Rabe de Las Calzadas to Castrojeriz*

Apr 13. Day 18. 27.4 km. Departed at 0740 hours, arrived at 1308 hours.The famed ‘Meseta’ section starts from Rabe de Las Calzadas. The Meseta stretches to the horizon, with a uniform feature and landscape.

Early meeting sunlight warmed up the trails before us.

Even the trees were welcoming the sunrise

About an hour and twenty minutes, we reached the top of the first ascent for today. A gorgeous view of the valley before unfolded before us.

Joon and the valley views

Note the descent.

As we climbed back up, we could see the hill top that we descended in the horizon!

After this valley views, the section was mainly flat except for one more steeper ascent.

What an excellent opportunity to contemplate, as one will be walking 5-6 hours.

Today’s reflections is about a particular state. If I ask one to reflect on the happiest or joyful moments in life, most if not all, can readily recall such moments. Examples of former might be weddings, of latter, the birth of one’s children.

What about being in a state of inner peace? Total peace with one self. This might be a more difficult task.

Achieving this may require one to consciously consider two balms – Giving and Seeking Forgiveness.

All of us have suffered hurt, pain and perhaps injustices. Unfortunately, if we harbor anger, retribution, Unforgiveness, we allow these to perpetuate and cause life long damage. Even if the offender doesn’t seek forgiveness, by forgiving, we cleanse ourselves of these scars. Peace begins to reign in our hearts. Gandhi said, ‘The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong’.

Sometimes, we may be the offending party and thereby, harbor guilt. If possible, seek forgiveness from those we have hurt. If one is of faith, seek forgiveness from God too. Complete Peace comes over one.

There two Greek words that can convey the concept of forgiveness. The first has the nuance of ‘graciously conferring a gift upon another’. The second had the nuance of ‘letting go’.

Let Go, Be at Peace.

Looking back can shed a light that guides our forward progress.

To end, there are three other factors that influence the difficulty of a day’s walk, besides the distance. First is the weather (rain, windy, cloudless sunny day, etc). We were very fortunate that it was mostly a still day with a light breeze (despite passing wind turbines that were installed at ground level where we passed, not on distant hill tops). Secondly, is the elevation changes and the gradient of the ascent/descent. Most of the gains were by gentle inclines. Finally, is the terrain itself. We had a rocky uneven section of 2-3 km which puts a lot of stress on the ankles, knees and soles. Good footwear mitigates somewhat. But it feels good at the end of the walk to put on sandals!

TIP: Supermercados close at 2pm Sat and all day Sunday. Learning this the hard way.

We look forward to the rest and sleep tonight.

Burgos to Rabe de Las Calzadas

Apr 12. Day 17. 13.3km Departed 0830 hours, arrived 1200 hours.

Today’s walk was shorter than expected as our hotel booking was not in the town that we had expected, i.e. Hornillos del Camino (latter is another 7.5km).

Getting out of Burgos wasn’t as bad as getting in. But the terrain wasn’t particularly scenic. The sunny day compensated for that.

The morning route took us past the Cathedral one last time!

We opted to walk through the park (rather than along the main road).

A fellow Pilgrim and his best friend, his dog.

Entrance into St James Chapel. Note the skulls on the roof ridges.

Inside St James chapel. We decided to pray a bit here as we had time.

Today’s walk allowed us to get our walking legs back. The rest days re-energized us as we enthusiastically look forward to the walks ahead. We met two Welsh ladies at tonight’s lodging who haven’t and did not plan to take any rest days!

The afternoon allowed both of us to reset to the Camino pilgrimage. I read a bit, Joon wrote in her journal and color sketched.

Here are some pictures of our dinner tonight. Menu del Dia (of the Day) at our highly rated lodging, Hostal-Bar La Fuente.

Lentil soup, with bits of sausages and bacon

Fish hake

Meatballs

Custard

Flan

Tomorrow will be a longer walk, about 28 km with several hills and one deep valley!

