Camino Frances 2017 – Day 3 – Boadilla del Camino to Carrion de los Condes

Camino 2017 – Day 3 – Boadilla del Camino to Carrion de los Condes – September 7th
A gentle breeze, a long senda and a blessing at night.

An amazing sleep was disturbed at 5pm by the zipping of sleeping bags. Another day on the Camino had started. I gathered up my things and headed for the bathroom. Breakfast was at 7am but I chose not to wait. I had some fruit and yoghurt from Day 1 left over. I looked out the door – darkness. I was not first on the trail this morning however. An Italian couple were up and ready and out by 5.30. I took it a little easier and started at 6am. It was still dark but I was used to it by this stage.

DayTwo

DayThree

Leaving Boadilla, I walked along the Canal de Castilla until Frómista, another 6km westward. It was an easy stroll, however my foot was still paining me after the previous day’s discovery of blister no. 1. My headlamp had failed me so I was using my phone to guide me while I waited for the sun to rise. All was quiet. I could hear small animals move in the reeds along the canal. My attention was then turned to the sky. It was clear. Not a cloud could be seen and the moon illuminated the sky. Ah..if only we could see the sky like this back in Dublin.

Frómista was within sight after an hour and I felt peckish. I stopped by Bar El Manchego and ordered a café con leche and a tostada con queso – my customary desayuno these days. It got cold as I was eating and I was eager to get moving again. Frómista is a large town but it is not one I have stayed in before. Boadilla has won my heart. When I had finished, I wished the bar owner a healthy Buenos Dias and gathered my hat and pole. Adelante!

It wasn’t long until I reached the main highway and crossroads. I became a little lost at this point, mainly due to the lack of light however once I saw the cut out statue on the overpass, I was sure of the right way. The sun was peaking over the horizon and it became brighter. I reached Poblacion del Camino and it was sleeping while I walked through. It was then that I met my old foe – the P-980 and the Senda del Peregrino. For the next 18kms, I would be walking along the side of a busy road. Hardly ideal, but you take the good with the bad. On the whole, the road was quiet but every so often, a large truck or lorry would speed by disturbing my train of thought. Peaceful, it wasn’t. I had the option of taking a diversion through Villovieco to Villalcazar de Sirga but this made the day longer. The road would be my companion for the day. I had not met any other pilgrims. no matter how slow I walked. My Buen Caminos were given to cyclists as they sped past. I had not decided where I was to stop this evening – Villalcazar de Sirga with it’s large church or the pilgrim town of Carrion de los Condes. Stopping at Villalcazar meant I had walked 19km while ending in Carrion made it a 26km day. My feet felt good and it was only 10.30. So I decided to leave the decision to Villalcazar and a cold glass of Coke, con hielo of course.

Arriving in Villalcazar brought back some good memories. I had stayed here in 2015 with some good people. I was really tempted to stop here so I had a drink and a think but ultimately decided it was too early.  I stopped by the Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca but it was closed. Onwards to Carrión de los Condes so.

I had 6kms more along the road before I reached the largest town on the Camino since Burgos. Carrion de los Condes has 3 large albergues – all run by religious orders. There are many pensions and hotels here as well. The Church of Santa Maria in Carrion could be seen from 3km outside the town. The albergue I was aiming for is conjoined to it and is normally run by nuns. However, the Albergue de Santa Maria’s nuns were on leave for the first 2 weeks of September and were replaced by volunteers. It was not open until midday and I arrived to a queue of backpacks at 11.30. I tried to sit down but it was futile. I wasn’t in pain, I just needed to stretch first. A group of Brazilians headed the queue, speaking Portuguese much to my dismay. Next in line was a Galician, who had worked for a number of Irish firms in Cork. He just didn’t know English. And after him was a pale sore Irishman – me. I was joined then by June from San Diego who offered me an apple that she bought in the local market. I would get to become friends with her over the next few days.

I knew others who arrived later – the German sister and brother, 2 friends from the US and a large Korean contingent. When checking in, the hospitalero told us that at 7pm we were invited to sing, at 8pm, we were invited to mass next door and finally at 9pm, there would be a community meal. We were asked to go to the supermarket and buy what we wished. The volunteers would then make a meal with what was provided. It was strange, but I was looking forward to it. I loved it here from the off.

