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Virtual Camino Virtual walk on the VdlP (planning while in confinement)

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Good morning from your #1fan! I’ll resist the urge to tell my Calzada de Béjar story yet, but it includes a wonderful camino angel.

A few comments going to the decision about Baños and Calzada de Bejar.

And about these upcoming days, I know people complain a lot about asphalt, but I found when I was there two years ago that there had been several off-road diversions. They add distance, so some people continue to stick to the side of the road, but as someone who always hunts for off-road options, I very much appreciated the changes.

— Baños is a much bigger town, I have never been to the baths, but others like them very much. The albergue turístico, is housed in a little museum, and there are some good restaurants.

— Calzada de Béjar is a small hamlet with a few casas rurales, a bar, and an albergue (which also has private rooms, but the CR I stayed in (Calzada Romana) was nice, special pilgrim prices). Not much going on in the town.

@Anniesantiago had the same question a few months ago, and here are some opinions.

Going back to your current plan for Day 28, I think you definitely want to arrange the pick-up, or at least make a reservation of a room and a ride, at Hostal Asturias. I would do this a couple of days ahead, because it can be one of those “camino bottlenecks.” There are different reports on the forum about the punctuality and ease of the pick-up, but if you are flexible I am sure it will be fine.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Now, one thing I should have checked: do we need to pre-arrange this pick-up, or can we call on the day?
We will dine and sleep tonight at the Hostal Asturias, of course.
Make arrangements and be ready to adjust to reality. I expect they'll tell you to call when you want picking up. The nice thing is that the hotel isn't going to hold you to a specific arrival time at Cápara. The less wonderful thing is that the pick up might take a while. I walked to the Hotel Asturias and had an interesting bellota beer in the bar while waiting for the bus to Caceres. Apart from the unusual beer, it was yer standard truck stop. I expect that the punctuality of the pick up service varies depending on how busy they are and how soon someone can interrupt what they're doing to drive the minibus up to Cápara.
When I returned to Jarilla on the early bus next morning (with my warm weather gear!) I walked back to the camino and kept going as far as Baños de Montemayor. The agricultural roads from the hotel Asturias to the Camino are nothing special. Better to have the hotel drive you back to where they picked you up, so that you can enjoy the walk along the roman road from the arch. If I recall correctly, it should be a near perfect path underfoot from Cápara far as Aldeanueva del Camino. From there to Baños, you're going to hit some asphalt (I don't think it's entirely avoidable even with the off-road options) but the scenery makes up for it. The mountains that you've been admiring for the last couple of days from a distance are now up close, giving the border with Castle & Leon a satisfying geographical landmark. Climbing out of Baños. the path is a delight again, and the scenery is beautiful. In my opinion, the next stages (until the approach to Salamanca) are some of the most satisfying on the VDLP.

We're very probably (let's say definitely) going to stay overnight in La Calzada de Béjar.
An argument for stopping at Baños de Montemayor would be the hike up to Puerto de Béjar.
From Aldeanueva del Camino I think you can choose to reach Fuenterroble in either two roughly even days with a stop in La Calzada de Béjar - or three somewhat uneven days.

The two day route is pretty clear (Aldéanueva to Calzada - 21.8km, then Calzada to Fuenterroble - 20.4km). The best three day option (in my opinion) would be as follows:

Day 1. Aldeanueva del Camino to Puerto de Béjar (Colonia la Estación) - 12.4km
While Baños is lovely, with a Roman bridge, Roman baths (housed in 19th century buildings) and some sturdy, stone, houses that date from the 16th and 17th centuries, I think that a couple of hours is probably enough to see and do everything that there is to see and do. Show your pilgrim credentials at the baths in Baños to receive a pilgrim discount. Enjoy a relaxing soak there and a spot of lunch. Walk around the old town and drop in at the VDLP museum (and albergue) before making the 3km climb up to Puerto de Béjar (Colonia la Estación). I think you're better off staying in Puerto de Béjar because it gives you a more comfortable distance to cover the next day ...

Day 2. Puerto de Béjar (Colonia la Estación) to Valverde de Valdelacasa - 18.1km
Another spectacularly beautiful day. A bit of road surface but little traffic. My impression of Valverde de Valdelacasa was that it was a tiny, impoverished village with not much going on, but it puts you within easy reach of Fuenterroble, which is essential. (It was here, I think, that where I was overwhelmed by incredible fragrance - like being in the middle of a top notch florists shop. I'd love to know what created that on a cold November day). There are two albergues in Valverde de Valdelacasa - no hotels that I can see. I guess the private albergue might accept reservations. Many pilgrims will be walking straight through to Fuenterroble.

Day 3. Valverde de Valdelacasa to Fuenterroble de la Salvatierra - 11.5km
Fuenterroble is a must - both because of the special albergue and because the next accommodation is 18.1km away. You have a choice of a couple of casa rurals and the famous Albergue parroquial Santa María. For me, the albergue is a tangible cultural treasure of the VDLP and I would not miss it for the world.

You could also spread that walk over three days with stops in Baños and La Calzada, of course, which would give you some posher places to stay than you can find in Valverde de Valdelacasa. That might be the deciding factor for you.


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alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
The town of Hervás is a bit of a detour (perhaps 5km extra) on the way to Baños de Montemayor from Aldeanueva del Camino, but worth it, I thought. With apparently one of the best preserved juderías in Spain, the winding narrow cobbled streets leading up to the imposing hilltop church are impressive. "Vaut le detour", as the Michelin guides put it.

Also, I did enjoy the "circuito romano" in the baths at Baños de Montemayor. 90 minutes, I think, for the full circuit, but sooo refreshing, and cleansing.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
The town of Hervás is a bit of a detour (perhaps 5km extra) on the way to Baños de Montemayor from Aldeanueva del Camino, but worth it, I thought. With apparently one of the best preserved juderías in Spain, the winding narrow cobbled streets leading up to the imposing hilltop church are impressive. "Vaut le detour", as the Michelin guides put it.
I read about it when researching the area for a friend. And there is a museum of cars and motorbikes there too ... not sure why. Sounds interesting, though.
 

Peregrinopaul

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
Not being a walker, my opinion as how to stage this next part is hardly valid. However I would like to put in my 10 cents worth that I thorougly enjoyed my stay at Baños, not least because of the very comfortable and well appointed albergue above the VdlP museum. I even had a single bed! The dorms were small, 3 or 4 beds I seem to remember, and the kitchen had a terrace with nice views to the south towards the embalse and Aldenueva.
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The restored Roman road out of the town, with frequent milarios was fascinating to me
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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
lots of decisions for you for today... If you do stay at Hostal Asturias... the usual thing is to make a booking. (and if you want to be picked up from the arch)..( it's as described above)…ie. ‘they’ will tell you that when you're happy with having seen enough at the arch and site... to call them for the lift to the hostal..( The guys in the museum made the call for me)..I waited at the car park...and the van was there in approx. 15-20 minutes... I was the only one being picked up.. the others who'd left Carcoboso that morning..... walked across... but the story they told that evening.....led me to understand they 'made up their route' -...through fences on occasion..... So not sure how easy the walk is.. Others I've spoken to since....told me that when they were picked up by the van - it was very full of pilgrims...so it is definitely a timing issue...of when they can spare a driver., & whether it’s too hot to keep walking etc.
There was no payment required for the pickup ' from' the arch... it was included in the accommodation price quoted.
No mention was made that Hostal Asturias would drop you back to the camino in the morning.. It is possible I guess but you may need to wait again... ..The evening we arrived...when we all connected. there was a covered area outside.... (yes there were one or two trucks there)… It was pleasant outside on the verandah … to enjoy some drinks together and discuss the day.. A young chap....limped by when we were outside.... he'd left from Carcaboso same morning...but had taken the right turn to Oliva de placencia… (his phone being dead and having no maps etc)… It was closed that day.... and he decided to follow the highway.... eventually passing out place..
His feet were very sore...

Leaving Hostal Asturias.... I let the 'fast walkers' charge ahead... / none of them had bookings for Banos de Montemayor but as everything around those dates had started to be completo...I had booked ahead -( Hotel Alegría) Note : if it was not very busy then I would have chosen the Albergue Turístico.. I'm not sure why it was so busy in Banos...but the 'group' knocked on lots of doors and finally convinced someone at Hostal Martin... right in the centre....I don't believe it's on the list on gronze...but when you are standing in the centre of Banos….there is a signpost pointing in direction of many places to stay..

retracing back to earlier on this day..... arrival in Aldeanueva del Camino... caught the others / A pleasant little place. There are still sections of trail which are Roman road along here.

Heading to Baños… I remained on the N630....and at times there is only a bit of clearance...but enough … I'll add a pick of Japanese pilgrim who had his cart on this section...
I noticed the turn-off to Hervas and wondered about it.. See @alansykes post #203 I met 2 American ladies a couple of days further on who had taken this route and were very happy with that choice... So may be worth checking further..

The climb out of Baños is magnificent looking back at the Embalse de Baños.. but you will really feel this climb (Roman).. then there is a wander through shaded area before you come out onto the N630 again.
I chose to keep my stages lower too ., knowing I didn't have enough time to reach Santiago... I had decided to enjoy my walk and have shorter stages. So my destination for that day was Calzada de Béjar.. I had no luck contacting first Casa I tried so stayed in Casa Rural Jorge.....(very very pleasant private accommodation )… there were others from the local albergue that joined us here for dinner...(paella)..but passing the albergue coming into town....it looks very nice and it is well recommended.. The church here was open on arrival...so I managed to see inside.. There is very little happening in the town though... a small bar … I feel in hindsight it would have been a good evening at the albergue. Later that afternoon, I took a walk back past this entrance to the village to look at the cemetery.
. Staying in this pueblo gives you a nice comfortable 20.2 walk to Fuenterroble de Salvatierra the next day..

I’m enjoying this too !!

Annie
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
I'm sure we booked the Hostal Asturias the night before and the visitors centre at Arco phoned for us. Certainly worthwhile spending time at the interesting centre. The minibus had to do two runs as there were 13 pilgrims waiting. Welcoming place with good food and clean rooms. Next morning,after breakfast the owner dropped a few of us at Aldeanueva and we walked on to the cozy Albergue in Calzada de Bejar. Big blazing fire in the lounge and communal dinner that night were very welcome.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
If you don’t mind, I will indulge in a sweet memory. In Carcaboso, I once again came across one of the Japanese pilgrims I had met in the embalse. He was the one who spoke the least English, so we managed only a minimal conversation. But we went to visit the miliario together, and he did manage to let me know that he was from Hiroshima. He had been there when Obama visited, which was obviously a very emotional time. One of those instances where some real communication would have been great, but our hug said a lot.

View attachment 75795
This is the essence of the Camino, IMHO, the human touch beyond cultural differences, overcoming language barriers.
Thank you for sharing that memory, @peregrina2000 !
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Going back to your current plan for Day 28, I think you definitely want to arrange the pick-up, or at least make a reservation of a room and a ride, at Hostal Asturias. I would do this a couple of days ahead, because it can be one of those “camino bottlenecks.” There are different reports on the forum about the punctuality and ease of the pick-up, but if you are flexible I am sure it will be fine.
Make arrangements and be ready to adjust to reality. I expect they'll tell you to call when you want picking up. The nice thing is that the hotel isn't going to hold you to a specific arrival time at Cápara. The less wonderful thing is that the pick up might take a while.
If you do stay at Hostal Asturias... the usual thing is to make a booking. (and if you want to be picked up from the arch)..( it's as described above)…ie. ‘they’ will tell you that when you're happy with having seen enough at the arch and site... to call them for the lift to the hostal..( The guys in the museum made the call for me)..I waited at the car park...and the van was there in approx. 15-20 minutes... I was the only one being picked up..
Others I've spoken to since....told me that when they were picked up by the van - it was very full of pilgrims...so it is definitely a timing issue...of when they can spare a driver., & whether it’s too hot to keep walking etc.
Noted, we'll make sure we have a reservation, and that they know we will need a lift from the Arco.
We're not really worried about the punctuality. We have plenty of time, and most likely what will happen is that when they arrive to pick us up, Rachel will be calling out: "stop taking photos, the van is here! We're waiting for you!" 😄
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
The town of Hervás is a bit of a detour (perhaps 5km extra) on the way to Baños de Montemayor from Aldeanueva del Camino, but worth it, I thought. With apparently one of the best preserved juderías in Spain, the winding narrow cobbled streets leading up to the imposing hilltop church are impressive. "Vaut le detour", as the Michelin guides put it.
"Vaut le détour"! You have us interested, @alansykes !
Wondering how you walked from Aldeanueva del Camino to Hervás, I poured over a few maps, and found out that the railway line that goes past both places was decommissioned in 1985, and it is now the Via Verde de la Plata. This seems to be a nice way to walk to Hervás, and what is more, the Via Verde goes to Baños de Montemayor! I found some nice photos of the section from Béjar-Hervás (Hervás la sefardí, Hervás la de Sefarad, as the author calls the village), and you scroll down towards the bottom of the page to see photos of Baños de Montemayor, and Hervás. I also found some technical information on this site (you need to click on the 'Abrir ficha' next to Mapas to see the map and download KML data).
My guesstimate would be that this adds about 4km to the walk from Aldeanueva to Baños.

