Distance, 24 km
Elevation gain, 315 m
Elevation loss, 466 m
Total distance, 490.5km
Daily average, 28.8 km
Last night was cold. I definitely should have brought a warmer sleeping bag on this trip. I also have a silk liner but they are no match for current night time temperatures. So I wore merino leggings, vest top, long sleeve top and fleece. I wrapped my merino t-shirt around my feet, draped my hoodie around my shoulders and put my raincoat (which has no weight and no warmth) over my sleeping bag – it might just trap some heat. I managed a few hours sleep between rearranging all the layers. In warmer weather this albergue would be lovely – no kitchen but really good bathroom facilities and situated alongside the river.
It was dry when we left. We exited town via the staircase to the right side of the cascades. So pretty. The first track is alongside the river for around 2 km, very pleasant and not really muddy. After a few metres on the road we are back on a track, this time with sticky soil, but there is a green central reservation, so we can walk along this to avoid the mud, but in turn get wet boots before it even starts raining.
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s report that along the entire length of the trail there were deer prints accompanying us. When we walked through scrubby land to avoid the floods on the trail, so had our deer. I saw one beautiful chap bounding across a field and we heard some bellowing that we hoped were deer earlier in the day. There were some hoof prints today, but only on the first stage, and not many.
We reached our first village, Gárgoles de Abajo (lower gargoyles!) at just over 6 km. there is apparently a bar but we didn’t see it walking through the village and didn’t feel inclined to go searching when it was quite likely closed. We missed the arrow to the track to the next town, Gárgoles de Arriba (upper gargoyles) and reached it via 2.5 km on a busy, narrow road during which time it began to rain. Another 5 km on a nice sandy track led us to Cifuentes, a larger town, where we finally stopped for breakfast at 13 km. I feel sorry for the owners of bars frequented by soggy pilgrims. I try hard to retain my dripping to as small a space as possible, but I see others trailing puddles all around the establishment without a care.
Nina made up for a deficit of caffeine over recent days by ordering three cortados, accompanied by a wedge of tortilla español, whilst I made do with hot water and toast. I’m not sure what Nina paid, but my order was 1 euro. So there is a balance to the high charges I pay for a simple vegan dish, ie last night 13 euros for a plate of grilled vegetables, which was absolutely delicious, but must have cost less than a euro to provide.
We pass through another village, Moranchel, on the way. Our flagging, soggy, cold spirits are lifted by the sight of enchanting street art. We don’t need much to make us happy. But a little sunshine wouldn’t go amiss!
Our Swiss friends stay in Cifuentes for the night, but we continue, making a diversion from the camino to stay in a hostal on the busy N-204, around 2-3 km off camino. We know about this place, Hostal Las Vegas, through a forum member AS. We wonder why it is called Las Vegas, assuming the name relates to its US cousin. But then I google and discover that ‘vega’ relates to low, flat, fertile ground.
Although we knew that the place is referred to as a truck stop, we had expectations of a cosy room with possibilities to use washing/drying facilities. Forget it! The room is basic, with a tiny radiator that barely heats the room, especially when draped with soaking wet gear, and a definite ‘no’in response to a request for laundry facilities. We dumped our stuff and went to the restaurant where we chose just the first course of the menu, lentil soup with or without chorizo. I feel it has been cooked with the chorizo and they have just fished out the meat for my dish. I have gone past being too picky. The soup is delicious and just what I need to line my stomach and hopefully get my digestive system working again. Being vegan on this camino is proving a challenge!
We are delighted to see our Spanish friends Javier and Pablo enter the restaurant. We have crossed paths with them since day two and it has always been a joy to see them.
Although this awful weather is due to continue overnight with heavy rain and wind, it is predicted to change for the better tomorrow. But we are not the only ones to be suffering. Whilst Britain and Denmark are basking in sunshine and everyone is wearing shorts and skimpy t-shirts, there is snow falling in northern Spain. What on earth is going on?!