Thursday, 25 May 2017

Silleda to Santiago de Compestela 42kms

Silleda to Santiago de Compestela 42kms
Lovely clear blue sky at start and a nice shady walk most of the way which at the time was good as it was getting very warm. I obviously timed my walk to perfection as I did not see another peregrino until I got to Santiago! Stopped at Punte Ulla for a quick lunch which is where I stayed the night before entering Santiago last year. From about 15kms away from Santiago I could see, and hear, a huge thunder storm behind me. So I walked a bit faster and got to the cathedral just before the heavens opened! In fact just got my beer in my hand as the rain started. 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Rodeiro to Silleda 40kmd

Rodeiro to Silleda 40kms 
Rodeiro was a pleasant smallish place with a surprising number of restaurants and bars. Excellent meal in O Guerra with the best ever tarta Di Santiago I've had - home made. 10 euros for as much as you want to eat and drink! Another lovely walk today which was mostly extremely well marked. The stretch at the beginning to Penerbosa would be very muddy if there had been any rain. The route into Lalin was very good as well as it avoided the road as far as possible. Also it's a nice(ish) riverside walk out but with no arrows for 4km but you just follow the path. Unfortunately, it's all a bit like a Municipal park. Passed 2 Spanish peregrinos today on the Invierno and no dog problems. Fortunately, I got to A Laxe at 1300 and all the other peregrinos on the Sanabres must have gone to the albergue as I didn't see a single one all the way to Silleda. Got to see my favourite place on all my Caminos again which is the Punta Romana about 3kms after Prado. I would love to have a swim there but cannot see a safe way down!! Now in the Grand Albergue Silleda which is 10 euros for a private single room and has a good bar attached. Santiago de Compestela tomorrow!!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Chantada to Rodeiro 26kms

Chantada to Rodeiro 26kms
Yesterday Cafe Amedeo's was great. No food in the evening until 2100, but then menu la dia at 10 euros with lots of meat. Then they ask if you want more!
Temperature is climbing now. Got to the low 30s yesterday and it's mid 30s today. It may only be 26kms but that is one 600m climb and then a 500m descent. A beautiful clear day to start and a magnificent walk. The climb was easier than expected and I was up the top in 3 hrs. From the ermita the way down is very clearly marked, as is this complete section. The view from the top was as good as expected and as you descend I think the views are just as good. Lots of new mojons on the down section and a whole pile by the roadside waiting to be placed. There is an open bar (1300) in A Keira about 5 kms before Rodeiro and they have an Invierno sello! Very friendly. 
Staying in the Pension O Guerra which is excellent and it's a great restaurant as well. Lovely room for only 20 euros booked via Facebook which got an almost immediate response. Be aware though it's Restaurant O Guerra on Facebook not Pension. Off to Silleda tomorrow. 

Monday, 22 May 2017

MdL to Chantada 32kms

Monforte de Lemos to Chantida 31kms
Hotel was fine and had a good meal just down the road. The info in the guide is incorrect about the wine tasting as at least on Sundays it's a tour at 1830 and then A tour at 1930.
Another great walk today except for the dull straight road at the start to Vide. Markings to get out of the city are faint but ok. As mentioned in the guide there are a couple of places where you should be taken off road.  At A Vide the right turn is not signed as being the camino and the path that you can see appear impassable. Also just before Pineiro you now turn about 100m up the road from where the Camino used to turn off the road. This stretch is poorly marked. There were 3 small yappy dogs at Barxa but I just threw them a few doggy treats and they shut up. 
I was also Dive bombed by some aggressive swallows along this stretch!!

The route down to Belasar is not well marked but keep heading down and you can't get lost. The views here are spectacular. Got to the bottom and as usual the bar closed at 1130. I think it's a significant indication of the poor state of the Spanish economy given that in the beautiful setting of Belasar there are still numerous empty and abandoned houses. The climb up from there is tough and for those less inclined(!) there is the road option. Many of the off road routes today were still boggy in places even though there has been little rain. If it was wet they would be very awkward. Now in Chantada at Hotel Mogay which is a good place. Very clean and smart. I paid 26 euros as a peregrino which is a significant discount to their 44 euro price on 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Quiroga to Monforte de Lemos 35kms

 The albergue in Quiroga is massive and as others have mentioned can be busy with lots of school visits. That was true today, a Saturday, but the lady at the check in desk was aware of the problem and gave me a dormitory well away from the children. I was in a room with 16 beds all to myself!  Limited hot water and the water is rust coloured but otherwise fine. No food apparently to be had this evening in what is quite a large town! La Dia picnic again!
Quiroga to Monforte de Lemos 35kms was a lovely walk with a few hills but nothing too strenuous, reminded me of the gentle slops up Vesuvius when I used to do the annual race. Lots of woodland and a great walk along a stream from O Pobra. Then a good green lane walk into town. Stopped at A Pobra for a coffee, luckily one cafe was open at 1100 on a Sunday. No food, not even tostadas! Still no other peregrinos seen and there were a group of 5 dogs just before Barxa rowdy but no problem. Staying in the Hostal Puente Romano with a view straight onto the roman bridge and a lot of noisy geese! Off to Chantada tomorrow. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

A Rua to Quiroga 26kms

A Rua to Quiroga 26kms. 
First a bit about food in A Rua. For such a big place it's not easy to find a somewhere for a meal.  Bar Taxi had food but not until late and were not very welcoming. Meson O Tono is shut down and bar Pepa has changed hands. I ate in O Retorno at the bottom of the road from the albergue. Only raciones but truly excellent quality and the owner was clearly aware and interested in the Invierno. 

