A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

See the full Camino Forum Store here with many more camino products.

Virtual (and very detailed) plan to walk the VdlP and Sanabrés (planning while in confinement)

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
This year we were going to walk from Lisbon to SdC, after a few shorter walks in France and a week volunteering at SJPdP.
As a result of Covid-19, we are now confined in Melbourne, Australia, and I have been keeping the dream alive by planning 2021 and 2022 (when I am not running after a delightful little two year old grandson :)).
The reason I mention both 2021 and 2022, is that we are still deciding whether we will just transpose our Portugal planning to 2021, and then walk the VdlP in 2022.
We are both in our 60's, Rachel has had cancer and although she starts the day often stronger than I do, she gets tired by early afternoon, as a result of her treatment and medication. No lullaby needed when she goes to bed!
In 2018, we walked from where she was born in Switzerland to SdC, following the Via Gebennensis, the Voie du Puy-en-Velay, the Voie Nive-Bidassoa, the Camino del Norte (with a detour to Oviedo). 2178km, walked in 133 days with a few rest days. Rachel preferred knowing where we would sleep every night, and that peace of mind came at the expense of flexibility. We also prefer to have a private room, so that she (and I) can get a good night's sleep. Also, we are not walking with sleeping bags, only liners.

So with this in mind, I started planning our VdlP, and at @peregrina2000 's suggestion, and following @C clearly 's footsteps, here's our virtual walk. If this is to happen in 2021, we would start on 22 April 2021, if it is to happen in 2022, we would start earlier, possibly early March 2022.
I'm using Gerald Kelly's guide, I have bought the Wise Pilgrim guide from this forum, and I have been consulting Gronze.

Day 0: Sevilla
We visited Sevilla in February 2019, and stayed a week, during which we explored the Real Alcázar, las Setas, the Cathedral, as well as doing two day trips, one to Cadiz, and the other to Cordoba.
So we're going to stay a couple of days before we start walking (so Day -2 to Day 0 in Sevilla).

Day 1: Seville to Santiponce
We didn't explore the outskirts of Sevilla, and @OzAnnie suggested we see ‘Italica’ the Roman ruins at Santiponce.
So we're going to walk about 10km today, giving us ample time to explore Italica.
Wise Pilgrim also mentions visiting the Monasterio de San Isidoro del Campo.
There are two routes, one via Camas, and the other along the river. Wise Pilgrim refers to it as "it would not be the worst idea to walk with another pilgrim." Gerald Kelly mentions the possibility of encountering "loose dogs". I have cynophobia, and I tend to freeze when any big barking dog (German shepherd size or bigger) runs towards me. The road through Camas goes through an industrial estate. Rachel prefers the river route...
Gronze lists two places to sleep tonight: Alojamiento Como en Tu Casa and Hotel Anfiteatro Romano, the latter also listed by Wise Pilgrim.

Day 2: Santiponce to Guillena
This is a 12.3km day according to Gronze. Once we have passed the highway, it is a straight line to Guillena. Do we cross a ford when we get to the arroyo?
If it's flooded, Wise Pilgrim advises us to take different options, one of which goes through Torre de la Reina. Looking at Google street view, the Plaza Mayor in Torre de la Reina looks nice, but I am not sure it is worth the detour?
In Guillena, for a private room, it looks like there's the Hostal Francés, or the Albergue Luz del Camino which seems to have two bed bedrooms.

And that's the first official stage done!
 
Last edited:

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 3: Guillena to Castilblanco de los Arroyos
18.3km according to Gronze, which describes this as "Etapa corta y prácticamente imposible de alargar", or: short stage and practically impossible to lengthen. Suits us :) as it looks like it is uphill all the way.
There's no stops along the way, so we'll have to take food and plenty of water with us. It looks like we'll be walking through open country.
When we get to Castilblanco, we might head left, as Wise Pilgrim suggests that takes us through cobbled lanes to the town centre and the church.
There's a choice of accommodation here, a couple of Casas Rurales and the Hotel Castillo Blanco. Casa Salvadora (listed on Gronze but not on Wise Pilgrim) looks central, and has good reviews on Gronze.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Ok, here we go! Looks great, AJ, and I know you have done a lot of planning, so you are probably way ahead of us.

Day 1
For Itálica, just remember that the ruins are closed on Monday, but you probably already know that. And close early on Sundays, I believe. San Isidoro had not been restored the last time I was there, but it looks very interesting, with some opening times that you should also pay attention to.

I have walked out of Sevilla twice, and I went both times through Camas. I had been advised to avoid the river walk since I was alone, but I think that there is now no issue at all. There had been some banditry on this stretch, but that was years ago and arrests were followed by convictions. I think it is all on asphalt to Italica, at least through Camas, so you might avoid some on the river walk.

Day 2
Ah, the arroyo, it’s been a long time since we’ve had a discussion about that, but if the water is high it would be dicey. I remember finding a log that was sort of hidden in some brush, and I was able to sit down and shimmey across, but it was not fun. I know there has been talk of building a bridge for years, but I have not heard any reports that has happened.

If you do go though Torre de la Reina, there is a fancy hotel in an ancient building, but it wouldn’t make much sense probably.

Day 3
I think this is the day that starts you into the Chaparral, scrub oaks lots of wild flowers. There is a potential spot for some flooding, but you won’t get lost. I remember we had to take a slight detour once. And I also remember the wild flower extravaganza very vividly.

In Castilblanco, I stayed in the Hospedería de la Plata, with a nice balcony, great bathroom, and it is a small family run place. I checked the price going into town and decided to take it — at the time, the albergue was not the greatest, the big hotel at the entrance looked off-putting, and Sra. Salvadora had not yet started her business. I have heard good things about her place, though.

I have not been on this part of the Vdlp for years, and it is fun to look back at my journals and remember my experience. Thanks, AJ!
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Thank you Laurie! :)

Yes, I remember Mondays from our walk in 2018. If we walk the VdlP in 2021, we could be in Santiponce on a Friday, so that would be good. And if we walk in 2022, then I'll time our departure accordingly :)

When we walked in 2018, there were a few streams we had to cross in France. Just take the shoes off, we have Keen sandals (Newport H2), so that's easily done. And I have noted the diversion in Wise Pilgrim, in case the level is too high.

The wildflowers would be wonderful. So if we leave end April, would that be over? Would that be an argument in favour of us delaying our VdlP until 2022, when we would start earlier, say March?

Day 4: Castilblanco de los Arroyos to Almadén de la Plata
This stage is 28.2km, and its length would make it an unpleasant experience for Rachel.
After a good night's sleep, we're going to get some form of transport from Castilblanco to the entrance to Finca El Berrocal (I assume my Streetview screen capture shows that entrance).
There is a bus between Castilblanco and Almadén, but I don't think it stops in front of the Finca El Berrocal, and the timing might not work. So we'll ask for a taxi, or someone local to drive us to that drop off point. I am assuming we won't miss much by not walking along the SE-5405 road...
We will then be able to enjoy "bello recorrido por la dehesa El Berrocal" (Gronze), even the climb to the Alto del Calvario. We'll walk about 13km today.
In Almadén de la Plata, the Albergue la Casa del Reloj has rooms with two beds, but there are a large number of comments on Gronze indicating that there is no intimacy when one goes to the toilet, and that everybody can hear the 'noises' that are emitted within :rolleyes:
We'll try either the Casa Concha or El Romeral for a rest.
Gerald Kelly reports that Restaurant La Murilla, beside the church, does a good pilgrim menu. ¡Buen provecho!
 

Attachments

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Ok, here we go! Looks great, AJ, and I know you have done a lot of planning, so you are probably way ahead of us.
Not really way ahead, @peregrina2000 ! In my planning, I have only looked at distances :)
This exercise is really proving to be a great way of keeping the dream alive! Thank you so much for suggesting it, Laurie!
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have started from Sevilla twice, once on April 15, and once around May 1. The wildflowers were out in full force both times. No way to predict of course, but the amount of winter rain will have a lot to do with it. Just ask those who walked the Mozárabe from Almería a few years ago starting in mid April. It had rained for months and gave us a neverending show of wildflower beauty!

Day 4. Castilblalnco to Almadén

I know there are lots of people who share cabs to get to the entrance of the park, so I am sure it will be easy for you to arrange.

I have stayed in Almadén in both the municipal albergue (which burned down and was rebuilt last year, I believe) and the Pensión Bar Concha. The pensión is an addition to the older bar and it was quite new when I was there in 2009. Basic, clean, not great food in the bar. As I re-read my notes, I see that I was there once when the school kids were practicing for a procession through town for a holy day. Those kinds of things are such a great way to sit and watch the town in action.

What always surprises me is the high level of inter-generational interaction that is so typical in Spain. My notes from my afternoon in Castilblanco are typical — I was sitting out on my balcony, and three women were in the café terrace below having tea. One was in her 80s at least, the other two probably in their 60s or 70s. They were enthusiastically discussing a wedding they had all recently been to and how the dress of the mother of the bride was too tight. :p About an hour later they were still there, still conversing non stop and plotting out a route to walk home so that they would pass benches for the “vieja” to take a rest. If I were that vieja, I think I would be oh so happy to be part of the small world of Castilblanco, loved and included. Maybe I’m just romanticizing here, but I am always impressed with the way the old folks are not shut away as they so often are over here. Anyway, back to the Vdlp.....

I noted that the Bar Hogar el Pensionista in Almadén opens at 6 for coffee and breakfast. I am not sure if you are early risers, but early bar openings on the Vdlp are very common — not for peregrinos, but because there is a lot of activity starting early in the morning, truckers, workers, to squeeze in hours of work before what may be a scorcher in the afternoon.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
I have started from Sevilla twice, once on April 15, and once around May 1. The wildflowers were out in full force both times.
That's great to know, Laurie, so that if we walk in 2021, the wild flowers could still happen, if the rains are good.

As I re-read my notes, I see that I was there once when the school kids were practicing for a procession through town for a holy day. Those kinds of things are such a great way to sit and watch the town in action.
That reminds me that I have to check when Easter will happen: in 2021 we will be walking after Easter (4 April 2021), but in 2022, it is on 17 April, and if we start mid to late March, we could have Easter celebrations along the way.

What always surprises me is the high level of inter-generational interaction that is so typical in Spain. Maybe I’m just romanticizing here, but I am always impressed with the way the old folks are not shut away as they so often are over here. Anyway, back to the Vdlp.....
We found the same thing in rural France and on the Norte, and it is great to see that the elderly still remain an integral part of the family unit.

Day 5: Almadén de la Plata to Real de la Jara
In another thread, @amancio suggested Real de la Jara was a good place to stop, so to shorten the Almadén de la Plata to Monesterio stage, which would be 33.6km according to Gronze, we're going to walk 13.6km today. Gronze tells us that we are going to go through "bonitos tramos de dehesa y bosque mediterráneo", beautiful stretches of pastureland and Mediterranean forest.
This short stage would also give us enough time to check out the Castillo Real de la Jara.
I notice @C clearly also stopped in Real de la Jara, and I would love to know where she stayed. There's a choice of accommodation, here. The Alojamiento Molina has rooms with two beds, with an albergue experience. The Hostal La Encina and Alojamiento Rural Mari Carmen have double rooms.
Gerald Kelly reports that "Mesón La Cochera, opposite the church, does good food. The café in Casa de la
Cultura on Avenida 28 de Febrero has also been recommended."

Day 6: Real de la Jara to Monesterio
20km today, with a steady climb to Monesterio.
We leave Andalucía and enter Extremadura. Wise Pilgrim tells us that this stretch has many oaks, the acorns of which are used to feed the Black Iberian pigs. We'll expect jamón in our bocadillos. Rachel's dad, now deceased, used to have a piggery in the 80's on his little Swiss farm.
We might aim for a lunch break at El Culebrín.
Once again, we are in a town where we will have a choice of accommodation. We're open to recommendations. Gerald Kelly states that: "Good reports about restaurant el Rinconcillo which is near the end of Avenida Extremadura, on Plaza de Triana. Mesón Casa Juan, near the parish hostel has been recommended."

