Day 19, Hornillos to Castrojeriz

Well, the place this evening was billed as a disaster, we knew it was the middle of nowhere and we had to be bused in. However never make a preconception, it was fab. Tiny place, correctly in the middle of nowhere. Group of old Spanish men playing cards and drinking all afternoon. They got booted out around 7pm when dinner was served. 

There were 6 of us staying. Myself, Andy, Dawn the Scottish school teacher (her friend left at Burgos) George the Greek actor who lives in Los Angeles. We have met him in so many different spots but never really chatted, Karie who just started in Burgos, Canadian (not American, oops!) and another guy who I don’t think really speaks English, he did not join us for dinner.

The 5 of us ate together in one table, food was amazing, one of the best dinners. A rather unusual tuna and potato soup, it sounded odd but tasted absolutely delicious, followed by pork loin and salad and then creme caramel. Have I mentioned that whilst I rarely eat pork it is pretty much a staple here! Every day at least one sometime 3 times a day, and no vegetables. Dawn is vegetarian which is very difficult in Northern Spain but her dish was a really tasty ratatouille with an egg, she said her best meal to date and I have to say it was lovely, she had so much that we all got to share some of her vegetables. 

It is back to expectation management, this place has surpassed all expectations but perhaps that is because we thought it would be dreadful. Another bonus, they don’t serve breakfast until 7.30am so we have a lie in!!

Handing out sheep’s wool again tomorrow. This has become the go to toe treatment for blisters. I have not needed it myself so far, but Andy is now selling this as the blister solution. It was a very good tip I had from a podiatrist before leaving. The natural lanolin creates almost a mould after a day of hot feet, and helps the blister recover. Very good for around toes where normal solutions are tricky!

After a breakfast all together, 6 of us piled into a car with 4 seats, bit of a squash, we then set off at quite a pace despite the fact that there way no way ‘Senor’ could see out of the fogged windscreen, but then he wasn’t actually trying to look he was too busy chatting to the Spanish chap next to him. The rest of us were in slightly hysterical giggles, revisiting a conversation from the night before since Karie had recounted the fact that she had looked up the number of deaths and reasons for death on the Camino before coming, I have no idea why, but we decided this might be a new category!! Fortunately after a slightly hairy 5 mins we arrived back at the bar we had been collected from yesterday.

So onwards today, we are now fully in the Meseta. It was actually a lovely day. The first 10km was really silent, just the sounds of birds and circadas and complete peace! 

After 10km I came across the town of Hontanas, as I entered the village there was a great bar, loud music, the waiter was dancing and singing, it was about 10am and reminded me of some Apres Ski bar of an evening. I spotted Sian and Andy so headed in for my morning coffee. 

Full caffeinated, I headed on, Sian had already gone and Andy was giving his knee more of a rest. I stopped in the Church on the way out of the village, which was lovely, bibles in every language possible and cushions to sit on to read!

Pilgrim dragging his belongings…and my long legs again

Today was a short day and a few km from the end I came across the ruins of a convent and hospital, most unexpected, rounding the corner, now on the road the town of CastroJeriz came into sight with the castle in the hill above the town.

As I approached the town the first thing was a huge Church which I stopped in to look at. It was really large, again not unusual in these Camino towns for there to be a disproportionate Church. As I left the guy in the Church was chatting to me , I was not entirely sure what he was saying but I made out that he wanted to know where I was sleeping that evening, after explaining, he beckoned me back into the Church to explain where the Posada was. I was very grateful else I might never have found it. For the first time the hotel was really hard to locate and google maps did not locate it, in fact they say it was another hour and 10 minutes on!

Finally I found a nearby bar that had been mentioned and popped in to ask. Turns out I needed to check in at the bar anyhow! None of that was in my instructions. I sent advice back to Andy and Dawn both of whom were behind me. Turned out to be a good thing since neither had been in the church and both said that they would not have found it, in fact Dawn met me in a bar and then followed me back!

I think I will know at least 6 residents here tonight and dinner (and breakfast) is at the local bar round the corner so it looks like another social evening.

I have decided that my staple diet in Spain consists of Pork (which I previously never ate), bread (which I ate rarely) and red wine (previously regularly consumed) so at least there is some consistency in my diet. However vegetables which I previously ate loads of remain a rarity!!

Having checked into the hotel I headed out to find a bar for a beer and to collect people as they entered town. Andy was first in, then Sian and finally Dawn. After a small pintxos of tortilla (eggs are also relatively common) and a few beers I have headed back to the hotel for a bath and a shower and a rest before dinner at 7pm 

I had intended to walk up to the castle above town but for some reason my left knee has started to play up the last couple of days. I have obviously been too confident in feeling good and having no injuries. I have no idea what I have done but it does not like downhills at all so I decided to skip the castle hill climb.

I have also just had confirmation that the change I wanted for the end of my trip has been sorted. Now rather than two nights and a rest day in Finesterre I am going to use my second day to walk into Muxia (29km) for the last day before returning to Santiago for a final couple of days. I am very pleased, I had felt like my trip might be incomplete if I didn’t see both coastal locations. A guide I met at San Juan de Ortega had recommended a hotel and confirmed that I could walk between the two in one day. Now sorted. Home the same day but a small change, very pleased.

Till tomorrow 

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