While looking for an ATM machine, I met Jo-Jo again and asked how she was getting on. I saw one of the Swedish girls also who was staying in another albergue. She told me that her friend had caught a bus to Leon and was going home. It would be the last time I saw them. I remember fondly the fun we had in Boadilla. I went to the local Dia supermercado and bought a few odds and ends – anything nutritious for dinner. I then bought some lunch as I was in no mood to wait until 9pm for dinner! Back in the albergue, I managed to catch some rest and tend to my feet. I also saw Adam from my first day who arrived to a full albergue. He was granted a mattress on a floor. A lucky man, as the next town is 17km away.

7pm arrived and about 20 pilgrims gathered tentatively in the courtyard. One of the volunteers had a guitar while others had bongos and shakers. Handouts were given to each pilgrim with spanish and english lyrics of well known songs. The first song was sung and we were urged to clap to the chorus (below). We were then asked one by one to introduce ourselves and say why we are walking the Camino. Now..bear in mind that those of us sitting here spoke English, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, German. You can imagine how long it took to translate! 🙂 It was a fun get together however and we got to know each other a little more. I got talking to Patricia from the US afterward. She had met an Irish man who wrote a Camino song to the tune of Molly Malone. At the time of talking to her, he had sung it in Orisson and Roncesvalles. I await for Patricia to complete her Camino when she will send me video of him singing it.

We attended mass shortly after, spoken in Spanish. My second mass of this Camino. At the end of the mass, the priest called all pilgrims to the altar, which is standard. He proceeded to ask if anyone was from Spain? from Italy? from USA? and so on. When I heard, “¿Hay alguien de Irlanda?”, my arm raised up slowly and I looked around to see if there were others. Unfortunately not. Adam, from the UK, was the nearest to my home. We all got a blessing and were given a small paper star given to symbolise our time in this albergue. I will cherish it. It was a pretty special few moments and I’ll make sure to visit this albergue next time. After mass, we attended dinner in the courtyard. I was taken aback by how much food was bought by those staying in the albergue. Pasta, meats, fish, tuna, fruits, wine, ice cream – it all made a filling meal.

It was 10pm and late for us pilgrims, I gathered my things and thought about the next day. June had asked me earlier if we could walk together. I said sure! She had no one place in mind but I was hoping to reach either Ledigos or Terradillos de los Templarios, which has very little evidence of the Templars left. A 24km or 27km day so. Today was a special day, I wonder if tomorrow would be the same.

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Camino Frances 2017 – Day 2 – Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino

Camino 2017 – Day 2 – Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino – September 6th
Still hot…and onto an oasis!

Most pilgrims don’t know where their day (or feet) will take them, but I knew from the off that today would lead me to a small town in the meseta called Boadilla del Camino. The town might not have much to offer but one of its albergues (En El Camino) is enough reason to walk a whole Camino. I’ve stayed there a few times before and Eduardo provides all you seek in a hospitalero. It is a mini-oasis.

But anyway..back to the start of the day. It was promised to be hot today so I woke early and gathered my things. It took a while to find the door in El Puntido but after much searching, I discovered it at the back of the albergue. After some fruit, juice and a breakfast snack, I was on my way. The albergue was starting to rise by the time I left, however I was the first to leave. This tended to be a common theme throughout this year’s Camino! This morning was cold as the sun was not up and my fleece and buff helped me warm up for a few hours. I said goodbye to Hontanas for another year and made my way off road, along a trail to the right of the road. It leads up a hill and away from the road but all I had was a torch to guide me. This would be my Way for the next hour or so. I didn’t meet a soul but I did see some lights flickering behind me – other pilgrims.