Post Script: No traffic noise at all in this small village. Camino route passes outside our lodging, Hostal-Bar Restaurant La Fuentes. Breakfast is included in the room rate! Happiness!

What an excellent and generous spread at breakfast! Coffee was served after picture was taken.

We were pleasantly surprised when we checked out and paid our bills. We were each given a bottle of water and a small ‘Miraculous’ medallion. The generosity of the owners/proprietors and their good heart is truly touching. We understood later how important that bottled water was as the distances were long in between civilization.

Santo Domingo de Silos + Burgos

Apr 10; Day 15. Santo Domingo de Silos.We took the opportunity to attend the 7.30am Laudes, 9am Eucharist and 7.00pm Vespers. Listening and participating in a Latin Gregorian chanting is very special. Later that morning, we walked to the La Yecla canyon, about 2.5km away. We were able to see the many vultures that hang out in this canyon area. Later that afternoon, we took a drive to ArTlanza, a quizzical theme park of home facades and rooms built entirely from salvaged materials. Amazing! We dropped by Mecereyes to see some ‘hobbit’ homes built into the hillside! That evening, we toured the cloisters and museum in the Monastery.Santo Domingo de Silos Monastery.Inside the cloisters of the Monastery. It’s worth taking the tour to see the artwork and sculptures in the cloister. In addition, one goes into the inner rooms including the museum where priceless artefacts are displayed (no photography allowed inside). Finally, there’s a store where one can buy music CDs of the famous Gregorian chants.This twisted pillar columns has capitals (column tops) depicting key scenes from life of Jesus.One of the scenes depicting Jesus washing the disciple’s feet.Inside the La Yecla canyons, 2.5km outside Santo Domingo de Silos.More than 30 vultures were flying overhead at one time!ArTlanza, a theme-village constructed by one man, all the materials are recycled or salvaged. He also creates great ceramic art sculptures.While most of ArTlanza were facades, there were a significant number of interior rooms and museos decorated with artefacts (wine cellar, barber shop, chapel, etc). In this bar, that pillar provided the central support for all the ceiling beams!!Inside the chapel. You can see how the body of this altar piece was salvaged and the head was an added painted piece.Some of his ceramic art pieces for sale in the shop.Hobbit homes! Built into the hillside. Two rows, approximately 40 homes?

Apr 11. Day 16. Burgos.Leaving Santo Domingo de Silos, we detoured to Lemar, where the Queen of Spain was due to visit. There was a heavy police and special forces presence. We didn’t stay long and headed to Burgos. We had a great visit at the Mirador de Castilla. And an exceptional time at the Carthusian Monastery of the Lady of Mirafores. A walk around Burgos in the evening and that brought out rest days to a close.

Views of the Burgos Cathedral and surroundings from the Mirador de Castilla.

The magnificent Burgos Cathedral.

The Carthusian Monastery of Our Lady of Miraflores is the most beautiful monastery we have visited so far. It’s a Must-Visit if you are in Burgos. There are two altars by the side, with the Virgin Mary in the center, in the mystery of the Immaculate Conception.

Close up. The Latin inscription means ‘Joyful Gate of Heaven’.

The main altar in this Monastery is beyond wonderful. There’s so much detail to contemplate.

The circle is a group of angels. The Cross is held by the Father (left) and the Holy Spirit (right). At the top of the Cross, a Pelican feeds her young with blood from her heart, symbolizing Jesus own sacrifice for the salvation of our souls through the shedding of His own blood. At the foot of the Cross are the Blessed Mother (left) and St John, the beloved disciple (right).

In a side chapel is a ceiling chapel of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary.

What blessed imagery that we have been able to see with our open eyes.

Ibeas de Juarros to Burgos / Santo Domingo de Silos

Apr 9. Day 14. 15km. Departed at 0830 hours, arrived 1200 hours in Burgos.