¡Buen Camino!
 

Pilger Franz

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Podiensis-Norte-Ingles-SdC; Francigena; Touron.; Bretagne; Lemovic.; Lana; Lusitana (Este)
peregrina2000 Day 2
Ah, the arroyo, […] I know there has been talk of building a bridge for years, but I have not heard any reports that has happened.
This year in March I found a T-beam (should this be the bridge? for about five or six meters, no handrails installed, but looked quite stable) stretching across the creek which leads the water away from the 'big lake', just at right hand. You have to balance well :)
 
Last edited:

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
This year in March I found a T-beam (should it be the bridge? for about five or six meters, no handrails installed, but looked quite stable) stretching across the creek which leads the water away from the 'big lake', just at right hand. You have to balance well :)
We'll use our walking poles as tight rope walkers do, @Pilger Franz :)
 

Pilger Franz

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Podiensis-Norte-Ingles-SdC; Francigena; Touron.; Bretagne; Lemovic.; Lana; Lusitana (Este)
Looking at Google street view, the Plaza Mayor in Torre de la Reina looks nice, but I am not sure it is worth the detour?
Maybe the route looks like a detour by length. But - as I assume - you will stay on paved roads all the time. This may be another hint in favor of the detour: The camino when having crossed the arroyo safely may have muddy grounds on the last one or two kilometers - as it was in March this year (nevertheless the arroyo had a very low water level).
 

Pilger Franz

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Podiensis-Norte-Ingles-SdC; Francigena; Touron.; Bretagne; Lemovic.; Lana; Lusitana (Este)
Oh good morning AJ!
I like planning as you do! In March I had to stop the walk but will do it next year (the flight is booked already).
We'll use our walking poles as tight rope walkers do, @Pilger Franz :)
The distance from the t-beam to the ground is about two meters.
BC
Franz
 
Last edited:

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Maybe the route looks like a detour by length. But - as I assume - you will stay on paved roads all the time. This may be another hint in favor of the detour: The camino when having crossed the arroyo safely may have muddy grounds on the last one or two kilometers - as it was in March this year (nevertheless the arroyo had a very low water level).
That's a good point, @Pilger Franz !
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Day 5: Almadén de la Plata to Real de la Jara
Totally agree with @amancio about stopping in Real de la Jara. The walk itself is lovely and takes you through farm after farm, with lots of gate openings and closings. Lots of farm animals, lots of farmers to chat with.

I think the accommodation options have been vastly upgraded since I was here before. I remember @jpflavin1 describing a stay in the Pensión Molino that suggested it was no longer the chaotic messy place I once slept in. And gronze lists several more, none of which were here the last time I was through. So I am kind of out of my league on this walk, @AJGuillaume!

Day 6: Real de la Jara to Monesterio
My memory from this stage is spending a chunk of kms towards the end walking through an eucalyptus forest sandwiched in between the N-630 and the A-66. Not exactly a pastoral or quiet setting, but it got the job done and was shaded! And the first kms out of Real de la Jara were absolutely lovely.

Again, my lodging info is likely to be dated. I have stayed both in the (cheaper) Hostal Extremadura, which was not a great experience in any category except it was cheap. Cold, dirty, really not a nice place. But again, subsequent peregrinos have reported that it was fine, so you may want to take the risk. Less risky and very nice when I was there was Hostal El Pilar. More expensive, much cleaner, more centrally located. I know you are not a fan of albergues, but during my last time in Monesterio I met the parish priest who has since opened an albergue in his home. The town tries to play down its existence, since they fear it takes away business from the commercial options, but many people have highly recommended it. And I know there is a Canadian camino association that supports it regularly.

On my second time through Monesterio I got in very early and had a decent menú del día in the Pilar’s restaurant. In the afternoon, I spent some time in the church, and saw the priest move effortlessly and seamlessly from a funeral service to first communion practice. He motioned me to stay when I first thought I was intruding, and afterwards he had the first communion students ask me a whole bunch of questions about the Camino. It was very fun.

Monesterio touts itself as the ham capital of Spain, but I think many Spaniards would disagree with that designation. I didn’t try any, but remember there were lots of shops selling all different types of cured ham on the main street. Whether it’s the “ham capital” or not, it would be a good place for lovers of cured meats to do some sampling.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Totally agree with @amancio about stopping in Real de la Jara. The walk itself is lovely and takes you through farm after farm, with lots of gate openings and closings. Lots of farm animals, lots of farmers to chat with.
That will be great: we love rural areas, and we enjoy chatting to the locals. While walking on the Norte, we would stop and chat with someone, and often, they had a family member who had migrated or been to Australia.

My memory from this stage is spending a chunk of kms towards the end walking through an eucalyptus forest
The eucalyptus trees will remind us of back home 😆

I have stayed both in the (cheaper) Hostal Extremadura, which was not a great experience in any category except it was cheap. Cold, dirty, really not a nice place. But again, subsequent peregrinos have reported that it was fine, so you may want to take the risk. Less risky and very nice when I was there was Hostal El Pilar. More expensive, much cleaner, more centrally located. I know you are not a fan of albergues, but during my last time in Monesterio I met the parish priest who has since opened an albergue in his home.
Hostal Extremadura doesn't get good reviews on Gronze, so we were going to avoid it.
It's not that we are not fans of albergues, in fact if an albergue has rooms with just two beds (or a double bed), we're happy to stay at an albergue, and we did this with a number of gîtes on our walk through France. Unfortunately, the albergue in Monesterio doesn't take reservations, so we would be leaving our accommodation up to chance, something Rachel would prefer not to do.

Day 7: Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos
This is going to be a 20.7km stage, with an overall gentle descent.
Wise Pilgrim and Gerald Kelly refer to a new type of marking on this stretch, with the possibility of taking a wrong turn. I'll make sure I have GPX tracks, and we'll keep an eye out for the few yellow arrows.
We will also need to take enough water and food, as there are no places where we can replenish our water bottles.
Gronze warns that we will have little shade, so Rachel will be using her Euroschirm hands free umbrella to stay in the shade. We used it in 2018, and she loved it. We even tried to measure the difference in temperature, and under the umbrella, it was 2 to 3°C lower.
We have no trouble choosing accommodation in Fuente de Cantos: @P Rat and @OzAnnie have both recommended Apartamentos El Zaguán de la Plata, thank you to both of you! :)
We're looking forward to having a look at the church Nuestra Señora de la Granada, and its baroque altarpiece.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, AJ,
I am so enjoying the chance to go back and remember these early Vdlp stages. It has been a long time! I apologize if most of my info is out of date, though — your posts are making me want to go back.


Day 7: Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos

I distinctly remember this stage — at only 22 kms, it seemed like you could see Fuente de Cantos FOREVER and you never got any closer! I remember leaving Monesterio and being thrown right into a dehesa-like landscape with white flowers blooming in the squishy ground below lots of boulders, just like you’ll see so much of after Mérida. Olive trees. Lots of animals, in fact once I felt like I was walking through Old McDonald’s farm with pigs, cows, chickens, all milling around together and moving aside for me to pass.

The other thing I remember was having to take off my boots two or three times to cross what in one instance was knee-high water in an arroyo. Nothing rushing or dangerous though.

Fuente de Cantos is the birthplace of Zubarán, who must have painted hundreds and hundreds of pictures of saints with brown and grey robes receiving light from all angles. He is not one of my favorite Spanish painters, but I recognize he is important and was kind of surprised when I got to his birthplace and it was unceremoniously locked up . Looks like that has changed, there is now a museum in his birthplace, though the notation is that the place is temporarily closed. There is not much to do in Fuente de Cantos, so having that museum/birthplace might be a nice afternoon diversion.

There used to be an albergue turístico right in the old monastery, which was very nice, but it seems to be closed. Anyone have more recent info?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Slow down! The lock down is not ending anytime soon! :eek:

Day 5: Almadén de la Plata to Real de la Jara
I notice @C clearly also stopped in Real de la Jara, and I would love to know where she stayed.
Gerald Kelly reports that "Mesón La Cochera... does good food
I stayed at Alojamiento Molina - it was a comfortable, nice traditional Spanish house - see the photo. But I don't remember it as an "albergue experience" at all, maybe because I was the only person there, other than the family who ran it. The Mesón La Cochera was nearby and good food.

Day 6: Real de la Jara to Monesterio
The best thing about this day was taking my all-time favourite Camino photo, early in the day - the second one attached. For some reason, that scene brings me joy.

Like @peregrina2000, I stayed at the Hostal Extremadura in Monesterio. The outside looks nice, and the foyer has some beautiful marble stairs, but the room was spartan and cold! The cold was my only real complaint (this was March), so if you are walking in hot weather, you might find that it is fine, and good value. I ate in an excellent restaurant, which might have been el Rinconcillo. There is a Museo Del Jamón Ibérico in Monesterio, which I found somewhat interesting because I knew so little about ham, but was seeing lots of pigs.

Day 7: Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos
I stayed in El Zaguán de la Plata, too. I think that is the place where the owner parked near the entrance of the town to hand out his card and direct pilgrims to his place. He was very helpful, and it was definitely a pleasant stay. It was conducive to good interaction with other pilgrims who are staying there.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Hi, AJ,
I am so enjoying the chance to go back and remember these early Vdlp stages. It has been a long time! I apologize if most of my info is out of date, though — your posts are making me want to go back.
Do not apologise, Laurie, it's fantastic having your feedback and sharing your knowledge of this Camino!

Fuente de Cantos is the birthplace of Zubarán, who must have painted hundreds and hundreds of pictures of saints with brown and grey robes receiving light from all angles.
I had never heard of Zubarán. If the museum is open, we'll have a look.

Day 8: Fuente de Cantos to Zafra
When I initially started planning daily walking distances, I thought we could stop at Puebla de Sancho Pérez. That would have given us a 21km day. But @amancio mentioned Zafra was worth more than an overnight stay.
So Rachel and I had a chat, and she suggested that we aim for Zafra. The stage profile is gently undulating, and it looks like we are going to go through some farmland. By the time we get to Puebla de Sancho Pérez, if she can't step any further, we'll get a taxi to Zafra from there.
We then intend to spend the day after as a rest day in Zafra.
There's a choice of places to sleep in!

Day 9: Rest day in Zafra
Checking out the Turismo de Zafra website (http://www.visitazafra.com/) we will be able to do some nice sightseeing on our day off.
Gerald Kelly has this to say about Zafra: "The centre of Zafra is a joy and it's worth taking the time to explore it. Besides the many beautiful buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, also worth seeing are the twin Plaza Grande and Plaza Chica, with their interconnecting passageway, the Arquillo del Pan, accessible from the north west corner of Plaza Grande, and the 16th century Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria."
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Slow down! The lock down is not ending anytime soon! :eek:
😂 @C clearly , I got carried away!

I stayed at Alojamiento Molina - it was a comfortable, nice traditional Spanish house - see the photo. But I don't remember it as an "albergue experience" at all, maybe because I was the only person there, other than the family who ran it. The Mesón La Cochera was nearby and good food.
I noticed you walked the VdlP in Spring 2017, March as you indicate here. So there wouldn't be many pilgrims at this time? I thought Alojamiento Molina would be an albergue type of accommodation, as Gronze describes the rooms as 'dormitorios'

Day 6: Real de la Jara to Monesterio
The best thing about this day was taking my all-time favourite Camino photo, early in the day - the second one attached. For some reason, that scene brings me joy.
I understand why! It's a fabulous photo!

... an excellent restaurant, which might have been el Rinconcillo.
... Museo Del Jamón Ibérico in Monesterio
... El Zaguán de la Plata
Thank you so much for those recommendations!
 

OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'CP, Frances,Norte,Salv/prim;Le puy, Inglés, CDM, Invierno, Fin/Mux, Vdlp 2019>Táb/ Prt Levante 2020
hi @AJGuillaume
Sorry to get to this so late - I feel like I’ve ‘missed the bus’!!

