


Cáceres 21-Sep-2015 12 Km

It was a short walk to Cáceres, a large city.

The way in was a short rise through a saddle and then downward roughly parallel to the major highway we crossed the day before. The trail had some bad parts with loose scree and deep ruts. We went by a military base where the recruits, men and women, were running a course along the fence. We picked up a good natured, extra-large sheepdog puppy from one of the farms who followed us trying to engage us in play. We tried to scare it away when we neared a highway crossing but it just thought we were playing. It was like we had been friends all along. Thankfully it dutifully turned back as we crossed the busy highway. The Chatty Dane was with us for part of the way but continued on when we stopped to eat and take a rest.

We snaked through the busy city streets to the old plaza and ran into Dick sitting at a table. He had been staying at a hotel on the plaza. His leg was worse. Crap. He would call it quits.

We ate a proper breakfast on the plaza, toasted bread with tomato spread and jamon serrano with a large café con leche. The city’s old section was spectacular and the plaza was a gem. Tourists abounded but not many pilgrims.

We checked into a nice private albergue, Albergue Las Veletas, did wash, showered and rested.

We hooked up with Dick later, tried with Doug’s smartphone to change his airline reservation but after several aggravating attempts said forget it. Dick had a train ticket to Madrid in the early morning. It was sad to see him go. After the sunset we had a light farewell dinner at an outside table at a restaurant, Jardín de Ulloa, not too far from the plaza.

We said goodbye, Dick to his hotel, Doug and I to a tiny neighborhood bar near our albergue ornamented with animal heads, old photos of hunts and some rustic weaponry. We were the only ones there and the bartender who was clearly drunk got chummy and grievously undercharged us. While he rambled on I drank brandy but Doug went for the orujo option. The bartender gave Doug large generous pours from a jug without the benefit of a label and that looked suspiciously like something that once contained an unnamed chemical. In the morning we were no worse for wear.

Now, we were two.

Cañaveral 22-Sep-2015 26 Km

The trail was decent at the beginning. We passed a vast number of Roman milestones today. It was a very solitary trail. No other pilgrims except one German going the opposite direction and some cyclists. This area obviously was honeycombed with Roman settlements although most of the land we passed through was extremely arid and largely shadeless. There were no vineyards or olive groves. We did see a large quantity of sheep and sheep droppings, densely scattered over the ground like beads where they congregated. There was one nasty green water hole. There was an ugly moment when a cranky overseer cursed out and chased off some cyclists who were catching some shade at side of a large agricultural building. There were a few skinny solitary belled cows.

We got into an AVE bridge construction area and were waved off the trail by a flagman onto a highway as there were big trucks using the dirt road that use to be the trail. Later the locals told us that construction was all but dead due to the economy, but there was some maintenance and small works that had to be completed.

The albergue we aimed for was closed, for three years we found out, it was caught up in some legal wrangle. The backup plan was a hostel but the flagman and a phone call confirmed that was full due to a fishing tournament. We walked along highway toward the next pueblo, 16 Km further along. The highway paralleled a large reservoir built in Franco’s time. The top of a castle tower stuck up from an area that apparently was a village that was flooded when the reservoir was filled. We passed a couple of half completed big AVE bridges across narrow valleys and surrounded by motionless equipment. Doug marveled at all the capital equipment that has apparently been left idle for years. It must be costing the Spanish government huge he observed.

We walked along the highway until we came to a train station off the main road. We debated and finally walked down to it and found a shirtless man occupying a relatively new but obviously abandoned station. It looked like a commuter station but with no population to speak of closeby how was this going to work? More Spanish corruption? He told us to call a taxi but could not a produce a number. Doug found a number on his smartphone. We called a taxi and stayed at a nice private albergue, Hostel Cañaveral, that served up a decent meal, pork, and wine. It was an interesting experience there to be washing our clothes and have a chicken occasionally brush against my leg. We saw the Chatty Dane again. She walked the whole way and was sweaty and exhausted. She found us on the patio drinking beer and admiring the view. I said “What kept you?” She gave me a sour look and that’s the last we saw of her that day. After dinner we walked about a kilometer until we found a bar that was open. It was a small town after all, small and remote but not tiny. It was a little higher than the trail we walked and greener. We drank a few brandies and laughed at the day.


Galisteo 23-Sep-2015 26 Km

It was cold in the morning because of the increase in altitude. We woke before first light. We were out of the arid landscape into hills of mixed pine and oak woodlands. Sheep, goats and cattle were all along the trail. We started off with a steep climb that put me in a foul mood. Doug wondered at the miles and miles of stone walls we passed and the human effort that must have gone into constructing them. The trail was good. Coming out of the hills the land got arid again. We walked along a highway. People in cars that passed us waved and shouted that the trail was cut off. We persisted and found that, surprise, the original trial was cut off by a landowner with a locked gate. I didn’t want to jump it and save a lot of walking as I was concerned about dogs. We then rerouted along the highway, backtracking over many spray painted notes along the highway that had told us the trail was closed but we had ignored due to our superior intelligence. We entered a valley benefiting from irrigation from the reservoir. Tobacco crops were much in evidence along with corn and barley.

Galisteo was a hilltop village surrounded by an intact medieval wall. The albergue was in the village below the old walled in town. There was a crappy bar nearby where we drank for a while. The Chatty Dane showed up again but did not join us for beer or dinner. When it was dark we walked up into the old town plaza looking for a restaurant but settled for a bar. It was late but there were children out playing in the plaza and everyone except us was a local and enjoying the evening. It was cool and pleasant. We sat in the outside and ate octopus and drank wine. I caught snatches of a Barcelona football game on the television as I went in for brandies.


Caparra 24-Sep-2015 27Km

We walked from 7 AM until 4 PM. We started out in the dark. At the beginning it was mostly walking along the highway. The Chatty Dane was with us. The traffic was not too bad but it was a narrow road. We walked by many large estancias, corn and tobacco fields. Eventually we got off the highway, the land was drier now and there were oaks and open areas. We walked through wild pasture land. It got hot and a few of times I had to stop and rest in the shade of trees. Doug came back looking for me. The flies were bothersome. Some steers gave us the stink eye as we walked by. We gave them a wide berth. Because of the heat we rested frequently. The Chatty Dane chatted.

We arrived at the arc of Caparra and the ruins of the Roman city. Very impressive.

I carried three liters of water and drank it all and got additional from Doug. We were all out of water at the end of the day. We stayed in a roadside motel, Hostal Restaurante Asturias. As we went in a truck driver was peeing against the tire of his truck, I guess not wanting to walk the twenty meters into the hotel bar. We ate in the hotel. It was not too bad. Taking a real bath was a treat.


Baños de Montemayor 25-Sep-2015 21 Km

We had a miserable nerve wracking stretch along the highway with a lot of traffic. We passed several closed furniture factories with show rooms. Probably victims of the real estate bust. It was the steep high hill country near the border of Castillo Leon. The town where we stopped was down in a valley which the trail wound through and we went over two small Roman bridges. It was very green with lots of trees and small plot gardens.

The town itself was a pleasant small scale resort town with thermal baths. Many of the buildings including where people lived were very old and made out of stone with slate roofs. The town streets were narrow and winding and just seem to meander as if they were built following a goat track. The main drag had relatively modern buildings, nineteenth and twentieth century. We ate in a hotel, Café Bar Restaurante La Peña, with a pilgrim menu that was above average. The town itself was nice, the people friendly and the private albergue first rate. It was very new and there were only four other pilgrims by my count.

We ran into the Chatty Dane who had availed herself of the baths and said that they were quite nice. There was a great bar, Bar Carlo’s Cafe, where we spent a pleasant evening eating tapas and drinking wine and talking with the locals and visiting tourists. Everyone was nice and friendly. As pilgrims we were somewhat of a minor phenomenon apparently.
 
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Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
IMG_20150925_124123 (1).jpg

Castilla y León

Valverde de Valdelacasa 26-Sep-2015 20 Km

Hellish climb out of the valley, soon winding our way on a high slope through other valley country, the trail was through thick woods, lots of shade, everything green, terraced slopes, rock walls.

Doug was growing more and more amazed at all the rock walls we had seen since we started, trying to comprehend the vast amount of labor that went into constructing them.

We had some highway walking but not a lot. There were few towns and villages. It was nice country. The last part was along a ridge line opposite low craggy mountains, quite picturesque.

Near the edge of the village the chatty Dane suddenly crashed out of the bushes where she had been napping. We gave her some water and she was a bit slow due to her nap. There was grass and sticks in her hair. She said she was going to the next town as she has heard there was a nice albergue run by the church there and indicated was something special and left. It was the last time we would see her.

We decided to stop at the village, debating whether to go another 10 Km to the next village with the parochia run albergue or not. Here there was a private albergue, two bars, one of which was closed, no stores, no restaurants, no gas stations. Doug wanted to push on but I was tired, the sun and the pull out of the first valley had knocked me a bit.

