Apr 06 2017

Stage 27: Benavente to Santa Marta de Tera somewhere between 24km and 31km


Stage 27: Benavente to Santa Marta de Tera somewhere between 24km and 31km

.. the book couldn’t make up its mind. It took about 6 hours, so I’d say the latter, plus some (wonky waymarks) The ‘drink me’ tonic is taking effect. We’ve lassoed the horizon, we’re drawing it in and growing into our new surroundings. Wild patches of holly oak, the smell of gum rock rose (the true scent of the Camino); sad evidence of wild boar, hit by cars and tossed into ditches; old men and women working small allotments; friendly villages. We we’re told of a ‘mad American’ who drew his own yellow arrows and robbed unsuspecting pilgrims who stumbled into his lair. Earned himself thousands of euros, until he was caught. Bad American. We’ve joined the Camino Sanabres, and are now heading northwest to Santiago. Also heading for snow. Wednesday the temperatures are set to plummet and the skies open with more of the white stuff. Just as we start our assent into the high mountains. Got to enjoy the fantastic albergue this little town has to offer, and take whatever is thrown at us in the days to come. Met two more perigrinos – Bernadette (German/living in Spain) joining from the Via de la Plata and Pepe coming from someplace else?! Perhaps we’ll have company in the next few days.

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Apr 05 2017

Stage 26: Villalpando to Benavente 29km


Stage 26: Villalpando to Benavente 29km

‘Which bird is your favourite?’ Simon asked. His is the goldfinch, he thinks it’s the prettiest. I like skylarks. Always happy with their lot, always singing, plus they have an amusing hairdo. At lunch we watched swallows being chased by flying bugs. Groups of fat black beetles chasing the predator. Can’t be normal, surely?! Then all disappeared – swallows, doves – with a kite flyby. Later we saw a flock of long legged Great Bustards take to the air from a field of wheat. Weighing up to 20kg, they’re impressive birds – they’re silhouette isn’t so dissimilar to that if a turkey, and we know ALL about turkeys. It would have been great to see them up close, but they didn’t much appreciate our company. That was the day, pretty much. Apart from walking and eating yesterday’s left overs. Now at Benavente, in another hostal. We’ll be hitting the Camino Sanabres tomorrow, heading northwest to Santiago, while other peregrinos (what other perigrinos?) will go north to Astorga on the Via de la Plata.

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Apr 04 2017

Stage 25: Mira del Marques to San Pedro de Latarce to Villalpando 38.2km


Stage 25: Mira del Marques to San Pedro de Latarce to Villalpando 38.2km

Last night’s albergue, perhaps not as luxurious as Tordesillas, but the warmest of welcomes from Rebeca, hot shower, beds and blankets. It’s all buen! Up with the working girls (early morning cafe is in the hostel on the motorway, opposite ‘el club’). Had to rescue Si’s beloved Nordic sticks from the locked albergue before setting off .. life wouldn’t have been worth living without them. Landscape: more of the same. But a stone chat and sky larks came to say hello .. kites overhead .. a clacking serenade of stork beaks in each church square. And trees in the afternoon. In the Latarce place I got ticked off for sitting in the sun. Silly woman! As usual lots of car horns beeping ‘buen camino’. In addition several cars stopped to talk to us today. One asked if there was anything we needed. Another farmer quizzed us on Brexit – we agreed with him that it was a very bad thing. The last driver pulled over and insisted on giving us water, cheese, breadsticks and biscuits .. all from the boot of his car .. would that happen in the UK? Don’t think so. Arrived in Villalpando – sheep cheese capital – decided against the albergue in a scuzzy block of flats, opting instead for a night with sheets.

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Apr 03 2017

Stage 24: Tordesillas to Mira del Marqués 24.7km


Stage 24: Tordesillas to Mira del Marqués 24.7km

Left the albergue late, filled our sacks with provisions for the road, didn’t leave town till 11am and paid for our tardiness with the heat. Took the alternative route that led us away from the path beside the motorway and through some villages – still no shops/bars/cafe opportunities. It got me thinking. The Camino Sureste is fine in that unlike others it rarely has the perigrino walking for miles on tarmac. It’s been pretty thoughtful and incredibly well marked, and we’ve met enthusiastic people dedicated to keeping this path open and free. However, the landscape is often so vast and the agriculture so industrial that there’s little opportunity to focus on the smaller things. In fact, we ARE the smaller things. Felt a bit like a hobbit today, not for the first time, longing for the Shire. The Shire is ahead – the Camino Sanabrés, when we join it, will lead us up and into Galicia and for that final third of our journey we’ll be surrounded by mountains and nature. Really looking forward to it.

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Apr 02 2017

Stage 23: Realised that some plug sockets actually drain a phone.. where does the charge go?


Stage 23: Realised that some plug sockets actually drain a phone.. where does the charge go?