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DayTwo

The sky was clear and the moon was almost full. The moon hung in the sky like a pale disc showing me the right direction. GPS is over-rated, right? It wasn’t long before I was back on the road and approaching the ruins of the San Antón hospital. I have passed these ruins a number of times before and each time it was daylight. It was a pity that there was no light to see such beauty. A refugio has been re-opened in the last few years and I kept an eye out for Adam in the event that he stayed there the night previous. There was no movement, so I marched on to Castrojeriz, the next town. I might see him again somewhere down the Camino. Castrojeriz is another town that needs light to fully appreciate it, as it is based on the side of a hill. There were no cafes open as I passed through it, however many pilgrims were leaving their albergues. I took a rest and some water before leaving the town. The sun was peaking over the horizon so I threw my pack over my shoulder as I wanted to be at the top of the upcoming Alto de Mostalares to watch the sun rise over the town of Castrojeriz.

Leaving Castrojeriz, you can see the upcoming climb and it is not easy. Slow and steady is the advice given. I’ve made this climb twice before and you would think that I know this stretch inside-out. I do. However, the urge is there to push forward. I meet Jo-Jo from the US. She is taking her time after her stay in Castrojeriz. Surprised after hearing I started in Hontanas, she asks what I had for breakfast!!! Just some fruit and energy, I tell her jokingly. I stay with her until we reach the top. Every minute or so, we turn back to watch the sun rise behind us and above Castrojeriz. What a sight! Ahead of me are pilgrims from Korea, France, Spain and Holland, all starting their day from Castrojeriz. The Alto de Mostelares was conquered..eventually and I stop for a few minutes to gather my thoughts and chomp down a donativo banana lying on a table with other fruit and drinks.

I say “see you on the trail” to Jo-Jo and walk on, with renewed energy. Now is the gradual descent from the Alto. Not as tough as the incline but me and descents don’t see eye-to-eye! I’m back to walking solo for an hour or so as we come close to the province of Palencia. The sun has risen and the temperatures are climbing at this stage. Either side of me are fields of sun flowers, with the odd haystack. All I do is put the head down and walk on with a smile on my face.

I meet Susan from Oregon. She was walking super-slow and I saw this as a chance to bring the pace down. I hadn’t had a good conversation since meeting Adam the day previous. She had plenty of time ahead and was in no rush. It was still morning and we passed Itero de la Vega talking about our respective lives. She was fun and had a dry wit about her. She loved the Spanish people but it was good to speak to someone with good English. It wasn’t long before the old chestnut question was asked. “What has you out on the Camino?”. I usually give a short and simple answer to that question, but for some unknown reason, I told her what I was hoping to gain from this Camino. I mentioned that I had a disappointing year and I had a few questions that needed answering. I went on to talk to her about my epilepsy and the option of surgery had been put on the table. This filled me with a lot of fear naturally. I wanted to be pointed in the right direction. The great thing about the Camino is you will get a straightforward answer from any person you meet – without judgement. She gave her opinion and what I should do, which I truly appreciate and lifted a lot of weight from my shoulders. I talked to Susan for one hour and never saw her again. But I will remember her for her honesty and humour. Buen Camino Susan. It was now time to pick up the pace.

It was close to 10.30 at this point and a long straight path was ahead of me before reaching the next town – Boadilla del Camino. There was nothing out of the ordinary to see – the meseta is pretty monotonous but I had time on my hands and I kept walking westward. The path was difficult to walk on however, with many stones and it was far from level. I felt pain toward the side of my heel. Whatever it was, it could hold out until I reached Boadilla. This was probably a bad decision in retrospect. I arrived at my end point – Albergue En El Camino at 11.30. I was delighted to be here after 29km and see the hospitalero, Eduardo, again. From the outside, it doesn’t look welcoming, but inside, the pool, bar and great food are enough reasons to stay.

After settling in and getting my clothes washed, I checked my heel. As feared, there was a large blister after forming. Out with the needle and thread, germoline and plaster. I should know better hmmph! I had no other problems to contend with I was happy to say.

I met quite a few fellow peregrinos today – 2 Irish guys from Co. Carlow. Both were travelling separately but were remaining in contact through Whatsapp. I also met a couple from Perth in Australia, a German brother and sister, 2 Swedish girls and one Australian girl who cracked me up many a time. Laughter is the best medicine eh? I saw Jo-Jo again after our chat on the Alto de Mostelares. It was really the first day I got to know many peregrinos. A community dinner was served at 7pm and I headed to the sleeping bag shortly after.