Lovely simple walk today with very clear route markings. There are a couple of alternative routes shown on the way (photos attached) that I didn't take as I was not sure where they would take me! Also the route to Soldon  now seems to take a slightly different route (photo of Camino Invierno sign) where instead of following the road it goes off right and heads up a steep hill and then joins a minor road. I walked it but couldn't see any significant gain. Route was very well marked all the way until the centre of Caspedro where a junction where you turn right is not marked and in fact I saw no more directions until I reached the river at Quiroga. For those desperate there is a bar just before you cross the river into Quiroga! Still no other peregrinos (I'm told there are 4 a day ahead) and no dog problems. Off to Monforte de Lemos tomorrow. 

Friday, 19 May 2017

PdDF to A Rua about 32 kms

Firstly, I would like to confirm that the menu la dia at Hostel Torre is excellent and only 10 euros. Also the 2 ladies serving at the bar were fabulous- very helpful, all smiles and laughing in a nice way at my Spanish ( they were both fluent English speakers). 
PdDF to a Rua about 31kms. A lovely walk today and just followed the mojons and yellow arrows the whole way. In fact since my earlier problem near the start yesterday the way has been marked superbly. The scenery is as good as I hoped and the places you pass through are clearly trying really hard to encourage peregrinos. As usual, once you enter Galacia the standards rise a little. At O Barco I kept to the river side path as far as possible and it is a lovely place. It would be a pity to avoid it. As an extra benefit I managed to replace my old leaking poncho with a new one for 13 euros. Same as the previous one ( without leaks) that folds up into a small pouch that has a belt to strap it to your waist. Photo of the industrial shop is attached. The way turns left about 1km before Vilamartin and keeps close to the river again which is far better than going along the road. No trouble with dogs so far. Off to Quiroga tomorrow. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Ponferrada to Puente de Domingo Florez 35kms.

Ponferrada to Puente de Domingo Florez 35kms. Albergue Alea last night was excellent and ideal as it's very close to the start of the Invierno. Way out from Ponferrada is easy to find using the forum guide or the Wise Pilgrims app and the way to Toral de Merayo was well marked by mojons and yellow arrows. Crossed the old bridge at TdM and continued to follow the mojons and arrows. Unfortunately, after about 2kms I thought that the direction felt off so checked the app and the forum guide and I was in the wrong place! Retraced my steps to see if I had missed a sign but all seemed correct. Decided to go back and pick up the guide/app trail which then all matched. However, there were no mojons or arrows to be seen until I reach Villalibre de la Jurisdiccion. So it would seem the route has been moved, probably to avoid the small climb up the vineyard. Wasn't happy to follow the 'new' route as I could not see any tack on my maps but given how good the arrows and mojons were the rest of the way I'm sure I would have got to the correct spot. Route was easy to follow thereafter without any problems. That said it was a tough day. The extra few kms didn't help but the tough bit was the ups and downs.  Given how long I've been walking this time I am fairly fit and like 40 plus days. Had to go up 300m and down again twice, plus another climb up of 300m and then down 400m and that climb down was long and hard. Would hate to do it in the wet, but more importantly, I would hate to try it without a good few days ( or weeks) on the Camino first!  Lovely scenery and the castle at Castillo de Comital was impressive. As a note it was now supposed to be open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1100 but I was there at 1100 and it was still closed. Now in Hostal Torre (18euros for peregrinos!) which is fine and off to A Rue de Valdeorras tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Rabanal to Ponferrada 36km

Rabanal to Ponferrada 36km
Good albergue last night and it was great to have a choice of food at a reasonable time. Heavy rain and mist this morning and a steep track down full of ankle grabbing rocks! However, it only took 6.5 hours so it wasn't that bad. Still seems strange to see so many peregrinos- I must have passed at least 50. Chose an albergue which is close to the start of the Camino Invierno and I chose it because they have a vegetarian menu and I want some vegetables!  Just eating a wonderful home made veggie flan for lunch ( with wine of course). 

Benavente to La Baneza 43 kms

Benavente to La Baneza 43 kms
Firstly, I want to mention the Taberna Don Pablo in Benavente which is just about the first bat when you walk up from the AdP. It was very good, they were very helpful and you could eat at any time!
As for today's walk it was excellent! So I wonder if BP had a bad day when he walked it!  Walk out of Benavente was simple and along a quiet road for about 5 kms. After that it was with off road or along a very quiet road ( I didn't see any vehicles) and the section from Infantada almost to Benavente was mostly along a river bank. Overall, one of the nicest walks so far. Helped by feeling good, in fact I considered walking on to Astorga but chose not to as it would have made distances very awkward for the next couple of days. Good to see a few VdlP signs and my first menu de peregrino offered since I left Alicante!  Off to Rabanal  del Camino. 

Add photo about AdP opening times 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

La Baneza to Rabanal del Camino via Astorga. 46kms.

