My Camino Route in 2019

My Camino Route in 2019
This year (2019), I will be walking on the Camino Requena and the Ruta de la Lana (Wool Route). Starting point will be Valencia on the Mediterranean coast and ending in Burgos on the meseta (high plains) in Northern Spain.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Burgos 14 October 2019

My last day of Camino walking. I left the lovely casa rural about 8 this morning and walked the 11 km or 7 miles to Burgos arriving at 10 am at the bus station, where I bought my ticket for tomorrow to Madrid. Of course, I saw hordes of Camino Frances pilgrims there, probably buying tickets to León to avoid the "boring" meseta (The high plains or meseta is anything but boring, in my opinion.) I then walked on to a nice simple hotel near the cathedral, dropped off my backpack since it was too early to check-in and headed off to visit the cathedral.  Imagine my surprise to see that it had started raining while I was in the hotel. I was lucky enough to avoid being rained on for the whole time of my camino (There were a few afternoon thundershowers during the Camino, but always when I was finished walking for the day). I did visit the cathedral, which is the fifth time I've been here.
So this concludes camino #8 for me, just under 400 miles in just under 4 weeks.

I took an alternate path into Burgos, the Via Verde, which is a trail built on an abandoned rail line. The grades were a lot gentler and easier with less elevation change but the same distance.

The last cultivated field before walking into Burgos

Lots of New World good

The Papamosca or "Devil Flycatcher"

Lots of ornate carving and inlay in the choir

Santiago Matamoros or Saint James the Moor Slayer

Nicknamed Buffalo Jesus

The cathedral in the rain

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Modúbar de la Emparedada 13 October 2019

Ideal walking surface, smooth gravel, no big rockd
Lots of wind machines

An old two way plow

Turning alfalfa to condition it for baling

Midday meal: pasta with chorizo, cold gazpacho soup, calamari, tomatoes, cucumbers, and jamón drizzled in olive oil

After my post yesterday a South Korean pilgrim showed up at the albergue. He had walked two stages of over 50 km in one day. I don't know how he did it! I decided to split today's stage to Burgos into two days, since I have a day to spare in my schedule. I walked 14 miles (24 km) today which leaves about 8 miles for tomorrow.
My guidebook lists a Casa Rural with restaurant in this village. I walked up to it and rang the doorbell. It definitely is not a restaurant anymore and I'm not even sure if it is still a Casa Rural, but the couple in their late 70's is letting me stay here (rooms are still set up as a casa rural)  and invited me to share their midday meal with them. We just finished the meal and it had to be the best of this Camino. All the cucumbers, tomatoes, and melon were fresh from their garden. What an unexpected treat!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Mercerreyes 12 October 2018

Not a lot to report today. A lot of ups and downs with no net elevation change. I walked 25 km or 15 miles. 35 km are left ti Burgos and I may split it into two days.
Another sleepy little village here but at least they have an albergue and a bar. The albergue at 21 beds is the largest on the Ruta de la Lana. The Ruta has also been the same as the Camino El Cid the past few days. El Cid is as much a legend in this area as Don Quixote is in the La Mancha region. I was surprised to find a family of eight checked into the albergue. With suitcases, etc, they are obviously not pilgrims. I guess the woman who runs this albergue saw it as an opportunity too good to pass up to collect the albergue fees from those eight people in one shot.

