Day 34 – León to Villadangos del Páramo

Walked today: 8.2 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 247.3 miles

It was still dark when the taxi dropped us off in Virgen del Camino, a suburb of León.

Basílica de la Virgen del Camino

We figured today would be an uneventful walk along a busy secondary road, fronting the autovia.

Well, it was, if you discount the older (older than us) fellow pilgrim who we encountered leaving Virgen del Camino and was trying to determine which direction to go of three choices. We didn’t understand his language but our version of Spanish/English seemed to help him out and he walked with us for a bit. He had previously done a pilgrimage to Rome and had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. He was Russian and lives in Moscow. He was walking to Santiago, taking the bus to Finistere, walking back to Santiago, then working his way back home via train/plane. He was walking faster than we were, so we wished each other well and off he went.

So we had an interesting start for what we expected would be an uneventful day walking along the road. A few minutes later, Linda heard a strange noise behind us, said it sounded like the clomp, clomp of a horse. It was still hard to see, but she thought it looked like a horse had stopped in the path behind us. A few steps later a pilgrim walked past us, followed by very handsome looking horse carrying the pilgrim’s gear.

As the guy passed us, he didn’t say anything except, “he keeps following me”, in perfect English.

Interesting pilgrim entourage

The horse walked around us and once he was clear of us moved back into the path behind the guy he was following… much more safely and considerate than many of the cyclists we’ve encountered in the past few hundred miles!

We followed the pair through an underpass, and noticed for the first time, the horse’s flashing tail light, his clog like shoes with buckles and other than periodic piles of equestrian evidence observed along the way, we never saw them again.

We stopped in Valverde del la Virgen at a new store that we don’t remember seeing in 2017. It had a limited selection of items but did offer a small CCL and Santiago tarta (a Camino almond cake), which was homemade by the owner’s wife. Patronizing a new business on the Camino

We stopped for a brief breakfast, asked the owner to pass on our compliments to the “chef”, then moved onward.

We stopped at the next village, San Miguel del Camino and had a normal breakfast at a charming cafe.

The site of our second breakfast today… in San Miguel

We walked on, along the road, then the path took us away from the road a few feet (we could still hear the cars and trucks) to walk among some bodegas ( individually owned, wine cellars) for a few hundred yards …

interesting and some very old wine cellars

Back along the road

… then back along the road again.

We made one last stop at a hotel/truck stop/restaurant a mile from our destination, only to cool our feet a bit and get out of the ever increasing heat of the rising sun.

After the last mile into Villadangos del Páramo we arrived at Hostel Libertad (50€) and at 11:15 were checked in immediately.

Our double room with private bath is comfortable, clean and relatively new (late 20th century).

Chores detail: Since this is not an albergue, there was no clothesline or washing machine, so we washed and rinsed our sweaty/dirty stuff in the bathroom sink, wrung the water out by hand, then laid the wet clothes onto a dry towel and rolled the towel, squeezing it tightly, absorbing and extracting additional moisture, then hung the clothes on any hanger, doorknob, chair, tv, light fixture or window we could find and within a couple hours, everything (shirts, shorts, underwear, socks, etc.) was dry, clean and ready to wear tomorrow.

After doing our chores we had a meal in the hostal at 2:00 to serve as lunch/dinner, which is getting to be a habit.

Linda was served an unusual version of “minestrone soup” that was very delicious, but much more than she could possibly consume in a single meal.

leeks were included in this Spanish version of “ minestrone “.

And we sampled a Menćia wine for building a sampling base as we head into the Bierzo wine region over the next few days.

Veal for Linda, fish (Hake) for Jim

Overall, our uneventful day walking along the road turned out pretty well.

Day 33 – Reliegos to León

Walked today: 7.8 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 239.1 miles

The path out of Reliegos reminded us of yesterday.

Just before Manzilla de las Mulas we stopped at a favorite albergue/bar for breakfast.

Manzilla was once a Roman town, likely a stopping point on the Via Trajana. The city was fortified with walls in the 12th century and rebuilt in the subsequent two centuries. Today, more than half of the medieval walls remain, some as tall as 14m and as thick as 3m. It is possible to climb the stairway up into the rounded towers, and two of the original gates still stand.