Today was a short walking day due to yesterday’s long walk.

The route into and out of Ibeas de Juarros is along a major freeway, where trucks rushed by. It was probably about 6 km before Burgos, that we got to the river trail (we missed the earlier turn off at Castanares; seems unscruplous merchants paint out the yellow arrows, and we didn’t consult the guide book as we should have).

This part of the river had swamp islands in the middle

There’s a fish ladder to the side

We visited the Cathedral Burgos. It’s worth paying the Euro 7 to get an audio handset and visit the interior. One can easily spend two hours.

Posing with a sculpture of St James in front of the Burgos Cathedral

The central altar in the Cathedral

A closer up of the central panels which show the Virgin Mary’s Assumption and Coronation

One of many chapels. This depicts the Virgin Mary’s coronation by Father, Son and Spirit.

After which, we had some coffee before picking up our rental car to drive to Santo Domingo de Silos for two nights. We wanted to catch the Gregorian chanting and just soak in the atmosphere in this region.

Evening view of the monastery at Santo Domingo de Silos. We were able to catch the 1900 hours Vespers. Beautiful chanting in Latin.

Much has been experienced since the start of our Camino. Time to absorb.

Belorado to Ibeas de Juarros

Apr 8. Day 13. 38 km. Departed 0650 hours, arrived 1602 hours.

If my earlier posts had lulled you into thinking the Camino is all about the scenery, this post will rectify that.

The Camino is about You. Your Life. Your Purpose. What You Are, and Are Capable Of. Your Spiritual Essence. Your Relationship with God if You Believe In One.

This is the earliest start on this Camino. It was still dark, and fortunately, a couple of German pilgrims passed us with a torch and fluorescent rain ponchos (easily seen).

We made a tactical decision not to bring our rain jackets (to save weight given the distance we would cover today). This was a strategic mistake.

Before describing the day, let me share the dream I had the night before. It was about me and a group finding Fools’ gold and Real gold, hiding latter from another group. It seems many of us wonder if what we are pursuing is Fools gold or Real gold. The scripture even says to store treasures in Jeaven, not on Earth. What will help us differentiate?

We met Suzanne, a recently retired Lutheran pastor from Skagit Valley, Washington State, USA. We both were thrilled meeting someone on a pilgrimage too. We parted ways when we had to have our hot breakfast for the morning, 1 hour 30 mins after setting off.

Today was Wet, Cold and (physically) Miserable. The scenery was unspectacular. The uphill climb was over loose stones and pebbles, likewise with the downhill but with small streams of water flowing down. There was long stretches of muddy trails. The headwinds were blustery. It was overcast most of the day, with nary a ray of sunshine. We had to shelter under a tree when it rained.

Thus, everything today was aligned to test one’s faith, trust and fortitude. Perhaps, one can even find Joy in the Wet, Cold & Miserable state as there’s something better to look forward to.

This early sign when it was dark really set the tone. It seemed a heavenly reminder.

Note the advice in bottom left corner before it was light.

The uphill against headwinds was tough.

We saw Mick, a Brit in a cafe having coffee. Trust Brits to bring the necessary to have a cup of tea.

It was a slog. The feet dragged. The mind was lulled into a stupor for stretches. The legs were on auto-pilot.

The wetness dried. The wind died down. The birds chirped. The sun broke through.

Then the wind blew in great guests and the hail came down. The road stretched. But this eventually passed, and the spirits lifted.

Today tested more than the physical bodies. It tested the mental, the emotional, the spiritual. How good a best friend are you to yourself? To your traveling companion? Can you always see the silver lining to any situation, even as you feel the pain? You will learn a lot about yourself on a day like today.

The day did end with a bright clear sky. Thus, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

So, the day ends with us knowing what we are capable of. But more importantly, knowing that God and Spirit were walking alongside us.

We treated ourselves to a fantastic dinner at our lodging. Enough walking. Buenas Noches.