Realised that some plug sockets actually drain a phone.. where does the charge go? Others take all night to charge to 80%. My #firstworldproblem complaint for the day. 24.2km stroll from Medina del Campo (Middle of Nowhere) to Tordesillas (Bums on Seats) – with a too brief stop at wine central (Rueda). From the hospitality of monks to the best albergue ever (disregarding the electricity supply.). Now sitting in el bar, watching a bull being tortured on the telly. First bull fight of the trip. It’s never nice, and the bull always loses.

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Apr 01 2017

Stage 22: A bit of a slog. Reflecting my state of mind.


Stage 22: A bit of a slog. Reflecting my state of mind.

A thousand idiots clamouring for attention. So.. Arévalo to Medina del Campo 34km, with coffee stop at 8km and menu del dia in a service station 21km (white table cloth.. waitress service.. had to turn down the bottle of wine.. three courses..). Summer’s back – flat plain and hot. Walking on dirt paths at a distance from the the main road. Stayed with Carmelite monks – who gave us proper beds with sheets, pillow cases, blankets and towels. Believe me.. that means a lot!

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Mar 31 2017

Stage 21: Gotarrendura to Arévalo with 4 unpronounceable place names inbetween. 28.4km


Stage 21: Gotarrendura to Arévalo with 4 unpronounceable place names inbetween. 28.4km

Birthday for Simon! Up earlier than our albergue buddy, planned to meet up for breakfast in next cafe village .. we were blown out. Never mind. Hasta luego, Eduardo! That’s camino friendships. A fine day and slightly down hill, walked through the next two villages. Heard the first hoopoe properly hoo-pooing. Stopped in Tiñosillos for a plaza bench break out of our ruck sacks, then on through pine woods to Arévalo. The pine trees are being bled for their resin – acres of pine trees, each with drip trays and plastic cups. Swanky jazz bar in the centre of town for a birthday celebration .. both looking like hobos. The posh hotel was full – no matter. The 2 star will do fine. Leicester vs Sevilla later in the Champions’ League – going to explore, then find a football bar and annoy the locals.

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Mar 30 2017

Stage 20: Ávila to Gotarrendura – the birthplace of Santa Teresa of Ávila (via Narrillos de San Leonardo for Magdalenas and Cardeñosa to thaw out in café, brandy and hot chocolate) 23.8km


Stage 20: Ávila to Gotarrendura  – the birthplace of Santa Teresa of Ávila (via Narrillos de San Leonardo for Magdalenas and Cardeñosa to thaw out in café, brandy and hot chocolate) 23.8km

Broke land speed record! Cold, cold and pretty heavy snowfall makes for a fast pace. Luckily this stretch has 3 small villages with café opportunities and radiators to dry gloves etc. Got to destination mid afternoon, and met with our new cycling peregrino mates Eduardo and Lidia – beer and tapas all afternoon, wine, calamares and tortilla in the very, very smart albergue to the small hours. A prelude to Simon’s birthday.

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Mar 29 2017

Stage 19: San Bartolomé de Pinares to Ávila 24.7km.


Stage 19: San Bartolomé de Pinares to Ávila 24.7km.

A solid 450m hike up to a mountain pass this morning. Luckily, the heat has been turned down. Vultures up early. Beautiful landscape. Watched farmers tagging calves in the field – one to tag as quickly as poss, the other to beat the mother away with sticks (looked fairly dangerous to me). Made it to Tornadizos de Ávila as the clouds burst – in time for tapas. Almost ran to Ávila in the rain, hail and bitter wind .. we’d just entered the city when an old man commented ‘estupendo’ when we told him we’d walked from Alicante. Half way. Nearly. A good ‘donativo’ albergue, to the west of the city and outside the old wall. We shared with 3 cyclists. Ate in a surprising bar in the evening, close to the albergue, surrounded by images of Franco (and Hitler) .. plus military memorabilia, and ‘to-the-point’ notices about if you don’t like it, then leave. Quietly ate and watched the football. Decided perhaps it’d be better to breakfast some place else in the morning! Snow forecast.

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Mar 28 2017

Stage 18: Cebreros to San Bartolomé de Pinares 16km.


The Camino Levante guidebook says to go from Cebreros direct to Ávila (37.2km), without stopping to take in the breathtaking scenery and to picnic, sitting on the rocks, paddling toes in the Aroyo de la Pizarra (‘look.. are they leeches in that pool?’). Reminiscent of a magical day spent at Dartmeet when the kids were little. Anyway.. ignore the Levante – we went instead with the Sureste and took our time. Besides, the initial 300m climb up, out of Cebreros, in just over 2km was reason enough to stop and rest. Saw vultures, walked over high moorland closely grazed by herds of cows with bells on, horses, listened to frog choruses in the pools, and later walked between huge granite boulders. The cobbled town of San Bartolomé is charming and the albergue is OPEN – proper bunks in a room on the top floor of the medical centre. All free as usual. Amused by a raucous Saturday night in the bar – telly football blaring, shouting, singing, impromptu flamenco, children playing chase. Is this usual? 😳 (uh oh, ‘Viva España’ now – the repertoire is getting desperate) Simon was official photographer today, but his photos were rubbish. He says ‘settings’ blah blah. Have sorted his settings. But a definite lack of images.

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