A Shepherd and his dogs and sheep

El Cid

Friday, October 11, 2019

Santo Domingo de Silas 11 October 2019

Typical view of the forest
Walking the steep descent to Santo Domingo de Silas

Modern art at the monastery

My cozy and comfy little niche in the albergue

The first quarter of the walk today was along the Rio Arandilla, mostly farmland in this increasingly narrow valley as the path went higher. At Huerta de Rey, the path left the valley and the rest of the day was in pine forests, some of them being actively logged, with more than a few logging trucks on the road. The path was generally uphill all day, but the slopes were mostly such that they did not require stopping to catch one's breath. Unfortunately, just after my stop at the halfway point in the recreation area, I wasted half an hour trying to find the GPS track of the trail. I finally realized that the GPS track was the longer bicycle alternative, not the walking trail. I returned to the recreation area, started on the walking trail as marked by yellow arrows and had no further problems finding my way to Santo Domingo de Silas. 25 km/15 miles today.
Due to my getting lost, I arrived at the Benedictine monastery just after their 1:30 afternoon closure. No problem as I walked over to the Plaza Mayor for an indifferent and overpriced midday meal. This is a tourist town and priced accordingly. And I didn't know which of the 5 restaurants were better than another. Back at the monastery at 4:30, one of the monks walked me to their albergue across the street. It has got to be the nicest one of this camino! They will have have vespers sung in Gregorian chant at 7 pm, so I don't want to miss that.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Quintanarraya 10 October 2019

I am really out in the middle of a very depopulated area again. I walked out of the Duoro valley and through farmland and forested areas today, crossing a few summits, then the in between valleys with small tributaries. It was a kind 32 km or 19 miles. The worst part was that 2/3 of it was on pavement with no alternative. My guidebooks promised a lively bar/social center in the ayuntamiento, but it was closed up tight. I called the number listed for the albergue, but just got a voicemail. I wandered over to the locked albergue and did find someone who had a key after talking to a few people on the street. There is supposed to be a good shop here but I couldn't find one. Luckily, I carried in enough food to last me through my walk tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

San Esteban de Gormaz 9 October 2019

Internet too slow to add photos, will try later

My shortened day yesterday necessitated walking 30 km or 18 miles today. So I started walking at 7 am while it was still very dark. It was no problem as the first nine km were along the paved road from Caracenas to Fresno de Caracenas. No problem as I could hardly get lost and there was only one vehicle that passed by me the entire time. It was daylight by then and I left the pavement to cross over a few valleys until I was finally along the Duero river to finish my days walk. The Duero is a long river that goes all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in Porto, Portugal. I had previously been on portions along Zamora in Spain and the Duero wine region of Portugal, as well as Porto. Also Kathy and I had driven through here exactly ten years ago on our way from the La Rioja wine region to Segovia . Since it is a big river, it meant that most of today's walk was a descent to the river. Unfortunately, crossing it means that the next few days to Burgos will be mostly uphill.
I arrived here about 12:30 pm and checked into an hostel that also had a menú diario-see the photos. The Eroski supermercado is closed between 2 and 5 pm, but I will will walk back there to stock up on food. I haven't been able to find a grocery since Sigüenza on Saturday (nothing open in Atienza on Sunday, nothing at all in the small villages on Monday and Tuesday and questionable availability tomorrow). I will stock up and continue on tomorrow. Life is good!!

Caracena 8 October 2019

I thought today would be an easy walk since it was only 10 miles or 16 km. The first half was pretty easy as it was all on asphalt with no good alternative. Once I reached the midpoint at Tarencueña, the way immediately took off on a farm path along the Rio Caracena. At first it was a nice wide farm track through river bottom  fields, but soon became a rough single track through the canyon with several river crossings and some steep scrambles over large rocks. Vultures were circling overhead. It was very wild and scenic and worth the walk. I stopped at the sleepy village (pop. 50) of Caracena at noon rather than walk another 6 miles to the next village that would be questionable for accomodations. I will make up for it tomorrow by walking 18 miles to a larger town. Caracena might be depopulated today, but in medaeval times, it had an important castle and two churches. This region if Spain lost a lot of people in recent years and it is apparent the economy is struggling with reduced services. At least there is a bar at which I was able to have a midday comida and a donativo albergue across the street.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Retortillo de Soria 7 October 2019

What should have been an easy 14 miles (24 km) was made more difficult by mostly uphill walking, including a steep rise of 700 feet in a mile and a half. Just out of Atienza, I met a woman out walking. She moved from southern California to Atienza 40 years ago (85 years old), but has a son who teaches in Chico. We had a nice chat. This is the area of the famous El Cid and most of today's walk coincided with the Camino El Cid. I arrived in Retortillo de Soria about 1 pm where there is a nice hostal, but no other services in town. I did check in there and, while they do not have a midday meal, they will prepare a dinner at 8 pm and a breakfast at 8 am. The guidebook warned that due to the depopulation of the Soria region that finding services in the small towns would be difficult!