I can’t locate my credencial for Vdlp but thought I’d mention a couple of things for the sections you’ve already covered.
In Almadén de la plata - I stayed in a really nice place (on booking but not on gronze ) called La Casa de Jenaro. E30. (Pic 1) For just me but it was a huge room with double bed. +34609228560
There are a few places to eat but I ate at a bar a couple of doors away which was fine.
Pic show Cerro Del Calvaro from the viewpoint on the way that day.

The weather at this time of year (around 9-10 April) 2019 was glorious. Perfect for walking. The flowers were starting to bloom. Lots and lots of the Jara (Rock rose) - masses of it in this stage of the plata. Also a lot of lavender ..the poppies were only starting early April but became thicker further along north as it warmed.

In el real de Jara I shared a room with a fellow peregrina at Alojamiento Molina. (I liked it there ). Nice breakfast (pic of breakfast room). There is a wonderful restaurant just around the corner from Molina (near the church ) called Méson de Cochera. Yummy food and really nice ambiance in the restaurant.
FADC607D-C149-4344-BEDF-3D8A063E87E3.jpeg
 

Attachments

Last edited:

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
hi @AJGuillaume
Sorry to get to this so late - I feel like I’ve ‘missed the bus’!!

I can’t locate my credencial for Vdlp but thought I’d mention a couple of things for the sections you’ve already covered.
In Almadén de la plata - I stayed in a really nice place (on booking but not on gronze ) called La Casa de Jenaro. E30. (Pic 1) For just me but it was a huge room with double bed. +34609228560
There are a few places to eat but I ate at a bar a couple of doors away which was fine.
Pic show Cerro Del Calvaro from the viewpoint on the way that day.

The weather at this time of year (around 9-10 April) 2019 was glorious. Perfect for walking. The flowers were starting to bloom. Lots and lots of the Jara (Rock rose) - masses of it in this stage of the plata. Also a lot of lavender ..the poppies were only starting early April but became thicker further along north as it warmed.

In el real de Jara I shared a room with a fellow peregrina at Alojamiento Molina. (I liked it there ). Nice breakfast (pic of breakfast room). There is a wonderful restaurant just around the corner from Molina (near the church ) called Méson de Cochera. Yummy food and really nice ambiance in the restaurant.
View attachment 74029
Wow, @OzAnnie ! Amazing photos, and it really makes us want to walk the VdlP! A huge thank you for sharing this!
I know the flowers will depend on the rains during winter, hopefully we'll get to see something similar. That would make Rachel's day!
Thank you also for those recommendations.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Day 8: Fuente de Cantos to Zafra
My notes tell me we missed an arrow or two and wound up having to cross a knee deep arroyo to get back on track. I think it must be that we missed an arrow to take us to the road, where there was a road crossing over the arroyo, so we wound up walking on the “wrong side” till we could finally find a place to cross. Things were incredibly water-logged that year, though, and I didn’t have that trouble my second time through.

This is one of those stages, as is a lot of the Vdlp, where summer walking would just not be my cup of tea. But in springtime with mild temps and lots of green and lots of flowers, it is really beautiful. I have seen pictures of summer Vdlps and the dry brown that stretches endlessly along the horizon would make this more of a punishment than a camino for me. One of my British peregrino pals described the day as “brilliant,” which is such a great British way of collapsing all of that beauty into one word.

Zafra has some very pretty squares, though some of the buildings were in a pretty precarious state when I was there. Really a very nice place to sit in the shade at a café and watch daily life take place. Take your pick — plaza grande or plaza chica.

I have stayed twice in the Albergue Turístico in the convent, and there are private rooms. It was in a somewhat dilapidated state though, and I know it gets complaints, but I enjoyed staying in the historic building. Even though I did get bed bugs there once! But that was in the days when they gave you a quilted comforter, and that amenity was gone on my second stop.

Of course, if you really want to splurge, there is the parador, and it may have some great pilgrim prices or last minute deals. I have stayed there with my family, and I think it was the first castle parador we ever stayed in, and the kids were pretty wide-eyed. It’s well located too, which is not always the case. If nothing else, a drink in the cloister café might be nice.

This is where @Anniesantiago started her Vdlp, hard to believe that was less than two months ago!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I noticed you walked the VdlP in Spring 2017, March as you indicate here. So there wouldn't be many pilgrims at this time? I thought Alojamiento Molina would be an albergue type of accommodation, as Gronze describes the rooms as 'dormitorios'
The number of pilgrims on the VDLP in March-April seemed perfect to me - I was acquainted with about 10-15 roughly on my stages. That is enough to fill some albergues at certain places, but there were always alternatives. And it never felt too busy!

At Alojamiento Molina, I had a private room (probably twin beds, and I don't remember the bathroom situation) right at the front of the house, and I was the only pilgrim there. I see on Gronze that there are rooms with 2 to 4 beds. The family was out most of the time, but I was welcome to relax in the salon at a big table with the typical heating under it. From looking at @OzAnnie 's photo, that would have been the breakfast room.

That is a beautiful photo of the same iconic view. I remember coming around a curve and literally stopping in my tracks in pleasure at the view. (The cow in my path made me laugh out loud.)
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Day 8: Fuente de Cantos to Zafra
By the time we get to Puebla de Sancho Pérez, if she can't step any further, we'll get a taxi to Zafra from there.
I walked the 16 km to Puebla de Sancho Pérez in rain and had lost sight of my two earlier companions. In the village, I walked into a bar seeking energy for the last hour of walking. There, with their clothes spread out on chairs in front of a space heater, were my friends, eating asparagus omelettes and drinking the local tinto. “We are thinking of taking a taxi into the city. Would you like to share?” They did not have to ask twice.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
This is one of those stages, as is a lot of the Vdlp, where summer walking would just not be my cup of tea. But in springtime with mild temps and lots of green and lots of flowers, it is really beautiful. I have seen pictures of summer Vdlps and the dry brown that stretches endlessly along the horizon would make this more of a punishment than a camino for me. One of my British peregrino pals described the day as “brilliant,” which is such a great British way of collapsing all of that beauty into one word.
It's your comments that are brilliant, Laurie ;)
I hadn't seen pictures of the VdlP in summer, but I had heard of the heat. Rachel is fair skinned, used to be a beautiful redhead in her youth, and too much heat doesn't suit her.

Of course, if you really want to splurge, there is the parador, and it may have some great pilgrim prices or last minute deals. I have stayed there with my family, and I think it was the first castle parador we ever stayed in, and the kids were pretty wide-eyed. It’s well located too, which is not always the case. If nothing else, a drink in the cloister café might be nice.

This is where @Anniesantiago started her Vdlp, hard to believe that was less than two months ago!
Ah, the parador! In 2018, on the Norte, we stayed in two paradores, the first one in Vilalba because it has a really good pilgrim deal, and the second one in SdC, because it was our reward for our long walk.
We'll go and have a look at the cloister café ☺
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 10: Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros
Refreshed after a day's rest, Rachel tells me she's ready for this 19.8km stage.
I have been following @Sara_Dhooma 's YouTube videos when she walked the VdlP (and we pray that she will get better soon). It's great because it gives us a preview of some of the scenery.
On this stage, she detours at Los Santos de Maimona to go and see El Capricho de Cotrina. This looks beautiful, inspired by Gaudí, I think, and worth the detour.
Back in Los Santos de Maimona, she shows a dish she calls "asparagus appetizer". Rachel is going to love this, as asparagus is one of her favourites!
Apart from a little hill before Los Santos de Maimona, the path looks like it is again gently undulating. Gronze tells me that the countryside here is dedicated to viticulture.
Villafranca de los Barros being a reasonably sized town, we won't have a problem finding a room. Casa Perín looks nice. Gerald Kelly recommends the restaurant in the cellar at Hotel Diana for our evening meal.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I just learned about this thread this morning, so I'm coming very late to the party. In fact before seeing the thread, I wasn't so interested in the Via De La Plata. But now... it was that amazing duplicated photo that did it! Thanks, AJ - really enjoying this journey with you and everyone.

But I'm panting to keep up. So I agree with @C clearly :
Slow down! The lock down is not ending anytime soon!
;) 🙏
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
A short ‘stage’ a day seems about the right speed
Yes, although I found on my other thread (Sanabres) that if I did only 1 stage every second day, it gave some time for more people to post, and also to have some back-and-forth discussion about each other's posts, without us all getting so confused about which stage we were on.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Day 10. Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros

I have heard that the albergue in the 18th century olive oil “factory” (an old press and some storerooms) has been re-opened. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, named Almazara and it looks like it has private rooms. There is a well marked turn-off a few kms before villafranca. That would be a 14 km day. I stopped there once for a great coffee and remember seeing lots of nice private green space, all within the confines of the perimeter wall, and a nice café. Anyway, it is an interesting stop, with the restored humongous oil press and all. Even if you don’t sleep there, you might have time to take the detour.

I remember the signs in that area all protesting the construction of an oil refinery. A little googling revealed that the government eventually denied permission, so the entire affair is now behind the town. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were still a lot of hurt feelings and divisions, because it really was an issue that divided the town. The Casa Perín (great choice AJ) had a huge banner of protest hanging from the balcony. At that time, the ayuntamiento (town council) had a little brochure showing all Villafranca businesses for tourists and peregrinos. That brochure did not include the names of the businesses whose owners opposed the refinery. Casa Perín sent us to the Mesón Restaurante Monterrey, also removed from the list, and it was a great afternoon filled with stories of political intrigue and small town gossip. Trip Advisor rates it as the number 1 restaurant in Villafranca De los Barros, so I guess being ostracized by the political powerhouses didn’t take too much of a toll. As I remember there were displays all over the mesón with a lot of local and environmental information. This is not a fancy place, by any means, just fresh, local and home made. My notes from 2010 described a 9€ menú of mushrooms with shrimps and cream followed by a lubina a la plancha with arroz con leche for dessert — and I added — “my first good meal in days and days!”

So that’s my way of giving two thumbs up to your plans, AJ!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
This us what those of us with only a smattering of Castilliano miss: the Peyton Place of town gossip!
It has to be 'interesting' to actually live those stories, though - entertaining as they may be for us transients. It makes me wonder how lockdown feels, when warring sides of a local dispute cannot take space and have no other distraction.
:eek:
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Day 10: Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros

I have heard that the albergue in the 18th century olive oil “factory” (an old press and some storerooms) has been re-opened. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, named Almazara and it looks like it has private rooms.
I remember reading about that place, which has opened and closed over recent years, and hopefully re-opened.

In Villafranca, I can also recommend Casa Perín. At a nearby restaurant I had a very delicious meal of fresh cod, as shown in the photo. It was so good that I took a photo from outside after the meal. I just found that photo and see that it was Restaurante Jero, as mentioned in the 2016 Kelly guide. However, it isn't mentioned in the 2018 guide or on TripAdvisor. Oh well - at least it indicates a good depth of restaurant quality in town.

EDIT: Added the photos I forgot to attach.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Slow down! The lock down is not ending anytime soon! :eek:
But I'm panting to keep up. So I agree with @C clearly :
;) 🙏
A short ‘stage’ a day seems about the right speed. 😁
Yes, although I found on my other thread (Sanabres) that if I did only 1 stage every second day, it gave some time for more people to post, and also to have some back-and-forth discussion about each other's posts, without us all getting so confused about which stage we were on.
Apologies to everyone: I was just so enthusiastic 😄 and really keen to fuel our dream on the VdlP!
I initially told @peregrina2000 that at the rate Rachel and I would be walking, it would take us over 60 days to complete this virtual camino, instead of the 36 'official' days as we are slow walkers ☺. My original intention was to follow the Gronze stages, and if that took me two days for a particular stage, I would then post the two days together. Bad idea, obviously ;)

I'll slow down and try to post a stage every second day, with an exception: when we have a rest day in a town, I'll include that day with the day we walked to that town.
Hopefully I'll be able to keep everyone's interest until at least the start of the Sanabrés, which would be sometime early July 2020 :)
Then I think I'll follow @C clearly 's Sanabrés and just ask questions about variations to what she walked virtually.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 10. Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros

I have heard that the albergue in the 18th century olive oil “factory” (an old press and some storerooms) has been re-opened. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, named Almazara and it looks like it has private rooms. There is a well marked turn-off a few kms before villafranca. That would be a 14 km day. I stopped there once for a great coffee and remember seeing lots of nice private green space, all within the confines of the perimeter wall, and a nice café. Anyway, it is an interesting stop, with the restored humongous oil press and all. Even if you don’t sleep there, you might have time to take the detour.
We'll make the detour to see the oil press. We might still end this day in Villafranca, as we are going to try and break the next stage in two days walking.

