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Search 69,459 Camino Questions

LIVE from the Camino Whew! Finally starting VLDP

Fuertebrazos

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Well at least you are there now. I have done as far as Salamanca and loved every footstep.

Buen Camino.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Well at least you are there now. I have done as far as Salamanca and loved every footstep.

Buen Camino.
My 1st was the VldP in the spring of 2018 with my cousin. We took the Astorga route because that was the route of the original Roman road and he wanted me to experience a bit of the Camino Francés as well. 1007 km in 39 days. Distance is the same as the Sanabres route. Salamanca is a beautiful university town. Stayed in the parochial albergue there. You will see a lot of storks and their nests on every bell tower and high tension electrical tower
 
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 1, VDLP: Wandered around Seville quite a bit trying to find my way out of town. Maybe I am simply not paying attention, but they don't seem to be a lot of Camino arrows or guideposts within the city limits.

By 9:30 I was getting hot; off went the long pants. The heat increased throughout the day. By the time I arrived in Guillena my shirt was soaked through and sweat was dripping off my glasses.

Despite my best efforts, I've overpacked again: The down jacket, the layers, the long pants - looks like all will be dead weight at the bottom of the pack, never to be disturbed. Though maybe as I get farther north and October gives way to November, the weather will change.

Number of pilgrims I have seen today? Zero. I'm told that only 3% of programs take this route. No kidding.
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
 

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Number of pilgrims I have seen today? Zero. I'm told that only 3% of programs take this route. No kidding.
I walked the VdlP in January and February this year. The second time I've walked that route in winter. On most days I saw no other pilgrims and spent my nights in albergues solo. That's par for the course in winter. Meeting other pilgrims only became a daily thing in the final 100km stretch after Ourense.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Day 1, VDLP: Wandered around Seville quite a bit trying to find my way out of town. Maybe I am simply not paying attention, but they don't seem to be a lot of Camino arrows or guideposts within the city limits.

By 9:30 I was getting hot; off went the long pants. The heat increased throughout the day. By the time I arrived in Guillena my shirt was soaked through and sweat was dripping off my glasses.

Despite my best efforts, I've overpacked again: The down jacket, the layers, the long pants - looks like all will be dead weight at the bottom of the pack, never to be disturbed. Though maybe as I get farther north and October gives way to November, the weather will change.

Number of pilgrims I have seen today? Zero. I'm told that only 3% of programs take this route. No kidding.
Are you using the guidebook by Gerald Kelly? It is available in Kindle format so you can get it on a phone. There are maps and directions to help you with route finding in the book. Also a lot of the Apps available will show you where you are and where you need to go.

We were hospitaleros at Zamora one year over Christmas and only had a handful of pilgrims. It was cold enough to wear coats at that time so I wouldn't abandon yours just yet. Buen Camino!
 
Are you using the guidebook by Gerald Kelly? It is available in Kindle format so you can get it on a phone. There are maps and directions to help you with route finding in the book. Also a lot of the Apps available will show you where you are and where you need to go.

We were hospitaleros at Zamora one year over Christmas and only had a handful of pilgrims. It was cold enough to wear coats at that time so I wouldn't abandon yours just yet. Buen Camino!
Yes, I have Gerald Kelly's guidebook, as well as the map posted
Are you using the guidebook by Gerald Kelly? It is available in Kindle format so you can get it on a phone. There are maps and directions to help you with route finding in the book. Also a lot of the Apps available will show you where you are and where you need to go.

We were hospitaleros at Zamora one year over Christmas and only had a handful of pilgrims. It was cold enough to wear coats at that time so I wouldn't abandon yours just yet. Buen Camino!
Yes, I have the Kelly guidebook, and I am also using the nice map posted on this blog: https://www.pilgrimagetraveler.com/via-de-la-plata.html
But I'm a bit verklempt (Yiddish, blame 40 years in NYC) about following directions. I researched the trip a good deal and have excellent durations. Just not very good at following them! I tend to charge off without thinking. Thanks for the advice. I think it will be easier now that I am out of the city. Lots of markers, too. (Even if they don't correspond exactly to my map, both go in the same direction and to the same destinations.)
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Will be following with interest…Buen Camino 👍
 
. I researched the trip a good deal and have excellent durations
Hi Fuertebrazos
By now you’re easing into ‘the way’. You get your own routine going pretty quickly.

If your directions etc don’t include the Gronze.com site., check it out. It’s not an app but has stacks of info on stages . Accommodation etc etc.


I have chrome browser and can easily hit translate if you need to read the blurb. The distance ., phone numbers ., etc details are still the same no matter what language you read.


Buen camino
 
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I used the Kelly and wise pilgrim app. The route I felt was well marked but the wise pilgrim map which plots you on it was invaluable. I'm sure you won't regret the warmer gear as you get further north. Enjoy!
Thank you, Blister Bill, for your recommendation of the Wise Pilgrim app. I downloaded it and the map is superior to the one I had been using. Very useful. Buen Camino!
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I used the Kelly and wise pilgrim app. The route I felt was well marked but the wise pilgrim map which plots you on it was invaluable. I'm sure you won't regret the warmer gear as you get further north. Enjoy!
Thank you, Blister Bill, for your recommendation of the Wise Pilgrim app. I downloaded it and the map is superior to the one I had been using. Very useful. Buen Camino
Day 1, VDLP: Wandered around Seville quite a bit trying to find my way out of town. Maybe I am simply not paying attention, but they don't seem to be a lot of Camino arrows or guideposts within the city limits.

By 9:30 I was getting hot; off went the long pants. The heat increased throughout the day. By the time I arrived in Guillena my shirt was soaked through and sweat was dripping off my glasses.

Despite my best efforts, I've overpacked again: The down jacket, the layers, the long pants - looks like all will be dead weight at the bottom of the pack, never to be disturbed. Though maybe as I get farther north and October gives way to November, the weather will change.

Number of pilgrims I have seen today? Zero. I'm told that only 3% of programs take this route. No kidding.
Day 2, VLDP: Guillena to Castillo Blanco.

What I learned yesterday:
1. It's hot.
2. It's exhausting.
3. You sweat a lot.

What I did today:
1. Started out with shorts. The two pairs of long pants are squished into the bottom of the bag, right up against the down jacket.
2. Light jacket in the a.m., off by 9:00.
3. Took out hiking poles immediately, rather than waiting until midday.
4. Two liters of water at breakfast, another bottle to carry. (Didn't urinate even after drinking so much. I must have been severely dehydrated.)

No wandering around the city this time. One road, straight out of town. No possibility of getting lost. Fast vehicles with no shoulder for the first kilometer or two, then a turn into a long, dry track almost all the way to Castillo Blanco. Felt like Texas Hill Country right down to the shotgun shells scattered by the side of the path. (But minus the freeways and shopping centers.)

Number of pilgrims seen today: Three. Two Spanish, one German. Rested with the German woman by the side of the path for a while. We talked about the blissful solitude of the VLDP. She had tried the Frances a few years earlier and, because it was so crowded, switched to the Norte.

(I found that it was just as easy to be alone as it was to be social on the Frances; the problem occurred in the villages, which became colonies of travelers. Still, if you're looking to party, why not?)

As for me, I told her that I was all socialed out from my week of dancing and lavish dinners on the Queen Mary, and that the VLDP was a welcome decompression. Which it is. Still, it's nice to meet a few new people along the way.

Tomorrow's a long day. Time to wash my clothes and chill out.
 
What I learned yesterday:
1. It's hot.
2. It's exhausting.
3. You sweat a lot.
That all sounds pretty familiar. You've probably heard dire warnings about the next stage - a long walk along the road, an excellent quiet walk through the El Berrocal park and finally a stiff up-and-down to Almaden. I don't mind walking on asphalt so the long but tedious stretch beside the road was not an issue for me. But please believe any warnings you've heard about water availability. You might find water at the Berrocal park HQ. But the fuente might be dry. There are no other reliable water sources along the way. It is a difficult stage because of this - probably only equalled by the long dry stretch later on between Casar de Caceres and Cañaveral. If you intend to walk the full 30km then carry all the water you think you will need.

PS: The good news is that the weather forecast for the next few days is for cooler weather. The rain in the forecast might be less welcome.
 
