Distance to go: 295.3 Kms
We had another great nights sleep at Albergue Tio Pepe. We decided last night that we would not stay in any of the remaining big towns and so we would walk around 17 Kms today and then around 20 Kms a day from now on. This means we will only stay in the smaller towns and villages. Something we both prefer for peace and quiet and a chance to sample the life in these places.
So we had a lie in. The alarm went off at 06:15 and we got up, packed our bags and took a small breakfast in the albergue before hitting the road.
The first stretch of road was just that. A stretch of road. 6 Kms long and dead straight. It was a chilly morning but the wind was behind us. Thats good as the backpack keeps your back and kidneys warm whilst you keep cool walking. Away in the distance the mountains over which we must pass loom closer. There is snow on some of the peaks. We will need to re evaluate our clothing and having sent our coats home in Puenta La Reina on day 8, kick ourselves for doing so. Mind you it was around 30C then! I had my boots on today. I was hoping the blisters on my heels would not be aggravated by them. I found out that my sorbothane insoles had been worn down by my bulk and that there was a lip behind my heel that was rubbing the blister. Some deft scissor work saw to the lip and voila. My feet were so much better. Not 100% but a vast improvement on the morning we left Terradillos when I was in real pain.
We tramped on. Then on. Then on some more and arrived at the village of Villivante and stopped at the first cafe we came across at the entrance to the town. We had tea and orange cake and gave our feet a rest. We had covered 9.6 Kms at this point without a rest stop. It was most welcome. We trudged on. In the middle of Villivante a town planner who really needs his backside kicking with a very large boot had decided the best place to build his monstrosity of a water tower was in the middle of the high street. What an eye sore. We passed it and headed out on the 4.5 Km walk to the town of Hospital de Órbigo.
Now the town planner for this place needs commending, given a nice glass of vino tinto and told to relax and chill. For his water tower, placed on the edge of his town was something to behold. He is clearly worlds apart from the eejit in the previous town.
We crossed the magnificent 13th century Puente de Órbiga. A more splendid looking bridge would be hard to find. The river it spanned has long ago dwindled for on the former bed is a jousting park and on the other side, some buildings. Nonetheless this did nothing to detract from the magnificence of the structure.
We stopped on a bench and had a small snack before striking out the remaining 3 Kms to our stop for the day at the albergue Villares in Villares de Órbigo. On entering the town you immediately feel that this is a well kept place. It is clean and tidy. New houses are being constructed. Then you spot the albergue by its wonderful mural painted on its end wall. Something dear to every pilgrims heart. Washing on a line.
The hospitalero Pablo and his wife greeted us on arrival and on entering the courtyard you immediately feel at home. We were given a clean cotton sheet and pillow case and shown to our beds. He told us to settle in, take a shower and a rest before we checked in. “There is plenty of time for that” he says to us. The place is spotless. Everywhere. I can quite honestly say that for €7 each this is the cleanest and homeliest albergue we have stayed in so far. The courtyard is a haven of peace. Potted flowers add colour. Camino memorabilia add interest. He has a few souvenirs that are tasteful for sale. A big squashy sofa on the upper verandah invites weary backsides. The shower is hot and powerful. The bunk beds are big with Ikea pillows and good sized mattresses. As I write Pablo and his wife Belén are preparing the evening meal. Dinner and breakfast are paid for by donations only.
We are sharing the place with a delightful American mother and her daughter, Ingram and Whitney, whom we have met before. There is a Swiss lady, Erna walking the camino with her dog Corby.
There are 2 English men, 2 Spaniards and a young Korean with us. What impresses me most is Pablo. He speaks excellent English. He has walked the camino himself. He knows what pilgrims like. His albergue reflects that. Opposite is the bar Pasis which although a little rough and ready is welcoming and serves up tea and food.
I feel right at home here.
Tomorrow we expect to go on another 20 Kms and maybe stop in Astorga to buy a thermal vest for the mountain passage.
Distance walked today: 17.1 Kms