The day we met a lady carrying 16 pairs of knickers!
Distance walked: 18miles / 28 km / 41k steps
We woke up excited and ready to hit the trail (after I accidentally broke Julie's brand new trekking poles… oops). Our first stop was breakfast at a cafe around the corner from the hostel which is where we met an interesting character called Bart from Belgium. He had been travelling on his bike for the last five months and was now cycling home. He was the first character to be added to my “People of the Camino” book. My intention was to take photos of people who I meet along the way, print them out using my little Polaroid Zip printer, and then ask them the important question “What is your luxury item?”, which is handwritten underneath the photo. Needless to say, Bart's luxury item was his smartphone, which I duly noted (but also made the decision that I would not let anyone else say that as everyone has a smartphone nowadays!).
We also met Jack and Andrew again from Florida who we saw the previous evening. They let me take their photo and a smile spread across my face as Jack admitted that he has a big tub of salt that he carries with him on the Camino. He likes salt in his food! Andrew loved his posh sunglasses and was also carrying numerous books! Books are heavy and I questioned why he would not consider carrying an ebook? He answered, “there is nothing better than relaxing with a proper book in your hand” – you can't argue with that!
7am, and we are off!
Our intention was to walk 14 miles from Carrion De Los Condes to Ledigos, but best-laid plans and all that…
Carrion De Los Condes is such a lovely town. It has a rather special atmosphere about it and the buildings/architecture is fantastic. Regrettably, we were so keen to start our Camino journey that we really didn't spend much time exploring, but I will be back!
The weather was scorching hot and it wasn't long before we got to use our trekking umbrellas for the first time. In all honesty, I found the first part of today's walk quite mentally challenging. Walking the Meseta was something that I was looking forward to. I was keen to have lots of thinking time and I had read articles, listened to videos and read forum posts about the magical vibe on the Meseta, but today I wasn't feeling it at all. I was hot and the 17 mile stretch of road went on forever (well, 17 miles felt like forever!) As it was our first day, I was not yet in a headspace where I wanted to solve all of life's problems.
Julie was on a mission and stormed ahead, whilst Rachel and I amused ourselves playing shadow games and making shapes from the clouds. We didn't even have other people to talk to. Where are all the pilgrims? I thought July was meant to be the busiest months of the year, but all we could see was wheat fields and tarmac. Not a single perigrino or rucksack in sight.
A slice of trail magic
We knew that we had to walk at least 10 miles (16km) before our first village. A village means a coffee break and we were hoping to reach Calzadilla by lunchtime. To my delight, I received a text message from Julie to say that she had discovered a little oasis of joy. We continued for another half a mile before hearing the lure of music and life of other pilgrims. The smell of sausages cooking on the BBQ, a hot coffee and a cold freshly squeezed orange juice was pure indulgence! And people! Yes, this is where they all were. Hiding away in this little slice of heaven.
We reached the official halfway point!
Calzadilla de la Cueza was the perfect place for lunch as it was also the unofficial halfway point of the Camino.
The treadmill continued until we spotted a church steeple. You can not describe the feeling you get when you see a building ahead, knowing that there is civilisation not far and Spanish Cafe Con Leche is a stone's throw away! Just as we were descending into the village we heard a roar. Yep, we were about to endure our first Spanish thunderstorm and we were so thankful that we could watch it from the warm, comfortable cafe! We stopped for lunch much longer than we had planned, but I am glad that we did. We stayed nice and dry whilst other pilgrims were dripping wet through. We got chatting to fellow pilgrims Marius from Lithuania (luxury item was his portable speaker), and two Irish pilgrims (Gillian and Conan). Gillian confessed to carrying 16 pairs of knickers. Considering most pilgrims carry 2-3 pairs, this was noteworthy in my little “people of the Camino book”.
Sometimes you get a bad vibe about a place – Ledigos
Our destination for the day was originally Ledigos. We hunted for the Albergue and found it tucked away down a side street. There was no atmosphere and the hosts just didn't seem that bothered. Julie, Rachel and I stayed for a quick drink and then made the decision that we should continue to the next village which was only 1.7 miles (2.8km) away. The only worry on my mind was “I hope there are beds free at the next hostel as it is getting late and we know that this is the busiest time of the year”.
What a great decision that was! At 4 pm, we arrived at Hostel Los Templarios after dodging yet another Spanish thunderstorm. Wow! This place was amazing. It was a totally random very modern building on the outskirts of town. We upgraded to a private room for just the three of us for a mere €48, got our washing done, enjoyed a foot massage and a long hot shower.
After walking 18 miles in the Spanish sun, we are all feeling a bit sore. Rachel has tender shoulders, I have painful hips and Julie has sore legs. We have not yet found our Camino family and we are all surprised as to how quiet the trail is. Tomorrow is a fairly easy day with just a 14 mile walk with lots of cafe's and we get to visit the town of Sahagun.