We walked through the village and sat on the shaded bar patio nursing a couple of beers when a woman who was part of a larger group having a banquet of some kind inside recognized us as pilgrims. She started a conversation and it turned out that she belonged to the banquet that was part of a regional organization meeting to promote the Camino. I told her that the village was nice but there was no place to eat. She immediately went inside and harangued the barkeep/owner to guarantee us some kind of supper later on. BIGGEST MISTAKE OF THE WHOLE CAMINO. He also owned the albergue which was nice and clean and had one of those European washers with maddeningly complex matrices of buttons and dials. We had to rustle up the housekeeper to show us how to operate it. Once again we were the only ones in the albergue.

After putting out the wash we spent a pleasant afternoon on the bar patio drinking beer, watching village life swirls around us in terms of children passing in and out, playing, screaming, running, a few dogs thrown into the mix, women arriving to look for their husbands, someone looking for the local mechanic, other picking up packages left for them.

Supper was enormous, Morcilla, pork chops, French fries, fried eggs, salad, bread and a bottomless bottle of wine. Doug finished his but I couldn’t. The owner good naturedly chastised me for leaving food on my plate. The owner had been drinking some kind of gin and Fanta based cocktail most of the afternoon. We ordered up a couple since Doug was a gin hound. It was Larios gin which had the same bouquet and finish as cheap aftershave but what it lacked in quality the owner compensated with quantity.

A couple hours after going to sleep in the albergue I woke up. Doug was in the bathroom vomiting. I felt alright. I got up to check on Doug who said he’s OK he just needed to get it out of his system. After about an hour he went back to bed. About an hour before dawn I woke up with abdominal pain which was a precursor to a long severe case of diarrhea. In the morning Doug was in better shape but still a little weak. I was near delirious and nauseous.

There’s no way of knowing for sure but our guess was that we ate food left over from the previous day's banquet. The meat which was probably cooked before noon, we speculated was left lying around unrefrigerated until we ate it around eight when it was heated up in a microwave.

We got a taxi to a town with a pharmacy and medical services.

The taxista was a Romanian immigrant who spoke good Spanish but was way too talkative for the way we felt.


No entry due to illness 27-Sep-2015


Montamarta 28-Sep-2015 21 Km

It was cold today. Autumn was in the air. Countryside was empty, brown barren earth, dull, almost dead. There was some work going on, plowed furrows, some new plantings. We passed some small patches of withered dry sunflowers. The trail was gravelly and rutted in places but not really bad. The albergue was basic (if even that), just outside of town. We had two Spaniards, who adroitly disappeared when a woman showed to collect the fee and one German. Large power lines nearby had exactly one stork nest in each of the towers for as far as you could see and for some odd reason they were mostly all on the left side. The towers traversed fields that provided sustenance and therefore were attractive sites for nests I guessed.

As we left for dinner the Spaniards appeared with groceries to cook in the albergue kitchen.

We ate at a restaurant/motel nearby,El Zangarrón, that had a decent menu and better than average table wine. A guy driving a tractor in a blue mud spattered jumpsuit and straw hat had stopped us on the way in and tried to sell us in the idea of staying there. When I told him we were going to the albergue he sold us on the restaurant. I’m sure he was the owner or one of the owners.

The pork was good, fried in paprika and garlic but I was definitely getting tired of pork. The German from the albergue showed up and we chatted a little bit. He had adult children who were professionals and he was a retired engineer. His English was impeccable. He was only doing part of the Camino and in a few days would head off to London to meet up with his wife and daughter. London seemed a million miles away from this little rural part of Castile-Leon.


Tábara 29-Sep-2015 27Km

Through misunderstanding/miscalculation what I thought was going to be a brief impromptu shortcut that was to save us a lot of time turned into a daylong slog along the highway. The catalyst for this was a sign offering two divergent trails. This forced us to consult the map on the smartphone. It looked like we could save at least a half day by this short cut (which turned out to be correct but was not worth it). This app inspired idea eventually had us walking along a very busy highway with a tiny shoulder. Something we didn’t appreciate at first. Shortly after starting our trailblazing we came to a bridge across a large reservoir with no pedestrian walkway. We tried to hitch across but no one stopped. It was about two hundred yards from end to end, single lane with a light controlling which direction gets to go. The water was about a hundred yards down. We watched the traffic pattern for a while and decided to go for it. The alternative would be to backtrack a few miles to the original trail but backtracking was not in our decision tree. No sir.

Kids don’t try this at home.

We waited until the traffic cleared and started a slow trot across. A third of the way across a few cars came across forcing us to jump up on the rail and about four inches of curb to get out of their way. This happened twice more before we got across and collapsed panting and sweating in some shade.

We followed a winding hilly road through a lakeside town. We cleared the town and walked along a two lane road with a decent shoulder and not too much traffic. My back started to bother me. I think running like a madman with the pack did it. We stopped for thirty minutes and it felt better. It would continue to bother me and we would need to stop every hour or so.

We passed through some low hills and walked briefly over part of an old abandoned road that roughly paralleled the road. At the bottom of the hills we came to the unused and unfinished AVE roadbed where there was some maintenance activity going on that we had to dodge around. Big trucks came and went and we had to watch them because they ignored us. Further on we saw people herding sheep along the bed and later someone driving a big Chrysler (yes I’m sure) sedan down it at about sixty, trailing dust and going right down the middle. Probably some wealthy hacendado going out to his finca.

We got onto a straight heavily traveled roadway. The shoulder was small, tiny in fact, after the shoulder was a rough ditch and fencing. The traffic was going fast and some of it passed really close causing us a few bad moments. The road was long and flat. We came to a town and ducked into a bar for Fanta and mineral water. Refreshed we hit the road again for about an hour and half before we came to the town with the albergue. The albergue was at the far end and we passed through a warren of little winding streets to reach it.

It was sunset when, exhausted, we finally came to the albergue only to find out it was full up. Funny we thought, up until now all the albergues were for the most part not even half full. Later we would find out it was filled up by guided pilgrims (loose use of the word here), about fifteen of them plus a staff of three. Think for profit guided tour. They had chase cars that carry their packs and equipment and drove them to the most picturesque parts of the Camino which they walked for a bit and then were picked up and whisked to an albergue by their hired help who monopolized the albergue kitchens preparing a large elegant meal and who would also contribute to taking up space in the albergue although they had not walked one step of the Camino (my ass is starting to smoke as I relive this). I could understand private albergues cottoning to this but the fact we got pushed out of municipal, provincial and parochial albergues to make way for these pansies was just incredible to me. An English pilgrim who had a lot of Camino experience said there was some kind of quid pro quo going on between these tours and the hospitaleros where they stayed.

This was not the last time we would be displaced by them.

We found a room at a bar/restaurant/hotel. The room was cheap and came with a menu at the bar. The shared bathroom had plenty of hot water which I luxuriated in. We gave our clothes to be washed and dried to the hotel matron at a cheap price. We parked our butts in the bar. We ordered a plate of assorted tapas and wine. After the harrowing stretch along the highway I finally unwound. The tapas were exceptional. Afterward we had the menu (uninspired pork) and more wine.

We had fellow pilgrims that were also pushed out of the albergue in the bar with us. There were three English guys that were doing part of the Camino. They did a two week stretch of it together each year. They had already finished the Frances together and were now well into the Plata. They were a hale and hearty group and we exchanged a few jokes and collectively cursed the 'pilgrims' who displaced us.

Another was a pale slender blond woman, thirtyish. I noticed she was reading an English novel and tried to talk to her. She was clearly uncomfortable, avoided eye contact and answered with one or two words. I left her alone. She had a long hooked herder’s staff, a large wooden necklace with a cross, and a weird vibe. I wondered what her story was. She would be known as Bo Peep.

We later had a name for the group of pilgrims who displaced us, but for decency sake, I will refer to them here as the 'Trailer Peregrinos'.


Santa Croya de Tera 30-Sep-2015 23 Km

The trail started good, a nice well maintained track. We came to some wooded low hills with a village at their base. We went into a bar for some Fanta. The Trailer Peregrinos were running around the village, agitated that their chase cars were late. There was a steep climb into the hills, about a 15% grade. In the hills we were beset by flies. One or two flew into my mouth and I put on my head net. Doug had one but didn’t want to dig through his pack to find it so he just plodded along waving his hiking pole in front of his face and swearing.

The weather was good, temperate with a blue sky and big white clouds.

We got through the hills and neared a small town, passed small walled in plot gardens with women tending them. There was cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, and corn. It all looked delicious. We walked through a couple of small towns that ran together and stayed at a private albergue/hotel, Casa Anita. There was advertising for it along the way which kind of sold us. It was a little expensive for an albergue but had a very nice patio where we did our wash and later drank a few beers before moving onto the house wine.

The hospitlera Anna had worked in the states and spoke English. She and her sister were locals that ran the place which they had taken over from their parents. Doug toured the facility with Anna, and took photos to post to Yelp, while I navigated the beer vending machine.

Later we walked across a bridge spanning a wide beautiful river into the main part of the town to see what restaurant/bar alternatives there were as well as find the store. We went by a municipal albergue which was full. We anticipated this knowing that the Trailer Peregrinos were lurking somewhere in the area. The store was closed, one bar was open but did not look like a good food option. We did not find anything else so decided to eat the albergue’s menu.