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You sound like you have been lucky i was In seville in March of this year my brother and i cycled as far As bretocino and i can honestly say i have never been as cold.
The temp was about 5 degrees with a cold easterly wind .
ive done the French way in Oct and the Portugese way in March but on neither was it as cold .
For me the VDLP was difficult large expanses quite flat after the first few days and the terrain was difficult in March for a bicycle ,often requiring road stretches ,the people were friendly as ever and im looking forward to going back to continue from bretocino, even if this will involve a plane train bus and finally a taxi back to the house where i left my bicycle.
i am determined however not to go back to the warmer months.
Good luck with your Camino and enjoy the weather i will never complain of the heat again whilst on the Camino Buen camino
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
That all sounds pretty familiar. You've probably heard dire warnings about the next stage - a long walk along the road, an excellent quiet walk through the El Berrocal park and finally a stiff up-and-down to Almaden. I don't mind walking on asphalt so the long but tedious stretch beside the road was not an issue for me. But please believe any warnings you've heard about water availability. You might find water at the Berrocal park HQ. But the fuente might be dry. There are no other reliable water sources along the way. It is a difficult stage because of this - probably only equalled by the long dry stretch later on between Casar de Caceres and Cañaveral. If you intend to walk the full 30km then carry all the water you think you will need.

PS: The good news is that the weather forecast for the next few days is for cooler weather. The rain in the forecast might be less welcome.
Actually I haven't heard about those warnings, and I appreciate hearing about them from you. Don't worry about redundancy! And even if you are being redundant, some people (me, for instance) need repetition. Forewarned is forearmed. Thanks.
 
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Well done you for getting there and starting!I am beginning VLDP in January so I will look forward to your posts.If it's dark there now I expect it will be very dark in January.
Buen Camino!
 
If it's dark there now I expect it will be very dark in January.
In Seville in January sunrise will be about 08:30 and sunset sometime around 18:45. Coming from the UK in a different time zone I'm always very aware of how dark it is in Spain first thing in the morning in winter. In places which enforce an 8am departure time you can find yourself beginning your day's walk while it is still too dark to clearly see the yellow arrows.
 
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

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In Seville in January sunrise will be about 08:30 and sunset sometime around 18:45. Coming from the UK in a different time zone I'm always very aware of how dark it is in Spain first thing in the morning in winter. In places which enforce an 8am departure time you can find yourself beginning your day's walk while it is still too dark to clearly see the yellow arrows.
Thanks Bradypus. I’ve not yet walked the VdlP, but from reading here (and pilgrim blogs) I get a sense arrows are not that plentiful. Would this be your perspective as well? Certainly, when walking the Frances in late season every morning started with headlamps, and any number of arrows missed coming out of the larger towns and cities. I was quite thankful…at those times…for GPS tracks. Such saved me a good number of KLMs.
 
I’ve not yet walked the VdlP, but from reading here (and pilgrim blogs) I get a sense arrows are not that plentiful. Would this be your perspective as well?
It is very easy to lose the arrows in the large towns like Sevilla and Salamanca. When passing through those if I do lose the trail then I just aim for the point where the path leaves the town. A navigation app like Maps.me and a gps track is a help there. In smaller towns and rural areas I very rarely had a problem following the trail. More than enough arrows or mojones to keep me on the right path.
 
It is very easy to lose the arrows in the large towns like Sevilla and Salamanca. When passing through those if I do lose the trail then I just aim for the point where the path leaves the town. A navigation app like Maps.me and a gps track is a help there. In smaller towns and rural areas I very rarely had a problem following the trail. More than enough arrows or mojones to keep me on the right path.
Thanks so much for the feedback. Yep...those bigger towns are the challenge...but also nice to get lost in! Cheers, Kev
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 3: Delightfully cool day, overcast with intermittent light rain. Wore jacket all day (to stay dry rather than warm).

Heeding the warnings about distance and lack of water, I took a taxi to the entrance of the Parque Natural Sierra Norte and walked only the last 10 km. (Don't judge me!) It still wasn't easy - lots of hills. And the taxi was expensive. I imagine that my price isn't what the locals pay.

I can see why the conquistadores felt so at home in Mexico and the American Southwest. Not the arid parts, but around the 10" rainfall line, which bisects Texas and runs down into northern Mexico. Where farming dies and the range begins. That's what this landscape feels like.

And Spain became like the New World too. Yesterday I Wikipedia'd cacti and discovered that it existed only in America and arrived in Europe with the Spanish. People complain that regional differences are disappearing. It's been happening forever. Convergent evolution.

Lots of skittish deer in the park, bounding into the hills to watch cautiously from a distance. Also I came across a giant truck being loaded with firewood. Is this part of Europe's preparation for a winter without Russian gas? My friends in Germany can't buy firewood anymore. It's being hoarded.

I'm staying in pensions, not albergues. On the first night on my first Camino, I stayed in an albergue in León. Forty beds in a big room. A night of people walking by on the way to the bathroom. Darkness sparkling with iPhones and tablets. I didn't get a lick of sleep and left to start walking at 3:30 a.m. Hence the decision to avoid albergues. Instead, a private room with a bathroom and shower. But everyone else seems to use them, and my sample size is one. Perhaps it's time to reconsider.

Pilgrims today: 2. I passed a few along the road when I was in the taxi, but while walking I met only a pair of Korean men, both Camino veterans. Neither spoke Spanish, one spoke a little English. Tried Japanese, since a lot of older Koreans speak it. Nada. We walked together for a while, but couldn't really communicate.
 

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Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Day 3: Delightfully cool day, overcast with intermittent light rain. Wore jacket all day (to stay dry rather than warm).

Heeding the warnings about distance and lack of water, I took a taxi to the entrance of the Parque Natural Sierra Norte and walked only the last 10 km. (Don't judge me!) It still wasn't easy - lots of hills. And the taxi was expensive. I imagine that my price isn't what the locals pay.

I can see why the conquistadores felt so at home in Mexico and the American Southwest. Not the arid parts, but around the 10" rainfall line, which bisects Texas and runs down into northern Mexico. Where farming dies and the range begins. That's what this landscape feels like.

And Spain became like the New World too. Yesterday I Wikipedia'd cacti and discovered that it existed only in America and arrived in Europe with the Spanish. People complain that regional differences are disappearing. It's been happening forever. Convergent evolution.

Lots of skittish deer in the park, bounding into the hills to watch cautiously from a distance. Also I came across a giant truck being loaded with firewood. Is this part of Europe's preparation for a winter without Russian gas? My friends in Germany can't buy firewood anymore. It's being hoarded.

I'm staying in pensions, not albergues. On the first night on my first Camino, I stayed in an albergue in León. Forty beds in a big room. A night of people walking by on the way to the bathroom. Darkness sparkling with iPhones and tablets. I didn't get a lick of sleep and left to start walking at 3:30 a.m. Hence the decision to avoid albergues. Instead, a private room with a bathroom and shower. But everyone else seems to use them, and my sample size is one. Perhaps it's time to reconsider.

Pilgrims today: 2. I passed a few along the road when I was in the taxi, but while walking I met only a pair of Korean men, both Camino veterans. Neither spoke Spanish, one spoke a little English. Tried Japanese, since a lot of older Koreans speak it. Nada. We walked together for a while, but couldn't really communicate.
Oh, wait! One of them speaks Japanese! So we can communicate, just barely.
 
And the taxi was expensive. I imagine that my price isn't what the locals pay.
I am not sure I’d jump to that conclusion. Huge increases in gasoline prices must have had a big impact on the price of a taxi ride.

Not sure what you paid, but 1.5 - 2€ per km seems to be the going rate, and when you factor in that this is a trip where the driver is not going to get a return fare, as will be possible within an urban area, the price is likely to be pretty steep.

I’m enjoying your posts a lot. I have only walked the Vdlp in springtime and maybe it’s time to reconsider.
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 5: Yes, I like pigs. And sheep, goats, horses and (friendly) dogs. All of whom I met today while walking through the undulating (perfect word) hills of Parque Natural de Sierra Norte.

An easy walk from Almaden de la Plata to El Real de la Jara. My Korean buddies rose early and headed for Monasterio, the first town in Extremadura. I had to wait until 8:30, when breakfast was served, and didn't get on the road until after 9:00.

Again, the day was cool and overcast. Rain threatened but arrived only in the last minutes before arriving at Jara. Even then it was a pleasant sprinkle rather than an uncomfortable downpour. All in all, a perfect day.

Pilgrims today: One. Nicola, a 27-year-old Irish girl who I walked with late in the day. We had a lovely talk, and then came across each other again at lunch. It's easy to have deep conversations with people who you know that you will never see again. Nicola, I wish you the best.