And about these upcoming days, I know people complain a lot about asphalt, but I found when I was there two years ago that there had been several off-road diversions. They add distance, so some people continue to stick to the side of the road, but as someone who always hunts for off-road options, I very much appreciated the changes.
If I recall correctly, it should be a near perfect path underfoot from Cápara far as Aldeanueva del Camino. From there to Baños, you're going to hit some asphalt (I don't think it's entirely avoidable even with the off-road options) but the scenery makes up for it.
I had also been looking for the off-road options without going via Hervás, and I found out that one can walk alongside the Embalse de Baños, either on the east side, after crossing the dam wall, or on the west side (the GPX tracks on the link do a loop around the Embalse).

But I reckon we're going to go via Hervás...

You could also spread that walk over three days with stops in Baños and La Calzada, of course, which would give you some posher places to stay than you can find in Valverde de Valdelacasa. That might be the deciding factor for you.
We're not too worried about the extra distance, as we think we might actually break the journey to Fuenterroble de la Salvatierra over three days. We don't mind some of the posher places, @Raggy :cool:
But I am getting ahead of myself, we are still enjoying our walk to Arco de Cáparra! Thank you for those great photos, @OzAnnie and @Peregrinopaul !
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
"Vaut le détour"! You have us interested, @alansykes !
Wondering how you walked from Aldeanueva del Camino to Hervás, I poured over a few maps, and found out that the railway line that goes past both places was decommissioned in 1985, and it is now the Via Verde de la Plata.

Not sure if this is the Via Verde, but it's a track that goes from Aldeanueva to Hervás and then on to Baños without backtracking.

So it looks like, if you wanted to do a 20 km day, you could walk from the Hostal, 2.6 km back to the Camino (or get a ride, if they still give morning rides -- I've heard conflicting reports), 11.2 to Aldeanueva, and then 7 to Hervás.

On this route, Hervás is about another 7 to Baños.

I visited Hervás years ago, not walking, and thought it was really kind of a hidden jewel. No evidence of tourism that I could see, but that was more than ten years ago.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

Peregrinopaul

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
I poured over a few maps, and found out that the railway line that goes past both places was decommissioned in 1985, and it is now the Via Verde de la Plata.
I'm delighted that you brought this Via Verde to my attention, AJ. It will certainly figure in my future non-virtual VdlP.
There appears to be another section from Béjar to the proximity of Calzada de Béjar, and maybe soon will join up utilising the tunnel under the heights above Baños. That will be something.
@peregrina2000 the track you posted from Aldenueva is not actually the Via Verde, though close to it.
 

Peregrinopaul

Veteran Member
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I've just found this on Wikilok - a cyclist posted his ride on the via verde right through to Béjar
Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 2.33.47 pm.jpeg
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
In 2012 there was an Albergue Turistico in Hervas at the old station. We were picked up at the Hogar de Pensionista in Aldenueva by the Hospitalero. Excellent albergue but now closed. Historical town with old Jewish Quarter. If I remember correctly the last old Jewish lady still lived there then.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 29: Hostal Asturias to Aldeanueva del Camino or even Hervás

I have been looking at maps today, and have found a number of ways we could walk to Aldeanueva del Camino today.
It is uncertain that the lovely people at Hostal Asturias would drive us back to the Arco in the morning, in particular if they are serving breakfast. So I think that although it might be nice to resume our walk from the Arco, it is not going to be a likely option. It doesn't hurt to ask, which we will. That would give us a 20km day.

It is more likely that we might start our day walking from the Hostal, and this is where there are a number of options.
We could walk back to the camino, 2.6km, and then walk to Aldeanueva, giving us a 14km day.

@peregrina2000 found a wikiloc track that went from Aldeanueva to Hervás (see post #211 above), and it turns out that this person also walked from the Hostal to Aldeanueva, following a different route: https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trai...ostal-asturias-aldeanueva-del-camino-42063863

And the third option would be to follow the Via Verde de la Plata, which is the old decommissioned railway line:

Hervás is definitely on our journey, so there is yet another option, and that is to bypass Aldeanueva, following the Via Verde de la Plata, and go to Hervás:
That would give us an 18.2km day. We could then spend the next morning exploring Hervás, before we head off to either Baños de Montemayor or even Puerto de Béjar (Colonia la Estación)
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The Via Verde from Hostal Asturias to Hervás seems like a great choice, AJ. IMO, the only two possible downsides could be — first, if it turns out the Via Verde is all paved (maybe not a downside for all); and second, if the route from Hervás to Baños is not as lovely as the route from Aldeanueva to Baños.

A few random pictures from that section.

Great sleuthing, AJ!

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Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
It is uncertain that the lovely people at Hostal Asturias would drive us back to the Arco in the morning, in particular if they are serving breakfast. So I think that although it might be nice to resume our walk from the Arco, it is not going to be a likely option. It doesn't hurt to ask, which we will. That would give us a 20km day.
I am sure I've read other people's accounts of being dropped back at the same spot they were picked up. (I imagine that there are pilgrims who want to walk a "complete" camino without gaps who would insist on it). Perhaps, if Asturias doesn't offer this service, the Avion hostal which is a little ways down the highway does (since it is so far off camino that I can't see any other way that people would stay there). Might be worth checking before you make your decision, because I think that the 2.6km from Hostal Asturias back to the camino route is quite dull, whereas the camino from the arch to that same point is quite nice.

The alternative routes - to Hervás and Via Verde de la Plata look very interesting. Paths that have been built on the beds of old railway lines are often very pleasant.
 

Peregrinopaul

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Here's a photo from the Wikiloc cyclist. It's compacted earth and looks like a beautiful route, which takes you high above Baños town past the old railway station.
19618127Master.jpeg
 

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
also AJ - I’ve never checked Rome2rio.com for walking trails before - but I had a sticky beak to see what it would give me for ‘Hotel Asturias to Aldeanueva Del Camino ‘ ‘A Del C to Hervás ‘. & ‘Hervás to Baños ‘
It actually has walking trails - so you’ve got plenty of apps to use !


Btw - I recall going off the highway (partially) heading to Aldeanueva Del Camino ..
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
The Via Verde from Hostal Asturias to Hervás seems like a great choice, AJ. IMO, the only two possible downsides could be — first, if it turns out the Via Verde is all paved (maybe not a downside for all); and second, if the route from Hervás to Baños is not as lovely as the route from Aldeanueva to Baños.
A few random pictures from that section.
Great sleuthing, AJ!
Thank you for those photos @peregrina2000 . Looking at the photos which I found here, the Via Verde doesn't seem to be paved. And judging from some of those photos (you have to scroll towards the end of the page to see the Hervás to Baños section), we might be lucky to have some of the same views as what you had.

The alternative routes - to Hervás and Via Verde de la Plata look very interesting. Paths that have been built on the beds of old railway lines are often very pleasant.
Here's a photo from the Wikiloc cyclist. It's compacted earth and looks like a beautiful route, which takes you high above Baños town past the old railway station.
We've decided we're going all the way to Hervás today, following the Via Verde, and bypassing Aldenueva del Camino. Off the VdlP with a diversion (brings back memories of what we did on the Norte), we would like to explore that town more tomorrow before we head off to Baños.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
I look forward to hearing about your off-camino route via Hervás when this virtual camino turns real.

I see that Hervás is one of 21 cities that formed a network of Jewish quarters, dedicated to the conservation of former Jewish neighborhoods (inhabited by Jewish people before the 1492 Alhambra Decree that expelled them from Spain). Several other cities in the region are members of the network - Cáceres (where I saw the commemorative brass plaques on the ground in the Judería), Ávila, Bejar, and Plasencia.

One of the people who advised me as I walked emphasized the history of the VDLP not only as a route of commerce and conquest but also of migration and exile.
 

C clearly

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
In 2016, we walked to Hervas, which was interesting and worth a visit. At that time we were able to stay in the old train workers' cabins, but I don't think they are open any more.

I should go searching for the Via Verde tracks, and study them. In 2016 we didn't have GPS tracks, and I remember the early part of the day being mostly on nice surfaces, but the the approach into (and later out of) Hervas had a lot of tedious pavement. Maybe not so long as it seemed, but it was a hot day.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 30: Hervás to Baños de Montemayor

Thank you to @Raggy for sharing the information about the Juderías. We were in Córdoba on 13 February 2019, and we enjoyed walking through the streets of the Judería.
Likewise, judging from photos available on the net, I'm sure we will enjoy spending the morning exploring the Judería de Hervás. I have even found a little video which whet our appetite!

Our stop tonight is Baños de Montemayor. We have a few ways of getting there.

From Hervás, we can continue our walk on the Via Verde de la Plata, the decommissioned railway line which has been converted in what looks like a lovely walking path. As it used to be a railway line, the gradient is gentle. When we get to the old Baños railway station, we then follow the road down to the town centre. Here's a photo of the view from the station, looking back at the Embalse, taken from Google Street View.
This would be a 10km day.

Antigua Estacion.jpg

I had mentioned there was a path on the west side of the Embalse, so I took the liberty of modifying an existing GPS track and extending it with the walk down from Hervás to the dam wall, and then from the top end of the Embalse, to Baños. Once we are along the Embalse, the track is flat, until we have a rise just before arriving at Baños. This would give us a 13km day.

We can also return from Hervás back to the N-630, and follow the VdlP.
And about these upcoming days, I know people complain a lot about asphalt, but I found when I was there two years ago that there had been several off-road diversions. They add distance, so some people continue to stick to the side of the road, but as someone who always hunts for off-road options, I very much appreciated the changes.
Are these off-road diversions part of the official VdlP, @peregrina2000 ? I assume they are paths alongside the road.

We have a choice of accommodation in Baños de Montemayor. @OzAnnie stayed at the Hotel Alegría. Gerald Kelly mentions the Emedos Hostel, and recommends Bar Carlos for some good food.
 

peregrina2000

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Are these off-road diversions part of the official VdlP, @peregrina2000 ? I assume they are paths alongside the road.
The last time I was on this section of the Vdlp, in 2018, I just followed the arrows and had no GPS tracks. I had put my GPS away after reaching Mérida on the Mozárabe, except for the little detour to Santa Lucía de Trampal. So I can’t look and see, but my memory is that there were nice turn-offs that went through the countryside and was not just going along the road. The main roadside walking I remember between the Arch and Calzada de Bejar was the ascent leaving Baños. Also some road walking leaving Aldeanueva, but if my memory is right, there was a lot less walking on the side of th road than what I had walked in previous times.

Particularly after Baños, the camino uses local hiking paths. I remember seeing a fair number of local people out for daily walks and it was quite forested and very pleasant walking to Calzada de Béjar.

I’ve attached a picture of the slightly confusing marker that I frequently saw after Baños. And the second shot shows the forested road that leads to a Roman bridge if memory serves. The Guardia is facing away from me because they cannot have frontal face shots taken. But they do like people to know they are out there doing their job, so he was fine with the picture being shared. This cruising patrol goes up and down regularly, and we must have had a 20 minute chat about the camino, women walking alone, safety, etc. They told me there had never been a personal safety issue, but that they liked to keep an eye on things. Illegal dumping was a much bigger issue!

Oops, I just saw that your stage is stopping at Baños, so I have jumped ahead a bit. Sorry.

I did not sleep in Baños my last time through, but a quick check in my journal describes a “foodie type” meal in Los Postigos from on my 2010 Vdlp. I also noted that it looked like a very nice hotel or casa rural — one of those renovated old stone buildings with lots of flower pots in the windows. Very nice.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

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Peregrinopaul

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...the fine albergue is on your way into town from the station...just sayin'
 

Raggy

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I have even found a little video which whet our appetite!
Thanks for sharing that video. Looks like a fascinating place to explore. It also reminds me that you start to see a new form of vernacular architecture from around Aldeanueva onwards. The houses have substantial overhanging balconies - Usually encased in wood. To my uneducated eye, they appeared more "alpine" in character and I felt "now I'm entering northern Spain". That thought was reinforced by the changing of seasons - As I moved from south to north in the autumn, overnight I went from wearing shorts and sleeping in a silk liner to wearing long trousers and wrapping myself in 3-season sleeping bag at night. (Fuenterroble is at >1,000m altitude, which also contributed to a dramatic change).

The main roadside walking I remember between the Arch and Calzada de Bejar was the ascent leaving Baños.
On my way into Baños I recall some roadside walking which wasn't the worst but wasn't great. On the way out of Baños, I was able to avoid any roadside walking. I walked through the old town and reached the point where the footpath diverges from the N-630 (photo attached). From there, past the "cruz" it was a pleasant walking path.

