We are Back!
We had an excellent trip, our Camino for the Ages. The shorter distances worked for us. We noted changes to the Camino. More people were walking solo, having their packs transported, walking "the whole thing" in one journey rather than walking a section and returning another year to continue, and there seemed to be more women on the trail than in the past. All stays the same, as it changes. Pilgrims still love to talk together and share. It is peaceful and relaxed. We still greatly enjoy being there.
Each of the three cities we visited after our Camino was wonderful. We worked at visiting like one walks the Camino . . . not trying to "see" or "do" but just to "be present" and soak in the history and culture. The Camino has helped us become better travelers, regardless of where we go.
A Toledo Farewell
The Toledo train station is a visual and functional delight. It has a cafe with tables under palm trees, an attractive separate building for the WC, beautiful mosaics, windows, and architecture. It offers an appropriate Toledo welcome and farewell. We have now entered the two day travel zone by way of this pretty place.
We are so happy with our three choices of towns to visit in this after-Camino segment of our trip. Each intriguing. Each different from the other two.
Now we are in Toledo. A hilltop village with Roman, Muslim, and Christian history and cultures. There are more sites that interest us than energy to climb to all of them. The tours are everywhere from about 10:00 to 6:00. But the place is so vibrant and beautiful that the industrial-strength tourism does not ruin it for us post-Camino visitors. We take to the quiet corners in midday and explore before the buses of day-tourists arrive from Madrid and after they leave. It is as beautiful as Rhonda, with the hilltop buildings here impressing the way the nature-carved gorge did there.
Today is 56th anniversary. Toledo is a great place to spend it. An unexpectedly amusing highlight was to ride the touristic train, with a pushy old woman butting herself and three friends in line ahead of us and a loud wannabe-tour guide mother behind us repeating everything the guide said to be sure her eye-rolling teens didn’t miss a word! The views and the comedy of it all made for a great way to spend part of our day
Being lost in the streets of Cordoba is as intriguing as visiting the sites. We have been going out early and late. Tour groups are abundant in the middle of the day and it is nicer to have the streets and sites to ourselves. As has been true everywhere we have been, the food and cafes are a highlight.
The gorge, a tiny-venue Spanish guitar concert, Muslim architecture, bull fight history, being lost in the streets and parks without worry…Ronda, we love you.
The gorgeous train ride to Cordoba morphed into a bus/train combo. Not quite as scenic but still up close with the mountains. We are now in Cordoba. We have a boutique hotel in the city center (again thanks to our camino friends Cindy and Pat). A delightful night cap in the garden topped our transition day.
Counterpoint to the Camino
Having finished our 2022 Camino, we embarked on our trip to the south of Spain. We spent all day Thursday, June 16 getting to Ronda. We walked through Leon in the morning, walked through Ronda in the evening, and spent all day seeing Spain, from north to south, from the train.
I was struck by the number of small villages that appeared in the distance along the northern part of the route. We saw crops being planted and irrigated, and vast distances between villages in this bread basket of the nation.
We had to change train stations, not just trains, in Madrid and were proud of ourselves for figuring out that our ticket to Ronda allowed us to take a shuttle train between them. The stations were both very busy. We managed to grab a sandwich on the old Atoche station before boarding for Ronda
The ride to Ronda is a long 4 hours. The terrain in the initial section was industrial agricultural, as opposed to the more village-centered farms in the north. Large sunflower and rape seed farms spread over the hills. Beautiful, of course. The next section was hours of olive trees. Hundreds of miles of them! Amazing to see.
We stalled out at the Bobadilla station for almost an hour. What a bore. We may have been waiting for a train to come from the other direction because beyond there, the track appeared to be single file. And, we think they changed to a diesel engine.
From that point on, we traversed mountains. It was gorgeous! I had no idea the mountains in that region are so stark and steep. What a spectacular train ride!
About 7:30, we arrived and walked to our hotel. Thanks to Cindy and Pat Day who stayed here pre-pandemic and liked it. It is quite a resort, welcome in the heat.
We will be here several days. We are enjoying shorts walks around town, time in the pool, sidewalk cafes with marvelous Andalusian food, and pleasant evenings watching the sun go down over the gorge on which Ronda is perched.
We planned to walk 8 miles to Sahagun, and then take a train to Leon for the night. Given the forecast heat, we opted to taxi those 8 miles, catch a bus that was earlier than the available train, and spend a bit more time in lovely Leon.
The earliest a taxi could come was 9:00, but the driver got us to the bus station in Sahagun in time to catch the 9:30 bus
We had a great hotel in Leon, just outside the city walls, behind the cathedral. We wandered the streets, staying in the shade. We spent a shady hour at El Patio bar with fun tapas, and had a super dinner of seafood and local pork at our hotel.
As always, we hate for our Camino time to be over. Still, we are looking forward to seeing some new-to-us places in southern Spain.
The Heat May Change the Plan
We started early today, walking almost 6 miles and stopping to cool off and drink Aquarius at an ugly outside but pretty inside bar/albergue. It was close to noon when we arrived at our place for today. Many were jumping off the camino, opting for a shorter than their planned day in order to get out of the heat.
We have a small private room. Most of the beds here are in shared rooms with bunks. It looks like the temperature will be near 100 later, great for doing laundry.
If it is still near 80 in the morning, we will taxi ahead and replan. Taking what the Camino gives us!
An Early Start to Beat the Heat
We hit the trail about 7:30 today. Although Spain is having a heat wave, it cools overnight. We walked our 6 miles in 60 and 70 degree temperatures. The strong breezes are with us all the way, hurray!
We booked a studio apartment for today. Perfect, since we arrived by noon and it was too hot to want to be out exploring in the afternoon. So we sketched, wrote, and read. We wandered out for a while, had a beer, shopped for a “picnic” dinner at the tienda, and returned to our apartment to enjoy our wine, chorizo, olives, white asparagus, bread, cheese, and calamari , with peaches for dessert and leftovers for breakfast.
Another excellent camino day!
The early morning brought a stormy downpour into which many of our fellow pilgrims walked, ponchos draped.
The next town with accommodations was beyond our comfortable walking distance. We rolled over and slept through the storm, then got ready to meet the taxi we had reserved to take us ahead to the too distant town at 8:30. The driver wanted coffee when he arrived. Love this chilled out way of life.
We joined him in having a cafe con leche, donned our mandatory in transportation masks, and watched the 15 miles slip by in minutes on wheels instead of hours on foot.
Fromista was still not very awake when we arrived. We had wanted to visit a church-turned-museum that we admired when there in 2011. It wasn’t open yet. So, we headed out on the trail.
We are beyond the rolling hills and have descended to lower, dryer elevations. More of the wheat has been harvested making the fields brown instead of green. Vegetables have been planted where wheat was. They are poking up their heads, but we can’t identify them. Some look like potatoes, which is surely wrong given the summer hot weather.
We had a nice chat with a Korean pilgrim we met on a bench where we all rested and a British one who took a photo for us and vice versa.
Six miles later, we arrived at our sort-of upscale hotel on a farm (fly-filled, of course) in the middle of absolutely now where. What could be better!
Now we are sitting in the garden, drinking a beer, and watching our clothes dry on the line. We are enjoying the folks who also didn’t carry swim suits in their backpacks but decided to swim in the pool in their underwear. It is about 90 degrees. If it gets hotter, or the beer runs out, we may join the other swimmers. It got hotter.
Peg and Russ Hall
- Second Wind
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