Now it's time to have a Zoom call with my developer in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which amazingly is only 4 hours ahead of Spanish time. Then, a nap, dinner, bedtime, and an early departure for Monasterio.

Buen Camino!
 
Day 5: Yes, I like pigs. And sheep, goats, horses and (friendly) dogs. All of whom I met today while walking through the undulating (perfect word) hills of Parque Natural de Sierra Norte.

An easy walk from Almaden de la Plata to El Real de la Jara. My Korean buddies rose early and headed for Monasterio, the first town in Extremadura. I had to wait until 8:30, when breakfast was served, and didn't get on the road until after 9:00.

Again, the day was cool and overcast. Rain threatened but arrived only in the last minutes before arriving at Jara. Even then it was a pleasant sprinkle rather than an uncomfortable downpour. All in all, a perfect day.

Pilgrims today: One. Nicola, a 27-year-old Irish girl who I walked with late in the day. We had a lovely talk, and then came across each other again at lunch. It's easy to have deep conversations with people who you know that you will never see again. Nicola, I wish you the best.

Now it's time to have a Zoom call with my developer in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which amazingly is only 4 hours ahead of Spanish time. Then, a nap, dinner, bedtime, and an early departure for Monasterio.

Buen Camino!
Sorry, that should have been Day 4, not Day 5. The days run together.

Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 will be Monasterio
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Yes, I have Gerald Kelly's guidebook, as well as the map posted

Yes, I have the Kelly guidebook, and I am also using the nice map posted on this blog: https://www.pilgrimagetraveler.com/via-de-la-plata.html
But I'm a bit verklempt (Yiddish, blame 40 years in NYC) about following directions. I researched the trip a good deal and have excellent durations. Just not very good at following them! I tend to charge off without thinking. Thanks for the advice. I think it will be easier now that I am out of the city. Lots of markers, too. (Even if they don't correspond exactly to my map, both go in the same direction and to the same destinations.)

You might also like to download the Camino Ninja app. Their maps are easier to use than Pilgrim Traveller. I’m in Salamanca tonight and start for Santiago tomorrow. We had 6 in the albergue last night so there are just enough of us on the road. It has started to rain up here and is quite cool. You might want to post your warmer stuff to Salamanca Post Office as an alternative to carrying.
I have been using gronze, Gerald Kelly’s guide and the Camino Ninja map. That combination is working well for me.
Buen Camino
 
You might also like to download the Camino Ninja app. Their maps are easier to use than Pilgrim Traveller. I’m in Salamanca tonight and start for Santiago tomorrow. We had 6 in the albergue last night so there are just enough of us on the road. It has started to rain up here and is quite cool. You might want to post your warmer stuff to Salamanca Post Office as an alternative to carrying.
I have been using gronze, Gerald Kelly’s guide and the Camino Ninja map. That combination is working well for me.
Buen Camino
Oh, hi Rita. I wondered where you were. I saw your post when you were starting out and I was about to leave New York, and it put my mind at ease about the weather. Congratulations on making it to Salamanca.

I have the Camino Ninja app, but neglected to open it after I was told about Wise Pilgrim. The maps on Wise Pilgrim seem fine. After reading your note, however I took a second look at Camino Ninja and it looks pretty good, especially in town. I'll try it today.

It's 6:20 and I'm lying in bed in the dark in my pension, getting ready to walk. From the sounds I heard, last night's rain was torrential. Same rain that you experienced, I guess. Today the chances of rain are 85%, and tomorrow and for the next few days after that, 100%. At least it's not cold. Reassuring to hear that I am not carrying the down jacket for nothing.
 
Oh, hi Rita. I wondered where you were. I saw your post when you were starting out and I was about to leave New York, and it put my mind at ease about the weather. Congratulations on making it to Salamanca.

I have the Camino Ninja app, but neglected to open it after I was told about Wise Pilgrim. The maps on Wise Pilgrim seem fine. After reading your note, however I took a second look at Camino Ninja and it looks pretty good, especially in town. I'll try it today.

It's 6:20 and I'm lying in bed in the dark in my pension, getting ready to walk. From the sounds I heard, last night's rain was torrential. Same rain that you experienced, I guess. Today the chances of rain are 85%, and tomorrow and for the next few days after that, 100%. At least it's not cold. Reassuring to hear that I am not carrying the down jacket for nothing.

Hey the speed you are doing you may very well catch me up. I’m limited to around 20 km per day at the moment due to a long standing foot injury that I don’t want to aggravate.
Stay in touch.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
No, I don't think I'll catch you, Rita. Unless you decide to take up residence in Salamanca. That's my last stop on this trip. Maybe I'll do the rest next spring.

When I get to Salamanca - which I'm scheduled to do on November 9th - it should be cold enough for me to want to head south to Gibraltar and possibly Morocco. There's a swimsuit waiting in the bottom of my bag. Sorry to miss you, and I hope your foot heals up nicely!
 
Day 3: Delightfully cool day, overcast with intermittent light rain. Wore jacket all day (to stay dry rather than warm).
I was very surprised that the Alto Calvario didn't rate a mention in your post, except for the photo of the descent to Almaden. They seem to have cleaned up the track. I recall it being strewn with rocks. The dreadful state of the climb (with a heavy and loaded bike) almost put paid to my first camino on the second day. Camino angels miraculously appeared and saved the day.
 
Day 5: Real de la Jara to Monasterio

Cafe con leche at the bar El Chati and then a long walk through endless fields of pigs to a service area alongside the freeway about 10 km outside Monasterio.

I'm out of Andalucia and into Extremadura now. It's cool, cloudy with streaks of blue and occasional sprinkles. At the service area, churros and hot chocolate, just excellent. A bus full of pensioners entered and surrounded me, which I took is a cue to leave.

The VLDP crossed under a freeway and then ran through a forest paralleling it for about 10 km. Passed the rotting corpse of a pig and what looked to be the ruins of a Roman bridge. Up a long incline before descending into the sizable town of Monesterio.

The results of last night's rain were apparent In the mud and puddles everywhere. This isn't the baked brown Extremadura of my memories. It's green, almost lush. Just the time of year, I guess.

It's also getting cold! Not uncomfortably so, but it hasn't taken long for that down jacket to prove useful.

I'm getting a little tired of pigs. Every store in Monasterio seems to be a pork store. On the main Street there's the Museo de Jamon. And that dead pig did have an effect. Enough with the pigs!

Pilgrims: One, a Slovakian girl who caught up with me when I was resting alongside the path.

I had actually met her the night before in Real de la Jara. I asked her in Spanish if she knew if anything was open (the answer, as I learn time and time again, is no), and she waved her hands at me and said she didn't speak Spanish. We sat under a bus shelter and talked for a while. It was her third day at the albergue, where she was waiting for her foot to heal. It sounded like plantar fascitis, though she didn't have the language to really explain it.

When she caught up with me today, she was shouting into her speakerphone in a long conversation with her father back in Slovakia. I walked alongside her for a bit and then charged ahead, and haven't seen her since.

Starting to really pour now. Chance of rain for tomorrow is 100%.
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
I was very surprised that the Alto Calvario didn't rate a mention in your post, except for the photo of the descent to Almaden. They seem to have cleaned up the track. I recall it being strewn with rocks. The dreadful state of the climb (with a heavy and loaded bike) almost put paid to my first camino on the second day. Camino angels miraculously appeared and saved the day.
Now I feel like an idiot. What's the Alto Calvario?
 
I am not sure I’d jump to that conclusion. Huge increases in gasoline prices must have had a big impact on the price of a taxi ride.

Not sure what you paid, but 1.5 - 2€ per km seems to be the going rate, and when you factor in that this is a trip where the driver is not going to get a return fare, as will be possible within an urban area, the price is likely to be pretty steep.

I’m enjoying your posts a lot. I have only walked the Vdlp in springtime and maybe it’s time to reconsider.
You're right. I made a big assumption, possibly unjustified. This is the problem with aging: You evaluate prices based on what was true 5 or 10 years ago. We're in a new world.
 