Entering through one of the 12th century gates
12th century Iglesia de Santa María still standing
Silhouetted 12th century city walls looking into sun

As we left Manzilla the path changed to a much wider dirt road which fronted a secondary road toward León.

a slightly different look from yesterday.

We soon lost our shade and got closer to the road until we finally were actually sharing the road with cars and trucks, some really big trucks.

Path getting closer to the road and no more shade
Too close for comfort

After a brief break, walking through the woods, we crossed the Río Porma on a modern footbridge

Puente de Villarente in background

adjacent to the Puente de Villarente, a bridge originally built by the Romans, and entered the town of Villarente (pop. 342).

In 2014 we spent the night here, in Albergue San Pelayo, and took a taxi to the other side of León to Virgen del Camino the next morning, then walked back into the city, then returned to Virgen del Camino to spend the night. In 2017 we walked into León, spent the night in Leon, then walked on through the city and spent the night in Virgin del Camino.

Today we split the difference, we took a taxi from here into León to Hostal San Martin (58€).

Hostal San Martin from the street
Our room with two balconies, looking out to the street

Our hotel is very centrally located just a few steps from the Catedral and other León landmarks.

We took a few photos, bought Jim some new walking shorts

Just in case the current ones don’t make it another 500 miles

and a haircut.

She didn’t know what I wanted, we couldn’t tell her and she still did a great job for 7€!!

We spent a frustrating few minutes at the Orange mobile phone store trying to extend the time on our prepaid sim cards. We’ve still got service, but for how long is still not clear. Orange (a French company) seems to be trying to establish themselves in Spain by not speaking English or French and sending confusing text messages to prepaid sim card users as if they were regular customers. Their websites and texts are at best, confusing. We’ll struggle along with them until they shut us down again, to avoid paying the very unreasonably high Verizon international options, but next time we’ll definitely go with Movistar.

Here are some photos of León today.

León Catedral
Casa de Botines by Gaudi
Calle Ancha, flooded with tourists

Royal Collegiate Church of San Isidoro

After finally getting a light supper at 6 when no one offers a meal until after 8, we made up for it by overendulging in the Valor chocolate store…

… then returned to our room to sleep it off, or walk it off tomorrow morning,

Day 32 – El Burgo Ranero to Reliegos

Walked today: 8.5 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 231.3 miles

At 6:13 it was dark, so headlamps were called for.

Walking the Camino in the dark

We walked in the road for about an hour, the path to our left. (Didn’t want to step on a critter that assumed no self respecting pilgrims would be out at this hour)

We get into “walking-in-dark” mode whenever we’re facing a longer walk, especially one with no services along the way. Linda thinks it makes the walk easier. Jim agrees it seems easier, but only because he’s usually still asleep for the first few miles, which theoretically don’t count.

Walking in the road wasn’t a problem since there were no cars out either. We actually passed one pilgrim who had started sooner than us (if she walked slower than us, she’d have to start early!)

We no longer needed the headlamp at first light (duh), after nearly 2.5 miles under our belt.

just barely enough light for photo

We had the Camino to ourselves for the first 4 miles…

all to ourselves
all to ourselves

… and nothing behind us but the Sunrise.

just at sunrise.

And then we had to share it.

Our first pilgrims of the day at nearly 8:00

Our first scenery change came after walking in a straight line for nearly 7 miles.

This curve was a real event after the monotony of the first 7 miles.

Today’s walk was a little longer than average but not a difficult one.

We stopped for breakfast at the first bar on the edge of Reliegos (pop.237) then walked into the village to albergue Gil(35€).

We couldn’t checkin until noon, so we sat on a bench in the shade in a small park across the street and got a head start on the blog, checking mail, etc.

Albergue Gil as seen from our bench in the park

Gil (pronounced “hill”) is an albergue with one habitacion doble con baño, which is also outfitted as a handicapped room. It actually is good for us, because it is a larger room with a larger bathroom/shower. This is the third “handicapped” room we’ve been given so far. Maybe they’re trying to tell us something.

We had lunch at 2:00 in the albergue bar/restaurant. It was a routine meal of fried eggs, ham and potato fries, but a bit different as the fries were cubes instead of french cut and it was served on an unusual plate.

lunch at albergue Gil

It’s our Camino go-to-meal for nutrition and comfort. It’s never available for breakfast, only lunch or dinner.

