Friday, March 31, 2017


From a faraway distance, I can see the siloutte of the cathedral of Zamora and the city sourrounding it. My steps will take me there in aproximatelly 2.5 hours.
Water, has always been very important through history, and as many other cities where the Roman empire settled, Zamora, also has a river. The Camino enters the city by the stone bridge, over the river Duero.
As I am crossing the bridge, I admire how some of the old city is built over the massive natural rock, along the river banks.
There, high above stands its cathedral, ranging in architectural styles from romanic to romanesque to early gothic.
Zamora has 22 churches, of romanic origin, some beautiful preserved, others were reconstructed romanesque and gothic.

I arrived in Zamora early afternoon. The 19.5 km to here, passed very quickly. I walked by fields of wheat and cultivated precious land. Most of my walking I do alone, as we all walk at different rhythms and stopping for just a few minutes, distance us very quickly from other piligrims. There are also no more than 6-8 piligrims walking daily, at this time of the year.
I left my back pack at the albergue and went exploring. In the cities the albergues are usually closed from 8 am (you have to leave), until 3 pm when piligrims are welcome to come in. In the smaller villages, they are more flexible with the hours.
Eventually most of us piligrims all meet again, in the albergues, coffee shops, tapas bars. It really feels like a little family that appears and disappears. Some you never see again, others you meet more often.
Sharing the albergues means, that many times we sleep in the bunk beds next to each other, we often joke about the snoring, or who has the biggest or smaller there is a piligrim saying that the size of your pack and what you are packing, represents your troubles in life. The lighter your pack is, the lighter you are within yourself.
Tonight, next to me, as I am writting, there are three men. Germany, Iceland and Holland. We don't choose the room. As we arrive, the rooms are filled. The lower bunks are always the first ones to be taken and so far I have been always in bottom bunks.
The albergue in Zamora is municipal and really nice, run by volunteers from many different countries and you pay a donation.Today a couple from Virginia USA, greet us. 
Municipal albergues are either by donation or between 5-8 €, private albergues 10-12 € and most reigious albergues also by donation. Sometimes we have meals provided, others we cook and when in bigger towns or cities, we mostly all go out for meals and tapas.

As I walk though Zamora, my steps are very slow, in slow motion. Every movement streching my feel, my legs, thighs, my body, my mind. My teva sandels with socks, provide me a great relief at the end of walking and I enjoy the freedom and movement on my toes.

I walked and walked without any planned place, church or any other city sites, I just walked slowly letting my movements take me. I entered a chapel and there in front of me, was Santiago. I am in the chapel of Santiago. Gregorian chanting music playing, making that moment very special for me.
I felt an incredible peace, quiteness and protection from Santiago Apostol. I gave thanks for this incredible piligrimage, journey and protection, that I received every day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Calzada de Valduncial

The landscape has completly changed since I left Salamanca. From the old oak trees with grazing pigs, cows with the big horns and horses, to fields of wheat, canola and other greens. 
There is an incredible difference from the land that is being irrigated, to the fields that are not. The non irrigated earth is reddish and even though it is spring, it is looking very sad.
The municipal albergue in Calzada a very nice older house with wooden bunk beds that sleeps 8 people. The walls are very thick stone, ceilings wooden timber frame. The small kitchen perfect, with everything you need to prepare a meal. Calzada has a romanic church, a store, pharmacy, medical center and a bar.

The villages that I am crossing are very small, similar to Calzada, ranging from 200-400 habitants. Often I don't see anyone in the streets when I arrive, this is partially because I have been walking from 08-14h, covering 25 kms in the 6 hours. From 2 to 4 pm is lunch time in Spain and people are home, stores closed.
The weather also has changed again and walking after 1 pm very hot. Today I walked always in the sun and finding a tree to have a rest close to the trail, difficult.
There are only two of us in the albergue tonight and for dinner I made some rice soup with potatos and carrots, for this new piligrim and myself. He just started in Salamanca. This is his 3rd stage in walking VDLP as many Spanish do, sometimes over the years.
His 1st stage was Sevilla to Merida, 2nd Merida to Salamanca and 3rd Salamanca to Santiago. Dividing the Camino this way, they can walk a little every year on their vacation time.

This morning I left Calzada with the idea of walking to El Cubo del Vino, but when I arrived there, decided to continue for another 13 km more, to Villanueva de Campean, a total of 29 km.
Tomorrow will be a shorter day walking into Zamora (20km) giving me lots of time to get lost in the history of this city, that I have never been before.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


On my way to Salamanca....