La Baneza to Rabanal del Camino via Astorga. 46kms. Fairly straightforward route to Astorga although about 12kms out the track crosses a road. The road has been newly tarmaced and the track has been regarded so all but one sign has been obliterated. The remaining sign neither pointed along the road of along the track - so I chose the track - wrong choice! No great drama as it was easy to get back on track just had to cross some scrub land and a few fields! Once in Astorga I walked until I saw peregrinos crossing ahead of me and new I had got to the Frances! Sat and had a roll and a coffee and saw more pilgrims in that time than in the last 24 days! The walk to Rabanal was easy, so many signs and so many peregrinos it would be impossible to get lost. Also, I had forgotten just how many bars and beds are available on this Camino.  I walked into Rabanal and had a choice of 8 or more places to stay and right opposite are 2 bars with food from 1600. Also interesting to see that having climbed to about 1150m many trees don't yet have leaves, bluebells are in glower and I've gone back a season. Climb first thing tomorrow up to 1500m and then all the way down again to about 520m to Ponferrada. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Benavente to La Baneza 43 kms

Benavente to La Baneza 43 kms
Firstly, I want to mention the Taberna Don Pablo in Benavente which is just about the first bar when you walk up from the AdP. It was very good, they were very helpful and you could eat at any time!
As for today's walk it was excellent! So I wonder if BP had a bad day when he walked it!  Walk out of Benavente was simple and along a quiet road for about 5 kms. After that it was with off road or along a very quiet road ( I didn't see any vehicles) and the section from Infantada almost to Benavente was mostly along a river bank. Overall, one of the nicest walks so far. Helped by feeling good, in fact I considered walking on to Astorga but chose not to as it would have made distances very awkward for the next couple of days. Good to see a few VdlP signs and my first menu de peregrino offered since I left Alicante!  Off to Rabanal  del Camino. 

Benavente to La Baneza 43 kms

Benavente to La Baneza 43 kms
Firstly, I want to mention the Taberna Don Pablo in Benavente which is just about the first bar when you walk up from the AdP. It was very good, they were very helpful and you could eat at any time!
As for today's walk it was excellent! So I wonder if BP had a bad day when he walked it!  Walk out of Benavente was simple and along a quiet road for about 5 kms. After that it was with off road or along a very quiet road ( I didn't see any vehicles) and the section from Infantada almost to Benavente was mostly along a river bank. Overall, one of the nicest walks so far. Helped by feeling good, in fact I considered walking on to Astorga but chose not to as it would have made distances very awkward for the next couple of days. Good to see a few VdlP signs and my first menu de peregrino offered since I left Alicante!  Off to Rabanal  del Camino. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Villalpando to Benavente 29 kms

Villalpando to Benavente 29 kms
Shortish day today and a fairly flat one. Easy route and a nice clear blue sky for a change. Nowhere open on the way which I expected being a Sunday. Could see Benavente from about 15kms away! Knew I had to get the AdP key from the tourist office and was just hoping it would be open. I arrived at just before 1300 and it turns out they close at 1300 as its a festa day!  Good directions to the AdP which has 12 beds and all the normal things. Was hoping for a washing machine but no luck. However, the bars are open so food options look good. Need to plan my next few days along the last bit of VdlP as I don't have guide. About 780kms done so far to what to me feels like the end of the Sureste as its VdlP and Invierno from here. So I walked to here without seeing another peregrino while walking and only 5 at the AdP in la Roda plus the Norwegian in Gotarrendura!  Not that I mind at all. I think the most difficult part in places was getting a meal in the evening before 2100!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Moto de Marques to Villalpando 38kms

Moto de Marques to Villalpando 38kms 
Started and stayed dry but threatening all day. The AdP in MdM was fine. 4 beds with a shower. It is just at the rear of Plaza Major and right on the Camino. Simple track today with a pleasant stroll through some pine forests at the end. Now in the AdP in Villalpando which is between the school and local police station. There is even a large signpost to it. AdP is very simple but has 6 beds in 3 rooms and the hospitalero seems to live in! No locks on any doors - I always keep ALL of my valuables with me at all times!

Friday, 12 May 2017

MdC to Moto de Marques 49kms

MdC to Moto de Marques 49kms
Last nights meal was the best so far on this camino. A full size portion of lasagne to start, then a wonderful piece of roast pork with excellent crackling and a large salad to the side.  Completed with a pud and for the first time this camino it included a bottle of wine!  Cost 18 euros but unfortunately I was tired and only drank 2 glasses! Route today was straight forward and well marked but a little dull. Started dry but quickly turned to frequent heavy showers. Left at 0630 and arrived at 1600 with a short stop in Tordesillas for a bite to eat. Noted there was a hotel in Rueda ( 13kms from MdC) so that could split the last two stages into more 'normal ' distances.  Called the lady who runs the AdP and she told me to wait in the bar! There is only one and they don't do meals! Luckily, they have pinchos and rolls so I won't starve!!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Arevalo to Medina del Campo 34kms

Arevalo to Medina del Campo 34kms. 
Left just before 0700 and arrived at 1330. 

