Our day began with an amazing breakfast spread of eggs bacon and fresh pastries heavily dusted in icing sugar. This Gastro Hotel was a real find by Richard, who had cleverly used his mastery of the Spanish language to negotiate our 17 euros a night bed and breakfast rate.
When we checked out I think it is probably and understatement to say we were a little shocked to be confronted with our 70 euro bills. Note so self – must invest in more Spanish lessons.

The forecasted rain had not amounted to much, Ponchos being deployed a couple of times but very quickly packed away as the clouds began to clear.

The start of our 30Km trail meandered through woodland pathways flanked with trees dressed in Lichen and boulders covered in a layers of soft velvety moss.

Davin , Richard and Dan were storming ahead with Tony close by and Mark and John some way behind.

The advanced party found s Casa Rural in the next hamlet and ordered coffee. Meanwhile Tony had lost sight of them as he packed away his poncho. No problem though for this canny Yorkshireman – he very soon spotted the bar and swiftly booted in the sticky front door . Bright as a button , the penny soon dropped for Tony when he clocked the elderly gentlemen ‘like a rabbit in the headlights’ laid out on his sofa in nothing but his underpants.

All of us apart from Dr John arrived at the Albergue by 3:30pm feeling quite tired having covered a grueling 30Km in total . True to form, John chose his own ‘alternative’ route which added an extra 9Km. Despite his late arrival at 7:30pm we all ate together, joined by our new found Pilgrim friends – Claudia from Austria and Thomas from Sweden.
A superb night was had by all ,with the sensible members of our group (just Mark on this occasion) retiring to bed early ahead of another 30Km days walk tomorrow.

At dawn on our first day, some of us awoke with rather thick heads from first night celebrations in Madrid.

Our pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella was underway once again. This, our first day back on the ‘Via de la plata’ as pilgrims, marked 5 years to the day that we began our trekking adventure.

Since starting at the foot hills in the French Pyrenees in St Jean back in 2013 we have covered over 1100 Km on foot in just over 8 weeks, this week we will be one of the greatest distance we have attempted in one go with a 167 Km target ahead of us.

…and so our journey begins – after retracing our steps from a year ago – driving to the airport , taking a 2 hour flight , followed by 2 trains , 2 metro journeys and finally a four hour bus journey to Aldeneuva del Camino, we arrived at the point we finished last April.

With just half a days walking today we arrived at our designated Albergue to find it closed for a refit.
This left us no choice but it stay in the local Hotel with Gastro restaurant.

Whilst waiting for our rooms , the host provided us with beer and tapas , with all the excitement of food , Davin promptly dropped his on the floor (no problem – 3 second rule applies) then the host, returned every half an hour like clock work to tell us the rooms would be ready in just 10 more minutes – 2 hours later we were finally shown to our rooms – rather different to the usual deprivation of hostal bunk beds and a standard pilgrims supper, we were treated to ensuit accommodation and a slap up meal
prepared by our local host.

Early to bed after walking in the sunshine, the next few days will be quite different with a drop in temperature and wind and rain forecast.

 

The next chapter in our epic trek from Seville to Santiago de Compestalla is fast approaching. This years Band of Brothers includes Richard, Mark, Tony, Dr John, Davin and new this year for the first time Dan (Davin’s better looking younger brother)

Pilgrim brothers Tom and Geoff will be sadly missed – unable to join us due to work commitments, but we live in hope that they can both join us again sometime soon.

Leaving on 5th April, we are away for 10 days…trekking for 8 of these and enjoying the sights and sounds of Madrid for a day (and night!) either side.

Our aim is to cover 120 miles and come back in one piece.

If previous weeks walking are anything to go by the moto for us has to be ‘expect the unexpected’ … watch  this space for daily blog updates – Buen Camino !

Follow our route

Thursday  5th April – Arrive Madrid

Friday 6th April – Aldeneuva to Penacaballera (12Km)

Saturday 7th April – Fuenterroble de Salvatierra (28Km)

Sunday 8th April – San Pedro de Rozados28Km )

Monday 9th April – Salamanca (18Km)

Tuesday 10th April – Calzada de Valdunciel (15Km)

Wednesday 11th April – El Cubo del Tierra del Vino (19Km) or another 13Km to Villanueve!