Hey the speed you are doing you may very well catch me up. I’m limited to around 20 km per day at the moment due to a long standing foot injury that I don’t want to aggravate.
Stay in touch.
Now I feel like an idiot. What's the Alto Calvario?
Just the hill before Almaden with the views from the top.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Oh yeah. Insane. I would count 25 steps and then rest. Again and again, all the way to the top. Quite a finale.
It almost defeated me in 2012. I HAD been warned by the amigos in Triana , but I was hot and tired and almost out of water - and Almaden was only, what, 2 km away. The track was dreadful, all gullies and rocks, and very steep. No way I could contemplate pushing the loaded bike up. Like you I thought “a bit at a time”, but after 3 segments, first carrying bags and returning for my heavy rented bike I realised I was done. I was almost in tears, sitting under a tree thinking I was mad to have ever imagined I could do this Camino stuff at my age, with bad knees and cheap sandals. Out of nowhere a caballero appeared. He barked at me in unintelligible Spanish, (I knew how to order a beer), and signalled me to give him the panniers, which he hooked on to his saddle and trotted off up the hill. Unknown to me, I was actually quite near the top, and a young man soon appeared from above and took the bike. It was a seminal moment for me, and I’ve never looked back.
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
It almost defeated me in 2012. I HAD been warned by the amigos in Triana , but I was hot and tired and almost out of water - and Almaden was only, what, 2 km away. The track was dreadful, all gullies and rocks, and very steep. No way I could contemplate pushing the loaded bike up. Like you I thought “a bit at a time”, but after 3 segments, first carrying bags and returning for my heavy rented bike I realised I was done. I was almost in tears, sitting under a tree thinking I was mad to have ever imagined I could do this Camino stuff at my age, with bad knees and cheap sandals. Out of nowhere a caballero appeared. He barked at me in unintelligible Spanish, (I knew how to order a beer), and signalled me to give him the panniers, which he hooked on to his saddle and trotted off up the hill. Unknown to me, I was actually quite near the top, and a young man soon appeared from above and took the bike. It was a seminal moment for me, and I’ve never looked back.
That's a wonderful story, Paul. The kindness of strangers. You'll never forget that caballero! I was reading somewhere that we underestimate how memorable to others our acts of kindness are. I'll bet he doesn't realize what an impact he had on you.
 
It almost defeated me in 2012. I HAD been warned by the amigos in Triana , but I was hot and tired and almost out of water - and Almaden was only, what, 2 km away. The track was dreadful, all gullies and rocks, and very steep. No way I could contemplate pushing the loaded bike up. Like you I thought “a bit at a time”, but after 3 segments, first carrying bags and returning for my heavy rented bike I realised I was done. I was almost in tears, sitting under a tree thinking I was mad to have ever imagined I could do this Camino stuff at my age, with bad knees and cheap sandals. Out of nowhere a caballero appeared. He barked at me in unintelligible Spanish, (I knew how to order a beer), and signalled me to give him the panniers, which he hooked on to his saddle and trotted off up the hill. Unknown to me, I was actually quite near the top, and a young man soon appeared from above and took the bike. It was a seminal moment for me, and I’ve never looked back.

I can imagine you didn't think you'd get to the top without a lot of effort. The strange thing is that the route before you get to that point is similarly dreadful with gullies and rocks. Not a bike route even with an unloaded full suspension MTB. The appearance of your caballero almost ranks as a deus ex machina end to the story.

Having been warned by others (and perhaps yourself) I took the road over that section. And even on the road, you had to get off and push. It's a section needing a health warning.
 
… Not a bike route even with an unloaded full suspension MTB. The appearance of your caballero almost ranks as a deus ex machina end to the story.
On subsequent caminos I have taken the track shown on the IGN map below, which goes NE through a group of buildings designated La Polana, and joins a minor road which cuts through a cleft in the ridge, approaching Almadén from the east. Easy. The nasty climb appears to be about 90 metres.
8A6254DA-9B14-47EB-88EC-2C20D5467C02.jpeg
At La Polana there was a closed restaurant.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos

Day 6: Lay in bed and wrote emails until about 8 am, then wandered downstairs for churros and cafe con leche. A big concrete basin outside had been relatively dry when I turned in but was overflowing when I emerged in the morning. Serious rain last night.

Today was gorgeous, at least most of it. Big sky country, with pastureland and plowed fields out to the horizon. Early, clouds and a few streaks of blue; by 2 pm, all blue with just a few streaks of clouds. Stiff wind behind me from the south. At the moment, Extremadura is pretty green.

More pigs. Cow pies along the road. A deer bounded across a high fence and disappeared into some trees. Met a local with a big, friendly dog. I gestured at the sky and said "Hermoso día, sin lluvia," and he smiled and held up crossed fingers. Let's hope it stays that way. When you get farther north, he said, you'll see plenty of rain.

A local on a bike stopped and asked me if I was okay. That's when I realized I must look like a mess, climbing over the hills slowly with wild hair and couple of walking poles.

Saturday afternoon in Fuente de Cantos is time to party. Restaurant full, hotel bar packed with noisy drunks. Washed clothes in the sink, pushed open the door at the top of the stairs, set up a clothesline on the roof, and managed to get most of my clothes dry before the rain started to pour.

Weather tomorrow looks dubious. But the forecast for rain was 100% today and it didn't start until 7 pm, when I was lying on a bed reading my phone. So hopefully tomorrow will be fine.

Pilgrims today: 2. Couple of German guys on heavily laden mountain bikes, one with a bunch of corgis on his T-shirt and some Japanese script. They said they would see me in Fuente de Cantos. Not likely unless they have mechanical problems. They were moving pretty fast.
 
.Saturday afternoon in Fuente de Cantos is time to party. Restaurant full, hotel bar packed with noisy drunks.

Pilgrims today: 2. Couple of German guys on heavily laden mountain bikes, one with a bunch of corgis on his T-shirt and some Japanese script. They said they would see me in Fuente de Cantos. Not likely unless they have mechanical problems. They were moving pretty fast.
Was that the Hotel Fabrica at the north end of town? I remember getting a good pilgrim discount there.

Fast bikes? Not me then.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
What I learned yesterday:
1. It's hot.
My experience with this route is that it gets colder and colder the further you walk north (and I took the Sanabres). I finished up buying extra clothing along the route - gloves and warm tights. So don't be too quick to throw away your warm stuff!
 
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos

Day 6: Lay in bed and wrote emails until about 8 am, then wandered downstairs for churros and cafe con leche. A big concrete basin outside had been relatively dry when I turned in but was overflowing when I emerged in the morning. Serious rain last night.

Today was gorgeous, at least most of it. Big sky country, with pastureland and plowed fields out to the horizon. Early, clouds and a few streaks of blue; by 2 pm, all blue with just a few streaks of clouds. Stiff wind behind me from the south. At the moment, Extremadura is pretty green.

More pigs. Cow pies along the road. A deer bounded across a high fence and disappeared into some trees. Met a local with a big, friendly dog. I gestured at the sky and said "Hermoso día, sin lluvia," and he smiled and held up crossed fingers. Let's hope it stays that way. When you get farther north, he said, you'll see plenty of rain.

A local on a bike stopped and asked me if I was okay. That's when I realized I must look like a mess, climbing over the hills slowly with wild hair and couple of walking poles.

Saturday afternoon in Fuente de Cantos is time to party. Restaurant full, hotel bar packed with noisy drunks. Washed clothes in the sink, pushed open the door at the top of the stairs, set up a clothesline on the roof, and managed to get most of my clothes dry before the rain started to pour.

Weather tomorrow looks dubious. But the forecast for rain was 100% today and it didn't start until 7 pm, when I was lying on a bed reading my phone. So hopefully tomorrow will be fine.

Pilgrims today: 2. Couple of German guys on heavily laden mountain bikes, one with a bunch of corgis on his T-shirt and some Japanese script. They said they would see me in Fuente de Cantos. Not likely unless they have mechanical problems. They were moving pretty fast.
Tomorrow is a virtually flat day to Zafra which is a really nice town although it seemed to take ages from sighting it to getting to the alberque I stayed in. Hope you get some time to explore. If it's any consolation got drenched in April walking there !!
 
Was that the Hotel Fabrica at the north end of town? I remember getting a good pilgrim discount there.

Fast bikes? Not me then.
Yes, it's the Hotel Fabrica, which seems to be an old factory converted to a vast, empty hotel. Empty except for me, that is. Although there are many rooms, it seems like the main function is nightclub/bar/restaurant. Last night the dance floor was full of women, while the men stood at the bar or hovered around the edges. Pretty nice, except that I have to wait until 8:30 for breakfast, which is an hour or more later than I want to leave for Zafra.

I don't know about a pilgrim discount - I reserved this place in advance through Pilgrim.es, an agency that books places along the Camino 15 to 30 km apart. There doesn't seem to be a lot of consistency in quality - the place is range from fancy modern hotels (in Sevilla) to complete dumps (Guillena).