At 7:30 I am ready to leave San Pedro. It is still dark, and after trying to find the bar-coffee shop, I realised that it is not yet open. I continue into Moriles, 6 km away, to have my coffee there, but in Moriles the bar-coffee shop is also not open yet. There is no other option that to continue walking to the next village 12 km away. 
To my surprise a nice woman, walking her dog, tells me that the bar in her village is also closed. Very unsual for Spain !!!
I walked with her for 2 more km's, until we reached her home, and she invites me for coffee. She made me coffee and covers the table with fruit, cookies, juice for me to have.
We have a nice shared time, she has lots of questions about the Camino, and soon I am on my way.
I see Salamanca in the far distance. The silhouettes of the cathedrals, bell towers, reminds me of when I entered Santiago a few years ago. 
It is lightly raining, I am excited to to be reaching this beautiful city, filled with history, and having covered 530 km of my Camino.
Salamanca is a beautiful city. To me, what makes it so special is that there is so many incredible historical buildings, all so close to each other.
Salamanca has two cathedrals. The old one is romanic, XIII century romanesque style. The new cathedral gothic. The main cupola so high and beautiful. Everywhere you look, is a history and theology lesson carved in stone and wood. Both cathedrals are connected, as they were built side by side.
Casa de  las Conchas, is famous for the cockle shells adorning the façades. Plaza Mayor, baroque XVIII century in perfect condition, where the city hall is located and under the archeway, the brass marking of the Camino in the ground.
Salamanca's university is the oldest university of Spain, dating XIII century. I walked through the lecture halls and see the lecture theater where Fra Luis de Leon, taught theology and moral philosophy, before being judged, prosecuted and imprisoned by the Spanish inquisition, for his views on biblical exegesis.
The student benches are wood, simple designed and covered with marks and writings from former students.
The old library dating XIII century filled with manuscripts and books placed in very old bookcases from the grown to the ceiling.
Salamanca is an alive city. Many of the current faculties are historical buildings. Students all around with futures awaiting for them. Very exciting.
The hotel that some of my peregrino family and I have booked is in a perfect place, next to plaza mayor. When I arrived, I filled the bathtub to the rim, and enjoyed a very relaxing hot bath.
We ate at a nice small restaurant, had a great evening walk throught the streets filled with history and so looking forward to a big bed, with a white duvet.
This morning I visited the cathedrals and at 12:30 I left Salamanca to Calzada de Valdunciel, 18 km away, from where I am now writing to you.

San Pedro de Rozadas 29 km

A long day of walking, specially because during the 29 km there in nothing, no day will be walking through trails and trails. My mind is prepared for a lonely day, my pack is heavy as I am packing extra water and food. Even 1 kg more in the back pack, when walking long distances, for me, makes a big difference.
During the last two weeks, my pack only felt heavy when I lifted it, and as soon as it was on me, the weight disapeared in the motion of walking. This morning my pack feels heavy, it may be close to 10 kg. As I walked, I adjusted it, as tight as I could to my hips.

This morning I was the first one to leave the albergue. I am mentally prepared and filled with the energy, that will carry me through the day. Today's walking takes me to the highest point of this area ~1150m and on the top, there is a large wooden cross of Santiago.In the distance I see the gigantic windmills that provide energy to the villages, and know that I will be  walking under them in approx 5 hours.
I walked and walked, lots of uphills, and to my surprise no one is showing up or passing me.

Two Italian man, three Germans, a very tall Icelandic, a Ducht woman...I wondered where they all are? I would be happy to see someone and have the reassurance that we are in the right place and not lost. I continue ascending, decending...and finally arrive to a very small quiet road. 
The landscape is rolling and I can see in the far distance,  a farmhouse.  I hope someone will be there.
Great !!! I smile when I see a woman working, feeding the pigs, and together we sit in an anciant stone bench and enjoy each other's company.

She tells me, that I came on the right trail and I am in the right place. I stayed there for a long while and slowly one by one, my piligrim friends, start appearing.
We have 10 more km to walk, we all look tired and muddy from the light rain and off and on we walk together to San Pedro de Rosados, feeding on each other's energy. It was not only me, who thought that I was lost. To my surprise almost everyone felt the same. Over dinner we had great conversation and laughs.

Tonight a woman from USA, retired CIA agent, has appeard. She is a writer working on a book, carries a small day pack and has a large suitcase that is transported for her, from hotel to hotel. 