There’s not much to see in Reliegos of any significance. It was originally the Roman town of Palantia, at the convergence of three military roads and more recently was struck by a 38 lb meteor in 1947 and that’s about it.

So we just chilled for the afternoon and tried to nap, doubting any new meteors would strike before we were on our way in the morning.

Well, its 6:30 and we’re skipping dinner again. Eating mid-afternoon then chillin for a while does something to the appetite. I wonder if that will work back home?

That’s all for us today on the Camino Frances.

Day 31- Bercianos del Camino to El Burgo Ranero

Walked today: 5.1 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 222.8 miles

We reached El Burgo Ranero at 9:15 and stopped at bar La Costa del Adobe and had breakfast in honor of Ken and Mandy who we met in 2017.

We both began blogging just before our respective Camino’s and Ken and Mandy found our blog and became followers. They commented on our blog that they were starting to walk two weeks after we were. We let them know that we were walking slower than most and that they might catch us. They followed our while on the Camino and realized they were in fact gaining on us, unbeknownst to us. They found us in a bar, having lunch, in Bercianos del Real Camino. It was an extraordinary rendezvous, since they were from South Africa!

Jim blogging about Ken and Mandy

Although we were staying in different albergues that night, we arranged to meet early the next morning in El Burgo Ranero for breakfast before going our separate ways.

We have continued to follow each other via our blogs. Since we last saw them, they have returned to Spain re-walking sections of Camino Frances as well as other Caminos.

Buen Camino, Ken and Mandy!

Our walk to El Burgo Ranero was similar to the day before, the pathway lined with trees along a lightly traveled paved road.

Does this look familiar?

same old path again…

Today’s shorter walk will hopefully recharge our batteries for the next few days on our way into León.

We found our hotel shortly after an extended breakfast (4 CCL’s!) and were able to checkin shortly after 11:00. It’s the same hotel, El Peregrino (50€) and the same room as 2017. And we think the housekeeper/owner recognized us.

We have a deck just outside our room with a clothes line, so chores were easy, even though this is a small hostal (hotel), not an albergue.

About 2:30 we went back to our breakfast spot and had a delicious lunch (and probably supper).

Roasted veggies for Linda and chicken, spaghetti, salad for Jim

Late afternoon we visited a small grocery store (mercado) and got food for tomorrow morning’s walk.

That’s about it for today. We’re setting the alarm for 5:30 in the morning to get an early start on a tough walk.

Day 30 – Sahagún to Bercianos del Real Camino

Walked today: 5.9 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 217.7 miles

Walking out of Sahagún this morning, we passed this cross and walked over the Puente de Sahagún (background), built by the Romans but refurbished some 250 years ago.

The walk this morning was on dirt paths parallel to a busy two lane highway and later parallel to a much smaller, almost no-traffic secondary road.

Nice treelined path along the road

As we are getting closer to León, and the end of the Meseta many of the dirt paths are tree lined, which provides much needed shade if walking in the afternoon sun.

Most of these trees are a relatively new addition to the Camino Frances, probably planted over the past 30 years, coincident with the Camino de Santiago’s renewed popularity which began in the mid-1980’s.

If you follow the Camino on Google Earth you can see fuzzy smudges along the roads which are shadows of the trees which shade the Way.

Today’s route splits a couple of miles from Sahagún into a route with no facilities and though a bit shorter, no place to stop for the night without walking nearly 10 miles. The second route, which is the original Camino route, has places to stop. Bet you can guess which route we took.

But our guide directions were not the best and we almost took the wrong turn. We actually did for a 100 yards or so, but were waved down by a local lady out for her morning walk. Frantically and in excited, but very clear and concise Spanish, no doubt, she explained that someone had painted over the arrow marking our route.

Following our leader

Like the Pied Piper, we and by now, another 5 or 6 pilgrims followed our leader until we reached the correct turn off.

The well marked alternate route we were seeking.

We all thanked her profusely to her repeated, ” de nada’s” as she continued along her morning walk.

Our fearless leader on her return trip

An hour later, apparently on her return trip, we each greeted her again like an old friend, thankful that she had made our morning much less of an unwanted adventure.

