Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Villafranca de Montes de Oca
Total Walk 22 kilometers, almost 14 miles
Today was about the wonderful people that we meet along the Camino.
From Arla and Darrell who stopped to say goodbye–,to a young German policeman named Manuel who charmed us at breakfast–to Hazel from London, who along with her kids were on holiday (she had attended last night’s wedding at the Cathedral)–to a pair of brothers who took care of us in Villafranca.
Here’s today’s story:
We woke early and were taking a break outside the parador when Arla emerged. She had decided to walk six kilometers today to bring her total walked kilometers to 200 for the trip. They, as we pointed out, are leaving for the coast and then Italy before returning to British Columbia.
As we were talking to Arla, a young man from Germany approached (Manuel). Jackie had met Manuel the night before when she was outside the parador watching the plaza life go by (Jim was napping at the time.)
Manuel started his Germany on a bicycle and had done two weeks on the bike through France, before getting a bad foot (or lower leg) infection and took to walking.
He had stayed at a nearby albergue and was looking to have breakfast in the parador.
We asked him to join us, and we had a fun time talking to him. Manuel Schmitt. Great guy.
He told us that he is limited on his time to make the trip to Santiago, and intends to do a little bussing if necessary.
At breakfast, our table neighbors were a 30-ish year old woman, her three children and her father..
The kids were probably aged three or four to ten. Very well-behaved. Hazel had a great British accent. Her father never spoke.
In any case, Hazel had never heard of the Camino and was dumbstruck that we would be walking so far.
She was encouraging to Jackie, though.
“It’ll firm up your bum,” she said. .
We were talking with Hazel, the kids and Manuel for much longer than we planned, end eventually got our feet on the ground and the walking began.
Our walk today actually began at Villamayor del Rio. We taxied the ten minutes to that town and started the 22 kilometer trek. (We know two of the guidebook suggest that te distance is only 17 kilometers, but three of our iPhone apps said otherwise.)
We were dropped off by the taxi at a really cool little gourmet store/restaurant, named Casa Leon, where we met a wonderful proprietor, named Andrew.
He took great care of us–we may have been the first Pilgrims to visit his store in a while. It is kind of out of the way, and not intended to appeal to our crowd.
By the time we were done with our pre-walk break, we were behind the counter getting pictures with him.
It was cool.
From our start, it was about five kilometers to Belorado.
And we loved that town.
When we entered the plaza and found a seat outside the bar, we found that many of the village’s residents were preparing for a feast. It appeared that the center of the plaza was divided, much like a pizza, with banners stringing from a central stage. Balloons liked the stage, and inside each “slice” a propane-fired stove or range was set up.
From our best guess, families from the town were going to be cooking and competing in that plaza.
We wished we could have stayed. But the road was beckoning.
From Balorado, the walk passes through a number of small villages–Tosantos, Villambistia, Espinosa del Camino. All of them are clean. All are quiet on a Sunday afternoon.
Finally, with about four meters left to go, and short on drinking water, the sun came out blazing.
Jackie was melting and Jim wasn’t far behind.
Two Beautiful Brothers
After Espinosa del Camino, our stop for the night was in Villafranca de Montes de Oca.
And we were introduced to two new Camino Angels, Alfonso and Gonzalo.
These 30-some year old brothers are special and they make Hotel San Anton Abad,a must stop hotel/albergue/hostal.
We were exhausted when we arrived. The final three or four kilometers into town are tough.
They picked us up and gave us wings–truly.
The woman at the front desk was just as helpful, although we don’t know her name.
While Alfonso was giving Jackie a special “Manzanillo” tea, Gonzalo was showing Jim around this former hospital for Pilgrims, built thanks to a 12th century queen.
They were so generous of their time and interest, we really were lifted out of the exhaustion we had been feeling.
And on the Camino, service can be spotty.
At this hotel, on this night, service was impeccable. And it is beautiful.
Tomorrow was to be a walk into the large Spanish city of Burgos, but we have come up with a change of plans, which is much cooler.
We will see if our plans go through.