The food was good. Braised pork. I made a private oath to find an alternative meat for the next few days no matter what the cost. The meal came with all the wine you could drink so I endeavored to make Anna regret this policy. The English guys showed up as well as some others pilgrims and non-pilgrims. Among them a Spanish couple biking the Plata for their honeymoon. Anna announced this just before dessert and the whole dining room, fairly blasted by now, and prompted by Anna sang a song to the newlyweds. Anna’s sister crowned them with wreaths. They were more than little embarrassed but good sports all the same. There was dessert with a bottomless glass of orujo. Actually I think Doug just got Anna’s sister to bring out the giant plastic jug from the kitchen and we refilled at will. We ended the evening moving around the tables talking to our new friends and catching up with the English.


Rionegro del Puente 1-Oct-2015 27 Km

It was cold in the morning. We walked along a lightly used road and then off into corn fields and stands of poplars that shaded the trail and made it feel even colder. A couple of deer startled us by bolting across the trail. Before noon we came to a town where we found a small store open after stumbling around for a while and resorting to asking directions from locals. The town was a cluster of white buildings and sleepily busy. We bought figs, nuts and Fanta and sat on a bench and took a break. The English who had been in a bar eating came by and waved.

After finishing our snack we went toward some hills, going by vineyards where people were working. They waved and offered us grapes. Just after a very old church we hit a river, walked along it a ways and crossed a bridge where the trail made a steep ascent to the top of the hills. We could see back over the terrain we had walked over. We kept on and passed through a village that was half abandoned. It had many tumbled down adobe buildings but others showed signs of habitation. There were some tended fields and pasture around the village but most of the land was untended scrub. The trail turned into a paved road that skirted the reservoir and went over a modern bridge that spanned part of the reservoir. There wasn’t any traffic. We came upon the English who were resting and one was swimming. It was quite warm now. We shouted hellos and kept on. It seemed hellishly long walking along the hot pavement that wound around the reservoir.

Doug had researched a restaurant, Me Gusta Comer, in the town were headed for. It had great reviews and a special pilgrims menu, it was run by the local Associaion Gastronomica. Late in the afternoon we hit Rionegro, crossed a stone bridge into town and found the albergue on the edge of a large plaza. The albergue was big, clean, well equipped and well run. The Trailer Peregrinos were milling around as their meal was being prepared. We showered, washed clothes and watched as people were herded out of the common room to make way for the Trailer Pellegrino's dinner set up. It was disgusting. They even had a fancy table cloth. The hospitaleros, there were two of them, just seemed to look the other way. As we left to find a bar the English arrived, a little panicked because they were thinking there wouldn’t be any beds left but as the albergue was big, there were. Even discounting the Trailer Peregrinos we seemed to have fallen in with a swell of pilgrims although the English were the only ones we had seen on the trail.

Later the English showed up at the bar which was just across the plaza from the albergue. We drank outside and watched the sun slip below the tree line of the river. The English joined us for dinner at the restaurant. It had a great menu, I was drawn to the braised lamb but to show solidarity with the others made it unanimous for the pilgrim’s menu. The restaurant was modern, well-appointed with a legitimate chef and an attentive waitress. It was one of the best deals if not the best on the Camino. The pilgrim’s menu was a pâté roll for an appetizer, which was excellent, simple but good wine, salad and, surprise, pork fillets. All was expertly prepared and served. With dessert they put out four small bottles of chocolate and citrus of flavored orujo. These disappeared in ten minutes and they put out more bottles. The chef came out and asked us about the food and sat with us, had some orujo and chatted. He gave us each membership cards for Associaion Gastronomica.
 
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Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
Hi Laurie

Have you seen the collection (still in process) of photos under the tag- The Do Not Resuscitate Tour ?
 
C

Castilian

Guest
It's a pity that you missed part of your route due to illness; specially that you couldn't fully enjoy Salamanca and Zamora.

. Late in the afternoon we hit Rionegro, just inside Galicia
Rionegro del Puente is in Castilla y León. Following the camino, Galicia is almost 80 kms away from Rionegro del Puente. You don't enter in Galicia till you are at the top of the (mountain) pass after Lubián; i.e.: till you are at the top of A Canda pass.
 

Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
Castilian- error corrected. Thanks for the catch
 
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Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
DSC00860.JPG

Castilla y León


Asturianos Zamora 2-Oct-2015 27Km

Extremely cold in the morning, my breath steamed in the dark morning air. The trail started out good. We went through several small pueblos, no bars. The landscape was mostly scrub oak and grasslands with pines later on. We came to a small city, Mombuey, hit the cash machine and found a ramshackled store that sold us watch caps and gloves. We had underestimated the cold and anticipating the passes further on knew it would get colder still.

In Mombuey, we also ran into a couple from near Boston who we had seen on the trail the previous day. They were Tandem Bicigrino who were friendly and upbeat. Barbara and Scott were cycling from Valencia to Santiago on the Camino del Levante (http://caminodelevanteadventure2015.blogspot.com/). After we parted ways, Doug and I agreed that the last thing we would want to do was to ride a tandem bicycle on some of the sandy and rocky trails we had been walking on.

We started to gain altitude but the grade wasn’t bad. We went over a bridge that spanned the uncompleted AVE roadbed. The countryside got wilder, forested, with greater distance between pueblos. The wind came up and it promised to be a cold evening.

We got to Asturianos. The municipal albergue was in a modern sport’s complex, up on the edge of town. There was even a rifle range which was being used by a small group. The hospitalero told me that deer season was starting and the hunters were sighting in their rifles. Their rifle shots wouldn’t stop until dark. The Trailer Peregrinos had filled up the albergue. Their hired help were busy starting a barbecue for their dinner. Despite the town being astride a highway there were no hostels or hotels or accommodations of any kind. Given the dicey nature of the weather and the distance to the next town we accepted the hospitalero’s offer of mattresses on the changing room floor of the multicourt that was not currently in use. It was very clean, the mattresses were thick foam covered in durable plastic, not bad.

We ate in the adjoining bar, pork. We turned in early. There was a decent geographical map on the bar wall and we could see that the next few days we would be threading through a serious mountain area. The Trailer Peregrinos seemed to buy very little in the bar, but many were there using wifi, watching tv, and playing chess.


Requejo, Zamora 3-Oct-2015 28 Km

There was a lot of uphill walking today. It was a mix of narrow woodland trails and walking along the highway. We saw deciduous trees whose leaves were turning. An old timer in the bar last night grimaced as he told me that autumn and cold weather were here to stay. We ran into people mushroom hunting with trowels and baskets. There were small signs declaring private cotas for seta harvesting. We passed small gardens where old couples were working. The gardens seemed to be giving up their last abundance of the season. We also heard a couple of rifle shots that were close enough to get our attention.

We were into mountainous terrain. From the map on the wall last night we figured two days to get through the high part of the passes and to A Gudiña. We saw the best spray painted highway sign of the whole Camino today, Despacio Cono!. It was at the entry to the small pueblo of Triufé.

We walked through the Pueblo de Sanabria which was by a wide river and had a fabulous old section at the top of a hill. We looked for a camera battery charger but no luck. We took a break at an outside bar table. There were many tourists but we didn’t see any pilgrims. We continued walking until late afternoon.

We were the only ones at a nice private albergue, Albergue Casa Cerviño. Since it was Saturday we guessed that the Trailer Peregrinos had dispersed. We had an excellent dinner in a slightly upscale restaurant, Meson Mar Rojo, a few doors down, veal, sopa Gallego (which I cannot get enough of). Afterward we wandered into a local dive bar/general store. On the shelves next to the table were can goods, cleaning products, bags of beans and grains, brooms and mops. We drank orujo served by a comely barmaid who was refilling bar bottles from large containers and pretending to listen to a couple of old local cranks that loudly yammered on in sour cranky voices about this and that. Eventually the geezers left and she told us her story. She was from near Madrid but had wound up here because there were no jobs there and she had some connections here. She was very unhappy about the economic situation in the country. Who could blame her?


Padornelo, Zamora 4-Oct-2015 12 Km

Started out in a light rain. As we trudged along a trail and then the highway the rain got stronger. We took refuge in a large drainage passage to escape the pounding rain, We rested and ate a few almonds. It was cold. We started walking again and the wind came up driving the rain horizontally when it gusted. Leaves came off the trees in waves and pelted us as we passed. There were spiky green clusters of chestnuts on the ground from the wind. We went through a tunnel on a narrow sidewalk. It was a little unnerving. We stopped at a small bakery/grocery store/café for café con leche and pan toastado. A few pilgrims were leaving as we came in and a few locals were lunching. A few other pilgrims came in after us, Germans. The place had a huge selection of cheeses, hams and sausages (jamones y embotidos) that made me instantly hungry.

We got back out on the highway again. I had thought the rain was abating but it started strongly again and the wind got fierce, as it gusted it pushed us around and made walking difficult. A short German pilgrim was blown off the shoulder into the roadway by one particularly strong gust. The rain/wind combination made us decide to stop at a hotel and try our luck tomorrow.

The hotel, Hostal Restaurante Padornelo, was large. It had a big dining room and adjoining bar with a view of the highway and mountains. After drying out and changing clothes we got a tortilla de patatas and wine and kicked back until dinner, Sopa Gallego and something that was not pork. The local television channel said that the wind had been gusting up to 50 Km an hour.