Time for breakfast, and then off for Zafra, 25 km. Cross my fingers for no rain.
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
I'm following you through my photos from 2012, (a year when I almost never "cheated" by using the N630). This is the only photo I have between Fuente and Zafra, but my camera had no gps locator in those days so don't know where exactly this is. Is it representative of the track? If so, it must have been great riding for me.
I'd love to see a selfie!
En route Fuente de Cantos 11-6-12.jpeg
 
Insert clouds, rain, mud and giant puddles and we've got a match. It's pretty flat. You would definitely make good time. Everyone I talk to says this weather is atypical. I feel like Joe Btfsplk in Li'l Abner, the character with a small, dark rain cloud perpetually hovering over his head. Today, anyway. Tomorrow may be different. On to Zafra!
 
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra

Day 7: Awakened to pouring rain. The guy downstairs at the bar assures that this weather is not at all typical. Usually it's quite dry, he said. Had a couple of cups of coffee and some toast and waited for the weather to clear up.

While I was waiting, the Slovakian girl showed up and told me that she was abandoning her Camino. Because of her bum foot It took her 12 hours to walk slowly from Monastario to Fuente de Cantos. She is planning to stay another night here and then take the train to Merida, and then make her way to Barcelona.

The rain didn't stop completely, but it lessened enough for me to start walking, and slowly diminished until It was imperceptible and I was just walking through mud. The path to Zafra was long and fairly flat, through pastures and plowed fields. It's starting to feel a little cold - not enough for the down jacket, but enough to make me glad that I have a couple of layers and a windbreaker. By the time I got near Zafra, a big blue break in the clouds appeared. Maybe the rain will go away soon.

Zafra seems to be the biggest town since Seville. Which isn't saying much. I was delighted to see a couple of Chinese restaurants, as I'm getting a little tired of jamon y queso. But these aren't the Chinese restaurants I'm used to - they're like what used to be in US suburbs in the 1960s. Chow mein, chop suey, fried rice. Where are my Szechuan dumplings? Can't recommend small town Extremaduran Chinese food.

Pilgrims today: Zero. I'm not counting the Slovakian girl, as I met her a couple of days ago and she just popped up at breakfast briefly. It's an empty Camino.
 
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra

Day 7: Awakened to pouring rain. The guy downstairs at the bar assures that this weather is not at all typical. Usually it's quite dry, he said. Had a couple of cups of coffee and some toast and waited for the weather to clear up.

While I was waiting, the Slovakian girl showed up and told me that she was abandoning her Camino. Because of her bum foot It took her 12 hours to walk slowly from Monastario to Fuente de Cantos. She is planning to stay another night here and then take the train to Merida, and then make her way to Barcelona.

The rain didn't stop completely, but it lessened enough for me to start walking, and slowly diminished until It was imperceptible and I was just walking through mud. The path to Zafra was long and fairly flat, through pastures and plowed fields. It's starting to feel a little cold - not enough for the down jacket, but enough to make me glad that I have a couple of layers and a windbreaker. By the time I got near Zafra, a big blue break in the clouds appeared. Maybe the rain will go away soon.

Zafra seems to be the biggest town since Seville. Which isn't saying much. I was delighted to see a couple of Chinese restaurants, as I'm getting a little tired of jamon y queso. But these aren't the Chinese restaurants I'm used to - they're like what used to be in US suburbs in the 1960s. Chow mein, chop suey, fried rice. Where are my Szechuan dumplings? Can't recommend small town Extremaduran Chinese food.

Pilgrims today: Zero. I'm not counting the Slovakian girl, as I met her a couple of days ago and she just popped up at breakfast briefly. It's an empty Camino.

So sorry to hear about all the rain. It’s been in the news - seems exceptional. Hopefully it will pass as quickly as it arrived.
Not too bad north of Salamanca. Gusting winds today and a bit on the cool side. Am thinking I might need to buy and extra layer in Zamora tomorrow.
I’m enjoying my slow Camino. I have decided to stop explaining why I don’t walk 33+ km and just enjoy myself.
Take care.
 
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra

Day 7: Awakened to pouring rain. The guy downstairs at the bar assures that this weather is not at all typical. Usually it's quite dry, he said. Had a couple of cups of coffee and some toast and waited for the weather to clear up.

While I was waiting, the Slovakian girl showed up and told me that she was abandoning her Camino. Because of her bum foot It took her 12 hours to walk slowly from Monastario to Fuente de Cantos. She is planning to stay another night here and then take the train to Merida, and then make her way to Barcelona.

The rain didn't stop completely, but it lessened enough for me to start walking, and slowly diminished until It was imperceptible and I was just walking through mud. The path to Zafra was long and fairly flat, through pastures and plowed fields. It's starting to feel a little cold - not enough for the down jacket, but enough to make me glad that I have a couple of layers and a windbreaker. By the time I got near Zafra, a big blue break in the clouds appeared. Maybe the rain will go away soon.

Zafra seems to be the biggest town since Seville. Which isn't saying much. I was delighted to see a couple of Chinese restaurants, as I'm getting a little tired of jamon y queso. But these aren't the Chinese restaurants I'm used to - they're like what used to be in US suburbs in the 1960s. Chow mein, chop suey, fried rice. Where are my Szechuan dumplings? Can't recommend small town Extremaduran Chinese food.

Pilgrims today: Zero. I'm not counting the Slovakian girl, as I met her a couple of days ago and she just popped up at breakfast briefly. It's an empty Camino.
Sounds exactly like my walk less Chinese food. I carried an injured peregrino's pack the last @5km and got rewarded with a great steak !! Tomorrow is a nice short hill and then a lovely village before it open oud for the short walk to Villafranca which is really pretty. Not long till Merida and suddenly you realise how much you've covered and how quickly it is going so enjoy 😊
 
So sorry to hear about all the rain. It’s been in the news - seems exceptional. Hopefully it will pass as quickly as it arrived.
Not too bad north of Salamanca. Gusting winds today and a bit on the cool side. Am thinking I might need to buy and extra layer in Zamora tomorrow.
I’m enjoying my slow Camino. I have decided to stop explaining why I don’t walk 33+ km and just enjoy myself.
Take care.
North of Salamanca? Congrats, Rita. I'm definitely not catching up to you now.

I'm with you, 33+ km is crazy. 20, 22, 25 km at the outside.

Looking forward to a rainless day out of Zafra and seeing your posts more often. Maybe I will even see another pilgrim in real life today!
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
North of Salamanca? Congrats, Rita. I'm definitely not catching up to you now.

I'm with you, 33+ km is crazy. 20, 22, 25 km at the outside.

Looking forward to a rainless day out of Zafra and seeing your posts more often. Maybe I will even see another pilgrim in real life today!

I was all alone last night but I quite enjoy those days as they are interspersed with days with people. In the small villages I tend to hang out at the local bar for a few hours - have some food, read and journal on my phone, watch the locals. I like it.
Today in Zamora - fabulous albergue and fabulous hospitalaros. Quick walk out to Decathlon for some warm pants so I can wash my other pair. 😂😂
The albergue provides dinner and breakfast so I went out for an afternoon snack and accidentally found the most delicious tapas so far. Yummmm! Love Zamora.
After a month of walking and many short days due to the way the villages and towns pop up, I feel pretty good. Strong and ready for what comes next.
Buen Camino
PS - managing to avoid any significant rain. 🙏
 
I was all alone last night but I quite enjoy those days as they are interspersed with days with people. In the small villages I tend to hang out at the local bar for a few hours - have some food, read and journal on my phone, watch the locals. I like it.
Today in Zamora - fabulous albergue and fabulous hospitalaros. Quick walk out to Decathlon for some warm pants so I can wash my other pair. 😂😂
The albergue provides dinner and breakfast so I went out for an afternoon snack and accidentally found the most delicious tapas so far. Yummmm! Love Zamora.
After a month of walking and many short days due to the way the villages and towns pop up, I feel pretty good. Strong and ready for what comes next.
Buen Camino
PS - managing to avoid any significant rain. 🙏
We have some friends who are serving in Zamora although I am not certain if they are there now or in the next volunteer cycle? Were your hospitaleros from Brazil, Canada, or Italy by chance?
 
In Seville in January sunrise will be about 08:30 and sunset sometime around 18:45. Coming from the UK in a different time zone I'm always very aware of how dark it is in Spain first thing in the morning in winter. In places which enforce an 8am departure time you can find yourself beginning your day's walk while it is still too dark to clearly see the yellow arrows.
but at least one gets more daylight at the other end of the day. None of this silly canadian "dark at 1545" stuff!!!
 
Prepare for your next Camino on Santa Catalina Island, March 17-20
We have some friends who are serving in Zamora although I am not certain if they are there now or in the next volunteer cycle? Were your hospitaleros from Brazil, Canada, or Italy by chance?

The hospitaleros in Zamora are from Italy. At the moment.
 
OK, our Brazillian friends must be coming Nov. 1 and then I think they will be followed by a Canadian and Italian team mid month.
 
Day 1, VDLP: Wandered around Seville quite a bit trying to find my way out of town. Maybe I am simply not paying attention, but they don't seem to be a lot of Camino arrows or guideposts within the city limits.

By 9:30 I was getting hot; off went the long pants. The heat increased throughout the day. By the time I arrived in Guillena my shirt was soaked through and sweat was dripping off my glasses.

Despite my best efforts, I've overpacked again: The down jacket, the layers, the long pants - looks like all will be dead weight at the bottom of the pack, never to be disturbed. Though maybe as I get farther north and October gives way to November, the weather will change.

Number of pilgrims I have seen today? Zero. I'm told that only 3% of programs take this route. No kidding.
Hola - yes it can still be warm to hot in Seville in Oct but by early Nov it can be cool to cold so you might be needing those extra clothes. Stay safe!!
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros

Day 8: The word for the day is "mud." No rain, but the evidence of past rain is everywhere. The mud sucks on my boots and poles and when I pull them out, they're heavy with goo. It's like walking through quicksand. Not everywhere, but enough to watch where I step.

Went into a fancy bar in Villafranca and the girl behind the counter couldn't understand a word of my Spanish, nor I hers. She made a face, then turned her back and began to talk on the phone. Every local person I've met has been incredibly nice, and it was a shock to be treated like a bum. Maybe that's what I look like now.

Went to the grocery store and bought some yogurt and ate it in the park, then went to bed early.

Pilgrims today: 2. A Spanish guy on a heavily laden mountain bike, who had come from Sevilla and was headed all the way to Santiago. And Ennie, a Dutch woman who does video documentaries and has a podcast (in Dutch) about birds.

I think Ennie is having a richer Camino; she stops and investigates anything that looks interesting, while I simply put my head down and charge on to the next town. It's the difference between my mother, who saw travel as a race to the destination, versus my father, who stopped and dawdled and lost track of time.

Ennie says I should head down to southern Portugal after I get to Salamanca, and maybe I will. Left her behind, maybe I'll see her again in Mérida.
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros
Day 9 Almendralejo

Day 9: Up at 6 am, brewed a pot of coffee in the kitchen, out the door by 6:30. The night was cool and overcast. The batteries on my headlamp were dead and I couldn't read any Camino markers for the first couple of hours. I really appreciated the map on the Wise Pilgrim app - would have been lost without it.

Another day on a dirt road across endless plains under a big sky. A few sprinkles of rain. Billowing clouds mashed up against the horizon. Cool, pleasant, spectacular.

The agency I used to book my accommodations sent me to the town of Almendrajelo, which is about 5 km west of the Camino. Wikipedia says it's the site of a massacre of over 1,500 people, including women and children, during the Civil War, when Extremadura was strongly Republican and had alienated the big landowners by redistributing their land. The fascists herded local people indiscriminately into the bullfighting ring and shot them, forcing others to load the bodies onto trucks before they were shot themselves. Just 86 years ago, in 1936.

Like most English speakers, my knowledge of the civil war is limited to Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. I need to go back and learn more about that bloody time, especially in the poorer regions like this one.

Today was a short day, only about 18 km. Done by noon. It was a drag having to walk so far off the Camino. Not sure why they didn't just send me to Torremejía, 27 km from Villafranca and directly on the Camino.

Tomorrow morning, rather than walk along the road all the way back to the Camino and then head north to Mérida, I bought a train ticket. It's a 20 minute walk to the station, then 21 minutes to Mérida. I'll spend a day in Mérida wandering around the Roman ruins.

Pilgrims today: 2. Outside the hostel in Villafranca at 6:30 am there were a couple of older French guys. We exchanged "buen caminos" and they headed off in the opposite direction, probably for breakfast. Later in the day I saw them again, tiny specks on the road far behind me. Zero interaction.
 

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Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros

Day 8: The word for the day is "mud." No rain, but the evidence of past rain is everywhere. The mud sucks on my boots and poles and when I pull them out, they're heavy with goo. It's like walking through quicksand. Not everywhere, but enough to watch where I step.

Went into a fancy bar in Villafranca and the girl behind the counter couldn't understand a word of my Spanish, nor I hers. She made a face, then turned her back and began to talk on the phone. Every local person I've met has been incredibly nice, and it was a shock to be treated like a bum. Maybe that's what I look like now.

Went to the grocery store and bought some yogurt and ate it in the park, then went to bed early.

Pilgrims today: 2. A Spanish guy on a heavily laden mountain bike, who had come from Sevilla and was headed all the way to Santiago. And Ennie, a Dutch woman who does video documentaries and has a podcast (in Dutch) about birds.

I think Ennie is having a richer Camino; she stops and investigates anything that looks interesting, while I simply put my head down and charge on to the next town. It's the difference between my mother, who saw travel as a race to the destination, versus my father, who stopped and dawdled and lost track of time.

Ennie says I should head down to southern Portugal after I get to Salamanca, and maybe I will. Left her behind, maybe I'll see her again in Mérida.

Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros
Day 9 Almendralejo

Day 9: Up at 6 am, brewed a pot of coffee in the kitchen, out the door by 6:30. The night was cool and overcast. The batteries on my headlamp were dead and I couldn't read any Camino markers for the first couple of hours. I really appreciated the map on the Wise Pilgrim app - would have been lost without it.

Another day on a dirt road across endless plains under a big sky. A few sprinkles of rain. Billowing clouds mashed up against the horizon. Cool, pleasant, spectacular.

The agency I used to book my accommodations sent me to the town of Almendrajelo, which is about 5 km west of the Camino. Wikipedia says it's the site of a massacre of over 1,500 people, including women and children, during the Civil War, when Extremadura was strongly Republican and had alienated the big landowners by redistributing their land. The fascists herded local people indiscriminately into the bullfighting ring and shot them, forcing others to load the bodies onto trucks before they were shot themselves. Just 86 years ago, in 1936.

Like most English speakers, my knowledge of the civil war is limited to Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. I need to go back and learn more about that bloody time, especially in the poorer regions like this one.

Today was a short day, only about 18 km. Done by noon. It was a drag having to walk so far off the Camino. Not sure why they didn't just send me to Torremejía, 27 km from Villafranca and directly on the Camino.

Tomorrow morning, rather than walk along the road all the way back to the Camino and then head north to Mérida, I bought a train ticket. It's a 20 minute walk to the station, then 21 minutes to Mérida. I'll spend a day in Mérida wandering around the Roman ruins.

Pilgrims today: 2. Outside the hostel in Villafranca at 6:30 am there were a couple of older French guys. We exchanged "buen caminos" and they headed off in the opposite direction, probably for breakfast. Later in the day I saw them again, tiny specks on the road far behind me. Zero interaction.
Glad you're finding the wise pilgrim maps useful. Disappointing about the detour. Can't recall if you turn off before or after the long straight stretch of Roman road ? You haven't missed much in Torremejia and the trek from there to Merida is nothing of note so a good call. I pushed on once I hit Torremejia and had an extra night enjoying the Semana Santa parades etc in Merida. Well done on your camino thus far !
 
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Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros

Day 8: The word for the day is "mud." No rain, but the evidence of past rain is everywhere. The mud sucks on my boots and poles and when I pull them out, they're heavy with goo. It's like walking through quicksand. Not everywhere, but enough to watch where I step.

Went into a fancy bar in Villafranca and the girl behind the counter couldn't understand a word of my Spanish, nor I hers. She made a face, then turned her back and began to talk on the phone. Every local person I've met has been incredibly nice, and it was a shock to be treated like a bum. Maybe that's what I look like now.

Went to the grocery store and bought some yogurt and ate it in the park, then went to bed early.

Pilgrims today: 2. A Spanish guy on a heavily laden mountain bike, who had come from Sevilla and was headed all the way to Santiago. And Ennie, a Dutch woman who does video documentaries and has a podcast (in Dutch) about birds.

I think Ennie is having a richer Camino; she stops and investigates anything that looks interesting, while I simply put my head down and charge on to the next town. It's the difference between my mother, who saw travel as a race to the destination, versus my father, who stopped and dawdled and lost track of time.

Ennie says I should head down to southern Portugal after I get to Salamanca, and maybe I will. Left her behind, maybe I'll see her again in Mérida.

Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros
Day 9 Almendralejo

Day 9: Up at 6 am, brewed a pot of coffee in the kitchen, out the door by 6:30. The night was cool and overcast. The batteries on my headlamp were dead and I couldn't read any Camino markers for the first couple of hours. I really appreciated the map on the Wise Pilgrim app - would have been lost without it.

Another day on a dirt road across endless plains under a big sky. A few sprinkles of rain. Billowing clouds mashed up against the horizon. Cool, pleasant, spectacular.

The agency I used to book my accommodations sent me to the town of Almendrajelo, which is about 5 km west of the Camino. Wikipedia says it's the site of a massacre of over 1,500 people, including women and children, during the Civil War, when Extremadura was strongly Republican and had alienated the big landowners by redistributing their land. The fascists herded local people indiscriminately into the bullfighting ring and shot them, forcing others to load the bodies onto trucks before they were shot themselves. Just 86 years ago, in 1936.

Like most English speakers, my knowledge of the civil war is limited to Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. I need to go back and learn more about that bloody time, especially in the poorer regions like this one.

Today was a short day, only about 18 km. Done by noon. It was a drag having to walk so far off the Camino. Not sure why they didn't just send me to Torremejía, 27 km from Villafranca and directly on the Camino.

Tomorrow morning, rather than walk along the road all the way back to the Camino and then head north to Mérida, I bought a train ticket. It's a 20 minute walk to the station, then 21 minutes to Mérida. I'll spend a day in Mérida wandering around the Roman ruins.

Pilgrims today: 2. Outside the hostel in Villafranca at 6:30 am there were a couple of older French guys. We exchanged "buen caminos" and they headed off in the opposite direction, probably for breakfast. Later in the day I saw them again, tiny specks on the road far behind me. Zero interaction.

Thanks for that bit of history. I had some accomodation difficulties around that area and ended up taking the bus to Merida bypassing both Almendralejo (where I chose not to stop - maybe a good thing) and Torremejia (where the bus didn’t stop).
I have become so used and happy with my solo VDLP that the last couple of nights with more pilgrims - yesterday 10 and tonight 4 - has felt a bit challenging. Right now being serenaded by some snores which I don’t really mind.
Tomorrow night I will be at the turn off to the Sanabres. A new adventure.
Buen Camino
 
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros
Day 9 Almendralejo
Day 10 Mérida

Day 10: This morning, rather than walk 5 km back to the Camino and start walking north again, I simply walked over to the train station and took the 7:22 am train. Somebody was sitting in my seat, and rather than bother him I simply stood between the cars.

A half hour later I stepped onto the platform in Mérida. It was still early, before sunrise, so I walked over to the churreria and overindulged, then wandered across the long Roman bridge and back. Finally it was late enough in the morning to check into my pensión.

I'm in love with this town. Visited Rome for a day hours 30 years ago and it feels like a miniature version of that. You turn a corner and find yourself standing next to an ancient temple surrounded by apartments, stores and people going about their daily life.

Pilgrims today: Zero. Maybe they were around and I just didn't recognize them as pilgrims. Tourists aplenty, all Spanish except for a handful from Germany, and I spoke to a couple from Montreal.
 
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros
Day 9 Almendralejo
Day 10 Mérida
Day 11 Mérida

Day 11: Stayed in Mérida a day. Roman temples, bridges, fortresses, aqueducts and museums.

Pilgrims today: Zero. Though I did run into three tall, blonde women from Grand Rapids, Michigan, two of whom are visiting and one of whom married a local and lives here. Tried to get them to have dinner with me. They seemed amenable but already had plans. First Americans I've met since dinner with my niece in London, and one of the few conversations in English since arriving in Spain.

—------------

Day 12: Aljucén. Left Merida about 8:30. Pleasant weather, shorts and a t-shirt. Getting hillier. Passed a big Roman reservoir. Fairly nondescript countryside, no discernable difference from what I've seen before.

Staying at Romano Aqua Libre, a Roman style pensión that has Roman decor, a Roman bath, a tiny Roman swimming pool, Roman food, and will even rent you a toga if you feel the urge. I'm the only guest, as far as I can see.

I arrived in town at about 1:30 and the only bar/restaurant was closed. I then passed the mayor's office and walked in, asking where I could get lunch, and a woman having an animated conversation with him turned to me and said "Come to my house." Her house turned out to be the closed bar/restaurant. She opened it for me, made me a sandwich, and then closed it when I was done.

Pilgrims today: 2, if you count a couple who passed me on their bikes and said "Buen Camino!" They had loaded panniers, so I guess they were pilgrims, but we had no interaction beyond a greeting. This is indeed a long, lonely Camino.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros
Day 9 Almendralejo
Day 10 Mérida
Day 11 Mérida

Day 11: Stayed in Mérida a day. Roman temples, bridges, fortresses, aqueducts and museums.

Pilgrims today: Zero. Though I did run into three tall, blonde women from Grand Rapids, Michigan, two of whom are visiting and one of whom married a local and lives here. Tried to get them to have dinner with me. They seemed amenable but already had plans. First Americans I've met since dinner with my niece in London, and one of the few conversations in English since arriving in Spain.

—------------

Day 12: Aljucén. Left Merida about 8:30. Pleasant weather, shorts and a t-shirt. Getting hillier. Passed a big Roman reservoir. Fairly nondescript countryside, no discernable difference from what I've seen before.

Staying at Romano Aqua Libre, a Roman style pensión that has Roman decor, a Roman bath, a tiny Roman swimming pool, Roman food, and will even rent you a toga if you feel the urge. I'm the only guest, as far as I can see.

I arrived in town at about 1:30 and the only bar/restaurant was closed. I then passed the mayor's office and walked in, asking where I could get lunch, and a woman having an animated conversation with him turned to me and said "Come to my house." Her house turned out to be the closed bar/restaurant. She opened it for me, made me a sandwich, and then closed it when I was done.

Pilgrims today: 2, if you count a couple who passed me on their bikes and said "Buen Camino!" They had loaded panniers, so I guess they were pilgrims, but we had no interaction beyond a greeting. This is indeed a long, lonely Camino.

Sorry to hear about your lack of fellow pilgrims. I guess the later in the year the less pilgrims. But sounds like your ‘Roman’ day was fun.
 
Day 0 Seville
Day 1 Guillena
Day 2 Castillo Blanco
Day 3 Almaden de la Plata
Day 4 El Real de la Jara
Day 5 Monastario
Day 6 Fuente de Cantos
Day 7 Zafra
Day 8 Villafranca de los Barros
Day 9 Almendralejo
Day 10 Mérida
Day 11 Mérida

Day 11: Stayed in Mérida a day. Roman temples, bridges, fortresses, aqueducts and museums.

Pilgrims today: Zero. Though I did run into three tall, blonde women from Grand Rapids, Michigan, two of whom are visiting and one of whom married a local and lives here. Tried to get them to have dinner with me. They seemed amenable but already had plans. First Americans I've met since dinner with my niece in London, and one of the few conversations in English since arriving in Spain.

—------------

Day 12: Aljucén. Left Merida about 8:30. Pleasant weather, shorts and a t-shirt. Getting hillier. Passed a big Roman reservoir. Fairly nondescript countryside, no discernable difference from what I've seen before.

Staying at Romano Aqua Libre, a Roman style pensión that has Roman decor, a Roman bath, a tiny Roman swimming pool, Roman food, and will even rent you a toga if you feel the urge. I'm the only guest, as far as I can see.

I arrived in town at about 1:30 and the only bar/restaurant was closed. I then passed the mayor's office and walked in, asking where I could get lunch, and a woman having an animated conversation with him turned to me and said "Come to my house." Her house turned out to be the closed bar/restaurant. She opened it for me, made me a sandwich, and then closed it when I was done.

Pilgrims today: 2, if you count a couple who passed me on their bikes and said "Buen Camino!" They had loaded panniers, so I guess they were pilgrims, but we had no interaction beyond a greeting. This is indeed a long, lonely Camino.
Day 12: Valdesalor. Today I walked to Alcuéscar, couldn't find a place to stay - the places listed in Kelly's guide had closed - and ended up taking a taxi to Valdesalor. The driver let me out at a place he knew, basically a guy's house with a couple of rooms to rent.

I went to buy a sandwich and ran into the Dutch woman I had met about a week before, and she invited me to dinner, where I met a German woman who I had come across on my second day out. An hour or so into our dinner a Scottish guy, Tim, showed up. The women left, but Tim and I hit it off and talked for a while before turning in.

Tomorrow I will walk into Cáceres, which is only 10 or 12 km away. I'm getting tired of walking and am planning to take a train or bus and skip a few towns as I head for My final destination of Salamanca.

Pilgrims today: 1. I'm not going to count the two women I met today, because I had walked with them earlier. I'll only count Tim at dinner. During my long walk from Aljucén to Alcuéscar, I saw no one.
 
Day 12: Valdesalor. Today I walked to Alcuéscar, couldn't find a place to stay - the places listed in Kelly's guide had closed - and ended up taking a taxi to Valdesalor. The driver let me out at a place he knew, basically a guy's house with a couple of rooms to rent.

I went to buy a sandwich and ran into the Dutch woman I had met about a week before, and she invited me to dinner, where I met a German woman who I had come across on my second day out. An hour or so into our dinner a Scottish guy, Tim, showed up. The women left, but Tim and I hit it off and talked for a while before turning in.

Tomorrow I will walk into Cáceres, which is only 10 or 12 km away. I'm getting tired of walking and am planning to take a train or bus and skip a few towns as I head for My final destination of Salamanca.

Pilgrims today: 1. I'm not going to count the two women I met today, because I had walked with them earlier. I'll only count Tim at dinner. During my long walk from Aljucén to Alcuéscar, I saw no one.
The walk from Aljucen to Alcuescar in the spring was one of the highlights for me. I continued onto Aldea de Cano which was a very memorable night and a beautiful walk in the early morning mist to Valdesalor. There are some distance challenges after Caceres but again some great scenery but it sounds like you have lost heart. The day from Banos to Fuenterroble I found really nice and of course the arch at Caparra but all the best for the remainder of your camino.
 
Prepare for your next Camino on Santa Catalina Island, March 17-20
Day 12: Valdesalor. Today I walked to Alcuéscar, couldn't find a place to stay - the places listed in Kelly's guide had closed - and ended up taking a taxi to Valdesalor. The driver let me out at a place he knew, basically a guy's house with a couple of rooms to rent.

I went to buy a sandwich and ran into the Dutch woman I had met about a week before, and she invited me to dinner, where I met a German woman who I had come across on my second day out. An hour or so into our dinner a Scottish guy, Tim, showed up. The women left, but Tim and I hit it off and talked for a while before turning in.

Tomorrow I will walk into Cáceres, which is only 10 or 12 km away. I'm getting tired of walking and am planning to take a train or bus and skip a few towns as I head for My final destination of Salamanca.

Pilgrims today: 1. I'm not going to count the two women I met today, because I had walked with them earlier. I'll only count Tim at dinner. During my long walk from Aljucén to Alcuéscar, I saw no one.

I took a bus from Cacáres to Caŋaveral as that was a very long stage without stops. Cacáres is lovely, particularly the Arab house museum.
And after Caŋaveral the landscape does get much more interesting. Wishing you all the best - one day at a time.
Buen Camino
 
The walk from Aljucen to Alcuescar in the spring was one of the highlights for me. I continued onto Aldea de Cano which was a very memorable night and a beautiful walk in the early morning mist to Valdesalor. There are some distance challenges after Caceres but again some great scenery but it sounds like you have lost heart. The day from Banos to Fuenterroble I found really nice and of course the arch at Caparra but all the best for the remainder of your camino.
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Day 13: Cáceres. Got up early to heavy rain. Finally the tiny hiking umbrella I brought with me would get some use. Unpacked the raincoat, pulled the hood over my head, and began to walk.

When I got to the first Camino marker, I wondered why the arrow was pointed in the wrong direction. As I walked farther, slogging through mud and dodging puddles, I saw that every marker had an arrow pointing the opposite way.

After a couple of hours, the rain cleared up. As I sat on a rock to drink some water, a guy on a mountain bike approached from the opposite direction. "Where are you headed?" he asked. "Cacares. What about you?" I answered. "I'm going to Cacares too," he said. "Well, you're headed in the wrong direction," I said. He answered: "I don't think so. I think you're the one who is headed in the wrong direction."

I took out my phone and expanded the map. (I hadn't done this before because it was raining and I didn't want to get my phone wet.) He was right. I had walked most of the way to Aldo de Cano. How arrogant of me, to see the arrows pointing north and assume that I knew better.

I started the long walk back to Valdesalor. At least the sun was now out, it had turned into a gorgeous day, and cafe con leche was waiting for me in Valdesalor. By the time I got there, it was close to noon and I had walked 16 km on a day when I had expected to walk about 12.

Coffee and toast can do wonders, though, and the walk to Cáceres was fine, especially with the improved weather. And Cáceres…wow. Merida was a big town, but this place feels like I'm back in Seville, or even Madrid. People are well dressed, there are plenty of cafes and shops, the old walled city is gorgeous. Pretty nice.

Pilgrims today: One. The guy on the bike who turned me around and sent me the right direction. Thank you, whoever you are.

 
You are good ar reading between the lines, Blister Bill. Yeah, I've lost heart. I think Cáceres will be the end of the walking part of my Camino. I'll take the train to Plasencia and check out my original destination of Salamanca, then return and finish in the spring. Thanks for the encouragement, Bill, and for recommending the Wise Pilgrim app, which was indispensable.

I'll continue to read the adventures of other walkers along the VLDP in preparation for my return in the spring.
 
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You are good ar reading between the lines, Blister Bill. Yeah, I've lost heart. I think Cáceres will be the end of the walking part of my Camino. I'll take the train to Plasencia and check out my original destination of Salamanca, then return and finish in the spring. Thanks for the encouragement, Bill, and for recommending the Wise Pilgrim app, which was indispensable.

I'll continue to read the adventures of other walkers along the VLDP in preparation for my return in the spring.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk the Vdlp. You will see a big difference and enough good company also.
All the best.
 
It almost defeated me in 2012. I HAD been warned by the amigos in Triana , but I was hot and tired and almost out of water - and Almaden was only, what, 2 km away. The track was dreadful, all gullies and rocks, and very steep. No way I could contemplate pushing the loaded bike up. Like you I thought “a bit at a time”, but after 3 segments, first carrying bags and returning for my heavy rented bike I realised I was done. I was almost in tears, sitting under a tree thinking I was mad to have ever imagined I could do this Camino stuff at my age, with bad knees and cheap sandals. Out of nowhere a caballero appeared. He barked at me in unintelligible Spanish, (I knew how to order a beer), and signalled me to give him the panniers, which he hooked on to his saddle and trotted off up the hill. Unknown to me, I was actually quite near the top, and a young man soon appeared from above and took the bike. It was a seminal moment for me, and I’ve never looked back.
Love this post!! Thank you!
 
On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
Loved reading your posts! Thank you so much!
 
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On my third try, I'm finally in Sevilla to start the VLDP, at least as far as Salamanca. I've done the Frances and Portugues and this seemed like the logical next step.

Third try because I missed the first two flights from London. I had taken the Queen Mary from NYC with my son (it wasn't too expensive - check it out!) and somehow my watch and phone got stuck in some mid-Atlantic time zone. By the time I arrived at Luton, the $49 Ryanair special tube Seville had already departed. The second missed flight was just dumb: I thought 5:55 meant the afternoon, not the morning. The third one, through Madrid, left an hour late and with the 1 hour time loss I made the connection with seconds to spare. But here I am.

I had been worried about the weather, starting so late. But the first few seconds outside the airport in Seville put my mind at rest. Delightful, light rain, people walking around in shorts.

It's quite dark outside. Good thing I brought my headlamp. From the looks of things, I'll be walking in the dark quite a bit. Great to get started!

Thanks to the others who have posted here about the VLDP for the information and inspiration.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am hopeful you can complete it this time! To beat the heat you may need to do a few early mornings and enjoy a siesta in the middle of the day. I would recommend getting an umbrella to keep the sun off you but yeah not many people like carrying them.

Good luck! And I will follow along on your thread.
 
CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am hopeful you can complete it this time! To beat the heat you may need to do a few early mornings and enjoy a siesta in the middle of the day. I would recommend getting an umbrella to keep the sun off you but yeah not many people like carrying them.

Good luck! And I will follow along on your thread.

Oh I am another umbrella fan - saved my life in the early weeks of VDLP. And I actually see quite a few people with umbrellas now. Although some still think it is an amusing affectation. ☂️
 

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