I’ve attached a picture of the slightly confusing marker that I frequently saw after Baños.
Yes. No more cubes with the arch on them once you leave Extremadura. I had gotten tired of them by this point (especially the ones made from cheap metal that end up looking like trash).
The two circles represent bicycle wheels, it seems. I made. a rude joke about the symbol in another thread, which doesn't bear repeating here. I think you sometimes see the arrow without the balls wheels, which indicates a pedestrian only path.

They told me there had never been a personal safety issue, but that they liked to keep an eye on things. Illegal dumping was a much bigger issue!
Sorry to say that there was an incident with a man who indecently exposed himself to female pilgrims in the Baños area a year or two ago. The culprit was aprehended by the Guardia Civil. I posted about it on the forum. Your discussion with the Guardia Civil was in 2018? I must look up the date of the incident - Either it happened after you met them or they didn't consider it a "personal safety" issue, which is a bad mistake.

...the fine albergue is on your way into town from the station...just sayin'
Yes - a nice albergue in the old town. I had the place to myself. Even if you don't stay at the albergue, you might wish to drop by to see the museum on the ground floor (although I have heard that the exhibit is the same as in a museum earlier on the VDLP).
 

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peregrina2000

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Sorry to say that there was an incident with a man who indecently exposed himself to female pilgrims in the Baños area a year or two ago. The culprit was aprehended by the Guardia Civil. I posted about it on the forum. Your discussion with the Guardia Civil was in 2018? I must look up the date of the incident - Either it happened after you met them or they didn't consider it a "personal safety" issue, which is a bad mistake.
I checked the date of the article you posted and the arrest was June 7, 2019. The article described the incidents as occurring in April 2019. I walked that stretch through Baños in May 2018. I have always found that the Guardia Civil takes these issues extremely seriously, and whenever I meet Guardia out on the camino, they invariably stop to make sure I am ok.

BTW, I just checked my Penguins blog to see where I was last year when you posted this (because I was surprised I had no memory of it), and I had just done the most difficult descent of all my caminos on the Saiatz alternative of the Vasco Interior so I was surely not reading the forum those days.
 

Peregrinopaul

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I'm sure we will enjoy spending the morning exploring the Judería de Hervás. I have even found a little video which whet our appetite!
Consider my appetite whetted too, AJ. I can't believe I've passed it by 3 times. Thanks for the video.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
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Day 31: Baños de Montemayor to La Calzada de Béjar

Back on the VdlP after our little detour yesterday, we're on our way to La Calzada de Béjar. Leaving Baños de Montemayor, we'll look for the point where the footpath diverges from the N-630, as indicated by @Raggy .
Today we leave Extremadura and enter in Castilla y León.

It's a 13km day, which is good, as the next three days after this one will be over 20km each.
In particular we're not looking forward to the stretch leaving Fuenterroble de Salvatierra, and tonight, over dinner, we will be trying to find out what options we have.

We might stay tonight at the Casa Rural Calzada Romana, which I believe was recommended by @peregrina2000 . The Albergue Alba Soraya, in addition to the dormitory, has two rooms with double beds.
What is not quite clear is where we are going to have dinner tonight. I assume the Bar (the only eatery I can see on Google maps) will serve meals, and if it is the same as referenced in Gerald Kelly's guide, we have to make sure we're not there on a Tuesday.

Edit: just watched @Sara_Dhooma 's video to La Calzada de Béjar, and saw the Albergue Alba Soraya, as well as the Bar La Plaza, the "only joint in the village" where you can have dinner.
 
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peregrina2000

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I had a decent dinner in the Casa Rural (and a standard breakfast was left out), but that little local bar was a hopping place the day I was there. There were some other peregrinos there, so it was a nice evening in the casa, we spent time sitting out back and enjoying a beautiful night sky. But it was chilly!

The town has been spruced up a bit since I was first through about twelve years ago. But it is not thriving by any means.

Another camino memory — the afternoon I was in my casa rural, two cyclists arrived really down in the dumps. They had taken a detour to Plasencia in the hopes of fixing the bar on one of the panniers, which had snapped. No luck, and they were planning to end their camino. The owner of the Casa Rural told them to go see Ernesto, a retired welder. After two hours of work, he had fixed the piece, adamantly refused payment, and asked them to hug the apostle for him. On the way out of town in the morning, you will see the peregrino structure he made.

Jumping ahead to your post-Fuenterroble issue, I remember that I met someone in Salamanca who had gone to that little albergue Gronze shows as being 18 km from Fuenterroble. He got lost when trying to get to San Pedro from there, but the schematic map on Gronze shows that if you stop at Pedrosillo, you bypass San Pedro. The place in Morille is also basic, though, so that would not be ideal for you.

I know it’s always easier to get a ride at the beginning of the day rather than the end, but that would be a pity here. The first part of the walk is much more beautiful (last time I was through there were excavations of more Roman Road) and takes you up to the “highest point” on the Via de la Plata — not so high, but still a very nice walk. There are some slogging kms at the end, paralleling the road, no shade, past some bull farms. So getting transport from that big finca that Gronze shows or even a little earlier could get you into the 20 km range. I’ve sent a WhatsApp to the Hotel in San Pedro where I’ve stayed several times to see if they have any suggestions and will report back.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

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peregrina2000

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Another instantaneous reply — Got a whatsapp from the Hotel Rural VII Carreras . No problem at all, they will send someone to pick you up. Of course you will have to call them a day ahead or so. The restaurant and bar are quite the community gathering place, and I was happy to eat a late lunch there, the ambiente on a Sunday was terrific. They will also serve pilgrims in the dining room for an early evening meal.
 

Raggy

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Camino(s) past & future
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Apart from what I wrote above, I have little to tell you about La Calzada de Béjar. While the villages that you'll pass through on the way to Fuenterroble are really in decline, the walking is beautiful - even the stretches on asphalt. If you can find out why one of the villages smelled so strongly of flowers in November I'd love to hear it ... but then again, people might think you're crazy if you go around asking about nonsense like that.
In particular we're not looking forward to the stretch leaving Fuenterroble de Salvatierra, and tonight, over dinner, we will be trying to find out what options we have.
If I were looking for short distance stages with no motorized assistance, I would recommend:
Day 1. Fuenterroble to Pedrosillo - Donativo refuge in Pedrosillo
But make a detour to the peak (Pico de la Dueña) before turning back and then taking the branch to Pedrosillo. It will be around 20km in total, but that view from the peak is worth seeing.
Day 2. Pedrosillo to Morille - Basic refuge in Morille
[EDIT - Or ... Divert from the official Camino route in Monterrubio de la Sierra and walk to San Pedro de Rozados, where you can stay at the more comfortable Hotel Rural VII Carreras].
Day 3. Morille to Salamanca
[EDIT - If you stayed in San Pedro you have slightly further to walk to Salamanca, but you could catch a bus from Aldeatejada to avoid the most boring exurbs of the city]

If you're willing to use motorized assistance, then go as far as the peak and let the Hotel Rural VII Carreras know you're there. The closer to the peak that you can get them to meet you the better. The walk after that point is not as beautiful. They might suggest meeting you at the Finca Calzadilla de Mendigo, which is a little over 20km from Fuenterroble. Fair enough but you might ask if they can come further along the road because the walking is not particularly interesting at that point,.

Frankly, the way stage from San Pedro (or Morille) to Salamanca is nothing special - especially the last bit along the ribbon-like suburb from around Aldeatejada onward . If you wanted to catch a bus from there to the Roman bridge, I wouldn't blame you.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. You have a lot of enjoyable walking before that.
 
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C clearly

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The walk from Baños de Montemayor to La Calzada de Béjar was very pleasant - rural scenery that seemed a bit different from earlier stages. When I walked through La Calzada, the bar had a sign "Tardo 1 hora". I didn't know how long an hour that would be, or when it started, so that triggered my decision to walk 33 km to Fuenterroble, where I caught up with some friends who had gotten a day ahead of me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
Day 31: Baños de Montemayor to La Calzada de Béjar

Back on the VdlP after our little detour yesterday, we're on our way to La Calzada de Béjar. Leaving Baños de Montemayor, we'll look for the point where the footpath diverges from the N-630, as indicated by @Raggy .
Today we leave Extremadura and enter in Castilla y León.

It's a 13km day, which is good, as the next three days after this one will be over 20km each.
In particular we're not looking forward to the stretch leaving Fuenterroble de Salvatierra, and tonight, over dinner, we will be trying to find out what options we have.

We might stay tonight at the Casa Rural Calzada Romana, which I believe was recommended by @peregrina2000 . The Albergue Alba Soraya, in addition to the dormitory, has two rooms with double beds.
What is not quite clear is where we are going to have dinner tonight. I assume the Bar (the only eatery I can see on Google maps) will serve meals, and if it is the same as referenced in Gerald Kelly's guide, we have to make sure we're not there on a Tuesday.

Edit: just watched @Sara_Dhooma 's video to La Calzada de Béjar, and saw the Albergue Alba Soraya, as well as the Bar La Plaza, the "only joint in the village" where you can have dinner.
I've twice stayed in a double room at Alba and Soraya without reserving, however did get there early.
Good communal meals there also.
Wish I had known that Carreras V11 would pick up from the bottom of the Pico, that is a good idea from Peregrina 2000 . Next time! Long walk in the heat for me and I ran out of water in 2017.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
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Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
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Another instantaneous reply — Got a whatsapp from the Hotel Rural VII Carreras . No problem at all, they will send someone to pick you up. Of course you will have to call them a day ahead or so. The restaurant and bar are quite the community gathering place, and I was happy to eat a late lunch there, the ambiente on a Sunday was terrific. They will also serve pilgrims in the dining room for an early evening meal.
Wow! You're a Camino Angel, @peregrina2000 !
Thank you for that! And for the nice photos!

If you're willing to use motorized assistance, then go as far as the peak and let the Hotel Rural VII Carreras know you're there. The closer to the peak that you can get them to meet you the better. The walk after that point is not as beautiful.
Wish I had known that Carreras V11 would pick up from the bottom of the Pico, that is a good idea from Peregrina 2000 . Next time! Long walk in the heat for me and I ran out of water in 2017.
We're going to bed tonight reassured that we have a solution for after Fuenterroble! Thank you!

I had looked at your suggestion, @Raggy , of walking to Pedrosillo. We had two issues with this: there are only 10 beds available, and they don't take reservations. Now I could assume that the 10 beds would not all be gone by the time we arrive, remembering that we are slow walkers, but if on arrival there were no beds available, then I would have to find transport from Pedrosillo to San Pedro, or carry Rachel ...

If you can find out why one of the villages smelled so strongly of flowers in November I'd love to hear it ... but then again, people might think you're crazy if you go around asking about nonsense like that.
For you, @Raggy , I won't mind asking :cool:, even if the locals will look at me in a weird way, and tell me that I am walking in April (or May) so no wonder there is a smell of flowers 😂

¡Buenas noches!
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
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I had looked at your suggestion, @Raggy , of walking to Pedrosillo. We had two issues with this: there are only 10 beds available, and they don't take reservations. Now I could assume that the 10 beds would not all be gone by the time we arrive, remembering that we are slow walkers, but if on arrival there were no beds available, then I would have to find transport from Pedrosillo to San Pedro, or carry Rachel ...
Yes. It's not a great fit for you,
People who like the idea could mitigate the risk of not finding a bed by asking their fellow pilgrims in Fuenterroble where they're heading the next day. Even if you're not staying at the parish albergue, you'd be welcome to drop by, say hello, and make inquiries.
It's likely that pilgrims who stay in Pedrosillo will be coming from Fuenterroble. And to be honest, by the time you've reached this point on the VDLP, you'll know whether there's any kind of "pilgrim bubble" or bed race going on.
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
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Day 32: La Calzada de Béjar to Fuenterroble de Salvatierra

It's interesting that Gronze has this as "Etapa 17", whereas for us, it is our 27th day of walking. Yes, we are slow walkers... 😄
We'll have lunch probably at Valdelacasa.
The Albergue parroquial Santa María, with Padre Blas, is iconic, or so we are told, and it has recently been in the news, with the 15 pilgrims who were caught up by the lock down due to the virus.
As @Raggy said earlier (post #202), the albergue " is a tangible cultural treasure of the VDLP and I would not miss it for the world".
The videos on the website of the albergue show large groups, and there is a sentence on that same website that made us worry somewhat: "Salvo excepción o causa mayor no se aceptan la reserva ni la elección de dormitorio". The worry was that as we are slow walkers, and this stage is just over 20km, we could arrive late-ish in the afternoon, well after any other pilgrims. The website, however, does indicate that there are 70 beds, so hopefully we won't miss out, and we might even have beds close to each other.
It might not be the best night's sleep, as I am a very light sleeper, but we're looking forward to the communal dinner and the pilgrim's blessing.
As a fall back, should there be a sudden surge in pilgrims, there's always two casa rurales...
 

peregrina2000

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I have stayed several times at Padre Blas’ albergue, most recently in 2018 with a French hospitalera whom I had met in the albergues in Miraz and Rabanal in the early-mid 2000s. She told me she was still doing a long stint every year, and would keep on as long as she could.