So that’s my way of giving two thumbs up to your plans, AJ!
Where do I find the "big grin" emoticon? 😀 Thank you Laurie!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Now that we've slowed down (thanks AJ! :D) I have been able to look over my photos, and added 2 to post #36 above.

On the day into Villafranca, there were some interesting "things" to ponder. I'm attaching some photos, not for the scenery, but they were things I wondered about as I walked this stage:
  • Interesting new grafts on an old olive tree
  • magnificent olive trees - How old would they be?
  • huge urns - Probably something to do with olive oil, but what/how are they used, since they are so huge and unwieldy?
  • ruins to poke around in
  • excavation in the ground - seems to have tree cuttings and rocks in it. Why was it dug?
 

Attachments

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
That's one of the things I love about walking, it gives you the time to ponder about things. Sometimes it can be frustrating, because there's no immediate answer to the pondering...
More often than not, we would be in awe of what we were seeing, both natural and man-made.
Rachel's youngest brother took over the family farm in Switzerland, and after walking through countryside during the day, that night we would send photos like yours, @C clearly , and ask him about crops, about farm practices.
The pondering would lead to hours of talking, and before we knew it, we would arrive at the end of our stage.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
It's fantastic how photos can bring back memories, and give us enthusiasm for the future.
While being confined in Melbourne, Australia, Rachel and I go through our 2018 photos, a day at a time. It keeps the dream alive!

Day 11: Villafranca de los Barros to Almendralejo
The next stage on Gronze is 26.7km to Torremejía. Judging from videos and photos, this looks like a stage where the sun could be hot on a long straight bit of old Roman road. Even with her trusty umbrella out, Rachel would find it fairly tiring, and I am not sure I could get a taxi to come and pick us up just anywhere along the path.
Thankfully, there is Almendralejo at about the half way mark. According to Gronze, that would give us a comfortable 17km day. I must remember to take enough water and food, as there are no services along this stretch.
Almendralejo, so says the Spanish tourism office website, takes its name from a land covered with almond trees. The photos I have seen don't seem to show there are many left. In town, there are a few 16th century buildings that could be worth a visit, the church, a convent.
We'll also be able to replenish food for the next stretch of Roman road.
Two hotels are on the eastern side of the town, closest to our arrival and departure point, the Hotel España and Hotel Los Angeles. I'm not sure if we actually need to stay closer to down town.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Day 11 — Villafranca to Almendralejo
(I am not getting on the forum much for the time being, but this is a thread i can’t resist checking on!)

My only notes on this part of the Vdlp were that the exit from Zafra is straight away onto dirt paths, after passing the only sewage treatment plant I have ever seen with a crenellated tower. ;)

I never took the detour to Almendralejo, but a little poking around suggests that there are some interesting things to see —

— a prehistoric stone circle that receives direct light on the solstices (only open in morning in winter unfortunately)

— a bodega producing DO cava (which has that denomination, even though Catalunya objected mightily).

— a bull ring with a wine cellar beneath it with storage capacity for 25,000 liters of wine (unique in Spain)

— museum on the science of wine

— The Gothic and Baroque Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Purificación

— walk through the streets of the old quarter, which seems to have the typical tapas & bars amenities.

Details on all of those things are in the link above. But it sounds like if you are going to have a short day to get there, you might want to be ”downtown”

But it’s such a small place — the Hotel España is about 2 km from the prehistoric site, and closer to the old town where the church is. Hotel Los Ángeles is further out. I think it’s not unusual to see that, on closer inspection, what looks like a dusty boring Spanish town actually has a few things well worth a visit!

Buen camino, Laurie
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
the exit from Zafra is straight away onto dirt paths, after passing the only sewage treatment plant I have ever seen with a crenellated tower.
Would it be the one in the attached photo?
I must remember to take enough water and food, as there are no services along this stretch.
Yes, I have no notes on the stretch but the attached photo shows one of those rest stops (not uncommon on the VDLP) that consist of a random spot on the path, with a strip of grass only if you are lucky. On a rainy day, there would be no place to sit.
I never took the detour to Almendralejo
Neither did I. I was lucky to stay in the now-closed albergue in Torremejia, in the historic Palacio de los Lastra.
 

Attachments

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
I never took the detour to Almendralejo, but a little poking around suggests that there are some interesting things to see —
I think it’s not unusual to see that, on closer inspection, what looks like a dusty boring Spanish town actually has a few things well worth a visit!
Great information, Laurie! I have also checked out the Turismo Extremadura website, and it suggests a little itinerary around town.
Gracias!
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 12: Almendralejo to Torremejía
Thanks to @peregrina2000 , we have done a bit of sightseeing around Almendralejo. We didn't see the prehistoric tomb, as it was closed, but we had a walk around town (see photo from Google street view ☺)
Today we're walking the remainder of the stage to Torremejía. Leaving Almendralejo, we have to follow a main road to cross the autovía (see 2nd photo from Google street view) before getting back onto the VdlP after 4.2km.
After that we have 10.1km (according to Gronze) before arriving at Torremejía.
There's not a big choice of accommodation here. Reviews for both places on Gronze and other sites are far from glowing.
We'll make a leisurely start, and when we get to Torremejía, we'll have a look at the church and what remains of the Palacio de los Mexía (see 3rd photo from the town's website).
 

Attachments

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Checking in to see where you are and how you are doing.

Torremejía is one of those towns strung out up and down the highway, with several businesses oriented to the commercial highway traffic. This is a good thing for pilgrims because places are open very early, probably even before 6:30.

But I am hard pressed to find many things to endear the town, or the walk into town, to pilgrims. @C clearly was lucky to stay in the albergue turístico, but it was closed both times I walked through. Once I stayed in the albergue Rojo Plata. Not a great experience. They try to push you to buy a combined “ticket” including dinner and breakfast, but I am glad I resisted. Others said it was not good at all. The second time I walked through, a kid on a bike came out to tell us to stay away from the Hotel Milenium, and we concluded that he was probably sent out by the albergue. But since I had a fairly bad memory of the albergue, I gave the hostal a try. It was recently re-opened by the family I met inside, they were very nice and trying hard to give good service. I see that the gronze commentary is mixed, and I have no way of knowing if it is the same management as it was in 2010. The restaurant there does get decent reviews, though. I would not hesitate to try it again.

One thing you might try is walking the 14 km into Torremejía and then continuing on what looks like another 9 to get to the highway Hotel Romero. From there, it is a hop skip and a jump into Mérida, at least in a car, so it probably caters to tourists and business people who don’t want to pay in-town prices. That would give you a very short day into Mérida, but since I’m pretty sure you will take a rest day there, that may not be a temptation. But it may be a nicer and cleaner option than the Milenium.

But with Mérida so close, it is hard to focus on Torremejía as anything other than a stop to rest up before heading into that jewel of a city!
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Ah, this brings back such a flood of memories. We never got to see the wild flowers as we walk in northern Autumn so I envy you that. Pick a peony for me when you pass by.

Monseterio was closed after the ham festiival and so we pushed on the Funete, which was a mistake, while you can see the town for ages before you get there it is like a mirage hovering before you in the heat and you spend a long time trudging though open country with no shade before you get there. But when we did the alburghe was air conditioned and had private rooms, sadly it is closed now

At the parador in Zafra I enjoyed cava in the bath before dining under the stars in the courtyard, it's one my fondest memories of the Camino, that and the Roman bath 14kms out of Merida, they have private rooms too.

While accomodation options can be limited on this remote route, there are towns just off the route that can widen the range and will arrange taxis for you, not something we used as we liked to just walk in and try our luck and didn't mind the odd mat on the floor. Good luck with your planning, it's half the fun!

image.jpeg
 
Last edited:

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I can't help much today, as that walking stage was not particularly memorable and I didn't take many photos. However, don't think I am complaining! Those long solitary flat stages are part of the attraction of the VDLP.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Checking in to see where you are and how you are doing.
Still walking ;)😄

But I am hard pressed to find many things to endear the town, or the walk into town, to pilgrims.
One thing you might try is walking the 14 km into Torremejía and then continuing on what looks like another 9 to get to the highway Hotel Romero.
But with Mérida so close, it is hard to focus on Torremejía as anything other than a stop to rest up before heading into that jewel of a city!
I can't help much today, as that walking stage was not particularly memorable and I didn't take many photos. However, don't think I am complaining! Those long solitary flat stages are part of the attraction of the VDLP.
I had a chat with Rachel, and at one stage we even considered just taking an ALSA bus from Almendralejo to Mérida (for the whopping cost of €3 each 😄).
But what @C clearly says is right: it's part of the attraction of the VdlP!
So Rachel, who is wise, and who knows how to cope with her tiredness, suggested we walk to Torremejía, and there see how she feels. If she can walk the extra 9km to Hotel Romero, then we will, otherwise, we'll take a taxi to the hotel.
It doesn't really matter if Mérida is only a hop skip and a jump from there: we'll enjoy the approach to the town, whereas by train we would have missed it.
 

Peregrinopaul

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
I love the way my iPhone identifies the place where photos were taken, down to a fine scale. Hence I can identify this shot as being taken near Almendralejo. It caused much hilarity when I posted it back to Aus, as they assumed that I had caught myself disrespecting a fine Camino marker! NOT SO.
1BC8E39A-5BA5-40F0-BA55-C96488A4EAE4.jpeg
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
We have a question about taxis.
How do we find phone numbers for taxis in the area where we are walking?
I assume we can ask the accommodation where we have spent a night, or where we are going to.
I am also right in assuming that it might not be easy to get a taxi between towns?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
We have a question about taxis.
How do we find phone numbers for taxis in the area where we are walking?
I assume we can ask the accommodation where we have spent a night, or where we are going to.
I am also right in assuming that it might not be easy to get a taxi between towns?
If you are near a big city, you may find that the big city taxis serve the surrounding areas. You are right that the place of accommodation is a very reliable source. As is Mr./Ms. Google — this guy is located in Almendralejo.

 

OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'CP, Frances,Norte,Salv/prim;Le puy, Inglés, CDM, Invierno, Fin/Mux, Vdlp 2019>Táb/ Prt Levante 2020
Hi @AJGuillaume
If you feel the stage is too long and you might need a taxi; best bet would be to arrange for a taxi to take you ‘x’ kilometres and walk from that point..
it could be difficult to explain where you are to a taxi to come and collect you from half way.
(Note: this was the procedure on the stage from Castilblanco - to get a taxi 16k to the park entrance).. tee it up at breakfast (the guy at the bar is sure to have contact for local taxi.

I thought I’d comment on your choice to walk to Almendralejo rather than straight to Torremejía.
You’ll see on the gronze map that you have to branch off the straight camino.
Last Easter (2019) I was walking with a German pilgrim who wanted to go to Almendralejo and we said goodbye. I continued on and stayed in Hostal Milenium which was basic but ok.
Next morning as I left I spotted my buddy walking just ahead of me. She hadn’t been very impressed with Almendralejo and couldn’t find accommodation ( that suited her) and had taken the offer of a lift to Torremejía after all. She stayed in the Albergue and didn’t have any complaints.