I can’t say enough good things about our host, Eduardo. He is never still and always has a smile, no matter how busy or stressed he is. I managed to get a selfie with him toward the end of the night. I hope to see him again soon but I hope to see some of my new friends sooner. Tomorrow was approaching and I was left with 2 choices – Villalcazar de Sirga or Carrion de los Condes. I will let the feet decide when I wake tomorrow.

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Towns Along The Way – “B”

This second installment of the “Towns Along the Way” series brings us to “B”. There are a wealth of towns starting with “B” so I might as well start by talking about them. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has stayed in any of the below towns. What have your experiences been? Good, bad, indifferent?

Barbadelo (map)

camino-de-santiago-frances-barbadelo-a-mercadoiro-riachueloOne of the first villages you will arrive at on leaving Sarria. In fact, it is 3km from Sarria. It is situated in the province of Lugo and with a population of less than 50, you know you are in Galicia as most of the surrounding area is green. I passed through here in 2011 and vividly remember the large oak tree and half-road-half-stream (left). The village has a number of albergues (www.gronze.com) which you may choose instead of the “mayhem” of Sarria. I hope to visit these parts again in 2016 so my memory is refreshed.

Belorado (map)

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Aha..now I could go on for quite a while about this particular town. It is one of my favourite parts of the Camino. Why you may ask? Well, each time I have stayed here or passed through I have been treated exceptionally well. And I will make sure I visit again on my next Camino. The town itself is located 50km to the west of Burgos and has a population of over 2,000 people. It is also situated close to the Oca Mountains and if the weather is poor, it is not uncommon to see some people take the bus direct to Burgos. Belorado is a well kept town with plenty of murals on the wall. There is a large town plaza with plenty of places to eat. The film “The Way” was shot here also, and if you look at the ground you will see a handprint and autograph of a number of the stars from the film. There are plenty of accommodation here also (www.gronze.com). Cuatro Cantones albergue would be a favourite of mine, having stayed there in 2013 and 2014. Jana and her family will take good care of you. I stayed in Casa Waslala in 2015 and enjoyed my time there also.

Bercianos del Real Camino (map)

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Another example of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town along the Camino. Bercianos is a small town about 10km west of Sahagun and it has a population of roughly 200 people. While it is small, it has great character and I have enjoyed my time here. The terrain in this part of Spain is pretty basic, it has to be said, but my time here, I will always remember. If you do opt to stay here (rather than in El Burgo Ranero a further 8km onward), ensure you stay in the Parochial albergue run by a voluntary order (www.gronze.com). It is large, you will be fed well and all you need to do is sing a song from your own country. Rest assured that Bono will never feel threatened after my singing of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking for”!!.

Biduedo (map)

Biduedo, or O Viduedo as Galicians call it, is a tiny village about 7kms from Triacastela. It is a typical rural community with close to 30 people living there. It does it’s best to serve the peregrinos passing through by having a number of private albergues (www.gronze.com) and there are a number of bars to stop at for a few minutes to rest the weary legs. One might find this town the perfect place to stay during the busy times of the Summer months.

Boadilla del Camino (map)

2266129Another pilgrim’s favourite and an end stage in Brierley’s guide book. It’s a favourite of mine and I have stayed here both times I have walked through. It is situated about 60km to the west of Burgos and is in the Meseta, Spain’s high central plateau. The town has a population of about 175 people and lives mainly on agriculture. However in recent years, it depends more on the Camino with more albergues and bars opening to support the increasing numbers. There are quite a few albergues and hostals here (www.gronze.com). By far my favourite would be “En El Camino” owned by Eduardo and his family. I have stayed there in 2013 and in 2015. You are provided with dinner there also. On leaving the next morning, you may even spot some fishermen look for the first catch of the day along the Canal de Castilla.