Lubián, Zamora 5-Oct-2015 10 Km

The morning was cold with a light rain falling. There was a little wind but it didn’t get bad. We walked along the highway for about 4 Km and then started a trail through the countryside. The trail followed a powerline road for a ways. The rain had created a wide rivulet of water running down the middle of our path. After a while the trail started to alternate between country dirt road and footpath. The streams were flooding and we crossed one on granite blocks that were laid out for that purpose. We crossed over a river that was running swift and was high up on its banks. The country was well forested, many hardwoods, chestnuts and acorns galore, a few walled in orchards and gardens. We hadn’t seen the tops of the hills for two days due to the rain and low clouds. Some slopes were terraced and there was obvious signs of some kind of forestry activity going on. We passed some couples and one old man with a barking dog that were mushroom hunting.

We stopped early as the summit was about 12 Km further on and we expected it to be a steep climb. There would be 8 – 12 Km over which we would gain 300 meters. We were a little concerned about the weather, a little lazy and felt it better to do the climb at the front end of the day. Lubián was a small old hillside town that was well kept.

We had a mediocre lunch in a bar. We wandered around a bit and found the one local grocery. It was closed but had a wonderfully precise hand written note that said “Will open in the afternoon”. We checked into the albergue and then had beers in the bar and waited for the store to open. At about three we could contain ourselves no longer and I called the cell number posted for the grocery. I got an older lady who said she and her husband had been at a wedding at the next town and would be back soon. She declined to quantify soon. They finally showed up about 6 PM. We went in and got supplies and decided to cook at the albergue.

The albergue was nice, had space for maybe twenty, but only one toilet. Again we were the only ones which considering the number of toilets was a good thing. We leafed through the registry and found the evening before they had had six pilgrims and judging from the names we thought the Germans that had soldiered on in the rain were among them. The kitchen was a nice size and well equipped with pots, pans and dishes. Doug cooked up a tomato sauce and we dipped bread into it and drank wine. At least it was not pork.

Galicia

A Gudiña, Ourense 6-Oct-2015 33 Km

We started in rain, fog and wind that didn’t let up until early afternoon. It was mostly highway walking. My lips and mouth became so cold that when I talked the words came out in a weird mumble. Despite gloves my hands were cold and stiff around my walking poles. It was hard and would’ve been challenging even in good weather.

We went over a high arching bridge that made me nervous when I looked over the edge and further on through a long leaky highway tunnel. We passed a busy construction site that had big trucks coming and going which we had to watch carefully.

Doug monitored the Camino blogs like a hawk. Word had it that the albergue in A Gudiña had bedbugs. We opted for a nice hotel, Hotel Bruma, on the edge of town. It was good to have a hot bath. We ate at a nice restaurant, Churrasco de Oro, down the street. The veal was tough and disappointing but the Sopa Gallego was good.

We had a couple of brandies in the hotel bar and chatted with the bartender before turning in.

Early in Extremadura I surrendered the navigation to Doug and his wonder phone. He had downloaded the GPS coordinates of the trail with a map. It was not infallible (once he pointed to an open field and said, sincerely, that the albergue should be there) and some changes to the trail were out of sync but by in large it was pretty close to spot on. Now I just followed it blindly, an acolyte of the cult of the smartphone.

Campobecerros, Ourense 7-Oct-2015 23 Km

Before leaving A Gudiña, Doug tried to get cash from a bank machine since we did not expect to see another one for several days. The first two attempts resulted in an illogical message and refusal, fortunately there was another bank across the street whose machine was more cooperative. Actually, we had been taking turns paying for rooms, food, etc. and had an App, Settle Up, which tracked exactly who was ahead and behind in the count – One of the real benefits of this was not to have everybody digging for cash when doing similar transactions. It was not a big deal if somebody got 50 or 100 Euros ahead – we were returning on the same flight from Madrid and knew where each other lived.

It was a long walk but the weather was clear. We started on a country road that wound up through some hills. At the beginning there were cement trucks that kept us on our toes. We were relieved when we got past their construction site. We passed a few small farms but eventually there was almost nothing. We thought we knew where we were going and considered trail blazing to shorten the distance of the loopy road we were walking on. Thank god we didn’t do that as a small rise obscured a turnoff that we discovered when we continued on the road. Had we gone across country to the other road we would’ve walked deep into a sparsely populated hinterland. We got further into the hills and a large reservoir appeared below the ridge we were walking along. The trail veered off onto a trail that was a rough country road, no traffic, walked right through a rundown farm and I expected dog trouble but none appeared. We came up on an AVE construction site where they were working on a tunnel, we went through some small pueblos, Venta do Bolaño had a small apartamento rural, but I didn’t see a bar or store. The trail started to alternate between narrow paved road walking and a rough trail that seemed to use fire breaks, parts of which were very steep and rocky with scree. The terrain was scrub with stands of pines. As there was almost no traffic I think we would’ve been better off sticking to the road. We got into a remote area without farms or settlements.

Finally we came to Campobecerros that was on the valley floor. It was a site of a large AVE construction site that was also a AVE material center of some kind. There was very little activity. We descended to the town on a nasty rocky slope that we had to take care with. We snaked through twisting narrow streets and found the private albergue, Albergue da Rosario, which after we arrived slowly filled up. After washing clothes and showering we walked around. We watched an old guy put his herd of goats into a barn/garage that adjoined his house. We had a couple of beers in a bar/general store operation and bought supplies. We continued on looking for dinner options and found a nice bar/restaurant, Casa Núñez, which while not having any dogs did cater to children and infants. The food was good despite being pork. Other pilgrims came in and after dinner we talked with them and some of the locals. An old timer bought us a couple of brandies. I spoke to a man who was a guard at the AVE site who said almost nothing was going on there and his wages had been reduced twice. A couple of other locals I talked to had been born outside Spain, as their families had fled the area during the civil war. The locals were very friendly and it seemed pilgrims were still somewhat of a novelty.

The albergue was almost full, approximately 20 pilgrims, and we would continue to encounter, or hear stories about 12 of them over the remainder of our trip.


Alberguería, Ourense 8-Oct-2015 27 Km

It was pretty good walking until the last ascent, the weather was good in the morning, clear and cool. We walked along the ridge line of hills that had long open views of the wild country and steep valleys. We came to a small plaque commemorating a couple of teamsters murdered by the fascists during the civil war. Further on was another distant AVE site of some kind. Eventually we came out of the hills to a developed area and walked along a road on the valley floor. The area looked very fertile and there was a fair amount of livestock. The fields were well tended. We came up on villages, farms and a small town where we had café con leche and a snack while watching a young farm hand trying to maneuver his tractor in and out of a narrow alley.

Further on we came to the head of the valley where in a well wooded area was a small collection of houses. There we started up an unimproved road into the hills. Tall hardwoods surrounded the draw we walked up. The road became gradually poorer and finally was just a rough trail. We came to a part that was really steep, 15% - 20+% grade, about 400 meters long, rutted with loose shale. It just about busted me. I had to stop frequently and soon ran out of water. After a time we got up on the ridgeline. We walked through pine and scrub on a poor trail. The trail would flatten out a bit and then there would be more steep going. While not hot, it was warm enough that we started sweating. The land was very wild with no signs of improvement.

We finally cut a road and followed it past large fields and into a small pueblo with the albergue, Albergue El Rincón del Peregrino. The albergue was a big private affair run by a husky bearded taciturn Spaniard. It was well known and surprisingly it filled up. It had capacity for about 24, was in some interesting old buildings, sold food and had a bar that while it didn’t serve meals you could get jamon, cheese and bread to snack on with your wine and beer. There were no close other options. I took a shower with the last hot water and Doug had a pilgrim moment washing in cold water. Doug bought some garbanzos and stuff and cooked an impromptu meal in the albergue kitchen. After dinner we drank and talked with the other pilgrims in the bar until it closed. There were German, Dutch, Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese. We were the only Americans. At least half of them had prior Camino experience and a few had also come up all the way from Seville. In the bar there were scallop shells covering some of the walls and hanging from the ceiling with pilgrim’s names and their date. Everyone including us couldn’t resist writing our names with a sharpie and hanging them up.

Xunqueira de Ambía, Ourense 9-Oct-2015 21 Km

We started out early in the cool morning. The trail was wooded and solitary for a while and then we came up on some small settlements that faded into each other. We started seeing hórreos (Galician corncribs) in industrial quantities. Most were still used, some were abandoned ruins, some simply decorative. Many had dates that I guess indicated their construction, a few were well over a hundred years old. The walking was not bad, almost zero traffic until we got to a larger pueblo that was having a market day. There were a number of gypsies selling cheap clothing as well as stalls of fruits and vegetables. We saw some of the pilgrims from the day before. We stopped at a bar for café con leche. Outside was a truck where a woman was cooking pulpo in a large pot. I spoke briefly to her and a nagging question in my head fell into place. A couple of times we had asked for pulpo at bar/restaurants and were told it wasn’t the day for pulpo which I thought weird. Now it dawned on me that there are vans and trucks who are on a schedule to show up in towns and pueblos and cook fresh pulpo on a specific day of the week. They do it in conjunction with a bar so the people will have a place to sit and the bar benefits from wine sales. La luz!