Even though gronze shows this stage as approx 26k it is very easy as it’s flat. It is straight but was still quite a nice walk in the spring. I still arrived at Torremejía in time to enjoy a very yummy menu Del día at restaurant Almeda .. pics below.
After my meal I continued up the street to my room at Hostal Milenium.
This left me with a nice 15k approx stage the next day to Mérida..
Annie.

Ist pic below is Torremejía as I’m making my way towards it. So green last spring.
 

Attachments

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
If you are near a big city, you may find that the big city taxis serve the surrounding areas. You are right that the place of accommodation is a very reliable source. As is Mr./Ms. Google
We have a son who is quite clever and went on to do a PhD, and I would often ask him questions, until one day he answered: "Dad, Google is your friend" 😂
The reason I asked this was that I actually asked my friend Google who would have a taxi in Torremejía, and the result is the closest are at Almendralejo and Mérida.

If you feel the stage is too long and you might need a taxi; best bet would be to arrange for a taxi to take you ‘x’ kilometres and walk from that point..
it could be difficult to explain where you are to a taxi to come and collect you from half way.
I was more thinking along the lines of Rachel not being able to move forward, and my trying to get a taxi. But hopefully with planning that should not happen.

I thought I’d comment on your choice to walk to Almendralejo rather than straight to Torremejía.
You’ll see on the gronze map that you have to branch off the straight camino.
Even though gronze shows this stage as approx 26k it is very easy as it’s flat. It is straight but was still quite a nice walk in the spring. I still arrived at Torremejía in time to enjoy a very yummy menu Del día at restaurant Almeda .. pics below.
That is a good suggestion, @OzAnnie , and I'll let Rachel know about your experience (she's asleep right now).
Do I take it you had a good/reasonable experience at the Hostal Milenium, and you would recommend it?
Thank you for those great photos! ☺
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
One thing I’ve learned about taxis is that a taxi coming out to get you from Mérida and take you back to Mérida is going to cost the same as a taxi that takes you from Torremejía to Mérida, because the journey is the same for both of them.

So even though the taxi in Almendralejo is closer to Torremejía, the Mérida taxi is likely to be cheaper, and will cost the same as what a Torremejía taxi would cost because both will make the same total journey. At least that is my supposition.
 

OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'CP, Frances,Norte,Salv/prim;Le puy, Inglés, CDM, Invierno, Fin/Mux, Vdlp 2019>Táb/ Prt Levante 2020
Do I take it you had a good/reasonable experience at the Hostal Milenium, and you would recommend it?
Although it wasn’t ‘The Ritz’ AJ ., I had nothing to complain about there.
As mentioned above ., I ate my m Del día at restaurant almeda down the street. When I finished my meal (alone)and exited the restaurant there were some 4 or 5 other pilgrims outside eating bocadillos as they had arrived too late for the kitchen (for lunch ).
This restaurant has a normal bar when you enter but the nice dining room is through an interior door. I was directed to it by the bar patrons ..

I think I had breakfast at the milenium.
Note. On the walk that day I carried something to snack on.
In answer to your question - I was comfortable enough in the accommodation ..Hostal Milenium.

I can’t recall whether you hope to break it up with some Albergue’s along the way but the Albergue ‘was ‘ open when I passed through it. I had booked ahead because it was Easter and wasn’t sure of finding a bed .. but I believe the Albergue wasn’t full.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
If you feel the stage is too long and you might need a taxi; best bet would be to arrange for a taxi to take you ‘x’ kilometres and walk from that point..
it could be difficult to explain where you are to a taxi to come and collect you from half way.
I actually asked my friend Google who would have a taxi in Torremejía
Consistent with what @OzAnnie points out, have you considered getting a taxi in Villafranca de los Barros to get ahead a few kilometres and then walking on to Torremejia that same day? You could skip Almendralejo entirely.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Plan A should always have a Plan B, and a Plan C 😄
Chatting with Rachel about the stages between Villafranca de los Barros to Mérida, it is hard for her to say in advance whether she'll be able to walk a 25km stage. It depends on how hot the day may have been or how hot the day will be, whether it's all flat and easy or hilly, whether she'll be able to take a short break every two hours and rest a bit regularly. Looking at the suggestions, we have 3 options:
a) Day 11, walk from Villafranca to Almendralejo, then on Day 12 take a taxi from Almendralejo to the VdlP trail (the 4.2km shown in Gronze), and walk 19km to Hotel Romero. That leaves us with a nice and short 9km day to Mérida, giving us even more time to explore that beautiful city. Additional bonus: we can get to Torremejía by lunchtime, we can have a delicious menú del día at the restaurant Almeda. And a further bonus: Hotel Romero has a swimming pool 😂
b) Day 11, take a taxi from Villafranca for about 8km, to say the Estación de servicio Cepsa, and walk to Torremejía (about 19km), then on Day 12 walk the 15km into Mérida.
c) Day 11, walk from Villafranca to Almendralejo, then on Day 12 walk to Torremejía (15km), and the next day walk the 15km into Mérida.

Option a) appeals very much to Rachel ☺

So on Day 12 (updating post #45), we took a taxi with Taxial (Taxi Almendralejo, thank you @peregrina2000 ), over the bridge on the autovía, and the driver dropped us off where the VdlP continues. Menú del día at restaurant Almeda was delicious, as @OzAnnie had told us. A quick look around Torremejía and we continued to Hotel Romero.

Day 13: Hotel Romero to Mérida
Rachel enjoyed the swimming pool at Hotel Romero: that floating feeling is relaxing after a day's walk.
Today is a 9km walk to Mérida. After we negotiate the crossing over the autovía, we get back onto the VdlP. Crossing the Roman bridge, walking past the Alcazaba, we're going to our acommodation, we'll drop off our packs and we'll go exploring. First stop, Puerta de la Villa Tourism Office to get a map.
We have read so much about the things to see in Mérida, we have planned a rest day here.
There is a huge choice of accommodation here. We'll want somewhere central.

Day 14: rest day in Mérida
Has anyone visited the Alcazaba? Is it as good as others we have seen in Malaga, Grenada?
We're open to personal must-see suggestions.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Plan A should always have a Plan B, and a Plan C 😄
Chatting with Rachel about the stages between Villafranca de los Barros to Mérida, it is hard for her to say in advance whether she'll be able to walk a 25km stage. It depends on how hot the day may have been or how hot the day will be, whether it's all flat and easy or hilly, whether she'll be able to take a short break every two hours and rest a bit regularly. Looking at the suggestions, we have 3 options:
a) Day 11, walk from Villafranca to Almendralejo, then on Day 12 take a taxi from Almendralejo to the VdlP trail (the 4.2km shown in Gronze), and walk 19km to Hotel Romero. That leaves us with a nice and short 9km day to Mérida, giving us even more time to explore that beautiful city. Additional bonus: we can get to Torremejía by lunchtime, we can have a delicious menú del día at the restaurant Almeda. And a further bonus: Hotel Romero has a swimming pool 😂
b) Day 11, take a taxi from Villafranca for about 8km, to say the Estación de servicio Cepsa, and walk to Torremejía (about 19km), then on Day 12 walk the 15km into Mérida.
c) Day 11, walk from Villafranca to Almendralejo, then on Day 12 walk to Torremejía (15km), and the next day walk the 15km into Mérida.

Option a) appeals very much to Rachel ☺

So on Day 12 (updating post #45), we took a taxi with Taxial (Taxi Almendralejo, thank you @peregrina2000 ), over the bridge on the autovía, and the driver dropped us off where the VdlP continues. Menú del día at restaurant Almeda was delicious, as @OzAnnie had told us. A quick look around Torremejía and we continued to Hotel Romero.

Day 13: Hotel Romero to Mérida
Rachel enjoyed the swimming pool at Hotel Romero: that floating feeling is relaxing after a day's walk.
Today is a 9km walk to Mérida. After we negotiate the crossing over the autovía, we get back onto the VdlP. Crossing the Roman bridge, walking past the Alcazaba, we're going to our acommodation, we'll drop off our packs and we'll go exploring. First stop, Puerta de la Villa Tourism Office to get a map.
We have read so much about the things to see in Mérida, we have planned a rest day here.
There is a huge choice of accommodation here. We'll want somewhere central.

Day 14: rest day in Mérida
Has anyone visited the Alcazaba? Is it as good as others we have seen in Malaga, Grenada?
We're open to personal must-see suggestions.
Days 13 and 14.

No matter what, even if you take a taxi into town, make sure to walk over the long Roman bridge, reserved for pedestrians. It is really something.

There are so many tourist hotels in Mérida that you are likely to be able to find a last minute great deal on booking. I got a room in a snazzy 5-star hotel in the main square for around 50. There is also a parador there, a historic building, another good option for a splurge. The longstanding go-to pilgrim pensión is Hostal Senero. I’ve stayed there twice, but with the explosion of other tourist offerings, I think there are plenty of options.

The Alcazaba is mostly the walls with the original cistern (and its surrounding entrance with visigothic carvings). ´There is a lot of open space, no palaces like the Alhambra. There are a few remains of a Roman house, but nothing of the grandeur of the rest of Mérida‘s Roman ruins. But I would say it is still very much worth a visit. If nothing else, it is a great place to buy your multi-site ticket without waiting in line. For € 7.50 old folks like us can get a ticket that is good at all the main Roman sites except for the museum. And then, you don’t need to wait in line when you get to the heavily visited Roman theater and Amphitheater. That line can be many blocks long, at least pre-covid.

Here are the other sites included in the ticket, with a couple of comments

Theater and Amphitheater — no comment necessary, a must visit

Casa del Mitreo — a villa with lots of mosaics exposed. This is not an open air site, but well preserved under awnings and with walkways. I would visit the house. It is adjacent to the Columbarios burial grounds, interesting but again not a huge must-visit if you are pressed for time.

Santa Eulalia Crypt — Mérida’s patron saint, who was martyred. It is a fascinating example of the many-layered historical eras — originally a roman villa, then a place of worship in the 2nd (?) century, then a necropolis/crypt, then the 13th century (?) church on top. In front of the entrance to the church there is a temple to Mars, with Roman stone carvings along the frieze. It is beautiful. But this church is a way off the beaten path, and if you have to make choices, this would be one to put as a lower priority, IMO

Roman Circus — definitely not a must-see place, unless you are really a Roman aficionado. I walked past it on my way into Mérida on the Mozárabe and appreciate its historical significance. But it is essentially a huge empty field with some little areas of excavations showing stones. Sorry if I sound like an ignoramus, but that was my reaction.

Morería Archaeological Area. I had to look this one up, because I don’t remember visiting it. It is along the river, near the modern bridge that you will see to your left as you cross over the Roman bridge walking into town. It must also be very near the albergue.

So, I would say that Roman theater, Alcazaba, and Casa del Mitreo are the three biggest attractions, But I did very much like Santa Eulalia for its historical hodge-podge layering. And I remember being down in the crypt and having a view up to the church above somehow! Some nice paintings on the crypt as well.

But then the Museum, ah it is spectacular. Its interior design mimics the aqueduct (which you will pass on the way out of town, in early morning it is gorgeous), and the museum display is terrific. It is free on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but the entrance fee is trivial, maybe 2 or 3 euros. It is un-missable.

You will see a lot of touristy restaurants, so it will be worth a search to find something decent. The last time I was there, as a tourist, we found a little vegetarian place that had an excellent menú del día. Based on my google search, it was the Shangri La, Calle Sagasta 21. Quite central, and not touristy. Very nice, IMO, even though I am not a vegetarian. I have found that typically vegetarian restaurants in Spanish cities are quite good. They have to be a bit better than the norm to stay alive in this meat-eating country, I think.

For cafés and life-watching in a small Spanish city, the Plaza de España is the place to go.

Mérida is one of the highlights of the Vdlp, I have no doubt you will enjoy your rest day here, AJ!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Day 11... Day 12... we have 3 options:
That constitutes a good plan! You can make your decision on the day - depending on your feet, the weather, etc.
Day 13: Hotel Romero to Mérida
Day 14: rest day in Mérida
I've stayed in the Municipal Albergue (basic), a cheap hostal, and last time at the Hostal Emeritae (very nice).