Rained very heavily overnight but it had stopped by 0700. However, it remained very threatening and within the hour it was pouring down - complete with strong winds and all in 8 degs! Lucky I stopped after about an hour and then there was just heavy occasional showers. Route is simple and relatively flat but nowhere on route was open on the way as I expected! Arrived in Arevalo without any dramas and headed to the Tourist info office. Went there as I plan a long day tomorrow, if the weather and everything thing else is ok, and I wanted to check some details about the albergue.  I didn't want to arrive after more than 45kms to have trouble getting into the Albergue! So now I am assured that if I phone Rebecca when I arrive she will come and open up. 🤞

Gotarrendura to Arevalo 28kms

Gotarrendura to Arevalo 28kms

My Norwegian friend left earlier than me this morning and he is walking the Levante so I don't expect to see him again so fortunately I could walk solo. I'm happy to meet with others at the end of the day but I do prefer walking by myself. Left at 0730 and arrived at 1300. Good walk today, especially the last 15kms or so which was through a wonderful pine forest. The pines are being farmed for their sap as each one has a container on it to collect the sap. Also, many of these pines have mistletoe growing in them, it is very unusual to see it grow in pines in U.K. After about 5kms into the pines the camino arrows try to take you towards the road which I did want to do. I knew that there was a river valley to my left that went to Arevalo so decided to ignore the arrows and take an alternative route next to the valley! This worked out well as I stayed in the forest for an extra 5kms. Tomorrow should Medina del Campo. Camino signs out of town are confusing, glad I scouted the way out this afternoon. Feels like the weather is changing!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Avila to Gotarrendura 24.5kms

Avila to Gotarrendura only 24.5kms
Another short one today. Avila was an impressive walled town and it was nice to walk around it in the afternoon while the street were in shade. This AdP has beds for 10 and there has not been that many here in the past week.  I was the only one there until about 1600 when I wandered up to the gate and found a Spanish cyclist there! Turned out he had been trying to phone for an hour and couldn't get a key! Not much chance for the rest of us - in fact the Norwegian man I mention further down was evidently at the AdP gate later in the evening when we were out and he never got in!  According to a notice in the AdP ,'the' bar in gotarrendura is closed on Tuesdays so I picked up some essentials last night - inc a bottle of Rioja!  So my pack is a little heavier today. Good job it's such a short one. Simple walk out of town on a quiet road for 7 kms to Narrillos de San Leonardo where I picked up some fresh bread. Too early for the bar to be open for cafe. Rest of the route was off road and very pleasant. No bars open on the way so went straight on to Gotarrendura and arrived at 1200 having left at 0730. When I arrived for the first time there were arrows to the Camino and to the AdP!! Regrettably, there was no sign on the door to say where to get the key but I guessed correctly that they were in the 'town hall'. However, this is the best AdP on this route so far. 4 peregrino beds plus 12 tourist beds, kitchen, showers, courtyard and a washing machine and dryer! The info about the bar being closed was correct so glad I picked up some food.  At about 4pm a Norwegian man turned up and was very disappointed to be  told there was nowhere to eat!! He considered going on but as the next stop of any size is 28kms it did seem like a great plan. Explained I have enough to share so neither of us will starve. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

SBdP to Avila 25 kms

SBdP to Avila 25km
Left at 0730 and arrived at - 1230

Beautiful day again and a wonderful short stroll to Avila. There is another steep climb starting 6kms out of SBdP when it climbs 450m in about 4kms - which I really felt after yesterday's hill. Glad it was only 25kms in the end. Also this steep stretch could be a problem if it has been wet as you would probably be walking up a stream! In that case, better to take the road I think. Could see some snow on top of some of the distant hills and could feel the temperature drop at the top today. The rest of the walk was mainly downhill all the way to Avila. It is noticeable how much the general way markings and info has improved since getting into the Castillo and Leon region. The AdP here is excellent and it is clearly marked on the way.All the facilities inc a washing machine! However, it is on the outside of the wall so you may end up walking a kilometre or 2 further than you expect!  Great location right on the Camino. There is a notice outside with the hospitalero's phone number, but luckily when I arrived he was there just getting ready to leave. 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Cadalso de los Vidrios to San Bartolome de Pinares via Cebreros 37kms (felt like 40 +)!

Cadalso de los Vidrios to San Bartolome de Pinares via Cebreros 37kms (felt like 40 +)!
A wonderful walk today but tough. Started at 0700 and arrived at 1445.  Blue skies and mid to high 20s by the afternoon. Lots of birds singing and besides the first 8kms it was just about all off road. Just before Cebreros I walked through a mass of people and passed many more who it turned out were going to the towns big festa! The Day was tough because from about 5kms before Cebreros until about 12kms before SBdP it's all uphill. Climbed about 700m and that's not counting the bits where you go down a little so you can go up again! That said the scenery and track were great. A few lovely old bridges and lots of scrambling between grit stone boulders. There is a stretch where I was really glad there had been no rain as it was a bit boggy even now. Way was extremely well marked. I had hoped to stay in the AdP but failed to find it.  I knew it was supposed to be in Casa de Pino and I had telephone numbers. No answer on the phones and when I asked in a couple of bars and elsewhere I just got a puzzled response. Didn't want to spend much more time hunting around so went to Hostal El Patio (25 euros). There is also another Hostal called Beatriz Toledo. It's a pity that none of the AdPs on this camino so far have had a single arrow pointing to where they are and if you are lucky enough to fine it there probably no sign outside let alone anything on the door to tell people how to get the keys.  After settling in I took a stroll around SBdP as I thought I would have a look for the other Hostal (it does not appear to be there any more!) and the AdP- which I still could not find - as I would have liked to get an address and I would have far preferred to give them the money!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Noves to Cadalso los Vidrios via Escalona 38 kms