The farm woman,  tells me that in this farm where she works, there is 120 chickens, more than 1000 pigs, and they also breed bull fighting bulls, behing a very firm fence, across the small road. 
Arriving in San Pedro is a relief, most of the piligrims stayed in a little hotel at the entrance of town, except two of us, that decided to check out the albergue. To our surprise it is a brand new albergue, has three rooms and on top of each bed there is perfectly ironed white cotton-linen sheets with little white embrordary flowers. Wow !!!
We each take a room, showered and the lady next door cooks us a great Sunday evening paella meal.
Tomorrow I will walk to Salamanca and in Salamanca, I have reserved a nice hotel room by the cathedral.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fuenteroble de Salvatierra

I woke up to light snow, the sky is clear, about -5c and I break the ice in the puddles, with my walking stick, as I walk.
At 8 am I was ready to go and ready for my walking day. Today I am going to Fuenteroble approx 20 km. I feel great, energized, after my quiet afternoon by the fireplace yesterday and all the great food, I ate.
The walk today is beautiful, it is incredible as everyday is different, special, interesting....continuing to follow the Roman path way.
Fuenterobles is a small village, ~200 people live here, has a church, one bar, a store and a very interesting museum -interpreter center created by Father Blas, a school, farm land all around, and of course grazing pigs, horses and cows.

The albergue is very special, everyone walking VDLP has read about Father Blas and I am very happy to be here. He dedicates his life to running a children's school, a home for the old people, his parish area and this albergue for peregrinos. He is in his mid 40's and has a very serene aproach to everything.
There are different peregrinos today, some I have shared meals and walked with, others have just appeard. We are eight sitting by the fireplace in a very cozy room filled and I mean filled !! with books, paintings, carvings and art work of all kinds, that piligrims have created during the 20 years that this albergue has been open. 
The albergue is all managed by donations, all the meals are provided and together we sit and eat in this great room, by the fireplace, next to the kitchen.
The dormitory rooms all have pot belly wood stoves, and the hospitalero keeps the fires going. When I first came into the albergue I was cold and tired from walking and I chose a bed, in a very warm room. Later I wondered if it would be too hot to sleep at night.
The beds, blankets...everything is very simple, but the caring intention is so present and peaceful all around.
We had an incredible meal, BQ pork ribs cooked over the fireplace, pasta and salad. All of us: 4 men from Germany, an Icelandic, a Dutch woman, a Spanish man and myself together with the hospitalero, have a very enjoyable evening accompanied by tea and wine.
When I went to bed I questioned if being in such a warm room, may be a breeding grown for little creatures...but it was too late to change beds, closed my eyes and hoped for a quiet night.
When I woke up this morning, it was all fine, no little creatures and had a great night sleep.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


On my way to Baños a couple of days ago, I stoped in Plasencia, a small city also important in the Roman times.
The cathedral is interesting. Part of it is romanic XII century. Romanic style is my favorite. Small simple churches....then next to it, as part of it, the cathedral is gothic style.
Very tall, high column.

You enter Plasencia through a roman archway. The old city is all walled and well preserved.
Right at the entrance way, there were two woman selling freshly picked wild asparagus and bay leaves.
This area of Spain has some of the best sheep, cow and goat cheeses, as well as dried cured meats, jamon and sausages. The aroma as I pass by a shop, takes me right in. I bought two types of jamon and a piece of chesse. 
I wanted to buy more, but always thinking about how to keep my pack the lightest !!!

Plasencia is a small city, that follows the roman route, a very nice roman walking bridge and towers in beetween the stone walls.  Mediaval XVI century buildings and palaces are now used as official buildings.
The people were very nice, curious, as they dont't see many pilgrims, because is not in the camino route.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Entering Castilla y Leon

This morning I changed my plan and instead of walking the 33 km that I had planned for today, I found out that there was a small village of aproximately 100 habitants in13 km. and had albergue !! Considering the cold, rain and snowing off and on, I thought it was the perfect thing to do.

The 13 km walk to Calzada de Bejar at 845m was so beautiful !!! The green landscape accented by very large rocks, rolling hills following the roman pathway. Every so often roman stone pillars, taking me back to this ancient history that established the world in which we live in now.
Today I left the region of Extremadura and entered Castilla y Leon. The camino markings are unique to each region and today it was very well marked, often with panel information next to the roman remains on the way.

13 km walk was a great pleausure, I stopped many times, to contemplate the horses and cows. In a freshly cultivated field there were four storks, looking for nourishnent and 
worms. They are such big birds and impressive when they take off to fly.
I crossed a roman bridge and many wet muddy spots.
I am so thankful that I have my gortex solomon shoes, gaiters, smart wool socs and my purple merino wool undershirt. 
I am dressed in layers.
The albergue is a reformed barn. Built timber frame style, tile floors and a fantastic fireplace. Since I arrived I have not moved from the couch by the fireplace, except to go outside, to take a picture of a cute old lady that I could see sitting outside in the distance.
She tells me that she was born in this village and always has lived here. Tells me that she is outside taking in the fresh air. 

