Camino 2015 – Day 6 – Villalcazar de Sirga to Ledigos

(from May 11th)

I actually had a good sleep in Villalcazar and woke naturally at 6am. I had some fruit and ventured out close to 6.30. However, as soon as I put pressure on my leg, I knew the day was going to be long. I didn’t have long to walk to Carrion de los Condes so maybe a farmacia would be open when I got there. I had 6km to be exact, just over an hour. It was dark when I left the albergue but I watched the sun rise before I entered the town. Carrion was still quiet and the last of it’s own peregrinos who stayed there were leaving. I stopped for some breakfast before catching Tom, Caroline, Franz and Tina! I was delighted to see them. They had stayed in Villalcazar also but in the Municipal albergue..hmm..how did I miss them? While in Carrion I look for an ATM as my funds were becoming low but my debit card would not work in each machine I located. I put this down to problems with the machines rather than my card and I would ring my bank later on, although I was beginning to get worried.

On leaving Carrion, you join the old Roman road, the Via Aquitana, which stretches all the way to Astorga. The next town I would pass would be Calzadilla de la Cueza, which is 17km from here. I was stocked up with snacks but I heard that there were a few people selling drinks and food further on. It was getting hot as the morning went on, and to be honest, it’s not the most attractive walk. The road is as straight as an arrow with green fields both sides of you. I couldn’t wait for the next town to appear. It was a slow walk with my leg nagging me however catching up with Tom and the gang did brighten my spirits. Franz has a fantastic sense of humour and I really enjoy walking with Tina. Tom was born for walking and you could tell he was enjoying the day. He would turn around and walk it again if he could.

We arrive at Calzadilla de la Cueza after 4 or so hours. It is close to 12pm now and I stop here for a bite to eat. I meet a guy from Germany who is walking his 8th Camino!! Fair play to him. He must be at least 70 and he wanted to push on further….to Sahagun maybe, another 30km! I hope I am like him when I am his age. Here I am in my late 30s complaining about a sore leg and heat and I can’t walk half of what he is doing!! After saying goodbye and wishing him luck (is that the word?) I move on. Having already stayed in Terradillos previously, I thought I would stop short in Ledigos, which is about 3km beforehand. The walk to Ledigos is along the side of a road and around 6km. I have some music to keep me company although pilgrims are plentiful. I reach Ledigos after 1pm and check into the El Palomar albergue. The town is made up of a few houses, a small shop, the albergue and not much else. It is so close to Terradillos that you can see Terradillos before reaching it.

I have choice of a bunk again and recognise quite a few faces. I am so tired that I sleep for an hour before going to shower or wash my clothes. That seems to be a habit of late!! After a while, I see Tom, Caroline, Franz and Tina so I chill out with them for a while in the large back garden. I have the menu del peregrino again this evening, this time with a couple from Finland. They have great English! I have a fab meal before having an early night. There isn’t much to see or do in Ledigos unfortunately, but I go to sleep with the next day’s walk on my mind. To Sahagun…

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Camino 2015 – Day 5 – Boadilla del Camino to Villalcazar de Sirga

(from May 10th)

I had such a good evening and night in Boadilla. I met some new people (Michael, Jennifer, Sheila and Kim) and met up with people I had lost in the previous days.. Also, it was good to be back in such a fab albergue. I would encourage you all to stay in En El Camino if you pass through Boadilla. Eduardo is a gent and rather than asking for payment first (like other hospitaleros), he prefers that you settle in and shower and then pay. So I was a little sad leaving there.

I also had a feeling that today I would be walking solo. I didn’t feel up to walking as far as Carrion de los Condes with the pain in my knee. A lot of people were talking about staying there but I had been there before in 2013 so I could be forgiven for doing something different. I chose to aim for Villalcazar de Sirga, a little town 5km short of Carrion. It had a number of albergues but very few people stayed there. I left shortly after 6am as I became used to. It was pitch black outside and I was glad that two German pilgrims shouted at me as I was walking the wrong direction. The Camino follows the Canal de Castilla for about 5km until Fromista where I stopped for the usual breakfast. It was still cold so the cafe con leche was perfect. I moved on after about 20 minutes. There isn’t much to say about the walk from now on as the Camino leads you to a main motorway where I walk on the “senda del peregrino” for the remainder of the day. It’s far from attractive but I have earphones to keep me going.

Further on, once I reached Poblacion de Campos, I had a choice to stay walking along the motorway or veer off the road and into the countryside. The second option is longer and easier on the eye. I noticed that more people chose the second option which left me with a road to myself. Pure quietness. I passed through Revenga de Campos and Villarmentero de Campos barely stopping. Calling them towns would be a stretch. I could see Villalcazar de Sirga in the distance with it’s large gothic church standing tall. The Camino doesn’t actually pass through it so I needed to turn right to find the plaza mayor. I wanted to stay in the private albergue Don Camino but it was not open when I arrived (sometime around 11.30am). I could have easily walked into Carrion but this place is so relaxed I liked it already. I walked into the large church (Santa Maria la Blanca XIII) and collected a stamp for my credencial before seeing Jose at the bar down the road! He bought be a Coke and we talked about the day. I didn’t see him again. I really enjoyed his company!!