Noves to Cadalso los Vidrios via Escalona 38 kms

Good start with a lovely track today - one of the best so far. Route out of Noves was simple and a pleasant walk to Quismondo. Checked that Hostel Euro Quismondo was there and it is on the right of camino as you leave Quismondo. Looks small and simple. Way to Escalona was lovely with a slight change to the farm landscape with more arable land and saw my first cows since I started! The route from Paredes de Escalona has been made more direct than previously with clearly lots of effort and the way is very well marked. Last 7km are on a very old tarmac road that is uphill all the way to CdlV. There are 2 Hostels here - the San Jose (it has 20 rooms) and the Cadalso. So unless you are here in peak Spanish holiday time rooms should be easy. Off to San Bartolome de Pinares tomorrow.

Had a drink with Felipe from Noves last night and got him to contact Juan in VdDF so that he has all the info about the Noves AdP. 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Toledo to Noves 33kms

Toledo to Noves 33kms
Left Toledo at just after 0630 as I was not certain if I would stop in Noves or continue to Quismondo as I had been unable to contact the AdP in Noves (more of that later). Started in light rain accompanied by thunder and lightning, luckily it stopped after about an hour and stayed overcast until Huecas. The initial route out of Toledo is relatively simple as you just go along Av de Barber to the north of the city. There are a few options to get there from the old town but all require a steep descent down a near vertical cliff. I had 2 choice either down the longest escalators I have seen (about 300m) or further west down some steps. Didn't expect to be able to use the escalators as they don't open until 0700. However, I had to walk past the escalators anyway and was delighted to find them already open at 0640. Straight down the escalator and then headed for Ave Barber. Head NW from there through a number of roundabouts with a few Camino signs evident. Was looking carefully for where this 'new' route via Villamiel splits from the alternate route via Rieves. However, it seems the what signs I saw were only to the villamiel route. From here to Huecas the signage was limited if not plain confusing - at one point there was a large formal camino sign to turn right and there is no right turn available!! Luckily, with apple maps I could see the route easily and my way was confirmed by the occasional camino sign. I have no idea what the other route is like but this one is unattractive- it's all either on road or next to the road. The only good thing is that it's 7kms shorter. From Huecas things improved as the track was better, being well away from roads, the markings were mostly good and the sun came out. Arrived in Noves at 1300 still not sure if I would stop. However, as I headed through Noves on the camino towards the church a group of ladies said hello and asked if I was looking for the AdP!  Turns out this was Phillepe's house and he had the keys! Took it as a sign to stop👍. Seems to be a good choice as it started raining when I got indoors. 
The Adp is fine. 7 beds (inc a double!) lots of other space and a washing machine ❤️.  Phillipe insisted that I have dinner with him and his family tonight and even tried to offer breakfast until I explained I would be leaving at about 0630! The AdP is a simple place but it has all that's required.  A little grubby in places so I had a bit of a clean as I had time to spare. 
Now for some AdP facts:
AdP Hospitalero is Phillepe 677832460 He lives at  18 Calle de la Iglesia and the 

AdP is 6 Calle Jose Caro. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Mora to Toledo 37kms

Mora to Toledo 37kms
Started a bit earlier at 0645 and arrived in Toledo at 1430 after a breakfast/lunch stop at Burguillos. Route out from Mora was good through the city but haphazard thereafter. Didn't matter as the Don Quijote camino is well marked. Seems a pity to focus on a modern made up route.  I know my tan must have come on a bit as when I was walking through Cobisa a delivery driver stopped and as me for directions! The last 8kms or so down into Toledo are lovely, until you get the all the tourists on the high side of the river taking their photos. As you get to the main road and start to follow the river there is track that heads down towards the river. I ignored it as I was not aware of any other way across the river.  However, there is clearly a 'ferry' on a steel rope that goes across the river. Not sure how you get to use it but if it's not in use the path follows on and then climbs back up to the road. I took the high route and entered the city across the old pedestrian bridge. The city is full of tourists. I'm no fan of big cities so I will be glad to leave for Noves tomorrow. Here it was 2.20 euros for a coke!!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Tembleque to Mora 25kms

Tembleque to Mora 25 km
Left at 0800 as it was such a short day and arrived at 1230! Intended to stop at Villanueva de Bogas but no bar to be found. Mind you they had at least 2 ladies hairdressers! Good track to VdC although one junction was unmarked. The route from VdC to Mora was excellent- probably the nicest so far. Helped by the fact that there were so hills at last and the scenery was very pleasant. Nice to see the hermitage and the very old castles as well. Where the route divides to go to Mora or AdT it is very clearly marked by a large sigh post. Mora is a large town which like Tembleque is well kept and prosperous. Even the local police station is a grand building with a mosque like dome on the top. I stayed at Hostel El Toledano (925300242)which was clean and simple with a private shower. Perfect for peregrinos (17 euros). Fairly easy to find as it only 100m off of the Camino but it's only a single plain door as and entrance with a small notice outside. There are at least 2 others in town. One is immediately as you enter the town and the other is in the centre on the Camino called Hostal Agripino 25 euros 925300000/1 which looks grander. For tomorrow the way out appears to be well marked. 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Don Fadrique to Tembleque 30kms

