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Day-34 (18 May—Sat) Requejo

I left the albergue in Puebla de Sanabria at 6:40 AM in bitter cold and wind: 38 deg F and with the windchill at freezing (I just wasn’t dressed for it). I could have used the gloves. After walking 12 km (7 mi) and meeting my German friend, Thomas, it became clear that the 12 beds at my planned destination of Lubian would already be gone, so I decided to stay here with him. We nicknamed our short stage: Urlaubsetappe (vacation stage). It’s crazy—Lubian doesn’t even have a store and only an albergue with 12 beds, whereas Requejo has two albergues (we‘re splurging and staying at the private one—the first albergue ever that had two sheets for every bed (fitted lower one and an upper one) and a coffee machine!! And Requejo has two hotels.

Here are some memorable pictures: the first shows the planned route of 29 km and the blue dot, my actual stay; my friend Thomas dressed in his north Vietnamese monk’s attire (from his days of studying meditation with a Vietnamese monk); third, having fun with Perry the Peregrino; then our hall of beds (18 beds, but only 4 occupied); and lastly Thomas and I having lunch with food we bought at the local store.

Day-33 (17 May—Fri) Puebla de Sanabria

I managed to get an early start again before 7:00 AM, but it was fairly chilly in the 40s and didn’t warm up very much. The path of 10.8 mi (17.3 km) was nice and easy to negotiate—not very rocky and not many muddy obstacles. The destination was Puebla de Sanabria and here’s its location in Spain:

The municipal albergue is super clean and with 30 beds has ample space for the wave of peregrinos (including me) passing through—a situation I hope will continue the rest of the way. Everyone I missed from yesterday seemed to meet here today. The town is definitely a tourist attraction with its castle dating back to the 12th century. It’s such an attraction that it has a cake similar to tarta de Santiago, but it’s known as Tarta de Sanabria and has its castle in the middle (instead of the cross of St James)—and I had a piece which was delicious.

Here are a few impressions of the day: trees along the path or stone walls; then the view of the castle from the bridge over the River Tera; the small street approaching the church next to the castle and finally the Tarta de Sanabria.

 

D-32 (16 May—Thu) Entrepeñas

This is just one of the reasons I love the Camino so much: space and time contract to where your most urgent problems are today’s, like finding lodging and knowing that the town you set as a goal (at 15.5 miles) only has one albergue with six beds! You hear there’s a Casa Rural (a step up) less than 2 miles before but figure others ahead of you will already take their only available six beds. So you start preparing yourself mentally for a 25-mile walk to the next biggest town you know has plenty of lodging. However it turns out, you’ll be elated beyond words that you’ve solved the most important problem of the day—nothing even comes close at home!
How did it turn out? I was able to get one of their last two remaining rooms at the Casa Rural. The Camino gives and the Camino takes—today I’m ever so grateful that it gave. Some pics from today’s route and the last from my balcony:

 

Day-31 (15 May—Wed) Rionegro del Puente

Spectacular scenery today over a stretch of 27.3 km. (17.1 mi) but essentially no store and only one bar/albergue open at 5.5 km near the end. Although I had a 6:50 AM start, I felt exhausted by my 2:00 PM at arrival. Much of the walk was along either the Rio Tera or a canal that was an aqueduct from it and then fed small irrigation canals.

These are some of my memorable pictures from today: first, standing in front of the Rio Tera that was dammed up at this point and almost felt like a lake; the river downstream from the dam; five of us who happened to arrive at that bar/albergue; the canal I walked next to go miles.

And after arriving, everyone flocked to this gourmet restaurant that featured a dynamite three course menu (no choices) for 10€  that included pate, a local cabbage soup, pork cutlet, desert, water, wine, and digestive.

Day-30 (14 May—Tue) Santa Marta de Tera

Before looking at today, I have to comment on yesterday’s albergue—absolutely fantastic in terms of hospitality—the hospitalero (Jose Mari Tekane) made you feel so comfortable. He had prepared a 3-course meal that included egg drop soup, paella, and desert plus wine and three different home-made fruit liqueurs. And, Jose’s passion is writing poetry. We only had room for 12 at that municipal albergue, so the others had to sleep at other places. Here the choices of other places are more limited; one decided to give up his spot here and sleep outside on the ground. I elected to take their only spare mattress and put it on the floor finding that it’s quite comfortable.

So, today was a great walking day: 20.9 km (13.1 mi) over rolling sparsely forested hills. A 77-year old Italian was picking herbs along the way (see next to last pic)—never did get the name of it; here are some memorable photos: the first two from last night’s communal dinner; third was of me leaving by 7:30 am to get a bed here; then there’s one of the German, Thomas, who’s been on the Camino for about 20 years straight—could write a book about him—he’s as close to being a monk as you can get w/0 taking the vows—he’s studied meditation with north Vietnamese monks and teaches it on invitation. . . Then there are my feet looking around while on a mattress on the floor.