TIP:

1. Jacobtrans, the luggage transfer services that we used, can actually recommend lodgings since they know these facilities as they have to deliver backpacks/luggage. They actually recommended a lodging when they realized I may prefer something closer than what I had booked (their recommendation was not on Booking.com).

2. If you are willing to walk all the way to Ibeas de Juarros, I would recommend La Cabala de Ibeas. Her breakfast which is included in the room rate was the best so far. Real OJ, jambron ham on mini baguettes, her open toasted bread, biscuits and coffee. She had fruits too! The dinner was good too, black pudding (i.e. blood sausage, eggs, ham, fries, toast bread, bottle of wine).

Post Script: There was no point stewing in the decision not to carry our rain jackets. It became an opportunity for prayer and trust that we can cope with God’s help. But once bitten, twice shy.

Santo Domingo to Belorado*

Apr 7. Day 12 (Sunday). Departed at 0830 hours, arrived 1445 hours.

Today was a good day. An apt summary description is, it was a blustery windy day. More about why makes that a good day.

This is the image that I would start this post with. It was painted by the brother-artist of a cafe’s wife-owner in Granon, about an hour and a half’s walk from Santo Domingo. She is from Peru.

What meaning do you get from this inspired painting?

For me, it’s the second most important benefit of the Camino. The opening of the mind, releasing or even more forcefully, ejecting the demons and monstrosities which occupies our minds. We all struggle at times with thoughts that we know, bind us. We hold onto them even though our gut instinct or heart tells us otherwise. Sometimes it’s Pride that is holding onto these un-desirable tenants. Other times, it’s Ego. Perhaps the culprit is from this list – Unforgiveness, Shame, Guilt, It must be Un-named? Maybe the chains that hold these are self inflicted.

Regardless, the Camino will work its way with us. If we permit and desire it. Just like many who readily discard items from their backpacks, discarding and expelling these mental burdens will be cathartic. And healing.

As you leave Santo Domingo, don’t rush past these symbolic representations of the legends and folk lore.

Note the Cockerel and Hen representation on this arch. Check out the folk lore about the ‘Hanged Innocent’ (long story).

Here’s a sculpture of St James with the Cockerel.

Puente de Santo Domingo y Ermita. The middle part of the bridge dates from 18th century.

Why did I say that today was a good day? The blustery winds were headwinds, not tailwinds. Joon said, the winds were also colder than yesterday’s. It started as we left Santo Domingo and persisted for many a kilometer, including on uphill stretches and on our final stretch into Belorado.

This sign communicates a way to regard the headwinds!

The headwinds could be liken to swimming up stream, walking against the winds. Or one could regard the headwinds like a stream of water that washes away the dirt and muck that sticks to one. Perhaps, this is a purification opportunity, where the winds are washing away one’s impurities. As a Pilgrim, I offered the various ‘impurities’ as I walked against these headwinds. The more ingrained these impurities were, the longer the headwinds persisted! There was a certain inner contentment in walking this way against the headwinds.

This is the cafe in Granon where we met the Peruvian wife-owner.

We had such a good stop here that we lingered three times as long as we normally do.

Joon’s Seahawks cap caught the attention of a Dutch girl, Juul, who had studied in Seattle, and was wearing a yellow Alki sweatshirt. Her friend, Mees is leftmost in picture. The cafe wife owner is rightmost. Cafe has some awesome souvenirs, some designed by the brother.

The stretch from Granon to Redecilla del Camino had some of the biggest countryside scenery we have come across. The hills and mountains were literally miles and miles away in every direction. What a great setting to evict the un-desirable tenants in one’s mind. Especially as that featured painting in the cafe, is at the start of this stretch.

A viewing platform at the start of the countryside walk from Granon

Wide wide countryside without any nearby freeway

See how the trail goes and goes across the countryside!

Pure magic, the bank of clouds hugging the entire horizon!