After an hour or so, Jose and his Spanish friends moved on to Carrion de los Condes and I checked into Don Camino albergue. It is tiny with 26 beds and on the corner of the town as you leave. I was given first choice of bunks but it wasn’t long before the albergue was full. Again, I didn’t recognise anyone but I had an amazing menu del peregrino with an Australian couple. They had so many questions about Ireland. A visit has been on their bucket list for so long. I think I persuaded them to bring the trip forward!!.

I took an early night that evening to rest my knee. I had taken some paracetamol from Caroline in Boadilla but I couldn’t find an open farmacia. Hopefully there would be one open in Carrion de los Condes the next morning.

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I’m back…

I’m back from my mini Camino…well, I arrived home on the 19th of May.

From my previous posts you have probably gathered that I walked from Belorado to Molinaseca starting on the 6th of May. I tried to keep my blog updated but I found it pretty difficult and stopped after my 3rd or so day. I will update it now that I am home however (the memory hasn’t left me!!)

One thing I have to say is I found this Camino (my 5th) the most demanding physically and mentally. I’m not sure I could have continued if I was to walk a full Camino so I’m glad it was only for 2 weeks. I met a lot more people than I have done previously, from all over the world. The weather was amazing also. We had temperatures in excess of 25c most days. If the Spanish news talk about the weather, you know it’s a big deal! So I needed to hydrate all the time. I got no rain which was an added bonus. I walked most days on my own which I haven’t done before. I met my friends when I finished walking which led to some great evenings. I was much more relaxed compared to other years. I would often stay in cafes for up to an hour and then walk on and I had no great urgency about where I was staying. That said, I was always the first up, leaving most mornings at 6am. My walking was finished at 12am to 1pm as a result.

I picked up a number of injuries however. I received one blister on my small toe which I was able to treat. It didn’t cause me too much hassle as long as I had it covered. I also picked up a niggling pain under my knee on my 2nd day which I managed to eliminate with paracetamol. On returning home, I visited my local doctor and discovered this “niggling pain” was in fact a damaged ligament. This is my fault..I realise that! Hmm!

However, with all the little grievances, the Camino gives you back much more in joy. The scenery, from the flat lands of the meseta to the ascent and the descent of the Leon hills, astounded me. I almost wanted to walk back up to Foncebadon once I arrived in Molinaseca. On finishing up, I bought some food and had a miniature picnic by the river in Molinaseca. I can’t wait to return to do it all again.

I will update the blog over the next few weeks telling you about the trip. I have uploaded my photographs online and you can find them here: http://clearskies.smugmug.com/Camino-de-Santiago-May-2015

Buen Camino!

Camino 2015 – Day 4 – Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino

What a day! 10 out of 10 from start to finish. I adore the meseta and you can really get a feel for it on this stage. The fields were lush green for miles on end and the views went on for miles. If you have a problem with wide open spaces, maybe the meseta isn’t for you. I never experienced anything like it before 2013 anyway.
Anyway, I started out after 6.30am which I considered late. I put in my ear plugs the night before to block out the coughing but missed the alarm clock on my phone. I left at around 6.45am but my plan to be on to of the Alto de Mostalares to view the sun rising was gone. I passed San Anton again. An albergue has opened there since I passed it last but there was no movement. The sun rose behind me as I walked on, however not as at the same pace as the previous days. I reached Castrojeriz at 7.30am and have some breakfast. There I meet my Dutch friend Jay who had left at 5.30. He was aiming for Boadilla or Fromista.
After 30 minutes, I move on and reach the base of Alto de Mostalares. It is 350m in height and took a lot out of me last time. Up I went and again it took a lot out of me. Nothing learned!! It’s a beast, but going down it is something I enjoyed. You can see for miles as you look down. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and by the time I reached Itero de Vega I was a ball of sweat.
I met Jose from Toledo who had started in Estella and was aiming for Santiago. His English is perfect and had previously worked and studied in Dublin for 2 years. So I walked with him for a bit until Boadilla. The Irish were out in force too. I met a trio who were taking a break at Itero de Vega. It’s always great to meet fellow Irish here.
I reached the albergue just after 12 and was greeted by Eduardo. He didn’t ask for any money but first brought me to my bunk and told me I could pay when I wanted to. I’ve been here before and loved it and wouldn’t by pass it again. The next person to come in was Michael from Kinsale whom I had been passing by all day. I just assumed he was Dutch or German. Anyway. I also met a fellow blogger Jennifer who pens under the name of postcard traveller. I had the pleasure of meeting someone I follow back in 2013 and for it to happen again is fantastic. We have both been following each others’ blogs so it was great to meet.
Later that evening there was a meal and headed to bed early hoping to be refreshed for the next day.