Boente (map)

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You will encounter Boente as you walk from Palas de Rei to Arzua in Galicia. It is another small town with a population of less than 50 people and is fairly close to Arzua. It is highly likely that you will not remember much about Boente by the time you reach Santiago. This is perfectly natural however, as at this stage you will have 50km left to walk and you will be trying to think of ways of how to slow time down! Should you wish to stay here and not in Arzua, there are a number of albergues (www.gronze.com).

Burgos (map)

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Burgos is one of the largest cities that you will encounter on the Camino, along with Pamplona, Leon, Astorga and Santiago herself. It has a population of over 200,000 people and is in the autonomous community of Castille y Leon. It is a fairly large city and there is a good distance to walk before you at it’s heart – the Cathedral. The Cathedral (left) was declared a world heritage site in 1984 by UNESCO and I strongly encourage you to visit it no matter how weary the feet are! Many people choose to take a rest day on reaching Burgos to visit the sites and recover. Another option is to walk a short day the following day. There is a wealth of accommodation as you would expect in a major city (www.gronze.com) however I have stayed in the cheap-as-pie municipal albergue beside the Cathedral. For €5 you can’t go wrong. Leaving Burgos brings you to the Meseta, which kind of puts people off walking the next 100km. I am baffled by this myself. The meseta is my favourite part.

El Burgo Ranero (map)

Situated some 8km from Bercianos de Real Camino and 18km from Sahagun, El Burgo Ranero is a small town located in the province of Leon. It holds a population of over 850 people and the Camino goes down it’s main road. I have stopped here on two occasions for cafe con leche, preferring to stay in Bercianos and Sahagun. There are a number of albergues here should you wish to stay (www.gronze.com). On leaving El Burgo Ranero, the path is on the whole uninspiring until you reach the large city of Leon, some 35km away. In May of 2015, I met two Irish ladies here who spoke in Irish. It was a shame I couldn’t join them in their conversation however!

Burguete (map)

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From the end of the meseta in El Burgo Ranero, we travel back 400km eastward to the town of Burguete. It is located in Navarre and is the first town you will encounter on leaving Roncesvalles. Many people call it by it’s proper Basque name “Auritz”. Ernest Hemingway lodged in Burguete in 1924 and 1925 for a fishing trip to the Irati River, and describes it in his novel The Sun Also Rises. 

The town has a number of albergues (www.gronze.com) but many people choose to stop here for breakfast before moving on to Zubiri or Larrasoana. It is one of the more picturesque towns along the Way, with white facades and red window shutters a feature for many Basque houses.

The next installment will feature towns beginning with C.

Camino 2015 – Day 5 – Boadilla del Camino to Villalcazar de Sirga

May 10th 2015 – Day 5
Boadilla del Camino to Villalcazar de Sirga, 18km

I had such a good evening and night in Boadilla. I met some new people (Michael, Jennifer, Sheila and Kim) and met up with people I had lost in the previous days.. Also, it was good to be back in such a fab albergue. I would encourage you all to stay in En El Camino if you pass through Boadilla. Eduardo is a gent and rather than asking for payment first (like other hospitaleros), he prefers that you settle in and shower and then pay. So I was a little sad leaving there.

I also had a feeling that today I would be walking solo. I didn’t feel up to walking as far as Carrion de los Condes with the pain in my knee. A lot of people were talking about staying there but I had been there before in 2013 so I could be forgiven for doing something different. I chose to aim for Villalcazar de Sirga, a little town 5km short of Carrion. It had a number of albergues but very few people stayed there. I left shortly after 6am as I became used to. It was pitch black outside and I was glad that two German pilgrims shouted at me as I was walking the wrong direction. The Camino follows the Canal de Castilla for about 5km until Fromista where I stopped for the usual breakfast. It was still cold so the cafe con leche was perfect. I moved on after about 20 minutes. There isn’t much to say about the walk from now on as the Camino leads you to a main motorway where I walk on the “senda del peregrino” for the remainder of the day. It’s far from attractive but I have earphones to keep me going.