We continued on. The country opened up with large fields and wooded areas and finally we got on to a trail that went up and through some steep wild hills. There were nice views of the surrounding valley that was dotted with small settlements and large farms. The trail got into some wooded areas and we finally got to Xunqueira. It was very old, well ordered small town in the hill country of Galicia. We opted for a very nice hostel, Casa do Souto (17.5 Euros a piece), in a large old building that was shared with some other businesses including a funeral home.

We did wash, took showers, hit the local grocery store for supplies and settled in at an outside street side table for refreshments and complimentary tapas. Some of the other pilgrims showed and soon we were a group. There were Jeanette and Celeste, two Dutch women, Gabi a German coronary surgery nurse (who I told of my coronary travails and asked jokingly to attend me if she saw me convulsing along the trail. She said a little too seriously that she was well prepared to assist someone with a coronary issue.), Yoshi a seventy year old Japanese retired engineer who spoke no Spanish and whose English was basic, Pablo a Spanish retired bank employee, thirty five years at the same bank. The women had adopted Yoshi more or less. Celeste re-christened him Fritz because she couldn’t pronounce Yoshi. Gabi and Celeste hustled him off after a little while, Celeste forcefully saying “Kompt Fritz, Kompt”, to the pharmacy before it closed because he had some nasty bed bug bites and Gabi knew the exact medicine he needed apparently.

We all agreed to meet for dinner. After several drinks while waiting in the bar, we realized that there was confusion about where we were eating and subsequently found everybody at a different restaurant 100 meters away.
 
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Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015

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Galicia


Ourense 10-Oct-2015

I had spoken to one of the clerks in the market the day before. There was a big holiday in Ourense starting the next day. He said it would be near impossible to get rooms of any kind. As we wanted to take a rest day in Ourense this put us in a quandary. We searched our souls and found a weasel. We would be soulless cheaters. We decided to take a taxi for the short hop into Ourense, snatch up a room early in the day and then kick back. We arranged the taxi at a local bar.

The driver was a local and concurred about the scarcity of rooms. He knew exactly where the private albergue was and would take us there. We got in to his van and scrunched down and pulled hats low over our faces to avoid being recognized. We passed a few pilgrims walking along the road but no one we knew. A few kilometers on Pablo busted out of the brush with a couple of others and flagged down our taxi.

They had stayed at the municipal albergue at the edge of town. On a part of the trail that went through a dense forest they had gotten lost and had been wandering around for two hours. Finally they had heard traffic and cut a trail to the road. The driver told them they could pick up the trail in the next pueblo. He asked the driver if they could have a lift to it. The driver looked at us, we looked at each other and nodded. It was at that point Pablo recognized us. He shook our hands and as his compatriots loaded their stuff and started to babble on about them getting lost. As we took off it suddenly occurred to him to ask why we were in a taxi. “Twisted ankle” I mumbled and Doug nodded. We were now soulless cheating liars.

We dropped Pablo and company at the trail and went into Ourense. It had started to rain. We were soulless cheating liars but we were dry soulless cheating liars. We got to the albergue around nine. They told us they were full up for the next three days.

We started canvassing hotels in the old section of town. No luck, no luck, no luck. Our fallback plan was a large church albergue but they made you turn in at 10 PM which on rest days was generally when we just started hitting our stride. Finally we found a cheap dumpy hostel, Hostal Lido, with two single rooms which we snatched up. It was out of the old section but not far away.

After settling in we made an exploratory tour of the local bars’ wine and tapa offerings. It was a fruitful exercise. My favorite was the Bar Orellas. We were served boiled pig ears with paprika and olive oil by a thin, hard looking, tattooed young woman. It was a Galician favorite, we found that in the grocery stores they sold it in blocks by weight. The cartilage was softly crunchy but it, and the sturdy bread, were the perfect accompaniment to their strong red wine that came in small white ceramic cups (cuncas).

The old center of Ourense was very nice. There were a mass of narrow winding streets, modern sculptures here and there, several large old churches, great plazas, terrific bars, restaurants and hotels.

It rained on and off as we wandered around. After a couple of more stops we retired for a long anticipated nap.

We ate dinner at a small place in the old town, Bar do Samuel. We had pulpo (octopus) and Carne o Caldeiro (Galician style stewed beef and potatoes), pretty good fare. It was well after dark. The rain showers had stopped. The air was clean and cool and the streets were crowded. Diners filled outside tables and bar hopping young people meandered down the streets in small groups. We were sitting outside finishing off a second bottle of wine when Jeanette and Celeste walked by and we called out to them. They sat down and we got another bottle. Jeanette went inside and Celeste whispered “Don’t let her drink too much she’s already had plenty.” When Jeanette came back she downed two glasses of wine while we chatted.

We were asked how the walk in was, we both just shrugged. They had done multiple Caminos and were less than thrilled with Via de la Plata.

Celeste looked at her watch and jumped up. “We have to get back to the albergue. It’s past ten.” We marked that Jeanette was noticeably unsteady as she and Celeste hurried away.

Ourense 11-Oct-2015

I slept in and then Doug and I went to a café for a slow breakfast at La Coruñesa, a clean bar with indoor and outdoor seating and decent wifi directly across from the Oficina de turismo (whose doorway we had seen a possible pilgrim sleeping in the previous night).

I read the paper and Doug his smartphone. We poked around the old section of the city, visiting the churches and by happenstance we found the official who could give us new pilgrim passports as our originals had filled up with stamps. We took a walk to visit the Roman baths. Next to the ruins was a municipal bath which was well attended.

Later we wandered across the river Miño on a Roman stone bridge and found a very nice restaurant/bar, Adega das Caldas. They had a nice garden with tables and banquet rooms behind their storefront. We ate tapas and drank wine and talked about the upcoming trail and Santiago. For dinner we went to a fairly fancy restaurant, Restaurante El Coto, had a great meal, fish, and excellent and slightly expensive wine. The total cost of dinner was about 48 Euros, but we rationalized it various ways.

Cea, Ourense 12-Oct-2015 22 Km

We walked back across the bridge and along a busy highway, finally leaving it for a smaller country road that took us to the base of some heavily wooded green hills. We started a very steep climb up and out of the Miño river valley and into the hills. The area was beautiful, stone walls on each side of the road, big hard woods. At the top of the hills was a settlement which we walked through to a dirt road. There were many fields and small gardens with the omnipresent Berza Gallego, a type of cabbage, a prime ingredient for Sopa Gallego. We went past mushroom hunters who called out “Buen Camino.” There was a lot of lush woodland whose leaves dappled the trail with yellow and green light. We heard a couple of distant shots, guessed hunters. We passed some big farms with cow and pig sheds. There was a badly placed painted arrow indicating the trail at a fork. We paused, thought about it for a while and then went the way we thought it indicated. This part of the trail was not synced with Doug’s smartphone so it was of no help. After a few miles of not seeing any arrows we figured out we had taken the wrong branch. We came to a road, consulted mapping and thought we could follow it to get close to our destination.

Wrong.

We were trudging along the road when a local driving past recognized us as pilgrims and stopped. He asked us where we thought we were going. I explained our situation and he shook his head and rolled his eyes. He told us to get in and took us back to a point on the trail a few miles back that we had already covered. He told us to continue straight and ignore arrows telling us to go left. We thanked him and with grim annoyance we started back down the same road / trail we had been on about 2 hours previously.

We came to a small settlement of stone buildings and shale roofs. Casa Cesar was a well known and well-advertised stop for pilgrims but we were still in a funk from backtracking and would give Cesar a pass.

It was not to be.

We were haled by an overly gregarious, English speaking middle aged Portuguese pilgrim who came out, recognized us immediately as Americans, called to us and said “Guys this is great! You need to stop! You need to see this!” He beckoned us. We looked at each other and shucked our packs.

Cesar was a retired bus driver. He had come back to his home village and set up a rest stop for pilgrims. There was wine and homemade orujo, cheese, chorizo, coffee, bread, tortilla de patata. It was a very basic set up and he ran it on donations. Our Portuguese friend had five compatriots, who like him had obviously been drinking orujo for quite a while – it was after all just a few minutes past noon. He told us his family was from Galicia and his grandfather and granduncle had fled to Portugal to avoid the civil war. His granduncle was shot by the fascists but his grandfather escaped. As the Portuguese left Doug and I sat with Cesar, heard his stories and looked at his mementos and drank black coffee.

We explained the problem with the arrow to Cesar. After several examples about West vs North on map, and 9 versus 12 on an analog clock face, and a couple of drawings Cesar understood what we were talking about and said he would make sure it was corrected. We left after a round of photos.

As we walked away, Doug said that Cesar's cleanliness and housekeeping skills were reminiscent of mine about 25 years ago when I was a bachelor living in Puerto Rico.

The country was lush, alternating between woodlands and farms. After a number of miles we came to a small settlement. The Portuguese were ensconced in an outside table of a bar drinking beer. They clapped as we want by and shouted “USA . . . USA . . . USA . . .” inviting us to join them. We smiled, doffed our hats and continued.