But I have to say that in 2018 I had one of the most unsettling nights of any camino in this albergue. Even the heavy sleepers were shaking in their sleeping bags. I know that this is all a part of Padre Blas’ mission, but it was kind of scary. The hospitaleros were very apologetic in the morning, but they didn’t know what to do, and Padre Blas was going to be out of town for a while. My post notes that I saw several signs with phone numbers for private rooms on the way into town, so that might not be a bad option just in case. Not trying to dissuade you, since @Raggy is right that it is probably the most iconic albergue on the Vdlp.

I was surprised to see your mention of 70 beds, because I just remember two bunk rooms with about 20 beds each. In any event, it’s surely not going to have that capacity going forward! Note the colorful panels on the wall — they are pieces of some of the carts used by San Blas over the years on his pilgrimages and are really quite beautiful. As are the grounds of the albergue.

The albergue also has at least one private room, paid for with funds from APOC. The first time I was there the room was given only to US couples to sleep in, but I think that was a misunderstanding whose real intent somehow got lost in translation. It has now been corrected, I am pretty sure. So you might be the lucky couple, AJ!
 

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Raggy

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The videos on the website of the albergue show large groups, and there is a sentence on that same website that made us worry somewhat: "Salvo excepción o causa mayor no se aceptan la reserva ni la elección de dormitorio". The worry was that as we are slow walkers, and this stage is just over 20km, we could arrive late-ish in the afternoon, well after any other pilgrims.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
(Matthew 6:26-27)
If you think it's a leap of faith to arrive in Fuenterroble without a reservation, think what a leap of faith it is to build and run a donativo albergue. I don't think Padre Blas will let you down. The greater risk might be that he doesn't let anyone down, so you might encounter someone who is struggling with addiction or poor mental health, as Peregrina2000 did.

I consider my stay at the albergue in Fuenterroble to be one of the things that "made" my camino, but I should temper my enthusiasm to avoid over-hyping it. One of the "neutral" reviews on Gronze is from someone whose expectations weren't met. Here's my attempt to explain what this albergue means to me:

It isn't a luxurious albergue but I felt comfortable in the simple dormitory with the wood-burning stove and the tepid solar-powered shower. It isn't necessarily the most courteous place. In general, I was greeted with warm smiles, but the volunteer who registered me had a bossy attitude. Dinner won't be the best food you'll have that week, although it might be the best *meal* you'll have on the camino. I can't even guarantee that everyone you'll meet there will be nice. My neighbour at dinner turned out to be a Franco-lovin', racist, bad cop. But, to me, it felt like family - replete with all the flaws and virtues of a real family. When Padre Blas saw me off the next morning he told me "This is your home now," and my eyes felt moist for some reason:

Let them all pass all their dirty remarks
There is one question I would really love to ask
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own
(Bob Marley, One Love)
This seems like an appropriate time to remind anyone reading the thread that there's an appeal to support the albergue, which provided refuge to people who were stuck on the camino during the coronavirus lockdown. The money is needed for essential repairs (Padre Blas has had to replace the solar water heating system and make improvements to comply with the new hygiene and safety rules). As I write this, the appeal has raised €4,040 of the €5,300 target. Now would be a great time to make a donation:

If you choose to stay at a Casa Rural instead, I would still encourage you to pay a visit to the albergue. If you need a reason to do that, you could inquire about getting a pilgrim blessing. And if you bring a gift of a bottle or two of wine from the local grocery, I'm sure a grateful member of the community will give you a tour of the place and introduce you to the donkeys. (Wine is not included in the albergue communal meal - so pilgrims buy it for themselves - or, hopefully, for everyone).

I think I've described the walk already - Some (most?) of the walk is on asphalt, but somehow I didn't mind that. You pass through some lovely countryside as you climb from 600m to over 1,000m. The walk to Fuenterroble and the walk out of Fuenterroble the following day (as far as the Pico de la Dueña) are really exquisite. Sadly, the villages seem to be depopulated and down on their luck. It took me by surprise, since I'd been told that Extremadura was the poorest part of Spain ... Stupidly, I didn't anticipate that economic depression might straddle the county line. Gronze indicates that they have bars but they were closed when I walked through. You might have better luck in April / May.
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
If you think it's a leap of faith to arrive in Fuenterroble without a reservation, think what a leap of faith it is to build and run a donativo albergue. I don't think Padre Blas will let you down. The greater risk might be that he doesn't let anyone down, so you might encounter someone who is struggling with addiction or poor mental health, as Peregrina2000 did.
I consider my stay at the albergue in Fuenterroble to be one of the things that "made" my camino, but I should temper my enthusiasm to avoid over-hyping it. [...]
When Padre Blas saw me off the next morning he told me "This is your home now," and my eyes felt moist for some reason [...]
Thank you for sharing those feelings, @Raggy !
Our leap of faith pales into insignificance to Padre Blas' leap of faith, indeed.
It is experiences such as these that "make" a Camino. We remember the pilgrim's blessing from a parish priest in Bolibar on the Norte, in 2018, all in Basque language. We didn't understand the words, but we felt the warmth of his blessing.
We are going to stay at the albergue, as I am more than certain there will be a bed for us.

The walk to Fuenterroble and the walk out of Fuenterroble the following day (as far as the Pico de la Dueña) are really exquisite. Sadly, the villages seem to be depopulated and down on their luck.
Walking through the 'France profonde', the heartland of France, we saw the same thing: small villages depopulated as the young left to look for jobs in the big cities, leaving a few elders behind to look after themselves.
 

Raggy

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Walking through the 'France profonde', the heartland of France, we saw the same thing: small villages depopulated as the young left to look for jobs in the big cities, leaving a few elders behind to look after themselves.
My recent experience of France is limited to two regions - both in the north and not exactly what people have in mind when they talk about "France Profonde." I know that provincial France has many towns and villages that can no longer support a cafe or grocery store - a disaster for pilgrims and locals who don't drive. Perhaps in that sense, the hollowing out is worse in France than it is in Spain. Superficially, however, I find that the French towns look "tidy" by comparison with Spain's crumbling pueblos. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on this, as you explore this part of Spain.
 

peregrina2000

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If you think it's a leap of faith to arrive in Fuenterroble without a reservation, think what a leap of faith it is to build and run a donativo albergue. I don't think Padre Blas will let you down. The greater risk might be that he doesn't let anyone down, so you might encounter someone who is struggling with addiction or poor mental health, as Peregrina2000 did.

I consider my stay at the albergue in Fuenterroble to be one of the things that "made" my camino, but I should temper my enthusiasm to avoid over-hyping it. One of the "neutral" reviews on Gronze is from someone whose expectations weren't met. Here's my attempt to explain what this albergue means to me:

It isn't a luxurious albergue but I felt comfortable in the simple dormitory with the wood-burning stove and the tepid solar-powered shower. It isn't necessarily the most courteous place. In general, I was greeted with warm smiles, but the volunteer who registered me had a bossy attitude. Dinner won't be the best food you'll have that week, although it might be the best *meal* you'll have on the camino. I can't even guarantee that everyone you'll meet there will be nice. My neighbour at dinner turned out to be a Franco-lovin', racist, bad cop. But, to me, it felt like family - replete with all the flaws and virtues of a real family. When Padre Blas saw me off the next morning he told me "This is your home now," and my eyes felt moist for some reason:



This seems like an appropriate time to remind anyone reading the thread that there's an appeal to support the albergue, which provided refuge to people who were stuck on the camino during the coronavirus lockdown. The money is needed for essential repairs (Padre Blas has had to replace the solar water heating system and make improvements to comply with the new hygiene and safety rules). As I write this, the appeal has raised €4,040 of the €5,300 target. Now would be a great time to make a donation:

If you choose to stay at a Casa Rural instead, I would still encourage you to pay a visit to the albergue. If you need a reason to do that, you could inquire about getting a pilgrim blessing. And if you bring a gift of a bottle or two of wine from the local grocery, I'm sure a grateful member of the community will give you a tour of the place and introduce you to the donkeys. (Wine is not included in the albergue communal meal - so pilgrims buy it for themselves - or, hopefully, for everyone).

I think I've described the walk already - Some (most?) of the walk is on asphalt, but somehow I didn't mind that. You pass through some lovely countryside as you climb from 600m to over 1,000m. The walk to Fuenterroble and the walk out of Fuenterroble the following day (as far as the Pico de la Dueña) are really exquisite. Sadly, the villages seem to be depopulated and down on their luck. It took me by surprise, since I'd been told that Extremadura was the poorest part of Spain ... Stupidly, I didn't anticipate that economic depression might straddle the county line. Gronze indicates that they have bars but they were closed when I walked through. You might have better luck in April / May.

Raggy, that is really a beautiful description. I have been at this albergue three times and have never had the pleasure of coinciding with Padre Blas. My bad luck for sure. Last time I was there, I did saunter down to the church and spent some time with local parishoners, but the church was closed. I remember some kind of excavations near the little church, Roman-related, I believe. The hospitalera on my last visit was quite frustrated at the low donations they had been receiving recently, which also made for an uncomfortable pre-dinner introduction and conversation. I don’t know when I will be back, but I will certainly try again!
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
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Via Gebennensis (2018)
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Day 33: Fuenterroble de Salvatierra to San Pedro de Rozados

Today involves a 28km walk from Fuenterroble de Salvatierra to San Pedro de Rozados. We opted not to walk to Pedrosillo de los Aires, especially after it was confirmed that the staff of the Casa Rural VII Carreras in San Pedro were happy to come and pick us up after we had come down from the Pico de la Dueña.
So we're walking as far as we can, possibly to Finca Calzadilla de Mendigos, which would give us a 22km walk.
@Raggy mentioned the walk out of Fuenterroble was "exquisite", so we're looking forward to that. The photos we have seen taken from the viewpoint at 1145 metres at the Pico de la Dueña are beautiful.
Tonight we're staying at the Casa Rural VII Carreras.
We're only a day's walk from Salamanca!
If we're not mistaken, we're also near the half way point to SdC!
 

Raggy

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If we're not mistaken, we're also near the half way point to SdC!
I believe you will cross the halfway point tomorrow on the way into Salamanca (assuming you follow the Sanabres from Granja de la Moreruela).

It's a beautiful walk. Once you're out of Fuenterroble you're on the dead-straight roman road, which is now a perfect walking path. The Roman milestones all have modern-day metal plates to highlight the inscriptions. I have a feeling that the modern metal plates will fade and disappear long before the stones do. At the pico - the highest point on the VDLP - you have a magnificent view over the surrounding country. Somewhere out there is where Wellington fought Napoleon [EDIT - or rather Napoleon's army, led by Maréchal Marmont - see @alansykes description below]. And up there you will also see a big cross that Padre Blas and his crew erected some years ago with various parades and celebrations that he likes to put on.

After the Pico, you start to follow modern agricultural tracks downhill (of course) with a couple of right angle turns. It's an anticlimax after the treat of the panorama from the top. Get picked up as soon as you can in my opinion.

In San Pedro, there's a grocery and a bakery, with very limited hours. Fortunately, countryside rules apply, so you can knock on the door of the bakery to get a loaf out of hours.

There are two albergues and one hotel. In the cold months, the hotel owner (who also runs the albergue) does everything she can to encourage pilgrims to stay at the hotel, short of actually saying that you can't stay at the albergue. I didn't mind. The German pilgrim who was with me got irritated by the hard sell and walked on to Morille, where she told me there was nothing at all open - but a kind local took pity on her and made her dinner. The hotel is friendly, clean, and comfortable, Not that warm, surprisingly.

I only noticed after washing my clothes in the sink that there's a sign saying "Don't wash your clothes in the sink.' Oops. Over dinner (which was fine but better food awaits in Salamanca) I agreed with the mother and daughter team that I'd have breakfast at a specific time in the morning (maybe 7:00?) but when I came down there was nobody in the joint. I called out several times but eventually gave up and left my payment for room and dinner on the bar. I see that one of their negative reviews on Gronze is from a pilgrim who paid for breakfast the night before and felt cheated. Today's lesson - Don't pay the ferryman until he gets you to the other side. (Sorry. I'll stop these tacky song references soon).

Fortunately, the bakery was happy to open its doors for me in the morning and I walked out of San Pedro munching on a toasty empanada, with another one in my breast pocket to warm me up.
 

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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
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Thank you @Raggy for that description and the photos. It all adds to the dream!