Thursday 12th April – Zamora ( 18Km or 31 Km)

Friday 13th April  – Montamarta (18Km)

Saturday 14th April  – overnight Madrid

Sunday 15th April – fly home!

 

 

 

Our penultimate day was for once quite uneventfull and felt very relaxing compared to most.
The shorter trek at just 20Km was kinder on our feet and lead us through a beautiful natural park, its narrow meandering pathway weaving its way between Oaks and lush grass flanked with dry stone walls and the occasional massive natural rock peppered with coloured moss.

Arriving at Oliva de Pasencia early afternoon allowed us time to support the local economy by sampling some tasty tapas washed down with a few cold beers in this ‘One horse / One Bar town’

Today meeting other pilgrims was a rare treat. Tom from Ireland , Peter from Holland, Isabelle from Germany and Antonio from Spain all stayed in with us in our rustic but very well equipped Albergue.

Tom was a fascinating and very friendly character – he has walked dozens of Camino’s covering over 10,000Km, recommending the ‘Primotivo’ section from St Sebastian via Bilbao as one of his favourites.

We cooked for ourselves once again, although with so little produce stocked in the local micro shop our menu options were limited….with Richards culinary supervision we all mucked in and somehow rustled up a rather delicious feast of meatballs with Pasta, Patatas Bravas , Chorizo and Saag Aloo.

Early to bed once again …our last day walking lies ahead of us.

Careful inspection of Tony’s feet by the local hospitalairo resulted in a prescription of twice daily salt water baths and sadly no walking for at least two days, or maybe more.
Let’s hope his ‘Five a side footie’ days aren’t over too – his local team desperate to retain him as their number one striker. (well that’s what he told us anyway 🙂

The 24Km trail to Carcabosa delivered some beautiful scenery for us once again.
Lots of wildlife observed too, including a baby Turtle spotted by Richard, A flock of Storks following a tractor and literally dozens of buzzards soaring overhead above John …most likely unsure if he was road kill or just walk at his normal pace.

Our Albergue for the night had a very well equipped kitchen allowing Richard to show off his well known ‘Come done with me’ cooking talents , his signature dish ‘Spanish chicken’ was his best yet…and accompanied by Dr Johns ‘Patatas Bravas’ made a very pleasant change from our daily Pilgrims menu of Russian salad and Flan.

Davin provided our entertainment for the evening, with his old school music collection and an impromptu demonstration of his well honed 70’s dance moves.

At breakfast we reflected on the remarkable generosity of Henk the previous evening. Despite having known us all just 2 days, he quietly settled the bill for dinner, commenting as he left that it was his birthday….a true gentleman.

The path out of Canaveral lead us to a steep shale incline. Tony tackled this with no fear, appreciating the cushioning effect of his freshly bandaged feet.

Davin and Richard were soon way ahead and out of sight, wending our way through a cool wooded section, patches of lush grass highlighted with dappled sunlight.

After 20Km we reached Rialobos, a small but very well appointed village with a nice little bar ‘La Pista’ …and with Davin and Richard arriving 2 hours earlier I think it’s fair to say they were!

Our Albergue for the night was a real find. The very tasty pilgrims menu served by a most welcoming and gregarious hospitalairo.

So all in all it was a very enjoyable evening, until that is Richard received a worrying text from the back home and shouted out “Oh no I’ve got Weevils”

With Richard being Richard we all sympathise with Jan, his very lovely other half – but this may be the final straw.

As it turns out the Weevil infestation was in fact found in his treasured greenhouse.
Quick witted as ever, Davin asked if one of the Weevils was a little smaller than the others – if so it was probably “the lesser of two Weevils”….(Groan)

The evening culminated with our wonderful host cracking open a bottle of Limoncello, joining us for a final Camino toast before we all turned in.