Distance, 23.5 km
Elevation gain, 0 m
Elevation loss, 157 m
Total distance, 405 km
Daily average, 28.9 km
Today was walked entirely on the road. It rained a lot during the night and we didn’t want a repeat of days past, struggling through the deep mud. As we left town I commented to Nina that although it was cold, at least there was no wind. Well, “don’t tempt fate” and “don’t speak too soon” are phrases that come to mind. A bitter wind picked up as soon as we left the confines of the town and entered open farmland. F-f-f-freezing on my poor bare knees. The camino track was very close to the road most of the way. We started on the CM 210, very quiet on Easter Sunday. Not much shoulder but without fail all drivers gave us a wide berth, although without fail they drove at very high speed. I forgot to turn on Wikiloc until we had already covered 4 km.
We reached our first village, Torralba, at 8 km. As we arrived we saw two unknown pilgrims leaving. There is a bar, but sadly not open until 9:30, but happily there is a small shop next door which is open. They sell fruit and veg. Oh how I have been craving some fruit. I buy tomatoes (the really sweet irregular shaped ones) and a couple of mandarins and a packet of Oreos (just because they are vegan, not because they taste so good 😉). Most spanish biscuits are sold in bumper packs, really heavy and bulky. Oreos come in a manageable single size. So that’s two good reasons for buying them, although I could probably think of many more bad reasons!
We spy the new pilgrims walking on the track 100 m or so from the road. We hope it is muddy and difficult to walk, not because we wish bad things for them, simply to reinforce our choice to walk on the road.
We have walked 16 km by the time we reach Albalate de las Nogueras and find a bar at the entrance to town. We have been there for a while when the new guys walk in – a Swiss couple who took the alternative route on yesterday’s stage. And we were happy to see that they had very muddy boots and were planning to take the road the rest of the way. So there are now six of us walking the same stages. Quite unusual on this camino I think.
5+ km more take us to our destination, a town of 400+ inhabitants which, judging by the rather grand properties dotted around, has been a wealthy town. We find the albergue, which is situated in a house attached to the ermita de la Inmaculada, the former residence of the caretaker of the church. We are met by the very friendly hospitalero Pepe (646 128 868). We have heard very good things about Pepe, relating to food and drink and true enough, after checking us in he tells us he will be back at around 20:30 to take us for dinner. Now there’s an offer that would be hard to decline. There are several bedrooms at the albergue with plenty of blankets to go round. We are allocated a room with a bunk and a single. There is one small fan heater to share between the various rooms. The kitchen has a microwave and hot plate and there is a lovely garden which would be delightful in warmer weather.
We’re pleased to see that there’s a shop open in town so I quickly change into practically every item of clothing in my pack and trot back into town to buy some supplies. I will make another bean dip, it is an easy and cheap source of protein. We then squeeze ourselves into the bar which is heaving with jolly, chatty, friendly people. We learn that most of those present don’t actually live here anymore, but are visiting family over the long Easter holiday. One guy tells us he has walked parts of a camino and another has walked the Frances twice and last year was hospitalero in Ponferrada.
Once again I miss out with the very generous tapas, all meat or fish based, but on our third round I ask for olives, which come with the addition of anchovies! I’m past caring about contamination – just push them aside and let me get at the olives!
I didn’t actually take any photos whilst walking. Grey cloudy skies are not very inspiring and I had no inclination to remove my two pairs of gloves in order to take a dull photo.
I invented a new item of camino clothing this year. The cut-off hoodie. A lightweight fleece from which I cut the sleeves and the lower back. I do not like my back to be too warm. My preference is for sleeveless t-shirt and arm warmers but that leaves a gap on my shoulders. In previous years I have used a scarf to wrap over my shoulders and across my chest. This year’s model has worked extremely well. With no back or sleeves, I can pull it off without removing my pack. The hood keeps my neck and ears cosy and when I start to warm (which hasn’t been that often on this camino) I can pull up the front and tuck it up behind the sternum strap. Not very elegant, but extremely practical.
On the advice of a guy in the bar we take a trip up to the statue of Christ overlooking the village, and indeed, as promised, the views were impressive. We have some interesting days ahead of us. I just wish for a bit of sun and blue sky to go with them!