Day 34: San Pedro de Rozados to Salamanca

Today, we're crossing the half way point to SdC as we approach Salamanca (we are going to follow the Camino Sanabrés). It's 23.6km according to Gronze, a distance that we'll probably manage to walk, knowing that if there is an issue:
[EDIT - If you stayed in San Pedro you have slightly further to walk to Salamanca, but you could catch a bus from Aldeatejada to avoid the most boring exurbs of the city]
Hopefully, even if we did catch a bus to shorten the distance, we can still experience walking into Salamanca through the Roman bridge. And if we can't catch a bus (for timing reasons or otherwise) we know we have two days rest ahead of us in Salamanca.
The choice of accommodation will be large, and we will want to stay in the Casco Antiguo.
Gerald Kelly has a list of good places for meals, too.

Days 35 and 36: Rest (Sightseeing) days in Salamanca

We're really looking forward to visiting Salamanca. I was fortunate to spend just over 3 hours in this beautiful city on 1 September 2015. I was with a group of colleagues, and we had a half hour escorted tour to see the 'essentials' around the cathedral and the university. Then the remainder of the group adjourned to various restaurants for lunch. Instead, I took off and went walking around, and I even did a roof top walk at the cathedral. Fantastic views, amazing experience!
Rachel hasn't been to Salamanca, so we're looking forward to (re)discovering this amazing city. Feel free to give us your highlights! :)
Here are some of my photos from 2015.
 

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Raggy

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Day 34: San Pedro de Rozados to Salamanca
I've just discovered that I went off piste from San Pedro de Rozados to Salamanca. I got it into my head that Morille was "off camino" and I should take a route through Aldeatejada. I don't recall feeling lost or lacking for arrows - but with a. great big city to aim at, I probably just turned on the autopilot and kept putting one foot in front of the other.

This discovering brings some good news and bad news. The good news is that you'll have a more pleasant stage than I remember - on compacted earth trails and away from traffic, with a big yellow cross as a landmark to celebrate shortly before you reach the city. The bad news is that you won't go through Aldeatejada which has a bus service to Salamanca (except on Sundays). Alight at the first stop in the city - Av. de La Salle (frente Residencia) which is still on the south side of the river so you still get to cross the Roman bridge:

If you wanted to take that bus, you'd need to leave the Camino roughly where the yellow cross is. (You're not going to skip the cross). The walk from the cross to boring Aldeatejada is 2.4 kilometers whereas carrying on to Salamanca is 5km. It's a backup plan in case the thought of five more kilometers is killing you at that point.

I didn't think the walk into Salamanca was all that nice, but the official camino looks better. And I'm sorry to say that even my boring route into Salamanca was way better than getting out of Salamanca, but we'll discuss that later.

The choice of accommodation will be large, and we will want to stay in the Casco Antiguo.
Gerald Kelly has a list of good places for meals, too.
Yes. Lots of choice in Salamanca, My first night was at the albergue, which someone told me was super. I can't say that I agree. The location is awesome - but the rooms are very tight, and the hospitalero was watching me like a hawk to make sure that I complied with the rules, of which there are many. I had to beg him to let me leave my rucksack in the hostel for half a day after my allotted one night stay... and the concession finally came with a repetition of the daytime opening hour and regulations and requirements and what a great favor he was doing me and blah blah blah. My heart sank when he spotted me a couple of days later at the Cathedral and gave me a bad breath lecture about the power of God. Now, I thought I just had bad luck with a hospitalero, but I see other reviews on Gronze are also sour about the way this place seems to be so obsessed with ensuring that we don't break the rules.

My second and third nights in Salamanca were at a very pleasant and very reasonably priced Airbnb (barely more expensive than the albergue) on the Gran Via near the Convento de San Esteban:

Days 35 and 36: Rest (Sightseeing) days in Salamanca
Salamanca is awesome. In your previous thread about must stop places on the VDLP, @amancio described it as the most stunning monumental city in Spain. High praise from a Granadino. My Airbnb host, Raul, who is an architect, took the time to point to some architectural highlights. He also told me to look out for the way the color of the stone changes according to the light.
Like you, I thought the Cathedral rooftop tour was fantastic. I enjoyed the rooftop visit at the Pontifical University of Salamanca even more. You could fill several days just looking at buildings -the old and new cathedrals, the convento de san Esteban, the casa de las conchas, the university buildings, the old town and magnificent plaza mayor... Being a center of jamon production, there are lots of delicatessens. Also lots of bakeries selling yummy empanadas and other baked treats. There's a touristy vibe (more tacky souvenir shops than other cities on this route) and also a studenty vibe. It's one of those delightfully compact cities that somehow holds so much.
The famous museums associated with the university and the cathedral are terrific. The Art Deco museum is gorgeous but too much Art Deco in one place is overwhelming. It left me feeling like I had gobbled an entire box of Belgian chocolates and I had Victor Horta hiccups all evening. One museum that you might walk past if you're not looking out for it is the national Archive of the Civil War. I didn't spend a huge amount of time here because my Spanish really wasn't up to it, but the small display area on the ground floor gave me much food for thought.

There's no shortage of things to see and enjoy in Salamanca and no shortage of guidebooks to point you to the things that interest you, so I'll stop there.
 

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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
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One of the things I would love to experience in Salamanca is a street performance by a local Tuna Universitaria, university students in traditional university dress who play traditional instruments and sing serenades.
Has anyone experienced this?
 

Raggy

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One of the things I would love to experience in Salamanca is a street performance by a local Tuna Universitaria, university students in traditional university dress who play traditional instruments and sing serenades.
Has anyone experienced this?
Caught the end of one. Touristy meets studenty. S'alright.

EDIT - And here's a recording of a Tuna Universitaria. Canned Tuna, so to speak:
 

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AJGuillaume

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@Raggy , those photos are amazing!!!
Thank you!!

EDIT: @Raggy , thank you for the video. I'll be trying to catch the non canned type 😄
 
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alansykes

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Day 34: San Pedro de Rozados to Salamanca
A very short detour off the camino takes you across the site of the Battle of Salamanca (or of Los Arapiles in French and Spanish).

Los Arapiles are a village and two substantial hills just south of Salamanca. In July 1812 Wellington (then a mere Earl in England, although already Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo in Spain) occupied the western one, with Maréchal Marmont and the Armée française de Portugal to the east. The armies were roughly equal in size (~40,000 soldiers each), but Wellington knew Marmont was expecting reinforcements, so was making preparations to retreat to Portugal. A significant proportion of Wellington's troops were hidden from Marmont's view, but when the marshal saw dust rising from the road as the British baggage train began to move west, he sent his left flank out to intercept it, seriously extending his line. Wellington saw the mistake and exclaimed "By God, that will do", adding to his Spanish liaison officer "Mon cher Álava, Marmont est perdu".

The hidden British troops then ambushed Marmont's left flank, obeying the order to "drive them to the devil". The rest of the Anglo-Portuguese troops then fell on the main body of the French and soon had them retreating up the Tormes with heavy casualties, largely leaderless as Marmont was badly injured in the opening minutes of the attack. One of the French officers was reported as saying that Wellington had "... battu quarante mille hommes en quarante minutes". Wellington himself, when he finally got to bed that night, wrote: "I never was so fagged".

The battleground has some useful information panels, making it easy to see how Marmont fell into the trap. I had a particular interest as my great-great-great-grandfather, Colin Campbell, then a major with one of the highland regiments, had a horse shot under him that day.

It was Wellington's first decisive victory against the French, and led to him entering Madrid only a couple of weeks later, with Joseph Bonaparte scarpering hurriedly to the safety of Valencia. According to Tolstoy in "War and Peace", news of the defeat at Salamanca was brought to Napoléon just before the Battle of Borodino.

Marmont recovered from his injuries and gave the French language the verb "raguser" ("to betray"), for his behaviour on the road to Fontainbleau in April 1814.
 

Raggy

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Arapiles looks to be about 4km to the east of the camino. That's a possible detour for folks who like to walk >30km days, but one could also visit it as a side trip from Salamanca.

[EDIT - Judging from the posts from people who saw the Arapiles site, it seems that it's easily accessible from the camino, which I missed, of course. There is a village called Arapiles, which I guess is not the battle site that folks are talking about. It is some 4km to the east, with an interpretation center and so on].
 
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C clearly

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Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
A very short detour off the camino takes you across the site of the Battle of Salamanca (or of Los Arapiles in French and Spanish).
Was that a detour? The site was very nondescript without the explanatory signs. Then you began to think about the masses of soldiers and what it must have been like at the time. See my two photos - one of a sign, and one of the battlefield.
walking into Salamanca through the Roman bridge
I walked into Salamanca with a Camino companion on Palm Sunday in 2017. We were exactly on time, to walk up to the Cathedral minutes before the procession arrived. We really felt like pilgrims arriving in town to witness an important event.
this place seems to be so obsessed with ensuring that we don't break the rules.
Yes, it was! The hospitaleros were very nice, but they had clearly been trained in the rules. We each were given a large plastic bag to hold our backpacks, which were to be left in lockers on the main floor, and a smaller plastic bag to hold the essentials that we could take upstairs to the sleeping area. Presumably this was to aid in bedbug control but I could not understand how it would achieve anything useful. We all had to spread things around in the main area, to repack, then take sleeping bags upstairs (bedbugs and all). Of course there were several trips up and down to get forgotten things, each time with more rummaging around. What a waste of plastic, as well as effort.

In 2018, I arrived in Salamanca by bus after the Mozarabe. I had an important forum-related meeting to attend. Let me just say that it was not held at the albergue.
 

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OzAnnie

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A very short detour off the camino takes you across the site of the Battle of Salamanca (or of Los Arapiles in French and Spanish).
Was that a detour? The site was very nondescript without the explanatory signs
Like you @C clearly : I walked through same area ; place is noted on my pics as ‘Arapiles’ . I was following the arrows to Salamanca (May2019)
From there to my hotel though was a drag as I was feeling my first blister then.
 

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alansykes

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Was that a detour? The site was very nondescript without the explanatory signs. Then you began to think about the masses of soldiers and what it must have been like at the time. See my two photos - one of a sign, and one of the battlefield.
Part of the battlefield is on the camino itself, the rest is spread out a few km to the east. General Packenham with his "Fighting Third" Division was concealed in lower ground near Aldeatejada. Marmont's left flank advanced, under General Thomières, and was ambushed by Packenham near Miranda de Azán and pretty much routed, with Thomières being killed and earning himself an inscription on the Arc de Triomphe. The rest of the battle centred around the two Arapiles hills, a few km further east on the far side of the motorway. There is an interpretation centre in the (tiny) village of Arapiles, with a terrace giving views to Arapile Chico (Wellington's base) and Arapile Grande (Marmont's), and a model of the battlefield.
 

AJGuillaume

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Day 37: Salamanca to Calzada de Valdunciel

We're back on the Camino after a few days looking around Salamanca.
The stage from Salamanca to El Cubo del Vino is somewhat beyond our reach, so we're going to stop in Calzada de Valdunciel tonight. That will give us a 16km day.
We're going to try to break the journey to Zamora into 4 days.
In Calzada de Valdunciel we might stay at Albergue La Casa del Molinero, as they have rooms with double beds. Restaurante Joaquín looks like a nice place to have our evening meal.
 

Raggy

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Seems we're still in Salamanca so here are a couple more things I'd like to share :
[Well, we would have been if I'd finished this post a few minutes earlier].

1. Huerto de Calixto y Melibea
In Post #251 I included a photograph of a bird bath, which is in the center of a garden whose history is described here:
It's right next to the albergue, so anyone staying there would be almost certain to visit. But if you're staying elsewhere, I highly recommend dropping by for a quiet moment of rest.

2. Cave of Salamanca
To see some of the oldest walls in the city, you can visit former crypt of the church of San Cibrian. It's associated with various pagan-ish legends involving Hercules, the marquis of Villena, and the devil himself:
https://www.itinari.com/the-cave-of-salamanca-dark-magic-and-its-secrets-0nlu
I had a devil of a time finding the place, and once I got there I couldn't work out what it was that I was supposed to be looking at. Don't go out of your way to see it, but it's worth looking in after you visit the Convento de San Esteban, which is only a few steps away.

3. Convento de las Duenas
This is a "must see," across the road from the Convento de San Esteban, which is also a "must see" site. Unfortunately, I missed its opening time on my first day of sightseeing, and it was closed the next day. I think most of the museums and attractions have at least one day off per week, so once you know your arrival day, you should double check which attractions to see in which order.

4. Cielo de Salamanca
I'm sure you have seen photos of the fresco of the night sky, with mythical figures in the constellations. it is in the university buildings, but was closed on the day that I attempted to see it (Sunday, I guess).

5. Church of San Marcos
A round church. Apparently round churches are a thing in nordic countries, but there aren't many in my country. One famous one is the Temple church off Fleet Street, London, which attracts lots of Dan Brown fans looking for strange signs and Knights Templar. The round design was modeled by the crusaders after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, it seems. I wonder if this is also the case in Spain.
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
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Seems we're still in Salamanca
We are, @Raggy , so keep those suggestions coming!
Apologies for having already posted our day out of Salamanca, I didn't want to rush anything, but I had agreed to post one day every two days, except when we had rest days.
When this virtual Camino becomes real, we might even add an extra day to our visit in Salamanca.
 