Further down the trail they individually caught up and passed us. We went a few more miles and on the outskirts of a small town we found one of the Portuguese wandering around seemingly dazed. We were in a slight quandary as to what to do when he found a shade tree, sat down on the grass, leaned against it and pulled his hat over his eyes.

Too much orujo and beer we concluded.

We continued on. In a short time one of his compatriots came back down trail asking if we had seen the lagging friend. We told him right where to find him.

We got to the pueblo with the albergue and decided to continue on to a Casa Rural we had seen advertised. The walking was now along a road.

The Casa Rural, O Refugio in Cotelajs, was nice. It was located just off the road. Fortunately, Doug had scoffed when the owner tried to give us one room with a double bed – since it was final day of a long weekend we could also have the room of a regular guest, a teacher, if we were out by 9AM. We each had our own room and bathroom, dinner included for 17 Euros each! We had a menu, pulpo, pork fillets with rigatoni (without the benefit of a sauce). When I asked about sauce a bottle of ketchup was produced. There were two other pilgrims, Austrian women. We spoke briefly and they told us that they had also made the same mistake at the trail branch and had to backtrack.

Estacion Lalin, Pontevedra 13-Oct-2015 23 Km

It was generally a very nice walk, a lot of wooded trail strewn with chestnuts, large cultivated fields, a couple of big dairy operations, and some highway walking that went through villages that faded into each other. We passed some very large, well-appointed homes. The area seemed very prosperous, more so than anything we had seen before.

We stopped early at a hostel, Restaurante A Ponte, a friendly family run place. We cleaned up and went out for drinks and tapas. We were across the street at a bar when we saw the Portuguese arrive. Two of them were carrying a pack suspended on a pole and Yoshi (aka Fritz) was with them. We went back to the hostel as they were tucking into a very large supper. They bought us a couple of drinks and we sat down with them. It turned out that they were Portuguese detectives (homicide and robbery) and spoke English very well. One of them showed us his badge. They were all friends or family and had done the Portuguese Camino previously. They had found Yoshi on the trail. His back was giving him trouble. They carried his pack and shepherded him to the hostel. They kept refilling my glass with the orujo that came with the meal as they were continuing on after eating and limited themselves to wine and beer. Yoshi would stay at the hostel because of his back. After dessert and finishing the wine they hoisted their packs and started off down the highway. The combination of dehydration and orujo caught up with me later at dinner. I couldn’t finish and shakily wobbled back to my room and fell into bed. The next morning we helped get a taxi for Yoshi to get to the next albergue. The taxi would deliver his pack to the albergue but drop him short of it so he could walk a bit. His back was feeling better but he needed to take it easy for a while.

Reguengo Pontevedra 13-Oct-2015 15 Km

It was a short day today. The trail had some highway walking but also a lot of very beautiful wooded trail some of which was along the Deza River which we crossed on a Roman bridge. There were short bits of steep uphill as we came up and over the hills that the river ran through. Some of the trail went over the remnants of a Roman road which was reduced to the rounded stones used for the base. We ran into several small groups of other pilgrims, maybe twelve people total, nobody we knew. As we came down from the hills and had a good view of the upcoming area. It was low rolling hills with many large farms and we could see the outskirts of Silleda up on a rise. The countryside was wooded interspersed with green pastures. The area had a prosperous feel. We stayed in a nice hostel, Hostal Gonzalez (aka El Gran Albergue del Peregrino), cleaned up and sat at an outside table of the hostel’s restaurant, had great complimentary cups of stew with our wine and eavesdropped on the locals finishing up late lunches.

The night was cold and a bit rainy. We had a good meal at the hostel, hit a market for supplies, and stopped in at a local bar before ending in the hostel bar for a final drink.

Puerto de Ulla, A Coruña 14-Oct-2015 21 Km

It was sunny but cold in the morning. Shortly out of town we were happy to see a road sign that said 'Santiago 35' - We knew we were really going to make it before we killed each other. We were still somewhat superstitious though, and if either of us started to mention how lucky we had been with dogs and bedbugs, the other would cut off the discussion mid-sentence.

Later in the morning another pilgrim's small dog wearing a pack charged at me with evil intent. I readied my trekking pole and the dog decided that I was not to be reckoned with.

We passed through dense stands of eucalyptus, pine, oak and chestnut. These shadowed wooded areas held even more coldness and our breath steamed. Most of the trail was through low forested hills broken up by farms, vineyards and pastures. We had nice wide views of the fertile countryside. By noon it started to warm up. There were many cows who stared blankly as we walked by. We passed a fair amount of stone houses, all were large and well maintained speaking again to the area's prosperity.

We stayed in a hostel, Pensión Juanito, near the old stone bridge that crossed river Ulla which we had walked across. We based this choice on a bed bug alert about our destination albergue a few kilometers further on. We did a wash and walked around the town, got supplies at a market (Supermercado DIA! We are in the civilized world again) and stopped at a bar. It was a funny feeling. We were only about 20 Km from Santiago and yet it seemed like the journey shouldn’t be over this quickly even though we had been walking over a month.

We had a very good dinner, sopa Gallego, salad, grilled pork, fairly decent wine at the hostal's O Churrasco De Juanito.

Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña 15-Oct-2015 21 Km

It was a very pleasant walk in. We started out going past large fields and pastures, eventually hitting villages that dovetailed into each other. Many of the homes had large grape arbors and gardens. The rural areas slowly faded away to the outskirts of Santiago. Along the way we bumped into the Austrian women we had met earlier. They were resting. One had a sore ankle and Doug gave her his Ace bandage which she was very happy to get. We chatted and they confirmed that our destination albergue had been nasty with bedbugs. So much so that they had back tracked to find a hostel in the town where we stayed. We all stopped at a roadside café for breakfast and they insisted on picking up our check as repayment for the Ace bandage.

We humped up and down the hilly streets of the city and made into Santiago midday. Walking by the cathedral we ran into Jeanette, Celeste and Yoshi watching a pilgrim approaching the cathedral on her knees. The woman was young and had a disturbing tense expression. We were all glad to see each other but disappointed to learn that the Portuguese had already left and that Jeanette, Celeste and Yoshi would leave tomorrow morning. Celeste invited us to join a birthday supper for Anna, another pilgrim from Granada that we didn’t know.

We checked into a large private albergue, Hostal La Salle, and got a room with a private bathroom. A busload of teenage students were offloading as we were cleaning up and I expected them to raise hell all night but they didn’t. We met up at the restaurant and Gabi, Jeanette, Yoshi and Celeste were there along with some other pilgrims, Germans and Dutch, and of course Anna and her significant other.

The restaurant, O Dezaseis, specialty was seafood and it was great (but a little pricy). We stuffed ourselves, went through many bottles of wine and a few rounds of orujo, introduced ourselves, and exchanged Camino stories. When the party broke up we had goodbyes and hugs with Gabi, Jeanette, Yoshi and Celeste. That night I felt a little melancholy. After dark we went out for drinks and a had few misfires including a chichi bar that charged double the normal amount for a drink but we did find a great neighborhood bar and met a Scot who had just finished his Camino. The bar was packed with locals enjoying the start of their weekend. The hustle and the bustle cheered me.

Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña 16-Oct-2015 0 Km

We went to the pilgrim’s mass on Saturday morning and saw the swinging of the Botafumeiro. We wandered around the town and walked to the train station where we got tickets to Madrid for the next morning. It was supposed to be an “express train” but it would make many stops and take the whole damn day to get to Madrid. I was tempted to fly but then thought watching the countryside roll by would be a nice transition.

As we were wandering around town Anna called my name from a bar patio. We sat with her and ate salted peanuts and drank beer. Her significant other was visiting with a previous significant other and Anna didn’t want to get in the way. Anna was a school teacher, thirtyish with black spiked hair. We talked at length about the corruption in Andalusia and the poor governance provided by either side of the political spectrum. Seemed like both just threw their agendas out the window when there was money to be skimmed or bribes to be had.

At twilight we waited in line to show our pilgrim’s passports to get our certificates. The last light of the day and creeping darkness really enhanced the beauty of the old buildings, porticos and streets. There was a large line most of the day and there still a goodly number when we arrived. It seemed a lot of people were coming in off the Camino Frances.

After dinner we ended up back at the neighborhood bar where we had a few drinks before turning in.
 
Last edited:

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
We stayed at a monastery that also served as an albergue. It was a crappy experience.
I see that nothing has gotten better in Alcuéscar since I was there in 2013. I won't go into details but I was happy when finally leaving that place. Another option is to continue to Aldea del Cano instead, although the albergue there had bed bugs (we were bitten) in 2012. Well that was a long time ago so I'm sure they've fixed it since.

Thanks for your posts, I remember one or two things from my own journey!

/BP
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I see that nothing has gotten better in Alcuéscar since I was there in 2013. I won't go into details but I was happy when finally leaving that place. Another option is to continue to Aldea del Cano instead, although the albergue there had bed bugs (we were bitten) in 2012. Well that was a long time ago so I'm sure they've fixed it since.

Thanks for your posts, I remember one or two things from my own journey!

