Camino de Santiago – Day 16
Walked from: Calzadilla de los Hermanillos
Walked to: León
Date: 17 October 2017
Turns out there’s a simple way to deal with finding walking on the Camino de Santiago quite easy: walk further in one day than you’ve ever walked before in your life. In fact, by the time I finished my walking day and walked into town and back for dinner, I hadn’t just walked the 45km / two ‘normal person’ stages… I’d clocked up a whopping 48.9km. Bonkers is an overused word, but in this case…
I hadn’t planned on walking that far when I went to sleep last night, or even when I started walking at stupid o’clock because I got woken up by two excessively early risers (dude, you may like to start walking at 5.30am, but – newsflash – not all of us want to be woken up at 4.45am because of your weird walking peccadillos). Still, walk early I did, and it took 25km on a track that dates back to the Romans (much of it trod in the dark) to find anywhere open for breakfast.
By the time I turned up at a delicious pastry cafe in the small town of Mansilla de las Mulas, it was just 10.20am and I’d already walked the suggested ‘stage’ for that day. León and a beautiful hotel I’ve stayed in before was a tantalising 20km away, and as none of the hostels on the way in (all in León’s less than attractive urban dormitory town sprawl) would open their doors to me until 1.30pm, and as heavy rain was forecast for tomorrow, it make sense to go for it and then give myself a day off the trail.
Funny thing is, it was alright. I think the fact that I knew I was walking to a room in a beautiful hotel with my very own bathtub in it was a great motivator (and it was one of my all time greatest baths), but the truth is that this stretch of the Camino is so flat and straightforward to follow that it’s much easier than many shorter walks in the UK. Plus, León is a truly lovely city, and suddenly today felt like autumn – with the colour palette to match.
Camino de Santiago – Day 15
Walked from: Moratinos
Walked to: Calzadilla de los Hermanillos
Date: 16 October 2017
Calzadilla de los Hermanillos is just my kind of sleepy little village. So sleepy that the shop is in the front room of a lovely man’s living room (where, if he likes you, he lets you taste test some of his biscuits before you buy them), and the only passing traffic seems to be a few tractors.
As I had less than 24k to walk today, I didn’t leave the hostel until 8am, and by 1.15pm I was wandering into the village to check into the local municipal hostel for the night. By 1.30pm my stomach led me to the local restaurant, where I enthusiastically hit the delicious €10, three course meal (lentil soup, lamb stew, lemon pudding) with wine (they gave me a bottle. I probably left less than I should have done…) and enjoyed a good old chat with some friendly fellow ‘way’ walkers, including an Irish man who is practically my neighbour back in London. A brilliant – and cost effective! – way to spend a Monday lunchtime.
The walking was easy again today, with colours that reminded me at times of the Australian outback. Everything is very dry, and I’m hearing reports of a few forest fires closer to the border with Portugal. The weather’s about to solve that though – it looks as if today is the final one in unseasonably hot temperatures – over the next few days a fair bit of rain is being predicted. Time to dig out the waterproofs I’ve been carrying with me in glorious sunshine for the past two weeks!
Camino de Santiago – Day 14
Walked from: Carrión de los Condes
Walked to: Moratinos
Date: 15 October 2017
Distance: 30 km
It’s amazing how quickly you can walk when you decide you really need a pee, there’s not a decent clump of trees or other substantial foliage as far as the eye can see, and the next toilet is 17km away. And after having walked that quickly, you might as well have a quick hot chocolate and carry on with getting the rest of the 30km stomp across the flat-ish but oddly beautiful plains of Spain done as quickly as possible – which was why I was the first to arrive at the small but perfectly formed San Bruno hostel in tiny Moratinos (population of 30 people) at around 1pm today.
Not that many other people turned up at the Italian-run hostel since I got here; it’s looking like a gloriously low key night in Moratinos, and with an almost empty dorm (oh what joy, what bliss) to boot. So let me count the ways I love this hostel:
1. There are as many phone chargers as there are people staying there;
2. I had real Italian food, cooked by real Italians tonight – an exciting day off from the delicious local food I’m eating the rest of the time;
3. It has a washing machine, and the sunny afternoon has dried out all the clothes that the aforementioned machine washed, so I have a bag full of clean stuff;
4. It has a lovely garden. With a water feature that the owners positively encourage you to sooth your aching feet in (effectively it stops all feeling in them by freezing them off);
5. It has separate bathrooms for the men and women (far from standard). With really good showers. That have places to put your stuff without it getting wet or requiring the shower-user to contort themselves in order to not flash anyone else who happens to be in the room at the time.
Also, the town has a load of those great 500 year old (or more) man made ‘caves’ (with doors) you see in this part of Spain, which were apparently dug out of the local clay by children during the winter months as a way of keeping them warm. And then used during summer months as a way of keeping the family’s food and booze dry and cool. They may not BE hobbit houses but they look very much like them – which, let’s be honest now, is kind of cool…
Oh, I also reached what I think is my halfway point on the 780km long Camino today. Whoop!!