Left at 0730 and arrived at 1300. Slightly later start than normal as Juan the hospitiler at Rincon del Infante insisted on giving me breakfast! Toast, marmalade, fruit,cake and coffee. Then insisted I took some fruit juice, fruit as well as ham and bread with me! Felt like a child leaving home. It was a beautiful morning and the clouds just breaking up as I left.  It turned into a lovely clear blue sky day and by the time I arrived it was about 25 degs. Route was simple, mostly flat and it was well marked. Juan had drawn me an alternative map to show an option to save 3km by walking alongside the road for longer. Nice thought, but I would happily walk an extra 3 km or more to avoid the road. If it was a 40km day then maybe I would choose differently. Hotel Pasada is to the right just as you enter town so easy to find. Have a large, clean room with a bath and a shower for 20 euros inc breakfast. Took a short walk around to find lunch and it is a pretty well cared for town. 

Tomorrow I plan to got to Mora as there is evidently a good place to stay called El Toledano. This way I can avoid having to stay in Almonacid de Toledo which has a bad reputation and go direct to Toledo the next day. The day after also looks like a variation as I am told that beds in Noves are extremely limited so instead I will probably head for Torrijos which should be about 34kms and then the next day head for Escalona ( about 27 kms) or go on to Cadalso which would be about 45 kms. The choice will depend on how I feel and what the weather is like!

Monday, 1 May 2017

ET to Don Fadrique via Quintanar 26kms

Just a short note about El Toboso. Overall, I think the Hostel Don Quijote is best avoided. It is expensive, both for the bed and the food and the standard is poor considering the price. I would suggest that others first try the convent. If that is not possible or not your favourite option there are 2 Casa Rurals signed outside the village.  Only about 1km from the Hostel and right on the Camino. One called Casa del Cominco the Amendros with phone numbers of 678694498 and 615960618. 

Later start than normal today as it was a short hike. Sky was clear blue and the sun was shining. A bit chilly but lovely all the same.  Decided to take the route via Quintanar as it was only about 3 km extra. The route out of ET was well marked and one of the nicest paths so far. Rest of the way to DF was simply and flat. Didn't need a map as the way was obvious. When I found the way the the Rincon del Infante I was met in the plaza by the owner and I them realised what he had been trying to say on the phone. Its fiesta day and I arrived 5 mins before the  procession came into the square! I thought he said something about 'festa' when I phoned. Probably good job I booked via as I'm not sure otherwise they would have been taking bookings! Juan was extremely helpful. It took 3 beers, some cheese, crisps and mussels as well as a lot of info before I got to my room. No criticism meant- he was just very welcoming to a peregrino and the washing was still included. Even though he was at great pains to explain to me that it was going to cost me 5 euros more because I used! Lovely place and a must stop for the Camino. 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

El Provencio to Don Fabrique 43kms

Last nights accommodation worked out well. As it was in the sports stadium complex it meant I had the key to the whole place. Can't see that happening in U.K.!  Left at 0700 and arrived at 1500 after a short stop in Las Mensas. Thankfully, it was dry at the start and stayed dry all day. I even saw the sun for a short while. Route from EP was simple a very well marked and after LM it was along the road for about 11km and then the rest was on a good track. Markings very good all the way. Got into DP fine and headed for Hostel Don Quijote. The local convent offers beds but I thought the Hostel would be easier. I got there at what must have been peak time for their family Sunday lunch! It was utter chaos. Managed to confirm I was in the right place but I needed to talk with Papa for the room. Well Papa was working   As frantically as possible (but not efficiently) and was clear pressed for time!  Managed to catch his attention and got the 'in a moment ' response.  After 15 mins I got the chef to give me a beer and then 15 mins stopped Papa and explained I just wanted to if there was a room or not. He said yes, so I got another beer and had lunch. Afterwards I got the key to the room, killed the resident cockroach and settled in - maybe I should have gone to the convent.  However, I looked around the convent later on and could see no way in or a sign for access. Otherwise ok and as my legs are tired from 3 long days I had no desire to go hunting for a room elsewhere. Tomorrow is a short day of only 25 kms so I'll get a rest. I called tomorrow's place earlier today-El Rincon del Infante- which is highly recommended for peregrino's - but when I asked for a room I got a very long winded reply of which I understood very little!! Lucky, I found them on so reserved that way!!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

La Roda to El Provencio 43 kms

La Roda to El Provencio via Minaya 43 kms
Left at 0700 arrived at 1520

It rained all day! Track from LR was good and clearly marked. Almost a straight path all the way. Stopped in Minaya for coffee and toast with olive oil and headed out after my short break. After a small place call Casas de Roldan the directions almost disappeared. In fact without my excellent sense of direction ( otherwise known as Apple maps) I'd have had little chance of finding my way. Many junctions had no arrows at all and it was made more difficult by the circular fields that the paths followed. After about 20 kms it sorted itself out and the signs for the final section are very good. The beds are sports mattress on a floor in the sports hall changing rooms. Better than it sound as its warm, clean and I can lock the door. I also have 4 mattresses to myself as no one else is here. Getting into these places is often problematic as it can be hard to find who has the key. However, it could not of been better here as Manuel, who I phoned yesterday to say I was coming, must have seen me walking down the street as he came and met me about 1km from the sports hall and led me in.  Then, no only was he very efficient getting me settled, but he gave me a load of other info about future places to stay. He is the star of the Camino Sureste to date. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Albacete to La Roda 40kms

Albacete to La Roda 40kms 
Started at 0720 and arrived at 1500 after a shot stopper for a coffee at La Gineta. 
Albacete was a typical Spanish city in that there is no suburb - you go straight from the city to farmland. Pity about the open drain, that used to be a river, on the way out. An Europe had the cheek to call UK "the dirty man of Europe!!"