Further on, once I reached Poblacion de Campos, I had a choice to stay walking along the motorway or veer off the road and into the countryside. The second option is longer and easier on the eye. I noticed that more people chose the second option which left me with a road to myself. Pure quietness. I passed through Revenga de Campos and Villarmentero de Campos barely stopping. Calling them towns would be a stretch. I could see Villalcazar de Sirga in the distance with it’s large gothic church standing tall. The Camino doesn’t actually pass through it so I needed to turn right to find the plaza mayor. I wanted to stay in the private albergue Don Camino but it was not open when I arrived (sometime around 11.30am). I could have easily walked into Carrion but this place is so relaxed I liked it already. I walked into the large church (Santa Maria la Blanca XIII) and collected a stamp for my credencial before seeing Jose at the bar down the road! He bought be a Coke and we talked about the day. I didn’t see him again. I really enjoyed his company!!

After an hour or so, Jose and his Spanish friends moved on to Carrion de los Condes and I checked into Don Camino albergue. It is tiny with 26 beds and on the corner of the town as you leave. I was given first choice of bunks but it wasn’t long before the albergue was full. Again, I didn’t recognise anyone but I had an amazing menu del peregrino with an Australian couple. They had so many questions about Ireland. A visit has been on their bucket list for so long. I think I persuaded them to bring the trip forward!!.

I took an early night that evening to rest my knee. I had taken some paracetamol from Caroline in Boadilla but I couldn’t find an open farmacia. Hopefully there would be one open in Carrion de los Condes the next morning.

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Camino 2015 – Day 4 – Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino

What a day! 10 out of 10 from start to finish. I adore the meseta and you can really get a feel for it on this stage. The fields were lush green for miles on end and the views went on for miles. If you have a problem with wide open spaces, maybe the meseta isn’t for you. I never experienced anything like it before 2013 anyway.
Anyway, I started out after 6.30am which I considered late. I put in my ear plugs the night before to block out the coughing but missed the alarm clock on my phone. I left at around 6.45am but my plan to be on to of the Alto de Mostalares to view the sun rising was gone. I passed San Anton again. An albergue has opened there since I passed it last but there was no movement. The sun rose behind me as I walked on, however not as at the same pace as the previous days. I reached Castrojeriz at 7.30am and have some breakfast. There I meet my Dutch friend Jay who had left at 5.30. He was aiming for Boadilla or Fromista.
After 30 minutes, I move on and reach the base of Alto de Mostalares. It is 350m in height and took a lot out of me last time. Up I went and again it took a lot out of me. Nothing learned!! It’s a beast, but going down it is something I enjoyed. You can see for miles as you look down. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and by the time I reached Itero de Vega I was a ball of sweat.
I met Jose from Toledo who had started in Estella and was aiming for Santiago. His English is perfect and had previously worked and studied in Dublin for 2 years. So I walked with him for a bit until Boadilla. The Irish were out in force too. I met a trio who were taking a break at Itero de Vega. It’s always great to meet fellow Irish here.
I reached the albergue just after 12 and was greeted by Eduardo. He didn’t ask for any money but first brought me to my bunk and told me I could pay when I wanted to. I’ve been here before and loved it and wouldn’t by pass it again. The next person to come in was Michael from Kinsale whom I had been passing by all day. I just assumed he was Dutch or German. Anyway. I also met a fellow blogger Jennifer who pens under the name of postcard traveller. I had the pleasure of meeting someone I follow back in 2013 and for it to happen again is fantastic. We have both been following each others’ blogs so it was great to meet.
Later that evening there was a meal and headed to bed early hoping to be refreshed for the next day.

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Camino 2013 – Day 8 – Boadilla del Camino to Carrion de los Condes