Raggy

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Day 37: Salamanca to Calzada de Valdunciel
The walk to Cubo de la Tierra del Vino is dull. Especially the second half, which is dead straight with a view of a six lane highway and a prison for hours and hours. Mind you, most things would feel like an anticlimax after Salamanca. [You haven't mentioned any deadlines for this Camino. Nor have you asked us which stages if any are missable. That is understandable since this is virtual and we have all the time in the virtual world. But on the real Camino, if you find that you're running behind schedule and you feel a need to skip a stage, you might consider taking a bus from Salamanca to Cubo].

You'll pass the round church on the way out of town. If you didn't visit it during your stay in Salamanca, pop in and find a quiet corner to say a prayer. (I warn you that's the closest thing to a laugh you're getting today).

Once you're out of the beautiful city center, there are some light industrial exurbs to walk through and some flat, straight, dusty, farm roads. Eventually you will pass through Castellanos de Villiquera on the way to Calzada de Valdunciel; tired towns with strange rusty iron camino signs and heavy, stone, churches. The church in Castellanos de Villiquera was open when I passed through and took a look at the the sacred heart above the altar. The church in Calzada de Valdunciel was closed but I remember that I looked around on the outside walls for a long time because there was supposed to be something of interest that I'd read about. I forget what it was - a historic statue or a shell or an old bit of wall or an original arch or a bit of masonry ... I eventually found it under the big porch and wished I hadn't bothered, since I had another 20km to walk that day. If you're stopping there, you might not feel as cheated as I did.

On the way to Calzada, you'll come across a brick shed containing a table laden with water, oranges, a first aid kit and a little guest book. I think it was the first donativo snack station that I encountered on my Camino. it's a donativo with a purpose though - it serves as an advertisement for Casa Sosa, an albergue fashioned out of a collection of shipping containers about six kilometers beyond Calzada de Valdunciel. In November, the owner only opens for pre-booked groups, but in April and May it's probably open without appointment. Were you walking a little later in the year, I might suggest it because it has a swimming pool. But overall, I think you'll be more comfortable in Calzada.
 

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peregrina2000

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I have been in Salamanca at least a half dozen times, two or three times walking, and have barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do. Just walking around the university and watching the light change in the Plaza Mayor are already going to fill up a day!

The superlatives thrown at the Plaza Mayor are not superlative enough, IMO. I met @Charrito there a couple of years ago and he pointed out the interesting tidbit that the city had finally taken down the medallion of Franco’s head after years of vandalism (the square is lined with alabaster heads of monarchs under the porticos). And though no one hopes for rain while walking or touring, a post-rain late afternoon in the plaza with the sun shining on the shimmering stone is gasp-inducing.

I distinctly remembered one convent where my then 15 year old son had been mesmerized by all the monsters on the capitals in the cloister, and a little googling revealed it was Convento de las Dueñas, so I would second Raggy’s recommendation.

There is one pretty circular romanesque church in Salamanca (Santo Tomás, I think), and the old cathedral of course, but this is just a tease for the romanesque that awaits you in Zamora.
 

Raggy

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Found a picture of the sign that led me to look all over the Calzada church. After all the vaux le détour sites in Salamanca, I found it to be a mauvais retour sur investissement de temps. But let us know what it's like inside if you can find anyone to open it up for you.

The church contains traces of the previous Romanesque church. On the exterior south side and the way into the sacristy are remains of 12th/13th century walls, as well as some large dogs (?!?) with a human figure at the top of the tower. In the interior are two columns under the tribune (?!?) with romanesque capitals with simple and beautiful leaf work ... a sculpture in gothic style, probably from the 13th century representing a king ... the church dedicated to Santa Elena dates on the whole from the 16th century ... the main entrance was reconstructed in 1724 and the upper part is dominated by a large shell (scallop) - the characteristic symbol of the Camino De Santiago.

Have patience. As Peregrina2000 said, the treasure house of Romanesque churches is Zamora.

9E827230-B103-49A8-94B8-F708EEEA2C83.jpeg
 

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peregrina2000

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My favorite non-ancient sighting was on the way out of Salamanca in the morning when the street cleaners were out. I have never seen one of these vacuums, though my European friends tell me they are not that unusual. Where I come from, we just don’t clean the streets much.

And not to digress too much, but I bet all early morning walkers on every camino have many memories of walking through towns with the portera or portero in an apartment building sweeping the sidewalk and washing the windows, along with the municipal employees out pretty-ing up the public spaces.

1591891396665.jpeg
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
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Camino Del Norte (2018)
[You haven't mentioned any deadlines for this Camino. Nor have you asked us which stages if any are missable. That is understandable since this is virtual and we have all the time in the virtual world. But on the real Camino, if you find that you're running behind schedule and you feel a need to skip a stage, you might consider taking a bus from Salamanca to Cubo]
@Raggy , in real life, we have all the time we need. We are fortunate to be dual nationals with a passport that allows us to stay as long as we want in the Schengen area. So we don't have a deadline, and this virtual exercise also helps us determine how long we can spend on the VdlP before we return to grandchildren in Australia. Had there been no virus this year, our plans were to walk part of the Voie d'Arles, then the Voie de la Nive to SJPdP, spend a week in SJPdP as volunteers in the pilgrims office, walk to Pamplona, and then fly to Lisbon and walk the Portuguese (with variations between Lisbon and Fatima along the coast) to SdC. We didn't walk to Fisterra in 2018, so we were also going to walk the loop to Fisterra and Muxia back to SdC before flying to Switzerland where Rachel has family. We were going to help her brother on the family farm with the potato harvest. So you see, we have time...
However, you do raise a valid question: are there any stages which are missable, and that we should in fact miss? Should we indeed take a bus from Salamanca to Cubo?

You'll pass the round church on the way out of town. If you didn't visit it during your stay in Salamanca, pop in and find a quiet corner to say a prayer. (I warn you that's the closest thing to a laugh you're getting today).
😂😄😂

There is one pretty circular romanesque church in Salamanca (Santo Tomás, I think), and the old cathedral of course, but this is just a tease for the romanesque that awaits you in Zamora.
Have patience. As Peregrina2000 said, the treasure house of Romanesque churches is Zamora.
We have planned to stay an extra day in Zamora (and you might recommend more than one extra day?). Coming back to the question about missing a stage, this is so close after Salamanca, that I thought we would earn the extra day in Zamora by walking between Salamanca and Zamora...
 

peregrina2000

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The walk between Salamanca and Zamora isn’t stunning but if it’s not too hot and it’s springtime, you won’t have anything to complain about. And it’s easy to divide it up into four stages. Calzada de Valdunciel - Cubo - one of several places - Zamora. So if you have the time and want to stretch your legs before getting back into tourist mode, I think you would enjoy it.

SOOOO much to see in Zamora, even if you are not a huge Romanesque fan — castle, museum, cathedral.... And there are more than 20 romanesque churches open in the city. They have a great rotating system, so on any given day only a few are closed. But I don’t want to get ahead of you, so I will bite my tongue on Zamora for now.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

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hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
One of the things I would love to experience in Salamanca is a street performance by a local Tuna Universitaria, university students in traditional university dress who play traditional instruments and sing serenades.
Has anyone experienced this?
Yes, they were ou in force on our first visit, maybe you will get lucky and see them too. Good to see you making steady progress.so many memories.

I've been busy processing our nut fattened pigs, but now they are safely packed in salt our curing before I smoke them I found the time to catch up with you. Have a good walk to Zamora.
 
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Raggy

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Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Should we indeed take a bus from Salamanca to Cubo?
I can’t answer that for you. When I walked from Salamanca to Cubo in November I got a little fed up with it - especially from Calzada to Cubo when I had a seemingly unchanging view of brown fields, a prison and the autovia. Occasionally, the PA system at the prison made an announcement to inmates or staff and I felt a chill in my heart. At every junction and overpass over the autovia, pilgrims must use a road for cars that’s perpendicular to the direction you want to go in, to get to the height of the overpass, cross the road, make another 90 degree turn and descend to the point that you would have reached 15 minutes earlier if only the makers of the autovia de la plata had given an iota more consideration to the walkers on the via de la plata.
It was very important to me to walk every stage - and like you, I didn’t have a deadline - so I would not have skipped the stage even if I had been warned that it was dull. As peregrina2000 said, it will be more pleasant in the springtime when the fields are full of life. I found the walk from Cubo to Zamora to be not bad.
Although you haven’t announced the walk to Cubo, I might as well tell you about Cubo itself and that will wrap up everything that I can share about this part of the Camino. I stayed at the private albergue Torre de Sabre, which is owned by Filiberto and Loli. The rooms are like staying at grandma’s house - A modest home with brass bedsteads and crochet, lace, and an eclectic collection of objects and artworks (one rather saucier than anything my grandma would have had in her home). This may or may not be to your liking. But the welcome is sincere and the homemade dinner is great. Filiberto loves the Camino and he has written a guide to doing the Camino on horseback. He’ll introduce the horses and tell you some of the history of the Tierra del Vino if you’re interested. If you’re wondering where the vines are - The viticulture was decimated after the arrival of Phylloxera in the region. You won’t come across much production here today. That said, the Zamora region produces some of my favourite Spanish wines and Filiberto might serve you a glass of the good stuff if he likes you. The pitcher that comes with dinner Is more ordinary but not at all bad. I think Filiberto and Loli also have a guest house with private rooms.
I have also heard nice things about the other albergue in Cubo - F&M. From the photos it appears to be more modern. If you like bunk beds with new mattresses and a pilgrim kitchen, you might find that more comfortable. The hosts are also amiable I hear.
I don’t think there’s an hotel in the village.
We have planned to stay an extra day in Zamora (and you might recommend more than one extra day?).
A day in Zamora will be great. I am not sure if you need two days. Since the city is so compact, I was able to do a pretty complete tour with a two-night stay, without feeling that I had rushed it. On my second visit with friends I had just one late afternoon/ evening. I took them to see a couple of my favourite things but I wish I’d had time to show them more. If you happen to be there during Holy Week then perhaps you should stay longer if you can find accommodation. It’s a big, big, deal in Zamora and you might wish to stay to see the celebrations.
 

peregrina2000

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At every junction and overpass over the autovia, pilgrims must use a road for cars that’s perpendicular to the direction you want to go in, to get to the height of the overpass, cross the road, make another 90 degree turn and descend to the point that you would have reached 15 minutes earlier if only the makers of the autovia de la plata had given an iota more consideration to the walkers on the via de la plata.
This perfectly describes my enduring memory of that stretch, though I could never have said it so elegantly and precisely. What I remember was a lot of needless ups and downs to accommodate the cars. I will say, though, that it did provide the only elevation gain for that entire 85 kms, so maybe in hindsight we should have been thankful for the variation it provided.

A day in Zamora will be great. I am not sure if you need two days.
I will be on the side of urging two days here. I have never spent two full days in Zamora while walking, so maybe that’s hypocritical of me, but there is so much to see. And, IMHO, it is a town with a really wonderful ambiente. One of my favorite small Spanish cities, if I were forced to choose.
 

OzAnnie

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Camino(s) past & future
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One of the things I would love to experience in Salamanca is a street performance by a local Tuna Universitaria, university students in traditional university dress who play traditional instruments and sing serenades.
Has anyone experienced this?
If you miss out of that experience of the local university students (street performance)... you may be happy with what I saw during my stay. Street puppeteer. 😊 Pic (1) below
Pic (2) / podiatrist (I had my blister and corns treated) it was around the corner from the hotel I stayed at in Salamanca. No appointment required / just join the queue. My accommodation (2 nights) in Salamanca; was really close to main plaza. (Hotel Soho mercado) through booking dot com
Very comfy .
Pic (3). I stopped on the walkout from the city for café y tostadas here. (Bathroom stop ;)). I had been walking alone but when I exited this hotel - voila !!! I spy a German pilgrim on opposite side of the road. We ended up walking together frequently until I stopped my Vdlp at Tábara- further on.


We have planned to stay an extra day in Zamora (and you might recommend more than one extra day?).
Zamora is a most beautiful city. I only stayed one night heading north (in main Albergue / very good) but heading back to Madrid I stopped for another day/night in Zamora at Hostal Chiqui I would stay there again. I wanted to get pics I’d missed - especially the bridge (at a certain angle looking back towards city entry ) at sunset too., so did this on my return stop there. (Pic 4) and look around with more time.
I would think that if you arrived in Zamora early afternoon and had 2 nights there ... it would be perfect.
 