Simple well marked track out of town after getting over the rail tracks. Mainly dry to start with but it gradually got damper until after 2 hours I had to put my poncho on. Then kept raining to rest of the way. As recommended in my Spanish guided I had phoned the AdP the day before. When I found it there was no sign or any info about access. So I called the same number again and was told he be over in 40 mins. Lovely to hang around in the rain and it was only 10 degs   He did turn up as promised and explained that all the beds had been taken! By now there were 3 of us as 2 German ladies had arrived who are walking the Camino Levante and the 2 routes cross here - which is why it was busy.  11 people and only 2 of us are on the Sureste. Fortunately, they had some spare mattresses- one look and the German ladies left! I did not fancy wandering around any more so I grabbed one and got on with it. The AdP is fairly basic and a bit of a mess. The standards on the Sureste seem a lot lower than on other routes. I can understand for the Sureste as it's not walked often, but the Levante is much busier. 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Petrola to Albacete 35kms

Got up to a wet day today so put on my trusty poncho and headed out at 0700. Arrived just before 1400 and it rained or drizzled most of the time. Luckily, Albacete had the least as the track in would have been very muddy otherwise. I could see heavy rain either side in the distance but I stayed fairly lucky. In fact, yesterday in this region there was an extremely heavy hailstorm for 30 mins that damaged large areas of crops so I was glad to miss that too. Besides the rain it was a nice track for most of the way and I was treated to a Spanish airforce display on my way in, loops, corkscrews and whAt looked like bombing runs. Glad I was not a target! Albacete looks like a fairly standard medium sized city but I'll get to explore later once I have checked into my Airbnb room at 1500. 

Markings were not so good today. I realised early on that one very large rock just out of Petrola had been moved so the direction was wrong and later on many appeared to be missing. Also, the final 5 kms ish into the city should be a fairly straight track but the route has been used to dump tons of soil on. Had to go around, not difficult but a nuisance. Glad I had the gpx track and apple maps today!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MdC to Petrola 23 kms

Camino note
I was joined in the AdP in MdC by a Spanish peregrino called Pepe. He is doing the Camino on on electric bike! The person who let us into the AdP warned us not to let the door close unless we had a key. Evidently, someone recently stepped outside to check something and the door closed and locked on them.  No keys and no trousers! Had to go across to the restaurant to get them to phone for help! 
MdC to Petrola  only 23kms

An easy day today but the next stop is another 36 kms away. Left at 0710 and arrived at 1200. Lovely stroll today on a good track with lots of little twists and turns. Pleasant scenery and still dry. Although the last 6km was dead straight again! This is a very small place so found my way to the bed,after asking for help,them asked for the best place to eat. Hopefully they are open tonight as well. The albergue is very simple, just 4 bunk beds on a room that is part of the church. A hand basin with cold water and a toilet. So it was an RA's dhoby for me! (Ask a navy person what that means!) To get to the AdP you need to phone Damian Lopez the day before. Then when you arrive you need to call again and go to 19 Calle San Bernard to get the key. I had to ask the baker! Damian is 100 m right of bar Jesus the AdP is to the left of the bar by the church.  

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Caudete to Montealegre del Castillo 35kms

No one else arrived last night so I was by myself again. Left at 0700 and got to MdC at 1410. I knew I had to go to the Ayuntamiento (town hall) to register and get the keys. Also I knew they would not be open all afternoon.  Luckily for me they did not close until 1430!  That would make it tough for some to get there in time as I walk quite quickly! Track to here was good and well marked with yellow arrows and little red elephants. Mainly flat again and passed lots of almond and walnut trees and wild flowers. Also lots a rabbits around. Last section is a dull slog along a road. Only relief was seeing 3 people going along the Camino riding skateboards and a Spanish driver that stopped in the middle of the road to call me over and tell me how to get into the AdP! MdC is quite a small town with about 700 inhabitants. Their AdP is excellent - 8 beds,2 loos and a shower all very clean and very nicely done. No charge either and they would not take a donativo either. Just had my 3 course lunch (with a coke!) but unfortunately this placed is closed tonight so I need to find somewhere else for tonight. Saw in the register that there is a Scottish man a day ahead of me so I guess we will catch up at some point! Be nice to have a conversation with more than ten words in it! Hasta manana. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Sax to Caudete via Villena 29kms

Sax to Caudete via Villena 29kms

Out at 0730 and arrived at 1230. Hot today and had used all my water in the water sac by the time I arrived. However, I still had a litre in reserve. Unusually, I had a coffee before I left sax and a coffee and tostada in Villena - I must me getting soft! Track was simple today, well marked and flat - too flat really as I hate seeing my destination when it's more than 15kms away! More general agricultural on the way and plenty of wild flowers still out. Unfortunately, it is a fiesta here today so little if anything is open. On the bright side there is a fridge full of beer in the AdP!Staying in my first AdP for this Camino and it's fairly typical. In an old church building with bunk beds and a single shower. However, at the moment I'm the only one there but I'm told another person is expected later. So far this Camino is definitely not crowded. There have only 2 others here this week and it would seem only 3 English people in 5 years! Tomorrow I should see the little red elephants of the Camino Anibal!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Sax evening

