There are strict instructions in this albergue that no one is to get up before 6:30 am. However I want some peace in the loo so creep out of the dormitory at just about 6:00am and am confronted by a frenzy of people on the central landing getting ready for the off. So much for rules!
Ella cooks omelettes to take with us for breakfast, and we go downstairs to the bootroom. When the main door is opened I can hear a howl of wind from outside and we decide to put on all our gear. When we actually emerge onto the street we realise that the ‘howling’ was being made by a street cleaning machine, and the weather is beautiful.
We leave not long after 7:00am and are soon out of this pretty town and into the countryside.
We have similar scenery to yesterday but unfortunately it is interrupted by a motorway that runs beside the camino.
We stop at about 8:30am to eat our omelette rolls and then carry on, still alongside the very busy motorway, with huge juggernaughts ripping past. It is not the best environment for walking, but it continues for miles on end. Sometimes the camino moves a bit further from the road, but it is always within sight and hearing.
An hour later we cross from the province of La Rioja into Castilla y Leon and see no more vines from this point onwards!
At about 12:30pm after 23 km we stop at an albergue, planning to eat lunch but we bump into the Finish ladies who are eating ice creams which are very tempting, so lunch is put on hold and ice cream is on the menu. Søren arrives and joins and then we continue on our way.
I walk ahead whilst the others shop for lunch and after several kilometres I find a delightful picnic area to stop and finally eat lunch.
For the last two nights we have stopped at towns that coincide with the finish points of stages recommended by several guide books and consequently many people who are following the guide stop in these towns, with the consequence that the albergues at these points are very busy. So we are consciously trying to avoid these end stages and keep away from the masses.
With this in mind we have pushed on today past the 23km guide book end stage, not knowing where we will find a bed, and after deciding against the first option, and the second option being closed, we eventually find a tiny albergue in a village called Espinosa del Camino, with thirty inhabitants, run by an elderly gentleman of character called Pepe.
There are ten beds, I am in a room of four single beds and there is one other room with three bunks. One bathroom serves all. The charge of 16-€ includes dinner (paella, served promptly at 7:30pm), bed for the night, and breakfast. It is really just a large house, full of interesting mementos. We arrived around 4pm, having walked 32 km. We would probably have walked on to the next village, a further 5 km, but I was desperate for the loo and when I saw the albergue open I made a bee-line for it. Ella and I have so far avoided the inelegance of having to satisfy the call of nature on the side of the track, and I am hoping that this will continue for the duration of the walk, but today I was very close to giving in when this fabulous little albergue came into sight.
Having showered and done my laundry, I am now sitting in the only bar in the village. When I arrived Ella and Søren had a beer each, but the bar man had locked up and gone – for a spanish five minutes! About half an hour later he returned and I quickly ordered a large glass of white wine in case he disappeared again.
The three of us are now sitting in the bar with a Danish guy, a Danish woman, a Dutch woman who lives in Florida, a Dutch couple, and there is a German woman asleep in the albergue. We are all looking forward to our paella.
We have now eaten the great food that Pepe prepared and drunk the wine he provided. It has been a totally different experience to any that we have had so far and I am so glad that my call of nature led us to such an interesting place.