Our flight from Gatwick  took us back once again to the bustling  city of Madrid where we quickly found a nice bar and reminisced about the previous years adventures. Richard and Davin tempting fate by kicking off with cold beer and a plate of mussels … “what could possibly go wrong”!

Looking back with some  (not so) fond memories of last years Rainy weather, acute Salmonella outbreak in the group and the sound and smells of Richards severe  diaharia , we vowed never again to eat Paella in a cheap fast food restaurant 

In the week ahead we aim to cover around 203 Km (126 miles) which will take us tantalising close to our final destination , Santiago de Compostela, quite a distance to cover in a week, all the more challenging  for John in particular as he is suffering quite badly with his psoriatic arthritis before he even starts.

After a 2 hour train journey from Madrid  we finally return to the Via de la Plata  once again and the town of Zamora. The town has a wealth of 12th Century buildings, many of which are in the Romanesque style.

Today was a quite modest 18Km warm up trek to the town of Monsamatra.

Perfect conditions for walking today – sunny but not too warm and the scenery was glorious as our Camino trail cut through an eclectic vista of manicured red soil, oil seed rape fields and vine trees just itching to burst into life. 

Arriving in the small village of Monsamatra , we finally managed to twist Richards arm and push the boat by spending 20 euros each to stay in a converted Mill. The modest fee included a tour of the renovated building which used to both generate electricity and produce a wide range of flour..

John arrived around two hours later walking much slower and looking very tired. After much thought he quite sensibly decided that tomorrow  would be a rest day for him.

After washing our cloths and taking a hot shower we met in the courtyard and enjoyed a glass of dry sherry (yes Sherry!) provided by some fellow pilgrims. This was followed by a delicious  pilgrims supper of lentils followed by fish and chicken in the local restaurant .The feisty lady owner seemed to be having a bad day, upsetting one of our fellow  Pilgrims Monica who quite reasonably left abruptly after she had  beer slopped  over her seemingly on purpose.

Buen Camino !