Camino de Santiago – Day 13
Walked from: Boadilla del Camino
Walked to: Carrión de los Condes
Date: 14 October 2017
It’s awfully sad to walk to somewhere (Villovieco) that you think is going to have a bar, only to discover it’s now simply a locked up and shuttered building. Especially when you really want a nice fresh orange juice to drink. But that sadness can be greatly mitigated when said bar has a slide in it so wide that it’s possible for a grown up arse to slip all the way down it – and at some speed. Result? One happy Silka. The slide also seemed to live to tell the tale.
In other news from today, the 25km walk was flat as a pancake, and therefore over and done with by 1.30pm (after a 6.30am start and two food stops, as well as the aforementioned playground shenanigans), which led to plenty of time to hang around the town of Carrion de los Condes.
Unfortunately I was in town just over a year ago and found it both a bit too busy and very bell-y (honestly, they don’t seem to stop ringing, they are flipping loud and they go off at very odd times) last time – and that feeling hasn’t changed. So while I like the hostel I’m staying in tonight, which has eiderdown covers reminiscent of my nan’s house in the early 1980s, on single beds rather than bunks, and which are very comfortable, I’m plotting which quiet hostel, in a suitably tiny place, I can walk to tomorrow. And eating chorizo. Lots of chorizo.
Camino de Santiago – Day 12
Walked from: Hontanas
Walked to: Boadilla del Camino
Date: 13 October 2017
The day started early, due to the four Italian men in the dorm room who thought it appropriate to turn the light on and start talking to one another – while taking forever to pack – shortly before 6am this morning. I was always taught that ‘hate’ is a very strong word to use, but for the first 10km of my day, I stomped along pathways lit weakly by a waning moon, and experienced very strong feelings of immense dislike towards all of them. Not a good day for Italy on the trail…
Still, I perked up once I’d had a sandwich and hot chocolate breakfast in the pretty town of Castrojeriz, and really enjoyed the steep climb – and the views it afforded across the Meseta – up to Alto de Mostelares, just 3.5km out (and up!) from the town. The going was good until the lemonade stop at the 20k mark in Itero de la Vega, but the last 8.5k into Boadilla del Camino, the village where I’m staying tonight, was a trudge along a stony byway with no shade and lots of unseasonably hot sun. The walkers tan is certainly coming along well!
Anyway, this evening I’m fulfilling a more-than-a-year-long ambition by staying at the ‘En El Camino’ hostel, right by the 16th century church. I passed through here on my way to the next town when I walked this section of the Camino last summer, and regretted leaving the oasis of green that the hostel and its pretty garden offers tired walkers. The Italians mentioned in the start of this entry are here too, but I got us put in a different room, so here’s hoping I’ll be allowed to sleep in just a BIT after 6am tomorrow morning. One can live in hope!
Camino de Santiago – Day 11
Walked from: Burgos
Walked to: Hontanas
Date: 12 October 2017
It’s 2.30pm in the afternoon, and my walking day (all 32km of it) is over. Over to the extent that, sitting in the sun, I’m mildly drunk on a mixture of cold beer and local red wine, both of which I’ve had with my lunch. I hear that alcohol is an excellent cure for sore feet, a concept which I’m keen to bring to heel…
Puns aside, it’s been a good walking day. After another early-ish start, this time from the beautiful city of Burgos, where I was on my way by 7.30am. It took a while to hit the outskirts of the city, but I had an enlightening chat with a Kiwi healer shortly after day broke, and a lovely torrilla/fresh OJ/hot chocolate breakfast in Rabé de las Calzadas, where I wandered into the same cafe as the normal walking crew, who hadn’t (unlike me) spent the night luxuriating in clean sheets and en-suite bathrooms in town.
I hit the Meseta today, which is supposed to be the big, hot flat bit which covers most of Spain. FYI, the first bit of it isn’t bloody flat. In fact, it’s got more curves and climbs than the past few days put together. But there’s something about it that is truly beautiful. The town where I’m staying tonight is hidden in a fold of its vastness – it appears, as if by magic, in the semi-desert landscape, offering large, ice-cold glasses of beer and local home cooked food (the chick pea and pork stew was AMAZING). It also has a sweet local church and a hostel that feels rather like a Hollywood set of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. All in all, aching soles of feet aside, it’s been another excellent day on the Camino de Santiago.
Camino de Santiago – Day 10
Walked from: San Juan de Ortega
Walked to: Burgos
Date: 11 October 2017
I’ve been invited to a party in Burgos tonight, with some friendly Catalans I met walking up a hill as the sun rose this morning. They promised singing (them) and dancing (all of us). They were very nice and extremely patient with my Spanish, but they were also drinking beer at the cafe where I stopped for breakfast this morning and aren’t meeting up until 9.30pm, and as I’m usually asleep by that time on this holiday, it’s an experience I’m going to have to pass on!
I like Burgos, I really do. It’s a beautiful place. But as far as I’m concerned today, the very best thing about it is that I’ve been here three times before and have already done all my exploring and oohing and arrhing at the amazing Cathedral. Which, in turn, means I’ve basically been taking the opportunity to sit on my arse since I arrived at lunchtime, enjoying my first hotel room in 10 days. Imagine! My own room. With clean sheets. And an ensuite bathroom. It’s like being a proper grown up 🙂 To be honest, I only left the hotel because I got hungry and they don’t offer room service!