While the Albergue in Boadilla is renowned to be one of the best of the Camino, I didn’t have a particularly good night there. I, along with 3 others had a dose of food poisoning. It was just a minor setback however as I felt fine for the remainder of the trip. I also picked up an ‘Irishman’s tan’ , two burnt legs due to not wearing the correct sun cream. It hurt walking at times.
We left Boadilla at 6.30am after we availed of their breakfast which was filling. There was a good crowd that I knew at this Albergue and most headed out at the same time.
I spent the morning with Anya and walked along the the Canal de Castilla. This canal along with many was built on the turn of the century however they were put beyond use with the introduction of trains. These canals are there for fishing and for walking along. At 7am, there were many people fishing for shrimp and crab. They were pretty successful judging by their buckets.
We walk quickly through Fromista before I see Michel and Franco behind me. I decide to walk with them for a while and I end up doing so for the day. We pass through little towns dotted in the countryside but the majority of this day was walking by a main road. It was kind of ugly to say the least and it was a day I did not enjoy. We pass Villalcazar de Sirga and we watched a race from the camino. For a town of 200 people, there was a great crowd topped off with a man at an announce table with a microphone. There was not much silence today.
With Franco and Michel a good kilometre ahead of me at this stage, I decide to take it show and hope some of the girls catch up. There is 6km left to the next town and it is hardly 11am.
It is close to 12am when I reach Carrion de Los Condes, a modest sized town but with one large church and a monastery. We arrived on the feast day of Corpus Christi and there were celebrations in the main square. The streets were covered in grass, flowers and leaves. Large tapestries were made from these while people walked around them. I had no idea where Franco and Michel were at this stage so I looked around before I checked the celebrations out. Eventually I see Franco waving at me to join the queue in to Santa Maria Parochial Albergue. I was ready for sleep now, weary and burnt.
The remainder of the guys checked into another Albergue and came over to ours for dinner later on that night.
I later discovered that the people of the town would walk over the decorations and march to the main square for food and drinks. Unfortunately my battery on my phone was down so I have no photos but it shows how serious Spanish people take their feast days.
Next day is to a town called Terradillos de Los Templarios and another long walk in the sun.

Camino 2013 – Day 7 – Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino

Today was a hard day.
Not only were we walking another long day but the final 10k would be through meseta without a tree to take shelter. The temperatures were easily in the late 20s and lucky me..I had no sun cream. So I decided to wear a fleece and long pants.
I started the day with Michel. We usually walk at the same pace each morning. Franco and an Italian woman who had dinner with us the night before walked together. We usually have a small breakfast of tea, fruit and bread and bring chocolate, and sweets with us for the day ahead.
Once we started out from Hontanas, the sun rose and it was good to see if for the first time. I had a feeling it would make an appearance once we got past Burgos. The meseta is astounding. Fields and fields of grass, low hills and sun glaring down with no chance of escape. We reached San Anton which is a preserved ruin of an old hospital for pilgrims. I spent some time looking at its detailed design. There is an Albergue there also for those who want to sleep under the stars.
Anya joined us at this stage. She left the Albergue a long time after us but she has amazing pace and had caught up with us. She drived and was 100m ahead of me and Michel in the space of minutes.
I picked up my pace at this stage and wondered if I could get to talk to Anya for the first time. She is difficult to catch! I reach her at Castrojeriz and she was very happy to slow down and chat. Michel walked by himself for a while.
Castrojeriz is a gem of a town. It was built on the base of a mountain and it’s population is rising. It can be considered more than a town really. Once myself and Anya reach the end of the town, we notice a long path over a large hill that we need to ‘climb’. It was the first time I thought to myself that I’ll never do this. The legs hurt and once we got to the top, the views were unbelievable. Castrojeriz can be seen in all it’s glory. We stayed there for a while, took photos and laughed at the drawing board that said ‘fuck you hill’ !!
Next was a good descent into the next town Itero de la Vega. Amazing views around the terrain, the meseta in all it’s beauty.
The hardest part of the day was the 12km trek from Itero de la Vega to Boadilla del Camino. I ran out of water at his stage and was hoping for a quicker finish to this day. Anya was far far ahead from me now as my pace dropped off. The heat had a big effect on me. We arrived at Boadilla closely after 12 and after a monster day, we were first in line when the ‘En El Camino’ Albergue opened. This was by far the best of albergues I have stayed in so far. A lot of people rave about it and swear on going there at the end of the day. However, my stomach didn’t react well to the starter I had for a meal. I didn’t get much sleep as a result.
Highlight of the day was meeting a BBC production team who were recording a series on the Camino. I wasn’t caught on camera but ill be mentioned in some shape or form. The programme is set for showing closely after Christmas.