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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
SOOOO much to see in Zamora, even if you are not a huge Romanesque fan — castle, museum, cathedral.... And there are more than 20 romanesque churches open in the city.
@peregrina2000 , that is one of the interests I share with you: we enjoyed so many Romanesque churches in 2018, both in France and in Spain.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
The walk between Salamanca and Zamora isn’t stunning but if it’s not too hot and it’s springtime, you won’t have anything to complain about. And it’s easy to divide it up into four stages. Calzada de Valdunciel - Cubo - one of several places - Zamora. So if you have the time and want to stretch your legs before getting back into tourist mode, I think you would enjoy it.
When I walked from Salamanca to Cubo in November I got a little fed up with it - especially from Calzada to Cubo when I had a seemingly unchanging view of brown fields, a prison and the autovia.
We'll be walking in springtime, so hopefully the flowers and green fields will compensate for the PA of the prison...

This is a virtual walk, but I think when we convert it to a real life experience, we will walk between Salamanca and Zamora.
It was very important to me to walk every stage - and like you, I didn’t have a deadline - so I would not have skipped the stage even if I had been warned that it was dull.
In 2018, we walked every stage. In fact, we had originally thought that after walking from Geneva to SJPdP, we would take transport to get to Irun to start our Norte. Someone challenged me to walk between SJPdP and Irun, to make it an unbroken walk from Geneva to SdC, and I found the Voie de la Nive-Bidassoa.
So although we may skip parts of stages on the VdlP, such as getting to Almadén de la Plata, into Cáceres from Valdesalor, or more recently into San Pedro de Rozados, we would want to walk all the stages, if we can.

So assuming everyone has caught up with Salamanca, and as we are now in Calzada de Valdunciel (post #261), here's our next day...

Day 38: Calzada de Valdunciel to El Cubo del Vino

As I wrote earlier, we're breaking the walk from Salamanca to Zamora into 4 stages. This is our second stage. As we will be walking in April or May, we're hoping that there will still be flowers around on this 20.7km day.
In Cubo, we quite like the idea of sleeping in a place with character, such as in the Albergue Torre de Sabre, as @Raggy recommended.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
It's raining today so I won't go out to prune the trees, I'll tag along with you instead. I remember the prison stretch well, we amused the guards in the towers by changing out of of wet weather gear and they sent out a truck to check we where not going to scale the wall.
 

Raggy

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2017, 2018, 2019
I remember the prison stretch well
No-one forgets their stretch of bird.
we amused the guards in the towers by changing out of of wet weather gear and they sent out a truck to check we where not going to scale the wall.
Quite likely they thought you might be preparing to send a drone to carry contraband across the autovia and drop it within the perimeter of the jail. For pilgrims who like to take aerial footage of their adventure, I advise against filming from the sky on this part of the camino.
 
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C clearly

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
The albergue in Calzada has only 8 beds, and it filled just before I arrived. I didn't mind too much since it was early enough to walk another 6 km to Casa Saso for myself and another couple who also needed beds. I called ahead to make sure Casa Saso was available.

The next day, I walked on to Villanueva de Campion. I can't remember anything of note, although I do remember the prison. I loved the second half of the day, after El Cubo, but that is tomorrow for you. I'll post some photos for that part.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Day 39: El Cubo del Vino to Villanueva de Campeán

From what I have read earlier in this thread, the VdlP after El Cubo is nice and enjoyable.
It will be a short day for us, walking 14km to Villanueva de Campeán.
I did a quick search about the village (2004 census: 168 inhabitants), and the tourism portal of the Junta de Castilla y León has this to say:

The small red gravel track makes its way from El Cubo to the lands of Monteconcejo and Brochero, running between the vineyards and lined with small holm oaks. The small municipality of Villanueva de Campeán nestles on the side of La Esculca Hill.

Before entering the town, pilgrims will go past the ruins of a Franciscan Convent which although originally built in the 13th century, was altered considerably in the 16th century. The town sprang up around the convent.

This town is also the site of the 13th century Church of Santa María del Soto.


Gerald Kelly indicates that the Café Bar Vía de la Plata provides good food.
 

C clearly

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How was Casa Saso?
It was fine. The owners were very hospitable and I enjoyed it. It is true that there were some awkward aspects to the set-up. I had a private room, but as I recall, those who slept in the dorm had to go outside for the toilet.
 

Raggy

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2017, 2018, 2019
Day 39: El Cubo del Vino to Villanueva de Campeán
After saying goodbye to Filiberto's horses, you'll pass a window with a peculiar collection of metal sculptures, before reaching the village church. Outside, there's a modern cross, bearing a replica of the famous C12th statue of Santiago as a pilgrim, which is at the the church of Santa Marta de Tera on the Camino Sanabres. Note the pink inscription at the base of the cross. You're going to see more of this on the way to Zamora. Someone with pink paint wants to let us know about the threads that stretch back through history, tying together the towns and villages along this route. I suspect that the same person or group is also responsible for the huge, modern, replicas of Roman milestones that you'll start to see. Some have massive iron, pilgrim walking sticks planted next to them. We'll be seeing more pink paint quite soon.

Shortly after the church is a stone bridge, and after the bridge, a track that breaks off to the left with a stone marker pointing up the track. If you miss it (as I did) you'll wind up at the Autovia and you won't like that at all. (Fortunately, I turned back and found the track).

The contrast with the flat monotony of the previous day is uplifting. There are a few holm oaks by the path, and later some small woodlands. The landscape rises and falls. Eventually, you emerge to a point that offers a commanding view of the countryside ahead. After that, a descent, some more trees, and in a short time you reach Villanueva de Campeán, which announces itself as the heart of the wine producing region. There seem to be hardly enough vineyards around, but there is a wine producer - Bodegas El Soto - in the pueblo, so you might want to check that out if you're staying there.

On that topic, the wines here are not at all like the heavy, tannic bombs of the Rioja D.O., which are not my thing. If you enjoy medium-bodied and sometimes fruity reds, there's a lot to love around here:
Filiberto's friends run Viña ver, which must be nearby. Facebook page is here.
From the Toro D.O. to the east are some super wines like Corral de Campanas by Quinta de la quietud
Further south in the Sierra de Salamanca V.C. (not a D.O) I enjoyed Calixto Osiris by Bodegas Rochal

EDIT - The experts have a somewhat different view of the regional characteristics. Well, I can only talk about what I found and there's a limit to how much of the wine I could consume on my way through.
Toro D.O. -

Tierra del vino de Zamora D.O. -

Sierra de Salamanca V.C.

BTW - It sounds like the same guy recorded the voice over for Viña Ver's videos and for the albergue Torre de Sabre's videos. I think he must be a Dutch guy who moved to the area.
 

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C clearly

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Day 39: El Cubo del Vino to Villanueva de Campeán
I was mesmerized that day (April 11, 2017) from the sunshine, heat, aloneness and beautiful fields. I don't know why no one else seems to have had this experience - perhaps my day there was just a happy confluence of conditions. I actually remember coming around a curve and being stunned by this view.
20170411_152549.jpg

I couldn't stop taking photos, so here are a few more. The last one shows what must be might be the ruins of the Franciscan convent.
 

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peregrina2000

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I was mesmerized that day (April 11, 2017) from the sunshine, heat, aloneness and beautiful fields. I don't know why no one else seems to have had this experience - perhaps my day there was just a happy confluence of conditions. I actually remember coming around a curve and being stunned by this view.
View attachment 76983

I couldn't stop taking photos, so here are a few more. The last one shows what must be might be the ruins of the Franciscan convent.
Gorgeous picture! It seems like you couldn’t improve on that composition no matter how hard you tried.

I know exactly what you mean when a seemingly unremarkable bit of scenery triggers some strong emotions. I didn’t have it on those stages, but remember similar days particularly on the Ebro and the Madrid where sun, primary colors, and sky produced this kind of intense exhilaration. I also think that walking alone makes you more conducive to the experience, but that may not be true for everyone.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Fantastic photos! Thank you very much!

Day 40: Villanueva de Campeán to Zamora

Gronze tells us this is a 18.4km day. It's downhill to Zamora.
We were wondering whether a detour to San Marcial is worthwhile if we want a "manzanilla y Colacao" break (we don't drink coffee 😄 )?
The approach into Zamora doesn't seem to involve going through suburbs, and it looks like we arrive straight into town, after crossing the Duero on the Puente de Piedra.
@peregrina2000 is waiting for us and we are going to follow her advice:
I will be on the side of urging two days here. I have never spent two full days in Zamora while walking, so maybe that’s hypocritical of me, but there is so much to see. And, IMHO, it is a town with a really wonderful ambiente. One of my favorite small Spanish cities, if I were forced to choose.
We are going to spend two days here. So we need to stay somewhere central, in the Casco Antiguo. If I recall well, @OzAnnie stayed at the Hostal Chiqui.
We have already downloaded the map of Zamora from the tourist office website, and we're looking forward to seeing the Romanesque churches and architecture around town.

And as we are staying three nights:
Day 41: Zamora, rest day
Day 42: Zamora, rest day
 

Raggy

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Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Day 40: Villanueva de Campeán to Zamora
The approach into Zamora doesn't seem to involve going through suburbs, and it looks like we arrive straight into town, after crossing the Duero on the Puente de Piedra.
I've yet to walk many caminos, but I think the way into Zamora must to be one of the best entrances to a city on any camino in Spain. Here's my attempt at a ranking. I look to the more experienced walkers to re-arrange or expand this chart (or disagree) from their experience of Frances, Primitivo, Lana, Norte, etc. etc. etc..

Most scenic camino routes into cities:
1. Granada
2. Zamora
3. Santiago de Compostela coming from Finisterre/Muxia

Most scenic camino routes out of cities
1. Córdoba
2. Mérida
3. Santiago de Compostela going to Finisterre/Muxia

Least scenic camino routes in and out of cities
1. Leaving Granada
2. Leaving Salamanca
3. Entering Ourense

The detour to San Marcial is marked with a minor battle of the signs at the decision point. (The sign pointing left promises a bar, shop, hot food ... the one pointing right has cleverly written Zamora as Za with a heart (amor)). As far as I can see, there shouldn't be much difference to the total distance walked whichever way you choose. if you go via San Marcial, I think you might miss the yellow arrow of C Clearly's profile picture... (but I might be wrong - someone else will have to confirm). The yellow arrow on a stick is not exactly a "must see" sight, but it's one of a kind - clever, funny, understated. I wish the same could be said for the excessive, repetitive, modern replicas of Roman milestones with hulking, great, pilgrim staffs attached. When you've seen one, you've seen them all. And when I'd seen my fifth or sixth, l started to view them as a form of pollution... I think they stopped at camino-henge.

Camino-henge
In recent times,
Several years before the dawn of Snapchat
Lived a strange group of people, the pink paint monument builders

No-one knows who they were or what they were doing
But their legacy remains,
Cast into the manufactured stone
(apologies to Spinal Tap)

The monument is starting to crack in places. People whose judgment I respect have told me that they're horrified by the trite inscriptions. It's ostensibly a message of mutual understanding between different faiths, on this road that has seen the movement of so many different people. Given the fact that these people were often being ethnically cleansed or forced to move by war and persecution, it is a delicate topic to cover. Since I didn't labor through the text myself and I don't know whether people from all faiths were involved in its composition, I can't say whether it adequately and appropriately sets out the context for a monument to peace, love, and understanding. That's not to say that I have any problem with peace, love, and understanding.

I noted that the circle that joins the three plinths is labeled "The Promise Curb," which reminded me of a parody of a folk hymn that the music teacher at my school wrote ("Lord, let me be the putty in your window frame"). Five hundred of us sang it with great gusto. I think the chaplain enjoyed it, but the piece didn't get a second performance.

The countryside here is somewhat flatter than before Villanueva, but still quite pleasant. I am sure that it's much prettier when everything is green than in the autumn, when I watched tumbleweed rolling over the fields from the comfort of a relaxing armchair. You might not want to sit in the armchair. I think I heard something under me squeak.

Arriving in Zamora is such a treat. There is a teensy bit of grotty suburb (with one building in particular that surely can't be compliant with any building codes - a structure of quite low quality brick with an upper storey rotated at 45 degrees over the lower storey, with the corners overhanging ...) Once you get past that, you follow a river-side footpath with a fine view of the old city - the castle, cathedral at the front - that takes you all the way to the stone bridge over the Duero. It's a sight to behold on a fine day in the fading afternoon light.

You enter town through a not so prosperous old square, then uphill past the museum of Zamora (excellent), the albergue (also excellent), and the church of San Cipriano (Zamora's oldest), which stands at the entrance to the Plaza de San Cipriano and beyond that the Plaza de Viriato, with a statue of the Roman military leader Viriathus by Eduardo Barrón González - one of two great sculptors from Zamora. Although I did not know Barrón González's name before I visited Zamora, I recognized the replica (in the Museum of Zamora) of his portrayal of Nero and Seneca. The original is at the Prado. Later learned that the brutal statue of Hernan Cortes in Medellin is another of his works.