/BP
Things must have changed a lot since I stayed there in 2009 and 2010. The monastery's primary mission, I think, is (or was) to care for disabled older men who have no family support system, so there is a residential community there already. The hours are maybe an inconvenience for some pilgrims (I can't remember exactly, but I think they close down at mid day). They have volunteer hospitaleros, from FICS I believe (but am not sure). There are both small rooms (which I was lucky to get on both my stays, in fact I had a private room the second time!) and a larger room. Communal dinner is served -- true, it's institutional food, not home made by the hospitalero, but the ambiente was great both times I was there -- clean up is a breeze when you're enjoying others' company.

So I don't know what has changed, but I am sorry to hear that.

Buen camino, Laurie

P.s. If you do stay in Alcuescar, and if you love ancient churches, make a point to take the well marked, lovely stroll from the ayuntamiento in town to the beautiful Santa Lucia del Trampal. It's about 3 km outside town. It is visigothic, 7C, located in a flower filled meadow. The church has a museum inside, describing the monastic life of what used to be a bustling monastery. I had walked only from Aljucen when I did this, so I got to Alcuescar in mid to late morning. After showering, washing, etc, I packed up a picnic lunch and walked out to the church. By the time I had finished my lunch, written in my journal and taken a rest lying in the shady grass, the attendant arrived promptly to open it up for afternoon visit. It is really a great little detour!
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
Things must have changed a lot since I stayed there in 2009 and 2010. The monastery's primary mission, I think, is (or was) to care for disabled older men who have no family support system, so there is a residential community there already. The hours are maybe an inconvenience for some pilgrims (I can't remember exactly, but I think they close down at mid day). They have volunteer hospitaleros, from FICS I believe (but am not sure). There are both small rooms (which I was lucky to get on both my stays, in fact I had a private room the second time!) and a larger room. Communal dinner is served -- true, it's institutional food, not home made by the hospitalero, but the ambiente was great both times I was there -- clean up is a breeze when you're enjoying others' company.

So I don't know what has changed, but I am sorry to hear that.

Buen camino, Laurie

P.s. If you do stay in Alcuescar, and if you love ancient churches, make a point to take the well marked, lovely stroll from the ayuntamiento in town to the beautiful Santa Lucia del Trampal. It's about 3 km outside town. It is visigothic, 7C, located in a flower filled meadow. The church has a museum inside, describing the monastic life of what used to be a bustling monastery. I had walked only from Aljucen when I did this, so I got to Alcuescar in mid to late morning. After showering, washing, etc, I packed up a picnic lunch and walked out to the church. By the time I had finished my lunch, written in my journal and taken a rest lying in the shady grass, the attendant arrived promptly to open it up for afternoon visit. It is really a great little detour!
Hi,

I didn't want to go into details but I can mention a few things. Let's just say that the people running the albergue-monastery had a rather condescending attitude towards people who are not religious and not interested in participating in their rites. I didn't see a "if you stay here you have to do this and that"-sign when I registered in their office.

When I said to them that I wouldn't participate in mass (I wasn't scornful, not aggressive, just like "thanks but no thanks", followed by my humble--pilgrim-smile), the guy looked at me with disappointment and shook his head as if I was the most ungrateful person the world. I could have started a discussion about this with him and asked what the problem was, but as you are "a guest in their albergue/country and pilgrims shouldn't demand things, think about your behaviour" and so on, I didn't say anything. Therefore, as I'm a spineless person, I ended up in church, and also because, yes, the other pilgrims (five or six) went there with no further ado. And I was doubting: is it bad manner to refuse mass when you stay in a monastery...? Okay, I already hear it from a lot of people: "If you stay there you should accept their rules or find yourself another place, there are plenty of them." As for me, I still don't understand why I have to participate in mass if I don't want to. If it is bad manner, so be it. I paid.

One pilgrim actually was absent, and was then interrogated about this by the hospitalero?? Is that any of his business?!

Then there were other things as well but that would make the post far too long.

And no, I don't consider myself anticlerical, because in that case I wouldn't have stayed there at all. I don't shun these places. I happily stay in religious or non-religious accomodations, as long as I'm not forced to do anything I don't want to.

This is not aimed at you Laurie, just had to get it off my chest!! :O)

/BP
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
I guess they are monks but I'm wondering if the hospitalero was a monk too or an outsider volunteering at the monastery.
Oh, that's right, I didn't really know what to call them. The guy I meant was dressed like... eer... a normal hospitalero though. He seemed to know everyone working there and so on, so I don't think he had come from outside, as a volunteer, since last week or anything. So someone working for the Church + Hospitalero but not a monk.

/BP
 
C

Castilian

Guest
So someone working for the Church + Hospitalero but not a monk.
Well, it could be many things. It could be a religious from an order that don't use (daily) a religious habit, it could be a diocesan priest, it could be a (lay) member of a third order (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_order), it could be a lay, it could be... Anyway, regardless what he was, it seems he was interested in making pilgrims attend mass (what makes sense from the point of view of some some people and doesn't make it from the point of view of other people).
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
The albergue in Alcuesar is normally manned by hospitaleros voluntarios BUT with one that lives there most of the year and since many years. He is neither a priest, nor a monk, nor third order. As I was there early this year he was more concerned about his 'other duties' whatever they were than the pilgrims. We (4 pilgrims in total, all fluent in Spanish) were very interested in learning more about the ministery and history of the community but were told that we were not enough in numbers to justify the advertised visit/chat with the brothers.
Whatever brother I met, they always stated first thing "our residents are our true treasure" whilst I can understand this to a certain extend I still felt like second or third class when staying there - admitted but not really wanted ...
SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Yes, I know that and I also know the hospitalero permanente there from years back. But they do advertise/invite pilgrims to a chat with the community/visit to the place and then, in my experience, cancel it without a reason given. Buen Camino, SY
 

Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
IMG_20151017_103439.jpg

Epilogue


A couple of things struck me after I finished the Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres. I did the Frances in 2004. The phenomena of trailer peregrinos was unknown and the municipal, regional and parochial run albergues were very strict about only admitting peregrinos who arrived walking, biking or on horseback (I did meet people on horseback). My feeling is that this ‘look the other way’ attitude concerning trailer peregrinos is not good for the reputation or overall health of the VdlP/Sanabres. All the peregrinos who were forced out by them were extremely bitter about it and felt it cast an unfavorable light on the Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres.

Speaking to a manager of a private albergue in Extremadura I found out that he worked for a hotel chain that was taking over municipal run albergues along the Plata. He said they had taken over three and were negotiating for more. They took reservations (there was a reserved sign on two beds) and didn’t seem to care if their client was a peregrino or not. His albergue was clean, well laid out, with a washer and a vending machine. However he mentioned the first thing they did when they take over an albergue is take out the kitchen for liability reasons. I am not against private albergues, quite the opposite. They are an important part of the Camino infrastructure. But when municipalities sign over their albergues to a for profit organization this may not bode well for peregrinos with limited resources as these albergues are more costly and you cannot cook in them. Also peregrinos could be displaced by daytripping individuals.

The infrastructure differences between the Frances and Plata/Sanabres are large. There is proportionally much more highway walking on the Plata/Sanabres. The amount of very poor trail is also proportionally much higher on the Plata/Sanabres. The southern portion of the Plata has few watering opportunities between destinations, large shadeless stretches and limited numbers of albergues, markets and cafes. Going through the mountain passes in Galicia is much more arduous and lengthy on the Camino Sanabres. You need to keep a very close eye on the weather. In general the Plata/Sanabres should be considered not just longer but tougher than the Frances.

Among the things that I very much liked about the Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres was the relatively low numbers of peregrinos that were on the trail (until we got near and into Galicia). A lot of it was solitary walking which I liked immensely. My brothers did the Frances in 2012 in October and they told me that parts of it were crowded to the point that there were backups at the some of the narrow points on the trail. There is also a lot more walking through sparsely populated and wild areas on the VdlP/Sanabres. I got to see a lot more wildlife on the VdlP/Sanabres than on the Frances.

Would I recommend the Plata/Sanabres? Depends on the person. Would I do it again? Possibly.
 
Last edited:

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
View attachment 28265

Epilogue


A couple of things struck me after I finished the Via de la Plata. I did the Frances in 2004. The phenomena of trailer peregrinos was unknown and the municipal, regional and parochial run albergues were very strict about only admitting peregrinos who arrived walking, biking or on horseback (I did meet people on horseback). My feeling is that this ‘look the other way’ attitude concerning trailer peregrinos is not good for the reputation or overall health of the VdlP. All the peregrinos who were forced out by them were extremely bitter about it and felt it cast an unfavorable light on the Via de la Plata.

Speaking to a manager of a private albergue in Extremadura I found out that he worked for a hotel chain that was taking over municipal run albergues along the Plata. He said they had taken over three and were negotiating for more. They took reservations (there was a reserved sign on two beds) and didn’t seem to care if their client was a peregrino or not. His albergue was clean, well laid out, with a washer and a vending machine. However he mentioned the first thing they did when they take over an albergue is take out the kitchen for liability reasons. I am not against private albergues, quite the opposite. They are an important part of the Camino infrastructure. But when municipalities sign over their albergues to a for profit organization this may not bode well for peregrinos with limited resources as these albergues are more costly and you cannot cook in them. Also peregrinos could be displaced by daytripping individuals.