Treelined path, nice shade as we head under train track

A tempting cornfield next to the path… ears look ready

Walking up to Albergue La Perala, we were not surprised at its similarity to Albergue los Templarios, where we stayed two nights ago.

Albergue La Perala with nice green grass all around

They are both owned and run by the same family. La Perala was opened in 2017 and Los Templarios was opened in 2006. They both are well run, great places to stay, very customer oriented and competitively priced (38€).

It was only 9:45 when we arrived, but we were starved and ready for breakfast. We stretched it out for a half-hour or so before trying to checkin.

In the meantime, we chatted with a guy who we’ve seen from a distance and “buen Camino’d” a time or two, but not had an opportunity to talk. We had overheard him speaking English and were curious. It turns out his name is Timothy, he’s originally from Washington, currently lives in Burgos because he loves the Camino. He is developing an app for pilgrims to connect while walking the Camino, then maintain the connection via the app after returning home.

Our fellow pilgrim, Timothy, before he left to continue walking.

We had a salad for lunch, worked on the blog, machine washed and hung clothes out to dry in the sun (bone dry in 45 minutes), made reservations for the next week after planning our walks, and did some reading (Linda)…

Linda reading on a comfortable sofa in the albergue “zona de lectura”, reading zone… shhh!

Today was a relatively easy day after the longer than usual walks of the previous two days. We’ve never taken a day “off” while on the Camino, preferring to maintain some minimum activity each day so we don’t lose our momentum. Our 5.9 mile walk today and the 5 plus mile walk tomorrow is our way of avoiding what could have been a difficult 11 mile walk, by splitting it into two light days, but still making good progress toward Santiago.

Dinner was available in La Perala at 6:00 (earliest time so far on the Camino), another nice feature.

We had a routine two course dinner, nothing extraordinarily culinary to report, but certainly tasty, nutritious and enough to keep us going another day.

We finished the day with a hotly contested game of hand and foot. Results to be reported at a later date.

Day 29 – Terradillos to Sahagún

Walked today: 8.7 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 211.8 miles

It rained late yesterday afternoon and again during the night. A threatening sky greeted us this morning as we left the albergue making it appear darker than a typical 7:15.

After two miles we stopped at Moritinos (pop. 68) for a breakfast break. Just before arriving we passed a dirt mound with several entry points, apparently used as wine cellars.

We saw our first vineyard scarecrows this morning

and shortly after saw an engaging advertisement:

Walking on to the next village of San Nicolas del Real Camino (pop. 48), we stopped again for a second CCL.

We decided to stop at the first bar to get a look at the competition for the second. The first was actually pretty “cool” itself. We have actually stayed in San Nicolas, in 2014, and had drinks and food at bar #2 and we like #1 better.

Bar #1

It began to rain, finally, as we left Bar #1 and it was really pouring as we walked past Bar#2.

The rain continued for less than a half hour and was only a slight nuisance as we well prepared for it.

Jim in Camino rain gear

We were happy to see the buildings of Sahagún (pop. 2,820) after logging our seventh mile of the morning and beginning to feel a little tired with our second 8+ mile walk in two days.

When we walked up to our place for the night, Albergue Santa Cruz (20€), there were no signs of life and the sign on the door said open at 12:00.

Entrance to the albergue

It being only 11:15, we walked a few steps to an open bar and got drinks and shared a piece of cake (tarta)

While waiting, Jim took a few photos of nearby landmarks.

Arco de San Bonito, 1662

Marker indicating Sahagún as the halfway point of the Camino Frances ( in Spain)

At noon we walked back to the albergue and checked in.

The Albergue Santa Cruz is a Benedictine monestary that was opened for pilgrim use in 1968. The Marists began operating it in 2017.

outside view of Santa Cruz
Rooms located off cloister of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz courtyard

Our double room with a private full bathroom is clean, basic and an inexpensive, safe place to stay on the Camino Frances. The usual hostal amenities, like soap, shampoo, towels, pillow cases and room key were not included and a single sheet, blanket, pillow and mattress were provided. We managed as we normally carry “backup” amenities, just in case.

our room

In addition to most albergues, it also offers an evening communion service and individual spiritual care for pilgrims who wish it.

We opted for the late lunch/early dinner again, as the communal dinner in the albergue is at 8:00.