EDIT - Done some background reading. The statue of Viriathus dates from 1884. Apparently, the legend is that Viriathus was a Celtiberian, so he had significance as nationalism was becoming a force in Europe. To my uneducated eye it looks to be ahead of its time in terms of style, but I don't really have a. clue.

This is a good reference point to get your bearings. You have about one quarter of the old city to your left (West) and three quarters to your right (East). The modern city continues to the east after that. Most restaurants, shops and hotels (incl. Hostal Chiqui) are to your right (East). Some pretty old streets, the Cathedral, the castle, the park and views over the river are to your left (West).

I have spent the night at the donativo albergue on two occasions. It's excellent - a beautiful old building, volunteer hospitaleras who were absolute angels (but they change every two weeks), a large kitchen and dining area, OK showers, washing machine, and a small yard for drying clothes. Breakfast (tea or coffee, boiled egg, toast, jam etc.) provided. It does not accept reservations and pilgrims may only stay one night. If you've enjoyed staying at albergues on your trip so far, perhaps you should consider it for your last night in town. You are guaranteed to get a place, because you can check in as soon as it opens. You will also have a chance to befriend the pilgrims that you'll meet on the camino the following day. Even if you don't stay, it's worth dropping in to say hello. The hospitaleros might have time to share a few thoughts about the beautiful city that they get to see during the hours that the albergue is closed and they will certainly have the latest information about the road ahead.

I found that the hotels in Zamora were considerably more expensive than accommodation in Salamanca. I spent one night at Chiqui and I considered it to be OK. Very stylish and very central, but quite a small room, and not such a small price.

Zamora is a gourmet town. You'll see this in the food stores - Lots of fresh, local, produce, wines, cheeses, meats. The bakeries have a similar range of sweet and savory pastries to those in Salamanca. I think there are local variations, though, so fill your boots. There's also a beautiful Mercado de Abastos. I have a theory that the best early-morning, chocolate and churros is to be found around the market in many cities. Zamora is no exception. I think there are two cafes right outside the covered market that open as soon as the day breaks.

For dinner, people might point you to El Horno which does a pilgrim menu. It's fine, but there are many other options in town. A good street to explore is the narrow Calle de los Herreros - a little alleyway immediately on one side of the Ayuntamiento. There you'll find a string of tapas bars and restaurants with good food at reasonable prices.

A very fancy place for a glass or three of good quality local wine is the La Oronja Bar & Restaurante on the first floor above ground level in one of Zamora's gorgeous art nouveau buildings, directly across from the beautiful palace (Palacio de los Momos), which now houses the Guardia Civil. In front of the palace is a sculpture of mother and child by Balthazar Lobo - Zamora's other great sculptor. Originally from a village nearby, he lived most of his adult life in exile after the Civil War, but is honored by the city today.

There's only a little easel to advertise La Oronja on the street. You might wonder if it's open. Once you get upstairs you'll discover quite a grand place. At the bar, you can get a decent selection of local wines by the glass and some very classy tapas. I have heard (but not experienced) that the restaurant offers a very good set menu at surprisingly reasonable prices. Reservations are needed.

The quality of the public art in Zamora is, almost without exception a cut above the usual. In addition to Eduardo Barrón González's statue of Vitriato, and various works by Lobo, you'll see bold bronzes of Semana Santa figures, creative wall murals, a handful of very good museums, and pleasant parks and plazas with mature trees and good street furniture ... Cities don't achieve this sort of thing overnight. It takes decades or centuries of careful work to conserve what's worth conserving while building up new cultural capital. I don't know why Zamora managed where other places have failed. As far as I can tell, Zamora has only been very prosperous twice in history - Once in medieval times when it built an unrivaled collection of Romanesque churches, and once again in the early 20th century, when it kitted out the city center with some very fine art nouveau blocks.

EDIT - Well, thinking about it, perhaps the existence of so many churches generated demand for ecclesiastical art, giving rise to an artistic tradition. Perhaps the prominence of the Semana Santa celebrations, with elaborate floats bearing carved figures made a life as a sculptor seem possible. And perhaps a lack of prosperity and an absence of industry is what allowed the old buildings to remain untouched until they were valued. Just a theory.

There's a lot more to say about Zamora, but I think I've probably written everything that I know in other threads that I'll try to dig up. I know that Peregrina2000 will be sharing information about the churches and other cultural sights. I'll probably chime with my favorites too.
 

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alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
I love Zamora, and have spent a rest day there on each of the times I walked through it. As Raggy says, it has one of the finest riverscapes in the world as you arrive, up there with the first views of Toledo, Segovia and Ronda on various other caminos. (Sadly, the northern departure is pretty much as bad as Salamanca's).

Topically, it had the highest mortality rate in Spain during the 1918-20 influenza epi-/pandemic, possibly partly because of a pig-headed bishop insisting on a mass rally.

Next time I'll try Raggy's Oronja restaurant, which I've somehow missed. I especially like the Café Viriato on Calle Viriato, with elegant and tasty tapas, and generous glasses of strong and warming (I've always been in Zamora in November or December, and once got frostbite nearing there) Toro wine from just up the Duoro.

There are so many wonderful churches as well as the glorious Byzantine cathedral, but I think my favourite is the small simple one of Santiago de los Caballeros, just outside the city walls. El Cid allegedly spent the night here in prayer with his armour before being knighted. You can reach it through the portillo de la Traición (or of the Lealtad, depending on whom you support), which the regicide Vellido Dolfos escaped through during the siege of Zamora in the 1070s.


Afuera, afuera, Rodrigo,
el soberbio castellano
acordásete debría
de aquel buen tiempo pasado
cuando fuiste caballero
en el altar de Santiago,
cuando el rey fue tu padrino,
tú, Rodrigo, el ahijado;
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
LOVE these posts, @Raggy and @alansykes. I would say that the other city in Spain that has managed to equal, or even surpass Zamora’s public art display is Oviedo. But Oviedo is far more prosperous than Zamora, so it is interesting to ponder the question how it happened.

Another little tidbit of my memories of Zamora is that I remember being wowed by the stone used in building the romanesque churches. Lots of it is a purplish color and it is just beautiful. It is such a beautiful city to walk around in the nighttime, so lucky you to have 3 nights there, and only one of them coming before you have to get up early and walk!

I know you can find lots of information online, but maybe my little idiosyncratic list of tops sights will be helpful. Even if it’s not, it’s fun re-visiting Zamora in my mind.

1. Church of Santiago de los Caballeros. My abosolute favorite place to sit and think in Zamora. This romanesque church is outside the walls, very close to the exit from the walls near the cathedral. A totally peaceful contemplative experience, with some beautiful simple arches and a few capitals. This is the church where El Cid was reported to have spent a night in prayer before he was knighted. In recent years, there has been someone there to open the church, and that person has always sat quietly in a corner leaving me alone to just soak it in. Outside, the city’s development has crept pretty close so it is not in what I imagine was its original solitude.

2. Church of San Cipriano, maybe the oldest in the city. I think that the last picture @Raggy has posted is a picture of one of its windows, and it is beautiful, but the one I love best is the one of Daniel in the den of the lions.

3. Pick a few more romanesque churches, I believe that 12 or 13 are now regularly open, and I remember that the tourist office has a list of which ones are open on which days. The last time I was there, there were about two closed every day of the week, so you would never be totally hung out to dry. The ones in the central old town are probably the most iconic and quite beautiful.

4. I think they have done a great job of renovating the castle — there was a serious and extensive renovation between my first and second walks into Zamora. It’s a medieval one, like many, and very nice to walk around. Also, a walk around the exterior castle walls is very pleasant, too.

5. 7th century church of San Pedro de la Nave. Actually this place would be higher on my list, but it is about 24 km outside Zamora (and on the Zamorano-Portugués branch of the Vdlp, which heads into Portugal and goes through Bragança.) So it might involve a lot of logistical organizational. Once when I had to wait a day in Zamora for a walking buddy to arrive, the hospitalero offered to take me out to see the church in his car, and then I walked back. It was moved, piece by piece, to avoid flooding when a dam was constructed, like what they did with Portomarín on the Francés, Riaño on the Vadiniense and probably a few others I can’t remember. It is just gorgeous.

6. Modernist architecture. There are some really beautiful 19th century buildings in an area that I think is roughly found on foot by walking from the albergue, past the parador, and past the town hall/Plaza Mayor and then you’re more or less in the midst of it. I don’t know much about the architects or the importance of the buildings that remain but there are lots of those pretty buildings with lacy curli-queues and floor to ceiling windows and balconies. Just very pleasant.

7. I thought the tapestries in the cathedral museum were really beautiful, but twenty huge and elaborate pieces depicting battles, religious scenes, and some scenes of courtier life are just way too much for me to absorb. So I enjoyed one or two and left the rest for the next time I am looking for something to do in Zamora.

You will have two very busy days in Zamora!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
the yellow arrow of C Clearly's profile picture...
I've posted a photo of the front side of the arrow. Thanks for reminding me where it came from!
Zamora is a gourmet town.
I've only passed through, staying one night. It was Wednesday during Holy Week, and I couldn't find a good place to eat during the time I wanted to eat. Staying at the albergue I had to be sure to be back by 10 pm, and with the huge crowds I didn't want to risk having an evening dinner. (Besides, I always tend to rely on other people to find the good eating spots.)

I particularly enjoyed the tapestries in the cathedral.

I will definitely need to spend some more time in Zamora. Since the Sanabres is high on my planning list, I would probably spend a day or two in Zamora to recover from jet lag, before starting.
I am sure that it's much prettier when everything is green than in the autumn
Green and yellow - see another photo
 

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The El Cid church is the first one, San Pedro de la Nave at the end. This is another one of those places that I think would be overrun if it were in Italy or France, but it is just kind of off the radar screen in Spain, lucky us!
 

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hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Hmm, beanie dish at Oronja washed down with a bottle of Tinto Pesquera, not a local wine but the stone arch on the label looked appropriate. I know what you mean about the local stone Laurie, pale with hints of pink and purple almost like coconut ice. Ah, but Salamnca looked like it had been carved from Russian fudge.

Why am I hungry.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
Some of the hundred year old buildings are in need of the same loving care that the 1,000 year old buildings have received.
 

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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I'm so loving this thread, even though I have nothing to say or add. These last posts about Zamora are especially wonderful, with all the photos.

Given my age and proclivities, I will probably run out of walking time before I get to the VldP. So I am very much appreciating the virtual experience.
Gracias a todos!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm so loving this thread, even though I have nothing to say or add. These last posts about Zamora are especially wonderful, with all the photos.

Given my age and proclivities, I will probably run out of walking time before I get to the VldP. So I am very much appreciating the virtual experience.
Gracias a todos!
Well, I think you might consider how the Vdlp could shake you out of one particular comfort zone and open up all the new horizons that caminos with southern start points offer. ;)
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
This little pilgrim and his wife are going to be in Romanesque heaven in Zamora when this virtual VdlP becomes real!!!

Thank you so much for the photos and all the detailed information! As @VNwalking says: ¡Gracias a todos!

The detour to San Marcial is marked with a minor battle of the signs at the decision point. (The sign pointing left promises a bar, shop, hot food ... the one pointing right has cleverly written Zamora as Za with a heart (amor)). As far as I can see, there shouldn't be much difference to the total distance walked whichever way you choose. if you go via San Marcial, I think you might miss the yellow arrow of C Clearly's profile picture... (but I might be wrong - someone else will have to confirm).
If we don't need a break, then we'll bypass San Marcial.
I have scanned Google Earth to find the location of @C clearly 's yellow arrow, but couldn't find it...

I have spent the night at the donativo albergue on two occasions.
It does not accept reservations and pilgrims may only stay one night. If you've enjoyed staying at albergues on your trip so far, perhaps you should consider it for your last night in town. You are guaranteed to get a place, because you can check in as soon as it opens.
I have read a lot of good things about the albergue, and it is tempting to spend the last night there. In fact, for this virtual VdlP, that's where we stayed on the night of Day 42.

I would say that the other city in Spain that has managed to equal, or even surpass Zamora’s public art display is Oviedo.
We loved Oviedo, so we're really looking forward to Zamora!

I know you can find lots of information online, but maybe my little idiosyncratic list of tops sights will be helpful.
You will have two very busy days in Zamora!
Nothing replaces personal recommendations, @peregrina2000 , in particular if it comes from a Romanesque fan!
We are very grateful for suggesting we stay here three nights!

I will definitely need to spend some more time in Zamora. Since the Sanabres is high on my planning list, I would probably spend a day or two in Zamora to recover from jet lag, before starting.
From here, we're sort of following your virtual footsteps, @C clearly . I have been reading your thread, making notes...
I could be tempted to stop our virtual camino here, as the Sanabrés is so well covered by that thread, with so much information.
However, we're slow walkers, and our stages are different, so may I ask the indulgence of the pilgrims in this forum, if I continue? I'm happy to speed things up when similar stages have already been covered in @C clearly 's thread...
 

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