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Camino 2015 – Day 3 – Burgos to Hontanas

Deary me!

One of the longer days on the Camino (31km) and the official start of the meseta; a 200km stretch of grassland with nothing save for the unrelenting heat of the sun. It was easy going on me today however with constant cloud cover which kept the temperatures down. It also kept the winds high so I was blown off my feet during sections of this day.
I left Burgos just after 6.30 which is the earliest you can leave from the Municipal albergue. I said goodbye to Lisa from Germany who was having some breakfast, I hoped I would meet her again in Hontanas. The walk out from Burgos can best be described in one word: ugly. Over three hours of industrial work destroyed the views until I reached Tardajos. I stopped here for a coffee. A steady stream of pilgrims joined me as I relaxed. I moved on a reached Rabe de Las Calzades afterwards. Another cafe con leche later, I moved on and aimed for Hornillos del Camino. However before you reach that you need to ascend Alto del Meseta. It took a while to reach it but when I did you could see the meseta laid out in its glory. Hornillos can be seen from the height also and another 4km I reached it. It was just 11am at this stage and was a little a worried about the albergue situation in Hontanas.
I pushed on knowing I had 11km left and eventually after 1pm. My feet are beginning to pain me now which means I need to slow down. Let’s see how tomorrow goes. I met Dan in the Municipal albergue who hails from Australia and had a fab menu del peregrino. Sleep was poor however as he has a real bad cough which resulted in him having coughing fits at regular intervals.

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Camino 2015 – Day 2 – Atapuerca to Burgos

So day 1 turned into day 2 and the little sleep I had during the night was enough excuse to get up early and start walking. By 6am my room was awake and I was out on the road by 6.30am. One Italian man in my room could wake up Ireland with his snoring and I found it funny when a Russian lady shushed him around 4am thereby waking the rest of us in the room.
Leaving Atapuerca was dark and I had a climb ahead of me to get to the Matagrande. I got there before sun rise. What a sight! Onwards I went passing Villafria with no bar open for breakfast. I was keeping an eye open for other peregrinos but it seemed to be just me on the trail this morning.
I stopped in Cardenuela Riopico for breakfast to be joined by Lisa and a German man (sorry I’m bad with names). I moved on after half an hour and met another German girl called Dorothy studying her Rother guide. There are two trails into Burgos once you reach the Burgos airport and now we had arrived here she was curious which was better. One is along the road and is considered ugly and the other is beside the Pico river and is more attractive. I definitely thought so anyway. I advised her which was the best option and moved on. I think she followed me I couldn’t tell by my pace.
I catch up with Suzanne from Sweden who I had shared the room with in Atapuerca. We walked at the same speed so decided to stick together. She has walked the Camino twice before and would have a little more knowledge than me.
The walk into Burgos is something else and would encourage you all to take the alternative route. I arrived in before the Municipal albergue opened and watched the pilgrims come in, a good few I had seen before in Atapuerca. I met Daniella from Germany and Alex from Spain who are laid up with injuries. Shame I won’t get to see them again.

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Camino 2015 – Day 1 – Belorado to Atapuerca

Ok ok..I’m one day behind on the blog already and I’m only two days in. The shame! So now that I’ve just finished my menu del dia and I’ve located some wifi, I’ll let you know how I got on yesterday.
I woke up before 6am ready to hit the road. The couple at Casa Waslala had been great but it was time to move on. It was still dark when I left and it wasn’t until 7am until the sun started to rise. Wow what a sunrise. I stood still waiting for the sun to pop up and gradually the temperatures rose. I stopped at Espinosa del Camino and had a coffee, croissant and Aquarius. Lovely. Lisa from Germany sat down and we had a chat for a half hour or so. I said goodbye shortly after as my pace picked up. I reached the truckstop town of Villafranca Montes de Oca and took another rest stop. Here the camino takes a sharp incline and I struggled a bit trying to reach the top. I entered a wooded forest of pine trees at this stage and while it’s all well and good from a natural point of view,  12km of it is mundane. I had music so I was happy. I reached St Juan de Ortega before 11am. The church is undergoing work, long overdue in my book. Still can’t understand why JBB has Ortega has an end stage? I walked on still feeling fine and under no pain. I think Ages will be fine to stop, I thought to myself. Hmm..not to be. All the albergues were booked up, just like I had predicted. Onwards to the unesco heritage village of Atapuerca where I was greeted by the same albergue I stayed in 2013.
El Peregrino was not open until 1pm so I had under an hour to kill. I looked for the other albergue without luck, so I ventured back to El Peregrino. It’s a flimsy,  pre fab with very little care for noise control. I think I got 4 hours sleep. That said I met some great people that I hope to meet in the come weeks. Lisa stayed there along with Tom and Caroline from Ireland. There was Franz from Germany and Tina from Denmark. I ate in the aptly named Como Sapiens.
All in all a tough day walk but at least the next day would be shorter.

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