The infrastructure differences between the Frances and Plata are large. There is proportionally much more highway walking on the Plata. The amount of very poor trail is also proportionally much higher on the Plata. The southern portion of the Plata has few watering opportunities between destinations, large shadeless stretches and limited numbers of albergues, markets and cafes. Going through the mountain passes in Galicia is much more arduous and lengthy on the Plata. You need to keep a very close eye on the weather. In general the Plata should be considered not just longer but tougher than the Frances.

Among the things that I very much liked about the Via de la Plata was the relatively low numbers of peregrinos that were on the trail (until we got near and into Galicia). A lot of it was solitary walking which I liked immensely. My brothers did the Frances in 2012 in October and they told me that parts of it were crowded to the point that there were backups at the some of the narrow points on the trail. There is also a lot more walking through sparsely populated and wild areas on the VdlP. I got to see a lot more wildlife on the VdlP than on the Frances.

Would I recommend the Plata? Depends on the person. Would I do it again? Possibly.
Ahm, as I know Via de la Plata doesn't go through Galicia but maybe you are talking about Sanabres. Which isn't de la Plata anymore because original/official VdlP goes through Benavente to Astorga and is in all its lenght in Castilla y Leon.
EDIT: "in all it's lenght" - for the northern part of it, of course ;)

But the phenomena of private albergues worries me too. Also this year on Salvador I've learned that Xunta albergues accept backpacks delivered (only!!!) by Correos. I've been told that that doesn't mean reservation but I can't get off my feeling it's just that. Shame...

Anyway thanks for your posts, I have enjoyed them very much!!!
 
Last edited:

Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
Ahm, as I know Via de la Plata doesn't go through Galicia but maybe you are talking about Sanabres. Which isn't de la Plata anymore because original/official VdlP goes through Benavente to Astorga and is in all its lenght in Castilla y Leon.
Thanks for the input. Clarification made.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
attitude concerning trailer peregrinos is not good for the reputation or overall health of the VdlP/Sanabres. All the peregrinos who were forced out by them were extremely bitter about it and felt it cast an unfavorable light on the Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres
Hi,

I'm not familiar with the term trailer peregrinos? And how can you be displaced by anyone? If you are in an albergue, and if you are walking, how can anyone displace you?

BP
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi,

I'm not familiar with the term trailer peregrinos? And how can you be displaced by anyone? If you are in an albergue, and if you are walking, how can anyone displace you?

BP
Not to derail this thread, but I think that what happens sometimes is that the trailer with the backpacks arrives earlier and dumps the backpacks on the beds. When others arrive, even if they arrive before those with transported bags, they don't have a place to sleep. Unless they take the packs off the bed and claim it themselves, which frequently produces unfriendly interactions. (And they shouldn't be putting packs on the beds anyway!!!)


But the phenomena of private albergues worries me too. Also this year on Salvador I've learned that Xunta albergues accept backpacks delivered (only!!!) by Correos. I've been told that that doesn't mean reservation but I can't get off my feeling it's just that. Shame...
Kinky, since the Salvador doesn't go into Galicia you mean municipal albergue, not Xunta albergue. :) And you may be talking about a different incident, but if you are referring to the group that had their bags taken to La Robla and then left you without a bed, they used a taxi and not Correos. At least this taxi driver did not place the packs on the beds, so when Koilife and his son arrived, just a little before the group, they were able to get in and get a bed, meaning that one of the group had to sleep on the floor in the kitchen. This all worked out well, though because everyone said he was a tremendous snorer.

The issue with carried packs is a hard one in terms of albergue priority. The privates do what they want of course, but I have seen a lot of municipals where the bags are left outside till the owner arrives and then the person can go get whatever bed is left. The walkers who arrive later with their packs may find the albergue has no beds left. I guess the argument is that they would have walked faster but for the pack on their back, so they should have priority over those who had their packs transported. This sounds like an administrative nightmare, which may be why some municipals just don't take transported packs.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
View attachment 28265

Epilogue


A couple of things struck me after I finished the Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres. I did the Frances in 2004. The phenomena of trailer peregrinos was unknown and the municipal, regional and parochial run albergues were very strict about only admitting peregrinos who arrived walking, biking or on horseback (I did meet people on horseback). My feeling is that this ‘look the other way’ attitude concerning trailer peregrinos is not good for the reputation or overall health of the VdlP/Sanabres. All the peregrinos who were forced out by them were extremely bitter about it and felt it cast an unfavorable light on the Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres.

Speaking to a manager of a private albergue in Extremadura I found out that he worked for a hotel chain that was taking over municipal run albergues along the Plata. He said they had taken over three and were negotiating for more. They took reservations (there was a reserved sign on two beds) and didn’t seem to care if their client was a peregrino or not. His albergue was clean, well laid out, with a washer and a vending machine. However he mentioned the first thing they did when they take over an albergue is take out the kitchen for liability reasons. I am not against private albergues, quite the opposite. They are an important part of the Camino infrastructure. But when municipalities sign over their albergues to a for profit organization this may not bode well for peregrinos with limited resources as these albergues are more costly and you cannot cook in them. Also peregrinos could be displaced by daytripping individuals.

The infrastructure differences between the Frances and Plata/Sanabres are large. There is proportionally much more highway walking on the Plata/Sanabres. The amount of very poor trail is also proportionally much higher on the Plata/Sanabres. The southern portion of the Plata has few watering opportunities between destinations, large shadeless stretches and limited numbers of albergues, markets and cafes. Going through the mountain passes in Galicia is much more arduous and lengthy on the Camino Sanabres. You need to keep a very close eye on the weather. In general the Plata/Sanabres should be considered not just longer but tougher than the Frances.

Among the things that I very much liked about the Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres was the relatively low numbers of peregrinos that were on the trail (until we got near and into Galicia). A lot of it was solitary walking which I liked immensely. My brothers did the Frances in 2012 in October and they told me that parts of it were crowded to the point that there were backups at the some of the narrow points on the trail. There is also a lot more walking through sparsely populated and wild areas on the VdlP/Sanabres. I got to see a lot more wildlife on the VdlP/Sanabres than on the Frances.

Would I recommend the Plata/Sanabres? Depends on the person. Would I do it again? Possibly.
Old Gringo, thanks so much for the pictures and stories. Many of us enjoyed it a lot. Buen camino, Laurie.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
Not to derail this thread, but I think that what happens sometimes is that the trailer with the backpacks arrives earlier and dumps the backpacks on the beds. When others arrive, even if they arrive before those with transported bags, they don't have a place to sleep. Unless they take the packs off the bed and claim it themselves, which frequently produces unfriendly interactions. (And they shouldn't be putting packs on the beds anyway!!!)




Kinky, since the Salvador doesn't go into Galicia you mean municipal albergue, not Xunta albergue. :) And you may be talking about a different incident, but if you are referring to the group that had their bags taken to La Robla and then left you without a bed, they used a taxi and not Correos. At least this taxi driver did not place the packs on the beds, so when Koilife and his son arrived, just a little before the group, they were able to get in and get a bed, meaning that one of the group had to sleep on the floor in the kitchen. This all worked out well, though because everyone said he was a tremendous snorer.

The issue with carried packs is a hard one in terms of albergue priority. The privates do what they want of course, but I have seen a lot of municipals where the bags are left outside till the owner arrives and then the person can go get whatever bed is left. The walkers who arrive later with their packs may find the albergue has no beds left. I guess the argument is that they would have walked faster but for the pack on their back, so they should have priority over those who had their packs transported. This sounds like an administrative nightmare, which may be why some municipals just don't take transported packs.
Hi Laurie,

Thanks for the explanation. I thought "trailer peregrino" meant that the peregrinos arrived in a trailer....! :O) Couldn't figure out why they would do that!! :O) :O)

Ok, I won't derail the thread. But the facts that you present, in terms of priority amongst pilgrims, just leave me speechless. Haven't met many pilgrims who send their bags and haven't experienced a clash between them and others so this is new to me. Pilgrims sending bags that occupy beds? I have learned I should be respectful about someone's personal choice about taking a cab instead of walking, period. But now these bags take the places of other pilgrims...? Speechless.

OK I'll leave it there, but count upon me bringing up the subject somewhere..............

Thanks!/BP
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Kinky, since the Salvador doesn't go into Galicia you mean municipal albergue, not Xunta albergue. :) And you may be talking about a different incident, but if you are referring to the group that had their bags taken to La Robla and then left you without a bed, they used a taxi and not Correos. At least this taxi driver did not place the packs on the beds, so when Koilife and his son arrived, just a little before the group, they were able to get in and get a bed, meaning that one of the group had to sleep on the floor in the kitchen. This all worked out well, though because everyone said he was a tremendous snorer.
I'm sorry, of curse that was MUNI albergues on Salvador. I've mixed them up with Ingles... :rolleyes:
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I'm not sure why/how this thread reappeared in my feed, but I want to say to @Old Gringo how much I enjoyed the writing style and attitude!
 

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