Had a few hours to spare after I had checked into my room - Casa Saxrural airb&b again and it was excellent- so thought I would go for a walk!  Sat above Sax is a very old Saxon castle so I of course decided to would walk up to it! Being a Sunday it was closed but at least I wasn't surprised. Bar El Quijote, which is just across the bridge as you enter the town, was very good. Lovely lady called Anna helped me and you have to like a place that when you ask for another glass of wine say "help yourself "! So a beer, 3 glasses of help yourself wine, fried anchovies then chicken and chips all for 13 euros! 

MdC to Sax 25kms

Left at 0730 on what was a cool but sunny day. In fact didn't take my fleece off until 1000!  Easy to follow track that was well marked until I got to Petrer. It is often difficult to follow the Camino signs through cities and this was true here. Got most of the way through then lost the signs. Not helped by the fiesta in progress! No problem as I have a gps track and my mate google. Ultimately found my way through but added about 5 kind to the route, so did 30 kms instead of 25. Track after Petrer was well marked and the last few kms into Sax were a pleasant stroll along a river. Got to Sax at 1300 and stopped for food ( and a large beer). Room not available until 1500 ( which I knew) so just relaxing and sorting things out for my walk to Caudete tomorrow. 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Alicante to Monforte del Cid. About 28 km

Alicante to Monforte del Cid. About 28 km.  Started at 0720 and arrived at 1220. A bit early for my air B&B room but the owner was fine with be arriving early. Quite east to find my way out of the city and after the cemetery there were plenty of yellow arrows to show the way. In fact the amigos de Alicante's guide seems to be very good and well worth the 5 euros. Probably about 60% tarmac and pavement but the rest was nice rugged tracks. After only an hour I had left most of the city behind, and saw pigs wandering around and an hour later I was out in the country.  As I neared Orito there was a sign showing an alternate route to MdC which saved about 2 km so I took that route as it was my planned destination. Air B&B seems a useful tool for Camino's like this that have less albergues di peregrinos  (AdP) to choose from. In fact I'm using it for tomorrow's stop in Sax but hope to stay in the AdP in Caudete the following day. Saw no one else on the track today. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Camino Sureste starts tomorrow

I leave Alicante in the morning to start my walk.  It's been an interesting city and I'm sure there is a beach somewhere! Despite being a tourist town I can still eat out well (and drink) for less than 25 euros a day which I don't think I could do in uk! Given the reduced value of the £ it seems strange to me that it is still inexpensive here. Also, it's much safer crossing the roads here than in Rottingdean village as at least cars here stop at the pedestrian crossings. In fact cars stop to give way on most roads. Also the wide streets paved with tiles and stone look a lot smarter than Brighton's chewing gum strewn concrete. There is very little litter and everyone seems to be washing the pavement in the morning. In addition, most nights there is someone dancing in the street, last night was tango. The Spanish lessons have been hard work and after 4 to 5 hours a day my brain is numb. I just hope some of it sinks in. However, I will be pleased to leave as I tend to find any city a bit soul destroying. Now let's see what tomorrow brings. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Alicante- still

Went to find the Amigos de Santiago en Alicante so I knew where they were when they opened on Thursday to find them open!  Typical! However, at least I could get the guide (5euro) which looks very comprehensive with good maps. Just need to massively improve my Spanish to read it all! After 4.5 hrs of lessons today I think my head will explode!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Camino Sureste - the beginning!

Got to Alicante and the room I'm using until Saturday without any dramas. Found the start of the Camino. As usual it's a church! Disconcerting to think that the equivalent of today's drive to the airport will take more than 2 days to  walk and that the whole trip will take more than 5 weeks to get back home!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Decided, its the Camino Sureste

Decision made, I’m going to try to do the Camino Sureste this time from Alicante to Santiago de Compostela (SdC). Approx 1100kms with the highest points around 1350m. This is a less well travelled path so the availability of Albergues (AdPs) is limited, especially for the first section, but there should be enough alternatives such as Hostels and Hotels. Luckily, AirBnB is getting more popular in these locations so that becomes another option. Where there are AdPs and I can find them and they are open I will definitely use them. Previous reports have very few people walking this route so I may welcome the chance of some company that may be found in the AdPs! The Sureste does cross with the Levante from Valencia a few times so that is another opportunity to meet with others. Formally, the Sureste joins up with the Frances in Astorga but I will probably leave that route asap to avoid the crowds and head along the Invierno.

I plan to fly to Alicante on Easter Monday 17 Apr and then do 4 days intensive Spainish lessons before starting the walk on Sat 22 Apr. I want to improve my very basic Spanish as I am likely to need to ask for more directions and other help on this Camino as it is walked relatively little. That said there is an organisation in Alicante dedicated to the Sureste so I plan to visit them while there to get additional information and a guide! I already have some good GPS tracks and a homemade spreadsheet that puts all the info I could find in one place.

Buen Camino!