The mix of colors required us to pause.

Today was a good day. Tomorrow will be an unexpected test as I had booked lodgings that’s 35km away!

The Camino still had tricks up her sleeves.

Buen Camino.

Post Script: When it’s a Sunday, everything is closed, supermarkets too. Note if you are planning to rent a car in a bigger city on a Sunday.

Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada**

Apr 6. Day 11. 20.7 km. Departed 0753 hours, arrived 1325 hours.

Today is a 2 Star day. Reasons – the outdoor scenery plus the absolute stillness really soothes the soul. Secondly, even though we started later than usual, the shorter distance and shorter uphill climbs made for a more relaxing walk. Finally, it was overcast with bouts of sunshine, and gentler winds.It took less than 10 mins to get out of Najera. The gentle uphill climb out of town got the heart pumping but the view of the valley with the morning sun was fantastic.

How poetic – walking from darkness into light!

Amazingly morning scenery after we crested the hill. You can catch some other pilgrims further up the trail.

As I laid in bed this morning, and further contemplated during this morning’s walk, a thought fleshed itself. Most if not all, have heard of the saying, that to a hammer, every problem seems to be a nail. Well, most of us quickly learned during our work careers, that bosses like and value employees who can solve tough problems and challenges. Some of us get to be so good at this, that this skill becomes part and parcel of our psychological make up and mind set. Every situation, every event, every interaction contains a problem that we readily roll up our sleeves to solve. But I re-learned on this Camino, that sometimes, problems doesn’t need solving. So, when Joon expressed her back was hurting yesterday during the walk, my problem solving mindset was to offer to carry her backpack. But she didn’t want or need that. Just to be heard and listened to. And as Christians and pilgrims, we can offer that pain as part of our Camino journey.

One thing I noted in today’s walk in the countryside was the quiet and stillness. There were not as many birds chirping (I did spot a bird chirping as it was flying, which was very unusual and a first occurrence for me). Most of the walk did not have any traffic noise. We even saw snow capped mountains in the distance. There was a great interplay of sunlight and nature.

Note the balloon in the sky!

An Italian (?) gentleman had fashioned this trolley. On uphill rocky stretches, he carried it like a backpack! The handle can be dis-assembled.

Due to overnight rains, this muddy trail of 500 meters or so, needed to be walked carefully to avoid caking one’s shoes.

This albergue has a special room for snorers! What a cool idea!

I had a tendency to patronize pop up stalls. My reasoning is these entrepreneurs went to all the effort at these key spots. He had a real cute dog too!

The clouds were pretty awesome today!

A rare selfie.

Overcast day, just a handful of drops for less than a minute.

Quite a number of the restaurants here seem geared for a touristic (i.e. non-pilgrims) crowd. Example, a Michelin acknowledged restaurant had starters from Euro 12-25!

As we know, Spanish restaurants only offer their dinner menu from 1800 hours only. If you are an early sleeper, or prefer early morning starts, this dinner time will be late especially if you want the food to be fully digested before sleeping.

TIP: Consider Spanish pinchos or tapas as a light meal. Or patronize Chinese or Turkish restaurants which do offer their dinner menu earlier!

We didn’t see much of Santo Domingo today, perhaps a bit as we walk out tomorrow morning.

Logrono to Najera

Apr 5. Day 10. 29.0 km. Departed 0724 hours, arrived 1530 hours.

2 days of 28-29 km in a row is tough. We met and/or heard of two cases, a gal had to bus to the next stop and a young man was using two poles to slowly walk. Latter had been dashing off in the early stages. Keeping a pace that the body is not over stressed into muscle or tendon strain is important.

The walk today is through the countryside. It took us about 45-50 mins to get out of Logrono, typical for big cities.

This is the park on the way out of Logrono, into the countryside.

We passed a pedestrian tunnel where the grafitti was somewhat pleasing.