There is no shortage of sights to see in Merida. If you don't quite feel like a busy day doing the rounds of all the sights, you could happily fill a "rest" day with visits to the Roman Theatre and the Museo Nacional de Arte, combining with walking around and eating. My operating strategy (aka lazy excuse) is to save some sights for the next visit!

You will be walking right by the aquaduct on the way out of town, so you don't need to include that on your sightseeing day.

You will see a lot of touristy restaurants, so it will be worth a search to find something decent.
I agree that it would take a bit of effort to get past the basic tourist offerings, but it is possible.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 14: rest day in Mérida
Has anyone visited the Alcazaba? Is it as good as others we have seen in Malaga, Grenada?
We're open to personal must-see suggestions.
Finally I can join in ... I spent three days in Merida. Perhaps that makes me one of the Roman history aficionados that Peregrina2000 warned you about. (Why is "aficionadi" considered a hypercorrection but "cognoscenti" OK?)

Having been told some horror stories about the albergue, I stayed at the Hotel Illunion by the co-cathedral, which is a very comfortable four star place on the Plaza de España (beautiful spot for an aperitif) with its own pool and other fancy amenities. I considered it good value, if a little too soft for a pilgrim. If your tastes run richer, the five star Merida Parador is a beautifully converted monastery. And for a lower budget, there are lots of good and reasonable hotels.

If you're living it up and you don't feel like washing your things in a hotel sink, I recommend Tintoreria Guerrero, which is a stone's throw from the Plaza España. They have machines that you can feed coins and watch, if that's your thing ... but best of all they offer a same-day full-service option. Like a hotel laundry service but cheaper. (Champagne on a beer budget - I can't resist).

Peregrina2000's shortlist - Roman theater (and amphitheater), Alcazaba, Casa del Mitreo, and National Museum of Roman Art - is a good one for a day. If you try to fit in any more, you'll be skipping past things without giving them your attention (this becomes check-list tourism, which is pointless in my opinion). As you wander between those sites, you should also take a look at the Temple of Diana, Trajan's Arch, the Portico of the forum, and the Roman bridge, which are also "must see" but don't take up much time.

If you had a longer stay, I would recommend (in order of my preference)
- Museum of Visigothic art (small but beautiful)
- Crypt of Santa Eulalia. (Note: pilgrimage to the martyr Eulalia started long before SdC)
- Roman Circus, stopping to see the nearby San Lazaro Roman baths and San Lazaro aqueduct
- Alcazaba (the only site of note with Moorish history that I'm aware of in Merida)
- Spend longer at the Museum of Roman Art (there is so much to see)
- Spend longer at the Casa del Mitreo and neighbouring Roman cemetery
- The co-cathedral of Santa Maria la Mayor (joint seat of the archdiocese with the cathedral of Badajoz)
- Visigothic Hospital ruins (constructed 6th century to accommodate pilgrims of Saint Eulalia)
- Moreria ruins of Roman streets under a government building (on stilts) near the albergue
- Roads to the north of Trajan's arch for glimpses of the old temple ruins in the empty plots
- Other little sites in central Merida (More Roman baths etc.)
- Riverside park (where the albergue is)

There aren't very many places where you can see traces of the Visigoths. Until I visited the Visigothic Art museum, I had a very misinformed view of them as a "barbarian" tribe between the sophisticated Roman and Moorish cultures. The delicately decorated pieces in the collection gave me a new perspective.

In the last few items of that list, we're mopping up ... but Merida isn't a place that I'm likely to pass through again any time soon, so I was glad to extend my stay. Another star Roman site is the Los Milagros aqueduct. I have not listed it above because you will se it on your way out of Merida. Make an early departure from Merida to catch it in the morning light.

Food recs
- La Carbonería Brasas y Tapas (steak and wine - beautifully done)
- Braseria ChapaTapa (various roast meats and other dishes - on the way to Santa Eulalia)
- Tapas at a café overlooking the Temple of Diana
- Tapas in the foodcourt under the bleachers of the bullring near the Casa del Mitreo
- Lots of nice squares to enjoy a drink - Plaza España, Plaza Constitución, Plaza Joan Miro (near Santa Eulalia)

As I said above, the final Roman site to see is the Los Milagros aqueduct. If you miss breakfast to catch the early rays falling on the ruins, don't worry. When you leave the aqueduct behind and cross the bridge, there's a nice cafe on the right side, where you can get a freshly squeezed orange juice, cafe con leche, tostadas with ham, jam, or tomato and olive oil, and other options. Pilgrim friendly.

If you were to start your pilgrimage in Merida (or run out of room in your credencial), you can get a credencial from the co-cathedral, I like to think it might have been the bishop himself who issued mine. He wouldn't take any money for it.
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
the five star Merida Parador is a beautifully converted monastery.
@Raggy’s post reminded me that the first time I was in the Mérida parador, maybe in the late 1970s, there was a plaque on the wall commemorating that the parador was the site of not one but two meetings between two fascist dictators, Salazar of Portugal and Franco of Spain. When I checked the last time I went through, the plaque was nowhere to be found.

And @Raggy — yes, that is the fancy hotel I stayed in also. The Ilurion — got a really cheap rate as I was slogging in from Medellín on a LONG day to end my Mozárabe, and I was in the mood for some creature comforts.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
So, I would say that Roman theater, Alcazaba, and Casa del Mitreo are the three biggest attractions, But I did very much like Santa Eulalia for its historical hodge-podge layering.
But then the Museum, ah it is spectacular.
Mérida is one of the highlights of the Vdlp, I have no doubt you will enjoy your rest day here, AJ!
There is no shortage of sights to see in Merida. If you don't quite feel like a busy day doing the rounds of all the sights, you could happily fill a "rest" day with visits to the Roman Theatre and the Museo Nacional de Arte, combining with walking around and eating. My operating strategy (aka lazy excuse) is to save some sights for the next visit!
Finally I can join in ... I spent three days in Merida.
Peregrina2000's shortlist - Roman theater (and amphitheater), Alcazaba, Casa del Mitreo, and National Museum of Roman Art - is a good one for a day. If you try to fit in any more, you'll be skipping past things without giving them your attention
If you had a longer stay, I would recommend (in order of my preference)
A huge thank you for these recommendations!
There is a city on the VdlP where I had planned to stay at least two days, and that is Salamanca, which I briefly visited a few years ago.
Now it seems that Mérida deserves the same attention. We have plenty of time, and we have no visa limitations, so I reckon we could easily add an extra rest day. (Or two?)
Who knows what the future holds, and whether we would be able to return to Mérida, but I certainly wouldn't want to say "if only I had spent an extra day in Mérida..."

So:
Day 15: another rest day in Mérida

- Museum of Visigothic art (small but beautiful)
- Crypt of Santa Eulalia. (Note: pilgrimage to the martyr Eulalia started long before SdC)
- Roman Circus, stopping to see the nearby San Lazaro Roman baths and San Lazaro aqueduct
- Alcazaba (the only site of note with Moorish history that I'm aware of in Merida)
- Spend longer at the Museum of Roman Art (there is so much to see)
- Spend longer at the Casa del Mitreo and neighbouring Roman cemetery
- The co-cathedral of Santa Maria la Mayor (joint seat of the archdiocese with the cathedral of Badajoz)
- Visigothic Hospital ruins (constructed 6th century to accommodate pilgrims of Saint Eulalia)
- Moreria ruins of Roman streets under a government building (on stilts) near the albergue
- Roads to the north of Trajan's arch for glimpses of the old temple ruins in the empty plots

There aren't very many places where you can see traces of the Visigoths. Until I visited the Visigothic Art museum, I had a very misinformed view of them as a "barbarian" tribe between the sophisticated Roman and Moorish cultures. The delicately decorated pieces in the collection gave me a new perspective.
@Raggy you have whet our appetite to find out more about the Visigoths! Thank you!
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
@Raggy you have whet our appetite to find out more about the Visigoths! Thank you!
Despite ruling Spain from the end of the Roman era to the arrival of the Moors, you see surprisingly little evidence of their existence. There's a Visigothic church up ahead that Peregrina2000 will tell you about when the time comes. Apart from that, they're virtually invisigoths.

I think that Seville, Merida, and Salamanca have so much to offer that you won't regret stopping for a couple of days in each of those cities. And you won't regret spending a day each in Caceres and Zamora (although I must admit that Caceres and I didn't hit it off).
 
Last edited:

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Merida, Salamanca and Zamora are three jewels of culture on this route so you are right to look forward to them and spend extra days there. While the Roman ruins in Merida are great, there isn't much left of the Arab elements, the Arab cistern in Caseres is better. Anyway enjoy Merida, we had no problems with the alburgue in the old mill which was newly opened in 2008, but I chose to stay at the Parador in 2018 and my daughter enjoyed cooling off in their pool after a hard day slogging around the ruins. It is a bit out of the centre of town and there are plenty of options closer to the main ruins and amazing museum.
image.jpeg
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@Raggy you have whet our appetite to find out more about the Visigoths! Thank you!

Me too! I have always left the visigothic period in Spain sort of sandwiched in between Romans and Moors. My visit to Quintanilla de las Viñas on the Camino San Olav changed that somewhat, though I am still pretty clue-less.

For me, the prettiest part of the Alcazaba in Mérida is the entrance to the cistern, where many leafy vine carvings from the Visigoths adorn the doorway.

1588778024290.jpeg

1588778071274.jpeg
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
We have had two (and when we actually do get to walk the VdlP, maybe three) days filled with fascinating discoveries in Mérida, learning more about the Visigoths, the Moors and the Romans. A fabulous city, and thank you to @Raggy and @peregrina2000 for recommending the Hotel Ilunion!

Day 16: Mérida to Aljucén
The next 'official' stage according to Gronze is from Mérida to Alcuéscar, 35.9km.
I was amazed as I was following someone on FB sharing his past experience on the VdlP, when he walked 44km in one day! Wow!
We're definitely walking this stage in two days. If I recall well, @C clearly , you stayed in Aljucén.
We have watched @Sara_Dhooma 's video on this stretch, and it looks quite bucolic. So after stopping at the Los Milagros aqueduct we'll follow what Gronze describes as "dirt paths between forest and Mediterranean scrub". We might have a picnic lunch at the Embalse de Proserpina and the Roman dam.
The Termas Aqua Libera looks awesome, their website is even in Latin!!! 😄
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
AJ, the geography Gronze describes is called dehesa. It has its own wikipedia page and consists of boulders, meadows, scrub oak, streams, and wildflowers galore in springtime. It is some of the most beautiful Spanish terrain, IMO. It’s not spectacular, but in the early morning it takes your breath away. I once came upon a single Dutch pilgrim who was literally in tears while soaking it all in. Hard to explain, because the pictures I have pasted in just don’t capture the glory of it.

Aljucén has had a lot of camino intrigue and in-fighting, with allegations of places being closed by political enemies in power. That was the case, allegedly, of the Casa Rural La Bóveda (now closed), which was run by Annalena who also was in charge of the municipal albergue (also now closed). But it looks like the recreated baths/spa Termas now include hotel rooms. That was not the case when I was there last, In 2018, unless I missed something. And it also seems that the private albergue has changed hands and is now called Albergue San Andrés. I stayed there soon after it opened, and it was quite nice.

Thinking of Aljucén reminds me of two very important camino lessons I have learned in this tiny town where nothing happens. Sorry to ramble on down memory lane, but here in confinement, I keep thinking of the camino magic I am missing this year. Here’s one (copied in from another thread)

We were in Aljucén and the choices of dining options were rather limited. A group of us went to the Bar Sergio, whose proprietress promised us a delicious meal. Well, not exactly. Overpriced, overcooked, bad wine, stale bread. Two Basque businessmen were grousing about the bad price/quality ratio, a couple of Germans were indignant and felt ripped-off, and the Australian was making wisecracks about the undrinkable wine. But then a sevillano (guy from Sevilla) put it all in perspective, when he said -- pero hombre, ¿de qué va a vivir si no es de nosotros? (what is she going to live off of if not off of us?). I've recalled that conversation many times over the years, kind of put me in my place.

