Day 23- Belorado to Villafranca Montes de Oca

  • Distance today:                         7.8 mi
  • Distance Camino 2017:       162.1 mi

We left Belorado in the dark, as the high today is supposed to be 101 by 3:00 p.m. It was only 55 when we left at 6:15.

The terrain was similar to yesterday. There seemed to be more pilgrims out this morning, probably because Belorado is the end of a traditional stage of the Camino, meaning that more people stop and spend the night in Belorado, than in the towns/villages in between stages.

We try to avoid the end of stages for that very reason, which reduces the competition for places to stay plus it gives us a chance to visit the less visited places and contribute to their local economy by staying in their accommodations and buying food and drink in their markets and bars.

We stopped at the first village Villambistia (pop.47) with an open bar (Casa de Los Deseos) and had breakfast. When Jim paid the bill he guessed it was 5€ and the bar tender agreed and Jim responded with voila when giving her the 5 euros in coins, to which she responded merci, thinking we were French (tee hee).

Villambistia has a tradition that says if you immerse your head in the village fountain it will cure you of tiredness . So as we walked up to the fountain (which incidentally had a warning about potability), Jim almost fell into the fountain trying to immerse his full head with backpack, etc. So he opted instead for a self baptism with the fountain water. He followed that with a second baptism while Linda snapped a photo. Incredibly, Jim’s pack got lighter almost immediately and he got noticeably stronger all the way to Villafranca… no kidding!

We walked on for another mile and needed an excuse for another rest (we’re a little tired, still, from our walk yesterday) so we stopped in the village of Espinosa del Camino (pop.36) at La Cantina and shared a banana and zuma naranja while occupying a bench outside in the cool shade… and then moved on.

The last few miles into Villafranca included a long grade up and a short grade down and then a flat section that almost merged but then the paralleled the road into town busied with cars, vans and big trucks… adding new meaning to the concept of “share the road”!

We’re staying in Villafranca Montes de Oca (pop. 147), at the Hotel San Antón Abad(59€), a former hospital for pilgrims, built in 1377. It’s an upscale hotel, beautifully decorated with period antique furniture, paintings and pieces and with spacious modern rooms, restaurant and bar and an attached more primitive albergue facilities at 12€ per bed.

Jim chatted with John from Raleigh on the terrace after a late lunch. John is staying at the albergue and is trying to walk to Santiago in 4 more weeks so he can fly back home in time to his granddaughter’s wedding.

Our pilgrim’s dinner was in the hotel dining room with approximately 19 pilgrims in attendance.