Day-29 (13 May—Monday) Tabara

I had a very challenging day not so much the distance of 16.5 miles (26.4 km) but there was a 1+ km section (0.65 mi) that was a narrow rocky path along cliffs with a steep drop off to the river that slowed me to a crawl. My balance is just shot. And I noticed several others actually skipped this section—smart!

The scenery changed dramatically over the past week which was mainly agriculture to going through forests interspersed with fields of grain. Just before that challenging section I had a spectacular view of the bridge over the River Else.

Here are a few memorable photos: first, we’re reminded that last night’s town was the bifurcation point of the two Caminos, one going via Orense (mine) and the other going via (Astorga); next the Else River and the bridge; and finally that challenging path. I wish I knew the name of those white blooming flowery bushes??

 

Day-28 (12 May—Sun) Granja de la Moreruela

First, for all mothers reading this: HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!

Cold this morning and I kept my jacket on almost the first 2/3rds of the walk. Then it heated up. The stretch was 22.7 km (14.3 mi) and I felt it. I arrived at the bar where they issued a sheet and pillow cover, then after my beer, I walked the 100 to another building where the alberge was located. Of course all the lower bunks were already taken. BUT, you know you’re getting up in the years when three people offered to move to an upper one—muy amable!!!

It was a real treat walking through old Roman ruins of a castle. Then it became known as the ancient town of Catrotorafe, popularly known as ‘Zamora la Vieja’, are in San Cebrian de Castro, emplacement already located in the XII century. So it became a medieval defensive site which appeared on the banks of Esla River.

Here are a few memorable shots: first the saying of the day (seen at breakfast) and the route; then, everyone on the Camino must experience negotiating one’s way around sheep, and finally a shot of the old ruins of  Castrotorafe.

It’s exciting for tomorrow I make a left turn to start Camino Sanabres.

Day-27 (11 May—Sat) Montamarta

The Camino spirit is alive and well—I discovered that last night when Luigi invited me to join his group of three Italians for a home-cooked spaghetti ragu, eight in all. We enjoyed the mish-mash of languages and laughed the evening away—no one wanted it to end. The hospitaleras were invited and brought out some of their stash of pâtés and spreads.

Today was a great day for walking the 19.5 km (12.2 mi). The albergue here was a far cry from yesterday’s, so I opted to stay at a casa rural with my own room and bathroom—only one other couple here—a real splurge that won’t be available once I turn off on the Camino Sanabres. Not sure where the others went—possibly to a new Casa rural advertised by a leaflet delivered as we were walking by a car!!!!!

Here are some pics: first, the street cleaner spraying down the streets; dinner from last night; my Casa Rural; lastly, cyclists, maybe a few dozen that passed me by and wishing me, Buen Camino.”

Day-26 (10 May—Fri) Zamora

The day started with an un-forecasted drizzle, so instead of a planned short 8-mile walk, my French buddy and I decided to take the bus for the short distance. Then he opted to stay there and I opted to walk 20 km (12.5 miles) to Zamora. The drizzle had stopped by then and I gained a day to spend at a more interesting place than a 200-people village. The short walk would have put me in town before noon with nothing to do. The whole walk would have been uncomfortably long.

Zamora is a fascinating city of some 60,000 with a history going back to Roman times. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest overlooking the Duero (that empties into the Atlantic in Porto, Portugal. With its 24 characteristic Romanesque style churches of the 12th and 13th centuries it has been called a “museum of Romanesque art. Zamora is the city with the most Romanesque churches in all of Europe. I visited the Cathedral and the museum in its former cloister and was overwhelmed—so impressive.

Here are just a few pics: my entry into Zamora as I crossed the Duero River and the view of the fortifications and cathedral in the distance; the next three are inside the Cathedral, the religious float made of silver and gilded, a St James altar piece, and the third, an amazing silver altar piece; lastly is the outside of the cathedral.

 

Here is a pic of our four-bed room—huge space between top and bottom bunks!!!!

Day-25 (9 May—Thu) El Cubo de la Tierra del Vino

Much less windy today and more enjoyable; walked 12.7 miles (20.3 km). Had a continental breakfast at the other albuerge which gave me a good start because nothing else was available along the way—that had to last me (and it it). Chose the Albergue Y&M and was one of the early ones to arrive at about 1:30 PM and first in the shower is always a treat.

Here are some memorable pictures: the first pic gave me a real scare, as in, do I really have to cross this water—panic; after looking at my electronic track, I realized I missed a detour about 100 yards back! The second picture is what the trail looked like paralleling the highway; the third and fourth pics, were common sights along the way.