Mar 27 2017

Stage 17: Caldalso de los Vidrios to Cebreros 20.7km plus some


Stage 17: Caldalso de los Vidrios to Cebreros 20.7km plus some

This morning took the scenic route along a mountain track, avoiding the main road from Cadalso de los Vidrios to Cebreros, as recommended by the manager of Hostal San Jose. Best advice: energising scenery rather than a demoralising trudge along tarmac with oncoming traffic. Further than the guide book, but well marked and worth the extra distance. Albergue shut in Cebreros – its starting to seem that many of them are. Perhaps it’s a seasonal thing .. although it’s almost too hot to walk the Camino now and would certainly be near impossible in the summer. Anyway .. closed albergue and no free ‘refuge’ in a cupboard, means another night in a HOTEL. This one’s fairly up market. The book says 20.7km – I think it’s more like 25km with the views an all.

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Mar 26 2017

Stage 16: Novés to Caldalso de los Vidrios – 38.4km in book. In reality, about 45km


Stage 16: Novés to Caldalso de los Vidrios – 38.4km in book. In reality, about 45km

Yesterday. Breakfasted with Father Filipe and his wife, unusually in his home in Novés (never before been invited into someone’s family kitchen), and walked with the lycra’ed Padre to Quismondo – inspecting his yellow arrows en route. On reaching the town he sped us past all the cafes, the shop, and sent us on our way, enthusiastically waving us off with a jolly ‘Buen Camino’ along the next 10km stretch to Escalona – a beautiful walled city and a gateway to the mountains. First sighting of storks on the church roof. Hot, hot, hot. Lunched till 3pm in a cloistered square thankful for the shade – then off on the next stage through surprising Dartmoor scenery with granite stone walls and rock rose, climbing to the pretty and welcoming village of Paredes. Lucky, as our water supply had run dry. Met a group of old boys playing cards in the bar – keen for us to drink and use the ‘servicios’! Then the guide book messed up. What was supposed to be 13km didn’t match with the arrows on the road and we ended up in Cenicientos, a mountain town approached through caravans and wooden huts hidden amongst the trees and the sound of sheep bells, through a sector completely made up of mad dogs trapped in ramshackle yards, then a plaza for apparently for out of control kids, and finally the grown up, more recognisable, part of town with shops and stuff. Apartheid in action. Would have usually tried to stay .. it was getting dark .. but the place was too odd. Bought the sweetest macaroon thing in the world and fled. Finally glimpsed Caldalso de los Vidrios on the horizon, way across the valley, and rejoined the Camino through the wild wood. About 45km+ today, up a mountain in the heat. Booked into a hostal and couldn’t write a thing. NB. Today found out there exists a ‘Peregrino Alert’ app, that warns locals of our approach. Ha!

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Mar 25 2017

Stage 15: Toledo to Novés 39.7km (less 7km)


Stage 15: Toledo to Novés 39.7km (less 7km)

Toledo: spent last night in mighty modest Hostal Santa Barbara, with paper thin walls and an endurance goggle-boxer in the room next door. City tourists by day till 13.00; 13.05 pilgrims on the road to Villamiel – where the ‘casa rural’ was shut; a 7km dash to the next village of Nuesca to find a bed – nada; then phoned round a few places – no answer. Simon had already begun muttering about kipping in a ditch .. not a great idea when wild boar are out to getcha. Still 7km to Novés, and a shelter. Relieved then when a man in a bar offered to drive us – said we couldn’t possibly walk in the dark. Figured that if someone OFFERS a lift, then it isn’t cheating – more akin to provision from above. So, we were gratefully delivered to vicar Filipe who’s given us beds, kitchen, BATH, towels, blankets (all within the albergue that doubles as a food bank – so we’re sleeping amongst tin peaches, lentils and rice). Oh, and a crucifix above our beds. Sweet dreams!