We are a little beyond the halfway point on the Camino Frances, because we started from SJPDP, not Roncesvalles. However, due to our “modified” Camino, thus far, we have skipped 30-40 miles, which explains why our total miles walked is less than half of 500 miles.

Day 28 – Villalcazar to Terradillos de los Templarios

Walked today: 8.9 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 203.1 miles

The walk to Carrión was very similar to yesterday’s.

We got to Carrion de los Condes at 8:30 and stopped for breakfast.

A festival was underway and the streets were full of revellers, mostly late teens and twenty somethings.

After breakfast, we caught a ride to the next village of Calzadilla de la Cueza. Between the two locations is a stretch of 11 miles of straight, path through grain fields with no place to eat, rest, or spend the night. We struggled along this section in 2014 and 2017 but decided to skip it today.

Our second starting point for the day at Calzadilla

Our driver dropped us off at a few minutes after nine

This was what our walk looked like after skipping one of our least favorite sections of the Camino

and we continued on the path that mostly paralleled a two lane road for some three miles to Ledigos (pop. 74), where we stopped for a brief break

Many of the buildings in Ledigos were made of stucco from local materials
Up close you can see the straw mixed with local clay to form the stucco

and continued on to Terradillos de los Templarios, our destination for the day.

Approaching our albergue in Terradillos de los Templarios

Terradillos de los Templarios was once home to a 13th-century church belonging to the Knights Templar, but is one of the few pilgrimage towns that never had a pilgrim refuge until modern times.  Iglesia de San Pedro contains a Gothic crucifix but is rarely open. The church is built of brick rather than stone, as this area has very little local stone. Set aside from the N-120 highway, Terradillos has a peaceful sleepy town feel.

The Knights Templar were a medieval military order responsible for protecting pilgrims. While the order was popular and successful for almost 200 years, grand master Jacques de Molay was arrested in 1307 (on Friday the 13th, possibly the origin of this superstitious date) and burned at the stake for heresy and a variety of trumped-up charges. The order was disbanded in disgrace, though many think the charges had more to do with politics than any actual wrongdoing.

We checked in to Albergue los Templarios as soon as we arrived and arranged for machine washing our clothing, then spent the rest of the afternoon, Linda reading and Jim chatting with two bike riding peregrinos from Belgium, Chris and Fred. By dinner time they had learned a lot about the different cultures of their respective countries and become new friends. Jim also chatted a while with a French couple who arrived at the albergue the same time as we.

We stayed at this albergue in 2017 and consider it one of our favorites. The owners opened up a new albergue in late 2017 several days down the path, so we made a reservation today to stay there too on the 27th.

We had a tasty lunch and dinner at the albergue today and retired for the day around 9 p.m.

Day 27 – Población de Campos to Villalcazar de Sirga

Walked today: 6.3 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 194.2 miles

Our view as we walked this morning was pretty much the same:

Just as we left Población Jim began walking with a guy from Germany who had left his job and was using the Camino as a way to decide the direction for his life forward. He and Jim walked a little faster than Linda, who gradually drifted behind.

But another peregrina, a young lady originally from South Korea and currently working as a tour guide in Madrid, joined Linda as their paces pretty much matched.

Eunji, spoke very good English and after a while, the subject of our Orange sim card problem came up. (If you remember, Linda and I talked about trying to find someone in Carrión tomorrow that spoke enough English and Spanish to understand our problem and possibly help us with a solution.)

At the next village we stopped at an unusual albergue that offered accommodations ranging from bunk beds to teepees! Also, huge ducks, chickens (one looking at itself in a mirror in the bar), donkeys, llamas, sheep, goats and countless other fauna unseen.

During breakfast, Eunji offered to help us and 20 minutes later, we had renewed our sim cards and recharged them for another 30 days! Problem solved!

our savior and new friend, Eunji from Madrid/Korea

Eunji had used her Orange account to access our phones and pay the renewal fee for both our phones with her credit card. When we gave her a 50€ bill to cover the 40.20€ charges she initially refused, but we insisted and suggested she enjoy her dinner tonight on us with our thanks for her timely and “priceless” assistance.

It’s really amazing, this place, the Camino provides!