The large lake cum reservoir (Pantano de la Grajera). We saw a fisherman catch a fish as we passed by. Amazingly, as we entered this park, we saw squirrels, rabbits and a duck within immediate vicinity of each other!

You can just about spot the fishermen on the banks

It’s easy as the days go by, for the countryside landscapes to become indistinct from each other. One tactic I employ as I come across a great outdoor scenery is to imagine I am going to paint that exact scenery. I am not much of an artist, but going through this mentally and visually, I help my eyes pick up the layers, the randomness of nature and the various colors and hues. See whether this tactic works for you.

Love how the yellows adds that special touch to the outdoors.

This is the ruins of Hospital de San Juan de Acre, just before Navarette. The floor plan revealed a Romanesque Church with a Gothic semi-octagonal apse, unique in the Rioja.

Iglesia de La Asuncion is the jewel of Navarette. It contains one of the most stunning Baroque retablos in all of Spain. There is so much detail that one needs time and eye to appreciate. The central panel is the Assumption of the Virgin, which gives the Church its name.

The Virgin Mary and baby Jesus

A steady pace and serendipitous pause allowed us to spot this chestnut tree.

The distant clouds finally sprinkled some blessings on us, about 5km away from Najera for a km or so.

A view of the Najerilla river.

In this region, one has more options in terms of dorms and room sizes in the albergues!

It must be a pleasure to carry this backpack!

Both of us were starting to get chaffed thighs from our hiking pants. The inseam stitching rubs against our thighs as we walked hours in it. So, we switched to softer options.

TIP: The athletic work out pants (plus rainproof pants when it gets windy) worked out really great. It’s lighter too!!

We will rest early this evening and let our feet and joints recover.

Los Arcos to Logrono

Apr 4. Day 9. 27.6 km. Departed 0724 hours, arrived 1524 hours.

One’s Camino experience for the day does not necessarily end when one gets in bed and goes to sleep. Sometimes, dreams are part of the Camino experience.

Last night, I had a dream. It only dawned on me in the early afternoon what this dream was about. The past two nights dreams were pleasant ones but I will share more about last night’s. In it, I was in a group. We were going through some form of instruction, 1-1, not classroom style. The teacher or guide led me to some signs, and when I progressed through them, I came to one where if I truly followed the teacher/guide, I could literally float and soar away. None of the others in the group were able to do that. Well, I swallowed whatever butterflies there were, closed my eyes and could feel myself starting to float and soar away. I didn’t want to open my eyes lest I stop flying. It was a very pleasurable experience. I cannot recall what ended this dream. So, I am walking today, not trying to decipher whether there was any deeper meaning to the dream until it hit me. The dream is about my ‘faith’, that by being absolutely committed, I would literally soar!

Today is one of our earliest set off times, bearing in mind, clocks were just brought forward the last Sunday in March. Thus, we were able to catch the sun rise as we were on the outskirts of Los Arcos. So, the 0724 hours start would have been 0624 hours just 6 days ago.

Experiencing a sunrise should be a periodic self gifting experience.

Sun is still below the horizon but the sky’s pastel hues show up beautifully

Sun beginning to rise above the horizon

Our shadows walking forward

A pilgrim camping a ways outside Los Arcos

The walk today was via open countryside. There’s a stretch between Torres del Rio and Viana known as the ‘Knee Wrecker’.

TIP: Don’t be like us. Buy your trekking pole before this stretch. It’s Euro 10 for one pole.

Torres del Rio

The countryside walk passes thorough several hills and valleys. We lost count. There were certain scenic spots that warrant a stop to admire and soak it in.

The clouds today just got our attention

A pilgrim enjoying a break with a view

The blue sky with puffy clouds

Despite the starkness, there’s a certain beauty

Olive trees have character

Serenity above

The Church of Santa Maria de Viana. Cesar Borgia is buried here. Machiavelli’s work, The Prince, is based on Cesar’s life.

