- Distance today: 6.5 mi
- Distance Camino 2017: 270 mi
We stopped by our “sweets spot” on the way out of Sahagún this morning to get croissants for the road. There aren’t any places to stop on our walk this morning unless we want to add an extra 2 miles by walking to a village not on the Camino and that’s not gonna happen.
We walked on paths alongside local roads the entire time but it was a pretty smooth walking surface, lined with shade trees most of the way. The path got narrow several places and because of very light auto traffic, we had the choice between path and asphalt most of the way.
When we reached Bercianos del Real Camino (pop.195) we stopped at the first bar/albergue, “Bercianos 1900” (www.bercianos1900.com). It’s a very nicely done bar with spacious, inviting tables and sitting areas, inside and outside. As we were eating our breakfast, the young lady sitting next to us was on a computer and initiated a conversation with us in very good English. It turns out that she was the owner and this was their first day of operation.
She gave us a tour of the albergue and she and Jim discussed several ideas about growing her new business.
We wished her luck and walked on into the village and after wandering around and getting all kinds of interesting and conflicting directions from residents we finally arrived at Albergue Santa Clara (45€).
Our first impression was that this was a very primitive albergue and we thought maybe we should go back to the other albergue. But as soon as the owner showed us our room, we were speechless.
This may be the most comfortable, clean, spacious habitacion double con bano, we have stayed in on the Camino!
It has a large futon type couch (very unusual), two oversized twin beds, a desk, three straight-back chairs, a wardrobe, extra & strategicly placed outlets (very unusual), a small (but stocked) refrigerator, roomy bathroom with a large shower with rain shower head & hand wand & 4 horizontal massaging water jets. It it even has screens on all 3! windows: one, overlooking the garden, another overlooking a street and a small window in the bathroom. And did I mention a Keurig style coffeemaker with coffee, cream & sugar? Pilgrims have never had it so good!
Our albergue doesn’t serve meals, only bar items like bocadillas, tortillas and drinks. So we had bocadillas (sandwiches) for lunch with a bottle of wine from the Bierzo region of Spain made from Mencía grapes (both a first for us) which was quite nice.
We met Carl from Norway. He’s staying in the albergue. He had met Jim earlier when he arrived after us and asked Jim if this was a good place to stay. Jim said if our room was any indication of the overall value and quality, the albergue should be great. Jim waved to Carl later and asked him if the albergue was ok and Carl said yes. We waved him over and asked him to join us for lunch in the courtyard between the owner’s house, the albergue and the two double rooms of the hostal. We ate and chatted for a couple hours enjoying the pleasant, comfortable atmosphere in the outdoor sitting and eating area. Carl had made a miraculous recovery from a previous illness by walking the Camino in 2014 and is walking it again to complete his recovery.
We had a restful afternoon in our lovely room with Jim taking a short walk to photograph the unusual church tower which is a steel structure with two large bells in the belfry. Another nearby steel structure had a large stork nest on top, perhaps to give the stork an alternative to the belfry.
We returned to Bercianos 1900 for dinner and Carl joined us. Halfway through dinner, Jim was completely surprised when two fellow bloggers, Ken and Mandy from South Africa introduced themselves. We had connected with them when they began following our blog in July as they were preparing to begin their Camino in mid-August and joked that maybe they would catch us. And so they did and what a pleasant surprise to connect and meet this delightful couple. Hopefully we’ll meet for breakfast tomorrow morning in the next village before they move on, as they plan to get to Santiago from SJPDP in 34 days compared to our 70 day plus plan.