We walked on separately and eventually approached our destination for today:

The round-about to Villalcazar (pop.174)

As usual, we were too early to checkin, so we found the nearest bar and had mid-morning chocolate cake and CCL while we waited.

Eunji spotted us from a nearly table for another photo op, before parting again as we wished each other a ” buen Camino “.

It was still early for checking in, so we noticed someone unlocking the door to the 13th century Iglesia de Santa María la Blanca.

Linda was dwarfed by the immense size of this Templar “ fortress “
Entrance of Santa María la Blanca
Santa María la Blanca
Santiago surrounded by images of his life

According to tradition, Villalcázar was under the protection of the Knights Templar. The Camino did not originally pass through this town, but later detoured when the fame of the Virgen Blanca (” white virgin”) and her many miracles spread.

The church’s 1530 retablo has scenes from the life of Saint James, including his legendary run-in with the magician Hermogenes, who later converted to Christianity and burned his magic books.

Hostal Infanta Doño Leonor (40€)
our habitacion doble con baño

At about 11:30 we gained access to our room, which is roomy and comfortable with extra seating in a nice, cool (even in the 95F afternoon, w/o AC) common area.

We relaxed until around 2:00, then returned to our mid morning snack place to have a nice lunch/dinner.

Bar Las Cantigas
Delicious Spanish cuisine

Jim finished this nice red wine (4.50€) from La Mancha while blogging

We returned to the neighborhood bar around 5:30, still pretty full from our earlier meal, needing to put an appropriate end to our day’s culinary experience, and ordered Postres (dessert), in this case, apple tarts then returned to our room to end another day on the Camino Frances.

Day 26 – Itero de la Vega to Pablación de Campos

Walked today: 10.7 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 187.9 miles

An early start had us in the dark for the first few minutes.

Linda walking just before first light

Our hands were actually cold in the 55F morning air. An advantage of starting this early, other than beating the later heat of the August sun is this…

The pre- sunrise sky was in fire

The brilliant sky behind us soon opened our view for the way ahead.

We walked through the fields of freshly cut hay and sunflowers..

… then turned around to this…

The sunrises on the Meseta are incredible and well worth a few minutes sleep loss for early risers.

Our morning walk continued for nearly 5 miles before reaching the first village, Boadilla del Camino (pop. 124), where we observed another church, a stork’s nest and a resident stork.

Iglesia de Santa María de la Asuncíon
view of stork in nest

We stopped at an open albergue for cafe con leche (but no tostadas) and moved on.

Shortly after leaving the village, we walked on a tree lined path which led back into the fields but without warning, began paralleling a canal.

The trees provided a nice break from the morning sun.
The Canal Castile

Canal de Castilla was built from 1753-1859, covering 207km. The canal was used for ships that were pulled by mules on tow paths. Today the canals are used to irrigate agricultural fields.

We walked along the canal for 2 miles until just outside Formista ( pop. 846) we carefully crossed the inactive canal locks and then walked into the town.

Linda crossing the old locks of Canal Castile
Looking downstream

Frómista has been a breadbasket farming area since Celtic times until being destroyed by the Moors and later rebuilt in the 12th century. When the Jews of Castilla y León were systematically attacked in 1391, Frómista absorbed some of the Jewish refugees, though the Jewish population was exiled in 1492. In spite of being a successful market town in the 15th century, the town declined until a revival in 1773 when the canal brought water and enabled agriculture to again thrive.

We walked into Formista with a mission to renew our Orange sim cards which run out today. This has provided us with phone service and cellular internet service since we purchased them in Madrid in late July. It’s a much cheaper option than using the international cell service offered by Verizon.

After a few stops we concluded that our mission was not going to be completed in Formista. We had already walked 9 miles today and considered a taxi or bus to take us the final 2 miles to our destination for the day. The tourist info office, which was our source for bus/ taxi availability and timing, was closed at 10:30 Friday a.m. when we arrived with a ” be back in 20 minutes” sign on the door, and which remained for the entire hour we waited and probably much longer. A bit frustrated, we put our packs back on and walked the final 2 miles.

The Spanish sim card is a new luxury we added this Camino, just to see how it works. In the past, we have used the reception at wherever we’re staying to make calls for us for future reservations, arranging for pack (mochila) transport, etc. Wifi has been and still is our main method of communication, so doing without the simi card and cellular service us not a big deal. But we’ll try again in Carrión tomorrow and in subsequent large towns to get new sim cards, because we have gotten used to the convenience.