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Mar 24 2017

Stage 14: Villanueva de Bogas to Toledo.. should have been around 44.3km though…


Stage 14: Villanueva de Bogas to Toledo.. should have been around 44.3km though…

…we walked about 35km and cheated (don’t judge me) Early start from Villanueva de Bogas to the castle & slag heaps of Almonacid de Toledo, to Nambroca (off piste – somehow slipped onto the Camino de Lavante), lost and harassed by hundreds of barking dogs in Las Nieves (really off piste and piste off – this was Simon’s idea of a sneaky short cut) .. then attempted a motorway walk for the final few kms to Toledo (we were advised that the bikes go this way … but for us it promised a walk of certain death). Ended up wandering aimless in the central reservation – then back to the BUS STOP; our only option so late in the day. We covered over 20 miles I’d say, plus lots of walking round the central reservation like a teddy bear. Got to Toledo as the sun was fading. NB. don’t try to be clever and outsmart the yellow arrows. It’ll end in tears!

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Mar 23 2017

Stage 13: Villacañas to Tembléque (menu del dia served by a horribly grumpy waitress) to Villanueva de Bogas (and lovely José Luis, the ‘bedroom’ key bearer). 31.8km


Stage 13: Villacañas to Tembléque (menu del dia served by a horribly grumpy waitress) to Villanueva de Bogas (and lovely José Luis, the ‘bedroom’ key bearer). 31.8km

Sun and wind. A relief to have the plains behind us, out of endless vines and into more interesting countryside. Tembléque windmills greet the peregrino in the approach to the town. The beautiful Plaza Major, built in 17th century, designed as a bull ring with three entrances and viewing balconies – not an uncommon feature. Bedroom tonight is a ‘refugio’ in a small classroom. We hauled our mattresses onto the tables. Retro heating once again – but we were offered blankets this time. Besides, the warmth of the welcome was heating enough! Spent the evening in the bar across from the refuge, giving an impromptu English lesson to Ainhara (7) and Juan (4), for which we were paid in beer and liver. Perfect. So many rabbits in the countryside in these parts. A proper plague.

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Mar 22 2017

Stage 12: Toboso to Villacañas 35.4km


Stage 12: Toboso to Villacañas 35.4km

A good day’s walk from El Toboso, 35.4km to Villacañas. Two breakfasts, two picnics, two beer stops (one like a foreign play in which we were players denied of a script, but supplying much hilarity). Great to have some mid stage towns and villages to ‘service’ the peregrino. No snow. Spied some distant hills on the horizon. All highlights! Third and final town for the day .. says in the guidebook that Villacañas has an albergue for ‘Transeúntes’ – but Juan didn’t answer the phone, so the transients will have to hole up in another heated room with sheets and en suite. I think we’re getting fitter.

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Mar 21 2017

Stage 11: Las Mesas to El Toboso 26kms


Stage 11: Las Mesas to El Toboso 26kms

Google forecast snow and it wasn’t joking .. ski mitts saved my hands from freezing off. Booked a room with heating.

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Mar 20 2017

Stage 10: El Provencio to Las Mesas 17kms


Stage 10: El Provencio to Las Mesas 17kms

A short day – walked with eager anticipation of tonight’s sport centre – offered not a cupboard, but a polideportivo/aseos fusion, with proper mattresses and our own front door. Snow forecast for tomorrow. Will be needing thermals tonight as the retro heater isn’t up to much.

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Mar 19 2017

Stage 9: Minaya to El Provencio 27kms


Stage 9: Minaya to El Provencio 27kms

On the up side, the cold wind dropped yesterday and the sky turned blue and it stayed that way. A minor down: the sports centre cupboard wasn’t conducive to a post 25 mile rest up – football lessons and step classes till 10pm – so woke up needing a good night’s sleep. A cold shower to set us up to walk further within this enormous plain, within the footprints of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (Ruta de Quixote), with the never ending horizons. Flat, flat, flat with the odd oak tree and road crossing, perhaps a twist in the path, for respite. The guide book is suggesting another sport centre cupboard. A night with a bath and sheets would be good. Possible?

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Mar 18 2017

Stage 8: La Gineta to Minaya 36kms


Stage 8: La Gineta to Minaya 36kms

A day of walking punctuated by 2 carnivals, La Roda (madness – free beer, drag queens and paella) and Minaya (more beer, free sardines, witches and ghouls – in true Mardi Gras style). Tonight we have the keys to the local sports centre cupboard. Great hoola hooping possibilities later 🙂

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