Entrance into the church. Note, the two other prisoners (rebels?) are depicted besides Christ.

Inflation of the pilgrim menu, it’s now Euro 12 across the region. Choose your starter, entree and dessert. Bread comes with the meal. Choice of water or vino.

We decided to go tapas tonight. In Logrono, check out Calle de San Juan. There are many options.

Two of our four plates. We needed more vegetables in our diet!

Tapas offerings at Peregrinos San Juan

TIP: If you are going to stay at an albergue, choose a Municipal one. The two privately run albergues we stayed at, had prioritized profit motives over service and value. E.g. the private albergue in Los Arcos squeezed 12 bunk beds in a space smaller than the Municipal albergue in Valcarlos with 10 bunk beds.

I had written about contemplation yesterday. Today’s reflection will expand on that. Consider these two questions:

(1). Who am I?

(2). What does my heart truly desire?

Re the first question, one can review the past to understand the influences and forces. But it’s important not to stay mired in the past. Being able to define, describe, sketch the potential within, etc to be the one you know yourself is a process of self discovery.

Re the second question, consider the possible epitaphs – He/She achieved the lifestyle desired, His/Her accomplishments would fill volumes, He/She provided for all the loved ones, He/She left a legacy that will last generations, and so on. A particular combination will resonate with your heart. And that may be the key to a deeper journey within!

Today, our eyes were drawn upwards during our Camino. Tomorrow has some indications of showers. Another blessed and different experience to look forward to.

Estella to Los Arcos*

Apr 3. Day 8. 21.3 km. Departed at 0730 hours, arrived at 1340 hours.

This was a stage where we did some research online the night before. We had read about the elevation gain and found that there would be no services for about 12km after reaching Villamayor de Monjardin, necessitating getting more water, etc.

Elevation gain looks worse than actual; 270 meters gain only. The peak in the illustration is like a ‘bark‘, not a ‘bite’.

Once we got out of Estella, we were on trails, paralleling the main road for a bit. The unique attraction of this stage is stopping at the Fuente de Vino, which dispenses red wine, courtesy of Bodegas Irache. This is capped at 100 litres a day, first pours at 8am. We stopped for a sip. There is a museo vino for those interested.

Joon happily pouring into her scallop shell

About 200 meters before was a craftsman making iron sculptures. The weight of the bigger pieces will cause one to think twice.

Exhibition cum sales area

Furnace for sculpting

Initial impressions were that we needed to hike to the Summit. Fortunately, it was only partway to Villamayor de Monjardin.

Fortunately, the sole cafe at Villamayor de Monjardin was open at about 1030 hours, with a bathroom before the 11.7 km of countryside walking without any services! Needless to say, we stopped.

The walk after was essentially downhill and flat, with a few hill climbs. But nothing that required trekking poles.

Some guide books may label this stretch as time passing slowly as the scenery does not change much. It’s open countryside, few trees, wheat fields and a scattering of vine yards (after the winery).

It was an overcast day. My rain jacket functioned very much more as a wind breaker than a rain jacket. The cool weather encouraged one to walk too, to keep the body’s internal temperature up.

One could regard this stretch as most conducive for some inner contemplation. There’s no man made noise and for the largest part, no man made structures. We have met quite a few pilgrims who are walking to find themselves and/or ponder life’s questions on their minds. The scenery doesn’t change dramatically much for 10+ km, thus, one’s eyes will not be distracted. Having the rain jacket hood on, allows one to be immersed in one’s thoughts.

Looking back at where we walked from

Some color to the landscape

Generous spacing between pilgrims for contemplative reflection

Clouds were getting lower as the afternoon progressed. Fortunately, no rain showers at all.

It was overcast most of the day!

We found Mass will be celebrated at 2000 hours and we are looking forward to that.

The beautiful Church of Santa Maria, Los Arcos

A late dinner after Mass. Tomorrow will be a longish walk.