Other than the ever increasing heat of the mid-day sun, the walk to Pablación de Campos and the casa rural, Amanacer en Campos (45€),

Amanecer en Campos from the street
The nice jardin common area of Amanecer en Campos

was not overwhelming and we were welcomed with a glass of sangria while our room was being prepared. We figured we could wait as long as the sangria kept coming.

Right after we checked into our nice room, there was a knock on the door. The sweet lady that runs the establishment, who speaks zero English, handed Jim her cellphone. Jim, without hesitation, said “Hola” and Rachel asked if there was a room available tonight. We began a three way conversation between the owner, Rachel and Jim, ending with Jim assuring Rachel that we had a single room for her at 30€ and we were holding it for her until she arrived two hours later.And the owner was noticeably happy that she had earned an extra 30€ + for the day. Jim decided not to ask for a discount. (Jim met Rachel later in the day. She was from Ireland, walking alone, her first Camino.)

We stayed here in 2014 and had a delightful experience, especially the food. This is where we were introduced to the Spanish version of lentil soup which has become a staple in Jim’s diet back in S.C.

Today for our 2:00 late lunch/early dinner we had the most delicious paella anywhere.

The most delicious paella we’ve ever had
All that was left of our delicious paella lunch/dinner

The simple salad of heirloom tomatoes and lettuce and “no-name” Riója red wine more than adequately complimented another extraordinary Camino culinarily experience.

Day 25 – Castrojeriz to Itero de la Vega

Walked today: 6.5 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 177.2 miles

The first 2 miles of our walk was challenging, beautiful and Romantic.

These two wondered what we were doing up so early

Soon after leaving the town we picked up the dirt path and walked through what had been a swamp, when the Romans were beginning to transport gold through this area that they had mined in Galicia. They could have drained the swamp, but that would have taken years (at least 8) 😉.

So instead, they built a causeway across the swamp.

Linda walking across a 2000 year old causeway
Classic Roman design to divert water from bridge structure

Incredibly, we walked across that 2000 year old causeway this morning, before heading up top again.

The climb back up to the Meseta was very difficult, a sign said it was a 12% grade. Linda and her Fitbit rated it 45 floors.

When we stopped to catch our breath, we looked back toward Castrojeriz into the extraordinary views in spite of the rising sun dominating a cloudless sky.

Photo effort number 1
Photo effort number 2

We took several photos trying to capture what we were experiencing, with limited results, but you get the picture.😜

Linda reaching the top
One last look back

We took a break at the top and took reciprocal photos of a German couple who had become engaged just 10 minutes ago after climbing the mountain.

They even were wearing and showing off their shiny, matching rings.

So, Roman or Romantic, we had it all during our first 2 miles.

After a brief rest and a banana snack, we moved on into the familiar flat grain fields,

back on to the plain, we thought…

but a mere 0.3 mile later,

straight down, no switchbacks like on the way up

we gulped at the 18% grade descent that would take us down into another valley as far as we could see.

The Meseta is boring? We don’t think so!

We walked for three miles through the fields before crossing the Puente Fitero. It was commissioned to be built in the 11th century by Alfonso VI and restored in the 17th century to its original Roman design, and is one of the longest bridges on the Camino.

The last half mile was a nice shady stroll beside a slow moving river, then through a small corn field and right to Puente de Fitero (40€) our place for the rest of the day and night in Itero de la Vega (pop. 177).

We felt right at home, having stayed here in 2014, ’17 & ’19. We had our clothes machine washed and Jim did clothes line duty.

Our room overlooks the alberge terrace so we can see other pilgrims passing by, some staying for just a break, others staying overnight.

Our room is roomy and comfortable but not modern. We normally don’t use the TV but this one probably only had black and white!

We had a simple, but tasty lunch/dinner at 3:30 and just coasted until bedtime.

Linda liked her pork loin as did Jim his choriso w/eggs & fries

This was an excellent, no-name, local wine for 5€!

We’ll never see this one in Total Wine back in the U.S., so this will be a once in a lifetime experience for sure on the Camino Frances.