Day-23 Castrojeris to Itero de Vega

Walked Today: 7.3 mi / Camino2022: 150mi

lobby of Hotel Iocabus as we left this morning
Just a few hundred yards outside of Castrojeris, we began walking over a Roman causeway! … then the remains of a connecting Roman bridge!!
…the Roman bridge ruins, with red highlights from spectacular sunrise rise behind us.
Another progressively spectacular sunrise as we walked toward the mountain

We thought we’d let you walk up the mountain with Linda this morning. Follow the photos below in left-to-right order… her perspective looking ahead and looking back on her way up.

Linda working her way up
Yeah!!! Linda!!!
…moving on, after catching our breath and a snack…
back on top
what goes up, must come down
verrryyy steeeeep
made it!!
looking back … lots of pilgrims “ chasing” us
change of scenery not far ahead
We’re walking on pavement for first time today with huge fields of sunflowers around us, nearing harvest time.
“hermitage” and bridge ahead

The hermitage of San Nicholas de Puentefitero dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Its membership in the Order of the Knights of San Juan, later known as the Order of Malta, is documented and linked to the presence of the nearby Fitero Bridge over the Pisuerga River, an infrastructure of great importance that linked the kingdoms of Castilla y León and, today, to the provinces of Burgos and Palencia. The Knights of San Juan would have taken care to keep the bridge in good condition, facilitating the passage of pilgrims and also offering them their hospitality.

San Nicholas de Puentefitero

A famous traditional pilgrim shelter, it was restored by and is supported by the Italian Pilgrims Association.

Puente de Fitero (11th century) one of the most beautiful and longest bridges on the Camino Frances.
walking along the Pisuerga Rio and along the edge of a (poplar?) tree farm.
Puente de Fitero alberge… now permanently closed.. was our initial choice to stay tonight

We checked in to La Mochilla albergue soon after arriving in Itero de la Vega at 10:45. The albergue is a very old, make-shift collection of rooms with possibly 30 beds ( dormitory style) and two private rooms (w/o bathroom) of which we have one. There are two bathrooms with sinks, 1 working shower and ourdoor patio for socializing and meals, a basic kitchen for doing your own meal and a kitchen for albergue prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soon after occupying our room we had no key so Jim asked the owner for one and he came back with two containers of keys to try to find one that fit our door. He said (we think) that a prior occupant of our room apparently took the key with him as the owner began trying keys in the two boxes. Jim offered to look for him so he could get back to processing the line of other pilgrims waiting to rent beds for the night.

Our room, the shared sitting area for us and a 8 bunkbead dormitory like room. Jim busily at work looking for the “ key” for “ habitacion #2”.

After trying all the keys in our door without a fit, we abandoned the effort and accepted that our room tonight is not “technically” private. (Jim considered asking for a discount but decided against it). This may not be the most primitive albergue we’ve stayed in, but it’s close… at 35€.

our new pilgrim friends from New Zealand

We met two delightful sisters from New Zealand who checked-in shortly before us. We had chats with them during breakfast and later for lunch in a nearby bar in Itero de la Vega.

Dinner tonight was with 8 other pilgrims. We had interesting conversations, mostly in English, even though 5 were from Spain. The other pilgrims were from Norway, Switzerland and Philadelphia. It was enjoyable and lasted until our new, normal bedtime, 8:45 p.m.

Day- 22 Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeris

Walked- Today: 6.6 mi/ Camino2022: 143mi

It was a chilly 52F when we left Hornillos at 6:50. We walked over two miles on a gradual incline until getting back to the “ table top”. We stopped all the way up to check the progress of another “flaming” sunrise.

Just before we got to the top, the brilliant sunrise was coloring the rocks and other surfaces red.
…back to the top…

then another mile, before going back down into a steeper but smaller bowl as we passed San Bol, off the trail on the left, a very primitive albergue (no electricity or running water) and then returned to the top.

heading down toward San Bol
back on top

The approach to Hontanas is interesting. After walking several miles or so on top of the meseta, one gets impatient, if not tired, and wonders, “ where’s Hontanas”?

Almost at the entrance of Hontanas, but only the hint of a new bowl to walk into, then a church steeple, and alas, there it is.

Our previous Camino breakfast stop, an albergue (with no name to be found) was open, so we got a table and went inside to a dark building. Apparently they lost power a few minutes before we arrived and were doing their best to serve hungry, thirsty pilgrims that kept coming down the road into the village.

We had croissants, orange juice and pastry and plain coffee with milk and decided to call it a day. We called for a taxi and rode the final 5 miles into Castrojeris.

Castrojeris is one of Jim’s favorites. He began using trekking poles in 2014 and his first set broke on the meseta on the way to Hontanas. We figured he would have to wait until Leon to buy a replacement set. By chance, while in Castrojeris the next day, he saw some poles hanging in the window of a hardware store in the village square but the shop was closed. He made a fairly long walk from our albergue on the edge of town back to the store when it reopened in late afternoon. Luckily the poles were still there and he purchased the set for 39€ and used them for the rest of our walk in 2014. When we got back home, we found that comparable poles cost nearly $150. He has continued to use the same set through 2022, so far, over 1500 miles of Camino. Today the store was closed but Jim looked in the window at what was on display, with fond memories of that joyous day.

the plaza where Jim purchased trekking poles in 2014.

The Camino is getting really crowded the last several days. We think a new wave of pilgrims started September 1 and are now catching up and passing us. The net effect is extra stress on places to stay coupled by pandemic related closures. This became apparent to us as we tried to book places to stay in the coming week. Today we found out that the place we planned to stay tomortow night is permanently closed and no other alternatives were available to reserve.

So after having our main meal in our Hotel Iacobus (which, by the way, is very nice and comfortable) restaurant at 4:00, we got to work and planned our walks for the next 2 weeks and booked rooms for each night to eliminate the concern if not having a place to stay.

the view from our room in Hotel Iacobus, Castrojeris