Doesn’t look too bad, does it? But as you get closer, you see how steep it is. Nothing else for it than to get up and over it though – we told ourselves the views would be good up there and powered on. And as expected, the views were wonderful! I kept stopping and turning around, to enjoy the walk as much as catching my breath.
The descent is equally steep, 18% according to the sign. I was so glad I had my Pacerpoles as handbrakes! My knees felt it but again, the view was stunning. The sky is huge on the meseta, and I was happy that it was sunny, even if it was too hot for my liking, because I still preferred it to wind and rain and mud.
Suddenly we were in the province of Palencia. Little markers like that help you realise that all those little individual steps gradually amount to quite a distance. It was coming up to two weeks since we left Estella, and it felt like just the other day – and also a loong time ago. So much had happened, even though we did so very little. Just walk, eat, sleep, repeat. And still –
We came across this lovely albergue, La Mochila in Itero de la Vega, and had a rest in the shade under a tree, all by ourselves. Shoes off, feet up, just looking up at graffiti, poetry, rustling trees and the faint hum of Spanish voices. Lovely. If we weren’t going to Boadilla, I would have stopped there for the night.
The albergue En el Camino in Boadilla is one of my strongest and best memories of the walk in 2012. It was a hot and sunny day, like this one, and coming through the gate into the walled garden was like entering some kind of pilgrim paradise. People of all ages and nationalities were strewn about on the lawn, played in the pool or did their laundry between the sculptures, and someone offered me my first ever Clara – shandy, radler; beer with lemonade – and it was the most refreshing thing I had ever tasted.
This time we were staying in the new hotel next door, run by the same family as far as I know, and the room was lovely, spacious and clean. After showers and laundry we went in search of food, but there was none to be had anywhere until seven. We found an albergue that had posters up saying they had pizza at any time, but when I asked if he served any food, he told me he had tortilla. Well, if that was the only thing going … we shared one.
Then some of the familiar faces popped up and asked the same man if he served pizza or not, and he said of course! A case of not ‘careful what you wish for’ but ‘careful how you ask’. By this time the worst of our hunger was gone but we shared a pizza too. It wasn’t very nice, though the others said theirs were. In fact there were lots of places serving frozen pizzas along the camino this time. It makes it easier to get some hot food at off-meal times, but having Italian food in Spain feels odd.
At seven we went to the En el Camino albergue, where they were serving food. We only wanted a starter or something light, but they don’t have a menu as such – they serve a choice of two starters (soups/stews) and two mains (fish/meat) and probably dessert at a set price. There were two seats available in the noisy and lively dining room, and we ended up next to a multinational pilgrim family. We explained that we just wanted the starter, and were promptly treated to bowls and told to help ourselves from a huge terrine of garlic soup and one with ‘meat and potatoes’ which was in fact a delicious, rich stew. Then we left – and paid full price as a donativo for the good work Eduardo does for pilgrims in his care. This photo is from 2012:
Our hotel had a little bar, perfect for a night cap, and it turned into a lovely sociable evening where we met lots of new pilgrim couples. It is more difficult getting to know people when you are walking in twos, because most solo walkers think you want to be on your own. I was glad we had stopped in Boadilla again and looked forward to the morning walk along the canal the next day. Early, said the Scouse Spouse again. Not in the dark, said I, though it would make sense to beat the heat. So in the end I agreed. Early to bed was a fail, but this time we would manage an early to rise!