Atienza 6 October 2019

High altitude vistas of harvested wheat fields plus some pine and oak forests. Mostly uphill today, steeply up in a few spots. 98 % on graveled paths or farm roads, really deserted since today is Sunday. There were a few day hikers mid route around Santamera. 33 km or 20 miles today; total walking time (with rests) was 6 1/2 hours. I  would not have been able to do a day like today at the beginning of this Camino, now I can, but still a good tired and will rest up the rest of the day. I'm in a decent, basic hostal tonight and the owner directed me to a restaurant for my midday meal.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sigüenza 5 October 2019

Beautiful scenery today walking up the Rio Dulce Valley. Spectacular rock formations on both sides of a sometimes narrow valley. Some day hikers were out and about as part of the area is in a national park, but I was the only long distance through hiker. The first sixteen miles were a gently rising slope of the valley, but just past La Peligrina, the route took a steep path over the mountain with a 1000 foot rise in the next three miles. The rest of the 24 miles were on a plateau followed by a descent to Sigüenza.  I am staying in a monastery right next to the cathedral. It is a room with three bunks, but hopefully I will have it to myself tonight. I did tour the surprisingly large cathedral for a relatively small city. Being a weekend, there were a fair number of tourists, mostly Spanish speaking. It even had an El Greco painting. I need to rest up for my 20 mile uphill day tomorrow.

Secreto Ibérico last night

The Rio Dulce valley

Narrow canyon here

Old Threshing machine

At a rest stop

Halfway up the steep climb. La Peligrina is the village with the castle ruins to the left

Up and up

El Greco's late work, The Annunciation

Fancy dude altar

Main altar

Note the Templar cross on this marble statue

Friday, October 4, 2019

Mandayona 4 October 2109

A beautiful walk today. I left Masegoso while still dark, which was no problem as the first 2 1/2 km where on a paved road. I easily found the Camino path on graveled farm roads, from which I detoured yesterday, after it was light enough to see. The next 7 km were on gently rising gravel until the town of Las Inviernos. There was then a very steep 3 km ascent that let to a broad and quite flat plateau until the town of Mirabueno late in the walk. This plateau included crossing of both the high speed rail line and the highway linking Madrid to Barcelona. After Mirabueno, there was a steep but picturesque descent into today's destination of Mandayona in the Rio Dulce valley. All told about 24 km or 14 miles. Tomorrow I will be walking up this river valley to Sigüenza.
There were two choices for accomodations here, either stay in the town hall meeting room with a bathroom without showers or the local hostal rural. Wishing for more comforts as I get old, I opted for the hostal rural. It has way more comforts than I need ( balcony, double bed, nice big room and bathroom, breakfast) but I am enjoying it. Kathy would love it and it would be nice if she was here for a night to share it! No midday comida, but the hostal has a cena (dinner) at nine pm, which I will attend. I was able to find a good grocery store after a dearth of them for the past few days. As I write this, I am enjoying good chorizo sausage, sardines in tomato sauce, aged sheep cheese, and Verdejo wine. Life is good!
Walking to Las Inviernas

From the summit, looking back to the plumes of the nuclear plant and the Tetas de Viana

Old ag

New ag

I was surprised how big the fields were on the plateau

Prime trucks on the Spanish freeway


Lots of lavender fields here

The trail between Mirabueno and Mandayona

Man working his hillside garden. Real Spain, not tourist Spain

The trail

My balcony at the hostal rural