And the second was another rude awakening:

It was a very congenial group, a British couple, Canadian guy, Dutch guy and me. Then up comes
Antonio, oblivious to the fact that no one but me spoke Spanish. Like a bull in a china shop, he charged into the conversation. I did my best to translate, but truth be told, we all just wished he would go away.

He asked everyone why they were walking the camino but before anyone had an answer ready, he jumped in to tell his story. Like many Spaniards, he was doing it to fulfill a promise to Santiago. Several years ago his sister was diagnosed with cancer. Of the 11 brothers and sisters, he was the only good match as a donor for bone marrow. He promised Santiago that if his sister survived, he would walk a camino. She just completed her three year anniversary, and he decided it was time for him to walk. Wow.

The next surprise was that he offered to make dinner for a bunch of us. So a few hours later we were all being served a really yummy dinner. Humble pie all around for this snooty group of “pilgrims,” who were totally undeserving of his kindness.
 

Attachments

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 16: Mérida to Aljucén

The next 'official' stage according to Gronze is from Mérida to Alcuéscar, 35.9km.
I was amazed as I was following someone on FB sharing his past experience on the VdlP, when he walked 44km in one day! Wow!
We're definitely walking this stage in two days. If I recall well, @C clearly , you stayed in Aljucén.
We have watched @Sara_Dhooma 's video on this stretch, and it looks quite bucolic. So after stopping at the Los Milagros aqueduct we'll follow what Gronze describes as "dirt paths between forest and Mediterranean scrub". We might have a picnic lunch at the Embalse de Proserpina and the Roman dam.
The Termas Aqua Libera looks awesome, their website is even in Latin!!! 😄
Yes. The walk to Aljucen is mostly very pretty. Not very challenging. The Roman dam is fascinating - There are viewing windows that allow you to see into the structure of the dam at the Roman core. Beyond that, the route takes you through a lakeside vacation village, which should have open cafes and restaurants in season. When I passed there it was deserted.
Aljucen is small but it boasts two albergues in addition to the Roman-themed hotel. When I walked past and saw the sign outside with Roman lettering and decorative bits, I thought that it looked a bit OTT but I've heard marvelous things from people who stayed there or visited for a spa treatment. Apparently the owner is an archeologist or historian so ... when in Aljucen, do as the Romans do.
I stayed at the first albergue which has a very friendly owner who reminded me of a favorite teacher - beautiful courtyard with washing machine and good kitchen facilities. Breakfast was included. I was very happy there. AFAIK, there's only one bar - across the road from the church, which has an impressive, red, cross of Santiago outside. It's nice feeling to be back in a small town after a day or two (or three) in the bustling city of Merida. The bar serves good food and the owner is friendly, so what more do you need?

[EDIT - I see that Peregrina2000 has been through Aljucen more recently than me with more up-to-date reviews of the places that I'm talking about. Sounds like not all the change has been positive. I'm quite sure that my menu in 2017 was around €10 including a drink. It wasn't gourmet but was better than merely edible. I know that I was happy with the choices for three courses. I think the main course might have been a stew of some kind with a name that intrigued me. I am pretty sure that the dessert was a yoghurt or an ice cream and I think she also gave me some fruit. I drank beer, so can't comment on the quality of the wine. I remember such things ... Notwithstanding the humble philosophy of Peregrina2000's walking companion from Seville (10 out of 10 for positive pilgrim attitude), I think that there really isn't any excuse for serving bad wine in this region. You will see a few vineyards by the camino in this area and there is plenty of high quality wine made around here ... although my favorite wine on the VDLP was around Salamanca and Zamora.
I'd forgotten that this was one of the places with "camino intrigue" - I remember a couple of places with battling signs at the entrances of the towns. I hate it when I see that. And too bad about the latest bar review. Maybe it will be better again when you pass through. Things are bound to go in cycles of improving and deteriorating over time, I guess].
 
Last edited:

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Go on treat yourselves and stay in the Roman House. The rooms are good and the Therma amazing, after days on the trail your body will thank you.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
[EDIT - I see that Peregrina2000 has been through Aljucen more recently than me with more up-to-date reviews of the places that I'm talking about. Sounds like not all the change has been positive. I'm quite sure that my menu in 2017 was around €10 including a drink. It wasn't gourmet but was better than merely edible.
Just to say that my camino rambling on Aljucén combined memories from 2008, 2010, and 2018! In 2018, I ate in the albergue. My humbling “bad meal experience” was from 2008, and it was not in the main bar in town, which is right across from the church. I bet that is where you ate, @Raggy, and I think you are right that the food there is quite edible, if not gourmet.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
My humbling “bad meal eperience” was from 2008, and it was not in the main bar in town, which is right across from the church. I bet that is where you ate, @Raggy, and I think you are right that the food there is quite edible, if not gourmet.
You're quite right - Looking at the map, I had dinner at the "Kiosko El Parque." I had forgotten that there's another bar ("Bar Sergio") up the road. I think there were people having breakfast at Bar Sergio when I walked by in the early morning, but since I had a free breakfast at my albergue, I walked on by. (RIP Dave Greenfield).
From the map, it seems that there's a third bar "Canaria" in the old people's home and a little grocery store nearby.
From Gronze, I have pieced together the closures that you referred to earlier - The albergue that I stayed (Albergue Rio) at is no longer in operation. The surviving albergue is called San Andrés, and it appears to be the former municipal (which is labeled "Annalena" on Gronze's map of Aljucen). The Casa Rural Boveda is no more, but there is now a Casa Rural called Merida. So much change in a sleepy little place that I would have imagined always being the same ...
I guess we should also mention the village of El Carrascalejo, which is between Merida and Aljucen on the Camino - It's not far enough from Merida for most people, but I guess it would be ok if you wanted to spend a morning in the city before hitting the road. It has a big church and an albergue with a little restaurant next door (although the restaurant didn't seem open when I passed through in November).
 
Last edited:

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
The stage from Merida to Aljucen is the start of possibly my favourite stretch of Camino. It is nice that you can take your time leaving Merida, with a leisurely breakfast and lots of time to enjoy the aquaduct.

The Roman dam is fascinating - There are viewing windows that allow you to see into the structure of the dam at the Roman core.
I agree, and it's another place you can take your time, since this is a fairly short and easy stage. If you have any interest in dams or hydraulic engineering, you will enjoy reading descriptions of dam modifcations over the past couple of thousand years. (see photo)

Nobody has mentioned that there is a new albergue in El Carrascalejo, just 2 or 3 km before Aljucen. It was closed all three times I passed (I think it was under slow construction for two years, but too early in the season on the third year), but I recall mention here on the forum that it was open, perhaps last year.

Casa Rural La Bóveda (now closed), which was run by Annalena
This is where I stayed in 2016. Both other times were in the pleasant Albergue Rio Aljucen.
I had dinner at the "Kiosko El Parque." I had forgotten that there's another bar ("Bar Sergio") up the road.
The Kiosko is good, functional and located right in the centre of activity in front of the church. Bar Sergio is "up the road" only in being north, but I think it is down the hill in terms of elevation. I ate dinner at Bar Sergio at least 2 of the three times I've passed through Aljuden, and I kind of liked it. I don't remember the cuisine as being outstanding, but I remember enjoying the evening. oth times, the old woman of the family was seated at a table in the bar area and we were served some local brandy before they were ready to serve us in the dining room.
 

Attachments

Peregrinopaul

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
Missed y’all in Merida! (…time out for reality eye surgery in Geraldton, 500km south).
The fact that you’ve moved on means you have been spared what might have been manic photo-posting on my part - I could not keep my finger off the shutter in that city, (on three visits). I found myself photographing lots of details of Roman masonry and brickwork! I mean, people marvel at Machu Picchu; well, feast your eyes on the craftsmanship of the Merida Bridge.
P6130272.jpeg

You can assume I’m hanging around indulging myself, but rest assured, I’ll catch up - after all, I am on a full-carbon bike!
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
I guess we should also mention the village of El Carrascalejo, which is between Merida and Aljucen on the Camino - It's not far enough from Merida for most people, but I guess it would be ok if you wanted to spend a morning in the city before hitting the road. It has a big church and an albergue with a little restaurant next door (although the restaurant didn't seem open when I passed through in November).
Nobody has mentioned that there is a new albergue in El Carrascalejo, just 2 or 3 km before Aljucen. It was closed all three times I passed (I think it was under slow construction for two years, but too early in the season on the third year), but I recall mention here on the forum that it was open, perhaps last year.
We had looked at stopping at El Carrascalejo. The main reason we decided on Aljucén is that it evens out the two parts of the overall stage.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
We had looked at stopping at El Carrascalejo. The main reason we decided on Aljucén is that it evens out the two parts of the overall stage.
And, not to jump ahead, but that also positions you well to take a little detour on your way into Alcuéscar. Over to Santa María de Trampal, a pre-romanesque/visigothic church that is oh so worth a detour. It only adds a km or two to the day and it is ..... insert superlative adjective here.

Alan Sykes has laid it all out, it is easy.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
We had looked at stopping at El Carrascalejo. The main reason we decided on Aljucén is that it evens out the two parts of the overall stage.
A sensible decision. It's too bad that this is a stretch of the VDLP with an over-abundance of albergues (especially when there was a second albergue in Aljucen), while there are one or two tricky gaps elsewhere.
To paraphrase William Gibson - The facilities are already here. They're just not evenly distributed.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Nobody has mentioned that there is a new albergue in El Carrascalejo
Sorry, I missed that Raggy has already mentioned it.
We had looked at stopping at El Carrascalejo. The main reason we decided on Aljucén is that it evens out the two parts of the overall stage.
True, but having the first day out of Merida shorter would also allow you to stay in the city for an extra half day.
This is a stretch of the VDLP with an over-abundance of albergues (especially when there was a second albergue in Aljucen)
Not really - especially since the openings have been unreliable in recent years. When I went through in late March 2017, the Albergue Rio Aljucen filled up and other people had to scramble for places. I know one person asked around and found a family with a private room. Another stayed at the Termas. In early May 2018 I think it was also completo.

In any case, I would check out the availability in advance and perhaps make a reservation before leaving Merida.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
True, but having the first day out of Merida shorter would also allow you to stay in the city for an extra half day.
True dat. But this is a camino with constraints on daily distances. So no appetite for the long stage from El Carrascalejo to Alcuescar. And if our pilgrims break that stretch up by stopping in Aljucen, they end up taking a day and a half to cover what they could do in one. Of course, it's worth knowing that the option is there, however unlikely it seems at the moment. Bad weather or sore muscles could make it very attractive indeed.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Sorry, I missed that Raggy has already mentioned it.

True, but having the first day out of Merida shorter would also allow you to stay in the city for an extra half day.

Not really - especially since the openings have been unreliable in recent years. When I went through in late March 2017, the Albergue Rio Aljucen filled up and other people had to scramble for places. I know one person asked around and found a family with a private room. Another stayed at the Termas. In early May 2018 I think it was also completo.

In any case, I would check out the availability in advance and perhaps make a reservation before leaving Merida.
I think it was @Raggy who mentioned all the intrigue surrounding Aljucén and its relationship with the Camino.

Here’s the history as best as I can piece it together. I am not suggesting that peregrinos should take sides or call out any of this as they walk through, but I always find it fascinating to try to put together the pieces.

2010 — I stayed at the Albergue Municipal/Albergue Annalena. Annalena was also the owner of the Casa Rural La Bóveda (which has now closed) and was in charge of signing people up and letting people in to the baths in the Termas hotel (which, I believe, was not functioning as a hotel at that time).

My second time through I did not stop in Aljucén.