Calzada de Bejar has no store or services. Only the church, a bar, albergue and the farmers homes. I am happy that in Plasencia I bought chesse and jamon.
A german piligrim arrives, carrying a large bag filled with fresh vegetables, pasta, bread and a bottle of wine. Together we cooked a great meal and ate by the fireplace.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Baños de Montemayor

There is a stretch coming up passing by Caparra of 40 km with nothing in between and quite a bit of road walking....I made the decision this morning to take a bus to Placencia, a beautiful small city 15 km from Galisteo, and from there another bus to Baños de Montemayor. As the name has hot baths!

The weather has been raining, snowing at 400+ meters, and I have developped a small blister from road walking the other day, and also my body needs a I am very happy with the bus decision.
Wow!! I arrived at Baños de M and it is snowing, a climate shock, but beautiful scenery. The albergue is fantastic and here I meet again some of the crazy piligrims that walked many 40+ km per day...and had disappeared. It is very nice to see them again.
Baños is a small town with hot springs.  This afternoon I will going for a hot bath and so looking forward !!
Tomorrow will be a very long day, my longest of 33 km, no option as the only town in between is only 10 km from here and too short of a day.

On the way to Galisteo

The first 7 km leaving Cañaveral to Galisteo are very steep. Part of it is because the Camino follows a straight up the mountain fire guard. If there is a good moment to walk a steep hill, it is definately first thing in the morning.
The Camino to Galisteo was very beautiful, following ranch lands, fields of grasses shaded by very old cork trees. It was like walking in a park, peacefully and many different shades of greens.
Beautiful horses coming close to the fence, as I pass by, also the cows with the very pointy horns !!!

The owners of these farms allow the peregrinos to cross their land, and we are all very careful in closing the gates.
There are now 6 of us pilgrims, in the more and less the same walking rhythm. Piligrims arrive and also disappear, depending on if the km 's that we are walking coincide.
More men than women are walking VDLP and many of the men walk 35-45 km per day...!! crazy !
I am really enjoying walking this Camino route, and already know that it is my favourite Camino.
Galisteo is on top of a hill. The whole sourrounding of the town is walled Almudejar style, from the Muslims. It is very well preserved. There are three main entrances into the old town, with an arch way, wide enough for cars now to drive in. Next to one of the entrances a church, that they told me was a mosque with a minaret, that the Christians took down, and then constructed a bell tower.

You can walk along the top of the ~20 wall but I chose to stay down.
The albergue again beautiful. White sheets, duvets and heating.
The weather has really changed and the temperatures have dropped to the minus.
As I make my way north it will be colder and colder, a shock from three days ago.... the snow is predicted for 300m elevation.
Today it rained most of the day and did not prevent me from walking !!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


As I walk today, it was spring everywhere. I passed many herds of sheep, many sheep 300-400. There were babies all around. The sheep dogs were friendly and came to greet me.
One mama sheep had three little ones, that may have been borned in the last couple of days. Their legs skinny, wobbly, their wool quite dirty from dried out placenta. I stayed closed to them, watching them take turns nursing, as I ate cheese and bread.

Today the path was a bit confusing by a detour of a new train line. My intuition was taking me on the direction that I needed to go, but the yellow arrows, that guide the Camino, in the oposite direction.I wondered what to do and as hard as it was, finally I followed the arrows (instead of my intuition) which in the end was the right way.
From here to Salamanca, is a stretch that the guide books recommend to plan the distances and villages right, as there are many places with no villages or places to sleep. Walking 10 or 20 km by mistake, would mean sleeping somewhere with the cows with the big horns...!! Also because there are so few piligrims in the VDLP, you don't have the piligrim support to decide where to go, when you feel a bit lost.

I continued walking and walking. Most of the VDLP has been on dirt paths, but today I had at keast 10 km of walking in the pavement of the road. This is also the Camino, as it is in the everyday life. Grassy fields, dirt soft paths, pavement....I crossed two very large bridges one over the Tajo river. The bridge was at least 700m long and very high. This was one of the reasons that the Camino took us over to the road, otherwise crossing the rivers would have been impossible.
Arriving at the albergue of Cañaveral was a relief. A beautiful albergue,  all new with white clean sheets and duvets. Last night was the first night that I slept in real sheets and not in my sleeping bag. A treat !! Especially because I could have my feet not covered by the sheets (which is how I like to sleep) and very difficult to do, sleeping inside a sleeping bag.
A great dinner, great breakfast and very cozy bed.