Well it has been a few days since I have had decent WIFI so I have a bit of catching up to do. As I write this I am sitting in Bar Las Cantigas, in Villalcazar de Sirga, sipping some vino tinto (red wine) and having a small dish of Salada Russo (potatoe salad) and pan (bread), since at 5:00 pm it is too early for dinner and the bar has only pinchos - little dishes of savoury food. The selection is quite limited (this is just a small village of s few hundred people at most) and I took the potatoe salad really out of curiosity. I think there are anchovies in it - it has a great flavour and a bit of a bite. The bar is quite a happening place with both locals and perigrinos enjoying the Sunday afternoon. It is the only thing open in town and it has free WIFI.
Yesterday, the 23rd, was a spectacular day for walking. The sky was blue, the wind moderate and the temp just perfect for walking. As always there was an uphill bit as you leave town and then the walk was straight through fields of waving barley, wheat and silo grasses. I made very good time for this first 10 km and reached my breakfast spot at Hontanas in short order and stopped for my morning coffe and a bocadilla. This town seemed to be built in a gully between two hills - one road through town lined with houses and uphill every way you looked.
|Looking down on Hontanas|
|Can you see the little dog sitting on the donkey?|
After that it was more of the same beautiful fields of grain and pretty much flat for another 5 km when I reached the ruins of San Anton and the Archo (Arch of San Anton).
|Castrojeriz from a distance|
The town of Castrojeriz is a long sprawling town which winds around a major hill at the top of which is a ruins of a castle. I could see it in the distance, probably 5 km away as I walked the tree lined road to the east side of town. I had decided to walk through the town and carry on, since it was only 12:30 and I had found it pretty cold sitting around yesterday afternoon, so I might as well carry on walking to the next Town and Albergue. At this point Inhad walked just over 20 km.
I stopped to eat my Naranjen (Orange) and stopped to chat with a Norweigen lady who was walking with her daughter. She was at least 3 hours ahead of her and was just sitting in the sun and passing the time,
I wasn't so happy when I saw the ridge I had to climb after I left the town- and over 10 km yet to go before the next Albergue!
The sign says it all. 1050 m with a 12% incline! I was pleasantly surprised with my stamina as I was able to march up the hill without really any discomfort. I guess I am getting fit!
The view back to Castorjeriz was spectacular!
Then down partway - only 350 m but an 18% decline!
The walk though the Meseta on the other side of the hill was awesome. Pretty soon I was at the Puente of the Rio Pisuerga and found the Ermitage of San Nicolas - the original building had been restored and was now an Albergue. I was pretty tired having done 30.6 km (altitude adjusted), so when I was offered a mat on the floor of the alter, I didn't have to think for more than a second before I said yes.
The Albergue was manned by 3 very happy Italian gentlemen and they set about making us 16 pilgrims comfortable while they made dinner. The Albergue was a donativo (which means you decide how much to pay) and it included both dinner and breakfast. I took a walk to check out the Puente a few hundred m down the road.
|What a beautiful field by the river!|
At 7:30, before dinner we aall gathered at the alter sitting on chairs I a semi circle. There was a ritual foot washing ceremony and they went from pilgrim to pilgrim, one man pouring water over the pilgrim's foot held over a copper bowl and the other Hospiltalero dried the foot while the 3rd recited a prayer that asked that our feet be healed and that this night would give us strength to continue our journey. It wa very touching as the prayer was recited in our own language.
Dinner was a feast of salad, pasta, salami, cheese and fruit accompanied by ample vino tinto! Lots of chatter between the Perigrinos while the Italian gentlemen were perfect hosts!
After dinner they dragged mattresses up to the alter and we made up beds for us "overflow" pilgrims. There were 6 bunks at the far side of the room for those who arrived earlier.
I slept wonderfully, glad I had decided to stop here at this Albergue,