In the interim between 2010 and my next night’s stay in Aljucén, there was a lot of chatter about Annalena having to close her casa rural because of politics. In fact, we deleted several kind of inflammatory posts, mainly because they could not be corroborated. At some point in there, the Deputy Mayor opened the Río Aljucén albergue.

2018 — I stayed at the Río Aljucén albergue. As others experienced, it filled up about one hour after I arrived. When the next group of four arrived at the albergue, the owner told them there was nowhere else to stay and they would have to take a cab, either back to Mérida or ahead to Alcuéscar. An hour later, out on a stroll, I saw the Albergue Annalena/municipal, open and with a couple of people staying there and empty beds. That left a very bad taste in my mouth.

2020 — Gronze reports only one albergue in Aljucén — but if my memory is working, the picture Gronze shows as the Albergue San Andrés, along with its location on the map, is actually the old municipal albergue and not the Río Aljucén albergue. WisePilgrim shows Río Aljucén as closed. There is also a Casa Rural Mérida shown on Gronze, which looks nice, but may only be available for whole-house-rental. And of course the multi-starred Termas hotel, which must have been open when I walked through in 2018, but I am surprised no one mentioned it as an option when lots of people came through in the afternoon looking for a place to stay.

I think the Termas hotel seems to be a bit above this storm, but I do hope that the Albergue Río Aljucén reopens because it was quite a nice spot.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
And, not to jump ahead, but that also positions you well to take a little detour on your way into Alcuéscar. Over to Santa María de Trampal, a pre-romanesque/visigothic church that is oh so worth a detour. It only adds a km or two to the day and it is ..... insert superlative adjective here.

Alan Sykes has laid it all out, it is easy.
That detour is definitely on our plan!
What an amazing church! Thank you for the information, Laurie. I'll go download the wikiloc GPX data from @alansykes 's thread.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
True, but having the first day out of Merida shorter would also allow you to stay in the city for an extra half day.
True dat. But this is a camino with constraints on daily distances. So no appetite for the long stage from El Carrascalejo to Alcuescar. And if our pilgrims break that stretch up by stopping in Aljucen, they end up taking a day and a half to cover what they could do in one. Of course, it's worth knowing that the option is there, however unlikely it seems at the moment. Bad weather or sore muscles could make it very attractive indeed.
A valid point, @C clearly . In our case, we will have had a short walk into Mérida, and following @Raggy 's enthusiastic suggestion, we have spent two days in that beautiful city (and we might actually spend three in real life).
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
That detour is definitely on our plan!
What an amazing church! Thank you for the information, Laurie. I'll go download the wikiloc GPX data from @alansykes 's thread.
It is a lovely little detour, too, through fields and orchards of some type, if memory serves. I had a wonderful conversation with an elderly man driving his horse drawn cart which was filled with either hay or cork, I can’t remember. No markings, so the tracks are essential. The church has been deconsecrated and has a very informative display about the entire monastery (of which the church was a part).

You have to pay attention to timing because it closes for lunch. The first time I visited, I went to the albergue in Alcuéscar, checked in, showered, and then walked out to the church. I brought my picnic lunch and enjoyed sitting outside in a field of yellow flowers. Promptly at 4 pm, the attendant drove up and opened the place. The second time, walking from Aljucén, I took Alan’s detour and arrived in plenty of time for a morning visit, and then I continued on.

Visiting hours: Tuesdays and Saturdays: Mornings: From 10 to 14 hours. Afternoons from June 15th through September 30th: From 17 to 20 hours. From October 1st to June 14th: From 16 to 19 hours. Sundays: From 10 to 14 hours. Mondays closed. Admission free.

With all this wandering down memory lane, I think I am being pulled towards @C clearly’s conclusion that this camino is the BEST!
 

Attachments

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
@C clearly’s conclusion that this camino is the BEST!
One reason I like it is that the terrain is such that I can imagine walking portions for many years in the future (Covid allowing, of course). There aren't any alarming or arduous stretches, thrilling though they are if you can walk them, there are several city starting/stopping points so you can do coherent pieces, there is the right number of pilgrims, and appropriate infrastructure, etc., without being a theme park. You feel like you are simply walking through Spain.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
The intrigue surrounding Aljucén got me curious, and I came across a FB page for the town. I don't know if it is an official page, but there was a photo posted on 18 April 2020 which is interesting. The panel lists a "Casa rural la Convivencia". I can't find any information about it.
 

Attachments

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 17: Aljucén to Alcuéscar (or Cruce de Las Herrerías?)
By the time we walk to Aljucén in reality, the accommodation situation might have changed again...
Right now, and for the purpose of this virtual journey, I'll go with @hel&scott 's suggestion, and we stayed at the Termas Aqua Libera. And I'll tell you something, Rachel really enjoyed her massage, it revived her and she felt so good! ☺
Today we have 19.1km to Alcuéscar. However, I am curious about the detour to Cruce de Las Herrerías. Obviously it is not on the official VdlP, but it does offer alternative accommodation. Although we may well continue to Alcuéscar, I would be curious to hear from anyone who may have walked there.
Now that we have the information about the church at Santa María de Trampal, we are looking forward to seeing this gem. And as @peregrina2000 has advised, we are leaving early enough to get there before they close for lunch.
Not sure where we are going to sleep tonight. We don't have sleeping bags, but we have liners. We could stay at the Casa de Acogida de los Esclavos de María y de los Pobres. I understand that they have a couple of rooms with two beds? The only issue is that Rachel would prefer to know where we are sleeping (so she doesn't stress about us having to walk further if there are no beds available), and they don't take reservations. I hear the Casa Peregrina has closed. Thoughts about Casa Grande de Extremadura? Otherwise the Albergue Turístico Los Olivos at Cruce de Las Herrerías.
When we walked in 2018 from Switzerland to SdC, we didn't have sleeping bags, and we only used our liners a couple of times (once at Izarbide on the Norte). I am aware that on the VdlP the only option in some places might be dormitories in albergues, and we were wondering whether we could get away without sleeping bags? Our departure date from Seville could be between mid-March and early April.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
The alburgue in Alcuescar is an interesting experience, you will get a private room and it is pretty monastic . It's probably worth you checking it out as it is one of the few religious run places on this route and it will give you a chance to meet fellow pilgrims and share a meal. The days working is fairly uneventful, though last to,e we passed this way there was an amazing thunder storm at at end of the day which helped cool things down a bit.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
With all this wandering down memory lane, I think I am being pulled towards @C clearly’s conclusion that this camino is the BEST!
Ok, so I know I said I was not drawn to the VdlP...but the combination of merida and this visigothic detour may have changed my mind. (I do feel safe to leave it for when age begins to take its toll more dramatically and the more strenuous North is beyond me.)
 

Peregrinopaul

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
Now that we have the information about the church at Santa María de Trampal, we are looking forward to seeing this gem.
AJ, I presume you mean the Basilica de Sta Lucia, which I can't believe I have passed by on three Caminos. Why, I wonder does the "official" route not follow the track taken by Alan sykes to Alcuescar? I checked out the website posted by @peregrina2000 and I agree, it looks like a real gem. I'm on my way!
Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 5.01.50 pm.jpeg
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
I think that this is one of the prettiest stages of the Camino. Shortly after leaving Aljucen, you enter a natural park, and from then on you're on comfortable paths, between fields interspersed with large boulders, holm oaks, cork oaks, wild flowers, pata negra piggies, and much pleasant scenery.

Yesterday, I happened to read Pierre-Louis Blaix's account of this stage. (He's re-posting his walks from the same calendar date in past years). As a result, I have an obscure geographical fact to share with you. When you complete the last climb before descending into Alcuescar, you will cross the boundary* between two significant river basins. You've been walking in the Guadiana river basin, more or less since you entered Extremadura, but from now any water that you spill will flow into the Tagus (Rio Tajo). The Tagus is the Iberian peninsula's longest river, which you will cross at the big lake after Caceres. **

At the entrance to Alcuescar, I saw battling signs for different accommodations - it's too bad when energy is wasted in fights over who gets a slice of the pilgrim pie instead of trying to grow the pie. I've heard positive and negative reviews of the Casa de Acogida de los Esclavos de María y de los Pobres, but all the other accommodations around here also have mixed reviews. I'm afraid I don't have a direct experience of the place to share - I got to Alcuescar fairly early, ate a chewy, hamburger at the Alta Cuesta restaurant, and received a phone call that left me feeling pretty miserable. After all of that, I just wanted to put the place behind me so I got back on the trail for another 15km to get to Aldea de Cano - another very pleasant walk, which put me in a better mood (more on that next time).

I understand the nervousness about not being able to reserve a room and having to walk further. My advice would be to steel yourselves for a bit of uncertainty and keep the number of a taxi company in your back pocket as a backup. (Google suggests Taxi Roman in Alcuescar - +34 927 38 40 59). Should you not like what's on offer at the Casa de Acogida, then Cruce de Las Herrerías is a walk or a very short taxi ride away. For dinner, my first choice would always be a communal dinner with pilgrims. If you're not at the Casa de Acogida, or you don't want to partake in a dinner with others, there are a few cafes and restaurants in both Alcuescar and Cruce de Las Herrerías. I wouldn't give the hamburger at the Alta Cuesta restaurant a glowing review, but you should feel confident that you're not going to starve or wind up homeless on this stage.

* Apparently in North America, "watershed" refers to a drainage basin, but in other English-speaking countries it signifies the boundary between drainage basins. Pierre-Louis' website is called "Ligne de partage," (dividing line) which you might think avoids this ambiguity ... but in fact it makes clever use of another doppelbedeutung, in that "partage" can mean to divide (since he is interested in rivers and watersheds) or to share (which is in keeping with his general philosophy).

** When I walked in 2017, I think that the lake was labeled Embalse de Alcantara, but Google maps now has it as Embalse José María de Oriol. According to Wikipedia, he was the "Spanish entrepreneur and Carlist and Francoist politician," after whom the dam was named. 'nuff said.
 
Last edited:

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
AJ, I presume you mean the Basilica de Sta Lucia, which I can't believe I have passed by on three Caminos. Why, I wonder does the "official" route not follow the track taken by Alan sykes to Alcuescar? I checked out the website posted by @peregrina2000 and I agree, it looks like a real gem. I'm on my way!
View attachment 74716
Yes, sorry, it is Santa Lucia de Trampal
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Yesterday, I happened to read Pierre-Louis Blaix's account of this stage. (He's re-posting his walks from the same calendar date in past years). As a result, I have an obscure geographical fact to share with you. When you complete the last climb before descending into Alcuescar, you will cross the boundary* between two significant river basins. You've been walking in the Guadiana river basin, more or less since you entered Extremadura, but from now any water that you spill will flow into the Tagus (Rio Tajo). The Tagus is the Iberian peninsula's longest river, which you will cross at the big lake after Caceres. **
@Raggy , what a coincidence! I have been following him too. I first saw his post in the French speaking FB group of Compostelle. His posts are really good! Yes, the boundary is "partage des eaux" in French.

At the entrance to Alcuescar, I saw battling signs for different accommodations - it's too bad when energy is wasted in fights over who gets a slice of the pilgrim pie instead of trying to grow the pie. I've heard positive and negative reviews of the Casa de Acogida de los Esclavos de María y de los Pobres, but all the other accommodations around here also have mixed reviews.
I understand the nervousness about not being able to reserve a room and having to walk further. My advice would be to steel yourselves for a bit of uncertainty and keep the number of a taxi company in your back pocket as a backup.
Good advice! Thank you!
 

Get on our Mailing list for new products on the Camino Store and news from the Camino Forum








Advertisement

Booking.com

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 55 4.2%
  • April

    Votes: 196 15.0%
  • May

    Votes: 325 24.8%
  • June

    Votes: 95 7.3%
  • July

    Votes: 24 1.8%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 378 28.9%
  • October

    Votes: 158 12.1%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying!

Sure, ad-blocking software does a great job at blocking ads, but it also blocks useful features of our website. For the best site experience please disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock