This year, I will be walking Camino Madrid from El Escorial through Segovia and Valladolid to Sahagun. I will have a few more days of walking and am currently thinking I might then walk from Astorga to Zamora on the portion of the Via de la Plata that I did not walk in 2014. In all it w=should be about 18 days and somewhere between 250 and 300 miles of walking.
I started my morning in Sahagun. The hostel owner invited me back to his apartment for a morning café con leche. Then a 1/2 km walk down the road to the train station to buy a ticket for the 8:30 train to Leon. Once I arrived in Leon, I discovered that the train to Astorga would not leave until almost 3 pm, so I walked two blocks to the bus station to find that the bus to Astorga was leaving in ten minutes. Great (and lucky) timing! I covered the 120 km to Astorga in two hours and was walking out of Astorga at 11 am. The walk to La Bañeza was 21 km. I decided to stop at a restaurant along the way for a menú del diá before continuing to the albergue. I am finding that it is difficult to walk a camino path backwards as you do not see all the way marks. I checked into the albergue about 4 pm. By the way, I am now walking in reverse on the Via de la Plata in order to complete the four stages thatI did not do two years ago.Probably I will have three more walking days.
Today's wal was about 26 km (16 miles). The first third was the best- a walk along the tree lined Canal de Castilla that left from Medina de Rioseco. The canal l was used to transport agricultural products and was part of what was an extensive set of canals in the meseta. There were even locks to compensate for elevation changes. Much of the rest of the walk was tedious along paved roads, but at least there was not a lot of traffic. I am composing this in a bar in the town of Villalon while waiting for the albergue to open at 3 pm.
Today's walk was 24 km or about 14 miles through mostly gravel roads between harvested wheat fields in the meseta. Not much different than previous days. I was able to get a cafe con leche at the first town after 9 km walk, then ate my leftover alubias blancas and albondigas at the second town another 10 km later. Tonight's albergue is in the Convento de Santa Calra in the town of Medina de Rioseco, which is the largest town in this area known as the "Gothic Fields" (Tierra de Campos).
The big question morning, should I go into the large, industrial city of Vallodolid just to view its cathedral or do I just take the actual Camino path through the country? As I walked through Puente Duero, I saw the bus that could take me into Vallodolid, but decided by to bypass the city for a full day of walking.
The first six kilometers took me through the last of the pine forests to Simancas. No more forest-from here it is wide open meseta with few trees. This country is one of relatively flat buttes, with river valleys between, but the climb up and down from those flat spots can be quite steep. The midpoint of my walk was the town of Ciguñuela. I found a nice bar with wifi and had a coffee with tortilla española and got caught up with my email and Facebook. The afternoon took me through the town of Wamba, then on to Peñaflor de Hornillos, all the towns approximately evenly between spaced. The walk was 26 km (16 miles) and I arrived at the albergue about 3 pm. I thought I might be alone tonight as the two peregrinas did go in to Valladolid to do some shopping and to see the cathedral. It would have been a long walk from the city, but they took a cab as far as Wamba, then walked the rest of the way here to the albergue. By the way, the cathedral was closed, so it was just as well that I did not go into Valladolid today.
The Rio Duero at Simancas
The steep descent then the steeper ascent in Peñaflor de Hornillos at the end of today's walk
From here one, it will be all meseta, all the time
This posting is being done mid day Monday but I will post about today's walk later. This post is for Sunday. I had no wifi yesterday.
On Saturday, we were in Alcazaren. The Korean pilgrim got a all from a friend in San Sebastián walking the Camino Norte, so he took off on the afternoon bus to walk with him there. The two women that I met earlier in the day did stay at the albergue, however, so it was the largest group yet on this Camino. We had a not so great meal ( ensalada mixta and loom (ham)) at the local bar, which was one of only two bars open in Alcazaren.
On Sunday's walk of 25 km (15 miles), I crossed the Rio Eresma one last time to arrive at the Rio Duero this afternoon in the city of Puente Duero. The Duero region in Portugal is a famous wine growing area, but here it is too cold and there are few grapes here. Today's crop land was mostly wheat and sugar beets, with lots of pine forest. The ground is soft, that walking is sometimes difficult because it is not packed down well enough.
I arrived about 1 pm at the private albergue to find a very accommodating owner and hospitalero, Arturo. He made me feel at home, but better yet, he made me speak my atrocious Spanish. Hopefully the practice will lead to some improvement. I had my mid day meal at the nearby restaurant. My ensaladadilla was a potato salad with tuna and olives. That was fine as I guess I must need carbs, since I'm going to have to make a new hole in my belt tonight to cinch it up a bit tighter. The bacalao was good, too.
Afterward, the two women arrived at the albergue. Being that it was a Sunday night with all the local restaurants closed, Arturo took it on himself to cook us a meal of judias verdes, pastas, and tortilla espanola. Nice meal and nice conversation. The women will take a bus into Vallodolid. I will keep on walking, they may or may not make it to the same albergue tonight.
Today's walk of 30 km (18 miles) was through both pine forests and fertile, often irrigated, farmland along the Rio Eresma. I stopped in at a local bar for my morning coffee in Villeguillo about 7 km into my walk and was surprised to see two other pilgrims already there. They were two women, one from Australia, the other from Denmark. It looks like we will have a relatively crowded albergue tonight with the man from Korea also being there. I know many people would find the terrain on this part of the walk boring, but I saw many crops here: wheat, sunflowers, potatoes, sweet corn, sugar beets, carrots, and onions. The ground here is not as rocky and the availability of irrigation water and the sandy soil means a wider variety of crops being grown. The worst problems were walking through that sandy soil in the pine forests and the darned flies once it got warm. But no complaints and I will continue on to the intersection with the Camino Frances a few days from now, then figure out where I want to go next.
Today's walk was a pretty easy 23 km or about 14 miles of mostly flat terrain. In addition to the dry land crops like wheat and sunflowers, this area also has irrigated crops, including berries, asparagus, cole crops, and chard and kale. My leg muscles are still acclimating to the longer distances, so today's easy walk was welcome. I arrived before noon at Coca's albergure to be greeted by a sign directing me down the street to the person with the keys. She was an elderly lady, who herself was a peregrina fifteen years ago. After settling in at the albergue, showering, and washing my clothes, I took off for the bar in town that has wifi. I did some catching up, since I have had neither wifi nor cell service the past 48 hours. After doing so, I checked out the restaurant across the street which had bacalao on their menu deal dia. It was passably good,about on a par with that I had a few days ago in Segovia. Afterwards,I walked about the town. Their claim to fame here, besides existing since Roman times is a Gothic-Mudejar castilla built in the1500's by the Moors on commission from the Catholic Church as well as a nicely preserved church, once of six originally in the city. I am resting up now while I write this and will go out later to do my grocery shopping, then back down to the bar that has wifi to post this. It was good to talk earlier with Kathy. I know she was worried about not hearing from me, but the sparsely populated farm country I was walking through meant no cell service and, as it turned out, no wifi either.
Tapping the pine trees for their sap
The Mudejar Castillo
Plaque outside the church commemorating the town's dead in the Spanish Civil War. This is the third church in this area that I have seen with such a plaque. It was an area hit hard by the war.
Today's 30 km (18 miles) was entirely through farm country on gravel roads and paths, except for on 2 km stretch of pavement. Mostly wheat, which has already been harvested, grows here. There are some sunflowers standing and the harvest for them is underway right now. I saw where some garbanzo beans have been harvested,too. A lot of walkers would find this meseta farm country boring, but I like it. A good thing as that is what I will be walking through the 200 kilometers or so.
I walked through four small farm villages. They are usually 5-30 houses with a church, maybe a bar, no stores. Not even one bar was open for my morning cafe con leche. A lot of them had closed for vacation signs on them. I've noticed that with many other businesses-it seems like many close for a late September holiday.
Today was my rest day after yesterday's strenuous walk.My hotel room turned out to be vey comfy and I slept in and relaxed. In the morning and early afternoon, I walked leisurely around Segovia visiting the cathedral and taking in the other sights, such as the Roman acqueduct and the Alcazar.
I am on a quest to find bacalao (cod fish prepared in various ways) since I had some good dishes of it on previous caminos. There are literally hundreds of restaurants here and I finally found two with bacalao on their menus-most of the others seemed to have merluza(hake), trout, or salmon. I found two restaurants that served it and had my mid-day meal at one of them. It was okay, but not as good others I've had. Now I'm wondering if I should have tried the other restaurant. Afterwards, I picked up my backpack from the hotel and walked the short, but steep, hill to the village of Zamarramala, about 2 km outside of Segovia. They have a nice albergue here that opened three years ago There is another pilgrim here tonight, a 40 year old Korean man, just starting this Camino. The walk tomorrow will be about 30 km or 18 miles, but has little elevation change. I am now on the meseta (the high elevation plains of Spain) where mostly wheat and cattle are raised.
P.S. Sorry about the lateness of this post. I could not find any wifi last night or so far today. Also no cell service for my phone, either.
The cathedral in Segovia from the terraza of hotel
The Roman aqueduct constructed with no mortar
The 12 sided Templar church between Segovia and Zamarrarmala
My guidebook warned me that today's mountainous walk of 20 miles was the most difficult walk of this Camino. There were no places to stop for the night from the time I left Cercadilla until I arrived in Segovia. It's too bad that it came on only the second day of my walk as I am not in proper walking condition yet, despite the fact that I have been doing a lot of walking at home. Sore legs, sore toes, and sore shoulders. It will toughen me up, though, I guess, for the rest of the Camino.
Today's walk was also the most scenic of this Camino taking me above 5000 feet elevation at the Puerta Fuenfria pass. Most of the way on today's walk was on the Calzada Romana, the road the Romans built to Segovia. A lot of the old Roman road has turned to rubble, though, and it was tough walking especially the first third of the walk which was a steep ascent to the pass. Still it was in a pine forest of the Sierra Guadarrama mountains, very beautiful, and the rest of the walk was a mostly gentle descent into Segovia.
I arrived in Segovia after 7 1/2 hours of walking. Segovia is a beautiful old Spanish city, famous for its Roman aqueduct. Only problem is a lot of tourists here. Kathy and I spent some time here in 2009 and I'll revisit some of the spots that we saw then, especially the Cathedral. Tomorrow I will take it easy and do my sightseeing, then a short day of walking to the next albergue. By the way,I did sleep on a wrestling mat in the Polideportivo last night, the only pilgrim there. Since I knew today's walk would end up being tough on my old body, I am treating myself to a nice hotel room again. It is located between the aqueduct and the cathedral in the old part of the city.
The Roman road
Marker at the pass
The pine forests
My welcoming committee
Almost out of the forest
What a change as you descend
Interesting contrast between new farm machinery and the old cathedral 4km outside of Segovia